Lughnasadh Miscellany Facts of the Feast by Searles
was the time of the first harvest and a time of games, competitions,
initiations and arbitration. It was and is associated with the Goddess
of Sovereignty. The God Lugh was said to have originated this festival
to celebrate the efforts of his foster mother Tailtiu to clear the fields
of Ireland for planting. Lughnasadh marked the beginning of the harvests,
though perhaps it also marked the ending of the hay harvest. It was
a festival that could last two weeks! Among its activities, couples
could enter into a "trial marriage" known as a "Brehon wedding."
The two would clasp hands and thrust them through a circular opening
in a special stone, while announcing to the Brehons -- judges and lawyers
-- that they intended to live together for a trial period of one year,
after which the marriage would be formalized. Either party could break
the marriage by a public announcement during the feast of Bealtaine
in the Spring.
You can find more information on Lughnasadh in the Summerlands
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Pagans Make the World a Better Place?
***This satire is inspired by the author's [and now I am really serious...] conviction that our future will have to incorporate a lot more single problems into one solution in order to maintain the pleasure of modern amenities and standards without poisoning the whole *&^%$#@! planet or messing it up even further in any other way.***
Baking at Lughnasadh by Deborah, Kitchen Witch Inn
Ahhhh ... the first harvest is in, the berries are ripe and sweet and the clans are gathering for the annual fairs. Horse trading, Brehon adjudicating, inter- and intra-clan matchmaking , strong sweaty young men competing in the games and wonderful Celtic women cooking up a storm. Life is goooood.
At this time of year there are several things that spring to mind that definitely belong on any good kitchen witch's (Celtic or otherwise) table -- fresh bread (preferably wheat), berry pies and fresh fruit, buttered ears of corn and wondrous meads of all kinds of fruit and honey flavorings.
I hope you enjoy this recipe and the ideas below. May you feast long and well and in the company of your fine, your derbfine and all the friends of your heart. Thanks to the Goddess and the God for Their Bounty.
WHEAT BREAD ON THE ALTAR
To me, nothing says abundance and fertility of the earth quite like bread. It's aroma and taste are a joy and a comfort and should be treated with due appreciation and enjoyment. There are many techniques for breadcraft, which I will be discussing this next few weeks over in the Kitchen Witch Inn, but the one I prefer for the table is a simple harvest wheat loaf. Presentation counts, and I've always been fond of serving it on a bed of wheat heads with red raspberries placed around for color. Make sure the wheatheads are going around the plate in a clockwise manner -- like setting the bread in the middle of a wheat wreath. When done with a round loaf it looks like the sun. If you have a gold charger to serve it on, all the better. (Note: Make sure your wheat heads are clean and mold/mildew free!)
There are some wonderful rising bowls that have a spiral design on them that will stay with the loaf throughout the baking process, if you like. Of you can shape a simple football/oblong loaf with a center split, representing the fertility of the body of the Goddess.
When baking (or any kind of cooking or crafting really), be sure to take time to center and shift into a good space. It's important to remember that what you think and feel you put into your cooking/crafting, so since this is a harvest celebration send prayers of gratitude for what has been given and prayers for continued abundance.
In Ireland they have something called Fraughans. Apparently these are wonderful intensely flavored wild blueberries. They were traditionally picked at Lughnasadh and eaten with sugar and/or cream or made into pies, tarts and jams. If you have Fraughans, more power to you. If you're over here in America, head for the nearest farmer's market and get the biggest blueberries, blackberries and raspberries that you can find. There are all kinds of things to do with them. If nothing else, serve them fresh over vanilla ice cream or in a chilled bowl topped off by real whipped cream (none of that store-bought stuff). Here's a recipe for a wonderful berry pie.
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
Zest of 1/2 lemon
Salt to taste
5 cups fresh blueberries (or blueberries, raspberries, blackberries)
Pastry for a 9-inch, 2 crust pie
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon butter.
Combine sugar, flour, lemon zest and salt. Add berries, tossing to thoroughly coat fruit. Pour mixture into a pie crust, drizzle with lemon juice and dab with butter. Place top crust over pie; seal and flute edges. Cover edge of pie with foil. Bake for 20 minutes at 375 degrees. Remove foil and bake for another 25 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.
This recipe is from the book "Celtic Folklore Cooking" by Joanne Asala (ISBN 1-56718-044-2. I highly recommend purchasing it. It has all manner of wonderful recipes and a great amount of folklore and old Celtic sayings that will both educate and amuse you. Definitely a must-have book for your collection. Check it out at the Rowan Leaf bookstore here at the Summerlands!
NECTAR OF THE GODS -- MEAD!
I have been given the email address for a wonderful meadmaker in the NE part of the USA. He sells his art by the 'cork' and it's fame is spreading rapidly. If you would like a catalog/pricelist, please email email@example.com. If you're lucky, you'll be blessed with the nectar of the Gods for your feasts now and in the future. Since this is Lughnasadh, be sure to check out his berry meads.
BTW ... Searles says I should remember 'wildflower garlands.'
May you have a joyous and abundant Lughnasadh! Beannacht Leat!!
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