as: Lughnasadh – "The Games of Lugh" / Lammas – "Loaf Mass"
Here is an entry from
my new novel, "The Voices of the Stars
Lleu is the Welsh spelling of Lugh.)
Harvest Festival on the Isle of Apples...
"The Harvest Festival
is the one and only Festival held on the Isle of Apples that is open to
people of all lands – all other Rites being held as Sacred
Secrets. The thought was that all people equally benefit from
the Harvest and that it is a good thing when people of many countries
come together, and can join with each other in celebration.
And the people do come, from far and wide, even from as far away as
Rome and Asia Minor!
At one Time, long ago,
the Ancestors of all the peoples living on these Fair Isles and all
lands surrounding them celebrated the Grain and Herb Harvest with Human
sacrifice. A young man, once having been selected, would live
as King for one whole Moon’s Dance – with his every wish or desire
being granted – until the next Dark Moon, when he would be cut down
like the Grain; a willing sacrifice. Then he – who embodied
the Sacrificed God – would be buried with the seeds of the Grain, or
cast into the Fires with the first sheaves harvested. This
was all with the understanding that the Harvest King’s Spirit would
enter into the presence of the Gods to present the value of his
sacrifice and the needs of the Tribe, Clan, or village to
them. But that was long ago…
The Old Dark Tribes
discontinued Human sacrifice hundreds of years ago. Now their
Harvest “Killed Man,” in order to be worthy, is chosen by his showing
exceptional skills in Archery, storytelling, and the hunt – just as he
ever was. Except that now he is laid – alive – in the Forest,
on a bed of Blue Bells – with his arms and legs bound, as if he were a
Stag. Then the women Gatherers and the men Hunters, sit
around him, extolling his prowess and their thanksgiving to the Goddess
for a plentiful Harvest – all the while feasting upon Sacred Mushrooms,
Berries, and venison and drinking copious amounts of fermented Berry
juice. After the celebratory Feast, the “Killed Man,” having
been released by the Sacrificed God who had possessed him, re-joins the
Tribe as their equal.
The Druids of the Eire
observe their Grain and Herb Harvest Rite as “Lughnasadh” – which name
means the Games of Lugh – by holding competitions amoung men of many
diverse skills. These include: games of strength, archery,
horsemanship, ax tossing, spear throwing, swordsmanship, and
poetry. The Druids of the Cymru call him Lleu Llaw Gyffes –
Lleu of the Long Arm. Lleu – or Lugh – is the God of Light,
Magic, poetry, and of many skills.
Long ago, one of the
Ladies of the Lake began the tradition of staging the Order’s Harvest
Festival on the Isle of Apples. Anyone who wishes to may
attend. Even men from the continent, across the Eastern Sea,
come to join in the Games. So that, in this way, once a year,
all the peoples of these Our Fair Isles or elsewhere – who do in fact
share the lands’ Harvest – may join in celebration together.
It is the largest Festival on the Isle of Apples – and for that matter,
anywhere on these Our Fair Isles.
By their very nature,
the Games of Lleu are male focused; it is only the men who compete in
the Games against each other. At the end of three Days, a
Champion emerges. This man, in Days of old, is he who would
have earned the honour of being the Human sacrifice.
Now, this Champion is
honoured on the Night of and for three Days after the Games and is
given every desire of his heart. He may remain on the Isle of
Apples, should he wish to, being given the full hospitality of the Lady
of the Lake and the Order, until it is Time for the final
Ritual. But stay or go, he must vow to return upon the next
Full Moon for the Harvest Ritual – not at the bloodletting Dark Moon as
long ago – there to present the value of his Human sacrifice to the
For the final Ritual,
he will have made a bread from the first sheaves – by his own hands –
in the form of a Man, symbolizing the life and body of the
Grain. The Lady of the Lake will have whispered the needs of
the peoples of these Isles into his ear; which he then writes, or
intones into the bread. He then offers the loaf as sacrifice,
in place of his own life.
The First Seeds of the
Grain in hand after the Harvest is gathered are buried at that Time,
there to await, deep in the Earth, the Time when the great Wheel has
turned and warmth has returned to the land – when they will sprout
through the soil as the next year’s new growth.
The idea of a
Sacrificed God, or King, is a very ancient one, yet Gwyddion tells me
that this pattern keeps playing out in ever-new ideologies.
The King/God of the Christians was said to be in the ground, or a tomb,
for three and one-half Days in a Death-like state, then resurrected in
full glory – just as was the Grain! And this was in the
season of planting, in the first month of the Jews’ year.
Even the length of
three – or three and one half – Days, has been used symbolically in
many cultures. Gwyddion thinks that this number might be a
part of so much Myth and Magic because a Lunar month is about
twenty-eight and one half Days in measure, with eight phases, making
each recognizable phase about three and one half Days long.
Gwyddion once posed
the question to Bedwyr and me, “Boys, why do we keep these Sacred
Of course this was a
rhetorical question, so he continued: “It is because, as long
as the Sun rises again each Day and the Earth, Trees, Grain, Animals,
Humans, and all other living things continue to turn the Wheel of the
Year by performing their annual Ritual rounds of necessary tasks, the
World will go on. This is why we keep these
Sabbats. It is the right thing to do. It is our
Divinely given endeavour and function upon this Earth.
“Let me ask you this,
boys: What do you think would happen, if upon one year, all
the Trees refused to do their dance – refused to blossom, leaf and drop
their leaves – refused to honour the great cycles of life in the Wheel
of the Year? Why, all life on Earth would die! For
all things on Earth are interdependent.
“Well then, let me ask
you this: What if all the insects or Animals or Birds – and
so on – did the same?”
“All life on Earth
would die!” quoth we.
“We as Humans must do our part in keeping the Wheel of the Year
turning. We must enter the Land of Myth – the Realm of the
Gods – and do as they did ‘In the Beginning’ and have taught us to do;
we must keep the Holy Days and perform the Rites. By doing
these things we keep the seasons turning – one notch at a
Time. For I tell you truly, if the Day should ever come when
all Humans refuse to do their part in this and keep the Old Gods’ ways,
all things as we know them on Earth will come to an end. Yes,
we keep the Holy Days because it is the right thing to do!”
For more information on this cycle of the "Turn of the wheel" see my
article on my music site, Rowena
of the Glen.com
great and fun Harvest Celebration! "Merry we meet, and merry
we part, and and merry we meet again."
Godspeed and Goddess Bless,