great bounty of Earth,
great bounty of Sea,
great bounty of Heaven
may your life be hale,
your life be fruitful.
— Celtic prayer, variation
My friend Rose Anna Bethel reminded me that today — August 1 — is lughnasad, also called lammas. In honor of the day she offered up this bounty from her garden:
In Britain and Ireland the first harvest was celebrated on the first and second days of the month, and was originally the festival of the ancient Celtic Sun god, Lugh, in honor of his foster mother Tailtu, or of his own marriage, depending on what you read. Wife or mother, she was the Earth Goddess. In August, the Sun plunges into the Earth and the heat they generate brings all things to maturity.
Last night the blue moon hung low and fleshy, as if giving birth to this cornucopia.
Lugh the Longhanded (for the Sun’s digits stretch immeasurable distances) had three fathers. His body was marked by red lines around his neck and belly, delineating the portions each father had begotten. Similarly, Agni, Vedic god of fire, supported the sky, had three bodies and three births on Earth, in mid-space and in Heaven.
The dog days “officially” begin in July, when the Dog Star Sirius is ascendant. In humid climates, the sticky air was thought to carry illness. It was the time of year when dogs were believed to develop rabies and venomous snakes came out in force to spread plague and fever.
The Anglo-Saxon lughnasdad was hlaf-mass, “loaf mass,” when the corn was harvested and the Corn King killed and transformed into bread. In many places throughout Europe and North America, people still hold bread festivals, where, among other breads and foods, the lammas loaf is consumed.