Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Lughnassa ~ The Marriage Feast of Lugh

Detail Setanta Wall (Dublin, 1974) by Desmond Kinney: Photo by  Bob Phillips
The Marriage Feast of Lugh celebrated each August in Ireland is mentioned several times by Ella Young in her memoir Flowering Dusk: Things Remembered Accurately and Inaccurately (1945).

She begins by recalling events involving the nationalist political group in which she was active -  The Daughters of Ireland (Inghinidhe na h√Čireann) 

"That night the little room in a back street of Dublin city - where the Daughters of Ireland were celebrating the Lughnassa, the Marriage Feast of Lugh the Sun God to the Royal Sovereignty of Ireland..."  Earlier that day, Ella was climbing Slieve Gullion with her friend Phyllis MacMurdo who Ella greatly admired. They discussed the old tales and the old gods and Phyllis declared "Let us gather heather, white and red, and go tonight to the play that the Daughters of Ireland are putting on  (Red Hugh's Captivity by Alice Mulligan...)."

Another reference to the Marriage Feast of Lugh in Ella Young's memoir is also when she writes about the activities of the Daughters of Ireland:  "Since we are reviving everything at once, we pay attention to the ancient Festivals. There are four which divide the year into periods of three months: the Festival of Brigit, the Pure Perpetual Ashless Flalme, in February; the Festival of Beltane, the coming of the young Gods who succor the Earth, in May; the Marriage-Feastival of Lugh, the Sun, who weds the Sovereignty of Erin in August; the Festival of Samhain, that opens the Inner World, in November."

In a section Ella titles "The Royal Sovereignty of Ireland, 1922"
From: Irish Civil War – essential facts
she writes about the beginning of the civil war. It is June 28 and she is in Dublin where the "guns boomed day and night" and she looked toward the Four Courts and spoke about the men there as the smoke rose and the "ground muttered and shook... a hundred good fighting men...were prisoners in Mountjoy [prison]...They held out for five days, and surrendered only when the walls fell in and flame licked about their feet...Like fire the civil war spurts and rages from town to town, from countryside to countryside. The Feast of the Lughnassa draws on. Fires were lit on the sacred hills of Ireland at this Festival in token that Lugh the Sun-God was wedded to the Royal Sovereignty of Ireland. Those were joy-fires: our fires hiss and flicker with blood."

Lugh was associated with sovereignty because he represented sacred kingship. The marriage feast  - or Great Rite - is the act of the named king asking of the land he is to reign, permission to rule. The land is represented by the goddess, who through sexual union with the king, gifts him with this sovereignty. This is such a powerful act and such a powerful image. Ella Young and her many comrades fought for this sovereignty - for the land, for ancient and sacred Ireland to regain what had been lost. There is no doubt that the English crown was never given sovereignty by the land - by the goddess who embodies all of Ireland and her people.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Life in Death

Image by Denise Sallee, All Rights Reserved, 2019.

This is my second year to harvest the Cornish poppy seed pods that began life on my patio as seeds sent to me from England.

This year, while I enjoyed the all-too brief red blossoms of the poppy, I find myself drawn more to the seed pods.

After the last poppy petals fall, the plant begins to die back. The leaves lose their color and droop - the entire plant looks worn out. Spent.

And now the seed pods join me inside. Their precious cargo can be heard rattling inside the pods as they dry and turn from pale green to a very light, sandy brown.

Even in death there is life. The spiral of life - so powerful - so wise - so wonderful.