Wednesday, 31 July 2013

God Knows - Lugh

Here are a couple of articles which have appeared in the Raven Newsletter and are appropriate to the season and festival of Lughnassadh. The first is from a couple of years ago:

God Knows - Lugh

At the end of July, August Eve is the feast of Lughnassadh, also known as Lammas. Most of us know that this is the feast of the first grain harvests, the first bread, or Loaf-mass, but who is Lugh?

His name appears in several different forms through the British Isles: in Ireland he is Lugh Longhand; in Wales, Lleu Llaw Gyffes; in place names he can be Lud, Lug or simply Lu.

His epithets are many, and reflect his attributes. He is perhaps the Celtic equivalent of Horus, the sun god son of the Dagda (the Great Father). His names mean Light or Lion, he is called Blond of Bright Haired, God of the Mighty Blows, Long-Hand (Master of all skills and crafts). He was mighty in battle and also carried messages from humanity to the other gods.

His weapon was a spear, which was an empowered sun beam. As Lleu, he killed his wife Bloddeuwedd's lover Gronwy by hurling his spear straight through a boulder and killing Gronwy where he hid behind it, showing the power of the sun which nothing can be hidden from.

He was also a sacrificial god, deing and rising again. When he was killed by his wife and her lover, his soul rose from his body like a great eagle (another solar symbol) and escaped into the sky. He is identified with the golden grain which captures the spirit of the summer sun and is cut down in its prime. Bread is his gift and his sacrifice.

As the Old Gods were diminished and their influence waned, so they grew older and retreated to caves and burial mounds. Lugh the bright, golden haired young god became old Lug Chromain 'Bent Light' (the rainbow is one of his symbols), and it is said that the fairy name Leprechaun is derived from his name. Which may be why these fairies hide within the earth guarding their ancient crock full of gold - the golden sun god preserved and hidden now within the earth

This second piece is an extract from a longer article on the Green Man:

John Barleycorn

In English folklore, John Barleycorn is a character who represents the crop of barley harvested each autumn. Equally as important, he symbolises the wonderful drinks which can be made from barley - beer and whiskey - and their effects. In the traditional folksong John Barleycorn, the character of John Barleycorn endures all kinds of indignities, most of which correspond to the cyclic nature of planting, growing harvesting and then death. This in essence is the same tale as the Green Man retold.

Although written versions of the song date back to the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, there is evidence that it predates her reign considerably. There are a number of different versions, but the most well known one is the Robert Burns version, in which John Barleycorn is portrayed as an almost Christ like figure suffering greatly before finally dying so that others may live.

Ultimately the character of John Barleycorn is a metaphor for the spirit of the grain, grown hearty and hale during the summer, chopped down and slaughtered in his prime then transformed into beer and whiskey so that he can live once more.

His character also seems to have been appropriated and incorporated into the christian 'Lord of the Dance'
         they cut me down but I leap up high,
         for I am the life that will never, never die

And finally a spell from the same Newsletter:

Summer Seaside Love Spell

Go down to the shore while the tide is coming in and just beyond the incoming waves draw the outline of a man or woman - this represents the one you desire. On the chest draw a heart shape and write their initials. Then with a little stick pierce the heart and say:

With love's sweet dart
I pierce the heart
Of he/she who does not love me
Lady of the Waters deep
Hear me cry, see me weep
Give me my lover unto me

Know that your prayers have been heard and will be answered, when the incoming tide washes your drawing away.

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