Wednesday, August 01, 2012


Today is Lughnasa, or Lammas as some call it.  It's the time of the first harvest and is named for the Irish sun and light God Lugh.  Lugh is also the God or artisans, smiths and craftsmen, and so shares attributes with Brigid, celebrated at Imbolc in February, and Athena, Greek God of weaving, wisdom and strategy.  I finished my decorations last night, and I'm pleased with them (especially as I managed to incorporate some sewing).

Symbols for Lughnasa are poppies, apricots, apples, nuts and grain.  In my display I also have bees and fish and birds, and candles, for the light.  I have just finished a minor feast of toast and marmalade, followed by cheese and biscuits.  I shall have my proper celebration on Friday I think, as I am out tomorrow night, same as tonight.  I was able to have apricots and nectarines in my morning porridge though.

There's a poem by Robert Burns, well, collected by Robert Burns as it's an old folk song, about John Barleycorn, who personifies the season.  Here it is:

There was three kings into the east,
Three kings both great and high,
And they hae sworn a solemn oath
John Barleycorn should die.

They took a plough and plough'd him down,
Put clods upon his head,
And they hae sworn a solemn oath
John Barleycorn was dead.

But the cheerful Spring came kindly on'
And show'rs began to fall;
John Barleycorn got up again,
And sore surpris'd them all.

The sultry suns of Summer came,
And he grew thick and strong:
His head weel arm'd wi pointed spears,
That no one should him wrong.

The sober Autumn enter'd mild,
When he grew wan and pale;
His bendin joints and drooping head
Show'd he began to fail.

His colour sicken'd more and more,
He faded into age;
And then his enemies began
To show their deadly rage.

They've taen a weapon, long and sharp,
And cut him by the knee;
They ty'd him fast upon a cart,
Like a rogue for forgerie.

They laid him down upon his back,
And cudgell'd him full sore.
They hung him up before the storm,
And turn'd him o'er and o'er.

They filled up a darksome pit
With water to the brim,
They heav'd in John Barleycorn-
There, let him sink or swim!

They laid him upon the floor,
To work him farther woe;
And still, as signs of life appear'd,
They toss'd him to and fro.

They wasted o'er a scorching flame
The marrow of his bones;
But a miller us'd him worst of all,
For he crush'd him between two atones.

And they hae taen his very hero blood
And drank it round and round;
And still the more and more they drank,
Their joy did more abound.

John Barleycorn was a hero bold,
Of noble enterprise;
For if you do but taste his blood,
'Twill make your courage rise.

'Twill make a man forget his woe;
'Twill heighten all his joy:
'Twill make the widow's heart to sing,
Tho the tear were in her eye.

Then let us toast John Barleycorn,
Each man a glass in hand;
And may his great posterity
Ne'er fail in old Scotland!

I hope you all enjoy the day .  Go get some fresh fruit, some seasonal vegetables and make a delicious feast.
May your cupboards and bellies be ever full!

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