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Monday, July 11, 2011

Gods of the Harvest

Monday, July 11, 2011
courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net
As we are nearing the first of the three Harvests, I wanted to take some time to talk about some different Harvest Gods.

The first being Saturn. The Roman God Saturn was an ancient god of fertility. He was known as the Protector and Sower of the Seed. In pictures he is portrayed as having a sickle in his left hand and a sheaf of wheat in his right.

His wife Rhea, was the goddess of plenty and the patroness of riches, abundance, and prosperity both personal and national. Together they insured a bountiful harvest for the land.

I have included him in this list although he was typically honored at a harvest-home or winter solstice celebration marked by carnival, exchange of gifts, feasting, license and misrule, and a cessation of all public works. At which the God was slain in surrogate to represent his travel to the Underworld and merger with his opposite self. This being where we get the image of Father Time from. And the idea that there was a god of half the year and the another god for the other half.

Another God and one that is lesser know is the Assyrian God Adonis. Although sometimes thought of as Greek his roots lie in Mesopotamia. Where he was honored as the God of the dying summer vegetation. And in some stories he actually dies himself and is then reborn.

To wrap-up I wanted to talk about the God that this Sabbat is named for, Lugh. In the Celtic myths this holiday was in honor of his mother's, Tailte, death. Hence why the Tailtean games were called what they were. Lugh was known my many names but the most well known was his role as the God of many skills. These being healing, the craft of the warrior, poetry, music. Because this Sabbat is named in his honor I have included a story below that talk of his many skills.

It was a rainy and miserable day when Lugh arrived at the gates of Tara, the not-so-stong-anymore-hold of the Tuatha De Dannan. The Formorians had the Dannans under their oppressive force for some time now. Nuada, the King, had lost his hand in battle and, even though a silver one had been put in its place, that worked just as well, he was forced to step down from his throne. (Celtic law forbade any to be ruler who had any form of blemish on his/her self). In his place, ruled Bres: a half Formorian, half Dannan> He was a good looking man but he had the countenance of a boor (not a boar).
Lugh appraoched the gate and knocked. His knock was soon answered by a sour-faced gatekeeper.
"What do you want?" Asked the gatekeeper.
"I have come to offer my skills to your people" Replied Lugh.
"What skills could you have to offer us?"
"I am a warrior"
"We already have warriors"
"I am a healer"
"We have many"
"I am a smith"
"We already have one"
This went on and on for quite a while. The gatekeeper was about to slam the door in his face when Lugh asked one final question:
"If you already have someone who can do ALL of these things, then I shall walk away and bother you no more"
The gatekeeper went to check. When he came back, he allowed Lugh entry. They had no one who could do all those things.
Not only did Lugh "get the job", but he even became King for a year and a day with Nuada as his advisor. During his "reign", he led the Tuatha De Dannan against the Formorians in the second Battle of Mag Tuiriedh. During the battle, he finally met up with the Formorian leader, Balor (who was also his grandfather). A joyous family reunion, it was not! While Balor's men prepared to open his evil eye that when opened would kill all within its sight, Lugh prepared his slingshot. As the eye was opened, Lugh made his shot. It went through the eye, making it look in upon Balor and Balor was killed. The Formorian threat was defeated and the De Dannans were victorious. 
During his reign, his father Cian was killed by the sons of Uisnach. Lugh ruled that the sons would pay a very hefty honour price, which at the very end cost them their lives...but not at Lugh's hands. His foster mother, Tailtu died as well and Lugh held a massive funeral feast in her honour complete with warrior "games" (kind of like the Olympic games). He stated that this feast would be celebrated along with the harvest every year at the same time...hence the festival of Lughnassadh that is celebrated on August 1 to this day.

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