And the tides turn and the moons change. The Moon fades, the Moon grows. The Summer warms and the Summer cools. Summer gives way to Autumn. As the moons change.
In July, I talked of the Flower Moon, of the Summer Solstice, of the Fire Moon. The Fire Moon faded and another moon came. That faded, and yet another came. As the always do. As the moons change.
After the Solstice, the Year marched on. The Sun began its slow movement Southward, the days shortened. Lugh’s Day Came and went. As the moons change.
Fires seemed to grow until the Full moon of Fire, getting worse, bur as the Moon faded, so did the fires. Fires continue in areas, and the ones that were here are not all out, buy with the passing of the Fire Moon, they no longer touched our lives. They became forgotten, ignored. New fires did not come, at least here. With the moon, the fires withdrew for consciousness, from importance. As the moons change.
So, we moved on in late July, from the Fire Moon to a new moon. In the dark it was born. With it, my allergies started acting up, an oddity, since usually this doesn’t come until the second week of so of September. My allergies here in the valley have always been strange to me, as they never occurring in other places I have lived across the West. Only once did I react to pollen, only one type. As a kid, I sniffed a bundle of white yarrow flowers, and immediately sneezed. Tried it again to test with the same results. I had no reaction in general, only when I sniffed it directly. So why allergies for a month here every year? As the moons change.
Close to the middle of the unnamed Moon, just after the Full Moon, I traveled up into the mountains first to the East near Happy Jack, then the Southwest near Lake Owen. I found plants in seed that I had expected to still see blooming. I saw plants blooming that usually don’t until later. I saw a world changing to Autumn when it should be the heart of Summer. But Spring and Summer both came early, so no surprise there. I thought to call it the Seed Moon because of all that had gone to seed, but it didn’t seem right. I thought to call it the Moss Moon, for the moss I caught blooming. But that didn’t fit either. But I did find something that both fit the Moon and explained a mystery. Everywhere I went, I saw yarrow blooming. In small patches, it was scattered everywhere in the hills. And I realized, the other signs I had seen all pointed to the time period of my normal allergies. Like the other signs, yarrow was blooming early. Though early, it was the time for yarrow to bloom, the Yarrow Moon. As the moons change.
Earlier in the Yarrow Moon, just before the Full Moon of Yarrow, many calendars mark Lugh’s Day, also called Lammas (Hlaf-Mass, Loaf Mass) or Lughnasadh/Lunasa/Lunastal/Luanistyn (Lugh’s Feast) or Calan Awst (the Calends of August). The myth goes that Lugh’s foster mother Tailtiu died of exhaustion after clearing the plans of Ireland for agriculture. In memory of her sacrifice and to honour her death and memory, Lugh held a huge feast and sporting contest, the prototype for later jousts and similar events. In another account, it marks Lugh defeating Balor (or Bel or Baal), the king of the giants, Fomorians. Often, this was Lugh’s grandfather, and Lugh proclaimed a day of mourning for his death. In later legends, it becomes Lugh who died and is mourned. Lammas comes from the Saxon name, and was a Saxon feast around the same time. Both are harvest festivals, the beginning of grain harvest, typically the first of three harvest festivals in the British Isles. The clearing of the plans is obvious, the killing of Balor, not so much. There are a couple hints in the details. The death of the old giving rise to the new. The mourning ceremony that continued almost to present day. Bres, who had recruited Balor to fight that battle, being found alive and begging for mercy, first by offering to insure the cows of Ireland always give milk, then offering four harvests, then offering and having it accepted to teach the Dé how and when to plough, sow, and reap. The last is obvious, it was on that day they learner the steps to get to harvest, which begins that time of year. But what of death and mourning? The harvest marks the death of the grain. They grow until harvest, then are cut down, their heads cut off like people killed in battle, like Balor, cut down by Lugh’s spear through the back of his head or neck or through his one killing eye depending on the myth, his head falling and splitting and being impaled on a hazel tree, tree of wisdom and prophecy. Many symbols there, but I won’t go into them now. For our purposes here, Lugh cutting down Balor is the reapers cutting down grain in harvest, the mourning of that death. As the moons change.
But that’s the origins and practices of tradition in the British Isles, among Celts and Saxons. Wyoming is a different time and place, I am a different person, and Grimr is a different stream. Lugh’s Day does not mark harvest here most years, where hay is the only crop. No, I must look elsewhere, for the blooms and seeds, the harvest and births are here lunar, not solar, but the solar, and stellar, year hold mysteries beyond planting and harvest. The secret lies not in the harvest per se, but in the day’s Twin across the year. As Beltane and Samhain are linked, the Wedding and the Sacrifice, and Summer and Winter Solstices, the Child in the Womb and the Waking Serpent, so Bride’s Day and Lugh’s Day reflect. The first thing to note is that Irish folk belief said animals didn’t give much milk in winter, but started producing after Brigid’s Day, Bride’s Day, when birthing began. With milk comes butter, golden, like Lugh’s wheat at harvest. Lugh’s from plants, Bride’s from animals. There are also stories describing St. Brenden as father at Lugh’s. Feast and St. Brigid as mother. Brenden can be shown as a sit in for Lugh, who could no longer be present in a Christian society. Brigid/Bride became St. Brigid. St. Brenden’s father was named Fionnlugh, Fionn Lugh. Fionn was a great Irish hero, and we know Lugh. Many rituals ones done in Lugh’s name are now done in St. Brenden’s name. St. Brennan is of course the patron saint of navigation because of his voyage and roughly mirror’s the voyage of Bran mac Febal. Bran the Blessed in Welsh tales, the giant who was King of all Britain, the possessor of the Cauldron of Rejuvenation and brother of Branwen, who was a sea god by all appearances, is often seen as the same as the Irish Bran mac Febal. Bran the Blessed’s brother, Manawydan fab Llŷr in Welsh tales is Manannán mac Lir in Irishmyth and is the foster father of Lugh in Irish myth. Like Bran in Welsh myth, Manannán in Irish myth is a sea god. Curiously, it’s Manannán who prophecies to Bran mac Febal. Both Llŷr and Lir are also sea gods, though little is said of them except who they are fathers to. There is indication that they are the personification of the sea itself. The similarities between the voyage of Bran mac Febal and that or St. Brenden, and the familial connections of Bran mac Febal, through Bran the Blessed and Manawydan, to Manannán, combined with his part in the voyage of Bran mac Febal, plus the abundance of sea gods and sea voyages in this confusing web, and Manannán being both the foster father of Lugh and the prophet directing Bran mac Febal seem to place St. Brenden in a role similar to that of Lugh, in a convoluted way. (And it should not be ignored the Bran the Blessed became the Fisher King in Graal legend, and the connection between the Fisher King, the Land and Wasteland, and the Graal, with Lugh’s Day’s connection to fertility and harvest.) So, in St. Brenden and St. Brigid overseeing Lugh’s Feast, we have Lugh and Brigid, father and mother of the feast, of the food, of the grain and butter, of the bread. Fertility begins with Brigid, with the beginning of new life in February, ending with Lugh, with the harvest of August. As the moons change.
It’s important, of course, to take the Zodiac into consideration. Lugh’s Day lands in the middle of Leo, the Lion. The characteristic normally associated with people born in Leo relate well to both Bran the Blessed and to Lugh. Generous, creative, enthusiastic. Bran the Blessed was well known for his hospitality, his generosity. Lugh was the master of all skills, he could do anything, create anything (among other things, like Brigid, we was a smith). Creativity definitely applies. And both were definitely enthusiastic, giving everything to anything they did. The sun moves into Leo around July 23rd, reaches the middle around Lugh’s Day, then moves out around August 23rd. As the moons change.
So we have a framework, but where does Lugh’s Day play into our cycle, the myth cycle I have described in previous posts? The serpent killed in the Tide of Samhain, Awakened in the Tide of Widwinter, Called in the Tide of Candlemas (Bride’s Day), Reborn in the Tide of the Equinox, Wed in the Tide of Beltane, and Father of the Child in the Womb in the Tide of Midsummer. Where does Lugh’s Feast find our Winged Serpent and our May Queen? If impregnation was with the wedding at Beltane, and Midsummer had the focus of her pregnancy, Lugh’s Day must be the birth. This is appropriate across from Bride’s Day, the Calling. As the Winged Serpent crawls up the Well of Worlds, so the Horned Child is born through the Well of the Womb. Twin and Twin. Just as the Winged Serpent stirred in the Womb of Death as Midwinter, so the Horned Child stirred in the Womb of Life at Midsummer. Twin and Twin. Fitting parallels across the circle of the Year. So, Lugh’s Day is the birth of the Horned Child. Now, looking at Lugh and Brigid again, at the Golden Wheat and the Golden Butter, at Plant and Animal, looking at our cycle, the Winged Serpent becomes the Lord of Animals, and the Horned Child the Lord of Plants. The Red God and the Green God. The Hunter and the Gatherer. The Herdsman and the Ploughman. Abel and Cain. Twins. And Nexus and Catalyst as we will see as the year moves on. As the moons change.
On the 17th of August, the Yarrow Moon drew to a close and a new Moon was born in the Dark of the Moon, as a new Moon is always born. With the fading of the Yarrow Moon, my allergies faded and vanished as the new Moon began to grow. This was a hard time for me, as my grandma died the day before the New Moon. I distracted myself that evening by spending it in the high mountains below Medicine Bow Peak in the Snowies, started near the Lake of Tears and Skye’s Cairn. I stopped many places on my way up, and spend several hours in the country around the mountain. I realized that high country was very much what Jutenheim would be like, a place of giants and ancient power and wisdom. On my way up, I discovered the sagebrush had begun to bloom in places. On the Dark of the Moon itself, I went up to my working site and had an encounter with Deneb among other things, though I won’t go into detail in this public place. Deneb was once the Pole Star, before it shifted to Polaris. It sits in an open Well of Darkness in the sky, right by the Milky Way. This is a timely experience, as the Chinese Feast of Qixi, the Night of Sevens, falls on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month. The Moon following the Yarrow Moon is that month this year, placing Qixi on the day beginning at sundown on the 23rd of August this year the Thursday following my experience. Qixi celebrates Zhinu and Niulang, the Weaver Girl and the Cowherd. The Weaver Girl was princess of Heaven, and the Cowherd, a lowly human herdsman. They fell in love and the Jade Emperor, the Weaver Girl’s father, got upset and placed a river between them. Each year on Qixi, the magpies (it is also called the Magpie Feast) gather and form a bridge over the river so they can be together for one night. Vega is the Weaver Girl. Altair is the Cowherd. The Milky Way is the River. And Deneb is the Magpie Bridge, the Bridge across the River that separates Heaven and Earth. Deneb is a Bridge between the Human and the Divine. I’ve talked of Bridges before. Sunday following the Dark of the Moon, I traveled down to Colorado to pick up my love from the airport. On the way, I stopped and observed, and the sagebrush was blooming more and more. This continued. Some bloom sage green, but some bloom bright yellow. sagebrush is important in Wyoming. It the main native plant of the High Plains. Some sagebrush in Wyoming is over 200 years old and seven or eight feet tall. I call this old growth sagebrush. Like those who settled in Wyoming, sagebrush is hard to kill. It survives the extremes of weather, from hard winters to hot summers. It does fine in the short growing seasons. It can survive on very little water but isn’t killed by flooding. But it spreads very slowly and is virtually impossible to transplant, so once it’s cleared, it will take a generation for it to reclaim the fields. sagebrush was used as a medicinal plant by natives to Wyoming. It was used to treat infection, treat headaches and colds, and to stop internal bleeding. Infection was treated with a poultice. It was inhaled for colds and head aches, sometimes just breathed in, sometimes burned and the smoke inhaled, depending on the tribe. For internal bleeding, it was drank as a tea. On the Full Moon of this Moon (which was the Blue Moon, as I discussed in a previous post), I once again spent time outside in meditation. I encountered the Twins in a dark mirror, but can’t give any more details here. As this Moon draws to a close, I look back on the month, at the death of my grandmother on the 16th before the Moon changed, to Deneb on the 17th, to the return of my love on the 19th, to the lose of my job on the 24th, to my grandma’s memorial service on the 26th, to the Twins on the 31st. I look at the darkness of the first half of the Moon, but growing light in the second half. I look at the steadily increasing signs of Autumn as the days grow shorter and the temperatures drop, as the leaves slowly change and the sagebrush blooms. The second Moon of Autumn, early but firm, draws to a close. Looking back, this month of death and endings, of darkness and light, seems to be a month for the sagebrush of the plains, not the trees or plants of the mountains. It’s a month of ranchers not mountain men, of cattle and antelope, not the animals of the mountains. Life fades in the mountains, but the prairies bloom. So here we draw to the end of the Sagebrush Moon, wondering what the Dark of the Moon tomorrow night will bring, what the third Moon of Autumn has in store for us, what the coming Equinox will reveal. As the moons change.