Muin Light

The Newsletter for Muin Mound Grove


Muin Light: Lughnassad, C.E. 1998


Lammas: The First Harvest

by Mike Nichols

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Once upon a Lammas Night When corn rigs are bonny, Beneath the Moon's unclouded light, I held awhile to Annie...

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Although in the heat of a Mid-western summer it might be difficult to discern, the festival of Lammas (Aug 1st) marks the end of summer and the beginning of fall. The days now grow visibly shorter and by the time we've reached autumn's end (Oct 31st), we will have run the gamut of temperature from the heat of August to the cold and (sometimes) snow of November. And in the midst of it, a perfect Mid-western autumn.

The history of Lammas is as convoluted as all the rest of the old folk holidays. It is of course a cross-quarter day, one of the four High Holidays or Greater Sabbats of Witchcraft, occurring 1/4 of a year after Beltane. It's true astrological point is 15 degrees Leo, which occurs at 1:18 am CDT, Aug 6th this year (1988), but tradition has set August 1st as the day Lammas is typically celebrated. The celebration proper would begin on sundown of the previous evening, our July 31st, since the Celts reckon their days from sundown to sundown.

However, British Witches often refer to the astrological date of Aug 6th as Old Lammas, and folklorists call it Lammas O.S. ('Old Style'). This date has long been considered a 'power point' of the Zodiac, and is symbolized by the Lion, one of the 'tetramorph' figures found on the Tarot cards, the World and the Wheel of Fortune (the other three figures being the Bull, the Eagle, and the Spirit). Astrologers know these four figures as the symbols of the four 'fixed' signs of the Zodiac, and these naturally align with the four Great Sabbats of Witchcraft. Christians have adopted the same iconography to represent the four gospel-writers.

In Irish Gaelic, the feast was referred to as 'Lugnasadh', a feast to commemorate the funeral games of the Irish sun-god Lugh. However, there is some confusion on this point. Although at first glance, it may seem that we are celebrating the death of the Lugh, the god of light does not really die (mythically) until the autumnal equinox. And indeed, if we read the Irish myths closer, we discover that it is not Lugh's death that is being celebrated, but the funeral games which Lugh hosted to commemorate the death of his foster- mother, Taillte. That is why the Luggasadh celebrations in Ireland are often called the 'Tailltean Games'.

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The time went by with careless heed Between the late and early, With small persuasion she agreed To see me through the barley...

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One common feature of the Games were the 'Tailltean marriages', a rather informal marriage that lasted for only 'a year and a day' or until next Lammas. At that time, the couple could decide to continue the arrangement if it pleased them, or to stand back to back and walk away from one another, thus bringing the

Tailltean marriage to a formal close. Such trial marriages (obviously related to the Wiccan 'Handfasting') were quite common even into the 1500's, although it was something one 'didn't bother the parish priest about'. Indeed, such ceremonies were usually solemnized by a poet, bard, or shanachie (or, it may be guessed, by a priest or priestess of the Old Religion).

'Lammas' was the medieval Christian name for the holiday and it means 'loaf-mass', for this was the day on which loaves of bread were baked from the first grain harvest and laid on the church altars as offerings. It was a day representative of 'first fruits' and early harvest.

Lammastide was also the traditional time of year for craft festivals. The medieval guilds would create elaborate displays of their wares, decorating their shops and themselves in bright colors and ribbons, marching in parades, and performing strange, ceremonial plays and dances for the entranced onlookers. The atmosphere must have been quite similar to our modern-day Renaissance Festivals, such as the one celebrated in near-by Bonner Springs, Kansas, each fall.

A ceremonial highlight of such festivals was the 'Catherine wheel'. Although the Roman Church moved St. Catherine's feast day all around the calender with bewildering frequency, it's most popular date was Lammas. (They also kept trying to expel this much-loved saint from the ranks of the blessed because she was mythical rather than historical, and because her worship gave rise to the heretical sect known as the Cathari.) At any rate, a large wagon wheel was taken to the top of a near-by hill, covered with tar, set aflame, and ceremoniously rolled down the hill. Some mythologists see in this ritual the remnants of a Pagan rite symbolizing the end of summer, the flaming disk representing the sun-god in his decline. And just as the sun king has now reached the autumn of his years, his rival or dark self has just reached puberty.

Many commentators have bewailed the fact that traditional Gardnerian and Alexandrian Books of Shadows say very little about the holiday of Lammas, stating only that poles should be ridden and a circle dance performed. This seems strange, for Lammas is a holiday of rich mythic and cultural associations, providing endless resources for liturgical celebration.

Corn rigs and barley rigs, Corn rigs are bonny! I'll not forget that happy night Among the rigs

with Annie!

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[Verse quotations by Robert Burns, as handed down through several Books of Shadows.]

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This file contains 9 seasonal articles by Mike Nichols. They may be freely distributed provided that the following conditions are met: (1) No fee is charged for their use and distribution and no commercial use is made of them; (2) These files are not changed or edited in any way without the author's permission; (3) This notice is not removed. An article may be distributed as a separate file, provided that this notice is repeated at the beginning of each such file. These articles are periodically updated by the author; this version is current as of 9/28/88. Contact Mike Nichols at the Magick Lantern BBS [(816)531-7265, 7pm. - 11am., 300 baud ONLY] for more recent updates, or to leave your own comments on them.


Morrígan, Phantom Queen

by Willow Nimfeach


Hear me warriors!

Women and men who do battle,

hear the voice of your dark battle Queen.

It is I who wash your bloody garments at the ford.

I am the one who circles the battlefield on dark wings.

I am sovereign goddess, and so mated with the Dagda.

I am the shrieking cry heard over the din of war.

The Formorians would not have been defeated, without my advice.

I am vengeance and love, chaos and wisdom, war fury and protectoress.

I am a warrior.

I am a woman.

I am, the Morrígan.

The Power of Ch’i (Part One)

by Keith "Rhino" Veeder (Wyrmsoul)

In the Eastern philosophies the magick of the martial arts is made possible through the manipulation of the Ch’i force; which relates primarily to internal power - as opposed to the external power of physical strength. Ch’i is the universal force which activates all beings and permeates all things, something like the Hindu Prana and the Tibetan Lung-oom. On a more personal level, Ch’i can be aligned with the Hindu concept of Shakti or spirit energy. Richard Wilhelm provides what could be considered the most suitable definition of an indefinable concept in his translation of "The Secret of the Golden Flower".

Even if man lives in the energy (vital breath) he does not see the energy, just as fish live in the water but do not see the water. Man dies when he has not vital breath, just as fish perish when deprived of water.

There is an instance recorded on film of a display by Master Veshiba Morihei, founder of the master arts form known as Aikido, which defies all known laws of time, space and bodily motion. A frame by frame replay reveals the then 75 year old being charged from each side at top speed by a pair of Judo black belts. In one frame Master Veshiba is waiting as his attackers are about to pounce. In the next frame the attackers are about to collide, and Master Veshiba is several feet away. He moved to safety in 1/18 of a second.

I will be using several examples of Master Veshiba’s ability in future articles. Sportswriter, Jeff Wells, refers to such displays of skills as "the art of energy conversion". This art of energy conversion is also what magick, as we know it in the West, is all about.

Senior Druid’s Report

Festival season is almost upon us. Even as you read this, some of us will be at Brushwood for the Sirius Rising and the Starwood festivals. Members from many groves gathered at the Wellspring festival and ideas for new works poured forth! We’ve been making changes in the field and with the Nemeton area, and are working on some changes in the ritual format.

We hope to see many of you here for our Lughnasadh ritual (8/1) and for Muin Mound Madness (8/14 – 8/16). This year’s Muin Mound Madness will be a working gathering. We will be holding meetings to discuss our theology and to evaluate the progress of our study plan. There will be a Bardic night on Saturday followed by drumming and dancing around the fire! Call Skip at 315-656-8681 for more details. See you there!

Sun Slip

As today’s tears dry upon my hands, I watch the sun slip behind a mountain, under a wave. I hear the night one’s start to stir and open their eyes to the darkness. The blood of yesterday has dried and then blown away, yet even today’s tears are wet within my mind. Someone once told me we are star stuff, and that which shines within the heavens does also in us. My lips curve and smile, a song resounds in my soul, an for a time I sleep. I die a little each day yet am reborn as well. The universe has me right where I am supposed to be. This I know and so I smile, I smile, I smile.

©1998 by Phoenix

Close your eyes...

Envision yourself standing around a magical fire with the flames licking the indigo night sky. Sparks of electricity fill the air; pregnant with anticipation. Glistening stars wink at you, each with their own story. Leaves rustle; you glimpse the sparkle of faery wings. You feel the warrior presence of the Morrigan and the strength of the Dagda. Surrounded by kindred souls,, together you raise a magic that touches the cords of remembrance of a by-gone era. You are at ritual at Muin Mound Grove; time stands still.

Now open your eyes.....

The experience at Muin Mound Grove is individual, experienced by each of us in our own unique way. How many of us wish we could capture that moment and incorporate it in our daily lives?

Involvement in Muin Mound Grove need not end when ritual ends. Being a pagan is more than just celebrating the high holidays.

Have you noticed the announcement of business meetings in the newsletter? Does this conjure up thoughts of corporate America or Kia Marie’s new whip held by Skip over the heads of the folk of the grove? Do you question whether you will be expected to come up with brilliant solutions to all Druid questions or if you will be expected to do hard physical labor?

The business meetings are fun, interactive,, and a great way to increase your understanding of ritual. Whether you are a new Druid or a veteran, your participation is valuable. For me, attending these meetings has enhanced my ritual experience and helped me incorporate Druidism in my daily life These meetings can be addictive!

Come visit us at Meetings and judge for yourself!!!!!!!!!

If you have any contributions, they are always welcome and encouraged! Write to us c/o Muin Mound Grove, PO Box 592, East Syracuse, NY 13057-0592 or via e-mail

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