Culture

Lughnasadh – Gaelic Cross-Quarter Feast

Although our ancestors and some of todays Wiccan/Pagan communities may have celebrated the first harvest feast on the first day of August, according to Archaeoastronomy.com, the actual cross-quarter of Lughnasadh occurs on August 7th of this year. Therefore, Damsel and I will be feasting on the actual cross-quarter day, August 07, 2022. A traditional Irish dinner is planned with Corned Beef and Cabbage and some Irish-inspired sides.

Disclaimer: We celebrate these festivals because of our ancestry (which is partially traceable to Ireland, Wales, England and Scotland, among others) and not that we are Pagans or Wiccans – we are of the Christian Faith and are patriotic to the Republic of the United States of America. It’s the Gaelic tradition and novelty that interests us (as well as the Feasting).

There is more about the Lughnasadh feast at Wikipedia:

Lughnasadh or Lughnasa is a Gaelic festival marking the beginning of the harvest season. Historically, it was widely observed throughout Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man. In Modern Irish it is called Lúnasa, in Scottish Gaelic: Lùnastal, and in Manx: Luanistyn. Traditionally it is held on 1 August, or about halfway between the summer solstice and autumn equinox. In recent centuries some of the celebrations have been shifted to the Sunday nearest this date.

Lughnasadh is one of the four Gaelic seasonal festivals, along with Samhain, Imbolc and Beltane. It corresponds to other European harvest festivals such as the Welsh Gwyl Awst and the English Lammas.

Lughnasadh is mentioned in some of the earliest Irish literature and has pagan origins. The festival itself is named after the god Lugh. It inspired great gatherings that included religious ceremonies, ritual athletic contests, feasting, matchmaking, and trading. Lughnasadh occurred during a very poor time of the year for the farming community when the old crops were done and the new ones not yet ready for harvest.

In other news, we have been having some work done on the RV. I’ll post about that later. Also, I found a WordPress blog theme that will work for us (with some mods). I will be bringing that theme online within this week, so be prepared for those changes evolving over the next few days/weeks/months.

Mise Èireannach

The title is Gaelic for “I Am Irish.” While that assertion is partially correct, both the wife and I are descendants of Scots, Irish, Welsh and English for the most part with traces of Native American and other (mostly) European ancestors. With all that disclosure out of the way, we will identify as Irish this week when we celebrate the cross-quarter feast of Beltane, about halfway between spring equinox and summer solstice.

Modern cultures that recognize Beltane typically celebrate on May Day (01 May), but the actual cross-quarter doesn’t occur until the fifth of May which is coincident with “Cinco de Mayo,” but since we have no Hispanic ancestry that we could find, we’re going with the Celtic celebration. However, due to our busy and crowded schedule as retirees, we have to postpone the festivities until the weekend (of May 07/08). Weekends are when we usually celebrate midweek holidays.

So, we will celebrate Beltane by having a traditional Irish dinner entrée of Shepherd’s Pie. Damsel found a simple recipe for “upside-down” shepherd’s pie, so we will be preparing it that way. We may also indulge in an Irish Cocktail at that time.

Sunday the 8th is, of course, Mother’s Day. Most of us retirees will wish our heavenly Mom’s a happy day in Heaven. Our Sunday meal will be Grilled Tri-Tip roast with braised cabbage and asparagus.

Cheers and Happy Cinco de Beltane to all the Mothers and Others out there.

Spring Begins in the Northern Hemisphere

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Grand Octal Image via archaeoastronomy.com

Today marks the first day of spring North of the Equator. The graphical “Grand Octal” image above shows our planet as of today, passing through the Vernal Equinox portal in its orbit around the Sun. The other portals depicted have special meanings as well, dating back to primitive people whose cultures would depend on knowledge of the position of Earth during the year.

Here in our little patch of Arizona, we have been enjoying occasional spring-like days since February, as well as some not-so-warmish days and nights. Checking with our weather history on this day (courtesy NWS), we find that our forecast high of 65°F will be below the average 78°F temperature for this first spring day while we will be slightly above the record cool for this date (61°F) and well below the record high (92°F). I guess Global Warming has yet to catch up with us.

During these times of the overblown fake news media and democrat demagoguery (but I repeat myself), forecasting doom and gloom, we’re doing fine. We have things in stock, as we always do, that keep our household up and running with all our needs covered. Since we maintain two households on the premises (house and motorhome) there is plenty of everything available until all the bull$#!t blows over.

We hope everyone who reads this has planned accordingly and wish you comfort, safety and good health. We pray for these things.

All Hallows’ Eve

halloween.pngOur little Arizona house is located on an unpaved access (can’t really call it a road although it’s passable for most vehicles) which is about five hundred feet from the nearest paved road. In addition to there being no real road, there are no street lights, either. That means that not many kids (zero so far in eight Halloweens here) venture into the dark desert to go trick or treating. After all, there are all kinds of potentially unfriendly nocturnal critters that habit these parts including javelina, cougar, coyote and others.

So we’re expecting to get NO visitors on this night, which is fine with us. There are a few children that live in our area, but their folks take them to lighted, less rural areas for the evening.

When we lived in Torrance, we would get a steady stream of kids, most of whose parents brought them to our nice neighborhood from their crappy ones. We got tired of that and cut them off for several years before moving here.

In late October and early November in the year 2000, Damsel and I were in Rome; I was there for conferences with our business partner on a satellite project and Damsel came with me. While I was in meetings, she toured with one of the other wives who spoke Italian and was familiar with the environment.

One of the things that was interesting was the Romans were into Halloween just like in America which was surprising to us. The difference is that many of them also celebrated “Tutti Santi” – All Saints Day on November 1st. We watched Pope John Paul II celebrate the mass in St Peter’s on TV from our hotel room. We headed back to America the following day.

We had many other good Halloweens in the old days, often hosting costume parties for family and friends. Good memories, but we don’t miss all the late night activity and possible morning after blues.

We hope that those of you who will be celebrating have a safe and sane time. Enjoy!

Vernal Equinox

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Archaeoastronomy‘s Earth Clock Graphic shows Earth’s current position relative to the cusps of equinoxes, solstices and cross-quarters. As you can see, Earth is crossing through the Vernal Equinox cusp along its orbit around the sun. As of 14:58 Arizona Time, we are now officially in the spring has sprung mode.

Our early signs of spring have started. Damsel’s Flowering Plum is full of blossoms and her Daffodils are opening, no thanks to the colder late winter weather here. Wickenburg actually had three or four days of snow this winter which is highly unusual. The high temperatures were seldom above 60 degrees F. for much of February to mid March.

The rest of the xeriscape garden is also showing signs of spring, albeit later than normal. We have several beavertail cacti which all are sprouting flower and paddle buds. The Argentine Giant out front is showing flower buds and a new arm sprouting, maybe two. The other prickly pear cacti will be getting flowers later in spring. The giant saguaro out front should also be getting flowers in late spring.

I’m sure that with the cactus flowers opening and other springtime events, Damsel’s (and my) camera will capture some of it for posting here. Stay tuned . . .

Celebrating Our Irish Heritage

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Damsel’s sister is an Ancestry addict, having traced not only her roots, but also those of mine, and many of her other in-laws. Thanks to her, we were able to look back in our family tree to establish that, indeed, there were Irish ancestors in both Damsel’s and my lineage. In both cases, we have to go back quite a few generations to actually find someone who lived on the Emerald Isles.

Damsel’s birth surname is quite Irish-sounding, while mine is more of English derivation. In both cases, we each trace to that region of Europe with some Dutch showing up in my ancestry (e.g. Van Patten, Van Slyck). Damsel has some Native American in the Oklahoma region up her tree.

Regardless of our actual heritage, we’re both Irish today as we settle in to enjoy a traditional (to Irish Americans) Corned Beef and Cabbage boiled dinner this afternoon. We hope that you are enjoying the day as well, Irish or not.