By Kristin Olsen
Join me as we explore the Way of the Celts, land of myth and fantasy. The Celts had some interesting views surrounding the changing of the seasons. Let us delved into some ideas and concepts surrounding the turning of the year, rebirth, renewal and revitalization. The Ancient Celts believed the world to be a magical, variable realm ruled by invisible forces and mystical elements. Each and every rock, stick, twig, tree, stream, flower and river had a spiritual presence associated with it. The ancients would be very careful and watch where they walked for they never knew if a Sprite or Fairy was lurking under the petals of that daisy they just walked past. They believed that the sprit or deity associated with each thing in nature might be watching them, so they were oh so careful. Even the most mundane tasks and projects were taken care of with reverence and rituals became associated with each task to keep the spirits happy and to avoid being captured by the faeries. Some of these have become traditions that are still in practice today. As the wheel turns in each and every season of our lives, there is new hope. With each seed of hope sown is the promise of a better tomorrow. Open your eyes wide as we explore, learn and grow and discover that all things are possible if you see it so.
This was a time when Fairies, Leprechauns and Dragons roamed the Emerald Isle, a time when the interconnectedness of the clans, the land, the world and the universe were treasured. An age when the passage of time and the cycles of the moon, sun and tides were honored and respected. Close your eyes and envision a giant clock with gold spun hands turning as each new season arrives. Can you see the harvest? Can you feel the warm air on your face and the brisk chill fading as the land turns its way from spring to summer? Let us now turn the Wheel and explore the ancient Celtic idea of the Summer Solstice.
After the spring begins a time when the flowers flourish, the grasses grow, the harvest thrives, and the Emerald Isle is alive and teaming with life and love. The ancient tradition of Beltane normally celebrated around April 30 to May 1, also known as May Day, rings in the warm and life-giving season of summer. The magic and majesty of the universe and the celtic lands are alive and visible. Renewal is in the air and the wee folk are sprinkling magical fairy dust to all that enter their realm. Love and Magic can be felt all over the lands, if you simply open your eyes to the possibility. Summer is the time to relax and renew and breathe the clean fresh air that is life. Many celebrations occurred, as this was the beginning of the summer season. The Other world and Fairies were magickal and prevalent in the celebrations during this time.
The traditional lighting of a bonfire is a long held custom. The fire represents renewal and rebirth and cleansing and magical awareness. In the ancient days of Ireland when fairies and other wee folk roamed freely, the traditional fire was lit on the ancient hilltop at Tara. Tara was considered the ancient ritual center of the Celtic Lands. Can you not see the glorious sparkle of firelight glowing? Can you not see maidens adorned in flowers danced with long flowing locks as young men watched in adoration, whilst wee leprechauns and fairy folk alike stood in between the veil of both worlds to watch the magic play forth in the red fire embers.
Alban Heruin or Litha – also known as Summer Solstice and to the Christians the Feast of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist is traditionally celebrated around the 24th of June. Summer Solstice is the longest day of the year so bonfires were lit to welcome the sun and also to honor the passing into the harvesting season. The Celts clock expressed the days from sundown to sundown, so the Solstice actually begun at the previous day’s sunset. The Celts also believed that the summer season began on May Day and ended on Lammas or Lughnasa (August 1). Summer Solstice was midway between the two important harvesting rituals in their world.
Today in Ireland you can still find celebrations and festivals that honor the ancient traditions Lughnasa or the Christian tradition of the Assumption of Mary. The summer months are a grand time for fairs and celebrations because the weather is usually mild and pleasant. The Puck Fair, in Killorglin, County Kerry is one of the best-known traditional fairs when a male goat is crowned as king for three days and known as ‘ King Puck’. Lughnasa Sunday is known as ‘Bilberry Sunday” in many districts of Ireland. An interesting tradition is to climb the mountains to collect fruits that might represent the first harvest pickings. In yet other parts of Ireland the closest Sunday to Lughnasa was known as Cally Sunday. It was the traditional day to harvest the first of the potato crop. The Catholic church has established the ritual of blessing the fields on this day. In the Irish immigrant families in other countries including the United States and Canada, the Lá Lúnasa festivities are traditional times for family reunions and parties. Today, in Ireland, Lughnasa celebrations are largely replaced by Garland Sunday. It is celebrated on the last Sunday of July and is a bank and postal holiday.
Enjoy the Tea recipe below to renew your spirit and tantalize your taste buds as you dream of renewal in your life and work toward fulfilling your hopes and dreams. Brew your tea, relax in your lawn chair in the Mid Summers sunshine and let the rays wash over your body and clear your minds eye to all of life’s fantastic possibilities.
Mid Summer’s Tea
1 pinch Rosemary
2 pinches Thyme
2 tsp. Black Tea
3 fresh Mint leaves
5 fresh Rosebud petals
5 fresh Lemon tree leaves
3 pinches Nutmeg
3 pieces Orange peels
Place all ingredients into teapot and boil with 3 cups of water. Add fresh honey.
Celtic Magic is everywhere. Visit me at http://www.celticattic.com