August 1, 2020
The Celtic festival day of Lughnasadh marks the halfway point between the summer solstice and the autumnal equinox, and the beginning of harvest season. We are now past Midsummer and there is a ripening in the air, on the earth, and in the blood.
Under the golden canopy of the late summer sky, the god Lugh, the virtuoso warrior-king for whom the day is named, watches proudly over the living land. He created this day, according to myth, to honor his foster-mother, the grain goddess who gives herself to give us life. Traditionally, tribute would be paid to her with tournaments, feasting, dancing and handfasting–shows of strength, dedication and loyalty. Known as Lammas if you go by the Christian calendar, it is also a time for oath-making and pilgrimage–visiting the holy well or climbing the sacred hill, and bringing offerings of loaves baked with the first corn to the church to be blessed.
Each year, the Sun in Leo, aware that its light is starting to wane, is happy to let the games begin. It tells us to celebrate our youth and virility before the inevitable decline. In other parts of the sky, Mars in Aries and Venus in Gemini further encourage us to live in the moment, whether it be in love or war. But the waxing gibbous moon in Capricorn, along with Jupiter, Saturn and Pluto, warn us against too much caprice. They caution us that our pledges, while born out of earnest passion, must be maintained with integrity and care—just like the crops—and with an eye toward longevity. Mercury in Cancer, like Lugh, faces off against those old gods, protects the motherland and keeps the family memories (and recipes) alive. Ceres in Pisces and Vesta in Cancer remind us of a time when the preparation of food was a sacrament, and as the matron and maid of honor, they deserve to be remembered and propitiated first before all the others.
“Seize the day,” I was surprised to learn, is a mistranslation of the Latin phrase “carpe diem.” It’s actually “harvest the day” i.e. pluck it while it’s ripe. There’s a message here, in the spirit of Lughnasadh and of Leo season, about remembering to pause and enjoy the fruits of our labor; to celebrate what we’ve achieved. And so, let us eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow—there is more work to be done.