Here in suburbia, it is "my Lughnasadh," and I've begun a 12-day devotional in honor of the Many-Skilled One. If anyone has ever spoken to me at great length about such things, you may have heard me called the Fire Festivals "portable." What I mean is that the solstice and equinoxes have fixed astronomical points, related to the Earth's orbit around the sun.
The fire festivals (Samhain, Imbolc, Beltainne, and Lughnasadh) have been assigned points mid-way between them, but my own UPG is that this is a modern convenience, and the folklore surrounding them may indicate that events in the tribal pastoral/horticultural rhythms were indicators of the time for being festive. If you take, Imbolc, for example, one of the things surrounding Imbolc was the ewe's milk coming in, so a key indicator of by how much your heard may be increasing. Well, what if that doesn't happen on February 2? What if it happens on February 5 or January 27?
What if we haven't even "invented" February yet?
Surviving folklore and traditions around all four of them indicate, to me, a recognition of an agricultural cycle. So, I set out to determine, for ME, when my cross-quarter days could be celebrated. Two of them were really easy. Our frost free date around these parts is Mothers' Day (or May 15, depending), and long standing local advice is to not plant ANYTHING until after that. This year cut it kind of close, with cold temperatures up right to the Saturday before (so I waited until May 15). Similarly, our First Frost is usually around mid-October sometime, so each of those become my Beltainne and Samhainne, respectively.
(Incidentally, I have forgotten to get things from the garden before that... and saw the effects a killing frost had on my tomatoes. It totally drove home the admonition to get the harvest done before Samhainne or else the goblins get the harvest!)
That left Imbolc and Lughnasadh. Thanks to the central Ohio climate, we TYPICALLY have a midwinter thaw around the end of January or beginning of February. If I were so inclined, I could plant cold-weather crops (lettuces and the like) around them. I'm not too trusting of that, though, but still I could do it.
Unfortunately, global climate change has significantly impacted the last couple of years, and we've not really gotten cold enough for any kind of obvious or meaningful thaw. So I must look to other indicators, and I talk about those here, in another blog.
Geese at Imbolc has proven to be a consistent predictor of that, but what of first harvest? I've toyed with a number of things.... My own garden is irregular as far as things to harvest, sometimes the first things I can get out of the garden occur before Summer Solstice. Or don't happen until ALMOST Fall Equinox.
Instead...I've chosen the first time I hear our annual cicadas pipe up. It's usually mid-late July, and this year was no different. Although I think they were a TAD early. Maybe the Brood-X Cicadas inspired them?
So what does all this have to do with my title?
I irregular post about my multiday sabbat observances. Lughnasadh is no different. When Lugh arrives at Tara, in the Second Battle of Moytura, he extols his many skills (wheelwright, smith, poet, champion, etc.). I developed a 12-day (or night) devotional for each of the "skills" There are 11, which is an odd non-3 related number, so the twelfth one honors him as all those aspects. I'm working on offerings and text and all that stuff (to be released later). The offerings for the last day INCLUDE whatever first fruits of my garden there are.
Coincidentally, I DO have a summer squash! I've identified it as the offering when I get to day 12. So far though, it appears it may be the ONLY squash. I can be stingy and say "Well if I offer this I won't get anymore." But then I'm no better than Bres who withheld reciprocity from the temporarily conquered Tuatha De. It occurs to me that by sacrificing the first fruits of the harvest, the ancients may have been signaling their confidence that the land would keep its part of the bargain, and keep producing. In our modern terminology, they had faith that those first fruits wouldn't be the last.
So, on July 25, I will wind up the devotional. I will honor the Many-Skilled God as Chieftain, and master of all. I will offer him oil, grain, apples, and that summer squash, and maybe a first tomato or first bean if that happens, knowing and holding faith that more will come.