Our ancestors marked the seasons in the rhythm of four feasts taking place at the full moons halfway between the equinoxes and solstices.
These rituals are often connected with Celtic tradition, but their origin goes further back to a much older animist culture. Eventually they were assimilated more or less successfully to the hegemonic Christian tradition. In midsummer (7 August this year) the feast was celebrated under the patronage of the hero god Lug, god of war and of the arts, according to the Celtic culture dominant in the Iron Age. It became the feast of harvest, which allowed it to survive in a Christian context, but its origins precede those of agriculture, the caste system, and polytheism itself.
The archaic elements of its rituals show that it was the summer harvest of wild berries, such as the blueberry, which was originally celebrated,beside the springs and mountains where people made pilgrimages. Irish mythology suggests that the agricultural cult of Lug replaced that of an ancient mother figure, the chthonic myth of nature dying but still fruitful.
What meaning could such a festival have for us, or even its vestiges? The cultures and the societies which practiced them are long dead. There is no living continuity with the communitarian myths that transmitted this cycle.
Mother Nature has been completely domesticated, destroyed or too far removed from our reality; agriculture is annihilating the ecosystem, the lunar cycle forgotten. We do not even live in a ‘society’, strictly speaking. The world of man is fragmented, deracinated, conformed to the immediate needs of survival ...
The artificial revival of these rites is usually a product of folkloric tourism, satisfying a Romantic esthetic. It is of course important to preserve whatever has survived of this heritage, but first of all we need to insist on the fundamental experiences that lie behind it. These are still accessible as long as we live: if we came to feel this need to overcome the separation from those close to us, if we could experience belonging to different cycles of life, at least the basis of some future creation might be present.
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