Pagan festivals - Lammas or Lughnasadh or August Eve?
First Harvest and first blackberries
This festival is thought of as the First Harvest, and rightly so, because already we can see not only the corn being harvested in many fields, but also Mother Nature’s bounty starting to ripen.
The first Blackberries can be found now and many other signs of autumn’s second harvest are already showing. We are well into the summer now and moving onward into the autumnal season ahead.
Blackberries and corn
John Barleycorn by Bard of Ely
Horse chestnuts or Conkers
Some years it seems as though we are moving into autumn faster than usual. Already, at time of writing, trees can be seen starting to shed their leaves, and fruits of the Fall, such as Horse Chestnuts, or "conkers," as they are traditionally known, sometimes appear early, lying amongst the leaf litter. Shiny treasures for schoolboys to collect, or at least they were in my childhood.
Mushrooms begin to crop up in fields and woodlands.These strange fungal growths feed not on sunlight but on decayed remains and so their growth now shows us that the main season of growth is now past and that the sunlight is now declining in its intensity and hours of daylight.
This is epitomized in legend and lore by the Solar hero deity Lugh returning to the otherworld until he shall come again to start the cycle again.
The sunlight is still strong enough to ensure plenty of hot summer days are left though and for me August Eve is a great festival for meeting people who are out and about, as well as for celebrating in the sunshine.
Avebury stone circle
Avebury, the Wiltshire village within a stone circle, is the place I used to always visit for the Lammas Gorsedd of Bards of Caer Abiri. Now I am living in Tenerife in the Canary Islands, it is a festival and location I admit I really miss.
John Barleycorn - a hit song
A great song for this time of year is John Barleycorn, a song the folk-rock band Traffic once had a big hit with many years ago. I recorded my version of the song some years back.
Robin Williamson of the Incredible String Band
Speaking of songs, Incredible String Band founder Robin Williamson has a wonderful song called Lammas on his album of originals entitled Ten of Songs . It is one of my favourites of recordings released during Robin's solo career.
Are Crop Circles real?
I am also thinking of something else, which can be still seen at this time of year, as well as the harvesting of the crops that is going on now, and this is the phenomenon of the Crop Circle.
I arrived at Avebury for the Lammas gorsedd some years back to find that an outstanding Crop Circle had just been made on a local hillside.
At the Barge Inn in the nearby Vale of Pewsey, Crop Circle enthusiasts gather to discuss the latest formations and look at recent photos. Mind you, I believe that most of them are carefully made by humans.
I happen to know one of the circle-makers. He is called Matthew Williams and has been in the news for doing this and was prosecuted for making Crop Circles. I first met him many years back when he was running a 'Truth-seeker' magazine and putting on events with guest speakers from the world of ufology and crop circle research.
Matthew puts over the idea that the circles are made by people like himself who often work in teams. But not everyone is convinced. Hardcore Crop Circle enthusiasts still like to think that aliens made them or that they are possibly some communication from other dimensions or the planet Gaia herself!
Singer Reg Presley of The Troggs
Reg Presley, who is famous for his role as lead singer of the Troggs (remember Wild Thing), is very interested in the subject of Crop Circles and UFOs too. One year, he was giving a talk and showing some photos in the back room of the Red Lion in Avebury.
Whatever the reality of this phenomena is, it certainly exerts a most magical fascination over people and is, in a big way, linked to the idea and tradition of the harvest. If there were no cornfields waiting to be harvested there would be nowhere for these incredible geometric mysteries to occur!
© 2010 Steve Andrews
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