Green Wizardries, Lughnasadh by Maxine Rogers
The Americans are losing the war in Ukraine and with it the last shreds of their national dignity and international relevance. The BRICS countries are announcing a new gold-backed currency in August. This is a direct challenge to the status of the US dollar as the world’s reserve currency. All these things are going to provide interesting challenges for the US and its allies, Canada among them.
Canada, under the Liberal/NDP federal government continues on its merry way of out of control government spending and assisted suicide for all. The country is rapidly burning down while becoming unaffordable to many of its inhabitants.
With all that in mind, I thought I would write something cheerful. Countries go up and go down and there is no point in getting overly emotional about things outside of our control. We are facing a time of great change but the world is always changing. The wheel of the year continues to turn and we are coming up to the splendid festival of Lughnasadh.
This is the ancient Celtic festival of the God Lugh who is a sun God. Some people consider Lugh to be the Celtic Apollo. The holiday falls on August first and consists of the usual round of prayers, reflection on the coming of autumn here in the Northern Hemisphere, the coming of the autumn years to people of my generation and the coming of the autumn years of Western Civilization. So, there is a lot to think about. Besides that, we get yet another occasion to feast with our friends and family and rejoice in the first harvest festival of this year.
The Irish used to enter into temporary marriages at this festival. If you didn’t like your new spouse at the end of a year and a day, you could just turn your back and walk away from them, ending the relationship. The reason for the marriages was that human fertility was considered a mirror of the fertility of the land. There may be something in this as humans are becoming less fertile, so are our lands.
Lughnasadh is quite a boisterous festival with athletic competitions such as foot races and horse racing. There is even a cycle race named after the festival. But Lughnasadh is chiefly famous for it’s dancing and feasting.
This is such an excellent time of the year to feast. We have heaps of fresh, lovely produce to choose from. The tomatoes will be ripe, figs should be ready, the first apples, sweet corn, greens fresh from the garden and of course the excellent freshly-harvested garlic. We make fresh cheese at this time too and it is so much better than store bought cheese.
A friend just taught me to make fresh pasta sauce with raw chopped tomatoes, finely chopped basil and thinly-sliced garlic. To this, you only need to add a little olive oil, salt and pepper and it goes, uncooked, over the hot pasta and is delicious.
Another dish you may want to try for this festival is gazpacho. Just blend some ripe tomatoes, celery, cucumbers and garlic in a blender. Add salt, olive oil,cumin, red-wine vinegar and chili to taste. Serve with some chopped red onions on top.
Cucumbers are doing well this season and every feast should start with a salad. My current favourites include Sichuan cucumber salad and basil cucumber salad. For the Sichuan salad, slice a bowl of cucumbers, add 1 teaspoon of salt, a dash of olive oil, 1 tablespoon of minced garlic, 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar, 1 teaspoon of soy sauce, 1 teaspoon of sesame oil, 1 teaspoon of sugar and 1 teaspoon of chili flakes. Stir and serve. This salad is delightful as it is both hot and cold at the same time.
The other salad starts with a bowl of sliced cucumbers to which you add sliced basil, mint, garlic and yogourt. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Bread is the main course of the Lughnasadh feast as it is the beginning of the grain harvest that the feast is really celebrating. The first loaves made from the new grain used to be carried to church and blessed on the altar. So, bake some bread or cornbread and make that the focal point of the meal. You may even want to ask the Gods you worship to bless the bread, your family and the wider community.
A pleasant Druid custom involves cutting a slice of the first loaf and leaving it out for the birds to eat to share Nature’s bounty with Nature’s creatures.
Normally, we would be indulging in the blackberry harvest at this time but it has been so dry the blackberry vines are really struggling and what looked set to be a bumper harvest may be nothing of the kind. Never mind because the apple and fig harvests look to be pretty good.
Celebrating what we have here and eating locally will help prepare you and your family for the uncertain future many of us can feel coming.