Friday 30 July 2010

God of the week: Lugh

August 1 is Lughnasadh, the pagan festival to mark the start of the harvest.

In Irish mythology, the festival is said to have been instigated by the god Lugh, as a funeral feast for his foster-mother, Tailtiu, who died after clearing Ireland's plains for agriculture. For this reason the festival celebrating the first fruits of the harvest is named Lughnasadh after him - and so I have also chosen Lugh as The Bad Witch's God of the Week.

Lugh is also called The Shining One, and is a solar deity. According to The Battle for Mythic Britain: The Conversion of the Ancient Gods of England, Ireland, Scotland and Walesby Christopher R Fee and David A Leeming: "Lugh is seen as a sacred solar king and king of the otherworld... Lugh followed Nuada as king of the gods of Ireland and was - with the mortal Dechtire - the father of the great hero Cuchulainn"

The humorous website states:

"Things started out badly when his evil grandad Balor tossed him out to sea, but Sea God Manannan-Maclir was fed up with demons polluting his waters and came to the rescue.

"Big Mac took the baby under his fin and raised Lugh as his child until he was old enough to stay with Uncle Goibhniu, the Great Smith. There he grew so strikingly handsome and amazingly skilled that he decided to apply for the post of apprentice God. Passing an interview at the God Centre with flying colours (and flying stones), he zoomed up the career ladder to become Top God. And the rest is history.

"Lugh waged triumphantly against baddies for many years and eventually slew his wicked grandad with a sling. After fathering Cuchulainn, the Irish hero, his Celtic powers dwindled as Christianity increased. He slid slowly down the mythological ladder and ended up as the first Leprechaun. How embarrassing."

Modern pagans tend to think of Lughnasadh as being the wake of Lugh the Sun King himself, rather than that of Tailtiu, patroness of agriculture. It is a time when the evenings are noticeably getting earlier and, although there may be many sunny days to come, the end of summer is definitely in sight. The cutting of the first sheaves of corn are symbolic of the Sun King's sacrifice so that he can pass into the otherworld, before he is renewed again at Yule.

The Battle for Mythic Britain: The Conversion of the Ancient Gods of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales

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