01 August 2010

my first pagan supper

Lammas is the first of August. If you know nothing about the pagan holiday calendar, it is almost the simplest possible system. There are four major holidays: the two solstices summer and winter; the two equinoxes spring and fall. There are four minor holidays which are almost exactly in the middle of the four equally spaced main ones. Everybody knows about Halloween and May Day, but the other two are a little more obscure. The other two go by different names; I use Candlemas for the one around 1 February and Lammas for the one around the 1 August.

Candlemas might with a small amount of distortion masquerade as Saint Valentine's Day. My calculation would place it 45 days after the winter solstice so for 2010 that would be 21 December + 45 days = 5 Feb 2010. The current imbolc wikipedia page has 2 Feb as the day, which is very close, but 14 Feb is not so close. Lammas has nothing close to it at all in mainstream culture. I would offer that it is the most obscure of the pagan holidays.

The first time I attended a pagan holiday celebration, it was Lammas. I had no idea what I was agreeing to. It was a friend of a friend invitation deal. He was my friend as well, but not close. I was close friends with Ann and she was close friends with this fellow Bill, who I knew and did not dislike at all; but we really did not have much in common. I rated an invitation to the holiday dinner at his parents' house because I had a car, and I could transport Ann. Dinner was scheduled for 9:00 p.m. which is a little late, but the sun sets after 8:00 p.m. on the first of August and that is when his parents scheduled it.

We set out from New Orleans to Mandeville around 8:00. It was myself, Ann, and Ann's sister Jamie. It is amusing in retrospect that Bill had a crush on Ann, Ann had a crush on me, and I had a crush on Jamie. All of these feelings were unreturned, at least on that night. The sun was setting when we arrived at Bill's parents' house. At the house were Bill, his parents, his sister, and one other dinner guest. She was a pagan priestess and friend of the family. They all greeted us real friendly and said some brief informal friendship blessing with a sincerity which was closer to incomprehensible than it was to touching. It was confusing.

We had dinner on their back deck next to their swimming pool. They brought out huge platters of food--jambalaya, beef stir-fry, beans, other vegetables, salads--there was enough food to feed thirty people easy. Bill's mom lit candles around the edge of the deck and the priestess said some foreign prayer while holding a carved malachite knife over a big mug of mead. I would guess the prayer was in Gaelic. Then they passed the mug of mead around and everybody took a sip out of the mug. They served many bottles of wine with the dinner.

After awhile I had to use the restroom. The priestess was disturbed that I was "breaking the circle" but Bill's mom insisted this was not a problem and she quickly hushed. We did not discuss pagan religion much, or if we did I do not remember that part. The food was very good. Other than the short prayer and the circle of candles business, I don't recall anything that was different from a typical dinner party.

On the wikipedia Lammas page they have the following Shakespeare Romeo and Juliet quotation: "Come Lammas Eve at night shall she [Juliet] be fourteen."

That was the only Lammas celebration I have ever participated in. I have a friend who considers it a big deal. She calls it Lughnasa (just like in the movie, Dancing at -) and every year she goes to a large group camp where they burn bonfires and dance naked and sacrifice a goat. For all I know she is totally making up the parts about the nudity and animal sacrifices.


jemecad said...

See 22 Oct 2007 response. Cheers.

Craig said...


How are you?

I saw your 2007 response in 2010!

craigdotgdothatgmail if you want to send me e-mail.


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About Craig

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Houston, Texas, United States
I have been living in the lovely neighborhood of Spring Branch in the great city of Houston since late in 2005. I started out with the idea of making this blog about my life in this neighborhood. That did not last long. Right now I am posting every five days on the alternating topics of literature, philosophy, psychology, and metaphysics. This project has been ongoing since July 27, 2010 and I believe it will continue for at least a few more months.