Living in Season
The official newsletter of the School of the Seasons
Volume 3, Number 11
August 13, 2005
Games of Lugh
- My Season: Blackberries
- Flower of the Month: Dahlia
- Living in Season: Games of Lugh/Perseid Meteors
- Star Links
- Holiday Packet: Harvest
- Correspondence Course: Autumn
- Calendar Companion: Leaves from the Tree of Time
- Signs of Autumn
- Subscribe - Unsubscribe
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My Season: Blackberries
Although I'm the Queen of Holidays, my good intentions always outrun my abilities. I'm sorry to report I did not go blackberry-picking on Lammas, as I intended, except in the most casual way during a walk along the lake, but that's OK because my daughter took over the holiday tradition and showed up on Lughnasad Eve with three containers full of freshly-picked, still warm blackberries, which we've enjoyed in the past weeks in a variety of ways including in pancakes, topping yogurt, and (my favorite) with Hagen Daaz Light Vanilla Bean ice cream.
Last night my daughter took the last of the remaining blackberries (which were beginning to ferment even though kept in the refrigerator) and distilled them down into a delicious syrup, with a faint flavor of wine, spiced with black pepper and cloves.
May you allow yourself the spontaneity of lazy days of summer,
Flower of the Month: Dahlia
One of my readers wrote to tell me that dahlias have fragrance he said it's most noticeable in the single varieties (closest to the original dahlia in form). I'm so excited, so I'm planning to go sniff some dahlias at the Dahlia Display Garden in nearby Volunteer Park. I won't promise to do this, though, as I might get distracted.
Meanwhile, if you want to read about the flower of August, see my article here.
Living in Season: Games of Lugh/Perseid Meteor Showers
I've always felt a special attachment to the Perseid meteor showers, although I can't say why these more than any others. Perhaps it's because they coincide with the hottest time of the year here in Seattle, when it's a pleasure to be out in the cool night air after a blazing hot day to lounge in the cool night air watching for shooting stars.
My first dramatic introduction to the Perseids happened during a weekend retreat I facilitated, based on the book Wishcraft, at the Chinook Learning Center on Whidbey Island. After a day of playful creative exercises and long silent walks in the woods, we cooked a communal meal and took it out onto the deck to enjoy it. We could smell the woods all around us and the vanilla scent of the hot grasses of the lawn around the cabin. The meteor display began shortly after we finished our meal, and we laid out on the deck chairs to watch their blazing tails as they streaked across the dark night sky. We were talking, of course, about our dreams for the future, but this most fascinating of topics was always being interrupted by gasps and comments like, "Oh, look! There's one!"
This intersection of the retreat and the meteor showers was due to synchronicity but after that first time, I started paying attention to the date of the Perseids and trying to find places to view them, which is hard if you live in a city the size of Seattle where light pollution makes it hard to see any stars, much less ones that appear for only an instant.
I remember one trip about thirteen years ago with my biker boyfriend. We took his Harley up into the hills above Seattle, making our way on winding country roads, dipping in and out of pockets of cool air and the scent of woods, until we finally found a sheltered spot off the road to spread our blanket under the night sky. Unfortunately, perhaps because of the joint we shared, I became totally paranoid, freaked out by the breathing sounds and "foot steps" of the horses in the field nearby, so we left after viewing only a few rather insignificant meteors.
Another memorable meteor shower occurred when I was house-sitting for my friend Rose, who owned a fabulous three-story house in the Wallingford district of Seattle, with a hot tub on the roof and a view of Lake Union and the downtown skyline. I decided to host a Meteor Party and invited about 30 of my friends in the dance community. Only the guys showed up, about eight of them, which, at first, was terribly embarrassing and, after a while, rather enjoyable. We sat on the roof, sipping champagne and watching the sky for shooting stars. We only saw a few but I had a great time and another woman did arrive much later so we even got a chance to dance.
And I've never forgotten a description of Perseid-watching written by my colleague (and webmistress), Joanna Powell Colbert. She was recounting her experiences during the Harvest Mysteries, an interactive ritual designed by Helen Farias, to be enacted on her property near Clear Lake. Joanna spent the day meeting Cerridwen, Taliesin and other figures of Celtic mythology in the wooded groves. In the evening, she laid down in a field of new-mown grass, in the arms of her lover to watch the Perseids streaking through the skies.
I meant to do some research on the connection between the Perseids and the figure of Perseus in Greek mythology and Lugh, the god of Light of the Celts, after whom these meteor showers are sometimes named the Games of Lugh. But I didn't have time to do the research and get this out to you in time for you to enjoy your own show. So I will copy this account from my friend Pip Wilson of Wilson's Almanac. He's been a fan of School of the Seasons for many years as I have been a fan of his compendium of information.
"The Game of Lugh. This is an old Celtic name for the Perseids, the most familiar of all meteor showers, that take place at around this time of year. Associated with the Swift-Tuttle Comet, the Perseids have been well documented since at least 830 CE and take their name from the constellation Perseus where shooting stars appear. We can well imagine ancient Celts looking upon these wonders and associating them with other phenomena of the season between the equinox and solstice, including the heat of the last ofthe Dog Days. They attributed the celestial display of Perseid lights to games being played by Lugh, 'the shining one'.
As is well known, most ancient cultures looked on meteor showers and other phenomena in the sky as having supernatural meaning. In pre-Zoroastrian India, the Perseids were the Pairikas, the prototypes of the Peris, the nymphs or female angels of later Persian tradition, and likewise the Parigs or witches of Manichaeism. The Pairikas, in the form of worm-stars, are said to fly between the earth and the heavens at this time. These shooting stars fall annually at about the time when Tistrya (Sirius) is supposed to be most active.
The remarkable annual appearance of the Perseids might explain why the ancient Egyptian Lychnapsia (Festival of Lights, or The Lights of Isis) at this time of year was revered in the Osirian mysteries. In Arab folklore, shooting stars are traditionally said to be firebrands hurled by the angels against the inquisitive Jinns or Genii, who are forever clambering up on the constellations to peep into heaven."
NASA site featuring information on the Perseids:
Star Links and Books
Exploring the Sky: Projects for Beginning Astronomers
by Richard Moeschi
One of my readers, Alyss, recommended this book about stars just in time for this article about the Perseids Meteor Showers. I haven't read it yet so I'll just pass along her words: "It has a great section on how the seasons work from an astronomical point of view with activities like making a sundial and a stonehenge like calendar. It includes a great list of seasonal holidays better than I've ever seen in a book that wasn't specifically about seasons or holidays. It also has tons of other neat activities and information about the history of astronomy and activities for exploring astronomical things."
There are several organizations working to reduce light pollution including this group sponsored by the British Astronomical Association:
I've also found several local groups, including one in the Northwest, working to reduce light pollution in various areas, including the national parks.
Holiday Packet: Harvest
Order The Harvest holiday packet contains over 50 pages of ideas on how to celebrate the Autumn Equinox, including the:
Ancient celebrations of Harvest and Michealmas
The meaning of the Harvest Moon
The September Full Moon holidays of Mid-Autumn Moon and Sukkoth
Transformation mysteries of beer and wine
Recipes for gingerbread, ginger beer and other traditional Harvest foods
Instructions for creating wheat weavings, a corn dolly and a basket to honor Demeter
And much more.
The email version costs $9. It will be sent to you as an attached Word file within 24 hours of your order. The print version is $14. Please allow ten days for delivery. You can order a packet by clicking here.
You can download a free sample from the packet here (PDF file).
Correspondence Course: Autumn
By the old British and Celtic reckoning of the seasons, Lammas is the End of Summer which means that Autumn is about to begin. Although most people are happy to start Spring at February 1st and Summer at May Day, starting Autumn on August 1st, often the hottest part of the year in Seattle, just seems wrong. Until you shift your understanding of the season so that Autumn is the time of harvest (rather than the time the leaves fall that's November 1st and the start of Winter). Then you can recognize the role the warmth & sunshine play in ripening the tomatoes and basil and beans, the wheat and the corn, the dahlias and chrysanthemums.
The Autumn correspondence course is now available. (Of course, you can also order any season out of season, if you like). For a list of topics and the subjects covered, click here.
Calendar Companion: Leaves from the Tree of Time
Its not too late to order the Calendar Companion, the latest offering from School of the Seasons. This is a graceful way to incorporate spirit and seasons into your life. Use it along with your usual planning tools and calendar to help you:
- Slow time down
- Consult your soul while creating your schedule
- Make time for what's truly important in your life
- Move in rhythm with the seasons and the moon
Every week for 52 weeks you will receive a brief email with a reflection on the qualities of the present time period and one suggestion, task or question that you can savor throughout the week.
Start whenever you like. The topics for May were: Lusty Month of May (Celebrating Lifes Pleasures), Thinning in the Garden of Time (Choosing Priorities), Bottom Line in Self Care (Mothering Yourself), Attracting Pollinators and Taking a Question for a Walk. When you order the Calendar Companion, you will receive the next weeks calendar companion, along with an introductory email.
$20 for a year's worth of gentle reminders to help you stay aligned with natural rhythms. Click here to order, or to see a sample reflection.
Signs of Autumn
IAlthough it still feels like Summer in many parts of the country, the participants in my Autumn online course are sending me the signs of Autumn that they are noticing already including this great list:
The change in way sunlight comes in the window, a meal of mushrooms and red wine, the smell of manure on the fields and the smell of wood smoke, the furnace coming on, the fawns in the woods getting big and fat, the geese leaving, SUVs, shopping for back-to-school clothes, willow leaves turning gold, blackberries ripening, tall corn, fading hydrangeas, the urge to sign up for classes, returning to school, apple cider and spiced cookies, the rustle of the wind in the leaves
Send me your signs of the season and Ill post them on my website.
Copyright ©Waverly Fitzgerald 2005
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