1 August 2013 ~ Hyacinth Noir’s Lughnasadh Spotlight Issue
~ a chipmunk scurries through ripening fields of wheat and flax while the high summer sun shines on the golden grains . . . at the crest of a hill overlooking the low water of a river, his mate waits . . . ~
at a time when the fields are bountiful and sunny days long, communities come together in celebration. Lughnasadh, the first of three harvest observances, is symbolised by the baking and sharing of bread within the community. We harvest grain, as well as berries, fruits and vegetables, in these late summer months while giving thanks to the Earth Mother for her abundance. It’s a time for us to reflect upon our growth in the past few months and the upcoming autumn harvest
~ . . . the chipmunk and his mate find a feast–a highbush cranberry, full and ripe; ignoring the objections of a squirrel perched on a tall branch, they eat until their bellies fill . . . ~
for our Lughnasadh issue, we’ve chosen to spotlight the personal celebrations and gnosis of Hyacinth Noir contributor, Lore Lippincott. Lore’s previous work include The Fairies’ Crossing, a short story published in our Beltaine issue and which explores the symbolic journey of the goddess, as well as The Willow and The Dove, a queer faery tale retold with Imbolc themes of springtime
Lughnasadh is an intriguing and almost intimidating word to look upon. To me, a Lughnasadh virgin, I wanted to allocate the word into Tolkien’s Middle Earth vocabulary, with that d-h diphthong at the end. Phonology of fantasy worlds aside, Lughnasadh is Old Irish, and it’s pronounced LOO-nah-sa. If you want to get really crazy, you can add an additional ‘s’–Lughnassadh. You can even drop the ‘dh’–Lughnasa. Or you can . . . well, by now, you have the idea.
It doesn’t matter what it’s called, or what spelling our homiletic selves wish to use, it is Lughnasadh. Not a necessary celebration to a Wheel-of-the-Year pagan, perhaps, but its day, 1st August, is a good day to recollect how far your path has taken you. It’s amazing how quietly our life-paths, like sexuality and spirituality, are created in front of us, and we simply parade on, knowing it’s the right way, that those paths are helping us be our true selves.
Lughnasadh is, in itself, a celebration of walking a path designed by faith. As we ask the Harvest Deities to continue blessing our crops, we’re taking it on a leap of faith that they will answer us positively. Living in a rural area, I’ve witnessed the devastation of crops from floods and winds, and it isn’t just my humble garden that suffers during a drought. Although in this arriving era of climate change, it is difficult to expect the weather will remain even and do everything it must, we have a belief, built of hope, that what we love will be protected.
This is a good celebration for a newbie pagan to get into, or an old lazy pagan like myself to take part in. It ushers in the beginning of the harvest time, when agriculture and abundance take precedence.
It’s the time of the year when neighbours start dropping extra produce at your stoop. About now, I expect to find plastic grocery sacks in drifts upon the porch, full of tomatoes, cucumbers and the ever-present and over-abundant one: zucchini.
Why people insist on growing it, I don’t know. It might be the same reason I enjoy growing salvia and zinnias. Once it’s in the ground, it takes care of itself, and my involvement is minimal.
According to Witchipedia, zucchini “resonates with earth energy”, and, despite its phallic shape, is consistent with the feminine. Good for Lughnasadh, if used in spells or celebratory cuisine, it adds a splash of fertility.
Lughnasadh is a recognition of the continuation of harvest, and what better way to do that than bake something tasty with all that zucchini? This is a good time to use up the grated zucchini you froze last summer, to create room in your storage freezer for a fresh batch. Zucchini bread at Yule is a welcome departure from the traditional pumpkin desserts. Just throwing that out there.
Last summer, I was on a proverbial witch hunt to find zucchini recipes, something more than bread, I mean. Nothing really sang to me, but I tried one for fried zucchini patties. They were decent (recipe at my blog).
There’s an idea that Lughnasadth was started by the God Lugh, who wanted funeral games to commemorate the death of his hard-working foster mother.
In keeping with the theme of commemoration, I made zucchini bread yesterday, using my departed grandmother’s favourite recipe. Akin to Lugh’s foster mother, my grandmother was just exhausted, and she certainly wouldn’t have had the energy to make zucchini loaf.
Or, rather, loaves.
The recipe makes two 9 x 5-inch loaf pans, and is good with pineapple cream cheese, warm honey or softened cinnamon-butter.
Recipe (also on my blog):
Mix together at high speed, about 1 minute:
¾ c. vegetable oil
2 c. sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 c. last season’s grated zucchini
20-ounce can crushed pineapple, thoroughly drained
Then mix with:
3c. unbleached all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. nutmeg
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
¼ tsp. baking powder
1 c. of raisins and 1 c. nuts are optional (not featured in my photo)
Pour batter into two greased and floured 9 x 5 loaf pans. Bake at 350 degree F (176 degree C) about 75 minutes (1 hour, 15 minutes), checking after the hour mark. To check, insert toothpick in centre of loaf. If the toothpick comes out reasonably clean, loaf is done.
This bread has a crispy crust, especially on the top, and will appear pretty brown even when not completely done.
You can make it, then invite all your friends over to share as you celebrate Lughnasadh! And celebrate what this year has brought us, so far. If you live in the U.S., relive where you were and what you were doing when SCOTUS repealed DOMA on 26th June. If you live in the UK, relive where you were when the House of Lords passed the equal marriage bill through on its third reading. If you’re a resident of a country that’s still waiting for its equal rights revolution, be grateful that you are part of the crop blessed by the gods, and know that we are thankful for you too, every day.
Ohio native Lore Lippincott started on the naturalist path while young, collecting unusual objects while wandering the woods. For the last twenty years, she’s been inflicted with an acute case of logophilia, and hasn’t been able to stop writing since. In the cyber world, Lore is frequently found at her dreamwidth and goodreads pages (where she is in dire need of friendly bibliophiles). A short story, “The House that Cain Built”, will be appearing in the upcoming anthology Off the Rocks (vol. 17), available soon at Lulu.com. Check the mentioned sites for short stories yet to see the light of day, and any upcoming releases.
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~ . . . the chipmunks run off through long stalks of sweet canola, while in the distance, sounds of machinery roar as threshers ready for harvest ~