Lughnasadh-It’s Fun When Somebody Puts an Eye Out

“And welcome everyone to the Black Bear Grove 2018 Games of Lugh! We are in our 12th year of honoring Tailtu with games. The weather is sweltering but the competitors are ready and eager for battle. It’s the usual lineup of events this year: Spear the Fomorian; The Eye of Balor; The Tossing of Heavy Things; DCT; and Quest. There are two divisions of competitors, Junior and Advanced, and first up in the Advanced Division is Koronis to Spear a Fomorian….”

1905 illustration of Lugh’s bloodthirsty magical spear2

Yes, the weather was sweltering, though slightly better in the woods of Hoosier National Forest. With new friends and old, we honored Lugh as Bard, Gatekeeper, and Patron. We began with recreating Lugh’s arrival at the Castle of Tara.

Lugh arrived at the castle of King Nuadhu and asked to be let in. The doorkeeper told him only someone with a skill no one else in the castle had could come in. When Lugh told him he was a builder, a smith, a warrior, and many other things, the doorkeeper replied that there were people inside that could do those things. “But,” he said, “is there any one who can do all those things?” As there was not, he was let in, and, after amazing all inside with his harp playing, was given charge of Nuadhu’s army.

Each of us was asked what skill we had, and all were denied entry to the ritual area, until the doorkeeper was told, “We are a community. We act as one. Do you have any one with all these skills?”  With that, we were allowed to enter, glass blowers, stone carvers, scholars, storytellers, helpers, and more.

We told the tale of what Lughnasadh (or Lughnasad, Lughnasa, Lugnasad, or Lúnasa) is, a festival and games created by Lugh to honor his foster mother Tailltiu.

“Tailltiu daughter of Mag Mor king of Spain, queen of the Fir Bolg, came after the slaughter was inflicted upon the Fir Bolg in that first battle of Mag Tuired to Coill Cuan: and the wood was cut down by her, so it was a plain under clover-flower before the end of a year. This is that Tailtiu who was wife of Eochu son of Erc king of Ireland till the Tuatha De Danann slew him, ut praediximus: it is he who took her from her father, from Spain; and it is she who slept with Eochu Garb son of Dui Dall of the Tuatha De Danann; and Cian son of Dian Cecht, whose other name was Scal Balb, gave her his son in fosterage, namely Lugh, whose mother was Eithne daughter of Balar. So Tailltiu died in Tailltiu, and her name clave thereto and her grave is from the Seat of Tailltiu north-eastward. Her games were performed every year and her song of lamentation, by Lugh. With gessa and feats of arms were they performed, a fortnight before Lugnasad and a fortnight after: under dicitur Lughnasadh, that is, the celebration (?) or the festival of Lugh.”   Lebor Gabála Érenn (The Book of Invasions), Book of Leinster, §591

“Getting kilt is such a bummer!”

After honoring Lugh, we fortified with food and drink then began the games. We had trouble defeating the Fomorian but slayed Balor easily. We tossed a stone and a mini-caber, tested our spatial skills by throwing a (stuffed) dead cat into a circle while blindfolded (Dead Cat Throw), then Quested for Fire with a fire building race. There was no overall winner, because we weren’t really keeping track (as usual, Sunny won Quest).

Balor and his evil eye

The Black Bear Grove Lughnasadh Ritual and 2018 Games of Lugh were a success. Hail Tailtiu! Hail Lugh!

 

 

 

1 Lebor Gabála Érenn: Book of the Taking of Ireland. vol. 4. ed. and tr. by R. A. S. Macalister. Dublin: Irish Texts Society, 1941.  http://www.maryjones.us/ctexts/lebor4.html#55, accessed 8/5/18.

2 by Harold Robert Millar – scanned and made available online at sacred-texts.com, uploaded by QuartierLatin1968, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1010298

 

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