We are a bit behind, but today we celebrated the Pagan Sabbat Lughnasadh, or as it is also called Lammas.
Last year Scott and I decided that we weren’t really happy with the way we were celebrating festivals. Festivals are an important part of Waldorf schooling and something that I find really grounding and nourishing for children, creating a rhythm for the whole year by celebrating the cycle of the seasons. But as a lot of the festivals celebrated in a Waldorf curriculum are of Christian origin, I was not connecting with them, and didn’t feel like I could impart a deep enthusiasm about their meaning to the children.
So, this year we are going to mainly celebrate seasonal festivals, or the eight Pagan Sabbats. I feel truly happy and excited about sharing these with the children, and Scott is much more comfortable with it, and interested in them as well.
I think it is a challenge in the Southern hemisphere to decide when to celebrate festivals that have originated in the Northern hemisphere. I’ve found that making the decision to celebrate Pagan festivals has really helped with that, and this year we are going to celebrate the cycle of the seasons of where we live. The other day Scott and I sat down with the children and talked to them about how we will be celebrating Easter, or Ostara, in Spring and Halloween, or Samhain, in Autumn, and this might seem a bit odd at first as all the paraphernalia on the supermarket shelves will be the opposite! We also talked about how our main celebration of the year will be Yule, or the Winter Solstice, not Christmas, and that Litha, or the Summer Solstice, will be a more important festival for us than Christmas. We are still going to celebrate Christmas but it will be much more low key!
I thought the children might be a bit concerned about the changes, and maybe upset or disappointed, but they were actually really excited about it, and their only concern was, will the Easter bunny know? I told them that the Easter bunny will definitely know, as we will be celebrating at the right time of year for the Southern hemisphere, when it is Spring, and there is new life all around us, and that there are lots of other families in Australia who celebrate Ostara in Spring too. And that was enough, they were happy.
We celebrated Lughnasadh this afternoon and evening with some activities, cooking, stories, song, and a blessing. I have been borrowing books from the library to find out more about the Pagan festivals, and to get ideas about how to celebrate them. I have also bought a wonderful book, which I am really excited about called ‘Circle Round’, by Starhawk, Anne Hill, & Diane Baker.
Last night Scott and the children made bread dough that we left to rise overnight, and then cooked this morning, so it was ready for us to eat later today. Then to start with this afternoon I read to the children about Lughhasadh, and Lugh, the sun god it is named after, and then as Lughnasadh is the first harvest festival, we made grain mothers and gods from stalks of grain that I got from our local florist.
Elki made Lugh with his sword of light, and Anusha made a grain mother. Afterwards we placed them on our nature table in honour of the day.
Next we made some playdough together and I shared it out for the three of us. We coloured it with natural food dyes, and each made a god or goddess. Then we told our hopes for the coming year to our little playdough figures and offered them to the earth by placing them outside. It was lovely to make something and then offer it with our hopes, the process being much more important than the finished product.
Afterwards I read a story to the children called ‘The coming of Lugh’, which I found here, and then we shared the bread that Scott and the children had made, saying a bread blessing before we ate.
When our bellies were full of bread and some juicy watermelon the children and I made ‘spiral cookies’.
Whilst they were cooking I read the children the story ‘Inanna goes to the Underworld’, which they loved, and we made simple sun candle holders out of the top and bottom of an orange.
When the cookies were ready we had some with cups of milk (we now drink three different types of milk in our family, what a fussy lot!) and sat around talking about how things in life spiral around in continuous cycles just like our cookies! We talked about plants, trees, animals, people, water, earth, planets, the sun, and universe! And Anusha started pointing out anything circular that she could see.
The children ended the evening with a bounce on the trampoline. Anusha has just learnt to skip with a hoola hoop whilst bouncing, and excitedly pointed out that this was another circular spiral! It has been such a warm day and the cool night air was a welcome respite. Lugh was certainly burning bright for us today, Happy Lughnasadh!