A Gaelic holiday traditionally celebrated on the first of August, Lughnasadh (pronounced “LOO-nu-suh”, also known by the medieval Christian name Lammas) has roots in ancient tradition. Bonfires, gatherings of family and friends, market festivals, and games are among the festivities still celebrated in many countries. It’s also a traditionally auspicious time for marriages and handfastings.
Though it might be hard to tell from the 100+ degree days we’ve been having lately, Lughnasadh marks the beginning of the end of summer. The first grains are being harvested, the first fruits plucked from the trees. The days are starting to grow shorter, and every so often, a blessedly cool breeze stirs the still-green leaves. Autumn is coming!
For more information on Lughnasadh traditions, here are a few links:
I stumbled across this blog post today, from someone who took a relatively normal pair of shoes, and, through the simple use of a green marker, made them awesome.
Just one simple example of a great way to make things magical!
For my day job, I work in an office located inside the DC Beltway, in a pretty generic city/suburb. Though there are some very nice residential areas nearby, and even a couple little parks, for the most part this area is nondescript office buildings, overpriced boutiques, and other typical city bits. Today, however, I noticed for the first time an interesting little enclave in a courtyard by an otherwise normal office building – a series of arbors (they reminded me somewhat of Japanese Torii gates) wound around by thick, prolific vines.
It offered a welcome bit of shade on this hot and muggy July day, so I wandered underneath to take a picture.
I stumbled across this article today about gender roles and how as a culture, we’ve made great strides (though we still have a long way to go) in making it socially acceptable for a woman to wear pants and play with power tools, or be a surgeon, or run a company, but if a man does ballet, or wears pink, or likes flower gardening, then he’s obviously gay. As the author asks, “why is it alright for girls to break out of gender roles and embrace their love of tools or cars or spaceships, but when a boy wants to dress up like Princess Jasmine people are uncomfortable?”
It got me thinking about men and boys in the faerie culture. One of the things I love about the “modern” faerie festival is that it’s very gender-neutral. Sure, there are plenty of pastel princesses with shimmery wings and pretty curls, but there are also male faeries and sprites and goblins and elves and greenmen. It’s more about the connection with nature and the other worlds that touch ours than a specific gender role. The gentleman in the photo above, for example, is someone I’ve seen at just about every local faerie and renaissance festival, though I’m ashamed to admit I’ve never actually chatted with him (I did stumble across his website, though – he and his wife are the proprietors/creators of Mythical Masks and Miscellaneous Oddments, and he frequently posts some interesting articles and musings on his blog) – he always looks wonderful in natural, woodsy outfits.
I was always one of those kids with a head floating up in the clouds and imagination always running wild.
I read my first fantasy book, A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. LeGuin, at seven or eight years old. Sometime shortly thereafter, I saw the movie Labyrinth, with its dancing goblins and twisting walls and OMGDavidBowie! It’s safe to say that these two events had a great deal to do with the direction my imagination took from then on. I gobbled up anything fantastical. Wizards, dragons, faeries, elves, magic… But then I encountered a problem. I was too “smart” to believe that any of it was real. Oh, I wanted to believe, to be sure. But, never having seen a faerie or an elf or a dragon, never having witnessed anything I could point to as magic, and being altogether too practical for my own good, I was somewhat conflicted.
I can’t say exactly when it was that I managed to reconcile these longings with the stubbornly real Real World, but eventually, I realized that magic doesn’t have to be obvious, and things don’t have to be tangible to be appreciated. Magic can be as simple as the beauty of sunshine glittering through the dappled air above a meadow, or the smile of a loved one, or the laugh of a child. Faerie, to me, is a state of mind – it is the belief that there is beauty to be found anywhere in the world, and magic lies simply in that believing.
Of course, should I find a dragon peeking around a tree on my next walk through the woods, that would be pretty awesome, too!
Many of my posts on The Daily Faerie will be concerned with the practical side of Faerie. I’ll be doing some DIY tutorials of various crafts and costume items, sharing links to things I’ve found on the web, and dispensing hopefully sage advice about ways you can add a little magic to your corner of the world.