An entertaining Celtic Festival, grain is blessed and couples unite.
|During daylight the smell of fresh raked hay is carried on country air as people sing hymns while they work. In the dusky twilight as rituals begin, the air becomes still and warm, with the background music of crickets. Traditionally, we gather around bonfires. The older tribal Celtics, the ones blessed with wisdom from the Gods, speak of visualizing themselves on the backs of crows. It is considered a sacred bird flying over fields bright with sunshine. In the evenings the chosen ones rest in peace enfolded in its wings.
The festival is always beautiful. The women sew for days to make luminous colored sheets with ribbons for performing ceremonial plays. Then there are dances with drums and dulcimers, harps and often simple homemade musical instruments. We have women with beautiful voices that sing Celtic love songs, an excuse to dance with muscular men that we have been watching carefully. This is quite an art, to admire and flirt a little, but quickly cast our eyes down as our elders watch.
I am a maiden. Ready for marriage, I sit thinking of men that will be coming to court me. The stickiness of my dress clinging to my bare thighs reminds me of mating rituals. My face is flushed with the memory of Richard, the gentleman who danced with me last night. During the dance, he pressed his lower body to mine and I felt that large part of a man a maiden is supposed to deny until marriage.
When maidens get together we giggle. Using our imaginations, we speak of the men that approach us. The experience is one spoken of with curiosity and fear.
My sister, Skylar, sits next to me, "Papa will lock you up for your thoughts."
One cannot help it. I have watched Richard split rails and his arms thrill me. The veins and muscles bulge with strength, he will keep me from harm and love me forever. The curly golden hair shines in the sun and his lips look like they will fit perfectly with mine.
Now we sit on long benches during the blessing ceremony. My sister and I whisper.
Mama disciplines, "Hush, daughters, you must offer prayers for the grain or we won't be blessed."
Next the Lord's Prayer is offered up for God's blessing. We pass the loaves feeding each other as we pray out loud.
"May God grant you a long and healthy life."
Richard is next to me. I pull a piece of fresh warm bread and carefully place it inside his cheek. My fingers feel his warm soft flesh. Our eyes open and we look directly at each other.
Lust is natural in the waning heat of August and time of harvest.
We drop our eyelids at the same moment.
This is the time for thinking of regrets. All I meant to do and will correct. We throw pine cones in the bonfire symbolically to release those regrets. We also remember the grain Gods and Goddesses.
Then I honor farewells for what is passing from life. I always place bulbs in the ground to bury the old. In doing so birth manifests a new form in spring.
Time to face forward. I have to think about harvesting which means marriage and children. I will make a corn dolly and hang it above my bed.
Preserving is my favorite, thinking of symbolic and organic fruits gathered over the year. As I make preserves, I sort and store future ideas from past experiences in my memory.
My Papa told me it is time for a Hope chest. I am planning the pattern of my wedding quilt to warm my husband during those frosty nights when the sky is velvet. Those soft fertile nights when bodies join to make children so harvest will continue.
By Kathie Stehr