Monday, August 1, 2011

Of Lughnasadh and Leo

Blessed Lammastide to you and yours!

Lammas is the English name of one of the historical Celtic celebrations of the seasons, Lughnasadh (the others being of course, Samhain, Imbolc and Beltane) and in the old tradition was celebrated from sundown on the previous night to sundown on the day of the 1st of the month. In Ireland, the month of August is still called LĂșnasa (Lughnasadh - pronounced as loo-nah-sah) in the Gaelic language and is considered to be the beginning of the Autumn season. Lughnasadh is so called because it was thought to have been started by the hero Lugh in memory of his mother Tailtiu (tal-tyuh or tel-shuh). The legend regarding Tailtiu records that she expended so much energy in clearing the fields of Ireland so that they could be planted for agriculture that she died from sheer exhaustion. The funeral or harvest feast and games of skill and might were then held every year to honor her memory.

Lughnasadh is also a favorite time to contract marriages, which is interesting given that it falls exactly three months following the fertility rites of Beltane. A baby conceived during the Beltane festivities would have begun to be obvious by Lammas, with the mother giving birth at the time of Imbolc. Imbolc, or Oimelc was the celebration of the birth of the new lambs and also a celebration of the life-giving qualities of  milk, (both cattle and human) an important food source in the ancient Celtic world. Modern Pagan and Wiccan groups typically celebrate Lughnasadh through feasting and activities celebrating the harvest, and may also stage games and competitions in honor of the ancient holiday.

As we celebrate the First Harvest this year, we have a bit of a complicating factor in that Mercury enters stationary retrograde tomorrow night (August 2nd, 2011) and will be crawling slowly backwards all month, until it finally releases that energy in the early evening of August 26th. We have been moving through the shadow period of this retrograde since July 15th, so if you have noticed an increase in strange happenings, computer problems, car breakdowns or other Mercury-affected areas, this is why!

15 Jul 2011 02:15 am 1842' Mercury Enters Rx Zone
02 Aug 2011 11:45 pm 0112'Rx Mercury Stationary Retrograde
26 Aug 2011 05:55 pm 1842' Mercury Stationary Direct
09 Sep 2011 08:16 pm 0112' Mercury Leaves Rx Zone

(As always, huge thanks to Cafe Astrology for their great charts and ephemeris info!)

We will start out this retrograde with Mercury in the solid, stable sign of Virgo, where it will be for just a few days before it returns to fiery Leo. A common effect of Mercury retrograding in Virgo is that it can affect your health or physical well-being. Sometimes it will trigger old injuries or afflictions that you thought were gone to flare up temporarily. Since Mercury retro often brings up the past, be sure that you don't ignore or dismiss physical ailments during this period. This effect will be going away around August 8th, so this will be a factor for just for a few short days this time.

After August 8th, Mercury will move back into the Fire sign of Leo, and the effects will shift from our physical self to the manifestation of our wills. Normally, Mercury in Leo will allow us to step to the front of the stage, to bring the strength of our passions to the forefront and to be able to articulate very clearly what it is we want to happen. Mercury in it's retrograde stage in Leo slows everything down, and makes it hard for us to properly communicate about what we are passionate about, and to stand up for the things we believe in. We may feel the need to hibernate, to hide our true desires and to keep things under wraps for a little while. We may lose some confidence in our convictions or have a hard time with feeling sure about our path. However, this is not always or entirely a bad thing! This will also be a great time to reexamine what we are putting our energies into. Take some time out over the next few weeks (after August 8th) and have a good honest look at what you are putting your will toward. Are you spreading yourself too thin? Are you putting your energy into things just out of habit or a sense of obligation? Take a good look at these areas and you could find some insights that may help you refocus your time and attention toward the things that you really love.

The sign of Leo also governs our interactions with children, and so we may get some contact or information coming from the past that is either channeled through the children around you or has something to do with the children in your life, if you have them.

Finally, Leo is also the natural sign of the politician, and so the political grandstanding and games that we in the USA have witnessed in our government is no surprise to those who watch the dance of the planetary bodies. It is interesting how the spotlight on the most recent debates and the level of self-aggrandizing posturing increased markedly after the July 15th shadow period began, as Mercury was in Leo that whole time. This has affected President Obama very heavily as he is a Leo sun native. Remarkably, the small window that opened when Mercury entered Virgo on the morning Sunday July 31, combined with the forces of the New moon in Leo seem to have allowed some measure of stability to enter the political scene. Almost like a fever breaking, the heat of Mercury in Leo which was affecting communications in our leadership was taken away, replaced by a much more calm, soothing Virgo energy which began to encourage cooperation and sensibility regarding our financial situation. We can only hope that a reasonable solution will be found and implemented before the retrograde begins in earnest tomorrow night, and certainly before Mercury plunges back into hot-tempered Leo after August 8th.

Finally, here is a repost / edit of part of one of my earlier articles regarding what to do during a Mercury retrograde to help yourself survive the storm safely and sanely.

How to survive a Mercury Retrograde

As I have written many times before, you don't necessarily have to dread the energy of Mercury Retrograde. People born under a Mercury Retrograde period usually have a much easier time of it than those without that aspect in their natal charts, but the next few weeks don't HAVE to spell disaster.

That being said, here are some areas to keep a close eye on:

1. Computers and important data should be backed up frequently and protected with a strong firewall and antivirus set of programs. Hard drives do wear out, even external ones, so you may wish to review the ages of your hard drives, they only last between 3-5 years on average.

2. Get your car tuned up and your oil and filters checked. Check on your tires for wear and if you don't have one, get your AAA card in case of breakdowns. During this hot time, keep extra water, engine coolant and an umbrella in your car!

3. Double-and triple-check any and all travel plans, and make sure to bring a change of clothes and important medications in your carry-on in case of delays or changes in schedules when flying.

4. Delay signing legal contracts, buying a home or purchasing expensive electronics, at the very least until Mercury goes direct on August 26th, and if possible, until after the shadow period has passed on Sept. 9th. If you MUST sign any contracts during this time, make certain to read all the fine print very closely, make sure you have copies of everything and be sure that you understand what you are signing. Be detailed in keeping records of who, what, when, where and why, and even go overboard a little on the nitpicky details and don't let anyone pressure you into doing something or signing something you don't fully understand. 

5. Keep a close eye on your financial transactions during this time. Review your bank or credit accounts often, even daily, and keep track of all of your receipts for purchases and bank deposits.

(I know that I have posted these tips before, but the advice doesn't really change from one Mercury retro to the next)

Finally, during the next few weeks, try to approach any snafus, delays or frustrations with patience and tranquility. Cultivate and practice a "go with the flow" attitude. It can't hurt you and it might even help get you through this cycle with your sanity intact! This would be a perfect time to get yourself a set of meditation beads and learn how to use them. Remember to breathe and if it gets too much, you can always throw your hands up, embrace the chaos and say "Hail Eris!".