As I light my altar tonight I pray that the Light always overcomes the Dark.
A long time ago, there were many people living in a town. They couldn’t get anything to grow, and couldn’t get any fish from the sea, and couldn’t keep any animals tame. The only thing they could keep alive was the fire. So they went to the fire, and fed it and tended it and cried into it, weeping sorrows and joys, calling out for help from somewhere.
Two gods heard their call, and they came with gifts. One came from the mountains and the other came from the sea. One brought seeds and the other brought horses. One brought oil to feed the fire, and the other brought fresh water to quench the folk and tend the land. One brought tangy olives and the other brought fish to feed the folk.
The people planted the seeds and tended the trees that grew there. They watered them with the fresh water they’d been gifted. They loved the fire so much that they thanked the one profusely for the oil for the fire.
And when one of the folk spilled the water, dousing the flames, they cursed the other and bid him leave. So he left in anger, and as the water had caused him to be cast out, he took it with him. And gods have long memories, so the water never returned.
The people got smarter, and learned to divert rivers and pump it in from elsewhere. But the fresh water, the easy water that was given as a gift, it hasn’t returned. The goddess was honored for her patronage of the city and the god was cast out, forgotten for awhile, and treated with wariness ever after.
In the neo-pagan high days this feast is often designated as Lughnasadh. August 1st is said to mark the beginning of the harvest season, the first ripening of fruits ready for the picking. Traditions of Lughnasadh:
- make a cornmeal bread or cakes in the shape of Lugh and then symbolically sacrifice and eat them.
- funeral games for Lugh’s foster mother Tailtiu (games of skill and strength)
- Tailtiu predicted as long as the games were still happening, Ireland wouldn’t be without song (cite)
- Games were much like the Olympics
The beginning of the harvest season can be seen as birth, fruition, and renewal. While researching in an attempt to link the autumn feast to Hellenic traditions, the closest major festival is Panathenaea. This festival celebrates the birth of Athena Polias, the Guardian of the City. Traditions of Panathenaea (cite):
- Panathenaea Games (athletic & bardic arts contests)
- Peplos sacrifice and renewal (cite)
- honoring of craftsmanship & protection of the city
- Great Panathenaea every four years (much like the Olympics)
- the feast of bounty
I also could see the Autumn Feast relating to Demeter and Kore, as it is the first of the harvest festivals.
Another festival is Kronia: http://sites.google.com/site/hellenionstemenos/festivals/kronia