gaelic festival

Celebrating Lughnasadh:

Lughnasadh, also known as Lúnasa, Lùnastal, Luanistyn or Lammas, is a Gaelic festival of the first harvest, which also corresponds with other European early harvest festivals. It is held on the 1st of August, halfway between the Summer Solstice (Litha) and the Autumn Equinox (Mabon).

The festival is named after the Celtic god Lugh, and part of the festival is often offering some of the first harvest’s bounty in gratitude, and feasting or athletic competitions. Historically, journeys to sacred wells or holy shrines, or climbing mountains or hills have been popular, and in some places are still observed. Lugh is often seen as a personification of the first harvest, or the corn itself, and he is sometimes recast as folkloric figures such as John Barleycorn.

 Lughnasadh colours: gold, orange, yellow, green, light brown

 Lughnasadh crystals: amber, citrine, aventurine, peridot

 Lughnasadh foods: Bread, corn, soup, root vegetables, berries, mead, rice, barely, nuts, seasonal fruits, roasted meats, honey, beer

 Ideas for Lughnasadh celebrations:

  • Bake bread! Baking bread is one of the most traditional ways of celebrating this festival, and the first of the grains have been harvested. Consider baking different types of loaves, experiment with plaiting the dough or drawing designs on the top. Add seasonal berries, nuts or seeds to the dough to add flavour and interest
  • Have a picnic with friends and family – with lots of bread!
  • Go on a walk up a mountain or hill, or visit a sacred place such as a shrine, holy well, stone circle or burial mound (or just somewhere sacred to you if none of those are available)
  • Play games with friends or family, have a sports contest such as a running race or a tug of war
  • Make a donation of food to your local food bank or donate money to a charity
  • Hold your own Lughnasnadh ritual, light a fire and offer some food to the god Lugh and thank him for your harvest, and feel gratitude in knowing that all your efforts are coming to fruition
  • Make corn dollies, instructions for lots of interesting designs can be found online, or make sculptures and decorations out of salt dough
  • Light a candle and make a list of all that you are thankful for, and meditate upon this
  • Go on a foraging trip, look for early apples, plums, berries and edible fungi (ensure you are certain of what you are harvesting before you eat it!)

A blessed Lughnasadh to all, however you chose to celebrate it, and may your August be fruitful, prosperous and full of joy :)

✨🌿Imbolc Tarot Spread for Goal Setting🌿🕯

Imbolc/Candlemas (February 2nd in the Northern Hemisphere) is a Gaelic festival to celebrate the first signs of spring. This sabbat is the perfect time for introspection and setting goals as we prepare for the upcoming season. Here is a tarot spread to incorporate into your Imbolc celebration! Enjoy~

1. Seed - What seeds do I need to plant this season?

2. Purification - What needs to be cleared away in order to grow this seed?

3. Spark - What can I do to nurture this seed?

4. Flame - What is the ultimate outcome of the seeds I’ve planted?

🌱💜Imbolc Tarot Spread of Personal Growth 💜🌱

Imbolc or Candlemas is a Gaelic traditional festival marking the beginning of spring. It’s a wonderful time to set goals for yourself and become grounded for the awakening of spring. What are your goals for this year? How do you want to grow? Happy Imbolc, friends!

The First Card: You are just a seedling at the start of Spring and so are your goals! How can you ground yourself so you are ready to grow strong this spring?

The Second Card: For plants to grow strong and healthy you need to give the proper nutrients and make sure nothing is blocking them from receiving sunlight. What is something you need to let go of, to properly grow and reach your goals?

The Third Card: As for the proper nutrients, what can you do to properly nurture and take care of yourself? The third card represents an act of self-care to help you nurture your soul and mind so you can reach your goals. 

The Fourth Card: With Imbolc on our doorstep we leave behind Winter and welcome Spring. What changes come with the changing of seasons?

You can see some of my readings and spreads here and you can get your own reading by me here. 💖


wheel of the year | Beltane (May 1)

“The world’s favorite season is the spring.
All things seem possible in May.”
-  Edwin Way Teale

The modern Beltane Fire Festival is inspired by the ancient Gaelic festival of Beltane which began on the evening before 1 May and marked the beginning of summer.

This fire festival is celebrated with bonfires, Maypoles, dancing, and lots of good old fashioned sexual energy. The Celts honored the fertility of the gods with gifts and offerings, sometimes including animal or human sacrifice. Cattle were driven through the smoke of the balefires, and blessed with health and fertility for the coming year.

There are many different ways you can celebrate Beltane, but the focus is nearly always on fertility. It’s the time when the earth mother opens up to the fertility god, and their union brings about healthy livestock, strong crops, and new life all around.
Today’s Pagans celebrate Beltane much like their ancestors did. A Beltane ritual usually involves lots of fertility symbols, including the obviously-phallic Maypole dance. The Maypole is a tall pole decorated with flowers and hanging ribbons, which are woven into intricate pattern by a group of dancers. Weaving in and out, the ribbons are eventually knotted together by the time the dancers reach the end.

There are some who believe Beltane is a time for the faeries – the appearance of flowers around this time of year heralds the beginning of summer and shows us that the fae are hard at work. In early folklore, to enter the realm of faeries is a dangerous step – and yet the more helpful deeds of the fae should always be acknowledged and appreciated. If you believe in faeries, Beltane is a good time to leave out food and other treats for them in your garden or yard.

For many contemporary Pagans, Beltane is a time for planting and sowing of seeds – again, the fertility theme appears. The buds and flowers of early May bring to mind the endless cycle of birth, growth, death and rebirth that we see in the earth.


Brighid’s Night begins tonight so that means making offerings (honeyed milk, sherry and scones), making a “brat bhride” doll (in this case, one of my altar idols) and bed, inviting Brighid into your house, blessing the St. Brighid’s crosses in the house and anointing them with juniper oil (representing purification and the approaching spring) and hanging clootie strips that can be used to “heal” and get rid of negativity and problems.

So, here are some pictures at my attempt at celebrating said holiday.

Blessed Imbolc!

Grianstad an tSamhraidh, y'all!

I hope everyone has had a wonderful day!

I didn’t get to do much this year cause my grandfather managed to accidentally catch himself on fire and had to be airlifted down here to Memphis to the burn unit. So any thoughts and prayers would be appreciated. My family can’t seem to catch a break lately.


Beltany Stone Circle, County Donegal, Ireland

It has been suggested that the name of the site is linked to the Celtic festival of fertility known as ‘Beltane’, the anglicized name for the Gaelic May Day festival, commonly held on May 1st and historically observed throughout Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man.

Beltany is a neolithic stone circle that dates from around 1400-800 BC and comprises 64 stones around a tumulus situated at the summit of Tops Hill. One stone is decorated with cup marks and many of the stones stand at an angle after being disturbed around a hundred years ago. There may originally have been about 80 stones. A single stone about 6.5 feet high stands to the southeast of the circle. It probably had some function related to the rites or ceremonies in the circle. A stone head was found at Beltany, probably carved between 400 BC and 400 AD. This may indicate that the stone circle was used for many centuries.

The púca is a fey creature from Celtic folklore. It can change shape, but often appears as a black goat, horse or hare. There are conflicting stories about the creature’s nature, with some claiming it is malevolent, and others saying it brings good fortune.

Thomas Crofton Croker claimed that púca are “wicked-minded, black-looking bad things” who would harm unwary travellers. On the other hand, Irish poet Lady Wilde related a tale of a púca who helped a young farmhand with his work.

The púca is associated with the Gaelic harvest festival of Samhain, and some farmers will leave a small amount of produce in the fields to placate the púca.

Image source.

Monster master list.

Suggest a spook.


ƁELTANE (Lá Bealtaine)

Beltane, one of four Gaelic seasonal festivals, is the Celtic May Day. Historically widely observed throughout Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man, Beltane used to mark the beginning of summer and was when cattle were driven out to the summer pastures.

Rituals were performed to protect the cattle, crops and people, and to encourage growth.

Special bonfireswere kindled, and their flames, smoke and ashes were deemed to have protective powers. The people and their cattle would walk around the bonfire, or between two bonfires, and sometimes leap over the flames or embers. All household fires would be doused and then re-lit from the Beltane bonfire. These gatherings would be accompanied by a feast, and some of the food and drink would be offered to the aos sí (spirits). Doors, windows, byres and the cattle themselves would be decorated with yellow May flowers, perhaps because they evoked fire.

In some parts of Ireland, people would make a May Bush: a thorn bush decorated with flowers, ribbons and bright shells. Holy wells were also visited, while Beltane dew was thought to bring beauty and maintain youthfulness.

Bonfires All hearth fires and candles would be doused before the bonfire was lit, generally on a mountain or hill.

In the 19th century, the ritual of driving cattle between two fires was still practised across most of Ireland and in parts of Scotland. Sometimes the cattle would be driven “around” a bonfire or be made to leap over flames or embers. The people themselves would do likewise. 

In the Isle of Man, people ensured that the smoke blew over them and their cattle.

When the bonfire had died down, people would daub themselves with its ashes and sprinkle it over their crops and livestock. Burning torches from the bonfire would be taken home, where they would be carried around the house or boundary of the farmstead and would be used to re-light the hearth.

From these rituals, it is clear that the fire was seen as having protective powers. As a matter of fact bonfires were meant to mimic the Sun and to “ensure a needful supply of sunshine for men, animals, and plants”, but they were also meant to symbolically “burn up and destroy all harmful influences”.

Food was also cooked at the bonfire and there were rituals involving it. Everyone present would take an oatmeal cake, called the bannoch Bealltainn or “Beltane bannock”. A bit of it was offered to the spirits to protect their livestock (one bit to protect the horses, one bit to protect the sheep, and so forth) and a bit was offered to each of the animals that might harm their livestock (one to the fox, one to the eagle, and so forth). Afterwards, they would drink the caudle.

Maypole It is a tall erected wooden pole around which maypole dances take place.

The practice had become increasingly popular throughout the ensuing centuries, with the maypoles becoming “communal symbols” that brought the local community together: even poorer parishes would join up with neighbouring ones in order to obtain and erect one.

As revived, the dance consisted of pairs of boys and girls (or men and women) stand alternately around the base of the pole, each holding the end of a ribbon. They weave in and around each other, boys going one way and girls going the other and the ribbons are woven together around the pole until the merry-makers meet at the base. There are also more complex dances for set numbers of dancers, involving complicated weaves and unweaves.

In some regions, a somewhat different Maypole tradition existed: the carrying of highly decorated sticks. The sticks had hoops or cross-sticks or swags attached, covered with flowers, greenery or artificial materials such as crepe paper. Children would take these hand-held poles to school on May Day morning and prizes may be awarded for the most impressive. This tradition is known as garlanding, and was a central feature of May Day celebrations in central and southern England until the mid-19th century.

Truth about Samhain and Halloween

If you’re interested in the Celtic or Gaelic festival of Samhain, please observe it correctly. October is not actually Samhain’s month. The festival begins on the night of the 31st of October but the month of Samhain is November. Its beginning corresponds with secular Halloween and that’s why we think of it as an October thing today. In modern society, Halloween is spreading into all of October because, in my opinion regarding America, November is all about Thanksgiving.

Here’s the basic truth.

Firstly, Samhain is not pronounced sam-hane. Don’t do that. It’s disrespectful to keep mispronouncing words after you’ve been properly taught. Irish-speaking people tend to say sow-an (my source is Trinity College Dublin) and some dialects of Gaelic-speaking people have said it’s like sahv-in, sow-een, shahvin, sowin (with “ow” like in “glow”). The Scots Gaelic spelling is Samhuin or Samhuinn. Since my people were mostly Irish, I stick with the example Trinity College Dublin offered.

Samhain is something that often got misidentified before as a “Celtic Death God”, which is not true. There was no such god and the story was, in fact, invented in the 18th century and propagated largely by Protestants nervous about pagans. Samhain is simply the initiation of the winter, the end of the harvest period, and a time to honor the dead in the pre-Christian Irish calendar. Traditions reflect the beliefs of Irish and some Scottish people in “in between” times when seasonal changes coincide with the unseen world and the death of the earth. The last day of October into the first day of November is an in between time, between life and death.

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IMƁOLC ❄~ 31st Jan/1st Feb

Imbolc (pronounced eem-bolgh or eem-bullugh), also called (Saint) Brigid’s Day  (Irish:  Lá Fhéile Bríde ), is a Gaelic festival marking the beginning of spring.

Most commonly it is held on 1st February (it usually begins on the night of 31st January), about halfway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. 

Historically, it was widely observed throughout Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man: it is one of the four Gaelic seasonal festivals.

It is believed that it was originally a pagan festival associated with the goddess Brigid and that it was Christianized as a festival of Saint Brigid, who herself is thought to be a Christianization of the goddess. At Imbolc, Brigid’s crosses were made and a doll-like figure of Brigid, called a Brídeóg, would be paraded from house-to-house. Brigid was said to visit one’s home at Imbolc. To receive her blessings, people would make a bed for Brigid and leave her food and drink, while items of clothing would be left outside for her to bless.

Brigid was also invoked to protect homes and livestock. Special feasts were had and holy wells were visited.


To start this new blog, here is my most “famous” piece of work to date:
3 Minutes Silence. This is a short experimental video film for peace, made in late 2001. It won a number of awards at the time. Please note that the pace is slow, and although the image quality in this version is OK it’s not perfect, and there is some flicker in places. Running time is just over 6 minutes. Peace is every step…

Here is the official blurb for the film:

3 minutes silence: an intrusive silence that cannot be silent. An exceptional silence dedicated to those who lose their lives through acts of extreme violence and conflict.

When the unthinkable happens, we are precipitated into 3 minutes of visual meditation upon the symbolic journey of a universal victim drifting through hell in search of lost hope and a path for mankind away from the cycle of violence. The young girl at the centre of the film epitomizes Wilfred Owen’s famous line “I am the enemy you killed, my friend”.

This short film was made in a few weeks, as an immediate response to the violent events of 11th September 2001 and the violent reprisals which followed. At such times the world’s attention is focussed upon particular centres of conflict or fear; the film’s unexpected focus on a location and culture remote from those centres highlights the universal threat which we must all face if we continue to respond to violence with more violence. “Peace is every step.” (Thich Nhat Hanh)

Sound by Donald Holwill. Gaelic songs by Catherine-Ann MacPhee, by kind permission of Greentrax Recordings.

This project was supported by Edinburgh College of Art. © MacAvon Media Productions 2001

2002 Columbine Award for short film, Moondance International Film Festival, January 2002. (World premiere screening.)

Mediawave Festival Award, Több Szem Pont Video- és Filmfesztivál, Debrecen, Hungary, March 2002.

Gold Remi Award for Experimental Film & Video: Live Action, 35th WorldFest-Houston International Film Festival, April 2002.

Gold Award: Experimental Category, Crested Butte Reel Fest, Colorado, August 2002.

2nd Best Independent Experimental Entry, 33rd Canadian International Annual Film & Video Festival, November 2002.

Also screened at:
DeadCENTER Film Festival 2002, Edmond, Oklahoma, USA, 7–8 June 2002.

11th Brisbane International Film Festival, Brisbane, Queensland (Australian premiere), 9–21 July 2002.

Ajijic Festival Internacional de Cine, Ajijic, Mexico, 19–24 November 2002.

SPECIAL NOTE: This video can be embedded on any Tumblr blog without special arrangement, and you are most welcome to reblog it on Tumblr. If you would like to embed this video on any site which is not a Tumblr blog, please get in touch with me. I can enable embedding for any suitable site, but I will need to permit each domain by hand at Vimeo.

“actually, the holiday we now consider as halloween is an amalgamation of different holidays and traditions and sell outs. traditionally people beileve that most of halloween’s imagery draws from the gaelic festival of samhain, which marked the end of fall and the beginning of ‘winter’, or the dark part of the year. it was believed that the festival of samhain allowed spirits and otherworldly beings to cross to and from the mortal plane.”

“the more modern versions of halloween stem from the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.”  spencer paused, neck going red, “but–yeah–it’s a great holiday, you know?”


Beltane or Beltainis the Gaelic May Day festival. Most commonly it is held on 1 May, or about halfway between the spring equinox and the summer solstice. Historically, it was widely observed throughout Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man. In Irish it is Bealtaine, in Scottish Gaelic Bealltainn and in Manx Gaelic Boaltinn or Boaldyn. It is one of the four Gaelic seasonal festivals—along with Samhain, Imbolc and Lughnasadh—and is similar to the Welsh Calan Mai.

Beltane is mentioned in some of the earliest Irish literature and it is associated with important events in Irish mythology. It marked the beginning of summer and was when cattle were driven out to the summer pastures. Rituals were performed to protect the cattle, crops and people, and to encourage growth. Special bonfires were kindled, and their flames, smoke and ashes were deemed to have protective powers. The people and their cattle would walk around the bonfire, or between two bonfires, and sometimes leap over the flames or embers. All household fires would be doused and then re-lit from the Beltane bonfire. These gatherings would be accompanied by a feast, and some of the food and drink would be offered to the aos sí. Doors, windows, byres and the cattle themselves would be decorated with yellow May flowers, perhaps because they evoked fire. In parts of Ireland, people would make a May Bush; a thorn bush decorated with flowers, ribbons and bright shells. Holy wells were also visited, while Beltane dew was thought to bring beauty and maintain youthfulness. Many of these customs were part of May Day or Midsummer festivals in other parts of Great Britain and Europe.

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Poetry Riot Prompt (Week One Hundred Four) 10/24 - 10/30

The prompt for this week is:

Samhein (A Gaelic festival marking the end of the harvest season and the beginning of the “darker half” of the year.)

The only taboo word this week is Samhein. You may not use it as either the title or within the piece. You may use a metaphor or synonym, but not the prompt word itself. If you do use it, your piece will not be reblogged or included in the recap. It’s bit more challenging, but we know you can handle it.

As always tag your work with #poetryriotprompt. If you do not see your work reblogged within 72 hours, please send us a message with a link to it. If the tag is used but the idea or theme of the prompt isn’t, your piece will not be reblogged.

As a reminder: short stories and blackouts are acceptable and encouraged for the prompt.  

You may write as many pieces as you like for the prompt, only the first one you post will be reblogged. 

If you haven’t already, please read our post about the prompts and triggering topics. And please use the tag #poetryriot for pieces that are not prompt related and #riotprompts for past prompts. Thank you.