Tuesday, 7/31/2007 Lughnasa The modern holy day of Lammas was once Lughnasadh, a festival of light, and a harvest festival. It was celebrated for four weeks, with August 1 at its midpoint. Many religions worship light, perhaps the first abstraction that takes divinity beyond the physical world. Lugh was a god of light and a Herculean hero, who fought to gain the Tuatha da Danaan, one of the later tribes to immigrate to (or, rather, invade) Ireland, access to the fruits of the land. Lugh was also associated with a life-and-death cycle, and this festival commemorated his death. Today young men carry his empty coffin 40 miles down an ancient road across the Yorkshire moors. The cycle differed from the Greek model in that the death and life were not of one person, but of two. The old King would die, the new King would be born and crowned. In spirit, father and son were one, and the life of the father lived on in the son. We hear echoes of this tradition in the cheer, "The King is dead, long live the King!" This is also the festival that brought us the trial marriage, solemnized at the Tailtean games. A man and a woman could marry for "a year and a day," or one solar year, at the games. If they decided that the marriage wouldn't work out, they both had to return to the games the next year, and declare their annulment by standing back-to-back and then walking directly away from each other. If they hadn't agreed on much during the year, hopefully they could agree on that!