“All poets are mad [Robert Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy] – for ‘poets’ read writers.
The Solstice and Midsummer’s Day 2013 have been and gone, and, pardon the cliche, were more damp squibs than wildly mad, I feel. Today (28 June) in Leicestershire, as I write, we’re enjoying typical Glastonbury weather – 16 degrees Celsius, and rain, rain, rain. In Britain, Glastonbury is as near as we get, I guess, to the midsummer bonfire celebrations in Scandinavia, Austria, Russia, Spain. The next, once-upon-a-time bonfire opportunity is Lughnasa, or Lammas if you’re Saxon.
According to a former NASA scientist (thank you Wikipedia), Astronomical Lughnasa this year, in the Northern Hemisphere, will occur on 7th August, the mid-point between the Solstice (21 June) and Autumnal Equinox (21 September). Maybe the weather will be good enough to at least light the barbecue, and burn sacrificial sweetcorn and burgers to a crisp in commemoration of Lugh, Celtic god of light whose power was transferred to ripening grain, and was consequently sacrificed when the cereal was harvested. Some of the grain was saved to sow in the following spring. By doing this Lugh was resurrected, and the cycle begun again.
At Lughnasa ashes from the bonfires lit in Lugh’s honour were used to bless fields, and people; in particular, handfasting couples who traditionally committed themselves to a trial marriage for a year and a day.
Apologies if you already know all this, but I think vestiges of ancient mythology must linger in the psyche without our being conscious of it. Though self-possessed and independent, the main female characters in my novels to date, Monica Sommers in Last Bite of the Cherry, Calista Blake in Twins of a Gazelle (to be published this year), and Lexie Neave in my WIP third novel, in the heat of the summer, become entangled with men they know full well will be trouble, a kind of madness. It was only thinking about and writing about Midsummer Madness that I realize I’ve done this in all three stories.
Does anyone else find similar subconscious similarities in their own stories?
Red, I remember reading somewhere, is associated with the Mother Goddess, so this picture’s for her.
Posted on July 1, 2013, in Uncategorized and tagged equinox, Lughnasa, midsummer, pagan, ritual, solstice, summer. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.
Mags, you are amazing! This post makes me think of your heroines – seemingly straightforward on the surface, but with fascinating hidden depths! (I had no idea of the origins of the word Lughnasa, in spite of seeing the plays. Thanks for that!)
Thank you, June. Lucky to be able to reply. Still having internet connection problems – been weeks now. Maybe I should have qualified mad ‘writers’ to ‘writers of fiction’.
Mags, good timing and so knowledgeable, I was listening to one of the Glastonbury organisers talking to Dermot O’Leary yesterday, discussing laylines and other such mysteries of the universe, and you’ve added another dimension to this Midsummer Madness. Intriguing indeed, I find that motherhood in its broadest sense is emerging as a theme in my work…and as you know my favourite colour is red!
Hi Mags, I was at a garden party yesterday with a group of friends and (inevitably) the talk turned to writing and when our next books be launched on the unsuspecting public. My friends said that Tall, Dark and Kilted made them laugh and left them wanting to travel to the highlands to find their own Ruairi. The Hollow Heart made them cry and long to visit the Emerald Isle and The English Woman’s Guide to the Cowboy was a brilliant combination of historical novel and homage to the John Forde Westerns. They said that your nove, Last Bite of the Cherry was beautifully written and left them with lots to think about!! Just like this blog. Your erudition shines through yet it is so readable. I think that midsummer, when the long hours of daylight stimulate the pineal gland at the base of the brain, is the main reason why a young man (and indeed a young woman’s) fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love.
Fab post, Mags. Lots of nuggets of info. Love the photos too. Midsummer Madness for definite 🙂 xx
Thanls muchly for your comments, Ade, Lizzie and Jan. Always been fascinated by ancient mythologies and how their rituals may have persisted through aeons of time. The point where the Mother Godess was being superceded by something more controlling – think of the dramas of the Ancient Greeks – I find really interesting. xx Mags