Lugh's golden spears of light cast up into the trees, harbinger of the returning light. I was struck by daffodil buds facing up to the trees, both lit up by the sun.
My post in the UK branch of our public FB community was very popular. So, following on from that is my stream-of-consciousness about Lugh-of-the-Long-Hand. Last year I explored some of the goddesses from around the world, (in memory of my beautiful friend Anna Ziman of Open To The Goddess) this year I will expand into the realm of the gods.
As we reach out to the equinox I say...
“Welcome to the light”.
Lugh casting his spears of light into the trees … and so it began. Of course, in actual fact the story of my own association with this god began much earlier and became public with a piece I wrote about the Welsh story in which he features of the Woman-Made-of-Flowers, Blodeuwedd. I also held a Lammas ceremony in which this god featured as a bear. (Bear history in the UK and further afield is one of my research topics but I digress)
Those buds, that light …
We cast spears, we cast spells, we cast seeds … all of which need the light to see by. We cannot cast blindly into the dark and expect to hit our mark, though we can hope. So, yes, there is hope too and when life is dark hope becomes the light that guides us. But what does this have to do with trees I hear you ask?
By March the trees are stripped bare, with not a single leaf remaining on a single twig. Aside, that is, from the evergreens. Here it is the deciduous trees we are concerned with. I am always struck in Winter by the beauty of their bare forms and how they catch the light. The silver birch are the light of the moon, they seem to glow from within on dark nights. The Rowan are the sun, you see the bark of their trucks shine out in the day. By April the Alders are glowing with purple catkins exploding into golden pollen. The silver of winter is turning into the gold of the summer months, the two seasons of the Celts.
In The Fate of the Children of Turenn, Lugh's appearance is compared to the sun on several occasions and he is described by Bres;
"Then arose Breas, the son of Balar, and he said: "It is a wonder to me", said he, "that the sun to rise in the west today, and in the east every other day". "It would be better that it wer so", said the Druids. "What else is it?" said he. "The radiance of the face of Lugh of the Long Arms", said they."
Lugh (Irish) or Lew (Welsh) it is said, was betrayed by his wife Blodeuwedd in the Welsh Mabinogion, but of course we know this is Christian spin on a very old story as I pointed out last year. Lugh is of prodigious strength, he casts his spear through stone to kill his rival. There was a stone in Wales said to be that very one.
These holes are also found in some Neolithic graves and often are exposed to the light and mark times of the year with light and shadow penetrating into the heart of the tomb. The inference is clear. He is casting his intent through the layers of reality or perception. These holed stones are often known as 'spirit holes'. People talk about the ‘other world’ as though it were separate but this is a bit misleading because the ‘other world’ isn’t separate to this one, but rather a part of this reality. An easy way to think of it is bees. They see the world in a different light to us, the ultraviolet spectrum. Their world is not separate to ours, their world is our world, it is just a matter of perception.
As described in my previous piece named earlier, Lugh as Leu (Lleu Llaw Gyffes) goes through an initiation and as part of that is hung in a tree for some time. We already know he is not really human since he is one of triplets who grows remarkably fast and with prodigious strength to become a beautiful and very big man. The only one made visible in this world, his siblings being given to the sea. Water is often seen as a liminal place that leads to the ‘under world’ or place of spirits where souls pass to when they leave this earthly body. He is the golden haired one in the world of light. Like the sap in the trees his light rises with the returning sun. Like the trees he radiates the day. He is both animating force and flesh made real.
The tri-part nature of Lugh is interesting. Julius Caesar, in his “De Bello Gallico”, recognised six gods worshipped in Gaul, and bestowed upon them the names of their nearest Roman equivalents. He said of the six that “Mercury” was the god most revered and there are more than 400 inscriptions to him in Roman Gaul and Britain, and describes him as patron of trade and commerce, protector of travellers, and the inventor of all the arts. This connection with the title Samildánach, the “many-crafted one”, has strengthened this identification with the Celtic “Mercury”. This is a god skilled in both the arts of mind and hand.
In this guise Lugos is often seen as triple, having three faces or three phalluses. (Remember his two siblings mentioned earlier in the Welsh and Irish stories). Common iconography of Gaulish “Mercury” also includes birds, particularly ravens, the cock, horses, and the tree of life. He is also associated with dogs or wolves, mistletoe, shoes and bags of money, for which we can read gold. Having three faces he is not a straightforward character but a trickster who, in Greek mythology, steals his half-brother Apollos’ cattle. He is also a psychopomp, a leader of souls in safe passage to the underworld. A sacred shoemaker protecting souls or soles.
If you are in Europe Lugos gives his name to a variety of places such as Lugdunum – Lyon, France, capital of the Roman province of Gallia Lugdunensis. Others include Lugdunum Clavatum at Laon, France and Luguvalium at Carlisle, England. Other places likely named after him include Loudun and Montluçon in France, Loudoun in Scotland, Dinlleu in Wales, Leiden in the Netherlands, Lugones in Asturias, Spain and Legnica in Silesia, Poland.
Lugh is making his presence felt and I have an image in mind to paint, if I get it finished I might post later. As ever there is always so much to be said left unsaid but enough, I hope, to inspire you.
As I write this March winds are blowing up a storm outside. If there is such a thing as a ‘trickster month’ then this would probably be it. A day or two of sunshine and we are soon lulled into thinking spring has sprung, yet plunged into icy howling gales the next. But those daffodil spears that shoot bolt upright from the ground, later opening into triumphant trumpeting yellow flowers, speak of the victory yet to come when the light outshines the dark. It is a valuable lesson, for in March everything has been literally scoured clean down to the bare bones. Just when we think winter is interminable and we long for leaves on the trees, these woodland flowers, and the returning sun lighting up the woods, remind us that sooner or later summer will return and with it the warmth and illumination.
Lugh is here casting his spears of light into the trees.
PS. A quick note about daffodils. It is better to plant native wild daffodils as bees are not attracted to the commercial varieties.
Did you know you can plant and Oak tree in the UK? We fund tree planting with community groups through ecards, certificates and lots more including a fabulous book and CD by AST members.
The team at Extinction Rebellion Rewilding Saving Oaks are working tirelessly planting thousands of oak trees as we speak. Money raised through AST oak tree cards etc goes to fund their epic volunteer efforts to costs of saplings, tree guards etc and to buy land to be help by the British people forever. This is Love As Activism.