Celtic Calendar

These fires lasted well into the nineteenth century in many places. In many places the elderly women would go to the cattle to tie red or blue threads onto their tails, while repeating incantations. For the milk to retain its goodness, a ball of cow’s hair or ‘ronag’ was put into the milk pail on this day. Curds and cheese were specially prepared from that day’s milk. In many places, after the rise to dominance of Christianity, the pagan bannock became the ‘Moilean Moire’, dedicated to Mary. In this way the ancient customs were carried on under a thin veneer of Christianity as La Feill Moire, The Feast day of Mary. This festival falls on August 15th, very close to the ancient date of Lughnasadh before the Gregorian calendar changes. We can see many similarities between Mary as mother of Christ (the Sun King) and our ancestral Goddess of the Earth, Tailltiu, foster mother of the Sun King Lugh. La Feill Moire has retained much of its pagan roots. It is not very difficult to back-engineer this verse to regain a wholly pre-Christian expression. I shall however, leave that for the reader. In this rite the father of the household breaks the bannock, giving a piece to his wife and his children in order of age, then the whole family walk sunwise round the fire singing the rune of Mother Mary ‘Iolach Mhoire Mhathair’:

On the feast day of Mary the fragrant,
Mother of the Shepherd of the flocks,
I cut me a handful of the new corn,
I dried it gently in the sun,
I rubbed it sharply from the husk
With mine own palms.
I ground it in a quern of Friday
I baked it on a fan of sheep-skin
I toasted it to a fire of rowan
And I shared it round my people.
I went sunways round my dwelling
In the name of Mary Mother
Who promised to preserve me
Who did preserve
And who will preserve me…
(Translated from the Gaelic by the Dal Riadh Celtic Trust)

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