Saturday, August 20, 2011

Lùnasdal/Là Fhéill Mhacha

On Thursday we celebrated our Là Fhéill Mhacha, which I noted is our own name for the holiday due to our own affiliations. As I said Lùnasdal is about horses and in keeping with this I started my day by cleaning all three of our resident horses, nice and shiny and properly pampered. Then Aaron and I both took the Minis for our "unrace" which was a nice walk along the road. We need to do this more often, they seemed to enjoy it. So did our goat Elína who followed right along, then ran ahead on the way back...I guess she won? I then put their new masks on them. Before I got out with a camera, of course, they got themselves and their masks coated with the first layer of dirt for the day.

Then I moved on to brush the dogs, while Aaron made shortbread and prepared the roast, because they join us in ritual and had to look good too. Then the two of us, sans dogs (because the Greyhounds would find it too prickly and the farm dogs would find the pricklies fun to gather in their newly clean fur), headed up to pick blackberries, along with a few blue berries in my favorite patch right near our ritual site. There is a huge abundance of berries there, we'll probably go back as most weren't ripe (yet we got a lot) and there are enough I don't think we have to feel we'll totally deprive the bear.

This all meant we needed to clean ourselves up a bit and then load up for the ritual. Our ritual site is between 1/8 and 1/4 mile up the road, where we thought at one time we might build just below it, in what was a field and is becoming rather overgrown, and has an ancient (well, for the US, apple orchard). We may turn part of that old field back into pasture for the horses when we can afford the labor, but the hill the ritual site is on, will just be kept trimmed up in the actual ritual site. It's nearly the highest point, the highest point being absolutely too close to neighbors (this is a bit too).

As we were packing, we saw this grounded baby Robin sitting next to a rock we were going to add to the fire pit. We left baby bird and rock alone. I think this is the same one I saw a few days before, so s/he's doing well avoiding our dogs. I hope it continues until flying is possible.

The fire went well, which I take as a good ritual sign. We made our offerings. I took some extra time to talk with an old acquaintance who I recently learned has passed; which despite our short association and that the relationship never went where I, and I think at one point he, had once hoped, has overwhelmed me with grief. I think there will be more doing that from now through Samhuinn, but I am doing slightly better right now. Or the business of the the ritual and the tiredness of the post-ritual is making me think so.

I love having the dogs at ritual, and these four are so good. Òrlaith and Cù lied in the shade with Aaron or myself, Gleann and Sachairi roamed the area, staying close. Gleann is an old hand, Sach just goes with the flow...the Greys are, of course, on leash. The all enjoy the "blessing" part when we share a bit of food.

When we returned to the house we gave the horses, goat and chickens some berries. Oddly, it was the goat who seemed to decline. This is the goat who will likely soon devour all the Belladonna plants (with no ill effects, other than maybe being a bit stoned). I do hope to have the larger horses up in that pasture next year, so they'll be near for the ritual. But we'll see if it's pasture again yet. But maybe by this holiday we can ride them up for a bit of time up there.

This is a sad time of year, many are noting it. It's been very sad for me this year, as I mentioned, and perhaps also a bit more so as last year was so spectacular and I was able to ride out what is probably the saddest time on our trip to ComicCon. It's been a hard year in various ways, looking to see what the next season turns.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Lùnasdal is about horses

At least for us it is. Historically it was a time of horse races and Macha, well, one of Them, is associated with the horse races and the holiday and with horses because of this. While somewhere else I might get into footnotes and contemplations about how the various Machas do and do not connect with each other or do or do not connect with horses, well, this blog is more about what we do here. So I'll save that, this is about living it. And I'm tired and that stuff is all on another computer and on a thumbdrive I'm too lazy to go get and what ever. I'm not bothering with the researchy stuff.

We often refer to this holiday as Là Fhéill Mhacha, the Feast Day of Macha, which is a totally made up name based on the Là Fhéill Bhride for Imbolg. We focus on Macha, as She is a primary Goddess to us as a household, She the Land to us. We moved here to be able to get, to rescue, horses, Macha is who we believe called us to it.

We have always joked that as we do not have horse races we have the Great Horse Unrace. During the day of our celebration (which is a few days yet here), we make sure to spend some time watching the horses be horses. Saoradh's first Lùnasdal here we took him up to the ritual area where we made a temporary fence and he bolted, some say they saw Someone riding him even, and ran home. That was a bit more race-like than we usually get. In later years, I'd try to get him out for a bit of a ride on that day, not like it was different than others but it was our unrace then. Right now we have the two Minis and Saorsa is yet unbacked so we'll pretty them up and just watch them be horses.

What we do NOT do, of course, is watch professional horseracing, due to the cruel practices and use of horse slaughter as an "out" for "poorly preforming" horses and, well, we're not fond of people who think this somehow is a thing to do for the holiday. Okay, that's as close to politics as I'll get here. I have been, however, rather horrified by suggestions I've seen, often coming from people who are simply clueless and not actually cruel, to do this.

Anyway, next year perhaps we'll have a bit of a race, depending on how things go. We may have a new horse coming into our "herd" and Saorsa will hopefully be backed by this time next year (although I'm letting her let us know when the time comes, so we get off to the best start). Meanwhile, I'll leave you with a Saorsa picspam, her first road trip with her trainer.

This is boring!

No, really, can't we do something else?

Hey! Where we going?

We're heading down the road!

Hey! We're being followed!

Why do I have to get out of the way, he's the one going to fast! Road hog!

You want me to go into the ditch?!

Oh, wait, there's food down here!

It's better up here though! Hey, a helicopter!

BTW, that is my trainer's saddle, when I do someday ride her it'll be with a Western style endurance saddle most likely. Eventually bareback. The only problem with the bareback bit is, well, the height issue. All the more reason to get her use to going into ditches.