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Lughnasadh without bread: 5 ways to celebrate the first harvest for the gluten intolerant

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Simple wheat decoration for Lughnasadh.

Lughnasadh (also known as Lammas) is an old Celtic festival marking the start of the harvest season, particularly the harvest of grain. Traditional Lughnasadh celebrations include lots of bread and beer, neither of which is part of the gluten-free and limited grain diet which is currently helping my gut to heal. Does this mean I cannot participate in celebrating the abundance of the season?

Of course not. I’m not missing out on the fun of the first harvest.

If you can’t partake in bread and beer, here are five things you can do to celebrate Lughnasadh:

  1. Light a candle. Even better to grab a tub, fill it with water, and float some candles among red, orange and yellow flowers. The candle flame honors the sun’s strength during these last long summer days.
  2. Feast on berries. Berries are abundant this time of year, especially raspberries and blackberries. Try a berry cobbler made with almond meal flour instead of grains. There’s a great recipe here.
  3. Decorate with corn and grain. As long as it’s safe for you to touch wheat (I know some folks with Celiac who can’t), you can make a number of Lughnasadh decorations from wheat stalks or dried corn. Some options are wreaths of corn, wheat or grapevines, corn husk chains (made just like paper chains) and corn dollies, which are – this is  interesting given their name – traditionally made from wheat stalks. Look here for a nice corn dolly tutorial.
  4. Make herb smudge sticks. If your herb garden looks like mine, it’s overflowing. I can’t grow white sage in the North Country, but there are a number of other herbs and flowers which smell wonderful when burned. The “You Grow Girl” blog has a list and instructions on making your own smudge sticks.
  5. Start working on Yule crafts. Lughnasadh honors Lugh, the Celtic god of artisans, so it’s a great time to begin a creative project. Why not get going on those gifts you’ve sworn to make this year? December will be here before you know it.

Spin and twist in my “Maypole Vinyasa” yoga flow

Ribbons wrapping around a Maypole

Ribbons wrapping around a Maypole

Happy May Day!

May Day, or Beltane, has a long history. It started as a Celtic fire festival celebrated on or around May 1, and included bonfires, Maypoles, dancing, and plenty of sexual energy. May Day marked the end of winter’s precarious, barren months and the passage into the summer growing season, when flowers bloom and the trees are green. Because the crops were still very young and tender, and susceptible to frost and blight, people did everything in their power to encourage their growth. The celebration and rituals were meant to insure that the warmth of the sun’s masculine energy would promote the fertility of the feminine earth.

My favorite May Day tradition is the Maypole dance. A tall wooden pole was erected with a number of long ribbons attached to the top. Dancers, often young men and women, would each hold the end of a ribbon. Circling the Maypole, men going in one direction and women in the other, the dancers would weave in and out and, as a result, weave the ribbons around the Maypole.

This afternoon I laid my yoga mat out in the space between our fire pit, vegetable beds and the “field” (the empty piece of property that borders ours). To emulate the circular Maypole dance, I created this fun vinyasa flow sequence which blends the masculine energy of Surya Namaskar with the feminine fluidity of Chandra Namaskar. I mixed in an oblique twist in Chatarunga Dandasana and Vasisthasana (side plank) to flow like those ribbons wrapping around the Maypole.

 

Sorry for the shaky video. It turns out ten-year-old boys do not make good tripods.

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