Sassenach Stray By Ross Nichols

celebration of Lughnassad (Lammas) ensured plenty of corn, milk, etc., throughout Ireland. If the rites were poor the crops would be poor, and temporary marriages seem to have been a great feature of the rites. To this day "a Tailltenn marriage" is the word for the type of union "when you do not bother the priest with your private affairs." "Lughnassad" means "the marriage of Lugh", and he was supposed to take the land as his bride. The King of All Ireland was ceremonially married to the goddess, actually to a priestess representing her. This is exactly what was done in Sumeria, when each year the king, representing the god, married a priestess representing the goddess.

Samhain (November 1st), the winter festival of the Celts, was the beginning of their New Year, and on Samhain Eve (our Halloween) divinations to know the happenings of the coming year were made. In Ireland this was held at Tara, when all the Druids assembled to sacrifice to the gods. They sacrificed a black sheep, and offered libations to the spirits of those who had died during the year.

May 1st was Bealteinne (Beltane) two great fires were lighted by the Druids on each sacred hill, and the cattle were driven between them as a preservation against sickness. Later, in England, the May King and May Queen, "Robin Hood and Maid Marian", represented the old god and goddess of fertility. Their marriage and union were believed magically to assist the crops. The May Day revels were fiercely denounced by the Puritans, on account of the freedom of lovemaking which prevailed among those who took part in them. Ross Nichols, in his little book, Sassenach Stray, says, speaking of old Gaelic traditions:

The big sun, Beltane, reappears, replacing winter's wizened little sun on Mayday, when ceremonial fires of sympathetic magic were lit. On Hallowe'en the little sun substituted for the big sun; the underworld began to dominate the upper world and you could see into the future. At these changeovers supernatural beings became unstuck and flew about.

Now, the four great festivals the witch cult celebrates are Halloween, May Eve (the old "Walpurgis Night"), Lammas, and Candlemas, February 2nd. (It is noteworthy that, being a moon cult, they celebrate the night before the day of the festival.)

February 2nd is called by the Christian Church "The Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary"; but it is actually derived from the rites of the Roman goddess Februa, who was worshipped with lighted torches. Oimelc, the festival of the moon goddess Bride among the ancient Celts and Gaels, was February 1st. Bride has

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