Lúnasa is the Irish word for August and today is the first of three Thanksgiving celebrations in the pagan Wheel of the Year. It is also known as the First Harvest. Of course, this holiday was celebrated by our ancient ancestors but in our post-agricultural society, the harvest metaphor seems fitting for the things we sow, grow and reap on our spiritual path.
In many traditions, tales of the sacrifices made by the Celtic sun god, Lugh, take center stage. But a story we don’t often talk about is the story of Lugh’s foster mother, the Goddess Tialtiu who gave the ultimate sacrifice for her children and people of her land.
The story goes that Tialtiu died of exhaustion after having worked so hard to clear the land and make way for agriculture in Ireland. To honor her memory, Lugh hosted the annual Tialtiu Games (Irish Olympics). It was a big event attracting people from far and wide, with contests to prove skills of all kinds and a three-day merriment for all. It was to the first of the county fairs, a tradition that still takes place to this day in most westernized countries.
Of course, Tialtiu’s story, like most Goddess stories, are metaphors to explain a significant shift in culture. Some argue whether she actually existed, or if she actually cleared the land herself. And though there is documentation of a Queen Tialtiu in ancient texts, who is really to say? The important part, at least from the spiritual perspective, is that we ponder the deeper meaning of her story.
As a mother, I do enjoy reflecting on Tialtiu’s story, and every year, I glean something new from it.
Mothers (good mothers) know sacrifice. This is true of all mothers, whether that looks like a woman who bears and births her own children, or whether she is a surrogate, or whether she has adopted. It is true of women who have not borne any children, but who are “mothers of the world.” This is true of women who find themselves in the precarious position of having to re--parent their own inner child. Whether she is trying to conceive (and can’t) or whether she has multiple children, a mother knows sacrifice.
And a mother’s love causes her to make so many sacrifices. A mother’s love is undying.
She will do whatever it takes to ensure the survival of her children. She will make decisions that are tough to make, knowing that in the end, her child’s happiness will be the reward.
She will go without so that her children will have more. She divies up her resources so that all can benefit. She lies awake some nights, long into the night, not letting them see her wonder if her efforts will pay off. She plans ahead and she scrimps and saves to ensure that her children’s futures will be more comfortable.
And if all goes right, the unexpected (but most cherished) reward is that one day her grown children will come back and say, “Mom, thank you for all you have done to help me.”
That is the spirit of Tialtiu and Lough, and it tugs at my heartstrings because I recognize this struggle in my own experience. I’m sure it plays out for you, too.
Whether you are raising children, or have raised children (or whether you are mothering a project), you are familiar with sacrifice.
Thank you for the concessions you make.
I honor you and your vision for a brighter future.
My name is Dawn Champine and I am the Creatrix of The Goddess Diaries. I am very passionate about helping women remember their REAL GODDESS selves.