For those not in the know, I don’t celebrate the Irish Holidays despite being an Irish Polytheist… Or, at least, I don’t quite celebrate them like everyone else. So while the rest of the community was celebrating Lùnastal last month, I was patiently waiting for September 1st to roll around… And here it is, finally! What a better way to celebrate that than a post dedicated to it?
Fáiteall is what I have chosen to call the Holiday which has replaced Lùnastal on my calendar. Lùnastal is one of the four main holidays that are present within Early Irish practice, and according to Tairis, it
In the simplest terms […]marked the start of autumn and the beginning of the harvest season. It ushered in a welcome end to hunger and heralded a time of great abundance of fresh fruits, vegetables and grains ripe for the reaping – or so one would hope – and so it became a celebration of the first fruits of the season.
This is not, however, entirely in line with how I’ve generally decided to celebrate the holiday.Instead, while it retains a lot of the traditional elements… The name and date aren’t the only things that I’ve ultimately set about changing or doing differently.
I chose the new name, Fáiteall, for its incarnation in my calendar because according to Teanglann, the word Fáiteall means “the act of food gathering, hunting, and / or foraging”. This is, in my opinion, the most fitting descriptor and overall purpose for this holiday; ultimately such acts play the largest roles in my State come this time of year.
While we certainly have various seasons that open around this time, it’s undeniable that the bulk of our hunting occurs in Autumn; October 1st is usually the start of many of our Hunting Seasons, and October itself is especially known for Deer, Elk, Antelope, Bear, Turkey, and Rabbit- with Quail following closely in November.
For my region (which is largely rural, largely agricultural, and has a large impoverished population) hunting is an absolutely integral part of our lifestyle here. It’s how many of us survive or at least make sure that we can provide for our families year round when it concerns food. When combined with the regional differences in Early Irish belief and the fact that it was indisputably tied to the land, I think it’s important that this take precedence in the holiday over the original agricultural focus of the holiday.
In addition to hunting, though, at this point most of our native or naturalized foods are also abundant in more ways than one; not only does Oklahoma have a large range of diverse ecosystems within its borders, but the number of common forageable edibles (which are surprisingly easy to identify in many cases) that can be found is almost absurd. Come Autumn, some of the particularly good ones are often ripe for harvest- Wild Blackberries and Raspberries included.
Of course, though… Despite the fact that this season is mostly about Hunting for us- and I chose the descriptive word for the holiday predominantly to reflect that? I couldn’t get away with failing to recognize the agricultural roots of the holiday it’s meant to replace. A part of the definition is the act of gathering food, after all- regardless of where that food actually comes from (in my opinion). So whether it is a full scale farm, or a personal garden, the harvest (or “gathering”) of cultivated foodstuffs is still important… It just takes a slightly lesser role here where it normally would.
On that note, on a mainstream agricultural level harvest starts around this time for some of our crops as well; Rice harvest tends to begin some time in September- with Cotton often following close behind in October. Corn, Soybeans, and a few others are often harvested during the Autumn in addition to these.
In terms of small scale personal agriculture in the form of edible gardens, the range of items that you can harvest is much more broad; Figs, Summer and Winter Squash, Peaches, Raspberries, Sweet Potatoes, Apples, Persimmons, Pumpkins, Eggplants, and Pears are just some of the ones that I’m personally invested in for various reasons… But harvests also include most other cultivated (and wild) plants that you can grow.
One thing that I have especially made effort to retain, however, is the act of Paying the Rents; traditionally, the holiday of Lùnastal involved political aspects and was primarily the time of Túath assembly. While, over time, the holiday lost these political aspects, the paying of the Rents remained for this time of year. Tithes were also often made in several regions- usually of the first sheaf of wheat being buried near the Rock of Barnane- and in addition to that, offerings of a tenth of the harvest was usually set aside and given to the Fae.
All of these, in my opinion, involves paying your fair due (or “rent”) for various purposes- such as the rights to continue farming the land, to remain unmolested by the Fae (as much as possible), to ensure the continued health of the land and its people, and many other reasons. And what better time to do that than at the beginning of the month on the first day of Meteorological Autumn, at what is arguably the start of our main Harvest and Hunting season? As a result, I think this is an integral part to retain within the holiday… After all, no relationship comes without mutual effort, and reciprocacy was a large part of Early Irish belief.
Another thing I want to touch on quickly, though, is the Gods associated with this Holiday. Traditionally, the God that was honored here was Lugh- for whom the original holiday was named. However, due to its associations and general focus in this iteration… I feel like Lugh is now far from the primary God which should be celebrated. Indeed, I think that Fladais should have a significant role within the holiday- and as such I’ll likely be working to include her.
The reason for this is twofold. Firstly, Fladais is arguably the Goddess of the Wild- and I’ve spoken before about my personal associations with her in regards to Oklahoma itself. But secondly, if I am to pay the rents to Lugh, who arguably represents modern agriculture and the cultivation of the land… Why should I not also pay the rents to Flaidais, who represents the wild and its natural bounty? Especially on such a holiday which I have modified to place more emphasis on the later as opposed to the former.
This, of course, is my own personal way of celebrating the holidays in the best way that I am able. You may feel free to draw inspiration from it or completely disagree with it if you wish (and I do welcome discussion and critique of it)… Either way, ádh mór ort seilg!
Author’s Note: If I’ve butchered any Irish phrases or words, please feel free to inform me. Irish is not my Native Language and I am only just beginning to learn it. Any help and / or correction is greatly appreciated!
For a list of IriPol resources, including those I used to inform the opinions mentioned in this article, please view this page here.