shifting paradigms and the star goddess


Over the past few months I’ve been contemplating a new paradigm for my personal spirituality, not so much a “changing of the gods” as when I went from Celtic Recon to predominantly Heathen, but rather, something that could combine the two or even take the focus a little bit away from culture-based spirituality. Also, something that acknowledges squishy polytheism.

At first I looked into Proto Indo European religion and liked a lot of what I read. However, the harshly patriarchal mythology left much to be desired. Waincraft kept popping up as a possibility. I really liked a lot of the ideas, but coming from scholarly traditions like ADF and CR, I was a little put off at first by the amount of UPG or SPG. However, the more I started looking into it, the more it resonated. It is really well thought out. I’m actually gaining a deeper understanding of Northern European Paganism through this system.

So I began to really contemplate the world view, Powers and new mythology of Waincraft. After a while I began to think about how I might rearrange my altar space to reflect my new framework and incorporate some new deities and combine Waincraft and ADF symbolism. So one day I was doing my daily (or semi-daily) devotionals, asking the Kindreds for guidance as I shuffled my tarot cards. One literally jumped out and landed in front of me face-up and upright. I took it as a sign that this card was my omen. A chill ran through me. The visual of Queen of Pentacles made me immediately think of the Star Goddess (Night)–the first deity of Waincraft.

queen of pentaclesI took this to mean that the Spirits wanted me to go forward on this new path. I decided I would rearrange my altar tiles and buy, make, or re-purpose an image to represent the star/night goddess on my altar. As I picked up one of the tiles to rearrange (the Heimdall tile I made three years ago), it crumbled in my hands. The tile had broken into several pieces the year before, as did most of the others I had at the time, and I had glued them back, but I guess the damp spring we had this year was just too much humidity for them. Upon examining the other altar tiles, I discovered they were in the same ready-to-crumble shape. I hadn’t planned on such a big change in altar layout, but it seems this was meant to be. I will still be honoring my same gods, but their representations are going to be different, as are the way I think of them in relation to each other and the world.

So starting at the beginning, I made a representation of Mother Night. I wanted to re-purpose an already made statue for this, for the sake of sturdiness and longevity, but unable to find the right one, I decided to go with making one of salt dough to serve for now. Instead of using “strong salt dough” like I’ve done in the past, I just used the regular formula: 2 cups flour, 1 cup salt, and about a cup of water. And instead of air drying it, I decided to bake it at 250°F for several hours.

I went with a flat back like for the tiles I made, and flattened the bottom end so that it could be stood up when finished. I wanted her to have long flowing robes and outstretched arms. Since the robes drape down from her arms and flow into her diaphanous dress, it forms a good solid shape with no small parts to break off. The resulting piece was thick, solid, and sturdy after oven drying. Oven dried salt dough seems more bread-like than air dried, and less grainy. It may still break eventually, but maybe not crumble apart like the other ones did.

crafting a star goddessThe first coat of paint was glossy black. I then sprayed on small spurts of various shades of purple, some blue, and a little bit of silver. Later I sponged on some lavender to highlight some places that needed it. Finally, I splattered on white paint with a toothbrush to make stars.

I’m still working out how to combine ADF with Waincraft for my personal spirituality. But this beginning feels right. I feel like I’m being true to myself and reconnecting with some powers and energies that I had long forgotten about.

“We are stardust
We are golden
And we’ve got to get ourselves
Back to the garden.”
-Joni Mitchell

salt dough star goddess

semi-daily devotionals


Here lately, I’ve felt the need to revamp my daily spiritual practices. For a long time, I was only doing an adapted version of Sigrdrifa’s prayer at my bedroom window upon rising every morning. But you’ve got to change things up now and then, and I wanted to start using my den altar space more often. So I came up with a simple devotional that has a light touch of ADF structure. My aim was to do this once a week, but I’ve made it simple enough that I often do it several times a week, thus the title “semi-daily”.

I actually have started using a Gatekeeper in my personal practice (something I only did for group rituals or dedicant rites before), and I call upon Raven for this. I think of the spirit Raven as one of Odin’s birds, but I like the idea that ravens are sacred birds of many other deities from other cultures also. My hearth culture is mainly Norse/Anglo-Saxon but I call upon Celtic deities sometimes as well. So calling upon Raven as my personal Gatekeeper seems right and fitting and has a timeless feel. For offerings I usually use incense, and blessed or herb-infused water.

I Beginning
Fire Hallowing (I only do this periodically, the effect is very long lasting.)

•“Water, make me pure, that I may reach the infinite.” (Forehead anointed with water.)

•“I’m here to honor the Kindreds. Earth, Holy Mother, may you receive my offering of love and bless my time with the Spirits.” (Bend to touch the earth and send love.)

II Cosmos
Tree of Life Three Realms Meditation
“I am at the center of the worlds, and I light a sacred flame.” Light central candle, and from this, a stick of incense.

•Gatekeeper “Raven, you who fly between worlds, messenger of gods, wise and clever bird, I offer you my friendship and love.” (Anoint bird figurine with blessed water. Circle incense around it three times.)
“May you share your magic with me, guide and ward me as I open the ways.”

“Kindreds, I open the Fire Gate of my mind that I may know you.” (Hands at temples.)
“I open the Well Gate of my heart that I may feel you.” (Hands over heart.)
“I open the Tree Gate of my body and soul that I may experience you.” (Arms outstretched.)

III Worship
•Kindred Invocation: Sing “Prayer for your Druid Beads“, circling appropriate altar figures with incense for each verse. (I’ve changed some of the wording for my personal tastes, but use the same tune.)

•Personal prayers; this is my general formula for any personal prayer–
“Beloved Kindreds of my heart, (name personal deities/spirits)
I thank you for all you have given, (name examples)
May you continue to bless and guide me and mine.”

IV Blessing
•Omen of the day: draw a tarot card or rune, first asking the Kindreds what they wish for me to know today.

V Conclusion
•“My love and thanks to all beings.
As it was, as it is, as it evermore shall be.
With the ebb, with the flow, blessed be.”

semi-daily devotionals

Harvest Home Fruit Magic


appleWith another harvest holiday coming up, I thought this would be an auspicious time to share with you one of my favorite tricks from ye olde kitchen witch cupboard: a simple all-purpose fruit spell.

For this easy method of magic, one chooses a fruit of the appropriate symbolism, clearly visualize your goal or desire (see associations below, or use your own intuition). Then speak the words of your spell and eat the fruit.

I find that the ever-popular apple makes a great all-purpose fruit for this spell, so I like to keep some around. If you have chosen a large enough fruit, you could also carve runes or symbols of your goal into it. You could juice it into a potion, or bake it into a pie with symbols formed in the crust. You could even slice up a piece of fruit and share it in a group spell. If using an apple, you could slice it horizontally to reveal the star in the middle, eat around the center and make a wish on the star then bury it.

Below you will find the words I have crafted for a general fruit spell, and some associations I have for some common fruits. Of course, this spell could be used for other foods as well.

“Fruit of Earth, the Mother’s gift,
with you I seek a fateful shift.
With my goal placed well in mind,
your taste brings forth my will in kind.”

Harvest Home Fruit MagicFruit Associations for Magic
Apple: health, vigor, youthfulness, wholesomeness, and love.
Blackberry: abundance, prosperity, and protection.
Cherry: love, desire, passion, and playfulness.
Blueberry: protection, happiness.
Fig: sexuality and fertility.
Grapes: fertility, prosperity.
Lemon: cleansing and purifying.
Orange: friendship, courage, luck.
Paw-paw: protection, love, or revenge.
Peach: love, beauty.
Pear: love and desire.
Persimmon: joy and wisdom.
Pomegranate: desire, commitment, mystery, lifeblood.
Raspberry: love and protection.
Strawberry: youthful attitude, love and happiness.
Watermelon: joy, freedom, prosperity.

an ADF dedicant oath


It’s been over a year since I completed the dedicant program of ADF, and I recently realized that I haven’t published all of my work on it to this blog. It took me a long time to finish the dedicant program; mostly because I kept starting and stopping. I first joined ADF in 2001, but let my membership expire the following year, mostly because there were no groves nor even other members near me. I also wanted to explore Celtic Reconstructionism at the time and wanted to start with much simpler rituals.

I joined again in I think it was 2009 because there was a local grove and I was fed up the eclectic Pagan group I had been involved in. I soon left ADF again mainly because I hadn’t come to terms with the organization being pan Indo European instead of just Celtic.

Time went by and in 2011, I came to Heathenry. After much thought, I decided not to become an official member of my local Ásatrú group because I foresaw trouble with certain issues down the road. So in 2012, I started an ADF group and I’ve stayed an ADF member since. I had some materials left over from starting the dedicant program those other two times, but most of it was unusable because the requirements had changed and my hearth culture had also changed from Celtic to Anglo-Saxon. From the time I restarted (for the third time), it took me about two years to complete the dedicant program.

So here is the script of my dedicant oath. I hope it can be an inspiration to those looking for something simple.

I Beginning
Outsiders, those who would oppose my rite, take this and turn away. (Offering given.)

Water, make me pure, that I may reach the infinite. (Forehead anointed with water.)

I’m here to honor the Kindreds. Earth, Holy Mother, accept my offering and bless this rite. (Offering given.)

II Cosmos
(Silent Two Powers/Three Realms centering.)

I am at the Center of the Worlds.
At the Center is a Fire. (Candles anointed with oil and lit.)
At the Center is a Tree. (Minerals given to the Tree.)
At the Center is a Well. (Silver given to the Well.)

Hama, Gatekeeper, accept my offering and open the Hallows to the realms of the Kindreds. (Offering given.)

III Worship & Oath
Beloved Kindreds, hear my call-
Ancestors who came before, those who love me and watch over me,
accept my offerings and good will. (Offering given.)
Nature Spirits here now, those who animate the wild world,
accept my offerings and good will. (Offering given.)
Gods and Goddesses of where I’m going, the Powers that uphold all the Worlds,
accept my offerings and good will. (Offering given.)
Woden, beloved Allfather, Frige, Great Mother,
accept my offerings and good will. (Offering given.)
Beloved Patrons, I worship you with love and ask for your guidance and blessing.

With all the Kindreds here, I make my oath–
I oath myself to the service of the Three Kindreds.
May they bless and guide me on this day and forever.
May my mind hold the Fire of their wisdom. May my heart be a Well for their love.
May my body be a vessel for their life. I declare myself a follower of Druidry
and the old ways.

IV Blessing
Omen: What is the Kindreds’ reply? I got Kenaz from the Ancestors; a relationship, exchange. I got Sowilo from the Nature Spirits; energy success. I got Mannaz from the Deities; divine union, manifestation. Good omens indeed!

Blessing Cup: May the Kindreds fill my cup with blessing.
I receive them with a grateful heart.

V Conclusion
Now with offering given, and blessing received, I give my thanks before I go.
Mother Frige, Father Woden, I thank you.
Gods, Nature Spirits, and Ancestors, I thank you.
Hama, Gatekeeper, I thank you,
and may the Gates be closed.
Earth Mother, I give you my final thanks.
The ritual is at a close.
an ADF dedicant oath

memory triggers for learning the runes


Learning the names, meanings, and other association of the elder futhark runes can be a very daunting task. The ability to memorize things is definitely not one of my strong points. That’s probably why I procrastinated so long on learning the runes. And actually main motivator in doing so was to be able to give the omen at rituals without having to fumble with a “cheat sheet” of rune meanings. Casting the omen at ritual was one of those things I couldn’t really get out of; I’m the organizer of our small ADF Protogrove, and any ritual parts that no one wanted to take, I ended up doing. I didn’t have much faith that I would be able to memorize all the symbols, names and basic meanings, but I figured I’d better try. Turns out, I was much more successful than I thought I would be.

I started by associating the shape of each rune with it’s meaning. Here are some associations I used for initial memorization of a very basic meaning and other information for each rune:

fehu – means cattle and cattle equates to moveable wealth. Two lines jutting out from the vertical line remind me of cow horns. This rune looks like an F, and represents the letter F.

uruz – means auroch, a wild European ox that is now extinct. It represents primal power. I thought that the shape of this rune looked like what I imagined the profile of a ox’s body would look like; broad in the shoulders but tapering down at the hind quarters. It’s also an upside down U, and this rune represents the letter U.

thurisaz – means thorn or thurs (giant). It represents danger or a warning. It looks like a thorn and represents the sound “th”.

ansuz – means ás (a god), in particular; Odin. It represents communication, which is Odin’s domain. This rune almost looks like the letter A (if you were to extend some of the lines), and it represents the letter A. I think “A for answers”, to remember its meaning.

raido – means riding and this rune has to do with travel. It looks like an R, and represents the letter R. R for riding.

kenaz – means torch. It represents illumination and knowledge. Imagine a flashlight on the left of it, and it looks like a drawn image of light shining forth. It looks like the letter C, and represents C or K.

gebo – means gift. This rune has connotations of hospitality and relationship. The X reminds me of the criss-cross over the top of a round loaf of bread, or ribbons on a present. Gebo and gift both start with G, the letter this rune represents.

wunjo – means joy. It looks like a banner on a stick, something someone might wave in a joyous parade, or a balloon on the end of a string. The first part of it’s name reminds me of the word “win” (though it’s not pronounced like it). Both words start with W, and this rune represents that letter.

Thus ends the first aett (eight). I wanted to remember the sequence of the runes, so that I could recite them to myself as a memorization practice. So to remember this first aett, I thought;

“The futhark is a gift of joy.”

The first seven runes spell out the name given to the runes, “futhark”. Gift and joy are the meanings of the last two runes in the sequence.

hagalaz – means hail or hailstone. It is taken to mean a big change or crisis, much like the destruction of a hailstorm. It could be thought to resemble hail ricocheting between two walls. It’s often regarded as Hella’s rune. It looks like an H and represents the letter H.

nauthiz – means need. It looks like the way someone would rub two sticks together to make a need-fire, or the whittling sign an old granny would make with her fingers as she says “tsk tsk, naughty naughty”. This rune represents the letter N and has needful or negative connotations.

isa – means ice. It represents stasis, the way everything is still and immobilized in the winter when all is frozen. It looks like an icicle. It looks like the letter I and represents the letter I.

jera – means year (the J is pronounced like Y) and may represent a year’s work or harvest; an earned reward. It looks like two cupped hands coming together to do work. This rune represents the letters J and Y.

eihwaz – means yew, the world tree. It represents initiation and mysteries of life and death. It could be seen as a sparse tree, with one branch at the top, and one root at the bottom. This rune represents the sound “ei”, pronounced “eye”, so I think of Odin the one-eyed and his sacrifice on the world tree.

perthro – means dice cup. This has been interpreted to mean gambling or divination, which are things you might do with a dice cup. Casting lots have to do with fate (destiny) and mystery. The shape of this rune is like an overturned cup or pouch. The name has the sound “throw” in it, and you throw dice.

algiz – means elk sedge. It is a protective rune, shaped like the plant it’s named for. It’s shape also reminds me of a pitchfork or trident, which are protective implements. It represents the letter Z.

sowilo –  means sun. It represents energy and success. It looks like a sunray or the letter S.

So now we’ve come to the end of the second aett. The phrase I used to remember this rune sequence was:

“Hella needs an ice harvest. I was destined to protect the sun.”

The first sentence is made up of meanings and associations of the first four runes of this aett. In the second sentence, “I was” is one possible pronunciation of eihwaz. The rest of the sentence goes along with associations of the last three runes in the aett.

tiwaz – is named for the god Tyr, god of justice. It represents honor and fairness. This symbol points up toward the sky, and Tyr was a sky god. I also think of it as a ‘spear of justice’.

berkano – means birch goddess. It is a rune of blessing and fertility. It looks like a B, and represents the letter B. B for blessing. It also looks like a pregnant woman in profile.

ehwaz – means horse. It represents transportation, teamwork, trust and harmony. To remember the meaning of this one, I considered that it looks a bit like a horse, and the part that dips down in the middle could be a saddle. If this rune is turned on its side, it resembles an E, which is the letter it represents.

mannaz – means mankind. It is a rune of awareness and social order. This one looks like two stick figures embracing in a side hug. The letter is represents is M.

laguz – means water. People have associated this one with things already having to do with water in esoterica; emotions, dreams, mystery, the subconscious. The rune looks like an ocean wave or a ship’s sail. The name of the rune makes me think of the word lagoon. It kind of looks like an upside down L, and represents that letter.

ingwaz – means the god Ing (Frey), or seed. This rune contains the meanings and attributes of Lord Ing; fertility, agriculture, growth. There are two ways this rune is represented. One is an X stacked on another X, which looks like a plant springing up. The other is the shape the two Xs make in the middle- a diamond shape which could represent a seed. The sound this rune represents is “ng” as in Spring.

dagaz – means day. It is generally interpreted as awareness or awakening. It kind of looks like daybreak through a window or between two walls. The letter it represents is D.

othala – means home. It generally means an inheritance or belonging. Looking at the rune, you’ll notice two other runes in it: gebo (gift), and Ingwaz (Frey). So othala is a gift of Frey. The rune itself looks a bit like a house. The letter it represents is O.

So now we’ve come to the end of the last aett. This is what I used to remember the sequence:

“Tyr blesses horses and men, sail-ing all day to home.”

So those are the memory tricks I used to get started. Once I got those basic connections, I knew I would be able learn more and retain it. Soon I was able to practice retaining this knowledge by writing down the runes on a scrap of paper, in the right order, reciting their names and recalling their bare-bones meanings as I went along. Knowing this much encouraged me to continue studying the runes in depth. I hope some of these memory triggers help others get started as well.

memory triggers for learning the runes



The Nature and Character of Lugh


It seems like every year around this time, I’m fighting misinformation on the god Lúgh. Everywhere one looks on the internet, people are perpetuating the same outdated stuff; that Lúgh is a sun god, and/or a god of the grain. The origin of such notions is from new age books that never bothered to research beyond outdated Victorian-era anthropology.

I mean, you only have look it up on wikipedia to know that his name doesn’t link him to the sun: “The exact etymology of Lugus is unknown and contested. The Proto-Celtic root of the name, *lug-, is generally believed to have been derived from one of several different Proto-Indo-European roots, such as *leug- “black”, *leuǵ- “to break”, and *leugʰ- “to swear an oath”. It was once thought that the root may be derived from Proto-Indo-European *leuk- “to shine”, but there are difficulties with this etymology and few modern scholars accept it as being possible (notably because Proto-Indo-European *-k- never produced Proto-Celtic *-g-).”

Some of the later new age publications actually acknowledge that modern scholars say Lúgh isn’t a sun god, but word it so as to not step on the toes of the die-hard sun theorists. The main passage that comes to mind is one published in Lammas: Celebrating the Fruits of First Harvest by Anna Franklin & Paul Mason, and has been copied onto Lúgh articles all over the internet. It states: “While some writers state, without hesitation, that Lugh was a sun god, others, with equal force, argue that he was neither a god of the sun nor harvest.” What the author seems to be doing here, is giving both ideas equal merit. However, they don’t have equal merit. The actual historical record speaks for itself.

There is no record of Lúgh being worshiped as a sun god, but ample evidence that both his name meaning and his roles in Celtic religion were something else entirely.

“…helped along by Victorian scholars’ obsession with “solar myths”, it was taken for granted that Lúgh was a solar god… However, traditional, ritual-associated ideas about Lúgh show no trace of this… Lugus has his domain in storm rather than in sunlight, and that if his name has any relation to “light” it more properly means “lightning-flash”… This is the principal function of his invincible spear…”Lugus: The Many-Gifted Lord by Alexei Kondratiev

Why does it irk me so that the misinformation persists? Because people who think Lúgh is a sun god are getting the story wrong. Because if you’re getting the story wrong, then you’re also misunderstanding the meaning of an entire holiday; Lughnasadh. Because if you think Lúgh is a sun god, you do not know the real Lúgh. The real Lúgh is much more interesting and complex.

So that is why I’m writing this. It’s time to go beyond calling out the sun myth debacle, and move on to telling folks about his true character.

Excuse me, do you have a moment to talk about our lord and hero, Lúgh?

He was known by the continental Celts as Lugus, by the Welsh as Lleu, and by the Irish as Lúgh. We must look to all these cultures to get a complete picture of who Lúgh is. When Romans encountered Lugus, they equated him with their god Mercury, patron of travelers, commerce, trickery, and eloquence.

Relief of Mercury and Rosmerta from Eisenberg in present day Rhineland-Palatinate.

Relief of Mercury and Rosmerta from Eisenberg in present day Rhineland-Palatinate.

Early depictions of Lugus show him with a Tree of Life, twin serpents, dogs or wolves, birds (especially two ravens), horses, and mistletoe. He has similarities with Cernunnos, as they are both threshold gods, psychopomps, have a triple form, and a magical bag.

He has much in common with, and may actually be the prototype for- Odin. Like Odin, he wields a spear and is associated with two ravens. They are both psychopomp deities (again, like Cernunnos and Mercury). Both are travelers and magicians. Odin is god of wisdom, Lúgh of intellect and of every skill. Odin is one-eyed. Lúgh closes one eye to do magic on the battlefield. Odin was hung on a tree, pierced by his own spear, died and was reborn. So was Lleu. There are a few similarities with Loki as well, as they are both tricksters and associated with the mistletoe, however Lúgh is seen in a much more positive light than Loki. (For more of such comparisons, read The Birth of Lugh – Óðinn and Loki among the Celts by Thor Ewing, and Of Norse Loki and the Celtic Lugh.)


Archaeological Museum of Dijon

So if you know a little about Norse mythology, you may be starting to form a picture in your mind of some of the aspects of Lúgh’s character; imagine a younger, smaller, Celtic Odin (especially in his traveler guise), with a fair bit of the trickiness of Loki. Now imagine that like Thor, he can also wield lightning. He shares some strikingly similar characteristics and powers with these gods.

I think of all the modern day depictions of Lúgh in art, the Magician in Lo Scarabeo’s Celtic Tarot captures his spirit the best; the slender wiry god sits perched in his sacred oak (a tree sacred to several Indo-European thunder gods), a floppy red Odin-eske hat covering one eye, and his magic bag slung over his shoulder. The torc around his neck is huge (or is it the god that’s small?). He is surrounded by some of his symbolic animals (serpent, horse…). Torcs and rings of gold hang from the trees. A fidchell board (Celtic chess- his invention) lies at his knee.

Lugus The Magician from Lo Scarabeo’s Celtic Tarot

Lugus The Magician from Lo Scarabeo’s Celtic Tarot

In Irish lore, Lúgh was born of a Fomorian mother (Ethniu), and a Tuatha Dé Danann father (Cian). The Fomorians were an earlier race of beings that inhabited Ireland, sometimes depicted as monstrous giants, sometimes from under the sea. They represent wild chaotic nature. The Tuatha Dé were the race of divine beings that would later become the Sídhe, and were often represented as the gods of humanity and civilization.

Lúgh was born of both races, and so has a mastery of both nature and civilization, of the below and the above, of humankind and the divine. It is no wonder then, that his traditional places of worship are high hills with a nearby water source.

In the Battle of Mag Tured, Lúgh goes up against his own grandfather, the evil Fomorian king Balor. With his swift sling (or in folk tradition, his spear), he pierces Balor through his fiery poisonous eye (which represents the harsh summer sun). In winning this battle, he gains control of the land for the Tuatha Dé (and metaphorically saves the crops from scorching in the fields from Balor’s evil sun-eye).

He was fostered by Manannán mac Lir, the sea god and gatekeeper to the Otherworld, and so has many water associations and inherited much of Manannán’s magic. He was also fostered by Tailtiu, a Fir Bolg queen who died clearing land for agriculture. And it was in honor of his foster mother Tailtiu that Lúgh instituted the first Lughnasadh festival and funeral games.

I have just hit a very few of the highlights here, describing some of the points in the mythology that tie in with the season of Lughnasadh, and describing some of Lúgh’s traits that I find especially interesting. I know I have left out a lot of important parts of his lore. Find more of the story of Lugh in Lebor Gabála Érenn (The Book of the Taking of Ireland), and The Second Battle of Mag Tured (Moytura). Read about Lleu in the Fourth Branch of the Mabinogion.

He is god of Land, Sky, and Sea. God to kings, warriors, and farmers. He is the quintessential underdog, surviving and winning despite the odds and with intellect and magic rather than brute force only. He is both hero and trickster and sovereign protector of the land. He is patron of travelers, for he travels with the lightning, small and swift, many places at once. He traverses worlds.

As Alexei said, “His many gifts remain at the disposal of those who trouble to seek him out.” Indeed, I hope you do.

The Nature and Character of Lugh | Ozark Pagan Mamma

Harvest Dollies for Modern Pagans


Historically, grain dollies were made from the last sheaf harvested, and either left in the field or placed wherever grains were stored. It was often tied or plaited to be roughly human shaped, but in some places shaped like an animal. It was representative of the Spirit of the Harvest, or the Corn Mother. In Ireland, the grain harvest is associated with Lughnasadh. But the god Lugh is not a grain god or earth god. He’s not John Barleycorn (who is English, and more about the production of beer). Lugh isn’t a sun god either, but I’ll get to that later.

The grain dolly from the previous harvest would be ploughed into the first furrow of the new season in the spring, or else otherwise destroyed in some way to release the spirit of the previous year’s grain. Another tradition, the one that most Pagans follow (and I don’t know the origin), states that it is to be kept to insure a bountiful crop through the next harvest season and burned around the time that a new one is made from the last sheaf.

Since Neopagans have three harvest holidays (Lughnasadh, Autumn Equinox, and Samhain) in the widely observed “wheel of the year”, there is some debate over which holiday to burn a grain dolly. I would think the answer would be to make it close to one’s local grain harvest date. Arkansas grows soft red winter wheat as a commercial crop. Harvest begins in May and ends as late as the first week of July. So, for our locality, if you want to burn your grain dolly at the end of harvest, it makes sense to do so at Lughnasadh, rather than at any of the later harvest holidays. That, and because it’s the harvest holiday that a strong grain theme.

Note that I’m calling them grain dollies instead of the more traditional “corn dolly”. This is because Americans have confused traditional use of the word corn to exclusively mean maize. To the Europeans, corn meant grain. Corn dollies were not corn husk dolls. They didn’t have maize back then. Corn dollies were made of whatever grain various European cultures predominantly ate, like wheat or oats.

But we do live in the modern western world, and many would say that we need to adapt traditions to where we are and the way we live now. Americans in general do eat a lot of corn, both as a vegetable and as a grain, and as a sweetener (although Arkansas doesn’t grow much maize commercially). Corn husk dolls are easier to make than wheat dolls, which is probably a big part of why most American Pagans make corn husk dolls instead of the more traditional grain dollies for harvest holidays. The materials are also easier to find. Not many people grow wheat in their backyard garden but plenty grow corn, or could get corn in the husk at any farmer’s market or grocery store. Maize harvest starts mid August in Arkansas and can last late into September or even October, so it would make sense to burn your cornhusk harvest dolls at the Autumnal Equinox or Samhain if you are so inclined.

Unless you are a farmer or a gardener who grows grains, your harvest doll is purely symbolic anyway, not made from the last sheaf of anything, but symbolic of the harvest for you personally. So make it of whatever materials represent the harvest for you (you’ll notice that one of the dollies in the picture below is make of both cornhusks and wheat), and burn or bury it at whichever of the harvest (or spring) High Days that you feel drawn to do so.

Harvest Dollies | Ozark Pagan Mamma