All your renown is like the summer flower that blooms and dies; because the sunny glow which brings it forth, soon slays with parching power. - Dante Alighieri, Purgatorio (XI, 115)
Though in the old Celtic calendar today was traditionally considered the first of autumn, the North American interior is not Northern Europe; our seasons here come later, and we see no signs of anything vaguely resembling autumn until the end of September. These are the Dog Days, so named because the ancients associated the hot, sultry weather with the rising of Sirius, the Dog Star. The Romans considered them to run from July 23rd to August 23rd, which tells me that our weather here must be very like that of Ancient Rome because that’s exactly when we experience the hottest, most oppressive weather of the year, rarely broken by rain. The season came right on schedule this year; up until the third week of July we could still open our windows and turn off the air conditioners at night, but just before the 23rd the nights also became too hot to provide relief.
Still, though, Lughnasadh (or Lammas) is a time of celebration for us; though we feel the heat most strongly now we also can see the days shortening, and at the end of this month we leave the often-problematical summer schedule we keep from Beltane until August 31st and return to the standard schedule which orders the rest of the year. For pagans, this is the festival of First Fruits, a harbinger of the main harvest yet to come; in my column for this day two years past (which was also my very first holiday column) I published a short essay from my witch friend JustStarshine about the significance of the day, and if you have not read it before you may find it interesting.
As is my custom on holidays, I wish all of my readers, whatever your personal beliefs, happiness and prosperity in great abundance.