In the article Gentlidecht Holiday Cycle I mentioned several possible additional seasonal events that Genti can include in their calender to flesh out the ritual year. Two such events occur in September, with Lá Fhéile Finn mac Cumhaill (or if you prefer the Hero-Feast of Finn mac Cumhaill) at the start of hunting season and Lá Fhéile Aibhneacha towards the end of the month around the time of the fall equinox. Both are modern events created by genti to make offerings to specific beings that they consider to be special and worthy of devotion.
Lá Fhéile Finn mac Cumhaill is a festival that I propose should fall at the start of deer hunting season. Finn is a hunter, warrior, outlaw, poet and seer; living off the land and protecting his people from outsiders. In a forthcoming article on him I will make an argument that he is a hunter god (representing both hunter and prey) but for the purposes of this article lets just call him a ‘god of the hunt.’ As such placing his special day at the start of a hunting season is perfect, I chose deer season due to his associations with deer in the names of his son (Oisín) and grandson (Oscar) and in the name of his warrior band ‘fianna’ being modern Irish for a herd of deer.
There are two ways to handle this particular feast. The first way is to do it as a celebration of the opening of hunting season and to make offerings to Finn for his aid in a successful hunt. Another purpose would be to hold the feast after the first successful hunt and make offerings to Finn in gratitude. In either instance the offering of prey meat would be the most appropriate, though you would have to have something remaining from the previous year if you did it as a season opening feast. Other options would be pig, salmon or even mead…everyone likes mead.
The second event of September is called Lá Fhéile Aibhneacha, the Festival of the Rivers. In this instance the rivers are the deified river or land spirits of our local major water sources. I chose the equinox for this one to give genti a ritual to celebrate the second harvest and to give thanks to the rivers that provide the life giving fluids to our crops. Here in Maryland our offerings are to the five mountain born rivers that run to the Chesapeake, irrigating our fields, turning our turbines and providing the water supply. Of course you should look local for your land goddess.
There really is only one offering to make to the land goddesses this time of year, seasonal harvest foods. With all the farmers markets or even our own gardens this is a simple offering and makes the most sense since such crops could not exist without their life giving waters.
So, for us Genti the month of September can be a busy month. With two opportunities for the community to come together to worship and feast. In a coming post I will share my groups ritual for Lá Fhéile Aibhneacha.