The new month is almost upon us. Leaving the month of the Hazel (tree) behind us, we start the new Celtic month of the Vine on 2nd September, and it finishes on 29 September.
Seasons of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
close bosom-friend of the maturing sun,
conspiring with him now to load and bless
with fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run…
There are different calendar variations, and different calendars much loved by different ‘tribes’, some calendars older than others, and the oldest (which will be the theme of an article soon) and most loved by purists is also one that some would say seems to be the least ‘workable’ for every day living.
It’s because of that that I use this tree calendar, which some call the Beth-Luis-Nion Celtic Lunar Tree Calendar/alphabet.
No spring nor summer’s beauty hath such grace
As I have seen in one Autumnal face….’.
The Beth-Luis-Nion calendar consists of 13 lunar trees. The calendar is based on a lunar year as opposed to a solar one, and so there are there are 13 lunar months in each year. Being tree-based it also reminds us of our love for trees and nature, and all things green, and is life-centred. I love it. And, it’s understandable. And, as we move into September, the month of the Vine, we greet the changing season and the colour changes in nature, and we can gaze upon the vine and give gratitude to nature and nature’s never-ending cycle, express love and appreciation to That Which Is Larger Than Ourselves, The Holy One.
‘Ah, September! You are the doorway to the season that awakens my soul… but I must confess that I love you only because you are a prelude to my beloved October.’
Peggy Toney Horton
The month of the vine, and romantics amongst you may know, is the month is associated with happiness and wrath. The sceptics may wonder whether this has something to do with the fact that the vine harvest would occur this month, and wine may indeed be the bringer of happiness, but it can also be the bringer of wrath, especially when imbibed to excess.
Nevertheless, wine, as well as having a social aspect, was and still is used in ritual to bring us closer to all that is Holy, and usher us into sacred time of communion.
This month of the Vine, September, also sees a full moon on the 6 September, and the time of the autumn equinox on Friday, 22 September – that time when with the diminishing day light, the length of day and night are equal in length for a brief period as we move toward winter.
‘Equal dark, equal light
Flow in Circle, deep insight
Blessed Be, Blessed Be
The transformation of energy!
So it flows, out it goes
Three-fold back it shall be
Blessed Be, Blessed Be’.
Now, swans are seen as a symbol of love and fidelity around the world because of their custom of mating for life, and, for many, this month is associated with the swan.
It is said that ancient Druids saw swans as representing the soul. In ancient Ireland, the bards, for instance, would wear a special ceremonial cloak called a tuigen, which was made of songbird feathers, but the cowl would consist of the skin and feathers of a swan.
The Celts also loved their stories. Here’s an ancient Gaelic/Celtic story about love and swans, it’s so relevant to the start of the new Celtic month, and is full of meaning:
Aengus had fallen in love with a young woman he had seen, seen in his dreams. Each night he would close his eyes, fall into a deep sleep, and dream only of her.
It took him three years of searching the length and breadth of the land before the young woman of his dreams was found by him. Her name was Caer Ibormeith. Every second year, she and over a hundred other young women, were chained in pairs, and were transformed into swans for a year.
Aengus was madly in love with her, and was told he could indeed marry the young lady of his dreams, but only if he could identify her in her swan form. Aengus looked at all the young women who were now swans, but to him, they all looked the same.
Inspiration came to him. He immediately turned himself into a swan, and recognised her at once. Much in love, they flew away together, singing beautiful music that put all listeners asleep for three days and nights.
I find that story quite charming, and appropriate for this month. Swans. Love. Two souls, finally, in a bond of togetherness, forever. Love wins!
May the Blessings of the Sacred Three be upon you and those whom you love as we move into the month of the Vine, Tadhg