What tradition calls itself such without holidays? When done properly, holidays and ritual not only bring us more into piety and closeness with the Gods, but reaffirm for ourselves who we are, and our own cultures. Holidays are the “prime time” of this. With that, I wondered how to go about these holiday observances. We don’t have much from the Gaulish of the past by way of what their holidays were called. It is also likely that different tribes had different names for, and different numbers of holidays.
For those with a Gallo-Roman focus, this is a bit easier, as more is known. For those of us who do not, looking at common patterns in other Celtic cultures helps shed light on some possibilities. It is common to look at say, Gaelic or Brythonic traditions for inspiration. Some will go further on to look also at Roman, Germanic, and Greek observances. This practice of “filling in gaps” is quite common amongst Pagan religions. Even without looking too deep, one can see that seasonal cycles and agricultural events tend to be the focus of many peoples’ celebrations the world over. Indo-European related or not.
The word “IVOS” appears over a few dates in a row, dispersed throughout the Sequanni Calendar. This is taken to mean “feast, festival”. Most notably, around the 17th of Samonios is “Trinoxtion Samonii”. Whether you think that refers to the full moon near the Summer Solstice, or the end of Summer is on you. Regardless, it’s three nights, hence the “Trinoxtion” part. Other times are marked in different months. One is in Giamonios on or near the 17th if I recall.
From Irish culture comes what some call the four “fire festivals”. These appear to be roughly between solstices and equinoxes. Those holidays are Imbolc, Beltaine, Lughnasadh, and Samhain. These are often roughly equated in other Celtic Polytheisms as well. Though “IVOS” appears around the beginning and end of most months, I don’t know if that means that there was a festival every month or so, or why there were that many. I suspect that the length of time on the festivals may have to do with the timespan in which one could be held. Say, because of inclement weather, or some other problem.
Therefore, it is pertinent to take what we know. Indo-European cultures often observed celebrations related to the solstices. Stonehenge was used by, though not built by Iron Age Britons, and the henge marks solstices. By roughly employing the four fire festivals, and the solstices, that puts one to six holidays a year, which isn’t bad at all. There isn’t any proof of the celebration of equinoxes in any Celtic culture. it doesn’t mean that they didn’t, but if they did, we don’t know anything about it.
Where I live, the seasons are very pronounced, so I don’t find it amiss to observe the equinoxes, or at least, note the changes in the environment at those times. That puts me, at least, to eight holidays. I’m not going to bother dating them here, since the dates aren’t going to be the same every year. That, and the truth is, it is hard to observe a holiday on a work day. As many of you likely know. Nothing quite dampens the holiday spirit like being sore after a day at the factory. However, I’ll note the approximates based on the closest solar or lunar event.
Holidays of Tegoslougous Nemotarvos
Centusaminos – “First of Summer” The beginning of Summer. The full moon before the full moon of the Summer Solstice. The name is a Gaulish adaptation of Welsh “Calan Haf” and Gaelic “Cetsamhain”. Beltaine, May Day, etc. are analogous to Centusaminos. Bonfires are good for it (if I didn’t live in an apartment in a city), we adapt with an open grill fire. Also a good time for going outside and enjoying the weather. If more social that I, it could be done with lots of people. I’m not, so…
Associated Deity: Maponos. Why? He’s a God of youth and youthfulness! Also, if like me, you believe that the veil between the worlds is at its thinnest, (a common belief in Celtic cultures) along with the start of Winter, then Maponos having a magic aspect to Him makes Him even more suitable for this time of year to receive offering.
Mediosaminos – “Midsummer” The Summer Solstice. The epitome of the light half of the year, where the celestial forces are in full display. The world is green and all is well. Everything is so alive! Warm days, active storms, everything is busy. This is, for me, one of the two largest feasts of the year.
Associated Deity: Taranis. Why? It is He that is the embodiment of celestial might. It is at this time of year that he can truly claim victory over the forces of Giamos. He gets a helping of the feast for sure. As He is what some would call a “patron deity” to this Tegoslougous, this is my favorite holiday, and it is an honor to be able to celebrate with Him in mind.
Îwos Luguos – “The Feast Of Lugus” Two full moons after that closest to Mediosaminos, normally. Lugus, as winner of the grain harvest is honored on this day. Fresh baked bread is one of the ways to observe this day. Anything else from this time of harvest is good. Grain is of course a very important staple in diets the world over. So, its importance cannot be emphasized enough. At this time in particular, I try to remember that though many like myself live modern, convenient city lives, it is because of successful harvests that we have food at all. It is easy to feel disconnected from that, but without Lugus winning the harvest back, no grain.
Associated Deity: Lugus (clearly). Winner of the grain harvest. Lord of all skills!
Methâ – Full moon nearest the Autumn Equinox, the Harvest Moon, as it is called around here. Ohio has four pronounced seasons, and you know it at this time. The leaves changing colors remind us that Winter isn’t far away. This is when most harvests are done in more temperate climes. In this area, apples are one of the more well known fruits of the harvest. This is, as witnessed by the changing of leaves a time of transition.
Part of my observance of this is from what I picked up in my time as a Heathen, and I see no reason to stop observing this holiday (Just as I never stopped observing Celtic holidays in those two years) It’s just done a little differently. The focus for me is on both the wealth that the harvest brings, and the transition to winter upcoming. Wealth and transition, what deity is associated with those? Oh, yeah..
Associated Deity: Carnonos. He is the focus of ritual on this day. Transition and wealth, as I said before. It is He we will ask to guide us through this time of year.
Samantos/Dîwedon Samonî – “Summer’s End” Basically the full moon closest to the midpoint of the Autumnal Equinox and Winter Solstice. One last go before Summer ends. Winter has arrived, and the air is crisp and cool. Samhain, Halloween, Calan Gaeaf come to mind, and Dîwedon Samonî is related to those. The veil between the world thins out again, and this is a time if magic, and a time of honoring the dead. As spirits are known to be active this time of year. Divination, and anything to do with ancestors is appropriate at this time.
Associated Deity: Senisterî (Ancestors). This is a particularly good time to honor the dead as Summer is also passing.
Medigiamos – “Midwinter” The Winter Solstice. This is the darkest time of the year, and it is cold in this area, so most like to stay inside. Like our ancestors, we make the best of it. This is a time for feasting, gift giving, and togetherness. Even I am less of a hermit at this time. I don’t celebrate Christmas, but I certainly do feel a sense of holiday spirit at this time of year. Medigiamos, Midwinter, is the other particularly large feast day here.
The rebirth of the Sun, or His return may be particularly relevant to all of the lights, but it also serves the purpose of keeping up spirits. It’s a good time to be merry and reflect. This time also carries another significance, at least by Gallo-Roman standards, and that is the feast of Eponalia. It is Epona who rides into Dumnos at this time. I also think that it is kind of cool that Her husband’s holiday is at the opposite end of the year.
Associated Deity: Epona. She is Rider Between Worlds, as she rides into and out of Dumnos, it is She that is honored. In a way, a reverse influence of Eponalia.
Îwos Brigantiâs – “Feast of Brigantiâ” Usually two full moons after the Moon nearest Medigiamos. One of Brigantiâ’s aspects is that of a Hearth Goddess. Hearth (though I don’t technically have one) and home are the main aspects, to me, of this holiday. As the snow will one day be gone, and Summer will return, getting the house in order is important. This is a time of purification, and getting things in order. As fire purifies, we must purify that which is around us.
Many possible connotations could be made here, but a simple one is that of “spring cleaning”. I know, not the most fun idea of holiday observance for most, but important nonetheless. Another feast at the end makes it worthwhile, and to honor She who tends the home, and Her many gifts and skills which make life better and more whole.
Associated Deity: Brigantiâ, of course! Goddess of Fire, purification, healing and poetry, amongst many other things.
Iegibougnis – “Ice Breaking” Full moon nearest the Vernal Equinox. The second Equinox holiday, and of my creation. This too, is a time of transition, a dawning of sorts. As dawn is not quite day, spring is not quite Summer. However, Winter is starting to break, and around here, ice is finally starting to thaw. This is in a way to cover the disparities of climate in this region. Maybe in milder climes, signs of Winter waning show sooner, but not so much in Ohio.
So, one holiday is split into two, and that which reminds us that Summer is on the way, and that it won’t be freezing forever (a common sense of dread in this region). Leaves start to bud around this time, and small signs of life show. Springs start moving again, and all seems to be starting to come back to order. We like to celebrate with a breakfast feast at this time.
Associated Deity: Sulis. Why? She is the Dawn Maiden here. Associated with the Sun and springs. So, why not springtime? So, we welcome the Dawn Maiden to shine Her gentle light and warmth on our world. By this time of year, we certainly need it.
So it is, the are the holidays of Tegoslougous Nemotarvos. Take from them what you wish. A special thanks to Segomâros Widugeni for critiquing my choice of names for the holidays. Another to Tom Schultze for offering up Samantos as a name.