02 August 2013

Lammas Runes

Bill Oliver, Lughnasadh
Considering today marks a holiday for my spirituality, with the celebration beginning at sunset yesterday for those of the Celtic persuasion (like yours truly) and continuing until sunset today, this will be one of my more Pagan-centric posts. Of course, if you are a regular reader instead of one who just google-image searches the Virginian flag and subsequently stumbles across my state-riotic rant, you probably don’t require a disclaimer. Thus, without further ado, Merry Lammas or Happy Lughnasadh! Whichever title you prefer.

Ideally in the World Between the Trees, I would have properly kicked off my celebration of the first harvest with a riotous, community-oriented bonfire feast, with lots of corn cakes and wheat-based products we harvested ourselves from our own fields, served with honey from our very own bees. Unfortunately, I live in a semi-urban apartment and my fields are full of concrete with not a forest to be seen for miles upon miles in any direction, unless you count the shrubs and cacti, which I don’t.

Around festival time my pining for my home state nestled in glorious Appalachia always peaks.

Also, unfortunately, I remain a solitary practitioner. The closest thing I have ever had to a coven is scattered far and wide across the continental US (namely, my mother, my aunt, one of my cousins, and my bestie Amphitrite). So instead, after a long and arduous day of (ugh I hate it) paperwork and meetings and briefings, followed by the usual domestic chores of cleaning out kitty litter and omg what do I have to eat in my damn kitchen that won’t kill me, I wasn’t exactly in a celebratory mood. Instead, I marked off another day on my calendar, watched a few episodes of Merlin whilst munching on some still-edible leftovers, cuddled my kitten and—wait for it—got my creativity on.

Yes, that’s right, I celebrated my Lammas by making something for my wedding. I began the project last night when the sky first started to darken, and finished it today around the time the sky went completely dark. What did I make, you ask? Well, let me tell you; or better yet, let me show you:


Aren’t they lovely? And what do you know, they match my handfasting color(s) to boot! Since our Pagan/Technically-Agnostic-But-Sorta-Super-Openminded-Christian celebration of love and family will be predominantly Celtic-themed (with a touch of my Eastern European heritage thrown into the mix, mostly with traditions for the reception), I’ve decided to use Ogham tree-correspondences in place of table numbers. Each table, in stead of a number, will be assigned a tree from the old Irish alphabet (sometimes referred to, in fact, as the “language of trees,” as each letter corresponds to a tree or tree-like plant/shrub [let’s be real…honeysuckle? really? you ran out of other ideas?]). Amphitrite and I will be making centerpieces—eventually—out of recycled wine bottles, feathers, moss, reclaimed branches/twigs, whatever I find in the woods, and flowers once a) I know how many guests are coming and b) I know how many guests fit at each table. Since each centerpiece will also have a sign with the type of tree (or tree-like shrub) from the Ogham attached to it, I also envision a little dangling rune with the actual Ogham on it nestled somewhere in the woodsy-wino monstrosity.

So I made a set of Ogham runes to celebrate Lammas.

(Whilst drinking a bottle of Chianti.)

I cut 25 pieces of permanently dyed gold-toned armature wire (leftover from what Orion and I used to make the skeleton frames for our cake topper statues) to form little loops, which I then immersed in a slightly teardrop shaped pebble of polymer clay. Then I focused my intent by thinking of the corresponding tree as I carved the Ogham into each one, starting with beith (b – birch) and working my way down to phagos (ae – beech). I carved the stemline first, then carved the cross lines left to right. Once every rune was carved, I laid them all out in a baking pan and fired them in the oven to harden the clay. A good rule of thumb with Sculpey—my preferred brand of polymer clay—is 275 degrees and 15min for each ¼ thickness. When I’m making pendants or something small like this, however, I tend to just put it in the oven for a standard 20min.

After they were done baking, I paused the process of creation and went to bed. I restarted the process this evening, following a very relaxing trip to the spa—it was about time again for another back facial, and my gods are those amazing—with mixing my paints. I wanted a nice, deep forest green, so that they would match the green in my family’s and Orion’s family’s tartans, as well as the fabric I chose to make my bridesmaids’ dresses. To achieve this color, I mixed silver with three different shades of green (hooker’s green hue permanent, phthalocyanine green, and deep green permanent) of acrylic paint. I’m very happy with the resultant blend, which reminds me of an emerald cabochon crossed with a Japanese beetle and then blessed by a Faerie princess. Three layers later and once the green dried, I mixed gold with primary yellow and yellow oxide to color the carved rune like an inlay. Once the gold dried, I finally sealed each one with a high-gloss varnish to preserve the paint and prevent chipping.

Voila! Ogham runes to add a subtly magical, Druidish touch to my table centerpieces, and which I can definitely reuse after the handfasting for all sorts of home-d├ęcor and blessing projects. I could even turn them into pendants, worn to evoke the aspects of a particular tree or color or bird or any of the other correspondences tied to each Ogham letter. The net cost of making them, as they were entirely constructed of items I already had from previous projects, was next to nothing, whereas the enjoyment and personal satisfaction I received from creating them cannot be measured. The hardest part was keeping Little Kitty Hera out of the paint!

I deem this a successful Lammas, and that was quite a tasty Chianti.

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