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Tailtiu, Primal Earth Goddess for This Season

By Deanne Quarrie

We are approaching the season of Lughnasadh, also known as Lammas. This is the first of three harvest festivals. This one focuses on what we call the “first fruits”, those fruits, vegetables and grains ripening early in the season. The other two are Mabon and Samhain, one celebrating the harvest of the last crops and the next that of the herd animals sacrificed to feed the tribes.

[Snip] So who was Tailtiu? Tailtiu, the last queen of the Fir Bolg, died from exhaustion after clearing a great forest so that the land could be cultivated. Without land on which to grow food, her people would perish. When all gathered at her death-bed, she told them to hold funeral games in her honor. She prophesied that for as long as they celebrated in this way, Ireland would not be without song. Her name comes from the old Celtic Talantiu, “The Great One of the Earth.” From this we believe she may originally have been a personification of the Land itself. There was a time when Lughnasadh had an older name, Brón Trogain, which refers to the painful labor of childbirth. From this we might see that at this time of year, the Earth births her First Fruits in order for us to live.

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