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THE WONDER explores perspectives, rituals, and observances of modern, naturalistic, Earth-revering Neopagan religious paths. Naturalistic Pagans embrace the world as understood by science (that is, without gods, magic, or the supernatural), and enhance our lives with myth, ritual and activism. Hosted by Mark Green (author of ATHEOPAGANISM: An Earth-Honoring Path Rooted in Science) and Yucca (formerly of The Pagan Perspective YouTube channel, now of the Magic and Mundane channel).

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Summer’s Waning - Dimming - Lammas - Lughnasadh

July 26, 2021

Remember, we welcome comments, questions and suggested topics at thewonderpodcastQs@gmail.com



Mark: Welcome back to the Wonder Science-based Paganism. My name's Mark. 

Yucca: and I'm Yucca.

Mark: And today we're going to talk about the August Sabbath, the midpoint between the summer solstice and the autumnal Equinox, which is celebrated by many pagans as one of the eight stations on the wheel of the year. 

Yucca: It's also one of those tricky ones in terms of what is it called? 

Mark: Right. That's the first thing we need to talk about. What do you call this thing? How do you pronounce that? And so forth and so on from there. 

Yucca: Yeah. Well, I often use Lamas because it's the one I can spell of the ones that other people might know what, what I'm talking about. I also think of it as the Second Summer and It's just that, that beautiful, wonderful holiday, which we'll get into the meaning for it later. But I almost don't even think of it having a name. I just associate it with what's happening during the season for us. So it's our monsoon holiday.

Mark: Right, right. Yeah. Llamas comes from the middle English meaning loaf mass. 

So in Europe it's very associated with bread and the green harvest, which happened right about now in the course of the year in the countries that had that kind of agricultural cycle. And so it's also associated with all of the products of green, like beer and bread and you know, all the associated things that you can make with grain. Another word that is commonly used in the pagan community is Luna SSA, which is spelled with a variety of extra consonants. 

Yucca: Pronounced Luna, Luna, Luna said neither of which. Correct pronunciations for Irish.

Mark: Right. And I choose not to use that name because when I was naming the Sabbaths around the course of the wheel of the year and just generally conceptualizing atheopagan ism generally I didn't want to be drawing from any particular culture. I want it to be very clear that this was a modern interpretation of paganism that didn't stem from Celtic culture or Norse culture or Germanic culture or Greek culture or Egypt culture.

You know, for, for a number of reasons, one of which is that I feel strongly. My spirituality being a forward-looking spirituality about living in the world today and our vision for the future. And also because I wanted to avoid a cultural appropriation. So 

Yucca: name also is in reference to a God. Is it not?

Mark: yes, yes, Lugh, who is a God that I don't know anything about. 

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: So what I have been calling this, I, I, for a while, and in the book I call it Summer's End, but. Really, it just isn't the end of summer here. If that doesn't work very well. So I've moved from that to Summer's Waning. And also just to the term Dimming, because this is the time of year when it begins to become clear that the days are getting shorter again.

It's been long enough since the summer solstice that you can really tell. You're not getting those very little. Nights anymore. It's the days are still long. They're just not as long. 

Yucca: yeah, that's getting noticeable. Hmm. I love the waning that connects it back to some of the. The lunar term terminology that we use as well, even though it's a solar holiday, it's, it's connecting those two just with the language. 

Mark: Right, right. 

Yucca: Although in my, my climate, the sun is, the days are getting shorter, but the summer itself, definitely not coming to an end, but this is the height of summer for us.

You know, summer solstice is. 

Mark: Yeah. 

Yucca: Still it's summer, but it's still spring ish. It's really the end of spring, but this is truly summer for us at this point. 

Mark: What'd you say it was high summer where you are. 

Yucca: really sure. How to, what that word would really mean to be high summer. 

Mark: okay. Okay. 

Yucca: Because I would associate high summer with being like the very middle of summer. And I suppose it is, but the way seasons transition is not nice and smooth the way that it looks in the picture books. Right. It's just us often.

It's okay. Boom. Sees it as changed. Whether it's changed, it's all different or it just kind of like. Slogs along, just like, okay. Not making up its mind, which season it is. 

Mark: right. 

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: Where I am in California. We have the buffering effect of the ocean and that tends to sort of smooth things out. I've I've lived in places and been places where. The changing of the season is like the slamming of a door. 

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: you have these relatively warm, but kind of wan days in October and then bang and it snows and it's winter time and it stays wintertime for months. 

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: So it really just depends on where you are. And as we've so often said, paganism is. At its heart. At least we think a spirituality of place. It's a bit being aware of where we are in the course of the year and where we are on the planet and in the cosmos and paying attention to that and incorporating that into what we celebrate spiritually. So What we're describing in terms of what we practice and what we choose to do and so forth you know, can all be thrown out the window if that's not what is going on, where you live. You know, the, the, the paganism of where you live should be the spirituality of that place. 

Yucca: I suspect someone listening from Samoa is going to be in a completely different situation than either of us. 

Mark: Yes. 

Yucca: So, yeah. Well, before we go too much, further, and mark, there was a poem that you wanted to share. 

Mark: Oh, yes. Yes. I, I completely forgot that. And now I'm remembering,

Yucca: Hmm.

Mark: so I have a cycle of eight poems about the wheel of the year. And this is the one for this season which is called Gifts of a Problem Sabbath which is for Dimming or Summer's Waning:

Hidden, you spring upon us from the calendar: ah!

The Marblemouthed Holiday is upon us again!

What shall we call it? Lammas, or Lughnasadh how on Earth

Do you pronounce that, but worse, what does it mean?


Behold the midpoint, the blazing furnace of August.

Ritual? Indoors, perhaps, but not under that Sun.


Rather, let us go to the places of water to bask,

To where berries hang heavy among the thorns,

Knowing it all starts now the cascade of food pouring

From the good Earth. Break

A stalk of barley, saying this is my heritage this

Is emmer wheat is einkorn is the tough grass of the Fertile Crescent

Bred to bake my loaves. And bake one then, a crusty yeasty rosemary

Dome for tearing with the hands. Eat warm with butter or oil,

Feel the Life milling in your teeth, and swallow:

This good life sprung abundant from the collision of Earth’s magic,

Time and art and science. We are a making people. Our hoes and lore

Midwife the coming of apples and squash, peppers, tomatoes.

The Great Gathering begins now.


Yucca: It's beautiful. Thank you for sharing that. 

Mark: Thank you. 

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: Yeah this is traditionally the time of the first harvest and where I am. We've been having stone fruit and and garden vegetables and so forth, kind of pouring out for a period of months now. But. In many places where it's colder and further to the north and the angle of the sun is not quite as strong on the, on the leaves right about now is when you start being able to get some food other than like butchered lambs and eggs and things like that.

And so it's kind of an exciting time, but it's also a time that's really associated with work. I talked about the summer solstice as Conceptualized as I see it as kind of a holiday of leisure because all the, all the plants are in the ground and all the work to foster them has happened. And other than keeping critters for meeting it, you just basically have to wait until it's ready to harvest.

Well, now it's time. And so I associate. This holiday also with work and vocation, and also with technology with tools because You know, there there's a, a real charming quality to the aesthetic that's associated with modern paganism, the sort of medieval Europe, Renaissance, medieval Europe kind of aesthetic.

But if you route all of your.

You're framing in that you miss out on the many benefits of modernity and technology is amazing. It's done incredible things for us. It has, it has caused our quality of life nearly universally throughout the world to rise at least to some degree. 

Yucca: Not equally, 

Mark: no, not at all. Not at all, but, but still it has enabled us to create a great deal, more food than we were able to otherwise, and to communicate over vast distances and to explore space and to process information in, in such rapid, incredible ways and to develop medical technology, to expand our lifespans and 

Yucca: Go to the bottom of the ocean and all kinds of things. Yeah. 

Mark: Right. All kinds of 

Yucca: Do this. We, we pointed out a lot, but just how amazing this is. So as we record, we're looking at each other's faces from, we should actually figure out how many miles apart we are, but 

Mark: we should. 

Yucca: far yeah. 

Mark: yeah. pretty far. 

Yucca: Recording this and then putting it on the internet and then you, the listener are downloading it and you might be listening to it in your car or your pocket or wherever it is that you are just so boggling.


Mark: My, my partner in the was saying this morning, the 21st century is amazing. We're old enough to remember when the 21st century was really going to be the future. And that was, you 

Yucca: cars 

Mark: in 2001, a space Odyssey and all that kind of stuff. So It didn't quite work out that way, but there's still a lot.

That's really remarkable about where we have arrived as humanity. And so I think about technology at this time and technological advance and, you know, I do stuff like defragment my heart drive and, you know, make sure that everything is backed up to the cloud and just some sort of maintenance things that this gives me a point in the calendar to focus. 

Yucca: Yeah.

just good to have those scheduled in there or else they just don't happen until your hard drive crashes. And then you're panicking.

Mark: And then, then you're crying and you're sending your hard drive off to Texas to have the data pulled off it and buy some very expensive service, which I had to do once. And it was no fun. 

Yucca: Hmm. Yeah. Well, I, I love that. Take that you have bringing the, bringing a recognition and celebration. Yeah. To our practices on things that aren't thought of as traditionally pagan and yet are so important to our lives. And when our paganism is about our lives and our experience with the world, it's really important to include all of it.

Not just the pretty romantic stuff, but you know, the whole picture, that whole cycle.

Mark: Exactly. Exactly. So, and we can do that while not glossing over the many negative impacts that the advance of technology have caused. You know, we can certainly, I mean, it's not exactly the time of year for grieving, but we can certainly, you know, mark. Those impacts in our recognition, but that doesn't mean that we should ignore those accomplishments. You know, very much like this was the traditional time of the Olympic games in ancient Greece. And so many people associate athletic contests and sort of feats of athleticism with this holiday as well. And there's, there's sort of a mod modern equivalent to that because it's, this is the time when people go to the beach and play volleyball, and there's a lot of sort of outdoor recreation happening, 

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: but I feel like the sorts of.

Achievements that we can most celebrate in this time are much more cerebral achievements than they are athletic achievements. I mean, athletes do amazing things and that's wonderful and records continue to be broken over and over for how fast people can be and how strong people can be and all that kind of stuff.

But the transformative nature of some of these technologies, can't be under spoken. There, they simply have been game changers for humanity. And it's, it's important for us to, you know, raise a glass door, scientists and engineers who have who have brought these things to us. 

Yucca: Yeah, definitely.

Mark: So how are you planning on celebrating this, this season, your monsoon season? 

Yucca: Well, first of all, this is the first real monsoon we've had in probably near a decade. I haven't. 

Mark: Well, 

Yucca: Yeah, so we're still, so I'm in the Southwest. I'm in Northern New Mexico high desert that's 7,000 feet. Not sure what that is and meters, I can look that up, but we're in a very dry, somewhat extreme environment.

And this is the time of year that we get rain. And the whole region, I think pretty much the whole half of the continent has been experiencing drought recently. But we've gotten some rain and traditionally what happened will be dry. All your dry, dry, dry. We might get a little bit of moisture, snow storms in the, in the winter, need that for the, the mountains to get that snow pack in there, but then months of dry and then the monsoons come and there's storms that come in the afternoons, the, the mornings are clear and cool.

And then we'll start to creep up, get hot. And then the monsoons come and they rain down. And this is the only time of year that things are green and they haven't been green in years. So it's amazing right now I'm looking out the window and there's little. There's new grass. There's grass, seedlings, grass has sprouted up in just the past few weeks and there, most of that grass is not going to make it.

Unfortunately we can, you know, as land managers do what we can to try and, you know, put a little bit of mulch down and try and imitate the biology that was lost that this land needs. But this is the time of. This is the time of the, of the grass, the grasslands, the Rangers just blooming back, popping up.

So we see this as our monsoon season, but it's, it's the celebration of the grassland. our, our approach for the wheel of the year is, well, there's, what's going on in terms of the Earth's position with the sun and the temperatures and all of that. But we also associate each season with some part of the biosphere that humans are intimately connected with and dependent upon.

So. You'll or winter solstice is the time that we celebrate the forests. But this is the time of year that we celebrate the grasslands, the brittle environments. So a brittle environment is one like this, where you might get moisture, but it's not uniformly distributed throughout the year. And so different types of life have to exist in systems like this are our recovery processes are different than the non brittle environments that.

moisture, whether it's a lot or a little, they get regular, so they can have very different decomposition processes than us. So we celebrate that grass. And for me, it's very special as my first degree was okay. Range ecology and management and working in restoration. So that's something that's just an eye that I have for anyways.

I just love it and I'm fascinated by it and work in it. But it's the celebration of the grasses. 

Mark: Yeah. 

Yucca: we're doing lots of playing outside, mostly in the mornings in the evenings because the middle of the day is rough. When the storms are coming, running out and playing in the storms And we get it.

So seldomly that it's like, oh, kids go get muddy to get as muddy as he possibly can. And as the adults, we will be cheering with with some beer, which we aren't big drinkers. We might have maybe a bottle or two a month of either beer or cider, but it's the celebration of the grasses. And that's, you know, that's where it comes from.

So that's, what's going on on our side. 

Mark: Great. That's great. I honestly don't know what I'm going to be doing this year. Sometimes I have invited people out to the coast because we're, we're like 25 miles from the Pacific ocean. Maybe 30 and the Pacific ocean is pretty impressive. I mean, I've been living relatively near it all my life.

That's an awful lot of water. And and it's very fierce. It's it's misnamed. The Pacific ocean is, is definitely misnamed. The Atlantic coast doesn't get nearly the kind of ferocity in terms of waves and so forth if the Pacific coast does. But this time of year, it's a nice time to go to the beach and barbecue something.

And. Play around and just be outside because we've been moving. And because of all the tumult that's been happening in my life right now, I haven't been able to put anything like that together yet, but I I'm still considering putting out feelers to some friends and seeing if they'd like to go out to the coast for for a little gathering and ritual next Saturday or Sunday. So that would be, and, and I should say that the actual midpoint between the solstice and the Equinox is around the 7th of August. So you've got, you've got a while in there to find a time that works for you and do something that feels appropriate to the season. Obviously. In a modern context, weekends tend to work out better for a lot of people.

So that's what I tend to focus on. But Yeah.

so that's, that's the sort of thing that I'm thinking. And also on the atheopagan isms, zoom mixer that we do on Saturday mornings, we're doing a ritual as well on zoom. 

Yucca: Nice.

Mark: Yeah. So I had something else also that I wanted to read that I had forgotten about, but now I remember which is that this is also the point in the season that the earliest of the gray it's tend to happen.

And it may not be that may not be true this year because we've had so little in the way of water that everything is, is behind. But 

Yucca: And intense heat and your area as well, 

Mark: intense heat. Yes. We've. We've had a lot of reasoning and, and I mean last year, pretty much everybody's crop was lost because of smoke taint because of the smoke from the wildfires.

Now this year, the question is, is there going to be anything that isn't turned into raisins to harvest? So pretty rough on the, on the grape industry right? now. But anyway because the, the traditional song, John Barleycorn must die is associated with this holiday. And it's also frequently the time when the harvest of the grapes, which we call the crush happens around here.

I rewrote John Barleycorn Must Die as Joan Zinfandel Must Die. Zinfandel is a variety of grapes. That's grown around here quite a lot. It's a rich red wine and it's, it's very delicious. So I will read this redone version of John Barleycorn must die called Joan Zinfandel Must Die.

There were three menne of the West County, their fortunes for to trye

And these three menne swore upon an Oaken Tree

Joan Zinfandel must dye


They've planted, trellised, and shorne her limbs

And left her bare abed

And these three menne swore a solemn vow

Joan Zinfandel was ded.


They let her lye for a very long time, 'til the rains from heaven did fall

And little Dame Joan sprowted out bright buds, and so amazed them all

They've let her stand 'til Harvest Day 'til her arms were greene as grass

And little Dame Joan's borne some full round fruit: a fulsome, ripened lass


They’ve hired menne with their knives so sharp to cut her fruit from her arms

They threwe her into a wagon then, and rolled her unto the barn

They brought her to the crushing floor where they crushed her to a mash,

Squeezed her blood into fermenters, and added yeast: a dash.


They racked her to a barrel of oak, where dark and coolness dwell

And there they made a solemn oath on poor Joan Zinfandel

They've hired men to load her high with mighty lifts of forke

And the bottler he has served her worse than that

For he's bound her behind a cork.


And little Dame Joan in the crystal cup and she’s brandy in the glass

And little Dame Joan and the crystal cup proved the bravest lass at last

The good folk they can’t cook nor serve, nor live this life so well

And the merchant he can’t seal deal nor debt without a little Zinfandel


Yucca: great. I love your reference to the forklifts in 

Mark: Yeah. The mighty lifts of forke... 

Yucca: Well, yeah, there's something just charming about taking the kind of old timey language and tunes and applying it to the modern world. 

Mark: Yeah.

I agree. I agree. Yeah.

So. As always, we hope you really enjoy this holiday that you, you take time to celebrate this moment in the year and look around and see what's happening in your local environment and with your local your local, agricultural and, and biotic cycles. And And as always seek happiness, seek joy because this, this is all too short

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: we need to celebrate it as we go. 

Yucca: Yes.

Mark:  Thank you for this Yucca. It's been really a great time to have a conversation. 

Yucca: Likewise, Mark.