Australian Lughnasad falls on the 1st of February (or, to be strict according to the stars, the 4th February). Gemini is high in the eastern night sky, followed subsequently by Cancer, and Leo's brightest star appears low on the horizon. In the south of Australia, this is late summer, often much hotter than Litha itself, and bushfire danger is high. Some birds begin to fly north, bogong moths emerge and are preyed upon by kestrels, the beautiful gum emperor caterpillars inhabit eucalypts, native trout spawn, and Tasmanian devils begin mating.
In northern Australia it is the time of the late monsoon. In January, February and March, the weather can manifest in furious cyclones that may last for several days, bringing torrential rains. Forests can be devastated, large trees uprooted or stripped of nearly all their foliage, and animals have difficulty finding food. The heavy thunderstorms mean that the land is readily flooded. It is the maximum growth period for native vegetables although they are not ready to harvest, magpie geese and brolgas lay their eggs, estuarine crocodiles hatch, and platypus juveniles venture out of their burows for the first time.
Lughnasad. The drums beat out a steady pulse as we move deosil within the circle's boundary, round and round we dance. Hands rise, clash the cymbals, shake the tambourine. Arms outstretched, whirl on the spot, hair streaming. Oscillating between two poles of consciousness: the drums a lulling heartbeat, the percussion a harsh awakening. Drum--clash, step--whirl, rise--plunge, relax--tense, calm--storm.
Into the circle spin Bushfire and Cyclone, volatile deities of the season. One clad in raggedy red, the other in tattered dark blue, costumes trailing behind them like two Chinese dragons. Travelling widdershins, dancing separately and then together, they rush the perimeter, circling the edge and returning to the centre, creating a chaotic vortex of energy.
Arms linked, we dance back-to-back, the ground tilts, the sky is inverted, and the elements mix in the topsy-turvy world of the sabbat.