The time of ‘Gathering’

Welcome to the time of Gathering in the y Ddraig world. It begins on the night in (our) ‘October’ when the moon is fully half-dark and half-light in the northern hemisphere sky. The quarter moon. It also contains one of the most significant feast weeks of the entire Sun’s March — when the veil between the living and the dead is finest.

In Dark Age Cymry there are not four seasons as we have today, there is merely the one, long, relatively unchanging season punctuated by one distinguishing, punishing season of a few month’s length. This is why the passage of time is counted in ‘winters’, because they are so marked in their difference. Just as their ‘day’ in y Ddraig begins at sunset (which is why the passage of one and two weeks is counted in nights [‘se’nnight’ or seven nights and ‘forten-night’ or fourteen nights]), so their year or ‘Sun’s March’ begins at the onset of the ‘Dark Time of Year’.

The people of y Ddraig will spend the first se’nnight of Gathering finishing up their harvest and retrieving their livestock from fields and forests.  Those animals fit enough to survive winter and breed another generation will be kept, while the young, old and weak will be slaughtered to feed the village through the Dark Time of Year.

Gathering gets its name because this is also the time that work starts to centralise around the home/village and people gather together in celebration and in preparation for winter including visitors from other villages. Travelling bards arrive and begin to tell expansive tales of politics, adventure and intrigue.

On the full moon, a week-long feast begins to celebrate the successful harvest, honour the dead and mark the start of the new year known in the world of y Ddraig as the Old Soul’s Night or the Hag Feast when the barrier between the upper world and the other world is flimsy. Elsewhere this is called Samhain (pron. ‘sow-ween’) and later in Cymry it will be called All Hallow’s Eve (Hallowe’en).

Food is abundant during Gathering and the villagers will never be freer because the work of most of the year is winding up but the work of winter has not yet begun in earnest. The weather is still good enough to move around, friends and neighbours are gathering for celebration, bards are visiting with all the news and important communication from the year. It is essentially a fornight-long ‘weekend’ leading up to a week-long Hag Feast with a week’s go-slow to recover.