Photo: Congerdesign at Pixabay
Lughnasadh (prounounced Loo-na-sa) is the Celtic festival that celebrates the first of the year’s three harvests – the ripening of the grain – and honours Lugh, the Celtic God of light and fire.
Lammas, the Old English name for “Loaf Mass” by which this early harvest festival is also known, falls on August 1st and is one of the four major “Sabbats” or seasonal festivals in the Pagan wheel of the year.
Unlike the solstices and equinoxes like Litha, whose dates are determined astrologically, Lughnasadh, Samhain (Halloween), Imbolc (2 February) and Beltane (1 May) are agricultural festivals.
Traditionally, Lughnasadh is a festival of sacrifice and is marked by the first cutting of ripened corn or the first wheat harvest. For those of us fortunate enough to live in prosperous societies, it’s easy to forget just how important the harvest was to our ancestors. These days, all we have to do is pop to the local supermarket to re-stock our larder, but the ancients (and indeed, many cultures still across the world) didn’t have it quite so easy.
The harvest was everything. It literally was a matter of life and death. Bringing in a good harvest provided the means to survive the long, dark months of winter.
A poor harvest was a really bad fucking hair day.
No surprise then, that the ancients would do absolutely anything to encourage a healthy harvest. Superstitions abound and ritual was an integral part of life. The corn had to be tempted back into the fields, so the potent corn spirit was captured and woven into corn dollies.
Photo: Azazelok at Pixabay
So how does this translate in today’s world? How can you celebrate this important festival?
Well first off, now is a great time to celebrate the earth’s bounty and remember where our food comes from. Spare a thought for our hardworking farmers, for whom harvest is still one of (if not the) most significant events in the agricultural cycle.
For those of us who don’t work the land, now is a great time to take stock of how the year is panning out and to give thanks for all the great things happening in our lives. What seeds did you sow earlier this year that are now ready to be harvested? What projects or goals did you start that have grown and are now ready to come to fruition?
The first harvest festival is a clear indication that the wheel of the year is on the turn. It will soon be autumn and now is the time to prepare for the transition into the next season.
As a festival of sacrifice, it’s traditional to give blood and wine back to the land in payment for the coming harvest. There are many things that can be symbolically “slain”, such as breaking up a loaf of bread, dismantling a corn dolly, or even burning a candle.
If you’re looking for a nice easy celebration, I like the simplicity and poignancy of this simple candle ritual by Kate West. All you need is a gold candle to represent the Sun God, some pins and an offering of wine.
Lughnasadh Candle Ritual
I hope you liked this seasonal post and you’ve enjoyed learning a little bit about Lughnasadh. May your first harvest be bountiful.
A hui hou,