Lughnasadh usually takes place on July 31st or August 1st (depending upon a person’s choice). My family usually celebrates Lughnasadh by visiting FaerieWorlds, and then, if the Sabbat does not take place during the festival, we will often have a small celebration of our own. Below I have included information about Lughnasadh.
Usually takes place around August 1st
Lunasa (meaning August), Lughnasaad, Lughnasadh (Celtic), First Harvest, August Eve, Feast of Cardenas, Feast of Bread, Tailltean Games (Irish), Teltain Cornucopia (Strega), Ceresalia (Ancient Roman), Harvest Home, Thingtide (Teutonic), Lammas (Christian), Laa Luanys, Elembious, Festival of Green Corn (Native American), Freyfaxi, Loaf-Fest (Norse)
Lughnasadh is the first in the trilogy of harvest festivals. It marks the beginning of the harvest season and the decline of summer into winter. The plants of spring wither and drop seeds to ensure future crops. Grains are ready to be harvested and the fruits are ripe for picking. We can give thanks for the food on our tables. It is the turning point of the earth’s life cycle. Festivals and rituals typically center around the assurance of a bountiful harvest season and the celebration of the harvest cycle. A bountiful harvest insured the safe passage of the tribe through the upcoming winter months. The gathering of bilberries is an ancient ritual symbolizing the success of the of the Lughnasadh rituals. If the bilberries were bountiful, the crops would be, also.
Lughnasadh is the festival in honor of Lugh, the Irish god. Lugh, God of all skills, is known as the “Bright or Shining One”, He is associated with both the Sun and agricultural fertility. Lleu, Lugh’s equivilant in Britian and Wales, is the son of Arianrhod, Goddess of the Stars and Reincarnation.
Games of athletic prowess are played in honor of Lugh. The games are said to be funeral games for Lugh, and, in some traditions, his foster mother, who is honored at this festival because she died while preparing the fields for planting. More about the games below, under ‘customs’.
Many grains, seeds, herbs, and fruits can be harvested and dried, at this time for later use through the remaining year. Corn is one of the vital crops harvested now, and in some areas, the sacrifice of the corn king is preformed. Death and rebirth are a part of the life cycle Lugh journeys through his mating with the Goddess during the remaining waning year. The Goddess oversees the festival in her triple guise as Macha. She presides in her warrior aspect, the crow who sits afield awaiting the dead. She is the Crone, Maiden, and Mother, Anu, Banba, and Macha, who convoys the dead into the realm of the deceased. Macha is forced, while heavy with child, to race against the King of Ulster’s horses. She wins the race and gives birth to twins, and cursed the men of Ulster with the pain of labor when they most need their strength. She becomes the Queen of Ulster through battle for seven years. Her fortress in Ulster is known as the Emain Macha and it’s otherworldly form known as Emania, the Moon Goddess’ realm of death.
Lughnasadh is a time of bounty, celebration, and hopes for and abundant harvest. We celebrate the bounty of our life’s own harvest, the work we have done in and within our own lives, as well as in our community. We understand and acknowledge the need for successes in both the physical and spiritual realms. For without success and a fruitful harvest we will not have the staples we need to continue to work on all levels. Our religion is one of service, not sacrifice. For there is no service in sacrifice, and no sacrifice in service. We need to fill our own cups and when our cups runneth over, we can’t help but splash those around us with the life giving waters.
For as we are members of the Universe and children of the Mother expect to share in the benevolence of Her love. For ours is the mother who nurtures and loves Her children, sharing Her bounty. Prosperity is not amassing and hoarding a great profusion of assets. Prosperity is having more than what is essential, and never having less than we desire. We understand the abundance and magnanimity of the Universe and celebrate, recognize, and honor this.
It is appropriate to plant the seeds from the fruit consumed in ritual. If they sprout, grow the plant with love and as a symbol of your connection with the Goddess and God.
Wheat weaving (the making of corn dollies, etc.) is an appropriate activity for Lughnasadh. Visits to fields, orchards, lakes and wells are also traditional. The foods of Lughnasadh include bread, blackberries and all berries, acorns (leached of their poisons first), crab apples, all grains and locally ripe produce. A cake is sometimes baked, and cider is used in place of wine. If you do make a figure of the God from bread, it can be used for the Simple Feast.
Lughnasadh Incense Recipe
1 Part Bay Leaves
1 Part Coriander
1 Part Cinnamon
1 Part Rosemary
1 Part Rose Petals
1 Part Rose Hips
1 Part Oak Moss
1 Part Juniper Berries
1 Part Barley berries (ground up)
1 Part Wheat berries (ground up)
1 Part Basil
1 Part Blackberry Leaves
1 Part Chamomile
1 Part Cardamom
1 Part Clove
1 Part Cannabis
2 Parts Balm of Gilead
To be added in the future.
Lughnasadh Oregano Salt Sticks
Symbols Fruitfulness, reaping, prosperity, reverence, purification, transformation, change, The Bread of Life, The Chalice of Plenty, The Ever-flowing Cup , the Groaning Board (Table of Plenty), Cornucopia, Corn Dollies, Baskets of Bread, Spear, Cauldron, Sickle/Scythe, Threshing Tools, Harvested Herbs, Bonfires, Bilberries, God figures, Phallic symbols
Colors Red, Orange, Golden Yellow, Green, Light brown, Gold, Bronze, Gray
Gods Johnny Barleycorn, Lugh, Arianrhods golden haired son Lleu ( Welsh God of the Sun & Corn where corn includes all grains, not just maize), Dagon (Phoenician Grain God), Tammuz/ Dummuzi (Sumerian), Dionysus, plus all sacrificial Gods who willingly shed blood/give their life that their people/lands may prosper, all vegetation Gods & Tanus (Gaulish Thunder God), Taranis, (Romano-Celtic Thunder God), Tina, (Etruscan-Thunder God), the waning God
Goddesses The Mother, Dana (Lugh’s wife and queen), Tailltiu (Welsh/Scottish), Demeter (Greek), Ceres (Roman grain goddess, honored at Ceresalia), the Barley Mother, Seelu (Cherokee), Corn Mother, Isis (Her birthday is celebrated around this time), Luna (Roman Moon goddess), other Agricultural Goddesses, the waxing Goddess
Animals Roosters, Calves
Mythical Creatures Centaurs, Phoenix, Griffins
Foods Corn, First Fruits/Vegetables of Garden Labor, Bread, barley cakes, nuts, apples, rice, lamb, Grains, Berry Foods and any locally ripe produce, potatoes, summer squash, pears
Beverages Elderberry Wine, Ale, Cider, Beer, Meadowsweet Tea
Plants Red, Orange and Yellow Flowers; Sheaves of Grain; Grapes, Heather, Blackberries, Sloe, Crab Apples, Pears, Goldernrod, Peony, Nasturtium, Cloverblossom, Yarrow, Heliotrope, Boneset, Vervain, Queen Anne’s Lace, Myrtle, Sunflower, Rose, Poppy, Milkweed, Irish Moss, mushroom, wheat, corn, rye, oat, barley, rice, garlic, onion, basil, mint, aloe, acacia, meadowsweet, apple leaf, raspberry leaf, strawberry leaf, bilberry leaf, blueberry leaf, mugwort, hops, holly, comfrey, marigold, grape vine, ivy, hazelnut, blackthorn, elder, bee pollen
Oils/Incense Wood Aloes, Rose, Rosehips, Rosemary, Chamomile, Eucalyptus, Safflower, Corn, Passionflower, Frankincense, Sandalwood
Gemstones Aventurine, Citrine, Peridot, Sardonyx, Yellow Diamonds, Citrine, Cats-Eye, Golden Topaz, Obsidian, Moss Agate, Rhodochrosite, Clear Quartz, Marble, Slate, Granite, Lodestone, Carnelian
Essence Fruitfulness, reaping, prosperity, reverence, purification, transformation, change, the Bread of Life, the Chalice of Plenty, the Ever-Flowing Cup, the Groaning Board (Table of Plenty)
Customs Games, the traditional riding of poles/staves, country fairs, breaking bread with friends, making corn dollies, harvesting herbs for charms/rituals, Lughnasadh fire with sacred wood & dried herbs, feasting, competitions, lammas towers (fire-building team competitions), spear tossing, gathering flowers for crowns, fencing/swordplay, games of skill, martial sports, chariot races, hand-fastings, trial marriages, dancing round a corn mother (doll)