Lughnasadh - Abundance, Joy & Celebration

Updated: Jul 31, 2021

In Celtic tradition Lughnasadh or Lúnasa is the festival of Lugh. Lugh translates as ‘shining one’. He is the god of the sun, harvest and corn; known under a variety of personifications, the Green Man, John Barleycorn, Hermes (Greek) or Mercury (Roman). Lughnasadh occurs between the Summer Solstice and the Autumn Equinox. It marks the beginning of harvest season; the first of three harvest festivals, with Lunasa taking place on the first of August (or the closest full moon in ancient times).

Lughnasadh follows the marriage of the Sun and the Earth which occurred at Beltane, bearing Flora the Maiden. Father sun grows old and as we will begin to see changes from green to yellow. Father sun dies each year to feed the Earth’s peoples enabling human life. Our Earth Mother is represented by the seeds from the harvest; once again holding the unborn child of the new sun god within her, in the form of seeds and appearing as new growth in the Spring. The whole cycle holds a whisper of immortality with the energy recycled.

The history of this Sabbat has many stories. Some include the Goddess Tailtiu, the foster mother of Lugh. It is said she gave her life for the people of Ireland, working hard to make the fields suitable for planting. At the beginning of harvest season she died of exhaustion and align held a feast and sporting event in her honour, which later became the first of the harvest festivals or variations on this theme.

Later came Lammas, in Anglo-Saxon this literally translates into ‘loaf-mass’. It follows the tradition of baking bread at this time of year. The corn was gathered, baked and shared with the villagers; blessed to ensure a healthy harvest. It is easy to see the correspondences to nature in these themes- planting, growing, harvesting and death. The symbolism of these harvest sabbats is one of abundance, sacrifice and transformation. With Lughnasadh we start with abundance!

The warm days and nights of August were a time to celebrate the the remaining weeks of heat and light and ‘make hay while the sun shines’. A time of fun but also hard work as the harvest had to be collected over the next six weeks and stored for the Winter months; the children would have been included too, most likely and perhaps a reason for our school Summer holidays.

Celebrations began on the eve of 31st of July. It was a time of joyous indulgence enjoying the first berries and sugary fruits - what a treat! It was a time to be thankful for the abundance and the marriage of the male and female. Grains would be collected and bread would be made; this tradition symbolised transformation with the seeds of intention coming into fruition. The first sheafs of corn produced the best seed so this was gathered ready for Spring.

The children would use the husks and make them into corn dollies. The corn dollies were placed inside the home to bring good luck during the harvest; it was thought the previous dollies were used to make fires or saved for the equinox and Yule. Over the next days celebrations would take place with with community gatherings including, building, crafts, market fairs, games, theatre, poetry, dancing and of course, a feasting of fruit, bread and wine! It was also a time where many handfastings took place as it was deemed a fruitful and auspicious time.

Ways to Enjoy Lammas

Decorate your altar and light candles to honour Lugh and be thankful for abundance and opportunity. The colours of green and the yellows and golds of the harvest are all suitable during this time. Sunflowers, calendulas, or poppies are good examples. I light a mix of green, yellow or even gold candles to represent both abundance and the coming harvest.

Lammas is the perfect time to walk around fields and hedgerows to witness the great harvest. Hunt out those brambles and safely forage some fruit! I used to go blackberry picking with my Mum and Grandma and Aunty Nan - loved it and always totally happy.

Berries and fruits works great with cream, right? But, if you are a real Earth mother and have super skills you could make a fruit pie. If your skills allowed, you could even bake some bread to keep up with tradition! Who doesn’t love either! If foraging isn’t your thing, why not enjoy some organic fruit cordial - it is perfect for while having a sunbathe in the fields on an adventure. If you are prepared however, you may have made some fruit wine in anticipation! And if not, its always a great idea for next time.

On your walk don’t forget to forage some fallen twigs. When you get home from your walk you can use them to make a broom. Tie the twigs together with some yellow or green ribbon in keeping with Lammas. You might like to add some herbs or decorative items too. Simply hang above the door as it was considered good luck for the the harvest season. In true witchy style do three sweeps in each room and repeat 3 times; ask the universe to bring Lammas gifts and abundance to your door.

A very traditional activity is to make a corn dolly. Great for kids. Go for a walk and see what you can find in the fields and woodland and get creative. Place in your home and then burn at Samhain or a year later.

You might come across Brideswort on your adventures. Perhaps better known as Filipendula ulmaria or Meadowsweet. If you do, you might like to use it to make a garland. It was a scared herb and commonly growing at this time so often used in Lammas celebrations. Most often it was used to decorate wreaths and placed on doors. It has a unique calming, antiseptic-like smell which was considered to bring peace to the heart and household. And let’s not forget, it was also used in love spells by the maidens! ;)

Collecting seeds is a fun job. It is a way of securing a future harvest. It is a super activity for children as it teaches them about nature’s cycles and developing their connection to the Earth. We need the next generation to care. Collect some seeds, organising them as you go. Dry them in the sun and then package them safely until they are ready for planting. You might like to give them to friends or neighbours, after labelling them carefully. Seeds make a nice gift for the Equinox or Yule as it is a reminder of light within the darkness. Seeds are pretty amazing really - such a tiny thing programmed to grow towards the sun, over and over. Incredible really.

After all that activity why not have a picnic by a Tree? Tree guardians are wise; some have been around for hundreds of years and have listened to many a person in their long lives. What wisdom might they offer you?

The Hazel tree is the sacred Celtic tree for the month of August (with the Holly Tree just coming to an end). The Hazel tree is associated with wisdom and inspiration. It is said to be cloaked in powerful magic. I think it is the perfect energy for manifestation, what do you think? Alternatively, Holly symbolises peace and goodwill. Associated with the God of Thunder these trees was planted near dwellings to protect them from the lightening… perhaps not so shrouded it science,but, metaphorically, thunder is a great transformer. Tap into the energy of the tree to transform your problems with peace and goodwill. Maybe write a wish on a fallen leaf, bury it and ask the Green Man to transform it at this magical time. You can leave a biological offering of some kind to say thank you for the wisdom you receive.

Alternatively, invite friends and prepare a good-ole feast during the warm Summer sun. Community is central to all sabbats, but very much during this social and abundant time. Decorate the garden and the table in yellows and greens and make a day of it. If you have the space why not camp out and enjoy some stargazing.

And if you built a fairy home or an altar in your garden during the previous sabbats then once again, leave a little gift. Earth/garden spirits that are around at this time I am sure they would love a piece of cake, bread or fruit. Here at LR we add them to our list, making sure we feed our fish, birdies and hedgehog too ;)

It is also a great time to rally the community for a garden project, some allotment time, clearing some old land, any activity where some extra man-power is needed, really. If you prefer to do something lower key then perhaps donate something you no longer use to someone who needs it in your community. Or, think a little wider outside your community and do something for the environment; think about ways you could reduce damage and make a small change. Perhaps most of all be kind… I think we have learned that lesson and our communities are coming forward, bringing awareness and positive change. It is an exciting time.

And when you get the chance it is always nice to do some mediation, crystal work or journalling. Check your journal for a reminder of the seeds you planted at Beltane / Litha. Did you meet all your goals? Did all your wishes come true? Get excited and be proud of yourself for getting to this point of the year. And, continue to reap what you have sown. What new goals will you set? Where do you want to be in the next six weeks?

I stop and visualise all the things that I have been given and that I am grateful for and in my mind. I then build what I want to achieve in my mind for the next six weeks. I leave a token gift and wait for the weeks and wishes to grow and end with a blessing of some kind. I have always said something like this “I am here on the first harvest of Lugh and Gaia. Help me to understand life, death, and rebirth. I thank you Mother Earth for your bounty. As the Sun God’s energy wanes he still warms me. Help me to remain joyful and grounded in all that I do in grace and ease”.

You might like to find answers in your crystals. Suggestions would be the yellows of the harvest such as Amber, Tiger’s eye, Citrine. Or perhaps you are still in the abundant Summer energy you may like to meditate with Moss Agate or Bloodstone.

We hope you like our ideas. Happy Lughandasa! Tune in for the next harvest period which is Autumn Equinox, Mabon and Samhain. If you’ve been following our page since we started, this is the forth holiday we’ve covered together so far, if you missed our blogs you can check them out here:

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