Traditional date is August 1st in northern hemisphere, when the Sun moves into Leo for the strength of the solar energy. In southern hemisphere is celebrated February 2nd. It is the midpoint between Summer Solstice and the Autumn Equinox.
Stories of Lughnasadh (Luh guh’ nahs eye or Loo nas saw)
Lughnasadh is a deep, dark time of reflection and journey, and is the Celtic harvest festival. The wheat from the first harvest is cut with Lughs sword and used to bake the first loaf of bread. This marks the harvest and a time to give thanks. Saxons had a Christian rite called Lammas (loaf mass). The first bread from the harvest was brought to church and broken. Lughnasadh is the Fourth Gaelic Fire Festival (female) and first harvest festival. It is the wake of Lugh- Sun God and High King and bright god of the Tuatha de Danaan, who died in ecstasy at Summer Solstice.
It is a time to celebrate the fruits of the Earth Mother and fertility of the Earth and a time of markets, community gatherings and feasts. Lughnasadh means “Lugh’s assembly” and celebrates the beginning of harvest season, the decline of summer to winter. It is a funeral feast but also a time to commemorate the mother and the ripening of her fruits. Lughs foster mother may be honoured (Tailti) who died working and preparing the land for agriculture. Lughnasadh celebrations in Ireland are often called the “Tailltean Games” a time to honour Tailti in which funeral games were held on this day. It is a time of games and celebration. Ireland’s oldest festival the ‘Puck festival’ is also celebrated during this time.
It is a season of dismissing regrets, farewells and preparation for winter. Bread is often baked, often in symbolised shapes, and thrown into the fire to release fear. It is a time of letting go and releasing of fear and is especially good for good for divorce ceremonies and letting go of the past.
Other activities may include the making of harvest corn dolls, wheat weaving, baking bread or meditating on an ear of wheat. Meditations and rituals often focus on releasing fear or anger. It is also a time of feasting and dancing
Among its activities, couples could enter into a “trial marriage” known as a “Brehon wedding.” The two would clasp hands and thrust them through a circular opening in a special stone, while announcing to the Brehons — judges and lawyers — that they intended to live together for a trial period of one year, after which the marriage would be formalised. Either party could break the marriage by a public announcement during the feast of Beltaine in the Spring. No harsh words were allowed between wives and husbands at this time. The levying or collecting of debts was also not allowed during Lughnasadh.
Herbs and symbols
Colours: greens, browns and oranges
Barley- to symbolise earth, wealth and love and for making corn dolls
Hazel Tree- Ruled by Mercury- used in water rites
Hollyhock-to offer to the land- also sacred to faerie
Corn and other fruit and vegetables of the season
Things you could do at Lughnasadh
- Bake bread and feast
- Think of regrets that have not been released and bake bread into figures that represent your thoughts and burn what you want to release into the fire
- Divorce ceremonies/ or self blessings to deal with past relationships
- Make corn dolls from corn husks, dolls can be used to honour the Goddess, as decoration of the season or as aspects of yourself you wish to burn and release. You can make one corn doll to represent the Grain Goddess and keep it in your home to represent your own personal harvest and joys in your life.
- Weave braids/threads with wheat with an intent of something you are weaving in your life
- Meditation, journey and reflection
- Make gingerbread, eat corn or popcorn
- Write in a diary, or write poetry about what you are farewelling in your own life and what you see as your harvest and the joy building in your life
The wheel turns and the Mothers fruits grow, and with reflections into the depth of ourselves we reap the richness of our harvest