Celebrating Lughnasadh: The First Harvest

July 15, 2021

Celebrating Lughnasadh: The First Harvest

As we transition out of the blazing heat of July, we begin to slowly shift into the cooler days of the harvest season. With the coming of August, we enter the first of the three harvest festivals known as Lughnasadh. Lughnasadh (also known as the Lammas or the grain harvest) is one of the eight sabbats of the Wheel of the Year that marks the start of the harvest season. This is the time of which we begin to reap the rewards of the labor we’ve put in the last few months and give thanks to the earth for its abundant harvest. However, Lughnasadh also means we begin preparation for the cooler months of the second half of the year and begin to shift our focus towards the act of slowing down. Therefore, this is a very significant time of mental and physical change for everyone. And today, we’re going to talk all about it. 

In this article, we're going to go over everything having to do with Lughnasadh. From its history to its correspondences, traditions, and a few ways you can celebrate it today, let’s dive in and get started with everything you need to know about this merry sabbat. 

History 
To start, Lughnasadh, also known as Lammas (meaning ‘loaf mass’), is one of the eight sabbats celebrated in the Wheel of the Year that marks the start of the harvest festival. Celebrated on August 1st, Lammas marks the halfway point of the summer solstice and the autumn equinox and signifies that the growth of the earth is slowing, the sun’s strength is waning, and that the time to prepare for the darker half of the year is upon us. Now is the time for reaping what we have sown in previous months, physically and spiritually, as we begin gathering the first harvests of the season. 

Symbolically, Lughnasadh is a time that honors the Celtic God, Lugh, who is known as the God of Craftsmanship and the God of Light. There are many different beliefs surrounding Lugh’s association with this sabbat; however, it is believed that the Celtic God originally created the Lughnasadh festival to honor the death of his foster mother, Tailtiu. With that, plentiful feasts, ceremonial dances, and fire rituals were held in her honor. 

 

However, aside from the origin associated with Tailtiu, it is believed that at the time of Lughnasadh, Lugh, as a Sun God, is growing old and transfers the last of his power and strength into the grain until he is sacrificed when the grain is harvested. When this happens, the grain is ripened, and the seeds that come from them are saved to grow again for next year’s crop. Therefore, this is a very symbolic period of planting your intentions for the future, as well as conjuring up the energies of rebirth and renewal into your life.

Traditions
When it comes to traditions of the first harvest, Lammas has been celebrated in various ways throughout the decades. From baking and breaking bread to making corn husk dolls, there are many unique and beautiful ways to honor and embrace this abundant and divine time of the year. Here's a list of a few of our favorite traditions. 

Lughnasadh correspondences:

Date: August 1st
Colors: Gold, yellow, brown, and green
Crystals: Citrine, obsidian, carnelian, and tigers eye
Deities: Lugh, Dagon, Ceres, and Persephone
Animals: Buck, cow, and sheep
Herbs/Flowers: Mugwort, vervain, basil, and frankincense
Food: Bread, grains, apples, corn, potatoes, and pears


1. Honoring the past
To start, aside from the association with the God Lugh and the harvest, Lughnasadh was also a day to honor and pay respect to our ancestors and all their labor that brought us to where we are today.

In modern times, it's easy to forget the frightening tribulations our ancestors had to endure daily to survive. Thus, by celebrating Lammas and its plentiful harvest, we honor our ancestors and understand that we no longer have to live in such an uncertain way because of them. For that reason, this is a good time to give thanks for the abundance of things we have in our lives, and most of all, to be grateful for the food on our tables. Take a moment to send a thought of gratitude to your ancestors before your meal on Lammas or light a candle as a way of honoring them. 

2. Bonfires/Fire rituals 
Next, another common tradition for Lughnasadh is hosting a bonfire. As a fire festival, the traditional lighting of the fire was often done for Lammas to honor the sabbat, the Gods, and the harvest. Many would also engage in lighthearted dancing as well as merry food and drink around the fire with loved ones to commemorate this. In a modern sense, if you can not take part in a bonfire, lighting candles and placing them around your home is an excellent way to welcome this energy. Just make sure you never leave any candles or fires unattended and always handle them with care. 

3. Gathering berries
Next, aside from fire festivities and feasts, on Lughnasadh, it was also believed to be traditional to take part in the cutting of the first corn, as well as the picking of wild berries, such as bilberries. However, a very important part of this gathering ceremony was to climb up to a mountain top in order to do it. This was a powerful representation of the Sun God Lugh’s ascent and a way to honor his sacrifice to the harvest. Therefore, if you plan to gather berries this Lughnasadh, remember to honor and give thanks for all it took to get them here. You might even host a picnic on the top of a hill with loved ones to connect deeper with this sabbat. 

Easy Ways to Celebrate Today 
Now, when it comes to ways you can celebrate in modern times, while times may have changed since the first time Lammas was celebrated, many of the traditions have still stayed the same since the beginning. Here are a few simple and fun ideas of how to embrace and celebrate Lughnasadh easily in our modern times.

1. Altar/home decor
The first way to celebrate Lammas, as with any sabbat, is to decorate your home or altar space with corresponding pieces of the season. Since Lughnasadh is the harvest of grain, all things with wheat or corn are going to be excellent choices. A few ideas for altar or home decorations might include:

  • Crystals such as carnelian, citrine, or tigers eye

  • In-season flowers such as sunflowers, snapdragons, or coneflowers

  • Herbs of the season such as mugwort or vervain

  • Color schemes of yellow, orange, green, or red

  • Corn husks, wheat stems, or corn dollies 

No matter what you choose, the most important thing is that your altar and decor align with what you feel is a good representation of Lughnasadh for you personally. Therefore, even if it’s not what you commonly see used for this sabbat, if it connects with you and your practice, that’s all that truly matters.

2. Bake Lammas bread 
Next, one of the most common and warm traditions that has been carried down from the past is making Lammas bread. Since Lughnasadh is a beautiful time of expressing gratitude to the Gods and the Earth for the blessings of the harvest, many bake loaves of bread or other baked goods to give thanks for the abundant ingredients we have on our tables. Today, there are many Lammas bread recipes available online that incorporate a variety of fresh herbs, but you are also free to make your own with your desired ingredients that call to you for the sabbat. 

3. Have a Lammas Feast
Next, on top of being focused around food and harvest, as a sabbat, Lammas is also a beautiful time of connecting with friends and loved ones in a merry celebration. Therefore, this sabbat, you might prepare a feast or potluck with local and natural ingredients to honor the abundance of the season. Head to a farmers market if you can, decorate your table with fresh flowers, wheat, or colors of the season such as gold, orange, or yellow, and enjoy a simple feast with your friends and family to celebrate the bountiful harvest nature has given us.

4. Make a corn husk doll
Next, another fun way to celebrate Lammas is with corn husk dolls. For centuries, people would honor the harvest with corn, which is believed to represent the spirit of the grain, and would use the husks to make dolls. Oftentimes, these dolls were full-sized and decorated with clothing and ribbons. However, you can also make small corn husk dolls in just a few minutes to use for your Lammas rituals or altar decor as well. 

5. Get crafty
And lastly, because of Lughnasadh’s strong association with Lugh, the skilled God, this merry sabbat is also an excellent time to celebrate our skills and talents. This could include taking part in a new craft or challenging yourself to better with an old one. You might even take part in teaching crafts to someone else. Whatever you choose to do, this is the season for you to channel confidence within yourself and get a little crafty with your talents and hone in on your own inner power.

In conclusion, Lughnasadh is a beautiful time of honoring the gifts from the abundant earth as well as all the hard work we’ve put in these last few months. No matter which way you choose to celebrate it, this is a truly merry season focused around loved ones, good food, celebration, and gratitude. Make sure you take the time to embrace and honor it fully to align yourself with the divine energies of the season and allow your soul to run free this harvest. 

~ Blessed Lughnasadh ~

Written by: The Spirit Chic




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