Lughnasadh (pronounced “loo–nah–sah”) is one of the 4 Celtic cross-quarter days and is the first celebration of the harvest! It’s also known as Lammas, which is its Christianised name, meaning “Loaf Mass”.
It’s perhaps the least known of the pagan festivals, sandwiched between Midsummer (Litha) and the Autumn Equinox (Mabon) but for the ancients, it was a vital moment on the ever-turning seasonal wheel, to pause and give gratitude for all that had grown, and all that would grow in the coming years.
What are the origins of Lughnasadh (Lammas)?
In myth and folklore, the origins of Lughnasadh are said to surround the young Irish warrior God, Lugh, who was known as “flashing light” and often associated with the Sun. Like most mythical stories, this one has many versions, but the main theme involved Lugh and another God named Crom Dubh. He was responsible for growing and guarding the crops, whilst Lugh’s role was to take them from him on behalf of humankind. Celebrations of Lugh’s triumph often included large gatherings of many people, hikes to mountain summits, athletic games much like the early Greek Olympics, feasting, trading and handfasting (a pagan form of marriage).
Lughnasadh also aligns with the corn harvest, and in early matriarchal societies, it was believed that this was when the Goddess sacrificed the Sun God. From this point, his strength weakened and weakened until he died and was reborn on the winter solstice, each year. Corn dollies or grain mothers were made at this time (some even containing corn babies!) symbolizing the everlasting and cyclic nature of life. As the corn (and other crops) were harvested, the grains which fell to the ground would ensure an ongoing crop for the next year, and within those grains, the assurance that each subsequent year would also be plentiful.
When is Lughnasadh (Lammas) 2020?
Situated between midsummer (on or around June 21st) and the autumn equinox (on or around September 21st), this year, Lughnasadh falls on the 1st of August for those in the Northern Hemisphere and 7th February for those int eh Southern Hemisphere. Some Neopagans celebrate it on the astronomical mid-point between midsummer and the equinox which is on the 7th of August.
It is widely celebrated in a number of English-speaking countries, including Ireland, Scotland, and the United States. The holiday can be used to celebrate the coming harvest or to celebrate the god Lugh- who is known as the master of skills.
For people in the southern hemisphere, August corresponds to the Imbolc festival, which sits between midwinter (Yule) and the spring equinox (Beltane).
For those in the southern hemisphere, this day corresponds with the festival of Imbolc, which sits between midwinter (Yule) and the spring equinox (Beltane). So if you are currently in the midst of spring, and looking warmly towards the summer, follow this link to read about how you can celebrate this fiery feast day.
Why Celebrate Lughnasadh (Lammas) Today?
Lughnasadh is a little-known festival in these modern times. Right in the middle of Leo Season, summer still feels like it is peaking, and for those of us who are disconnected to traditional farming practices (which is practically all of us!) this ancient harvest time means very little. But as with all earth-based cultural practices, connecting to them with simple intentions and actions can re-ignite a sacred connection to the Earth.
Even now, Lughnasadh offers a moment to pause and give thanks for the year so far – for the heat of summer and the blessings that were guided your way.
The year thus far has been challenging due to the pandemic and the isolation that has forced people apart. Life, as we know it, has changed, and people are compelled to adopt new habits and a new way of life. The pandemic is a symptom that the Earth is crying out, and celebrating the Lughnasadh for this year is a way of giving thanks and also a spiritual act of healing the Earth.
For this Lughnasadh, let us pause to thank the Earth for the blessings that have been bestowed upon us. Despite the pandemic that has rocked people’s sense of security and survival, the Earth still thrives and gives its blessings.
Lughnasadh is a reminder that the Earth is alive, and we are interconnected. The rhythm of the season is the rhythm of life we must all abide by. If we are in harmony with the Earth, we can continue dreaming up and doing magic! Despite technological advancements and the fact that huge populations are in urbanized areas, we still remain as inhabitants of one home, which is the Earth.
It also comes as a timely reminder to enjoy the second half of this season. Although we’re closer to autumn now than the start of summer, there is still time to work whatever magic you’ve been dreaming up! Like the waxing gibbous phase of the lunar cycle, Lughnasadh can offer a timely dose of encouragement to keep pushing forward to the Autumn Equinox!
5 Things to do to Celebrate Lammas!
You don’t need to build a corn king and burn him to the ground to get into the spirit of Lughnasadh! Here are 5 ways to weave the energy of this ancient festival through your day…
1 Rise with the Sun (and set with it too)
Lughnasadh is all about the bright, hot, heart energy of the Sun and as the ruler of Leo, the Sun is in its element right now. It has spent long months shining down on the crops, ripening all of the fruits and berries we can now begin harvesting and enjoying, so honor this force! Spend the whole day with the Sun – let it be your guiding star today.
2 Make a Sun Tea Infusion
Often reserved for midsummer, this is a great magical practice for Lughnasadh too. It’s easy: Fill a large glass jar with a lid (like a mason jar) with clean fresh water and a few handfuls of whichever edible herbs and flowers you would like to infuse. Beautiful additions could include mint, lemon verbena, chamomile or hibiscus flowers. Add tea leaves or bags if you like too. Screw on the lid, and leave in direct sunlight for 3 -5 hours, or until your infusion has reached the right strength for you. Your tea will contain wonderfully invigorating energetic codes, absorbed directly from the Sun. Add a little honey or slices of lemon, or ice if you prefer a cooler infusion, and enjoy!
Lughnasadh is often associated with baking as a way to celebrate the first grain harvests. Whether you prefer breads (especially cornbread), pies or cakes, try stirring positive intentions into the dough or batter as you mix. As you enjoy your creations later, imagine those positive vibes entering into your body.
4 Write a Gratitude List
This is SUCH a powerful practice, it cannot be underestimated! And it’s so easy: Simply take a piece of paper or a fresh page in your journal and list all of the good things that have come your way during the year so far. Large and small, personal or public, it doesn’t matter. Also write down any things which at first appeared to be bad luck, mistakes or accidents but from which good actually came. You will find you have a LOT more to be grateful for than you think!
5 Go on a Seed Hunt
As the time when the ripe grains fell to the ground ensuring next years’ harvest, Lughnasadh is a wonderful moment to go on a seed hunt! Walk in the wilds (or just around the garden) looking for fallen seeds that you can collect and plant for next year. Depending on the year, you may find many seeds or very few. If the latter, simply walk with the intention to enjoy and admire all of the flowers you can see around you in their full bloom.
Have you been inspired to re-ignite this ancient feast day and its traditions?
What are YOU planning for your Lughnasadh celebrations?
Share with us below, we’d love to hear what you have to say!