Today is 1st August, and traditionally this is the date of the first of three harvests of the wheel of the year, Lughnasadh. But what is Lughnasadh? Why do we celebrate it? How? Read on lovelies, read on…
Lughnasadh is pronounced loo-na-sa and is set in August because Lunasa (different spelling but pronounced the same way as Lughnasadh) is the Gaelic/Celtic word for August. It is one of the four Celtic fire festivals and is celebrated as the first of the crops are harvested ready to be stored for the coming colder winter months. The festival itself is named after Lugh, the Celtic God of the Sun and light. He was a warrior and master craftsman and the God of justice, summer storms, deal making and more. As a traditional witch, I do not worship deities but I do work with them. So for me today is about connecting with the ‘Lugh vibe’.
Lughnasadh is often referred to as Lammas, which is the more English Christianised name for the festival and comes from the Anglo-Saxon word ‘loaf-mass’ which means ‘the consecration and blessing of the first loaf of bread’. However those with a Celtic background or traditional witches and some Wiccans still use the term Lughnasadh over Lammas.
Various customs come from Lughnasadh and back in time there would have been plays, dances, huge celebrations as the first crop was harvested and big feasts. During the feast, the first ear of the corn that had been harvested from the first field was offered to Lugh (or someone dressed up as Lugh as a representation) and he would bless it and in turn bless the rest of the years harvest, before eating it. Once Lugh had eaten the corn, everyone else could enjoy theirs.
It was also one of the few times of the year when neighbouring communities back in Medieval times and before, would get together and help each other harvest and then celebrate with much revelry. Usually they would be fighting or at least squabbling about this, that and the other but, at Lughnasadh, they came together. Harvests were crucial for getting through the winter months (and still are) so they would come together to make sure each field and farm were harvested before the weather turned.
Today is a fabulous day for castings and workings that are for abundance, deals, business, success, food, protection, fertility, reflection, gratitude and honouring loved ones.
If you work with colour in your magical workings, the colours for Lughnasadh are yellow, orange and gold and we usually celebrate by adding wheatsheaves or corn dollies around our working spaces or altars, depending on what you have.
As a family on Lughnasadh night, we light our candles, have a feast usually comprising of stew (lots of pearl barley, vegetables etc) with homemade bread and say our thanks to the land and our ancestors.
If you use offerings as part of your magical working, you could offer corn, wheat, berries, seasonal vegetables or even (as my children used to when they were very small…) weetabix, shreddies and shredded wheat cereals!
Lughnasadh is not a massive ritual in our house but we do always make sure we give it the nod of gratitude it deserves. Living where we do, close to the Lancashire Moors and all the farmland that surrounds it, we are hugely proud of all our local very hardworking farmers. Tonight we raise a glass to them!