Lughnassadh

So welcome to the second to last post in this series. Tonight we’re talking about Aug 2nd. It is Lughnassadh, (pronounced Loo-nah-sad) a name that comes from ancient Celtic. In the Celtic traditions it is a celebration of Lugh, a Celtic sun God. He was the leader of the Irish Fey, the Danaan. And if any of you know your Celtic mythology, this most likely sounds at least partially familiar. You may have heard the term Tuatha de Danann which means people of the Danaan.

This holiday represents a sacrifice on the part of the god.  He gives his strength to the Goddess and begins to age and die.  His weakening signifies the growing cold coming in the fall and leading us into winter.  His decay represents that of which we all see in the world such as the leaves turning colors and the evening chill that only gets colder as the season goes on.  Now, remember that these observances began in Northern Europe, where the climate is cooler at this time of year. While we may still be enjoying warmer days here in the States, we are just starting to notice the summer getting cooler and fading into fall.

This festival is also generally the time of the first harvest.  This is when the farmers gather the first reaping of their crops and, back in the old days, everyone would share and celebrate the bounty they had received.  It is also when the first batch of animals would be slaughtered to begin curing for the long winter ahead.

Many cultures believed that the first loaves of bread baked from the harvest were particularly magickal.  They believed that the bread contained the full potency of the Lord and Lady and as such, they would tear off a piece of each off and drop it to the ground as a thanks for what they had been given.  Others buried it, but the thought is still the same. This is where the other name for this holiday came from. Lammas is from the Old English for Loaf and Mass.

Lammas/Lughnassadh is also a time for reflection.  It is a festival of regrets and farewells in addition to the celebration of the harvest.  There are some people who project these feelings into natural objects such as pine cones and toss them into the fire, so they can release those regrets.  Others write them on corn husks and burn them.

It is a time to say goodbye while remembering that there really are no goodbyes. The world always comes full circle. So you can plant a bulb that will renew itself in the spring if you are of green thumb.  It’s also when my grandmother and I would make preserves and remember the great moments of the year, holding onto those thoughts so that we never lost them.

Every year when it’s canning season I think of her and wish that I had paid more attention. I swear one of these days I’ll learn how to can so I can carry on the tradition with my own daughter and hopefully her daughter after her. My grandmother wasn’t pagan, but this Sabbat always reminds me of those activities with her.

Magick for Lammas

Magick for this holiday includes rites to reap the harvest of your efforts and focusing on the major decisions you made at Litha.

Activities

Many people make bread, though I know not everyone is kitchen inclined.  If you can’t make bread you can make gingerbread, or corn bread, or heck even popcorn. The idea is to honor the harvest of grains that have been given to us by the bounty of the Lord and Lady.   If you have kids, let them mold the dough (if you are making something with dough) into the shape of a man. Kids will love this and you can teach them about the Lord and Lady/ the cycle of the year.

Corn dolls are another popular activity at this time of year and (with good ol’ directions from the internet) aren’t too hard to make. If you do this with a child you can have a discussion about what they have harvested from their lives or the lessons they have learned so far this year.  If you’re doing it on your own, think of the same things. It’s all a part of the reason for the season.  I’ve seen several families place these dolls on their altars or someplace in the home. Some people even dress them up in clothes they have bought or made.  And if you grow corn, you can plant her with the new crop (or even if you don’t) as a symbol of returning to the earth that which she has given to you.

I hope this post has given you all some food for thought and some ideas on how to celebrate Lammas in just a few months.  As, I said earlier, I plan on doing a bigger post on this next year. Hope you are all having a good week.

Blessed Be.

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