Falling at the midway point between Summer and Autumn, Lughnasadh, is a pagan holiday, or sabbat, that takes place on the first of August to celebrate the beginning of harvest season. Lughnasadh is considered the first harvest and the upcoming sabbat Mabon is considered the second harvest. In Celtic tradition, it is said that the foster mother of the god Lugh, whom the sabbat is named after, died of exhaustion from clearing the fields for planting crops, so it is strongly associated with agriculture. You may feel especially connected to this sabbat if you grow your own food!
Because of this association, this sabbat has a focus on gratitude and feasting for the food the earth has provided. In our modern lives, most of us don’t need to grow our own food, even if you do have a garden, because we can easily access food that is already made for us. Lughnasadh is a wonderful time to reflect on how fortunate we are and everything we can be grateful for that makes our everyday life more simple. It is easy to see the downfalls of modern society but we often don’t appreciate the convenience of it all and how it allows us to pursue other goals and dreams.
How exactly can you celebrate Lughnasadh? Here are seven ideas to get you started!
Eat, Drink, and Be Merry!
Any sabbat is a wonderful time to share food with family and friends, but Lughnasadh is especially a great time because it’s all about giving thanks for an abundant harvest. Have a huge feast of seasonal foods to symbolize an abundant harvest. Some common foods in season at this time are bread, grains, corn, and summer squash. Some of the last harvests of berries and the first harvest of apples happen around this time of year.
Kitchen witches might have fun baking things like zucchini bread and apple or berry pie. And no harvest celebration is complete without a few drinks! Alcoholic beverages are popular at this sabbat, especially drinks like ale, beer, wine, and mead.
All Fun and Games
One of the popular things done historically to celebrate Lugnasadh was to hold the Tailteann games in honor of Lugh’s foster mother, Tailtiu. These were rigorous athletic competitions, much like the Olympics but thought to be even older in origin. If you enjoy sporting competitions, you can get a group of friends together to compete in a sports game of your choosing. If your friends are not so athletic, try getting together for a game night and playing board games!
Celebrate Lughnasadh by hosting a bonfire group ritual for letting go, since we are heading into darker times of the year. This sabbat is one of the four Celtic fire festivals. Have your guests write on pieces of paper things they would like to let go of and toss them into the fire, symbolizing the release. Since gratitude is a theme, encourage each guest to share what they are grateful for at the end of the release ritual. And of course, music, singing, dancing, and storytelling are all great options for bonfire celebrations!
Bake Homemade Bread
Lughnasadh, a pagan holiday, and Lammas, a Christian holiday, have blended together over the years as they take place around the same time. A traditional thing to do for this sabbat is to bake a loaf of bread. The word Lammas means Loaf Mass. It marks the time when the first loaves of bread were consecrated at the altar of the church. Traditionally, the first sheaf of grain was ceremonially cut and made into bread, symbolizing the grain’s sacrifice to sustain our lives.
Decorate Your Altar
As with every sabbat, it is a great time to switch up your altar decorations with the changing of the seasons. Think of the colors of a field ready for harvest such as yellow, brown, gold, bronze, and green. This is when you will begin to transition your altar theme from summer into fall. Decorations you may want to include are cornucopias, wicker baskets, stalks of grain, ornamental corn, or even a bowl of popcorn kernels or grains such as rice or oats.
Crystals associated with this sabbat include Citrine, Carnelian, Aventurine, Malachite, Topaz, Peridot, Obsidian, and Sardonyx. Incense and herbs associated with this sabbat include rosemary, frankincense, sandalwood, rose, basil, parsley, and mint.
Make a Corn Husk Doll
Celebrate Lughnasadh with kids the traditional way. Each year when the last sheaf of grain was ceremonially cut, it was made into a corn husk doll to represent the grain goddess of the harvest. When planting the next season’s crops, the doll was then buried in the fields as an offering to Mother Earth in hopes of assuring an abundant harvest. It is a symbol of returning what the Earth provided back to the Earth. This is a wonderful craft to open up conversations with children about the cycles of nature and life.
If you have a garden, many plants should be going to seed at this time of year. As a part of your Lughnasadh ritual, you can collect these seeds for the next planting season. This is also fun to do with kids to teach them about the cycles of nature. Let this be a reminder that to let something go means to plant the seeds of new beginnings.
Make a Besom
A besom is a small broom, commonly used in witchcraft and magick to sweep energy from a space. Many witches and magickal practitioners like to use a besom to clear their altar spaces or prior to casting a circle before performing spells and rituals. When you make your own instead of buying one that is mass-produced, you are able to put your own magick into it, making it special and unique!
While on a nature walk, collect thin fallen sticks and twigs and a large straight fallen branch. Do not take anything from a tree other than what it has shed to show respect for the life cycle of nature. Gather the sticks together and tie to the branch, fashioning it into a besom. You can keep this at your altar or use it as a home decoration. It looks great as a decoration for the upcoming sabbats, Mabon and Samhain!
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