As the Wheel of The Year turns, we find ourselves nearing the first harvest of the season, which commences with the joyous celebration of Lughnasadh, also known as Lammas, or, the “Feast of Bread” and the “Feast of Grain Mother”. It is a time of year filled with abundance and gratitude and a time where we can wholeheartedly embrace the abundant harvest that has been purposefully seeded, nurtured and cared for throughout the past months.
Lughnasadh holds a significant place among the 8 Sabbats or High Holidays that form the Celtic Wheel of the Year. It beautifully marks the cross-quarter time between the Summer Solstice (Litha) and the Fall Equinox (Mabon).
The name “Feast of Grain Mother” reveals a beautiful story. Lughnasadh is a feast strongly connected to Lugh, the benevolent God of fertility and agriculture. The story takes us back to Lugh's dear mother, Tailtiu, who selflessly gave her life to clear the lands for agriculture. In honor of his beloved mother, Lugh created the harvest festival, a heartfelt way to pay homage and keep her memory, the Grain Mother, alive.
Lughnasadh is commonly celebrated on August 1st, following the Gregorian calendar. However, when considering both the lunar phases and solar positions, we encounter two distinct dates, and even a portal, for this blessed festival. Lunar Lughnasadh coincides with the Aquarius Full Moon, while Solar Lughnasadh occurs when the Sun reaches 15 degrees in Leo.
Around these dates, we are invited to celebrate the abundance of nature and the harvest of our endeavors with a grateful heart. It is a time to honor the fruits of our labor and appreciate the blessings that have graced our lives and express gratitude for the work, experiences, community, and growth that have shaped our journey so far. And this goes beyond just the harvest, but also to that which we have nurtured in other areas of our lives too.
It is a time for sharing the abundance in the community, especially those with whom you’ve worked over the year to cultivate and create the bounty that now exists.
These simple rituals can serve as powerful tools to foster a deep connection with the abundant energy of Lughnasadh. Choose the one that resonates with you the most, and if you feel inclined, share your experience with me through a direct message on Instagram or, if it feels right, as a post.
1. Gratitude & Gifting Practices
As Lughnasadh is a time of gratitude for the first fruits of the harvest, this ritual emphasizes acts of kindness and generosity. Gather your community in a central location, and each participant brings a basket filled with the produce of the season – fruits, vegetables, and grains. One by one, people present their offerings and share stories of abundance and appreciation. As a symbol of unity, create a communal feast with the gathered produce and share the meal with those less fortunate in the vicinity. This ritual highlights the interconnectedness of humanity and encourages compassion and sharing during the season of plenty.
2. Labyrinth of Lugh's Blessings:
Craft a labyrinth pattern in a grassy field, using natural materials like stones or twigs. The labyrinth's design can be inspired by the sun, with radiating patterns, representing the light and energy of Lugh. As the sun reaches its zenith on the day of Lughnasadh, take a meditative journey through the labyrinth. If you do it in the community, consider that each participant carries a small, flickering candle (careful of dried grass and grains around so as not to catch fire!!), representing the inner light they seek to ignite and grow during the harvest season. At the labyrinth's center, participants take a moment for personal reflection and set intentions for self-growth and transformation. As they walk back through the labyrinth, they leave behind small offerings for the land and its spirits, expressing gratitude for the abundance and blessings received.
3. Revitalize Your Altar
Create a sacred and welcoming space on your altar in preparation for the joyous celebration of Lughnasagh. Consider incorporating elements that symbolize abundance, such as vibrant sunflowers, refreshing mint, and an array of fruits and vegetables that harmonize with this bountiful season and of course, grain. Consider embracing the potent energy of the sun and welcoming it symbolically into your Altar, by incorporating images of the sun, a sunwheel, or the grains in the sunlight.
4. Celebrate together
The heartfelt gratitude of Lughnasagh sets the stage for a truly special time spent in the company of those you hold dear. Lughnasadh, also called "The Festival of Gathering In," invites us to celebrate together through activities like baking bread, sharing a meal, or gathering around a bonfire. On the eve of Lughnasadh, each member of the community carries a small, glowing ember from their hearth to the sacred site. As darkness envelopes the land, the light a grand bonfire (in a safe place, and only if there are no fire hazards or warnings) at the center, using the collective embers brought by the people. This unifying act symbolizes the connection between the living and their ancestors, as well as the passing of knowledge and traditions from one generation to the next. As the fire burns brightly, people take turns sharing stories of their gratitude.
5. Dance of the Golden Grain:
As the sun reaches its peak and the golden grains sway in the gentle breeze, gather the community in a circular formation at the heart of a lush field. Each participant carries a sheaf of wheat, representing the abundance of the harvest. To the rhythm of a sacred drum, dance, weaving intricate patterns through the field. As the dance progresses, gradually forms a spiraling pattern, symbolizing the cyclical nature of life, growth, and harvest.
6. Twilight Harvest Meditation:
In the waning hours of the eve before Lughnasadh, gather beneath the open sky in a tranquil meadow or near a flowing river, perhaps with candles illuminating the space. Then, sit and close your eyes. Visualize a bountiful field of crops ripening under the watchful eye of the setting sun. As the meditation progresses, embrace a sense of unity with nature and the cycle of life and death. When the meditation concludes, write your intentions for the harvest season ahead, making a silent promise to nurture the earth as it nurtures them.
As the power of the sun gently continues to wane (as it started to do on Litha, Summer Solstice), we find a gentle reminder that in the cycle of life, death is necessary for rebirth. Just as a bountiful harvest follows a period of rest, darkness, and planting seeds, we are encouraged to embrace this celebration with great gratitude.
During this time, we can begin to prepare for the darker months and to utilize that which we harvested to nourish ourselves for the next chapter - both practically and proverbially speaking.