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LUGHNASADH

August 1, 2
(Pronounced 'loo-nus-uh')

ALSO CALLED:

Lammas
August Eve
The First Festival of Harvest

WHAT IT IS:

Lughnasadh means 'the commemoration of Lugh'. Who was Lugh?
He was a fire- and light-god of the Baal/Hercules type; his name may be from the same root as the Latin lux, meaning light (which also gives us Lucifer, 'the light-bringer').

Lugh is also a type of the god who undergoes death and rebirth in a sacrificial mating with the Goddess.
So in Lughnasadh we have the autumn parallel to the Beltane sacrificial mating with the God of the Waxing Year.

On this Sabbat (which marks the start of the harvest season and is dedicated to bread), Witches give thanks to the gods for the harvest (often with various offerings to the deities to ensure the continued fertility of the land) and honor the fertility aspect of the sacred union of the Goddess and Her consort, the Horned God.

In the ancient times, the gathering of the harvest was a time filled with anxiety. Will the weather hold? Will the harvest be good? It is, after all, the culmination of the year's work on the farm. In former times, the entire community would take part in the harvest. The cutting of the final sheaf was particular...ly dangerous because it contained the life spirit of the corn, which had retreated into the final stook. Sometimes the harvesters would approach it reverently, and cut it in a single stroke with the cry, "I have the neck." This was carefully woven into a corn-dolly or kern-baby, which would preserve the corn spirit safely until the next year. It would be kept in a place of honor until the spring, when it would be plowed into the fields to bring them life. The ribbons that bind it are significant in their colors-yellow for the sun, red for sacrifice, blue for love, green for wisdom, and white for strength. The sacrifice of the corn spirit is necessary in order that humankind has enough food to eat for the coming year. It is the law of Nature that one thing must die for another to live. To eat we must take the lives of plants and animals, or their potential lives in seeds, fruits, and eggs. The ancient people reverenced these lives as they were taken, appreciated, and made ritual restitution for the sacrifice made. For farming communities the Autumn harvest was the culmination of the work of the year, but involved the sacrifice of the vegetation spirit, which had returned with the spring to thrive with the summer-a sacrifice necessary for the greater good..

SOME HISTORY:

The first of three harvest celebrations in the Craft.
This Sabbat represents the beginning of the harvest cycle and rests on the early grain harvest as well as those fruits and vegetables that are ready to be taken.  

Lammas was originally celebrated by the ancient Druid priests as the festival of Lughnasadh.
On this sacred day, they performed rituals of protection and paid homage to Lugh, the Celtic god of the sun.
In other pre-Christian cultures, Lammas was celebrated as a festival of grain, and as a day to honor the death of the Sacred King.

HOW IT IS CELEBRATED:

The making of corn dollies (small figures fashioned from braided straw) is an old Pagan custom which is carried on by many modern-day Witches as part of the Lammas Sabbat rite. The corn dollies are placed on the Sabbat altar to symbolize the Mother Goddess of the harvest. It is customary on each Lugnasadh to make (or buy) a new corn dolly and then burn the old one from the past year for good luck.

Decorate your altar with the first fruits of garden labor; as well as grain, poppies, and bilberries (if available), with other seasonal flowers.
The cauldron, decorated with stems of grain, is by the East candle, the quarter of rebirth.

Baking bread is traditional for this holiday, and canning is done as well.

Magickal cabinets are stocked with herbs before the onset of fall.
Herbs for magickal use can be harvested this day.
You may wish to empower some of them in your ritual.

This is a good time to prepare your house for the fall season.

TRADITIONAL FOODS:

Homemade breads (wheat, oat, and especially corn bread)
Barley cakes
Nuts
Wild berries
Apples
Rice
Roasted lamb
Berry pies
Elderberry wine
Ale
Meadowsweet tea

CANDLE COLORS:
Orange
Yellow

INCENSE:
Aloes
Rose
Sandlewood

GEMSTONES:
Aventurine
Citrine
Peridot
Sardonyx

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Graphics by PeeLee

SEASONS: MAIN PAGE

Samhain  /  Yule   /  Imbolg  /  Ostara  
Beltane  /  Summer Solstice  /  Lugnassadh  /  Autumn Equinox

Page constructed 26 July 2000