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Pagan Holidays - Lughnasadh, Lammas, August 1

Updated on July 26, 2017
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Previous writer and editor at BellaOnline. I love sharing articles on many topics.

Homemade bread
Homemade bread | Source

Celebrate First Harvest

Lughnasadh (pronounced loo-nus-uh) is the holiday generally celebrated as the time of the first harvest on August 1st every year. Its more modern Irish name is Lunasa.

Later, it was adopted into Christian tradition as Lammas, which means loaf mass referring to bread baked from the harvest's first grains. It marked the beginning of autumn in the agricultural year.

Illustration of Lugh's magic spear by H.R.Millar, published in Celtic Myth and Legend by Charles Squire
Illustration of Lugh's magic spear by H.R.Millar, published in Celtic Myth and Legend by Charles Squire | Source

The God of Light

The holiday takes its name from the Celtic god of light, Lugh (pronounced Loo). He is known as the god of many skills. One story tells of his visit to Tara, the seat of the high-king in Ireland. When he was stopped at the gate, he was asked what skill he possessed for only one person with each skill was allowed entry.

Lugh pointed out that he alone possessed all skills and therefore was allowed to pass. As he is so closely associated with skill, arts and crafts, the festivals and rituals at this time tend to center around such things.

Different traditions hold that this holiday was to commemorate Lugh's foster mother, Tailtiu, with funeral games or possibly Lugh's marriage. Handfastings are indeed popular at this time much like they are at Beltane.

In Wiccan tradition, this is the time of the aging or waning god. Rituals are enacted that celebrate the first harvest and to give thanks for the abundance of the season. All this is with the knowledge that the dying god will soon make the ultimate sacrifice of his death at Samhain (pronounced Sowen) only to be born again at Yule.

Barley field
Barley field | Source

Traditional Themes

The themes of this holiday can be easily adapted to your own practice. It's a perfect family holiday as outdoor games of physical skill can be brought into ritual or as an addition to rites honoring the religious theme.

Arts and crafts can be specifically dedicated to the deities of your path in gratitude for the harvest. This along with the first products from the harvest in your part of the world are ideal offerings to make. What fruits, vegetables, and flowers are at their peak where you live?

How to Honor Lughnasadh in Your Own Way

If you don't feel connected to the agricultural cycle or specific gods, you can still incorporate Lughnasadh into your personal Paganism.

  • Do you have skills that you have let lie dormant? Try your hand at one of them again. Visit one of the many arts and crafts festivals that occur this time of year.
  • What do you have to be thankful for? Even if you feel that your personal harvest whether it be physical, mental or emotional has been lacking this year, try to reevaluate it in the sense of lessons you have learned. Now is the time to acknowledge what you have sown and are now reaping. Meditate on the things you have to be grateful for, great and small, and acknowledge the part you have to play in the cycles of your own life and of those around you.
  • Challenge yourself by introducing a new physical or mental skill into your life. Is there a craft you have always wanted to try but told yourself you never had the time? Now is the time to try it.

"Once more the liberal year laughs out,

O'er richer stores than gems of gold;

Once more with harvest song and shout,

Is nature's boldest triumph told."

~ J. G. Whittier, Harvest Hymn.

See how one group celebrates Lughnasadh

Lugh Statue

Small Celtic God Lugh Statue Wood Finish
Small Celtic God Lugh Statue Wood Finish

I love Paul Borda's statue designs. I have a small fairy piece and my husband has this Lugh statue on his altar. It's beautiful and sturdy.

 

Sources consulted

Ellis, Peter Berresford. Dictionary of Celtic Mythology. Oxford University Press, 1992.

Ellison, Robert Lee. The Solitary Druid: Walking the Path of Wisdom and Spirit. Citadel Press, 2005.

Farrar, Janet and Stewart Farrar. A Witches' Bible: The Complete Witches' Handbook. Phoenix Publishing Inc., 1981.

Kondratiev, Alexei. Lugus: The Many-Gifted Lord, Imbas.org, 1997.

Lughnasadh - Pagan Song by Damh the Bard

How Do You Celebrate Lughnasadh?

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