Lughnasadh — also known as Lammas — is coming very soon. It is one of four cross-quarter days in the Celtic Wheel of the Year (the others are Samhain, Imbolc and Beltaine) and is normally celebrated on August 1st in the Northern Hemisphere. In Celtic traditions, the day starts at sunset so the festivities typically start the evening of July 31st.
Lughnasadh (pronounced LOO-nah-sah) is actually the first of three autumnal harvest celebrations in the Celtic year, followed by the second harvest Mabon on the Autumn Equinox in September and the third harvest Samhain cross-quarter day on October 31st.
Originally Lughnasadh was dedicated to the Celtic god Lugh (the Bright One or Flashing Light), but we celebrate all fertility and abundance at this time — the sun and light of Lugh and the fertility of the Mother goddess. It is a time to honour the abundance and harvest of the Earth, and to celebrate both the Divine Feminine and Divine Masculine within us all.
What is a cross-quarter day?
There are four significant astronomical (and astrological!) days each year based on the Earth’s relationship with the Sun: the summer and winter solstices and the spring and autumn equinoxes. These are known as the quarter days, which are also recognized as the astrological start of the four seasons. The cross-quarter days fall at the midpoints of those events.
In astronomical terms, Lughnasadh falls at the midpoint between the Summer Solstice (aka Litha) and the Autumn Equinox (aka Mabon), which falls this year on August 6th at 18:54 Pacific Time (01:54 August 7th UT). Some still celebrate this day as “Old Lammas”. But celebrate whenever it feels right for you. Or celebrate both!
Celebrate with food, crafts, altars and ritual
Traditionally Lughnasadh is celebrated with feasts based on the harvest — especially grains such as corn and wheat, often as a loaf in the shape of the god or goddess — but I like to celebrate with the foods made from fresh seasonal (and organic if possible!) veggies and gluten-free baking (and there is now so much to choose from)… and maybe even a decadent treat like homemade caramel corn!
Borrowing from pagan traditions, Christians also celebrated this festival by bringing a loaf made from the first grain harvest to church for blessing by the priest.In fact, the alternate name for this holiday — Lammas — comes to us as a contraction of loaf mass. And some followed the rather magical tradition of afterwards breaking the loaf into four pieces and placing them in the corners of their property, barn or silo to protect the grain. This is a magical tradition you could incorporate into your celebration, creating your own ritual.
Crafts and Altars
If you keep an altar in your home, embellish it with traditional Lammas harvest elements and symbols — an ear of corn, a sheaf or stalk of wheat, a jar of honey, fresh vegetables and herbs, and something to represent the Mother goddess such as a corn doll.
Lugh was the craftsman of the Celtic gods, so any of your own craft projects would be an excellent addition to the altar or even craft tools (or bits of iron) to represent Lugh’s magical spear, along with candles in harvest colours such as red , orange and yellow. I might add a jar of my first wildcrafted blackberry jam of the summer!
Another great way to personalize your celebration is to create your own loose incense for use on your altar or in your bonfire. Check out our post here for a simple loose incense you can make with readily available components.
Many of us celebrate our earth-based spirituality as a solitary practitioner, and some in circle with others. In either case, it’s important for each of us to develop our own rituals and ceremonies that reflect who we are, where we live and the god or goddess connections that we have.
Tomorrow I will post some suggestions for a Lughnasadh ritual but ask that you consider creating your own ritual using the themes of harvest, abundance and renewal (bringing back that which was harvested or depleted), honouring the Divine Feminine and Divine Masculine within you, or even new beginnings.
And I would love to hear how what you create! Post in the comments area below or post to our Inner Journey Events Facebook page. I will pin a post to the top for your input🌾🌾🌾
May your harvest be bountiful and sustain you through the cold winter months ahead. May the love of family, friends and the Goddess warm you always.