I love this quote from Henry David Thoreau, which – for me – perfectly captures my thoughts about Lughnasadh (aka Lammas) and other harvest festivals: that true abundance is intangible and that we are a speck in the immense cosmos around us, a piece of star dust in the human form.
Each year at Lughnasadh, I follow a simple ritual and sometimes change it up a little, such as creating new Lughnasadh Soul Questions for that year. I always ask my Self some Soul Questions as part of the ritual… and often adding in a little magick!
Harvest time gives us the opportunity to look back at our life, either just the year itself or over our lifetime. I especially like to reflect on themes associated with the harvest, such as abundance and gratitude, endings (and rebirth) or other significant personal themes.
This simple Lughnasadh ritual can be done in Circle with others, or as a solitary practitioner. You could even meet virtually, such as online in a group with others.
In Celtic traditions, the day begins at sunset so I will begin my celebrations tonight as Lughnasadh is traditionally celebrated on August 1st. But for those who like to celebrate on the precise Cross-Quarter Day, mark your calendars for August 6th at 5:13 PM Pacific Time (00:13 August 7th UTC). Some call this day “Old Lammas”. I will be celebrating on both days!
This lunar month began on July 23rd with the New Moon in Leo, and I choose the theme Coeur-ageous Transformation for this month… so will include courage in my ritual. Harvests represent completion and New Moons represent rebirth… such a great combination! Leo is a sign of courage and the heart (“coeur“-age), so be sure to tap into your Heart chakra on Lughnasadh.
In addition to your altar requirements, you will also need:
- paper and pen for writing
- some string or thread
- a couple of leaves (these can be from a tree or plant in your garden or a nearby green patch)
- a couple of corn husks. No corn? Use a leaf from a vegetable such as lettuce, kale or cabbage.
- a handful of fresh herbs and/or wheat sheaves (wild grasses would also be a good substitute). Fresh or dried thyme would be perfect as it is the herb representing courage.
Craft a simple altar for your ritual, preferably outdoors but indoors is fine, adding:
- candles to represent the Celtic God Lugh (gold or yellow) and the Goddess Áine (white or green)
- a chalice (or glass) for your beverage, also representing the Mother goddess energy and abundance
- something to eat and drink such as a loaf of bread and a bottle of wine but change it up for your preferences. For instance, instead of bread, you could eat fresh vegetables, a piece of cake, caramel corn, a quick bread using fruits or vegetables such as zucchini, banana or corn, or a gluten-free item. Bread, however, can be used in an optional bit of spellcrafting afterward. Instead of wine, you could have apple cider, beer, mead, herbal tea or fruit juice… or just plain water.
- Add items to represent the harvest, your craft work or bits of iron (for the God Lugh)
- I will be adding two handcrafted corn husk dolls to mine, one representing the Earth Mother and the other representing Lugh
- Some folks like to use an altar cloth in harvest colours of reds, oranges and yellow/gold, or a simple white to represent Grandmother Moon (and the Earth Mother) and Father Sun (Lugh)
- Crystals, talismans or amulets that are special and sacred to you.
- Add items to represent the harvest, your craft work or bits of iron (for the God Lugh)
A Lughnasadh Ritual
Before you start the ritual itself, take some time to reflect on your Lughnasadh Soul Work and your Lughnasadh Soul Questions.
Harvest time gives us the opportunity to look at important areas of our life, such as abundance and gratitude (which we celebrate at harvest) and other endings and rebirth (harvest signifies the time of reaping but also starting a new period of fallow and rest followed rebirth and regrowth).
Create your own Soul Questions for your meditation or use these.
ABUNDANCE: Contemplate on the abundance in your life, from both the light side (gratitude, abundance, harvest, completion, prosperity, readiness for the long winter ahead, contentment) and the shadow side (greed, scarcity, drought, lack of completion, lack of resources, lack of planning for the long winter ahead, envy).
- Where are you blessed with abundance?
- Where, when and how have you shared your abundance?
- Where do you most keenly feel scarcity, want or need? Why?
- What can you do to shift any imbalances between the light and the shadow of abundance?
Ponder what changes you might need to make in order to live a life of gratitude and abundance, or to continue to do so, in alignment with your inner Self and your values.
COURAGE: How does Courage manifest in your life? How do you know when you are being courageous?
- Do you take a stand for your beliefs and values, even when it is not easy or convenient to do so?
- Do you maintain strong boundaries for your Self or allow others to cross them… for whatever reason (to be “nice” or “polite”)
- Do you follow you path… even when there is no one else walking with you?
- Do you stand in your Authentic Self and allow others to see your challenges…. that you are not perfect?
REBIRTH: Contemplate on what in your life is coming to a close, and what is awaiting the energies of rebirth.
- What lessons did you learn along the way?
- What resources helped you on your path?
- What new opportunities excite you and ignite your inner flame?
Optional: Take this deeper than a meditation by journeying with your guide(s), asking for their insight in what you might need to change, for their insights into what you may not be able to see. Thank them for their support when complete.
Once your meditation or journey is complete, note your thoughts into your journal. On a separate piece of paper, write what you are inviting into your life in the next year in terms of abundance and/or rebirth. On another piece of paper, create a simple blessing for the three harvests in the Wheel of Life – Lughnasadh, Autumn Equinox, and Samhain – for continued abundance and rebirth.
Begin the Ritual
Start by cleansing the space around your altar and your Self with a smudge, your Lughnasadh incense or by waving an evergreen or other greenery through the space. Be sure to ethically harvest the greenery: ask and obtain permission first and leave an offering of thanks such as a pinch of cornmeal, a flower or some sage (whatever is local for you).
If you have a ritual for creating Sacred Space, such as Calling in the Directions, do that now. Light your altar candles and your incense, if you haven’t yet done so. Then call on your guides, allies, and ancestors for support in your ritual.
Center yourself by getting comfortable, sitting or laying on the ground, and breathing deeply and slowly until you feel any tensions of the day ebb away. Drop into your Heart chakra as you continue to breathe deeply and slowly, and feel that connection to your own Inner Fire.
You may eat or drink your altar food and drink offerings during your meditation, when building your bundle or celebrating afterwards.
Reflect a moment on the invitation and the blessing / affirmation you created in your meditation. Hold them close to your Heart Chakra and breathe in their energy before voicing them aloud.
Create a small bundle with your corn husks (on the outside), herbs (don’t forget the thyme for courage!), leaves, wheat or grasses. Insert your invitation and blessing papers.
As you tie up the bundle with string or thread, voice your Lughnasadh abundance blessing or use the one pictured below:
Find a place to return your bundle to Mother Earth, preferably near your altar or home. That could be as simple as burying in your garden, a window box or a local wild green patch.
Optional: If you prefer working with the Fire element, you could burn the bundle.
As you bury or burn your bundle, give thanks to the Earth Mother, the God Lugh and Goddess Áine – or whomever you work with – for their abundance and support.
TIP: If you have to leave the altar area to bury your bundle,
be sure to extinguish your candles first.
Complete the ritual by thanking your guides, allies, and ancestors for their support and protection, and safely extinguishing your candles (if you haven’t already done so. Close your sacred space with gratitude.
Magical Workings for Lughnasadh: a Lammas Bread Protection Spell
Many call this celebration Lammas, which is a contraction of “loaf-mass” and is more of a Christian tradition… but definitely built on pagan harvest festival traditions.
After attending mass with their loaf of bread, to celebrate the harvest, folks took their loaf back to their garden, field or farm and offered a blessing for protection and future harvest abundance by burying one-quarter of the loaf into each of the four quarters of their land or barn.
Why not try it?
A Lammas Loaf could be a simple loaf of bread you have baked or purchased, or one you create in the image of a God or Goddess. Call on your Gods, Goddesses and other allies as you break the baked bread into four pieces with your hands.
As you bury the pieces in the four corners of your land (or home… garden….field) voice your blessing, either one you create yourself or this simple and traditional blessing:
I call on the Spirits of East, South, West and North; the elements of Air, Fire, Water and Earth; and the gods and goddess of the harvest.. Protect this place of home and hearth, of plants and animals, of those I love. So mote it be.