Celebrate Lughnasadh

July 28, 2016

Celebrate Lughnasadh

History & Myths of Lughnasadh

Lughnasadh (Loo-NAS-AH) is the first of the two harvest festivals on the Celtic wheel and is an incredible, beautiful and complex metaphor for the planting, growth and harvesting of the earth herself.  Nasad translates to “funeral games”. While it is named for the God Lugh, the Book of Invasions states that Lughnasadh was establish as a funerary festival by the God Lugh in honor of his foster mother Tailtiu, who died from exhaustion while clearing the land for planting. There is evidence that Tailtiu was the personification of the land herself to the ancient Celts. Therefore, with her death (personifying the death of the land at the harvest period) the people could live.  We do know from the historical record that Lughnasadh was celebrated during either of the two weeks before or after Aug 1st – which is the traditional date of Tailtiu’s death. During this two week period great games were held, all quarrels were suspended and feasting ensued. There is also a lot of source material suggesting in addition to Tailtiu’s death, numerous supernatural and divine women were said to have died during this harvest period in Irish mythology and buried at sacred sites which were also visited and venerated during the period of Lughnasadh. These women also play the role of the divine earth mother who sacrifices herself at the harvest period so that her children may live. The Myth’s reflect the reality of the seasonal cycle of the earth.

Taking Stock of the Year so far

As a harvest festival, Lughnasadh harbors themes of personal sacrifice. At harvest time, the earth pushes forth all of the food she could grow throughout the season giving us the nourishment we need to survive through the fall/winter. But as a result of her giving us these gifts, it means it is almost time for her to die with the impending autumn and cold grips of winter on the horizon. Every year, the earth sacrifices herself for our well-being. Lughnasadh is the point of time on the wheel where we can not only pay homage to the earth for her sacrifice but evaluate our own personal progress and self-sacrifices.

Look back to the beginning of the year – what seeds/goals did you plant? Did you nurture them mindfully or did you unintentionally sow them? No matter the way your intentions were sown, it is time to start reaping them. What have your goals grown into? Were they successful or did they die out before fruiting? Take an honest stock of your intentions & goals up to this point. Acknowledge what didn’t come into fruition and release the things you need to so you can focus on the remaining seeds that DO need your love and attention in order to flourish. For example- for some reason my squash plants did miserably this year. So I’m going to tear them up and focus on taking care of my tomato plants which did really well. Be sure to include things such as Business Ventures, Educational accomplishments, Spiritual growth, Relationships of all kinds & even your children growing

Lughnasadh is not only a time to take stock but a time to be thankful- thankful for the abundance we already have in life and will be receiving within the harvest season. Sometimes it can be difficult to see the abundance present in our lives, especially if we feel like we are struggling financially or with relationships. But there is abundance to be found even in these situations. Don’t focus on what you DON’T have or how it could be better. Focus on what you DO have, those things are abundance.


Simple Lughnasadh Celebrations

For me, Lughnasadh is a big deal. I usually cook a big meal with seasonal foods, Ward the Home & read the Olde tales.  But you don’t have celebrate that way. Here are some ideas to honor Lughnasadh:

  • Cook a meal with seasonal foods. Chicken dishes, Corn, Breads & Other Grains, Blackberry pastries and zucchini’s are all traditional seasonal foods.
  • Bake a Loafmass. Lughnasadh is traditionally a grain harvest, so what better a way than to bake some bread?! You can bake it into the shape of a man to honor the God of Grain- or a rounded loaf works well too. You can split the bread into four pieces and bury a piece at the four corners of your property for some protection magick!
  • Set up a harvest Altar. Use colors such as Yellows, Golds, Oranges & Reds. Decorate with sheaves of wheat and corn.
  • Make a Corn Dolly to be used at Imbolc
  • Harvest Fruits/Vegetables/Herbs from your Garden- thank the Earth for her sacrifice and your abundance
  • Gather wild berries, collect flowers and make them into garlands.
  • Take a Ritual Bath for Protection, during Lughnasadh horses were often ritually bathed for protection!
  • Perform Divination to see how the rest of the year is looking right now
  • Ward your home- an ancient practice was walk sunwise around the house with an ember from the fire and a piece of iron in a bowl to bless and protect the house on Lughnasadh
  • Read some of the sacred stories such as Dindshenchas (the Lore of Places), Legends of Finn MacCool & others from the Book of Invasions. Reading of these stories was thought to confer blessings on those who listened.

May your Lughnasadh be Blessed!

Lila & Mina.


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