High summer is upon us if you couldn’t tell by the constant heat. Lughnasadh, sometimes called Lammas, is right around the corner. Lughnasadh is the first of the three harvest festivals celebrated by the Celts. The second being Mabon, and third, being Samhain. It is the halfway point between the summer solstice and the autumn equinox. Even in modern-day Ireland, there are towns that hold fairs and festivals with food stalls, music, and dancing. It is now more commonly known as Lughnasa.
Goddess is in Her aspect as Grain Mother, Harvest Queen, Earth Mother. Demeter, as Corn Mother, represents the ripe corn of this year's harvest and Her daughter Kore/Persephone represents the grain - the seed which drops back deep into the dark earth, hidden throughout the winter, and re-appears in the spring as new growth. This is the deep core meaning of all harvest celebrations. The fullness and fulfillment of the present harvest already held at its very heart the seed of all future harvests.
The Sun God, Lugh, as John Barleycorn, is the living Spirit of the corn, or grain. As the corn is cut so John Barleycorn is cut down also. He surrenders his life so that others may be sustained by the grain so that the life of the community can continue. He is both eaten as the bread and is then reborn as the seed returns to the earth. The first sheaf of corn is supremely important, produces the first (and best) seed and assurance of future harvest. Death and rebirth. Everything dies in its season. Everything is reborn.
After Lughnasadh, there is a palpable tang of autumn to the air. A noticeable shortening of the light. The themes or Lughnasadh are the same as any harvest festival. Gratitude, abundance, and connection. We give thanks for the abundance in our lives and look forward to the remaining weeks or light and warmth. Common ways to celebrate Lughnasadh is by harvesting something you have grown in your garden and preparing it to share with loved ones, baking bread, bonfires, making corn dollys, decorating an outdoor altar with all the things the season reminds you of. Spell work related to abundance and hearth magick is particularly powerful.
In our house, we celebrate by cooking out. After a grainy breakfast (usually some kind of slow-cooked oatmeal) or pancakes. We spend the day cooking outdoors. Grills and fire pits provide our heat for garden-fresh veggies and marinated meats. We tend to keep things casual, placing offerings into the fire or on an outdoor altar for the wild animals to eat. I am going to share my favorite Lughnasadh recipes with you in this free recipe book I made. How do you celebrate Lughnasadh? Enjoy and Happy Harvest!