The Celtic Harvest Festival – Lughnasadh - also known as Lammas – is a harvest celebration beginning at sundown on the eve of the 31st of July until sundown on August 1st and derives its name from the Irish God Lugh. In Wales, this time is known simply as Gwl Awst, the August Feast. Lugh is associated with the power of sun and light, and so fires were burned in honor of Him on this day. In addition to His associations with light, Lugh is a God of Skill and Craft, a master of all human skills. On this His feast day, it is particularly appropriate that we celebrate our own abilities and skills.
Lugh dedicated this Celtic festival to his foster-mother, Tailtiu, the last queen of the Fir Bolg, who died from fatigue after working and clearing a great forest so that the land could be cultivated. When the men of Ireland gathered at her death-bed, she told them to hold funeral games and celebrations in her honor. As long as they were held, she prophesied Ireland would not be without song.
Lammas (was christianized as Lammas: the word ‘Lammas’ is an Old English word meaning ‘Loaf Mass’) celebrates the first harvesting of crops, the first of three harvest festivals. The Earth yields up Her first gifts to us ... a blessing from the Mother and the product of our human hands. It is a time to celebrate the fruitfulness of the Earth and fruits of our labors. We have sown and nurtured, and now we are reaping the benefits in rhythm with the Earth. In later times, the festival of Lughnasadh, but in rural areas it was often remembered as "Bilberry Sunday," the people would gather the earth’s freely-given gifts of black berries. As well people sang and danced jigs and reels to the music of melodeons, fiddles and flutes, and held uproarious sporting contests and races.
Corn, grains and berries are of particular significance at this holiday. Traditionally, the newly harvested grain is made into bread to be shared with all in this celebration. Fruits and vegetables are ripe and ready for canning and preserving. We celebrate and partake in the fullness of the Earth while beginning to make provision for the cold months ahead.
This was also an occasion for handfasting and displaying of their skills and specialized crafts. Through the centuries, Ireland’s country-people have celebrated the harvest at revels, wakes and country fairs. Some still continue this festival today with an entertaining manner and it is usually celebrated on the nearest Sunday to August 1st, as so that a whole day could be set aside from work.
It is a time to ask ourselves: “What are my talents? What are my skills? How do I express my creativity? How do I use my abilities to re-craft my world ... to add beauty .... color ... richness? Our skills may include woodworking, designing, creating, sewing and needlecraft, art, music, dance, sports or communication, organizing, healing, parenting, problem solving etc. Whatever our talents or abilities, this is a time to recognize them and honor them, and to share our recognition of the talents and abilities of others around us. If you have had an interest or urge to develop a particular skill or creative outlet, now might be the time to make a pledge or commitment to yourself to pursue your interest. By offering the fruits of our labors back to the Universe we enrich both ourselves and our world.
Because Lughnasadh is a celebration of the new harvest, people cooked special ritual foods and festive meals. If you are curious about this historic celebration and the abundance of foods prepared, please search the internet. It is a wonderful time to celebrate the abundance we receive from mother earth and be with our special loved ones.
Also known as: Lughnasadh, Cornucopia, Thingtide
Associated Deities: Ceres, Demeter, the Corn Mother, Lugh, the Green Man
Associated Herbs: All herbs and grains
Associated Stones: Tigers eye, golden topaz, opal, citrine, ametrine
Lammas marks the middle of summer and is the first of the harvest festivals. We celebrate the fruits of the Sun Gods and Mother Earth’s bounty. Their labours are everywhere, in the vegetables, plums, onions, garlic and especially herbs which now will be at their most potent and which we will use in our magical workings. In these harvests there is also the new seeds which will bring about new life in the coming year and saying goodbye to the waning sun although it still shines strong and his seed lives on.
It is a time when we not only think about the fruits of the Sun God and Mother Earth, but also about our own personal harvest. A time when we think about what has happened in our lives and letting go of anger, injustice, hates, and past regrets enabling us to move forwards and planting our own new seeds. Some goals may have been achieved, but some not as we had hoped.
It is a time when many witches start to get the house ready for winter, stocking the magical cupboard with herbs etc, cleaning carpets, rugs, painting what needs revamping and putting up winter curtains etc.
Lammas Celebration ideas
The altar can be covered with yellow or orange altar cloths and green, yellow or orange candles. It can be adorned with herbs, small baskets and corn. Bread can be baked (even from packets) and herbs added to make magical bread. Corn dollies can be made at this time.
It is a good time to make a witches bottle or spell purse. Find items for the spell such as coins for a prosperity spell etc. When you have finished seal the purse or bottle with candle wax and either bury it in the garden near the front door or put it where it will not be disturbed.
Feast on oat cakes, fresh fruit and fruit juice remembering to save some to share with Mother Earth and give her thanks.