Lughnasadh / Lammas: Sacrifice of the Sun, Harvest of the Grain
August 1st is celebrated by neopagans as Lughnasadh or Lammas, the first of three harvest festivals consisting of Lammas (grain harvest), Mabon (harvest of fruits at the Autumn Equinox), and Samhain (last harvest, and as harvest of souls, the root of Halloween).
I find great value in observing neopagan festivals because they go to loving lengths to reunite the visible and the invisible, the changing faces of the seasons with the changing forms of the Divine. As we yearn for wholeness while celebrating the infinite diversity of the universe, we promote through our practice awareness of unity, between seen and unseen, manifest and unmanifest, drawing ever closer to true realization. Side effects of such practices include ecstasy, inspiration, the power of the adept, and the compassion of the saint.
Above: The author. Lughnasadh celebrations were traditionally held on high places such as hilltops.
To return to Lughnasadh: this festival, like the other cross-quarter days (festival days held midway between the solstices and equinoxes), was once regularly celebrated in Gaelic speaking countries to punctuate the agricultural year. More about the historical Lughnasadh, which also appeared in England as Lammas, can be found on Wikipedia here.
Lugh is a handsome young warrior god in Irish mythology. In addition to his skill in the battlefield, he was honored as the master of all arts and crafts, such as smithcraft, poetry, driving a chariot, etc. He can be compared to the Irish goddess Brigid, who is honored on the opposite side of the year - February 1st (see my Imbolc post).
Lughnasadh today celebrates the solar god as both warrior-king and sacrifice. He provides for his people (as the sun brings crops to fruition), and sacrifices his life for them (as the grain is cut and harvested). By now the days have noticeably shortened from their maximum length at the summer solstice, though we feel the heat and power of the sun more than ever.
Above: Oranges are a popular sun symbol! Also, the first blueberry / bilberry harvest often coincided with Lughnasadh, so first berries can be honored in addition to the ceremonial first loaf.
This is a day to honor the sacred masculine in our lives, be it your male relatives and companions, or the warrior within. Feasts, games and competitions all are traditional activities. The solar god gives us the first grain harvest and the first loaf, meaning abundance for all. Yet with the ripening grain we know winter and darkness will soon have their turn.
I’ll finish with a quote from an essay by author David Deida: “It’s good for a man to be sensitive, kind, and receptive. But without knowing the ever-edge of death, he can become a sexual and spiritual wimp. He needs to practice total presence so he can feel his brief life evaporating.”
Above: Umbrella, Brooklyn, NY. All three harvest festivals are curiously charged with the knowledge and acceptance of nature's and man's mortality.
A blessed Lughnasadh to you!
My magic amulets are here at the Violet Fox Jewelry Etsy shop!