Lughnasadh, also known as Lammas, marks the beginning of the first harvest.
Traditionally, this is the harvesting of grain crops.
In my area of Australia, grain crops such as wheat are sown as winter crops, to avoid the scorching heat and dry conditions of high summer.
Here grain crops are harvested before the Midsummer Solstice.
Although celebrating the harvest of grain just doesn’t fit here, Lughnasadh still marks the commencement of many a harvest in my area.
Depending on the time of sowing, corn is now being harvested, as are stone fruits.
For me, in Southern New South Wales, Lughnasadh is the Sabbat of fresh summer fruits.
Peaches, grapes, plums, prunes and berries are all being harvested at Lughnasadh.
This works well for us, still experiencing the heat of summer, as platters of fresh fruit are a treat on a summers’ eve celebration.
The sacrificial symbolism of Lughnasadh can also be seen in the sun, as it begins it’s slow journey North, toward the Autumn Equinox.
As the sun travels North, the days become shorter.
This is not that evident yet, but each day is two minutes shorter than the preceding day.
It is in the travels of the sun, that the aging and death of the God is evident, if not in the actual grain harvest.
Although we are still experiencing summer, Lughnasadh is an acknowledgement of the Pagan year drawing to a close.
It is endings, achievement and abundance, but it is also death and sacrifice.
The traditional meanings of Lughnasadh lie in the harvesting of the grain.
Symbolically, this is the sacrificial death of the God, who is cut down as the wheat stalk.
His blood allows us to be fed for the coming year, he gives his life for The Goddess, for the produce of the land, for us.
We must remember the God sacrifices his life willingly.
When he joined with The Goddess at Beltane, He knew what was to come, as She beckoned him to her in her sacred grove.
He came to her willingly, understanding the implications of his acceptance.
We can see a very human aspect of The God at Lughnasadh.
He is like us, in that he has a lifespan, a certain amount of time in which to live, grow and accomplish.
He is born, he develops from childhood into adulthood.
He reaches his prime and then declines into old age.
He must come to terms with his mortality.
His is the life cycle of the mortal.
The Goddess is eternal, she does not die.
She ages and she slumbers, but her life force stays vital.
But this too has its price.
For she must watch all that she loves die.
Even worse for her, she must be the one that brings that death, to her Divine lover, to the trees and flowers, to the land, to her mortal children.
For death is a part of the endless cycle of life, without it there can be no renewal, no resurgence of life in the Spring.
Without death, there is no wheel, no cycle, no seasons, no life.
At Lughnasadh, The Goddess is both Mother and Crone.
She is Demeter, walking the fields, crops ripening in her wake.
The Mother who gives life and sustenance.
She is also The Crone.
As her lover lies bleeding into the soil before her, she stands over him, sickle in hand, and she cries.
She is the bearer of death to the one she loved.
She wails at his loss, his selfless sacrifice to her life-giving forces.
His spilled blood upon her, she draws forth her veil of darkness and walks into the shadows.
The mourning of The Goddess will bring on the slumber of the Earth, Autumn and then Winter.
In Greek mythology, Lughnasadh marks the descent of Persephone.
Having spent the light half of the year above ground, it is now time to fulfill her duties as the wife of Hades.
With Hecate leading the way with her flaming torches, Persephone begins the journey back to The Underworld, the realm of the dead.
Throughout the Autumn and Winter, Persephone will sit atop her throne, presiding over the Shades of the Dead.
Her Husband, the Dark Lord Hades, at her side.
Though Persephone will return in the Spring, her Mother, Demeter, will mourn the loss of her Daughter, as she does each year.
In her grief, she refuses to fertilise the earth, plunging us into the winter months where nothing grows without her Divine aid.
But first, we get to enjoy the last days of sunshine, warmth and growth.
Maybe more so, knowing that Winter is just around the corner
The theme of Lughnasadh is death and sacrifice, but it is also acknowledging abundance in our lives.
At Yule, we set ourselves a goal, or goals, for the year ahead.
As the earth worked toward the culmination of the harvest, and the sun ascended, so too have we worked to bring our goals to fruition.
Lughnasadh is the first harvest festival, so we still have time to give that final push towards completion, some things take longer to grow than others.
But it is time to reflect on the year that has been and all that it has brought us.
What good things have come into your life throughout the year?
What can you give thanks for?
We can also look at the sacrifices that we have made, and those that need to be made.
Bad habits, old ways that no longer serve us, people who bring us nothing but problems, clutter that has accumulated in your home.
What do you need to rid yourself of?
Lughnasadh is a good time to look honestly at yourself, to be thankful for all that is good in your life and to cut away all that is negative or no longer serves your future growth.
- 2 parts Frankincense
- 1 pt Benzoin
- 1 pt Dragons Blood
- 1/2 pt Nutmeg
- 1/2 pt Blackberry leaf
- 1/2 pt Orange Peel
- 1/2 pt Rose Petal
- Sun Gods
- Dark Persephone
- Strength – Tarot Card
- Justice – Tarot Card
- Corn Dolls
Stones & Gems:
- Tigers Eye
- Cats Eye