|(Lughnasadh, pronounced Loo-na-sa, is also called
Lugh, Celtic Sun God
The god associated with the season is a Celtic sun god, Lugh, whose name is related to the Latin lux, or,
‘light’, and means ‘the shining one’.
He was handsome, perpetually youthful, and full of vivacity and energy. Poet and author Robert Graves
proposed that his name came from the Latin lucus (‘grove’), and even perhaps lu, Sumerian for son.
Lugh was a deity cognate to Hercules or Dionysus, the Romans’ version of the Greek god Apollo.
Another name for him was ‘Lugh the Long Handed’. In Wales, he was called Lleu, or Lleu Llaw
Gyffes, meaning ‘Lion with the Steady Hand’. Lleu means lion, related to the Latin Leo. (Note that the
Zodiacal sign of Leo is now in the sun.)
Although we are uncertain whether the Gauls’ name of this Celtic deity was Romanised to Lugus/Lugos, (whom they
identified with the god Mercury), or vice versa, we do know that the impact of both the name and the deity were
widespread. Lyons in France, for example, was originally called Lugudunum, or the Fort of Lugus, and a festival formerly
held there on August 1 was later renamed after Caesar Augustus who had assumed major deity authority. The European
towns of Laon, Leyden and Carlisle (originally Caer Lugubalion) also were all named after Lugh, and the modern name
Hugh also derives from the deity.
Early August signaled the beginning of the harvest season to the agrarian societies of medieval Europe. It was the time
when the first grains were harvested and many fruits and vegetables ripened and were ready for picking. A quarter of the
solar wheel had now turned since Beltane and now their bounty poured forth proving August was a reason to celebrate.
Lughnasadh, the first of the three harvest Sabbats with Mabon and Samhain being the other two, which celebrates the
ripening grains and corn.
With the harvest so prevalent, Pagans see the theme of the sacrificed God motif emerge. His death is necessary for rebirth
of the land to take place. Called by many names, "Green Man", "Wicker Man", "Corn Man" or just the "Spirit of
Vegetation", his essence begins to merge with the harvested crops, a sacrifice that will be realized with the new growth in
August begins and the rising and setting positions of the Sun moved noticeably more southward each day. Also, the mid-
day peak elevation of the Sun begins dropping at an evident rate with each passing day. As the hot days of summer come
to an end, August first signals the beginning of solar autumn. Early August, usually the first is one of the four annual cross-
quarter days. Days at the mid-point between the solstice and equinox. Today, we take the 'official' beginnings of the
seasons marked by the solstices and equinoxes in the third weeks of December, March, June and September.
Although in the heat of a Mid-western summer it might be difficult to discern, the festival of Lammas (Aug 1st) marks the
end of summer and the beginning of fall. The days now grow visibly shorter and by the time we've reached autumns end
(Oct 31st), we will have run the gamut of temperature from the heat of August to the cold and (sometimes) snow of
November. And in the midst of it, a perfect Mid-western autumn.
Pagan cultures honor the mighty Sun God and the Gods of Grain by ritualistically sacrificing the first grains to ensure the
continuity of life during the August cross-quarter day.
This Sabbat is known by many names but the most common to English-speaking followers, the name used is Lammas. It is
derived from 'loaf mass'. An early Anglo-Saxon feast celebrating the grain harvest. With the influx of Christianity in Britain,
pagan rituals were officially replaced by a Mass in which the first harvested grains were baked into loaves of bread, taken
to church, blessed, then offered as thanksgiving to God.
If we read Irish myths closer, we discover that it is not Lugh's death that is being celebrated, but the funeral games which
Lugh hosted to commemorate the death of his foster-mother, Taillte. That is why the Lugnasadh celebrations in Ireland are
often called the 'Tailltean Games'.
One common feature of the Games were the 'Tailltean marriages', a rather informal marriage that lasted for only 'a year
and a day' or until next Lammas. At that time, the couple could decide to continue the arrangement if it pleased them, or to
stand back to back and walk away from one another, thus bringing the Tailltean marriage to a formal close. Such trial
marriages (obviously related to the Wiccan 'Handfasting') were quite common even into the 1500's, although it was
something one 'didn't bother the parish priest about'. Indeed, such ceremonies were usually solemnized by a poet,
bard, or shanachie (or, it may be guessed, by a priest or priestess of the Old Religion).
A great custom of Lammas is the construction of the kern-baby, corn dolly or corn maiden. This doll, braided into a
woman's form from the last harvested sheaf of grain, represented the Harvest Spirit. The doll is saved until Spring then
ploughed into the fields to consecrate the new planting and insure a good harvest. For those of us that don't have fields to
plough, the corn dolly can be planted in our gardens in the Spring. And for those of us who can't grow a weed....it can be
burned in the fires at Beltane to insure a continuation of good growth. I can't do much with a garden but I do have apple
trees that are heavy with fruit again this year. (Now if we can just thwart the apple thieves from stealing our crops this year
as they did last year.) I am so excited to be able to celebrate with something I grew, even if I only cared for the trees and
they do the actual growing of apples. It makes me feel like I have a connection to my ancestors who toiled so hard to just
survive in this sometimes hard and difficult world.
To make a Corn-Dolly, take dried corn husks and tie them together in the shape of a woman, a visual representation of the
harvest. As you create your Corn-Dolly, think about what you harvested this year. Give her a name, perhaps one of the
names of the Grain Goddesses or one that symbolizes your personal harvest. Dress her in a skirt, apron and bonnet and
give her a special place in your house. She is all yours until the Spring when you plant her with the new corn, returning to
the Earth that which She has given to you. This year I plan on purchasing corn from a stand near where I work, the closest
I can get to freshly harvested local corn and not purchased from a grocery not knowing how old they were or where they
actually came from. I did this last year and they were the best tasting I have ever eaten!
During Lammas, which is one of the four Great Fire Festivals, the custom of lighting bonfires was intended to add strength
to the powers of the waning sun. Afterward, the remains of the fire were kept in the home through the Winter as protection
against storms, lightning and fires caused by lightning.
Lammastide was also a traditional time of year for craft festivals -- and still is today in many British communities. The
medieval guilds would create elaborate displays of their wares, decorating their shops and themselves in bright colors and
ribbons, marching in parades and performing ceremonial plays and dances for the collecting onlookers. The atmosphere
must have been quite similar to those activities during our modern-day Renaissance Festivals.
Here in America, small town or county fairs resemble the Lammas tradition. The agricultural competitions and midway
games are closely related to the ancient European festivals where folks gather to pay homage to the land and the fruits of
their labor and participate in community reverie.
The beginning of solar autumn at Lammas is the time the Sun enters its old age...its golden months. The heat of summer
lingers a little longer, perhaps even bringing in the Dog Days of August. The ripening grains are followed by the ripening of
the fruits of tree and vine. What a perfect time to give thanks to the Earth for the bounty and beauty and all the wonderful
things she has to offer. Early August is a time to rejoice and be festive. A time to honor those among us who still know
how to reap the harvest and connect us with our ancestors.
Taken from the writings of Keith C. Heidorn. PhD. THE WEATHER DOCTOR. 8-1-2002
The name Lammas is taken from the Irish God Lugh, one of the chief gods of the Tuatha De Danann, giving us
Lughnasadh in Ireland, Lunasdal in Scotland, Laa Luanys in the Isle of Man and in Wales, this time is known simply as
Gwl Awst, the August Feast.
Found on the internet
This Sabbat is also known as the celebration of bread. Bread was one of the main staples of our ancestors and the ripening
of the grain was the cause for great celebration. The reaping, threshing and preparation of these breads spawned great ritual
and ceremony to ensure bounty for the following year.
Even though the hottest days of summer are upon us, we only have to observe to see fall is just around the corner.
Shadows are growing longer as the days slowly become shorter. Squirrels are busily gathering food for the coming winter.
It is a time to begin canning produce from the garden, a time to save and preserve.
Lammas is a festival of regrets and farewells, harvest and preserves. Reflect on these topics alone in the privacy of your
journal or share them with others around a fire. Since Lughnasadh is one of the great Celtic Fire-Festivals, have your feast
around a bonfire if at all possible. While sitting around the fire, you might want to tell stories. Look up the myths of any of
the grain Gods and Goddesses mentioned above and try re-telling them in your own words.
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Last updated 6-25-10.
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