I partake in the fruits of the First Harvest, so that I might share in the wisdom it offers.
Goddess of the Moon, Mother of All ; God of the Sun, Father to All
I thank you for all you’ve given me.
May I always remember “harm none”, and may all that I do be in honour of you.
Lughnasadh (pronounced Loo-na-saw and also written as Lunasa or Lughnasad) translates as Lugh’s Assembly. The God Lugh (He of Many Skills) is known as the Sun God, High King and Bright God of the Tuatha de Danaan. Lughnasadh is the first Harvest Festival of the Wheel of Life. It represents the harvest of cereal and the first fruits.
There are many variations on how Lughnasadh came into account. Historically, it is seen as a reverent remembrance of Taillte (Lugh’s foster mother) who died while planting grain for the Tuatha de Danaan. Culturally, it represents a time of community when farmers and villagers gathered together to see whether the harvests would provide enough for the long winter ahead. The festival signalled the beginning of the back-breaking work of harvesting and the change from summer into autumn.
With the advent of Christianity, Lughnasadh became Lammas or Loaf-mass. Interestingly, the town of London is named after the God Lugh.
Traditionally celebrated on the 1st or 2nd February in the Southern Hemisphere, it coincides with the hottest period of the year and Australia Day celebrations. For many Australians, therefore, Lughnasadh coincides with a return to the school year, beach parties, barbeques and watching copious amounts of cricket and tennis (either on the field or on the television).
Therefore, Lughnasadh is a time of planning and assessment, a time of thanks for what has occurred in the previous year; a time to dismiss fear/guilt/regret from your life; a time to solidify relationships and to let go of old ones (especially divorce) and to honour Mother Earth for the bounty of her harvest.
- Hand-fasting rituals
- Feast Days
- Celtic Games
- In some places, a woman—or an effigy of one—was crowned with summer flowers and seated on a throne, with garlands strewn at her feet. Dancers whirled around her, touching her garlands or pulling off a ribbon for good luck.
- Assemblies on hilltops are a traditional part of the proceedings
- Visiting holy wells
Lughnasadh is a time of harvest and transformation. It is a time for us to reflect on our prosperity, to let go of the old and be content with our lives.
- Visit markets or hold your own garage sale
- Walk through fields and orchards
- Make corn dolls, popcorn and popcorn chains
- Bake gingerbread, muffins and/or bread to feast upon. These can be made into shapes that represent thoughts/emotions/situations that you wish to release into the ‘fire’ when they are baked
- Visit a farm to pick fruit (or gather it from your own garden)
- Complete art and craft projects that use seasonal fruits and vegetables
- Complete release ceremonies/blessings – upon yourself and/or relationships
- If a couple wish to declare their love for all to see, a hand-fasting ritual is traditionally held at Lughnasadh
- Meditate upon those things you wish to manifest in your life and those you wish to detach from your life
- Journal your thoughts and feelings
- Participate in Clean Up Australia Day (usually held in early March) and honour our Mother Earth by beautifying her surrounds
- With fire bans prevalent, it is difficult to hold a bonfire or even use Catherine Wheels (burning wheels rolled down hills or the more modern rotating fireworks) to reflect the setting of the sun (symbolic of the transition from summer to autumn). Instead, you can make colourful pinwheels that can be part of your garden decorations
- To celebrate Australia Day (and Lughnasadh), have a barbeque and serve fresh bread, grilled corn, pumpkin salad and to finish a mouth-watering fruit salad!
Heather, Acacia, Hollyhock, Aloes, Sunflowers, Frankincense, Sandalwood, Rose
Greens, browns, oranges (earthy tones)
Tammuz, Adonis, Demeter, Persephone, Ceres, Freyja, Bride; Lugh, Mercury, Hermes, Green Man, Ceres, Demeter, Corn Mother, Pomona, Mother Earth
Aloe, rose, sandalwood
Traditional: Hazel Tree, Hollyhock, Sunflowers
Animals: Crow, Salmon
Food and Beverage Associations
Traditional Foods Plums, Peaches, Grapes, Wheat, Lamb, Berries, Barley Cakes, Breads
Seasonal Fruits and Vegetables of Australia:
Bananas, Grapes, Blueberries, Blackberries, Nectarines, Oranges, Peaches, Pears, Plums, Strawberries, Tomatoes, Watermelons, Asparagus, Beans, Beetroot, Broccoli, Cabbages, Capsicums, Carrots, Celery, Cucumbers, Eggplants, Lettuce, Mushrooms, Pumpkins, Snow Peas, Sweet corn, Turnips, Zucchini
Carnelian, moonstone, agate
Baskets, Lugh’s Spear (Areadbhar), Sickles, Scythes; Bread of Life, Table of Plenty, Ever Flowing Cup, Chalice of Plenty
The Lammas Bannock
In Scotland, the first fruits were celebrated by the making of a ‘bonnach lunastain’ or Lunasdál bannock, or cake. In later times, the bannock was dedicated to Mary, whose feastday, La Feill Moire, falls on August 15th, two days later than the date of Lammas according to the old reckoning. A beautiful ceremony, which, no doubt, had pagan origins, attended the cutting of the grain (usually oats or bere.) In the early morning, the whole family, dressed in their best, went out to the fields to gather the grain for the ‘Moilean Moire,’ the ‘fatling of Mary.’ They laid the ears on a sunny rock to dry, husked them by hand, winnowed them in a fan, ground them in a quern, kneaded them on a sheepskin, and formed them into a bannock. A fire was kindled of rowan or another sacred wood to toast the bannock, then it was divided amongst the family, who sang a beautiful paean to Mother Mary while they circled the fire in a sunwise direction.
Here is a modern recipe you can try:
- 8 oz flour
- 4 oz butter
- 2 oz caster sugar
- 1oz chopped almonds
- 1oz mixed candied peel
Set oven to 325F/Gas 3. Grease a baking sheet. Sift the flour into a bowl. Add the sugar and butter and rub in to form a dough. Add the almonds and mix in the peel, making sure they are evenly distributed. Form into a thick round on a lightly floured surface and prick all over with a fork. Place on the sheet and bake for about 45-60 minutes. Allow to cool and serve sliced thinly and buttered.