Earth Mother, we are gathered here today to celebrate Lughnasadh with reverence. We invite only good here.
Welcoming the Spirit of Wheat
We invite the Spirit of Wheat, Triticum aestivum. We have grown and cherished your sustenance since at least 9,600 BC. You convert the sunlight, earth, and water to bearded grains and demonstrate the pure magic and bounty of the plant kingdom.
Mahatma Gandhi often said, “There are people in the world so hungry that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread.” Wheat is a blessing. Humans grow more wheat than any other crop. In some countries it provides 80% of their nourishment and for that we are grateful.
Nourishing Seeds of Bread, hear us as we call to you. We ask you to grace us with your presence. Hail and welcome!
History of Lughnasadh
Lughnasadh and Lammas Day are often celebrated on the same day, August 1st, but they are actually different celebrations. Lughnasadh is a celebration of the God Lugh’s foster mother, Tailtiu, in Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man. Lammas Day is a Christian celebration of the start of the grain harvest season in England, and the name is derived from “Loaf Mass Day”.
In old Irish, Lughnasadh means “Lugh”, the God, and “nasadh”, an assembly. Lugh’s gathering is one of the four fire festivals, the others being Imbolc, Beltane, and Samhain. When it was celebrated in old, there were ritual athletic contests called the Tailteann Games, that included feasting, matchmaking, and trading. There were occasional visits to holy wells, the sacrifice of a bull, and/or a ritual dance-play in which Lugh secures the harvest for man and defeats the powers of blight. Lugh began the Tailteann Games as a way to honor his foster mother Tailtiu for clearing the land and preparing it for agriculture.
What are we acknowledging midway between Litha, the Summer Solstice, and Mabon, the Fall Equinox?
Another way to think of the sabbats is that they share the same energy cycles as the time of day, the phases of the sun, the phases of the moon and stages of gardening.
In time of day, Lughnasadh would be equivalent to 3pm, a time of day when we are still going strong but maybe checking to see how we we’re doing with what we have accomplished. Did we do all we were supposed to do today, perhaps having the last meetings or sending out the last emails of the day or doing the last of the heavy chores? Sometimes we feel a little energy dip after lunch. Most of the day is behind us, so the thought of a nap or siesta may cross our minds on days off.
For the phase of the sun, in the beginning of August, the days are just starting to get shorter and darkness, nighttime is starting to grow. We aren’t done with summer or the heat, but the sun just doesn’t seem to be as strong. When the sun is in Leo, it is a great time to relax, to get together with others, to vacation, picnic or visit old friends. It is a playful time; seek those people or activities you play well with.
The equivalent moon phase is just after the full moon, called the disseminating moon. The moon is still bright but not quite round anymore as you can begin to see the right edge fading away. Emotions are calming and the moon doesn’t rise until late in the evening. Our last disseminating moon was on July 27th , when the moon rose at 11p.
The gardening stage for Lughnasadh is the time of the first harvests. This sabbat is associated with the harvest of wheat, but farmers here in NC try to get in a second crop each year, so wheat is harvested earlier, for example in June, and then they plant soybeans. Right now, in the community garden, the cucumbers and tomatoes are in full force, along with beans, summer squash and blueberries. There is talk of which varieties are doing well and what should be put in for the fall. We are sharing the abundant harvest with the food banks, our friends and families.
So, let’s look at the symbolic meaning of this day. In each of these analogies, we are observing something, reviewing, getting together with others, asking for advice from each other, and we are acknowledging what is working and what isn’t and adjusting accordingly. Whatever our profession or work, each year Lughnasadh reminds us to examine the fruits of our labors. Are the results making a difference in people’s lives? Have I made someone smile? Have I gifted someone with basic necessities? Or have I expressed joy and gratitude for those friends and family in my life?
This is a time to share the light with our community. It is a day of gratitude for the prosperity from the fruits of our labor. What is it you might share?
What are some of the ways you can celebrate this week?
• Re-enact Lugh’s triumph over the spirits of the Otherworld who tried to keep the harvest for themselves (as we usually do and hopefully next year!)
• Watch the Olympic games
• Hold friendly outdoor competitions
• Meditate on a goal you are currently working on, review the plan, research or ask for advice and make adjustments to your actions accordingly
• Donate to a food bank or a prepare a meal to someone in need
• Support local farmers at farmers markets
• Bake bread, make butter, and share it
Lughnasadh and all the other Sabbats remind us to connect to nature, respect the Earth, and understand our place in the world. What is happening with the weather, the environment, the plants and the animals. Eight times a year we strengthen our bonds with the Earth, we still rely on her for our survival. Before we close the directions, I want to thank you for coming today and I hope you have received some inspiration.
We give thanks to the warm Sun and fertile Earth: We thank you Spirit of Wheat, Triticum aestivum, for being with us today and for your blessing of sustenance. May there be peace and honor between us now and forever. Hail and farewell!
Alden, Temperance; Year of the Witch; Llewellyn; 2020.
Amber K; “Feast of the First Harvest”; Llewellyn’s Sabbats Almanac; 2010.