How to Celebrate Lughnasadh & Lammas
• Jul 24th 2023 • by GLASGLOW GIRLS CLUB • 0 Comments
As we reach the height of summer, you might be starting to notice a subtle shift in the quality of the light. While other parts of the Northern Hemisphere are experiencing crushing heat, of course, here in Glasgow, the weather is predictably mild, bordering on dreary. If you look around, you’ll notice the fields turning from green to gold as plants go to seed. These are all signs that Lughnasadh is approaching.
I’m Renee, and I’m the creator of Awesome on 20 Kitchen Magick and the co-host of The Coven of Awesomeness Podcast. I also offer tarot readings and spiritual coaching through Sagittarian Tarot & Coaching. I’ve been studying witchcraft since 2019, and I’m thrilled to share a little bit more magic with all of you.
The wheel of the year invites us to mark the changing of the seasons and the shifts in the natural world. The sun and its cycles were deeply significant to our ancient ancestors because they survived off the land and what nature provided. At this time of year, the lazy days of summer were coming to an end, and the season of harvest was beginning, in particular the grain harvest.
We can see the legacy of Lughnasadh, also known as Lammas in county fairs, agricultural shows, and late summer farmer’s markets. If you grew up in a small, rural area, you may have a local festival near you at the end of summer that is reminiscent of the type of celebrations our ancient ancestors may have had. The Gaelic word for August is Lunasa.
Lughnasadh is most commonly marked on the 1st of August, though some modern pagans and witches choose to acknowledge this day when the sun enters 15° Leo. Some references suggest that this sabbat was celebrated across a four week period covering the whole of Leo season, so if you happen to be busy on the 1st, you’ve got plenty of time to mark this special day.
I’ll be celebrating Lughnasadh with a group harvest ritual on Saturday the 29th at 1:30 pm at The Loft in Cambuslang if you’d like to join me.
What are the origins of Lughnasadh?
Lughnasadh is named for the Irish Celtic sun god, Lugh. There is very little written record of Celtic mythology, so modern witches and pagans do their best to interpret the legends that have been passed down through the ages.
This day was celebrated as the time when the Sun God wed the Earth Mother and consummated their relationship. The birth of this union is then marked at Beltane nine months later where we celebrate the height of Spring and Earth’s fertility.
This was also a fire festival, marking the slow waning of daylight as we head toward the Autumn Equinox.Some myths say that water was avoided in the three days leading up to Lughnasadh and no bathing or fishing was allowed.
As with many pagan traditions, deities come and go and are often transformed as new cultures come into power and weave their stories into those of the existing people. Prior to Lugh, there was the Celtic sun goddess Ana as well as the Corn Mother, a grain deity who sacrifices her son each year at the harvest so humans have food through the winter.
This sabbat is also sometimes known as Lammas by both Wiccans and Christians as the early Church transformed the festival of Lughnasadh into Lammas (meaning loaf mass) to bless the first loaves of bread made from the first grains of wheat.
The wheat harvest is at the heart of this festival and marks a turn from a season of fertility, abundance and growth into a season of harvest, preparation, and gratitude. At Lughnasadh, our ancestors would have been busy with the gathering of grain, milling of flour, baking of bread, and brewing of beer. A good harvest meant a sustainable winter, so they definitely wanted to keep the gods happy. It was also time for people from distant farms and villages to come together and socialise, trade, and even flirt.
How to Celebrate Lughnasadh
As this is primarily an agricultural festival, I think the best way to celebrate is to get yourself in the kitchen and do some baking. Wheat and other grains bring fertility and abundance, so you can work with those intentions as you knead your dough or mix your batter. Whether you’re shaping a Tear & Share Flower Bread to look like the sun or simply mixing up some blueberry muffins, take a moment to give thanks for the abundance of food available to you.
A bonfire is always a great way to celebrate the sun. Think of it as a little bit of the sun’s energy brought to Earth. The sun fuels all life on Earth, and essentially, the plants that we eat are just a way to store up the sun’s energy as fuel for our bodies. And the milling of wheat keeps that sun energy accessible to us throughout the dark winter months.
So whether you can get outside and have a big fire or you’re simply lighting some candles in your home, take a moment to reflect on the miracle of light and fire. It’s something that is both dangerous and crucial to our existence. We are the only creatures on Earth who can control it, so use this opportunity to reflect on the energy that we now take for granted.
You could also consider turning off all the lights in your home for the whole day and living by sunlight and candlelight only. Not only is this an opportunity to conserve energy, but it’s also a great way to remember how fortunate we are. It will hopefully make you grateful for the ease of electric lights and increase your respect for our ancestors who depended on fire for survival.
Finally, consider crafting or decorating with wheat or grasses. Create a wheat wreath to hang on your front door or craft a corn dolly with the kids. Decorate your mantle with stocks of wheat, seeds, or nuts. Let each seed remind you of what you’re harvesting in your own life this year. Bring some sunflowers into your home to remind you of the powerful sun and its life-giving energy.
Create a Lughnasadh Feast
Without a doubt, food is the best way to celebrate a harvest festival. I’ve already mentioned baking bread, which I definitely think you should try, even if it’s your first time. If yeasted breads seem like too much of a challenge, try something easier like this Whole Wheat Guinness Soda Bread. Or make a simple Madeira Cake with fresh berries to bring in the flavors of summer.
Corn is also harvested and celebrated at this time of year. I love to make Cheddar Corn Soup for this sabbat as it also has some fiery energy from cheese with chilies. A gluten-free Lemon Polenta Cake is another delicious way to bring some joy and bright flavor to your feast.
Things like potatoes and garlic are also worth celebrating right now. Stay with the bread theme and try some Garlic & Herb Focaccia or use the embers of your bonfire to make some Grilled Potato Foil Packets with lemon dill creme fraiche.
If you’re hungry for even more awesome summer recipes ideas, I’ve gathered together a list of 100 delicious and easy recipes to celebrate Lughnasadh. Go wild.
I hope you’re feeling inspired to give thanks for everything you’re harvesting in your life. With the constant churn of productivity demanded by our modern world, it can be difficult to step out of the daily grind. The wheel of the year is a beautiful reminder that we’re part of something much bigger, a rhythm of life that has existed for centuries. So pause, breathe, and notice all you have. Say a simple thank you, and keep creating a life you love.
Happy Lughnasadh, friends. Be sure to connect with me on Instagram if you have any questions or just want to share your moments of light. May your harvest be abundant.