Lughnasadh

Lughnasadh is upon us once again, bringing with it the first of the harvest festivals!  Traditionally this was a festival of games and dance.  Lughnasadh honors the Celtic hero Lugh also known as the Sun God . Lugh is the solar deity of the Irish Tuatha de Danaan, the Celtic Faeries.  This is his festival day, and the first of the harvest festivals. Without Lugh (the Sun) shining on the fields, there would be no harvest and no food for one’s family or community during the winter months.  So Lugh is a very important deity to the Celts.

About Lugh

Lugh was born to Ethniu, the daughter of the one-eyed King of Giants – Balor.  His father was the Dagda, the ‘Lord of Perfect Knowledge’.  Lugh was wall schooled in the arts, crafts, and magikal ways.  He is most often seen wearing red as his representation as the Sun or Fire God.  In legend, a prophecy was cast that the King Balor would be slain by a grandson. During a battle, Lugh used his slingshot to knock out the eye of Balor. The eye and the stone went through the skull of the Giant king and killed twenty seven of Balor’s men who where standing behind him.

Lugh was known as a god of both skill and the distribution of talent. Lugh was considered a warrior because to the Celts, skill on the battlefield was a highly valued ability. In Ireland, which was never invaded by Roman troops, Lugh is called sam ildanach, meaning he was skilled in many arts simultaneously.  His weapons included a mighty magic spear, which was so bloodthirsty that it often tried to fight without its owner. According to Irish myth, in battle, the spear flashed fire and tore through the enemy ranks unchecked. In parts of Ireland, when a thunderstorm rolls in, the locals say that Lugh and Balor are sparring – thus giving Lugh one more role, as a god of storms.

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The word Lughnasadh roughly relates to ‘to give in marriage’ and was once associated with marriage contracts. In this context, a marriage contract was entered into, and in 9 months at the next Beltane the couple faces the birth of summer and life.  If the couple was fertile and a child was born, the contract of marriage was celebrated as a permanent union.  If not, the couple ended their marriage contract and went on their own ways.  This festival is believed to celebrate Lugh’s marriage to the “Sovereignty of Ireland”, the Goddess Eriu.  Some Celtic traditions view Lughnasadh as the moment when the sacred king dies as a sacrifice to ensure the fertility of the next year’s crops.  In old pagan practices, the blood of a Rooster would be scattered on the fields to promote the fertility of the land.

As a holiday, Lughnasadh represents the time of honoring the summer and sun, giving thankfulness for the start of the harvest season and the plentiful harvest to come. It is about preparation, getting ready for the waning year and end of life.   It is also a time to honor Elders in your life and ancestry.  This is a time to honor everything you have learned during the year, but most importantly honoring the wisdom given from your Elder is paramount.  Like the Midsummer festival, many Celts also use this time to honor the nature Faeries and mother earth herself. Giving them thanks for watching over their crops and live stock during the summer season. Here during Lughnasadh, thanks are given to the fairies for what ever they have granted you.  Lughnasadh is also a celebration of the union between the God and his maiden as they enter into their marriage contract. Through their union, the land remains fertile and provides sustaining life to the earth for the next season’s planting. Finally, it is an honoring of Death through the sacrifice of the sacred king.

Celebrating

There are many ways to celebrate the first harvest festival.  As a Celtic festival of thanksgiving, preparing a meal with the harvest of your garden is a great tradition. You can also brew a new batch of home made wine to use in the coming year. it is also a time for preserves and jellies from grapes, raspberries and blackberries.  It is slightly representative of the American holiday of thanks giving, where we celebrate the bounty we have been given and give thanks.  In the evening, many continue the festival with a formal holiday ritual. There are as many ways and suggestions for conducting such a ceremony and for many it is a personal choice.  One good place to look for ideas is  Lughnasadh Sabbat Ritual on the Pagan Path.

lughnasadh_altar_by_druidstoned2xiywm

 

I hope everyone has a wonderful Lughnasadh and as always, Blessed Be!

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