With Lughnasadh coming up this weekend, I thought I’d take a moment to mention this Pagan sabbat and teach you how to properly celebrate it. This second to the last of the eight sabbats, Lughnasadh is the first of three harvest festivals signifying the arrival of that season and ushering in its most bountiful time of year. It is often called Lammas and as of late that is becoming the more popular name as it also occurs on Lammas Day. This more traditionally religious holiday is of course also a harvest festival where early crops of wheat are turned into Lammas bread to be used in sacrament. It hails from the same geographic region as Lughnasadh and is not without a certain respect for magic. Regardless of what you call it, this sabbat is dedicated to the first fruits of the harvest and carries a particular Sun god in tow.
Lughnasadh is named for the Celtic god Lugh. Look, he’s even got his own Twitter hashtag. Not only was he responsible for the arts and sciences but he was pretty good with a sword and a sling. Lugh was considered a Sun god, so no doubt his festival occurs during the dog days of Summer. This article espouses a fairly popular theory that Lugh was the inspiration for the Norse god Loki. It says that Loki was also called Lopt and or Logi. Their mutual relationship with fire is given as evidence. With that said, he is also often compared to the Roman god Mercury. This holiday is to honor his foster mother who died of exhaustion while clearing land to plant crops. Well now that you have met the guy, let’s talk about his festival.
My wife and I usually host a fairly quiet Lughnasadh ceremony. Its an incredibly hot time of year here, so we tend to skip the bonfires and whatnot. Bonfires are a common fare at Lughnasadh parties, however. Couples often participate in handfasting during this sabbat. In fact its one of the two top sabbats for taking part in that ritual. For those not in the know, handfasting is the Neopagan wedding ceremony. We usually only invite three couples over who share our beliefs and where we live that isn’t very many of us either. Sarah will bake a fresh bread that we use in our bread sacrifice ritual and we plan to serve a modern meal to share with our guests. We’re pretty lucky with this Lughnasadh falling on the weekend that it looks like everyone can make it. We will host our guests on “August Eve” or July 31st as our party will go on long past midnight. I look forward to this time of thankful reflection and our ability to share it with friends.
Bake a Bread Worthy of a Sacrifice
Ok, you can actually just use frozen dough if that’s your thing. Personally, we make our own dough and I think the other route cheapens the sacrifice. Besides, you are going to eat this. But if you don’t fancy yourself much of a cook, by all means go ahead. Take your dough and fashion it into the shape of Lugh, our Sun deity and reason for the season. Give him two legs, two arms a torso and a head. You only have to preheat your oven to 350 degrees to get started. Bake this loaf of Lughnasadh bread for a total of forty minutes. If you’re unsure of your oven thermostat accuracy keep your interior light on and remove it from the oven when it looks golden brown up top. I like to serve up our Sun god hot so I usually don’t put the bread in the oven until well after our guests have arrived. One loaf will usually serve around four people.
Perform a Lughnasadh Ritual
To perform a Lughnasadh ritual, you’ll only need a couple of things. And this is where your Lughnasadh bread comes in. Make sure you made one loaf for about every four guests. Next, pour yourself a large cup of wine. If you have a chalice or goblet, put it in that. If you don’t drink alcohol water serves as a suitable substitute. Then gather up some straw or dried grass from the lawn, anything you can make a straw man from. You’ll also need a bit of yarn or string to tie it all together. You do not have to set a bonfire to perform the ritual but you will need a fire pit or somewhere where you can have a controlled burn. When your party gathers for the Lughnasadh ritual, hand out the materials to each member and ask them to construct a doll. This can be fairly crude. It is more about the symbolism involved than it is about doll craftsmanship. Help each member of your group complete their little straw man. Use the yarn or string to tie around groups of straw to hold his body together. When everyone is ready gather in a circle around your fire and recite the Lughnasadh pronunciation.
Recite a Lughnasadh Pronunciation
This Lughnasadh pronunciation is fairly easy to remember. There are quite a number of them around and this is simply one of them. Feel free to use any other incantations you find on the internet that you might prefer. When your party is ready and you have all of the materials gathered for the Lughnasadh ritual, let everyone know that you are going to perform the ritual. Make sure you have everyone’s attention and then begin:
It is harvest time again on our horizon,
What was once born has lived to die.
The circle is now again completed.
Let us kill the harvest god today,
That he might rise again tomorrow.
Let us eat of his body and take his bread.
Break the Lughnasadh bread and pass it among yourselves. Eat of the bread and be thankful. Pass around the vessel you poured the wine or water into. Let everyone drink from it. When the group is finished and ready to begin again, continue to recite:
We have created these dolls,
To burn them in your stead.
We give these dolls unto you,
So that we may live again too.
Then, simultaneously throw the dolls into the open flame. You can also stack them up together and use lighter fluid and a match. As long as the dolls can be completely destroyed in the process, any method of burning them is fine. Wait for the fire to completely consume the dolls and then continue:
The god of grain is dead,
The Earth is born anew.
Lugh, we ask you to bless us,
And next year we will see you.
At this point, your group while holding hands should begin to encircle the fire you have burned your dolls in. Make sure you turn counter clockwise and complete the circle at least three times. More than three is fine should you feel so inclined. Then recite:
Thank you lord of the harvest,
For abundant fields of grain.
Thank you for your sacrifice,
And this bread which sustains.
After the completion of the Lughnasadh pronunciation, you and your guests can get back to the regular frivolity of your Summer party. Make sure the fire you set as part of the ritual is put out and feel free to go on with the party. Hopefully, Lugh will bestow blessings upon you and your friends by completing this ritual.
Happy Lughnasadh, folks! Thanks as always for stopping by my blog. I hope you and yours have a great Lughnasadh and I’ll see you next week. Planning something awesome for your Lughnasadh festival? Tell me about it. Leave a comment below this article and let me know how you and your family plan to celebrate Lugh’s Summer sabbat.