Lughnasadh

ripening ear of corn representing Lughnassadh on WhiteWicca

1st August or 1st February in the southern hemisphere.

Lughnasadh is the cross-quarter festival, a fire festival that heralds the start of the autumn quarter of the year and the end of the summer quarter. Even though Lughnasadh occurs at the warmest time of the year, it marks the time at which days become noticeably shorter.

The autumn season contains three harvests, and Lughnasadh is the first of these and is an observance of the fruitfulness of the land; first crops have been harvested and the hedgerows are full of rich berries and fruit. This is only the beginning of the harvest and we anticipate fruitfulness and look forward to the bounty of the earth.

The name of Lughnasadh, also known as Lammas from the Anglo-Saxon meaning loaf mass, means ëthe commemoration of Lugh (pronounced ‘loo’) who is the Celtic God of light, fire and wisdom, and God of crafts and skills. At Lughnasadh, bread from the first harvest was eaten in thanks, and this tradition was continued in the Christian church’s Lammas (‘loaf-mass’) service, where the first loaf would be blessed at mass.

Lughnasadh is considered as the time of transformation of the Goddess into her aspect as pregnant Earth Mother, where she will move towards the darker wizened crone. The God is getting weaker as the days grow shorter, but his rebirth is assured as he is also present as the Goddess’s unborn child. The corn God that had been given life by the Goddess is sacrificed to be transformed to sustain us through the coming winter months; this is a festival of fullness and transformation and though Lugh is mourned, it is part of the natural self-sustaining cycle. Though the God is often considered as dying at Samhain, there is a sacrificial aspect to Lughnasadh, with the Corn King being cut down to be transformed into the life-giving fruits of the harvest and resurrected as the new crop the following year. Deities and symbols associated with agriculture and harvest are all appropriate for Lughnasadh.

The Wiccan theme of the turning battle between the Oak and the Holly Kings is played out here, with the Oak King having been slain at Midsummer, Lughnasadh is the time for the sacrificial mating of the Holly King and Goddess, before he again succumbs to the Oak King at Yule.

Lughnasadh is a time to acknowledge the turning of the seasons as we move from the fullness of the midsummer sun, to shortening days as the sun God loses strength and the nights lengthen. A time for long-term hopes and harvests, to take stock and be thankful for what we have and what we have achieved. It is a time for sharing and appreciation, a time to consider our situation and learn the lessons of the ways in which we have reaped what we have sown, for good or for ill. It is also an auspicious time for deciding how to get the most from ongoing situations or projects, and how to bring more negative influences to an end.

Alternate Names: Lammas, Lunasa, Celtic ‘Grain Festival’
Druidic Name: Lughnasadh
Christian Equivalent: Lammas

Check the Lughnasadh ritual page, Lughnasadh recipes and Lughnasadh incense blends for more ideas.