Lughnasadh (pronounced loo-nus-uh) means the commemoration of Lugh. As Lunasda (loo-nus-duh) it is Scottish Gaelic for lammas, 1st August.Lugh is the God of Fire and light. His name may be from the same root as the latin 'lux', meaning light.
It is the great festival of Lugh the great Celtic Sun King and God of Light. August is His sacred month when He initiated great festivities in honour of His mother, Tailtiu. Feasting, market fairs, games and bonfire celebrations were the order of the day. Circle dancing, reflecting the movement of the sun in sympathetic magick. August along with Beltane is considered an auspicious month for handfastings.
The union of Sun and Earth, of God and Goddess at Beltane, coming to fruition over Summer has produced the First Harvest. Lammas is the celebration of this first, Grain Harvest, a time for gathering in and giving thanks for abundance. Working with the cycle that the Autumn Equinox is the Second Harvest of Fruit, and Samhain is the third and Final Harvest of Nuts and Berries. However underlying this is the acknowledgement that the bounty and energy of Lugh, of the Sun, is now beginning to wane. It is a time of change and shift. Active growth is slowing down and the darker days of winter and reflection are beckoning...
Lammas brings the Goddess in Her aspect as Grain Mother, Harvest Mother, Ceres and Demeter. Demeter as Corn Mother represents the ripe corn of this years harvest and Her daughter Kore/Persephone represents the grain, this grain being the seed which drops back into the dark earth, covered throughout the winter which nurtured by spring returns as new growth. This is the deep core meaning of Lammas, it is about the fullness and fulfillment of the present harvest holding at its heart the seed of all future harvests. It is a fact that a pregnant woman carrying her as yet unborn daughter is also already carrying the ovary containing all the eggs her daughter will ever release. She is already both mother, grandmother and beyond, embodying the great Motherline, a meditation of pure magic and mystery.
The grain that is harvested becomes food to feed the whole community through the winter and within that harvest are held the seeds of next year's rebirth, regeneration and harvest. The Grain Mother is heavily pregnant and she carries the seed of the new year's Sun God within her. However there is tension here. For the Sun God, the God of the Harvest, the Green Man or John Barleycorn, surrenders his life with the cutting of the corn.....
In English folklore, John Barleycorn is a character who represents the crop of barley harvested each Lammas. Equally as important, he symbolizes the wonderful drinks which can be made from barley — beer and whiskey — and their effects. In the traditional folksong, John Barleycorn, the character of John Barleycorn endures all kinds of indignities, most of which correspond to the cyclic nature of planting, growing, harvesting, and then death.
Although written versions of the song date back to the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, there is evidence that it was sung for years before that. There are a number of different versions, but the most well-known one is the Robert Burns version, in which John Barleycorn suffers greatly before finally dying so that others may live.
In effect John Barleycorn surrenders his life so that others may be sustained by the grain, so that the life of the community can continue. He is both eaten as the bread and is then reborn as the seed returns to the earth. Death and rebirth. Everything dies in its season. Everything is reborn. This is our whisper of immortality and the wonderful bittersweet of Lammas.
In The Golden Bough, Sir James Frazer cites John Barleycorn as proof that there was once a Pagan cult in England that worshipped a god of vegetation, who was sacrificed in order to bring fertility to the fields. This ties into the related story of the Wicker Man, who is burned in effigy. Ultimately, the character of John Barleycorn is a metaphor for the spirit of grain, grown healthy and hale during the summer, chopped down and slaughtered in his prime, and then processed into beer, whiskey and bread so that he can live once more.
Corn Dolly's are woven from the last sheaf of corn to be cut. They are woven into a likeness of the corn mother. They are then carried home an hung above the hearth for the full year before being sacraficed back to earth in Spring to ensure a fruitful harvest for the coming year.
Witches Pot Pourri
2 ounces of witch hazel, 2 drops of pine oil,
1 ounce of rue, 1 ounce powdered myrrh gum,
1 ounce of sweet woodruff, 1 teaspoon lemon or orange peel,
1/4 teaspoon ginger, 2 teaspoons vanilla .
Ideas for your altar
Drape your altar in deep green, bright orange and deep yellow, any shades that reflect the colours of harvest. Decorate with Flowers and seeds. If possible gather stalks of harvested barley and weave a corn dolly.
If you are burning candles, incense, oils or any other naked flame do remember that in the interests of safety they should be attended at all times!
All information offered is checked to the best of our ability, and whilst every effort has been made to make it accurate, no responsibility will be accepted for errors and omissions.
Any information displayed on our web site(s) or other printed matter on our sites are not regarded to be authoritative or certified as the best practice and is only considered to be useful supplementary advice to other certified codes of practice. All information on our web site is updated regularly.