As the Wheel of the Year continues to turn through the summer months, we approach Lughnasadh (also known as Lammas), a traditional Celtic celebration of the first harvest. This ancient Irish and Gaelic festival marks the continuous changing of the seasons with rituals, ceremonies and community. Today we are exploring the origins of this festival (including Lugh), rituals and traditions, blessings and more.
What is Lughnasadh?
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When is Lughnasadh?
Lughnasadh is celebrated on August 1st or 2nd in the Northern Hemisphere and February 1 or 2 in the Southern Hemisphere. On the Wheel of the Year it falls between Litha (Summer Solstice) and Mabon (Fall Equinox).
During my research I found references to other names used for this sabbat, including: Lammas, Lughnasa, Lúnasa (the modern Irish Gaelic name for the month of August), Lùnastal and Luanistyn.
As the first of the three harvest festivals (the second is Mabon and the third is Samhain), it marks the beginning of the much anticipated harvest season. It is a time for giving thanks for the abundance of the earth and for honouring the Celtic sun and blacksmith god Lugh. So it isn’t a surprise this is a favourite sabbat for us. You will usually find us in the forge celebrating the way Lugh would want us to… by crafting and creating with fire and metal!
One of the most popular questions people have, is ‘how do you pronounce Lughnasadh?‘ Although it looks complicated, it is actually a very simple word to say. It is pronounced: loo-nah-sah.
For Lammas it is pronounced: luh-mAAs
Lughnasadh vs Lammas
Another question that often comes up is around the confusion of the two most common terms used for this festival. So what is the difference between the two names: Laghnasadh and Lammas, and which one should be used?
Lughnasadh is the original Celtic name for this Sabbat. It is named after the god Lugh and is a major festival in the Wheel of the Year marking the beginning of the harvest season. The festival has been observed in Ireland, Scotland, Isle of Man, Wales, Cornwall and other Celtic regions for thousands of years.
Lammas, on the other hand, is the Anglo-Saxon and Christianized name for the Lughnasadh festival. The word “Lammas” comes from the Old English phrase “hlaf-mas,” which means “loaf mass” or “bread feast.” Lammas is the term used by early Christians who sought to take over this pagan festival (and the tradition of baking bread from the first harvest) for their own communities. Often you will see it referred to as Lammas Day.
You may find that many use the names interchangeably. However, in many modern Pagan and Wiccan communities, the name Lughnasadh is usually preferred to honor the festival’s Celtic roots and its association with the god Lugh.
Since this is a festival celebrating the mighty Lugh, let’s learn more about this talented deity.
Lugh, the Blacksmith God
Lughnasadh is named after the Celtic god Lugh.
Lugh is a popular deity in Celtic mythology, associated with the sun/light, craftsmanship, master of skills, and the harvest. He is often revered as a god of both fertility and harvest, embodying the cycle of life, death, and rebirth. This festival is about honouring this talented deity to bring abundance and prosperity to the land and its inhabitants.
Lugh, is also known as Lugh Lámhfhada or Lugh of the Long Arm. He is a solar deity and a god of illumination, intelligence, and inspiration. He is also a provider of abundance, sustenance and prosperity through the harvest.
As a master of all skills, Lugh is also associated with arts, crafts, and warfare. In particular, he is a master blacksmith who forged weapons, tools and intricate metalwork. When looking for divine inspiration for craftsmen, skills and creativity, turn to Lugh.
Lugh is also celebrated as a warrior god, known for his bravery and military prowess. In Celtic mythology, he is described as a highly skilled warrior who fights against the forces of chaos and oppression. Lugh is often invoked for protection, courage, and victory in battles. Whether your battle is big or small, ask Lugh for guidance on your path.
According to mythology, Lugh established a series of contests and games known as the “Táin Bó Lúgha” (The Cattle Raid of Lugh) to honor his foster-mother, Tailtiu. These games were held annually as part of the festival of Lughnasadh and included athletic competitions, music, storytelling, and other forms of entertainment. Very much like the Olympics!
Other Deities Honoured During Lughnasadh
Tailtiu is an Irish goddess of the land and the harvest. She is often honored during Lughnasadh as the foster mother of Lugh (and for whom Lugh created the Táin Bó Lúgha games) and as a symbol of the fertile earth and its abundance.
Demeter is a Greek goddess of agriculture, fertility, and the harvest. Some individuals and groups choose to honor her during Lughnasadh.
Similarly to Demeter, Ceres is a Roman goddess of agriculture, grain crops, and fertility. She is often celebrated during harvest festivals and may be included in Lughnasadh celebrations.
Celebrating Lughnasadh Traditions and Rituals
Most of the traditions and rituals for this sabbat centre around either the harvest or Lugh. For simplicity, I have divided up these ideas into those two themes.
Feasts and Harvests
First Fruits Offering
One of the central aspects of Lughnasadh is giving thanks for the first fruits of the harvest. Gather fresh fruits and vegetables and present them as offerings to the gods or spirits, or use them in communal feasts. If you don’t have the ability to pick your own fruits locally, visit a local farmers market for a beautiful selection.
Additionally, if you have access to a garden or a natural space, perform a ritual to honor and bless the land. Offer prayers and blessings for a successful harvest and a fruitful season ahead.
Bread holds significant symbolism during Lughnasadh, representing the first harvest. A popular tradition with this festival is baking bread with the first grain harvest. In some traditions, this first loaf of bread was blessed, then broken into four pieces and each piece was placed in a corner of the home. It was believed that this provides protection and brings good fortune.
Bake a loaf of bread using locally sourced ingredients if possible. There are plenty of recipes available, find one you like and give it a try. I prefer a really herby bread when celebrating Celtic festivals. As you knead the dough and shape the loaf, infuse it with your intentions and gratitude for the harvest. Ensure you share your magical bread with those special to you.
Harvest rituals are done to honor the land, the deities, and the spirits that have contributed to the successful harvest. These rituals often involve prayers, offerings, and expressions of gratitude.
Prepare a special altar or space outdoors where you can offer the first fruits and grains of the season. Be sure to include crystals, herbs and other items as appropriate (I’ve shared a list for inspiration for you to check out below). Spend time connecting with the land and sharing energy.
As the sun’s strength wanes and the days gradually become shorter, perform a ritual to honour the importance of water in sustaining life and growth. Offer thanks and blessings to lakes, rivers or oceans near you, acknowledging their role in supporting the harvest and all life.
This is a particularly powerful time to harness the energy of the full moon closest to Lugnasadh, and make Moon Water. Once made, use it to nourish your plants, rituals and self as summer wanes and crops mature.
Gatherings and Festivals
Like every sabbat, this was a time for gathering together to celebrate as a community.
Organize or attend a community gathering or festival with like-minded individuals to celebrate Lughnasadh together. Always ensure that you push yourself out of your comfort zone so you can grow. Participate in workshops, rituals, and other festivities to strengthen the sense of community and connection. Use these as opportunities for personal growth and to develop new skills that Lugh would be proud of!
Write in a gratitude journal where you take time to reflect on the abundance in your life. Express thanks for the gifts you’ve received throughout the year. Above all, ensure you are acknowledging the growth and accomplishments you’ve achieved.
Lighting bonfires is a traditional way to celebrate most sabbats.
Using intention, light a bonfire as a symbol of the sun’s strength and energy. Write down any negative thoughts or unwanted habits you want to cleanse from your life on pieces of paper. Take a moment to meditate on what you want to remove from your life and how removing that will open space for new blessings. With this in mind, toss them into the fire, releasing and purifying yourself from those aspects you wish to leave behind.
Competitions and Games
Lugh was known for his many skills and talents. As a tribute to his incredible feats, various competitions and games are organized. These could include athletic events, storytelling contests, or music performances.
To demonstrate your own skills, why not organize friendly competitions or games with friends and family? These can include athletic activities, storytelling contests, or musical performances to honor the spirit of Lugh. Why not try either participating in or spectating some traditional sports such as long or high jump, running, spear throwing (axe throwing would be a modern twist), archery, wrestling, boxing, swimming or even taking in some horse racing.
Crafts and Handmade Items
Lughnasadh is a time to celebrate creativity and craftsmanship. This is the perfect time to engage in crafting activities, making handmade items, and creating artwork.
Create symbols or representations of the sun, grain, or the Celtic god Lugh to honor the festival’s themes. I highly recommend looking into attending a workshop to learn traditional crafts from artisans, or attend markets and support your local creators.
Another popular activity for Lughnasadh is making wreaths using wheat, corn, or other grains. These wreaths symbolize the circle of life and the cyclical nature of the seasons. They also make wonderful decor for the home or altar going into the fall.
Nature Walks and Pilgrimages
Spend time in nature during Lughnasadh, going on walks, hikes, road trips, or pilgrimages to appreciate the beauty of the earth and connect with the agricultural cycle. Where I live the fields are alive with tall crops in beautiful colours. It is truly magnificent to see and experience.
Take a nature walk to appreciate the beauty of the season and connect with the earth’s bounty. Pack a picnic with fresh produce and bread. During your walk, enjoy all the beauty your natural surroundings share with you. Whenever you are ready, take a moment to acknowledge the connection between nature and nourishment.
Anvil Dust (Blacksmith Dirt)
In honour of Lugh’s passion for blacksmithing, incorporate some Anvil Dust into your altar or rituals. I’ve shared one of my favourite candle magic rituals using anvil dust in this resource.
I love a powerful blessing that I can use during a sabbat as my guiding words in ceremony. These also work as wonderful inspiration for affirmations to use during the coming season.
May the first fruits of the season bless your table with abundance and nourishment. May your harvest be bountiful and your heart be filled with gratitude.
As you break this bread, may you be reminded of the cycles of nature and the interconnectedness of all living things. May it sustain you with the energy of the sun and the earth’s loving embrace.
May the warmth of the sun’s rays fill your days with light, joy, and renewed hope. May you find strength in its golden glow, just as the earth finds strength in its embrace.
With hearts full of thanks, we honor the land that sustains us and the spirits that guide us. May gratitude be our constant companion as we journey through the seasons.
Like the sheaves of wheat gathered together, may we find strength in unity and support in our community. May we celebrate each other’s successes and share in life’s blessings.
May your life be a tapestry of abundance, woven with threads of love, laughter, and prosperity. May the seeds you’ve sown bear the sweetest fruit.
As the god Lugh was known for his many talents, may your creative endeavors flourish and bloom like wildflowers in the summer fields.
On this Lughnasadh, may you be surrounded by protection and love. May you walk your path with courage and wisdom, knowing you are supported and guided.
In the footsteps of our ancestors, we stand strong. May we honor their memory and draw on their wisdom as we navigate life’s journey.
A scythe or sickle is a popular symbol for this sabbat and associated ceremony or altars. Traditionally, this tool was used to harvest crops.
Harvest Grains and Fruits
This festival is about the first harvest. When setting your altar consider including items from the first harvest such as apples, wheat and other grains for bread making, corn or grapes. Always look to your local ecosystems and cycles for what is ripening at this time of year where you live. Connecting with Mother Earth where you have your home is so important.
Some herbs associated with Lugnasadh and that you can incorporate into your festive bread recipe include: parsley, sage, basil, rosemary, thyme and oregano.
The colours associated with celebrations of the first harvest include:
- Gold (creativity, abundance, luck)
- Orange (success, luck, opportunities)
- Red (passion, sexual energy, fire),
- Yellow (the sun, happiness, hope)
- Light Brown (stability, reliability, wisdom)
- Bronze (strength, loyalty, motivation)
I love incorporating special crystals into all of my festive altars or when doing special crystal gridding for the sabbat. For Lughnasadh I love to include a Carnelian flame, Citrine, and Sunstone to represent the sun and solar energies associated with Lugh as a Solar Deity. Tiger’s Eye and Garnet are excellent for connecting with the fierce and protective warrior energy of Lugh.
A Special Blessing for Lughnasadh
The following is a special blessing for a Lughnasadh ritual.
Blessed be Lughnasadh, the festival of light,
When the sun’s embrace holds the day so bright.
As nature’s symphony weaves a vibrant song,
We gather to celebrate, hearts soaring strong.
Blessed be the Earth, our mother and guide,
In her nurturing embrace, we find our stride.
With gratitude for her abundant yield,
May we learn to protect, respect, and shield.
Blessed be the Sun, with its golden rays,
That nourish the land through summer days.
As it lingers in the sky, then starts to wane,
A reminder of cycles, perpetual and untamed.
Blessed be the First Fruits, we share with glee,
From garden and orchard, a taste of divinity.
May we cherish the blessings, both great and small,
And share with others, giving freely to all.
Blessed be the Grain, the lifeblood of all,
Ground to sustenance, answering the call.
As we break the loaf, let us be aware,
Of life’s intricate web that we all share.
Blessed be the Gathering, of kin and friend,
With laughter and love, our spirits mend.
As we weave connections, strong and true,
May the bonds we forge bring joy anew.
Blessed be the Skills passed through time,
From hand to hand, a sacred paradigm.
As we celebrate the crafts and arts we hold,
May their wisdom enrich us, never to fold.
Blessed be the Games, where spirits compete,
In friendly contests, with laughter sweet.
As we honor Lugh, the skilled and wise,
May our talents shine and help us rise.
Blessed be the Future, as we turn the page,
With hope and promise, like a starry stage.
May the lessons of Lughnasadh’s sacred rite,
Guide us through life’s journey, day and night.
On this special day, as we join the dance,
With reverence and love, we take the chance.
To honor the season and ancient lore,
Blessed Lughnasadh, forevermore.
~ Forging Magic