by Gordon Ireland
Lughnasadh, pronounced Loo-nas-ah, also written as Lugnasadh, and Lughnasa, and is celebrated on August the first and is the first harvest festival of the year. Lughnasadh is also known as the First Festival, and Lammas. Lughnasadh still survives is Modern Celtic societies. Ireland calls the month of August Lunasa, Scotland, Lunasad , and those who live on the Isle of Man, Luanistyn.
Lughnasadh is named after Lugh, and Celtic Deity who is generally credited with freeing Ireland from the Firbolg, by defeating their King, Bres. However, even though the Lughnasadh is named after the Tuatha De Dannan God Lugh, it is not his festival. Lughnasadh is actually a festival to celebrate Lugh's foster mother, Tailtui. After deafeating the Firbolg, Lugh became fostered to Tailtui; she was a member of the Firbolg royal family. It was common practice for warring peoples to foster to each other, to ensure peace. The legend goes that after the Tuatha De Dannan defeated the Firbolg, Tailtui was obligated to clear vast tracts of land for planting. She supposedly died of exhaustion from this endeavor.
Tailtui was buried by her foster son, Lugh, whose grief was so great that he threatened to takes his vengeance out upon the crops of the very fields Tailtui died clearing. Thus, they harvested the crops before Lugh could do so, and celebrated with a feast honoring his foster mother. She was buried beneath a great mound, named for her, Tailtui. This mound is supposedly where the first feast of Lughnasadh was held. At the feast games of skill and contests of athletic prowess where held. Also included in the activities were contests of poetry, singing and storytelling. This was considered one of the first Olympic events ever to be held.
Lughnasadh also means Oath Fair, Lugh meaning Oath in Gaelic and nasadh, meaning Fair or gathering. After the harvest was in, it seems that many contracts would be made for the coming season, such as labor and marriage contracts. These contracts or oaths were formed and renewed at the Lughnasadh. Many of the festivals of Lughnasadh were more for the forming of partnerships and marriages than for the traditional games from which it started. Though what better way to check out a prospective spouse or someone to work for you than to observe them in a contest of physical or mental skill.
The First Harvest is still recognized in many of today's agricultural societies. Many a state or county fair is held during this time. In the state of Michigan, besides a few dozen county fairs, there is also the Renaissance festival, which begins in August. In the Americas, corn is the first crop harvested and the native Americans also celebrated with feasting and games. The First harvest is a grain festival and grain is often the choice of sacrifice by both native Americans and European cultures on this day. No matter which grain is used the First Harvest is a day of feasting. Lammas is the Christianized version of Lughnasadh, meaning loaf-mass, though it is also attributed to mean lamb-mass, a day set-aside for those to make tribute of lambs to their liege lord. In Ireland today Lammas is celebrated on the first Sunday of Lunasa (August). Traditionally the first grains would be blessed by the Church and used in communion. Lammas first appeared sometime during the 11th or 12th centuries. The church, in a move to tighten its control on the general populace, allowed its priest to dedicate the first Sunday of August to Lammas.
No matter if the 1st of August is called Lughnasadh, First Harvest, or Lammas, it is a festival to feast, renew old oaths, and make new ones. It should be regarded as a day of peace among warring fractions, as with Firblog and Tuatha De Dannan, and as a day to celebrate the accomplishments of the dead, Tailtui, and honor them. It is the time pagans should embrace those who they believed have wronged them and to move forward with their lives.
Foods of Lughnasadh should be primarily of grains, such as breads, corn, cakes and ales. There are many more dishes that would be considered appropriate to Lughnasadh than listed here, such as corn on the cob, lamb, Wheat Bread, and any dish with a grain, or wheat.
Pre heat oven to 425 F. Sift flour with sugar, baking powder, salt, and cornmeal. Add eggs, milk, and shortening. Beat till smooth. Pour into greased pan 9X9X2. Bake for 20-25 minutes.
1/4 cup of sugar
4 teaspoons of baking soda
3/4 teaspoon of salt
1 cup of yellow corn meal
1 cup of milk
1/4 cup of shortening
1 cup of all purpose flour
LENTEN CAKE [EGGLESS]
Preheat oven to 350 F. Melt butter, add molasses and milk, and cool. Sift together flour, sugar, allspice, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir raisins and mix well. Pour into buttered pan, 13X9X2, baking for 30 minutes.
1/2 cup butter
3 tablespoons molasses
1 cup milk
4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
3 teaspoons ground allspice
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup raisins
BROWN RICE SALAD
Cook rice according to package directions. Put in next 5 ingredients into large bowl and let stand for about 10 minutes. Add salad oil, then stir in hot rice, celery and parsley. Sprinkle with crumbled bacon bits and serve warm.
1 cup raw brown rice
1 small onion, minced
3/4 teaspoons of salt
1/8 teaspoon of pepper
1 teaspoon of sugar
1/2 cup of cider vinegar
3 tablespoons of salad oil
1 1/2 cup finely chopped celery
3 tablespoons minced parsley
4 slices of bacon, cooked until crisp
COUNTRY STYLE BUCKWHEAT GROATS
(Makes 4 Servings)
Combine buckwheat groats, milk, and salt in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Spread evenly in an 8-inch square pan; chill. Unmold; cut into 2 inch squares; dredge with flour. Brown on both sides on lightly greased griddle, turning once. Serve with buttered maple syrup.
1/2 cup buckwheat groats
3 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
All purpose flour
Buttered maple syrup
In keeping with the tradition of Lughnasadh, and the fact that while it became a religious holiday it didnt start out that way, the ritual will include a more non-traditional approach. As Lughnasadh started out as a festival of feasts and contests, it is fitting that the ritual includes many of these elements. How is this to be done you ask?
1. You will need a calendar of local events in your area. This can include Renaissance festivals, local, city, county or state fairs, Highland games and much more. There are also various ethnic festivals that can be incorporated into the ritual.
2. You will need to plan your meal. It should include at least one grain, breads are the most convenient, because they can be found at any of the above.
3. You will need to spend at least 5 minutes to honor those who provided you with you meal. This can be done with a group of friends or by you. After all, Lughnasadh was started to honor Tailtui, who sacrificed her life for peace and to allow others a place to grow food.
A suggested thanks is as follows.
As our ancestors have done before us, and our children will do on the morrow. Lets us honor Lugh's foster mother, and understand his sorrow.
4. Then enjoy yourself, watch the contests, spend money in the midway, and enjoy the crafts. Honor the hard work that went into creating them, honor those who still know how to reap the harvest.
You must remember something's can just be enjoyed, not everything has to be a major production.
Strix d' Emerys a.k.a. Gordon Ireland, has degrees in Social Work and Sociology, with extensive knowledge in the areas of Substance Abuse and working with the Mentally Ill. Gordon Ireland has studied Shamanism for eleven years, and has an understanding of most metaphysical systems such as Witchcraft, Wicca, Druidism, Tantra, and Western Mystery traditions. Gordon considers himself a Metaphysical Engineer, and believes that all religions are just as important and viable as the next. He also has a regular column called Ask Strix, a combination of Dear Abbey and Religious Philosophy. He has written a series of articles on the sabbats, which can be read at various ezines, and a other journals.