Celebrating Lughnasadh: Associations, Correspondences and Traditions
Celebrating Lughnasadh or Lammas
Lughnasadh, sometimes called Lammas, is the first harvest festival of three on the Wiccan Wheel of the Year. It’s also one of the four major sabbats of the year. It’s a time of year when we recognize that hard work and sacrifice are part of life, and that they pay off.
The Sun God’s power is beginning to wane and we are fast approaching the dark half of the year. We revel in the last of the warmth and the long days, and give thanks for the Earth’s bounty and beauty that surrounds us.
If you’re planning a Lughnasadh celebration or ritual, here is a quick guide to some Sabbat associations, correspondences and traditions for you to use.
Date of Celebration:
In ancient times, this festival may have been celebrated in the middle of August. In Wicca, it's commonly celebrated on August 1st or 2nd in the Northeren Hemisphere, and February 1st or 2nd in the Southern Hemisphere.
Time of Day:
Yellow, Gold, Orange, Brown, Green
corn; Wheat (sheaves, or braided); bread; Lugh's spear; solar symbols; corn dollies; sacrificial God symbols
bolline or scythe (to represent the harvest); cup or chalice (which represents abundance)
The Lughnasadh Altar
This sabbat was traditionally celebrated on a hill or mountain top; if you plan to celebrate outdoors, you might consider setting up on the highest ground you can find. Turn your altar to the west, the direction associated with the season of autumn.
Indoors or outdoors, it's time to give your altar a touch of autumn splendor—so throw an altar cloth over it in a color or print that screams "fall is coming!"
Place statues of your deities on the altar if you have any. If not, use candles to represent them: solar-colored candles for the Sun God, and green or brown candles for the Earth Goddess.
Decorate the altar with sheaves of wheat or braided wheat wreaths, and any fruits, herbs or vegetables in bowls and baskets to represent the harvest. Sunflowers, for me, are a great reminder of the season, so I like to add them in a vase to the altar... and perhaps a bowl of sunflower seeds.
Since this sabbat is also associated with skills, we like to put symbols of our skills upon the altar—a writer might put a pad and pencil; a cook might put a whisk; an artist might put a lump of clay; a student might put a textbook; a computer programmer might put a computer part; and so on. We do this because at one point in our celebration we ask for blessings in our development and use of our skills.
In particular, if you have any symbols of Lugh, spears or Celtic symbols, they would be appropriate as well.
Honoring the Gods
Many Wiccans who are influenced by Celtic religions honor the God Lugh, the “Shining One” or the “Many-Skilled God,” for whom this holiday was named. It is said in legend that Lugh himself established this holiday in honor of his adoptive mother, who died clearing the fields of Ireland to make way for agriculture. In honor of her sacrifice, Lugh led people into feasting and contests with feats of strength.
Since Lughnasadh is rooted in Celtic festivals, obviously any Celtic deities would be appropriate on the altar.
Of course, not everyone is bent towards Celtic influences. That’s okay—it doesn’t mean the sabbat is meaningless for you. You might instead invoke Hermes (Greek God of skill), Demeter (Greek Goddess of agriculture), Terra Mater (Roman Earth Goddess), Baldr (Norse God of light), Anuket (Egyptian Goddess of the Nile and fertility), Atum (Egyptian God of the setting sun).
Any God or Goddess that has to do with the sun, sacrifice, skills or harvest would be an excellent God or Goddess to honor at this time.
Getting the Autumn Décor Started
It's time to put away the summer décor and trot out the autumn splendor. Begin bringing the autumn season into your home by hanging your dried wreaths or autumn flower bouquets. Start swapping out curtains and throw pillows for those in warm autumn colors. Hang your 'Indian corn' on the door and your wheat/cornstalk bundles on the front porch.
Candles, for me, with their glowing warmth, are a great way to remind me of the autumn—particularly candles with a balsam scent.
The Sabbat Feast
Tell Us About You
What's your favorite Lughnasadh foods?
Lughnasadh Food and Drinks
Traditional foods associated with the summer solstice include beef dishes. It is said that our Pagan ancestors would sacrifice a bull at this time of year. The Celts rarely butchered cattle—they were dependent upon dairy. Wealth and financial security was measured in cattle. Cattle were worth more alive than dead in most cases, and a small percentage were slaughtered for meat. To sacrifice an entire bull was truly a sacrifice for them. They would then hold a feast and share the bull, so if you want to be as traditional as possible, splurge on some steaks or a roast beef. Of course, no one will be disappointed if you decide to make a nice roasted chicken or lamb chops—but since it’s a harvest festival, indulge and make it a true feast!
Vegetarians may prefer dipping into whatever produce is particularly ripe in this season. Perhaps a lovely mushroom and barley stew, lentil-stuffed grape leaves or colcannon (a traditional Irish potato and cabbage dish).
You must also have grains for your Lughnasadh feast. Whether you bake bread or get a simple corn muffin, it is the harvest of the grains, so grains should be consumed.
Honey, with its rich golden color, and which is usually dripping from the hives at this part of year, is also a traditional food found at Lughnasadh. So use honey liberally in your cooking or to spread over your breads and cakes, if you are so inclined.
Bowls of berries, berry cobblers and berry pies are a great treat that gives a nod to ancient traditions and customs. At this time, bilberries (a fruit similar to blueberries) were ripe in Ireland, and were often enjoyed at Lughnasadh feasts. I like to bake a triple-berry pie.
However you celebrate your holiday, make it festive, and may your sabbat be blessed.
Try My Lughnasadh Hand-Made Bread Recipe:
Baking bread is not just delicious—it can be a fun part of the holiday. We pour our sabbat blessings into the very bread that we offer to our Gods and consume for our sabbat feast.
Here is my Lughnasadh old-fashioned magical bread recipe. It comes with easy instructions even if it's the first loaf of bread you've ever baked.