Today is Lughnasadh or Lammas depending on what you prefer to call it. It is the first of three harvest festivals and it kicks off a month that I personally dread year after year. I have, however, come to see the purpose in the "curse" of August, as I call it. Looking back, it is clear that the things that have gone wrong during that month in the past have all related to the things that I needed to change or cast off. And that makes sense with the energy of this Sabbat as well. Today is a day to think about your life, to reflect on what has grown and what has come into your life that you wanted since spring, and to think about the things that you need to discard or let go of. It is not an easy ride, this letting go, but with me, I know that if I don't do it myself, August will do it for me in a very messy way.....
Lughnasadh is one of the Cross Quarter Sabbats that was celebrated by the Ancient Celts. It was a Harvest Festival, one of the fire festivals, and it was a celebration of the God Lugh. Lugh is a harvest God, as one might assume given the nature of this Sabbat, and he was also known as the Master of Skills for his mastery in things like Black Smith work. He is a very talented God and, like all Celtic Deities (or at least all that I know of) he was Tuatha de Dannan, at least partially (his mother was Formoian but in the battle between the two races, he stood and fought with the Tuatha). Traditionally, this Sabbat was a celebration of the harvest of grain.
Scott Cunningham, in his book'Book of Shadows' described Lughnasadh like this:
"Lughnasadh is the time of the first harvest when the plants of spring wither and drop their fruits or seeds for our use as well as to ensure future crops. Mystically, so too does the God lose His strength as the sun rises farther in the south each day and the nights grow longer. The Goddess watches in sorrow and joy as she realizes that the God is dying and yet lives inside Her as Her child. Lughnasadh, also known as August Eve, Feast of Bread, Harvest Home, and Lammas, wasn't always observed on this day. It originally coincided with the first reapings. As summer passes, Wiccans remember its warmth and bounty in this food we eat. Every meal is an act of attunement with nature and we are reminded that nothing in the universe is constant."
The correspondents for this Sabbat come from 'Season of Witchery' by Ellen Dugan:
Theme: First harvest, goal setting, creativity
Energy: Relaxation, reflection
Deities: Lugh, Rosemerta
Colors: Gold, yellow, green, golden brown
Crystals and stones: Ruby, malachite, blood stone, rutilated quartz (?)
Herbs: Rosemary, hyssop, artemisis, wheat, sage, lavender, thyme
Flowers: Asters, late summer roses, coneflowers, sunflowers, brown-eyed-susans, wild butterfly weed
Scents: Rose, orange, geranium, sage
Decorations: Sunflowers, dried wheat, corn, fresh fruit
Foods: zucchini, green peppers, tomatoes, squash, sweet corn, wheat, blackberries, barely, breads
Anyone who has read my previous posts knows the drill when it comes to the way that I write out the outline of the ritual I perform for the Sabbats. If you have not read any of my previous posts on Sabbats, I begin with Silver Ravenwolf's Incantation from her book 'Solitary Witch' and then I go straight into the ritual from Edain McCoy's book 'Sabbats'. These sources have been invaluable to me in the construction of my own rituals.
Lughnasadh Ritual Outline
"The King and Queen are wed at last while summer's kiss turns fields and grass/The harvest gold and garden gifts find sacrifices on earthen lips./ Witches gather hand and hand/Power raised along the band/Vortex spiral in its quest/force to form I manifest!/ Bonfires, dancing circle round, fruits and produce from the ground/ Offer up a feast of praise while shadows lengthen in the maze/Witches gather hand in hand/ Power raised along the band/ Vortex spiral in its quest/force to form I manifest!/ August sun turns all to bronze, golden children singing songs/ Fireflies flutter in the dusk touching all with faery dust/Witches gather hand in hand/Power raised along the band/Vortex spiral in its quest/Force to form, I manifest!/Dark Lord melts into the night, taking with him summer's light/Merging wishes, law, and might; removing evil from our sight./Witches gather hand in hand/Power raised along the band/Vortex spiral in its quest/force to form I manifest!"
For this ritual you'll need a loaf of bread and a Corn Dolly.
Cast the circle and call quarters. Say:
"Blessed be the season of Lughnasadh,time of the first harvest, time of the earth's bounty born. The womb of the Goddess is open and out spills the grain that sustains us."
Take the bread from the altar and say:
"Many blessings I have been given. I count them now by this bread of the grain of Mother Earth."
Name all the things you are thankful for one by one. With each thing you name, break off a piece of bread and eat it. When you are finished doing this say:
"Thank you, Great Mother. I ask of you humbly that you accept my offering of this bread. May it be used to feed your loved ones in nature."
Put the bread aside so that, when you are finished with your ritual, you can place it outside as a libation (offering) to the faeries and the animals. Take the Grain Dolly from the alter and hold it in your arms like a baby.
"This child of nature is the promise of the Deities fulfilled, the fruit of the union of the Great Mother and her consort, the Grain God. Blessed be the God whose seed plants that life. Blessed be the grain of the earth."
Replace the Dolly on the altar. If you are outdoors and it's night, star-gaze. When you are finished, close the circle and say:
"The circle is open, but never broken.
I understand that many of you may not have a Corn Dolly just lying around. I see no reason why you couldn't substitute it with an ear of corn or something along those lines. The thing about these Solitary rituals is that they can be modified to fit individual needs. As I said, this is only an outline of the way that I perform the ritual. I hope that this first harvest blesses all of you and I wish you all luck with discarding or letting go of those things that just aren't working for you anymore. That is the hardest part about this Sabbat and this month but it can also be a positive step in your life. :)