All of us here at PaganCentric want to wish you and yours a wonderful Lughnasadh. As you may have guessed, that is today. Lughnasadh (also known as Lammas) is the first of three harvest festivals celebrated in many modern Pagan traditions. It originated as one of the four main Celtic fire festivals and was dedicated to the Celtic god Lugh/Lugus the many-skilled. It is a time of thanksgiving, first-harvests, and the end of summer.
The First Harvest is a time to take stock of fields; to survey all that we have grown throughout this year. For Pagans, this celebration also has spiritual meaning. The harvest can be a metaphor for our lives. Some seeds that we planted took root and flourished, and others did not. Some of the soil we prepared and tended better and some we may have neglected. But what is undeniable, and gives reason for our celebrations, is that change has come. It came through our hard work, stubborn perseverance, and, on occasion, the unexpected storm (that may have buffeted us even as it enriched the results of our struggles) that has allowed us to prosper.
Modern Wicca also moves those old rhythms of moon and sun, summer and winter, into a meaningful connection with modern life. Lughnasadh is the beginning of the harvest season – a time to consider what we want to gather from our lives, what we want to preserve and protect, and what we want to celebrate. Throughout Britain, Lughnasadh, or Lammastide, was the time for paying up rents and other obligations. It is a very old tradition in the British Isles which is continued in North America, and it remains a time of accounting, in both the literal and figurative sense.
Since the main theme of the Lughnasadh feast was the successful reaping of benefits from the land by the tribe, the communal enjoyment of first fruits was the high point of the day’s ritual. This would include both the tribe’s cultivated crops as well as the wild-growing edible fruits (which were also made accessible for the Tribe’s use by Lugh’s blessing). Even if, because of weather conditions or circumstantial factors, the full harvest would not begin until later, it was critical to gather a small portion of the crops on Lughnasadh and ceremonially consume them in a communal feast.
In our modern world it is very easy to forget how important a successful harvest was to our ancestors. They had cause for celebration: A good harvest meant survival in the dark, cold months ahead. A poor or bad harvest signaled the beginning of difficult times. Even though we can run out to the supermarket whenever we need something, this is a good time to give thought to where our food originates and reverence for the cycles that produce it.
The late summer harvest is a time of transformation; a time to take stock of how the year has unfolded thus far, what you have done, and what you are ready to reap. The fruits of the seeds planted in the spring (physical and spiritual) are ready to be gathered in. How will you show your thanks today?
Place upon the altar sheaves of wheat, barley, or oats, fruits and breads, perhaps a loaf fashioned in the figure of the sun or a Man to represent the God. Corn dollies, symbolic of the Goddess can be present there as well. Arrange the altar, light the candles and censer, and cast the Circle. Recite a blessing chant.Invoke the Goddess and God.
Stand before the altar, holding aloft the shaves of grain, saying these (or similar) words:
Now is the time of the First Harvest
When the bounties of nature give of themselves so that we may survive
O God of the ripening fields
Lord of the Grain
Grant me the understanding of sacrifice as you prepare to deliver yourself
under the sickle of the Goddess
and journey to the lands of eternal summer.
O Goddess of the Dark Moon
teach me the secrets of rebirth as the Sun loses its strength and the nights grow cold
Rub the heads of the wheat with your fingers so that the grains fall onto the altar. Lift a piece of fruit and bite it, savoring its flavor and say:
I partake of the first harvest
mixing its energies with mine
so that I may continue my quest for the starry wisdom of perfection
Oh Lady of the Moon and Lord of the Sun,
gracious ones before Whom the stars half their courses
I offer my thanks for the continuing fertility of the Earth
May the nodding grain loose its seed to be buried in the Mother’s breat
ensuring rebirth in the warmth of the coming Spring.
It is appropiate to plant the seeds from the fruit consumed in ritual. If they sprout, grow the plan with love and as a symbol to your connection to the Goddess and God.
— NOTE: I have a hard time finding wheat… so what I do is that I obtain the grains from the nature botanical store. I also find it useful to use albacar to cleanse the altar before starting.
[ ritual courtesy of Miss Panda @ Acbal’s Moon ]