Category Archives: Celtic Festival of Lughnasadh

Celtic Festival of Lughnasadh

On August 1st, the Celtic god Lugh is celebrated in Ireland, a fiery sun god of masculine energy. At the ancient celebrations of his feast on the Hill of Tara, it was said that none “without an art” should come. For Lugh inspires creativity in our lives.

 

Lugh

Lugh the fiery creative Celtic god

I offer you a poem so that you might reflect on your own creative Lugh energy. What crops are coming to harvest in your life? How must you care for them?

 

CARE OF THE GROWING CROP : A POEM FOR LUGHNASADH by Miriam Dyak

Since corn needs all the light it can get
you are growing yourself remember
you will want to avoid planting other tall plants nearby
you deserve your day in the sun
and you will want to make sure each plant
you deserve your own ripeness
has every opportunity to make good use of the rich soil you have provided
so that at last these dreams you’ve been holding will fill out
in precious clusters of milky pearls and silky yellow moons

Sweet corn is at its sweet juicy tender best for only a few days
and you have labored a whole season for this perfection

Trouble shooting: we hope none of the following problems will be yours
Insect infestations like a swarm of worries
take measures in your own soul before there is a full-scale invasion
The corn earworm lays about 1,000 eggs in her twelve days of life
We know how these hatch into hesitation, fear, doubt, self-deprecation, inertia how they eat tunnels into the mind
Cut them out and give them back to the earth for compost
You have grown too far to give up now

‘Diseases – wilt and smut and blight out there in the world
Don’t let these attack your own small patch
Develop a resistant strain go against the grain of expectations
be an original a treasure

Give yourself a new name:
Golden woman
Moon Maiden
She Who Stands Tall And Proud

Thieves – raccoons, woodchucks and deer are probably the worst four-footed
sweet corn thieves
they are the distractions that come just when you’re getting somewhere
when you almost have success in the pot
and steal you away from your own life

They have an uncanny way of knowing just when the ears
have reached their prime
They are other people’s needs you always put before your own
They are love affairs that want you to be somebody you aren’t
They are larger bigger better purposes/harvests than yours

You can try to spook them with rock music
You can plant pumpkins in their path
You can even cover your ears with paper bags…

But I am here to tell you
this night on the festival of Lughnasadh the time of ensuring the harvest
your personal harvest the village harvest
and the safety of the good we are all growing in the world
I am here to tell you what the ancients know
that if you give up your crop along the way out of carelessness or nobility
it doesn’t matter
your spirit will be a hollow husk and no one not you not others
will be fed

But if you tend your own patch to completion
(no matter how insignificant it seems)
if you let yourself swell with joy with the rich nourishing milk of fulfillment
you will have raised a miracle
Your small garden of life, of art, of love, of work, of mothering and building and
being a wise woman
whatever you have planted and tended and grown
will feed yourself your village
there will be corn for feasting for flour for popping over winter fires
and enough to plant next year

There will be seeds that open spontaneously in the hearts of other women
and wild possibilities will appear in dreams on the other side of the world

 

lughlammas

Celtic Festival of Lughnasadh

A woman’s voice with an unmistakable Irish lilt says, “In the Celtic Calendar, summer is already at an end. Do you know of Lughnasadh, the festival that welcomes Autumn? We celebrate it on August 1st.”

dolores-img

Dolores Whelan

The woman who is speaking is Dolores Whelan. Most of what I have learned about Celtic Festivals comes from her wonderful book, Ever Ancient, Ever New. Dolores has taught us about Brigid’s Festival, Imbolc, which ushers in Spring, and about the Winter and Summer Solstices, the Spring and Autumn Equinoxes, and the fiery Festival of Bealtaine….

“Shall I tell you of Lugh and his festival?”

For answer, we settle ourselves comfortably, awaiting the tale with eagerness.

“The Celtic god Lugh is known as the samildanach, the many-gifted one. Lugh represents the skilled masculine energy, with its ability to hone, shape, bring to harvest the fruits of the seeds planted at Samhain and nurtured during the dark giamos time by the feminine energy.

 

At Lughnasadh, as in many of the other festivals, the important dance of opposite energies and roles is beautifully expressed. Tailtiu, the foster mother of Lugh, is the goddess who cleared away the wilderness, making the plains and fields ready for crops to be grown. She died from her efforts and is also remembered at this time; Lugh is said to have inaugurated this festival in her honour.

 

“In the wheel of the Celtic Year, Lughnasadh stands directly opposite Imbolc, where Brigid, embodying the primal creative energy, occupied the central role. Bron Trogain, an older name for this festival, may mean the sorrow of Trogain or the sorrow of the fertile earth. This may mean that the fertility of the harvest is linked with the death that follows its completion, again bringing together the polarities of life and death. The successful harvest requires that Lugh appease his adversary, Crom Dubh, who represents the aspect of the land that does not wish to be harvested or subjected to the rule and energy of Lugh.

 

“The two-week Lughnasadh festival was a very important meeting time for the tribe, bringing people together to test their skills in many different disciplines. They challenged each other in a variety of contests and games held during the annual fairs in Lugh’s honour. The rituals at this festival included the acknowledgement of the triumph of Lugh, the harvesting and enjoyment of the first fruits, and the acknowledgement of the end of summer. It was a time of great merriment, especially for young people, who wore garlands of flowers and went into the hills to pick bilberries or blueberries. Marriages were traditionally held at this time of year.

 

“High places in the land, where earth and sky met, were considered the appropriate place to honour Lugh. At the ritual site, many of the characteristics and gifts of Lugh were enacted by mummers. The first sheaf of wheat, barley or corn was ceremonially cut, milled, and baked into cakes. These were eaten along with the wild blueberries or bilberries. The young folks’ garlands of flowers were buried to signify the end of summer.”

Dolores pauses as we take this in.

One of the younger women says, “It seems so sad. Burying the garlands, such a sad ending to the beauty of summer.”

Dolores turns to her, and says gently, “In the wheel of the Celtic year there is no ending that is not also a new beginning. Remember that when the bright days of the masculine summer fade, diminish, we are getting ready to welcome Samhain, the season of the feminine winter. The days of womb-like preparation, the dark days of incubation that will themselves end with Brigid’s Festival of Imbolc on February 1st welcoming Spring.”

 

Another asks, “Is Lughnasadh still celebrated in Ireland?”

 

“Many of these ritual practices have died out,” Dolores tells her, “but an essential aspect of the Lughnasadh ritual is enacted each year with the annual pilgrimage to Croagh Patrick in County Mayo on the last Sunday of July. Puck Fair held in Kilorglin in County Kerry each August is another remnant of the Lughnasadh festival.”

Someone calls out, “Look. Up there on the high ground. It must be the setting sun, but it looks like someone has lit a bonfire!”

We are all gazing westward up towards the hill. Something flames there.

When Dolores speaks, her voice is so soft that we almost miss her words:
“That is no fire, nor is it a sunset. That is Lugh, come to bless you, to promise to bring to fruition and harvest the seeds you yourselves planted in the dark engendering days of the long winter. Take his blessing with you until we meet here again.”

 

Lugh

Lugh: Celtic God of Creativity