Sunday, July 25, 2010

Lughnasadh Harvest Celebration

Lughnasadh or as the more modern Celtic call the beginning of harvest season, Lá Lúnasa, is on August 1st. We welcome the harvest of grain, vegetables and berry fruit with traditional gatherings, festivals, farmer's markets and activities. This is a time for reunions of family and friends who may arrive in time for handfasting ceremonies.

In Celtic mythology, the Lughnasadh festival began as a funeral feast for the god Lugh. Physically punishing games commemorated his foster-mother, Tailtiu, who died of exhaustion after clearing the plains of Ireland for agriculture. The Áenach Tailteann was a time for contests of strength and skill, and a favored time for contracting marriages and winter lodgings. Peace was mandated at the festival, and the freedom to practice religious celebrations were enjoyed by all.

Traditional Gaelic tend to celebrate Lughnasadh at the time of first fruits, or on the full moon that falls closest to this time. In the Northeastern United States, this is often the time of the blueberry harvest, while in the Pacific Northwest the blackberries are often the festival fruit. Lá Lúnasa thanks the spirits and deities for the beginning of the harvest season, and to propitiate them with offerings and prayers to not harm the still-ripening crops. The god Lugh is honored by many at this time, as he is a deity of storms and lightning, especially the storms of late summer. Gentle rain on the day of the festival is seen as his presence and his bestowing of blessings. Many honor the goddess Tailtiu on this day, and may seek to keep the Cailleachan ("Storm Hags") from ruining the crops.

Lughnasadh or Lammas is one of the eight sabbats in the Wiccan Wheel of the Year. It is the first of the three autumn harvest festivals, besides the Autumn equinox (also called Mabon by Wiccans) and Samhain. Both Beltane and Lughnasadh are best for handfasting. Some Wiccans may bake the figure of the "corn god" in bread, symbolically sacrificing the bread before eating it.

Traditional Foods Apples, Grains, Breads and Berries.

Herbs and Flowers All Grains, Grapes, Heather, Blackberries, Sloe, Crab Apples, Pears.

Incense Aloes, Rose, Sandalwood.

A Sacred Gemstone Carnelian.

Harvest Activities
Many Pagans celebrate the harvest bounty with a shared feast and Celtic games. If you've saved the seeds from the fruits consumed during previous feasts or ritual, now is the time to plant them. When they sprout, plant the tree or shrub with care to symbolize your love for the Lord and Lady. Spend time strolling through forests, fields and orchards, dip your feet into the springs, creeks, rivers, ponds and lakes that nourish the Earth.

Here's a Blessing for Earth, Wind, Fire and Water
Blessed be the Earth for giving birth to this food
Blessed be the Sun for nourishing it
Blessed be the Wind for carrying its seed
Blessed be the Rain for quenching its thirst.
Blessed be the hands that helped to grow this food

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