August 1, 2017 is the Celtic and Old European tradition of Lammas or “Bread Mass”–the welcoming in of the first grains to be winnowed and the first breads to be baked from the earliest harvest. High Summer is the moment of coming into full communion with our most fertile and wild First Natures. This is the yeasty time. This is the glorious moment of gratitude for the bounty which surrounds us, and dwells within us. This is also the beginning of farewell–the long slow leavetaking of the Sun as He begins to release his Beloved, Mother Earth. At the Autumn Equinox, day and night will be equal and the depth of winter will not be far behind.
But for now, the Earth Grain Mother and the Sky Sun Father are joined at the supreme point of their summer love affair. We too, are feeling the expansiveness of summer–fewer clothes, no shoes, flowers burgeoning and summer rains bathing us all. In Ireland this is the Eve of Lughnasad (pronounced loo-na-sah) when John Barleycorn and the first ears of corn are welcomed through the threshold and into the feasting hall. The Harvest shock of corn is carried by the Harvest Mother, representing the Great Goddess of the Grain, as she is drawn on a flower-filled carriage to the celebration. It is important for the community to gather and eat, drink and most of all–to dance the ancient Morris dances, jigs and other old pieces that carry the people into the world of Mystery and Trance as they circle and sing, all night long.
This is also the celebration of Danu, the Mother of the Celts and a manifestation of the Earth Mother. Her son, for whom the festival is named, is Lugh Samildanach who is known in Ireland as “the All-Purpose god.” He represents youth at its most rugged and full of prowess. He is the patron of warriors, smiths, doctors, fiddlers, scholars and craftsmen, to name only a few. He is symbolised as a mighty youth with a shining spear and ravens who honor his abilities with Wisdom and Prophesy.
The name of the Fair Ones, the original “fairies” of ancient Irish mysticism, is Tuatha de Danaan, the Children of Danu. As her most precious son, Lugh was also the crown of Sacred Masculinity. He was the god invoked when men (and women) were seeking High Summer healing Magik. Lugh is the patron of Magicians.
HOW TO CELEBRATE AUGUST 1- 2 THE WAXING CRESCENT MOON OF LUGHNASAD OR LAMMAS:
This is the time to gather some brilliantly-colored Indian corn,or newly picked corn and tie a red ribbon around the stalks. Some people fashion a”Corn Dolly” out of the best ears of corn, dressing them in leaf and twig clothing. These can then be taken to a well, stream or river to be blessed with fresh water then left outside overnight in the Late Summer Moon light. You can hang this abundance fetish in your home to beckon a continuing good harvest in work, life and all relationships. Traditionally the corn designs are kept until the sowing of the next year’s crop.
This is also the time to test your strength and push your physical limits. It is the perfect celebration in which to discover the “Lugh” in you—climb a mountain, swim in a cold, swift stream, honor your yoga practice with more vigorous poses. Take a long hike, especially by the light of the moon and let yourself feel the profound pull between Sun, Moon, Earth. Let your powerful body and spirit draw in the Lunar energies and blast off into the new month!
At Lughnasad, Druid tradition honors two special flowers in particular. The magikal properties of Hollyhock and Sunflower are called upon as we place them on our altars or in the center of our Medicine Wheel or labyrinth. It is believed the the Hollyhock may be derived from the words, “holy oak” because the crusaders brought it back to Britain from the Holy Lands and the flower’s green leaves are shaped very much like the oak’s. For Druid practitioners this is a very powerful combination: brilliant flowers which bloom in July and August and leaves which look like those of the Sacred Oak. They symbolize prosperity, attract wealth of all kinds and are the favorites of Fairies. Sunflower symbolizes the Sun and healthy self-worth, a sense of personal meaning, fertility and life-purpose.
If you gather these flowers and are a woman, you can wear one behind your ear to attract a powerful and well-rounded Lover like Lugh. If you are a man, you may offer these in a bouquet to the Goddess of Grain as you request Her support and generosity in all of your life relationships for the coming year.
In the name of Mother Danu and Lugh, the Shining One–may you be filled with the blessings of the first Harvest–and many more to come.