Today is Lughnasadh (also known as Lammas) the first of three harvest festivals celebrated in many modern Pagan traditions. Lughnasadh originated as one of the four main Celtic fire festivals and was dedicated to the Celtic god Lugh the many-skilled. It is a time of thanksgiving, first-harvests, and the end of summer (though it doesn’t feel like it considering our recent heat-waves).
Lammas food altar (Photo: BBC)
Here are some quotes both modern and historical on the holiday.
“Through photos or in the flesh, more than 55 people brought in their cats, dogs, gerbils, rabbits – even a Venus’ flytrap – to celebrate Lammas, the annual blessing of the animals. The ceremony was hosted by the Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans … The devotion and support that animals provide people are part of nature’s abundance, and that is something to celebrate…” – Amy Sowder, The News Press
“Lammastide was also the traditional time of year for craft festivals. The medieval guilds would create elaborate displays of their wares, decorating their shops and themselves in bright colors and ribbons, marching in parades, and performing strange, ceremonial plays and dances for the entranced onlookers. The atmosphere must have been quite similar to our modern-day Renaissance festivals.” – Mike Nichols, The Witches’ Sabbats
“Today is Lammas Day. Not a lot of people know that … Traditionally Lammas Day was the first opportunity when this year’s harvest was made into bread and used in the communion. Tenants also gave a donation of the harvest to their landlords. Part of my passion for the licensed trade is the recognition of the indivisible relationship with agriculture and the rural community. Our core product, beer in its many guises, is essentially a mixture of barley, hops and water. And barley and hops are around us, here, in abundance. It would be ridiculous to claim that, as a licensee, I am root and branch an integral part of the agricultural community but every time I pass a field of barley or a hop garden I am mindful of the role they play in the job I do.” – Chris Maclean, The Publican
“Someone, somewhere, is harvesting wheat, but the way I know it is Lammastide is that the fog has settled in over San Francisco as though it intends to stay. Most Pagans chart the seasons where they live and for me, the end of July and beginning of August, known by the old Irish as Lughnasad, and the English as Lammas, is always heralded by fog. Thick and blanketing, it rises up from the water bounding this city, rolling in two directions: over the hills in the West and past the downtown buildings, East. This is not the light fog we have earlier in the summer, that comes in after a few days of heat. No. This is actual pea-soup-at-night fog that covers all but a couple neighborhoods and only burns off for a few hours a day. Once it settles in, it seems to be settling for good.” – Thorn Coyle, “Loaf Mass is Nigh”
“…Lugh dedicated this festival to his foster-mother, Tailtiu, the last queen of the Fir Bolg, who died from exhaustion after clearing a great forest so that the land could be cultivated. When the men of Ireland gathered at her death-bed, she told them to hold funeral games in her honor. As long as they were held, she prophesied Ireland would not be without song. Tailtiu’s name is from Old Celtic Talantiu, “The Great One of the Earth,” suggesting she may originally have been a personification of the land itself, like so many Irish goddesses. In fact, Lughnasadh has an older name, Bron Trogain, which refers to the painful labor of childbirth. For at this time of year, the earth gives birth to her first fruits so that her children might live….” – Mara Freeman, Chalice Centre
“…the bread we celebrate at Lammas is the fruit of the earth and the work of human hands–both farmers and bakers. For that reason alone, the bread is already sacred in itself. When we blessed the bread Saturday night, we were simply remembering those who came before us, those who discovered agriculture and that alchemy of fermentation that gives us both bread and beer. And of course we were honoring the abundance of the earth itself. I rather like the idea of a “loaf mass” in which we are all the celebrants, and that which we consume needs no transformation by a priestly caste.” – Victoria Slind-Flor, “Lammas returns, and we celebrate the sacredness of bread”
May you have a fruitful holiday!