Post by Graveyardbride on Aug 1, 2014 12:58:49 GMT -5
Deeper into Lughnasadh
Also known as Lammas, or First Harvest, the word “Lughnasadh” is Irish Gaelic for “Commemoration of Lugh.” Some authors give the meaning as marriage, gathering or feast (in the name of) Lugh. The meaning remains basically the same: Lugh is the Deity of Lughnasadh, and there is a feast. Although Lugh gives his name to this festival, it is also associated with Lugh’s foster mother Tailtiu, who is said to have cleared the way for the introduction of agriculture in Ireland, thus linking Lughnasadh to the land and the harvest. The modern Irish Gaelic name for the month of August is Lúnasa, which in Scottish Gaelic means the 1st of August.
One of several historic sources for the four Celtic fire festivals Imbolc, Bealtaine, Lughnasadh und Samhain is the early medieval Irish tale "Tochmarc Emire" (The Wooing of Emer), which is part of the Ulster Cycle. In the form we know it today, it was written in the 10th or 11th century AD, but it is safe to assume this tale – like so many others – contains a much older nucleus. The tale narrates how the hero Cú Chulainn, who is courting Emer, receives several tasks to fulfill, one of them that he must go without sleep for one year. As Emer utters her challenge, she names the four major points of the Irish-Celtic year. In doing this, she does not use the solar nor Christian festivals, which were certainly well-known and established by the 10th century, but instead chooses the first days of each season. One of these days is Lughnasadh, marking the beginning of fall. It takes place on the 1st of August, a date internationally agreed upon, or on the day of the full moon closest to this date if you want to celebrate on the day the ancient Celts likely held their festival. Because the Celtic day started with sunset, the celebration takes place on the evening before the calendar day.
Lughnasadh marks the beginning of the noticeable descent of the Sun into the darkness of winter. From the connection between the Earth (female principle) and the Sun (male principle), the marriage of the Sky Father (Sun God) with the Earth Mother is celebrated at Bealtaine, when the fruits of the harvest begin to emerge. Lughnasadh is a time of joy to celebrate the fruits themselves. It is also a time of tension, because the dark days of winter are nearing and most of the harvest is yet to be brought in and stored. The God of the harvest is the Green Man (also known as John Barleycorn). He sacrifices himself every year in order to enable human life on Earth. In some areas, his death is mourned with wreaths decorated with poppies or cornflowers. The grain is cut, part of it goes into bread and nutrition, another part is stored and used as seeds next spring to create new life. Sacrifice, transformation, death and rebirth are also part of Lughnasadh.
The celebration of Lughnasadh includes the ritual cutting of the first grain and an offering thereof, possibly the making of a first meal and its ritual eating, as well as dancing. Fires are mentioned, but fire or light do not play as prominent a role as it does in other fire festivals. This is probably because August is a warm month in most of Europe with long daylight hours and there is still light when the celebrations take place. Lughnasadh celebrations are reported from Ireland, the Isle of Man, Scotland, Wales and Cornwall. The time at which the first loaf is consecrated developed into the later medieval English and Scottish “Lammas.” As such, it is first mentioned in old Anglo-Saxon chronicles as early as 921 BC as “Feast of the First Fruits.” In an agricultural society, the beginning of the harvest was a natural occasion to celebrate and to give thanks to the Divine for Its gifts.
In Bavarian tradition, the most important festival in August is the “Ascension of Mary” on the 15th. On this day, there are numerous processions through villages and fields, during which decorated bundles consisting of up to 77 different herbs, are carried on wooden sticks. These herbs are then specially consecrated and stored and used for ritual incense burning later in the year, e.g., during the “rough nights,” the time of the winter solstice. An older name for this festival is Maria Kräuterweih: the Day of Mary and the Consecration of Herbs.
In the Ascension of Mary celebrations, the original Lughnasadh customs have obviously shifted to August 15. Lughnasadh is therefore only one of the eight Celtic festivals which did not survive in Bavaria as a compact celebration on or near the original date of August 1. Harvest celebrations are instead dispersed throughout the month of August. This could be because the geographical location of Bavaria, where August tends to be a rather warm month, and harvest and fall are a bit later than elsewhere.
The Deities of Lughnasadh are Danu (Anu), the Mother of Gods and Men, and Lugh, the patron of scholars, craftsmen, warriors and magicians. Lugh is also known as Lugh Samildánach (the Many Skilled) and Lugh Lámhfada (Lugh with the Long Arm). It is disputed among scholars whether this refers to Lugh's magical spear or the rays of the Sun. Lugh seems to have been worshiped, like his Greek and Roman counterparts Hermes and Mercury, primarily on elevations, hills or mountaintops.
The plant of Lughnasadh is any form of grain or corn and in a wider sense, every fruit of field and garden.
The meaning of Lughnasadh on the inner planes is the beginning of the harvest of the fruits that we have sown in spring. Which things or projects are reaping within us at the moment? What would we like to finish, what to start anew? Do we have the insight that to every harvest there is a necessity of preparation?
The essence of Lughnasadh is the joy of life in the knowledge that darker times are approaching. We take in the warming rays of the Sun and store their power for the dark days to come. At the time we celebrate the next festival, Alban Elfed, it will be fall and the warm summer days will be but a memory.
Lughnasadh is an appropriate time to express gratitude to the Gods and the Earth Spirits for their blessings and gifts that we are now receiving. In times of microwavable and frozen pizzas, it may seem anachronistic to give thanks for the harvest. Many of our modern foodstuffs make it difficult to remember they actually come from the fields. However, there is a way to connect with nature via the foods we eat by concentrating on how they came to be rather than watching TV or scanning our iPads, thereby expressing our thanks for the harvest all year round, but especially at Lughnasadh.
Source: Elithireach, Druidry.
See also “Dark Beings of Lughnasadh”: whatliesbeyond.boards.net/thread/5710/dark-beings-lughnasadh
“Lammas: Its Origins”: whatliesbeyond.boards.net/thread/4104/lammas-origins
“Lammas Ritual”: whatliesbeyond.boards.net/thread/2135/lammas-ritual
“Lughnasadh August 1st”: whatliesbeyond.boards.net/thread/2127/lughnasadh-august-1st