Happy Lughnasadh

Lughnasadh (pronounced Luck-nus-uh or Loo-nus-uh) marks the beginning of harvest season. It represents the wake of the sun king, Lugh Lamhfada of the Tuatha De Danann, who is said to die when the grain is reaped.

Most people call it Lammas (Loaf Mass). This comes from medieval Christians who baked bread as altar offerings. A primary feature of Lughnasadh is the gathering of bilberries, whose crop is supposed to determine the potential strength of other crops in the season. Like Bel, Lugh was particularly associated with athletic feats, games and craft fairs. Lughnasadh is a time for honoring the union of the Goddess with the Oak King, when corn-dollies are made of braided straw to preside over the coming harvest. The festival consists of a feast of the new food and of bilberries, the sacrifice of a bull and ritual dances. These dances were mostly Ring Dances. Ring dances would have 1 lady in the middle and 12 other people dancing around her. This made 13 in all, the number of lunar months. The jumping in the dances represented upward growth of crops, animal fertility was represented by costumes and community fertility left little to the imagination. Many of mountains and hills were climbed to celebrate Lughnasadh.

 

This holiday has been Christianized by saying that the climbing of the hill represents christian pilgrimages. If that were true they need to reenact burning people at the stake too. The climbing of the mountain represents the trek of the sun at the top of its climb and now coming back down. Some of todays festival have integrated the Catherine Wheel. This is a tarred, straw-clad wagon wheel, set a blaze and rolled down a hillside. Christians think they do this in honor of Catherine of Alexandria. That is what smart pagans wanted the christians to believe. This way they wouldn’t get burned at the stake and they could have it in their festival. It actually represents the sun on its downward trek.