Every year around Lughnasadh, there always seems to be a bunch of posts about this holiday, and how many Neo-Pagans don’t feel connected to this day, and therefore, skip it altogether. The point of me writing this is not to tell you how to practice your religion, but rather to illustrate that a wheel of the year missing a major spoke may not stay much of a wheel for long.
What is Lughnasadh? Lughnasadh (pronounced (Loo-NAH-Sa) is one of the four fire festivals in Druidry. As Druids start their day the night before, Lughnasadh starts on the Eve of July 31st at dusk and lasts until dusk on August 1st. It translates to “The Games of Lugh’s Mother”, and recognises her passing and his accomplishments through games, athletics, fire, storytelling and of course, feasting.
I fear that, one reason why so many don’t resonate with this holiday is because of its confusing with the Catholic Mass of Bread, or Lammas. They may fall on the same day, but Lammas does not equal Lughnasadh. When so many struggle to heal from trauma and conditioning from The Church, it’s understandable why a bunch of Pagans wanting to do a Catholic holiday may be a turn off. Yes, of course, early Catholics borrowed heavily from their pagan predecessors, as many gods became saints, and many High Days became holy masses. But Lughnasadh is not really one of them.
I think that the urge to skip Lughnasadh can also stem from a disconnect with the Earth. In my neck of the woods, so to speak, in SouthWestern Ontario, we very clearly have eight seasons. Being a Druid away from the land of my ancestors, it’s important to recognize these changes. Most of today’s paganism is agrarian based, so simply looking around at what’s going on with our farmers is a key indication that something is different. Dusk creeps up noticeably sooner than it did at Midsummer. Early morning presents a nip in the air. Cricket chirps have replaced the frog sounds at night. And yes, much of our harvest is ready for the picking now, including grain. I can see how a link with Lammas would be confusing. Summer squashes, peppers and tomatoes are also ripe, as well as many other fresh produce that we’ve had to import for a year. Our ancestors would have not had these at all, or would have had to pay much higher prices. These foods are what we should eat at the post ritual feast. Corn on the cob is a Lughnasadh favourite of mine.
So if you are celebrating solo, what could you do as a part of your ritual?
Baking bread is a Lammas thing, not Lugnasadh. But if you want to do that, no one is stopping you. Personally, I think it’s too hot to bake.
Today we celebrate Lugh and his mother. Lugh was the Skilled One, so anything that you are skilled at, you can do in his honour.
If you play an instrument, you can write or learn a new song about him.
We honour his mother through game and sport. Anything athletic and for fun. You could have a water fight, egg race, etc. Think Highland Games.
You can also honour the role of mothers and mother figures in your life, as Lugh honoured Tailtui.
Go to a farmer’s market and pick up some fresh local produce for tonight.
And of course, with any Celtic High Day, fire and feasting… and mead.
So you see, there are plenty of ways to celebrate Lughnasadh. I’m not here to tell you how to practice your own faith, but perhaps if your only thoughts of this fantastic day are to skip it, maybe you’re doing it wrong.