Lughnasadh (pronounced ‘loo-nah-sa’) is Irish Gaelic for “feast or festival of Lugh.” The modern day name for the month of August in Gaelic is Lúnasa, also in honor of the God Lugh. It is the first harvest festival of the season, a time to kick back and relax for just a few more days. We honor that the harvest is safe as the crops are starting to be brought in for processing for Winter Stew. In our Spirits, we harvest the energetic seeds planned at Imbolc, nurtured at Ostara, and conceived into physical form at Beltane.
As the crops are ripening and being harvested, so too our bodies are being ripened by the sun, and it is time to honor the fruits of the light half of the year: what we do as a community in the summer days!
All that we are bringing into form begins to come to fruition thanks to the bright light of the sun and the spark of masculine divine energy of action and presence.
The energy and warmth of the sun is at its peak. We know that the warm weather is starting to change into autumn, and are savoring the final summer days of abundance, dancing, and playing. We continue to manifest into the physical realm all that sprang from our eggs of conception in the unseen during the dark half of the year.
This is a beautiful time to charge crystals and stones in the white hot golden rays. This shift of summer energy will hold in the crystals for the dark months of the year. It’s also delightful to charge our bodies with the golden light of the Lughnasadh sun, opening our cells to sacred union with the divine light.
Lugh is the great sun god of the Celtic world. The name Lugh derives from the Proto-Indo-European root leuk, meaning "flashing light," Leuk is the root of lux (light) in Latin and lugu in the Old Irish meaning “flashing light.” The Sun God is older than any of these languages and is known as lleu in Welsh, and loki in Old Norse.
Lugh is called Lugh Lamfadha (meaning Lugh of the long-arm), so named because of his many talents, or long reach, his versatility and charisma. He is known as the master of all arts, his talents were recognized by all tribes. He is the wielder of the spear of light.
Lugh was the result of a union between two tribes fighting for control of Ireland. Lugh’s father was Cian of the Tuatha De Danann, and his mother was the daughter of Belor of the Fomorians. In childhood he was fostered out to an unseated queen named Tailtiu who was part of an earlier tribe, she was wife of the last Fir Bolg High King of Ireland. In this way he is nurtured in many different traditions and skills and becomes a master of them all.
When he becomes a man, Lugh travels to Tuara and is made chief Ollam (Head Spiritual leader or “Merlin”) of the Tuatha Dé Danann (The tribe of Danu). At this time the Tuatha Dé are ruled by the Fomorians, the tribe of Lugh’s mother. Lugh leads the Tuatha Dé into battle to take control of Ireland from the Fomorians and kills his maternal grandfather, Balor, in order to defeat them. Lugh then became the king of Ireland for 20 years. He is both God and man.
The High Kings of Ireland married the Goddess, who was the land itself and so held sovereignty over it all. Without the blessing of sovereignty from the Goddess, no one could rule. Part of kingmaking was a sacred rite where a priestess who was pledged to the goddess would either physically or symbolically marry the king and grant him sovereignty over the land.
Lughnasa has its origins in Lugh’s kingship wedding feast. It is a celebration of Lugh, the representation of the spark of the divine masculine, being chosen by the Goddess for sustained partnership in sacred union.
The God Lugh is known to enfuse the crops with his power to help them to grow and so is sacrificed when the crops are harvested. Lugh is the spark of divine masculine who choses sacred union with the land, with the goddess. He willingly joins with the cycles of the land in Lemurian tradition to live and die with her seasons. In his John Barleycorn aspect, Lugh offers his lifeforce to the will of the Goddess and is cut down with the crops. In his role as king of the land, he sacrifices himself to renew the land. Like Yeshua who trusted Sophia so much he went willingly to the cross to bring the light forward for all people, Lugh offers himself each year at the harvest.
The first thing that came forward for me about Lugh is that he is a Grail King. He is a Knight of Danu who brings her tribe out of subjugation, he is defender of the ancient mother, nurturer and spark giver to Momma Gaia. Lugh is a trickster in the playful sense of the divine masculine and wears so many hats, but at his core I see Christ Consciousness.
Tailtiu, the Goddess who is sacrificed with the harvest
Lugh’s foster mother, a former High Queen of Ireland, was given a large plot of land. Tailtiu initiated the clearing of her land, sacrificing her forest for agricultural use. Different stories exist about how the land was cleared. Some say that her husband cleared it or Lugh cleared it, others say that she cleared it herself and died from the hard labor.
In all the stories, Tailtiu dies when the land is cleared. Her death is necessary for the birth of agriculture in Ireland. She sacrifices herself for the rebirth of all. Her death at the beginning of the harvest speaks to a very old symbolism of the end of the fruitful cycle of the earth, or the “death” of the harvest goddess as the crops are cut down. These stories say that Lugh created Lughnasa in her honor, and that he sang her death song every year during the festivities.
Campanelli, Pauline, Wheel Of The Year, Llewellyn Publications, 1997
Marquis, Melanie, Lughnasadh: Rituals, Recipes & Lore for Lammas, Llewellyn Publications, 2015
Fortress of Lugh (August 1st, 2019) What is Lughnasadh? (Celtic Mythology Explained) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ugYJUVAjyhU