Thinking About – Lughnasadh/Lammas

Thinking About – Lughnasadh/Lammas

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This morning I read the article on Patheos Pagan by my buddy Jason Mankey called Why No One Loves Lammas (or Lughnasadh) and felt moved to put finger to keyboard and type my thoughts.

I have always had a complicated relationship with Lughnasadh, but I wouldn’t say that I don’t love the festival. I love them all in different ways. I’m very lucky to live on the seasonal line where the Pagan Wheel of the Year makes total sense. Every festival reflects what is happening to the land around me. From the snowdrops and lambs of Imbolc, the May Blossom of Beltane, the green wheat and hedgerows full of Elderflower at the Summer Solstice, the falling of the wheat in the fields of Lughnasadh, bright apples and berries at the Autumn Equinox, storms and gathering darkness of Samhain, and the early evenings and stillness of the Sun’s rebirth at the Winter Solstice. It’s all there. How can I not love it all?

However regular readers will know that I am most definitely a Spring and Summer person. It’s been hot here for a week or so, but we have nothing like the Summers of the southern states of the USA. On the whole here they are very warm, but bearable. So the first complication with my relationship with Lughnasadh is that is marks the high point of Summer that also shows the first stirrings of Autumn. To a Sun worshipper that means it’s all downhill from here. The days will soon be visibly shorter, the evenings tangibly colder. It means Autumn is on its way, and although I like the colours of Autumn, I know what comes next, and soon that warmth I love so much will be very far away. It used to get me down quite a lot, but for some years now I have learned to live far more in the moment, and to see the beauty in all of the seasons, so the dread of the darkness of Winter falls more lightly upon my shoulders these days.

Complication the first…

But this is the big one.

I get very emotional at Lughnasadh. I see the seasons reflected as a dance and relationship between the Green Man/Horned God and the Earth Goddess. It’s the story that was told to me when I first found Paganism and I love it. I follow the youth as he grows, his face reflected in the fresh green leaves, as the green of the corn at the Summer Solstice, and at Lughnasadh he stands, old, pale and wan, as the Three Men from the West, and the Goddess stand, scythe in hand to slay her son/lover.

That moment is the ultimate moment.

It’s what the entire Wheel of the Year has been moving towards.

In that moment, as the wheat falls, we see life reflected in death. John Barleycorn falls – we can eat. Without that sacrifice that happens to every single piece of food on our plates, meat, vegetables, bread, ale, whisky, cereal, none of it exists without that sacrifice, and the falling of the wheat, to me, offers me a moment to give thanks, to honour all off the plants and animals that die so that I can live. Without the turning of the seasons, without the dance of the God and Goddess, there would be no life. The seasons and the cycle of life shown in the Wheel of the Year affects everything. So when I see the representative of the Life of the Fields symbolically cut down, and those seeds fall from their hands onto the earth, well, it’s emotional.

Sad and joyful.

From then until the Winter Solstice the land is without that energy. The Horned God has transformed through the death of the wheat and now sits upon the throne of the Otherworld, waiting for the Goddess to return. As the Cailleach she opens the doors of the Otherworld at Samhain and out he will ride, to lead the Wild Hunt.

Do I love Lughnasadh like I do some of the other festivals? No, not really, but that isn’t to do with the lack of story, or that others around me aren’t celebrating it as we see with Samhain and the Winter Solstice, it’s because it’s a really painful and deep representation of what is happening in the fields and woodlands that surround me. I mourn the death of the Corn King as I would a friend, but I know that without that death, nothing lives.

11 responses to “Thinking About – Lughnasadh/Lammas”

  1. That is beautiful, Damh. I had not thought of Lughnasadh in those terms before, but it makes perfect sense.
    Since coming to paganism generally, and Druidry specifically, I look forward to all of the changes. I don’t love the bone chilling cold of winter here on the north central Atlantic coast of the United States, but I do love the stillness, and the quiet when it snows. The shorter days give me more time to reflect and plan for the coming spring.

    Blessings!

  2. When I first found paganism and it’s ceremonies, the male priests all inexplicably seemed to leave the coven in a huff, shortly after Lammas, and the explanation was that they couldn’t take the heat in the kitchen! … and a sickle-wielding High Priestess!! Over many years of a deepening relationship with this season of tender and selfless sacrifice, and a love that gives more than some understand… this time reminds me to honour all that fall that we may grow. “Sacrifice” means “sacred gift”…. and as you rightly say, all that we are given is honoured.. thank you for this loving reflection ❤️

  3. lovely blog 🙂 Lughnasadh is a turning point for the time of year i love the most to arrive! i love the cooler days, the turning trees, the refreshing air…i am not one for extreme temps so i tend to really come alive this time of the year. but i also sense what is to come and am saddened by the death of all the beauty of the summer flowers and such. i love the sense that it is a time of rest coming…the winter, when we dig in to ride out the storms and fire up the hearths….i do so enjoy watching the wheel turn year after year.

  4. I feel a loss as I see the fields when the harvesters have been and done their work. For me , this is the time of thanks and sadness as the grain is cut down and how many countless wee creatures lose their lives too as the harvesters do their work ? Yet, without this sacrifice , where would man be ? We need this annual sacrifice just so that we can live. It’s a time of thanks for all that is given as the Goddess wields her scythe …… and then we know the cooler, shorter days are around the corner .

  5. Your post is so beautiful it actually left me breathless. From now on, I will forever look at the change in seasons as a new page in the book of Nature, flowing naturally and beautifully.I will be thankful and appreciate the gifts every season brings.

  6. I read your Lammas blog and stopped to think about my feelings of that Sabbat. Not my favorite – I’m a Beltane and Samhain kind of person. Having attended Lammas celebrations, I find it sad with no joy or fervor. It’s necessary for the God to die so that we live but it makes me withdraw because I know the dark months are approaching and my favorite fruits are gone, I sleep more and feel depressed – shorter days. It is what it is and now we prepare for the autumnal equinox. Time marches on and we must also.

  7. We always missed Lughnasadh out – everyone away on holiday was our excuse but the reality was our uneasy association with it. However, those times we did celebrate it, there was something magical about the gold of the corn, the red of the poppies/blood. We have always sung John Barleycorn and enacted the ritual, and surprisingly, many a fine male was honoured to be the sacrifice. I let grass grow long, cut and let it dry, and make the headresses from it, sometimes a ‘wheel’ to which we set alight. Since coming to the Borders, our Lughnasadh is special – we go to our local stone circle where there is one tall ‘lord’ stone, and next to it, its gateway companion, now laying on the ground, and is our ‘lady’ stone. We go when the full harvest moon rises and feel the energy tipping as the sun sets.

  8. My birthday falls on Lammas, so it’s always been a special time. For me, while it marks the beginning of the end of summer, it’s also a time of celebration of what is happening now, and a reminder to live in the present.

  9. I love Lughnasa and the harvest. To me it is rich with the blood of Summer. All the fruits and vegetables and cereals. Taranis usually heralds the end of Summer with loud bangs and flashes. There’s a sense of completeness and bounty and satisfaction like we feel at the end of a successful project. With his lightening Taranis reminds us that there will be more flashes of inspiration to come after our well earned rest enjoying our rewards and contemplating future plans. So to me it’s a rich mystery in the continuous circle of the year. There’s no ending in a circle. One period that gets me down though is when we have had snow that just turns to frozen slush for days on end. I do tend to have a fair amount of impatience in me.

  10. As a baker (for fun and profession), Lughnasadh is a very dear time to me. I have a loving relationship with wheat (and corn and oats) and the baked goods I produce with them. If not for grain, mankind would have fared far less well for the last 10,000 years that it’s been cultivated.

    Autumn, though… there’s magick in the cooling air, the colors fill me with peace, and the local farmstands are lush and full of bounty. Mama Gaia has given of herself once again, and I revel in the abundance with gratitude.

    Autumn is my favorite season, but I too have less fond feelings for the season that comes after. I live in Maine, USA, and our winters can be rough. I snowshoe, winter hike, sled (tho I’m in my 50s lol), and am learning to cross-country ski, but I generally dislike putting on umpteen layers of clothing and after losing over 100 pounds, I’m not the furnace I once was. I am a solar-powered critter and love the sun, and there’s surely less of it for a few months. I suffer from clinical depression, and the lack of light hours definitely compounds the issue.

    Bare winter trees show us the bones of their living, teaching us that when we drop the frills and masks, we are still beautiful. It’s stark, it’s raw, but it’s completely unhidden.

    A few years ago I wrote and self-published a book of 80 Wiccan/Pagan rituals, From Hallow to Harvest, and fought to find something to say about winter that wasn’t “oh brother, snow again” and such. Winter is a season and a time unto itself, not just a passage to spring.

    May your dark season be filled with peace, contemplation, and optimism.

  11. I love Lughnasadh because I love Lugh and because Autumn is my favorite time of year and it’s so close! It reminds me to soak in the last days of summertime and start looking forward to the changing leaves. I do a gratitude ritual involving Lugh and try to have friends over to celebrate the first harvest with food and wine.

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