Lughnasadh marks the first of the Celtic harvest festivals and falls half way between the summer solstice and the autumnal equinox. Lughnasadh sees the spirit of the corn in all his glory for he has risen from his sleep and reigned over the fields to claim his throne. Lughnasadh marks the climax of his journey. The worry of whether the crops would flourish and do well is over and people rejoiced the fact that there would be plenty to eat in the coming months. Bread was baked in the shape of the corn god and eaten at the feast in his honour. Likewise let us not forget his female companion who has stood by him and seen him in every stage of his journey and who has stood by him all the way. The spirit of the harvest, the harvest maiden. She is represented as a corn dolly, carefully woven from the corn fields she has so patiently and faithfully watched over. She is kept until the coming spring when she is planted into a freshly ploughed field to consecrate the ground and to start her journey all over again with her corn god ? ever turning, ever spinning, the wheel of the year is eternal.
To represent this a highlight of the festival is the Catherine wheel. A large wagon wheel would be soaked in tar and set alight to be pushed down a hill. The flaming disk representing the god and his decline.
It was a time of craft fares and feasting. People reaped what they sowed and in the knowledge that they would have plenty to eat over the coming months there was an atmosphere of great merriment. All their hard work and labour had paid off and a party was in order.
To us modern pagans who don?t rely on the land to survive the winter, the spirit of Lughnasadh can sometimes be hard to bring into our lives. This needn?t be so.
Just like our ancestors who were seeing the fruits of their labours we can look inwards at our own lives.
Take an hour or half an hour or even just ten minutes out of your life. Light a couple of candles ? yellow and orange are good colours to use. Light some incense ? Sandalwood, Rose, Patchouli.
What are your aims and aspirations? Are you on track to fufilling your hopes and dreams? What have you accomplished that you set out to do? Spend some time thinking about these things. It is so easy to get bogged down with the trials and tribulations that life throws our way that we can easily lose track of our goals and our needs as spiritual people. But it is just as easy to give ourselves a gentle reminder and this ancient festival gives us the perfect opportunity to do so. Look at the life choices you have made and the results of those choices. Are you happy? Are you where you want to be? What do you want to change? How do you want to change things? See the direction you wish your life to take and see the practical ways you can make it so.
A good way to acknowledge this festival is to have a feast ? any excuse for a party. It can be as lavish or as simple as you want. Maybe have a barbecue or a picnic ? what better way to celebrate than outside. Apple, grains, breads and berries are all foods associated with Lughnasadh. Why not have a go at making bread? Try moulding the dough in a man shape or even better if you have a gingerbread man cutter ? make gingerbread.
I?ve gathered a few recipes here that I hope will inspire you to get into the spirit of this festival.