Lammas, or Lughnasadh (pronounced loo-nah-sah), is one of the Greater Sabbats on the witch’s Wheel of the Year. It falls on August 1th for the northern hemisphere and February 1st for the southern hemisphere.
On this day, we celebrate the first harvest of all our summer crops. We gather together to feast and give thanks to the Sun God Lugh for nature’s bounty.
We are proud of all the cultivation that has taken place so far this year. Without all the hot summer weather we are experiencing now, we wouldn’t have all these delicious fruits and veggies.
This sabbat is the halfway point between the Summer Solstice (Litha) and the Autumn Equinox (Mabon).
From here on out, the seasons will slowly begin to shift. The heat may ensue, but each passing night gets a little longer and cooler. As such, the veil between our world and the spiritual world is beginning to thin.
We’re officially in the dog days of summer at Lammas! But soon, you’ll begin to notice nature is changing. Fruit, leaves, and seeds will begin to drop from the plants.
Animals will begin their preparations for winter. It takes a long time for nature (and all of nature’s creatures, including us) to get ready for the cold so we are beginning now.
Some Lammas lore explains how the mature Oak King (who continuously travels through the seasons via the Wheel of the Year) is sacrificing Himself now to feed the Earth and crops through the rest of summer. With His energy, crops and plants will continue to provide for the people and animals who depend on them.
Lughnasadh originated in Ireland and spread all across Europe to people who found religion in nature. Lughnasadha gets its name from the Celtic deity Lugh, while “Lammas” translates to “loaf-mass” referring to the tradition of sharing loaves of bread with the church.
Lughnasadh may not be as flashy as the equinoxes or solstices, but it is an enjoyable turning point in the Wheel of the Year nonetheless. Let’s talk a bit more about Lugh, the Celtic Sun God, who gave Lughnasadh its name.
“Lugh” means “Shining One,” which is absolutely fitting for Him. He is knowledgeable and skilled in many areas. He rules over tradespeople, healers, warriors, and all cultivators. He is also considered to be a god of the harvest, which is why we traditionally honor Him at the first harvest of the year.
Lugh is often depicted as youthful with fair skin–think about what the classic Irishperson looks like and you’ve got Lugh. His mythology tells tales of love, grief, overcoming judgement and betrayal, commitment, and abundance.
Lugh Celtic God
In some lore, Lugh is believed to have married a goddess of the land on Lughnasadh, expanding His ruling and power over the Earth. In other lore, Lughnasadh is seen as a funeral for Lugh’s goddess step-mother Tailtiu (pronounced tal-chi-uh), who died of exhaustion from preparing the Irish lands for crops.
There is a lot of famine in the history of Ireland and Scotland. The sun god Lugh is believed to have conquered the famines by helping rid plants of diseases and providing nutrient rich water and sunlight. Thanks to the role Tailtiu played in the agriculture of the land, Lugh was able to complete this important work for the people.
With Lugh’s light from the sun, our crops ripen and flourish. All season long, His sacred life-giving energy has been infused into the Earth. It is during Lughnasadh that we acknowledge this magic and give thanks for the abundance Lugh has brought.
Book Reference – Lughnasadh: Rituals, Recipes & Lore for Lammas by Melanie Marquis
How to Celebrate Lammas
Doing some near-effortless Lammas activities is a great way to celebrate the summertime. They don’t need to be extravagant or fancy, but of course you can always get as fancy as you want! Below are some pleasant ways to bring a bit of magic into your Lammas:
Enjoy The First Harvest
Like with any of the sabbats, having a feast with loved ones and giving thanks for the Earth’s bounty is the best way to celebrate.
Choose seasonal fruits and vegetables. Bake bread and bread-based desserts. Drink dark beer, mead, honey teas, and/or red wine.
Go out to your garden (or the farmer’s market) to harvest all crops that are ripe and ready. If there’s more abundance than you can conceivably use right now, consider canning the crops at home so you can enjoy them later in the winter.
Gather and Save Plant Seeds
If the seeds of the plants are safe to eat, add them to your feast tonight. Or you can save the seeds to plant inside around Imbolc and Ostara. Because these two sabbats celebrate fertility and new life, planting your Lammas seeds at that time can bring your magical practices full circle!
Another way to celebrate Lughnasadh with seeds is to feed your feathered birdie friends. They’re going to start consuming lots more over the coming weeks, so consider refilling all your bird feeders to help them out.
Make a Corn Husk Doll
If you harvested corn for your feast, save the husks and dry them out in the hot sun. You can use them to create a little dolly or even a small basket. Display them on your altar or save them to use in other magical rituals later.
Alternatively, you can wrap your dried corn husks around thick sticks, leaving some frilly bits at the end, to create a natural wand of sorts. Again, display this tool on your alter or save it for later. Or maybe make jewelry out of the husks. Get creative!
Wear Lammas Colors
Absorb the power of Lugh’s energy by wearing the colors of the season! Color carries lots of energy and symbolism, so choose clothes that reflect your gratitude for the summer sunshine. They can be yellow, orange, gold, red, brown, burgundy, or even green.
Make Sun Water
Similar to making moon water–make yourself some sun water to pour over yourself, your plants, your home, or even your sacred tools. The infused magical water will add the bright sun energy anywhere it lands.
Find a clean, clear glass container and fill it with water (purified if possible). Set it outside in direct sunlight for at least twenty minutes. Pour over anything you want to be infused with sun magic!
Visit A River
History suggests that old rituals celebrating and honoring the sun deity Lugh took place on riverbanks. These rituals probably involved a theatrical retelling of Lugh’s lore, and maybe animal sacrifice.
Since you probably don’t want to do that, you could instead honor the sun deity by visiting a river and enjoying the sunshine reflected off the water. You could build a temporary outdoor altar near the water, leaving an offering of fruit or seeds.
Tend To The Garden
We may have just harvested all the ripe crops, but there is still lots of growing season left! Lammas is a great time to get back into the garden and tend to your beautiful plants. Remember, the Oak King is believed to be giving the Earth all his remaining energy so our plants can keep growing.
Give them fertilizer, prune the dead branches, splash them with your magical sun water, and maybe even have a chat with them. They’ll continue to grow and flourish for many more weeks.
Rituals for gratitude are perfect for Lammas. You could also perform any ritual that brings you closer to Mother Earth. Honoring the goddess energy of the Earth and within ourselves is beautiful will likely bring lots of inspiration and compassion.
During Lammas day, step out into the sunlight and (literally) soak it all up. Look to the sky and be grateful for the sun having risen yet again! Express your love and gratitude for nature in your own special way.
As with all things in your spiritual practice, take what resonates with you and leave what doesn’t. Your practices can be as complicated or as simple as you want them to be. Even just baking one yummy dessert or harvesting from your garden is a great way to honor the Sun God Lugh.