Lammas occurs on the first or second of August – the second, this year. It is also celebrated as Lughnasadh. It is believed that Lammas comes from the Saxon phrase hlaf maesse, or “loaf mass.”
Lammas is primarily a wheat harvest. It is a cross quarter day, falling between the midsummer solstice of Litha and the autumnal equinox of Mabon.
Lughnassadh means “the commemoration of Lugh” and appears in variant spellings across the Celtic languages. The Lughnasadh festival is sometimes said to have been begun by the god Lugh, Lord of all the Arts, as a funeral feast and games commemorating his foster-mother, Tailtiu.
Celebrations often feature the death of the Corn King. He is the god of grain who dies and is reborn. Bonfires, foot races, crafting, dancing, baking and feasting, are activities associated with Lammas/ Lughnasadh. Spiritually, this is a time for harvesting goals and ideas, the time of reaping what one has sown, reverence, purification, transformation, prosperity, generosity
Colours: bronze, gold, green, orange, red, yellow
sheaves of grain, wheat, bread, corn
corn dollies, cornucopias, acorns, rose hips, drums
first vegetables, hedgerow fruits, sunflowers and their seeds, early apples, potatoes,
cider, beer, mead, fruit wines, such as blackberry or elderberry wine
carnelian, citrine Amber Peridot sardonyx,
bladed tools such as scythe, athame, and the bolline
griffins, basilisks, roosters, calves, centaurs, phoenix
“And as for myself,” he added, “I am Lugh, the Long-handed, Master of all the Arts.”
Essential Celtic Mythology (Stories that change the world)
Correlated with the pan-Celtic Lugus and the Welsh Llew Llaw Gyffes, Lugh is an Irish hero and High King. He is Samhildánach – lord of all the arts/skilled in many arts. He went to Tara and told how he was a warrior (but they already had a warrior), a blacksmith (they already had a blacksmith), a poet, a healer, and so on. At last Lugh asked the gatekeeper if there was any within who was master of all the arts and since there was none, he was admitted.
Lugh then demonstrated his prowess; inventing a new move in the game fichel, similar to our chess, singing the company to tears and to mirth and to sleep; tossing a giant flagstone.
Lugh is known by many names. Amongst them, is that he is the Bright or Shining one. He is Lámhfhada of the long arm or long handed, for he wields a spear. He is skilled with a slingslot, which he used to slay Balor. It’s said he had a magical hound named Failinis, which could catch any animal it chased and win any fight, and which could turn water to wine by bathing in it.
Lugh is associated with the sun by modern pagans, though many feel this is an error and that he is more associated with lightening (the throw of the spear, his slaying of Balor’s Evil Eye symbolising the summer storm that ends a drought). I see no reason he cannot be both – “old gods do new jobs” as Pratchett says, and indeed some neo pagans have found Lugh to be relevant when using the internet to communicate and create.
Alongside Lugh/Llew and Tailtiu, deities who might be honoured at this time include Cernunnos, Ceres, Demeter, Isis, Osiris, Odin and Rhiannon.
Additionally, in Norse Mythology, it is likely that Sif’s hair is associated with the harvest; “Sif had magnificent golden hair, which the wily trickster Loki cut off one day when he found himself in an especially mischievous mood. Thor, enraged, threatened to kill Loki, but Loki convinced the thunder god to spare his life on the condition that he find an even fairer head of hair for Sif. Thor consented, and off Loki went to procure Sif’s new hair.” x
For those in the Southern Hemisphere, this is the time of Imbolc, a spring festival associated with the goddess Brigid.
Selected Sources/further reading
Essential Celtic Mythology (Stories that change the world), Lindsay Clarke, 1997
Lunasa ~ Lughnasadh ~ Fire Festival ~ August 1st & 2nd, Fuck Yeah Paganism Tumblr, http://tinyurl.com/nbjb8pw