As one of the ancient Celtic Fire Festivals the celebration of Lughnasadh (Pronounced Loo^Nah-Saw) a time of games and dance, honors the Celtic hero and Sun God Lugh. Lugh is the solar deity of the Irish Tuatha de Danaan. This is his festival day and the first of the harvest festivals. Without Lugh (the Sun) shining on the fields, there would be no harvest and no food for one’s family or community during the winter months. So Lugh is a very important deity to the Celts; born of Ethniu, the daughter of the one-eyed King of Giants – Balor. His father was the Dagda, the ‘Lord of Perfect Knowledge. Lugh was schooled in the arts, crafts, and magical ways. This festival celebrates Lugh’s marriage to the “Sovereignty of Ireland”, the Goddess Eriu. Eriu, a hag, is transformed into a beautiful Goddess by the marriage and personifies the land of Ireland in her every feature and character. Some Celtic traditions view Lughnasadh as the moment when the Sacred King dies as a sacrifice to ensure the fertility of the next year’s crops.
The word Lughnasadh roughly relates to ‘to give in marriage’ and was once associated with marriage contracts. In this context, a marriage contract was entered into, and in 9 months at the next Beltane, the couple faces the birth of summer and life. If the couple was fertile and a child was born, the contract of marriage was celebrated as a permanent union. If not, the couple ended their marriage contract and went on their own ways.
As a holiday, Lughnasadh represents the time of honoring the summer and sun, giving thankfulness for the start of the harvest season and the bounty to be provided. These are the themes of preparation, getting ready for the waning year, and the end of life. It is also a time to honor Elders, both in the clan and in the family. At this time, honoring the knowledge you have gained during the year is acknowledged. But honoring the wisdom given to you or received from your Elder is paramount.
Lughnasadh is also a celebration of the union between the God and his maiden as they enter into their marriage contract. Through their union, the land remains fertile and provides sustaining life to the earth for the next season’s planting. Finally, it is an honoring of Death through the sacrifice of the Sacred King.
Begin the festival with a light fall cleaning. Change the linens around your home and alter(s), pull out the table cloths in the harvest colors, and clean or change the rugs in your entryway, kitchen or bathrooms. There are many ways to decorate the home and hearth for each Sabbat, keeping the God/Goddess energy moving through your home throughout the year.
Traditionally Sabbat festivals begin at sunset on the eve of the Holiday. You can use the daytime hours of this holiday eve to prepare baskets for harvesting your garden the next day. Baking wheat or corn bread for ceremonial offerings, along with preparing a tray of late summer vegetables and fruits.