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Lammas: Harvesting Your Soul Lessons

Lammas marks the end of the current cycle of your journey of soul. The wheel of the year has turned from darkness and death, through light and life, and now shines out the last of this season’s light before a new cycle begins. So too you’ve come to the end of one turning of your journey; it’s time to harvest its bounty of life lessons and personal growth, and to seek out the seeds of your next cycle.

At Lammas, the summer sunshine has baked the land a golden yellow. Fruits, berries and grains bend branches and stalks with their plump ripeness, ready to offer up their bounty to the harvest. Yet the outer look of things can be deceiving. Day by day, the light wanes and the dark waxes; cold will soon replace heat, and the powers of death overtake those of life. The balance has shifted, and the abundance that is now so evident will soon be gone. 

Lammas is the pagan celebration of the early harvest, with grains, such as wheat and corn, playing a central role in the symbolism of this time of year. The golden fields of grain are ready for harvesting. What has been tended and brought to full fruition must now be cut down to feed hungry bellies. Some living things are sacrificed to nourish other living things, and to ensure the continuity and wellness of the whole. With death comes the miracle of rebirth, held within the seeds and their promise of a new harvest.

This theme of self-chosen sacrificial death in support of life and rebirth infuses the mythic roots of Lammas. The Corn King, John Barleycorn and the Harvest King are some of the names given to the sacrificial God who gathers His energy into the crops that are cut down at Lammas to feed the living and to ensure a new harvest in Spring. In Celtic mythology, the Goddess Tailtiu cleared the land for cultivation as a gift to the people, and died from Her tremendous efforts. Lammas is also called Lughnasadh, in reference to the Celtic God Lugh. Tailtiu is Lugh’s foster mother, and legend has it that Lugh instituted a Lughnasadh harvest festival and games in Her honor.

Your journey of soul calls you to this same theme of self-chosen sacrifice in service of your personal healing and transformation. You must be willing to harvest your soul lessons and cut away those things that are now complete or that block your future growth. Some things must die in your life for something new to be reborn. 

It is Lugh — the Shining One, the many-skilled God, bearing His Sword of Light — that illuminates your Lammas harvest pathwork.  Lugh meets you on a hilltop, offering you a wide-ranging viewscape that can help you see deep into the heart of your life story, and deep into the heart of the struggles of the Mother Earth, as one cycle of your journey of soul and one turning of our collective humanity end, and a new cycle and turning begin. In these profound mysteries of life, death and rebirth, Lugh is your luminescent, loving guide as you embrace the incisive, demanding, and often painful tasks that Lammas asks of you. 

At its core, Lammas is a season of hope and the miracle of new beginnings. In the golden field that is your life story, you can find everything you need to heal your soul, transform your life and mend our world. Within you are the lessons, endings and seeds of a powerful new beginning that can lead you ever closer home to your Deep Self and authentic humanity.

Artwork by Qistina Khalidah

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Let's Talk About Corn, Lugh, and Lammas

I always think of Lammas as a time of outdoor dining, reflection on the year thus far, and most of all—corn! Enjoying a small picnic with your immediate household in the backyard or on a back porch is a perfect way to celebrate Lugh and this start to the harvest season this year. Grains and bread should definitely be on the menu, and there are some fun options to choose from. You could even create an intimate bread baking party with your family, creating a combination of sweet and savory choices.

Grilling local corn in the husks gives it such an amazing added flavor, and the mouth-watering scent it gives off is aromatherapy in itself. Make it the main dish and create a healthy vegetarian meal with side salads tossed with produce from a neighborhood Farmer’s Market. These happen to be some of the better ones in Wisconsin, if you’re in the area.

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A Lughnasadgh Lament?

(or  In the  Time Before Lugh)

 

I remember a time before Lugh was born. This time of year was a time of great gatherings. Yet where is my great gathering? Where are my sisters, and mothers, my aunts and my grandmothers?

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Lammas, Lugh and the Miracle of the Harvest

Though the heat of Summer still burns bright and strong, the sunlit hours wane with every passing day. Now is the time of Lammas, the pagan Sabbat of the early harvest. Lugh, the Celtic God of light, waits for you on the summit of a hill, ready to guide you in the mysteries of life and rebirth held within the living land and your living body.

The sun has begun is downward arc toward the horizon, and a panoramic view of golden fields, ripe for the early harvest, spreads out before you.

“Behold the great exchange of life,” Lugh says, “the mysteries of sunlight turned into grain to feed the hungry bellies of this world.  But there is a price for this miracle: something must die to nourish the living, and for something new to be born. Everything has its season. One cycle ends so another can begin.”

With a wave of His hand, the scene shifts, revealing the elemental forces that underlie the golden fields.  All is not well.  The earth is parched and barren. The air is filled with contaminants. The fire heat of the sun is too harsh. The water in the nearby stream is clouded with murky sludge.

“Like the turning of Nature’s cycle of light and life at Lammas, humanity is also coming to the end of a cycle,” Lugh says, “For too long, your kind has forgotten the ways and rhythms of the Mother Earth.  You have taken, and taken, and taken, despoiling the air, water and land that sustain you. This imbalance has come to an end point, and a reckoning is upon you.”

Lugh is grave and silent, leaving you to consider the import of His words. The stark evidence of humanity’s environmental excesses and disregard surrounds you. The Mother Earth is weighted down and weary, with Her fragile, precious systems stressed and failing.

“I don’t share these things to burden you with a vision of despair,” Lugh continues, “Look to Nature as your guide, with its Lammas teaching of the miracle of the harvest. Within everything is the seed of a new season, with its promise of a fresh beginning and future harvest.

“You too have come to the end of a cycle,” Lugh says, “and your personal healing and evolution are intimately intertwined with that of humanity and the Earth.

“The imbalance you see before you is also inside of you, side by side with your personal imbalances and discontent, and those of your human society. And the seeds of the new are there as well, within your living body and life story.  With these seeds, you can mend and renew your life and this world.

“But there is a price to be paid for this miracle. Something must die, must be sacrificed, for something new to be reborn. You must be willing to change in profound ways.”

Lugh turns toward you, His face suffused with compassion and love. He places His warm, golden-skinned hand on your midbody, sending His deep wisdom into your very core.

“You must ask yourself: what is ready to be harvested and cut away in my life in service of my soul work, and a more sustainable, life-serving exchange between myself and the Mother Earth? What lessons must I ingest to aid my transformation? What am I willing to sacrifice for new seeds to take root in my life and the greater world?”

The sun now dips below the horizon, bringing on the chill of impending darkness. Your time with Lugh is ending. As His light dims, He leaves you with one last gift of illuminating wisdom.

“Remember that the seeds of the new are held within the body of the living. Everything you need to heal, grow and transform yourself and your world is present in this now moment, in the golden field that is your life story. Be brave. Be wise. Be guided by the profound endings and new beginnings arising within you.”

As Lugh and His hilltop vision fade away, know that a time of reckoning has indeed arrived; we must make sacrifices and change if we are to preserve the beauty and abundance of our Earth home.  Some things must end, must die, for something new to be reborn. Within each of our lives are the seeds, the miracles, of the new season and harvest to come.

Photo Credit: Emma Van Sant on UnSplash

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Lugh Shrine

The Shrine to Lugh stands on the east side of the Stone Circle.  He is an Irish God associated with the Sun and his Shrine rests right up against the back of the Sanctuary.

 

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Many Pagans, Wiccans, Polythesists, and others today mark Lughnasadh (pronounced LOO-nuh-sah or loo-NAH-suh; also sometimes called Lammas from the Christianized "loaf mass") on August 1 or August 2 in the northern hemisphere and on February 1-2 in the southern. Some eclectic traditions mark Lughnasadh according to the full Moon that is closest to August 1.Others celebrate it on the nearest weekend for convenience, especially if doing group or public ritual.

The roots of Lughnasadh come from old Celtic traditions, i.e., the Irish, Scot, Manx, Cornish, Welsh, and Breton peoples and probably from those of the Isle of Man as well. Many celebrants today follow traditional agricultural markers (based on extant records, folklore, etc.) rather than calendar dates when timing celebrations. Those practicing Celtic reconstructionist Druidism may locate Lughnasadh according to the appearance of the first late summer fruits or the first grain harvest in their home area. Here in the Pacific northwest, modern CRs use the blackberries to time agricultural Lughnasadh, while CRs on the east coast tend to use blueberries. For most modern practitioners, the emphasis is most often on the rhythms of life in one’s home area rather than on the calendar. For instance, rather than marking Beltaine on May 1, many CRs celebrate it once the hawthorn—or the appropriate local white-flowering tree—blooms. In CR practices, the sacred and mundane are not separate, and the most mundane daily activity is every bit as sacred as the carefully planned “high ritual.” Daily life is a form of spiritual practice, and hospitality is one of the most highly valued of these expressions.

According to Irish mythos, Lughnasadh marks a funeral celebration and feast thrown by the God Lugh (pronounced LOO) in honor of his foster mother, Tailtiu. Legend claims that she cleared much of Ireland’s plains to allow for farms to be started, after which she collapsed and died. (Yeah—I’d be tired, too.) The funeral games were subsequently called the Tailtin/Tailtiun games in her honor. Interestingly, because so many healthy, vigorous young people appeared for the games, Lughnasadh also became known as a prime time to make matches-- of the romantic rather than the gaming time-- with many handfastings following.

In folkloric terms—and those of traditional calendar customs—Lughnasadh more or less always marks the harvest of the local berries and of the first ripening grains.

Traditionalists may celebrate Lughnasadh in several ways, including some or all of the following:

1. The celebration is invariably communal. It was typical of the ancient Celtic peoples to gather as communities or even come from great distances for major celebrations, and this was often especially true at Lughnasadh as the weather tended to be better in summer than at the other cross-quarter holidays (although, the needs of one’s farm or animals always limited some from long periods of travel). The celebrations included feasting, games and tourneys (especially horse racing), and ritual fires.

2. The ancient Gods are appeased and thanked with offerings from the first harvest and with ritual. Lugh and Tailtiu, in particular, are often honored honored. Danu, the Irish mother goddess, is often mentioned at Lughnasadh as a benefactress.

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

Lughnasadh, the first of the harvest festivals is traditionally held on the 1st of August. Lughnasadh/ Lúnasa, now the modern Irish name for the month of August means 'the commemoration of Lugh'. Lugh, or Lugus, is a god of law and skill, who in the Irish tales gained the knowledge of agriculture from the tyrant Bres. Lugh is commonly associated with the sun and Lugh is often thought to mean 'bright' in Proto-Indo-European, although it may also be related to 'leug' meaning 'to swear an oath' and even 'leug' meaning black. There are none the less other pointers to his solar nature, at least in Britain and Ireland, such as in his Welsh version Lleu Llaw Gyffes, meaning 'bright one with the strong hand' and the fact that his most famous possession in the Irish lore is a fiery solar spear. That said, connections may also be made between Lugh and the often forgotten Irish god Crom Cruach / Crom Dubh, whose name 'crooked head ' or 'dark crooked one' is also connected to the bowing grain and is remembered at this time on Crom Dubh Sunday, the first Sunday in August. Lugh has traces across Britain and Europe, with several inscriptions to him found in the Iberian peninsula. Depictions of him in Europe are often tripartite, or triple headed, suggesting a triple nature, so this is a god that is hard to get to grips with if we take the original evidence into account, and it may be that this dichotomy between the light and the dark is part of his nature.

In the Irish tales Lughnasadh marks the funerary games of Lugh's foster- mother, Tailtiu, who died clearing the land for fields. It is said that so long as she is remembered, 'there would be milk and grain in every house.'- that is, the land would be fertile so long as we honour her. Another name for this time, 'Brón Trogain' refers to the pains or sorrowing of the earth and reminds us that this time of abundance is due to sacrifice, of the wild earth and also of our own labours, so at this time of summery celebration there are traces of something more sober afoot. After all, solstice is passed, and the days will be darkening all too soon. It's later name, Lammas from the Anglo-Saxon 'hlaef mass', or loaf mass, shifts the focus from the wild earth to the gifts of agriculture, and the sacrifice of the grain spirit.

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