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The Bad Witch’s Guide to Lughnasadh

August, 2018

The Bad Witch’s Guide to Lughnasadh

Lammas and Lughnasadh get a bit of a bad rap. The biggest issue is the dating. When the shift from old to Gregorian calendars happened in 1782 the year lost 11 days. So we have two dates 31 of July and August 12. The next thing was that instead of celebrating on the day, the church bumped the celebrations to the nearest Sundays or saints’ days.

So what is this celebrating? Who is Lugh? What is a loaf mass anyway?

This is the beginning of harvest. From wild foraging, to gardens and fields full of golden wheat and barley all was about to gathered in. A good harvest can be spoilt with a run of bad weather, a sudden storm or infestation. It is then with all of your food for winter on the line a good idea to get the Gods on side. If it went well it was a time of celebration and merry making.

Lugh of Lughnasadh (the death of Lugh- feast of Lugh) is sometimes interpreted as a storm God or even a sky God in general. He is also the God of skill and many games. Sometimes he is seen as the sun God or God whom dies, much like the grain so the land is fertile. This sacrificial cycle makes sense and the “death” of the grain is part of many other Celtic traditions around Europe. Many harvest rituals of strangers cutting the last of the wheat or throwing the sickle as to avert bad luck come back to the “I don’t want to kill a God” part of the harvest. It is also the time when you will need to figure out what to hold back for next year’s planting, what to sprout for whiskey and beer, and what to keep for bread.

Farming communities would all help each other out, and everyone was expected to help bring in the harvest. This is still why at least in the UK our school holidays happen when they do, because children were also expected to help. “Straw marriages” of a year and a day would happen as the community was already gathered together and likely going to get drunk too!

Bilberry babies” were children conceived at this time. The fact that the wild places and ancient ritual mounds and wells had plenty of bilberries as an excuse to be there didn’t hurt either.

Sacred wells were often dressed with flowers and while Lughnasadh seems all about Lugh it is always a good idea to make sure that the ancestors and Goddesses were happy too. Ireland and Britain have a huge number of sacred wells. Water was seen as the connection to the Otherworld. Offering from swords to cauldrons, flowers and butter were left. Much like our wishing wells. Wells usually had a sacred tree nearby and a sacred hill. The deosil (anti-clockwise) route was usually taken to properly visit all three. Women in particular were to wash and/or drink from the well and then tie a strip of cloth to the tree, then maybe rub the standing stone or lie on a stone on the hill to help conception.

Lammas then? Loaf mass was exactly that. A Christian mass to celebrate the return of grain and fruit. I think this is always why I prefer Lughnasadh as a name. It is more complex and odd but it speaks of something older. It is important to understand something of the Celtic mind set to understand the wheel of the year properly. Celts celebrate death. A good death is important. Even now an average wake could last up to four days in more rural parts of Ireland. It isn’t morbid as such more that death is a necessary part of life. Community celebrations strengthened the bonds between them and created the future (in a real and Bilberry baby sort of way!) and gave an opportunity for the old songs to be sung and those lost to be remembered. Sure they WENT to the loaf mass. They made the bread, beer and whiskey, but they also went to the wilds, to the wells, and the ancient trees. They went up the Reek and watched the sunrise.

So what does this mean to you? What is your harvest? What is in a fragile state and requires gentle tending and an extra bit of luck? What food matters to you? Where does your food come from? Be it grain, bean or berry; what you put into your body now and later matters.

So how to celebrate Lughnasadh? It is a time to gather, food and people. To sit in the dark with a fire and sing the ancient songs. The sad songs, the old songs, the bawdy songs. To twist wildflowers in the hair. To whisper your sweet nothings under the stars and beside the standing stones. If you are alone for Lughnasadh you could have a fire, or make bread or cake. You could go and “pick your own” or give a little offer to Lugh before you harvest your own garden. It is an excellent time to mindfully harvest your herbs and flowers for the coming year.

You could go to a well, river or spring and decorate it with flowers. You could also go give to a food bank or homeless shelter. Or clean up a local cemetery or wild space of rubbish. Cleanse if you need to, be it at a sacred site or your bathroom.

Go outside, go to the wilds if you can. You are not separate from this sacred earth, not immune to its seasons. Plant something, scatter some seeds. Tie some cotton to a tree and make a wish.

For as you sow so shall you reap. I would advise listening to some folk songs, John Barleycorn in particular. Or maybe some Jethro Tull, and enjoying the poppies red and roses filled with summer rain.

“The Horn of Plenty”: A Pathworking for Lammas

August, 2018

This Pathworking is meant to connect us with the deeper meaning of the First Harvest of Lammas. We have sown the seeds of our will and making at Ostara, nurtured and tended to their needs; seen them in bloom at Litha and are now ready to reap what has grown and is viable to sustain in the darkness that lay in the winter months ahead.

For the most effective use of this pathworking I would suggest reading it through once to set-up the initial energetic connections. Then, take some time to record the pathworking, reading it in your natural voice. Be sure to offer up timed silence in the recording for those areas marked as a pause. A brief pause would be approximately 4-5 minutes and a longer pause would be 15-20 minutes. Taking these additional steps, creates an even deeper level of connection and as you listen to the sound of your own voice you will respond in a way that opens additional pathways. May your journey of this harvest be blessed with a cornucopia of bounty.

The Horn of Plenty”

Take a few deep breaths, filling your lungs as you inhale and gently breathing out in release as you exhale. Allow your body to rest comfortably on the surface on which you are sitting. You should feel no tension or strain in any part of your body. Gently breathe into any area that feels tense or is holding unwanted energy, allowing it to slip away as you exhale into a more relaxed state of being. Allow your breathing pattern to establish its own rhythm and take note of the gentle rise and fall of your chest. Acknowledge a deeper feeling of relaxation with each exhalation…brief pause.

Turn your focus now to the space behind your closed lids and create an inner screen upon which various images may be projected. This is your gateway into a meditative state of peace, calm and tranquility. A fine mist of indigo blue energy fills the screen, pulsating with particles of light and energy. You are drawn to it and in your mind’s eye you see the projected image of yourself approach the center of this screen and gently step through. You emerge at the edge of a wooded forest. It is dusk and the sky is ablaze; bathed in reds and oranges that cast a serene glow on all it touches. The smell of autumn is in the air and the leaves of the trees are a palette of reds, browns and golden shades. This is the time of the first harvest. The time when that which was seeded in the Spring, and lovingly nurtured throughout the Summer is ready to be gathered and drawn inwards to nourish and sustain in the winter months ahead. You walk forward on a narrow path between the trees and each step forward produces the sound of crackling leaves echoing from tree to tree. A gentle breeze carries the scent of apples, pumpkin pie, corn pudding and bread baking. You pause in movement forward and take a moment to enjoy the aromas and sounds that surround you…brief pause.

You begin walking forward again and are drawn to a light just ahead. You step into a small clearing and see a thatched roof cottage a few yards in front of you. A curl of smoke spirals upwards from the chimney and the glow of amber colored light can be seen through the windows. Instinctively you are drawn to this place. A sense of familiarity fills your being and you step up onto the porch. Pumpkins, gourds and tied bales of hale adorn the entryway. The thick scent of fragrant wood burning in the hearth, and the front door slightly ajar beckons you to come in. You reach out and gently push the oaken door open. The inner room is small, yet inviting with amber colored hues, tabletop baskets of apples and a crackling fireplace filling the panorama of view. Take some time to look around. Engage all of your senses and drink in the sights, smells and sounds as you make yourself at home in this cozy cottage…longer pause.

As you continue with your exploration your eyes come to rest on a wicker basket shaped as a Horn of Plenty. It sits on a small wooden side table and contains within small scrolls of parchment, rolled and bound by an earthy green ribbon. You are curious about the contents contained within the Horn and what meaning they may hold for you. In keeping with the warmth and welcome you have felt from the time of stepping into this place you reach out and take one of the scrolls from the Horn. You gently unroll it and see what has been gifted to you. The scroll may contain an image, words or vision of a seen past or yet to come. Its contents will be in the form to which you are most connected. Regardless of the form, its intent and meaning hold the promise of a Full and Abundant harvest of all that has been nurtured and tended to this point of ripeness and readiness for taking up. This represents that which is both a gift to yourself and in turn will become a gift you share with all you meet. Holding your scroll you move to sit in a rocking chair just in front of the fireplace. As you gaze into the flickering and dancing flames you see the images of all the positive actions you have taken this year. All of the successes of those seeds of new beginnings planted and the ripe, lush fruit that has come to full harvest. Take some time to reflect on these bountiful positive qualities that are expressions of your highest, most fruitful SELF…longer pause.

Some time passes and the flames in the hearth begin to diminish. You see that the scroll you were holding in your hand is no longer there and acknowledge that all of its information has been imprinted within. You now understand that you are the scroll itself and those actions, efforts and creations you produce are all held within your Being. All that is needed to sustain you through the future turns of the Wheel grows within. You have only to make the request to your Higher Self to release these gifts and the harvest of your own Horn of Plenty is available at all times. You have received all that is needed at this time and you once again stand. Looking at the beauty of the room surrounding you there is a quiet acknowledgment that this is now your private space to which you may return at anytime.

Your gaze is caught once again by the Horn of Plenty, and to your surprise in the place of the scrolls the hollow of the Horn has become a cornucopia filled with fruit, squash, corn, apples and nuts. The small table is filled to overflowing with all the bounty of the Harvest and somehow you know that this abundance reflects the many images you found within your own basket of plenty. You smile knowingly as you walk towards the door; gently push it open and once again step out into the forest. The sky is now lit by the brilliance of a honey gold sunset. The velvet of the night sky is minutes away and the hush and serene promise of a restful evening are just ahead. You pause a moment and stand looking at the sun as its last strands of light disappear beneath the rim of trees. As the darkness begins to envelope you, the veil of blue mist forms just in front of you.

You step through and once again return to the place of your inner screen; seeing the form of yourself stepping through. You feel the calm re-entry into this space as the screen gently fades and your focus of your consciousness returns to your breath and its serene rhythm. There is much information that you received on your journey and you know that the days and weeks head will reveal more; but for now you offer up gratitude for all that has been received. Allow yourself to slowly and gently shift your awareness and return to the physicality of sitting in this space. Each inhalation brings awareness to the feel of your body resting in chair or on floor. Returning to awareness of the gentle rise and fall of your breath. And, when you are ready gently flutter your eyes open and be fully present here and now.

Brightest Blessings

***

About the Author:

Robin Fennelly is a Wiccan High Priestess, teacher, poet and author.

She is the author of:

 

The Inner Chamber Volume One

It’s Written in the Stars

Astrology

 

The Inner Chamber, Vol. Two

poetry of the Spheres (Volume 2)

Qabalah

 

The Inner Chamber, Vol. Three

Awakening the Paths

Qabalah

 

A Year With Gaia

The Eternal Cord

 

Temple of the Sun and Moon

Luminous Devotions

 

The Magickal Pen Volume One (Volume 1)

A Collection of Esoteric Writings

 

The Elemental Year

Aligning the Parts of SELF

 

The Enchanted Gate

Musings on the Magick of the Natural World

 

Sleeping with the Goddess

Nights of Devotion

 

A Weekly Reflection

Musings for the Year

 

Her books are available on Amazon or on this website and her Blogs can be found atRobin Fennelly 

 

Follow Robin on Instagram & Facebook.