Lughnasadh is my least ‘religiously’ observed festival. That seems pretty irreverent for a practicing Pagan, I guess, but my reasons are thus:
Lughnasadh tends to fall at the time of year that I am busiest; either with my lovely children, or with camping, or catching up with friends, or all of the above. It can be a busy time in the garden, and it also falls right bang in the middle of the first section of the foraging season. We’ve just run out of wild elder flowers and are moving onto raspberries and blackberries, some of Lugh’s favourite offerings, although that’s from personal experience and not attested to in Irish lore.
To stop this hustle and bustle for the rustle of robes seems not only forced and insincere, but also unnecessary. On my Pagan path, I thrill to the turn of the seasons. The season doesn’t turn because I observe a particular festival; the festival occurs because the season says it is time to celebrate.
Lughnasadh falls at first harvest (like the Anglo-Saxon Lammas) because Lugh saw fit to celebrate his (foster) mother’s life and death at the brightest, sunniest part of the year when as many people as possible could enjoy themselves outside. When we celebrate Lughnasadh, we are celebrating continuity, playfulness, competitiveness, ambition, achievement; we are honouring the friends and family that matter, regardless of blood, and our own self-worth.
Lughnasadh was traditionally a time for games, sports and contests; for feats of strength and battles of wits. Magic and muscle match each other pace for pace under the hot (and often humid where I live) August sun. In my experience, there is no brawn over brain or vice versa. All talents are celebrated, and all are welcome. There are no outcasts at Lughnasadh; no misfits and no cliques.
Crafts and cooking are equally valued. Wine flows not just because we want to get merry, but because we are proud of what we have brewed, and in a good-natured way want to prove our brew is the best. We are fully alive because of the skills and talents that give us passion; that transform existing into truly living.
So for me, if you are doing something that makes you happy at the height of the sunny season, does Lugh want you to pause that act of joy to chant, lay flowers or fruit and be reflective? Not unless that was what you were going to get your kicks out of anyway! Lugh was always the best he could be at anything, and explored poetry, smithing, fighting and music in equal measure. He understood the value of doing what you enjoyed and hurling yourself into any task as fully as you could.
Don’t sell yourself short this summer. If you would rather be out flying a kite than planning a ritual, then go fly a kite. Fly it as high as you can. Invite others to bring their kites too. Compete; laugh; cry. Live like a flame dancing next to the sun.
About the Author:
Mabh Savage is a Pagan author, poet and musician, as well as a freelance journalist.