A Ritual for Lughnasadh
Lughnasadh is the first of the three harvest sabbats celebrating the crops of late summer and early fall – in particular grain. Also known as Lammas, or Loaf Mass, it honors the cycle of life, death, and rebirth, both in the form of the Harvest Mother aspect of the goddess and as the sacrifice of the grain god.
Grain is harvested, thrashed, milled, and baked into bread. It is also fermented to make beer, ale, mead, kefir, wine, brandy, and kombucha. Consuming these foods during this ritual honors the god of the harvest who has died that we might be nourished. For cakes and ale at the end of the ritual, I suggest a loaf of bread (I generally buy a rustic unsliced loaf, bake one from frozen dough, or mix up batter to make cornbread.) and a fermented beverage or water.
This ritual celebrates the harvest, the sacrifice of the grain god, and the person you will become.
Altar decorations may include symbols of the season: sickles, ivy, corn, calendula, grains, sunflowers, herbs, and oak leaves. Colors associated with Lughnasadh are those of fire: red, orange, and yellow. Have on your altar one candle of a color meaningful to you and matches for lighting it. You’ll also need six seasonal fruits or vegetables, one for each of the directions, plus for the god and goddess; a handful of straw or other plant material to make a small doll; string to tie it; and a fire pit or cauldron if you chose to burn it.
GROUND & CAST CIRCLE
When you are ready to begin, take three slow, deep breathes. Feel the mundane world fall away. Ground to the mother by sending a tap root down through your feet (or spine if seated) to the very center of the earth. Know that by doing this, you are aligned with the universe.
Cast a circle of protection using your mind and if desired, a tool, so that a ribbon of light wraps around your space clockwise. Then, using that as an equator, pull a dome up and over, then down and under, returning to your starting point, placing you in the center of a bubble. (It’s much like being in a snow globe.) Know that this sacred space is between the worlds and outside time.
Here is a chant you might choose to use:
I cast this circle round and round
From earth to sky and sky to ground.
I conjure now this sacred space
Outside time and outside space.
Light your candle saying,
“I light this candle to honor the spirit of this place that welcomes me and the ritual I am about to perform.”
CALL THE QUARTERS, GOD & GODDESS
Face the South (because it is summer, but you can start in the north or the east if that is your preference) and begin to call the quarters. As you turn in each direction, place a corresponding food on the altar as an offering. Suggestions are given.
Hail guardians of the South, elementals of fire, the place of summer, the home of Father Sun. I stand before you with gratitude for your light and warmth that allows the crops to grow. I ask that you join with me, and protect my rite with your passion and courage. Hail and welcome. (Ideas: a tomato, radishes, raspberries, watermelon, beets)
Hail guardians of the West, elementals of water, the place of autumn, the home of the waves. I stand before you with gratitude for the rain upon the crops that they might thrive. I ask that you join with me, and protect my rite with your love and compassion. Hail and welcome. (Ideas: blueberries, purple grapes)
Hail guardians of the North, elementals of earth, one Mother, and the time of winter. I stand before you with gratitude for your bounty at this first harvest of beer and bread. I ask that you join with me and protect my rite with your silence and wisdom. Hail and welcome. (Ideas: herbs, green pepper, zucchini, cucumber, green beans)
Hail guardians of the East, elementals of air, the time of spring, the winds of change. I stand before you with gratitude for bees and distributing seeds. I ask that you join with me and protect my rite with your contemplation and wisdom. Hail and welcome. (Ideas: sunflower, yellow squash, corn, golden tomatoes, dandelions, yarrow)
Hail Goddess of the Harvest. I invite you to my circle. I am grateful for your abundance as the first crops are harvested. You are my protector and provider. Hail and welcome. (Ideas: rosemary, sunflower, marigolds)
Hail God of the Grain. I invite you to my circle. I honor the sacrifice you are making that I may be fed. You know both death and rebirth and have no fear. Hail and welcome. (Ideas: acorns, corn)
Taking the straw or other plant material, fashion a doll to represent yourself. Infuse it with the personal qualities you want to give up or let go of because they no longer serve your highest good and greatest joy. Think about habits, thoughts, toxic situations, negative self-talk. Put yours into the doll so that by sacrificing those parts of you, a more glorious you may be reborn with next year’s harvest. Hold it until it feels full of all you wish to offer up for transformation. Sing, dance, or drum if you are called to raise more energy for your working.
Let this doll be an offering to the fire to release and transform body and spirit. You may also offer it to your garden or a field.
You might say something like, “I am open to change. I willingly abandon that which must die so I may be reborn. I embrace growth in preparation for that which the future holds. That growth requires a part of me to die. Out of that death life begins anew. Blessed be.”
CAKES & ALE
Holding the bread, break off a piece and offer it to the god and goddess saying,
“I am grateful for the life cut down in harvest, for its generous sacrifice, that I might be nourished.”
Place it on a plate on the altar. Break off a piece for yourself and say,
“May I never hunger.”
After savoring it, offer your beverage to the god and goddess, pouring a small amount onto the plate saying,
“I am grateful for your blessings poured upon the earth and those you’ve given to me.”
Before taking your drink, say,
“May I never thirst.”
Spend as much time as you wish sitting in the energy and contemplating the sabbat. When you are ready, release the quarters and open the circle.
RELEASING & OPENING
God of the Grain, thank you for attending my rite. Your sacrifice has blessed me with abundance and the promise of new life. Hail and farewell.
Goddess of the Harvest, thank you for attending my rite. Your gifts continue to provide for and protect me. Hail and farewell.
Guardians of the East, elementals of air, the time of spring, the winds of change, thank you for blessing this first harvest. Hail and farewell.
Guardians of the North, elementals of earth, the time of winter, our Mother Earth, thank you for blessing this first harvest. Hail and farewell
Guardians of the West, elementals of water, the place of autumn, the home of the waves, thank you for blessing this first harvest. Hail and farewell
Guardians of the South, elementals of fire, the place of summer, the home of Father Sun, thank you for blessing this first harvest. Hail and farewell.
Snuff out the candle and say,
“Spirit of place, thank you for holding this sacred space during my ritual.”
To open the circle, see the light that expanded to form the sphere coming back to the ribbon you created, and then coming back to you (by way of the tool if you used one) as you move counter-clockwise (widdershins), drawing it in and grounding it into the earth. You might say,
“The circle is open but unbroken. The love of the god and goddess be ever in my heart.”
When you are ready to disassemble your altar, place your offerings in nature. A compost bin is also acceptable. Do not put sacred objects in the trash.
About the Author:
All my life I have known magic was real. As a child, I played with the fae, established relationships with trees and “just knew things.” In my maiden years I discovered witchcraft and dabbled in the black-candles-and-cemeteries-at-midnight-on-a-fullmoon magick just enough to realize I did not understand its power. I went on to explore many practices including Zen, astrology, color therapy, native traditions, tarot, herbs, candle magic, gems, and, as I moved into my mother years, Buddhism, the Kabbalah and Reiki. The first man I dated after my divorce was a witch who reintroduced me to the Craft, this time by way of the Goddess. For 11 years I was in a coven, but with retirement, I have returned to an eclectic solitary practice.
When accepting the mantle of crone, I pledged to serve and teach. This is what I do from my skoolie – a 30-year-old school bus converted into a tiny house on wheels that I am driving around the country, following 72-degree weather, emerging myself into nature, and sharing magic with those I meet. Find me at thewitchonwheels.com, Facebook and Instagram.