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Lughnasadh (pronounced 'loo-nus-uh) means the commemoration of Lugh. Lughnasadh August 1, marks the beginning of the grain harvest.
Lughnasadh also known as Lammas and August Eve is the first Festival of Harvest.
It was orginally celebrated by the ancient Druids as Lughnasadh to pay homage to Lugh, the Celtic sun god. In other pre-Christian Pagan cultures, Lammas was celebrated as a festival of bread and as a day to honor the death of the Sacred King.
On Lammas, homemade breads and berry pies are traditionally baked and eaten in honor of the harvest.
The making of corn dollies (small figures fashioned from braided straw) is another old Lammas custom. The corn dollies (or kin babies, as they are sometimes called) are placed on the Sabbat altar to symbolize the Mother Goddess of the harvest. it is customary on Lammas to make (or buy) a new corn dolly and then burn the old one from the past year for good luck. (Wicca, Candle, Magick Gerina Dunwich)
Lughnasadh marks the last heyday of the Sun God. Beneath the Barley Moon and Summer stars we, too, enjoy the expiring passion of the season. Robert Burns tells us, it is "happy night" that he spends in the cornfields with his love. (Celebrate the Earth - A Year of Holidays in the Pagan Tradition Laurie Cabot with Jean Mills)
Throughout Britain ans Ireland, Christianity notwithstanding, the may Eve greenwood love making which so shocked the Puritans found its cheerful echo not only among the bilberries but in the Lammas (Lughnasadh) cornfields; on which the theme, if you like songs at your Sabbats, Robert Burns's It was upon Lammas Night- ( The Witches Bible)
Robert Burns It was Upon a Lammas Night
It was upon a Lammas night,
When the corn rigs are bonie,
Beneath the moon's unclouded light,
I held awa to Annie,
The time flew by, wi' tentless heed,
Till 'tween the late and early,
Wi' sma' persuasion she agreed,
To see me thro' the barley.
The sky was blue, the wind was still,
The moon was shining clearly,
I set her down, wi' right good will,
Amang the rigs o' barley
I ken't her heart was a' my ain,
I lov'd her most sincerely,
I kiss'd her owre and owre again,
Amang the rigs o' barley
I I loc'd her in my fond embrace,
Her heart was beating rarely,
My blessings on that happy place,
Amang the rigs o' barley!
But by that moon and stars so bright,
That shone that hour so clearly!
She ay shall bless that happy night,
Amang the rigs o' barley.
I hae been blythe wi' Comrades dear,
I hae been merry drinking,
I hae been joufu' gath'rin gear,
I hae been happy thinking
But a' the pleasures e'er I saw,
Tho' three times doubl'd fairly,
That happy night was worth the a'
Amang the rigs o' barley.
Corn rigs an' barley rigs,
An' corn rigs are bonie,
I'll ne'er forget that happy night,
Amang the rigs wi' Annie.
The beginning of August heralds the first harvest, Lughnasadh. Sacred to the Celtic Sun god Lugh, the man of many skills, this is the day to enjoy the first fruits of ones labors that began at Imbloc.
As the harvest of grain and corn, arrives, we begin to think about the coming autumn and winter. Even though the warm weather is still present, the sun slowly continues to rise each day further south and the nights become longer to single first harvest.
August first, Lughnasadh marks the point in the sun's cycle to remind us of the endless loop of birth, life and death.
In the first harvest of the wheel, we honor Lugh, son of Goddess of fertility, Danu, the great father of all, Dagna. The Goddess carried the young seed throughout the winter months then gave birth on Ostara. From that day forth Lugh grew in power and strength living his life on earth to mature at this time of the seasonal wheel.
Lugh is known as both Sun God and God of Grain.
Long ago Lugh saved Ireland from his grandfather, King Balor. The Formorians, living on the northwest coast of Ireland, ruled the people with an iron fist, laying laws and taxing any bounty they wished. Their great ruler, Balor,"of Strong Blows" was a Cyclops. As his glance would destroy anything in its path, his eye was always closed, but for those times it was required, Balor would command his guides to open the eye and place an ivory ring in the center to release the deadly power.
Balor had a daughter who later was united with a great warrior Dagna of the Tautha d' Dannan. By joining her beauty and his spirit they bought forth a son, Lugh,"of the Long Hand," When Balor learnt of the birth, he took the infant and cast him into the angry Irish sea. There he was rescued and raised in secret by the people of the Tautha d' Dannan who feared revenge from the mighty King Balor, leader of the Formorians.
Lugh possessed the magic of the Tautha d' Dannan. He grew to be a man of many skills. His father, Dagna was pleased to see a man so wise with the face of a god. Then, one day, when the soldiers from Balor's kingdom came to collect the taxes the King extorted from the Tautha d' Dannan, Lugh decided to take a stand against the Formorians. In the ensuing fight, nearly all the soldiers were slain, but for nine men who were sent back to tell King Balor of their defeat. Lugh gathered warriors to prepare for the battle he knew would surely come. When Dagna heard of the war being launched, he sought to protect his son by caging him with around-the-clock guards.
No one could have for seen the blood spilled of friends and enemies side by side that continued for days. In the confusion, Lugh escaped the prison to search for his grandfather, King Balor. He soon found the mighty Cyclops and challenged him to a one-on-one battle. The King jumped from his chariot commanding his guides to open his eye. They did as they were told and just set the ivory ring in place when Lugh fired a spear straight into the King's eye, spilling blood that brought death to all it touched. Once Balor was destroyed, the Formorians did not know how to survive. They knew only the force of arms and did not possess the knowledge of working as a team in their community.
Lugh spared the life of a captured enemy leader named Bres and gained in exchanged all his agriculture secrets. The legend states that four soldiers of King Balor's army who lived, dove into the northern sea and were exiled to the small islands around Connacht region of Ireland.