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Lughnassadh


Lughnassadh or Lammas, is one of the Greater Wiccan Sabbats and is usually celebrated on August 1st or 2nd, although occasionally on July 31st. The Celtic festival held in honour of the Sun God Lugh is traditionally held on August 7th. Some Pagans celebrate this holiday on the first Full Moon in Leo. Other names for this Sabbat include the First Harvest Festival, the Sabbat of First Fruits, August Eve, Lammastide, Harvest Home, Ceresalia (Ancient Roman in honour of the Grain Goddess Ceres), Feast of Bread, Sabbat of First Fruits, Festival of Green Corn (Native American), Feast of Cardenas, Cornucopia (Strega), Thingtide and Elembiuos. Lughnassadh is named for the Irish Sun God Lugh, and variant spellings for the holiday are Lughnasadh, Lughnasad, Lughnassad, Lughnasa or Lunasa. The most commonly used name for this Sabbat is Lammas, an Anglo-Saxon word meaning “loaf-mass”.

The Irish God Lugh is known as the “bright” or “Shining One”. He is associated with the Sun and agricultural fertility, since his foster mother died from preparing the lands of Ireland for planting. His festival is in her honour. He is a God of all skills and champion of the Tuatha De Danaan.

Lughnassadh (Lughnasadh) marks the beginning of the grain harvest. The entire preparation of grain from seed to harvest parallels the life-in-death and death-in-life aspects of the great Goddess Mother Earth.

The Lughnassadh Sabbat is a time to celebrate the first of three harvest celebrations in the Craft. It marks the middle of Summer, represents the start of the harvest cycle and relies on the early crops of ripening grain, and also any fruits and vegetables that are ready to be harvested. It is therefore greatly associated with bread, as grain is one of the first crops to be harvested. Wiccans give thanks and honour to all Gods and Goddesses of the Harvest, as well as those who represent Death and Resurrection.

This is a time when the God mysteriously begins to weaken as the Sun rises farther in the South, each day grows shorter and the nights grow longer. The Goddess watches in sorrow as She realizes that the God is dying, and yet lives on inside Her as Her child. It is in the Celtic tradition that the Goddess, in her guise as the Queen of Abundance, is honoured as the new mother who has given birth to the bounty; and the God is honoured as the God of Prosperity.

Symbols to represent the Lammas Sabbat include corn, all grains, corn dollies, sun wheels, special loaves of bread, wheat, harvesting (threshing) tools and the Full Moon. Altar decorations might include corn dollies and/or kirn babies (corn cob dolls) to symbolize the Mother Goddess of the Harvest. Other appropriate decorations include Summer flowers and grains. You might also wish to have a loaf of whole cracked wheat or multigrain bread upon the altar.

Deities associated with Lughnassadh are all Grain and Agriculture Deities, Sun Gods, Mother Goddesses and Father Gods. Particular emphasis is placed on Lugh, Demeter, Ceres, the Corn Mother and John Barleycorn (the personification of malt liquor). Key actions associated with Lammas are receiving and harvesting, honouring the Parent Deities, honouring the Sun Gods and Goddesses, as well as celebration of the First Harvest.

Activities appropriate for this time of the year are the baking of bread and wheat weaving – such as the making of Corn Dollies, or other God & Goddess symbols. Sand candles can be made to honor the Goddess and God of the sea. You may want to string Indian corn on black thread to make a necklace, and bake corn bread sticks shaped like little ears of corn for your Sabbat cakes. The Corn Dolly may be used both as a fertility amulet and as an altar centerpiece. Some bake bread in the form of a God-figure or a Sun Wheel – if you do this, be sure to use this bread in the Cakes and Ale Ceremony.

You can create a Solar Wheel or a Corn Man Wheel using a wire coat hanger, cardboard, and several ears of Indian corn complete with the husks. Here is how: bend the wire hanger into a circle keeping the hook to hang it by. Cut out a small cardboard circle to glue the tips of the ears of corn onto. You may want to create your Corn Man Wheel as a pentagram using five ears, or a Solar Wheel using eight ears to represent one ear for each Sabbat. Attach the ears of Indian corn around the perimeter of the wire circle. Wrap the husks around and glue where necessary, leave some of the husks hanging loose to fray out from the edges and make it more decorative. Where the ears of corn meet in the center, glue them together. This is where the cardboard circle comes in to use.

It is customary to consume bread or something from the First Harvest during the Lughnassadh Ritual. Other actions include the gathering of first fruits and the study of Astrology. Some Pagans symbolically throw pieces of bread into a fire during the Lammas ritual.

The celebration of Lammas is a pause to relax and open yourself to the change of the Season so that you may be one with its energies and accomplish what is intended. Visits to fields, orchards, lakes and wells are also traditional. It is considered taboo not to share your food with others.

Spellwork for prosperity, abundance and good fortune are especially appropriate now, as well as spells for connectedness, career, health and financial gain.

Colors appropriate for Lughnassadh are red, orange, gold, and yellow. Also green, citrine and gray. Candles might be golden yellow, orange, green, or light brown.

Stones to use during Lammas include yellow diamonds, aventurine, sardonyx, peridot and citrine.

Animals associated with this time are roosters and calves. Mythical creatures include the phoenix, griffins, basilisks, centaurs and speaking skulls. Plants associated with Lammas are corn, rice, wheat, rye, oats and ginseng.

Traditional herbs of the Lammas Sabbat include acacia flowers, aloes, cornstalks, cyclamen, fenugreek, frankincense, heather, hollyhock, myrtle, oak leaves, sunflower, poppies and wheat.

Incense for the Lughnassadh Sabbat Ritual might include aloes, rose, rose hips, rosemary, chamomile, passionflower, frankincense, and sandalwood.

Traditional Pagan Foods for the Lughnassadh Festival include homemade breads (wheat, oat and especially cornbread), corn, potatoes, berry pies, barley cakes, nuts, wild berries, apples, rice, roasted lamb, acorns, crab apples, summer squash, turnips, oats, all grains and all First Harvest foods. Traditional drinks are elderberry wine, ale and meadowsweet tea.

Source: Storm Wing

Lughnassadh Energy

Lughnassadh or Lammas is the Great Fire Festival of summer’s height, marking the gathering in of the grain harvest. It is also the seed that will be grown again next Spring. Give thanks to the Earth for her gifts of food and celebrate the first glimpse of your own personal harvest and the seeds held within them. Focus on what nourishes you, feeds your spirit and brings you joy. Draw strength from your friendships and community, however briefly held. True to tradition, this is still a time for fairs, festivals and gatherings of all kinds, a time to get out and about while the weather is still good, to network, to share ideas and to keep in touch with grass roots campaigns. This is a good time to sit around the campfire, tell stories, share songs, gaze at the night sky and watch for shooting stars.







 

 



 

OSTARA

 

Ostara is the celebration of the Spring (Vernal) Equinox when day and night balance. Astronomically, the sun crosses the celestial equator at this time. Held in late March, the actual date can vary from year-to-year as with the Autumnal Equinox and the two Solstices. The Vernal Equinox usually falls on March 20 or 21. Always check your almanac for your time zone.

Called Ostara after the Saxon Goddess Eostre, this is a time of renewal, regeneration and resurrection as the Earth wakes from her long slumber. This is the time of planting, children, and young animals.

It is the fertility of the Earth that we celebrate, and we symbolize this new life springing from sun and soil with eggs, chicks, lambs, and rabbits (all symbols of the Great Mother).

Ostara promises freedom form the dreariness of winters, it heralds the return of hope and dreams. With the days lengthening, we fill our lungs with fresh air and drink the pungent cleansing teas that clear our bodies from the heavy foods of winter

The Goddess at Ostara

Eostre is the Goddess of dawn and new beginnings. Her name is similar to the word for the Christian Easter, because that holiday took its name from the ancient Pagan Goddess of Spring and rebirth. Another name in the same family is Ishtar, the Babylonian Goddess of the forming and evening stars. Eostre's sacred animal is the rabbit or hare. Rabbits bear young in the springs, and have come to represent fertility and abundance. Hares, which are bigger and wilder than rabbits, have long been identified with magic, the springs, and the mysteries. Hares are associated with the moon - the ancients saw the "rabbit in the moon", today known as the "man in the moon".

The other Goddess we associates with the Spring Equinox is Kore or Persephone, daughter of Demeter, the Greek Goddess of grain and growing things. In the Spring, Persephone comes back from the Underworld to be reunited with her mother. A part of the Goddess that has been sleeping all winter reawakens with the warming of the ground of springs. She who has been mother, midwife, and teacher through the winter now welcomes back her own daughter-self, the Maiden of Springs. At this time of balance the Goddess is Mother and Daughter both.

The God at Ostara

The God of Springs is the young God, playful and joyful, the trickster. He is the spirit of everything that is joyful, light, and changeable. Born at Winter Solstice, nurtured at Imbolc, now he's like a young and mischievous child, still wild and new. He is raw, creative energy that has not yet been harnessed, tamed, civilized. He sees with clear eyes and does not hesitate to announce that the emperor is naked. He deflates the pompous and laughs at self-importance.

The trickster is an important spirit power in many earth-based cultures. To many of the Native American tribes, he is Coyote. To the First Nations of the Northwest Coast, he is Raven, who creates the world. In parts of West Africa, he is Elegba, the small child-God who as a point of light constantly runs circles around the universe. To early African-Americans, he is Brer Rabbit, who tricks his way out of trouble.

In European earth-based traditions, he is the Fool of the Tarot, who leaps blithely off a cliff as he follows a butterfly, yet always lands on his feet, because he takes himself lightly. He is spirit taking the plunge into matter, idea manifesting as form. He is Robin Goodfellow, shape shifter and wood sprite, child of the Faery King. He comes to us in the springs when all of nature is shifting and changing: seeds poking out sprouts, butterflies emerging from cocoons, tadpoles growing legs and turning into frogs.

We celebrate him on the Spring Equinox, but of course, his proper holiday comes shortly after, on April Fool's Day. In his honor, we play tricks on one another.

The Altar

The altar for springs includes -- what else?-- images of rabbits and birds, eggs of all sorts, nests, flowers, and living plants.

If you like to keep your altar up for a long time, blow your eggs after you've colored them. Take a small branch from a tree and hang the eggs from it. Start some seeds, to be planted out in the garden, and let your seed trays become the basis for your altar. Water them every day, talk to them, and watch them grow.

The Colors of Ostara

All pastels are appropriate for Ostara -- especially the greens, yellows, and pinks. White makes a nice accent, but seems too sparse for an altar cloth representing the season of growth and fertility.

Incense, Herbs and Woods

Violet, honeysuckle, narcissus, and lemon make good incenses for Ostara -- the scents should be clear and light, floral and evocative, but not overwhelming or intoxicating.

Herbs associated with springs include meadowsweet, cleavers, clover, lemongrass, spearmint and catnip.

If you want to use wood in your spells and rituals, ash has a strong ling with the equinox due to its connection with the macrocosm-microcosm concept in the Celtic ogham runes - the balance of light and dark... as above, so below.

Flowers

What better day to decorate for the springs season than with the flowers that blossom at this time? They are abundant and beautiful. Daffodils, jonquils, tulips, narcissus, violets and crocus and snowdrops - fill the house with their color after you've finished your spring cleaning.

Meditations

Take regular walks around your neighborhood, looking and listening for signs of spring: the fattening leaf buds on trees, the first flowers of spring, the first Robin. Think about the Earth's movement toward greater light and less darkness.




 



SAMHAIN

 

Samhain, (pronounced SOW-in, SAH-vin, or SAM-hayne) means "End of Summer", and is the third and final Harvest. The dark winter half of the year commences on this Sabbat. 

 

It is generally celebrated on October 31st, but some traditions prefer November 1st. It is one of the two "spirit-nights" each year, the other being Beltane. It is a magical interval when the mundane laws of time and space are temporarily suspended, and the Thin Veil between the worlds is lifted. Communicating with ancestors and departed loved ones is easy at this time, for they journey through this world on their way to the Summerlands. It is a time to study the Dark Mysteries and honor the Dark Mother and the Dark Father, symbolized by the Crone and her aged Consort. 

 

Originally the "Feast of the Dead" was celebrated in Celtic countries by leaving food offerings on altars and doorsteps for the "wandering dead". Today a lot of practitioners still carry out that tradition. Single candles were lit and left in a window to help guide the spirits of ancestors and loved ones home. Extra chairs were set to the table and around the hearth for the unseen guest. Apples were buried along roadsides and paths for spirits who were lost or had no descendants to provide for them. Turnips were hollowed out and carved to look like protective spirits, for this was a night of magic and chaos. The Wee Folke became very active, pulling pranks on unsuspecting humans. Traveling after dark was was not advised. People dressed in white (like ghosts), wore disguises made of straw, or dressed as the opposite gender in order to fool the Nature spirits. 

 

This was the time that the cattle and other livestock were slaughtered for eating in the ensuing winter months. Any crops still in the field on Samhain were considered taboo, and left as offerings to the Nature spirits. Bonfires were built, (originally called bone-fires, for after feasting, the bones were thrown in the fire as offerings for healthy and plentiful livestock in the New Year) and stones were marked with peoples names. Then they were thrown into the fire, to be retrieved in the morning. The condition of the retrieved stone foretold of that person's fortune in the coming year. Hearth fires were also lit from the village bonfire to ensure unity, and the ashes were spread over the harvested fields to protect and bless the land. 

 

Various other names for this Greater Sabbat are Third Harvest, Samana, Day of the Dead, Old Hallowmas (Scottish/Celtic), Vigil of Saman, Shadowfest (Strega), and Samhuinn. Also known as All Hallow's Eve, (that day actually falls on November 7th), and Martinmas (that is celebrated November 11th), Samhain is now generally considered the Witch's New Year. 

 

Symbolism of Samhain:

Third Harvest, the Dark Mysteries, Rebirth through Death. 

 

Symbols of Samhain:

Gourds, Apples, Black Cats, Jack-O-Lanterns, Besoms. 

 

Herbs of Samhain:

Mugwort, Allspice, Broom, Catnip, Deadly Nightshade, Mandrake, Oak leaves, Sage and Straw. 

 

Foods of Samhain:

Turnips, Apples, Gourds, Nuts, Mulled Wines, Beef, Pork, Poultry. 

 

Incense of Samhain:

Heliotrope, Mint, Nutmeg. 

 

Colors of Samhain:

Black, Orange, White, Silver, Gold. 

 

Stones of Samhain:

All Black Stones, preferably jet or obsidian.