Sunlight at Stonehenge
Photo from Wikipedia

Happy Lughnasa-Lammas!

Technically, the ‘exact’ time for this ancestral ‘Festival of Light & Harvest’ is when the Sun reaches 15 degrees of Leo — August 7th this year.

But the traditional calendar time is the first several days of August, and here we are. Why skimp on time dedicated to festival traditions that are (potentially) rich with meaning for us?

So, in the spirit of dedicated seasonal festivity, the first week or so of August is the festival of Lughnasa-Lammas (Lughnasa from the Celtic or Lammas from the Norse).

In 2012,  this seasonal cross-quarter festival time features solar flares and falls near the Full Moon in Aquarius with the Sun in heartful, creative, fiery Leo. This gives us clues to we we may wish to illuminate and ‘make sacred’ now. More on that below.

Even if your ancestry doesn’t include threads of Celtic or Nordic tradition, Wisdom and reverence flowed beyond boundaries through all of our ancestral indigenous traditions, no matter what location or culture — so consider drawing inspiration from the Celtic and Nordic, knowing that your ancestors also marked such times.

‘Well in the Silent Grove’, Glasffrwd, Wales
Photo from Mara Freeman’s blog (click photo)

(If you’re in the Southern Hemisphere, it’s Imbolc for you. Find previous Sophia’s Children musings on the Spirit of Imbolc and the Goddess Bhrighde here and here.)

And what meaning and richness did our ancestors find at this time of the year and celebrate through Lughnasa or Lammas, or something similar?

Light. The abundance given by Mother Earth. Harvest. Making Sacred.

History Snapshot

Each festival through the year, it seems, included feasting, dancing, reverence, and revelry. Joyful expressions, and hopeful ones, too.

Lughnasa means ‘Light Festival’ after the Celtic god Lugh.

Really though, Lugh was throwing a party in gratitude and reverence for his mother, the Goddess Tailtiu, by whose efforts agricultural abundance was possible (bringing to mind Demeter of the Greeks). You’ll find a lot more on the mythical history online — connecting with our mythology activates remembrance!

Lion detail from the Book of Kells, the richly illustrated gospels created from c. late 6th to early 9th centuries by Hiberno-Saxon Christian monks.

Lughnasa-Lammas now

What of these earthy ancestral rituals now, in our age of technology, information, and speed?

Perhaps more than ever, we might gain from the richness of our ancestral spiritual lineages, though updated for our times, strengthening our foundation, our roots.

Let’s look at the some of the primary themes of Lughnasa-Lammas again:

Light. The abundance given by Mother Earth. Harvest. Making Sacred.

Light? Yep, we still have that.

Earth’s abundance? Though we’re not making it easy for Her, yes, we’re still very much alive thanks to Mother Earth’s splendor.

Harvest? We’re no doubt reaping what we’ve sewn (or what others have sown for us) in a hundred ways every day.

Making Sacred? There’s no timeline or boundary on the possibility of ‘making sacred’ — the true meaning of the word ‘sacrifice’.

Mosaics in the The Basilica di San Vitale, Ravenna, Italy, showing the astrological symbols for the four fixed ‘cross-quarter’ signs of Aquarius, Taurus, Leo and Scorpio.

That’s right — Lughnasa and Lammas were also associated with ‘making sacrifices’, and sacrifice has come in our more industrial times to mean ‘hard work’ and ‘giving something up’ and so on.

But at its root, sacrifice is ‘making sacred’, so at Lughnasa-Lammas we have an opportunity to see the sacred, look with the eyes and heart of ‘sacred’, and rededicate ourselves to ‘making sacred’ as we wake and go about our days and then settle in again for sleep.

Our ancient ancestors invoked the sacred, gave thanks, and wove in the particular appreciation of light and darkness, fire and water.

They lit bonfires, as on the Tor of Glastonbury. They visited holy wells — those ‘in between’ or ‘thin’ places that were held to be sacred or make connection with the ‘energy of sacred’ a bit easier.

Candles lit for blessings
Photo from Flickriver

So too can we light candles and do ‘fire ceremony’, appreciating all that ‘fire’ and ‘light’ symbolize.

We can visit water or fill a beautiful small bowl with water, or otherwise bless or appreciate the availability of water and also what it symbolizes.

These festivals were also a time of blessing — a primary way to ‘make sacred’ was to extend blessings and bless what one had. The practice of blessing is powerful, indeed! So bless, bless, bless away.

In these ways we update our ancestral traditions of Lughnasa-Lammas (or otherwise) and once again ‘make sacred’ our lives, our being, and our efforts.

Blessings on the Way,