Today I’d like to share some earth wisdom with you from across the Atlantic Ocean, within a culture that the modern world has all but forgotten. This weekend, we celebrate a time-honored holiday that is very sacred to the Celtic/Druidian traditions here in the United Kingdom and Ireland. It is called the festival of Lughnasadh (loo-nus-uh).
As one of the eight major points in the ancient calendar of these lands – Lughnasadh marks the beginning of the harvest period.
It is a time of joy and reaping the rewards of all the hard work put in earlier in the year. In the old days, when the people tilled the land, sowed their seeds and then carefully tended to the crops, if all went well they would get through the long, cold and dark Winter months. On a more metaphysical level, the intentions we set earlier in the year at Imbolc (and the dawning of Spring) start to hopefully come to fruition.
Through this celebration we can understand the importance of careful planning and preparation, and why it’s still important to sow these seeds for ourselves and others, even though we may no longer work the land in the way our ancestors did.
The Legend of Lugh’
Lughnasdh means ‘the commemoration of Lugh’ and through exploring who Lugh was, we can, as with all of the quarter fire festivals, understand more about the world of our ancestors and subsequently, more about our own world today. Sometimes the event is called Lammas which can refer to the day this celebration takes on August 1st – this Saturday!
Lugh appears in various forms in many cultures – but normally as a god of fire and light. In the Irish legends he was the leader of the mythical Tuatha De Danann – one of the four waves of invaders that swept over Ireland’s ancient shores and are recorded in the Lebor Gabála Érenn (The Book Of The Taking Of Ireland), also known as ‘The Book Of Invasions’ – an interesting and rich collection of stories from the creation of all to the medieval period.
In the story of the Tuatha De Danann’s victory over the Fomorians (another mythical invader), Lugh spares the life of Bres – one of the captured enemy leaders, and in return is given knowledge on ploughing, sowing and reaping. In this tale we can see the creation of ‘the harvest myth in which the secret of agricultural prosperity is wrested from a powerful and reluctant god by Lugh.’
Whether these are myths or perhaps an actual record of a long ago era when Giants, Gods & Demi-Gods may have roamed the Earth, it’s easy to dismiss these stories in today’s world. But those of us working in a shamanic way who have experienced other realms and other beings, can understand that these beings may well have existed here in an age far different from the one we find ourselves in today.
Once in a Blue Moon…
At this time of year the Sun’s warmth and strength should have matured the crops and enabled the first real fruits of the harvest to appear. Lughnasadh celebrates the co-creation between Sun & Earth – masculine & feminine. Imbolc, which sits opposite Lughnasdh in the Celtic calendar, is often seen as a more feminine celebration as we slowly re-merge from the dark of Winter, whilst Lughnasadh is normally viewed as a more masculine festival as the days start to grow shorter and Autumn heralds the slow descent into the depths of Winter.
By following these festivals throughout the year, not only do we gain a greater appreciation of how our ancestors were deeply connected to the land and their immediate surroundings, but also how we can view these occasions on a more shamanic and esoteric level. The unending cyclical nature of our existence and how our own lives mirror the seasons is an important teaching in itself and one worthy of deeper exploration.
Today is also an important and powerful day in itself as it is not only a full moon, but a blue one at that. Something that only occurs once every 3 years or so, and happens when there are two full moons in one calendar month.
We will be marking the occasion by getting up early and picking one of our favourite shamanic plants – Mugwort or Artemisia Vulgaris. It is said that its properties are much more powerful when picked before sunrise, and even more so on a full moon! So we are following our intuitions and making the most of this powerful blue moon in order to collect fresh and wild Mugwort from an area near our house where it grows. From this we intend to make a tincture, and hopefully once the Sun comes up and pokes its head out from behind the clouds, we want to make a flower essence from the buds which are now in full bloom.
Because of this rare occasion, we are also contemplating making a special full moon essence overnight with the addition of one of our own moon stones to create a powerful dreaming essence. The weekend will be marked with a special ceremony honouring all of the above and working with our native teacher plants in order to connect more deeply with the land and this special time of the year.
What will you be doing this weekend to celebrate this powerful full moon and harvest time?
PS: With thanks to OBOD’s guide to Lughnasadh and Maire MacNeills book ‘The Festival of Lughnasadh’
Davyd is a Director and Joint Owner of Archetype Events. Along with his wife Emma, he creates and organises consciousness raising events, talks and workshops such as Plant Consciousness, The Shamanic Lands & Gateways Of The Mind. He is passionate about working with indigenous plants in a shamanic way, and how these practices can be used to bring about individual and collective healing. You can learn more about one of their events at www.plantconsciousness.com