Lughnasadh

 

Lughnasadh
(pronounced loo-nə-sə) or Lúnasa (in Modern Irish/Gaelic)
Celebrated between the Summer Solstice and Autumn Equinox,
Sunset July 31- Sunset Aug 1
What is Lughnasadh?
Lughnasadh is festival marking the first harvest of the year. Traditionally, it is a time when people come together to share food, dance, re-enact folklore, honor harvest deities, hand conduct sporting competitions.
A Little History, Folklore & Legend:
Wow! Where to start? This Sabbat is rich in history, and deeply imbedded in Celtic culture.
It is believed the this festival is named after the Celtic God Lugh or Lú.It is also believed to be a time to honor Lugh’s mother, Tailtiu, a goddess who sacrificed herself clearing the fields of Ireland for agricultural purposes. This celebration is also suitable for honoring other harvest and agricultural deities like Demeter, Dionysus/ Bacchus, Abellio, and Pomona.
Other known customs during Lughnasadh include a funeral feast to honor Tailtiu, and sporting contests. Trial marriages were conducted at Tailtin where young couples joined hands through a hole in a wooden door. The trial marriages lasted a year and a day. Once this period was complete the marriage could be broken without consequences or made permanent.
It has been documented that a cutting of the first corn harvest was buried up on a hill as an offering to deities. A meal or feast of new foods and bilberries would be available for everyone to partake. It is even thought that a sacrificial bull was eaten at this feast. The sacrificed bull would be replaced by a young bull. Now before you go all Indian Jones and the Temple of Doom on me, sacrifice was far less brutal, and far more purposeful, than Hollywood portrays. Perhaps I will go more into this subject in another post.
Other customs related to Lughnasadh are visits to holy wells and sacred journeys to hill tops and mountains. Many of Ireland’s most prominent hills and mountains are climbed to this day. This custom was Christianized over time, being made into religious pilgrimages. One well know pilgrimage is called Reek Sunday among other names.
Modern customs include visits to festivals, feasts, dancing, music, arts and crafts, attending workshops, traditional storytelling, and the trading/purchasing of handmade goods. 
Modern traditions may also include the symbolic sacrifice of one’s bad habits, negative influences, and non-beneficial behaviors, like smoking. Some take the ideal of sacrifice a little further and use this time for mental and physical cleansing. Fasting and meditation are key practices.
This occasion is also known for baking of breads and preserving foods for the future. This is a busy time of year, and this busyness is reflected in the celebrations of Lughnasadh.  Preparations for winter are historically essential and reflected in all the harvest sabbats.
This is a great time to visit your Farm Market or join a local CSA. Visit an orchard where you can pick your own fruit. You may want to gather enough to preserve for later enjoyment. Spend some time in the sun with family and friends while feasting on locally grown and recently harvest foods.
Magick & Ritual Aspects:
 
Alternate Names: Lúnasa (Modern Irish)

Lùnastal (Scottish Gaelic)

Luanistyn (Manx Gaelic)

Lammas (English)

 

Magickal: Aspects: Sacrifice

Banishing

Cleansing

 

Associated Deities: Lugh or Lú

Tailtiu

Demeter

Dionysus/ Bacchus

Abellio

Pomona

Most Agricultural/Harvest Deities

 

Festivals, Observances, and Ritual: Trading and/or purchasing of handmade goods

Sports/Athletic Contests

Visit Sacred/Holy Wells or water

Climbing Sacred Hills/Mountains

Feasting

Eating new foods

Matchmaking

Bonfires (in modern traditions)

Social Gatherings

Making Sacrifices

Giving Thanks

 

Culinary Specialties: Bread Baking

Canning and Preserving

Making food items, like Pasta, that can be dried and used later

Gathering and drying herbs for cooking and making herbal tea blends.

 

Seasonal Décor/Decorations: Dried Wheat Stalks tried into a center piece or made into a luminary

Wheat Wreath

Dried Herb and Flower Wreaths

Dry corn stalks

Baskets of fresh harvested fruits and vegetables

 

Key Foods: All seasonal fruits and vegetables ripening at this time…

Corn

Wheat

Blueberries

Blackberries

Beats

Meat & Cheese

Cucumber

Eggplant

Mushrooms

Peaches

Summer Squash

Turnips

Tomatoes

Watermelon

Zucchini

 

Colors: Primarily Reds, Golds, Greens, Browns, Oranges… yet all colors would be suitable since this is a colorful time of year.  Many colorful flowers are still blooming.

 

 
Spell work and an Offering to the Animals
Much of what I do centers around food and animals. Animal divination and totems are something I use often in my practice, beginning at Lúnasa I like to offer animal visitors to my backyard, a little help in their preparations for winter. Here is a clever bird feeder and spell work I created a while ago. When making your bread you will want to focus on your intent for this working. The intent can be one of sacrifice, cleansing, or of happy celebration or the harvest season… You decide.
  
Lúnasa Bread Bird Feeder
I am very excited to share this with you! I love it when a hair brain idea of mine works out! Seriously, I improvised this recipe on the fly when I was trying to make something truly useful for my purposes.
I created this recipe and spell work with the intent that it would be completely usable by the birds and squirrels that frequent my backyard. I also wanted to honor the first harvest by creating something using traditional ingredients that represented Lúnasa.
This recipe will create a birdfeeder that birds and squirrels can completely use. The cotton twine can be used as nesting material and the bread basin itself and the contents will be eaten.
I feel that in most spell work, the items infused with your specific intent should be totally and completely removed in one way or another. By doing this you complete the working by allowing the universe to totally absorb your intent. To make this possible I will create items that will be burned, melted, composted or in this case eaten.
Here is the recipe and the instructions for you to give it a try.
Fresh Baked Bread Bowl Bird Feeder
(say that 10 times fast, hee hee)
by: Leandra Witchwood,
       The Magick Kitchen
Total time required: 15-30 minutes prep & baking. Then up to 24 hours rest time.
Yield: 1-2 feeders
Ingredients:
1 to 1 ½ C Flour, plus more if needed
3/4 C Cornmeal
¼ C Flax meal
3 T butter, softened
3/4C Cool Water
3/4 tsp kosher salt (opt)
2 T Raw Seeds (Millet, Sunflower, nuts, etc.)
Other supplies:
A glass or ceramic pie pan
Wild Bird Seed
Cotton Twine (use only natural cotton twine)
Scissors
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly spray or coat a glass or ceramic pie pan with cooking spray or butter.
Start by combining: 1C of flour, the cornmeal, flax meal, butter, water, seeds & salt in a food processor or stand up mixer. Depending on the humidity in your area you may need to add more flour. The dough should be soft but not wet. Mix for 3 minutes. Separate your dough into 2 equal portions or leave it whole for a thicker feeder in the end.
Dust your hands and work surface with flour and begin pressing your dough into a circle. Transfer to your pie pan and continue to mold your dough into your pie pan covering it completely. You will need to create a thin even layer of dough, following the shape of your pie pan.
Next make 4 holes in the sides of your dough with a butter knife or a skewer. I use a visual cross hatch to ensure the holes are evenly spaced. You will later place string through these holes to hang your feeder.
Place your dough in your pre-heated oven on the center rack for 15-18 minutes. The bread should be golden brown and somewhat crisp when removed. Allow to cool on a wire rack and then dry overnight before use. Cover with a dry towel if you like.
The next day, take cotton twine cut into 2 even strands, plus one longer piece for hanging. Feed the cotton twine strands through your pre made holes. Make sure your bread bowl feeder is balanced when hung. Next take your feeder to your favorite tree and hang it using your last piece of twine. Fill with bird seed and watch the birds enjoy this treat.
Ritual/Spell Work Focus:
Throughout this process you will want to think about your intent. Are you giving up a bad habit, cleansing yourself of negativity, or making an offering to your patron Deities? I find creating my own mantra works best. Take a few moments and think of a clever rhyme or statement for your working. Make it easy to remember. The KISS method always works best.
Repeat the words while you choose and gather ingredients. Repeat your mantra as you mix the ingredients and hang your feeder. I also recommend that while your dough is baking take this time to meditate on your intent. I find lighting candles and repeating my mantra to be very effective in harnessing my focus.
Next and probably the hardest part of this whole process, forget about your intent. Dump it out of your head and fully give it up to the universe. Allow the birds to carry your working to where it needs to go. Seriously, find something else to think about.
Have a Blessed Lúnasa!
Leandra Witchwood
© The Magick Kitchen, 2014
Leandra Witchwood
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Leandra Witchwood

I just want good food and to live a Magickal life! Is that so much to ask?
Through persistence, I found the honest answer… I can have both! I realize that I could forge my own path using the skills and knowledge I gained, and the simplest of techniques.

I love food and everything that goes with it. I have spent more than 35 years in the kitchen, enjoying every minute. Okay… well, enjoying almost every minute of it.

In addition, I have disbursed nearly as many years studying Wicca, Witchcraft, and Paganism. Combining these two interests has created a Magickal path where I combine food and spirituality. To my delight they play brilliantly together.

My love of whole healthy foods, and unique recipes has also lead me to help run a local teen cooking program, where I teach kids valuable life skills in the kitchen. In addition, I teach a variety of cooking classes for adults and covens on subjects ranging from making the time spent in the kitchen more enjoyable, to cooking together as a group, and recipe-spell creation.

It only made sense that I would begin writing and sharing my experience. From this, The Magick Kitchen was born. My journey with you is about developing a spiritual experience with food, far beyond the dull habit of consumption. We have a marvelous opportunity here to take a most mundane task and make it Magickal!

The Magick Kitchen is about connecting to Divinity through food and the ritual of preparing and sharing food. It is about developing a sacred balance between nourishment, ritual, and spirit. Food has the power to heal, sooth, and bring us together as friends, families, and community.

I am so glad you joined me! Sharing knowledge, experience, and personal perspective with you is an honor. Thank you!
Leandra Witchwood
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