Lammas/Lughnasadh Rites & Rituals

Grain Field
Lammas is the time of the early grain harvest.

Jade Brookbank / Image Source / Getty Images

Looking for rites and rituals for your Lammas or Lughnasadh celebration? Here's where you'll find ways to celebrate the harvest, honor the gods of the fields, and pay tribute to the Celtic god Lugh. 

Lammas Altar
Decorate your Lammas altar with goodies from your garden and symbols of the season. Patti Wigington

August 1 is known as Lammas, or Lughnasadh (it's February 1, if you're in the Southern Hemisphere). This is a day to celebrate the beginnings of the harvest, when the grain and corn is gathered. It's also a time, in some traditions, of honoring Lugh, the Celtic craftsman god. Here are some ideas for dressing up your altar for your Lammas (Lughnasadh) celebration! Setting Up Your Lammas Altar More »

Grain Harvest
Celebrate the harvesting of the grain at Lammas.

Cultura / Henry Arden / Riser / Getty Images

Lammas is the first of three harvest Sabbats, and celebrates the crops of late summer and early autumn. If you wish to honor the Harvest Mother aspect of the Goddess and celebrate the cycle of life and rebirth, hold this Lammas rite either with a group or as a solitary practitioner. Hold a Lammas Harvest Ritual More »

Lammas Bread Sacrifice Ritual

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Bread has been used as sacrifice in rituals in many cultures. Image by A Carmichael/Stone/Getty Images

Lammas is a time of celebrating the beginning of the harvest, a theme seen often in the sacrifice of the grain god. Make a sacrifice of your own this Lammas, with this bread ritual that marks the beginning of the harvest.

Grain is the heart of Lammas, and the beginning of the harvest season is a milestone in many societies. Once the grain is threshed and milled it is baked into bread and consumed, honoring the spirit of the grain god. This ritual celebrates both the harvest and the sacrifices we make each year, as well as the sacrifice of the grain god. Decorate your altar with symbols of the season – sickles and scythes, garden goodies like ivy and grapes and corn, poppies, dried grains, and early autumn foods like apples.

For this rite, you'll need a loaf of Lammas bread and a cup of wine or water. You'll also need pieces of straw or other plant material, enough for each person in the ritual to make a small doll, and some yarn or string to tie the dolls together. Finally, you'll need a fire. You can either have a large bonfire, or a small tabletop fire in a pot or brazier.

If your tradition requires you to cast a circle, do so now.

The High Priest or High Priestess says:

It is the time of the harvest once again.
Life, growth, death and rebirth,
all have come full circle.
The god of the harvest has died once more,
That we may eat and consume him,
Giving us strength in the months to come.

The HPs hands each member of the group a sheaf of straw, saying:

We now create dolls in our image.
These dolls symbolize our selves, in our many aspects,
and all the things we give up each year,
so that we may thrive and flourish later on.

Each member of the group constructs a doll to represent themselves. As each person creates their doll, they should energize the doll with personal qualities. These are the essences of self that each person is bringing to sacrifice, so that they may be reborn as the harvest god is each year. When everyone has completed their dolls, the High Priestess says:

The god of grain is dying,
vegetation returns to the earth.
We call upon the gods of the harvest,
asking them for their blessings.
Tammuz and Lugh,
Adonis, Dumuzi,
Cernunnos and Attis,
Mercury, Osiris.
You are born each year,
and live in our fields
and are sacrificed as part of the cycle.

Raise energy by circling your fire or altar three times, building speed each time (move counter clockwise, against the pattern of the sun, because it's the end of the harvest season).

When the raising of energy is complete, each person in the group approaches the fire, one at a time, and casts their doll into the fire. They can either say out loud what their sacrifice will be this year, or speak it only to themselves and the gods. As each doll is placed in the fire, direct leftover energy into the flames as well.

When everyone has made their sacrifice, the HPs holds up the loaf of Lammas bread. Say:

Months ago, we planted seeds,
and through the summer watched them grow.
We have tended the fields in our lives,
and now we are blessed with abundance.
The harvest has arrived!
Thank you, lord of the harvest,
For the gifts yet to come.
We eat this bread, grain transformed by fire, in your name,
and honor you for your sacrifice.

The HPs breaks off a piece of bread for herself, and passes it around the circle, so that everyone can take a piece. Eat the bread, and then pass around the cup of wine or water. If you wish, you can say something as the cup is passed, like:

May you reap the blessings of the harvest.

Once everyone has eaten their bread and sipped from the cup, take a moment to reflect on what you have harvested for yourself this season. End the ritual as you normally would or move directly into a Cakes and Ale ceremony or other rites you wish to perform.

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Lugh is the patron god of blacksmiths and artisans. Image by John Burke/Taxi/Getty Images

Lugh was known to the Celts as a god of craftsmanship and skill -- in fact, he was known as the Many-Skilled God, because he was good at so many different things. In one legend, Lugh arrives at Tara, and is denied entrance. He enumerates all the great things he can do, and each time the guard says, "Sorry, we've already got someone here who can do that." Finally Lugh asks, "Ah, but do you have anyone here who can do them ALL?"

Take the opportunity this day to celebrate your own skills and abilities, and make an offering to Lugh to honor him, the god of craftsmanship.

Before you begin, take a personal inventory. What are your strong points? Everyone has a talent – some have many, some have one that they're really good at. Are you a poet or writer? Do you sing? How about needlecraft, woodworking, or beading? Can you tap dance? Do you cook? How about painting? Think about all the things you can do – and all of the things you'd like to learn to do, and the things you'd like to get better at. Once you sit down and think about it, you might be surprised to realize how accomplished you really are.

Decorate your altar with items related to your skill or talent. If your skill relates to something tangible, like sewing or jewelry-making, put some of your craft supplies on the altar. If it's an ability to DO, rather than MAKE, such as dancing or singing, put some symbol of your ability on your altar. Do you have a favorite outfit you wear when you dance? A particular song lyric that you know you're fabulous with? Add as many items as you like to your altar.

You'll need a candle to symbolize Lugh, the god. Any harvest color is good, because he came up with the idea of a grain festival to honor his foster mother, Tailtiu. Place the candle on your altar in the center. Feel free to add some stalks of grain if you like – you can combine this rite with one honoring the harvest, if you choose.

Light the candle, and take a moment to think about all the things you are good at. What are they? Are you proud of your accomplishments? Now's your chance to boast a little, and take some pride in what you've learned to do.

Announce your own talents in the following incantation. Say:

Mighty Lugh, the many-skilled god,
he who is a patron of the arts,
a master of trades, and a silver-tongued bard.
Today I honor you, for I am skilled as well.
I am deft with a needle,
strong of voice,
and paint beauty with my brush strokes.

**Obviously, you would insert your pride in your own skills here.

Now, consider what you wish to improve upon. Is your tennis-playing out of whack? Do you feel inadequate at bungee jumping, yodeling, or drawing? Now's the time to ask Lugh for his blessing. Say:

Lugh, many-skilled one,
I ask you to shine upon me.
Share your gifts with me,
and make me strong in skill.

At this time, you should make an offering of some sort. The ancients made offerings in exchange for the blessings of their gods; quite simply, petitioning a god was a reciprocal act, a system of exchange. Your offering can a tangible one: grain, fruit, wine, or even a sample of your skillwork – imagine dedicating a song or painting to Lugh. It can also be an offering of time or loyalty. Whatever it is, it should come from the heart.

Say:

I thank you, mighty Lugh, for hearing my words tonight.
I thank you for blessing me with the skills I have.
I make this offering of bread and wine* to you
as a small token of honor.

Take a few more moments and reflect on your own abilities. Do you have faith in your skills, or do you deflect compliments from others? Are you insecure about your abilities, or do you feel a surge of pride when you sew/dance/sing/hulahoop? Meditate on your offering to Lugh for a few moments, and when you are ready, end the ritual.

If you are performing this rite as part of a group, family or coven setting, go around in a circle and have each person take their turn to express their pride in their work, and to make their offerings to Lugh.

 

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