As evidenced by my many blogs on the subject, I LOVE Lughnasadh. Also known as Lammas, Lughnasa, etc. the First Harvest Festival on the Wheel of the Year brings me great excitement. Why, you may ask? Well, a few years ago, I decided two things: to always bake bread on this day, and to renew my spiritual practices at this time. It may seem odd to renew spiritual practices on an August date, but as a person who loves Summer, it helped make this part of the year much more festive and celebratory.
So, I look forward to this Sabbat as a boost to my spiritual practices, a renewal of my dedication, a time to cleanse, offer gratitude and celebrate. I like to bake bread, because while I am not a farmer, I do consider myself a bit of a gardener. I set intentions as I mix the ingredients, and my family enjoys the lovely taste of homemade bread, and they join in on my celebrating.
If you find yourself at a loss as to how to celebrate this festival, and worry because it is soon upon us, fear not! I have plenty of ideas. A few are below.
Bake Bread This one is most commonly done, but don’t worry if you have never made bread before, or you don’t regularly use yeast. I use this Homemade Rustic No Yeast Bread recipe, and it is soooo easy to make. Set intentions for the coming season as you mix the ingredients. Enjoy! And savor it with whatever toppings you like.
Reset your altar Clear it all off, and start over. Clean the space thoroughly, and change the energy with smoke, salt or Florida Water. Get fresh candles, create a bowl of seasonal fruits and vegetables, decorate with wheat or sunflowers. Be festive! Get one new item for your altar to liven up the energy.
Renew your spiritual practice This doesn’t have to be time-consuming: acknowledge the ways your spiritual practice has gone this year, see where it can be enhanced, make a list, set intentions. Think about how your senses can be engaged in your spiritual practices: light candles, play music, incorporate water, leave food or drink offerings. Write these down in your journal or on a piece of paper, or create a collage of what you would like to incorporate, and add that to your altar space.
Watch Dancing at Lughnasa One of my traditions is to watch this movie, made in 1998, starring Meryl Streep and Rhys Ifans. Not the most cheerful of movies, but there are festive moments amongst this fractured family. Plus, it takes place in Ireland, which is always a joy to watch. Part of the movie takes place during the local celebrations of Lughnasadh as well.
Ritual Bath We Pagans love our water! Get festive with your bath or shower, incorporating herbs and flowers, use bath salts or bubble bath, play your favorite music, light candles, and wash away all that no longer serves you. Make a true ritual out of this time in the water, with meditation, a ritual of your own creation, or a deeply thoughtful soak.
Celebrate Sunflowers Pick sunflowers at a local farm, buy some at the store, print out a photo of sunflowers, visit a Van Gogh Immersive Experience, or take photos of any you find out in nature. Look at one up close, or offer sunflower bird seed for the birds outside.
Celebrate Blackberries Or choose whatever fruit(s) you love most this time of year. Find new creative ways of serving them. A quick Blackberry Bruschetta recipe is a favorite of mine to use.
Clean up a natural space Help your local environment by picking up trash, whether it be in your neighborhood or at a local park. Join an environmental organization or look around where you live to see if you can volunteer your time. Take time to clear your own space, if it has gotten a bit overgrown or neglected.
Create an outdoor altar If you have the space around your home, create an outdoor altar space. It doesn’t have to be elaborate, it can be started with a fallen branch from a tree, and a few stones you’ve collected. Designate a space that you know you will return to time and again, and brighten it with colorful flowers, plants, leaves or other flora you find.
Enjoy a Lammas Feast Go to a local farmers market, and revel in the abundance. Try a fruit or vegetable you usually don’t use, or create a salad filled with local garden goodness. Add whatever items that catch your eye, and feel part of this season. Celebrate with family, friends or by yourself if now is a busy time. Savor the meal, and make it as colorful as possible.
These are the colorful memories that will sustain us as we begin to spiral inward towards the darker part of the year. Enjoy, celebrate, and make this a Lughnasadh to remember!