Greetings from the foot of the beautiful Cooley Mountains in County Louth, where I live! I write this piece at the beginning of August, as we enter into the Festival and season of Lughnasadh, which marks the early harvest season. Traditionally the festival of Lughnasadh lasted for the first two weeks of August and was a time of great joy and celebration as the earth yielded her bounty, which was partly dependant on the mixture, amounts and timing of rain, sun, heat, cold and wind in the spring and summer seasons. It was a time when the tribe and community came together to share and celebrate the harvest and the gifts of their community and in doing so strengthen the community ties and so build a solid foundation for the journey ahead into late autumn and winter. Lughnasadh was also a time when many marriages took place, events would also involve families and community coming together in celebration. Over the past few years the weather patterns have been extremely unpredictable in many parts of the world, including Ireland leading to an unpredictable harvest and some surprises. In my own garden I had two very positive surprises this summer a huge crop of amazing raspberries (see photo) and a wonderful potato crop. What was so surprising about the raspberries is that the canes were left rather than planted beside the compost heap and more or less ignored yet it yielded a wonderful crop! This lead me to reflect on how sometimes things, which we are not consciously focused on, can actually blossom in their own time and unique way unhindered by human anxiety about their progress!! and this led me to reflect about borders, boundaries, thresholds and wild places where magic sometimes happens. Lughnasadh is associated with the god Lugh, who within the Celtic tradition is known as the Samildanach (the many gifted one). Lugh displayed great mastery in many different art forms. Lugh represents the positive masculine energy that can shape the primal feminine energy into different physical manifestations.
In the Celtic year calendar, the festival of Lughnasadh and the god Lugh stands diametrically opposite to the festival of Imbolc and the goddess Brigid, who heralds in a new wave of creative energies and possibilities around February 1st. In this calendar we see the balance of feminine and masculine energies and the abundance that results when they act in harmony and in the service of each other. In order for Lugh to fulfil his mission as samildanach he must overcome his adversary Crom Dubh, who represents the unyielding part of the natural world the part that does not wish to yield its harvest. We, as humans, also have this aspect within us and it must be challenged by us if we are to successfully bring our gifts into the world.
Lugh is believed to have initiated this festival in honour of his mother Tailtiu, the great goddess, who cleared the land so that it could grow crops and who died as a result of her efforts. Lughnasadh is sometimes known as Bron Trogan or the sorrow of the earth, reflecting and acknowledging the inevitable decay of the natural world after it has yielded its bounty for the current cycle. For us modern humans, the challenge and gift that the season of Lughnasadh offers is that we choose to create a community Samildanach energy field by each of us accessing our unique gift and taking the actions needed to bring it into our community and therefore into the wider world. Right now much darkness is manifesting on the planet and this is creating a lot of discord. In this season of Lughasadh, we might each ask ourselves how we can become a point of light, a visionary, in our world. Lughnasadh celebrates and calls forth the gifts that each member of the tribe or community holds. So by choosing to live our true vocation, adding our unique gift to the community, both locally and globally, we embody the true energy of Lugh and Lughnasadh. So let’s Do it
In the Celtic calendar the suggested prayer for the season of Lughnasadh is
I give thanks to life and to the great mystery for the abundant harvest created through my conscious engagement with life during this year’s journey.