Lughnasadh

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Related to Lughnassadh: Samhain, Wheel of the Year

Lughnasadh

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

The August Eve sabbat of Witchcraft, pronounced "Loo-nu'-suh." Named for the Celtic fire and light god Lugh (variations: Lug, Hugh, Llew), a young, beautiful god with some of the attributes of the Greek god Apollo. He possessed a massive spear and a sling, with which he put out the eye of Balor. The Farrars believe him to be the same god as Baal/Beli/Balor, albeit a later version of him. In Irish mythology Lugh, as leader of the Tuatha Dé Danann, is the renewal of Balor, king of the Fomors. In his book Witches, T. C. Lethbridge looks at the replacement of pagan gods with Christian saints and details many parish churches now dedicated to St. Michael as being built on sites associated with Lugh.

The Christianized version of Lughnasadh is Lammas, from the Old English for "loaf-mass," and this name is favored by some modern Witches. This is a time of first harvests, the wheat from which went into the making of loaves of bread. There is a thanksgiving at this time, together with rituals to endure the fruitfulness of the next year's crops. This is also a time for the thinning out of plants toward a better harvest. Ritual dramas acted out at this time might include enactment of the death and rebirth of the god, or the killing of the old god by the young one.

Lughnasadh

August 1 or a nearby Sunday
The Lughnasadh was a pre-Christian festival in Ireland associated with the ancient Celtic god Lugh. Occurring at the beginning of the harvest season, the Lughnasadh was a time for gathering berries and other early fruits of the season. Many of the hilltop sites where people came to pick berries were later taken over by the Roman Catholic Church and turned into pilgrimage sites. This is the case in County Mayo, where on the last Sunday in July thousands of pilgrims still climb to the summit of "the Reek," or Croagh Patrick, Ireland's holiest mountain. That day is known as Reek Sunday, and a series of masses are held in a small oratory on the top of Croagh Patrick. This is where St. Patrick is said to have spent the 40 days of Lent, and it was from this mountaintop that he is said to have driven all the venomous serpents into the ocean, thus explaining why there are no snakes in Ireland. Lughnasadh was also a popular time to hold fairs. Today it is observed by many Neopagan groups.
See also Crom Dubh Sunday; St. Patrick's Day; Tailte Fair
SOURCES:
DictFolkMyth-1984, pp. 202, 652
FestSaintDays-1915, p. 165
FolkWrldHol-1999, p. 485
OxYear-1999, p. 274