|Alternate Names:||Lúnasa (Modern Irish)
Lùnastal (Scottish Gaelic)
Luanistyn (Manx Gaelic)
|Associated Deities:||Lugh or Lú
Most Agricultural/Harvest Deities
|Festivals, Observances, and Ritual:||Trading and/or purchasing of handmade goods
Visit Sacred/Holy Wells or water
Climbing Sacred Hills/Mountains
Eating new foods
Bonfires (in modern traditions)
|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 centerpiece or made into a luminary
Dried Herb and Flower Wreaths
Dry corn stalks
Baskets of freshly harvested fruits and vegetables
|Essential Foods:||All seasonal fruits and vegetables are ripening at this time…
Meat & Cheese
|Colors:||Primarily Reds, Golds, Greens, Browns, Oranges… all colors would be suitable since this is a colorful time of year. Many colorful flowers are still blooming.|
(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 a 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 embedded in Celtic culture.
It is believed this festival is named after the Celtic God Lugh or Lú. It is also thought 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 union could be broken without consequences or made permanent.
It has been documented part of the cutting from 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. A young bull would replace the sacrificed bull. Now before you go all Indian Jones and the Temple of Doom on me, the 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 hilltops 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 idea of sacrifice a little further and use this time for mental and physical cleansing. Fasting and meditation are vital practices.
This occasion is also known for baking bread 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 present 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 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:
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 often use in my practice. At the beginning of Lúnasa, I like to offer animal visitors to my backyard, a little help in their preparations for winter. Here is a clever bird feeder tutorial and spellwork I created a while ago. When making your bread, you will want to focus on your intent for this working. The purpose 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 handy for my purposes.
I created this recipe and spellwork 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 entirely use. The cotton twine is used as nesting material, and the bread basin itself, and the contents might be eaten.
I feel that in most spell work, the items infused with your specific intent should be wholly and entirely removed in one way or another. By doing this, you complete the working by allowing the universe to absorb your intention. 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 ten times fast, hee hee)
by: Leandra Witchwood,
The Magick Kitchen
Total time required: 15-30 minutes of prep & baking. Then up to 24 hours rest time.
Yield: 1-2 feeders
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.)
A glass or ceramic pie pan
Wild Bird Seed
Cotton Twine (use only natural cotton twine)
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 mixture into two 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 an even layer of dough, following the shape of your pie pan.
Next, make four 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 the 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 two 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 birdseed 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 a 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 useful 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 entirely 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!