The shrine of knowledge.
Holidays >> Lammas
celtic fire festivals, god lugh, solar deity, tales of king arthur


Author: Half Wolf

© A. L. Folberth 1996 / HalfWolf

Permission given to reprint, copy and circulate for personal use so long as nothing whatsoever is changed. Church address and URL must remain on the copy. If this article is included as part of a book, magazine or newsletter which is intended for resale, 5 cents per word is asked to be donated to the Pagan Community Church.

Contact: write to us at
Pagan Community Church, P.O. Box 5622, Bridgeport, CT 06610

Thanks for Rev. Alicia Folberth/HalfWolf for submitting to RealMagick.

Lughnasadh (pronounced Loo-nas-ah), August 1st, is the first harvest festival in the Celtic and Neo-Pagan Year. Like all Celtic Fire Festivals, it begins on the eve of the actual day. Although it later became known as Christian Lammas, it still survives in modern Gaelic as Lunasa (Irish), Luanistyn (Manx), Lunasad (Scottish) and Calan Awst (Welsh); with the exception of the Welsh, these are literally month names for August. Lammas stems from the Anglo-Saxon word meaning "loaf mass" since bread was made from the first grain and was offered at mass. Lugh was an important solar deity to the ancient Celts whose name means "shining one" and nasad is a tribal gathering for fairs and games.

Lugh is also known as a god of grain and harvest who dies annually with the reaping of the crop. He is the warrior of light inextricably bound with the Earth Goddess and must enter her dark womb to be reborn in the spring; thus conquering darkness. He is known as Lugh (Irish and Scottish), Lugus (Gaul) and Lleu (Welsh). He is Sam Ildanach, "master of all skills" and is much like the Roman Mercury. Many qualities of Lugh lived on in later tales of King Arthur as Lancelot.

Lughnassadh pays tribute primarily to Tailltui in Irish beliefs. She is Firbolg princess and
Lugh's foster mother who died after clearing all the plains of Ireland for cultivation. Tradition holds that if the faire and games are not held in her honor, Lugh would take vengeance upon the crops in his grief.

Although the day is centered around the god Lugh, Lughnassadh is heavily associated with the Goddess of Sovereignty. Sovereignty has always been linked with the horse in Celtic beliefs. In the Coligney Calendar this period falls between Equos, meaning "horse time" and Elembrios meaning "claim time". Two Goddesses who are equated with sovereignty and horses are Rhiannon and Epona; both appear to stem from the Gaulish word rigantona meaning "great queen". It was the time of the Wedding Feast of Kingship, Banais Rigi, the king's marriage to the land, and he must receive his power from the Goddess to rule. In this, it better represents the ancient meaning of the day of Lugh in his guise as King. Other goddesses are a part of Lughnassadh who represent cultivation, birth and trials by ordeal. Macha is much like Tailltui in that she died after attempting to accomplish a great feat; racing on foot against a team of horses. Also remembered this day are Carmen and Tea.

The Tailltean Games of Ireland took place on Lughnassadh. Many ancient sports and athletic contests were held such as horse races, chariot races, footraces, driving cattle, hurley, Irish football, and sword-play. The games held at Tailltean were considered to be the "Irish Olympics". The competitions, be they athletic or bardic, were often initiations. Many traditional contests of the faire later served to make the winners more attractive to potential marriage partners. There was also singing, storytelling, folk and sword dancing as part of the festivities.

Lughnassadh celebrates not only the fertility of the field; it is tied to marriage and fertility rites celebrating Lugh and his bride. Trial marriages of a year and a day, also known as Brehon Marriages, were performed. In the Orkney Isles, young men and women chose "brothers" and "sisters" to lie with them for the night alongside the grain. Mountains and hills were the place of choice for lovers. One peak called Snaefell became notoriously known for the indecent behavior of the people who climbed it during Lammas. The term Tailten marriage has survived to modern times - referring to a casual love affair.

Today the Great Irish Horse Faires are still held and the Highland Games are still played. As recently as 1850, the hills of Carmarthenshire in Wales were crowded with weepers for Llew Llaw on the first Sunday on August. The practice was denounced as Pagan and discontinued but the Welsh faire was kept. Lughnassadh still survives as Lammas with much of it's original traditions intact. However we choose to celebrate it today, it should be remembered with thanksgiving for the harvest.

Suggested Pdf Resources

Lughnasadh 2009 Welcome to the Lughnasadh edition of EOLAS
Isis Moon Lughnasadh 2010
Welcome to the Lughnasadh 2010 edition of “Isis Moon“. Despite good Winter rains, the November heatwave started the demise of my garden.
Lughnasadh 2011
TERRA presents. TERRA presents. Lughnasadh in the Park.
Lughnasadh Issue, Y.R. XLVIII August 1, 2011 c.e. Volume 27, Issue 5
Lughnasadh Issue, Y.R. XLVIII.
1 “Dancing at Lughnasadh” Sermon by Sharon Wylie August 1
Aug 1, 2010 Lughnasadh is a Neopagan holiday that celebrates the beginning of the harvest season the more difficult to pronounce name, Lughnasadh.

Suggested News Resources

Events planned to mark the feast of Lughnasadh
TO coincide with Heritage Week, Dolores Whelan is hosting a festival celebrating the ancient feast of Lughnasadh in Ravensdale.
Ravensdale festival
RAVENSDALE is set to mark Heritage Week 2011 by celebrating with a Lughnasadh Festival which is running on August 26 and 27. The festival kicks off in Ravensdale Community Hall on Friday, August 26 at 7.
A Blessed Lughnasadh
Today is Lughnasadh (also known as Lammas) the first of three harvest festivals celebrated in many modern Pagan traditions.
Hundreds of events to take place before Heritage Week ends
There are plenty of events happening across the Wee County, including the Ardee Medieval Festival and a celebration of Lughnasadh.
Valley Views: Touch the earth
In Ireland the festival is often called Lughnasadh, named for the Celtic deity Lugh, who sought to honor his foster mother Tailtiu.

Suggested Web Resources

Lughnasadh - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Lughnasadh is a traditional Gaelic holiday celebrated on 1 August.
Lughnasadh - Overview by Christina - Witchvox Article
A different look at the holiday with ritual information included.
Lughnasadh marks the begin of the noticeable descent of the Sun into the darkness of winter.
Blessed Lughnasadh!!!!!!!!
Lughnasadh, also called Lammas, is the Celebration of Harvest and begins what is called "the chase of Lugh".