Pondering of Lord Lugh
A Midst The Longest Days of Light
As the middle of summer and the longest days of light prevail to ward off the cold bitter and shortest days of the year in darkest winter, I'm reminded to slow down, embrace life just as it is, and to smell the roses instead of focusing on the culmination of projects still in stasis, as my future planning mind finds a way to define the feeling of slowing down, but in all honesty the universe has it's timing, and why rush beautiful dreams, and flowers in the spiritual garden from blooming as big and fully as possible, all the while we try to accelerate that pace, make it bigger, better, fuller, this mentality is never necessary for the universe of for any other successful mechanism in the cosmos, nature just knows, how and when to grow.
This theme of craftsmanship is the primary focus of The Lord of Light, of Lugh The Master Blacksmith. As we welcome his practical and long lasting presence into our lives during this blessed Sabbat that is in his honor we too must reflect on tempering, on spiritual alchemy and other ways to blend, and balance, purify and purge, dream and create and move forward not at our pace but at the time and pace needed and necessary to produce profoundly beautiful results.
As the bon fires blaze, the feasts and gatherings begin and more Twin Flames prepare to jump the broom, for Handfastings and Weddings, it's time to take a break, celebrate how far you've come in this life and during this year, and how far we still have left to go and to grow. As the projects, crafts and long hours in the fields tilling the physical and spiritual earth are always a focus, its time to gather as One and to celebrate the longest days of light before we're consumed once more in barren times of resourcefulness in the throws of the short days of winter. Wising you and yours a wonderful Lammas, a Illuminating Lughnasadh.
Hail Lugh Lord of Light! Hail Hail
Origins of Lughnasadh
It's the dog days of summer, the gardens are full of goodies, the fields are full of grain, and the harvest is approaching. Take a moment to relax in the heat, and reflect on the upcoming abundance of the fall months. At Lammas, sometimes called Lughnasadh, it's time to begin reaping what we have sown throughout the past few months, and recognize that the bright summer days will soon come to an end. In this Seven-Day Sabbat course, we'll talk about the history of Lammas, ways you can mark the early harvest with rites and rituals, some Lammas magic, legends and folklore, craft projects, and even recipe ideas for your Lammas celebration.
Let's begin by looking at when Lammas actually takes place, as well as some of the history of this late summer holiday! We'll also discuss ideas for your Lammas altar, and you can view photos of other readers' altars as well.
The Beginning of the Harvest
At Lammas, also called Lughnasadh, the hot days of August are upon us, much of the earth is dry and parched, but we still know that the bright reds and yellows of the harvest season are just around the corner. Apples are beginning to ripen in the trees, our summer vegetables have been picked, corn is tall and green, waiting for us to come gather the bounty of the crop fields. Now is the time to begin reaping what we have sown, and gathering up the first harvests of grain, wheat, oats, and more.
This holiday can be celebrated either as a way to honor the god Lugh, or as a celebration of the harvest.
Celebrating Grain in Ancient Cultures
Grain has held a place of importance in civilization back nearly to the beginning of time. Grain became associated with the cycle of death and rebirth. The Sumerian god Tammuz was slain and his lover Ishtar grieved so heartily that nature stopped producing. Ishtar mourned Tammuz, and followed him to the Underworld to bring him back, similar to the story of Demeter and Persephone.
In Greek legend, the grain god was Adonis. Two goddesses, Aphrodite and Persephone, battled for his love. To end the fighting, Zeus ordered Adonis to spend six months with Persephone in the Underworld, and the rest with Aphrodite.
A Feast of Bread
In early Ireland, it was a bad idea to harvest your grain any time before Lammas -- it meant that the previous year's harvest had run out early, and that was a serious failing in agricultural communities. However, on August 1, the first sheaves of grain were cut by the farmer, and by nightfall his wife had made the first loaves of bread of the season.
The word Lammas derives from the Old English phrase hlaf-maesse, which translates to loaf mass. In early Christian times, the first loaves of the season were blessed by the Church.
Honoring Lugh, the Skillful God:
In some Wiccan and modern Pagan traditions, Lammas is also a day of honoring Lugh, the Celtic craftsman god. He is a god of many skills, and was honored in various aspects by societies both in the British Isles and in Europe. Lughnasadh (pronounced Loo-NAS-ah) is still celebrated in many parts of the world today. Lugh's influence appears in the names of several European towns.
Honoring the Past
In our modern world, it's often easy to forget the trials and tribulations our ancestors had to endure. For us, if we need a loaf of bread, we simply drive over to the local grocery store and buy a few bags of prepackaged bread. If we run out, it's no big deal, we just go and get more. When our ancestors lived, hundreds and thousands of years ago, the harvesting and processing of grain was crucial. If crops were left in the fields too long, or the bread not baked in time, families could starve. Taking care of one's crops meant the difference between life and death.
By celebrating Lammas as a harvest holiday, we honor our ancestors and the hard work they must have had to do in order to survive. This is a good time to give thanks for the abundance we have in our lives, and to be grateful for the food on our tables. Lammas is a time of transformation, of rebirth and new beginnings.Symbols of the Season
The Wheel of the Year has turned once more, and you may feel like decorating your house accordingly. While you probably can't find too many items marked as "Lammas decor" in your local discount store, there are a number of items you can use as decoration for this harvest holiday.
Crafts, Song and Celebration
Because of its association with Lugh, the skilled god, Lammas (Lughnasadh) is also a time to celebrate talents and craftsmanship. It's a traditional time of year for craft festivals, and for skilled artisans to peddle their wares. In medieval Europe, guilds would arrange for their members to set up booths around a village green, festooned with bright ribbons and fall colors. Perhaps this is why so many modern Renaissance Festivals begin around this time of year!
- Sickles and scythes, as well as other symbols of harvesting
- Grapes and vines
- Dried grains -- sheafs of wheat, bowls of oats, etc.
- Corn dolls -- you can make these easily using dried husks
- Early fall vegetables, such as squashes and pumpkins
- Late summer fruits, like apples, plums and peaches
Setting Up Your Lughnasadh Altar
Colors of the SeasonIt's the end of summer, and soon the leaves will begin to change. However, the sun is still fiery and hot. Use a combination of summer and fall colors -- the yellows and oranges and reds of the sun can also represent the turning leaves to come. Add some browns and greens to celebrate the fertility of the earth and the crops being harvested. Cover your altar with cloths that symbolize the changing of the season from summer to harvest time, and use candles in deep, rich colors -- reds, burgundies, or other autumn shades are perfect this time of year.
Symbols of the HarvestThe harvest is here, and that means it's time to include symbols of the fields on your altar. Sickles and scythes are appropriate, as are baskets. Sheafs of grain, fresh picked fruits and vegetables, a jar of honey, or loaves of bread are perfect for the Lammastide altar.
Honoring the God LughIf your celebrations focus more on the god Lugh, observe the Sabbat from an artisan's point of view. Place symbols of your craft or skill on the altar -- a notebook, your special paints for artists, a pen for writers, other tools of your creativity.
Other Symbols of Lammas (Lughnasadh)
Lammas Legends & Lughnasadh Folklore
In many cultures, there are different legends and lore surrounding Lammas (Lughnasadh). Here are a few of the stories about this magical harvest celebration from around the world.
- In Israel, the festival of Shavout commemorates the beginning of the harvest, as well as honoring the date that Moses received the Torah on Mt. Sinai. The final sheaf of wheat is brought to the rabbi for a blessing, synagogues and homes are decorated with flower, and a great feast is prepared for all to enjoy.
- The festival of Onam is celebrated in India, and people dress up in their finest clothes and give food to the poor. Onam is celebrated in honor of King Mahabali, who was a ruler of Kerala. In one story, the god Vishnu approached Mahabali dressed as a beggar, and asked for land, which Mahabali gave him. Mahabli ended up buried under the earth by Vishnu, but was allowed to return once a year, symbolizing the planting of the seed and the subsequent harvest.
- Thor's wife, Sif, had beautiful golden hair, until Loki the prankster cut it off. Thor was so upset he wanted to kill Loki, but some dwarves spun new hair for Sif, which grew magically as soon as it touched her head. The hair of Sif is associated with the harvest, and the golden grain that grows every year.
- In the Shetland Islands, farmers believed that grain harvesting should only take place during a waning moon. They also believed this about the fall potato crop, and the cutting of peat.
- At Lughnasadh, calves are weaned, and the first fruits are ripe, such as apples and grapes. In some Irish counties, it was believed farmers had to wait until Lughnasadh to start picking these fruits, or bad luck would befall the community.
- In some countries, Lammas is a time for warrior games and mock battles. This may hearken back to the days when a harvest festival was held, and people would come from miles around to get together. What better way for young men to show off their strength and impress the girls than by whacking away at all the competition? Games and contests are also held in honor of Lugh, the mighty Celtic craftsman god, in which artisans offer up their finest work.
- It's become a custom to give people the gift of a pair of gloves at Lammastide. In part, it's because winter is just around the corner, but it's also related to an old tradition in which landowners gave their tenants a pair of gloves after the harvest. The glove is a symbol of authority and benevolence.
Spirit of the Grain
In European cultures, a corn doll was often used to represent the spirit of the harvested crops. However, Europe didn't have a monopoly on this at all. In South American countries, some tribes took the largest portion of the crops -- typically maize -- and dressed it in clothing as an effigy.
In Peru, people honored different spirits of the crops. The Maize Mother was the zara mama, the spirit of quinoa was known as quinoa mama, and everything from the cocoa tree to the lowly potato had a life essence.
In North America, the native tribes grew corn, or maize, as a staple part of their diet. Some groups have stories of rebirth and regeneration, and a few have folktales that parallel the story of Demeter and Persephone. In the southwestern part of the United States, Native Americans still perform a ceremonial dance that honors the harvesting of the maize every fall.
It's not uncommon to find spiritual connections to agriculture. The Malay people of Indonesia believe that rice plants -- again, a staple crop -- possess a soul or life force just as humans do. Harvesting is even done in a way that is seen as "painless" to the rice plants, so that it will not suffer. In some parts of the Malay Peninsula, there is a big ceremony at the beginning of each harvest, in which a complex ritual is performed that identifies the mother of the rice soul in the selected sheaf.
Folklorist Sir James Frazer makes mention in The Golden Bough of the global phenomenon of the honoring of the spirit of the grain. He says that the mere fact that underdeveloped, primitive cultures honor a "corn mother" archetype indicates that this has been going on for thousands of years. In other words, because these cultures are "unspoiled" by modern society, their worship of such an embodiment of the grain is probably very close to the original ritual and ceremony.
The Legend of John Barleycorn
Although written versions of the song date back to the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, there is evidence that it was sung for years before that. There are a number of different versions, but the most well-known one is the Robert Burns version, in which John Barleycorn is portrayed as an almost Christ-like figure, suffering greatly before finally dying so that others may live.
In The Golden Bough, Sir James Frazer cites John Barleycorn as proof that there was once a Pagan cult in England that worshipped a god of vegetation, who was sacrificed in order to bring fertility to the fields. This ties into the related story of the Wicker Man, who is burned in effigy. Ultimately, the character of John Barleycorn is a metaphor for the spirit of grain, grown healthy and hale during the summer, chopped down and slaughtered in his prime, and then processed into beer and whiskey so he can live once more.
The lyrics to the Robert Burns version of the song are as follows:
There was three kings into the east,
three kings both great and high,
and they hae sworn a solemn oath
John Barleycorn must die.
They took a plough and plough'd him down,
put clods upon his head,
and they hae sworn a solemn oath
John Barleycorn was dead.
But the cheerful Spring came kindly on'
and show'rs began to fall.
John Barleycorn got up again,
and sore surprised them all.
The sultry suns of Summer came,
and he grew thick and strong;
his head well arm'd wi' pointed spears,
that no one should him wrong.
The sober Autumn enter'd mild,
when he grew wan and pale;
his bendin' joints and drooping head
show'd he began to fail.
His colour sicken'd more and more,
and he faded into age;
and then his enemies began
to show their deadly rage.
They took a weapon, long and sharp,
and cut him by the knee;
they ty'd him fast upon a cart,
like a rogue for forgerie.
They laid him down upon his back,
and cudgell'd him full sore.
they hung him up before the storm,
and turn'd him o'er and o'er.
They filled up a darksome pit
with water to the brim,
they heav'd in John Barleycorn.
There, let him sink or swim!
They laid him upon the floor,
to work him farther woe;
and still, as signs of life appear'd,
they toss'd him to and fro.
They wasted o'er a scorching flame
the marrow of his bones;
but a miller us'd him worst of all,
for he crush'd him between two stones.
And they hae taen his very hero blood
and drank it round and round;
and still the more and more they drank,
their joy did more abound.
John Barleycorn was a hero bold,
of noble enterprise;
for if you do but taste his blood,
'twill make your courage rise.
'Twill make a man forget his woe;
'twill heighten all his joy;
'twill make the widow's heart to sing,
tho the tear were in her eye.
Then let us toast John Barleycorn,
each man a glass in hand;
and may his great posterity
ne'er fail in old Scotland!
The Final Sheaf
In some rural areas, the corn doll was kept in a place of honor at a farmhouse in the village, until it was time to make one the following year. At that time, the old one was ceremonially burned.
The creation of corn dolls was just one of many customs surrounding the final sheaf of the grain harvest. In Ireland, the final sheaf was gathered with great ceremony, celebrating the living things that might be living within it. If you think about it, that makes sense -- a cornfield is a perfect nesting place for small animals, such as rabbits, mice, birds, or frogs. As the reapers harvested the crop, the animals within fled, until there was only one sheaf left. Since the animal was more often than not a small, very frightened hare, the phrase "putting the hare out of the corn" came to mean the end of the reaping.
In some parts of the British Isles, young maidens were invited to cut down the final sheaf. The one who was able to do so in a single stroke of the scythe was guaranteed to be married within the year -- probably because she had just proved herself as an able and strong farmwife. In other areas, it was believed that the person to cut the final sheaf would have good luck for a year, but in other place, it was a sign of ill fortune to come.
An odd tradition in some areas was the use of the final sheaf to find the corpse of a drowning victim. The sheaf was placed in the water with a lit candle upon it, near where the person was believed to have fallen in. The sheaf drifted, and it was believed that it would come to rest where the body was submerged. It was thought that only the final sheaf had the magical ability to find these lost souls.
Regardless of how it was used, the cutting of the final sheaf meant that the grain harvest was over. Now bread baking could begin, and food stored away for the coming winter months.
Celebrating The Early Harvest
Lugh, Master of Skills
Similar to the Roman god Mercury, Lugh was known as a god of both skill and the distribution of talent. There are countless inscriptions and statues dedicated to Lugh, and Julius Caesarhimself commented on this god's importance to the Celtic people. Although he was not a war god in the same sense as the Roman Mars, Lugh was considered a warrior because to the Celts, skill on the battlefield was a highly valued ability. In Ireland, which was never invaded by Roman troops, Lugh is called sam ildanach, meaning he was skilled in many arts simultaneously.
Lugh Enters the Hall of Tara
In one famous legend, Lugh arrives at Tara, the hall of the high kings of Ireland. The guard at the door tells him that only one person will be admitted with a particular skill -- one blacksmith, one wheelwright, one bard, etc. Lugh enumerates all the great things he can do, and each time the guard says, "Sorry, we've already got someone here who can do that." Finally Lugh asks, "Ah, but do you have anyone here who can do them ALL?" At last, Lugh was allowed entrance to Tara.
The Book of Invasions
Much of the early history of Ireland is recorded in the Book of Invasions, which recounts the many times Ireland was conquered by foreign enemies. According to this chronicle, Lugh was the grandson of one of the Fomorians, a monstrous race that were the enemy of the Tuatha De Danann. Lugh's grandfather, Balor of the Evil Eye, had been told he would be murdered by a grandson, so he imprisoned his only daughter in a cave. One of the Tuatha seduced her, and she gave birth to triplets. Balor drowned two of them, but Lugh survived and was raised by a smith. He later led the Tuatha in battle, and indeed killed Balor.
Julius Caesar believed that most cultures worshipped the same gods and simply called them by different names. In his Gallic War essays, he enumerates the popular deities of the Gauls and refers to them by what he saw as a corresponding Roman name. Thus, references made to Mercury actually are attributed to a god Caesar also calls Lugus -- Lugh. This god's cult was centered in Lugundum, which later became Lyon, France. His festival on August 1 was selected as the day of the Feast of Augustus, by Caesar's successor, Octavian Augustus Caesar, and it was the most important holiday in all of Gaul.
Weapons and War
Although not specifically a war god, Lugh was known as a skilled warrior. His weapons included a mighty magic spear, which was so bloodthirsty that it often tried to fight without its owner. According to Irish myth, in battle, the spear flashed fire and tore through the enemy ranks unchecked. In parts of Ireland, when a thunderstorm rolls in, the locals say that Lugh and Balor are sparring - thus giving Lugh one more role, as a god of storms.
The Many Aspects of Lugh
According to Peter Beresford Ellis, the Celts held smithcraft in high regard. War was a way of life, and smiths were considered to have magical gifts -- after all, they were able to master the element of Fire, and mold the metals of the earth using their strength and skill. Yet in Caesar's writings, there are no references to a Celtic equivalent of Vulcan, the Roman smith god.
In early Irish mythology, the smith is called Goibhniu, and is accompanied by two brothers to create a triple god-form. The three craftsmen make weaponry and carry out repairs on Lugh's behalf as the entire host of the Tuatha De Danann prepares for war. In a later Irish tradition, the smith god is seen as a master mason or a great builder. In some legends, Goibhniu is Lugh's uncle who saves him from Balor and the monstrous Formorians.
One God, Many Names
The Celts had many gods and goddesses, due in part to the fact that each tribe had its own patron deities, and within a region there might be gods associated with particular locations or landmarks. For example, a god who watched over a particular river or mountain might only be recognized by the tribes who lived in that area. Lugh was fairly versatile, and was honored nearly universally by the Celts. The Gaulish Lugos is connected to the Irish Lugh, who in turn is connected to the Welsh Llew Llaw Gyffes.
Celebrating the Harvest of Grain
The Book of Invasions tells us that Lugh came to be associated with grain in Celtic mythology after he held an harvest fair in honor of his foster mother, Tailtiu. This day became August 1, and that date ties in with the first grain harvest in agricultural societies in the Northern Hemisphere. In fact, in Irish Gaelic, the word for August is lunasa. Lugh is honored with corn, grains, bread, and other symbols of the harvest. This holiday was called Lughnasadh(pronounced Loo-NA-sah). Later, in Christian England the date was called Lammas, after the Saxon phrase hlaf maesse, or "loaf mass."
An Ancient God for Modern Times
For many Pagans and Wiccans, Lugh is honored as the champion of artistry and skills. Many artisans, musicians, bards, and crafters invoke Lugh when they need assistance with creativity. Today Lugh is still honored at the time of harvest, not only as a god of grain but also as a god of late summer storms.
Even today, in Ireland many people celebrate Lughnasadh with dancing, song, and bonfires. The Catholic church also has set this date aside for a ritual blessing of farmers' fields.
Deities of The Fields
When Lammastide rolls around, the fields are full and fertile. Crops are abundant, and the late summer harvest is ripe for the picking. This is the time when the first grains are threshed, apples are plump in the trees, and gardens are overflowing with summer bounty. In nearly every ancient culture, this was a time of celebration of the agricultural significance of the season. Because of this, it was also a time when many gods and goddesses were honored. These are some of the many deities who are connected with this earliest harvest holiday.
- Adonis (Assyrian): Adonis is a complicated god who touched many cultures. Although he's often portrayed as Greek, his origins are in early Assyrian religion. Adonis was a god of the dying summer vegetation. In many stories, he dies and is later reborn, much like Attis and Tammuz.
- Attis (Phrygean): This lover of Cybele went mad and castrated himself, but still managed to get turned into a pine tree at the moment of his death. In some stories, Attis was in love with a Naiad, and jealous Cybele killed a tree (and subsequently the Naiad who dwelled within it), causing Attis to castrate himself in despair. Regardless, his stories often deal with the theme of rebirth and regeneration.
- Ceres (Roman): Ever wonder why crunched-up grain is calledcereal? It's named for Ceres, the Roman goddess of the harvest and grain. Not only that, she was the one who taught lowly mankind how to preserve and prepare corn and grain once it was ready for threshing. In many areas, she was a mother-type goddess who was responsible for agricultural fertility.
- Dagon (Semitic): Worshipped by an early Semitic tribe called the Amorites, Dagon was a god of fertility and agriculture. He's also mentioned as a father-deity type in early Sumerian texts and sometimes appears as a fish god. Dagon is credited with giving the Amorites the knowledge to build the plough.
- Demeter (Greek): The Greek equivalent of Ceres, Demeter is often linked to the changing of the seasons. She is often connected to the image of the Dark Mother in late fall and early winter. When her daughter Persephone was abducted by Hades, Demeter's grief caused the earth to die for six months, until Persephone's return.
- Lugh (Celtic): Lugh was known as a god of both skill and the distribution of talent. He is sometimes associated with midsummer because of his role as a harvest god, and duringthe summer solstice the crops are flourishing, waiting to be plucked from the ground at Lughnasadh.
- Mercury (Roman): Fleet of foot, Mercury was a messenger of the gods. In particular, he was a god of commerce and is associated with the grain trade. In late summer and early fall, he ran from place to place to let everyone know it was time to bring in the harvest. In Gaul, he was considered a god not only of agricultural abundance but also of commercial success.
- Neper (Egyptian): This androgynous grain deity became popular in Egypt during times of starvation. He later was seen as an aspect of Osiris, and part of the cycle of life, death and rebirth.
- Parvati (Hindu): Parvati was a consort of the god Shiva, and although she does not appear in Vedic literature, she is celebrated today as a goddess of the harvest and protector of women in the annual Gauri Festival.
- Pomona (Roman): This apple goddess is the keeper of orchards and fruit trees. Unlike many other agricultural deities, Pomona is not associated with the harvest itself, but with the flourishing of fruit trees. She is usually portrayed bearing a cornucopia or a tray of blossoming fruit.
- Tammuz (Sumerian): This Sumerian god of vegetation and crops is often associated with the cycle of life, death, and rebirth.
Country Fairs & Harvest Celebrations
Lammas was traditionally known as a Quarter Day in Scotland. This meant that rents were collected, contracts signed, and other legal paperwork filed. These were also the four dates during the year on which servants were traditionally hired, so the country fair often took on the aspect of a job fair -- by networking with other servants and house managers, one could possibly attend a fair looking for work, and end the day with an offer of employment in a landowner's home or fields.
In France, the last week of July was a time when the first fruits of the harvest were blessed. Farmers who had orchards brought baskets of their produce to church as a tithe, and a priest consecrated the offering. The apples, cherries, peaches and more were distributed then among the congregation. This isn't exclusive to Christianity, however; it was common in early Greek and Roman religions to make offerings of the first fruits at the temple of one's patron god. This fruit was often used as a source of income for the temple priests.
In Scotland, Lammastide was sometimes the season in which mock battles and warrior games were played. British rulers tried to prevent the Scots from engaging in such things, believing it would encourage rebellion and disloyalty to the crown. During the eighteenth century, as mass amounts of emigrants left Scotland for other shores, Highland Games gradually gained popularity in the United States. Today, dozens of games are held throughout the summer months, and include such "heavy" events as the caber toss, the hammer throw, and sword dancing.
In parts of Ireland, the first Sunday in August is a day when it is custom to climb the local hills and mountains to pick berries. Tradition held that if lots of bilberries were gathered, it meant that the rest of the year's harvest would be a bountiful one. In some cases, just like at Beltane, berry-picking was an excuse to sneak off into the woods with a lover. Young men plaited fruit and vines into bracelets and crowns for their ladies. Afterwards, the best berries were eaten at a big fair, complete with singing, dancing, and general merrymaking.
It became popular to hold country fairs near the site of a holy well. In some parts of England and Wales, the holy well was the destination for religious pilgrims in the summer. Because people were traveling there anyway, it was logical to turn the site into a place for a festival or other celebration. Today, many wells are still dressed with ribbons and filled with offerings during the Lammas season.
Today, in the United States and many other countries, the celebration of the local fair has become an annual event. In rural communities, the fair is a big to-do held typically right before children return to school. Much like the country fairs of days gone by, there are games, competitions, lots of food, and livestock for sale and trade. Although it's generally only Pagans who observe the tradition of Lammas at this time, the custom of the community fair has survived the centuries.
Hold a Lughnasadh Harvest Ritual
This ritual celebrates the beginning of the harvest season and the cycle of rebirth, and can be done by a solitary practitioner or adapted for a group or coven setting. Decorate your altar with symbols of the season -- sickles and scythes, garden goodies like ivy and grapes and corn, poppies, dried grains, and early autumn foods like apples. If you like, light some Lammas Rebirth incense.
Have a candle on your altar to represent the Harvest Mother -- choose something in orange, red or yellow. These colors not only represent the blaze of the summer sun, but also the coming changes of autumn. You'll also need a few stalks of wheat and an un-sliced loaf of bread (homemade is best, but if you can't manage, a store-bought loaf will do). A goblet of ritual wine is optional.
If your tradition requires you to cast a circle, do so now.
Light the candle, and say:
The Wheel of the Year has turned once more,
and the harvest will soon be upon us.
We have food on our tables, and
the soil is fertile.
Nature's bounty, the gift of the earth,
gives us reasons to be thankful.
Mother of the Harvest, with your sickle and basket,
bless me with abundance and plenty.
Hold the stalks of wheat before you, and think about what they symbolize: the power of the earth, the coming winter, the necessity of planning ahead. What do you need help planning right now? Are there sacrifices you should be making in the present that will be reaped in the future?
Rub the stalks between your fingers so a few grains of wheat fall upon the altar. Scatter them on the ground as a gift to the earth. If you're inside, leave them on the altar for now -- you can always take them outside later. Say:
The power of the Harvest is within me.
As the seed falls to the earth and is reborn each year,
I too grow as the seasons change.
As the grain takes root in the fertile soil,
I too will find my roots and develop.
As the smallest seed blooms into a mighty stalk,
I too will bloom where I landed.
As the wheat is harvested and saved for winter,
I too will set aside that which I can use later.
Tear off a piece of the bread. If you're performing this ritual as a group, pass the loaf around the circle so that each person present can take off a small chunk of bread. As each person passes the bread, they should say:
I pass to you this gift of the first harvest. When everyone has a piece of bread, say:
Everyone eats their bread together. If you have ritual wine, pass it around the circle for people to wash the bread down. Once everyone has finished their bread, take a moment to meditate on the cycle of rebirth and how it applies to your own life - physically, emotionally, spiritually. When you are ready, if you have cast a circle, close it or dismiss the quarters at this time. Otherwise, simply end the ritual in the manner of your tradition.
What You Need:
- A candle to represent the Harvest Mother
- Stalks of wheat
- A loaf of bread
- Ritual wine (optional)
Lughnasadh Ritual & Ceremony
Prayer for the Warrior Soul
The warrior soul, fighting in spirit,
follows a code of honor and wisdom.
Strength is found not in the arms,
not in the knife, the gun or the sword,
but in the mind and soul.
I call upon the warriors of the past,
those who would stand up and fight,
those who would do what is needed,
those who would make sacrifices on behalf of others,
those who would die that others may live.
I call upon them this night,
to give me strength of heart, soul and spirit.
Prayer to Lugh
Master of artisans,
leader of craftsmen,
patron of smiths,
I call upon you and honor you this day.
You of the many skills and talents,
I ask you to shine upon me and
bless me with your gifts.
Give me strength in skill,
make my hands and mind deft,
shine light upon my talents.
O mighty Lugh,
I thank you for your blessings.
Prayer to the Harvest Deities
The fields are full, the orchards blooming,
and the harvest has arrived.
Hail to the gods who watch over the land!
Hail to Ceres, goddess of the wheat!
Hail Mercury, fleet of foot!
Hail Pomona, and fruitful apples!
Hail Attis, who dies and is reborn!
Hail Demeter, bringing the dark of the year!
Hail Bacchus, who fills the goblets with wine!
We honor you all, in this time of harvest,
and set our tables with your bounty.
Prayer for the Grain
Fields of gold,
waves of grain,
the summer comes to a close.
The harvest is ready,
ripe for threshing,
as the sun fades into autumn.
Flour will be milled,
bread will be baked,
and we shall eat for another winter.
Warrior Meditation for Lughnasadh
Who Is the Warrior?
The warrior in today's society is someone who understands the idea of right action. He or she follows a code of honor, and abides by that code even when it may be inconvenient or unpopular. The warrior recognizes that the forces of creation and destruction must be balanced. The warrior is empowered because he or she knows his own circumstances, limitations and goals. Perhaps most importantly, the warrior is someone who has made past mistakes, owned up to them, and learned not to repeat them.
A note on women and the concept of warrior: the notion of a warrior soul is not exclusive to men. Many women have powerful warrior spirits. Think of the warrior soul as an archetype of personal empowerment. Indeed, throughout history, many women have been known as mighty warriors. If it helps you get in touch with your inner warrior, envision some of them as you work. Picture Boadicaea of the Iceni, conquering the Roman army, or Penthesilea battling her lover, Achilles. If you lean towards more current history, consider France's Jeanne d'Arc, orGrainne' ni Mhaille, the Irish pirate. For those who connect best with pop culture, even television's Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly's Zoe, or Xena make perfectly good warrior woman archetypes.
Setting the Mood
You may wish to prepare your mind and body prior to starting the meditation. Some people like to take a ritual bath as a method of cleansing the body, and clearing the mind. If you wish, you can anoint yourself with Blessing Oil or another oil of your choice before beginning. Since you're performing a warrior meditation, why not try adding a bit of war paint to your face amd body?
Before getting started, make sure you can work undisturbed somewhere for about an hour. Turn off the cell phone, get off the Internet, and send the kids off to play with friends for a while. Perform this meditation outside if at all possible. Set up a small altar that you can sit in front of. Since you're working outside, consider using a flat stone or a tree stump as a natural altar. On it, place symbols of the warrior spirit: a knife, a drum, an arrow, a shield -- anything that helps you connect with your inner warrior. If you have ancestors or loved ones that represent the warrior archetype to you, feel free to include photographs or other heirlooms. Finally, add a purple candle - purple is the color of royalty and power, and of honor.
Although this meditation is designed to be performed solo, it can easily be adapted into a group practice, or turned into a full-fledged ritual.
Welcoming Your Inner Warrior
Sit before your altar, and light the purple candle. Focus on the flame, and visualize the fiery passion of the warrior soul. Think about the things you've done in your life, incidents in which you should have taken one path, but instead chose another. Consider mistakes you've made, and how they've affected not only you, but other people. Think about the consequences of these actions. Did you learn anything from these events?
Take this knowledge of past action, and move it into the present. As a warrior, you have followed a particular path to get to the present, one with many roadblocks, twists, and obstacles in the way. How has this helped to shape the person you are now? Think about the person you have become, and how you have grown during the different experiences you've had.
Now, think about the person you wish to be, and how the past and present will influence the future. Understand that for you to follow a principle of right action, there may be times when you make decisions that are unpopular. Are you willing to stand up for your convictions? Are you willing to live in a manner that will earn you the respect and honor of others? To do this, you must first and foremost honor and respect yourself. One way to live rightly and with honor is to make a pledge, both to yourself and to the gods of your tradition.
As you focus on the burning flames, say:
I am a warrior.
I am one who lives with honor and pride,
in my deeds, words, and actions.
I am a warrior,
and I pay tribute to myself, my family, and my gods,
by living rightly.
Honor is found not in the sword and the first,
but in wisdom, and courage, and strength.
I will make the changes I need to make,
that I may live in an honorable way
and follow the code of the warrior.
I am a warrior,
and I have control over my mind, my thoughts, and my sword.
I pledge to hold truth in my heart,
to hold strength in my hands,
to be honest in my words,
and to stand on behalf of those who cannot speak for themselves.
This is the way of the warrior,
and I shall live with honor.
While you do this, envision the warrior archetypes that you wish to emulate. Who are some warriors you look up to and hold in high regard? Think about them, and draw their energy into you. When you are ready to end the ritual, put the candle out.
Honor Lugh of The Many Skills
Take the opportunity this day to celebrate your own skills and abilities, and make an offering to Lugh to honor him, the god of craftsmanship.
Before you begin, take a personal inventory. What are your strong points? Everyone has a talent -- some have many, some have one that they're really good at. Are you a poet or writer? Do you sing? How about needlecraft, woodworking, or beading? Can you tap dance? Do you cook? How about painting? Think about all the things you can do -- and all of the things you'd like to learn to do, and the things you'd like to get better at. Once you sit down and think about it, you might be surprised to realize how accomplished you really are.
Decorate your altar with items related to your skill or talent. If your skill relates to something tangible, like sewing or jewelry-making, put some of your craft supplies on the altar. If it's an ability to DO, rather than MAKE, such as dancing or singing, put some symbol of your ability on your altar. Do you have a favorite outfit you wear when you dance? A particular song lyric that you know you're fabulous with? Add as many items as you like to your altar.
You'll need a candle to symbolize Lugh, the god. Any harvest color is good, because he came up with the idea of a grain festival to honor his foster mother, Tailtiu. Place the candle on your altar in the center. Feel free to add some stalks of grain if you like -- you can combine this rite with one honoring the harvest, if you choose.
Light the candle, and take a moment to think about all the things you are good at. What are they? Are you proud of your accomplishments? Now's your chance to boast a little, and take some pride in what you've learned to do. Announce your own talents in the following incantation. Say:
Mighty Lugh, the many-skilled god,
he who is a patron of the arts,
a master of trades, and a silver-tongued bard.
Today I honor you, for I am skilled as well.
I am deft with a needle,
strong of voice,
and paint beauty with my brush strokes.
**Obviously, you would insert your pride in your own skills here.
Now, consider what you wish to improve upon. Is your tennis-playing out of whack? Do you feel inadequate at bungee jumping, yodeling, or drawing? Now's the time to ask Lugh for his blessing. Say:
Lugh, many-skilled one,
I ask you to shine upon me.
Share your gifts with me,
and make me strong in skill.
At this time, you should make an offering of some sort. The ancients made offerings in exchange for the blessings of their gods -- quite simply, petitioning a god was a reciprocal act, a system of exchange. Your offering can a tangible one: grain, fruit, wine, or even a sample of your skillwork -- imagine dedicating a song or painting to Lugh. It can also be an offering of time or loyalty. Whatever it is, it should come from the heart.
I thank you, mighty Lugh, for hearing my words tonight.
I thank you for blessing me with the skills I have.
I make this offering of bread and wine* to you
as a small token of honor.
Take a few more moments and reflect on your own abilities. Do you have faith in your skills, or do you deflect compliments from others? Are you insecure about your abilities, or do you feel a surge of pride when you sew/dance/sing/hulahoop? Meditate on your offering to Lugh for a few moments, and when you are ready, end the ritual.
If you are performing this rite as part of a group, family or coven setting, go around in a circle and have each person take their turn to express their pride in their work, and to make their offerings to Lugh.
Hold a Lammas Bread Sacrifice Ritual
Time Required: Varied
- For this rite, you'll need a loaf of Lammas bread and a cup of wine or water. You'll also need pieces of straw or other plant material, enough for each person in the ritual to make a small doll, and some yarn or string to tie the dolls together. Finally, you'll need a fire. You can either have a large bonfire, or a small tabletop fire in a pot or brazier.
- If your tradition requires you to cast a circle, do so now.
The High Priest or High Priestess says:
It is the time of the harvest once again.
Life, growth, death and rebirth,
all have come full circle.
The god of the harvest has died once more,
That we may eat and consume him,
Giving us strength in the months to come.
- The HPs hands each member of the group a sheaf of straw, saying:
We now create dolls in our image.
These dolls symbolize our selves, in our many aspects,
and all the things we give up each year,
so that we may thrive and flourish later on.
Each member of the group constructs a doll to represent themselves. Use the instructions here if you don't know how to make a doll: Corn Doll or Straw Man. As each person creates their doll, they should energize the doll with personal qualities. These are the essences of self that each person is bringing to sacrifice, so that they may be reborn as the harvest god is each year.
- When everyone has completed their dolls, the High Priestess says:
The god of grain is dying,
vegetation returns to the earth.
We call upon the gods of the harvest,
asking them for their blessings.
Tammuz and Lugh,
Cernunnos and Attis,
You are born each year,
and live in our fields
and are sacrificed as part of the cycle.
- Raise energy by circling your fire or altar three times, moving in a counter-clockwise (widddershins) direction, building speed each time (you're moving against the pattern of the sun, because it's the end of the harvest season). If you like, you can increase the feeling of power by chanting one of these popular traditional Wiccan verses:
Hoof and horn, hoof and horn,
all that dies shall be reborn.
Corn and grain, corn and grain,
all that falls shall rise again.
Earth my body,
water my blood,
air my breath and
fire my spirit.
- If your group is musically inclined, have half the group sing the "Hoof and horn" part, and the second half sing the "Earth my body" verse, so that it forms a round robin. The effect is amazing!
When the raising of energy is complete, each person in the group approaches the fire, one at a time, and casts their doll into the fire. They can either say out loud what their sacrifice will be this year, or speak it only to themselves and the gods. As each doll is placed in the fire, direct leftover energy into the flames as well.
- When everyone has made their sacrifice, the HPs holds up the loaf of Lammas bread. Say:
Months ago, we planted seeds,
and through the summer watched them grow.
We have tended the fields in our lives,
and now we are blessed with abundance.
The harvest has arrived!
Thank you, lord of the harvest,
For the gifts yet to come.
We eat this bread, grain transformed by fire, in your name,
and honor you for your sacrifice.
- The HPs breaks off a piece of bread for herself, and passes it around the circle, so that everyone can take a piece. Eat the bread, and then pass around the cup of wine or water. If you wish, you can say something as the cup is passed, like:
May you reap the blessings of the harvest.
Once everyone has eaten their bread and sipped from the cup, take a moment to reflect on what you have harvested for yourself this season. End the ritual as you normally would or move directly into a Cakes and Ale ceremony or other rites you wish to perform.
- A loaf of Lammas bread
- Straw or plant material
- A fire
- A cup of wine or water
- Make an Onion Braid protection charm to hang in your home to protect those who live there.
- Use crystals or stones with magical properties, such as Hematite to create a barrier around your home. Put a piece of Hematite at each outside corner of the house.
- Make a magical poppet to protect yourself or a loved on.
- Brew up some Protection Oil, and anoint yourself with it. This will keep you safe from psychic or magical attacks.
- Plant herbs with protective properties, such as violet, thistle, honeysuckle, or fennel around your home. When they bloom, harvest them and hang them up to dry. Use the dried herbs in protective sachets or incense.
- Hang an iron horseshoe, open end facing down, to keep evil spirits out of your home. A horseshoe found along the side of a road was particularly powerful, and was known to provide protection against disease. In some areas, the horseshoe is displayed with the open side at the top, to contain good fortune.
- In western Scotland, it was once popular to make a small cross of rowan twigs and bind them together with red string. Hanging this in the window or over a door will keep negative influences from crossing the threshold.
- If you're suffering from bad dreams, consider making an Herbal Dream Pillow to protect you in your sleep.
Ash Tree Magick
- Some traditions of magic hold that the leaf of an Ash tree will bring you good fortune. Carry one in your pocket - those with an even number of leaflets on it are especially lucky.
- In some folk magic traditions, the ash leaf could be used to remove skin disorders such as warts or boils. As an alternate practice, one could wear a needle in their clothing or carry a pin in their pocket for three days, and then drive the pin into the bark of an ash tree - the skin disorder will appear as a knob on the tree and disappear from the person who had it.
- The spear of Odin was made from an Ash tree, according to the Norse poetic eddas.
- Newborn babies in the British Isles were sometimes given a spoonful of Ash sap before leaving their mother's bed for the first time. It was believed this would prevent disease and infant mortality.
- Five trees stood guard over Ireland, in mythology, and three were Ash. The Ash is often found growing near holy wells and sacred springs. Interestingly, it was also believed that crops that grew in the shadow of an Ash tree would be of an inferior quality.
- In some European folklore, the Ash tree is seen as protective but at the same time malevolent. Anyone who does harm to an Ash can find themselves the victim of unpleasant supernatural circumstances.
- In northern England, it was believed that if a maiden placed ash leaves under her pillow, she would have prophetic dreams of her future lover.
- In some Druidic traditions, it is customary to use a branch of Ash to make a magical staff. The staff becomes, in essence, a portable version of a World Tree, connecting the user to the realms of earth and sky.
- If you place Ash berries in a cradle, it protects the child from being taken away as a changeling by mischievous Fae.
- The Celtic tree month of Ash, or Nion, falls from February 18 to March 17. It's a good time for magical workings related to the inner self.
Make Your Own Smudge Sticks
- Scissors or garden clippers
- Cotton string
- Plants such as sage, mugwort, rosemary, lavender, or juniper
Cut a length of string about five feet long. Put several branches together so that the cut ends are all together, and the leafy ends are all together. Wind the string tightly around the stems of the bundle, leaving two inches of loose string where you began. The smudge stick in the photos contains sage, rosemary and pennyroyal.
Wrap the remaining length of string around the base of the branches several times to secure it. Then, gradually, work your way along the length of branches until you reach the leafy end. Return the string back up to the stems, creating a bit of a criss-cross pattern. You'll want to wind the string tightly enough that nothing gets loose, but not so tight that it cuts off pieces of the plants.
When you get back to the stems, tie the remainder of the string to the 2" loose piece you left at the beginning. Trim off any excess pieces so that the ends of your smudge stick are even.
Place the bundle outside or hang it up for drying. Depending on what type of herb you used, and how humid your weather is, it may take a couple of days or as much as a week to dry out. When your sticks are dry, you can burn them in ritual for smudging by lighting one end.
Safety tip: Some plants may have toxic fumes. Do not burn a plant unless you know it is safe to do so.
Make An Onion Braid
Under the light of the full moon, you can make an onion braid. Braiding is a very relaxing and magical way to spend an evening, and by braiding your onions, you can prepare them for winter storage -- basically, you're accomplishing the magical and the mundane all in one shot. To do this, you'll need a bunch of onions with the green tops still attached, and about four feet of heavy twine. Begin folding the twine in half, and tying a knot near the end, creating a loop.
Lay the twine on a flat surface and place an onion upside down so that the greens of the onion form a third "string", along with the two free ends of the twine. Using the two free lengths of twine and the onion stem, form a tight braid. Repeat this until the onion is securely in place.
Repeat the process with the rest of your onions, braiding them in and out between the other stems and the two strands of twine. As you do so, focus your intent. Onions are magically linked to protective magic, so you can braid the onions and recite an incantation linking them to whatever sort of protection you feel you need. Some sample incantations might be:
For protection of a home
Onions wrapped around a braid,
This charm for my home I have made,
Keep negative energy away from me,
As I will, so it shall be.
For protection of a person:
Layers and layers of onion skin,
Layers of safety for those within,
Layers to make all harm stay out,
Keep (name) safe, without a doubt.
How to Make Vervain Water
In Hoodoo and other folk magic traditions, vervain is used to make Van-Van oil - this is simply a blend of vervain and a base oil, simmered and strained. This oil is used to provide magical protection, and clear away evil energies. In many forms of folklore, vervain is associated with workings that decrease lust - however, the scent of vervain is a well-known aphrodisiac.
In addition to matters of the libido, however, vervain is commonly incorporated as a cleansing herb. You can brew up a batch of vervain water to cleanse your magical tools, asperge around a sacred space, or purify your altar for ritual.
- 1 / 2 C fresh vervain leaves
- 2 C. boiling water
Crafts & Creations
Lughnasadh Rebirth Incense
To make your own magical Lammas incense, first determine what form you’d like to make. You can make incense with sticks and in cones, but the easiest kind uses loose ingredients, which are then burned on top of a charcoal disc or tossed into a fire. This recipe is for loose incense, but you can adapt it for stick or cone recipes.
As you mix and blend your incense, focus on the intent of your work. In this particular recipe, we’re creating an incense to use during a Lammas rite -- it’s a time to celebrate the beginning of the harvest. We’re thankful for the foods we’ve grown, and for the bounty of the earth, and the knowledge that we’ll have enough to eat through the coming winter months.
- 1 part basil
- 1/2 part cinnamon bark
- 1 part coriander
- 2 parts goldenrod
- 1 part heather
- 1/2 part rosemary
- 2 parts Sweet Annie (you can use dried apple blossoms if you don’t have Sweet Annie)
- 1 part yarrow
We’re thankful this day for the gift of rebirth,
Fruits and vegetables, the bounty of earth.
For the Harvest Mother with her basket and scythe,
Abundance and fertility, and the blessings of life.
We’re grateful for the gifts we carry within
And for what will become, and what has been.
A new day begins, and life circles round,
As grain is harvested from the fertile ground.
Blessings to the earth and to the gods from me,
As I will this Lammas, so it shall be.Store your incense in a tightly sealed jar. Make sure you label it with its intent and name, as well as the date you created it. Use within three months, so that it remains charged and fresh.
- A grapevine cornucopia (available at craft stores)
- Wheat stalks, or other types of grain
- Other found items such as feathers, corn stalks, etc.
Making a Brighid Corn Doll
If you make a doll at Lughnasadh, you can re-use it in six months, dressing it up in spring colors for Imbolc. This way, the Harvest Mother becomes the Spring Bride. Some traditions, however, prefer not to re-use their harvest doll, and instead choose to start fresh and new in the spring. Either way is fine.
To make this simple doll, you'll need some corn husks -- and clearly, in January or February, you probably won't be able to find a lot of those growing outside. Check your grocery store's produce section to get husks. If you're using dried-out husks, soak them for a couple of hours to soften them up (fresh husks need no special preparation). You'll also need some yarn or ribbon, and a few cotton balls.
Take a strip of the husk, and fold it in half. Place two or three cotton balls in the middle, and then twist the husk, tying it with string to make a head (See Figure 1). Leave a bit of husk in the front and back, below the head, to create a torso.
Make a pair of arms for your doll by folding a couple of husks in half, and then tying it at the ends to make hands. Slip the arms between the husks that form the torso, and tie off at the waist. If you like your dolls plump, slide an extra cotton ball or two in there to give your Brighid a bit of shape.
Arrange a few more husks, upside down, around the doll's waist. Overlap them slightly, and then tie them in place with yarn -- it should look like she has her skirt up over her face. After you've tied the waist, carefully fold the husks down, so now her skirt comes downwards, towards where her feet would be . Trim the hem of the skirt so it's even, and let your doll completely dry.
Once your doll has dried, you can leave her plain or give her a face and some hair (use soft yarn), as in Figure 4. Some people go all out decorating their bride doll -- you can add clothing, an apron, beadwork, whatever your imagination can create.
Place your Brighid in a place of honor in your home for Imbolc, near your hearth or in the kitchen if possible. By inviting her into your home, you are welcoming Brighid and all the fertility and abundance she may bring with her.
Strip all the leaves and stray stems from the vines. Select your longest vine and shape it into a circle about 18” in diameter. Continue coiling the vine around the circle until you reach the end, and then tuck the end up under the other layers to hold it in place. Take your next longest vine, and repeat the process. To start each new vine, tuck one end into the existing circle, coil it around, and then tuck the end in. Repeat this until your wreath is the desired thickness -- five to seven vines ought to give you a good base.
Now you’ll need five pieces of grapevine that are of equal lengths, and they should each be about 2” longer than the wreath’s inside diameter. These five pieces will form the star in the center of the pentacle. Take the first piece and work it into place across the center of the wreath, anchoring each end by tucking it into the outer vines of the wreath. Repeat with the other four pieces, overlapping them where needed, until you have a star in the center. Use the florist’s wire to secure the ends in place.
Finally, tie off a short length of florist’s wire to the top of the wreath, so you can hang it on your wall or door.
Separate the husks lengthwise into strips about one inch wide. They should tear easily on their own. Form the first strip into a circle and staple it closed. Take the second strip, loop it through the first, and staple (this is just like those paper chains you made in school when you were a child). Repeat until all the strips of husk have been added to the chain.
Once you’ve completed your chain, there are a number of things you can do with it. Place it on your altar, drape it over a window or a door, or hang it on the wall. As it dries, the husks will shrink and fade from green to tan, but it will still make a great Lammas decoration!
Apple Candle Holders
First, you’ll want to select some firm fruits. Red apples, early acorn squash, even eggplants work well -- apples seem to last the longest. Rinse and dry the fruit or vegetable thoroughly. Polish the outside with a soft cloth until the apple is shiny. Stand the apple up on its bottom, and use a knife or a corer to make a hole in the top where the stem is located. Go about halfway down into the apple so that the candle will have a sturdy base. Widen the hole until it’s the same diameter as your candle.
Pour some lemon juice into the hole and allow it to sit for ten minutes. This will prevent the apple from browning and softening too quickly. Pour out the lemon juice, dry out the hole, and insert a sprig of rosemary, basil, or other fresh herb of your choice. Finally, add the taper candle. Use a little bit of dripped wax to secure the taper in place.
Make A Rain Barrel for Lughnasadh
By the time Lammas, or Lughnasadh, rolls around, summer is in full swing. Many areas are forced into water rationing, some face drought every year, and the crops in our gardens are beginning to look a bit brown and parched. By making a rain barrel, you can gather rain all year long, and then use it during the dry season to water your garden, wash your car, or even bathe your dog. This works best if your house has a downspout running out of a gutter, but you can still make a rain barrel if you don't have a spout -- it will just take longer to fill the barrel.
Rain barrels are available commercially from many home improvement stores. However, they typically cost between $150 to $200. Here's how to make a rain barrel of your own for just the cost of supplies - the one in the photos cost less than $20 to put together.
To make a rain barrel like the one shown here, you'll need the following
- A plastic, food grade 50-gallon barrel. You can usually find these in the classified ads -- I got mine for $15.
- 3/4" C-PVC fittings - basically, you'll need a piece to run down out of the barrel, a 90-degree elbow, a length of straight pipe about 6" long, and t-connector with a spigot on top*
- Clear PVC glue
- 1 3/4" brass hose fitting
The top of your barrel, which should have at least one removable cap, is actually going to be the bottom. That means that after you put it together, you're going to flip it over, so think of the barrel as being upside down while you're working.
Attach all your fittings together so that you have a drop of about two inches out of the bottom (which is really the top), a 90-degree turn, and then a straight length of pipe that comes out beyond the rim of the barrel.
Be sure to use PVC glue so that everything stays together permanently.
Connect the top threaded piece of pipe into the removable cap - it should have a threaded center so you can screw in a piece of 3/4" pipe with no trouble at all.
Flip the barrel over so that the pipe is now coming out at the bottom, as shown. You'll need to place your barrel on an elevated stand, because gravity is your friend - the water has to be able to flow downwards to get out of the barrel. I used logs for my stand, but you can also use cinder blocks, or even build a table out of scrap lumber. Be sure that whatever you use is sturdy - a full 50-gallon barrel can weigh 400 pounds!
If you're using a downspout gutter as your water source, this part is really easy. Simply cut a hole in the top of the barrel (which used to be the bottom) large enough for you to insert your house's rain spout through.
If you don't have a downspout, and you want to simply catch rain in the barrel, you can still do this. Cut away the top of the barrel using a saw. Place a section of sturdy screen over the top of the opening, and then staple in place. You may wish to cut a frame out of the top piece that you cut off, and place that over the screen to keep it in place. The screen will keep bugs and leaves from getting into your water, but still allow rain to collect.
Ideally, the downspout is the best collection method, because all the rain that runs down your roof will end up in your barrel.
Finally, drill a small hole near the top of the barrel. This will be in case of overflow - it will prevent excess water from sloshing out the back of the barrel where the downspout is, which is right by your house wall.
Attach a brass hose fitting at the end of the PVC pipe. When you're ready to use water out of the barrel, simply attach your hose, turn the spigot, and start spraying.
If you don't like the idea of a plain barrel sitting in your yard, you can decorate it with designs and fun symbols.
Note: Some people create multiple barrels, and then connect them all together using fittings beneath the stands. This method works well if you have a lot of space. Most people can get by with one or two barrels.
Your Lughnasadh Celebration
First, place the frozen dough on a greased cookie sheet. Spray a piece of plastic wrap with non-stick cooking spray or olive oil, and place it on top of the dough. Place the tray in a warm place, and allow the dough to rise for several hours until it has at least doubled in size. Once the dough has risen, cut five slits in it, so you'll end up with a head, arms and legs.
Shape the two lower sections into legs, the side sections into arms, and the top section into a head, as shown in the photo. Bake the bread for 40 minutes, at about 350 degrees, or until golden brown. After baking, remove from oven and allow to cool on a wire rack. Brush the bread man with melted butter, sprinkle with herbs if you like, and use in your Lammas ritual.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
- 8 Cups fresh basil, washed and packed
- 1 C Parmesan cheese, grated
- 1 C olive oil
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 C toasted pine nuts or sunflower seeds (optional)
- 1 Tbs, lemon juice
- Salt and Pepper to taste
Roasted Garlic Corn
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
- Unshucked corn cobs
- A pot of water
- Minced garlic
- Salt, pepper, and paprika
Put the wet corn cobs, still in their husks, on a grill. If you're lucky enough to be using a campfire, drop them into the white coals on the edge of the fire ring. Turn the corn cobs once in a while, and let them cook for about half an hour. You'll know they're done when the husk is dry and slightly burnt.
Remove the corn cobs from the grill and let them sit for a few minutes to cool a little. Don't let them get cold. Peel the husk all the way back and use it for a handle, or use wooden skewer sticks. Brush the cob with butter, and sprinkle with garlic, salt, pepper and paprika.
Barley Mushroom Soup
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, 50 minutes
- 5 C. vegetable broth
- 1 C. barley, uncooked
- 1/2 lb. mushrooms (use morels or enoki for a woodsy flavor)
- 1/2 C. onion, diced
- 1/2 C. fresh carrots, chopped
- 1/2 C. celery, chopped
- 2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
- Salt and pepper to taste
Add salt and pepper, seasoning to taste. Top with fresh croutons and chives, if you've got them handy.
Serve as a side dish at your Lammas celebration
Colcannon - Irish Potatoes for Lughnasadh
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
- 3 lbs potatoes, washed and peeled
- 1 small head cabbage, washed and finely chopped
- 2 sticks butter (use the real thing, not margarine)
- 1 1/2 C. cream or milk
- 1/2 lb. bacon, cooked and diced
- 4 leeks, chopped
- Salt and pepper
While you're working with the potatoes, boil the cabbage. Some people like to use the potato water, and that's fine. Once it's soft, about 8 minutes, drain and add into the potatoes. Add the second stick of butter -- again, put it in using small pieces so that it melts and coats all the cabbage.
Add bacon and leeks. Simmer for about half and hour, and then season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with hearty bread.
For More Lughnasadh Recipes, Enriching Stories & Pagan Ways...
Recipes for The Pagan Soul Cookbook by Psychic Bella
former pen name: Druidessia
This cookbook was a collaborative effort from Pagans all over the world, From recipes 8 generations back to historically enriched recipes with cultural fusion and a rich tapestry of words to adorn each recipe. From the far east, middle east to the far west this cookbook is full of recipes, stories and educational insight and rituals from pagans all over the world. Without the contributions from multi-generational and first life pagans this book wouldn't be possible it was a world wide effort made entirely of good food and a lot of love.
Recipe's for The Pagan Soul Cookbook
Ritual Cooking Section for Sabbats, Esbats, Handfastings and more, to Mead, Druidic Teas, Vegan & Vegetarian Dishes, and each page is full of beautiful photos, stories from all over the pagan world, we even have recipes for your children to create and enjoy along with special organic treats for family pets or "familiars" as we witches call them. So what are you waiting for?! This cookbook was featured on Amazon.com for 3 years for being the most unique cookbook on Lulu.com!