Today, we are celebrating the ancient Celtic holiday of Lughnasadh. I talk about this holy day in my books Fermata Cellars and Zinfandel’s Grimoire. It’s the day between the summer solstice and the autumn equinox, which makes it the start of the harvest season, and that is why it was significant to the ancient Celts.
My books are not really about the Celts, though. It’s about a group of neo-Druids called the Comatis who use the old holidays as a way of celebrating the sanctity of seasonal life here on Earth. Traditional activities for this festival include music, athletic competitions and feasting with plenty of mead, which is a wine-like drink made from honey instead of grapes. Since wheat was often the first crop to be harvested, when the Catholics conquered the Celtic lands, they renamed the holiday Lammas, or Loaf Mass, and used it as the day to bless loaves of bread.
I am always up for drinking mead and eating bread, although sports aren’t really my thing, but whatever. Today, I’d like to offer some suggestions for how to celebrate Lughnasadh in the modern day.
First, if you follow a Wiccan, Druid or some other Celtic spiritual path, go ahead and do a ritual for the god Lugh. If you’re not Pagan, you can skip this part.
Who was Lugh? Well, he was this really tall and handsome Irish guy. He had a long arm with which he threw a really long spear. That is why sports like javelin throws, archery, and other feats of speed, strength and target practice were popular ways of emulating him and thereby honoring him on his special day.
I am really big on not getting sucked into what’s called Appeal to Tradition. This is a logical fallacy that insists that traditions be followed solely for the sake of tradition. If the tradition doesn’t work for you, move onto to something that does.
A lot of Pagans like to dress up in medieval garb and try to recreate rituals that would have been done in pre-Christian times. I’m not like that. I want to create my own traditions and follow an evolving spiritual path. But if cosplay psyches you up for a spiritual experience, by all means, do it! An’ it harm none, ya know?
One tradition, though, that I will stick to on a matter of principle is giving the big middle finger to Pope Gregory and his Gregorian calendar. Every freakin’ Pagan I know celebrates Lughnasadh on August 1. Because it’s easier to remember.
But if you claim to be a dirt-worshipping tree-hugger, you would celebrate Lughnasadh on the actual day that is the crossquarter between the summer solstice and autumn equinox. Modern society and its conveniences be damned.
According to the U.S. Naval Observatory, in 2021, the sun crossed the Tropic of Cancer on June 20 at 11:32 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. That was the official start of summer. The autumn equinox will be Sept. 22. The midway point between the two dates in Aug. 6.
Why does that matter? It doesn’t really, especially for urban folks, but it’s kind of like celebrating Christmas five days early and then the actual day arrives and it’s anticlimactic. If you’re part of an agrarian society, every day counts. And for a lot of Pagans, timing is imperative. New moons, full moons, seasons. So why would the cross quarters of the seasons be any less important?
But whatever. You do you. And I’ll do me.
And this, my friends, is how we do Lughnasadh in Fort Wayne, Indiana in 2021.
Bicentennial Woods https://bit.ly/3C7GqZP
Hook and Arrow Archery https://bit.ly/3yohDyv
O’Reilly’s Irish Pub https://bit.ly/3ChQ0d1
Promenade Park https://bit.ly/3yllJre
Ambrosia Orchard https://bit.ly/3jdjWOG
David Goeglein/Guitar Angel Music https://bit.ly/3xj4N3o
Gwen Alyce Clayton is a journalist, copywriter, and author of paranormal fiction books. The Rivervine YouTube channel offers news, features and commentary on lifestyle topics targeted toward critical thinkers with a sense of wonder.