Lughnasadh is just around the corner! This special day is the first of three harvest festivals on the Pagan Wheel of the Year. Traditionally, it was a celebration of the harvest to come. For people who relied on the land directly for their sustenance, this was a kind of a promise–that if all continued to go well, there would be abundance and sustenance to eat through the winter.
For the modern pagan, it’s an often over-looked holiday. Few of us have more than a simple garden. We have grocery stores or corner markets where we obtain most of our food. And we can do this anytime of the year. So we may feel more than a little disconnected from the celebrations of Lughnasadh.
I would suggest it is an important time of reflection. For while we are artificially disconnected from nature, and only few of us eat farm-to-table, we are still completely dependent upon nature for our lives. That food still comes from the ground, from the earth, it’s just not usually from our own backyard. If crops fail, we may not have foods to eat. We are so fortunate that there is a system in place which minimizes the risks even in the case of wide-spread crop failures, but we should still be incredibly thankful to the Earth who provides us with such bounty.
As Pagans, we still celebrate the themes of harvest, gratitude and reflection for Lughnasadh. We should create a feast as they did in days of old, to revel in the abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables available to us at this time. We should offer thanks to our deities and to The Great Mother for the sustenance of our lives. Preform what rituals of your paths that speak to you.
I would also suggest that you make a donation to your local food bank. In this time of plenty and celebration of plenty, it’s important to remember that there are those who have very little this day, as they have most days. It’s a good time to offer thanks by sharing the bounty with your community.
Our ancestors thought similarly. One tradition was to bring down the barriers in the fields that divided one from another and any crops left unharvested or hay that had not been picked up by this time were fair game to anyone who thought to collect them. Fences were removed and private crop lands became common areas of open pasture, free for anyone in the community to use. These pastures were sometimes called “Lammas Lands” (Lammas being another name for Lughnasadh).
As we seek new ways to celebrate the Old Days, I think donating food on Lughnasadh is an excellent tradition.