Lughnasadh and Imbolc
28th July, 1998
Pronounced Lood-nah-sahd, it originates from the Celtic Sun God, Lugh, who presided over the first grain harvest of the year. Also called Lammas.
Lughnasadh, the beginning of the Harvest period is a time when Pagans remember the bounty of the Goddess and the weakening powers of the God. As the days grow shorter and the nights longer, the God gradually loses his strength. In the cyclical year of the Pagan, Lughnasadh marks the beginning of the decline of the powers of the God as the days grow shorter and Winter approaches. Bread is baked from the first reapings of the grain harvest in his honour. In fact Lammas means "loaf-mass" in old Anglo-Saxon.
This is the sacrifice of the Sun King, as he realizes that his energy must go into the form of the harvest grain. It is the first of the three harvest festivals celebrated in Celtic based Pagan traditions.
It is appropriate to plant seeds from the fruit consumed in ritual. If they sprout, grow the plant with love and as a symbol of your connection with the Goddess and God. Wheat weaving (the making of corn dollies, etc) is an appropriate activity for Lughnasadh. Visits to fields, orchards, lakes and wells are also traditional.
The foods of Lughnasadh include bread, blackberries and all berries, acorns (leached of their poison first), crab apples, all grains and locally ripe produce. A cake is sometimes baked, and cider is used in place of wine. Canning is also another activity that goes into full swing. Magickal cabinets are stocked with herbs before the onset of Autumn. Herbs for magickal use should be harvested this day.
Pronounced Imbolc, also called Candlemas, it originated in Ireland as a holy day for Brigid, the Great Mother Goddess, who was in the form of a bride for the returned Sun God. This is the first of the Spring festivals, it welcomes the Spring.
After giving birth of the God, the Goddess awakens from her recovery by the lengthening days of light. The Earth begins to feel this warmth, marking a return to the months of Spring. Imbolg is also a festival of Fires, to symbolise the coming return of life and the replenished powers of the Sun. In some Wiccan covens, it is also a traditional time for initiations.
The growing power of the Sun is represented by the candle, which brings new light and warmth after the darkness of Winter.
Imbolc is celebrated on or around the 1st of August in the Southern Hemisphere. Imbolc is thought to mean "in the belly" of the Mother. Other names for this day include Candlemas (Christianised), Oimelc ("milk of the ewes") or Brigit (also spelt Brigid or Brighid), or Bride's Day.
Bride is the midwife who helps bring in the Spring. Children sometimes place a small basket adorned with flowers and objects that are representitive of the Goddess, in which a corn maiden is laid, near the threshold of the door. After the maiden is placed in the bed, a gift of a wand is given to represent the masculine aspect of the season. Candles may be lit on either side of the bed to represent the warming of the earth and the strengthening of the Sun.
This is one of the traditional times for initiation into the Craft.
It is traditional upon Imbolc, at sunset or just after ritual, to light every lamp in the house - if only for a moment. Or, light candles in each room in honour of the Sun's rebirth.
"If Candlemas day be fair and bright,
Winter will have another flight.
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