Lughnasadh (August 1) is the time of the first harvest, when the plants of Spring wither and drop their fruits or seeds for our use as well as to ensure future crops. Mystically, so too does the God lose His strength as the Sun rises farther in the South each day and the nights grow longer. The Goddess watches in sorrow and joy as She realizes that the God is dying, and yet lives on inside Her as Her child.
Lughnasadh, also known as August Eve, Feast of Bread, Harvest Home and Lammas, wasn’t necessarily observed on this day. It originally coinsided with the first reapings. As Summer passes, Witches remember its warmth and bounty in the food we eat. Every meal is an act of attunement with Nature, and we are reminded that nothing in the universe is constant.
Lughnasadh is the first of three harvest Sabbats. As it is a harvest, the God figures more prominently here than the Goddess, though she, too, is revered and thanked for bringing the fruits of harvest.
The altar and circle can be decorated with sheaves of grains such as barley, oats or wheat. Fruits are appropriate, as are breads. In fact, bread may take the place of crescent cakes and cider instead of wine in the simple feast. The corn dolly that was woven at Imbolc may take her place on the Lughnasadh altar as well. The altar cloth shall be red, and the Altar candles shall be orange. Lay out your altar with all your usual tools, light the altar candles and the incense, and cast the sacred circle. Then invoke the God and the Goddess.
Lift some of the grain in your hand as you stand before the altar, facing East. Say:
<i>”Now is the first harvest of the year, the time when the fruits of nature give of themselves that we may survive. Now, as the God prepares for death, may his sacrifice help us to understand and accept the sacrifices we must make in our own lives. Now, as the Goddess enters cronehood, may she whisper her secrets and magic in our ears, that we may put them to good use, and not misuse.” </i>
Rub the heads of the grain with your fingers so that the grains fall onto the altar. This is a ritualized version of the threshing of grain, an act considered sacred in pre-Christian Ireland.
Then lift a piece of fruit, and take a bite out of it, savoring it. Say:
<i>”I partake of the fruits of the first harvest, that it’s energies might aid mine in my search for wisdom, goodness, and perfection. Oh Goddess of the moon, Mother of all, oh Lord of the sun, Father to everything, I thank thee for the bounty you have given me. May I always remember to harm none, and may my actions please you always.” </i>
Eat the rest of the fruit. Works of magic may follow, as well as any seasonal activities you had planned. Feasting may follow the ritual, with appropriate foods such as breads, berries, crab apples, and any locally ripe produce. After any such activities are finished, you may hold the simple feast and banish the sacred circle.