Step into Sovereignity with Lughnasadh
This Lughnasadh article and the sovereignity underpinning this season has the potential to revolutionize yourself and thereby the world!
Did you notice? It is easy to miss in the hustle and bustle of everyday life, but in nature there is a fairly marked transition from the vibrant energy of the Midsummer season to the ripening warmth during the period leading up to the first harvest festival, Lughnasadh.
The long, warm, golden summer days of late July and August
The most phenomenal change first noticeable comes to us through our ears. From one day to the next, the volume and composition of the morning chorus of birds has changed dramatically. Also during the day other bird species predominate than before, such as kaa-ing crows and twittering skylarks. The swallows are now almost all gone, except for those who are still nesting. The curious blackbird starts testing the ripeness of the rowan berries. The robins have exchanged their summer song for their autumn tune. All in all it has become a lot quieter in the garden. It is as if Nature has put the birdsong into the background and instead filled the sky with the visual spectacle of different kinds of dancing butterflies and buzzing insects. And strands. Strands of spider’s webs! Diligent spiders leave their artful webs just about everywhere, catching dew drops and reflecting the morning sun.
There are other typical indicators that point to the entry of the Lughnasadh season. When you go out and walk through the countryside and fields, you will notice that crickets frame the long, hot days with musical vibrations. In the hedges the blackberries are ripe, the rose hips almost and a little higher up we see in the elder tree the red branched clusters with deep purple berries in formation. The wild flowers along fields and roadsides begin to bear seed and here and there the first blooming autumn flowers emerge. Wheat and barley are ripe and colour the fields to be harvested golden. The trees show the first signs of autumn through the colour change of the leaves that live in the tops and tips of branches. The Rowan trees are orange-red and the small wild apples also blush more ruddy with every warm day.
This season involves the end of summer and the beginning of autumn. Because even though we are still at the peak of summer growth, autumn is already present in the first morning mists that spread across the fields during dawn. The first wild mushrooms appear in fields and forests. The scent and the crisp coolness of autumn hangs melancholically in the night air. With creeping minutes, the nights arrive a little earlier each day, and with that, the first spiders emerge that begin to take shelter indoors. The earth also smells different after the fall of a good summer downpour. It amazes me every year that this change of season is so clearly noticeable.
As the Lughnasadh annual festival approaches which is celebrated nowadays on or around August 1, I take time to pause for a few days and swap my usual environment for a more lonely landscape. For me, County Wiltshire is the place to go. The endless fields of wheat and barley, framed by heavy green trees and hedges filled with ripening berries, are the ideal setting to immerse myself in the Lughnasadh energy. Here I can easily tune in to the natural energy of this harvest season and contemplate how this is reflected in my own life amid this wide golden-yellow panorama. By determining where and especially how I am at this moment of the annual cycle, I have an inner compass in my hands. With this I determine the next steps; by making use of the wisdom that has been sifted from the past period and the adjustment that follows from alignment with the energy of the current season.
The name Lughnasadh (also written Lughnasa in modern times) comes from ancient Ireland and is a combination of Lugh and Nasadh, which means something like ‘the gathering in honour of Lugh’. This festival was celebrated mainly in high places and hilltops in Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man. In other parts of the UK, the festival is better known as the later Lammas. The Lughnasadh festivities included ceremonies based on nature religion, pilgrimages to sacred springs or hilltops, show of strength games, eating & drinking, trading in markets and, something the Irish are known for; match-making. In modern times, we can still find echoes of ancient harvest celebrations in local harvest thanksgiving, farmers' markets, summer fairs and harvest processions. The only difference is that they are not related to the Irish Lughnasadh but to Lammas, whose approach is based on the blessing of the grain by the Church and not the approach of the Celtic god Lugh.
Lugh, Master of the Clouds….
Who or what was the oldest Celtic god Lugh?
Ah, that is not an easy answer because there are several layers of reality and myth intertwined when we consider Lugh's writings and traditions. Below I list three of the most important aspects that can be found in thorough research about Lugh. It will give you an idea of who or rather says what the ‘Lugh’ is. Incidentally, he is the counterpart of the ‘Brigid’. On the year wheel they are each on their side of the year cycle, connected by the connection between Imbolc and Lughnasadh.
Lugh is a protector of the harvest in the sense that he can bring rain and dim the sun because he controls the clouds. He is a Master of clouds and of wind. He keeps the celestial elements in balance so that the harvest is not lost. Maybe that's why Lugh is referred to as a ‘sky god’ or ‘sky shepherd’. He has knowledge of the sun and rain and knows when to water the fields for nurturing and when sun is needed for ripening. This season coincides with the alignment of the sun with Sirius, which adds intense heat into the equation that increases the risk of thunder. Both of which could ruin the grain.
Lugh is considered the god of landscape and harvest, trees, meadows, fields and livestock. He is considered virile and powerful because of his role as a protector of boundaries, guardian of justice and guardian of peace. Lugh is therefore also the one who keeps everything in balance; he is the centre, the force that holds together. In Irish mythology, he has to keep Balor in check. Balor symbolizes the destructive power of ancient energy in the form of storm, lightning and thunder. Lugh is also ‘the Great Rider’ whereby the horse is an expression of the earth goddess. By directing the forces of the earth, he figuratively rides the earth goddess' powers. He gained this knowledge of earth’s energies through a long journey into the underworld where he was trained in this by the earth goddess herself.
Another aspect is his association with the apple tree and thus with eating from the tree of knowledge so that we can get to know the true love of God. It takes a certain amount of rebellion to mature as a human being because then you can understand yourself and your place in the world and thereby get to know God. I am not referring to God as a personification in heaven but a general term for what we might see as the ‘Eternal Unity’. It therefore also refers to our own divinity because humanity is part of this! By eating the apple of knowledge we are pushed forward in our journey that ultimately leads to getting to know God and our own divinity. Because of this, Lugh is also associated with snakes and antlers. Both symbolize wisdom and alignment with the divine by trusting the guidance within. With the advent of religion, an intermediary was placed between our own divinity and God. The snakes were chased from Ireland by Saint Patrick; one's own wisdom was replaced by religion, and thus began the manipulation of the masses from our own sovereignty into an artificially distanced God outside us.
And the latter is important and appropriate for our time. This is what I would like to draw your attention to during this Lughnasadh period. Let's come together to find and contemplate that original divinity within ourselves, our inner wisdom, our anchor of balance and peace, our ‘Lugh’ within and that which this ancient Celtic god symbolizes: sovereignty! Rediscover the divine aspect within you, which is inextricably intertwined and expressed by your nature and reflected back in all of nature around us. By observing nature during the seasons, we can discover the deeper connections between the natural energy of the local season and our inner strength during this phase.
Where should we guard our boundaries? Where is your centre of peace? How can you keep balance? What can you adjust by mastering your heavenly aspects (your thoughts)? What does rain (attention, care, nutrition) need to grow, both in your life and for humanity? How can you use the powers and help of the earth and its realms for the greater good?
Are you starting to see it? Are you beginning to feel that what is celebrated with Lughnasadh has an appropriate connection to our time? The ‘Lugh’ is in you! You have tremendous silent power within you and the time has come for those who read this and feel it vibrate as truth, that this divine wisdom is used. That you remember, claim and bring in your sovereignty, your birthright as a soul that contains God / Unity within!
Step into your sovereignty
What could we celebrate this Lughnasadh?
In the Northern Hemisphere, we can do this by contemplating the first of three harvest seasons, which is also why children go on school holidays in July and August. Originally, this is from the time when all hands were needed on deck to help take the crop off the fields before rain or thunder could ruin the wheat. And so the children were also deployed to get the harvest home! Much of what people do without thinking about its origin or its applicability to our time, after evaluation, may contain deep layers of wisdom awaiting rediscovery. And that is precisely what can hold the key to inspire people to reconnect with the land on which they live and thus attune to the natural rhythms that also apply to their personal lives.
Lughnasadh is just one of the eight year celebrations of the Earth's journey around the Sun during a year, that affects the land we live on and influenced the way ancient tribes dealt with the changes and challenges. I think it gave them a sense of stability to observe and mark the repetition of recognizable signs in nature. But it also provided the knowledge needed to survive for earliest man which in turn over time aided to improve living conditions and even helped to create wealth! Every year we see the cycle of death and rebirth reflected in the Earth's seasons. It may not be as clearly defined in regions with less variation in distance from the sun, but there too the population is affected by the cycles of their local nature. When we tailor our lives to the local season, it offers us a natural way to live ‘rich’. This wealth cannot be expressed in money, but is provided by consciously going through all the related aspects of a cycle, including pausing to celebrate and honour.
What do I mean by that? On the annual cycle, all emotions and all states of being are addressed: joy, hope, fear, sadness, peace, relaxation, laughter, sharing, worry, letting go, creating, adjusting, etc. By celebrating annual festivals in which we attune to and work with the energies of the local season, there will always be a welcome place for every emotion on the human spectrum to be felt and experienced! We suppress nothing but experience everything and recognize it as part of a natural cycle. No more compartmentalised feelings and emotions but an acceptance of the validity of everything. And that is healing. This makes us ‘whole’. That is why our conscious reconnection with nature is so very important; it offers a path of healing to a humanity alienated from nature and thereby also disconnected from its own emotions and states of being!
Through a set of destructive conditionings that stems from the shifting powers of the past, where we were led from inner power (sovereignty/Lugh) to outer power (religion, governments and consumption drivers), our animated naturalness has been replaced with an almost zombie- like artificialness because of the way most people are experiencing modern life. And with so many suppressed and unnatural habits, it's no wonder we see this reflected in the current state of the world. It is high time to reconnect with our natural state of being and reap our sovereignty. And there is a major role to be played in this process by consciously attuning to and celebrating the natural energy of the seasons!
Lughnasadh Blessings to you; may you shine with gentle power!
© Nathascha Heijen