Here in the Northern Hemisphere, we are gearing up to celebrate the first harvest festival: Lughnasadh. Lughnasadh is typically celebrated July 31/August 1st and was named after the Celtic god Lugh. This time of year was honored all over the world as people everywhere were starting to get ready for colder months ahead. Bale fires were jumped over, preparations were made to start getting food ready for winter, and feasts to show thanks and gratitude for the years’ work were had. This was a time to mark the beginning of the 3 harvest festivals: Lughnasadh, Mabon and Samhain (all Celtic harvest festivals).
In modern times, especially for us witches in the city, it can be a struggle to find a way to honor this festival when you can’t feel those types of energies around. Most of us, if we need food no matter what time of year, can simply head to the nearest grocery store. But don’t be discouraged! I am going to tell you some simple ways to honor the first harvest in the 21st century!
- Find out what will be ready to harvest in your state/region: All this takes is a very simple google search! As you may have guessed from my name, The Great Lakes Witch, I am a resident of Michigan! Cherries and Apples are HUGE for us right now and when I googled “Michigan Harvest Season” I was blown away with just how much is coming into season. Fruits, veggies, berries and even herbs! I feel this really helped me get in tune with nature more as it helped me to connect with things around me. This may also help you find food slightly less expensive since you can find things in season near you!
- Visit Orchards/Farms: Using a Michigan reference as an example, for me I would visit apple orchards and also go cherry picking! We have lots of lavender festivals to visit that are typically happening this time of year. Don’t forget to go berry picking, as it was a common activity for our ancestors on this day too! Maybe try volunteering at your local farm animal shelter! These animals brought life to our ancestors, and this would be a great opportunity to feel that connection. Even visiting a petting farm would be fun for kids!
- Visit a nature center/go for a walk: I will be the first to admit that I hate seeing this on blog posts but it does deserve to be mentioned here. Don’t just take a walk, really notice what around you: what is blooming, are the trees starting to change color, what types of trees grow in your area? I like to use apps that help me identify plants as I go for walks, it helps me appreciate the nature that is right in my backyard. If you keep a book of shadows or something similar, consider making a spot for local plant knowledge.
- Bake Bread: Or anything really! Another holiday that is celebrated at this time is Lammas which translates to “loaf mass”. This year my partner and I are going to be giving corn bread a try! Any veggies out there ready for harvest in your area? Make a dish from them! My favorite go to place for recipes is Pinterest, but your local library will have some great cook books and there is always the Internet. Maybe try your hand at an old family recipe you’ve been wanting to make if bread isn’t your style, just try and stick with items from our google search from earlier!
- Have a large feast with gratitude: Okay so one thing pagans and witches typically love to do is have large feasts. Invite whoever you feel comfortable sharing this day with. It’s also important to really just take stock of what was abundant in our lives this year. Be grateful for what you have, either by taking turns at the table thanksgiving style or however you and whomever you’re celebrating with would like to. Even if you’ve had a bad year, try and find just 5 things to be grateful for. I also understand that a lot of us in current times still have to hide our spiritual beliefs, so even if it’s just a nice dinner take moments to appreciate your witchcraft!
- Have a bonfire/yard games to go with your feast: We may not have huge bale fires to jump over in the city, but we do have fire pits! Have a fire, drink a few cold ones if you’re okay to do so, play some games like corn hole which I find very fitting this time of year. Having fun with family and friends is what most witch/pagan festivals and sabbats are all about. Don’t be afraid to get creative! Decorate with seasonal things like sunflowers and corn stalks! Make daisy/dandelion crowns for children who may be partaking to wear. Berry lemonade or lavender lemonade make refreshing drinks on hot summer days that would fit in perfectly!
These ideas are honestly just beginning, I feel I could go on forever! Having nature walks, making corn dollies, redecorating your altar, making mini loaves of bread or just baking mini gifts to share with loved ones and taking time to tell them what abundance they brought to your life. There are so many great and creative ideas! I will be the first to admit my major struggle connecting with any sabbat that was not an equinox or sabbat for the first half of my path. It wasn’t until I changed my mindset to how can I make this modern and how can I make this personal and by looking into growing seasons that I was really able to connect with Sabbats like Lughnasadh.
I hope you all have a safe and blessed Lughnasadh! If you have any other fun activity ideas leave them in the comment section!