Astrocelt musings on the festival of Lughnasadh.
A festival, which precedes the community agriculture harvest which is celebrated at the height of summer in August. Indeed most agricultural based cultures had a similar celebration which was named accordingly to there cultural need. Lughnasadh in this case relates to Ireland and Gaul. In the case of Ireland this has become surrounded by a foundation tradition explains its original to the god Lugh through mythology. In turn the festival activity has been recorded in the Meterical Dindshenchas with associations to games, cessation of people’s differences’ or deputes held. In times past when the community was scattered into nuclear farming units, Lughnasadh was hosted by the sovereign ruler. This allowed time for the community to come together socialise through various activities prior to gathering in the fruits and the gifts of the earth.
In Gaul the festival of Lugh was celebrated in present day Lyons which was recognised in 12 BC by the Romans. Alters were built where the river Saone and Rhone meet specifically after the festival became romanised. The conference of two rivers held certain sacredness when two flowing waters converge into one. In itself this suggests a human innate cognitive way of understanding the landscape as seen elsewhere in indigenous societies.
The equivalent of this festival in Welsh tradition is Gwly August, which is celebrated in much the same way with a continuation of the games and social activities, indeed these appear to continue through out the summer from Gwly Ffraid. In both cases these where held on high ground. Overall it too was a time where the stories could be told which placed the world in balance and continuity. Similar to Lughnasadh with its association, associations to Llue has been likewise suggested from the 4th Branch in the Mabinogi to this time of year.
Regardless of the festival celebrated they were great occasion observed in communities when the last sheaf was cut and turned into corn dollies or a kern baby. Modern mechanisation of farming methods has perhaps seen such activities decline. Nonetheless these were carefully cared for and would take pride of place at Samhain. Nonetheless as the summer months starts to slowly decay, the light in the northern hemisphere begins to draw into itself. Yet it begins to brighten in the southern Hemisphere as the earth begins to stir to produce new season flow with a regeneration of life. Today there are many summer festivals which occur which could well suggest a continuation of such practices in a new form.