Lughnasadh--The Second Harvest
Most Pagan holidays and festivals celebrate the turning of the moon or the harvest cycle. Lughnasadh is the second harvest festival and is celebrated on August 2. Also called Lammas, Lughnasadh is a time the community comes together to celebrate the beginning of the harvest and to share blessings. It is a favored time for handfastings and community gatherings or family reunions. Fairs, with all the carnival amusement rides, 4-H displays, and the selling of homemade goods, are modern day versions of the old Celtic tradition. Old conflicts including wars were temporarily suspended as the community’s attention turned to providing for the family during the winter months. To this day, Wicker Men and Corn Kings are built and sacrificed to appease the Gods and Goddesses of the harvest in order to insure a bountiful fields, good hunting, and a mild winter. It is a day of relaxation and fun before starting the hard work of the rest of the month.
On a practical level, the early crops are harvested and preserved for the coming winter. The month of August, fields are checked daily for ripen vegetables that need to be picked at their peak freshness. If harvested too early or too late, the vegetables could not be preserved properly. Whether dried, canned or in modern day, frozen, it is important to process the crop quickly and properly to insure it maintains its nutritional value through out the winter.
Spiritually this is the time of what we have set into motion to come home for good or evil. Just as with the planting in the fields, what we have sown earlier in the year, so shall we harvest. Although karma is effective year round, the harvest time is when the justice we have created for ourselves more actively manifests. It is a time of healing old wounds and releasing old worn out life patterns. In offering up them up to the Divine, we open ourselves to new beginnings and healthier ways of living.
Again, the Christian church has established a holiday of its own in attempt to lure the Pagans away from the old ways by converting to Christianity. In following of the Pagan tradition, August 2 is the day the fields are ritually blessed. It is also sacred to Saint Catherine.