Lughnasadh is here! Welcome to another Sabbat installment where I share my personal altar setup and give you ideas for your own decorations, along with some recipes and a link to a very straightforward corn husk dolly tutorial.
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Deity & Decoration
The first of our three harvest festivals is here, reminding us how quickly time flies. Our gardens are overflowing with the bounties given us by the Great Mother, but it is the first harvest, grains and grapes, that we are celebrating during Lughnasadh. Grains take center stage as we bake breads and the grape is anything but humble when fermented just right.
The Celtic God Lugh is the Deity of note this time of year (for obvious reasons), but he is not your only option. You can take your pick among grain and harvest Deities, as well as Mother Goddesses and Father Gods. Among the more notable ones: Ceres, Cronus, Danu, Demeter, Neper, Parvati, and Tammuz.
Although the colours are more subdued for the Lughnasadh Sabbat, there is so much life packed onto our altar. For the cloth covering we used a beautiful Egyptian-themed tapestry with the perfect colour palette of browns, oranges, and yellows, proving, once again, that almost anything can be an altar cloth, all you have to do is use your imagination and let the Gods lead. Front and center, our representation of Lugh, a framed Tarot card from the Illuminati Tarot Deck. Statuary (especially of Gods) is not the easiest to find, and can be quite pricey. To circumvent this, a great option is some form of picture. You can represent your chosen Deity with photographs, artwork, Tarot, or printouts. Really, anything you can frame can represent your Goddess or God.
Even more prominent is our harvest basket filled with bounties from beneath the Earth: onions, carrots, beets, and potatoes, and included some shelled nuts and corn that was picked up at a local Farmer's Market last week. The only thing that is missing this year are some of the farming tools that aid us while we toil in our gardens. Bright yellow and orange flowers bring light and honor the life-giving Sun, which is also represented in the crystals on the altar, citrine and carnelian. We added corn husk dollies made with fresh husks from our local corn haul, a red candle to represent the Lord, a green one for the Lady, and the masculine scent of opium incense. To represent Earth we brought a little bit of outside in, digging up some earth from our own garden, while Water came by way of the rainstorm we had a couple of days ago. Lastly, our offerings consist of some honey-soaked bread baked at home and a small jug of beautifully rich red wine from Southbrook Organic Vineyards in Niagara Falls, Ontario.
Decorate your own altar with the colours of harvest and the Sun: yellows, oranges, and reds. Use candles in rich, dark colours, fall flowers, and baskets filled with berries, grains, wheat, nuts, barley, corn, onions, carrots, and other root vegetables. Other decorations include straw braids and dolls, grapes and vines, and any farming implements you like.
Add aventurines, agates, and moonstone to power your altar, and heighten your ritual with the scents of amber, rosemary, and sandalwood.
Traditional & Modern Ways to Celebrate
Lammas is a time to rejoice in the fullness of the harvest, as it has been since ancient times. Traditionally, this cross-quarter festival included music and dancing, competitive sports, trading, and feasting on newly harvested crops. You can honor these traditions by holding a fest in your own backyard or local public park with family and friends. Those who are musically inclined can bring their instruments and play while the rest dance. Fun games can be planned, such as lawn bowling, badminton, sack races, or any silly pseudo sports your imagination can cook up. Winner gets a medal made from braided straw! Visit a local Farmer's or Flea Market and 'trade' your money for goods. Find out what is in season in your area and plan a meal that is comprised only of those foods. You don't have to grow them all yourself, they can be picked up at the market or grocery store.
This is the perfect time to bake fresh breads of all kinds, since grains are the main focus of the first harvest. Bake something you've made a million times or try out something new. Bake a pie or cobbler with fresh in-season fruit. Try your hand at fruity danish or clafoutis. No matter your experience level, there is something for everyone.
Make Corn and Straw Dollies and Braids
This is a fun activity the family can do together. Supplies can be purchased online or at your local craft store, or you can just use the husks from corn you picked up at the local Farmer's Market. Even if you're not too crafty, this can be lots of fun and is a beautiful addition to your Lughnasadh Altar. There is a simple guide at MarthaStewart.com for corn husk dolls, and FeltMagnet.com has tutorials for pretty much anything you want to weave using straw. Save your creations for Samhain - burying them for good fortune.
Spend Some Time in Your Garden
Do a little bit of cleanup, harvest ripe fruits, talk to your plants, or just sit and watch the insects or leaves gently blowing in the breeze. No matter where you live, you can have your own garden. It can be a large plot of land, meticulously maintained, a small raised bed growing wildly, or a small pot of herbs on your windowsill. No matter the size, enjoy your first harvest and reflect on the generous bounty that Nature provides you.
Take a Walk
This suggestion shows up in pretty much every Sabbat, and for good reason. I don't believe you can be Wiccan without having a connection to the natural world. It isn't always easy to get out, and depending on where you live and how busy your schedule is, it may be nearly impossible. It's important at the very least, once a month while you're celebrating the Sabbat to make a connection with the Earth. Find a nature trail in your area or enlist a friend with a car and drive out to one (make it a picnic day!), or spend some time in your back or front yard, but try to drown out the usual sounds of the modern world and meditate on the Natural. If you're lucky enough to live near woods or wide open spaces, don't take it for granted. Slow down, take in its beauty, be thankful, and let it whisper (or sing) to you.
Delicious Things to Eat
Traditional foods to enjoy and share with friends and family during Lughnasadh include: breads, stuffings, and other baked goods made from all kinds of grains, including wheat, oats, barley, rye, and corn, grapes, berries, and honey. Wash your feast down with ales, wines, grape juice, and berry punches.
Fly over to The Hungry Bluebird for a crisp recipe made with fresh blackberries and rolled oats.
Whip up a pot of Cooking Classy's hearty beef barley soup using seasonal root veggies.
Not to be confused with the Elven Lembas Bread, Lammas Bread is a must this time of year! Just a Pinch offers up a recipe and a protection spell.
Thank you for spending some of your time with me.
I wish you a blessed Lughnasadh!