As part of my ongoing Druidic Bardic Course I receive every month my selection of ‘Gwersi’ or teachings to learn.
I’ll be focusing on these teachings and the whole Druidic tradition a lot more in future blog posts as I seek to explore our own various Shamanic traditions which Britain and Ireland are rich in.

For now though and ahead of this weekend I would like to explore the Celtic/Druidic festival of Lughnasadh.

As one of the eight major points in the ancient calendar of these lands - Lughnasadh marks the time of the beginning of the harvest period.
It is a time of joy and reaping the rewards and harvest of all the hard work that you put in earlier in the year. This can be understood in many ways. Both on a physical level as it was in the old days when the people tilled the land, sowed their seeds and then carefully tended to the crops that if all went well would help see them through the long, cold and dark Winter months, but also on a metaphysical level as the intentions that we set earlier in the year at Imbolc (and the dawning of Spring) start to hopefully come to fruition.

Through this celebration we can understand the importance of careful planning and preparation, and why its still important to sow these seeds for ourselves and others, even though we may no longer work the land in the way our ancestors did.
Lughnasdh (loo-nus-uh) means ‘the commemoration of Lugh’ and through exploring who Lugh was, we can as with all of the quarter fire festivals understand more about the world of our ancestors and in doing so - more about our own world today.
Sometimes the event is called Lammas which can refer to the day this celebration takes place which is August 1st and is of course this coming Saturday.

Lugh appears in various forms in many cultures - but normally as a god of fire and light. In the Irish legends he was the leader of the mythical Tuatha De Danann - one of the four waves of invaders that swept over Irelands ancient shores and are recorded in the Lebor Gabála Érenn (The Book Of The Taking Of Ireland) or sometimes know as ‘The Book Of Invasions’.
This is an interesting and rich collection of stories and myths from the creation of all to the medieval period, but I am getting somewhat ahead of myself and this will all be a blog for another occasion.
For now back to Lugh and in the story of the Tuatha De Danann’s victory over the Fomorians (another one of the mythical invaders) - Lugh spares the life of Bres - one of the captured enemy leaders, and in return is given knowledge on ploughing, sowing and reaping. In this story we can perhaps see the creation of ‘the harvest myth in which the secret of agricultural prosperity is wrested form a powerful and reluctant god by Lugh’.
An interesting story in itself - perhaps myth - perhaps a vague recollection of a long ago era when Giants, Gods & Demi-Gods may have roamed the Earth and the use of magic and manipulation of the elementals was much more common place.
Its easy to dismiss these stories as just that, but those of us who work in a shamanic way and have experienced other realms and other beings, can understand that these people may well have existed here in an age far different from the one we find ourselves in today.

At this time of year the Sun’s warmth and strength should have matured the crops (although given this years patchy Summer - that seems less a likely outcome here in the mountains of Wales!) and enable the first real fruits of the harvest to appear. Lughnasadh in another way celebrates the co-creation between Sun & Earth - masculine & feminine - and indeed Imbolc which sits opposite Lughnasdh in the Celtic calendar is often seen as a more feminine celebration as we slowly re-merge from the dark of Winter, whilst Lughnasadh is normally viewed as a more masculine festival as the days start to grow shorter and Autumn heralds the slow descent into the depths of Winter.

By following these festivals throughout the year not only do we get a much greater appreciation of how our ancestors were much more deeply connected to the land and their immediate surroundings, but also how we can view these occasions on a more shamanic and esoteric level. The unending cyclical nature of our existence and how our own lives mirror the seasons is an important teaching in itself and one worthy of deeper exploration.

This Friday though is also an important and powerful day in itself and quite the aperitif, as it is not only a full moon but a blue one at that. Something that only occurs once every 3 years or so and happens when there are two full moons in one calendar month.
We will be marking the occasion by getting up early on Friday to go and pick one of our favourite shamanic and magical plants - Mugwort or Artemisia Vulgaris. It is said that its properties are much more powerful when picked before sunrise, and even more so on a full moon! So we are following our intuitions and making the most of this powerful blue moon in order to collect fresh and wild Mugwort from an area near our house where it grows. From this we intend to make a tincture, and also hopefully once the Sun comes up and pokes its head out from behind the clouds, we want to make a flower essence from the buds which are now in full bloom. 

Because of this special blue moon we are also contemplating making a special full moon essence overnight with the addition of one of our own moon stones to create a powerful dreaming essence.
The weekend will be marked with a special ceremony honouring all of the above and working with our native teacher plants in order to connect more deeply with the land and this special time of the year.

What will you be doing this weekend to celebrate this powerful full moon and harvest time?

With thanks to OBOD’s guide to Lughnasadh and Maire MacNeills book ‘The Festival of Lughnasadh’


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    Davyd Farrell

    Davyd is the Co-Founder of Archetype Events, a politics graduate and trainee medical herbalist.

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