After being deeply engulfed in a cult for fifteen years, I vowed to avoid all rituals and organized religion. I had to get my brain straightened out and figure out which part of my spiritual path was due to programming and which part was birthed from a true spiritual awakening. I knew my relationship with Jesus wasn’t going to be hindered, but my relationship with religion had come to a screeching halt.
It was early one summer when I began looking for an outdoor activity for my family to participate in. We had already been avid recycling fanatics and volunteered several times a year for community clean-ups. Our next step was to find a way to not only clean up, but invest our time and energy into the land. We discovered an organized event for native plant restoration and signed up!
We arrived at Bidwell Park and met a woman who was fully prepared to dig into the land. She had the proper clothing for being out in the hot sun, gloves to protect her hands, and a hat to protect from the sun. We made the introductions and she handed us tools to get started. We spent a couple of hours pulling invasive plants and touring through the park as she taught us what needed to be pulled and what was to remain. During all of the hard work, we shared our stories. She too, had left an abusive religious community.
After we completed our tasks for the day, she invited us to a public gathering of her grove. This kind Druid woman extended her hand of friendship and we gladly accepted. “Could be a good cultural experience for our kids!” I thought.
We arrived at a quaint outdoor amphitheater in the park with a fire pit, next to a tall tree. We sat in the outer area for observing and the participants stood within their sacred circle. As we watched the ritual unfold, each part of their ceremony reminded me of my intimate moments with Jesus. I thought my heart had been frozen in time, paralyzed by the pain and confusion of the cult we had been drowning in for years. My soul, that felt like it was gasping for air, had finally broke through a barrier and I gulped a lung full of life giving oxygen. For months I felt as though my soul couldn’t breathe and here I was, coming up to the surface again.
Lughnasadh, the festival of first harvest. The day we break bread and make offerings of gratitude. It’s the time of the season that marks the joy of first fruits and the bittersweet reality that dark days are ahead as Fall guides us into the winter months. For me it was the day of joy that my soul could still receive what Source had for me. I was finally able to realize that my soul’s journey did not need to rely on organized religion. Nature had taken a hold of me and embraced me with warmth, love, and offered me hope. The summer Sun was taking my religious wounds to the depths of the cold winter where it could be transformed by Mother Earth. I didn’t need to worry about the darkness, because I knew the Light was already working on my behalf. I looked forward to the journey from Lughnasadh, the first of the Harvest festivals, to Imbolc, the first of the Spring festivals. My heart sang of healing and hope, the hope that a new spiritual life was ahead.
Observing and celebrating Lughnasadh doesn’t require expensive items that are sure to break your bank. It’s a simple ritual of gratitude performed by you and your offerings are humble scatterings of oats, wheat, or seeds. Though this simple ritual seems meager on the surface, it’s meaning is deep and rich.
What do we have to be thankful for?
What seeds did we plant and how have they manifested this year?
Every gardener knows the excitement of seeing that first green bean, or that first plump strawberry. I’m reminded of the decision we make in that moment.
Do we gobble up that first gift from the earth or do we share with those closest to us?
Do we think to share with those in need?
Here is that tipping point where we either grow as a spiritual being or we create disease of the soul through greed.
Lughnasadh teaches me to grow from a thankful heart and share with others.
This first harvest is not to be confused with the final harvest. We still have work to do. Our garden still needs nourishment and we need to be careful to keep the beds clear of weeds that would like none other than to choke our vines and steal our fruit. Take only what’s needed, share from our abundance, and keep tending to the work.
While I am not a Druid in any organized fashion, my soul is fed from the beautiful ceremonies and traditions of my Celtic ancestors. As with many of us, our DNA has trickled down through multiple ancestors of our past. We are a melting pot of vibrant ancestral paths and I honor each path of my historical lineage. In the Celtic tradition of my great grandmother’s ancestry, I honor this path with Lugh. Lugh is the patron deity of this festival. He is the patron of scholars, craftsmen, warriors and magicians. I take this into consideration as I choose my offerings for this holy day.
I honor the scholars who have held our history and traditions in sacred space for our generations to learn from. I take my craft of aromatherapy and anoint candles with the aromas that correspond with Lughnasadh. I include the use of my blade and cut the diseased portions of my soul and cauterize the wounds with the blade heated by this month’s hot summer sun. I’m working my magic into my ritual with faith and hope that in the Spring there will be bounties of blessings awaiting me.
My altar of honor for Lugh and my ancestors include the traditional elements of wheat grain, oats, and seeds. Included are the fruits and vegetables of the season (in my region) are strawberries, tomatoes, pomegranate, and carrots. I bake a corn bread and offer honey butter to sweeten the ritual. Lets not forget a chalice for refreshment, sweet pomegranate juice!
I’m not a literalist in my practice. I follow my Guides and allow my intuition to guide me in my artistic placement of the elements on my altar. I encourage you to do the same.
Every portion of my ritual is a layer of magic that keeps me grounded in my practice. To learn more about layering your magic in personal practice consider joining my group on Facebook.