originally posted in the on-line religion magazine, Creedible, 2013
August often seems to bring in the most desperate days of summer. The sun beats down heavily, school is right around the corner, and the pace starts to pick up again at work. Everyone tries to squeeze in one last vacation, one last trip to the mountains, one last trip to the beach, one last hotdog, one last camping trip, one last barbeque.
In the wheel of the year, August marks the end of summer and the start of the harvest season. Fruits, herbs and grains are ready to be harvested and gathered, and summer’s bounty is almost, but not quite, overripe. Observed on the first of August, Lammas celebrates this time of sun, heat, harvest, sweat, games and celebration.
Also known as Lughnasa (Loo-nuh-sah or Loo-nah-sah), this Gaelic holiday with Irish roots observes the funeral games the hero Lugh (Loo) hosted in honor of his foster mother, Tailtiu. Tailtiu is a grain deity who died from exhaustion after preparing Ireland for agriculture and cultivation. Her sacrifice and death mirror other Corn Mother myths throughout the world, including goddesses from ancient Greece, the American Southwest and Japan. Her gift of preparing Ireland for planting manifests itself through the harvest enjoyed during these summer and autumnal months.
The exploits of the hero Lugh and his games held in honor of his mother are mimicked in our own summer games of baseball, swimming, soccer, and other outdoors sports. Maybe it’s a coincidence, but some Pagans feel as if nothing could be more appropriate this time of year than holding the Olympic Games, a glorious celebration of accomplishment and human potential.
Though we’re not Olympic athletes, this is still the perfect time to go outside and do something sweaty, fun and incredible. Though winter seems to be a lifetime away, the cold will be here before we know it. For Lammas, share a hearty feast with your friends and family, partaking of seasonal fruits, vegetables and local dishes.
Summer is a good time of year for family reunions and gatherings. Like Lugh and Tailtiu, honor your family and the accomplishments of those close you. Family legacy and memories live on when we share the stories that make us laugh and beam with pride.
Be sure to boast and brag about yourself a little, too. We all have a lot to be proud of because we’ve all done something heroic in one way or another, so share your accomplishments with those who you care about and who care about you. As the wheel turns and turns again, one day your exploits will be talked about, celebrated and remembered during the sweaty, fun-filled summers to come.