Oh what have ye reaped this year?
The time of harvest now is here,
Did you toil and work and sweat,
or did you only on luck bet?
The days grow shorter, bit by bit.
The sacred fire now is lit.
Ceridwen answers when you call,
to bring about a joyous fall.
I wrote that a few years ago, just popped into my head while working
on our Lughnasadh ritual. I open our celebration with it each year.
Its rather good, if I may say so myself, which I just did : )
Lughnasadh is one of my favorite holidays as we are still in the warmth
of summer yet also have the bounty of our gardens to enjoy. My sister
and Dad have gardens that already have yielded cucumbers, squash, and
green beans. This holiday falls in August, my favorite month as it is
my birth month. I am a true Leo in every sense of the word. I have always
felt renewed and refreshed during this month, energized by the late
summer sun. My Dads birthday is also this month, altho he is a
Virgo, so celebrating the masculine energies at this time seemed natural
Names and Dates
This holiday is known by two names, Lughnasadh and Lammas. Lets
look at both.
In modern Irish, the name of the old festival comes from the Gaelic
name for August, Lunasa. Most often it is now spelled Lughnasa
but the older spelling is Lughnasadh. It means the nasad
(games or assembly) of Lugh. Lugh was the leading Celtic deity
and hero of the time. The celebration lasted two to four weeks and included
tribal assemblies and activities. It was celebrated mainly in Britain,
Ireland, France (ancient Gaul), and possibly northern Spain.
Lammas is from the Anglo-Saxon hlaef-mass, meaning loaf-mass.
It marks the first harvest when the grain is gathered, ground, and made
into bread. The first loaf was offered up as part of the Christian Eucharist
ritual. Lammas was a popular ceremony during the Middle Ages but died
out after the Reformation, altho it is being renewed in some places.
Since Lammas was celebrated only in Britain it seems likely it was a
renaming of the Celtic Lughnasadh.
There were festivals held at this time in other countries but not by
either of these names so I have not mentioned them for that reason.
It seems to me that Lammas is the Christianized version of the old festival.
The harvest theme runs through both and the energies are similar. What
name you use is up to you, there is no right or wrong, just preference.
There is also the matter of the date on which Lughnasadh/Lammas is
celebrated. New Lughnasadh is on August 1 and Old Lughnasadh
is on August 12. Why? Blame it on the Pope! Specifically, Pope Gregory
XIII who in 1582 wiped out ten days from the old Julian calendar to
make it astronomically correct (or closer to being correct). The Georgian
calendar was not adopted in Britain until 1752 and Ireland until 1782,
by which time 11 days had to be dropped. And that moved the celebration
from August 12 to the 1st creating Old Lughnasadh and New Lughnasadh.
Most celebrations moved to the new date but fairs and festivals still
were held on the 12th. To add some more confusion, Lammas became appropriated
to Christians saints day and was held on the nearest Sunday.
If you are really technical about times, there is also Lughnasadh
crossquarter day, when the sun reaches 15 degrees Leo.
All this confusion can be used to your advantage when planning your
ritual. For example, my sister was having her annual picnic on August
1st so we could not do our ritual that day or the previous evening or
day after as she was too busy. She had a class scheduled for August
12 and we have our Goddess meeting on the 13th so that ruled out that
time. We were all available on August 7, which is when the crossquarter
day occurred, so we held it then. The weather cooperated and we were
able to have our ritual outside with a fire. We also used the two weeks
of Lughnasadh energy to our advantage for the Lughnasadh candle. Since
we could not empower them on August 1 or the 9th, we created and empowered
them yesterday evening, August 11, Old Lughnasadh Eve. They will be
available for purchase next week as we still have to decorate the outside
of the container.
Frankincense, The Scent of Lughnasadh
When making an incense or oil for Lughnasadh, it seems you must include
frankincense. I have seen it in almost every recipe for Lughnasadh,
Lammas and for Lugh. We put it in our candle altho it is not the main
oil in the recipe.
When most people hear the word frankincense they picture the three
wise men bringing gifts to the baby Jesus, and that is why it has a
winter association. But the rest of us realize that this special resin/oil
is truly a gift scent by the Gods for use all year round (pun intended).
There are 25 species of Frankincense native to Asia and Africa, the
most common used as oils and resins are: boswellia frereana, boswellia
papyrifera, boswellia sacra also know as carteri, and boswellia
serrata . Which one you use will depend on availability and personal
preference. They do not all smell the same. I have both frereana
and carteri and use them for different purposes. A person with
their eyes closed (so could not see the names) would not know they were
both frankincense as they each have a distinct scent. Similar, but different.
Gift has a special set of 5 different frankincenses if you are curious
as to the differences (I requested samples once with an order, one of
these days I am going to order the set).
Frankincense is associated with fire and the Sun. Its
energies are: banishing, meditation, protection, purification, spirituality,
strength, and is uplifting.
Medically it stimulates circulation and calms the nerves.
It has antiseptic, expectorant, and decongestant effects.
In Chinese medicine it has been used internally for menstrual pain and
externally for injuries, skin eruptions, and as a wash for gum, mouth,
and throat complaints. Important in aromatherapy for relieving anxiety.
Its economic uses include incense, perfumery, in wrinkle creams, to
flavor candy, baking products, soft drinks, even ice cream! Id
like to try that. (the above medical and economic uses from The Herb
Society of America New Encyclopedia of Herbs & Their Uses)
I found some interesting uses through the ages.
* It has been revered for at least the last 3,000 years
* Burned by many cultures to appease the Gods
* Still the incense used during Catholic mass
* At one time its commercial value was almost as great as gold
* Frankincense means real incense in French
* Its ancient name is olibanum, which means oil from the
* It has been burned to free the sick of evil spirits
* Egyptians used it in cosmetics for face masks and in the embalming
* Chinese used it to treat tuberculosis of the lymph glands and leprosy
My introduction to frankincense is also what made me a believer of
the healing power of oils. A wonderful lady who worked at a health food
store in Northville (which is no longer there) is really the one who
introduced me to making soaps and essential oils for healing (her face
is clear in my memory but unfortunately I can not remember her name,
I have it written down somewhere and will give her credit when I find
it). I had eczema and was working to heal that with her advice when
another more serious problem occurred. A mole on my back suddenly got
larger, it doubled in size. I was under major stress at the time and
attributed it to that but cancer was also in my thoughts. I made an
appointment with an iridologist my sister knew (at the time I had no
health insurance and also I trust natural practitioners more than doctors)
but she could not fit me in for two weeks. I could not wait two weeks.
The lady at the heath food store had recently told me of a lump she
discovered on her dog. The vet said cancer and it had to be removed.
Instead she massaged frankincense oil (boswellia frereana) on
the lump twice a day. The lump shrunk and disappeared. Her vet was not
happy but she and the dog were.
I purchased a bottle of oil and put a drop on the mole every day. I
put it on straight, no dilution. Well, actually my boyfriend put it
on as I could not reach it. The result is that it softened the mole,
which was located right in the path of my bra strap so I had to get
a racer back bra to wear during this. It was also during January so
I constantly had clothes rubbing on it which sometimes hurt. The weekend
before my appointment with the iridologist, it gets a bit gross here,
something caught on the mole and tore it a bit. Then while visiting
my parents I felt a pain and when my boyfriend looked he said it was
gone. Obviously my clothes caught it and the mole came right off. There
was a red sore spot where it was.
At the appointment, the iridologist listened to my tale and looked
the spot. She concluded that yes, it could have been cancer as there
were red streaks running out from the spot. She said these would indicate
where it was trying to spread and the frankincense was destroying these
and making them red. I continued with the frankincense until these too
disappeared. I now put frankincense in my personal skin oils that I
make. It took another year or two to heal the eczema but that is another
story : )
Enjoy the rest of summer !