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Magickal Musings From Infinite Flame

Lughnasadh 2009
Define "wicked"...


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. It’s 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 Dad’s birthday is also this month, altho he is a Virgo, so celebrating the masculine energies at this time seemed natural to me.

Names and Dates

This holiday is known by two names, Lughnasadh and Lammas. Let’s 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 Christian’s saint’s 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. Nature’s 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! I’d 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 Lebanon”
* It has been burned to free the sick of evil spirits
* Egyptians used it in cosmetics for face masks and in the embalming process
* 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 !
~~~~Rhiannon Rose

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Lughnasadh Symbols

  • Bread
  • Wheat
  • Oats
  • Barley
  • And all other grains
  • Fruit, especially berries
  • Wine
  • Sickle
  • Sun
  • The God, primarily as Lugh
  • Sirus, the Dog Star
  • Acorns
  • Red
  • Orange
  • Water
  • Earth


Lughnasadh Energies

  • First Harvest
  • Giving Thanks
  • Warrior
  • Healing
  • God/masculine energy
  • Sacrifice of the God
  • Accomplishments
  • Celebration


Credit & Butt Kissing

Llewellyn’s Witches Datebook for all dates and times

Aromatherapy, An Illustrated Guide by Clare Walters

Lammas, Celebrating the Fruits of the First Harvest by Anna Franklin & Paul Mason

Magical Oils by Moonlight by Maya Heath

The Herb Society of America New Encyclopedia of Herbs & Their Uses by Deni Brown

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