Blessings to all on the Fire Festivals of Lúnasa and Imbolg!
Traditional Lúnasa arrives at sunset tonight in the Northern Hemisphere, as does Imbolg for those in the Southern Hemisphere!
In Celtic traditions, the day begins at sunset … so these fire festivals begin this evening and continue through to sunset on August 1st!
In the Celtic Wheel of the Year, we celebrate not just one Autumn Festival but three: the First Harvest (aka First Fruit) of Lúnasa, traditionally celebrated on August 1st; the Second Harvest at the Autumn Equinox (aka Fómhar, Mabon and Alban Elfed) on September 22; and the Third Harvest at Samhain, traditionally celebrated on November 1st.
If you are in the Southern Hemisphere, if you hadn’t put your Brat Bridhe (cloth strips) out before sunset last night (Imbolg Eve), do so this evening (some count this as Imbolg Eve!). Place a piece of cloth on a tree, bush or windowsill. Collect them after the early morning dew, when they are infused with Brighid’s healing energy. You can use any cloth (natural fibres if at all possible), or even a piece of ribbon, which is easy to tuck into a purse, yoga bag, or even a bra strap, or place on your altar throughout Imbolg season!
For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, Lúnasa marks the celebration of the first fruits and grains: wheat, corn, soft fruits, and many other herbs, grains, and vegetables. Perhaps you are already starting to see those changes, those harvests, and signs that autumn is approaching with the now slightly shorter days.
And even though the traditional date for this celebration is August 1st, our ancestors celebrated first harvest on the first harvest (or the Sunday closest to it). In your locale, the timing may be different, so celebrate when it’s right for you.
The alternative name for this festival, Lammas, originated during the Christian era. The name comes from the Old English hlaf-mæse, meaning “loaf mass”. At Lammas, loaves made from the first harvested grains were taken to the local church at a special mass, for blessing and consecrating by the village priest. I now follow this tradition, using it as a bread protection spell or blessing.
Lúnasa (and Imbolg) is a time to honour and celebrate the partnership of the Divine Feminine and the Divine Masculine and what that partnership manifests: the abundance and harvest of Mama Earth, the partnership of the Sun and Earth and its people, and the Divine Feminine and Divine Masculine within us all.