When I was a kid, I always thought it was too bad that August didn’t have any holidays in it. One of the reasons I chose the month of August to get married was that I wanted to give the month a little extra sparkle.
Back then, I’d never heard of an ancient Gaelic festival called Lughnasadh. Although almost no one celebrates it in my country. it resonates with me, and I thought you might enjoy hearing about it too.
In ancient Ireland and Scotland, Lughnasadh coincided with the first harvesting of the grain. It was named after the god Lugh. Here’s an interesting story about Lugh: he travels to the kingdom of the Tuatha Dé Danann, fairies or immortals, to join their court. The doorman is unimpressed with our hero. Lugh says he’s a smith: the doorman says, “Yeah, we’ve got one of those.” Lugh explains that he is a warrior, a musician, a poet, and the master of many other trades. With each claim, the doorman says, “We’ve got one.”
Finally, Lugh asks, “Okay, do you have a guy who’s all of those things?” The doorman admits that they don’t, and Lugh joins the Tuatha Dé Danann. In today’s world, creative people increasingly have to play many roles, from writing to marketing to art direction. A lot of us can probably relate to Lugh’s versatility.
At the same time, attempts at versatility and efforts to branch out don’t always pay off. Waverly Fitzgerald writes that Lughnasadh is a time for regrets, farewells, harvests, and preserves.
In what ways do you need to let go, give up, and move on? Some seeds grow into thriving crops, while others wither. What have you learned from the crops that didn’t take? Are there dead plants that you ought to stop watering?
No question about it: owning up to the fact that something isn’t working or isn’t right for you can be disappointing or downright painful, but clearing it away leaves space for other dreams.
What blessings have you received this year that you should pause and give thanks or feel grateful for?
Sometimes it’s all too easy to take these things for granted.
What do you need to preserve and keep? It could be your zucchini crop, your memories of a family trip, or creative work. Even things that don’t seem like such a big deal now may mean the world to you later.
A few years back, I wrote a poem about Lughnasadh, and here it is:
Here’s to all the goals that didn’t come close to fruition,
the fancy college pulled out of, the cancelled vacation,
the cost of airline tickets and even some tuition,
vanished like your diet. It’s been an education.
Burn the decorations for the party no one could make.
Toss rotted vegetables you meant to eat, like every week.
But here’s to the one or two plans that did actually take.
They’re like warm apples, and black grapes so fat with juice they leak.
You may think it’s a small crop, but it’s time to make preserves.
You may think nothing ever changes and yet all along
your parents are growing older, the children on your nerves
are growing up, and your habits now, TV shows and songs,
will be what stabs you with nostalgia many years from now.
The good times that you wanted are right here in this mess now.
In good seasons and difficult ones, we are always learning and progressing. I hope you have many harvests and preserves, and hope you have a great month!