I love Lughnasadh. I’ve written about it before, and I’m always the one who is the first to emphatically explain the mythological meaning behind this holiday at Lammas gatherings or amongst curious friends. And it’s not just because of the delicious traditional food served on this day (BREAD, glorious bread!!), but because of who Lugh was/is and what he represented as a namesake; the strength he saw in his people and so led them to victories. And yes, the funeral games as well.
Lugh (Lug, Lugus/Lugos (Gaulish), Lugh Lámhfhada (Irish), Lleu Llaw Gyffes (Welsh), Lugaid/Lugaidh, Lonnansclech) was the son of Cian from the Tuatha Dé Danann, and Ethniu, daughter of Balor of the Fomorians. Balor (of the Evil Eye) learned one day that a grandson of his would someday kill him. He tried to sequester his daughter away to prevent any man to impregnate her, except that Cian rescued her and so Ethniu gave birth to three children, of which Balor drowned two, and the third accidentally survived the attempt. His name was Lugh, and he was sent to be fostered by a mortal woman named Tailtiu, in protection from Balor.
Lugh is known as the modern Jack-of-All-Trades; master to every craft and every skill known to man. He is talented with magic, poetry, history, and music. Lugh is a scholar, a craftsman, a hero and a warrior, and a great champion. Having the combination of all these skills allowed him entry into the Tuatha Dé Danann, who he then led against the corruption of the Fomorians in the Second Battle of Mag Tuireadh and with the help of his enchanted tools, was able to defeat Balor. Prophecies are a bitch sometimes. Lugh was also the reason the Irish learned when to plough, sow, and reap.
Now I’m not a Jack-of-All-Trades like Lugh. But I love the story of this god, raised by a humble mortal woman, and who led a race of oppressed people against their enemies and won. And when his foster mother died, whom he loved dearly, he commemorated her by creating Lughnasadh, a type of Olympic funeral games so the Irish could use their skills and talents to become champions in their right. And when Ireland felt oppressed, once again in the 1920’s, the Tailteann Games were resurrected to overcome the darkness of the Irish Civil War.
Lugh understood the value of physically challenging yourself, exerting yourself. And the benefits of teamwork and camaraderie; the bonds you can create when you mutually jump through Hell’s hoops together, which is why I love Lughnasadh so much; it represents my dreams and goals for the Pagan community. It stands out so much from how we commonly practice and involve ourselves. I read that traditionally, the prayers of Lugh were only heard when spoken high on hilltops and mountains; you have to challenge yourself to speak to The Challenger (Duh). So an old friend of mine and I decided to summit Mount Si with homemade mead in our packs on Sunday the 30th. 3900 feet gained in 4 miles (and we thought we were in shape….fuck)! But after our knees almost gave out, our water almost was gone, our asses and calves throbbing, and I don’t even know how many gallons of sweat lost- we finally reached the very top. It was so beautiful, we were silent for a long time. But after cracking open the mead and some snacks, we were laughing again and totally high, drained of endorphins. After we poured some mead into the rocks in appreciation and readied ourselves for our descent, I realized we had become even closer friends than I thought possible.
And that right there symbolized my prayers to Lugh. To bring Pagans back outside and into the dangerous wilderness again, exerting ourselves completely. And through that, become even closer to each other.
(From the top of Mount Si)