Lughnasadh: The Summer Cross-Quarter


“La Belle Dame Sans Merci” by Frank Dicksee

I sought the wood in summer
When every twig was green;
The rudest boughs were tender
And buds were pink between.
Light-fingered aspens trembled
In fitful sun and shade,
And daffodils were golden
In every starry glade.
The brook sang like a robin—
My hand could check him where
The lissome maiden willows
Shook out their yellow hair.

“How frail a thing is Beauty,”
I said, “when every breath
She gives the vagrant summer
But swifter woos her death.
For his the star dust troubles,
For this have ages rolled;
To deck the wood for bridal
And slay her with the cold.”

— Willa Cather, “I sought the wood in summer”

Lughnasadh (or Brón Trogaill) is the summer cross-quarter. Lughnasadh is traditionally celebrated on the evening on August 1st. Some Neo-Pagans celebrate the summer cross-quarter halfway between the summer solstice and autumn equinox, which usually occurs around August 6th or 7th. The date is called “First Fruits” by some Neo-Pagans.

The date corresponds with the Christian feast day, Lammas (“loafmas”). Neo-Pagans now associate the date with the harvest of grains, like corn and barley, although harvest times vary quite widely, and harvest is an event experienced only by a small fraction of the population of our modern urban, industrialized societies.

There is no universal outline for the Wheel of the Year. Every version differs in the details of the Mythos and which events are assigned to which point on the Wheel. According to one version, on Lughnasadh, the Goddess and her Consort are alienated from each other, due to the Consort’s neglect of his oath. The Goddess assumes her wrathful aspect. The Oak King is sacrificed by his dark twin, the Holly King, at the instigation of the Goddess. The Oak King willingly submits to his fate. Like the reaped wheat, his body is broken and eaten sacramentally by the Goddess.

Return to The Neo-Pagan Wheel of the Year.


One thought on “Lughnasadh: The Summer Cross-Quarter

  1. Pingback: Lughnasadh / Lammas | A Year And A Day

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