Celebrating the August Sabbat of Lughnasadh as a herbalist
Today is Lughnasadh, a pagan holiday that celebrates the first harvest of the season. Traditionally in European countries especially Northern ones, the first harvest of wheat would be ready. It is one of our eight "holy days" that revolve around the wheel of the season. Many of us who work with plants and herbs, be it as a clinical practice or as part of a holistic practice like I do, also follow the cycles of the year.
The Pagan year starts in December with Yule which is the darkest (shortest) day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. However my favourite celebrations are the ones that fall in the second half of the year, namely Litha, Lughnasadh, Mabon, and Samhain. Growing herbs and medicinal plants starts late Ostara here in zone 6 a/b on Ontario but to me when they are in full bloom and the garden is buzzing and singing with life I also feel so alive! Sitting with my plants for the first cup of coffee of the day is a gift. And Lughnasad is the apogee of the growing season in my garden.
The hyssop, lavender, roses, thyme, sage, echinacea, salvia just to name a few have been harvested but continue to grace my garden with a smaller, softer, second bloom. Traditionally celebrated with the offering of bread or cereals, this year I planted corn. It was a little slow to get going so hopefully by the end of August it will be ready before mornings become too damp in September and the silk inside rots the fruit. We shall see!
For me, Lughnasadh is when I start to make my herbal products such as salves, scrubs, soaks and candles after harvesting those herbs. I've had a hard time sourcing enough Canadian organic bees wax but half of my herbal infused bees wax candles have been set and the next dozen will be made shortly. Medicinal herbs like cotton wood, fever few and forsythia that are ready earlier in the year have been quietly sitting in their oil infusions and are now ready to start turning into salves.
August is a busy time of the month but it is one of my favourite and it is also the month where I make sure I spend time with my girls doing all those lovely summer activities like beach days, lazy river rides, museums and art galleries when it's just too hot out and nature walks by lakes and rivers. Nature is a big part of my daily life and hopefully I am imparting something to them too!