Since my “Cooking for the Summer Solstice” post turned out to be quite popular with those looking for ways to celebrate the Sabbat with delicious edibles, I thought I would give it a go again with Lughnasadh…who knows, maybe it will become a Sabbat tradition here at the Crossroads!
Since Lughnasadh is a Sabbat honoring the God Lugh – a Celtic God of Light and Fire – some of the same foods that we see listed for the Summer Solstice would also be appropriate here. At the same time, though…I think now is the time to start toning down some of the heat and “fieryness” of the dishes, in recognition of the on-going death of the Sun. In fact, as hard as it might be to believe in the dog days of August, Lughnasadh marks the end of Summer and the beginning of Fall. It is celebrated as the first of the three harvest festivals in the Wheel of the Year, and as such this is a good time to cook up dishes which incorporate the harvests from your own gardens or from the farms around you; and to appreciate the natural bounties of the land.
As I review the lists of foods from the Solstice post, I can mentally begin deleting some of them. Here’s my revised list of suggested ingredients for dishes to celebrate the Sabbat of Lughnasadh:
- Lemon Grass
Because Lughnasadh occurs during the astrological sign of Leo, those foods I listed as being ruled by Leo could be considered appropriate for this Sabbat:
- Sweet Corn
Another name for Lughnasadh is Lammas (loaf-mass day) – the festival of the first wheat harvest of the year. While it is not known for certain, Lammas does appear to suggest a possible Christianized version of the ancient traditions of the pre-christian Celts and Anglo-Saxons. On this day (August 1st), it was customary in English-speaking countries (particularly the British Isles) to bring to church a loaf of bread made from the new wheat crop. It was also known as “The Feast of the First Fruits,” with blessings of the harvest and the new fruits regularly performed by both the Eastern and Western Churches.
Regardless of which name you choose to call this Sabbat, the meaning of it remains clear – this is a time for celebrating the first harvest, and in particular the harvest of wheat and other grains. As such, one might want to disregard the stove top in preference for the oven. Indeed, Lughnasadh is an excellent time for trying out your baking skills.
This is a good time for baking breads, rolls, muffins, pies, cobblers, cookies, etc. While breadmakers can be nice and convenient tools, if possible I recommend doing it the old-fashioned way – there is something magickal about kneading your own dough!
Lughnasadh is considered the “grain harvest,” so make various grains the subject of your dishes – not only wheat but also corn, barley, oats, rye, rice, bulgar, quinoa, etc.
Because of its focus on grain, little meat tends to be consumed at this Sabbat. However, fish is sometimes consumed…if you enjoy fishing this might be a good time to get out your pole and head on down to the ole fishin’ hole to see if the bluegills are biting. If casting for panfish isn’t your thing, consider picking up a nice filet of salmon at your local supermarket, or any type of fish that you desire…which can be fried or baked or broiled or grilled as is your preference. In addition, any type of seafood would be good at this time – in fact, I believe that up in Maine, the annual Lobsterfest occurs around Lughnasadh. If you’re lucky to live in New England, you might want to consider dining on this luxurious crustacean…the rest of us might have to content ourselves with shrimp.
However, since little meat tends to be consumed at Lughnasadh, this is a good time for experimenting with vegetarian dishes, especially those that incorporate grains. Perhaps a casserole made with barley or rice.
In many parts of the country, this is the time when the sweet corn is being harvested and brought to farmer’s markets, and I personally have always celebrated Lughnasadh with the roasting of ears of corn. You might want to consider doing the same thing…or at least incorporating corn as an ingredient in your dishes.
I also remember this time of the year as being when the blackberries came into season, and I can recall hiking around on my grandparents farm, gathering up wild berries to be made into a cobbler. Consider this a good time for baking up fruit pies, cobblers, turnovers, and such…utilizing such summer fruits as blackberries, blueberries, cherries, peaches, etc.
The most important thing that I think about when I’m planning my Sabbat Feast is… listen to the voices of Nature. Let the land dictate your menu. Your dishes should reflect not merely the symbology of the Sabbat, but even more importantly – they should be a representation of the bounty of the earth in the area where you live. Many Pagans practice what can be called “eco-magick” – magick based on natural Earth energies and the resident spirits of the land. This term refers to the awareness of and working with the spirits of the land on which you live (as compared to those in China, Brazil, or even the town down the highway). Sabbat menus can be an excellent way of practicing eco-magick.
This is why I tend to encourage those who go running to the internet trying to do a whole lot of research in finding the PERFECT recipe to symbolize the Sabbat to stop for a moment and quit panicking over it. Listen to those voices. Study the land. Observe the seasons. Go for a drive out into the country and note what you see growing and being harvested. Check out farmers markets and roadside stands.
Yes – some study of the Sabbat itself, its history and its symbology, is important… but combine that with your own personal magick and your own personal celebrations. In this way, you will be making the Sabbat more meaningful for yourself.
Check out this post for some of Ocean’s suggested dishes, including links to related recipes