First Harvest is a generic, inclusive term for any variety of harvest festivals celebrated at the start of August in the Northern Hemisphere (February in the Southern Hemisphere) within Pagan and magico-religious communities.
Related Festivals include Lughnassadh, Lughnasa, Lammas, Loafmass, Nos Gwyl Awst, First Harvest, Sabbat of the First Fruits, August Eve, Lammastide, Harvest Home, Ceresalia, Feast of Bread, Festival of Green Corn, Feast of Cardenas, Cornucopia, Thingtide, Elembiuos.
Depending on the background of the individuals gathered at the celebration, the celebration may vary greatly. Generally, the theme revolves around the metaphorical or literal harvest, beginning to see results from the hard work done this year and related rituals of gratitude. The work is not complete, this is just a rest in preparation for the final push, but results are visible and fill the heart with hope a joy.
According to Celtic mythology, Lugh established the Lughnasadh games and festival in honor of his foster mother, Tailtiu who died of exhaustion clearing a field in order that their people could be fed.
Thus, in many traditions, the festival includes games of skill. It is also traditionally a time to call in debts, settle accounts and begin and end contracts, including trial marriages to be made permanent, or terminated at the following year’s festival.
Those who follow the Wheel of the Year cosmology recognize this time as that of ripening. The new life within the mother is now noticeable and not to be denied. The Great Father is weakening and will soon die. But within the Mother and all around the Earth there is nothing but the evidence of abundant life. It is through his sacrifice that it is all possible.
Some Pagan faiths do not visualize the God and Goddess in this particular way, but they may still honor the Grain God in one form or another. He is slain, cut down with the harvest, and his body transformed into life-giving sustenance for his people.
The first harvest, and/or the first loaf of bread from the first harvest may be blessed and shared among the people, as seen in the festival of Lammas. In a departure from the Christian Lammas tradition, this loaf may be human-shaped and torn apart to symbolize the sacrifice of the dying God.
The First Harvest marks the beginning of autumn. Though the Sun still shines strong, blanketing the Earth in his warmth, we know that winter is right around the corner.
First Harvest Correspondences
- Incense– rose, rosemary, chamomile, passionflower, frankincense, sandalwood
- Colors– Red, orange, gold, yellow, green, brown
- Stones– Yellow diamond, aventurine, sardonyx, peridot, citrine
- Animals– Roosters, calves, Pheonix, griffons, basilisks, centaurs
- Plants and Herbs– corn, rice, wheat, barley, rye, ginseng, acacia, aloe, cyclamen, fenugreek, heather, hollyhock, myrtle, oak leaves, sunflower
- Symbols– Grains, sun discs, loaves of bread, harvesting tools, the full moon, wicker man
- Food– Corn, rice, homemade bread, fresh fruits & vegetables, berries, nuts, barley cakes, roasted lamb, summer squash, turnips, oats, elderberry wine, ale, meadowsweet tea, cider.
- Gods and Goddesses– Lugh, Llew Llaw Gyffes, Ceres, Demeter, John Barleycorn, Adonis, Tammuz