Summertime is a season that gifts us with plenty, a bounty born of the seeds planted and nurtured—both the actual seeds of plants and the more figurative, personal seeds. It’s harvest time, love! A time to enjoy and celebrate the fruits of your labor. Lughnasadh—also referred to as Lammas—is the first of three harvest-themed sabbats that occurs August 1 and 2 (followed by Mabon and Samhain). Lughnasadh is the age-old Gaelic festival that honors the Celtic sun god Lugh through feasting, libation, athletic games, and creative storytelling. This holiday is also a time to rejoice over the ripening and harvesting of the first grains and other bounties, especially wheat, corn, and berries, which are abundant at this time. Lughnasadh invites us to focus on sentiments of hope, thankfulness, blessings, abundance, and sacrifice—all attributes that center on agriculture and harvest.
There are lots of simple ways to tap into the harvest energy of this pagan holiday, to make it a meaningful, personalized celebration. As a green witch and herbalist, I find that summer plants from the garden and wild play an important role in my observance of Lughnasadh. I forage for them, co-create with them to make botanical body-care preparations, and incorporate them into culinary delights to be honored and savored at this harvest feast. The wild blackberries and raspberries are ripe, plump, and juicy on their canes this time of year. I enjoy walks through nature, picking bucketfuls, tasting and savoring their warm, tarty-sweet juices as I harvest. My family and friends look forward to my wild berry margarita, a festive and fruity libation that makes a great addition to any Lughnasadh feast. It provides refreshment in the hot weather, is a satisfying way to celebrate the summer yield of berries, and can be used to make a toast acknowledging the rewards of harvest time. (I also supply a non-alcoholic alternative below.)
Start by making a wild berry simple syrup:
Combine 1 cup of sugar with 1 cup of water in a saucepan and simmer it on the stove, stirring occasionally until the sugar dissolves into the water. Once the sugar has dissolved, add 1 cup of wild berries to the mixture and simmer for 20 minutes. If you don’t have access to wild berries, store-bought ones will work just fine. Remove your preparation from the stove after 20 minutes and allow it to cool some. Strain out the plant matter using a fine mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth. Allow the syrup to further cool. While mine is cooling, I like to gather summer flora from my gardens and from wild spots on my property to adorn my altar and feast table. I especially like to gather orange and yellow flowers, as the two colors are associated with Lughnasadh.
Once the syrup chills, it’s time to make the margarita …
Ingredients (for one):
2 ounces tequila
¾ ounce wild berry simple syrup
Fresh juice of ½ or 1 lime
Swipe a wedge of lime over the rim of your glass and dip the edge in a plate of kosher salt. Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice, shake, and strain into a pretty glass. Garnish with a lime wedge.
Non-alcoholic version: Mix this wild berry simple syrup and lime with soda water for a delicious non-alcoholic alternative.
Cheers! Have a blessed Lughnasadh!