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. …

“How frail a thing is Beauty,”
I said, “when every breath
She gives the vagrant summer
But swifter woos her death.
For this 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 (pron. LOO-na-sa) or Brón Trogain is the summer cross-quarter. Lughnasadh is traditionally celebrated on the even­ing of 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 with crops and geography.

Mythologically, at Lughnasadh, the Goddess and her Con­sort are disaffected from one another, 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.

Updated 2019

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