Lughnasadh is upon us. It begins at sunset tonight (1st) and ends at sunset tomorrow. The word itself derives from the Irish Celtic God Lugh, who, in actual fact had very little to do with the corn harvest, but was a popular and heroic God often referred to as the shinning one and for whatever reason gradually became associated with the sacrificial aspect of the God.
Lughnasadh celebrates the beginning of the corn harvest, the last sheaf of which was thought to contain the spirit of the corn God. As such, the reaper who cut it down was considered to have taken the life of the God and it was not therefore an auspicious act to participate in. It therefore became general practice that when everything was cut except the final sheaf, that all the reapers would stand blindfolded in a semi circle and hurl their sickles at it, thus no one would know who had taken the Corn God's life.
Once cut however, the sheaf took on a different aspect altogether and was taken home by one of the reapers to be 'dressed', i.e. made into a human shape or tied with red ribbons and took pride of place at the harvest supper, sitting next to 'the master'. It was often known as a 'kern baby' and is where our term 'corn dolly' derives.
Simple corn dollies can be made at home and are still used by farmers today to bring fertility to their cattle. Fertility and abundance can however come in many different ways and should you decide to make your own dolly, even if it is simply tying together a few pieces of corn with a ribbon, make sure you hang it by the hearth until the spring equinox, at which point the seeds should be scattered on the earth to bring you abundance for the summer.
Over the next couple of days give a moment of thanks to the Goddess for the corn which sustains us and to the God as his blood is spilled upon the earth to bring us fertility for the year to come.