Lammas: August 2, July 31st/Aug 1st
This is an Irish Gaelic name for the feast which commemorates the funeral games of Lugh, Celtic god of light, and son of the Sun. In the mythological story of the Wheel of the Year, the Sun God transfers his power into the grain, and is sacrificed when the grain is harvested. So we have a dying, self-sacrificing and resurrecting god of the harvest, who dies for his people so that they may live. Sound familiar?
The power of the sun goes into the grain as it ripens. It is then harvested and made into the first new bread of the season. This is the Saxon hlaef-masse or loaf-mass, now lammas. Seed grain is also saved for planting for next year’s crop, so the sun god may be seen to rise again in Spring with the new green shoots, as the sun also rises in the sky. There are many traditions and customs all over the country that are still carried on at harvest-time today.
Lammas is a festival celebrating the first fruits of harvest, the fruits of our labours, and seeing the desires that we had at the start of the year unfold so rituals will be centred around this. Lammas is an early Christian festival, “lammas” means loaf mass and represented the first loaves baked from that years crop. These were taken to church and laid on the altar.
It’s a time for bread-making and corn-dollies. Goddesses celebrated around this time include Demeter and Ceres. Trees associated with lammas are Hazel and Gorse and herbs are Sage and Meadowsweet. Colours associated with lammas are golds, yellows and orange for the God and red for the Goddess as mother.
Lammas is traditionally first harvest. Look around you and you will see various trees namely Rowan yeilding bright red berries and brambles showing ripening fruits alongwith apple and pear trees. In this day and age when food is mass produced and imported so we get fruits and veg and corn no matter what time of year it is, it is easy to loose touch with the natural cycle of things.
Creating and or decorating ritual items such as a Stang. Walk through the woods to spend some time meditating in beautiful surroundings. Making bread, make a wicker man and put all of your bad habits that you want to be rid of inside him and throw him in the bonfire. Making corn dollies.
Simple ritual ideas for Lammas or First Harvest
August 1 in the northern hemisphere marks the great First Harvest, known as Lammas or Lughnasadh in Celtic traditions (down in the southern hem, you lovelies are celebrating Imbolc, or first hint of spring). You know that I love ritual and ceremony and as a working mother, I also need my rituals to be simple. Let me tell you about the holiday first and then recommend some easy ways to celebrate this special day with friends, fellow magicians, loved ones, or as a solitary practitioner.
Lammas, the festival of light and first harvest, falls technically when the sun reaches 15 degrees Leo. This tends to happen on or around August 1, so we use this as a catchall date for celebration. Like all celtic or pagan holidays, this one honors goddesses whose crafts and legends align with the work we’re doing at this time of year. Ceres and Tailtiu (mother of Lugh) are honored now as great forces of agricultural abundance, their blessings manifest in the bounty of food and growth we are about to enjoy in autumn. Our spiritual and emotional crops are ready for first harvest, too – the fruit of those sacred intentions we set in the darkness of winter and early spring.
Lammas is also a holiday of remembrance and releasing, a time of acknowledging the crops that didn’t survive the winter. This day asks us: What do you need to let go of right now so that you can be fully present to the abundance that is ahead of you? We are reminded that not everything survives in the grand cycle of life.
Here are some simple ritual ideas for ways to honor this day, the first turn of the Wheel of the Year toward fall:
1. Gather wheat, stones in colors of the harvest (think oranges, reds, deep umbers) and create a wheel on a round plate or table like you see in the photo. As you place each item, give thanks for what lies ahead. You might offer a few releasing stones as well, like apache or golden obsidian, for those things you are needing to leave behind.
2. The most traditional Lammas practice is the baking of bread (the name Lammas comes from the Old English hlafmaesse or loaf-mass). When we bake bread we use the grain around us to sustain our bodies, honoring and consuming nature’s sacred gifts.
3. Since Lammas is also a festival of light, celebrating the last long days of the year, your ritual can be as simple as lighting a candle. I made one in the shop in shades of yellow, wheat, and white. I recommend you burn a candle in those shades.
Since Lammas is the first of three harvest festivals you can save some of your decorations for the next two celebrations the first is Lammas, then Mabon and last but not least Samhain.