Lammas- The First Harvest Festival!

Lammas: August 2, July 31st/Aug 1st

Frey Fest/Lughnasa/Lugnasad/Lammas

This is an Irish Gaelic name for the feast which commemorates the funeral games of Lugh, Celtic god of light, and son of thewheel of the year 3 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.

LammasLammas 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.

Suggested Activities:

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.

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Full Moon Names

English: Moon over cumulus clouds

English: Moon over cumulus clouds (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Full Moon Names and Meanings

Many human cultures have given names to the full moon throughout the year. Different full moon names can be found among the Chinese, Celtic, Old English, and New Guinea cultures, to name a few. In addition, Native American tribes often used moon phases and cycles to keep track of the seasons and gave a unique name to each recurring full moon. The full moon names were used to identify the entire month during which each occurred.

Although many Native American Tribes gave distinct names to the full moon, the most well known names of the full moon come from the Algonquin tribes who lived in the area of New England and westward to Lake Superior. The Algonquin tribes had perhaps the greatest effect on the early European settlers in America, and the settlers adopted the Native American habit of naming the moons. They even invented some of their own names that have been passed down through time.

The names given below aren’t the only ones that have been used. Every full moon, with one exception, had variations on its name among various Algonquin tribes, not to mention other tribes throughout North America. But the names below are the most common. Some of the variations are also mentioned.

January: The Wolf Moon
In January snow gathers deep in the woods and the howling of wolves can be heard echoing in the cold still air. Some tribes called this moon the Snow Moon, but most often it was used for the next month.

February: The Snow Moon
Snow piles even higher in February, giving this moon its most common name. Among tribes that used this name for the January moon, the February moon was called the Hunger Moon due to the challenging hunting conditions.

March: The Worm Moon
Snow slowly begins to melt, the ground softens, and earthworms show their heads again and their castings or fecal matter can be found. Other signs of spring gave rise to other variations: the cawing of crows (the Crow Moon); the formation of crusts on the snow from repeated thawing and freezing (the Crust Moon); and the time for tapping maple trees (the Sap Moon). Christian settlers also called this the Lenten Moon and considered it the last moon of winter.

April: The Pink Moon
Flowers begin to appear, including the widespread grass pink or wild ground phlox. Other variations indicate more signs of full spring, such as Sprouting Grass Moon, Egg Moon, and Fish Moon (common among coastal tribes).

May: The Flower Moon
Flowers come into full bloom and corn is ready to plant. Also called the Corn Planting Moon and the Milk Moon.

June: The Strawberry Moon
Strawberry-picking season reaches its peak during this time. This is one of the few names that was universal to all Algonquin tribes.

July: The Buck Moon
Buck deer start growing velvety hair-covered antlers in July. Frequent thunderstorms in the New England area also resulted in the name Thunder Moon. Some tribes also used Hay Moon.

August: The Sturgeon Moon
The sturgeon, a large fish common to the Great Lakes and other nearby bodies of water, is most easily caught during this month. The reddish appearance of the moon through the frequent sultry hazes of August also prompted a few tribes to dub it the Red Moon. Other names included the Green Corn Moon and the Grain Moon.

September: The Harvest Moon
Many of the Native American tribes’ staple foods, such as corn, pumpkins, squash, beans, and rice, are ready for gathering at this time. The strong light of the Harvest Moon allowed European farmers to work late into the night to harvest their crops. The Harvest Moon does not always occur in September. Traditionally, the name goes to the full moon closest to the autumn equinox, which falls during October once or twice a decade. Sometimes the September full moon was called the Corn Moon.

October: The Hunter’s Moon
After the fields have been reaped, the leaves begin to fall and the deer are fat and ready for eating. Hunters can ride easily over the fields’ stubble, and the fox and other animals are more easily spotted. Some years the Harvest Moon falls in October instead of September.

November: The Beaver Moon
At this time of year the beavers are busy preparing for winter, and it’s time to set beaver traps and secure a store of warm fur before the swamps freeze over. Some tribes called this the Frosty Moon.

December: The Cold Moon
Winter takes a firm hold and temperatures plummet at this time. Sometimes this moon is also called the Long Night Moon as the winter nights lengthen and the moon spends more time above the horizon opposite a low sun. The full moon name often used by Christian settlers is the “Moon before Yule”.

Blue Moon
Note that due to the 29-day lunar cycle the exact dates of the full moon move every year. Most seasons have three full moons, but because of the variation some seasons have four full moons. The term “blue moon” was used to identify one of these extra full moons. A mistaken definition in the March 1946 edition of Sky and Telescope magazine claimed the blue moon fell on the second full moon of the calendar month. This mistake caused widespread misunderstanding until it was finally corrected in 1999.