Northern Hemisphere: August 1
It is now high summer and the union of Sun and Earth, of God and Goddess, has produced the First Harvest. Lammas is the celebration of this first, Grain Harvest, a time for gathering in and giving thanks for abundance. We work with the cycle that Mabon or the Autumn Equinox is the Second Harvest of Fruit, and Samhain is the third and Final Harvest of Nuts and Berries.
The word ‘Lammas’ is derived from ‘loaf mass’ and is indicative of how central and honoured is the first grain and the first loaf of the harvesting cycle.
It is also the great festival of Lugh, or Lug, the great Celtic Sun King and God of Light. August is His sacred month when He initiated great festivities in honour of His mother, Tailtiu. Feasting, market fairs, games and bonfire celebrations were the order of the day. Circle dancing, reflecting the movement of the sun in sympathetic magic, was popular, as were all community gatherings. August was considered an auspicious month for handfastings and weddings.
But underlying this is the knowledge that the bounty and energy of Lugh, of the Sun, is now beginning to wane. It is a time of change and shift. Active growth is slowing down and the darker days of winter and reflection are beckoning…
Customs of Cutting the Grain
There are many customs throughout Europe around the cutting of the grain or corn and they applied to all cereal crops including wheat, barley, rye and oats. Both the cutting of the first gain and the last grain are significant.
The first sheaf would often be ceremonially cut at dawn, winnowed, ground and baked into the Harvest Bread which was then shared by the community in thanks. The first barley stalks would be made into the first beer of the season. The first sheaf guarantees the seed and thus continuity.
The last sheaf was also ceremonially cut, often made into a ‘corn dolly’, carried to the village with festivity and was central to the Harvest Supper. The corn dolly was made into a Corn Maiden (after a good harvest) or a cailleach, hag or cone (after a bad harvest). She could be dressed with ribbons, even clothed.
This last sheaf would live in the home, often above the fireplace or hearth of the home, until the next harvest. Or it might be placed in the branches of a tree or mixed with the seed for the next year’s sowing. In some way it eventually needed to return to the earth from whence it came so that the fertilizing spirit of John Barleycorn, of the Harvest God, could pass from harvest to harvest. It could be ploughed back, returned to decay and rot, or burnt and the ashes scattered.
In some parts of Europe the tradition was to weave the last sheaf into a large Corn Mother with a smaller ‘baby’ inside it, representing the harvest to come the following year. Once the harvest was completed, safely gathered in, the festivities would begin. Bread was made from the new grain and thanks given to the Sun’s life-giving energy reborn as life-giving bread.(https://www.goddessandgreenman.co.uk/lammas)
Lammas rituals are related to harvest and gratitude, and recognizing the manifestations of our intentions that have unfolded so far during the course of the year. Bread-making is a common way to mark the holiday, as it represents bringing the seeds of intention into full fruition. People also might make a corn dolly—a traditional poppet made from straw—for use in ritual and magic. Decorate your altar with the colors of summer and fall—yellow, orange, red, green and brown. Use harvest imagery like scythes and baskets and, of course, loaves of bread. A Lammas feast should definitely involve bread, as well as late-summer fruits and vegetables, corn, and other grain dishes. Spellwork related to securing abundance and a happy home is particularly powerful at this time.
Another name for Lammas is Lughnasa, after the ancient Celtic festival celebrated on this date. Lughnasa honors the god Lugh, who is associated with the Sun (his name translates roughly as “shining one”) as well as many skills and talents, including building, smithcraft, poetry and magic. Irish legend has it that the festival originated with Lugh himself, when he held a funeral feast and sporting competition to honor his foster mother, Tailtiu. She had died from exhaustion after clearing the plains of Ireland so the people could grow crops. Lugh was also a great warrior, and many Pagan groups celebrate this holiday with competitive games in addition to harvest-related festivities. Wiccans and other Pagans who follow Celtic traditions may focus their celebrations on giving thanks for their skills and talents as well as for the grain harvest, but the emphasis is on gratitude all the same.(http://wiccaliving.com/wiccan-calendar-lammas-lughnasadh/)
- Ears of corn
- Corn dollies
- Dried sunflowers
- Harvesting tools
- Deep greens
- Golden yellows
- Deep oranges
- Shimmering bronzes
- Tanned browns
Lammas Crystals + Stones
- Tiger’s Eye
- Grape vine + leaves
- Rose hips
Lammas Incense + Oils
Lammas Foods + Drinks
- All Grains
- Cider, ale, beer, whiskey, mead
- Pies and cobblers