The Sabbats

Make a Loaf of Lammas Bread

Make a Loaf of Lammas Bread

By

 

Bread is the ultimate symbol of the Lammas season. After all, once the grain is harvested, it is milled and baked into bread, which is then consumed. It is the cycle of the harvest come full circle. The spirit of the grain god lives on through us in the eating of the bread. In many traditions, a loaf of special bread is baked in the shape of a man, to symbolize the god of the harvest. You can easily make a loaf of Lammas bread by using a pre-made loaf of bread dough, found in the frozen food section in your grocery store. Certainly, you can make your own dough, but if you’re not much of a baker, this is an easy alternative.

First, place the frozen dough on a greased cookie sheet. Spray a piece of plastic wrap with non-stick cooking spray or olive oil, and place it on top of the dough. Place the tray in a warm place, and allow the dough to rise for several hours until it has at least doubled in size. Once the dough has risen, cut five slits in it, so you’ll end up with a head, arms and legs.

Shape the two lower sections into legs, the side sections into arms, and the top section into a head, as shown in the photo. Bake the bread for 40 minutes, at about 350 degrees, or until golden brown. After baking, remove from oven and allow to cool on a wire rack. Brush the bread man with melted butter, sprinkle with herbs if you like, and use in your Lammas ritual.

About these ads
Categories: Articles, Daily Posts, The Sabbats | Tags: | Leave a comment

Make a Brighid Corn Doll

Make a Brighid Corn Doll

By , About.com

 

In one of her many aspects, Brighid is known as the bride. She is a symbol of fertility and good fortune, and is seen as yet one more step in the cycle of life, death, and rebirth. Traditionally, the Brighid doll is made of woven grain such as oats or wheat. This version, however, uses corn husks.

If you make a doll at Lughnasadh, you can re-use it in six months, dressing it up in spring colors for Imbolc. This way, the Harvest Mother becomes the Spring Bride. Some traditions, however, prefer not to re-use their harvest doll, and instead choose to start fresh and new in the spring. Either way is fine.

 

To make this simple doll, you’ll need some corn husks — and clearly, in January or February, you probably won’t be able to find a lot of those growing outside. Check your grocery store’s produce section to get husks. If you’re using dried-out husks, soak them for a couple of hours to soften them up (fresh husks need no special preparation). You’ll also need some yarn or ribbon, and a few cotton balls.

Take a strip of the husk, and fold it in half. Place two or three cotton balls in the middle, and then twist the husk, tying it with string to make a head (See Figure 1). Leave a bit of husk in the front and back, below the head, to create a torso.

Make a pair of arms for your doll by folding a couple of husks in half, and then tying it at the ends to make hands. Slip the arms between the husks that form the torso, and tie off at the waist. If you like your dolls plump, slide an extra cotton ball or two in there to give your Brighid a bit of shape [Figure 2].

 

 

Arrange a few more husks, upside down, around the doll’s waist. Overlap them slightly, and then tie them in place with yarn — it should look like she has her skirt up over her face. After you’ve tied the waist, carefully fold the husks down, so now her skirt comes downwards, towards where her feet would be (Figure 3). Trim the hem of the skirt so it’s even, and let your doll completely dry.

 

 

Once your doll has dried, you can leave her plain or give her a face and some hair (use soft yarn), as in Figure 4. Some people go all out decorating their bride doll — you can add clothing, an apron, beadwork, whatever your imagination can create.

Place your Brighid in a place of honor in your home for Imbolc, near your hearth or in the kitchen if possible. By inviting her into your home, you are welcoming Brighid and all the fertility and abundance she may bring with her.

Categories: Articles, Daily Posts, Pagan Craft Making, The Sabbats | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

The Final Sheaf

The Final Sheaf

By , About.com

 

In many societies, the cutting of the final sheaf of grain was indeed cause for celebration. People celebrated by making corn dolls, which represented the spirit of the grain. Sometimes these dolls were full-sized, made of the last stalks of corn to be harvested, and decorated with ribbons, streamers and even articles of clothing. Ivy was a symbol of rebirth, and so it wasn’t uncommon to dress the corn doll with a headdress of ivy.

In some rural areas, the corn doll was kept in a place of honor at a farmhouse in the village, until it was time to make one the following year. At that time, the old one was ceremonially burned.

The creation of corn dolls was just one of many customs surrounding the final sheaf of the grain harvest. In Ireland, the final sheaf was gathered with great ceremony, celebrating the living things that might be living within it. If you think about it, that makes sense — a cornfield is a perfect nesting place for small animals, such as rabbits, mice, birds, or frogs. As the reapers harvested the crop, the animals within fled, until there was only one sheaf left. Since the animal was more often than not a small, very frightened hare, the phrase “putting the hare out of the corn” came to mean the end of the reaping.

In some parts of the British Isles, young maidens were invited to cut down the final sheaf. The one who was able to do so in a single stroke of the scythe was guaranteed to be married within the year — probably because she had just proved herself as an able and strong farmwife. In other areas, it was believed that the person to cut the final sheaf would have good luck for a year, but in other place, it was a sign of ill fortune to come.

An odd tradition in some areas was the use of the final sheaf to find the corpse of a drowning victim. The sheaf was placed in the water with a lit candle upon it, near where the person was believed to have fallen in. The sheaf drifted, and it was believed that it would come to rest where the body was submerged. It was thought that only the final sheaf had the magical ability to find these lost souls.

Regardless of how it was used, the cutting of the final sheaf meant that the grain harvest was over. Now bread baking could begin, and food stored away for the coming winter months.

Categories: Articles, Daily Posts, The Sabbats | Tags: | Leave a comment

How To Hold a Lammas Bread Sacrifice Ritual

How To Hold a Lammas Bread Sacrifice Ritual

By , About.com

 

Grain is the heart of Lammas, and the beginning of the harvest season is a milestone in many societies. Once the grain is threshed and milled it is baked into bread and consumed, honoring the spirit of the grain god. This ritual celebrates both the harvest and the sacrifices we make each year, as well as the sacrifice of the grain god. Decorate your altar with symbols of the season — sickles and scythes, garden goodies like ivy and grapes and corn, poppies, dried grains, and early autumn foods like apples. If you like, light some Lammas Rebirth incense.

 

Difficulty: Average

Time Required: Varied

Here’s How:

  1. For this rite, you’ll need a loaf of Lammas bread and a cup of wine or water. You’ll also need pieces of straw or other plant material, enough for each person in the ritual to make a small doll, and some yarn or string to tie the dolls together. Finally, you’ll need a fire. You can either have a large bonfire, or a small tabletop fire in a pot or brazier.
  2. If your tradition requires you to cast a circle, do so now.

    The High Priest or High Priestess says:

    It is the time of the harvest once again.
    Life, growth, death and rebirth,
    all have come full circle.
    The god of the harvest has died once more,
    That we may eat and consume him,
    Giving us strength in the months to come.

  3. The HPs hands each member of the group a sheaf of straw, saying:

    We now create dolls in our image.
    These dolls symbolize our selves, in our many aspects,
    and all the things we give up each year,
    so that we may thrive and flourish later on.

    Each member of the group constructs a doll to represent themselves. Use the instructions here if you don’t know how to make a doll: Corn Doll or Straw Man. As each person creates their doll, they should energize the doll with personal qualities. These are the essences of self that each person is bringing to sacrifice, so that they may be reborn as the harvest god is each year.

  4. When everyone has completed their dolls, the High Priestess says:

    The god of grain is dying,
    vegetation returns to the earth.
    We call upon the gods of the harvest,
    asking them for their blessings.
    Tammuz and Lugh,
    Adonis, Dumuzi,
    Cernunnos and Attis,
    Mercury, Osiris.
    You are born each year,
    and live in our fields
    and are sacrificed as part of the cycle.

  5. Raise energy by circling your fire or altar three times, moving in a counter-clockwise (widddershins) direction, building speed each time (you’re moving against the pattern of the sun, because it’s the end of the harvest season). If you like, you can increase the feeling of power by chanting one of these popular traditional Wiccan verses:

    Hoof and horn, hoof and horn,
    all that dies shall be reborn.
    Corn and grain, corn and grain,
    all that falls shall rise again.

    or:

    Earth my body,
    water my blood,
    air my breath and
    fire my spirit.

  6. If your group is musically inclined, have half the group sing the “Hoof and horn” part, and the second half sing the “Earth my body” verse, so that it forms a round robin. The effect is amazing!

    When the raising of energy is complete, each person in the group approaches the fire, one at a time, and casts their doll into the fire. They can either say out loud what their sacrifice will be this year, or speak it only to themselves and the gods. As each doll is placed in the fire, direct leftover energy into the flames as well.

  7. When everyone has made their sacrifice, the HPs holds up the loaf of Lammas bread. Say:

    Months ago, we planted seeds,
    and through the summer watched them grow.
    We have tended the fields in our lives,
    and now we are blessed with abundance.
    The harvest has arrived!
    Thank you, lord of the harvest,
    For the gifts yet to come.
    We eat this bread, grain transformed by fire, in your name,
    and honor you for your sacrifice.

  8. The HPs breaks off a piece of bread for herself, and passes it around the circle, so that everyone can take a piece. Eat the bread, and then pass around the cup of wine or water. If you wish, you can say something as the cup is passed, like:

    May you reap the blessings of the harvest.

    Once everyone has eaten their bread and sipped from the cup, take a moment to reflect on what you have harvested for yourself this season. End the ritual as you normally would or move directly into a Cakes and Ale ceremony or other rites you wish to perform.

 

What You Need:

  • A loaf of Lammas bread
  • Straw or plant material
  • String
  • A fire
  • A cup of wine or water
Categories: Articles, Daily Posts, The Sabbats | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

How To Hold a Lammas Harvest Ritual

How To Hold a Lammas Harvest Ritual

By , About.com

In some Pagan traditions, Lammas is the time of year when the Goddess takes on the aspects of the Harvest Mother. The earth is fruitful and abundant, crops are bountiful, and livestock are fattening up for winter. However, the Harvest Mother knows that the cold months are coming, and so she encourages us to begin gathering up what we can. This is the season for harvesting corn and grain, so that we can bake bread to store and have seeds for next year’s planting.

This ritual celebrates the beginning of the harvest season and the cycle of rebirth, and can be done by a solitary practitioner or adapted for a group or coven setting. Decorate your altar with symbols of the season — sickles and scythes, garden goodies like ivy and grapes and corn, poppies, dried grains, and early autumn foods like apples. If you like, light some Lammas Rebirth incense.

Have a candle on your altar to represent the Harvest Mother — choose something in orange, red or yellow. These colors not only represent the blaze of the summer sun, but also the coming changes of autumn. You’ll also need a few stalks of wheat and an un-sliced loaf of bread (homemade is best, but if you can’t manage, a store-bought loaf will do). A goblet of ritual wine is optional.

If your tradition requires you to cast a circle, do so now.

Light the candle, and say:

The Wheel of the Year has turned once more,
and the harvest will soon be upon us.
We have food on our tables, and
the soil is fertile.
Nature’s bounty, the gift of the earth,
gives us reasons to be thankful.
Mother of the Harvest, with your sickle and basket,
bless me with abundance and plenty.

Hold the stalks of wheat before you, and think about what they symbolize: the power of the earth, the coming winter, the necessity of planning ahead. What do you need help planning right now? Are there sacrifices you should be making in the present that will be reaped in the future?

Rub the stalks between your fingers so a few grains of wheat fall upon the altar. Scatter them on the ground as a gift to the earth. If you’re inside, leave them on the altar for now — you can always take them outside later. Say:

The power of the Harvest is within me.
As the seed falls to the earth and is reborn each year,
I too grow as the seasons change.
As the grain takes root in the fertile soil,
I too will find my roots and develop.
As the smallest seed blooms into a mighty stalk,
I too will bloom where I landed.
As the wheat is harvested and saved for winter,
I too will set aside that which I can use later.

Tear off a piece of the bread. If you’re performing this ritual as a group, pass the loaf around the circle so that each person present can take off a small chunk of bread. As each person passes the bread, they should say:

I pass to you this gift of the first harvest. When everyone has a piece of bread, say:

Everyone eats their bread together. If you have ritual wine, pass it around the circle for people to wash the bread down. Once everyone has finished their bread, take a moment to meditate on the cycle of rebirth and how it applies to your own life – physically, emotionally, spiritually. When you are ready, if you have cast a circle, close it or dismiss the quarters at this time. Otherwise, simply end the ritual in the manner of your tradition.

What You Need:

  • A candle to represent the Harvest Mother
  • Stalks of wheat
  • A loaf of bread
  • Ritual wine (optional)

 

Categories: Articles, Daily Posts, The Sabbats | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Setting Up Your Lammas (Lughnasadh) Altar

Setting Up Your Lammas (Lughnasadh) Altar

By , About.com

It’s Lammas, or Lughnasadh, the Sabbat where many Wiccans and Pagans choose to celebrate the beginnings of the harvest. This Sabbat is about the cycle of birth, life, death and rebirth — the grain god dies, but will be reborn again in the spring. Depending on your tradition, you may also observe this Sabbat as the day of the Celtic craftsman god, Lugh. Either way, you can try some or even all of these ideas — obviously, someone using a bookshelf as an altar will have less flexibility than someone using a table, but use what calls to you most.

Colors of the Season

It’s the end of summer, and soon the leaves will begin to change. However, the sun is still fiery and hot. Use a combination of summer and fall colors — the yellows and oranges and reds of the sun can also represent the turning leaves to come. Add some browns and greens to celebrate the fertility of the earth and the crops being harvested. Cover your altar with cloths that symbolize the changing of the season from summer to harvest time, and use candles in deep, rich colors — reds, burgundies, or other autumn shades are perfect this time of year.

Symbols of the Harvest

The harvest is here, and that means it’s time to include symbols of the fields on your altar. Sickles and scythes are appropriate, as are baskets. Sheafs of grain, fresh picked fruits and vegetables, a jar of honey, or loaves of bread are perfect for the Lammastide altar.

Honoring the God Lugh

If your celebrations focus more on the god Lugh, observe the Sabbat from an artisan’s point of view. Place symbols of your craft or skill on the altar — a notebook, your special paints for artists, a pen for writers, other tools of your creativity.

Other Symbols of Lammas (Lughnasadh)

  • Grapes and wine
  • Corn dolls
  • Ears of corn
  • Iron, such as tools or weaponry or armor
  • Fall flowers, such as cornflowers or poppies
  • Straw braids
  • Onion garlands
Categories: Articles, Daily Posts, The Sabbats | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Deities of the Fields

Deities of the Fields

Gods and Goddesses of the Early Harvest

By Patti Wigington, About.com

 

When Lammastide rolls around, the fields are full and fertile. Crops are abundant, and the late summer harvest is ripe for the picking. This is the time when the first grains are threshed, apples are plump in the trees, and gardens are overflowing with summer bounty. In nearly every ancient culture, this was a time of celebration of the agricultural significance of the season. Because of this, it was also a time when many gods and goddesses were honored. These are some of the many deities who are connected with this earliest harvest holiday.

  • Adonis (Assyrian): Adonis is a complicated god who touched many cultures. Although he’s often portrayed as Greek, his origins are in early Assyrian religion. Adonis was a god of the dying summer vegetation. In many stories, he dies and is later reborn, much like Attis and Tammuz.

 

  • Attis (Phrygean): This lover of Cybele went mad and castrated himself, but still managed to get turned into a pine tree at the moment of his death. In some stories, Attis was in love with a Naiad, and jealous Cybele killed a tree (and subsequently the Naiad who dwelled within it), causing Attis to castrate himself in despair. Regardless, his stories often deal with the theme of rebirth and regeneration.

 

  • Ceres (Roman): Ever wonder why crunched-up grain is called cereal? It’s named for Ceres, the Roman goddess of the harvest and grain. Not only that, she was the one who taught lowly mankind how to preserve and prepare corn and grain once it was ready for threshing. In many areas, she was a mother-type goddess who was responsible for agricultural fertility.

 

  • Dagon (Semitic): Worshipped by an early Semitic tribe called the Amorites, Dagon was a god of fertility and agriculture. He’s also mentioned as a father-deity type in early Sumerian texts and sometimes appears as a fish god. Dagon is credited with giving the Amorites the knowledge to build the plough.

 

  • Demeter (Greek): The Greek equivalent of Ceres, Demeter is often linked to the changing of the seasons. She is often connected to the image of the Dark Mother in late fall and early winter. When her daughter Persephone was abducted by Hades, Demeter’s grief caused the earth to die for six months, until Persephone’s return.

 

  • Lugh (Celtic): Lugh was known as a god of both skill and the distribution of talent. He is sometimes associated with midsummer because of his role as a harvest god, and during the summer solstice the crops are flourishing, waiting to be plucked from the ground at Lughnasadh.

 

  • Mercury (Roman): Fleet of foot, Mercury was a messenger of the gods. In particular, he was a god of commerce and is associated with the grain trade. In late summer and early fall, he ran from place to place to let everyone know it was time to bring in the harvest. In Gaul, he was considered a god not only of agricultural abundance but also of commercial success.

 

  • Neper (Egyptian): This androgynous grain deity became popular in Egypt during times of starvation. He later was seen as an aspect of Osiris, and part of the cycle of life, death and rebirth.

 

  • Parvati (Hindu): Parvati was a consort of the god Shiva, and although she does not appear in Vedic literature, she is celebrated today as a goddess of the harvest and protector of women in the annual Gauri Festival.

 

  • Pomona (Roman): This apple goddess is the keeper of orchards and fruit trees. Unlike many other agricultural deities, Pomona is not associated with the harvest itself, but with the flourishing of fruit trees. She is usually portrayed bearing a cornucopia or a tray of blossoming fruit.

 

  • Tammuz (Sumerian): This Sumerian god of vegetation and crops is often associated with the cycle of life, death, and rebirth.
Categories: Articles, Daily Posts, The Sabbats | Tags: , | Leave a comment

The Legend of John Barleycorn

The Legend of John Barleycorn

By , About.com

 

In English folklore, John Barleycorn is a character who represents the crop of barley harvested each autumn. Equally as important, he symbolizes the wonderful drinks which can be made from barley — beer and whiskey — and their effects. In the traditional folksong, John Barleycorn, the character of John Barleycorn endures all kinds of indignities, most of which correspond to the cyclic nature of planting, growing, harvesting, and then death.

Although written versions of the song date back to the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, there is evidence that it was sung for years before that. There are a number of different versions, but the most well-known one is the Robert Burns version, in which John Barleycorn is portrayed as an almost Christ-like figure, suffering greatly before finally dying so that others may live.

In The Golden Bough, Sir James Frazer cites John Barleycorn as proof that there was once a Pagan cult in England that worshipped a god of vegetation, who was sacrificed in order to bring fertility to the fields. This ties into the related story of the Wicker Man, who is burned in effigy. Ultimately, the character of John Barleycorn is a metaphor for the spirit of grain, grown healthy and hale during the summer, chopped down and slaughtered in his prime, and then processed into beer and whiskey so he can live once more.

The lyrics to the Robert Burns version of the song are as follows:

There was three kings into the east,
three kings both great and high,
and they hae sworn a solemn oath
John Barleycorn must die.

They took a plough and plough’d him down,
put clods upon his head,
and they hae sworn a solemn oath
John Barleycorn was dead.

But the cheerful Spring came kindly on’
and show’rs began to fall.
John Barleycorn got up again,
and sore surprised them all.

The sultry suns of Summer came,
and he grew thick and strong;
his head well arm’d wi’ pointed spears,
that no one should him wrong.

The sober Autumn enter’d mild,
when he grew wan and pale;
his bendin’ joints and drooping head
show’d he began to fail.

His colour sicken’d more and more,
and he faded into age;
and then his enemies began
to show their deadly rage.

They took a weapon, long and sharp,
and cut him by the knee;
they ty’d him fast upon a cart,
like a rogue for forgerie.

They laid him down upon his back,
and cudgell’d him full sore.
they hung him up before the storm,
and turn’d him o’er and o’er.

They filled up a darksome pit
with water to the brim,
they heav’d in John Barleycorn.
There, let him sink or swim!

They laid him upon the floor,
to work him farther woe;
and still, as signs of life appear’d,
they toss’d him to and fro.

They wasted o’er a scorching flame
the marrow of his bones;
but a miller us’d him worst of all,
for he crush’d him between two stones.

And they hae taen his very hero blood
and drank it round and round;
and still the more and more they drank,
their joy did more abound.

John Barleycorn was a hero bold,
of noble enterprise;
for if you do but taste his blood,
’twill make your courage rise.

‘Twill make a man forget his woe;
’twill heighten all his joy;
’twill make the widow’s heart to sing,
tho the tear were in her eye.

Then let us toast John Barleycorn,
each man a glass in hand;
and may his great posterity
ne’er fail in old Scotland!

Categories: Articles, Daily Posts, The Sabbats | Tags: | Leave a comment

Blog at WordPress.com. The Adventure Journal Theme.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,900 other followers