How To Hold a Lammas Bread Sacrifice Ritual
By Patti Wigington, About.com Guide
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Earth my body, water my blood, air my breath and fire my spirit.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- A fire
- A cup of wine or water