Master of artisans,
leader of craftsmen,
patron of smiths,
I call upon you and honor you this day.
You of the many skills and talents,
I ask you to shine upon me and
bless me with your gifts.
Give me strength in skill,
make my hands and mind deft,
shine light upon my talents.
O mighty Lugh,
I thank you for your blessings.
So Mote It Be
Recipe by Scott Cunningham
2 parts Frankincense
1 part Heather
1 part Apple blossoms
1 pinch Blackberry leaves
a few drops Ambergris oil
Burn Lughnasadh Incense during Wiccan rituals on August 1st or 2nd, or at that time to attune with the coming harvest.
(The above recipe for “Lughnasadh Incense” is quoted directly from Scott Cunningham’s book “The Complete Book of Incenses, Oils & Brews”, page 76, Llewellyn Publications, 1989/1992)
Put in soap or annoint candles
5 drops frankincense
5 drops rose
5 drops yarrow
Add a piece of wheat and a blackberry leaf with a cat’s-eye, citrine, and moss agate crystals. Very soothing.
Lammas Ritual Potpourri
Recipe by Gerina Dunwich
20 drops clove bud oil
25 drops sandalwood oil
1 cup oak moss
2 cups dried pink rosebuds
2 cups dried red peony petals
1 cup dried amaranth flowers
1 cup dried heather flowers
Mix the clove bud and sandalwood oils with the oak moss and then add the remaining ingredients. Stir the potpourri well and store in a tightly covered ceramic or glass container.
(The above recipe for “Lammas Ritual Potpourri” is quoted directly from Gerina Dunwich’s book “The Wicca Spellbook: A Witch’s Collection of Wiccan Spells, Potions and Recipes”, page 163, A Citadel Press Book, Carol Publishing Group, 1994/1995)
20 drops clove bud oil
23 drops sandalwood oil
1 cup oak moss
2 cups dried pink rosebuds
2 cups dried red peony petals
1 cup dried amaranth flowers
1 cup dried heather flowers
½ cup dried cornflowers.
Mix the clove bud and sandalwood oils with the oak moss and then add the remaining
ingredients. Stir the potpourri well and store in a tightly covered ceramic or glass container.
The Legend of John Barleycorn
John Barleycorn is a character who symbolizes not only the harvest, but the products made from it as well.
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!
By Patti Wigington
Article found on & owned by About.com
The Celtic harvest festival on August 1st takes its name from the Irish god Lugh, one of the chief gods of the Tuatha De Danann, giving us Lughnasadh in Ireland, Lunasdál in Scotland, and Laa Luanys in the Isle of Man. (In Wales, this time is known simply as Gwl Awst, the August Feast.)
Lugh dedicated this festival to his foster-mother, Tailtiu, the last queen of the Fir Bolg, who died from exhaustion after clearing a great forest so that the land could be cultivated. When the men of Ireland gathered at her death-bed, she told them to hold funeral games in her honor. As long as they were held, she prophesied Ireland would not be without song. Tailtiu’s name is from Old Celtic Talantiu, “The Great One of the Earth,” suggesting she may originally have been a personification of the land itself, like so many Irish goddesses. In fact, Lughnasadh has an older name, Brón Trogain, which refers to the painful labor of childbirth. For at this time of year, the earth gives birth to her first fruits so that her children might live.
Tailtiu gives her name to Teltown in County Meath, where the festival was traditionally held in early Ireland. It evolved into a great tribal assembly, attended by the High King, where legal agreements were made, political problems discussed, and huge sporting contests were held on the scale of an early Olympic Games. Artists and entertainers displayed their talents, traders came from far and wide to sell food, farm animals, fine crafts and clothing, and there was much storytelling, music, and high-spirited revelry, according to a medieval eye-witness account:
“Trumpets, harps, hollow-throated horns, pipers, timpanists, unwearied…fiddlers, gleemen, bone-players and bag-pipers, a rude crowd, noisy, profane, roaring and shouting.”
This was also an occasion for handfasting, or trial marriages. Young men and women lined up on either side of a wooden gate in a high wall, in which a hole was carved, large enough for a hand. One by one, girl and boy would grasp a hand in the hole, without being able to see who was on the other side. They were now married, and could live together for year and day to see if it worked out. If not, the couple returned to next year’s gathering and officially separated by standing back to back and walking away from each other.
Throughout the centuries, the grandeur of Teltown dwindled away, but all over Ireland, right up to the middle of this century, country-people have celebrated the harvest at revels, wakes, and fairs – and some still continue today in the liveliest manner. It was usually celebrated on the nearest Sunday to August 1st, so that a whole day could be set aside from work. In later times, the festival of Lughnasadh was christianized as Lammas, from the Anglo-Saxon, hlaf-mas, “Loaf-Mass,” but in rural areas, it was often remembered as “Bilberry Sunday,” for this was the day to climb the nearest “Lughnasadh Hill” and gather the earth’s freely-given gifts of the little black berries, which they might wear as special garlands or gather in baskets to take home for jam.
As of old, people sang and danced jigs and reels to the music of melodeons, fiddles and flutes, and held uproarious sporting contests and races. In some places, a woman-or an effigy of one-was crowned with summer flowers and seated on a throne, with garlands strewn at her feet. Dancers whirled around her, touching her garlands or pulling off a ribbon for good luck. In this way, perhaps, the ancient goddess of the harvest was still remembered with honor.
|Colors: Gray, green, gold, yellow
Symbols: All grains, breads, threshing tools, athame
Date: Occurs 1/4 of a year after Beltaine. True astrological point is 15 degrees Leo, but tradition has set August 1st as the day it is typically celebrated. Since the Ancients Celts passed their days from sundown to sundown, the celebration would usually begin the night before on July 31st.The turning of the wheel now brings us to Lughnasadh (LOO-nus-uh), also known by its medieval Christian name of Lammas, named in honor of the Celtic god Lugh, a name which means “light” or “shining.” Although somewhat confusing, we are not celebrating the death of Lugh (the God of light does not mythically die until the autumn equinox), but rather the funeral games that Lugh hosted to commemorate the death of his foster mother, Taillte. In Ireland, Lugnasadh is often called the “Tailltean Games”. A common feature of the games were the “Tailltean marriages”, rather informal and lasting only a year and a day or until next Lammas, at which time the couple would decide to continue the arrangement or stand back to back and walk away, thereby dissolving the marriage. The parish priest was not bothered to perform these trial marriages, they were usually performed by a poet, bard, priest or priestess of the Old Religion, or shanachie, and were very common into the 1500’s. It is from this custom that our present-day Handfastings must come.
According to one of his many legends, Lugh was the last great leader of the Tuatha de Dannan. In one of the Tuatha’s victories, Lugh spared the life of Bres, a defeated enemy captain, in exchange for advice on ploughing, sowing, and reaping. He was seen as a multi-talented deity, being capable and quite good at all he undertook. The myths of Lugh include the prevalence of his many skills and the wedding of these skills to the potential or unrealized abundance of the land. According to the writing of Caesar, he was also regarded as the patron of all the arts, traveling, and influence in money and commerce. To the Romans, Lugh was seen as a counterpart to Mercury. Lugh is the son of Arianrhod, who is associated with sacred kingship and Three-fold Death. His wife’s name is Blodeuwedd, also known as the Flower Maiden.
Lughnasadh is the first of the three harvest Sabbats, Mabon and Samhain being the other two, which celebrates the ripening grains and corn. With the harvest so prevalent, Pagans see the theme of the sacrificed god motif emerge. His death is necessary for rebirth of the land to take place. Called by many names, “Green Man,” “Wicker Man,” “Corn Man” or just the “Spirit of Vegetation,” his essence begins to merge with the harvested crops, a sacrifice that will be realized with the new growth in the spring.
In old times, it was the duty of the King to sacrifice himself for the land, an idea that has been seen in the many legends of cultures both new and old, throughout recorded history. The gathering of the first crops of the year is also used to symbolize the success and extent of the power raised from the Beltane rites when the Sacred Marriage of the Lord and Lady took place. The theme of sexuality and reproduction is carried over into Lughnasadh as well to ensure the remainder of a good harvest.
This sabbat is also known as the celebration of bread. As bread was one of the main staples of our ancestors, the ripening of the grain was the cause for great celebration. The reaping, threshing and preparation of these breads spawned great ritual and ceremony to ensure bounty for the following year.
This time of the year finds us with fields to harvest, the first of a bountiful crop that will hold us through the winter months. Even though the hottest days of summer are upon us, we have but to observe to see that fall is just around the corner. Shadows are growing longer as the days slowly become shorter. Squirrels are busily gathering food for the coming winter. It is a time to begin canning produce from the garden, a time to save and preserve.
Some ideas for celebration include:
And so the wheel turns…..
Coming of Lammas
Hear the call of the rooster in the early morning haze, another day of heat and humidity. The corn silently ripens in the field as the crows gather to claim their share. The scent of fresh ripe tomatoes fills the air in the kitchen. The clean mason jars, brought from storage, washed and ready to receive the bounty of field and garden glisten in rays of the morning Sun that pierces the veil of mist.
In the cool of the cellar are the crockery jars, ready for the pickling of cucumbers and cabbages the bins have been cleaned to receive their full compliment of the first harvest of potatoes, onions, cabbages and carrots. As July passes, we remember the flag, thirteen pentagrams in a circle, one for each English Colony that made up a young nation; or one for each lunar month in a year and now, of course, it could be one for each witch in a coven. The red and white stripes are like the streamers on a May Pole.
Americans, American witchcraft and American Wicca are totally unique, nothing quite like either has ever been seen before, even in this great, new land of ours.
The American nation, founded for the purpose of religious freedom is the home of the greatest revival of ancient practices in the world. The Neo-Pagan religions are growing by leaps and bounds and as American Witches we have the best the two worlds, both old and new have to offer.
A very few are born into the tiny pockets of hereditary witchcraft that seem to be still scattered about the world, the rest of us, we the chosen children, must make our own new traditions, claiming as our own, gathering bits and pieces from around the world. Who is brave enough to deny us this right, remembering the God and Goddess themselves have called us to the fold and made us their own?
We are a people, we are the children of the Gods, they have made it so. Our task is to reclaim the good, the useful, the ancient ways from the wreckage of the past.
Lammas or first harvest is a bountiful and wondrously full time of year, what traditions are each of you celebrating during this time? If you have a tradition that is too secret to share, keep it to yourself, this is an echo for caring and sharing. Those of us who are the Goddess’s chosen children, those of us who answered the call of Herne the Hunter in whatever form, here we can learn and develop our own new and uniquely American Traditions based upon the Ancient Ways; with a flavoring of the new for sauce….
Celebrating the first harvest with American Corn Dollys, pumpkin pie and jack-o-lanterns, bobbing for Washington apples, hard and soft cider, homemade bread, hand shucked popcorn, ice-cream, made at home like our grandmother’s did….
Rites and rituals, burning of last winter’s candles….
Ritually washing with handmade soap made from the finest tallow…
Cologne and rosewater, made from the bounty of our gardens or from the corner farmers market…
Reclaiming the ancient ways… in our hearts and minds, in our homes, in our rituals, looking to the Gods themselves for guidance…
Lughnassadh or Lammas
The Lughnassadh sabbath is a time to celebrate the first of three harvest celebrations in the Craft. It marks the middle of Summer represents the start of the harvest cycle and relies on the early crops of ripening grain, and also any fruits and vegetables that are ready to be harvested. It is therefore greatly associated with bread as grain is one of the first crops to be harvested. Wiccans give thanks and honor to all Gods and Goddesses of the Harvest, as well as those who represent Death and Resurrection.
This is a time when the God mysteriously begins to weaken as the Sun rises farther in the South, each day grows shorter and the nights grow longer. The Goddess watches in sorrow as She realizes that the God is dying, and yet lives on inside Her as Her child. It is in the Celtic tradition that the Goddess, in her guise as the Queen of Abundance, is honored as the new mother who has given birth to the bounty; and the God is honored as the God of Prosperity.
I stood before my altar at Lammastide, and asked the Lord and Lady to be my guides…
“Please show to me a vision that I may see… what sacrifice is worthy to give to Thee.”
They showed to me an apple without a core… They showed to me a dwelling without a door… They showed to me a palace where They may be, and unlock it without a key…
How can there be an apple without a core? How can there be a dwelling without a door? How can there be a palace where They may be, and They may unlock it without a key?
…My spirit is an apple without a core… …My mind is a dwelling without a door… My heart is a palace where They may be, and unlock it without a key…
I stood before my altar on Lammas night… and gave my Lord and Lady bright… the sacrifice They asked for – with spirit free… Upon that Lammas evening, I gave Them me…
“Now is the time of the First Harvest,
when bounties of nature give of themselves
so that we may survive.
O God of the ripening fields, Lord of the Grain,
grant me the understanding of sacrifice as you
prepare to deliver yourself under the sickle of the
goddess and journey to the lands of eternal summer.
O Goddess of the Dark Moon,
teach me the secrets of rebirth
as the Sun loses its strength and the nights grow cold.
I partake of the first harvest, mixing its energies
with mine that I may continue my quest for the starry
wisdom of perfection.
O Lady of the Moon and Lord of the Sun,
gracious ones before Whom the stars halt their courses,
I offer my thanks for the continuing fertility of the Earth.
May the nodding grain loose its seeds to be buried in
the Mothers breast, ensuring rebirth in the warmth
of the coming Spring.”
– Scott Cunningham, Lammas Ritual