Lammas, Lughnasadh, Summer Feast, First Harvest Celebration
1. Collect corn husks, dry and store in shade. “Corn” was a generic term for cereal crops (i.e., wheat, barley, oats), and New World corn was added after 1520. Our non-irrigated winter wheat is harvested in June and July where I live. We can collect wild wheat stalks and seeds, tie, and hang in shade. Make a corn dolly and keep until the Yule Celebration. We can pick fruit (apricots, berries, figs and plums) and dry them. Many kinds for fruit are ripe in late July, so place some of these on your home altar. Many garden herbs are at their peak and ready for harvesting to make herbal remedies, air fresheners, use in herbal magic, and for decoration. There are hundreds of good books and websites on the magical, sacramental, and health uses of herbs.
2. Read about and make a loaf of bread. Loaves of bread are a traditional part of the First Harvest Feast. Break bread into four pieces and place at each of the Four Corners altars. Lammas means “Loaf Mass” in the Welsh language. Sharing bread is a common feature of a Lammas celebration. What is the role of baking bread in human culture? Find a really good bakery in your area.
3. This is a good month for celebrating. We, in America, celebrate the Fourth of July, and many counties have their annual Fairs. Be try to be very thankful for our peaceful and bountiful life in America. We are thankful for our religious freedom and the 1st Amendment. Americanism and patriotism are forms of a popular religion – we should reflect on our symbols and heritage. Take a look at Ceisiwr Serith’s website and links on Americanism. Hang up the flags, sing, play, smile, celebrate. Remember our fallen heroes, brave soldiers, and hardworking Ancestors.
4. Prepare for the “Games” of the First Harvest Feast. The Greek Olympics and Roman Heracleia games were held at this time. What games might you play? Horseshoes, boche ball, races, swimmng races, croquet, volleyball, badminton, frisbee, baseball, wrestling, spear throwing, arrow shooting, weight tossing …. Get your equipment and playing court ready, and practice.
5. Renew supplies of your favorite ritual-recreational drug: coffee, tobacco, alcohol (whiskey, beer, wine), fuzzy herbs, etc.. Beer and whiskey, made from barley, are often part of joyful summer harvest feast celebrations. Read about the song John Barleycorn.
6. Think about the power of the sun. How can we use solar power? Dry your clothes in the sun. Build a simple box with screen so you can use the power of the summer sun to dry your fresh fruit.
7. Do some thinking, reflection, or discursive meditation on various themes. Here are some themes to reflect upon: What are the relations between Chaos, Gaia, and Eros? What role does more sunlight play in bringing forth the bountiful harvest? What does summertime mean to you?
8. Implement new ways to stay cool that use less electrical energy. Switch to an evaporative cooler in areas with low humidity. Keep all windows covered. Carefully place fans to circulate air indoors. Work early in the morning and rest in the hot afternoon. Drink plenty of water. If your nights are cooler, under 80, draw the cool air indoors at night. A gable fan can really help reduce heat indoors.
9. Check out astronomical details about the rising of the Dog Star, Sirius, in late July, and the beginning of the “Dog Days of Summer.”
10. The Celtic God, Luga (Lugh, Long Hand), is noted for his high level skills in many arts and crafts: smith, carpenter, bard, healer, herbalist, magician, gamesman, spear throwing, military leadership, etc. Get out your paintbrush. Fix something in the yard or garden or home. Tidy up the garden. Create something, make something. Start learning a new practical skill or craft. Clean your weapons and practice with the weapons.
11. Working and meditating in the garden is an important facet of my spiritual path. I need to regularly reconnect with the earth and the autumn season outdoors. I live in Red Bluff, California, USDA Zone 9, Northern Hemisphere. My late September gardening chores might be quite different from yours, depending upon where you live. Tend your garden daily. Water your garden each day. Weed your vegetable garden. Harvest squash, tomatoes, peppers and other vegetables from your garden each day. Review your own lists of chores for July and August, and act accordingly.
12. Read about Lammas, Lughnasadh, and summer festivals around the world. Add notes and links to books, magazines, and webpages on the subject. See my bibliography and links above. Visit your local public library or college library to obtain access to books, media and magazines on the subject. Study about ancient Indo-European religions. I update my Months webpages on July and September.
13. Add some appropriate Lammas, Lughnasadh, or Mid-Summer songs, chants, prayers, reflections, invocations, or poems to your Neo-Pagan Craft Journal, Book of Shadows, blog, website, or Ritual Handbook. Write in your personal journal. Most spiritual seekers keep a notebook, journal or log as part of their experimental, creative, magical and experiential work.
14. Stay at home. Improve your home, backyard, or garden. Eliminate long driving trips. Do you really need to “Go” anywhere? Do you really need to fly by airplane to another country? Explore your backyard, neighborhood, local community, nearby city, county wide area, regional area within 100 miles. Visit a local “sacred site.” For us, for example, this could be Mt. Shasta, the headwaters spring of the Sacramento River in Mt. Shasta City, the Sacramento River at Woodson Bridge Park, a long walk in the forest below nearby Mt. Lassen, sitting on the shore of Whiskeytown Lake, sitting in my backyard in the moonlight, or visiting a beautiful church or college or park that is nearby. Watch a DVD on a spiritual subject, sacred place, or inspirational topic. Learn more about your local environment.
15. Read solitary or group rites for Lughnasadh available in books and webpages (see above). Create your own ritual for Lughnasadh. Practice the ritual. Conduct the ritual at a convenient time for you, or your family and/or friends, as close to the day of the autumnal equinox as possible. Attend a public Mabon ritual of a local NeoPagan group.
16. A large fire is often lit in your safe outdoor fireplace as part of celebrating Lughnasadh. Take special care because many areas are quite dry in early August. Maybe use a few fireworks left over from the Fourth of July in America.
17. Thoroughly clean, dust, tidy up, refreshen, improve, and add appropriate seasonal decorations to your home altar. This should normally be clean and tidy, however an extra cleaning before the Lughnasadh celebration is a way to express your reverence, create a visible reminder of your thoughts and devotional practices, and to offer hospitality to the nature spirits, ancestors, and Shining Ones. If you don’t have a home altar, read some books and webpages about setting one up in your home or garden, and then establish one this holiday season.