The Witches Almanac for the Month of August
This month begins with the Greater Sabbat of Lammas or Lammastide. Days are noticeably growing shorter, and evenings are beginning to cool down for Autumn. Celebrations began on July 31st with Lammas Eve and continue through the true astrological point of 15 degrees Leo on the 7th. The classic date of August 1st will be on a Wednesday, so expect most covens, circles and rituals to be scheduled on Friday or Saturday when more people have time off and school is out.
Grains and sheaves of wheat are used on altars to represent the solar power of the Sun manifest in the Earth, and home baked hearth loaves of real bread are a welcome offering and Sabbat cake for rituals. Corn dollies are sometimes fashioned at this time.
Lugnasadh (Irish Gaelic) celebrations of Tailltean marriages were common on this Sabbat. These marriages lasted for “a year and a day” and are the bases of modern Wiccan Year & A Day Handfasting.
Early apples are ripening, and make interesting poppets, altar decorations and festival treats. To combine the solar grain representations along with the first apple harvest, a Dutch apple pie makes a welcome addition to the table. The wheel is often used to represent this Sabbat, a tip of the hat to days when wheels were coated in tar and set ablaze rolling down a hill. This is a likely representation of the sun’s waning, but it is obviously a serious fire hazard.
Some traditions consider this the first of three harvest Sabbats. Lammas means “loaf mass” and is actually a Christianized name for the Sabbat. Even so, we enjoy baking bread on this Sabbat, and continue to do so for the next two harvest Sabbats.
Bread is often overly complicated in recipe books. Simply dissolve one packet of yeast into one cup of lukewarm water. Add ½ cup of flour (whole-wheat “white” is great) and let it sit for about 20 minutes or until it begins to bubble. Add ¼ cup of sugar or honey, ¼ cup oil, an egg, a slightly rounded teaspoon of sea salt and any optional luxury items you wish to include (½ cup unsalted sunflower seeds, millet or quinoa). Mix well and then add more flour until it begins to form a dough. Turn onto a floured surface and begin kneading in more flour until your dough feels like well chewed gum, folding it over and pushing it together.
When done, it should be only slightly sticky to the touch and be fairly smooth. Oil the ball and let it sit until it grows to twice its size. Shape into loaves or rolls and allow to raise again until the dough doesn’t bounce back when you give it a light poke. Bake at 350° Farenheit for about 40 minutes for loaves, 375° Farenheit for 25 minutes for rolls. You should hear a hollow sound when you tap the bottom of a loaf or roll. If it sounds “rubbery” add 10 more minutes for loaves and 5 minutes for rolls.
The Perseids join us this month in a favorite meteor shower display, producing many bright meteors, up to 60 per hour at its peak. It is produced by comet Swift-Tuttle, which was discovered in 1862. The shower runs from July 17 to August 24 and its peaks are noted on the calendar page for August. With the new moon on the 11th, viewing meteors will be unhindered by the moon’s light, and later the thin crescent of the waxing moon will set early in the evening, leaving a dark sky for better viewing. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Perseus, but can appear anywhere in the sky.
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