Lammas, Lughnasadh, Summer Feast, First Harvest Celebration

Lammas/Lugnasadh Comments

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.

Lughnasadh Celebrations

 

All About Lammas (Lughnasadh)

  • It’s the dog days of summer, the gardens are full of goodies, the fields are full of grain, and the harvest is approaching. Take a moment to relax in the heat, and reflect on the upcoming abundance of the fall months. At Lammas, sometimes called Lughnasadh, it’s time to begin reaping what we have sown throughout the past few months, and recognize that the bright summer days will soon come to an end.
    • Lammas History: Welcoming the Harvest

    The Beginning of the Harvest:

    At Lammas, also called Lughnasadh, the hot days of August are upon us, much of the earth is dry and parched, but we still know that the bright reds and yellows of the harvest season are just around the corner. Apples are beginning to ripen in the trees, our summer vegetables have been picked, corn is tall and green, waiting for us to come gather the bounty of the crop fields.

    Now is the time to begin reaping what we have sown, and gathering up the first harvests of grain, wheat, oats, and more.

    This holiday can be celebrated either as a way to honor the god Lugh, or as a celebration of the harvest.

    Celebrating Grain in Ancient Cultures:

    Grain has held a place of importance in civilization back nearly to the beginning of time. Grain became associated with the cycle of death and rebirth. The Sumerian god Tammuz was slain and his lover Ishtar grieved so heartily that nature stopped producing. Ishtar mourned Tammuz, and followed him to the Underworld to bring him back, similar to the story of Demeter and Persephone.

    In Greek legend, the grain god was Adonis. Twogoddesses, Aphrodite and Persephone, battled for his love. To end the fighting, Zeus ordered Adonis to spend six months with Persephone in the Underworld, and the rest with Aphrodite.

    A Feast of Bread:

    In early Ireland, it was a bad idea to harvest your grain any time before Lammas — it meant that the previous year’s harvest had run out early, and that was a serious failing in agricultural communities.

    However, on August 1, the first sheaves of grain were cut by the farmer, and by nightfall his wife had made the first loaves of bread of the season.

    The word Lammas derives from the Old English phrase hlaf-maesse, which translates to loaf mass. In early Christian times, the first loaves of the season were blessed by the Church.

    Honoring Lugh, the Skillful God:

    In some Wiccan and modern Pagan traditions, Lammas is also a day of honoring Lugh, the Celtic craftsman god. He is a god of many skills, and was honored in various aspects by societies both in the British Isles and in Europe. Lughnasadh (pronounced Loo-NAS-ah) is still celebrated in many parts of the world today. Lugh’s influence appears in the names of several European towns.

    Honoring the Past:

    In our modern world, it’s often easy to forget the trials and tribulations our ancestors had to endure. For us, if we need a loaf of bread, we simply drive over to the local grocery store and buy a few bags of prepackaged bread. If we run out, it’s no big deal, we just go and get more. When our ancestors lived, hundreds and thousands of years ago, the harvesting and processing of grain was crucial. If crops were left in the fields too long, or the bread not baked in time, families could starve. Taking care of one’s crops meant the difference between life and death.

    By celebrating Lammas as a harvest holiday, we honor our ancestors and the hard work they must have had to do in order to survive. This is a good time to give thanks for the abundance we have in our lives, and to be grateful for the food on our tables. Lammas is a time of transformation, of rebirth and new beginnings.

    Symbols of the Season

    The Wheel of the Year has turned once more, and you may feel like decorating your house accordingly. While you probably can’t find too many items marked as “Lammas decor” in your local discount store, there are a number of items you can use as decoration for this harvest holiday.

    Crafts, Song and Celebration

    Because of its association with Lugh, the skilled god, Lammas (Lughnasadh) is also a time to celebrate talents and craftsmanship. It’s a traditional time of year for craft festivals, and for skilled artisans to peddle their wares. In medieval Europe, guilds would arrange for their members to set up booths around a village green, festooned with bright ribbons and fall colors. Perhaps this is why so many modern Renaissance Festivals begin around this time of year!

    • Sickles and scythes, as well as other symbols of harvesting
    • Grapes and vines
    • Dried grains — sheafs of wheat, bowls of oats, etc.
    • Corn dolls — you can make these easily using dried husks
    • Early fall vegetables, such as squashes and pumpkins
    • Late summer fruits, like apples, plums and peaches

    Lugh is also known in some traditions as the patron of bards and magicians. Now is a great time of year to work on honing your own talents. Learn a new craft, or get better at an old one. Put on a play, write a story or poem, take up a musical instrument, or sing a song. Whatever you choose to do, this is the right season for rebirth and renewal, so set August 1 as the day to share your new skill with your friends and family.

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