A brief history of Lammas
In Earth-based traditions, Lammas is usually celebrated on August 1, honoring the first harvest of the season. Lammas is also known as Lughnasadh (pronounced Loo-NAS-ah). In some Wiccan and Pagan traditions, Lammas is also a day of honoring Lugh, the Celtic god of craftmanship, grain, the Sun, and late summer storms. Lughnasadh is still celebrated in many parts of the world today. At this time of year, the nights are beginning to lengthen and we anticipate the return of fall. This is truly the beginning of shadow season. Before the Wheel turns to the darker months, we can take time to appreciate warmth and sunlight and how they support the season of growth. Gratitude in times of plenty is a powerful practice. What we reap now wasn’t always full-grown. By celebrating Lammas as a harvest holiday, we honor our ancestors and the hard work they had to do in order to survive and secure our lineage.
Like all Celtic or Pagan holidays, Lammas also honors goddesses whose associations, strengths, and myths align with the work we’re doing at this time of year. Ceres, the harvest goddess, known as Demeter by the Greeks, and Tailtiu, mother of Lugh, are great forces of agricultural abundance. We receive their blessings in the bounty of food that will feed us through the rest of the year. Metaphorically, our mental, spiritual, and emotional crops are ready for the first harvest, too. If you set intentions in the darkness of winter or early spring, this is the time to see how they’ve manifested and will support you in the months to come.
Take time to reflect
During the week of Lammas, take a moment to reflect. Look back upon the first half of this year and the ideas, projects, and intentions you initiated. Ask yourself: Did I start them with mindfulness, or was I careless? Either way, you’ve created something, and now, as the first harvest begins, it’s time to reap what you’ve sown. What will you pull from the roots and make use of? What have your initiations grown into? Did they blossom or never break ground? Diving deep and taking honest stock here will help you navigate the remainder of the year. Lammas is also a holiday of remembrance and releasing, so don’t worry if you need to let go of something that just didn’t make it. Not everything survives. Letting go helps you be fully present in the now and ready to take the next turn in your journey.
Lammas is also a great time to put your hands in the earth literally and figuratively. You can do this by consciously attending to what’s in your spirit-soil, visualizing yourself picking whatever you set out to grow this past spring and putting it to use in your life. Or you can gather your physical harvests, like money, your crystals, herbs in your garden, or anything you’ve manifested and celebrate the growth of the year. Your children are another example of your harvest. So are your business ventures, relationships, and your personal growth – all maturing at their own pace and deepening with time. In many ways, your entire life is like a garden. Don’t forget to appreciate and enjoy it.
6 ways to honor Lammas
1) Create an altar. Gather items for a Lammas or harvest altar such as wheat, barley, oats, mint, sunflowers, and anything in colors of the holiday, from green to gold and yellow to the deepest orange – every shade of sun and harvest.
2) Create a harvest jar or container. Write down the things you’ve manifested this year and put those pieces of paper in the container. Hold a little ritual to honor everything you’ve grown, including yourself.
3) Bake bread. The most traditional Lammas practice is baking bread from the newly harvested wheat (Lammas is an Anglo Saxon word for loaf-mass). In Anglo-Saxon England, a loaf of bread baked from the new crop was broken into four pieces and placed in the four corners of the barn to protect the grain.
4) Light candles. Lammas is a festival of light, celebrating the last long days of the year. Your ritual can be as simple as lighting candles in shades of yellow and orange or whatever calls to you.
5) Celebrate with gemstones. Work with stones associated with Lammas, like carnelian, citrine, aventurine, golden topaz, obsidian, and moss agate. Place these on your altar, hold them in meditation, or create a crystal grid for the season.
6) Charge your stones in the late summer sunshine. The Moon isn’t the only luminary with magical infusing power. Put your crystals out in the sunlight to absorb solar warmth and vitality. Your stones will hold this energy and continue radiating it throughout fall and winter. Be careful though, some gems like amethyst and larimar can actually fade with too much Sun exposure! It only takes a few hours in the Sun to cleanse and charge.
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