(AKA: Lughnasadh, Cornucopia, Thingtide, Lammastide, Lughomass, Festival of Light, Latha Lunasdal)
Lammas, the festival of the First Fruits of the Harvest, is the first festival of the Waning Year. It is celebrated on July 31, while the climate (in the United States) is essentially still Summer. Never the less, technically, Lammas is the first day of Autumn.
If anything, the days are hotter now than they were in early Summer. These are the best days for trips to the beach and back yard barbecues. Meat prices are lower now--especially beef. This is the time to enjoy a thick steak. The really good sweet corn, the kind that melts in your mouth, has just begun to arrive in the supermarket. Since the seasonal changes at this time are more subtle, it is even more important that we celebrate the festival. We need to bring the cycles of the Universe into manifestation within our own minds, by demonstrating what we may not see.
The mental/emotional indications of the changing seasons are more obvious now than the physical ones. The air is filled with anticipation of the coming fall, of the approaching return to school and of the cooler weather to come. It is also a time of sadness, as the knowledge sets in that the good times of Summer will soon be over. There is a bit of "haste to have fun" before it comes to an end.
Lammas takes its name from the Old English "hlaf," meaning "loaf" and "maesse," meaning feast. Lammas has often been taken to mean Lamb-mass, because on August 1, the next day, is the Feast of St. Peter's Chains, at which lambs are taken to church for blessing. (Can't you just picture a priest of the early Church saying, "Lammas??? We can do that HERE! Just tell them to bring their lambs to Church!)
This festival is also called "Lugnasadh" (Loo-nah-sah), which has an entirely different meaning. The element "nasadh" relates to the Gaelic, "to give in marriage," and so would mean the "Marriage of Lug," rather than Lugh's Mass, which is a common interpretation. There is also some debate as to who the bride is, if there is one. Some authorities favor Tailltiu (Lugh's foster mother) and others favor Eriu, i.e., Ireland, herself.
However, no mention is made of Blodeuwedd, the Lady of Flowers created for Lugh by Math and Gwydeon, the ultimate cause of his death. One clue to the identity of this particular bride may be that "handfastings" (marriage for a year and a day) are still called "Taillten Marriage", and many are performed at Lammas Fairs.
Although we do not celebrate a marriage at this time, preferring the loaf-feast concept, it is interesting to note that July 31 is exactly nine months prior to Beltane, which was once celebrated as the beginning of the New Year.
Another common interpretation of "Lughnasadh", perpetuated by Christian historians, is "Lugh's Games" and some say it is a festival created by Lugh, in honor of the memory of Tailltiu.
The Lammas festival was adopted by the Christian Church in 1843, and today, in England, people decorate churches with sheaves and corn dollies, celebrating the old Pagan holiday, as they sing "Bringing in the Sheaves" and make offerings of corn to the Church.
In some areas, Lammas was a time of sacrifice. Sacrifices at Lammas were made to thank the Deities for the First Fruits and to guarantee an abundant Harvest. The victim was often the king, who was God Incarnate to his people. Sometimes a substitute king, a fool or "scapegoat", was sacrificed in the king's stead.
The last recorded sacrifice of a king of England may have occurred at Lammas, in the year 1100. King William II (Rufus the Red, or William Rufus) rejected the relatively new Christian beliefs, and openly declared himself Pagan. His death in a "hunting accident" on August 2, 1100 c.e., is believed by many historians to have been a case of the traditional sacrifice being disguised for the sake of the Christian priests.
Until recent years, in Scotland, the first cut of the Harvest was made on Lammas Day, and was a ritual in itself. The entire family must dress in their finest clothing and go into the fields. The head of the family would lay his bonnet (hat) on the ground and, facing the Sun, cut the first handful of corn with a sickle. He would then put the corn Sun-wise around his head three times while thanking the God of the Harvest for "corn and bread, food and flocks, wool and clothing, health and strength, and peace and plenty." This custom was called the "Iolach Buana."
In the British Isles, the custom of giving the First Fruits to the Gods evolved into giving them to the landlord. Lammas is now the traditional time for tenant farmers to pay their rent. Thus, Lammas is seen as a day of judgment or reckoning. From this practice comes the phrase "--at latter Lammas", meaning "never", or "not until Judgment Day."
An old custom that can be re-created today is the construction of the Kern-baby or corn maiden at Lammas. This figure, originally made from the first sheaf, would be saved until spring, and then ploughed into the field to prepare for planting. (The Maiden thus returns to the field at spring.) Most of us, today, have no first sheaf nor shall we prepare a field at spring, but as a means of adding continuity to our festivals, the maiden can be made from the husks of corn served at the Lammas Feast, then saved for use as a brideo'g at Candlemas.
To the Celts, Lammas was, of course, one of the four Great Fire Festivals, i.e., cross-quarter festivals. The custom of lighting bonfires to add strength to the powers of the Waning Sun was widespread. Brands from the Lammas fires were kept in the home, through the winter, as protection against storms and lightning, and against fires started by lightning. The Need-Fire seems to have been an integral part of most Fire Festivals, but was not limited to them. Since the ashes from such a fire had properties of protection, healing, and fertility, a Need-Fire might be lit at any time a "need" for such things existed.
Lammas Fairs, held annually throughout the British Isles, still exist today. At the Exeter Lammas Fair, a large, stuffed glove, decorated with flowers and ribbons, is fasted atop a pole and carried about the fairgrounds. It is then placed on the roof of the Guild Hall to signify the opening of the fair. A gift of money for gloves (to servants) was also traditional at Lammastide. One source tells us the glove represents a unit of measure, indicating a fair rate of exchange. Another compares it to the Egyptian "open hand," representing friendship and fortune.
We would like to add what seems an obvious theory, but for which we have no source: The name Lugh-Lamhfhada means "Lugh of the Long Hand," and Llew-Law Gyffes, another name for the same God (Welsh), means "The Lion with the Steady Hand." It seems to us that the glove might simply be a symbol for Lugh, with whom the festival has often been associated (as in Lughnasadh).
That Lammas, traditionally, is a merry time; a time of Fairs, Handfastings, and Feasts is expressed in the following poem by Robert Burns.
It was on a Lammas night,
When corn rigs are bonnie,
Beneath the moon's unclouded light,
I held away to Annie:
The time flew by, wi tentless heed,
Till 'tween the late and early;
Wi' sma' persuasion she agreed
To see me thro' the barley.
The sky was blue, the wind was still,
The moon was shining clearly;
I set her down, wi' right good will,
Amang the rigs o'barley
I ken't her heart was a' my ain;
I lov'd her most sincerely;
I kissed her owre and owre again,
Among the rig o' barley.
I locked her in my fond embrace;
Her heart was beating rarely:
My blessings on that happy place,
Amang the rigs o'barley.
But by the moon and stars so bright,
That shone that hour so clearly!
She ay shall bless that happy night,
Amang the rigs o'barley.
I hae been blythe wi' Comrades dear;
I hae been merry drinking;
I hae been joyfu' gath'rin gear;
I hae been happy thinking:
But a' the pleasures e'er I saw,
Tho three times doubl'd fairley
That happy night was worth then a'.
Among the rig's o' barley.
Corn rigs, an' barley rigs,
An' corn rigs are bonie:
I'll ne'er forget that happy night,
Among the rigs wi' Annie.
Lammas is often celebrated as the Wake for the Sacred King. As you know, a Wake is a Celebration of Life, not a time to grieve. And Lammas is a joyous time of celebration. Feast to your heart's content, sing, dance and make merry. Light your Need-Fires and make your Kern-babies. You'll "ne'er forget that happy night" you celebrated in The Old Ways! Blessed Be!!!
Doug and Sandy Kopf wrote the above information on Lammas. You can visit their page at: http://www.cyberwitch.com/wychwood/Temple/lammas.htm
~I highly encourage you to take a wander through this site, it’s great! Loads of info!
www.web-holidays.com/Lammas/index.asp ~ I have just recently come across this site, and let me tell you…. IT’S AMAZING!!! Anything you would ever want to know about the sabbats; recipes, lore, history, EVERYTHING!!! Check it out; I definitely have this one book marked for sure!
www.witchvox.com/holidays/xlugnasadh.html ~ this site I’ve had on my bookmark list forever. They always have insightful information, whether you’re just beginning or an adept. There are also regional pages from all over the world so you can connect with other like-minded people, join in on community festivals or just find a great local Wicca store.
www.mythinglinks.org/Lammas.html ~ Very informative if you want to get a better look at the myth behind the sabbat. This site is great for historical references too. This page is really in-depth about Lugh and features historical works and essays about the Tuatha De Dannan.
WHOLE GRAIN RITUAL BREAD*
In a large mixing bowl combine:
2 C Warm Milk
2 Packages of dry
1 teaspoon Salt
1/2 C Honey
1/4 C Dark Brown
Cover the bowl and set aside in a warm place until it has doubled (about 1/2 hour)
Add to the mixture:
3 Tablespoons softened Butter
2 C Unbleached Flour
Stir Until Bubbly. This is also the time to add a bit of sprouted wheat to the dough to express resurrection.
Now mix in:
1 C Rye flour
2 C Stone-Ground Whole Wheat flour
Flour your hands and gradually knead in more unbleached white flour until the dough becomes smooth and doesn't stick to your fingers. Place the ball of dough in an greased bowl, turning so the ball is greased as well, then cover with a clean cloth and set in a warm place to rise until it is doubled. (about 1 hour)
Punch the doubled dough down and divide it in half. Shape into 2 round slightly flattened balls and place on greased cookie sheets. Cover these and return to a warm place to rise until doubled. (This truly is an all day activity!)
When the final rising is just about done, incise a pentagram or other sacred symbol (such as a sun or moon) on the loaves and bless them:
I invoke thee beloved Spirit of the Grain, Be present in this Sacred Loaf
Beat an egg and a teaspoon of water together and brush over the loaves. Bake in a 300 degree oven for about an hour, or until they sound hollow when tapped.
recipe from: http://www.hopes.com/lammas.html
want more Lammas recipes? Go to: http://gypsygrl65.tripod.com/thecottagejulylammas2001issue/id11.html
PREPARING YOUR ALTAR
° Altar candles should be
INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE CEREMONY
Sweep circle area; lay out circle and altar items; bathe and robe. Light incense and altar candles. Ring bell three times and say...
The circle is about to be cast and I freely stand within to greet my Lady and my Lord.
Take center candle from altar, light each candle of the circle moving north, then east, south, and west, and say...
(N) I call upon light and Earth at the north to illuminate and strengthen the circle.
(E) I call upon light and Air at the east to illuminate and enliven the circle.
(S) I call upon light and Fire at the south to illuminate and warm the circle.
(W) I call upon light and Water at the west to illuminate and cleanse the circle.
Take athame in upraised hand, begin circle at north and move around the circle north to east to south to west, and say...
I draw this circle in the presence of the Goddess and the God where they may come and bless their child, Say your magickal name.
Lower the athame at the north, and as you walk around the circle, envision a blue light shooting out from the point and forming the circle boundary, and say...
This is the boundary of the circle. Only love shall enter and leave.
Return to altar and ring bell three times. Place point of athame in the salt and say...
Salt is life and purifying. I bless this salt to be used in this sacred circle in the names of the Goddess and the God.
Pick up salt bowl and use tip of athame to drop three portions of salt into the water bowl and set salt bowl back in its place. Stir three times with athame and say...
Let the blessed salt purify this water that it may be blessed to use in this sacred circle. In the names of the Goddess and the God, I consecrate and cleanse this water.
Take the salted water bowl in hand and sprinkle water from it as you move deosil around the circle (N-E-S-W-N) and say...
I consecrate this circle in the names of the Goddess and the God. The circle is conjured a circle of power that is purified and sealed. So mote it be!.
Return the water bowl to the altar and pick up censer; take it around the circle to cense it; return censer to altar. Take anointing oil; make a Solar Cross ringed by a circle on your forehead, and say...
I (state your magickal name) am consecrated in the names of the Goddess and the God in this their circle.
If working with family members or a Green-focused Coven, open a door in the circle with the athame now for all to enter. Use anointing oil to trace a Solar Cross in a circle on their foreheads as each person enters, having said some kind of greeting, such as the Wiccan, "I come in perfect love and perfect trust." Then close the door with the athame. The text is for solitary use but may be thus altered for family or coven participation.
Take the wand and hold it aloft with both arms open and upraised at the north of the circle (envision a powerful bull arriving) and say...
I call upon you, Elemental Earth, to attend this rite and guard this circle, for as I have body and strength, we are kith and kin!
Lower wand and move to the east, raise up wand (see devas, faires, or an eagle in flight) and say...
I call upon you, Elemental Air, to attend this rite and guard this circle, for as I breath and think, we are kith and kin!
Lower wand and move to the south, raise up wand (see a dragon) and say...
I call upon you, Elemental Fire, to attend this rite and guard this circle, for as I consume life to live, we are kith and kin!
Lower wand and move to the west, hold wand a loft (see a undine, a sea serpant, or a dolphin) and say...
I call upon you, Elemental Water, to attend this rite and guard this circle, for as I feel and my heart beats, we are kith and kin!
Return to altar and use wand to draw the symbol of infinity (an 8 lying on its side) in the air above the altar, the sign of working between worlds. Set wand on altar and raise up athame in both hands overhead and say...
Hail to the elementals at the four quarters! Welcome Lady and Lord to this rite! I stand between the worlds with love and power all around!
Set down athame and pick up goblet of wine. Pour a little into the cauldron. This is a libation to the Divine in which they are honored by offering to them the first draught, then you take a sip. You may prefer to have a bowl specifically for the libation. Ring bell three times and say...
I celebrate this day the First Harvest, the Festival of Bread.
Chant or sing and dance around the circle to the Shaker tune, "Gift to Be Simple (known in the Craft as "Lord of the Dance")...
Dance, dance, wherever you may be; When you dance with the Lord, he will dance with thee, Turn, turn, a circle you may form; And the Lord of the Dance is the Lord of the Corn!
Stop at the altar and with upraised arms sing or chant...
Down, down, into the Earth he'll go; Giving life to the grain that in spring we'll sown. He rules the Shadowland till Yule; When his sun is reborn and he joins us anew!
Ring bell seven times and say...
Great is the power of the God of the sun and the Goddess of the Earth from whom spring all life!
Take up wand, hold it upraised over the bread, and say...
The harvest of the corn that sustains us is brought through death and rebirth. The Lord of the Corn leaves the side of the Earth mother that his power may be passed into the Land for his children to live. Blessed be the God of the Corn, whose love for his children knows no bounds! In the Land of Shadows will be abide with the Lady as crone, awaiting the time of his joyous rebirth.
Lower the wand to touch the bread and say...
May bless this bread that I eat in the honor of the cycle of life that created it and me.
Set down athame and pick up goblet of wine Pour a little into the cauldron. This is a libation to the Divine in which they are honored by offering to them the first draught, then you take a sip. You may prefer to have a bowl specifically for the libation. Ring bell three times and say...
My Lord and my Lady, I am blessed by your gifts from the soil. These first grains are the promise of life to come, and remind me that I am one with the All. So mote it be!
Ring bell three times.
Cakes and Wine - Ring bell three times. Feet spread and arms upraised, say... I acknowledge my needs and offer my appreciation to that which sustains me! May I ever remember the blessing of my Lady and my Lord.
Feet together, take up goblet in left hand and athame in right. Slowly lower the point of the athame into the wine and say...
As male joins female for the benefit of both, et the fruits of their union promote life. Let the Earth be fruitful and let her wealth be spread throughbout all lands.
Lay down the athame and drink from the goblet. Replace the goblet on the altar and pick up the athame. Touch the point of the athame to the cake in the offering dish and say...
This food is the blessing of the Lady and the Lord given freely to me. As freely as I have received, may I also give food for the body, mind, and spirit to those who seek such of me.
Eat the cake, finish the wine, and say...
As I enjoy these gifts of the Goddess and the God, may I remember that without them I would have nothing. So mote it be!
When all is finished, hold athame in your power hand level over the altar and say...
Lord and Lady, I am blessed by your sharing this time with me; watching and guarding me, and guiding me here and in all things. I came in love and I depart in love.
Raise up athame in a salute and say...
Love is the law and love is the bond. Merry did I meet, merry do I part, and merry will I meet again. Merry meet, merry part, and merry meet again! The circle is now cleared. So mote it be!
Kiss the flat of the blade and set the athame on the altar. Take up the snuffer and go to the north quarter, raise up arms and say...
Depart in peace, Elemental Earth. My blessings take with you!
Lower arms and snuff the candle, envision the Elemental Power departing. Go to the East, raise up arms and say...
Depart in peace, Elemental Air. My blessings take with you!
Lower arms and snuff the candle, envision the Elemental Power departing. Go to the south, raise up arms and say...
Depart in peace, Elemental Fire. My blessings take with you!
Lower arms and snuff the candle, envision the Elemental Power departing. Go to the west, raise up arms and say...
Depart in peace, Elemental Water. My blessing take with you!
Lower arms and snuff the candle, envision the Elemental Power departing. Return to altar and set down snuffer. Raise up arms and say...
Beings and powers of the visible and invisible, depart in peace! You aid my work, whisper in my mind, and bless me from the Otherworld, and there is harmony between us. My blessings take with you. The circle is cleared.
Take up athame, go to the north quarter, point athame down and move widdershins around circle (N-W-S-E-N). Envision the blue light drawing back into the athame and say...
The circle is open yet the circle remains as its magickal power is drawn back into me.
When you return to the north having walked the circle, raise up the athame so the blade touches your forehead and envision the blue light swirling around back into you. Return to altar and say...
The ceremony is ended. Blessings have been given and blessings have been received, may the peace of the Goddess and the God remain in my heart. So mote it be!
Set down the athame. Put away all magickal tools and clear the altar except for candles or any objects that need to burn out or work for a stated time (such as candle magick). The cauldron or libation bowl contents are poured onto the earth (if not out in the yard, then into a flowerpot containing soil and perhaps a hardy, leafy green plant). Traditional foods for this Sabbat include multigrain bread, blackberry pie and a dark, fruity wine (I like to use blackberry wine for this occassion).
Well I hope that it won’t take me so very long to put up more updates for ya!!J Oh, and hey, not only is it also a FULL MOON this Lammas, it’s also a BLUE MOON!!! So if you’re planning on any prosperity spells or even just to teach others how to…now is definitely the time to do this! It’s going to be magickal! I can’t wait! I’m going to have a big barbeque with my friends. Unfortunately because of the fire restrictions I can’t have a bonfire again this year, so the propane flames and candles are going to have to do for my ritual this year. Look at me, I’m rambling on….lol BB!~)O( Fairwind)O(