Lammas, the Celtic festival of the seed harvest, falls at the end of July and beginning of August in the Northern hemisphere.
It’s the one festival in the turn of the wheel that seems to slip by me if I am not careful.
The summer days are long and sultry at this time of year, although by August 1st I have already sensed the shortening of the days and at times mourn the light that goes to bed a few minutes earlier each day.
I wonder if anyone else feels this.
As much as I adore the darker months and the introspection that they bring, I also find the rush to the longest day at Summer Solstice almost anti-climactic.
We rush to the light and saunter towards the dark.
Right now the wheat is golden in the fields. A little longer and the harvest of seeds will begin. Seeds that feed us now for our daily bread and also seeds for next years’ planting…or this was the cycle when we still saved seeds from one harvest to the following spring.
The ancient Celts and Pagans who lived closely connected to the cycles of the seasons and relied on the land for their survival considered this festival of utmost importance. We do not hold bread as holy as other civilizations did, but without it, there was no life, no hope of surviving a winter season.
We have lost the magic of having to plan and work for winter survival. There is no longer that great connection to the life and breath of what the soil provides in the Western world. When I was a farmer on a smallholding, I felt the breath of each day more poignantly than I do now.
Lammas is a reminder of natural cycles and how we still depend, if in a much shrouded way, on the grace of sun and rain to keep us alive.
Over the next few weeks, offer gratitude to the earth in which our food grows.
Besides what grains of sustenance the soil provides, ask yourself what grains of wisdom can you glean from the last few months? What are you reaping as a result of seeds sown in the spring?
What achievements are visible that sprouted in those early, cool days of the year?
The Celts were great revelers at the time of Lammas!
Not unlike today closer to the harvest, fairs were joyous occasions for feasting, trading, sharing each others company and even marriages. New tribal leaders were often chosen during this time as well.
Create your own Lammas festival
For many years I followed the festivals of a tradition I was born into. Now I choose to follow the traditions of the Celtic Wheel of the Year. It seems to belong to me much more than ‘holidays’ that are prescribed in the calendar.
You can create a late summer festival too, drawing from Pagan or Celtic roots. I’d like to point out here that Pagan and Celtic are many times lumped together and have similar roots but technically speaking, within a historical perspective, are not necessarily the same thing. But that is another post!
Ideas to borrow from:
Collect seeds: Whatever seed heads are ripe and ready for the picking can be coaxed into sharing their bounty. I collect into small paper bags and use those same bags for allowing the seeds to dry or cure. If wildflowers, you can mix later on for your own special blend. Share these with friends for their gardens.
Bake bread: Bread is often maligned as bad for the diet. At Lammas, honor the traditions of harvesting grain, grinding it into a sweet smelling flour, working the dough with your hands, enjoying the gift of the aroma of freshly baked bread and eating it with sweet, herbed butter!
One idea is to gather friends and each choosing a favorite recipe, baking together while sharing stories and laughter. Don’t forget the wine!
Create a Grain Mother: Using sheaves of wheat, grasses, flowers and all types of decorations, tie together a figure that represents a woman’s form. A tribute to the great Mother Earth and all mother, givers of life is appropriate here.
Hold an evening celebrations of dancing, drumming and singing around the symbolic expression of Abundance.
Bring a gift for each of the participants, something small to symbolize the abundance in your life at this time.
If you’re crafty, make a beaded “Abundance Necklace”. You can choose to keep yours or pass them around for everyone’s choosing.
Join in an environmental project to champion over the next year: It can be something local to your community or even global. Always, at times of great abundance, it is good to give back to the planet.
Honor the Apple Tree (Abundance and the Otherworld):
Apple is a symbol of more than this of course, it also symbolizes generosity and gratitude and represents Love, the Goddess of Venus while showering us with a very useful fruit.
Some things you can gather to make from apples are cider, jelly (crab apple), apple butter, apple leather, and apple sauce. Yum!
The Celts revered the apple tree, it is the 10th tree of the Celtic Tree Ogham, and is associated with the land of Avalon, which exists in a parallel universe. King Arthur was said to have been taken to Avalon to heal his wounds, and in essence, Avalon is a symbol of the eternal life.
Mistletoe, sacred to the Celts is often found growing within the branches of apple trees in Great Britain. They have a symbiotic relationship that speaks of the Five Elements.
Should you cut an apple crossways you will discover the five pointed star, each point a resting place for the elements of Air, Fire, Earth, Water and Spirit. One can enter the Otherworld with the guidance of an apple branch in your hand.
However you choose to celebrate Lammas, it will enrich your experience of the passage of time. Summer often slips by quietly and we face Autumn wondering where the time went, so we can stop and take pause with this sacred festival.
Lammas Blessings to All!
Author: Monika Carless
Editor: Renée Picard