How To Celebrate Lammas, or Lughnasadh
What is Lammas, Lughnasadh and how can we celebrate it?
The fullness and fulfillment of the present harvest already holds at its very heart the seed of all future harvest.
Here we celebrate the union of the Sun and Earth, the time of high summer and the first harvest. Lammas (loaf mass) in particular is the celebration of the first Grain Harvest, time to gather in and give thanks for the abundance that Mother Nature and that the turning of the wheel shows and teaches us.
Traditionally the Autumn Equinox or Mabon is the Second Harvest of fruit and Samhain the third and final harvest of nuts and berries.
We also celebrate the great Celtic Sun King at this time or Lugh/Lug. August is the height of his reign when he would initiate great festivities in honour of his mother, Tailtiu. There would be celebrations, festivals, gathering, community spirit, bonfires, games, horse fairs and racing, circle dancing, handfastings and weddings.
As we approach the Autumn Equinox now from this point and eventually the Winter Solstice we are also aware that the suns reign will slowly start to diminish, growth slows down, action shifts to reflection, inner growth and nourishment as we eventually merge with the darker days of winter…
The Grain Mother.
At Lammas we have moved into the ‘mother’ aspect of the triple Goddess, sometimes known as the Grain Mother, Harvest Queen, Harvest Mother, Earth Mother, Ceres and Demeter, the latter being Corn Mother and Kore/Persephone her daughter, representing the grain.
Here the seed drops back into the dark earth, hidden underneath throughout winter to re-appear in the Spring as new growth.
We take from this the core sentiment of Lammas, that being “The fullness and fulfillment of the present harvest already holds at its very heart the seed of all future harvest. “
If you think of a pregnant woman carrying her unborn child, she as such also holds the ovary containing all the eggs her daughter will release throughout her life, as such she is already both a mother and grandmother at the same time and so much more, embodying the Ancestral Motherline of magic, mystery and wisdom.
So here we gather the harvest in at this time, the community is fed throughout the winter, sustinence is provided and within that harvest is the seed of next year’s rebirth, regeneration and harvest and so the cycle continues.
The grain mother is ripe as she carries the seed of the new year’s Sun God within her. At the same time the Sun God, the God of the Harvest, the Green Man or John Barleycorn, surrenders their life with the cutting of the corn. For which we give thanks as it gives way for nourishment and new growth.
Collect The Seeds Of Future Harvest
Involve children if you can. Collect and dry them in the sun, ready for next year’s planting. Consider giving them as gifts at Samhain or Yule. Seeds are such amazing and mysterious things – each tiny seed contains within it the blueprint for the whole plant it will become. It will mirror its mother plant, the mother that raised the seed and returned it to the earth with the help of the light of the sun. It’s a miracle every time.
Broom or Besom
Don’t worry if it isn’t a traditional besom, any broom will do as it is always intent that is important. If you have no broom collect a bundle of twigs and tie them at the top with Lammas ribbon to make a hand broom shape. The besom/broom is a potent symbol of hearth and home, found in some form in almost every household. It is a traditional magical tool useful for everyday charms as it has the imprint of its owner firmly on it. Sweeping is a natural gathering gesture.
Lammas or Lughnasadh Activities
This is a time of joy and gratitude towards the Sun God, the God of Harvest, the Green Man who surrender their life to facilitate nourishment and new growth moving forwards and towards the Grain Mother.
The last sheaf was also ceremonially cut, often made into a ‘corn dolly’, carried to the village with festivity and was central to the Harvest Supper. The corn dolly was made into a Corn Maiden (after a good harvest) or a cailleach, hag or cone (after a bad harvest). She could be dressed with ribbons, even clothed. You can also make a corn dolly with a depiction of a baby inside, representing the future growth. Go for a walk and see what you can find – stalks of wheat, oats, barley, rye often left growing on the edges of fields after harvesting, failing that any grasses and/or reeds you can find.
Learn to go with the seasonal flow
Decorating your altar
Think of honouring that which now surrenders their life in order for sustinence and sewing of the new seeds to take place as well as the grain mother, colours and objects that hold relevance to this.
Some ideas are:
- Corn dolly
- A piece of green ribbon (for abundance), a piece of gold ribbon (for prosperity and gathering) or ribbon in Lammas harvest colours would be equally suitable
- Flowers such as sunflowers
- Mint, Its magical properties are both protection and healing, and at this stage in the year, its properties of drawing abundance and prosperity, are most appropriate.
- A small pot of wheat, barley, oats, rye, all representing both fulfillment and potential.
- Moonstone has a soothing energy that can boost the growth of plants, trees, and flowers. It is associated with the moon, intuition, and fertility. This crystal is sometimes known as the ‘stone of new beginnings,’ and its energy reminds us that everything is part of the ever-changing cycle of life. Moonstone can be used to understand and let go of old emotional patterns that no longer serve us or that have led to negative experiences in the past.