We come together this holiday (celebrated between August 1 to August 7*) to celebrate the Sun’s heat, the Sun’s radiance. We assemble to honor the Gods and to celebrate life’s bounty and our ability to produce abundance and share. We gather to honor the animals who labor for us – the bees, the goats, the horses; and the animals we learn patience from – the snake, the turtle. On this holiday of Lammas, “loaf-mass” we celebrate the harvesting of the grain. The first sheaf of wheat is ceremonially reaped, threshed, milled and baked into a loaf. The grain dies so that the people might live. Eating this bread, the bread of the Gods, gives us life. Grain has always been associated with Gods who are killed and dismembered and then resurrected from the Underworld. In this way we honor the cyclical nature of life, for the wheat, the corn, the barley is both seed and fruit, promise and fulfillment.
The following is a ritual that I and a coven-mate created for Lughnasadh / Lammas. May you find it inspiring for your own work during this season.
Prepare an altar in honor of Lugh & Tailtiu: gold cloth; candles; animal symbols or figurines of: Horse, Bee, Snake; wheat, corn, veggies. Other materials: jar of honey, spoons, any edible bitter herb. Start a fire. (Yes, I know it’s hot.)
Calling of the Lady: Tailtiu, Nurturing Mother, You who taught us agriculture, we assemble here to honor You; Your life and Your sacrifice – in clearing the ground so that we may grow. You are the Land and You are the Legacy.
Calling in the Lord: Lugh, Guardian of the wild and cultivated crops, with every lightning strike of Summer You go into the Grain infusing it with Your potency. You help us on our journey and You aid us with clear communication that we may be successful in life. We honor Your life and Your sacrifice, for with every death there is new life.
Guided Meditation: This is a movement meditation. Let yourself move as if you were planting and tending a garden and watching it grow. (Pause) We have planted our hopes and dreams into the deep fertile Earth. We have been movers and shakers, pushing our will forth to pull into our lives what we seek to bring to fruition. Yet, here we stand, pivoting somewhere between hope and fear; satisfaction and disappointment; contentment and worry. We have tasted a few of the fruits of our labors and still we wait for the full bounty to come in. We worry that, in all our planning, our strategizing, our praying – it will not pay off; it will not be enough. Will we get what we want? Will we at least get what we need? Will we thrive? (Pause)
Ask: What do you fear? (Ask participants to respond)
Take this bitter herb and put your fears into it, then cast it into the fire and let your fears burn.
Ask: What do you hope to harvest? (Ask participants to respond)
Take this bit of honey and put your hopes into it, then consume it, feeling this hope fill your body with sweetness, with warmth. Feel the sun lighting you up from the inside with renewed hope and inspiration and determination to bring the harvest in.
Bless the drink. Bless the food. Eat, drink and be merry.
Devoke. Release circle.
“Lugh, Lugh, Lugh, Lugh. You will never truly be dead. For you will still be living in our bread.”
The snake has come
to lie with the rock
to watch for prey
to watch for predators
soaking up the sultry heat of summer.
There is no movement except the turning of the Wheel…
Turn your face to the Sun King to the Grain King to the Stag King
the one who shines and waits
pivoting on fears and hope
who sacrifices everything to be reborn.
Ask for gentle kisses from the Sun
for it is your turn to wait too
while the hot winds gather dust and one thousand wings or more.
Look out into the fields of your life
to see what is yours to harvest.
It’ll be time soon.
Take your learning from the stones
for they embody endurance.
Take your learning from the serpents
for they teach you how to absorb strength and patience
from the brilliant August sun.
© 1992, Arianna Alexsandra Collins
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*Lammas is “traditionally” celebrated on August 1. However, this holiday, both historically and presently, may also be celebrated on the day when it reaches the exact midway point between the Summer Solstice and Autumn Equinox. This year Lammas falls on August 7 here in New England.
Go to www.archaeoastronomy.com for more information.