July 31, 2018
by Rebecca Farrar of Wild Witch of the West / art by Alphonse Mucha
Lammas, aka Lughnasadh in Gaelic, marks the beginning of the harvest season in Wiccan and Pagan traditions. It occurs August 1 as a rough halfway point between Summer Solstice and Autumn Equinox for the Northern Hemisphere, though Old Lammas was said to occur when the Sun reached 15 degrees Leo. Whether you honor the mid-point or astrological date, this special holiday celebrates the mystery and magic of the spirit of the grain.
The name Lammas comes from old English meaning “loaf mass,” as it originated from celebrations of harvest time. Historically in Pagan and Wiccan traditions there were three harvests each year with corresponding holidays honoring each. Lammas was the first harvest with grain, the second Mabon (September 21 through September 29 this year) was fruit, and then finally near Samhain (October 31-November 1 this year) was nuts and berries.
At Lammas the goddess becomes embodied as the agricultural archetypes of the Grain Mother, Harvest Mother, Earth Mother, and Ceres (our word “cereal” comes from her). This powerful symbolism connects us to the Earth as a reminder of the process of life that includes the full cycle of seed to harvest and then the quiet of winter. Around the world the Spirit of the Grain has a place in ritual and also has associations with corn, honey, and onions.
In Gaelic and Pre-Christian times, the holiday Lughnasadh, also spelled Lughnasa, refers to the Irish Sun God Lugh and August was his sacred month. During this time there would be religious gatherings as well as what were called the Tailteann games. These athletic contests acknowledged the aging Lugh god and his waning presence in the sky as autumn comes closer. As he fades, it was believed he transferred his powers to the grain that was being harvested. Hence why Lughanasadh was such an important celebration that helped us hold onto the sunlight with fewer daylight hours on the horizon.
Traditional celebrations of this holiday had feasts, songs, and games and of course included grain. Below are some everyday ritual suggestions for greeting the grain this Lammas:
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