Lammas~ Lughnasadh Rituals

 ~Lammas~

Lughnasadh Rituals

Founded by Lugh, in honor of the passing of his mother Taillte, the holiday Lughnasadh came to be the first of the summer harvest festivals. The first fruits of summer and fresh grains are ready for picking at this time of year and the summer days are still quite long and warm. However, this marks the beginning of the waning of the year, with fall arriving shortly with Mabon.

One figure found at a variety of harvest festivals was the corn dolly. Alternately spelled as “corn dollie,” this icon is a figure woven from either braided straw or sheaves harvested from the corn fields. A related icon called a “kern baby” is a figure made from the cob of the corn. These figures were dressed or adorned to resembled women, and viewed as an embodiment of the spirit of the harvest or a representation of the Goddess. It was considered necessary to safeguard this fertile spark over the winter to ensure continued and bountiful harvests. In some cultures, all the farmers would gather in the fields and cut the very last sheaf standing from all the fields as a communal group. The belief was the Corn Spirit would retreat to the last sheaves as the harvest happened.

At Lughnasadh, the last sheaves harvested in the fields are woven into a corn dollie, The Corn Mother. This doll is kept in a closed box until Candlemas. Reborn as the Corn Maiden, the dollie is dressed in white and displayed as Brighid the Bride for this holiday. Sometimes the corn dolly would then be plowed into the fields during these first preparations and other times this wouldn't happen until Beltane.

Simultaneously this holiday honors the fullness and abundance of summer alongside the coming waning of days and preparations for the coming winter. Cattle and other farm animals were often walked through the last coals of the Lammas bonfires as a blessing. Other ways you can honor the Lughnasadh holiday are

Sacrifice bad habits and unwanted things from your life by throwing symbols of them into the sabbat fire. Prayer scrolls can contain written descriptions of offerings, or they can be doodled or drawn representations. They can be symbols or words, whatever is a more powerful association for you.

Freshly harvested grains and berries are the foods most associated with this holiday. Blueberries were the fruit often picked as an indicator of the coming harvest so you may wish to include some of them in your meal or on your altar. Bread can be baked in the shape of a man or the sun for further Sun God correspondence.

Take time to harvest fruits from your garden with your family. If you don't have a garden, try visiting a pick-your-own farm in your area. Urban pagans can also consider having bowls of organic grains on an altar as an alternative for garden harvests. You might also want to share the bounty of your harvest by making a food donation to a charitable group.

Your altar can be accented for Lammas with fresh vegetables or fruits, grains, berries, corn dollies, and bread. Appropriate colors are orange, gold, yellow, red and bronze.

This is a celebration and festival of the Mid Summer First Harvest. The early crops are being brought in and this is the start of winter storing.  This is the time of feasting on the Mid Summer First Harvest and breads that are made from the early grains of barley and corn.  This is when days start to shorten, and marks the time of less and less sunlight until Fall Equinox (Mabon), when light and dark are equal.  It is the first of three harvest festivals. The other two being Fall Equinox (Mabon) and November 1 (Samhain).

The Christian religion adopted this theme and called it 'Lammas', meaning 'loaf-mass', a time when newly baked loaves of bread are placed on the altar.

The heliacal rise of Sirius just before dawn was an extremely important event for the ancient Egyptians.  This coincided with the flooding of the Nile which fertilized the land.  The occasion was seen as the birthday of the Gods and the Egyptian New Year.  August 1st now is the first day of the Egyptian calendar.  This and the third harvest are the Egyptian Goddess Sekhmet's ritual times.  Great feasting, drinking, and merry making in the fields take place during Her rituals to celebrate the Mid Summer First Harvest.  She is a Sun Goddess as well as the Goddess of  destruction, rebirth, and healing.  She is called the Lady of the place of the beginning of time.  One who was before the Gods were.  She holds an Ankh in one hand and a Lotus Wand in the other; She wears a red dress.  Her Name is derived from the Egyptian word 'Sekhem', which means "power" or "might". The word sekhem' is literally inseparable from Sekhmet and Her worship.

Sekhmet's main cult center was located in Memphis (Men-nefer)and was part of the Divine Triad there, which was made up of Sekhmet, Ptah, and Nefertem.  Sekhmet is the wife of Ptah, the 'Creator' Netjer of the Ancient Egyptians and their son is called Nefertem, who is also closely associated with healers and healing.

Sekhmet's action is always the right, or 'appropriate action'.  When She destroys it is an appropriate destruction or vengeance.  It is never chaotic or random.  It is always what is needed at the time.  She removes threats and punishes those who do wrong against Ma'at.  The God Ptah is her consort and Nefertem is their son.

It is common ritual to bake special ceremonial breads to honor the Gods and Goddesses.  The grinding of the grain represents the harvest and death (or transition), adding sprouted wheat and yeast represents resurrection, and the consumption of the food represents the cycles of nature and new life.

Mid Summer First Harvest (Lammas) honors all of the Grain Harvest Goddesses and Gods as well as the Goddesses and Gods of Death and Resurrection: Sekhmet, Egypt; Tammuz, Sumerian; Adonis,
Assyrian/Babylonian; Demeter, Greek; Persephone, Greek; Ceres, Roman; Freyja, Norse; Bride, Celtic.  It is a time of thankfulness to the Goddess and God for their help in the plenty of now and of prayers for a full harvest for the winter that lies ahead.

Also known as: Lughnasad (Irish Gaelic); Media Aestas (Greek, Aug 1); Panathenaia (Greek, Aug. 14, Ancient 28 Hekatombaion - dark of the moon); To Mesoun Theros or To Statheron Theros (Greek); Kronia (Greek, July 30,  Ancient 12 Hekatombaion).

Lughnasad, (LOO-nah-sah) traditionally celebrated on August 1, is a festival characterized by races, games and contests of all sorts and feasting on the year's first fruits.  Originating as a harvest festival, it is associated with the Irish sun-god Lugh, or
Samildanach, master of many arts and skills.  Lugnasadh means the "Commemoration of Lugh", not Lugh's death but the death of his foster mother Taillte, the goddess of agriculture who died while
clearing the Irish forests in preparation for planting.  In Ireland there were different type of Fairs: The "feis" that was a national fair, the "dal" that was a tribal or area fair, and the "mor-dal" that was the great assembly - the Tailltenn Fair is the most famous example of this.  This was also the time of Tailltean marriages or handfasting for a year and a day.  This was a common form of marriage until the 1500's, but one you didn't bother the priests about. Usually it was officiated over by a poet, bard, Druid, or a priest/ess of the old religion.  The Druids of old considered this festival a very important part of social order and religious importance.

The Panathenaia is, in effect, the celebration of Athena's birthday, for according to tradition 28 Hekatombion was the day She burst from Zeus's head (depicted on the east pediment of the Parthenon).  Though it is Her day, all the Olympians attend the festivities.  This is a sacred feast at which gods and mortals celebrate Athena's birthday together.  The Kronia is a festival in honor of Kronos as a god of the grain harvest, who is depicted with a reaping hook.

At this time the grain stands high in the fields and the days are hot and lazy.  It is a festival where sharing between all present, of the harvest and its bounty, forms a closeness or bond.  The highlight of this festival was the 'Catherine wheel'. A large wagon wheel was taken to the top of a hill, covered with tar, set aflame, and ceremoniously rolled down the hill.

Yet in this time of celebration, it is also on everyone's mind to prepare for the coming winter, against the coming darkness.  Not only is food prepared for winter. It is a time to sit and take a moment to take stock of your life. Is there something lacking?  Can something be done about it?

The Year is divided into Quarters by the Winter Solstice, Spring Equinox, Summer Solstice, and the Fall Equinox.  Halfway beteen the Solstice and and Equinox is the Cross Quarter.   These Quarters and Cross Quarters are called the Wheel of the Year of the Sun.

Mid Summer First Harvest (Lammas) is one of the 4 Cross Quarter Sun Celebrations in the Wheel of the Year.  It is halfway between 2 Quarter Sun Celebrations, Summer Solstice (Litha) and Autumn Equinox (Mabon).  Exactly opposite Mid Winter (Imbolc, February 2) on the wheel of the year.

This year Mid Summer First Harvest Cross Quarter (Lammas) is on August 7th, 2002, when the Sun reaches 15 degrees Leo but it is always celebrated on July 31/August 1.

In the highlands of Scotland and England all the Crossquarter Sabbats are considered times of being able to cross over to the "other world".


Lughnassadh -

Also known as: Lammas, August Eve, The Festival of Bread, Elembiuos,
Lunasa, Cornucopia (Strega), Thingtide (Teutonic)

Date: August 1 or 2, or the first Full Moon of Leo

Symbols: All Grains, Breads, Threshing Tools, Berries (especially
Blackberries)

Deities: Harvest and Grain Deities, New Mother Goddesses

Colors: Gray, Yellow, Gold, Green

Herbs: cornstalks, heather, frankincense, and wheat may be burned;
acacia flowers, corn ears, hollyhock, myrtle, oak leaves, and wheat
may be decorations.

Lughnassadh (Loo-NAHS-ah) is named for the Irish sun God, Lugh, and
is usually looked upon as the first of the three Pagan harvest
festivals.

Lughnasadh is primarily a grain harvest, one in which corn, wheat,
barley and grain products such as bread are prominently featured.
Fruits and vegetables which ripen in late summer are also a part of
the traditional feast. The Goddess, in her guise as the Queen of
Abundance, is honored as the new mother who has given birth to the
bounty, and the God is honored as the Father of Prosperity.

The threshing of precious grain was once seen as a sacred act, and
threshing houses had small wooden panels under the door so that no
loose grain could escape. This is the original meaning of our modern
word "threshold".

From "Celtic Myth and Magick" by Edain McCoy
 
The following are a few suggestions for activities that may be
incorporated into the Sabbat ritual or engaged in during the day.

Make sand candles to honor the Goddes and the God of the sea.

If you don't live near a beach, you can achieve the same effect by
putting sand in a large box, adding water, and working from there.
This is definitely a porch or kitchen job, and newspapers are
recommended under your work area for easy clean-up.

Melt wax form old candles (save the stubs from altar candles) in a
coffee can set in a pot of boiling water.
Add any essential oil you want for scent (or scent blocks from a
candle supply store).
Scoop out a candle mold in wet sand (you can make a cauldron by
scooping out the sand and using a finger to poke three "feet"in the
sand).
Hold the wick (you can get these ready-made in arts and crafts
stores) in the center and gently pour in the melted wax.
Wait until it hardens, then slip your fingers under the candle and
carefully lift it out and brush off the excess sand.

String indian corn on black thread for a necklace.

If the Sabbat falls on a rainy day, you could collect rainwater in a
glass or earthenware container, add dried mugwort, and use to
empower
objects.

Create and bury a Witch's Bottle. This is a glass jar with sharp
pointy things inside to keep away harm. You can use needles, pins,
thorns, thistles, nails, and bits of broken glass; it's a good way
to
dispose of broken crockery, old sewing equipment, and the pins that
come in new clothes. Bury it near the entry to the house (like next
to the driveway or the front door), or inside a large planter.

Do a Harvest Chant when serving the corn bread at dinner:

The Earth Mother grants the grain,
The horned God goes to his domain.
By giving life into her grain,
The God dies then is born again.

Make a Corn Dolly to save for next Imbolc. Double over a bundle of
wheat and tie it near the top to form a head. Take a bit of the
fiber
from either side of the main portion and twist into arms that you
tie
together in fromnt of the dolly. Add a small bouquet of flowers to
the "hands," and then you can decorate the dolly with a dress and
bonnet (the dress and bonnet may be made out of corn husks if you
wish, or and cotton material is fine too).

Bake corn bread sticks. You can find a cast-iron mold shaped like
little ears of corn in kitchen supply shops. Preheat the oven to 425
degrees.

1 cup flour
1/2 cup corn meal
1/4 cup of sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/4 cup shortening

Sift dry ingredients together, add eggs, milk, and shortening, and
beat until smooth. Pour into molds and bake for 20-25 minutes.

Collect blackberries and make a fresh pie marked with the Solar
Cross.

Have a magickal picnic with libations to the earth of bread and
wine.

Sprout wheat germ in a terra cotta saucer (these can be found in
nurseries for use under terra cotta flower pots). The sprouts can be
added to homemade bread or used as an offering. Children enjoy
planting the seeds and watching them grow, too.

God the grain,
Lord of rebirth.
Return in spring,
Renew the Earth.

Make a Solar Wheel or Corn Man Wheel:

Turn a wire hanger into a circle (standard circle material for
wreaths too), keeping the hook to hang it by.

Make a small cardboard disk to glue the corn tips onto. You can
decorate it with any design, for example, a pentagram or sun.

Place ears of Indian "squaw" corn (it is smaller than regualr corn
and fits easily on a coat hanger) with the tips inthe center of the
circle and secure with hot glue to the cardboard disk. Use eight
ears
for a Solar Wheel, or five ears for a Corn Man. If all the ears of
corn meet just right you won't need the disk, but if they are uneven
the disk is helpful.

Wrap a bit of the husks of each ear around the wire on either side
of
the ear of corn, leaving some to stand out free from the corn.

Let dry overnight and hang on the front door.

Activities taken from "Green Witchcraft" by Anne Moura (Aoumiel)

Lammas, The Summer Harvest

Lammas is another of the Major Sabbats, occurring a quarter of a year after Beltane. Tradition has set this holiday on August 1st, although some people observe it at it’s astrological point of 15 degrees Leo. Primarily a Celtic holiday, the celebrations begins at sundown the evening of July 31st. Although the middle of summer, at this time of the year, the gradually shortening days are noticeable and the wheel is turning towards autumn.

Lammas is the first of three harvest festivals, which happen now through the autumn, as different crops were gathered and the nature gods moved through their recurring cycles of birth, growth, and death. The ripening of grains (barley, oats and wheat) and corn was one of the main focuses of Lammas. The Green Man was primary to these rites, sometimes called the Corn or Wicker Man. His death is necessary for the rebirth of the next season of crops, with his rebirth at Yule, and coming of age at Beltane.

There are many stories about the origins of these rites. The old Irish Gaelic name for this holiday was “Lugnasadh” and some say the celebrations were to commemorate the sun-god Lugh. Many think the celebrations were about the death of Lugh, but the actual holiday is from celebrations organized by Lugh to commemorate the death of his foster mother Taillte. Literally translated, “nasadh” is related to the Gaelic “to give in marriage.” This may be why this was another popular time for couples to be handfasted, sometimes called “Tailltean marriages,” which lasted for a year and a day. The more commonly used name “Lammas” is based on Old English, where “hlaf” is “loaf” and “maesse” is “feast.” The first grains were harvested at this time and offered to the gods or on church altars.

Moving into the waning year, all night bonfires were often held, with dancing and games held alongside the harvesting and ritual food offerings. Festivities could include making corn dollies, harvesting herbs, races and games of skill, similar to events you find at modern Renaissance Faires. The Oak King, born at Yule and of age at Beltane, must die at this time of year, to allow the cycle to renew again, however this is not a solemn holiday. Sacrifices of crops and animals were sometimes made, and occasionally in some cultures, the king or a stand-in was offered. The burning of a wicker man was sometimes associated with these rites, an ancient precursor to festivals like the modern Burning Man festival held in Black Rock, Nevada at the end of August. Another ceremony performed at Lammas was the Catherine Wheel. A large wagon wheel would be taken to a hilltop, covered in tar, set afire and sent rolling down the hill. Some feel this symbolizes the waning sunlight and the sun-god having reached the autumn of his years.

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