A Brief History of Lammas
In Earth-based traditions, Lammas is usually celebrated on August 1, honoring the first harvest of the season. Lammas is also known as Lughnasadh (pronounced Loo-NAS-ah). In some Wiccan and Pagan traditions, Lammas is also a day of honoring Lugh, the Celtic god of craftsmanship, grain, the Sun, and late summer storms. Lughnasadh is still celebrated in many parts of the world today. At this time of year, the nights are beginning to lengthen, and we anticipate the return of fall. This is truly the beginning of shadow season. Before the Wheel turns to the darker months, we can take time to appreciate warmth and sunlight and how they support the season of growth. Gratitude in times of plenty is a powerful practice. What we reap now wasn’t always full-grown. By honoring Lammas – the first harvest, we acknowledge our ancestors and the hard work they had to do to survive and secure our lineage.
Like all Celtic or Pagan holidays, Lammas also honors goddesses whose associations, strengths, and myths align with the work we’re doing at this time of year. Ceres, the harvest goddess, known as Demeter by the Greeks, and Tailtiu, mother of Lugh, are great forces of agricultural abundance. We receive their blessings in the bounty of food that will feed us through the rest of the year. Metaphorically, our mental, spiritual, and emotional crops are ready for the first harvest, too. If you set intentions in the darkness of winter or early spring, this is the time to see how they’ve manifested and will support you in the months to come.
Take Time to Reflect and Practice Gratitude
During the week of Lammas, take a moment to reflect on the first half of this year and what has carried over from 2020. These last six-plus months have presented a unique set of challenges, asking us to grow in the wake of one of the most challenging years in our lifetime. Now is the time to make peace with the year behind us and focus on what we can harvest from that trying, transformative experience.
Ask yourself: How did I connect with others? What did I create? Did I learn anything new? Did I plant intentions, and how were they different from every other year? Take time to reflect upon the seeds you planted, giving thanks for what has pushed through the soil and bloomed. It’s also essential to take an honest look at what didn’t serve and release what no longer belongs. Letting go helps you be fully present now and ready to take the next turn in your journey.
Lammas is a great time to connect with the Earth – to open your eyes and witness the effect of gratitude in nature. One profound example is the Fibonacci spiral – an infinite sequence of numbers in a spiral pattern (0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55…). It’s seen in sea shells and in the way leaves grow on plant stems, and tree branches grow on trees. It’s in fruit sprouts of a pineapple and the arrangement of a pine cone’s bracts. It’s also in the clockwise and counterclockwise spiral seed pattern of sunflower heads. This symbol is everywhere, and it’s a reminder of how gratitude multiplies, amplifies, and brings more abundance.
6 Ways to Honor Lammas
1) Decorate your altar. Gather items for a Lammas or harvest altar such as wheat, barley, oats, mint, sunflowers, and anything in colors of the holiday, from green to gold and yellow to the deepest orange – every shade of sun and harvest.
2) Create a harvest jar or container. Write down the things you’ve manifested this year and put those pieces of paper in the container. Hold a little ritual to honor everything you’ve grown, including yourself.
3) Bake bread. The most traditional Lammas practice is baking bread from the newly harvested wheat (Lammas is an Anglo Saxon word for loaf-mass). In Anglo-Saxon England, a loaf of bread baked from the new crop was broken into four pieces and placed in the four corners of the barn to protect the grain.
4) Light candles. Lammas is a festival of light, celebrating the last long days of the year. Your ritual can be as simple as lighting candles in shades of yellow and orange or whatever calls to you.
5) Celebrate with gemstones. Work with stones associated with Lammas, like carnelian, citrine, aventurine, golden topaz, obsidian, and moss agate. Place these on your altar, hold them in meditation, or create a crystal grid for the season.
6) Charge your stones in the late summer sunshine. The Moon isn’t the only luminary with magical infusing power. Put your crystals out in the sunlight to absorb solar warmth and vitality. Your stones will hold this energy and continue radiating it throughout fall and winter. Be careful though, some gems like amethyst and larimar can actually fade with too much Sun exposure. It only takes a few hours in the Sun to cleanse and charge.
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