What is Lammas?
During August, the grain- the staff of life grows ready to harvest. The great goddess appears with her sickle. Her womb produces berries, fruits, grains, and the most potent herbs. Her companion the Sun God, no longer shows his gentle brightly radiating figure, he is now fiery, burns hotly, and is drying. The Celts called him Lugh, the smart and skillful god, the master of all arts, the Lion with the Quiet Hand. It is he who brings everything to fullness and ripeness with his flame and his wisdom. He symbolizes the receding year, the west where the Sun sets in red-hot embers. Under his reign the grain grows golden, the fruit becomes sweet and red yellow, the herbs become spicier and stronger than at midsummer. But the Sun god is also the ruthless harvester, the reaper, who finishes off the green and budding life with his heat. Lugh and the goddess of the Earth celebrated a wedding during the full moon of August and invited people to celebrate with them. The festival of Lugh was a fire festival during which huge piles of wood were ignited. This tradition endured among the insular Celts for many years. – From the book ‘Witchcraft Medicine’ by Claudis Muller-Ebeling, Christian Ratsch, & Wolf-Dieter Storl
There was also a more crude aspect to this festival involving the cutting up of a corpse, but I’ll spare you the gross details.
Lammas was the occasion for blessing all the herbs that would be needed during the coming year for health and well-being of the house and stable. It also made good sense to collect the herbs during the dog days of summer because the aroma, taste, and medicine are manifestations of the powerful light and warmth of vegetation. The Sun infused the herbs and plants with its healing rays.
The Wheel of the Year
The Pagan Wheel of the Year brings us now the harvest festival on August 1st known as Lughnasadh or Lammas as it is commonly referred to as.
If you have been following my Pagan Wheel of the Year journey, you will have seen that I have related the sabbats to the process of creation. The last point on our calendar was the Summer Solstice- Ensoulment, the time of the year where our creation was given a soul. Now we come to the harvest season, where we are offered the opportunity to reflect back on our journey and to see the fruits of our labour, and the wheat of our harvest.
Our creation has just entered the 7 month point. We are close to giving birth to our creation at the Winter Solstice. In a normal pregnancy, the 7 month point is when the Mother can start to feel anxious and excited. The due date is only 3 months away. What was created at Imbolc is now becoming a reality.
Astrology of Lammas
Astrologically, Lammas occurs when the Sun reaches 15 degrees Leo. This is the halfway point in a fixed sign, meaning the ability to rebirth ourselves is heightened. Leo connects to the heart chakra and the qualities of courage, gratitude, and abundance. Lammas is the perfect time to reflect on these themes and how they have showed up or not showed up in your life.
To go back to the myth of Lammas, the Celtic god of light- Lugh and son of the Sun, he transfers his power into the grain and is sacrificed when the grain is harvested. The art of creation is one of the most selfless acts we as souls can partake in because we ultimately do not know the outcome. Let’s not forget that a balanced Leo energy is selfless, and not selfish like how most of us have experienced Leo energy. Remember the myth of Lugh, the Sun God who chooses to set so the fruits and wheat can harvest is an example of selflessness that Lammas inspires.
Celebrate Lammas by doing an energetic detox. We can only best serve others when we ourselves are in a healthy state. An energetic detox is kick-started when you finally cut back on those sweets, or when you start exercising, or starting a gratitude journal. Our bodies have been imprinted with the spiritual rays of the Sun all summer and it is during Lammas and the month of August when we start to visibly notice less daylight. With all of the solar energy we have gathered, now is the time to commence the healing.
For most of us in North America, August is not the time of year when we go out into the fields to harvest wheat, or start buying pumpkins, and corn husks to decorate our front porches. It’s still very warm. But there is a shift that happens, whereby, the fun times of the Summer are slowly winding down as parents start preparing their kids for back to school, and stores start their end of summer sales. Naturally, we all start to reflect on the previous months and start making plans for Autumn. Lammas is the perfect time to make a gratitude list and count your blessings.
A typical way to celebrate Lammas is to bake a loaf of bread using the wheat harvested in early August. We can equate this to baking the frequency we received at Imbolc in our own ovens- providing it with the right conditions so it can make the best of its last 3 months. Wheat symbolizes the spermatic power of the staff of life, thus nearing the end of the pregnancy, I suspect most people can appreciate the divine process of creation. The sperm is essentially in the process of being harvested at Lammas. I suppose this is where the saying “bun in the oven” comes from.
Emma Wheeler Wilcox has a beautiful poem that captures the energy of Lammas.
YOU NEVER CAN TELL
YOU never can tell when you send a word–
Like an arrow shot from a bow
By an archer blind– be it cruel or kind,
Just where it will chance to go.
It may pierce the breast of your dearest friend,
Tipped with its poison or balm;
To a stranger’s heart in life’s great mart
It may carry its pain or its calm.
You never can tell when you do an act
Just what the result will be;
But with every deed you are sowing a seed,
Though the harvest you may not see. …………………………………………..Leo selflessness
Each kindly act is an acorn dropped
In God’s productive soil;
You may not know, yet the tree shall grow
And shelter the brows that toil.
You never can tell what your thoughts will do
In bringing you hate or love;
For thoughts are things, and their airy wings
Are swifter than carrier doves.
They follow the law of the universe–
Each thing must create its kind;
And they speed o’er the track to bring you back
Whatever went out from your mind.