Lammas - The first harvest
Lammas, also known as Lughnasadh or Lugh's Day, is the half way point between the Summer Solstice and the Autumn Equinox. In the Northern Hemisphere where this celebration originated it is traditionally held on August 1-2 but in the Southern Hemisphere we celebrate the first harvest on February 1-2.
This is the time to cut the first of the grains and then in celebration use the grain to make the first loaf of bread from the fresh harvest and share it in feast. In fact the word Lammas is derived from the Anglo-Saxon "Hlaf-mas" meaning loaf mass.
So much energy has been invested into this harvest, and it is known that in order to profit from the labours the grain needs to be cut, which will ultimately kill the crop but brings the opportunity to transform it. Milling it into grain, brewing it to make Ale. It shows us that in order to gain from our hard work we must let go of the old state of being and allow the transformation into the new.
Perhaps you set a new years intention, planted seeds for all you wanted to bring to fruition at spring equinox or summer solstice... now comes the time to step into your potential. Decisions are called for that may seem hard to action because you need to allow the old comforts to fall away. Yet think about the harvest of grains, if they're not harvested they will rot and die in the ground where they stand. By cutting and killing the grains we give them new life as breads as ales.
In order to transform the harvested grains into a bounty for a feast we need to acknowledge what needs to be sacrificed in order to make the change. Meditate on that which you are holding onto due to a state of comfort but really recognise that it is this which is keeping you in stagnation. you can write these things out that you are culling from your life you can burn them or you can bury them as seeds which can be regenerated as new growth.
The Celtic Sun God "Lugh" is celebrated at this time as he represents the Sun who has enriched the harvest with energy to grow throughout Summer and now it is his time to wane as the long days of Summer begin to shorten as we welcome the Autumn. It is also known that Lugh is not only a sun god but a God of Lightening and storms. I find this so interesting, especially with the storms that we are blessed with at this time of year, that in Norse traditions Thor is the god of lightening and he happens to be married to the Goddess Sif who is the Norse Goddess of the harvest with the two intertwined in energy and in seasonal significance.
The Goddess of the Harvest is often symbolised carrying the cornucopia, the goats horn filled with grains, fruits, and vegetables from the harvest. She is a symbol of abundance and the prosperity that comes from hard work and patience. She knows that in order to prosper and support the community with grains and fruits to feast in the coming months the grain needs to be harvested in time before it rots and becomes of little use. The Goddess is represented in the harvest and her daughters are the seeds from the grains that need to be replanted into the darkness of the earth to rise again as new sprouts in Spring.
You can see this story play out in the tales of Greek Goddesses Demeter and her daughter Persephone. Demeter, the Goddess of the harvest refuses to grow any new crops over the winter season whilst her daughter is down in the underworld. It is not until Persephone rises again in the Spring that Demeter brings life back to the earth. This story is also similar to the stories of Goddesses Inanna, Ishtar and Astarte, incarnations of the same Goddess energy from different cultural backgrounds. Another Goddess of the grain is the Roman Goddess Ceres called on for assistance in fertility, agriculture and motherly love.
You can honour this season by baking bread, kneading the dough with your hands is a great way to work the energy of your intention, if you have a garden and have grown any food or herbs you can add them to your baking to infuse the energy of your own harvest. Try adding herbs to your breads or home grown tomatoes into your baking. Making jams or chutneys is also a great way to honour the harvest of the season.
As you work with your bread you can chat or sing the words "From the fields and through the stones, into the fire, Lammas bread, as the wheel turns may all be fed. Goddess Bless"
Celebrate your harvest by celebrating with family and friends in your community, attend your local farmers market or go out on a picnic in nature to enjoy your feast in company. A tradition is to create 'Corn Dolls' or 'Wheat Dolls' from the grasses or if you can't get a hold of those crops you could make a grass doll out of long grass. If bread isn't your thing you can still energy the work of kneading by working with salt dough or clay.
You can create an Alter in honour of the God and Goddess, decorate it with Bread, Sunflowers, Calendula flowers and other herbs like mint or rosemary and your creations of grass dolls or clay ornaments. The colours for Lammas are all the earthy colours or the season, Green, Gold, Yellow, Brown and Orange are all great colours to decorate for the season.
Enjoy the first harvest of the season this Lammas and all that you have worked so hard for.
Blessings to you, Dania