At this time of year, grain is ripening in the fields, there’s crops of fruits ready and gardens are lush with colour. This first harvest is celebrated as Lammas (also known as Lughasadh) and takes place on 1st August in the Northern hemisphere this year. The word ‘Lammas’ comes from ‘loaf mass’ as traditionally bread would be taken to the church to celebrate the grain harvest.
There’s a lot of folklore associated with the Corn God who dies with each harvest to be reborn in future harvests. In some traditions this is symbolized by Demeter, the Corn Mother, who represents the ripe corn of the harvest and her daughter, Kore/Persephone who represents the grain-seed who lives in the dark through the winter to re-appear in the spring as new growth. This dual aspect represents both the harvest which will sustain through the winter months and the seed which will grow again to bring future harvests.
It was traditional to bake bread from the final sheaf of corn cut as part of the harvest. The last sheaf was cut by a number of people throwing their sickle simultaneously so that no one knew who killed the Corn God. As well as baking bread, the last sheaf would be used to make corn dollies, symbols of the Earth Mother. There was great regional variation in shapes and sizes of corn dollies which were hung over hearths throughout the winter.
Lammas is the peak of high summer and although it’s a time for celebration of harvest and abundance, it’s also a time for preparing for the changes which will come as the sun’s energy wanes and we turn our energies inwards again. It’s a good time to think about the rewards that we’re harvesting (whether these be in the form of grain and fruits or something less tangible) and meditating on the seed which we’ll keep warm through winter ready for next year’s harvest. Storm Witch ends at Lammas and there’s a quote from it which sums up this time of the year:
“Lit by the harvest moon, Lammas is a time for reflection on what you’ve achieved and preparing for what’s yet to come.” Storm Witch
Traditionally, Lammas is marked with big gatherings outside but as that’s not likely to be possible this year we’ve got to find other ways to celebrate. This can be creating a shrine to the grain mother, baking bread or weaving corn dollies from grass or grain stalks.
This year I’ve been looking at ways I can mark the festivals through writing. I’ve come up with three ways of writing about Lammas to celebrate the key aspects of bread, seeds for the future and celebrating abundance.
- Write about a memory of bread. Think about the sensations associated with it (how did it smell, taste, feel).
- We can make virtual corn dollies or corn knots by making pledges to the world and asking for something in return. Write:
- a pledge that you make to use your abilities for the good of your family/workplace/community or any project that is dear to your heart.
- something you or a loved one needs.
- Intertwine the words on the page to make a knot. Be as creative as you like!
- Write a list of the things which are grateful for in your life. Then if you’re doing this exercise with a group, create a basket of abundance (real or virtual). Everyone contributes to the basket putting in things from their gratitude list and then everyone each has the opportunity to take one thing out to take forward with them as the season’s change.
Bright Lammas Blessings,