The Wheel of the Year has turned and Lammas or Lughnasadh is almost upon us. The first harvest of the year. I don’t know about you but I certainly get the feeling that the Wheel of the Year is on speed or something! Time seems to be flying by again this year. Or perhaps I am just getting older. They do say time passes more quickly with age.
Anyway let’s try to stay in the moment and make the most of each day. I thought I would write a little bit about this Pagan celebration which falls on 1st August.
Harvest – Reaping what we sow
By this time in the year the hotter days of August are upon us. Provided you don’t live in the very green (and usually wet) Northern Ireland, the earth is becoming dry and slightly parched. Mind you, given the weather we have just had in the first two weeks of July, the land does resemble a Spanish landscape! Our first harvest season is almost here. The earth is full and ripe with her bounty. And now is the time to reap what we have sown. This is a time for celebrating the harvest.
Grain has been of great importance since early times. A good harvest meant the difference between life and death for many communities. In times gone by it was seen as bad luck in Ireland if you harvested your grain any time before Lammas, for it meant that your previous year’s grain had run out too early. It was traditional for the farmers to go out and cut the first sheaves of grain on 1st August. Usually by that evening their wives had made the first loaves of bread.
Derivative of the word Lammas
The word Lammas is derived from the Old English phrase hlaf-maesse, which translates to loaf mass. In early Christian times, the first loaves of the season were blessed by the Church.
Today we often forget the trials and tribulations our ancestors had to endure. If we need food we just go to the shops and buy it. When we run out we can always pop out and get more. When our ancestors lived, hundreds and thousands of years ago, the harvesting and processing of grain was vital for their survival. If crops were left in the fields too long, or bread not baked in time, families could starve. The harvest really was the difference between life and death.
Honour and Respect
By focusing on Lammas as a harvest holiday, we honour our ancestors and the hard work they did to survive. We take so much for granted nowadays. So this festival is a good time to give thanks for the abundance we have in our lives. And to be grateful for the food on our tables.
Lammas is also a time in some Pagan traditions to honour Lugh, the Skilful God or Celtic Craftsman God. Because of this association, it is a good time to celebrate your own talents or craftmanship. It is a fantastic time of year for craft fairs to show off your skills.
In some traditions Lugh is better known as the patron of musicians or poets. Why not work with the energy of the season and write a poem or story? Maybe you could take up a musical instrument or finally complete that craft project you have been working on? I’ve been painting lots. It is great to be creative!
Perhaps you would like to celebrate by decorating your home with symbols of the season. Why not adorn your altar or home with some harvest items – corn dolls, grapes, vines, late summer fruits or early autumn vegetables? Sing songs, celebrate the abundance you have in your life, be grateful and be happy.
This year, I will be visiting the medieval Viking village near Downpatrick. They are hosting an event for Lughnasadh with various crafts and market stalls. I will also pop by the local stone circle at Ballynoe to mark the event.
How do you celebrate Lammas? Tell me in the comments section below.