High Summer. The time of vigorous growth and eruption of life has begun to slow and the days are feeling hazy. The sun still rides high above the clouds and yet the days do not linger beyond the grasp of night any longer; the zenith of the sun traversing the sky has reached its peak. Days subtly begin to give way to the coming of autumn.
Night is imperceptibly cooler. Birds have turned silent as their young have fledged. Even the Skylarks vigorous singing has waned as the dew begins to cling to the gossamer strands strewn amidst the late summer meadows.
But there is still abundance all around. The fields are ripe and waiting for the harvest. Hedgerows are beginning to yield up their heavys crops of berries and fruits. Butterflies; Gatekeepers, Meadow Browns, the trio of Whites, still grace our gardens and surrounding countryside. Crickets sing their tune amidst the long grass.
Summer still reigns and yet something tangible is occurring. A change. A sacrifice and a giving way to the cycles of life’s ebbs and flows. This is key to understanding the intricacies of this most ancient of celebrations. Lammas (Loaf Mass) or Lughnasadh (after the Celtic Sun King Lugh) is the first of three Harvest celebrations, celebrated 1st/2nd August. It is a dance that has been played out for millennia, whether we honour it or not.
Mother nature has transformed from her guise as the Maiden and may now be seen as the Mother, pregnant and full bellied, carrying within her the seed of new life to be reborn in darkest winter.
Lammas is a time of abundance. Gathering to us all that we have sown and marvelling in the bounty that is a result both of our own efforts and of the natural cycles of our earth. It is also a time to remember the sacrifices made in order to enjoy this fruitfulness.
Figuratively, it is a time when the God/Horned One/Lugh gives His life in order that the harvest may succeed. A willing sacrifice necessary to ensure the survival of His clan – we are all one in an extension of family as humanity, so, by design, we are many separate communities that make a larger clan of souls.
The surrender of His life force is poured back into the grain, fruits and foods that we gather as well as in the projects that we may have begun and which may now be reaching completion. This surrender and sacrifice of His blood reflects the ancient importance of grain and the traditional practice of bread making at this time in honour of the life giving properties of this once vital and most necessary of subsistence’s to ancient communities.
Lammas is not just a time to recall and give thanks for the sacrifice of the Sun King who will symbolically be resurrected at the Winter Solstice. Neither is it solely a time for honouring the Goddess and Her fruitfulness. All of these things are vital in respect to honouring and understanding Lammas, but in giving thanks to these higher manifestations of the human psyche and our interpretation of the world of which we are a part of, I wonder if it is not also necessary to recall and give thanks to our ancestors and those passed before us who worked hard to ensure that we would have a land to inherit. A land that could support and encourage our health, our growth.
Is it not so much a time to celebrate only the richness of life as it is equally a time to recall and celebrate our own efforts and intentions that may have been set in order to achieve our own personal literal or figurative harvest.
Take time this Lammas to give thanks for all of the abundance that graces your life. For the rich bounty that blesses your table. Invite family and friends to share in your revelry. Take bread together (home-made of course) and be thankful for the time you have with one another. Be mindful of those who may not be so rich in natures bounty and share what you can with food bank and harvest collections.
Also, be kind to yourself and reflect upon the rich harvest within your own life; physically in the guise of work, study, love, health etc. and spiritually in the guise of personal growth and development. The latter may be a result of your hard-won efforts to pave the way towards goals and achievements initiated in anticipation of your life’s plan to ascend the parameters of physical existence into a cohesion of loving purpose.
As the saying goes “Celebrate and Make Merry!” Enjoy the wealth and plenitude offered at this time of year. However you may choose to celebrate, doing so with gratitude and appreciation amongst family and loved ones is a great way to honour this magical time.
Traditional ways to celebrate include the baking of bread (there is something truly magical about this ancient and most humble of activities), weaving Corn Dollies and the lighting of gold, yellow or orange candles. Offering grain back to Mother Earth (traditionally the first grain of the harvest, although for most of us this is not so easy to achieve) reflects our recognition of her rich benevolence – oats or even milled flour will help show your appreciation. This action also draws abundance to our own lives through our willingness to share.
A summer BBQ is a great way to incorporate the festivities of Lammas into a joyful afternoon whilst music can add to the atmosphere of fun, spirited thankfulness. What songs make you think of summer? Walking on Sunshine, Sun is Shining, Summertime….these are some great ones to get you started with the celebrations of high summers bounty.
Simply spending time in the company of our extended family, sharing a meal together and doing so with thanks will reflect our willingness to recall the sacrifices we all must make in order that the cycles of our own lives and those around us may continue to flow and to grow.
Get out and about in nature, be it in the countryside or a local park. Visit your nearest greengrocers and purchase seasonal fruits and vegetables. Think about what sacrifices you or loved ones have made and how your lives have changed and ripened.
Most importantly, be thankful for all that you have been given and seek to give back what you are able to – be it to family and friends, to your community or to the land and the environment that we each call home.