Every time I talk about Lammas around my non-Pagan family they ask me why I’m talking about llamas. Silly muggles.
Lammas, also known as Lughnasadh is a Gaelic festival marking the beginning of the harvest season that falls on August 1st. The word ‘Lammas’ is derived from ‘loaf mass’ and is indicative of how central and honoured is the first grain and the first loaf of the harvesting cycle.
It is also the festival of the Celtic god Lugh, who is the god of light and skill. Traditionally, Lughnasadh is celebrated with feasting, market fairs, bonfire celebrations, circle dancing, honoring the sun, and community gatherings. August is also a popular month for handfastings and weddings.
Lughnasadh is also the time when the energy of the sun, of Lugh, is beginning to wane. It is a time of change, and shift. The time for growth is slowing down and the dark days of winter and reflection are nigh.
At Lammas the Goddess is in Her aspect as Grain Mother, Corn Mother, and Demeter. As the Corn Mother, she represents the ripe corn of the year’s harvest. Her daughter Persephone represents the grain – the seed which drops back deep into the dark earth, hidden throughout the winter, and re-appears in the spring as new growth.
The Sun God, Lugh, as John Barleycorn, is the living Spirit of the corn, or grain. As the corn is cut so John Barleycorn is cut down also. He surrenders his life so that others may be sustained by the grain, so that the life of the community can continue. He is both eaten as the bread and is then reborn as the seed returns to the earth. The first sheaf of corn is supremely important, produces the first (and best) seed and assurance of future harvest. Death and rebirth. Everything dies in its season. Everything is reborn. This is our whisper of immortality. And the wonderful bittersweet of Lammas.
Activities and Rituals: bread being eaten and thrown into the fire, grains woven into god/dess symbols, onion braiding and works for harvesting of goals and ideas, bringing to bear concepts and ideas, meditation on the sun God, games, activities of all sorts, the time of reaping what one has sown
Incense: Aloes, Rose, Sandalwood, frankincense
Stones/Gems: Carnelian, Citrine, Amber, Tourmaline
Colors: red, orange, gold, yellow, brown, bronze
Symbols & Decorations: threshing tools, corn dollies, flowers, wheat stalks, the scythe, yellow candles, corn, sheaves of grain
Foods: All grains, Breads, cheeses, Cider, fruits, vegetables, herbs, Pies, corn, early apples, Berries, jellies, Herbal “sun”teas
Deities: Lugh, the Sun God, Sovereignty, Rhiannon and Epona, Tailte, Tammuz, Demeter, Persephone, Cerridwen, Faunus, Baal and Crom Dubh
Herbs and Flowers: Heather, hollyhock
Lughnasadh Ritual Tools, Symbols, and Decorations
Altar Decorations: Gold or yellow altar cloth; gold altar candles; four ears of corn, each tied with a yellow and orange ribbon; small basket of fruit; gold-colored pillar candle; chalice covered with a yellow cloth; red and white wine; cornbread or ritual cakes.
Symbols: Corn; bread and all baked goods; the pentacle; the hearth, broom, and things connected with the home; baskets filled with corn and fresh vegetables; gift baskets filled with fresh baked goods and tied with gold ribbons; dried corn husks for making corn dollies.