Today we turn the Wheel of the Year to celebrate the gifts of our first harvest from the seeds sown in the Spring. In the Hudson Valley, our fruit trees and berry bushes are ready for picking, and our gardens are overflowing with tomatoes and all sorts of yummy fresh vegetables. Our blessings are many, and we give thanks at this time for the bounty that the Goddess has bestowed upon us. It is August 1st and we are celebrating Lammas (or Lughnasadh), the first of the three harvest festivals ~ the festival of the grain.
It is also the first of the celebrations in the waning portion of the year as the days have once again begun to shorten. The Sun now casts a very long shadow as its position moves in the sky. In Celtic tradition it is the feast of the Sun God Lugh as he honors the death of his Mother, and the sacrifice he gives in pouring his own life into the grain. It’s a time of letting go and death in a much subtler way than at Samhain in October, but it is just as important to honor this shifting. While we celebrate our blessings with gratitude, we also release into the sacred flames of the bonfire, that which must be sacrificed in our own lives in order for us to reach our dreams, and the intentions we set in the Spring.
Though there are still weeks of hot and humid days left for us to enjoy here in the Northeast, there is an underlying knowing that summer is dwindling. The back to school energy has already begun and we feel the pressure to enjoy these last days of full sun; to get to the beach or to barbeque in the backyard. The blooming of the Queen Ann’s Lace on the side of the road too, is a gentle reminder that the Summer days are coming to a close and Autumn is just around the corner.
There are a multitude of ways for us to flow with this shifting and to honor the blessings of the season ~ a high holiday among our ancestors and agricultural societies. Below are 5 ways for you to connect with and embrace with these energies.
~ The time honored tradition for this festival is the baking of bread. Include fresh sprouted wheat as a representation of the rebirth that comes after death, and decorate your altar with a fresh loaf (Lammas means loaf-mass), late summer fruit or vegetables, and the colors of their harvest ~ buttery yellow, rich leafy green, ripe tomato red and the deep blue and purple of the berries.
~ There are as many traditions and harvest festivals as we have ancestors and agricultural societies throughout history. Those Native American peoples who inhabited this land celebrated with Corn Dances and Festivals, honoring the Corn Goddess. It’s the perfect time to try making your own corn bread, adding bits of fresh sweet corn to the recipe. Save a slice of bread to make an offering to the land and share it with your loved ones as you each send out a prayer of gratitude for all your blessings. Use the husks to make a Corn Dolly to watch over your home ~ plant her in the fields in the Spring.
~ Visit the orchards and the fields to collect your own harvest with your little ones. Children love to pick berries, and make pies, and blueberries are abundant…as are peaches. Harvest your tomatoes from the garden and make a savory tart or fresh sauce for locally milled pasta.
~ Feast! High holidays are a time of gathering together. Without the expectations that come with highly marketed commercial holidays, we can connect with the roots and routines of our ancestors by focusing solely on the people, the bounty, and the joy that comes with bringing the two together. Resurrect an old family recipe, host a potluck with friends, sing a few songs, read a favorite Lammas poem, and practice the timeless tradition of breaking bread in community.
~ Gift your offering to the land or get hands-on in a “modern” way by supporting a local sustainable farm. Purchase your grains from them whenever you can, offer to volunteer for a day, or make a donation to help support their efforts. If you are interested in learning more about what is going on with local or ancient grains you can find an interesting article here that ties to our local Hudson valley farms: Against the Grain
Lughnasadh is a festival of light, and one of the Celtic fire festivals ~ if you are able to incorporate fire into your celebrations, so much the better. Perhaps you might write down or create a representation of that which you have outgrown in your soul, and release those ‘bad habits’ to the bonfire. With or without the fire however, at some point during the day or evening, pause and focus mindfully on the spiritual and emotional aspects of the harvest season. Recall that to live off the land is not easy, and there are no guarantees. Just as crops can fall victim to natural disasters or plight, so can the inner seeds we have planted; our hopes or our dreams at times snuffed out by patterns we have not yet healed or matters beyond our control. To gather in a full harvest, whether physically or in our soul, is a blessing indeed. Be truly grateful the blessings from Spirit and for the toil and the rewards of your own heart and hands.
We wish you a very Blessed Lammas. May your harvest be bountiful.
Love & Blessings,
~ Dreaming Goddess