Lughnassadh (pronounced "LOO-nahs-ah") or Lammas, is one of the Greater Wiccan Sabbats and is usually celebrated on August 1st or 2nd, although occasionally on July 31st. The Celtic festival held in honor of the Sun God Lugh (pronounced "Loo") is traditionally held on August 7th. Some Pagans celebrate this holiday on the first Full Moon in Leo. Other names for this Sabbat include the First Harvest Festival, the Sabbat of First Fruits, August Eve, Lammastide, Harvest Home, Ceresalia (Ancient Roman in honor of the Grain Goddess Ceres), Feast of Bread, Sabbat of First Fruits, Festival of Green Corn (Native American), Feast of Cardenas, Cornucopia (Strega), Thingtide and Elembiuos. Lughnassadh is named for the Irish Sun God Lugh (pronounced Loo), and variant spellings for the holiday are Lughnasadh, Lughnasad, Lughnassad, Lughnasa or Lunasa. The most commonly used name for this Sabbat is Lammas, an Anglo-Saxon word meaning "loaf-mass". I just happen to personally prefer the Celtic name "Lughnassadh". (Images to the left and below are by Anthony Meadows and from Llewellyn's 1998 and 1999 Witches' Calendars. Click on either image to go directly to Llewellyn's Web Site.)
The Lughnassadh Sabbat is a time to celebrate the first of three harvest celebrations in the Craft. It marks the middle of Summer represents the start of the harvest cycle and relies on the early crops of ripening grain, and also any fruits and vegetables that are ready to be harvested. It is therefore greatly associated with bread as grain is one of the first crops to be harvested. Wiccans give thanks and honor to all Gods and Goddesses of the Harvest, as well as those who represent Death and Resurrection.
This is a time when the God mysteriously begins to weaken as the Sun rises farther in the South, each day grows shorter and the nights grow longer. The Goddess watches in sorrow as She realizes that the God is dying, and yet lives on inside Her as Her child. It is in the Celtic tradition that the Goddess, in her guise as the Queen of Abundance, is honored as the new mother who has given birth to the bounty; and the God is honored as the God of Prosperity.
Symbols to represent the Lammas Sabbat include corn, all grains, corn dollies, sun wheels, special loaves of bread, wheat, harvesting (threshing) tools and the Full Moon. Altar decorations might include corn dollies and/or kirn babies (corn cob dolls) to symbolize the Mother Goddess of the Harvest. Other appropriate decorations include Summer flowers and grains. You might also wish to have a loaf of whole cracked wheat or multigrain bread upon the altar.
Deities associated with Lughnassadh are all Grain and Agriculture Deities, Sun Gods, Mother Goddesses and Father Gods. Particular emphasis is placed on Lugh, Demeter, Ceres, the Corn Mother and John Barleycorn (the personification of malt liquor). Key actions associated with Lammas are receiving and harvesting, honoring the Parent Deities, honoring the Sun Gods and Goddesses, as well as celebration of the First Harvest.
It is considered a time of Thanksgiving and the first of three Pagan Harvest Festivals, when the plants of Spring wither and drop their fruits or seeds for our use as well as to ensure future crops. Also, first grains and fruits of the Earth are cut and stored for the dark Winter months.
Activities appropriate for this time of the year are the baking of bread and wheat weaving - such as the making of Corn Dollies, or other God & Goddess symbols. Sand candles can be made to honor the Goddess and God of the sea. You may want to string Indian corn on black thread to make a necklace, and bake corn bread sticks shaped like little ears of corn for your Sabbat cakes. The Corn Dolly may be used both as a fertility amulet and as an altar centerpiece. Some bake bread in the form of a God-figure or a Sun Wheel - if you do this, be sure to use this bread in the Cakes and Ale Ceremony.
You can create a Solar Wheel or a Corn Man Wheel using a wire coat hanger, cardboard, and several ears of Indian corn complete with the husks. Here is how: bend the wire hanger into a circle keeping the hook to hang it by. Cut out a small cardboard circle to glue the tips of the ears of corn onto. You may want to create your Corn Man Wheel as a pentagram using five ears, or a Solar Wheel using eight ears to represent one ear for each Sabbat. Attach the ears of Indian corn around the perimeter of the wire circle. Wrap the husks around and glue where necessary, leave some of the husks hanging loose to fray out from the edges and make it more decorative. Where the ears of corn meet in the center, glue them together. This is where the cardboard circle comes in to use.
It is customary to consume bread or something from the First Harvest during the Lughnassadh Ritual. Other actions include the gathering of first fruits and the study of Astrology. Some Pagans symbolically throw pieces of bread into a fire during the Lammas ritual.
The celebration of Lammas is a pause to relax and open yourself to the change of the Season so that you may be one with its energies and accomplish what is intended. Visits to fields, orchards, lakes and wells are also traditional. It is considered taboo not to share your food with others.
Spellwork for prosperity, abundance and good fortune are especially appropriate now, as well as spells for connectedness, career, health and financial gain.
Colors appropriate for Lughnassadh are red, orange, gold, and yellow. Also green, citrine and gray. Candles might be golden yellow, orange, green, or light brown. Stones to use during Lammas include yellow diamonds, aventurine, sardonyx, peridot and citrine. Animals associated with this time are roosters and calves. Mythical creatures include the phoenix, griffins, basilisks, centaurs and speaking skulls. Plants associated with Lammas are corn, rice, wheat, rye and ginseng. Traditional herbs of the Lammas Sabbat include acacia flowers, aloes, cornstalks, cyclamen, fenugreek, frankincense, heather, hollyhock, myrtle, oak leaves, sunflower, and wheat. Incense for the Lughnassadh Sabbat Ritual might include aloes, rose, rose hips, rosemary, chamomile, passionflower, frankincense, and sandalwood.
Traditional Pagan Foods for the Lughnassadh Festival include homemade breads (wheat, oat and especially cornbread), corn, potatoes, berry pies, barley cakes, nuts, wild berries, apples, rice, roasted lamb, acorns, crab apples, summer squash, turnips, oats, all grains and all First Harvest foods. Traditional drinks are elderberry wine, ale and meadowsweet tea.
It is also appropriate to plant the seeds from the fruit consumed in ritual. If the seeds sprout, grow the plant with love and as a symbol of your connection to the Divine. A cake is sometimes baked, and cider is used in place of wine.
As Summer passes, Wiccans remember its warmth and bounty in the food we eat. Every meal is an act of attunement with Nature, and we are reminded that nothing in the Universe is constant.
May the Lord and Lady bless you all with lots of love, and a plentiful First Harvest!
Next I will list several recipes appropriate for the Lughnassadh turn in the Wheel of the Year. I have gathered these from various places, noted on each...
Corn Bread Ear Sticks
Purchase an iron mold shaped like little ears of corn in flea markets or kitchen supply shops, or look in grandma's kitchen wherever she keeps her bakeware - there just might be one there already! Grease lightly and preheat in a 425 degree oven. You will need:
3/4 cup Flour
3/4 cup Yellow Corn Meal
1/4 cup Sugar
3/4 teaspoon Salt
2 teaspoons Baking Powder
1 cup Milk (or Buttermilk if you prefer)
1/4 cup Shortening
Sift dry ingredients together. Add milk, eggs, shortening, and beat until smooth. Pour into preheated and greased molds and bake 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.
Whole Grain Bread
In a large mixing bowl combine:
2 cups milk (warm to the touch)
2 packages of dry baking yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
Cover this mixture and set aside in a warm place until it has doubled (about half an hour). Add to this mixture:
3 tablespoons softened butter
1 cup of unbleached white flour
Stir until bubbly. Now mix in:
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup of rolled oats
2 cups stone ground wheat flour
2 tablespoons sesame seed
With floured hands, turn this dough out onto a floured board and gradually knead in more unbleached white flour until the dough is smooth and elastic and no longer sticks to your fingers. Place this dough in a greased bowl, turning it so that the dough is greased. Then cover it with a clean cloth and keep it in a warm place to rise until it is doubled (about an hour).Then punch it down and divide it into two or more elongated loaves, roughly sculpted into mummiform shapes, and placed on greased cookie sheets. Cover these and return them to a warm place until they double again. Bake the loaves in a pre-heated oven at 350 degrees for about an hour, or until they are done and sound hollow when tapped.
(The above recipe for "Whole Grain Bread" is quoted directly from Pauline & Dan Campanelli's book "Ancient Ways: Reclaiming Pagan Traditions", page 132-133, Llewellyn Publications, 1991/1992)
Brigid's Blackberry Pie
(Makes one nine-inch pie)
4 cups fresh blackberries (thawed frozen is okay)
1-1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
Unbaked pie crust
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line a deep pie dish with the pie crust, or purchase a commercially-made one. Set aside. Mix all other ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. If it appears too "wet", mix in a little more flour (about 2 tablespoons). Turn the fruit into the pie shell and dot with butter or margarine. You can bake the pie as is, or cover it with another pie crust. If you do this, pinch down the ends to hold it to the other crust. Then score the top several times with a sharp knife. Bake for 1 hour, or until the top crust is a golden brown. (Note: A sugar-free version can be made by substituting appropriate amounts of artificial sweetener.)
(The above recipe for "Brigid's Blackberry Pie" is quoted directly from Edain McCoy's book "The Sabbats: A New Approach to Living the Old Ways", page 179, Llewellyn Publications, 1994)
2 parts Frankincense
1 part Heather
1 part Apple blossoms
1 pinch Blackberry leaves
a few drops Ambergris oil
Burn Lughnasadh Incense during Wiccan rituals on August 1st or 2nd, or at that time to attune with the coming harvest.
(The above recipe for "Lughnasadh Incense" is quoted directly from Scott Cunningham's book "The Complete Book of Incenses, Oils & Brews", page 76, Llewellyn Publications, 1989/1992)
Lammas Ritual Potpourri
20 drops clove bud oil
25 drops sandalwood oil
1 cup oak moss
2 cups dried pink rosebuds
2 cups dried red peony petals
1 cup dried amaranth flowers
1 cup dried heather flowers
Mix the clove bud and sandalwood oils with the oak moss and then add the remaining ingredients. Stir the potpourri well and store in a tightly covered ceramic or glass container.
(The above recipe for "Lammas Ritual Potpourri" is quoted directly from Gerina Dunwich's book "The Wicca Spellbook: A Witch's Collection of Wiccan Spells, Potions and Recipes", page 163, A Citadel Press Book, Carol Publishing Group, 1994/1995)
And now here is an appropriate verse, some poetry, a
blessing, a few more Summer Holidays, along with a very nice
little story... with proper credit given to each author...
Enjoy and May Ye Blessed Be!
The young God reigns supreme over the ripening of the grain. Action, dedication, and perseverance in the tending of the seeds sown during the Spring brings ripeness. However the God must sacrifice Himself in order for the crop to further develop. During Lammas, the Self is burned away, as was the Wicker Man in ages past, giving new material to fertilize the growing crop.
Invocation to Sun and Moon
Lord Sun, life of day!
In your fire-boat gliding through golden rays!
Extend yourself, with hands of light,
To us who worship in your sight,
And in your ancient names rejoice,
And hear the mystery of your voice.
Lady Moon, cloud bound,
Of liquid light and pale hounds,
Course among us --- Your light diffuse!
Shed your blessings on us who choose
The evening worship by silver flame,
Singing your thousand living names.
Branch and Bone
I am the wise man; I am the fool;
I am the hunter and I am the kill.
I am the root that shatters stone.
And though I wane, I am with you still.
Of branch and bone I build the world.
With steady fire, I give the Moon Her light.
With passion proud, I fill your heart.
I am the Lord of Nature's might.
Of standing stones on sacred hill
They built a ring to mark my flight.
With priest and priestess they did dance
To celebrate the Lord of Light!
In forest dark and secret grove,
In antlered dance I take my delight.
With cloven hooves I mark the earth.
With wild song I pierce the night!
I am the wise man; I am the fool;
I am the hunter and I am the kill.
I am the root that shatters stone.
And though I wane, I am with you still.
A Meal Blessing
We thank you for the gift of this food.
We send blessings of peace, love, and
release to all
whose bodies and energies went into
bringing us this nourishment.
We honor you in our enjoyment and
utilization of this meal.
May it bring us health and joy,
reminding us of our interconnections with
All That Is.
As we receive, so do we give back
And give thanks for this gift in the
Cycle of Life.
I stood before my altar at Lammastide, and asked the Lord and Lady to be my guides...
"Please show to me a vision that I may see... what sacrifice is worthy to give to Thee."
They showed to me an apple without a core... They showed to me a dwelling without a door... They showed to me a palace where They may be, and unlock it without a key...
How can there be an apple without a core? How can there be a dwelling without a door? How can there be a palace where They may be, and They may unlock it without a key?
...My spirit is an apple without a core... ...My mind is a dwelling without a door... My heart is a palace where They may be, and unlock it without a key...
I stood before my altar on Lammas night... and gave my
Lord and Lady bright... the sacrifice They asked for - with
spirit free... Upon that Lammas evening, I gave Them me...
August 1: The Festival of Green Corn
While European-oriented Pagans are celebrating August 1 as Lammas, a festival of the first harvest, Native North Americans are observing a similar holiday of their own. Like Lammas, the Festival of Green Corn is a communal event, largely honoring the newly-cut grains. The Native peoples enact ancient, sacred rituals to thank the Corn Grandmother for her bounty, and make mock sacrifices of the grain in her honor. Rough competitive games are played while the feast is being prepared, then the tribe dines on rich foods and breads made from the newly-harvested corn. After everyone is full, the community gathers for traditional storytelling.
On or about June 22nd, Summer begins with a flurry of activities. But, other than the 4th of July and Lammas, many people are unaware of some of the other holidays which have been (or are) observed around the world during these months. Here are a few:
A holiday which commemorates a holy relic of Buddha, his eye tooth. Crowds gather in the streets to glimpse the elephant which carries the sacred item, while spinning prayer wheels en route to the temple rejoice in Buddha's tranquil teachings. This is a good day for personal introspection and prayers for peace.
St. Swithin was a bishop who was virtuous and most beloved by the people. When he died he asked to be buried near Winchester Church in an area where workmen passed regularly. At some point, the Church felt that such a man deserved better accommodations and tried to move the body only to be discouraged by 40 days of rain. Taking this as a sign from God, this day has ever since been a good time to divine or observe omens pertaining to weather signs. Now if it rains on St. Swithin's Day, 40 days of rain are thought to follow.
A beautiful city was once believed to have risen gracefully off the shores of this French village, only to have been washed away in a high tide. Every year the priests go to this fabled spot and bless the waters while observers lean over the sides of boats hoping to glimpse remnants of the city. This might be a good day to consider any spells or rituals pertaining to water and hidden truths.
(The above "Summer Holidays" is quoted directly from Llewellyn's 1994 Magical Almanac, page 185, Llewellyn Worldwide Publications, 1993)
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Portions of the Poetry section are reprinted from various issues of "Circle Network News"