A Group Lammas Ritual

In this post, I would like to share the first group ritual I ever wrote and performed. It was for Lammas last year with my local moot. Our moot is very eclectic, and as such this ritual does not stick to any particular tradition or pantheon. It’s a comparatively short, simple ritual and incorporates the tradition of the dying Corn Spirit, an Anglo-Saxon protective spell using bread cut into quarters, and some lyrics from a song by Inkubus Sukkubus! Please feel free to adapt and use it for your own rituals.

lammas-altar01
Our altar at Lammas 2015

Tools and offerings:

  • Altar
  • Large loaf of bread (preferably circular) and suitable plate
  • Four smaller dishes for serving slices bread
  • Knife for cutting bread (athame could be used if suitable)
  • Cup with suitable drink offering (recommend: beer/ale/mead)

Recommended but not essential: Seasonal plant offerings (grain/poppies/etc.), candles (pref. beeswax), incense, other food offerings (pref. grain-based or seasonal fruits/vegetables; perhaps ask other members to contribute their own offerings), alternative food/drink offerings for those with special dietary requirements

Active Roles:

  • Celebrant
  • North
  • East
  • South
  • West

Layout: All participants form a circle around a central altar. The Celebrant occupies the centre of the circle. The four people representing North, East, South and West should be positioned according to their assigned direction.

Celebrant may first wish to purify space and/or cast a circle before beginning. (I myself purified the space on this occasion by chanting the HI-FU-MI Shinto norito).

Celebrant: Tonight we celebrate Lammas, the first harvest of the year. We celebrate the reaping of bounties from seeds sown throughout the year – both those seeds sown out in the fields, and the seeds we sow in our own lives.

Let us begin our ritual by a calling of the quarters.

North: We call upon the Spirits of the North, of the Earth from which the plants that feed us grow.
ALL: Hail and welcome!

East: We call upon the Spirits of the East, of the Air and the Wind that dances across the fields.
ALL: Hail and welcome!

South: We call upon the Spirits of the South, of the Fire and the Sun that gives the plants life.
ALL: Hail and welcome!

West: We call upon the Spirits of the West, of the Water and Rain that nourishes the plants.
ALL: Hail and welcome!

Celebrant: Upon this Lammas or Lughnasadh, we honour the Great God as the Father of life and light, the Spirit within the Grain. We hail Him under His many names and incarnations…

ALL: Lugh, the Bright Skilled One
Mercury, Keeper of Boundaries
Odin, the All-Father
Adonis, Lord of Rebirth
Osiris, the Powerful
Beowa, the Soul of the Barley
Great Corn Spirit
Hail and Welcome!

Celebrant: We also honour the Great Goddess as the Mother of the Fields, the Corn Maiden. We hail Her under Her many names and incarnations…

ALL: Tailtiu, the Beautiful, Mother of Lugh
Ceres, She who feeds us
Demeter, Mother of the Grain
Hestia, Queen of the Hearth
Isis, the Ruler
Inari, Great Spirit of the Fields
Great Corn Maiden
Hail and Welcome!

Celebrant: Great Gods and Goddesses of Nature, of the Grain and the Fields, You bless us with Your precious gifts so that we may live. For this, we present an offering of Your bounty back to You in gratitude.

ALL: Please accept our offering with Your blessings.

[Celebrant raises loaf and drink offerings]

Celebrant: The God and Goddess can be found in the grain, fruit and vegetables we eat, and the ale and wine we drink. But for us to partake in Their energies and to be blessed by Their nourishment, They must die at the harvest. The corn must be cut, the fruit must fall from the tree, the vegetables plucked from the soil. And so it is with our entire existence, an eternal transaction of gain and loss, of blessings and sacrifices. We cannot live without continual sacrifice.

[Celebrant takes knife to ritually cut the bread]

Celebrant: In the cutting of this Lammas loaf, we enact the sacrifice of the Corn Spirit, the King and Queen of the Field, at Harvest time so that we may all eat. [Cuts bread into four pieces]

ALL:  (spoken; from Inkubus Sukkubus, “Corn King”)
“The Reaper comes for the barley and rye
And all must fall beneath his scythe
The King, the Corn are born to fall
And all must die in sacrifice”

Celebrant: The Lammas bread is cut into quarters; we now place the bread at each quarter to create a circle of protection.

[North, East, South and West collect the bread slices on small plates and return to their quarters. They raise their bread slices as all say…]

ALL: Great Gods and Goddesses, Spirits of the Grain and Harvest, we thank you for your blessings and ask that you continue to protect and nurture us, our families and friends, and the living things all around us. Fill our bellies with your nourishment, our minds with wisdom, our hearts with love, our souls with poetry.
So Mote It Be!

Celebrant: We now share bread among us and share in the energies of the God and Goddess. Take this time to reflect upon the sacrifices, both from nature and from the people around us, upon which we depend. May we never hunger!

[North, East, South and West tear off a piece of the bread for themselves, and pass the bread around each person in the circle deosil. Each person tears a piece to eat themselves before passing to the next person. Continue until the bread has travelled to the next quarter and everyone has eaten]

Celebrant: Although Lammas is a time of reaping, it is not a time to grieve. Through sacrifice, change and rebirth are possible. The Corn Spirit is reborn as bread and ale, which we take in and transform into a part of ourselves. The Corn Spirit is not truly dead –merely transformed into a part of us. The Spirit becomes us, and we embody the Spirit. And as the Wheel of the Year turns, the Corn Spirit will be reborn once more in the fields.

ALL: (from Robert Burns, “John Barleycorn”)

“But the cheerful Spring came kindly on,
And show’rs began to fall;
John Barleycorn got up again,
And sore surpris’d them all.

Then let us toast John Barleycorn,
Each with a glass in hand;
And may his great posterity
Ne’er fail in our great land!”

Celebrant: We now share the ale among us and share in the energies of the God and Goddess. Take this time to celebrate the wonder that is rebirth and transformation, and to reflect upon our own personal growth. May we never thirst!

[The ale (or other drink) passed to each person deosil]

Celebrant: Great God and Goddess, Spirits of the Grain, of the Harvest, and of Nature, thank you for your blessings upon this circle. Stay if you will, go if you must. Hail and Farewell!
ALL: Hail and Farewell!

West: Spirits of the West, of Water. Thank you for your blessings upon this circle. Stay if you will, go if you must. Hail and Farewell!
ALL: Hail and Farewell!

South: Spirits of the South, of Fire. Thank you for your blessings upon this circle. Stay if you will, go if you must. Hail and Farewell!
ALL: Hail and Farewell!

East: Spirits of the East, of Air. Thank you for your blessings upon this circle. Stay if you will, go if you must. Hail and Farewell!
ALL: Hail and Farewell!

North: Spirits of the North, of Earth. Thank you for your blessings upon this circle. Stay if you will, go if you must. Hail and Farewell!
ALL: Hail and Farewell!

ALL: The Circle is Open, Never Broken
Merry Meet, Merry Part, Merry Meet Again

[Ritual ends; participants feast on remaining offerings and may wish to leave some outside for nature]

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