13 Songs for Lammas/Lughnasadh!

Lammas is upon us. John Barleycorn must die. I must once again harvest Youtube for a playlist worthy of the season.

As we approach Lammas I’ve been thinking about the concept of sacrifice a good bit. I’m not certain how the ritual I attend will play out, but generally the Corn King is cut down. I may have teased some of the male members of my coven about getting whacked, but that only led me to think about how I will never play the Corn King in ritual. Gender in Wiccan theology is controversial, and I assume at least one commenter will insist I should be able to be the Corn King as a woman. Genderqueer the whole thing and stick it to The Man!

Working with and learning from the diverse body of elders in my tradition, I’m taking this to be less about gender politics or hetero-normative imposition, but about the simple fact that you cannot be everything. Americans especially think you can have everything, be everything, and furthermore, that it’s your Gods-given right. You can have it all!

There are roles in life I will never take on, either because I rejected them, circumstances prevented it or it simply wasn’t right for me, however badly I wanted it. I cannot be everything. I can be more than I think sometimes, do more than I think sometimes, but I cannot be everything all at once. It’s one of the many sacrifices we make in life, when we accept and create our boundaries. At one point we realize we won’t become an astronaut. We realize we may never live off-grid. We realize we have to give up that instrument we no longer have time for or give up that lover who needs to be set free.

Having separate roles reminds us we cannot be everything, and we need each other to make this work. Sometimes we need to sacrifice, sometimes other’s sacrifice for us. You can’t always get what you want but, if you try sometimes, you just might find you get what you need.

13. You Can’t Always Get What You Want by The Rolling Stones

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12. Corn Rigs – The Wicker Man Soundtrack

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11. John Barleycorn – Eastbourne Lammas Festival

Somehow, this song is better with Morris dancers.

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10. Love Cake by Rocky and Balls

Lammas literally means “Loaf Mass” and it’s the harvest festival associated with bread and baking. This is my favorite song about baking.

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9. Lughnasadh by Damh the Bard

I have been belting this out all morning.

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8. Before the Twilight Falls by Emerald Rose

This is such a lovely song about the moments before Lleu Llaw Gyffes faces his own sacrifice of sorts.

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7. Homegrown Tomatoes by Guy Clark

Because seriously, that’s the best part about this time of year!

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6. The Scythe by Gaia Consort

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5. Lughnasadh by Omnia

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4. Lord of the Harvest by Fred Hammond

Simply because I love that there is nothing in word or symbol to denote this as a Christian worship service. Modern Christianity can be weird sometimes. You know there’s some dude in the back wondering if this song is ever going to end.

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3. The Wind That Shakes The Barley – Dead Can Dance

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2. Everything I Own by Bread

Seriously, between the lyrics and name of the band, this could have been written for Lammas…

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1. Shine On Harvest Moon by Leon Redbone

This is for all the kids dreading to go back to school…

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About Star Foster

Polytheistic Wiccan initiated into the Ravenwood tradition, she has many opinions. Some of them are actually useful.

  • http://www.facebook.com/fernwise Fern Bernstein-Miller

    More Leon Redbone!

  • http://www.facebook.com/fernwise Fern Bernstein-Miller

    More Leon Redbone!

  • Nicole Youngman

    Very glad to see the Gaia Consort (now Bone Poets Orchestra–I like the old name better, but oh well) song included, I’ve been a huge fan since their first album. All their stuff can be downloaded on their web sites.

    Re: the can’t-be-everything concept–a very good point, I think, but surely we should be able to have some control over what we *choose* to be, rather than having that pre-dictated for us? Obviously we don’t have control over everything in our lives, but still. Sex is biological, but gender expression is something we should be able to pursue as we see fit, I’d think. Grain itself isn’t male or female (though of course plants have male and female parts), so why NOT have a barley queen if we want to?

    • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

      In Traditional Wicca the Goddess never dies. She evolves in cycles, but never experiences death. You could have a Barley Queen, but she wouldn’t be sacrificed, wouldn’t be harvested.

      We can choose to some degree. We can choose our gender identity. We can choose our careers. We can choose our Pagan identity. The point I was making is that you have to make choices (like choosing to identify as genderqueer rather than cis-gendered) but there are things we can’t change (like skin tone, or eye color). I don’t see it as dictation (I’m not very Goddessy), but then those who would see it that way would likely not choose Traditional Wicca as their path.

  • Nicole Youngman

    Very glad to see the Gaia Consort (now Bone Poets Orchestra–I like the old name better, but oh well) song included, I’ve been a huge fan since their first album. All their stuff can be downloaded on their web sites.

    Re: the can’t-be-everything concept–a very good point, I think, but surely we should be able to have some control over what we *choose* to be, rather than having that pre-dictated for us? Obviously we don’t have control over everything in our lives, but still. Sex is biological, but gender expression is something we should be able to pursue as we see fit, I’d think. Grain itself isn’t male or female (though of course plants have male and female parts), so why NOT have a barley queen if we want to?

  • Nicole Youngman

    Very glad to see the Gaia Consort (now Bone Poets Orchestra–I like the old name better, but oh well) song included, I’ve been a huge fan since their first album. All their stuff can be downloaded on their web sites.

    Re: the can’t-be-everything concept–a very good point, I think, but surely we should be able to have some control over what we *choose* to be, rather than having that pre-dictated for us? Obviously we don’t have control over everything in our lives, but still. Sex is biological, but gender expression is something we should be able to pursue as we see fit, I’d think. Grain itself isn’t male or female (though of course plants have male and female parts), so why NOT have a barley queen if we want to?

    • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

      In Traditional Wicca the Goddess never dies. She evolves in cycles, but never experiences death. You could have a Barley Queen, but she wouldn’t be sacrificed, wouldn’t be harvested.

      We can choose to some degree. We can choose our gender identity. We can choose our careers. We can choose our Pagan identity. The point I was making is that you have to make choices (like choosing to identify as genderqueer rather than cis-gendered) but there are things we can’t change (like skin tone, or eye color). I don’t see it as dictation (I’m not very Goddessy), but then those who would see it that way would likely not choose Traditional Wicca as their path.

  • GreenFlame

    Our culture as a whole, and especially our community, idealizes “choice” but fears its consequence, which is some degree of limitation. I think it would do us good to sit and breathe with this fear of limitation and see what it could teach us. When we try to be all things simultaneously, or several incompatible things at once, what does that do to us energetically? Why do we feel the need for this?

    (Just as an aside, I am not BTW, but as I read the Descent of the Goddess myth by Gardner, one *could* make an argument that the Goddess dies by entering Death’s realm. In our group, we interpret this at Samhain by declaring that the Queen of Life is going into realm of Death, the Underworld, to bring light and life to them — the whole inversion thing, where winter here is summer there. But I digress.)

    • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

      That’s a really interesting version of the Descent of the Goddess. On one hand i like it, on the other hand it usurps the God’s role as Lord of Death. Surely his death brings his fiery sunlight to the Otherworld.

      On a more humorous note, it makes it sound like you go to Australia when you die! LOL

  • GreenFlame

    Our culture as a whole, and especially our community, idealizes “choice” but fears its consequence, which is some degree of limitation. I think it would do us good to sit and breathe with this fear of limitation and see what it could teach us. When we try to be all things simultaneously, or several incompatible things at once, what does that do to us energetically? Why do we feel the need for this?

    (Just as an aside, I am not BTW, but as I read the Descent of the Goddess myth by Gardner, one *could* make an argument that the Goddess dies by entering Death’s realm. In our group, we interpret this at Samhain by declaring that the Queen of Life is going into realm of Death, the Underworld, to bring light and life to them — the whole inversion thing, where winter here is summer there. But I digress.)

    • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

      That’s a really interesting version of the Descent of the Goddess. On one hand i like it, on the other hand it usurps the God’s role as Lord of Death. Surely his death brings his fiery sunlight to the Otherworld.

      On a more humorous note, it makes it sound like you go to Australia when you die! LOL

  • Nicole Youngman
  • Nicole Youngman
  • HoneyDawn

    Thank you for your post and musical recommendations.

    Love your comment and love your music choices. I was looking for Lammas music; it’s hard to find. Currently I am listening to “Lammas Ladymass”, by Anonymous 4. May be too “Christian/Catholic” for some, but I figure since Catholicism copted Paganism anyway, no harm/no foul. It’s very beautiful music. 

    This is my favorite time of year and one of my favorite holidays. It’s so magical to me; the magical and the mundane are united and whole. Happy Blessed Lammas to you and yours.  

  • HoneyDawn

    Thank you for your post and musical recommendations.

    Love your comment and love your music choices. I was looking for Lammas music; it’s hard to find. Currently I am listening to “Lammas Ladymass”, by Anonymous 4. May be too “Christian/Catholic” for some, but I figure since Catholicism copted Paganism anyway, no harm/no foul. It’s very beautiful music. 

    This is my favorite time of year and one of my favorite holidays. It’s so magical to me; the magical and the mundane are united and whole. Happy Blessed Lammas to you and yours.  

  • http://twitter.com/whynotdancing Carey

    The version of “John Barleycorn” I first heard was this live recording from Jethro Tull’s “A Little Light Music” (so happy I found it on YouTube):  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lvmlWYBGamA

  • http://twitter.com/whynotdancing Carey Moore

    The version of “John Barleycorn” I first heard was this live recording from Jethro Tull’s “A Little Light Music” (so happy I found it on YouTube):  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lvmlWYBGamA

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1309881889 Lezlie Kinyon
  • LezlieKinyon

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