The first harvest sabbat is when witch’s celebrate the high point of the summer season. Astrologically, Lammas peaks at 15 degrees of Leo, which occurs on August 7th, 2017 at 7:40 am. Luckily for our coven, one of our members lives on a river, and has invited us all over for a Lammas Ritual on the Saturday just prior to the official day, to grill-out with our families, swim, play, and work some sabbat magick together.
Elemental tides shift from Fire to Water
In our tradition’s approach to the Wheel of the Year, we integrate the lessons of each of the four classical elements with the sabbat and esbat cycles. (1) From Litha to Lammas, the beginning to high point of the summer season, we work through the receptive fiery lessons of surrender. Here, we willingly sacrifice into the fires of summer whatever does not serve our highest good, so that we may transmute all hindrance to achieving our Great Work intention for that year. This includes the efforts we make to achieve our goals.
Then, from Lammas to Mabon sabbats, the high point to the conclusion of the summer season, we transition into the projective watery lessons of daring. Beginning with Lammas we dare to overcome all obstacles, all bullshit limitations to our personal sovereignty, and begin harvesting our Great Work, to claim it for ourselves with gratitude, and put it to good use for our evolution. This also includes the efforts it takes to integrate into our lives all that we are achieving.
Lammas is basically about WORK, coming and going. Mind you, there are THREE harvest sabbats, and the trick with this first harvest that it falls midpoint of the fiery sign of Leo, which lends it’s “fixed” energies of sustaining the cycle, to bring our work to full fruition; no slacking behind now! Magick demands much of us at this time. Toil and sacrifice are required if we are to claim the big prize come Mabontides.
Besoms, and Corn on the Cob, and Corn Dollies, oh my!
The Sojo Circle Coven is preparing the following sabbat ritual for our Tribe this year, and I offer it for your consideration, as it is suitable for any sized group, from a solitary rite, family observance with the kids, all the way to a large group. I thank our hostess, Epona Petra, for taking the lionesses’ share of the writing of this ritual, and for allowing me to contribute to it’s creation, and post it here.
This ritual utilizes a farm-fresh, newly harvested ear of corn for our magickal work of integration and sacrifice. We will craft a corn dolly out of the husks to be burned later at Samhain – this dolly represents that part of ourselves (and our labors) that we will surrender in sacrifice, so that we may emerge from this Great Work a better, stronger Witch. We will also do some Kitchen Witchery of a fire roasted corn on the cob, that we will later consume in feast, as an integration of all we are already achieving. This will “sustain” us in the coming work of the next two harvests.
Another interesting thing about this ritual is our integration of our besoms for circle clearing and casting. At each sabbat we all make something that we make sure to integrate in coming sabbats. At Litha, we all hand-crafted and charged our own besoms, and so we are bringing them back to continue their usage. In the same way, our corn dollies will be burned as part of the sacrificial king’s big send-off at our Samhain.
Our Lammas Ritual of Integration and Sacrifice
Written by Epona Petra, with contributions by Heron Michelle
Altar set up:
- Altar is dressed in browns and golds. Indian corn for decoration.
- Simple Feast: Braided bread and berries, blackberry wine
- Stones: Citrine and Orange Calcite.
- Candles: Spirit (white) candle, God (yellow) and Goddess (brown) Candles, Ancestor (black) candle.
- Consecration Elements: incense in burner, red candle for Fire, glass vessel with salted water, paten with earth.
- Altar Tools: Athame and chalice, wand and paten. All celebrants bring into circle with them their own Besom or staff.
- Dolly making Materials: Large cauldron full of fresh ears of corn, still in their husks, one per celebrant. 9″ lengths of crafting twine, arrange into little bundles of 6 each, one bundle per celebrant. several pairs of scissors.
- Firepit and Corn Roasting Materials: nearby a fire is laid in a pit, or coals are lit in a barbeque grill- just to the outside of the main working temple area, and lit so that coal bed may be established. Plenty of fuel to maintain fire is available.
- BBQ tools, like a poker and tongs.
- Small table is set up nearby with squares of aluminum foil large enough to wrap an ear of corn for roasting – one for each celebrant.
- Basket of sharpie markers.
- Bottle of olive oil.
- Sea Salt, pepper, and spices for seasoning corn on the cob, as desired.
Roles to be filled:
- Gatekeeper of Air
- Gatekeeper of Fire
- Gatekeeper of Water
- Gatekeeper of Earth
Welcome and Statement of Intent:
Priest: Welcome Everyone to our celebration of High Summer that we call Lammas. This is the first of three solar Harvest Festivals, and in the Celtic traditions, it is known as Lughnassadh sacred to their Solar God Lugh, ‘Master of Many Arts.’ He was famous for crafts, magic and warfare. We honor all three of those skills with our crafts and games today.
Priestess: We also honor Áine, the Irish Goddess of Summer, a goddess of love, fertility, and sovereignty who nourishes the crops and animals. Áine, our Earth Mother, has blessed us once again with the fruits of this first harvest. Today, we create a Corn Dolly, as a reminder of her bounty meant for our sustenance, and of the sacrifice of toil we make to fully claim our personal harvests.
Priest: Despite the heat of summer, the harvest reminds us that the wheel is turning. Sacrifice is necessary for life to continue, and while the God is robust in his fiery strength, his time is waning and he gladly gives of himself to the Goddess, whose strength abides. We prepare the corn dolly as a representation of this harvest season, and come Samhain will release them to the funeral pyre of the sacrificial king.
Priestess: It is a joyful sacrifice because there is joy in the harvesting and sharing with community. Let us rejoice in what we have planted, and what we reap. If not all the seeds have produced, then lessons are learned for the next cycle. Enter into our temple by lining up at the northern gate, and bring your besom.
Challenge at the Gate and Purifying the Celebrants:
Coven members line up to enter from the North.
Summoner challenges each celebrant: How do you enter?
Celebrants: In perfect love and trust.
Gatekeeper of Air: smudges each with burning Sage and a blessing.
Gatekeeper of Water: anoints each on the forehead with water using the sigil for their rank, with a blessing.
Gatekeeper of Earth: sprinkles a few grains of salt on their feet, with a blessing.
Purifying Sacred Space:
Priestess: Everyone bring your besoms to the center of of our temple, let’s sweep away the mundane and cleanse our sacred space.
Circle will be swept by all present who have besoms or clean brooms. Group will start back to back in the center of sacred space near the outdoor altar, and sweep in spiraling circles outwards, deosil, until each has completed the circle three times.
“With our brooms, we sweep all clean,
To make a sacred space between.”
Consecration of the Altar and Circle:
The coven gathers in a loose circle facing the altar.
Maiden awakens the altar. Beats drum. Kneels. Touches altar, Citrine, Calcite. Blows on them.
Maiden: “I, call upon the powers of stone to stir this altar into waking. From the bones of Earth herself, awaken, and hear us.”
Beats drum. “Awake. Awake. Awake.” Lights the Spirit candle.
Gatekeeper of Air: Lights incense stick in burner. “I charge this incense as a Being of Air.” Draws invoking pentagram over altar, then takes it to the Eastern Gate. “Air- I, your Brother of Air, greet you with Air, and ask that you blow free all energies that do not serve in our rites tonight! I consecrate this circle with the Powers of Air!” (repeats while walking the circle deosil, returns incense to altar when finished).
Gatekeeper of Fire: Lights red Fire candle. “I charge this candle flame as a Being of Fire.” Draws invoking pentagram over altar, then carries it to the southern gate. “Fire- I, your Brother of Fire, greet you with Fire, and ask that you burn free all energies that do not serve in our rites tonight. I consecrate this circle with the Powers of Fire!” (repeats while walking the circle deosil, returns candle to altar when finished).
Gatekeeper of Water: Holds glass vessel of salted water. “I charge this water as a Being of Water.” Dips athame into the water and draws invoking pentagram over altar. “Water- I, your Brother of Water, greet you with Water, and ask that you wash free all energies that do not serve in our rites tonight. I consecrate this circle with the Powers of Water!” (repeats while walking the circle deosil, returns water to altar when finished.)
Gatekeeper of Earth: Holds paten of earth. “I charge this earth as a Being of Earth.” Dips athame into earth and draws invoking pentagram over altar. “Earth- I, your Sister of Earth, greet you with Earth, and ask that you ground free all energies that do not serve in our rites tonight. I consecrate this circle with the Powers of Earth!” (repeats while walking the circle deosil, returns paten to altar when finished.)
Casting the Circle with the Besoms:
Priest: We cast the circle tonight with our besoms, held two-handed, horizontally with strength before us, low at hip height, handles end pointing left in our left hands, or deosil. As we begin the chant we’ll each in turn say “broom to broom the circle is cast” as we overlap our besoms, connecting handles over bristles, gripping together our own and the bristles of our neighbor’s below, forming our circle until it is whole and complete.
Then, raising them all to belly height, chant three times “Will to Will the circle is cast.”
Then raising the heart level, chanting three times, “Heart to heart the circle is cast.”
Then raising to head height, chanting three times, “Mind to mind the circle is cast.”
Then to full extension of our arms, chanting three times, “Spirit to Spirit the circle is cast.” Then continue chanting “spirit to spirit to spirit” until the cone of power is sufficiently raised, all moving forward, now pointing the besom handles straight up to a point above us. Priest will direct the peak by the volume and speed of the chant, throwing the power outward to the boundaries of the circle, including the fire pit area to the outside.
“And we draw up the underworld below, closing the sphere of our temple.” We sweep up to hold our besoms with strength horizontally before us once more, facing the inner circle. “We stand now in a time between times, at these crossroads between the worlds in a temple of our own making. We charge this temple as our boundary; Only love will enter in, and only love will emerge. We charge it to be an amplifier and magnifier of our workings today. As above, so below; As below, so above.” May all that we do in our Lammas ritual tonight, be for the highest good of all involved, harming none. Blessed be!
All celebrants now lay their besoms along the circle’s edge to hold the space.
Opening the Elemental Gates:
Priestess: Let us now open the elemental gates.
Gatekeeper of Air: Faces East
“Guardians of the East: of Air, of Spring, of Light- hear us! Crow, Eagle, Hawk – fly to us now and let us feel the breath of your favor. Join us in our sacred space and Bless us with your Vision. Hail and Welcome!”
Gatekeeper of Fire: Faces South
“Guardians of the South: of Fire, of Summer, of Heat- hear us! Dragon, Salamander, Phoenix- warm us gently now with your favor. Join us in our sacred space and Bless us with your Passion. Hail and Welcome!”
Gatekeeper of Water: Faces West
“Guardians of the West, and of Water! (turn the other way now and face the water) of river, stream and ocean- hear us! Whale, Otter, Turtle: let us flow now with your favor. Join us in our sacred space and Bless us with your Compassion. Hail and Welcome!”
Gatekeeper of Earth: Faces North
“Guardians of the North, and of Earth! Of Mountains, rock and forest- hear us! Bear, Raccoon, Rabbit: let us grow now with your favor. Join us in our sacred space and Bless us with your Strength. Hail and Welcome!”
Maiden: (facing altar. Lights black Ancestor candle.) Ancestors of the Land, Blood, and Spirit! We welcome you to our sacred space. Hail and Welcome!”
Priestess: (faces altar. Lights brown Goddess candle.) “Great Goddess, Áine, Earth Mother. Hear us now. You who are with us always in nourishing food and water, we call to you. You who held us in the womb of Creation and who will carry us across the Veil, hear us. Be with us this night and bless our ritual as we share in Divine Love. Hail and Welcome!”
Priest: (faces altar. Lights yellow God candle.)
“Great God, Lugh, Sky Father. Hear us now. You who are with us always in passion’s fire and sacrifice, we call to you. You who forge bonds with animals and ignite warrior strength, hear us. Be with us this night and bless our ritual as we share Divine Love. Hail and Welcome!”
Priestess: “At this sabbat of harvest, and in our individual Great Works, we gather here to gratefully begin claiming, and integrating our bounty. We acknowledge that for what we each receive, great toil and sacrifice must still be made to achieve our goals. We embrace the daring lessons of water, to overcome all obstacles before us.
Yet, we must also surrender to the fires all worries and fears, so that we can transmute that old self we leave behind, into the power we need to fuel our future self. What sacrifice and labor will you continue to give so that your harvests may be reaped? What is your great work for personal evolution? How is your inner light now shining more brightly?
Celebrants sit down around the circle’s edge.
Maiden: These ears of corn represent the first harvests of the Great Work that are manifesting for you now. Take now what you are ready to claim as your own.
Maiden passes out an ear of corn to each celebrant. A basket of craft twine in prepared bundles is also passed around the celebrants, each takes one. Summoner stokes the fires in a nearby fire pit/bbq grill, and then softly drums during the meditation.
Priestess leads a meditation: “Holding your ear of corn, I invite you to turn your attention inward, deep, deep within. Remember your connections deep into the underworld. Remember your connections high into the heavens. Remember the blessings of your body, alive here in the middle world, interconnected within and without. You are an open conduit of power, above to below, microcosm to macrocosm. Divine Love flows freely through you on all levels.
Envision now the great work intention you set for yourself this Turning of the Wheel. See it in growing fruition, like a corn field, tall and green, full of ripening corn. There is a part of that harvest now ready for you to claim. What progress have you made? You’ve worked hard, and there are rewards ready for reaping. See it before you, and pluck it for your own. Open your eyes and see this ear of corn in your hands as the goals you are achieving.
But there is still much work to be done to reveal the full potential of your evolution. As you think of the actions you will continue to take in the coming months, strip back the leaves. Each leaf is a sacrifice you will make, some toil you will continue to invest in yourself and your goals.
Now, return, return, return…there is magick afoot!”
Outer Work of Corn Dolly Sacrifice:
“We will now fashion dollies from the corn husks, that represent that old self we will leave behind, and all the sacrifices and work we now promise to make between now and Samhain, as we emerge from these fires strengthened and ready to work. We’ll then charge them as reminders of our promise. The corn cob itself we claim as our achievements and we will integrate them into ourselves, sustaining our work, as a blessing of Divine Love, by roasting then in our fires and eating them!”
Priestess and Maiden: Lead all celebrants in making a corn dolly to represent their sacrifices.
- Taking 2 long corn leaves stacked on top of each other and folding them in half at their midpoint. Tie a “neck” about 1 inch from the fold, by wrapping one length of twine around, and tying in a knot.
- Take another shorter leaf, folded in half longwise, and with it create “arms” by slipping it in between the leaves of the body, just below the neck. With a second piece of twine, create a “waist” by wrapping and tying off the twine tightly beneath the arms.
- Divide the leaves into two “legs” beneath the waist, and using the remaining twine, wrap and tie off “ankles.”
- Trim the arms to a proper length, then tie off “wrists.”
- The remaining silk, and leaves may be retained and fashioned into hair, or garments at a later time, as each desires.
Outer Work: Roasted Corn Integration
When each celebrant is done fashioning their dolly, they join the Priest and Summoner by the fire or open BBQ grill, bringing both the dolly and the corn cob with them.
Priest and Summoner: Aid celebrants in the wrapping of the corn cobs into the aluminum foil with a little olive oil and salt. Gives them a sharpie marker, to write their name, and what achievement they are claiming for themselves on the wrapper.
When all are finished preparing their materials, they gather around the firepit/grill.
Priestess: We claim our harvests now, may we integrate them and be nourished with blessings, and fueled by these fires of Leo, for the coming work! (Each celebrant then goes around and claims aloud their harvest in a simple word or phrase, adding their roasting corn package to the fire/grill. Everyone cheers ‘Blessed Be’ for their success!) Drumming sets the beat.
Priestess: We all tread the mill around the fires now, moving deosil while chanting in call and response:
Lammas Integration Chant
Lord and lady of Harvest Field….
Former selves to fires we yield.
We are nourished by your corn…
So stronger witches may be born.
Priest: “Now, it’s time to declare our sacrifice. It takes strength of will to surrender that which no longer serves us, and make the willing sacrifices needed to evolve into enlightenment. Holding our dollies now to represent all that we will give from now until Samhain, we circle the fire widdershins, while chanting in call and response. Drumming sets the beat.
Lammas Sacrifice Chant:
This I make in sacrifice…..
And for this work I ask no price.
To Goddess and God I pledge this deed….
That it may help fulfill a need.
As we will, so mote it be!
Drummer leads the group back to circle around by the main altar.
Maiden: lifts the braided bread for all to see.
“We dedicate this bread to the Gods, to the ancestors, to each other, and to the creatures of the world, so that we all may be fed and grow strong for the toils ahead. In this way, we who have more than enough remember to share what we have.”
Priest and Priestess bless the bread and the chalice with the usual blessings of the simple feast. Libations are made, the the feast shared around the circle. Check out this link for an example of that ritual.
Thanksgiving and Prayers:
“Thank you, Gods, for all who are here
And for blessings throughout the year.”
“For those in need, let us send light
For highest good, if it be right.”
(The group will have a few moments in silence to share light privately with those in need.)
Priestess: Our Lammas Rites are complete and it is time to close the Temple and step back into the flow of time. Let us bid our ancestors farewell.
Maiden (facing altar): “Ancestors of spirit!…. Ancestors of the blood!….Ancestors of the land! Thank you for your presence here tonight. Stay if you will, but go if you must. Hail and Farewell!”
(She puts out ancestor candle.)
Release Goddess and God:
Priestess: “Great Goddess, Earth Mother, Aine. We honor you. We thank you for your presence here tonight. May we feel you in our hearts always. Hail and Farewell.” (She puts out Goddess candle.)
Priest: “Great God, Sky Father, Lugh. We honor you. We thank you for your presence here tonight. May we feel you in our hearts always. Hail and Farewell.” (He puts out God candle and Spirit candle.)
Closing the elemental Gates:
Gatekeeper of Earth: (facing North) “Guardians of the North: Thank you for your presence here. We release you now back to your realms of Earth and stillness. Hail and Farewell.”
Gatekeeper of Water: (facing West) “Guardians of the West: Thank you for your presence here. We release you now back to your realms of Water and dreams. Hail and Farewell.”
Gatekeeper of Fire (facing South) “Guardians of the South: Thank you for your presence here. We release you now back to your realms of Fire and passion. Hail and Farewell.”
Gatekeeper of Air (facing East) “Guardians of the East: Thank you for your presence here. We release you now back to your realms of Air and thought. Hail and Farewell.”
Releasing the Circle
Priestess: Directs the group to pick up their besoms, and like sweeping into the center, they reach out and gently draw in the boundaries of the temple, sweeping in closer and closer, until a dense sphere of energy. We charge the remaining energies of this temple to be a healer for our planet’s waters, and we direct you now into the Tar River. May your healing powers, cleanse the waters of this river and the world’s oceans beyond. So mote it be! (And all now direct that sphere out toward the river with a big sweeping motion.)
We all say together: “The Circle is open but never broken. Merry Meet and Merry Part and Merry Meet Again!”
Savor every bite of your juicy corn on the cob!
After about 20-30 minutes on the fire, or after the ritual is complete, check the corn for doneness. When done, pull all the foil corn packages off of the fire with tongs, and allow to cool a bit. Each celebrant can then enjoy eating their cob, and allow this symbol of their accomplishments to nourish them.
1) If this approach seems radically nontraditional, and you’ve never heard of it before now, that is because this is my own integration of ideas and contribution to modern witchcraft. As such, I would like to publish a book to share it in more detail with the wider community. I’m working on that.