Lammas. Probably one of the most overlooked of Pagan and Heathen holidays – and it’s not the only option this time of year. We don’t know when it was first celebrated, but it certainly goes as far back as early medieval England. There, it was a celebration of the wheat harvest. It was also the time that tenants would present their rent payments to the landlord – usually in the form of wheat. It was often called the Feast of First Fruits, celebrated in churches throughout England. There is also evidence that it was a good day for magic. In Leechdoms, Wortcunning and Starcarft, Cokayne notes a spell that uses blessed Lammas bread to protect the stored grain.
Even if you do garden at home, you are likely still disconnected from the wheat harvest. It’s just no longer part of our lives. It’s my theory that this is a big part of what makes Lammas so unpopular: no one knows how to celebrate it, or even feels that there’s anything to celebrate at all.
Offer Your First Fruits
If you’re a gardener, you’re likely to be harvesting quite a few things by this time of year. My tomatoes and cucumbers are producing like crazy, and I’ve trimmed back my herbs a few times already. These things are the work of your hands and labor (and obviously the plant from which your harvesting) and make wonderful offerings for the Gods and spirits. You can offer them as they are, or make something creative. Have a great recipe for bruschetta? Use your own tomatoes and basil. It’ll be amazing.
Do Some Learning About Bread
Growing your own wheat, milling the flour, and creating Migration Age bread is pretty labor intensive, and way over the top. But That’s not the only way to engage with wheat. Find some good bread recipes and give it a try yourself. There are a million kinds of fancy flour to try, or plain white bread flour makes some delicious stuff as well. This is one of my favorite recipes with a very small ingredient list! If you’re a more experienced bread-maker, give something exotic and fun a try! I once made a boar from bread to eat at a Yule feast – be creative. Remember to offer a piece to the Gods and spirits as well.
Make Lammas Local
When we’re talking about holidays on the Pagan Wheel of the Year, they’re all supposed to be nature-related. Ironically, the nature of the historic British Isles on which all this is based is probably quite different from your surroundings. Make this holiday local by finding out what’s going on in your local environment. What flowers are blooming? What’s the weather like? What are the animals doing? Are you far North enough that nature is preparing for winter, or are you stuck in the dog days of summer? In Nebraska, this is our hottest time of the year!
Make Lammas Personal
Nobody relates only to the plant and animal spirits around them. There are things that go on in your life every year that affect you that are not nature-related. In my family, we often celebrate Lammas with a few purposes; one of them is the back-to-school timing. In just two weeks, my children will all be starting new adventures with new friends and teachers. This is something that should be honored and celebrated, and Lammas is a wonderful time to do that. Make a fun day shopping for new school things. Or celebrate the last days of summer vacation with a trip to the pool or the creek!
Honor a Deity
In my opinion, big holidays are the one of the best times to honor the Gods. I honor my house spirits, the nature wights, and my Ancestors near daily. Of course I will offer to a few Gods during my day to day life, but there’s just no time for Everyone. Lammas is a great time to offer to Frey, who is strongly associated with the harvest. Njord is also a possibility, being linked to prosperity, or Thor, whose rains made the harvest possible. Some associate the Goddess Sif with wheat specifically, if that association works for you this is a great holiday for Her.
Ultimately, no matter what you choose to do, observing the holiday is important. It’s these celebrations that bring us closer to our spirituality and closer to the land around us.