Celebrating the First Harvest: Patheos Pagan Writers on Lammas

Celebrating the First Harvest: Patheos Pagan Writers on Lammas July 29, 2016

Lammas (or Lughnassa) is the first great harvest festival of the year. It’s generally celebrated sometime between July 31 and August 2 (dates on this sabbat vary) and depending on where you live, is either the start of Fall or the height of Summer. No matter how you celebrate (or what you call the holiday) we hope you have a blessed one. (And to our readers in the Southern Hemisphere, Happy Imbolc!)

"The Harvest Moon" by Samuel Palmer.  From WikiMedia
“The Harvest Moon” by Samuel Palmer. From WikiMedia

Morgan Daimler (Irish-American Witchcraft) We celebrate Lúnasa as Brón Trogain, a holiday were we honor Macha and the beginning of the harvest. It’s the time when the raspberries in our yard are ripe, and so for my family its all about getting out under the summer sun, weaving among a thicket of thorns, and picking warm berries. The ones that don’t get eaten as we work are offered to the Gods and the aos sí, and if any are left we eat them with our meal. Its a great way not only to celebrate the holiday but to be tactilely reminded of our connection to the world around us.

Catharine Buck Clarenbach (Nature’s Path) Lammas may be my favorite of the holidays I celebrate, though Samhain is right up there. Lammas confronts us with the reality that the flower that has stood straight and bloomed in the sun by the riverside wilts and dies. The holiday confronts us with the wheat grown green in the sun is cut down golden and glorious, threshed and ground, The corn pulled back and shucked, the Corn Man killed for the people so they might live.

The Goddess, loving and mourning, the sickle in her hand.

In my tradition, Lammas is celebrated with the God carrying his own body in a bread effigy–“This, my body, is for you.” The gifts of the earth and the gifts of human effort brought together in sacred union.

Danette Wilson (Outside the Circle) Lammas/Lughnasa is also one of the fairy festivals. A feast day of the fairy Aine. A Goddess of Harvest. There is a strongly held belief in Irish folklore that the success or failure of the harvest was dependant on the fairies!

Gwion Raven (The Witches Next Door) Lammas is about celebrating the harvest. Lammas festivals and rites tend to focus on our personal abundance, and perhaps the shared abundance of our communities. I know that I’ve planned many Lammas rituals with just these thoughts in mind and I am grateful that I’m part of an abundant, thriving, decades old local Pagan community and have access to many other like-minded communities too. I’m all for reveling in abundance. Abundance is great. I like abundance a lot.

"Buckwheat Harvest" by Jean-François Millet.  From WikiMedia
“Buckwheat Harvest” by Jean-François Millet. From WikiMedia

Megan Manson (Pagan Tama) There’s not really any true equivalent to Lammas in Shinto, but this is still a Sabbat with a lot of significance to me. Why? Because my husband and I were wed and handfasted around Lammas, so this time of year brings back such special memories for me. It takes the edge off some of the bitter-sweetness of Lammas – the time of sacrifice, the end of summer’s warmth and the point at which the Wheel of the Year rolls slowly towards colder, darker times. But despite some of the sadness of leaving summer’s warmth behind, I still look forward to all the gifts of the autumn and winter Sabbats – the deliciousness of Mabon, the drama of Samhain, and the excitement of Yule.

Heron Michelle (Witch on Fire) Lammas is also about sacrifice. The Sacrificial King voluntarily gives his life to feed his people. The vegetable life in my garden give of themselves to sustain my family, and for that I am eternally grateful. However, despite any delusion that I might be on the top of the food chain, when I go out to the garden in the liminal of dusk, not only have I given of my sweat and tears, I inevitably leave a blood sacrifice to the horde of vampirous mosquitoes. If they don’t get me, the rose bushes will. They will have their due, no matter what skeeter beater potions and lotions I douse myself with. There is no way around it; nature feeds on itself.

Jason Mankey (Raise the Horns) Despite what you may have read, I don’t hate Lammas, but it’s a difficult holiday for me. It’s the height of summer, and yet all I can think of are the promises of fall yet to come. By this time of year I find myself madly missing fresh apples, football, clouds, and a whole host of other things. There are tomatoes in my garden and my sunflowers are now eight to seven feet tall so I see the abundance of Lammas before me, but I also want to get it over with so I can get to the even better stuff.

And in the Southern Hemisphere it’s Imbolc. . .

Bekah Carman (Hearth Witch Down Under) Imbolc is the most difficult of holidays for me. I have never really felt a connection to it and can’t really understand its significance on a personal level. But then we get a day like today, a week or so before Imbolc is even here. It’s mostly bright and sunny outside and when you stand in the sunlight it feels so warm and you think, maybe Spring really is almost here. At the same time though, the grass is wet and beneath it the ground is muddy, and there are slightly dark clouds in various places in the sky. I can’t help but remember we actually had snow a week ago!

It’s like this time of balance between the seasons, wet, dark and cold, but bright and warm at the same time. So maybe that’s what it is all about, balance and transition, and you never know what you might get. While I don’t celebrate Imbolc itself, we will be feasting a few days beforehand, mostly on jelly (jello?) for my daughters birthday. She too is a mix between dark and light, and you never know what you are going to get with her, so it’s perhaps fitting.

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