What is Lammas?
Lammas (called Lughnasadh in Gaelic and Gwyl Awst in Welsh) is the season of First Harvest, where we take stock of our achievements and growth that has transpired this season. It asks us to cultivate gratitude, appreciation and share our gifts.
This Pagan celebration is rooted in historic agricultural communities throughout the UK and Europe. It begins the time of harvesting grains- such as wheat, oats and barley as well as vegetables and fruits.
The Irish God Lugh (akin to the Welsh Llew & Gaulish Lugos) is commonly celebrated at this time as he is a sun God associated with the grain harvest and smithcraft. He is the original Jack-of-all-trades who can be called upon for support in skill and crafts of all kinds. This time of year historically held markets for artisans to share their wares and the food harvest with the community. This tradition continues to this day through farmer’s and artisan’s markets.
This season of Lammas spans the sun’s journey through the signs of bright, sunny Leo and crafty, earthy Virgo. Both these signs fit perfectly with the energy of Lugh. When creative energy flows into practical channels, it becomes a perfect formula for abundance of all kinds- if we harness it!
Discernment & Sacrifice
As this season progresses, a bittersweet note arrives, as the nights grow longer and cooler, and we are reminded that fall is coming. We must discern what will support and sustain us into the months ahead and what no longer serves us on our journey.
The abundant Mother of summer hands us the sickle to collect our harvest. We must decide what we are taking with us into the future to sustain us and acknowledge what needs to be left behind.
We may find ourselves at some sort of crossroads in our lives during the next six weeks as we realise that the current abundance is limited and we must plan for future scarcity. What is sustainable? What cannot be carried into leaner months? Is there something we need to let go of? It is a time to reflect on what we’ve learned from the year and prepare for the next.
Moving between the Physical & Spiritual Realms
I admit that for a long time, I found Lammas to be the most ‘boring’ of the sabbats and soon discovered some other witches felt the same. Sometimes I didn’t even celebrate it, but I reveled in the more mystical or playful sabbats of Samhain, Beltane and the Solstices.
I feel part of the reason for this may be that Lammas is the most earthy, practical and humble of the sabbats but we tend to celebrate Lammas in early August, while the sun is still in dramatic, playful Leo. We just might find it a bit too serious or boring when the sun is shining bright and we’re in the mood for fun! But by mid-late August, the sun enters pragmatic, humble, Virgo and Lammas’ energy begins to resonate more. We’re able to get on board with organising our lives and facing the reality of reaping what we’ve sown.
I’ve also noticed that a lot of us drawn to Witchcraft are not always the most practical folks and so seek the craft to ground us. Perhaps the earthy, pragmatic energy of Lammas is a medicine many of us need for balance?
Our magickal practice after all, is supposed to be rooted equally in the earth and unseen realms. Our role is that of midwifing creation between the two. We need to understand the gifts and limitations of both.
The Importance of Lammas on our Magickal path
What helps me see Lammas through a more magickal lens is in seeing it as part of the full cycle of life-death and rebirth.
In the Wheel of the Year, Lammas’ polar opposite is Imbolc, in early February. At that time we are celebrating the hope of new life and feeling the first creative stirrings and visions for the year ahead. Imbolc is a very spiritual, visionary time where we prepare a path of physical manifestation for our dreams. It involves spiritual cleansing and resourcing as we harvest inspiration from our dreams and prepare to manifest them into the physical world.
In this way, Imbolc is very much like Lammas. We are clearing what no longer serves us and harvesting our energy to help prepare for the path ahead. We must discern, envision and plan.
Now, at Lammas, we harken back to Imbolc and ask ourselves: Has our vision manifested how we wanted it to? What have we learned from our experience? What can we share or create from it?
Imbolc paves the way from the spirit realm to the physical. Lammas paves the way from the physical realm towards the spiritual again. We take what we’ve learned and derive meaning from it. We compost our physical harvest into new gems of wisdom that fuel our dreams and creations for next year.
How do we want to enter our dreaming time? What beautiful resources do we want to take with us to prepare our mind, body and spirit for the journey?
I think of Lammas as a time to gather, collect, harvest and create all that inspires us of this physical world to take with us on our spiritual journey into autumn. It’s like packing for an adventure. But the trip we are about to undertake is an inner one, towards the Source of Life within, where new dreams are born.
When framed in this way, I see the importance of Lammas- how this is about more than just grains and gratitude. It’s about preparing for our dreaming journey, collecting the physical resources we will need to sustain our spirit on its way into the mystery. Packing for a trip can be tedious at times, but it is also filled with the excitement for the journey!
What do you wish to pack for your journey into the unknown?
How can we celebrate Lammas?
There are many ways to celebrate Lammas/Lughnasadh and here I will suggest a few simple ideas that can be done on their own or incorporated into a bigger ritual:
- Visit a farmer’s market or artisan market: Support your local artists and farmers! Work done at the hands of skilled folks is what makes the world go round. Knowing the source of our food and wares keeps us connected and in relationship with the earth and each other. Acknowledge the circle of life, the interdependence we have with one another and the earth.
- Create something! If you are crafty, find a little project that inspires you! If you are not really a hands-on crafty person, perhaps you are inclined to sing, write, dance or do some other form of self expression that channels the energy that’s manifested for you in the last few weeks. Share your gifts with the world!
- Cultivate gratitude and show appreciation: Take a moment to reflect on what you feel grateful for in your life- The people, places and things that support you. Then, think of a way to physically show thanks. This can be through an offering to the earth, a note of appreciation to a friend or loved one, a special gift or spending time with someone you haven’t made time for in a while.
- Bake bread or cook a meal with local ingredients: The tradition of baking bread with the first harvest of wheat has been a common way to celebrate Lammas (which is derived from ‘Loaf-Mass’ in old English). Make some homemade bread (there are some great gluten-free recipes out there), or a meal with some local veggies or bake something delicious to share with friends and family!
- Reflect on your journey over the last 6 months. Think about what you’ve manifested, what you want to bring forward in the months ahead, what to leave behind. Use the following questions to journal:
What am I grateful for?
What have I been working on/investing my energy into?
What have I accomplished in the last 6 months?
What have I learned from my toils?
What is no longer feeling sustainable?
What sustains me?
What type of abundance do I desire to cultivate more of in my life?
What is one step I can take towards cultivating that abundance in the coming weeks?
What do I wish to pack with me on my upcoming spiritual journey?
You may also wish to celebrate this season in a small witchy gathering, like my Hearthfire Circles! In our upcoming First Harvest Circle, we will discuss the themes of the season and craft some abundance spell bottles filled with herbs, crystals and intentions to support our journey forward! Contact me if you are interested!
Wishing you abundance in health, creativity, love and all that nurtures and sustains you in this beautiful season.
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As a Witch who makes her home and practice in Tkaronto (Toronto) Ontario, I deeply thank the original stewards of this land: The Mississaugas of the Credit, Mississaugas of Scugog, Alderville, Hiawatha & Curve Lake; The Chippewas of Beausoleil, Rama & Georgina island, the Haudenosaunee and Wendat nations. I acknowledge the resilience of the First Nation, Inuit and Metis people who live and work here in the present, in a system of inequity and oppression. I am working on uncolonising my own practice, amplifying Indigenous voices and supporting Indigenous communities in whatever way I can.