Lammas, Lughnasadh, the First Harvest, all are names by which the Major Sabbat which occurs in August is known. Astrologically, this Sabbat is when the Sun is 15 ° Leo, and is a major Sabbat because it is at the peak of the season and the highest point of energy.
This is the time of the Sacrificial King, whose self sacrifice allows the people who worship him to survive through the winter. We say that his blood is poured out upon the fields so that the corn and grain harvest will thrive. His Spirit enters into the corn and the grain, and is then known as John Barleycorn. As the God dies with the harvesting of the grain, so also is he resurrected in the new sprouts. So therefore, we are given the myths of the Gods who are sacrificed, and then reborn, again and again. These myths occur in every country and culture, and are just too numerous to name here. “Ancient Ways” by Pauline and Dan Campanelli, and “The King Must Die” ( I forget the author on this one) are highly recommended for further reading.
Baking bread and corn muffins, then, are very sacred to this Sabbat. The cakes for ritual are usually homemade corn muffins, or if you can find a pan shaped like a person (gingerbread man perhaps?) then you can bake your own John Barleycorn to share in circle. Be sure to invoke the God of the Grain when you are baking the bread/muffins/cakes, and to chant positive affirmations while stirring or kneading the dough!
Corn husks are excellent to outline the circle area, and to burn in the cauldron after they have dried out. We use corn on the cob as part of our feast, to make corn necklaces from, and also to make corn dollies. See “Wheel of the Year” by Pauline and Dan Campanelli for more ideas on making corn dollies and necklaces.
At this time you should be seeing the efforts of your work beginning to manifest as this is the start of the harvest season. Look at your life and see where you have aimed, and if you are still on target. What have you accomplished that you set out to do? What do you still have to get done? Many times we get bogged down in the day to day details and we forget to take stock and look at the larger picture of our lives. Are we where we want to be? Are we who we want to be? Meditate on how what has happened has been directly or indirectly caused by the choices we have made. Reflect now on those choices, and see where your free will has led you. Are you happy about them? If not, what can you change now?
As the sun is waning now, even though the heat has increased, we will be turning more and more inward, until we finish this process at Samhain. This is just the start, so don’t be too hard on yourself if you haven’t done all you set out to do. There is still time before the winter to get accomplished those things which need the sunlight and summer breezes to grow. Don’t let the lazy sultry summer heat sap you of your strength and determination.
In the days of our ancestors, this would mark the beginning of the hardest work they had to do, the back breaking labor of bringing in the harvest. Getting all of it in, and packed, stored, canned, cooked, salted, etc. before the storms of winter set in, was sometimes a race against time. No wonder they needed the help and strength of the Gods, and no wonder they partied so wildly when they were given the chance! Lammas teaches us to live in the Now, as fully as possible, and get done what can be done now; and to plan for the future at the same time. To share what we have an abundance of with others, and to share the burdens of survival so that the burdens are lightened by many other shoulders.
Get in touch with your Pagan community in your area, and network, share, and commune with them. Bring in the harvest together, and make new friendships that will sustain you through the coming dark of winter.
Copyright Lady Bridget 1997