The Witch’s Desk: Lammas!

 We’re gearing up for the first Pagan harvest festival of the year:  Lammas (also known as Lughnasadh in some traditions).  How time flies; it’s this time of year again.  Summer may still feel in full-swing in your area, but Mother Nature is tapping us on the shoulder with this first harvest of grain, reminding us that it’s not going to last forever, giving us a heads-up to be prepared for the inevitable winter-to-come.  Following is more information on this holiday in our Pagan “Wheel-of-the-Year”, including the Goddess connection, my personal reflections on this harvest festival, as well as correspondences for Lammas, ritual suggestions, and recipes!

Read on, enjoy.

And…Happy Lammas!

ladyamythyst.com/wheeloftheyear.htm

Lammas

(August 1)

As the matron of ancient times would start early to prepare her family for the harsh winter months ahead, so the Mother Goddess prepares us. She reminds us of the bounty yet to come with an early harvest of grain. She encourages us to take stock of what we have, and this pertains to the physical harvests, of course, but it can also include taking stock of ourselves, re-evaluating our goals, our lives, our paths, our relationships, our strengths, and our weaknesses.

This is the first of the harvest festivals, and in the ancient world this was indeed a time of celebration. A successful harvest would mean survival in the harsh winter months. In the northern countries this was, in particular, a celebration of the first harvest of wheat, thus bread is featured in the celebration of Lammas, also known as Lughnasadh.

As the modern day Pagans celebrate this festival they will build roaring bonfires, feed each other a mouthful of bread, and with wine they will toast each other…”May you eat the bread of life.

My Celebration:

Yes, it’s a harvest festival. Yes, bread and wheat, as well as other grains, figure into it. But for me, it was more about the passage of time. It’s about how time plays tricks on us, and as a child on summer vacation from school, these three months seemed like a whole year rolled up into one magickal moment.

August 1 in South Dakota meant lots of lingering blistering summer days ahead, the heat being almost as intense as July; but it also meant something different in the air, that faint scent (an autumn scent), a nuance of change in the sunlight, the slight tinge starting at the edge of the leaves. And then one morning, being greeted with crisp air and a sky so blue it was almost painful to look at, so beautiful it was.

This holiday, this moment in time, is a mystery. It is the ability to look back into the past while standing on some invisible magickal horizon so that you can see the future, but just enough of the future to tease you forward. And you come to this exact same time and place year after year. August 1, another summer coming to a close, one of so many, and another autumn returning. An end, to make way for something new to begin, again, and again, and again.

The figure standing on the horizon grows, matures, changes, morphs, ages, expands, learns, regrets, loves, hates, wonders, questions, fears, laughs, and listens. The figure on the horizon passes through a human life time in the blink of an eye, with one inaudible breath…and then they fade into an ethereal creature of smokey wisps with a voice that is but the wind.

Lammas Correspondences

Herbs: frankincense, wheat, cornstalks, heather

Altar Flowers/Herbs: corn ears, hollyhock, myrtle, oak leaves, wheat

Feast Foods: apples/apple pie, cornbread, sweet potatoes/sweet potato pie, grapes, blackberries

Animals: calves, roosters, deer

Incense: chamomile, rose, rosemary, allspice, sandalwood, carnation

Rituals/Spells: maternal magick, prosperity spells, purification spells, thanksgiving rituals, career spells

Lammas Recipes

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins
(with glaze)

For the Muffins:

2/3 cup sugar

Grate 2 lemons

Juice of 1 lemon

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup sour cream

2 large eggs

1 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

2 tablespoons poppy seeds

For the Icing:

1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted

2-3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line 12 molds in a regular-size muffin pan with paper muffin cups. Place the muffin pan on a baking sheet.

____________________

Banana Bread

1 1/4 cups sugar

1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened

2 eggs

1 1/2 cups mashed very ripe bananas (3 to 4 medium)

1/2 cup buttermilk

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup chopped nuts, if desired

Move oven rack to low position so that tops of pans will be in center of oven. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease bottoms only of 2 loaf pans, 8 1/2×4 1/2×2 1/2 inches, or 1 loaf pan, 9x5x3 inches.

Mix sugar and butter in large bowl. Stir in eggs until well blended. Add bananas, buttermilk and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Stir in flour, baking soda and salt just until moistened. Stir in nuts. Pour into pans.

Bake 8-inch loaves about 1 hour, 9-inch loaf about 1 1/4 hours, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes. Loosen sides of loaves from pans; remove from pans and place top side up on wire rack. Cool completely, about 2 hours, before slicing.

[Source:  This blog post is an excerpt from my book The Spiritual Feminist]

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Mabon

 

Mabon

Autumn Equinox

September 21 (approx.)

Also known as: Mabon

Traditions:

celebration of the second harvest festival of the season, thanksgiving for plentiful harvest, in some cultures this is a corn festival, marking the beginning of the autumn season, the witches’ Thanksgiving 

Pagan Lore:

Descent of the Goddess…in Sumerian myth she’s known as Inanna; in Greek/Roman legends it was Demeter and Persephone. The descent of the Goddess into the Underworld meant an end to the lush growing season, a time when nature would rest beneath the cloak of winter.

The Harvest Lord

…in the Celtic tradition, the Harvest Lord was slain at the time of Lughnasadh, marking the end of the growing season and the beginning of harvest time.

Mabon

…is the masculine counterpart of Persephone; the fertile male aspect of the growing season. He is a Welsh god, stolen from his mother Modrin as an infant and, so the myth goes, rescued by King Arthur. All the while, he was held captive in the Otherworld– Modrin’s womb, so as to be ‘reborn’ with the spring, bringing with him fertility to the land.

Wickerman

…at this time of year, the ancient Druids would burn a large human-like wicker figure as part of their celebration. This figure represented the vegetation spirit, and indeed, the heralding of the dark season would bring an end to the growth and flowering of summer.

This day brings equal hours of light and dark, a second celebration of perfect equality. Beyond this day, light will gradually fade as the dark season descends upon the world. Modern Pagans celebrate this holiday with many of the foods connected with this time of year in their area. For us this would include pumpkin pie, pumpkin breads, and apple cider. Decorations may include leaves of autumn hues, sunflowers, pumpkins and gourds.

Correspondences for Mabon

Herbs: marigold, myrrh, thistles, sage

Altar Flowers/Herbs: asters, mums, pine, ferns, milkweed, honeysuckle

Feast Foods: autumn berries, nuts, roast game, root vegetables, cider, wine, bread

Animals: stags, goats, blackbirds, canines, owls, birds-of-prey

Incense: cedar, myrrh, patchouli, pine, sage, sweet grass, oak moss

Rituals/Spells: drying herbs, gathering late harvest, past life work, harvest moon rituals, making willow wands, harmony spells, protection spells for winter

(The information above is an excerpt from my books,
“The Gray Witch’s Grimoire” and “Natural Magick the Gray Witch Way”)

© The Gray Witch’s Grimoire,
Amythyst Raine 2011

© Natural Magick the Gray Witch Way,
Amythyst Raine 2011

 

Lammas…Let the Harvest Begin

As the dog days of summer are still upon us, it’s strange to realize that so is the first of the pagan harvest festivals, Lammas…aka Lughnasadgh.  Summer will soon be winding down, and August is the transition that will carry us into autumn.  As we celebrate the first harvest of wheat, let’s also celebrate the changing of seasons, the transparency of time, and the miracle of continuity.

Happy Lammas!

August

Barley Moon

Herbs: rosemary, jasmine, lilac, violet, calamus

Stones:  bronzite, peridot, green sapphire

Scents:  frankincense, heliotrope

Colors:  yellow, gold, green

Trees:  hazel, alder, cedar

Deities:  Ganesha, Hathor, Hecate, Nemesis

Astrological Signs:  Leo, Virgo

Elements:  Earth/Air

Crafting Your Magic:

The Barley Moon is the time to reap the harvest of magic cast at the beginning of the summer season. It’s a time for the powerful assertive energy of Leo to give way to the calmer vibrations of Virgo. Do magic at this time to cleanse before the winter, cleansing not only your personal space, but intangible aspects as well. Clear out unwanted rubbish, whether it be inertia, conflict, indecisiveness, or some other personal weakness. As the summer winds down and wildlife begins to prepare itself for the dark months to come, this is where the heart of your magic lay as well.

divider sunflower 1

August 1:  Lammas
(also known as Lughnasadgh)

Traditions: celebration of first harvest/grain harvest, celebration of the Feast of Bread, weather magic, gathering bilberries as a symbol of abundance, games showcasing athletic ability

Pagan Lore:

Lugh…Lughnasadh celebrates the Irish god, Lugh, a god of strength and athletic prowess. Tradition has it that Lugh’s mother Tailtia passed to the Summerland while working in the fields preparing for the planting season.

 This is the first of the harvest festivals, and in the ancient world this was indeed a time of celebration. A successful harvest would mean survival in the harsh winter months to come. In the northern countries this was a celebration of the first harvest of wheat and grain, thus bread is featured in the celebration of Lughnasadh, also known as Lammas. Freshly baked loaves of aromatic bread are the main feature found upon pagan alters for this holiday.

As modern-day Pagans celebrate the festival of Lughnasadh, they will build roaring bonfires, feed each other a mouthful of bread, and with wine they will toast each other…”May you eat the bread of life”.


For more more information on Pagan Holidays, including videos and rituals, visit my website, The Witch’s Corner:

http://ladyamythyst.webs.com/wheeloftheyear.htm

© “The Gray Witch’s Grimoire”
Amythyst Raine 2011