Lammas

happy lammas

Lammas is the first of harvest festivals, which also includes the Autumn Equinox and Samhain.  Lammas is the celebration of this first, Grain Harvest, a time for gathering and giving thanks for abundance.  It is traditionally celebrated on August 01st.  We work with the cycle of Mabon or the Autumn Equinox, (the Second Harvest of Fruit such as apples), and Samhain, the (third and Final Harvest of Nuts and Berries).  The energy of Lammas is fruitfulness and reaping prosperity.

Lammas is all about the fulfillment and fullness of the present harvest holding at its heart the seed of all future harvest.  So as the grain harvest is gathered in, there is food to feed the community through the winter and through the harvest is the seed of next year’s rebirth, regeneration, and harvest.  Grain has held a place of importance in civilization back nearly to the beginning of time. Grain became associated with the cycle of death and rebirth.  Now is the time to begin reaping what we have sown, and gathering up the first harvests of grain, wheat, oats, and more.

The first sheaf of  corn is extremely important.  It produces the first and the best seed and assurance of future harvest.  There are many customs throughout Europe around the cutting of the grain or corn during Lammas and they applied to all cereal crops including wheat, barley, rye and oats. Both the cutting of the first gain and the last grain are significant.The first sheaf would often be ceremonially cut at dawn, winnowed, ground and baked into the Harvest Bread which was then shared by the community in thanks. The first barley stalks would be made into the first beer of the season. The first sheaf guarantees the seed and thus continuity.

The last sheaf was also ceremonially cut, often made into a ‘corn dolly’, carried to the village with festivity and was central to the Harvest Supper. The corn dolly was made into a Corn Maiden (after a good harvest) or a cailleach, hag or crone (after a bad harvest). She could be dressed with ribbons, even clothed. This last sheaf would live in the home, often above the fireplace or hearth of the home, until the next harvest. Or it might be placed in the branches of a tree or mixed with the seed for the next year’s sowing. In some way it eventually needed to return to the earth from whence it came.

In some parts of Europe the tradition was to weave the last sheaf into a large Corn Mother with a smaller ‘baby’ inside it, representing the harvest to come the following year. Once the harvest was completed, safely gathered in, the festivities would begin. Bread was made from the new grain and thanks given to the Sun’s life-giving energy reborn as life-giving bread.

In early Ireland, it was a bad idea to harvest your grain any time before Lammas.  It meant that the previous year’s harvest had run out early, and that was a serious failing in agricultural communities.  The word Lammas derives from the Old English phrase hlaf-maesse, which translates to loaf mass. In early Christian times, the first loaves of the season were blessed by the Church.

Lammas is also a time to celebrate talents and craftsmanship. It’s a traditional time of year for craft festivals, and for skilled artisans to peddle their wares. In medieval Europe, guilds would arrange for their members to set up booths around a village green, festooned with bright ribbons and fall colors. Perhaps this is why so many modern Renaissance Festivals begin around this time of year!

lammas craftsNow is a great time of year to work on honing your own talents. Learn a new craft, or get better at an old one. Put on a play, write a story or poem, take up a musical instrument, start getting crafty, or sing a song. Whatever you choose to do, this is the right season for rebirth and renewal, so set August 1 as the day to share your new skill with your friends and family.

The natural world is thriving around us, and yet the knowledge that everything will soon die looms in the background. This is a good time to work some magic around the hearth and home.  Lammas is a festival celebrating the first fruits of harvest, the fruits of our labours, and seeing the desires that we had at the start of the year unfold so rituals will be centered around this. At this time it is appropriate to perform rituals for prosperity, generosity, continued success.  

Activities for this celebration include: making corn dollies, baking bread,  braid onion or garlic charms, gathering late summer fruit or the first harvest, getting crafty, go to a craft festival or any festival.

lammas breadCustoms around Lammas include Games, the traditional riding of poles/staves, country fairs, breaking bread with friends, making corn dollys, harvesting herbs for charms/rituals, Lughnasadh fire with sacred wood & dried herbs, feasting, competitions, Lammas towers (fire-building team competitions), spear tossing, gathering flowers for crowns, fencing/swordplay, games of skill, martial sports, chariot races, hand-fastings, trial marriages, dancing round a corn mother (doll)

Like all holidays, Lammas calls for a feast. When your dough figure is baked and ready to eat, tear him or her apart with your fingers. You might want to commence the feast with a prayer or blessing emphasizing the gratitude of being “given this day our daily bread.” The next part of the ceremony is best done with others. Feed each other hunks of bread by putting the food in the other person’s mouth with words like “May you never go hungry,” “May you always be nourished,” “Eat of the bread of life” or “May you live forever.” Offer each other drinks of water or wine with similar words. As if you were at a wake, make toasts to the passing summer, recalling the best moments of the year so far.

corn dollyAnother way to honor the Grain Goddess is to make a corn doll. This is a fun project to do with kids. Take dried-out corn husks and tie them together in the shape of a woman. She’s your visual representation of the harvest. As you work on her, think about what you harvested this year. Give your corn dolly a name, perhaps one of the names of the Grain Goddess or one that symbolizes your personal harvest. Dress her in a skirt, apron and bonnet and give her a special place in your house. She is all yours till the spring when you will plant her with the new corn, returning to the Earth that which She has given to you.

Ideas for decorating your home for Lammas is rally quite simple.  You can use any of the following below, or even all, to dec out your place for the celebration of Lammas.

  • Sickles and scythes, as well as other symbols of harvesting
  • Grapes and vines
  • Dried grains : sheafs of wheat, bowls of oats, etc.
  • Corn dolls : you can make these easily using dried husks
  • Early fall vegetables such as squashes and pumpkins
  • Late summer fruits like apples, plums and peaches
  • Colors include yellow, orange, brown, green, amber
  • Herbs include goldenrod, peony, nasturtium, clover blossom, yarrow, heliotrope, boneset, vervain, Queen Anne’s lace, myrtle, rose, sunflower, poppy, milkweed, Irish moss, mushroom, wheat, corn, rye, oat, barley, rice, garlic, onion, basil, mint, aloe, acacia, meadowsweet, apple leaf, raspberry leaf, strawberry leaf, bilberry leaf, blueberry leaf, mugwort, hops, holly, comfrey, marigold, grape vine, ivy, hazelnut, blackthorn, elder, honey, bee pollen, wheat
  • Symbolism: Fruitfulness, reaping, prosperity, reverence, purification, transformation, change, The Bread of Life, The Chalice of Plenty, The Ever-flowing Cup , the Groaning Board (Table of Plenty)
  • Insence: Wood aloes, rose, rose hips, rosemary, chamomile, eucalyptus, safflower, corn, passionflower, frankincense, sandalwood
  • Gemstones: aventurine, citrine, peridot, sardonyx, Cat’s-eye, golden topaz, obsidian, moss agate, rhodochrosite, clear quartz, marble, slate, granite, lodestone, carnelian

lammas_celebration1Lammas is one of the eight major power days; which are each an incredible doorway through which everyone can enter into cocreation with Spirit.  Identified long ago by indigenous …times when the “veil” between dimensions becomes the thinnest, and spiritual seekers can more readily access the energy of the Divine.  If you do artistic work, meditation, prayer, or any form of spiritual expression during this time, you’ll find it easier to tap into feelings of flow, harmony, and light.

Lammas is a festival of regrets and farewells, of harvest and preserves. Reflect on these topics alone in the privacy of your journal or share them with others around a fire. It is one of the great Celtic fire-festivals, so if at all possible, have your feast around a bonfire. While you’re sitting around the fire, you might want to tell stories. Look up the myths of any of the grain Gods and Goddesses mentioned above and try re-telling them in your own words.

It is a time when we not only think about the fruits of the Sun God and Mother Earth, but also about our own personal harvest. A time when we think about what has happened in our lives and letting go of anger, injustice, hates, and past regrets enabling us to move forwards and planting our own new seeds. Some goals may have been achieved, but some not as we had hoped.

food mandalaRegrets: Think of the things you meant to do this summer or this year that are not coming to fruition. You can project your regrets onto natural objects like pine cones and throw them into the fire, releasing them. Or you can write them on dried corn husks (as suggested by Nancy Brady Cunningham in Feeding the Spirit) or on a piece of paper and burn them.

Farewells: What is passing from your life? What is over? Say good-bye to it. As with regrets, you can find visual symbols and throw them into the fire, the lake or the ocean. You can also bury them in the ground, perhaps in the form of bulbs which will manifest in a new form in spring.

Harvest: What have you harvested this year? What seeds have your planted that are sprouting? Find a visual way to represent these, perhaps creating a decoration in your house or altar which represents the harvest to you. Or you could make a corn dolly or learn to weave wheat. Look for classes in your area which can teach you how to weave wheat into wall pieces, which were made by early grain farmers as a resting place for the harvest spirits.

Preserves: This is also a good time for making preserves, either literally or symbolically. As you turn the summer’s fruit into jams, jellies and chutneys for winter, think about the fruits that you have gathered this year and how you can hold onto them. How can you keep them sweet in the store of your memory?

LughnasadhBlessingstoYou

 

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Baby Chick craft

chick

Another easy Spring or Easter craft to do with younger kids. =)

What you’ll need:

  • construction paper (2 yellow and an orange)
  • craft eyes or a black marker
  • scissors
  • glue
  • pencil

What to do:

  1. Draw a large egg shape using the yellow construction paper then cut it out.  This will be the body of the chick.
  2. Draw the legs using the orange construction paper.
  3. Cut out the legs and glue them onto the body.
  4. Trace your child’s hands using the other yellow sheet of construction paper.  These will be the wings.
  5. Cut out the wings and glue them onto the body.
  6. Draw a small diamond shape using the orange construction paper.  Trace an inner diamond using your pencil.  This will be the outline of the beak.
  7. Cut out the beak and only glue the bottom half of the diamond to the face,
  8. Fold the top half of the diamond down to make the beak so that it can open and close.
  9. Glue the craft eyes to the face or using your black marker just draw them.

Paper plate Bunny

bunny

This is an easy peasy Spring time or Easter craft to do with younger kids.  You don’t really need that much materials but they will enjoy making it.

What you’ll need:

  • 2 paper plates
  • construction paper (pink, white, green, orange)
  • craft eyes
  • craft materials for the nose and cheeks but you can use cotton balls if you do not have them
  • glue
  • scissors
  • black marker
  • pink marker

What to do:

  1. Cut out a circle for using the pink construction paper for the tummy of the bunny and glue it on.
  2. Using the second paper plate cut out the circle on the inside, this will be the head.  Glue it on.
  3. Use the edges of the plate to cut out in the shape of the ears and glue them onto the head.
  4. Draw the arms and legs using the white construction paper and glue them to the body.
  5. Draw and cut out a carrot using the orange construction paper.
  6. Draw and cut out the top of the carrot using the green construction paper and glue it on to the carrot.
  7. Glue the finished carrot onto one of the arms to look like it is holding it.
  8. Use the pink marker to color in the inside of the bunny’s ears.
  9. Glue on the nose using craft materials or cotton.
  10. Glue the craft eyes above the nose.
  11. Draw the whiskers using the black marker.

Balloon Spring Eggs

spring eggsSpring Solstice Eggs

This is a very fun project to do with the kids once they are old enough to blow up balloons and get a handle on wrapping the yarn around.  We filled up the balloons with all kinds of stuff.  Some had glow sticks so that they glow at night, others had glitter, and some had round beads for noisemakers for the little kids.  It sure was messy.  A couple balloons popped in the process but we sure did have a blast making them and the finished product looks great by the front door.

What you’ll need:

  • small balloons
  • small funnel
  • yarn
  • filler for the inside but not required(glitter, round beads, glow sticks, etc.)

What to do:

1. Put the filler in using the small funnel, if you are using glitter or beads.  Not necessary for the glow sticks.
2.  Blow the small balloons up all the way and seal it.
3.  Wrap the yarn around the balloon numerous times then tie it to the end at the knot.

Holiday card

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This was a holiday card project my son worked on, which I ended up helping him  with the finishing touches.  His grandmother was going on a short trip up north to visit an aunt.  We put this together scrounging up the last bit of material we had left;  construction paper, ribbons, bedazzeled, seasons greetings, and holiday quotes….  A simple card  with a heartfelt message.  Hope your holiday season has been as spectacular as mine has been this year.

Fall Leaf Garland

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What you’ll need:

  • yarn or string
  • tape
  • scissors
  • construction paper ( orange, green, yellow, orange, red)
  • pencil

What to do:

  1. Draw and cut out different shapes of Fall leaves and pumpkins using the construction paper.
  2. Fold the stems over the string and tape them on.

Gratitude Tree

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  • yellow, brown, orange, red, green, purple construction paper
  • glue
  • pencil
  • scissor

What to do:

  1. Trace and cut out your child’s hands on the orange, yellow, and red construction paper.
  2. Have the child write one thing that they are grateful for inside each hand.
  3. Glue together the purple and green construction paper to make a big sheet.
  4. Draw and cut out the trunk of the tree using the brown construction paper.
  5. Glue on the trunk to the large sheet.
  6. Glue on the hands on top of trunk as the leaves.

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