All About Lammas (Lughnasadh)

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Lammas is a time to celebrate the harvesting of grain. Image by Raimund Linke/Stone/Getty Images

These are the dog days of summer, the gardens are full of goodies, the fields are full of grain, and the harvest is approaching. Take a moment to relax in the heat, and reflect on the upcoming abundance of the fall months. At Lammas, sometimes called Lughnasadh, it's time to begin reaping what we have sown throughout the past few months, and recognize that the bright summer days will soon come to an end.

 

Rituals and Ceremonies

Depending on your individual spiritual path, there are many different ways you can celebrate Lammas, but typically the focus is on either the early harvest aspect, or the celebration of the Celtic god Lugh. It's the season when the first grains are ready to be harvested and threshed, when the apples and grapes are ripe for the plucking, and we're grateful for the food we have on our tables.

Here are a few rituals you may want to think about trying -- and remember, any of them can be adapted for either a solitary practitioner or a small group, with just a little planning ahead.

  • Lammas Harvest Ritual: This ritual celebrates the beginning of the harvest season and the cycle of rebirth, and can be done by a solitary practitioner or adapted for a group or coven setting. 
  • Honor Lugh of the Many Skills: Take the opportunity this day to celebrate your own skills and abilities, and make an offering to Lugh to honor him, the god of craftsmanship.
  • Lammas Bread Sacrifice Ritual: This ritual celebrates both the harvest and the sacrifices we make each year, as well as the sacrifice of the grain god. 
  • Lughnasadh Warrior Meditation: The season from late summer to the middle of fall is often a season of heightened energy for those who identify with the warrior soul.

Lammas Magic

Lammas is a time of excitement and magic. 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.

  • Ash Tree Magic and Folklore: Because of its close association not only with the Divine but with knowledge, Ash can be worked with for any number of spells, rituals, and other workings.
  • Bread Magic: Let’s look at some of the magical folklore surrounding bread in different cultures and societies.
  • The Magic of Corn: Corn has been planted, tended, harvested and consumed for millennia, and so it’s no wonder that there are myths about the magical properties of this grain. 
  • Protection Magic: In many magical traditions, workings can be done to ensure protection of home, property, and people. There are a number of simple ways you can do protection workings.
  • Onion Magic: When August's full moon, the Corn Moon, rolls around, get to work on some onion magic!
  • Vervain Water: Although it is often associated with the Summer Solstice, the vervain plant is highly potent in late summer, around the time of Lammas.
  • Sunflower Magic: Let’s look at some of the superstitions and customs about sunflowers from various cultures and societies.
  • Honey Magic and Folklore: Honey has a number of magical properties - let's explore some of the ways you can use it!

Lammas Customs and Traditions

The early harvest and the threshing of grain has been celebrated for thousands of years. Here are just a few of the customs and legends surrounding the Lammas season.

  • The Legend of John Barleycorn: In English folklore, John Barleycorn is a character who represents the crop of barley harvested each autumn.
  • Country Fairs and Harvest Festivals: The Lammas season has often been the time of year when people in rural areas got together with their neighbors to mark the early harvest. 
  • The Aonach Tailteann Games: The Aonach Tailteann was a fair held by the High Kings of Ireland in County Meath, and some early historians believe it originated during prehistoric times.
  • The Vulcanalia, August 23: Because Vulcan was associated with the destructive powers of fire, his celebration fell each year during the heat of the summer months.
  • The Final Sheaf: In many societies, the cutting of the final sheaf of grain was indeed cause for celebration.

Crafts and Creations

As summer winds to a close and autumn approaches, make crafts and decorations for your home that celebrate the outdoors and the gifts of nature. Before you get started, though, read up on these Five Quick Decorating Ideas for Lammas!

Feasting and Food

Nothing says "Pagan celebration" like a potluck! Lammas, or Lughnasadh, is the time of year when the gardens are in full bloom. From root vegetables to fresh herbs, so much of what you need is right there in your own back yard or at the local farmer's market. Let's take advantage of the gifts of the garden, and cook up a feast to celebrate the first harvest at Lammas - and if you can't eat bread because of gluten, be sure to read up on Celebrating Lammas When You Eat Gluten-Free.