Lammas Craft Projects

01
of 10

Craft Projects to Celebrate Lammas

Happy woman in fields with sunlight
alexkotlov / Getty Images

Looking for some fun and inexpensive ways to decorate your home for Lammas? Make an easy grapevine pentacle, apple candleholders, a cornhusk chain and Lammas incense as a way to celebrate the season.

02
of 10

Apple Candleholders

Apple Candleholder
Apple candleholders are a quick and simple way of decorating your altar for a fall Sabbat. Image by Patti Wigington 2007

Naturally, you’ll want to put candles on your altar to celebrate this Sabbat. Why not use vegetables and fruits symbolic of the season to make a candleholder? These easy candleholders are perfect for holding a taper-style candle.

First, you’ll want to select some firm fruits. Red apples, early acorn squash, even eggplants all work well, but apples seem to last the longest. Rinse and dry the fruit or vegetable thoroughly. Polish the outside with a soft cloth until the fruit is shiny. Stand the fruit up on its bottom, and use a knife or a corer to make a hole in the top where the stem is located. Go about halfway down into the apple so that the candle will have a sturdy base. Widen the hole until it’s the same diameter as your candle.

Pour some lemon juice into the hole and allow it to sit for ten minutes. This will prevent the apple from browning and softening too quickly. Pour out the lemon juice, dry out the hole, and insert a sprig of rosemary, basil, or other fresh herb of your choice. Finally, add the taper candle. Use a little bit of dripped wax to secure the taper in place.

 

03
of 10

Grapevine Pentacle

Grapevine Pent
Use grapevines for decoration during the harvest season. Image by Patti Wigington 2007

This is a craft which is simple to make, although it takes a little bit of patience. You'll need several grapevines of thin to medium thickness, freshly picked so they're pliable. If they've dried out, you can soften them up by soaking them overnight in a bucket of water.

Strip all the leaves and stray stems from the vines. Select your longest vine and shape it into a circle about 18" in diameter. Continue coiling the vine around the circle until you reach the end, and then tuck the end up under the other layers to hold it in place. Take your next longest vine, and repeat the process. To start each new vine, tuck one end into the existing circle, coil it around, and then tuck the end in. Repeat this until your wreath is the desired thickness—five to seven vines ought to give you a good base.

Now you'll need five pieces of grapevine that are of equal lengths, and they should each be about 2" longer than the wreath's inside diameter. These five pieces will form the star in the center of the pentacle. Take the first piece and work it into place across the center of the wreath, anchoring each end by tucking it into the outer vines of the wreath. Repeat with the other four pieces, overlapping them where needed, until you have a star in the center. Use a bit of florist's wire to secure the ends in place.

Finally, tie off a short length of florist's wire to the top of the wreath, so you can hang it on your wall or door. 

04
of 10

Cornhusk Chain

A simple cornhusk chain is a fun decoration for children to make, and looks great on an altar, your wall, or over a doorway. Patti Wigington

If you’re having a cookout and planning on eating corn on the cob, this is a great craft for using all those leftover corn husks. The fresh ones work best, but dried ones can be used if you soak them in water for ten or fifteen minutes and then pat them dry with paper towels.

Separate the husks lengthwise into strips about one inch wide. They should tear easily on their own. Form the first strip into a circle and staple it closed.

Take the second strip, loop it through the first, and staple (this is just like those paper chains you made in school when you were a child). Repeat until all the strips of husk have been added to the chain.

Once you’ve completed your chain, there are a number of things you can do with it.

As it dries, the husks will shrink and fade from green to tan, but it will still make a great Lammas decoration!

05
of 10

Lammas Rebirth Incense

GatheringHarvest_1500.jpg
Celebrate Lammas with incense that honors the harvest season. Image by WIN-Initiative/Neleman/Riser/Getty Images

By the time Lammas rolls around, it’s usually pretty hot. In some parts of the world, gardens are beginning to dry out, and the earth has gone from soft and pliable to dry and cracked. If you haven’t harvested your herbs yet for drying, now is a good time to start doing so -- in other words, pick them before they die on their own. Any fresh herb can be dried simply by picking it and tying it up in small bundles in a well-ventilated area. Once they are completely dry store them in airtight jars in a dark place.

To make your own magical Lammas incense, first determine what form you’d like to make. You can make incense with sticks and in cones, but the easiest kind uses loose ingredients, which are then burned on top of a charcoal disc or tossed into a fire. This recipe is for loose incense, but you can adapt it for stick or cone recipes.

As you mix and blend your incense, focus on the intent of your work. In this particular recipe, we’re creating an incense to use during a Lammas rite—it’s a time to celebrate the beginning of the harvest. We’re thankful for the foods we’ve grown, and for the bounty of the earth, and the knowledge that we’ll have enough to eat through the coming winter months.

You’ll need:

  • 1 part basil
  • 1/2 part cinnamon bark
  • 1 part coriander
  • 2 parts goldenrod
  • 1 part heather
  • 1/2 part rosemary
  • 2 parts Sweet Annie (you can use dried apple blossoms if you don’t have Sweet Annie)
  • 1 part yarrow

Add your ingredients to your mixing bowl one at a time. Measure carefully, and if the leaves or blossoms need to be crushed, use your mortar and pestle to do so. As you blend the herbs together, state your intent. You may find it helpful to charge your incense with an incantation, such as:

We’re thankful this day for the gift of rebirth,
Fruits and vegetables, the bounty of earth.
For the Harvest Mother with her basket and scythe,
Abundance and fertility, and the blessings of life.
We’re grateful for the gifts we carry within
And for what will become, and what has been.
A new day begins, and life circles round,
As grain is harvested from the fertile ground.
Blessings to the earth and to the gods from me,
As I will this Lammas, so it shall be.

Store your incense in a tightly sealed jar. Make sure you label it with its intent and name, as well as the date you created it. Use within three months, so that it remains charged and fresh.

 

06
of 10

Make a Berry Bracelet

BerryPicking_1500.jpg
Gather fresh berries to make a bracelet for a loved one. Image by Klaus Vedfelt/Iconica/Getty Images

In some counties in Ireland, it became traditional to celebrate Bilberry Sunday at the beginning of August. Everyone went out with buckets to gather berries, and it was custom that a big berry harvest in August meant the rest of the crops would be bountiful a few weeks later. Berry-picking was also an excuse to sneak off into the woods with a lover. Young men plaited fruit and vines into bracelets and crowns for their ladies.

Afterwards, the best berries were eaten at a big fair, complete with singing, dancing, and general merrymaking.

You can make a berry bracelet easily, if you can find firm berries that still have stalks attached to them. Ideally, if you can pick them right before you begin this project, you'll get a really nice result. It also helps if you pick berries that aren't super-juicy, or whoever wears the bracelet is going to end up with berry juice all over them.

You'll need:

  • Berries
  • A needle
  • Sturdy cotton thread

Thread the needle with the cotton thread. Run the needle through the stalks of the berries to make a bracelet. If you have other items handy, like seeds or nuts, feel free to add those into the mix as well. Give them to a loved one to wear as a Lammas token.

07
of 10

Make a Rain Barrel

Self Sufficient Households
Andrew Errington / Getty Images

For many Pagans, an important aspect of the spiritual journey is reverence and respect for the earth and all its resources. Part of this respect for the planet often includes conservation of the resources we use regularly.

By the time Lammas, or Lughnasadh, rolls around, summer is in full swing. Many areas are forced into water rationing, some face drought every year, and the crops in our gardens are beginning to look a bit brown and parched. By making a rain barrel, you can gather rain all year long, and then use it during the dry season to water your garden, wash your car, or even bathe your dog. This works best if your house has a downspout running out of a gutter, but you can still make a rain barrel if you don't have a spout—it will just take longer to fill the barrel.

Rain barrels are available commercially from many home improvement stores. However, they typically cost between $150 to $200. Here's how to make a rain barrel of your own for just the cost of supplies - and if you're thrifty, you can do it for less than $20.

Gather Your Supplies

To make a rain barrel, you'll need the following:

  • A plastic, food grade 50-gallon barrel. You can usually find these in the classified ads.
  • 3/4" C-PVC fittings - basically, you'll need a piece to run down out of the barrel, a 90-degree elbow, a length of straight pipe about 6" long, and t-connector with a spigot on top*
  • Clear PVC glue
  • 1 3/4" brass hose fitting

Connect Your Fittings

The top of your barrel, which should have at least one removable cap, is actually going to be the bottom. That means that after you put it together, you're going to flip it over, so think of the barrel as being upside down while you're working.

Attach all your fittings together so that you have a drop of about two inches out of the bottom (which is really the top), a 90-degree turn, and then a straight length of pipe that comes out beyond the rim of the barrel.

Be sure to use PVC glue so that everything stays together permanently.

Invert The Barrel

Connect the top threaded piece of pipe into the removable cap - it should have a threaded center so you can screw in a piece of 3/4" pipe with no trouble at all.

Flip the barrel over so that the pipe is now coming out at the bottom, as shown. You'll need to place your barrel on an elevated stand, because gravity is your friend - the water has to be able to flow downwards to get out of the barrel. You can use cinder blocks, or even build a table out of scrap lumber. Be sure that whatever you use is sturdy - a full 50-gallon barrel can weigh 400 pounds!

Make a Hole for Your Water Source

If you're using a downspout gutter as your water source, this part is really easy. Simply cut a hole in the top of the barrel (which used to be the bottom) large enough for you to insert your house's rain spout through.

If you don't have a downspout, and you want to simply catch rain in the barrel, you can still do this. Cut away the top of the barrel using a saw. Place a section of sturdy screen over the top of the opening, and then staple in place. You may wish to cut a frame out of the top piece that you cut off, and place that over the screen to keep it in place. The screen will keep bugs and leaves from getting into your water, but still allow rain to collect.

Ideally, the downspout is the best collection method, because all the rain that runs down your roof will end up in your barrel.

The Finishing Touches

Finally, drill a small hole near the top of the barrel. This will be in case of overflow - it will prevent excess water from sloshing out the back of the barrel where the downspout is, which is right by your house wall.

Attach a brass hose fitting at the end of the PVC pipe. When you're ready to use water out of the barrel, simply attach your hose, turn the spigot, and start spraying.

If you don't like the idea of a plain barrel sitting in your yard, you can decorate it with designs and fun symbols.

Note: Some people create multiple barrels, and then connect them all together using fittings beneath the stands. This method works well if you have a lot of space. Most people can get by with one or two barrels.

08
of 10

Make a Corn Doll

CornDoll_1500.jpg
Image by Doug Menuez/Stockbyte/Getty Images

In one of her many aspects, Brighid is known as the bride. She is a symbol of fertility and good fortune, and is seen as yet one more step in the cycle of life, death, and rebirth. Traditionally, the Brighid doll is made of woven grain such as oats or wheat. This version, however, uses corn husks.

If you make a doll at Lughnasadh, you can re-use it in six months, dressing it up in spring colors for Imbolc. This way, the Harvest Mother becomes the Spring Bride. Some traditions, however, prefer not to re-use their harvest doll, and instead choose to start fresh and new in the spring. Either way is fine.

To make this simple doll, you'll need some corn husks—and clearly, in January or February, you probably won't be able to find a lot of those growing outside. Check your grocery store's produce section to get husks. If you're using dried-out husks, soak them for a couple of hours to soften them up (fresh husks need no special preparation). You'll also need some yarn or ribbon, and a few cotton balls.

Take a strip of the husk, and fold it in half. Place two or three cotton balls in the middle, and then twist the husk, tying it with string to make a head. Leave a bit of husk in the front and back, below the head, to create a torso. Make a pair of arms for your doll by folding a couple of husks in half, and then tying it at the ends to make hands. Slip the arms between the husks that form the torso, and tie off at the waist. If you like your dolls plump, slide an extra cotton ball or two in there to give your Brighid a bit of shape.

Arrange a few more husks, upside down, around the doll's waist. Overlap them slightly, and then tie them in place with yarn—it should look like she has her skirt up over her face. After you've tied the waist, carefully fold the husks down, so now her skirt comes downwards, towards where her feet would be. Trim the hem of the skirt so it's even, and let your doll completely dry.

Once your doll has dried, you can leave her plain or give her a face and some hair (use soft yarn). Some people go all out decorating their bride doll—you can add clothing, an apron, beadwork, whatever your imagination can create.

Place your Brighid in a place of honor in your home for Imbolc, near your hearth or in the kitchen if possible. By inviting her into your home, you are welcoming Brighid and all the fertility and abundance she may bring with her.

 

09
of 10

Make Your Own Smudge Sticks

SageAndShell_1500.jpg
Image by zenaphoto/E+/Getty Images

Smudging is a great way to cleanse a sacred space, and most people use smudge sticks made of sweetgrass or sage for this purpose. Although they are available commercially—and are fairly inexpensive—it's easy to make your own if you've got herbs growing in your garden, or if there's a place nearby where you can go wildcrafting.

You'll Need

  • Scissors or garden clippers
  • Cotton string
  • Plants such as sage, mugwort, rosemarylavender, or juniper

Cut off pieces of the plants in lengths about 6 - 10 inches long. For more leafy plants, you can make the pieces shorter, but you may want to use a longer piece for a plant that has fewer leaves.

Bundle Your Herbs

Cut a length of string about five feet long. Put several branches together so that the cut ends are all together, and the leafy ends are all together. Wind the string tightly around the stems of the bundle, leaving two inches of loose string where you began. You can use any kind of herbs you like.

Although the use of wrapped smudge sticks is generally attributed to Native American cultures and practices, the burning of fragrant herbs in a ritual context is found in numerous societies throughout history. Herbs were burned in ancient Egypt, and the practice is recorded and documented in a tablet inscription that has been dated back to 1500 b.c.e. Many eastern spiritual systems, including HinduismBuddhism, and Shinto, utilize burning herbs - either loose or as compacted incense - in ritual practice. For the ancient Greeks, smudging was included in rituals to contact the dead, and often was used in tandem with ritual fasting.

Wrap the remaining length of string around the base of the branches several times to secure it. Then, gradually, work your way along the length of branches until you reach the leafy end. Return the string back up to the stems, creating a bit of a criss-cross pattern. You'll want to wind the string tightly enough that nothing gets loose, but not so tight that it cuts off pieces of the plants.

When you get back to the stems, tie the remainder of the string to the 2" loose piece you left at the beginning. Trim off any excess pieces so that the ends of your smudge stick are even.

Dry Your Smudge Sticks

Place the bundle outside or hang it up for drying. Depending on what type of herb you used, and how humid your weather is, it may take a couple of days or as much as a week to dry out. Once your smudge sticks have dried completely, you can store them in a bag or box in a dark cabinet until it's time to use them and then burn them in ritual for smudging simply by lighting one end.

Safety tip: Some plants may have toxic fumes. Do not burn a plant unless you know it is safe to do so.

Dawn Combs over at Hobby Farms has some great tips on nine different herbs you can burn as incense - and if they're safe for burning as incense, they're safe to burn in smudging ceremonies. Dawn recommends you burn your herbs - whether incense or sticks - using "a heat tolerant vessel. Traditionally this is an abalone shell with a bit of sand in the bottom. You might also use a charcoal disc beneath the herbs to keep them smoking, especially in the case of resins."

10
of 10

Corn Husk Herbal Sachet

Cornhusk Sachet
Patti Wigington

During the late summer, particularly around the Lammas season, corn is in abundance. It’s everywhere, and if you’ve ever picked fresh corn straight from the fields, you know how delicious it tastes! When you pick your own corn - or even if you buy it from your local farmer’s market - you typically have to figure out what to do with all those leftover husks. You can use them to make a corn dolly or a husk chain if you like. Another great way to use them is by making corn husk herb sachets.

You’ll Need

  • Several corn husks
  • Dried herbs of your choice
  • A hot glue gun

Not sure which herbs to use? Check out our list of Herbal Correspondences.

Weave the Husks

Trim the ends off the husks, and cut them into strips - I find that about 1/2” - 3/4” in width is the most manageable size. Weave several strips together as shown in the photo (I used five going in each direction, for a total of ten). Once you’ve created a square, use your hot glue gun to anchor the stray edges into place, so you have a nice even edge.

Add Your Herbs

Fold the square in half and glue the short sides together, creating a small pocket. Fill the pouch with herbs of your choice, and then hot glue the long open edge closed.

To give your sachet some magical mojo, select herbs based upon purpose and intent:

  • Healing: Apple blossomlavender, fennel, chamomile, sandalwood, wintergreen, peppermint
  • Money/prosperity: Bay leaf, basil, chamomile, Buckeye, myrtle, apple, sunflower, pennyroyal
  • Love: Allspice, apple blossom, catnip, lavender, clove, yarrow, marjoram, basil.
  • Strength: Oak, acorns, bay leaf, thistle, yarrow.

Once your glue has dried you can place these sachets around your house or in your drawers. The corn husks will dry naturally, and you’ll be left with scented woven packets. If you like, decorate them with a pretty ribbon, some berries, or other seasonal items.