31 Jul Lammas or Lughnasadh: The First Harvest Festival
The first of August marks the first harvest festival in the Northern hemisphere; it is the end of the hay-making season and the beginning of the first wheat harvest. It is known as either Lammas or Lughnasadh (pronounced “loo-nah-sah”), and it is one of the eight sabbats of the Pagan Wheel of the Year.
The name “Lammas” comes from “Loaf-Mass”, as it was tradition in Anglo-Saxon times to bake a loaf with the first wheat of the harvest. This would then have either been presented to the church, or used in magical charms. One such charm was to break the Lammas bread into four pieces, placing or burying one at each corner of the barn to protect the gathered grain.
Many pagans refer to this festival instead as Lughnasadh, after the Celtic god Lugh, often seen as a deity of the sun; násad meaning simply “assembly”.
In terms of the Wheel of the Year, this is the point at which the Sun God begins to wane; his strength has been passed into the growing wheat over the summer, and as the crop is cut, so is his power. The growing influence is now that of the Grain Mother, the fertile Goddess of the Harvest. She will carry the seed of the Sun’s power and nurture it through the winter, so that new growth may appear in the spring.
Making bread is an excellent way to celebrate this festival; to give thanks to the earth for the harvest, to celebrate the power of the sun as it begins its waning, and to begin thinking about preparations for the colder seasons to come.
This is a time of taking stock; if there are things you meant to do this summer, you have some time still to accomplish this, but you also have the opportunity to reconsider plans, to change your course of action before the warm days of summer come to an end. It is an excellent time to give thanks for the good things in life, and to give thought and remembrance to things that have left or which are ending. Young people in particular will recognise this aspect, as of course they will soon receive their examination results and can then officially say goodbye to their old school or college.
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