Lughnassadh or Lammas, is one of the Greater Wiccan Sabbats and is usually celebrated on August 1st or 2nd, although occasionally on July 31st. The Celtic festival held in honour of the Sun God Lugh is traditionally held on August 7th. Some Pagans celebrate this holiday on the first Full Moon in Leo. Other names for this Sabbat include the First Harvest Festival, the Sabbat of First Fruits, August Eve, Lammastide, Harvest Home, Ceresalia (Ancient Roman in honour of the Grain Goddess Ceres), Feast of Bread, Sabbat of First Fruits, Festival of Green Corn (Native American), Feast of Cardenas, Cornucopia (Strega), Thingtide and Elembiuos. Lughnassadh is named for the Irish Sun God Lugh, and variant spellings for the holiday are Lughnasadh, Lughnasad, Lughnassad, Lughnasa or Lunasa. The most commonly used name for this Sabbat is Lammas, an Anglo-Saxon word meaning “loaf-mass”.
The Irish God Lugh is known as the “bright” or “Shining One”. He is associated with the Sun and agricultural fertility, since his foster mother died from preparing the lands of Ireland for planting. His festival is in her honour. He is a God of all skills and champion of the Tuatha De Danaan.
Lughnassadh (Lughnasadh) marks the beginning of the grain harvest. The entire preparation of grain from seed to harvest parallels the life-in-death and death-in-life aspects of the great Goddess Mother Earth.
The Lughnassadh Sabbat is a time to celebrate the first of three harvest celebrations in the Craft. It marks the middle of Summer, represents the start of the harvest cycle and relies on the early crops of ripening grain, and also any fruits and vegetables that are ready to be harvested. It is therefore greatly associated with bread, as grain is one of the first crops to be harvested. Wiccans give thanks and honour to all Gods and Goddesses of the Harvest, as well as those who represent Death and Resurrection.
This is a time when the God mysteriously begins to weaken as the Sun rises farther in the South, each day grows shorter and the nights grow longer. The Goddess watches in sorrow as She realizes that the God is dying, and yet lives on inside Her as Her child. It is in the Celtic tradition that the Goddess, in her guise as the Queen of Abundance, is honoured as the new mother who has given birth to the bounty; and the God is honoured as the God of Prosperity.
Symbols to represent the Lammas Sabbat include corn, all grains, corn dollies, sun wheels, special loaves of bread, wheat, harvesting (threshing) tools and the Full Moon. Altar decorations might include corn dollies and/or kirn babies (corn cob dolls) to symbolize the Mother Goddess of the Harvest. Other appropriate decorations include Summer flowers and grains. You might also wish to have a loaf of whole cracked wheat or multigrain bread upon the altar.
Deities associated with Lughnassadh are all Grain and Agriculture Deities, Sun Gods, Mother Goddesses and Father Gods. Particular emphasis is placed on Lugh, Demeter, Ceres, the Corn Mother and John Barleycorn (the personification of malt liquor). Key actions associated with Lammas are receiving and harvesting, honouring the Parent Deities, honouring the Sun Gods and Goddesses, as well as celebration of the First Harvest.
Activities appropriate for this time of the year are the baking of bread and wheat weaving – such as the making of Corn Dollies, or other God & Goddess symbols. Sand candles can be made to honor the Goddess and God of the sea. You may want to string Indian corn on black thread to make a necklace, and bake corn bread sticks shaped like little ears of corn for your Sabbat cakes. The Corn Dolly may be used both as a fertility amulet and as an altar centerpiece. Some bake bread in the form of a God-figure or a Sun Wheel – if you do this, be sure to use this bread in the Cakes and Ale Ceremony.
You can create a Solar Wheel or a Corn Man Wheel using a wire coat hanger, cardboard, and several ears of Indian corn complete with the husks. Here is how: bend the wire hanger into a circle keeping the hook to hang it by. Cut out a small cardboard circle to glue the tips of the ears of corn onto. You may want to create your Corn Man Wheel as a pentagram using five ears, or a Solar Wheel using eight ears to represent one ear for each Sabbat. Attach the ears of Indian corn around the perimeter of the wire circle. Wrap the husks around and glue where necessary, leave some of the husks hanging loose to fray out from the edges and make it more decorative. Where the ears of corn meet in the center, glue them together. This is where the cardboard circle comes in to use.
It is customary to consume bread or something from the First Harvest during the Lughnassadh Ritual. Other actions include the gathering of first fruits and the study of Astrology. Some Pagans symbolically throw pieces of bread into a fire during the Lammas ritual.
The celebration of Lammas is a pause to relax and open yourself to the change of the Season so that you may be one with its energies and accomplish what is intended. Visits to fields, orchards, lakes and wells are also traditional. It is considered taboo not to share your food with others.
Spellwork for prosperity, abundance and good fortune are especially appropriate now, as well as spells for connectedness, career, health and financial gain.
Colors appropriate for Lughnassadh are red, orange, gold, and yellow. Also green, citrine and gray. Candles might be golden yellow, orange, green, or light brown.
Stones to use during Lammas include yellow diamonds, aventurine, sardonyx, peridot and citrine.
Animals associated with this time are roosters and calves. Mythical creatures include the phoenix, griffins, basilisks, centaurs and speaking skulls. Plants associated with Lammas are corn, rice, wheat, rye, oats and ginseng.
Traditional herbs of the Lammas Sabbat include acacia flowers, aloes, cornstalks, cyclamen, fenugreek, frankincense, heather, hollyhock, myrtle, oak leaves, sunflower, poppies and wheat.
Incense for the Lughnassadh Sabbat Ritual might include aloes, rose, rose hips, rosemary, chamomile, passionflower, frankincense, and sandalwood.
Traditional Pagan Foods for the Lughnassadh Festival include homemade breads (wheat, oat and especially cornbread), corn, potatoes, berry pies, barley cakes, nuts, wild berries, apples, rice, roasted lamb, acorns, crab apples, summer squash, turnips, oats, all grains and all First Harvest foods. Traditional drinks are elderberry wine, ale and meadowsweet tea.
Source: Storm Wing
Lughnassadh or Lammas is the Great Fire Festival of summer’s height, marking the gathering in of the grain harvest. It is also the seed that will be grown again next Spring. Give thanks to the Earth for her gifts of food and celebrate the first glimpse of your own personal harvest and the seeds held within them. Focus on what nourishes you, feeds your spirit and brings you joy. Draw strength from your friendships and community, however briefly held. True to tradition, this is still a time for fairs, festivals and gatherings of all kinds, a time to get out and about while the weather is still good, to network, to share ideas and to keep in touch with grass roots campaigns. This is a good time to sit around the campfire, tell stories, share songs, gaze at the night sky and watch for shooting stars.
Source: Glennie Kindred