With July drawing to a close, summer is half over and we are fast approaching my favorite season: Fall! So, today I thought we could discuss the subject of harvest festivals and Lammas or Lughnasadh in particular which falls of the 1st of August. This is the first of three Sabbaths observed by Wiccans and other Neo-Pagans that celebrate the beginning of the Harvest and the end to the growing season. Lammas/Lughnasadh is the early harvest festival, Mabon (September 21) celebrates the full bounty of the Harvest and Samhain or Halloween marks the end of the harvest season and the beginning of the dark half of the year. Samhain is also considered the Wiccan and Pagan New Year and in Voodoo Fet Ghede which falls of the same date is also considered the New Year. While I do not follow Wicca and do not consider myself Pagan, as a spiritually inclined person, I do understand the importance of being in harmony with the seasons of the year, although admittedly, Autumn is by far my favorite and my energy and happiness levels surge this time of year!
All ancient cultures and societies lived their lives according to the seasons of the year. The ancient Celts were no exception. As an agrarian society, their festivals and celebrations coincided with import periods of sewing crops and harvesting. There was also a plethora of rituals to ensure plentiful crops and to give thanks for a bountiful harvest. Lughnasadh marked the beginning of the harvest season and was seen as a joyful time when farmers would reap the rewards of their efforts and also the beginning of a period of intense labor require to bring in the harvest. These traditions survived into modern times in the British Isles in the form of an observance called Loaf Mass, which popularly became known as Lammas. On the 1st of August, country dwellers would make a loaf of bread out of freshly harvested wheat and bring it to the local church to be blessed and then shared among friends and neighbors. Churches would also ring bells to welcome in the harvest season. It was a time of celebration and a kick off to the fall season.
There are many ways to celebrate Lammas and to ring in the harvest season and the beginning of autumn. The observance of Lammas tends to be highly individual. I have a Pagan friend who simply sits outside in nature and eats sunflower or pumpkin seeds while bathing in the energy of the day. In accordance with the British tradition, I bake a loaf of bread and leave it on my altar as an offering to my ancestors and saints. I also harvest flowers on this day from my garden to be burnt as offerings at my annual Halloween celebration. Observing Lammas can be as simple as taking a few moments to walk outside and be in harmony with the changing seasons and recognizing the importance of the Earth in providing life sustaining crops, a reality which people often forget in this modern world.
I hope you have enjoyed this post and that you are having an amazing summer or winter for my friends in the Southern Hemisphere. As always I wish you peace, happiness and abundant blessings!