Lammas occurs in the beginning of August and is regarded as the first of the three Harvest festivals. This is the Sabbat when we gather and give thanks for the first corn or grain of the season, which includes all cereal crops such as wheat, barley, rye, and oats. ‘Lammas’ is taken from “loaf mass” and honors the first loaf of the harvesting cycle. Bread was baked from the first grain harvested and blessed by the Priestess and Priest. Other names for this celebration include Cornucopia (Italy/Latin) and Thingtide (Teutonic).
Our friends who live in the Southern Hemisphere are welcoming the first light of Spring and celebrating Imbolc.
Lammas is also referred to as Lughnasadh, or the great festival of Lugh, the Celtic Sun King and God of Light. August is his sacred month when he is celebrated through feasting, market fairs, and community gatherings. This impulse is still felt today as friends and family gather to celebrate the last days of Summer. It is a time of change and shifts when we begin slowing down in preparation for fall reflection.
Astrological Date: Sun at 15º Leo
Lammas is the first of the three Fall harvest festivals and is a time of transition (approximately August 1st). August begins with the last hurrah of the Sun’s energies in fiery Leo, as the abundance of growth receives the energy of daylight to complete its cycle of fruition. This is when we first start to harvest the fruits of our labors. A time of exuberance, passion, and romance is it any wonder we all look forward to our “summer vacations”?
As with the other cross-quarter festivals that occur on the midpoints between equinoxes and solstices, you can celebrate on the secular calendar date (in this case, August 1st) and/or check for the exact transition time and celebrate then. Many witches will hold a public celebration on the popular date and reserve their magical workings for when the Sun transitions at the midpoint of the zodiac sign.
You can find this year’s exact date >>HERE<<
Seasonal Focus: Celebration
July and August are traditionally the months when people take vacations and truly celebrate the positive things in our life. These are the lazy days of summer before school begins again. It is time to visit the beach, camp in the mountains and view the stars under a desert sky. During Lammas we break bread with our loved ones, enjoying the life and wealth that the grain harvest brings.
All things that were begun in Spring are now realized and made manifest, our first fruits of labor are brought into being.
- Altar Decorations & Symbols: Barley, Bread, Corn, and Corn Dollies, Cornucopias, Gourds, Scythe/Sickle, Sunflowers, Sun Wheels
- Animals: Calves, Crow, Pigs, Roosters, Salmon
- Colors & Candles: Bronze, Green, Gold, Light Brown, Orange, Yellow
- Crystals & Stones: Citrine, Golden Topaz, Lodestone, Moss Agate, Obsidian, Peridot, Tiger’s Eye, Yellow Aventurine
- Incense & Oils: Basil, Frankincense, Rose, Rosemary, Sandalwood
- Herbs & Flowers: Apple Leaf, Basil, Blackthorn, Clover, Goldenrod, Heather, Ivy, Marigold, Peony, Poppy, Rose/Rose Hips, Rosemary, Sunflower, Vervain, Yarrow
- Trees: Apple, Oak
Lammas Customs & Celebrations
Now the Wheel has turned and we share the fruits of our labors with the world. We recognize that the bright days of summer are coming to an end so it’s time to pause and enjoy all of life bursting around us.
- Display the bounty of the season around your home: place fruits and vegetables in decorative bowls for all to see. Display herbs in jars or hang them around the kitchen to dry for later use. Put up stalks of grain on your door to welcome your guests. Keep a vase of fresh flowers in the living room to brighten up your home (sunflowers and daisies are my favorite this time of year).
- Lammas is also known as Lughnasadh and celebrates Lugh, the artisan god of the Celts. It’s the perfect holiday to get your craft on! Sewing, knitting, metalwork, clay, painting, and more. Take pride in your creations and display it proudly for your family and friends or save the surprise and turn your crafts into Yule-tide gifts!
- Corn is prevalent at Lammas and has a wide range of uses. When the kids were little we loved to make traditional Corn Dollies. Now that they have grown I keep it simple by bunching together some ears of brightly colored corn and hanging it up for decoration.
- Likewise, wheat is also growing like crazy in the fields now. Honor the grain harvest by using wheat stocks to create sun wheels, bows, pentacles, and other symbols of Lammas. The stalks become flexible when soaked in water, but if you aren’t feeling crafty you can simply bundle them in ribbons or place them in vases.
- Bake a loaf of bread (and not in a bread machine!) Find a recipe you will enjoy and really immerse yourself in the process from start to finish. Feel the connection with cultures around the world who continue to bake their bread from scratch each day. Pause and reflect on this ancient tradition.
Lammas Foods & Recipes
Celebrate in the kitchen with seasonal foods that focus on the grains and bountiful harvests of the season, such as Barley, Berries (especially blackberries), Bread, Corn, Fresh Fruits and Vegetables, Grapes, Jam, Pies and Cobblers, and Potatoes. Drinks include Ale, Beer, Cider, Mead, Whisky & Wine.
For a simple and easy Lammas celebration, I like to start the day with berries for breakfast. You can include them in a smoothie, put some jam on toast, fold them into a pancake batter or just enjoy them fresh.
Baking bread is a tradition for the First Harvest, but remember cornbread counts, too! A hearty lunch or dinner of cornbread and chili fits the bill nicely.
Or, you can layout a full spread of fruits and vegetables from your garden (or the farmers market). The bounty of the season means that everything is available and ripe for the picking. For a true feast, invite your loved ones over and make it a potluck filled with their favorite seasonal foods.
What are some of the ways you like to celebrate this time of year? Share with us in the comments below.
Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs by Scott Cunningham
My personal Book of Shadows and the traditions of Clan RavenMyst
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