The sun is shining on the wheat in the fields and the tractors are beggining their race against the weather to bring in the harvest. Which means it is soon Lammas, also known as Lughnasadh, the ancient celtic festival celebrating the first harvest of the wheel of the year. Or as we call it the noisy festival!
If you live in the countryside like I do you will know that this time of year the peace and quiet of nature is gone as the hustle and bustle of the farmers trying to bring in the harvest is continous. We frequently get woken up by the tractors working hard throughout the night. It is not difficult to imagine how in the days of yore it was all hands to the muster as the harvest needed to be brought home.
Which, I think at least, is why Lammas is such a big celebration in celtic culture. A successful harvest meant survival. It was the community working together to achieve something that would benefit all. Heck! Even wars were put on hold so the soilders could go home and help bring in the harvest. So it’s not surprising that this festival is all about gratitude, harvest and community. And as the wheat harvest becomes bread or beer this is also a festival of transformation too.
But how to celebrate it when the majority of us no longer live in big farming communites? Well I am glad you asked because there are many ways you can connect with the energy of Lammas no matter where you are.
symbols of lammas
Symbolism of Lammas: The first harvest, abundance, fullness of a life well lived, gratitude, transformation, community, grain harvest, games, bread
Date of Lammas: Lammas is celebrated on the 1st August
Symbols of Lammas: Wheat, grain, John Barleycorn, Corndollies, bread (shaped like a wheatsheaf).
Colors: Gold, yellow, brown, dark oranges,
Foods: Bread, porridge, beer, oats, rye bread, honey and honey comb
Herbs and flowers : Meadow sweer, Mint, Sunflower, Marigolds, Poppies, cornflowers, chamomile, Yarrow, Vervain,
Animals: Bees,Bats, Calves, Hawks, Hedgehogs, Horses, Ravens, Crows,
Goddesses: The Grain Mother, Demeter, Macha, Rhianonn, Harvest Queen, Frigg, Tailtu,
Gods: Lugh, John Barleycorn, Llew of the Ready Hand, Odin, Dionysus, Adonis, Attis, Mabon, Osiris
- Grind your own flour- it is at least a centuary since many of us have had to make our own flour. It is a humbling process to try. Make sure you wash and dry your wheat well. You can do this with a pestle and morter. It WILL take a long time to make enough for a loaf. Lots of time to meditate on what you can be grateful for.
- Bake your own bread- the traditional Lammas loaf is made in the shape of a wheatsheaf. Personally mine never looks like it but I am sure you Delia Smiths out there can make a better job of it than I (See my instagram for a giggle !)
- Lammas games- The lammas games is a long standing tradition in Ireland supossedly dating back to the time of Lugh. You can find our more about it in my ebook Undertanding Lammas. Today it is basically similar to a school sports day where everyone participates in competative games like egg and spoon races. Great fun to gather the tribes and have a big picnic!
- Feast! – This is a harvest festival and harvest means foooood! Gather your community and have a harvest feast to celebrate the abundance you have in your life.
- Gratitude – Apart from bread nothing says lammas as much as a gratitude. Make a gratitude list of everything you have to be thankful for and look at it daily for a month!
- Gathering seeds – Not all plants are ready for this but some are ready at Lammas. Gather them and keep them for the next years spring planting. So the circle continues!
- Craft- this festival is associated with craftmanship due to the God Lugh. So get crafty with your favourite..er..well..craft !
Take three pieces of wheat and cross the wheat ends as though you are starting a plait (Soaking the wheat in water for a while before you begin your craft can help them have more suppleness, making them easier to work with.)
Then plait your wheat in the same way you would plait hair, bending the wheat stems over each other to make your braid.
Keep plaiting along your wheat, leaving a section of each stem at the end so you will be able to tie your corn dolly.
Curl the end of you your plait around to the wheat heads and use a piece of raffia (or string) to tie it in place. Cut the plain ends of your wheat to neaten them and then add a ribbon to decorate.
I wish you a blessed Lammas and a bountiful harvest