Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Some thoughts about Lammas

I like to try to post about different holidays on the Wheel of the Year and how they speak to me, how I am moved by them.  Some of them are "easy" for me; they're really obvious, instinctive; it's like I've always known them in my soul, as if they've spoken to me from birth.  Some of them have spoken to me from birth -- Beltane, Samhain, Winter Solstice / Yule.  Others are more subtle, and it has taken time, as I've grown into my relationship with the rhythm of the seasons, for me to grow into my relationship with them; but I still love them.  Other holidays or way-points on the Wheel of the Year just plain challenge me, perhaps as what's happening in nature at that time of year just plain challenges me. 

Lammas is interesting for me for a bunch of reasons.  It's my former Coven's, and now my Tradition's, anniversary.  It's the time when the days start getting darker, faster, but when there's also an end in sight to July's heat waves here in the Mid-Atlantic.  Wherever I've lived, I've loved discovering what's in season locally at Lammas.  (One week after Lammas 2008, I moved to Seattle and ate Rainier cherries for the first time.  Wow.) 

This year for Lammas, I thought I'd share some of what Roses, Too! Coven has written over the years in our newsletter and celebration invitations.

About Lammas: 

  • The cross-quarter days (Lammas, Samhain, Brigid, Beltane) mark turning points in the year when the days get shorter or longer more quickly or more slowly. Since Litha, or Summer Solstice, the long days of summer have slowly been getting shorter. When Lammas comes at the beginning of August, the days start getting shorter more quickly. This may be a sad thing for those who love summer, but a relief for those waiting for the end of sticky heat!  
  • Lammas is a time of harvesting, of evaluating what we have harvested and what we hope to harvest.  The days start growing shorter, faster, as we feel the turn of the year’s wheel towards Fall.  
  • Summer Solstice was the longest day of the year -- the day with the most hours of daylight in a 24-hour period.  From Summer Solstice on, the days begin to get shorter, but at first the change is gradual.  At Lammas, the change comes more quickly and is more dramatic, and we can notice more easily how the balance of light and dark changes.  
  • Lammas is the first of three harvest Sabbats we celebrate.  This time of year marks the beginning of the harvest, of storing against the winter.  Gardens are going crazy, and we rejoice in the abundance around us.  It's still easy to see the Goddess as life-giving Mother.  But the harvest is still uncertain.  Severe weather, storms or drought, can still destroy crops.  And when we successfully bring in the harvest, we also see the face of the Goddess as Reaper -- She Who Cuts the Grain.  In Harvest is the death that allows life to continue: seeds for next year's crops, food for the winter.  Some traditions celebrate Lammas/Lughnasadh as the wake of the Sun God Lugh, whose sacrifice at Summer Solstice is the death that allows the cycle of both animal and plant life to continue. 

Ritual: Cornbread!

In circle at Lammas, we break cornbread together, sharing the joys and sorrows of what we have reaped in the past year and our hopes for the harvests to come.  We ask ourselves, "What have I harvested so far this year?  What do I hope to harvest?"

Potluck theme: Local Food

Lammas is the “loaf-mass,” the ancient Celtic celebration of the harvest of grain. We live in a world full of global networks that ship produce to us from all over the world. In the USA we have access to a stunning diversity of fruits out of season.

This Lammas we encourage everyone to look for foods that are locally grown, to reconnect with the seasons of the places where we live. What is being harvested near here right now? What will you harvest?

(And don’t forget the protein!)

So, dear reader, my query to you is: 

What does Lammas mean to you?  
  • What is happening in nature around you?  
  • What have you harvested so far this year in your life, literally and metaphorically?  What do you hope to harvest yet?  
  • What foods are local to where you live?  What grows near you?  If you live in the city, what are urban gardeners growing? 


Judielaine said...

I've Seasonal Affective Disorder and have become very aware of how i plan my time and my year in relation to the turning of the year. Lammas is bitter sweet for me, as it seems i am often just getting in the productive swing of things -- the harvest metaphor is so accurate. All the work done in the dark of the early part of the year, the planning in the spring -- i'm engaged and doing by Lammas! Momentum has built up, and i look forward to a long productive quarter between now and Samhain.

The illusion is that i am producing at this time and "not doing anything" in those dark months. It's tempting to dread them, but i've learned there's a great productive power in the muted energy and rest that the SAD depression demands of me in the winter.

(Right now working very long days, so i hope this is clear -- need to return to application testing!)

Laura Anderson said...

To be honest, I don't follow the holidays as they relate to harvest. It's just not a part of my path.

That said, Lughnasadh is one of my favorite holidays ever. I remember and honor the sacrifice of Tailtiu, my patron god's foster mother.

The most important thing about Lughnasadh for me is that it's a community day. In Ireland, it was a massive festival. It was the time legal issues was discussed, too. If it related to community, it was important on this day.

I celebrate now by honoring the legal issues: my husband and I are having our wedding ceremony on Lughansadh this year, and we'll celebrate our anniversary on Lughnasadh every year. And I'll also, this year, be able to get together with my "not family" (folks who are like family but aren't actually) for a major party at the reception. It's all about the community.

Alyss said...

I am in the process of thinking about this very topic for my own blog (in which I post at full and new moons, as well as quaters and cross quarter days - and sometimes other times too :) I have one post in my archives from this time last year that is worth a read... the pictures are great, too.

I call this holiday August Eve because I do not follow a particular tradition that a name comes out of and prefer a name in my own language. Lammas and Lughnasadh are just too difficult to say considering how little meaning the names have to me. I like the metaphor of it as the first harvest but more resonant to me is that it is a holiday to celebrate the God energies. It is time to celebrate the hot, dry, active yang of of the world. It is a time for berry picking and camping and games and contests. It is a time for grilling over a fire and staying up late being loud - and possibly drunken.

It is also a time to explictly recognize the sacrifice a loving God gives for the renewal of his beloved Goddess and the creation that comes from their joining. In a blog post last summer I quoted a Robert Frost poem and talked about my beliefs around this idea.

Essentially, as May Day is the epitome of Mother energies so August Eve is the epitome of Father energies. (Side track - Halloween is the epitome of Crone energies and February First the epitome of Maiden Warrior energies... never thought of that before...) It is a time to celebrate all that is Manly And Good in the world.

sta┼Ťa said...

Judielaine -- yes, this whole dominant-culture myth that what happens in the dark time of the year doesn't "count" or isn't "real." When in fact, it's needful and necessary for the more obvious productivity of the rest of the year.

For me, when I started tracking what's happening with daylight and darkness with the Wheel of the Year, it made a huge difference in terms of both my mental attitude and also how I felt about the approaching fall and winter. I've often wondered if that makes a difference for folks with Seasonal Affective Disorder, as well.

I think what you wrote makes sense! Hope testing worked out well. :) Thanks for your comment.

Laura, different traditions, different paths... :)

It sounds like your wedding was wonderful. Congrats and blessed be! And thanks for sharing your comment.

Yes, we wanted our wedding to be all about community, too. Beltane / May Day was a day that many people in our family and beloved community had in common -- Pagan, union / labor, college, European cultural, and more -- plus it was on a Saturday that year. We couldn't resist the lure (and honestly, we didn't try very hard), even though we knew it would be a scheduling conflict for a bunch of folks.

Alyss, "August Eve" makes a lot of sense to me for you. Mmmm, thanks for sharing your comment.

Thank you, all three of you, for your comments. Such richness!