Lammas: Divine Teamwork
Silver Chalice E-Zine: Wiccan Sabbats & Esbats
The current celebration in the Wiccan Wheel of the Year is Lammas. Lammas (also known as Lughnasadh and August Eve) is a time of ripeness, a time of fruitfulness. The gardens are producing madly; the first grains have ripened and been harvested.
Like all harvest festivals, this is a time to give thanks for the gifts of the Divine. It's also a time when we celebrate our skills.
Lammas in History
This Wiccan Sabbat's name comes from the Anglo Saxon festival called hlaefmass -- that is, in modern English, loaf festival. In the Wicca calendar Lammas (pronounced LAM-mass) is celebrated on August 1st north of the equator, and February 1 in the Southern Hemisphere.
On this day, the grain harvest would be complete, and bread made from the new flour.
The product of our own labour comes together with the gifts of the Goddess and God, to provide us with food, and life.
Celebrating Our Daily Bread
This holy day is an especially important event in the lives of people who live off the land ... Pagan, Christian, or otherwise.
Grains have always been a staple food; they meant the difference between a healthy winter and a slow death.
Christians would bring their first loaves to the church, sometimes to be used as the sacramental offering, and the Church would bless the fields on Lammas day.
Pagans celebrate Lammas by thanking the grain God and Earth Goddess, by feasting, and by weaving icons out of the stalks: corn dollies or cornucopia (horns of plenty).
Lammas: The Forgotten Wiccan Sabbat
Ironically, today this is probably the least-honoured Wiccan festival.
As we've become industrialized, harvest celebrations have all but been forgotten. Our daily bread comes not from the bounteous fields, nor gifted of the generosity of the Earth Goddess and the Corn God, but bought plastic-wrapped in bulk at a supermarket.
Yet it is no less vital to us today than to our foremothers and forefathers.
In fact, a celebration of Lammas could be one of the most important Pagan or Wiccan rituals to rediscover!
As global food production teeters on its delicate framework of agribusiness, cheap oil, chemical pesticides and fertilizers, nuclear irradiation, and now genetically-engineered nonreproductive seeds -- not to mention climate change -- we would benefit by remembering just how crucial the farmers' harvests are to our continued well-being.
At this turn of the Wiccan Wheel of the Year, we celebrate not only the generous bounty of our Mother Earth, but the fruit of our own labour. We honour our strength, our skill, and our vision which allow us to produce a harvest of abundance for ourselves, our families, and our communities.
Lammas is also known as Lughnasadh. Lughnasadh (pronounced LOO[d]-nass-ah) is the holy day dedicated to the Irish god Lugh. Lugh is a solar deity, but he is also the god of craft and skill. So at this Wiccan Sabbat we honour the gifts of the Sun, as well as of our own labour.
The pace of life on Earth seems to be increasing for everyone. In this frenetic rush, it is more important than ever to take time to remember the gifts we receive. We are blessed by immeasurable support all around us. Things are available that our ancestors could never have dreamt.
A friend of mine once pointed out that even an ordinary person in the modern world lives with a fleet of servants catering to our needs. Appliances do the bulk of our hard work. Heat and water and light are delivered to our homes whenever we want them. Food is prepared for us so that there is little we must do other than heat it.
No longer do we spend infinite hours washing clothes by hand, weaving cloth to sew the clothes, plowing fields and weeding crops, tending livestock, growing foods and medicines, chopping and hauling wood, pumping and carrying water, harvesting and grinding wheat to make bread with our own hands…. Nowadays, if we do these things it is by choice, not necessity.
In the moments that I truly grasp this, I am overwhelmed with gratitude! The abundant generosity of the Divine is awe-inspiring.
Still, life is hard, and perhaps getting harder. Sometimes it's difficult to come to a thanks-giving in your heart, when what you are feeling is lack or grief or struggle or despair. How do you do it?
Sometimes it helps to remember that you are not doing it all by yourself.
In Partnership with the Gods
There is a special aspect of Lammas that sets it apart from the other Wiccan Rituals that celebrate harvest, and preparing for winter.
Lammas is a celebration of the partnership that exists between humans and the Divine.
We plant the seed, tend the fields, harvest and mill the grain, and bake the loaf. But Who is it that makes the seed? Who makes it grow and ripen into a food that can nourish us?
We are in this together! This is what Lammas reminds us.
And this reminder goes for everything we do. With a limited 3-dimensional perspective, we think we are doing things all by our lonesome. But with every breath, literally, the Divine is helping.
Who keeps air pumping in and out of your lungs, while you toil? Who keeps your heart beating, turns complex molecules from that lunchtime pizza into energy? For that matter, Who created you with eyes and thumbs and brain and skills to do the things you do?
As mystics have proclaimed throughout the ages:
We do nothing.
It is all the Divine acting through us that accomplishes everything.
Lammas is an opportunity to come back into alignment with this basic spiritual truth. Lammas celebrates the skills we've been given, and we use them to care for ourselves, our loved ones, and the world.
We celebrate the abundant generosity of the One who gives us everything.
Working together, you and the Divine, is what makes the world work!
Having a sense of this real partnership feels like being absolutely blessed. You are not in this alone!
Not only is the Divine in it with you, but you are indispensable to the Divine, too! She needs you as much as you need Her.
If that isn't a cause for thanks-giving, I don't know what would be!
With Bright Blessings,
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