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Celebrating Lammas

Food for Thought

Lammas is a festival of regrets and farewells, of harvest and preserves. Reflect on these topics alone in the privacy of your journal or share them with others around a fire. Lughnasad is one of the great Celtic fire-festivals, so if at all possible, have your feast around a bonfire. While you’re sitting around the fire, you might want to tell stories. Look up the myths of any of the grain Gods and Goddesses mentioned above and try re-telling them in your own words.

Regrets: Think of the things you meant to do this summer or this year that are not coming to fruition. You can project your regrets onto natural objects like pine cones and throw them into the fire, releasing them. Or you can write them on dried corn husks (as suggested by Nancy Brady Cunningham in Feeding the Spirit) or on a piece of paper and burn them.

Farewells: What is passing from your life? What is over? Say good-bye to it. As with regrets, you can find visual symbols and throw them into the fire, the lake or the ocean. You can also bury them in the ground, perhaps in the form of bulbs which will manifest in a new form in spring.

Harvest: What have you harvested this year? What seeds have your planted that are sprouting? Find a visual way to represent these, perhaps creating a decoration in your house or altar which represents the harvest to you. Or you could make a corn dolly or learn to weave wheat. Look for classes in your area which can teach you how to weave wheat into wall pieces, which were made by early grain farmers as a resting place for the harvest spirits.

Preserves: This is also a good time for making preserves, either literally or symbolically. As you turn the summer’s fruit into jams, jellies and chutneys for winter, think about the fruits that you have gathered this year and how you can hold onto them. How can you keep them sweet in the store of your memory?

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A Solitary Ritual for Lughnasadh

From the Care2 group “Witchy Cooking and More”

Lughnasadh is the first harvest festival and most rituals all focus on the abundance of the harvest.  No one ever seems to speculate what the ritual would look like in a poor year year.  Is it exactly the same?  Part of acknowledging the turning of the wheel is realizing that years are different, some years are years of plenty and others are lean years where we are thankful that we still have our seed corn, so to speak.

Remember that when each tree dies
a new acorn has already been planted
and will soon begin to sprout through to the Sun

Remember that we harvest
the tears as well as the laughter,
the pain along with the joy

Remember that in the end we harvest more, sometimes,
from our supposed losses
than we do from what we once thought gains

Remember that our lives on this plane
are like flames
each flame flickers in its cycles

Remember that whatever this life throws our way
we should be humble enough to know our weaknesses,
but not so humble that we forget our strengths,

Remember to rejoice
For it is only here on this earthly plane that
our fire burns brightly enough to warm the heart of another.

Poem by Ashley Ravenwood, with revisions

Prayer for the Grain

Fields of gold,
waves of grain,
the summer comes to a close.
The harvest is ready,
ripe for threshing,
as the sun fades into autumn.
Flour will be milled,
bread will be baked,
and we shall eat for another winter.

Fairest of the months, ripe Summer’s Queen

The hey-day of the year

With robes that gleam with sunny sheen

Sweet August doth appear

R.C. Miller.

Honey Mead/Horilka (For Lammas)

  • 1 gallon of water
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • A sprig of saffron
  • 2-1/2 lbs. of honey
  • 1/2 cake yeast
  • 2 tsp ginger
  • 5 whole cloves
  • 2 capfuls rosewater
  • 12 oz. fruit or juice

Bring water to a slow boil with all of the herbs so that a tea is formed.  Add honey until dissolved, the add fruit or juice.  Cover tightly and boil for about 15 min.  Cool to lukewarm and add yeast dissolved in warm water.  Cover with towel for 2 days before straining and bottling.

This may need to be aired periodically to prevent pressure build-up so screw top bottles are preferrable.  A fermentation lock may be purchased from a distributor of home brewing supplies and they eliminate the need for airing, or a balloon may be fastened over the bottle neck to all excess pressure to be released.

To make Horilka, a Polish vodka mead, decrease your water to 2 cups, delete the yeast, and decrease your honey to 1 pound.  You will also need to add the vodka after the fruit juice and simmer for about 30 minutes, covered tightly.  Let cool completely and bottle.  Horilka will not ferment as quickly as mead, and does not need to be aired.  It may also be drunk immediately, but is excellent after 6 months of aging.  You may retain your fruits to make fruit conserves of jams.

From “A Victorian Grimoire” by Patricia Telesco