Lammas 2020 – The First Great Harvest Festival of the Season

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Lammas 2020

As our ancestors did throughout the ages, so shall we celebrate Lammas on August 1st.  This marks the first of the three great annual harvest festivals.  Our ancestors relied on a healthy grain harvest to ensure they would have bread and beer, but also to ensure seed was available for the next year to plant another crop.  Our modern life seems so far removed from this ancient tradition, that many of those actions are forgotten.  This ritual pays tribute to our ancestors and symbolically repeats some of the actions performed on Lammas.

This ritual is designed for a group and is best performed outside around a generous bonfire (bonfires just seem to make everything better)

What items you’ll need to collect for this ritual (as written)

Four quarter candles – yellow (east), red (south), green (north), blue (west)
Yellow Altar Cloth
A Small Bowl filled with winnowed grain
2 Loaves of Fresh Bread
Small sickle or scythe
Small sheaf of grain (fresh)
Seasonal Beer and Ale to share
Goddess Candle (White)
God Candle (Tall Gold candle)

Any portion of the ritual that is bracketed by <> symbols should be understood as instructional notes and not to be spoken aloud.

The Ritual

<Opening Statement – A call to action for the participants to stop talking, gather, and prepare to begin the ritual>

I cast this circle wide and round, from the earth to the heavens, now our sacred ground – All are welcome, equal, and open to share in the graciousness of the Gods and the Goddesses as it has been since the dawn of humankind.

<The ritual leader should then hold the ritual loaf high, so that all shall be able to see it and recite the statement below>

Tonight we celebrate Lammas, the first of the three great harvests.  On this night, we honor the first grain harvest, which shall be used to brew the first beers and ales of the season, and most importantly the first of many loaves of bread.  We can look back in history to the times of our ancient ancestors, who would celebrate in much the same way we are celebrating on this night.  After a long day of harvesting, brewing, and baking, the first loaf was reverently brought to the circle and broken into four pieces.  At the close of the ceremony, each piece was placed carefully in each corner of their grain storage as a protective talisman to ward off disease and infestation.  Tonight we honor that ancient tradition by placing one section in each of the cardinal directions; adding strength to this circle and those gathered within its boundaries.

<ritual leader should then break the bread and make the following statement before placing the pieces near the candles marking the directions>

“Great Gods and Goddesses; we humbly offer this first loaf of bread as an offering to show our gratitude and respect for the fruitful harvest that you have provided us with.  Please accept our offering and in return, protect each of us and our families throughout the coming winter.  Blessed be!”

<once the bread has been placed, the ritual leader should return to the circle center and the calling of the quarters shall commence>

East

From the East we are blessed with the great spirits of AIR.  Mysterious, invisible, and yet so powerful they can bend the forests, move the water, and slow the progress of all things in motion.  But they are also kind and compassionate; providing cool breezes on sweltering summer days and carrying away the smoke, smells, and dust of everyday life.  Look skyward and be thankful for their existence. <light yellow candle>

South

In the South we seek the guidance of the great spirits of FIRE.  Our eyes cannot focus on the depth and grandeur of the great forges, where the secrets of flames were nurtured and shared.  Show your respect for that which is often called both a great destroyer and great creator by humankind and be ever thankful for the greatest gift bestowed upon us.  <light red candle>

West

Next we look to the West and seek the council of the great spirits of WATER.  As the centuries have passed, great mountains have been reduced to sand and great chasms filled to form lakes and ponds.  The water spirits move with impunity and carve out their pathways anyplace they choose.  All life must adapt to the choices and directions made, but because of this, we are taught the great lesson of flexibility.  <light blue candle>

North

And finally we look to the North where the great power of EARTH spills forth in all of it’s magical splendor.  All things are possible when we put faith in nature and our trust in the Mother.  We are given all that we need to survive and thrive, but only if we work in harmony with the natural world.  When we abuse these gifts, we are often forced to live below our means as compensation.   <light green candle>

<Ritual Leader should instruct the group to raise their hands overhead>

Great God, Lugh, Warrior, Savior, Lord of both Fire and Light. Begotten Son of the Sun above; join us in our celebration this night! <light God Candle>

Great Goddess of many names and many forms, we seek your blessings on this celebration of Lammas, for we know that it is you that brings forth the grains from the seed and nurtures them as a newborn.  <light Goddess Candle>

Hail and Welcome to All!

Introduction

Welcome and Blessed Be!  Although we have just entered the dark half of the year, the summer sun is still blazing high in the sky.  The union between the God and the Goddess has once again produced the first great harvest of the season and the grains will ensure another year of prosperity to each and all.

Traditions are forged and never forgotten by those who follow the old ways.  One of those traditions is song, so before we begin, we’d like to take a moment to listen to a wonderful song from Lisa Thiel, entitled Lammas Song.  If you’d like to read the lyrics, please check out this link.

As modern day pagans, we are charged with honoring the ancient traditions of our ancestors.  We do this willingly as to remember the both the celebrations and the hardships they endured to ensure our people survived.  Each summer we cycle through the three great harvests.  The first is Lammas, the grain harvest, which comes when summer is at its height and the world is full of energy and abundance.  The second is Mabon, when summer is nearly at it’s end and the nights are beginning to feel like winter, and we harvest the fruits and storage vegetables.  The third is Samhain, when the fields are nearly bare, we gather the last of the nuts, the roots, and the herbs to make medicine, tonics, and flavorings.

Our ancestors were dependent on all three of these harvests to survive through the winter and they treated each with great respect.  During the times between harvesting, other preparations were made, but also some time was spent in thankful meditation for those gifts from the Gods and Goddesses.  This gratitude was not lost on the younger generations, who saw that all things were meaningful and important.  And although an agrarian lifestyle isn’t one we live today, we can still use them to teach our children the importance of planning, preparing, and working as a community.   Our bountiful tables require hard work and dedication, and because of that, we can now celebrate.

Lammas

Our Lammas Celebration of the Grain

Our first celebration is one of purity, as we celebrate the grain in all of its majesty.

<The ritual leader should hold up the prepared sheaf of grain for the ceremonial first cutting>

At dawn on Lammas, everyone in the village would gather at dawn in the corner of a grain field to cut the first sheaf by hand.  This first cutting would winnowed and ground immediately.  One portion would be taken to the kitchens and made into bread, while the remainder would be used to brew the first beer or ale.  As we are all gathered here together, we too shall make the first symbolic cutting a community event.  Each person shall make their presence known to their brethren and the Gods and Goddesses with this symbolic cutting.

<The leader should cut the small sheaf using a small scythe and then offer the tool and grain to the group for each participant to also make a small cutting (be extremely careful with sharp objects)>

We call out to our ancestors across the great veil so that they too shall be vigilant and present in this great ceremony.  Join us as we remember the traditions of the past in honoring the first harvest.

We further honor the grain by celebrating the seed.

<Ritual leader should hold up the bowl of loose grain>

Harvesting the grain meant so much more than baking bread and brewing ale.  It was a guarantee that there would be seed to plant in the spring and gave everyone comfort in knowing that there would be another year of life without struggle and hunger, provided they kept the storage safe.  Tonight we honor this sacred rite of passage by spreading these seeds across the land, so that they once again could provide us with another crop next year.

<The ritual leader should then take a few kernels from the bowl and sprinkle them on the earth – then pass the bowl to everyone in the group to do the same>

And finally we honor the bread and the beer.

<Ritual leader holds us the bread>

Behold, this bread symbolizes the first bread made with the grain of the first harvest.  From seed to stalk, harvesting and winnowing, to the gristmill, and finally to the ovens.  We’ve given our energies to the nurturing and caring for the grain, and now we can enjoy the fruits of our labors.

<Ritual leader should break off a piece of bread and pass the loaf to the group for everyone to partake.>

Beer and ale were a part of our ancestor’s diets in times long ago, as it provided necessary calories to sustain life, rather than just a delicious and intoxicating drink.  We honor this tradition by sharing a seasonal brew, for one and all.

<Ritual leader should pass out beer/ale or pass a large mug/chalice for each person to sample.>

Lammas Prayer

Grain Mother, we give thanks for the blessings of the harvest.  For the abundance of grain, the seed, and means to survive through the dark half of the year, we offer our eternal thanks.

We have gathered here to celebrate this gift of abundance, and to ask for guidance throughout the coming year.  We trust in the grain and its life-giving power.  We trust in the seed, to bring forth new life in the days ahead, and we trust in one another; sharing our energies, our sacred spaces, our knowledge, and our path.  Praise to the Goddess!

Blessed Be!

Lammas Bread

Closing the Lammas Circle

Great spirits of Earth; as we look to the North, we see the mighty power of the soil, the plants, and all the living things working in harmony with one another and know that this is no accident.  Through the majesty of coordiantion and creation, we are blessed with the abundance of nature, and for that we are forever thankful. <extinguish Green candle>

Great spirits of Water; as we look to the West, we encounter the majesty and magic of the power of water and are honored for it’s abundance and availability.  We show our respect by preserving the great bodies of water and keeping them clean and pure. <extinguish Blue candle>

Great spirits of Fire; as we look Southward, we are met with the great power of the flame.  As we stare into the flickering threads of red, orange, and yellow, our thoughts travel to far off lands and distant memories.  We are given the opportunity to see hidden worlds and unlock the secrets of eternity, if only we have patience. <extinguish Red candle>

Great spirits of Air; our final gaze is to the East where the constant mystery continues to enchant our thoughts and makes us smile.  We may seek to understand that which we cannot see, but knowing we shall never fully grasp that which has been created by powers beyond our comprehension.  <extinguish yellow candle>

Great God, we thank you for sharing your energy and strength on this Lammas night, in this sacred space. <extinguish God candle>

Great Goddess, you who are the center of our universe, we thank you for your abundance, your wisdom and the unconditional love shared with us this night in our sacred space. <extinguish Goddess candle>

And we finally look to one another and realize that although this circle is now open, in our hearts it is never never broken!

Huzzah!!

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