Lammas 2021 – Honoring the Grain Ritual

Lammas
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Lammas falls on  August 1st each year and is a celebration of the first of the three annual harvest festivals.  Harvest time was one of the most important times for our ancestors, but this one had special significance.  A good grain harvest meant more than just bread and beer.  It meant that seed would be available to gather and store for planting the next year.   In the modern world, global supply chains have insulated us from fears that seed wouldn’t be available for future plantings; even if one area or country had a poor harvest, growers could easily buy seed from abroad to ensure future plantings.  It’s hard for most people to understand that each harvest was the only shot our ancestors had, literally.

This ritual is designed for a group and is best performed outside around a firepit or a bonfire if space and fire-safety protocols are sufficient.

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

<Our opening statement is a call to action for the participants to stop talking, gather, and prepare to begin the ritual.  Have everyone gather around the fire and be silent before proceeding.>

This circle cast, both wide and round, from the solid earth to the skies above is now a place deemed sacred ground – All are welcome, all are equal, no voice shall be silenced nor any opinion disregarded.  We are between the worlds.

<Unlike the traditional start of most rituals, this one has a blessing at the beginning.  The ritual leader should take one of the loves of bread and hold it high above their head so that all shall be able to see it and recite the statement below>

Tonight, on this glorious night, we celebrate Lammas, the first of the three great harvests.  This is the harvest of the grain, which shall be used to bake bread and brew the first beers and ales of the season.  By our actions here, we continue the ancient traditions of those who walked these lands before us.  History has told us the processes and we replicate them as best we can today.  Those families would spend long hours toiling under the hot sun to harvest, winnow, and later begin brewing, and baking.  The very first loaf was reserved for this special moment and brought to the circle where it blessed and then divided into four pieces.  At the close of the ceremony, each quarter was carefully placed in one corner of their grain storage.  It was believed that this process would offer protection against disease and infestation.  Tonight we once again honor that tradition by placing one quarter in each of the cardinal directions and praying for strength and safety from disease and hardship to those who are gathered here tonight.

<The ritual leader should then break the bread into four sections and make the following statement before placing the pieces near the quarter candles in the North, South, East and West>

“Great Gods and Goddesses’ of the harvest; we humbly offer this first loaf as a symbol of our gratitude in providing us with a bountiful harvest.  We ask that you accept our offering and in return, provide each of with with sound mind, body, and spirit throughout the rest of the year.  Blessed be!”

<Place the bread in each of the directions then return to the circle center and call the quarters.>

East

All eyes now turn to the East, from where the mysterious and invisible spirits of Air make their homes.  We’ve learned the great lesson of trust from the Air spirits as they move effortlessly among our lands and people.  We watch as trees bend and objects are lifted into the skies with no evidence of any physical action, and yet we are not afraid.  Although unpredictable, the wind is accepted as something majestic and wonderful and no one questions it’s actions. We ask for this kind of confidence in all that we do in life and not to fear that which we cannot control.  <light yellow candle>

South

Now turn to the South, where the great spirits of Fire tend their mighty forges.  The allure of the flame has always captured the thoughts of humankind as we seek to possess and control it.  Yet the wise ones know that it cannot be controlled, only cared and respected in ways that provide light, heat, and warmth to us.  Like all great sources of power, we must always be vigilant and not become distracted, or else we may find ourselves consumed and lost.  <light red candle>

West

Next we look to the West where the transcultural spirits of Water effortlessly flow to and from.  As we observe the transmutable nature of water, shifting from solid, to liquid, to gas, we remain awestruck at this humbling lesson of flexibility.  Water is timeless and unstoppable, moving and changing that which lies in its path.  It is in a constant state of change, but remains true to its basis in nature, demonstrating that adaptability is the key to longevity.  <light blue candle>

North

And lastly we look to the North where the great power of Earth thrives throughout all the seasons.  Nature provides so that we as humans may thrive, provided we do not take more than we need or hoard unnecessarily.  Our lives are dependent on the land and we must take steps to  ensure it remains viable for generations to come.  Even though some are working hard to conserve, others are not, so nature reminds us through heat waves, floods, and other natural phenomena that there are no guarantees in life other than the love of the Goddess.   <light green candle>

<Next, the Ritual Leader should instruct the group to raise their hands overhead as praises are given >

God & Goddess

Great God, Lugh, Shining One, 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, although you may show yourself in many names and in many forms, we your followers know that you will never abandon us.  We seek your everlasting 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 mother would suckle a newborn.  <light Goddess Candle>

Hail and Welcome to All!

lammas

Introduction

Welcome one and welcome all to this great celebration of Lammas and the harvest.  The solstice as passed and we are on the fringe of the dark half of the year, bit fear not, for many glorious months shall pass before the frost creeps across the land and the skies turn grey and cloudy.  Tonight we celebrate the great union between the God and the Goddess, for they have once again produced a bountiful  harvest of grain that will ensure another year of prosperity to each and all.

Music of Lammas

Each ritual we perform has certain elements that make it stand out from the others.  In some ways, this is how we remember each one and the wonderful event it commemorates.  One of our unique steps is to find a special song to help set the mood and bring those gathered together, even closer.  Tonight we have chosen a song called Harvest Night, by Eldin.  It’s hauntingly beautiful, starting softly and then gaining momentum.

Lammas & The Three Great Harvest Festivals

Our ancestors would celebrate many of the annual events in the natural world.  The Summer and Winter Solstice’s, the full moons, and other more worldly events such as harvesting.  Each year there are three great harvest festivals.  Lammas, the grain harvest is the first one.  The second is Mabon, when the fruits and storage vegetables are harvested.  The third is Samhain, when the last of the nuts, the roots, and the herbs to make medicine, tonics, and flavorings are harvested.  In modern times our harvest’s don’t match up exactly with those of our ancestors due to modern machinery and the fact that Earth’s climate is different than it was several thousand years ago, but the concept remains valid.  If any of the three harvests failed to produce, things would become difficult and survival through the winter questionable.

lammas

Honoring of the Grain at Lammas

Together we shall honor the grain for its splendid majesty.

<Ritual leader will hold up the prepared sheaf of grain high above for the ceremonial first cutting>

“Each year, in small villages across the land,  just as the morning sun was rising, everyone would gather in the corner of a grain field.  There they would cut the first sheaf by hand in great celebration.  This first cutting would winnowed and ground immediately.  One portion of the new grain would be taken to the kitchens and baked into the first bread of the season.  The remainder would be used to brew the first beers and ales of the season.  To honor this ancient tradition, we shall make our symbolic first cutting a community event. ”

<The ritual leader should carefully cut the ceremonial sheaf using a small scythe or similar cutting tool and then offer the tool and grain to the each person in the group until everyone has participated.>

“Let it be know that the ancient tradition has been honored.  We pay homage to our ancestors and all who have walked these fields before us to be present and witness the great remembrance.”

<Place the cut grain sheaf on the altar>

Together we further honor the grain by celebrating the seed and the future prosperity it provides.

<The ritual leader will hold up the bowl of loose grain high above>

“A bountiful harvest of grain meant so much more than fresh baked loaves of bread and full tankards of ale.  Abundant seed was a blessing and gave hope to everyone that there would be a future planting opportunity.  Our ancestors would carefully store and police the grain storages to ensure no disease, moisture, or fire would cause damage to this precious commodity.  To honor this tradition, we shall ceremonially spread these seeds across the earth, representing a new crop and the security that came with it.”

<The ritual leader will take a few kernels from the bowl and sprinkle them on the earth before passing the bowl to everyone in the group to do the same>

“Let it be known that the ancient tradition has been honored.  Our sight is clear and our minds focused on the importance of providing for the future, by the work of our own hands.”

<Place the bowl on the altar>

Together, this community honors the products of a bountiful harvest.  We celebrate both the bread and the beer, for the sustenance and comfort they provide.

<Ritual leader first holds up the bread high above>

“I speak to everyone gathered, but words alone cannot fully express the gratitude we have for the Gods & Goddesses to provide us with such a bounty.  Behold, for this bread symbolizes the first loaves made with the first grain of the first harvest.  From seed to stalk, harvesting and winnowing, to the gristmill, and finally to the ovens, each step has been filled with reverence and honor.  We’ve given our energies to each step in the process, from the planting, to the caring, and finally to the harvesting.  At this moment, we are rewarded with receiving energy, which shall continue throughout the long cold months of winter. ”

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

“We have given and now we shall receive”

<Ritual leader should hold a mug of beer high above>

“We think of beer and ale as recreational drinks, yet that thinking wasn’t always true.  Our ancestors depended on beer and ale to give them critical calories, which were important for survival.  We honor this ancient tradition on this night.”

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

Let us never forget those who walked before us and who, through their hardships and struggles, have paved the way for our existence.

Lammas Closing 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!

Closing the Lammas Circle

We rejoice in celebration and give high praises to the spirits of Earth.  As we look to the North, our vision is filled with land and we once again realize the never-ending power of the soil, the resilience of the plants, and the wisdom provided by the creatures of the forest. All things work harmoniously in nature and as humans, we must pledge to be part of this great system, rather than a plunderer of it. <extinguish Green candle>

Deep thoughts and wonderment fill our minds as we say farewell to the spirits of Water.  As we look to the West, we see how the different parts of the grain have similarities as the different phases of water.  Each form is unique, but as a whole they are universal in their majesty and magic.  <extinguish Blue candle>

As we turn our sights to the South and bid good night to the great spirits of Fire, we again renew our relationship with the mighty power of the flames.  Whether a tiny spark or a raging inferno, the fire teaches us the lesson of dichotomy and how one thing can have two distinct parts.  The flames create heat, light, and warmth, while the embers consume and destroy the kindling and logs that fuel them.  As we prepare to leave this circle, we may choose to scry for a moment and possibly have a revelation in the quieting flames. <extinguish Red candle>

And lastly we turn to the East, and reflect upon the events of this Lammas night and thank the spirits of Air for being present.  Tomorrow we shall watch as the sun once again rises and the cycle of time is renewed.  As the light breezes slip in among the fields still left to be harvested, we re reminded that the power of nature is always around us, watching over our progress and providing the things we need for life to thrive.  <extinguish yellow candle>

Great God Lugh, your presence is never forgotten and we thank you for sharing your energy and strength on this Lammas night, in this sacred space. <extinguish God candle>

Great Goddess, we thank you for your abundance, your wisdom and the unconditional love shared with us this night in our sacred space. Without the many gifts and blessings you provide, life would be troublesome and filled with tragic toil, so we are truly thankful for your caring and comfort.  <extinguish Goddess candle>

And lastly, we must look to those gathered within out circle, for it is a blessing to have a strong community of like-minded souls gather and honor the traditions of our ancestors.

This circle is now open, yet in our hearts it is never never broken!

Huzzah!!

Additional Reading

Visit our Rites & Rituals Page at this link

 

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