A Blessed First Harvest

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TWH — This weekend and next, many modern Pagans, Heathens and polytheists are observing the summer festival of Lughnasadh, also called Lammas, Lughnassa, and Harvest Home. Typically celebrated on Aug. 1, Lughnasadh is one of the yearly fire festivals and marks the first of three harvest celebrations. It traditionally honors Lugh, the Celtic god of light and many talents, and his foster-mother, Tailtiu.

In addition, the weekend brings the Ásatrú festival of first fruits called Freyfaxi. Both celebrations are celebrated with feasting, songs, games, thanksgiving and the reaping of the first fruits and grains of the season.

[By Shree Krishna Dhital via Wikimedia Commons]

[By Shree Krishna Dhital via Wikimedia Commons]

There are many other late summer religious and secular holidays around the world, some of which are related to the harvest and some are not. In Tibetan Buddhism, for example, followers will be celebrating Choekhor Duechen Aug. 4. The day marks the time when “the Buddha Shakyamuni first taught the four noble truths in Sarnath, India, and first turned the wheel of the dharma.”  The Order of the Black Madonna, based in California, hosts a number of feast days in August, including an annual dinner in mid-August to honor the Queenship of Mary.

In the Southern Hemisphere, Pagans, Heathens and polytheists are readying for Imbolc, and other holidays focused on late winter and the coming potential of spring.

This year, the new moon arrives Aug. 2, and the full moon Aug. 18.

Here are a few quotes about the seasonal celebration:

“This time of year is marked by the burning rays brought down by the Dog Star Sirius, signaling the scorching heat that can come during the “dog days” of summer. The same light that provided nourishment for the green world now parches the earth. This is the last gasping breath of summer, whose days have grown steadily shorter since the solstice. The dark god of the Wildwood, leader of the Wild Hunt comes to claim his throne. The light god of the green that has ruled this half of the year is sacrificed to ensure the cycle continues. This is Lammastide.” – Coby Michael Smith, Lugh, Lucifer and the First Harvest.

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“For the vegan Pagan, Lammas presents an opportunity to celebrate the long-standing blessing of plant-based foods. And surely the Queen of these foods is bread. The Hebrew testaments canonized by Judaism, Christianity, and Islam mention the connection between women and the creation of sacred cakes. Of course in these documents, the mention is a disgruntled and disapproving one. But the pagan religions carry forth innumerable references to sacred loaves, or ‘cakes and ale.’ Liquor, incidentally, is another use for these sacred grains, and is also associated with numerous goddesses, like Cerridwen and Bridget. And most of us in Greco-Roman influenced cultures know Demeter as a goddess of the grain.” – Leslie J. Lindor, Lammas, The Ancient Heritage of Grains

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“Our life stories are not blockages or burdens we must repress, cut away or transcend; they are the very life-blood, our teachers and guides, on our journey of healing and transformation. We are meant to harvest and ingest the core lessons held within our stories, and then, and only then, will our stories be done with us …This week, in the spirit of Lammas, the pagan sabbat of the early harvest, spend some time in personal reflection, considering the parts of your life story that are ripe and ready for harvesting.” – Karen Clark, Lammas Pathwork, Harvesting Your Life Stories

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“On Lammas day in 1940 witches gathered in the New Forest to raise a ‘cone of power’ to prevent Hitler’s troops invading England. The assembly included Gerald Gardner and Old Dorothy Clutterbuck and several other renowned witches. Traditionally Lammas is celebrated by taking a spiral path to the summit of a Lammas hill such as Silbury Hill or Glastonbury Tor […] When harvesting, farmers will often leave the last stand of corn as it contains the spirit of the crop. In some parts of the country this will be cut by ritually throwing sickles. The corn would then be used to decorate the farmhouse for ‘Harvest Home,’ and be made into a corn dolly to protect the home and guarantee the crops for the next season. ” – Museum of Witchcraft and Magick, Lammas Windows

[Photo Courtesy Museum of Witchcraft and Magick Lammas Windows]

Lammas Decorating Ideas [Photo Courtesy Museum of Witchcraft and Magick Lammas Windows]

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“It is turning darker sooner, slowly, little by little. The lengthening shadows are appearing as a sign that the nights will be winning once again, as the Wheel of the Year turns. As twilight appears it is rife with legends of the darker ones becoming more and more prominent […] The Witches of the past learned their magic from the fairies, meeting them in the woodlands and fairy mounds that ordinary people avoided. Given herbs, potions, and the secrets of the Craft. In the woodlands, following a path deep into the heart of the greenwood.” – Danette Wilson, Outside the Circle: Dark Spirits of Lammas.

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“Traditionally Lammas (or Lughnasadh) is the time of the first harvest, and this is a time to celebrate the abundance in your life – friends and family, physically, creatively, or spiritually. Take time to give thanks for what you have, and consider what you can give back to the world.” – Circle Sanctuary

A very blessed first harvest to all of our friends, family and readers celebrating at this time!