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One of the major Neo-Pagan Sabbats:

Lammas, held on AUG-01 in the
Northern Hemisphere, & FEB-01
in the Southern Hemisphere:

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wheat spike In the Wiccan and many Neo-pagan religions, practitioners observe eight seasonal days of celebration yearly. They are separated by about 6 or 7 weeks during the year. Of these, four are major Sabbats and four are minor Sabbats. Lammas (a.k.a. Lughnasadh; pronounced Loo-NAS-ah) is one of the major Sabbats.
  • In the Northern Hemisphere, Lammas follows a minor Sabbat each year, called Midsummer: the time of the summer solstice, This is the date with the shortest nighttime of the year -- typically JUN-21.

After Midsummer, by the time Lammas rolls around, the daytime interval is getting noticably shorter each day, and the nighttimes are noticably lengthening informing us of colder days ahead.

  • Lammas preceeds another minor Sabbat that is also a harvest celebration: the Fall Equinox which typically falls on or about SEP-21. This is the day when the length of the daylight and nighttime are approximately equal.

"Lammas" was derived from the Old English phrase "hlaf-maesse," which translates to "loaf mass" or "loaf festival." In Britain, the first loaves using grain from the new harvest were once baked and taken to the Church to be blessed. This custom has long been largely abandoned.

Lammas celebration

Lammas celebration
(Wikimedia Commons / Wiki Commons)

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Lammas is celebrated at the beginning of August when grain from the fields is first harvested. In Pagan times, the first grain would be blessed and often decorated in the hope of generating sympatheitic magic that would encourage the rest of the grain crops to be bountiful. 1

Lammas is a rare multi-cultural seasonal day of celebration. Alison Lesley, writing for World Religion News, said:

"One of the few holidays or festivals that is celebrated across cultures and religions is Lammas otherwise known as Lughnasadh.

  • For early Christians, and pagans, it’s the very first harvest festival of the year.

  • For Celtics and other Neopagans, the holiday gives honor to Lugh who is both the sun god and the craftsman god.

  • For early Sumerians, it is linked with the story of gods Dumuzid and Inanna and about grains association with the cycle of life and death.

  • With Greek mythology, it features the love story of grain god Adonis. ..."

"Feasting and general merrymaking through songs, arts and crafts are observed by many Wiccans or pagans today. Certain communities still bring their bread and harvests to church for blessings. Many believed that placing pieces of bread around the corners of the barn will ensure a good harvest for next year. Some also decorate their homes using fresh produce and farming tools. Others hold events showcase individual talents on this day." 2

An article in the Pagan/Wiccan section of the About Religion web site discusses differences between olden times and present-day practices:

"In our modern world, it's often easy to forget the trials and tribulations our ancestors had to endure. For us, if we need a loaf of bread, we simply drive over to the local grocery store and buy a few bags of prepackaged bread. If we run out, it's no big deal, we just go and get more. When our ancestors lived, hundreds and thousands of years ago, the harvesting and processing of grain was crucial. If crops were left in the fields too long, or the bread not baked in time, families could starve. Taking care of one's crops meant the difference between life and death.

By celebrating Lammas as a harvest holiday, we honor our ancestors and the hard work they must have had to do in order to survive. This is a good time to give thanks for the abundance we have in our lives, and to be grateful for the food on our tables. Lammas is a time of transformation, of rebirth and new beginnings." 3

Erin picks up the same theme on the Wicca Spirituality web site:

"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." 4

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Lindsay Carricarte, writing for the Elephant Journal, said:

"Lammas is a time for us to put our hands in the Earth in a very figurative sense. We can do this by consciously attending to what’s in our spirit-soil, visualizing ourselves harvesting and collecting what it was that we planted. Or we can do something more literal and cathartic by gathering our physical harvests and celebrating the growth of the year. these may be in the form of our children, getting bigger by the day. Business ventures, growing incrementally, even if only in the intentions and plans we’re setting. Relationships, maturing like ripe fruit. Our friendships, deepening with time. Our own personal growth and efforts towards deepening our spiritual connection and self realization." 5

The Lammas celebration in the year 2016 is somewhat special, because it is followed on AUG-02 by a new moon. This is widely believed to be a time of new beginnings: the optimum time to start new projects.

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "Lammas - Bread Matic," Patheos, 2015-JUL-27, at: http://www.patheos.com/
  2. Alison Lesley, "Today Christians and Wiccans Celebrate Lammas/Lughnasadh," World Religion News, 2016-AUG-01, at: http://www.worldreligionnews.com/
  3. "Lammas History: Welcoming the Harvest," About Religion, 2016, at: http://paganwiccan.about.com/
  4. Erin Dragonsong, "Lammas: Divine Teamwork," Wicca Spirituality, 2016, at: http://www.wicca-spirituality.com/
  5. Lindsay Carricarte, "Celebrating Lammas: What will you Reap this Year?," Elephant Journal, 2016-JUL-27, at: http://www.elephantjournal.com/

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How you might have arrived here:

Site navigation: Home page > World religions > Wicca > Wiccan sabbats > here

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Copyright © 2016 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Original posting: 2016-JUL-02
Latest update : 2016-JUL-02
Author: B.A. Robinson

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