In our modern world, it is very easy to forget the great struggles our ancestors endured in order to survive. The harvesting of grain was crucial. Caring for one's crops meant the difference between life and death. By celebrating Lammas on or around August 1, we honor the land that has given us such abundance. This is a time of transformation, rebirth, and new beginnings. Now is the time when we begin to store the things that will sustain us through the dark winter months ahead.
Lammas is the time when we start to realize that the energy of summer is slowly beginning to ebb. It is the last of the Celtic fire festivals in the Wheel of the Year. These festivals embody the natural journey of life. Whether human, plant or animal, the life cycle continues.
Lammas, also known as Lughnasadh, was celebrated in the British Isles in ancient times. It was considered to be the midpoint between the summer solstice and the autumn equinox. Communities gathered and performed pageants and dramatic performances. They would feast 0n the first of the harvest's corn. Celebrations usually lasted about two weeks and included competitions such as the long jump, spear throwing, archery, wrestling, swimming and horse racing.
Lammas also has a strong connection to sacrifice. In British folklore, John Barleycorn, the "sacrificial king', was cut down in the field and transformed into bread and beer. Sacrifices were offered to thank the gods for the first harvest and to guarantee abundance for the year.
On a personal level, as we are walking the Wheel of the year, we have planted seeds, started projects, and established dreams and goals. As we start to see these beginning to bloom in our lives, we experience the first harvest. Although the harvest is often obvious, it can be a surprise. When we first embark upon a project or goal, we usually possess great energy. But it is easy to get distracted or discouraged when things seem to be moving too slowly or in a frightening way. At Lammas, we reaffirm our focus and initiate a period of growth.