The Sabbat of Lammas




'Now Autumn's fire burns slowly along the woods,

And day by day the dead leaves fall and melt,

And night by night the monitory blast

Wails in the key-hole, telling how it pass'd

O'er empty fields, or upland solitudes,

Or grim, wide wave, and now the power is felt

Of melancholy, tenderer in it's moods

Than any joy indulgent summer dealt.'


William Cunningham


VI. LUGHNASADH (AUGUST 1)

A. HISTORY
Lughnasadh (pronounced `loo-nus-uh') means the commemoration of Lugh. He was a fire- and light-god of the Baal/Hercules type. His name may be from the same root as the Latin "Lux", meaning light (which also gives us Lucifer, `the light bringer"). In mythology, the historical replacing of one god by a later form is often remembered as the killing, blinding or emasculation of the older by the younger, while the essential continuity is acknowledged by making the younger into the son or grandson of the elder.


In Irish legends, Lugh was the younger, superior god, replacing his grandfather, Balor. Lugh is also the type of god who undergoes death and rebirth in a sacrificial mating with the Goddess. Lugh was associated in Anglo-Saxon tradition with the corn harvest and the killing of the Corn King (Another facet of the God). In this manner did the pagans of so long ago celebrate the first harvest of corn.


In keeping with the pagan idea of balance, the autumn parallel to the `greenwood marriage' is the "Teltown marriage". The `Teltown marriages" are trial marriages which could be dissolved after a year and a day by the couple returning to the High Priestess who handfasted them and informing her of their decision.


B. THE ALTAR AND CIRCLE
1. Decorate the altar with sheaves of wheat, barley or oats, fresh fruits, breads, a loaf of bread fashioned in the figure of the Sun God, and corn dollies.


2. FOODS- BREAD (IN THE SHAPE OF THE GOD FIGURE), ANY EDIBLE
BERRIES, ACORNS (LEACHED OF THEIR POISONS FIRST), CRAB APPLES, ALL GRAINS, AND LOCALLY GROWN PRODUCE. BAKED CAKE. This is a time of abundance, so a trip to a farmer's market will give you great ideas. Besides, what ARE you going to do with all the zucchini anyway?? Save some and have zucchini casserole and bread this winter when it will really be appreciated. The same goes for those baskets full of tomatoes. Your chili this winter will be all the better for it.

3. DRINKS- cider, berry drinks, and berry wines. My coven is particularly fond of Boone's Farm Berry wines. Who said you had to have a palate to be pagan anyhow?


4. Altar cloth and candles- Fire colors (red, yellow, orange) to symbolize the Sun. It is recommended that the altar cloth be decorated with sun symbols and grain. Any decorations that remind the Circle that it is the grain harvest are appropriate. I personally have an altar cloth I intend to stencil wheat sheaves on, but any good fabric store will be loaded with great fabric covered in fruit, herbs, suns, or wheat.


C. RITUALS


1. "REMEMBER THE WARMTH AND BOUNTY OF SUMMER IN THE FOOD WE EAT." EACH MEAL IS AN ACT OF ATTUNEMENT WITH NATURE. EAT SOME OF THE FRUIT ON THE ALTAR, WHILE THANKING THE GOD FOR THE SACRIFICE UNDER THE SICKLE.


2. PLANT THE SEEDS FROM THE FRUIT CONSUMED IN THE RITUAL.


3. WHEAT WEAVING (MAKING CORN DOLLIES, ETC.)


4. VISIT FIELDS, ORCHARDS, LAKES, AND WELLS DURING CIRCLE

5. Bake a ritual loaf of bread in the shape of the God. I personally suggest it be wheat bread, if possible. (It is recommended that this be done the day of Lammas, but not during Circle. Take the loaves home to share with the individual families.)


6. Make onion and garlic braids out of onions and garlic that have sprouted. Once the braids are made, consecrate them as protections for the house- especially the kitchen- then hang them in the kitchen. NEVER again use them for food! They now contain all the negativity they absorb from your household. Replace them with a new braid at Lammas, or as necessary. Bury the braid in your garden or in a pot for garlic or onions, returning them to the earth to be cleansed and renewed.


7. Do/share canning, pickling, preserving ideas and recipes. There is much harvesting to be done at this time of year. Plan to go blueberry picking, or some similar harvesting activity. Visit a farmer's market and buy a large amount of some vegetable to preserve, and then have the whole Circle get together to do it. (Pickling is smelly, but everyone gets a jar or two to enjoy during the winter. Any jam, jelly or preserve works.) Since the whole Circle shares the cost of the whole operation, the cost is minimal. Save for the initial cost of preserving equipment. Take donations for the big preserving "stock pot" and a box of jars. Let it be said that the Circle now owns the pot, and the jars, after use, must be returned to the Circle for use again next year. (This way you build up a stock of jars for the future.)


Fruits and vegetables are easy to preserve. Fruits need only be washed (and hulled if necessary) and stored in a plastic freezer bag with lots of sugar. You can also make fruit syrups by simply making simple syrup of sugar and water, add fruit and bring to a boil.
Most vegetables can be blanched or partially cooked and ladled into plastic freezer bags when cooled. It is really that easy!

8. Make vinegars out of the herbs from everyone's gardens and kitchens. Everyone brings a gallon (or less) or vinegar. Some bring white, some bring cider, some bring "vinegared" wine, some bring oriental rice wine vinegars, etc. Make vinegars for all to take home in saved jars. Suggest to the Circle that during the coming year, they collect pretty bottles to put their vinegars in for display. Have the Circle contribute toward corks for the bottles. (BUY THE CORKS AHEAD OF TIME!) Corks can be bought or ordered from beer and winemaking shops.

9. This time of year marks the beginning of the craft festivals and county fairs. Talk to the Circle about going as a group or as individuals to these and celebrate creation and the harvest.

10. Another way of preserving the "fruits" of this season is to sugar rose and violet petals. Dip individual petals in beaten egg, then coat with sugar. Let dry thoroughly, then store in a pretty jar or even plastic storage containers or bags. These will make lovely additions to a cake or ice cream as edible decorations.

SYMBOLISM


1. The time of year that marks the end of summer. The time of first harvest, when plants of spring begin to wither and drop fruit or seeds for our use.

2. The Sun God begins to wither and die. The harvest is like a "wake" for Him. Note that he begins to retreat farther south each day and the nights grow longer.

LAMMAS INCENSE
2 parts Frankincense
1 part Heather
1 part apple blossoms
1 part blackberry leaves
a few drops ambergris oil


This is a powder incense sprinkled over a lit charcoal briquette, or thrown in the ritual fire.


Okay, there it is. The "Reader's Digest Condensed" version of what I have on Lammas. I refused to mention the part about grain alcohol and Irish wakes. (grin) Many of us are in the midst of harvesting from our gardens, but a trip to a farmer's market might be fun anyway for those who can't go out and pick blueberries, peaches, tomatoes, etc. I suggest that Lammas be "split" into two days of activities. One, like the bread baking, can be on the day of Lammas, if your oven can handle the load. Use a bread machine to speed the process of rising and kneading. The second day can be for the canning and preserving of garden harvests and the "loot" from the farmer's market.

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