There is a lovely Lammas graphic to accompany this post.
Unfortunately, the problem with Photobucket was not as I hoped, which was that it would be a temporary annoyance, and they'd return my photo-hosting.
'Fraid not. My back-up plan, Imageshack, disabled free three-party hosting two years ago.
So I'm trying hard to find a site that will let me host images FOR FUCKING FREE. I've heard good things about Imgur, and if you have any experience with that, please let me know.
It's a slow process. I've used Photobucket for over nine years and that's a lot of photos.
I really want to make my blog sites (here and Dreamwidth) pretty again, and I worked hard on these layouts. To anyone still reading and keeping up here, I apologize for the ugliness and thank you for your patience.
A safe and happy holiday to all who celebrate!
For the unawares, here is some information courtesy of About Dot Com.
All About Lammas
It's the dog days of summer, the gardens are full of goodies, the fields are full of grain, and the harvest is approaching. Take a moment to relax in the heat, and reflect on the upcoming abundance of the fall months. At Lammas, sometimes called Lughnasadh, it's time to begin reaping what we have sown throughout the past few months, and recognize that the bright summer days will soon come to an end. Lammas is the first of three Pagan harvest festivals, and takes place on August 1, right around the time of the early grain harvests.
History of Lammas
The Beginning of the Harvest
At Lammas, also called Lughnasadh, the hot days of August are upon us, much of the earth is dry and parched, but we still know that the bright reds and yellows of the harvest season are just around the corner. Apples are beginning to ripen in the trees, our summer vegetables have been picked, corn is tall and green, waiting for us to come gather the bounty of the crop fields. Now is the time to begin reaping what we have sown, and gathering up the first harvests of grain, wheat, oats, and more.
This holiday can be celebrated either as a way to honor the God Lugh, or as a celebration of the harvest.
Celebrating Grain in Ancient Cultures
Grain has held a place of importance in civilization back nearly to the beginning of time. Grain became associated with the cycle of death and rebirth. The Sumerian God Tammuz was slain and His lover Ishtar grieved so heartily that nature stopped producing. Ishtar mourned Tammuz, and followed Him to the Underworld to bring Him back, similar to the story of Demeter and Persephone.
In Greek legend, the grain God was Adonis. Two Goddesses, Aphrodite and Persephone, battled for His love. To end the fighting, Zeus ordered Adonis to spend six months with Persephone in the Underworld, and the rest with Aphrodite.
A Feast of Bread
In early Ireland, it was a bad idea to harvest your grain any time before Lammas -- it meant that the previous year's harvest had run out early, and that was a serious failing in agricultural communities. However, on August 1, the first sheafs of grain were cut by the farmer, and by nightfall his wife had made the first loaves of bread of the season.
The word Lammas derives from the Old English phrase hlaf-maesse, which translates to loaf mass. In early Christian times, the first loaves of the season were blessed by the Church.
Honoring Lugh, the Skillful God
In some modern Pagan traditions, Lammas is also a day of honoring Lugh, the Celtic craftsman God. He is a God of many skills, and was honored in various aspects by societies both in the British Isles and in Europe. Lughnasadh (pronounced Loo-NAS-ah) is still celebrated in many parts of the world today. Lugh's influence appears in the names of several European towns.
Lammas for Modern Pagans
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.
Because of its association with Lugh, the skilled God, Lammas (Lughnasadh) is also a time to celebrate talents and craftsmanship. It's a traditional time of year for craft festivals, and for skilled artisans to peddle their wares. In medieval Europe, guilds would arrange for their members to set up booths around a village green, festooned with bright ribbons and fall colors. Perhaps this is why so many modern Renaissance Festivals begin around this time of year!
Lugh is also known in some traditions as the patron of bards and magicians. Now is a great time of year to work on honing your own talents. Learn a new craft, or get better at an old one. Put on a play, write a story or poem, take up a musical instrument, or sing a song. Whatever you choose to do, this is the right season for rebirth and renewal, so set August 1 as the day to share your new skill with your friends and family.
The Lammas Altar
It's Lammas, or Lughnasadh, the Sabbat where many Pagans choose to celebrate the beginnings of the harvest. This Sabbat is about the cycle of birth, life, death and rebirth -- the grain God dies, but will be reborn again in the spring. Depending on your tradition, you may also observe this Sabbat as the day of the Celtic craftsman God, Lugh. Either way, you can try some or even all of these ideas -- obviously, someone using a bookshelf as an altar will have less flexibility than someone using a table, but use what calls to you most.
Colors of the Season
It's the end of summer, and soon the leaves will begin to change. However, the sun is still fiery and hot. Use a combination of summer and fall colors -- the yellows and oranges and reds of the sun can also represent the turning leaves to come. Add some browns and greens to celebrate the fertility of the earth and the crops being harvested. Cover your altar with cloths that symbolize the changing of the season from summer to harvest time, and use candles in deep, rich colors -- reds, burgundies, or other autumn shades are perfect this time of year.
Symbols of the Harvest
The harvest is here, and that means it's time to include symbols of the fields on your altar. Sickles and scythes are appropriate, as are baskets. Sheafs of grain, fresh picked fruits and vegetables, a jar of honey, or loaves of bread are perfect for the Lammastide altar.
Honoring the God Lugh
If your celebrations focus more on the God Lugh, observe the Sabbat from an artisan's point of view. Place symbols of your craft or skill on the altar -- a notebook, your special paints for artists, a pen for writers, other tools of your creativity.
Other Symbols of Lammas (Lughnasadh)
• Grapes and wine
• Corn dolls -- you can make these easily using dried husks
• Ears of corn
• Iron, such as tools or weaponry or armor
• Fall flowers, such as cornflowers or poppies
• Straw braids
• Onion garlands
• Sickles and scythes, as well as other symbols of harvesting
• Dried grains -- sheafs of wheat, bowls of oats, etc.
• Early fall vegetables, such as squashes and pumpkins
• Late summer fruits, like apples, plums and peaches
Lammas Legends and Lore
In many cultures, there are different legends and lore surrounding Lammas (Lughnasadh). Here are a few of the stories about this magical harvest celebration from around the world
• In Israel, the festival of Shavout commemorates the beginning of the harvest, as well as honoring the date that Moses received the Torah on Mt. Sinai. The final sheaf of wheat is brought to the rabbi for a blessing, synagogues and homes are decorated with flower, and a great feast is prepared for all to enjoy.
• The festival of Onam is celebrated in India, and people dress up in their finest clothes and give food to the poor. Onam is celebrated in honor of King Mahabali, who was a ruler of Kerala. In one story, the God Vishnu approached Mahabali dressed as a beggar, and asked for land, which Mahabali gave him. Mahabli ended up buried under the earth by Vishnu, but was allowed to return once a year, symbolizing the planting of the seed and the subsequent harvest.
• Thor's wife, Sif, had beautiful golden hair, until Loki the prankster cut it off. Thor was so upset He wanted to kill Loki, but some dwarves spun new hair for Sif, which grew magically as soon as it touched Her head. The hair of Sif is associated with the harvest, and the golden grain that grows every year.
• In the Shetland Islands, farmers believed that grain harvesting should only take place during a waning moon. They also believed this about the fall potato crop, and the cutting of peat.
• At Lughnasadh, calves are weaned, and the first fruits are ripe, such as apples and grapes. In some Irish counties, it was believed farmers had to wait until Lughnasadh to start picking these fruits, or bad luck would befall the community.
• In some countries, Lammas is a time for warrior games and mock battles. This may hearken back to the days when a harvest festival was held, and people would come from miles around to get together. What better way for young men to show off their strength and impress the girls than by whacking away at all the competition? Games and contests are also held in honor of Lugh, the mighty Celtic craftsman God, in which artisans offer up their finest work.
• It's become a custom to give people the gift of a pair of gloves at Lammastide. In part, it's because winter is just around the corner, but it's also related to an old tradition in which landowners gave their tenants a pair of gloves after the harvest. The glove is a symbol of authority and benevolence.
Deities of Lammas
When Lammastide rolls around, the fields are full and fertile. Crops are abundant, and the late summer harvest is ripe for the picking. This is the time when the first grains are threshed, apples are plump in the trees, and gardens are overflowing with summer bounty. In nearly every ancient culture, this was a time of celebration of the agricultural significance of the season. Because of this, it was also a time when many Gods and Goddesses were honored. These are some of the many Deities who are connected with this earliest harvest holiday.
• Adonis (Assyrian): Adonis is a complicated God who touched many cultures. Although He's often portrayed as Greek, His origins are in early Assyrian religion. Adonis was a God of the dying summer vegetation. In many stories, He dies and is later reborn, much like Attis and Tammuz.
• Attis (Phrygean): This lover of Cybele went mad and castrated Himself, but still managed to get turned into a pine tree at the moment of His death. In some stories, Attis was in love with a Naiad, and jealous Cybele killed a tree (and subsequently the Naiad who dwelled within it), causing Attis to castrate Himself in despair. Regardless, His stories often deal with the theme of rebirth and regeneration.
• Ceres (Roman): Ever wonder why crunched-up grain is called cereal? It's named for Ceres, the Roman Goddess of the harvest and grain. Not only that, She was the one who taught lowly mankind how to preserve and prepare corn and grain once it was ready for threshing. In many areas, She was a mother-type Goddess who was responsible for agricultural fertility.
• Dagon (Semitic): Worshiped by an early Semitic tribe called the Amorites, Dagon was a God of fertility and agriculture. He's also mentioned as a father-deity type in early Sumerian texts and sometimes appears as a fish God. Dagon is credited with giving the Amorites the knowledge to build the plough.
• Demeter (Greek): The Greek equivalent of Ceres, Demeter is often linked to the changing of the seasons. She is often connected to the image of the Dark Mother in late fall and early winter. When Her daughter Persephone was abducted by Hades, Demeter's grief caused the earth to die for six months, until Persephone's return.
• Lugh (Celtic): Lugh was known as a God of both skill and the distribution of talent. He is sometimes associated with midsummer because of His role as a harvest God, and during the summer solstice the crops are flourishing, waiting to be plucked from the ground at Lughnasadh.
• Mercury (Roman): Fleet of foot, Mercury was a messenger of the Gods. In particular, He was a God of commerce and is associated with the grain trade. In late summer and early fall, He ran from place to place to let everyone know it was time to bring in the harvest. In Gaul, He was considered a God not only of agricultural abundance but also of commercial success.
• Neper (Egyptian): This androgynous grain Deity became popular in Egypt during times of starvation. He later was seen as an aspect of Osiris, and part of the cycle of life, death and rebirth.
• Parvati (Hindu): Parvati was a consort of the God Shiva, and although She does not appear in Vedic literature, She is celebrated today as a Goddess of the harvest and protector of women in the annual Gauri Festival.
• Pomona (Roman): This apple Goddess is the keeper of orchards and fruit trees. Unlike many other agricultural Deities, Pomona is not associated with the harvest itself, but with the flourishing of fruit trees. She is usually portrayed bearing a cornucopia or a tray of blossoming fruit.
• Tammuz (Sumerian): This Sumerian God of vegetation and crops is often associated with the cycle of life, death, and rebirth.
Rituals and Ceremonies
Depending on your individual spiritual path, there are many different ways you can celebrate Lammas, but typically the focus is on either the early harvest aspect, or the celebration of the Celtic God Lugh. It's the season when the first grains are ready to be harvested and threshed, when the apples and grapes are ripe for the plucking, and we're grateful for the food we have on our tables.
Here are a few rituals you may want to think about trying -- and remember, any of them can be adapted for either a solitary practitioner or a small group, with just a little planning ahead.
• Lammas Harvest Ritual
• Honor Lugh of the Many Skills
• Lammas Bread Sacrifice Ritual
• Prayers for Lammas
From Rituals For Sacred Living by Jane Alexander: