“May your harvest be bountiful and sustain you through the cold winter months ahead. May the love of friends, family and the goddess warm you always”
This Saturday is August First, a major milestone in the solar calendars, and a traditional holiday period, and we choose to celebrate it by offering this Lammas blessing.
Solar calendars mark the longest and shortest days of the year, the summer and winter solstices respectively, and the autumn and spring equinoxes when day and night are equal. Lammas is a cross quarter day, marking the midpoint between equinox and solstice, and further subdividing the calendar into eighths.
Although many peoples following a solar (as opposed to lunar) calendar had a first harvest day on or near Lammas, the name comes from the first of three harvest festivals celebrated in the British Isles. We mark the day as Lammas, as opposed to Freyfaxi (from the Norse) or Pachamama Raymi (from the Quechua of Peru and Ecuador), because the Celtic festival has survived continuously from truly ancient roots through to the present day, and as such has accrued a rich and well-attested set of traditions.
Many summer cross quarter observances feature a celebration of the first harvest, athletic competitions and feasting, intended to give thanks for the already harvested, and prayers for the safety of the remaining season. Lammas in particular is marked by bread baked with flour ground from the the first harvested wheat, blueberry or blackberry harvests, and prayers offered for the safety of still-ripening crops. Athletic games and weddings are also common celebrations of the bounty of the season.
Even if you choose not to bake a Lammastide loaf, or run a race, take a moment this year to reflect on the balance, bounty and majesty of the natural world we so benefit from, and the hard won wisdoms and keen observations our ancestors made in order to continue human life to the present.