Many will be celebrating the festival of the first fruits of the harvest or Lammas as most refer to it this weekend. It is the first festival that falls during the period of the Waning Year. Celebrated anywhere from July 31 to August 2nd to some it is considered the first day of Autumn.
The days are much hotter now, a clear sign that summer is in full swing and the sun has been basking in all its glory for some time. Although the heat is upon us, there is still the feeling that dances over the breezes of the coming anticipation of Autumn and all that it brings. Cooler temperatures for one thing yet also the subtle sadness that soon summer will be but a memory and what we may complain about now, the scorching heat of summer, will no longer be someone who visits so fervently.
The word Lammas is derived from Old English and means loaf feast. With that being said one can easily guess that bread plays an important role in the celebration of this festival. Lammas has also been referred to at times as Lamb mass because of August 1st. This is the day of the feast of St Peter’s chains. One was to take their lamb to church on this day to be blessed. Another means by which the early church attempted to connect themselves to Pagan ways in order to accommodate those who may find it difficult to turn from their pagan lives and history.
Lammas was also a time of sacrifice in early times. It was a time to thank the gods for the first fruits and to help guarantee a further abundant harvest. The one to be sacrificed was often the king as he was considered to be god incarnate to the people. However most of the time it was not the actual king that was sacrificed but a substitute. Someone who would stand in for the king. It was considered an honor or though they said.
The last recorded sacrifice of a king of England was said to have occurred at Lammas in the year 1100. King William II did not take kindly to the new Christian beliefs and their attempted forcing of their practices. Rufus the Red as he was sometimes called, openly declared himself Pagan as a means to show his distaste for this movement. His death which occurred on August 2, 1100 was said to have been a hunting accident. Yet many will tell you that this was simply a cover for the sake of the Christian priests. Many believed it was a case of the traditional Lammas sacrifice of the king.
To the Celts, Lammas was one of the four great Fire Festivals. It was custom to light huge bonfires to add strength to the powers of the Waning sun. Brands from the Lammas fire were kept in ones home through winter as protection. It was thought that this brand would protect against storms , especially lightning . The ashes from the said fire was also thought to have properties of protection, healing and fertility.
Lammas is a time for celebration. It is a time of celebration of the first harvest, of feasting on the bounty that has come in from the fields. As this weekend comes and goes may you realize the bounty that you yourself experience daily from all aspects of your life. And may your have a very blessed Lammas