Celebrating & Preparing for Lammas

Glennie Kindred
Wednesday, 2nd August 2017

The beginning of August brings the Celtic festival of Lammas, a time of harvest, gathering and celebrations.

Lammas is the seasonal peak of high summer, and as with all Cross Quarter festivals, it represents a change in the manifest energy. Summer feels as if it will last forever, but now we begin to see the first signs of change and transformation. In the fields the cereal crops have turned from green to gold and are gathered in. The first fruits, nuts and seeds are ripening and we must think about what we wish to gather in, such as seeds and plant medicines that will see us through the winter. This is a time to make the most of the fine long days, travel about, have adventures and walk the land.

Here we begin to assimilate and gather in our own harvest, the first fruits of our active phase now manifest in the outer world – the harvest of our hearts’ desires, and the fruits of our labours. This is a period of assessment as we begin to gather ourselves together again after much scattering of energy. This is often a holiday period, and gives us time to take a reflective look at ourselves. In the spring we planted the seeds of our hopes, our dreams and ourselves. Some things may have manifested and some not. The Lammas assessment helps us to have a deeper understanding of our actions and our selves at this point in time. 

At Lammas we count our blessings and give thanks for all that we are harvesting. Being aware of them will help us to see ways to take them forwards into the next part of the cycle. 

Preparations for Lammas

Lammas is traditionally a tribal gathering, bringing the tribe together for work and play, for enjoyment and assessment. It may last over a period of many days and therefore camping space would help with this influx of visitors. It is a good time to harness many people’s energy for a community project such as clearing a piece of land, building work or a garden project.

Prepare a place for the Lammas fire, with space around it for dancing and some seating. Moveable benches can be made easily with a plank of wood nailed to two rounds of tree trunk. You will need several 10 or 15cm nails for each. Give them a coat of wood preserver and they will last for years. They are very versatile and can be used for tables as well as seating and for creating a theatre space. Ask everyone to bring firewood.

Prepare an area for the Lammas feast. An outdoor feast is very central to this celebration. Ask everyone to bring food to share and set up some tables for this. Provide sleeping mats, carpets and rugs so that the children can lie in their sleeping bags when tired. Decorate the area with flags, bunting, and sheaves of grasses, wheat, oats, rye or barley tied up with red ribbon.

Weave and fashion a large Grain Mother from a bundle of grasses and flowers. As you weave and plait the stalks, give thanks for the grain harvest and share with each other all that this means to you. 

Weave and plait smaller corn dollies from wheat or grass stalks. A single plait or concertina can be used to create simple shapes that can be hung up. As you plait and weave, focus on your own harvest. Look into your heart and celebrate all you have to be grateful for and for the hidden blessings held within the more difficult aspects of your harvest.

Create a Lammas shrine and ask everyone to bring something for it. If you have enough space, you can place this within an area created for contemplation and meditation. A circle of stones 4.5m across or a circle of bent willow or hazel rods is enough to define a space. Use a lump hammer and a metal spike to make holes in the ground and push in the thick end of the rod. Space the rods 30-60cm apart, bending them over and weaving the tops in the usual way. This could easily be created on a lawn, as it is impermanent and leaves just a circle of small holes

If you wish to turn this into something more permanent, use freshly cut willow-rods, keep them well watered and leave them over the winter. By the spring they will be growing well and can be woven and clipped to create a living willow hedge or dome.

Finish off the outdoor projects you began this summer, while you still have the energy and the light.

Extracted from Glennie Kindred's Sacred Earth Celebrations, available at: www.green-shopping.co.uk/sacred-earth-celebrations.html

Useful links

Does ceremony have a place in permaculture?

Letting in the Wild Edges

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