Many Lammas blessings to us in the Southern Hemisphere, may we be safe throughout these hot summer days. Blessed Be!
Witchcraft: The Festival of Lammas
February 1st (southern hemisphere)
August 1st (northern hemisphere)
Lammas is the first of the three Harvest Festivals in a witch’s seasonal cycle, the others being Mabon, and Samhain. Also known as Lughnasadh, by Irish-Gaelic traditions, it marks the end of summer and the coming of autumn; the days slowly become shorter, giving way to the growing nights.
This festival symbolizes the fading power of the Sun God, and calls attention to his willingness to sacrifice himself to the Moon Goddess so that we can make it through the coming winter with the fruits of the first harvest, knowing all the while that he will return to us again as the cycle continues.
It’s a time to give thanks for the people and things that we have, to feel grateful for what we have and share it with others, therefore planting the seeds for a future harvest.
The most common theme associated with this Festival, is that of “eating, drinking, and making merry”. A baker’s oven goes into over-drive making loaves to be broken with friends and family, and the message is that of sharing what we have with others so that they might benefit from our good fortune as well.
Lammas Ritual for the Solitary Witch
- Keep in mind that this ritual isn’t written in stone, you can change and adapt it to what best suits your needs as a witch.
Your altar and circle should be decorated with mostly grains, sheaves of wheat and barley, or, if you’re like me and like to use what you have on hand, a few handfuls of rolled oats will do in a pinch. The altar cloth should be red, or reddish-hued, while the altar candle should most certainly be orange. If you notice, the whole colour scheme is very “earthy” in nature.
Note: some witches prefer to have a ritual bath before they get started, that is, a quick dip in the tub to which herbs and salt have been added…it can help put you in the right frame of mind.
When you’re ready, cast your circle, call the elements and invoke the Gods, and then begin. Standing in front of your altar, take some of the grain or oats in your hand and hold it high.
Say something like:
Upon us is the First Harvest, a time when the fruits of nature sacrifice themselves so that we may survive. Now, as the Sun God prepares for death, I ask that his sacrifice helps me to understand and accept the sacrifices I must make in my own life.
Now, as the Moon Goddess’ power grows, I ask that she whispers her secrets and magickon the night winds, so that I can hear them and use her wisdom wisely.
Rub the oats between both hands so that it falls onto your altar. Then take a piece of fruit, like an apple, and bite into it, allowing yourself to fully experience the taste.
Then say something like:
I share in the fruits of the First Harvest, so that I might share in the wisdom it offers.
Goddess of the Moon, Mother of All
God of the Sun, Father to All
I thank you for that which you’ve given me. May I always remember “harm none”, and may all that I do be in reverence of you.
Now you can eat the rest of the fruit. Meditate, or reflect, on the good things that have happened to you thus far, and the sacrifices you had to make to get to this point. Think about how you’ve shared your good fortune with others, even if it only meant smiling at a stranger. Any magickal works should now be done, or write about your experiences in your Magickal Journal…if you have one.
Thank the Gods and the Elements for their attendance, and let them know that while you appreciate their presence, it’s now time to go. Release the circle, and then carry on with the Cakes and Ale ceremony, or so “eat, drink, and be merry” with some good friends.
Imbolc – Northern Hemisphere
Many Imbolc blessings to all in the Northern Hemisphere, stay warm and cosy as you await the Spring. Blessed Be!
Imbloc (Candlemass, Imblog, Imbole) – February 2nd
Incense: Rosemary, Frankincense, Myrrh, Cinnamon
Decorations: Corn Dolly, Besom, Spring Flowers
Colours: White, Orange, Red
This holiday is also known as Candlemas, or Brigid’s (pronounced BREED) Day. One of the 4 Celtic “Fire Festivals. Commemorates the changing of the Goddess from the Crone to the Maiden. Celebrates the first signs of Spring. Also called “Imbolc” (the old Celtic name).
This is the seasonal change where the first signs of spring and the return of the sun are noted, i.e. the first sprouting of leaves, the sprouting of the Crocus flowers etc. In other words, it is the festival commemorating the successful passing of winter and the beginning of the agricultural year. This Festival also marks the transition point of the threefold Goddess energies from those of Crone to Maiden.
It is the day that we celebrate the passing of Winter and make way for Spring. It is the day we honour the rebirth of the Sun and we may visualize the baby sun nursing from the Goddess’s breast. It is also a day of celebrating the Celtic Goddess Brigid. Brigid is the Goddess of Poetry, Healing, Smithcraft, and Midwifery. If you can make it with your hands, Brigid rules it. She is a triple Goddess, so we honour her in all her aspects. This is a time for communing with her, and tending the lighting of her sacred flame. At this time of year, Wiccans will light multiple candles, white for Brigid, for the god usually yellow or red, to remind us of the passing of winter and the entrance into spring, the time of the Sun. This is a good time for initiations, be they into covens or self-initiations.
Imbolc (February 2) marks the recovery of the Goddess after giving birth to the God. The lengthening periods of light awaken Her. The God is a young, lusty boy, but His power is felt in the longer days. The warmth fertilizes the Earth (the Goddess), and causes seeds to germinate and sprout. And so the earliest beginnings of Spring occur.
This is a Sabbat of purification after the shut-in life of Winter, through the renewing power of the Sun. It is also a festival of light and of fertility, once marked in Europe with huge blazes, torches and fire in every form. Fire here represents our own illumination and inspiration as much as light and warmth. Imbolc is also known as Feast of Torches, Oimelc, Lupercalia, Feast of Pan, Snowdrop Festival, Feast of the Waxing Light, Brighid’s Day, and probably by many other names. Some female Witches follow the old Scandinavian custom of wearing crowns of lit candles, but many more carry tapers during their invocations.
It is traditional upon Imbolc, at sunset or just after ritual, to light every lamp in the house – if only for a few moments. Or, light candles in each room in honour of the Sun’s rebirth. Alternately, light a kerosene lamp with a red chimney and place this in a prominent part of the home or in a window.
If snow lies on the ground outside, walk in it for a moment, recalling the warmth of summer. With your projective hand, trace an image of the Sun on the snow.
Foods appropriate to eat on this day include those from the dairy, since Imbolc marks the festival of calving. Sour cream dishes are fine. Spicy and full-bodied foods in honour of the Sun are equally attuned. Curries and all dishes made with peppers, onions, leeks, shallots, garlic or chives are appropriate. Spiced wines and dishes containing raisins – all foods symbolic of the Sun – are also traditional.