Practically Practical - One Witch's Way
Lughnasadh/Lammas - August 1st
So, have you ever wondered how you celebrate a ritual or sabbat in an
environment that might not be "pagan friendly"? Maybe this is due to
a spoken or unspoken rule in your household to not "infringe" on each
other's practice and faith. Perhaps you have a severely inquisitive
set of neighbors that know not only your comings and goings, but
which leg you put into your pants first? Regardless of the reason,
the fact remains that your sabbat celebration is going to need to be
altered in some fashion. That means, no bonfire in the yard, or
dancing outdoors among the sheaves of wheat. Bet you're thinking
right now, "well that just rots!" It CAN, but only if you let it.
Before I let you in on what methods I use for my celebration of the
holy days, why don't we get into a little of the history of Lammas
first? Lammas (or Lughnasadh, etc it goes by many names) concerns
the celebration of the first harvest - grains, fruits, vegetables and
herbs. Usually when thinking of this holiday, you tend to associate
it with grain - but why?
Grain in its many forms has been considered sacred as far back as
recorded history. It was integral in maintaining life and also
served as a representation of the cycle of life-death-rebirth. It
not only provided sustenance to us, but was a mainstay of livestock
as well, even through grazing. The plant is sown as a seed, where it
sprouts and grows into "adulthood". Then it is harvested, and
transformed into whatever form is needed for consumption by people
and animals. However, the cycle doesn't stop there. It helps us to
maintain our own lives as well as giving us the energy to reseed &
replant the seeds that were set aside from the previous harvest in
anticipation of the next growing season. This I believe is a
wonderful example of how energy is never destroyed, but rather is
transmuted from form to form, goal-to-goal.
So what can we do to recognize this special occasion? Depending on
the type of society/environment we live in, we may or may not have
the resources to grow our own crops, but Pauline and Dan Campanelli
suggest (in "Ancient Ways") that if you are able, to find a farmer in
your area who is either willing to let you purchase wheat that is
freshly harvested, or perhaps allow you a small strip of field to
actually perform the harvesting yourself. This is an interesting
option if available, but if you don't live close to a rural area, or
you don't think that you could feel comfortable doing this because of
your living arrangements, then there are options. Do you have a
vegetable garden or fruit patch? Then why not harvest the fruits
and vegetables that are ripened and display them in an offering bowl
on your altar, or even your dining room table? Live in an apartment
with no land to garden? What about a window box of herbs? This is a
perfect time to begin harvesting, drying and empowering herbs for
Back to the offering. As we have been taught, we are to give back
and love our Mother Earth. For Lammas, we have the opportunity to
put out the offering of "first fruits" to honor the Lord of the
Harvest and the Lady for their bountiful goodness shown over the past
year. This is also a time to project the same abundance (or more)
for the next year. One of the ways to do this is to bake and consume
grain products, such as bread, and offer a portion to the God and
Goddess in thanks. It is up to you to decide if you wish to make the
bread from scratch, what sort of recipe to use, or even to
purchase a loaf if you are not inclined to make it yourself.
Personally, I am one of the least proficient bread makers that I
know, so I tend to either buy bread or make one of my favorite
recipes, which happens to be banana bread. The Banana to me
represents the Male aspect/Sun/fertility (through the color yellow,
and the shape of the banana itself), and I also use cinnamon in my
recipe, which is also a correspondence for abundance and
wealth (and I am not just speaking about monetary gain either).
Again, this is up to you. And if you (again, like myself) do not
have a ton of success in the agricultural arena, then by all means,
purchase the fruits, vegetables, herbs, etc. to offer.
Now what if it's difficult to put up an altar? Then I say make your
entire living space your altar! Relax, I have not gone and lost my
mind (completely), but think of it this way: There is no reason why
you can't set out a bowl of fruit, some vases with wildflowers that
are still in bloom, and some candles to represent the God and
Goddess. Need you broadcast why these particular items are out?
Only if you feel comfortable doing so. Otherwise, you can leave the
reasons for your preference of décor to the imagination of others.
Be imaginative - use bright colors such as yellow, gold, green - bake
muffins, have some scented candles going. You might even wish to
express your thanks through a sketch or painting that reflects the
harvest theme. It is truly in your hands.
When you wish to have your ritual, find some space by yourself - this
may sound silly, but when I had my sister's family living with me the
bathroom was just about the only place at home where I would get more
than 2 minutes by myself - and do a simple meditation. You can also
perform a complete sabbat ritual during your meditation, but unless
you feel you will not be disturbed during, I suggest you limit your
time in meditation. However, if you wish, take a handful of seeds,
or dried corn and have them in your pocket. That way, you will be
able to directly connect with their energies as you go about your
daily activities and in your own way, have an all day sabbat ritual!
If you are not limited as to the extent of your celebration, then you
may wish to make a corn mother, a wreath out of wheat sheaves, or
even that art project I mentioned before. Go for it! The most
heartfelt gestures are the ones that pay homage to the Lord and
Lady. Your intent speaks louder and with more vividity than the most
elaborate ritual with the most expensive tools. The most important
piece to the occasion is YOU - your loving, generous, kind spirit
giving thanks to the God and Goddess who have provided over the last
year for your well being.
Here is a simple working that I have adapted from, "The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Wicca
and Witchcraft" by Denise Zimmerman and Katherine A. Gleason.
Take ingredients to make bread (muffins or any other grain product)-
even a mix is fine! As you combine the ingredients, charge the food
with your magickal intent while saying this chant:
With this food I empower,
The energy of this wondrous hour.
As I ingest this magick meal,
The power of this ritual I seal.
Envision your goal coming to pass and bon appétit!
Even before you have begun to partake of this ritual bread, I would
set aside a portion as an offering. I prefer to do it first, as a
means of respect to my chosen deities and nature for all the gifts
they provide. I leave that part outside, under one of the trees near
my vegetable garden.
Here is another recipe for the Sabbat:
2 parts Frankincense
1 part Heather
1 part Apple Blossoms
1 pinch Blackberry leaves
A few drops of Ambergris oil
If nothing else, I want to convey to you that you are able to
celebrate the Sabbat in some fashion, regardless of your environment,
living arrangements, or economic stature. As you are one of the most
important elements to the celebration, it is truly up to you how you
celebrate, and only you can accurately convey your gratitude to the
Earth for her bounty. Remember this, no matter how often, or how
much you seek to give back to the God & Goddess, they will ALWAYS out
give to you - but it's sure fun to try!