Lammas is a cross-quarter holiday halfway between the Summer Solstice (Litha) and the Autumn Equinox (Mabon). In the southern hemisphere, Lammas is celebrated around 1 February, with the Sun near the midpoint of Aquarius. On the Wheel of the Year, it is opposite Imbolc, which is celebrated late July/early August.
Lammas, also known as the First Fruits Harvest, is a bittersweet festival, as we celebrate the first flush bounty of Mother Earth, while simultaneously recognising that the sun has passed its yearly zenith and is now in decline, meaning we must also begin preparations for the approaching winter. The land is alive with energy, in the vegetables, ripe fields of wheat & corn, onions and garlic, and especially herbs – which are now at their most potent and perfect for harvesting for magickal workings. Everywhere you look is beauty and plenty. At the same time, the days will now begin to grow shorter, growing darker earlier each day as we turn towards the dark part of the wheel.
In the first harvest we also have the first new seeds which represent the promise of new life in the coming year. In addition to celebrating and expressing our thanks to Mother Earth for her gifts, we take time now to contemplate our own personal harvest. We contemplate what we set out to achieve when we set our intentions at the beginning of the wheel’s cycle, and what we have succeeded in. This is also a time for letting go of anger, injustice and past regrets, preparing ourselves to move forward and plant our own new seeds.
Because we recognise that winter is now undeniably on its way, we begin to prepare the home by stocking up the magickal cupboard with herbs, pickling and storing overruns from the first harvest for winter treats, cleaning and doing any necessary repairs.
Many people choose to celebrate Lammas as an “eat, drink and be merry” festival, focussing on the excitement and gratitude of first harvest – revelling in the fruits of labour now being rewarded and celebrating the bountiful land around us. Bread is very symbolic to Lammas as the barley is now being harvested, and so friends and family gather and break bread together, sharing what we have for every-one’s benefit, and acknowledging our blessings and good fortune.
Others prefer to commemorate Lammas by focussing on “sacrifice” – in that something has to give in to make way for something else – the sun has given his strength to the land to create the fruits of the harvest, and the very fruits of the harvest themselves will have to wither and die in order to bring forth seeds for next year’s crops.
Ultimately, how you choose to celebrate/commemorate Lammas is a personal choice, and should reflect your personal belief.
Lammas (Anglo-Saxon – “hlaf-mass” = “loaf-mas”), Lughnasadh (Irish-Gaelic), First Fruits Harvest, Festival of Wheat Harvest, Cornucopia, Thingtide, The Feast of Bread
First harvest, abundance, richness, fruitfulness, afterglow, the beginning of the end, generosity, celebrating gifts, sacrifice (something must die in order for something to be born), turning towards darkness, justice and natural justice or karma, human and personal rights issues, freedom from abuse of any kind; for partnerships, both personal and legal or business, for signing contracts or property matters; promotion and career advancement and the regularizing of personal finances; for holidays and journeys to see friends and family or on business and the renewal of promises, loyalty and fidelity; also willing sacrifice for a long term gain or made in love, trusting the cosmos to provide by giving without seeking immediate return; also for all matters concerning people in their forties and fifties.
February 1st (southern hemisphere)
August 1st (northern hemisphere)
Lugh, Llew, The Sun God, The Oak King, The Holly King, Adonis, Dionysus, Tammuz, The Green Man
Demeter, Ceres, Persephone, Habadonia, Sif, Hathor, Cerridwen, Eriu/Macha (Irish Goddess of the Land)
Sachiel. Archangel of the grain harvest and of abundance. He wears robes of deep blue and purple, carrying sheaves of corn and baskets of food with a rich purple and golden halo and blue and purple wings
- Yellow or orange altar cloths
- Green, yellow or orange candles
- Small baskets
- Bread can be baked (even from packets) and herbs added to make magical bread
- Any straw object such as a corn dolly, grain mother, braided grain, a corn knot, a straw hat or a straw animal tied with red ribbon
- Harvest flowers such as poppies or cornflowers
- Dried grasses, wheat stalks, long ears of grain
- Stones with natural holes
- Threshing tools, scythe, sickle
- Summer vegetables, fruits and squashes
- The athame
PLANTS, FLOWERS, HERBS, INCENSE
Acacia, rosemary, sage, thyme, cumin, curry, fenugreek, cinnamon, myrrh, sandalwood, rose, heather, sunflowers, grains, zinnias, marigolds, daisies, heather, rose, chamomile, passionflower, hollyhock, oak, mistletoe, cedar, mytle, rosewood, madrone, alder, redwood, ginger, patchouli
Tigers eye, golden topaz, opal, citrine, ametrine, carnelian, amber, citrine, tourmaline, brown agate, desert rose, jasper, fossilized wood
Red, yellow, orange, gold, copper, bronze, brown, tan (the colours of the sun and of grain)
Oat cakes, breads (especially homemade), cereal products, early summer fruits and vegetables (especially apples – sacred to Lugh), squashes, preserves, jams, tarts, pies, honey, chicken, potato soup
Fresh fruit juices, beer, ale, cider, wine and all things brewed