The Witch's High Summer
The first sabbat of the waning year, Lammas, has arrived as we transition into the darker half of the year, and we recognise the seasonal change of energies.
At this time, we can sense the liminal shift to Autumn as the days become shorter and the darkness gradually returns. Yet the Sun's energy remains powerful in the Northern Hemisphere, and the days can feel hot and dry.
On the 1-2nd August, we celebrate Lammas, also known as Lughnasadh, Lughnasa or August Eve, where we are at the halfway point between Summer and Autumn. Lammas occurs during Leo season when the Sun is in rulership of this noble sign. Many witches will also celebrate the astrological date of this sabbat when the Sun reaches 15 degrees of Leo, which falls on 6th August this year.
Leo Season encourages us to appreciate and acknowledge our authentic selves and own unique talents, skills and success.
Leo rules the heart in astrology, so we are supported to be playful, creative and generous during the late days of Summer.
These are perfect themes to incorporate into your Lammas celebrations.
At Lammas, we recognise the wheat harvest as the first of three harvest festivals, as different crops ripened at different times (the second being the Autumn Equinox and the third being Samhain).
Indeed, we derive the word Lammas from the Saxon term 'loaf-mass', indicating how central wheat and bread are to this holiday. We can also find Lammas described as the 'feast of first fruits' from Anglo Saxon chronicles of 921 CE.1
Researchers have found little consensus regarding the historical celebration of Lammas as a harvest festival across the ancient Celtic communities. However, historians have found that early August was an important date for the election of officials, holding fairs, opening common lands and paying rents.2
There is also evidence that it marked a time when farmers would gather the first grain crop and bake it into a loaf which was offered as a blessing during the Christian Eucharist festival.
In Ireland, Lammas is named Lughnasdah, which translates to "the games or assembly of Lugh"3 and is the only ancient Irish feast named directly after a deity.4
Local leaders are thought to have presided over the gatherings to settle tribal matters using games of skill and athleticism. Mythology describes the god Lugh as highly skilled across various disciplines and crafts, and he was known as a talented carpenter, musician, and blacksmith.
Therefore, recognising and celebrating your own talents and skills is a powerful way to honour this time of year and is aligned with the Leo Season energy.
At Lammas, we are encouraged to pause and reflect on what the first harvest means in our lives. What work have you put in this year that you are beginning to reap? Did you plant seeds of intention at Imbolc that are beginning to come to fruition now?
The harvest was also a time of hard labour in rural communities, so maybe there are areas you recognise you need to focus on or work smarter, not harder.
Or maybe those goals no longer resonate, and you need to change direction, as there is always time to reflect and reset your goals.
You may also want to explore other themes of Lammas, such as prosperity, gratitude, sacrifice, growth, courage, celebration, family and protection.
Ways to Celebrate
Gratitude is a central theme at Lammas as we harvest our blessings and hard work making it a powerful time to be genuinely grateful for what we have in our lives.
Identify someone you feel has helped you this year and consider ways you can show them gratitude. You could make or buy them a small gift, cook or bake, or do something practical to help them.
The simple act of telling someone what you appreciate about them and how they have helped you is a beautiful way to express gratitude.
Don't forget to include yourself in any gratitude work – acknowledge all the effort and commitment you have shown yourself this year.
Food is a central theme of all the sabbats, particularly Lammas, with its focus on wheat and bread.
So, no Lammas celebration would be complete for the kitchen witch without baking bread to acknowledge the wheat harvest.
Making bread from scratch is a potent way to recognise the meaning of this festival and is a tradition that honours our rural ancestors. Historically, the bread baked at Lammas from the first wheat harvest was used to attract blessings of prosperity and protection.
However, if you are not a natural baker, buy your favourite bread and bless it before eating it intentionally.
You can also include bread to decorate your altar. Other foods to celebrate Lammas include corn, grain, beer, wine, fruit, cake, berries and vegetables.
All of the harvest festivals celebrate the theme of abundance, so it's a potent time to cast spells for prosperity.
Consider incorporating the solar correspondences of Leo Season, many of which are effective for money magic, including the colours of gold, yellow or orange; citrine, tiger's eye and sunstone crystals and botanicals, such as cinnamon, chamomile and calendula.
You can also use dried wheat to create a prosperity charm to bless your home.
In our modern way of life, we can feel disconnected from agriculture and the Lammas theme of harvest. If you experience this, research modern farming methods, food production and the supply chain from the fields to our plates.
If you grow fruit and vegetables, spend time collecting any ready produce.
You could use any excess fruit to make jam, a traditional activity in rural communities around this time of year.
Don't forget to leave a small offering of thanks for the elements for providing your harvest.
In honour of the highly-skilled god Lugh, spend some time learning a new skill today.
Identify the one thing you have always wanted to do but have never been able to try: start learning a language, try a new sport, start a craft project or learn something simple such as changing an electrical plug.
There are 'how-to' videos online for anything you could wish to learn, and it does not have to be witchcraft-related. Or do a skill-swap with a friend, where you teach each other about your respective areas of expertise.
Try your hand at Lammas-related arts and crafts as a popular way of recognising the sabbat.
The most traditional of these is making a corn dolly which dates back to ancient Rome.
However, you can also make wreaths, straw wheels, besoms, beeswax candles or popcorn garlands. You could also craft your own Lammas incense using solar and Lammas correspondences or decorate an altar.
The sabbats mark turning points in the year and are potent times for spellwork, so consider casting spells for growth, courage, family and protection.
Traditionally, bringing in the harvest brought people together, so spellwork to bless your home and family is well-supported.