It's hard to believe the first harvest is here.
This holiday is typically celebrated on August 1st, although some traditions adhere to a date closer to the actual cross quarter date.It is a time when we rejoice in the plenty now available to us before the second and third harvests begin in earnest.
It is time of beginnings and of endings. In Celtic culture, particularly in Ireland, it was a time when marriages were arranged. Young people without partners attended gatherings to seek betrothals.
These betrothals were for a year and a day, giving the young couples time to determine if this marriage would bring forth offspring and if they were compatible. These handfastings appear remarkably close to Wiccan handfastings, and were reported as late as the 15th century.
As we reap the bounty of the Mother Earth we can draw good fortune to ourselves by creating a corn dolly from the first grain to honor the Great Mother. Or, bake a cake of the first grains and give a portion of it back to the Earth with thanks for her bounty.
Eventually, like so many Pagan holidays Lughnassad was Christianized. In this case, it was converted to Lammas. Lammas means "Loaf Mass" for it was the day the first loaves from the first harvest were laid on the altar as offerings to the Christian god.
Now we honor St. Catherine
and John Barleycorn.
Immortalized in the 20th century by Steve Winwood and the band Traffic. Song: John Barleycorn must die.
In 1100 A.D., William II, the son of William the Conqueror, was found dead in the woods on Lammas. Mysteriously killed while out hunting. The person responsible was never caught, but a comet had previously been seen heralding the death of a king.
This year there is a blue moon on the 31st which won't occur again until 2018, so the magic of the universe is truly working for us this Lammas day.
Wherever you are on August 1st, remember to be thankful for Mother Earth, Mother Nature, and the mother who bore you.