Blessings of the First Harvest my friends,
August 2nd is Lammas, which means loaf-mass, so named because of the bread baked from the first grains offered on the altar. It is the celebration of the beginning of the three traditional harvest festivals; the others are September 21st and November 1st.
Lammas is a feast of joyful thanksgiving for Mother Earth’s bountiful offering of the first fruits that will sustain her children through the winter.
The Celts called this time Lughnasadh (pronounced loo-na-sa), Native Americans called it the Green Corn Festival and in Slavic Regions it is called the feast of the Big Glad Woman. In India, a cotton festival is held to honor Cotton Mother and the great Bull Dance of Minoan Crete occurred at this time. At the opposite time of the year in Peru there is a Corn Parade. Ireland still celebrates Big Sunday and farming communities gather at hundreds of traditional hilltop sites to set up craft fairs, feast, play games and dance.
Up until less than one hundred years ago, most of the population in the US resided in agricultural areas and the appreciation for abundant harvests was a deeply personal experience. It has struck me that since most of us do not grow our own food (other than lovely vegetable gardens), we are cut off from the awe inspiring gratitude that the people felt about nature’s ability to provide. At best, our sense of gratitude is a faint echo of what it once was because most of us go to stores and farmers’ markets to purchase our food.
Having frequented our local farmers’ market for years, I have marveled at the fruits and vegetables available from local growers at this harvest season. The infinite variety and colors of the produce thrills me. However, I am aware that I didn’t labor over seedlings, watering and weeding, or worry over weather patterns and or stay up most of the night to stave off natural disasters. Nor did I participate in the back breaking work of harvesting each and every row or bough for grains, vegetables and fruits. I never threshed wheat or separated corn from stalks and I never picked vegetables from a field. I have only picked cherries and apples for the fun of it. Yet it is possible to take some time to honor Lammas as a time of abundance.
Perhaps you can sit quietly in your garden, or with a plant of any kind and find that place within that feels gratitude for all that nature provides that sustains us. Please access the feeling of abundance in any way that you can. For me it begins with tuning into the flowers and fruits in my own backyard and focusing on the bounty all around me; I believe that our ability to appreciate the natural world is it is in our DNA and that growing food and harvesting it is something we can imagine from primordial memory. I wrote a meditation several years ago using my imagination to create a Lammas celebration from ancient times in Celtic cultures. If you would like to have a copy, just email me and I’ll send it along.
I wish you great abundance in your lives,