Lammas, also known as Lughnasadh, is a time of harvesting. It is the time when berries are ripening in the hedgerows and the first crops of wheat are ready to be harvested. In these busy modern days when fruit and vegetables are ready all year round, it is easy to lose touch with the turning of the seasons except to complain about the rain – isn’t it supposed to be summer? we mutter, and yet we’re all too quick to whinge when the sun comes out again that we are too hot. We are never satisfied, it seems; all too quick to find fault, and to slow to give thanks for what we have.
Lammas teaches us to slow down, to truly see what is happening around us. The golden ears of the wheat are full and heavy, ripe for harvest and to be brought in. And yes, we can buy all the fruit we want from the ever-present supermarket, flown all around the world for our convenience – but how much more tasty is the wild blackberry plucked from the bush with our own hand, succulent, ready to be savoured after weeks of sun?
So, too, is it better to enjoy the fruits of our own hands and labour; to sit back and reflect on those other harvests ready to be brought in – those ideas and projects we’ve nurtured through the year since last Lammas, ideas come to fruition, plans and dreams matured. Maybe some faltered along the way, maybe some are only just germinating now. All experience is valuable however, and even as new life can be called forth from those ripe ears of wheat, it is time to look within, to probe our own inner secrets and ponder what we have learned and how we have grown in the past year.
At Lammas-tide it is traditional to give thanks for the harvests now being gathered in before Autumn draws her golden gown over the land once more with offerings of bread. Today I baked a loaf of sourdough bread, using a sourdough starter at started off some ten days ago – so in a way I too have been harvesting the fruits of my labour begun more than a week ago. I broke off the first chunk from the loaf whilst it was still warm, and offered it together with a cup of home-brewed apple mead (more fruits of my labours!) at the base of the cherry tree that this year gave us such an abundance of fruit.
Even as Christians share Communion at the altar with bread and wine, so too can the Pagan share in a communion with Nature and the Gods themselves.
How will you give thanks for your harvests? What new seeds are you planting in anticipation of next year’s Lammas-tide?