Lammas, or, Lugnasadh, is a Gaelic name for a festival celebrating the first fruits of the harvest, as well as the fruits of our labors as we hopefully see the desires that we had at the start of the year now unfolding. The feast commemorates the funeral games of Lugh, Celtic god of light, and son of the Sun. In the mythological story of the Wheel of the Year, the Sun God transfers his power into the grain, and is then sacrificed when the grain is harvested. This is one of many worldwide stories of a dying, self-sacrificing and resurrecting god of the harvest, who dies for his people so that they may live. Peoples throughout history have held celebrations at the time of the first harvest, including the Jewish observance of Shavuot, and the corresponding Christian Pentecost. Among many Pagans, Lammas is one of four major major Sabbats (Samhain, Imbolc, Beltane, and Lammas) that are celebrated throughout the year.
The power of the sun enters the grain, it ripens, and is then harvested and made into the first bread of the season. This is the Saxon ‘loaf-mass’, now ‘Lammas’. Seeds are saved for planting next year’s crop (with our deepest disingenuous apologies to Monsanto), so that the sun god may rise again in Spring with new life, just as the sun also rises anew in the sky. As the new season’s first loaf of bread is baked, the harvest Goddess, Demeter (Ceres), is thanked for her blessings.
The August full moon is also known as the ‘Barley Moon’ as the first grain harvest begins. The grain has sprouted, it holds food for harvesting as well as seed for the next generation. This is a time to think about and meditate on the connections in life, a time to remember the infinite cycles of life that have gone before us and will continue on after our own brief journey on Earth comes to an end.