Lammas photo small

 The Wheel of Life continues to turn with unrelenting reliability – this is the moment when summer truly begins to slip back into the gloaming. We may tell ourselves the nights are still long - light at 9pm. Yet not so long ago, the daylight danced that much later into the night. We tell ourselves it is just the beginning of summer; many of us have our long-awaited annual holiday still to come. And yet in the air there is already that faint wash – even in August sunshine – of autumn and winter lapping at the flower borders in the garden. Down in the allotments, the early fruits and vegetables are already blown; now it is the late rewards of sustained hard work swelling into fine-looking abundance. Wasp-stung plums are falling, plump apples are swelling, wild blackberries are staining hands and mouths with their dark juices.
And so we mark Lammas, or Lughnasadh, linked with the ancient Celtic god Lugh, god of light, son of the Sun; in myth this festival marks his funeral games. Now was the moment when the Sun God transferred all his power into the grain and gave himself up to be sacrificed in the harvesting of the grain. Breadmaking commemorated the sacrifice – from the harvest came the first new bread of the season. This was the Saxon hlaef-masse or loaf-mass, now Lammas.  

The overwintered seed grain vitally safeguarded continuity of sustenance, ensuring a new year’s planting and the fresh green shoots of nourishment. From the final stalks of grain in the harvested fields the community corn dolly was created; he who drew the short straw was charged with keeping it under his family’s roof until the following spring, an onerous and weighty symbolic responsibility. 

So this is a harvest festival, embraced by the Christian church as a time for giving thanks to the Earth for her fruits. It is also a time when we can celebrate within ourselves the fruits of our own gifts, particularly if we have been tending them well throughout the year.

Symbolically, it is a good time to winnow the grain and cast off the chaff. We can choose to dance into the prospect of autumn and winter, or we can rail against it and resist. We can choose either to walk with the Wheel of Life, or squander our life energy straining to halt it. An important choice.

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