Lughnasadh, or Lammas, is the first harvest festival of the Pagan Wheel of the Year. It is known as the Grain harvest, it is the first of the three traditional harvest festivals, starting here at the beginning of August and culminating at Samhain, the end of October.
It falls around the 1st and 2nd of August, and is the time of abundance and plenty. The crops are ripening, and it is time to begin gathering them in, we can see the apples growing on the tress, and nuts in the hedgerows – if you are lucky and grow some veg, you might be able to start harvesting the first tomatoes, beans, courgettes… but not this year in my garden!! The weather has been much cooler, and very wet this year, everything is so late. I lost all my onions, the slugs got most of my courgettes, pumpkins and squash, and as I write this in the middle of July I have the smallest of tomatoes forming, no cucumbers, and teeny tiny runner beans!… but this is another lesson, a lesson in trust and surrender. Mother Nature will find a way, everything has its season and cycle, and comes into it’s own balance, as I have an abundance of sweet peas, sunflowers, damsons and apples, and the wild forage of linden blossom has been amazing – more than I had last year, and so we find the blessing of gratitude. (update – as I post this, the temperature is 29 degrees, and has been for days! the great British summer!!)
And this gratitude extends into my personal and work life too. I am thankful and grateful that we have been able to work again – and that I am busy! Teaching has taken the bulk of my work, not only the holistic therapy courses, but also face to face herbal workshops, which is something I have wanted to do for a long time.
The cabin is an amazing space, and I am so grateful that I have such a beautiful space to work from. It’s been amazing to share the space with so many wonderful people, from the students, clients, and to the beautiful people who have come to share in the healing circles that we have been able to run.
Harvest Hare by Wendy Andrew
There have been some huge shifts in energy and vibration, and I am really noticing that as we move into this next Golden Age, the Age of Aquarius, people are seeking something more, something spiritual. This last 16 months has seen an acceleration in people looking for the deeper meaning in things – I have seen a huge growth in people wanting to learn Reiki – there are more men coming forward wanting to learn holistic therapies and massage, in an industry that is seen as being more traditionally “female” dominated… Gender has become more fluid and we are all being called to be more accepting and open, in our thoughts, hearts and deeds. We are being asked by Mother Earth to step up, be counted and accountable for our actions! None of us are perfect, and we are all here to learn. This acceleration is rapid, and, as growth is, often painful, but I find that by holding an inquisitive mind, by being open and just asking “how can I help?”, that is enough, for now.
What I have been up to
As always, there never seems to be enough time – and that is one of (the many) lessons that I am trying to integrate – to learn not to say that, to really understand that there is enough time, that the time is always right now. As well as giving and teaching holistic therapies, workshops, healing circles, and moon circles, my celebrant work continues to unfold. I spent a week in the beautiful heart chakra of the world, Glastonbury, holding space for and helping with the training of the June intake of the Sacred Celebrants Academy. It was a full on week, and I was extremely blessed to meet and work with some amazing women, some of whom I know will be a part of my life for a long time – and so another gratitude!
I had the honour of conducting my first handfasting wedding… it was an absolutely incredible experience and I have realised even more that conducting and holding space for these ceremonies and rituals is a passion that I not only think is so important for us as a culture to reclaim, but that I am loving so much.
I now have a gallery section on my website, and there are some of the photos of the wedding on there. I will be adding to them as at the end of the month I have a Next Decade 50th birthday ceremony, and a baby naming to perform. More gratitude!
I have lots of exciting things as always coming up, as well as the beautiful ceremonies mentioned, I am introducing the “Mother Blessing” ceremony as part of my pregnancy pamper package – At this time of Lughnasadh where we honour the pregnant Harvest mother it seems very appropriate right now. This is a beautiful ceremony that honours the mum to be, where she can be pampered and loved, showered with support and blessings as she takes the journey into motherhood. Whereas the baby shower focuses on the baby, this is all about the mamma! Held within a sacred nurturing space, it can be held in your own home, with a small group of friends and family – I will set up the space and oversee the activities. The act of women coming together to hold space, and weave magic and ritual together is a powerful and empowering thing to be a part of, giving the mum to be strength and connection. The cost of this blessing ceremony is £200, and I am offering a 10% discount if you book it with the pregnancy pamper or block of six treatments.
To the other side of the wheel, holding the energies of balance, as one half of Angelic Aurora End of Life Practitioners, we are starting to see people begin to feel the need to talk more openly about end of life, how we can support and plan for it – things are changing, and we are so grateful that we can offer our knowledge and support in this area. I am planning to hold more End of Life Skills workshops, face to face and online, as well as beginning to create a new workshop that will enable us to begin to start planning our own living wills and advance decisions. I hope to be able to offer this by the end of the year, at the moment I am getting to grips with learning the medical language and procedures that make up life sustaining and prolonging treatments. In order to make the decision making process easier, we need to know and understand what these things even are, and mean, not only for us, but for our loved ones around us too!
And so to Lughnasadh
Lughnasadh is the pagan festival of the Sun god Lugh, a time for joy, fun and games. It is the first of the harvests, the grain harvest, a time of gathering in the grain, a time to be thankful for the abundance. It is also known as Lammas, which translates in old Saxon as “loaf mass” referring to the bread baked with the first grains.
Lugh, the Sun God, the God of Light. He would be celebrated by feasting, market fairs, games and bonfire celebrations. Circle dancing, reflecting the movement of the sun in sympathetic magic, was popular, as were all community gatherings. August was considered an auspicious month for handfastings and weddings.
But underlying this is the knowledge that the bounty and energy of Lugh, of the Sun, is now beginning to wane. It is a time of change and shift. Active growth is slowing down and the darker days of winter and reflection are beckoning. You can tangibly feel the shift in the air and energy.
Traditionally, all things to do with honouring the grain, corn and harvest would be celebrated. The Goddess is known by many names throughout the year, at this time she is The Grain Mother, Harvest Mother, Harvest Queen, Earth Mother, Ceres, and Demeter. Demeter, as Corn Mother, represents the ripe corn of this year’s harvest and her daughter Kore/Persephone represents the grain – the seed which drops back deep into the dark earth, hidden throughout the winter, and re-appears in the spring as new growth. This is the deep core meaning of Lammas and comes in different guises. The fullness and fulfillment of the present harvest already holds at its very heart the seed of all future harvest. (It is a fact that a pregnant woman carrying her as yet unborn daughter is also already carrying the ovary containing all the eggs her daughter will ever release – she is already both mother, grandmother and beyond, embodying the great Motherline – pure magic and mystery.)
So as the grain harvest is gathered in, there is food to feed the community through the winter and within that harvest is the seed of next year’s rebirth, regeneration and harvest. The Grain Mother is ripe and full, heavily pregnant she carries the seed of the new year’s Sun God within her. There is tension here. For the Sun God, the God of the Harvest, the Green Man, or John Barleycorn, surrenders his life with the cutting of the corn.
The Sun God, Lugh, as John Barleycorn, is the living Spirit of the corn, or grain. As the corn is cut so John Barleycorn is cut down also. He surrenders his life so that others may be sustained by the grain, so that the life of the community can continue. He is both eaten as the bread and is then reborn as the seed returns to the earth. The first sheaf of corn is supremely important, produces the first (and best) seed and assurance of future harvest. As ever the wheel turns, always showing the eternal cycle of Life, Death and rebirth. Everything dies in its season. Everything is reborn. This is our lesson, the whisper of immortality. And the wonderful bittersweet of Lughnasadh/Lammas.
We have it so much easier than our Ancestors, who’s lives depended on the weather, on the harvest being bountiful – we have the comfort of our homes and gardens, the abundance of food from all around the world in our shops, and so it should be easy to feel gratitude and blessings for all we have.
Make the most of being able to get outside, with friends and family. Think of all your many blessings, and spend some time in quiet reflection writing them down. How can we pass that on? It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture, simple small humble acts of kindness will have a ripple effect.
Ideas for Your Altar
Decorate your altar with symbols of the season – corn dollies, sickles and scythes, garden goodies like ivy and grapes and corn, poppies, dried grains, and early autumn foods like apples, some stalks of wheat or corn, golden and orange coloured crystals like amber and citrine, or colours of the earth, greens and browns, like tigers eye and amazonite. If you have oracle or tarot cards you can have an image that represents the Harvest Mother, or Mother Earth. This is your altar, go with what feels right for you. Have a candle on your altar to represent the archetype of the Harvest Mother–choose something in orange, red or yellow. These colours not only represent the blaze of the summer sun, but also the coming changes of autumn.
Lughnasadh Ritual & Meditation
Sunday 1st of August at 8pm will be the online ritual and meditation to gather together in our virtual circle and honour the harvest – to count our blessings, connecting in with each other to share in our abundance and gratitude.
At this time of Lughnasadh / Lammas the Goddess takes on the aspect of the Harvest Mother.
Harvest Goddess by Wendy Andrew
The Harvest Mother was the Pregnant Goddess at the Solstice. Right now, the earth is fruitful and abundant, crops are bountiful, and livestock are fattening up for winter. However, the Harvest Mother knows that the cold months are coming, and so she encourages us to begin gathering up what we can.
This is the season for harvesting corn and grain, so that we can bake bread to store and have seeds and roots for next year’s planting. It’s the time of year when the apples are almost ripe for the plucking, the fields are full and lush, and we’re grateful for the food we have on our tables.
This ritual celebrates the beginning of the harvest season and the cycle of rebirth.
Join me as we not only count our blessings with her, but ask what we need to let go of, what no longer serves us, how did we sow our seeds of intention in the spring and what is ripening and showing up for us now?
For this ritual and meditation you will need a quiet space to sit for an hour, either inside or outside, a candle to focus on (your eternal flame if you have it) or a small and safe fire if you are outside, a blanket to keep warm, a few stalks of wheat or corn, grains or seeds, and a notepad and pen to write down any thoughts and feelings that may come to you.
The investment for this is £9, please email me on email@example.com to join us, and I will send the payment details and the zoom link.
As ever, I look forward to connecting with you, either in the physical or the virtual. May your harvests be abundant, your larders and hearts full.
Much love and blessings,