In the Northern Hemisphere, the Autumn cross-quarter or “Summer Thermstice” is celebrated on August 1 as Lughnasadh/Lammas/Lunasa. How will you be celebrating it? Astronomically, the event occurs on August 6th or 7th this year. “Or“? What? How can it happen on different days? Because at the Thermstice moment, it will be the 7th for those in Europe, and still the 6th for those in the Americas. Living on a spherical planet means that this happens often – in fact, because these Pagan holidays are based on real positions of the Earth, and not on arbitrary dates, nearly every point on the Wheel of the Year will fall on a different day somewhere on Earth.
Due to the seasonal lag, this is the hottest time of the year in many places in the Northern Hemisphere. Lammas thus celebrates the heat of the summer, and with it, productivity, safety, and the early harvest – as well as the returning darkness. Those in the Southern Hemisphere celebrate Imbolc at this time.
Glenys Livingstone of PaGaian Cosmology, in keeping with decline of the length of day, takes this time to contemplate dissolution and the deep self:
“This is the season of the waxing dark. The seed of darkness that was born at the Summer Solstice now grows … the dark part of the days grows visibly longer. Earth’s tilt is taking us back away from the Sun. This is the time when we celebrate dissolution, expansion into Deep Self, the time when each unique self lets go, to the Darkness. It is the time for celebrating ending, when the grain, the fruit, is harvested. We meet to remember the Dark Sentience, the All-Nourishing Abyss, She from whom we arise, in whom we are immersed and to whom we return. This is the time of the Crone, the Wise Dark One, who accepts and receives our harvest, who grinds the grain, who dismantles what has gone before.”
Glenys invites ritual participants to contemplate their hopes for the harvest.
Bart Everson of A Celebration of Gaia describes how he bakes bread with his family to celebrate Lammas:
“We usually make corn dollies, though the materials have changed over the years. I have taken to fashioning them out of the subtropical ferns which grow in our backyard. We have a bonfire to which we commit the Brigid’s crosses which we made at Candlemas. This is a way of connecting across the year, and also of simulating the agrarian cycle on which we still depend, despite the illusions of the global marketplace. Most importantly, for Lammas, we bake bread.
“There are many mysteries wrapped up in a loaf of bread. The process of baking from scratch can connect us to history, science, culture, agriculture, and nature. The bread can be a symbol of all these connections, of our relation with the Earth and with humanity. Best of all, it’s a delicious and healthy food, which has become a mainstay of my family’s diet.”
Jon Cleland Host of the Naturalistic Paganism yahoo discussion group describes how his family observes Lughnasadh:
“We celebrate Lunasa by some kind of early harvesting, such as visiting a pick-your-own blueberry farm, wild raspberry picking, or such. To see the abundance of the earth, we’ll sometime spend time wandering (or even trying to run) in a mature cornfield. It’s one thing to say “Oh, yeah, the earth is producing a lot of growth”, but quite another indeed to be surrounded by it, blinding your sight and slowing your movement – that really shows the power of this Sabbat. We usually bake bread, perhaps in a woven Celtic knot, enjoying some of it during our ritual. The ritual is held during the afternoon’s heat, not at night.”
NaturalPantheist of the Nature is Sacred blog recites the following from ADF Solitary Druid Fellowship ritual on this day:
“As I stand here on this celebration of Lammas, the sacred wheel of the year continues to turn. As my ancestors did in times before and my descendants may do in times to come, I honour the old ways. The seeds have been sown and the crops have grown, now is the time of harvest. Today is the feast of first fruits and I celebrate the ripening of the grains. The sun has begun to wane but I enjoy still the long hot days of early autumn. I give thanks for the abundant gifts of the Earth Mother.
John Halstead of the AllergicPagan blog explains the meaning of the day to his children in this way:
“This is the time we celebrate the love of the God and the Goddess. The heat of the sun is the reflection of the passion of the God and Goddess. This is the day when the heat of their passion grows so hot that the God is actually consumed by its flames. Since this is the middle of summer this is also the beginning of the end of summer. This is the moment when the flower of summer is blossoming at its fullest, and tomorrow it will begin to wilt. Mid-Summer is like fruit when has ripened to the point where it is its juiciest and tastiest, but on the next day it will begin to rot. The meaning of this day is that pleasure is fleeting. We must enjoy life while we can, knowing that it cannot last forever. When we see the beautiful flower blossom, we must either leave it, knowing we may never see it again, or pick it, knowing that in doing so we also kill it.”
They then feast on ripe seasonal fruit and decorate grapevine wreaths with cut flowers to be offered to the fire later.
The Paths Through the Forests Blog (by Rua Lupa and Lupa Greenwolf) celebrates this holiday as Transequinox, with a pastry recipe
“Most regions around the world experience this Solterra event as the hottest time of year and when fruit, especially berries, are ripe for the picking. For some Saegoahs this is also a time for celebrating our craft skills, athletics, courting, bonding ceremonies (weddings), grain and first fruit harvest – ideally this would culminate as a fair. But for personal or family level celebration there is one thing that we can all do – make pastries! Preferably going out and picking the ripe succulent fruit yourself and having all the ingredients be local.”
For those on the Southern side of our Earth, preparations for Imbolc/The Winter Thermstice are likely underway…….
This is an updated version of the yearly Summer Thermstice post