Lammas comes midway between the Summer solstice and the Autumn equinox, falling at the end of July and the beginning of August.
It is a celebration of summer and the start of gathering in the grain harvests as we very slowly make our way towards the Autumn equinox. At this time of year you will see, or be stuck behind, tractors and combine harvesters busy cutting and bailing grain crops. Lammas is a Saxon word meaning “loaf-mass” with the festival recognising the first and last sheaf of corn to be cut. Included in this are the other grain crops such as oats, barley and rye but we most recognise corn at lammas for fashioning corn dollies made from the last sheaf of corn.
There is a shift in energy from the “outer, active potential to the inner potential of receptivity and regeneration” (Glennie Kindred). Since Imbolc , in February, where seeds were sown of aspirations and desires, achievements and fulfilments have materialised through the past few months. Now it is time to complete our goals and reflect upon what has come to fruition. Don’t worry if you feel not all has manifested just keep your vision strong and consider how you can take them forward.
At Lammas we can see change coming from the ripening of nuts and berries to the gradual waning of the sun and drawing in of evenings. It is a time to count our blessings and give thanks to what we have harvested.
Lammas is a traditional time for community. Pre-mechanisation the whole village would help to bring in the harvest with children being allowed off school to help. There is a sense of working hard but also coming together to share and to play.
The trees that are associated with this time of the year are gorse and hazel. I remember gathering gorse flowers to make natural dye for wool at a placement I was at for young people with autism. All of us working together to gather these brightly coloured yellow flowers and then each one of us taking a part in the dyeing and spinning process.
Hazel makes excellent walking sticks and is thought, by sitting alongside the tree, to help overcome creative blocks.
Sage is another plant for Lammas – not only used within cooking but as an essential oil especially as an antiseptic and to use in the process of smudging – energetic clearing of space. The herb is also associated with the Throat chakra, responsible for communication, self-expression and speaking personal truth.
Sage is very powerful and shouldn’t ever be used if pregnant.
Meadowsweet is another plant linked to Lammas with garlands traditionally worn for celebrations. It is known as a digestive, anti-inflammatory and a mild sedative. Like all natural remedies please take advice from your GP before using them – Meadowsweet shouldn’t be used if on anti-coagulants.
Lammas is a time of gathering, being together, recognising your basket of abundance, another shift in the year as we continue to move forward.