Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Lammas, August 1st - A Celebration of Firsts

Tarot's 7 of Pentacles show us
our labors bearing fruit as well as
a hint of them being self-sustaining

Lammas is one of the first of three harvest festivals noted on the ancient Wheel of the Year. The other festivals being the Autumn Equinox, or Mabon, and Samhain, or Halloween.  Lammas is also known as the Festival of First Fruits.  It was a time for us to celebrate the harvesting of the first grain crops.  The word Lammas is derived from “loaf mass” and refers to the tradition of farmers bringing a loaf of bread to the village church on August 1st to be blessed.  This bread loaf was made from the first cutting of the new crop of wheat.  

Naturally, Lammas tradition is far more ancient than delivering a loaf to the local vicar.  In ancient days, the farmer and his family headed out into the fields and ritually cut a shaft of wheat while facing the sun.  The shaft was then held aloft and turned about the farmers head as they all thanked the deity for providing fresh bounty for the winter ahead.  The wheat was then threshed (literally separating the wheat from the chaff) and ground into flour.  Talk about organic.  It was then the wife’s responsibility to bake a loaf of bread from that flour for presentation to the landlord, or liege lord.  Wow, and some day’s we think it’s too much effort to drive to the neighborhood Piggly Wiggly® to pick up balloon bread.  

Lammas Bread (not the kind eaten by hobbits) was used to bless the barn where the year’s crop of wheat would be stored.  The loaf was broken into four parts and each part  placed in a corner of the barn.  In England, Lammas was also
Tarot's 9 of pentacles takes the promise of
sustainability and brings it home.
the traditional time for the lord of the manor to gifts his tenants with new work gloves – infinitely more practical than a Starbucks® gift card.

Today, we can still celebrate the beginning of Earth’s harvest season.  Buy, or bring in fresh, organic corn for a barbecue.  Dust off your bread machine and make a whole wheat loaf of bread to serve with your dinner.  Heck, you can even skip the bread machine and use your hands.  It’s fun and kneading is a great stress reliever.  The point is to use this day to stop and think about your food sources.  Think about all the natural events that had to occur in perfect order just for you to enjoy the meal on your table.  Imagine all the farmers and workers who helped to bring this food to you as well – people you don’t even know, but with whom you share a connection.  Giving thanks is an essential way to connect with the Invisible Divine and that is the best gift of all.


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