OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA I felt drawn to write a little something about the festival of Lammas as I love this time of year and the celebration with BBQ’s and social events, the holidays with friends and loved ones and the general feeling of community we get in the summer months around this harvest time.

This is a time of gathering together to celebrate the labour of love that we give to each other and the fruitfulness that this brings in our lives.  The knowing that as we have sown the seeds at Imbolc, so we reap the results at Lammas as a personal harvest and as a harvest we can share with our community.

In the past at Lammas – the Anglo-Saxon name for the first harvest festival – we would come together to help gather the crops, bake the bread and share in celebration of the richness of the land.  Also know as the ‘feast of first fruits’ in the Anglo-Saxon chronicle, it was a time when blessings were given to new fruits and grains.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe theme of the God sacrificing himself for the land is very poignant at the festival of Lammas.  His Queen the Goddess, pregnant with child, slaughters her husband, the God, so his blood may flow upon the land bringing new life and blessings for the coming year and transforming into the bread and ale that feeds us and returning to the earth in honour of the cycle of life.

Lughnasadh (Lammas) is also the festival of Lugh, a Celtic God of Light and Fire and God of crafts and skills. His Welsh form is Llew Law Gyffes, and in the Mabinogion story of Blodeuwidd and Llew, the theme of Llew as the sacrificed God can be seen.  Gronw can be seen as the Dark God of the Waning year, and Llew as the Bright Lord of the Waxing year, Blodeuwidd represents the Goddess in Her Flower Maiden aspect.

It was a time of great joy and also a knowing of colder, darker times to come for as the harvest is gathered so the land prepares for the autumn and winter and its long sleep until it awakens next spring.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is a great time of year, especially making bread and feasting on all the fabulous cookies and treats that are invented for this festival.  It is also the time for creating beer and ale from the hops that is harvested and a time when last years meads and berry wines are ready for drinking… so come one, come all and celebrate.

Lammas is also the time when we celebrate John Barleycorn, and dance in celebration of the barley and wheat in the fields.  John Barleycorn personifies the story of the barley as it ripens in the fields, gains maturity and is then harvested, showing us the cycle of life death and rebirth throughout the seasons of nature.

Happy Lammas! 🙂

Ballad of John Barleycorn

There were three men came out of the west,
Their fortunes for to try.
And these three men made a solemn vow:
John Barleycorn must die.

They’ve ploughed, they’ve sown, they’ve harrowed him in,
Threw clods upon his head.
And these three men made a solemn vow:
John Barleycorn was dead.

They’ve let him lie for a very long time,
Till the rains from heav’n did fall.
And little Sir John sprung up his head,
And so amazed them all.

They’ve let him stand ’till midsummer’s day,
Till he looked both pale and wan.
And little Sir John’s grown a long, long beard,
And so become a man.

They’ve hired men with scythes so sharp,
To cut him off at the knee.
They’ve rolled him and tied him by the waist,
Serving him most barb’rously.

They’ve hired men with the sharp pitchforks,
Who pricked him to the heart.
And the loader, he has served him worse than that,
For he’s bound him to the cart.

They’ve wheeled him ’round and around the field,
‘Till they came unto a barn,
And there they’ve made a solemn oath,
On poor John Barleycorn.

They’ve hired men with the crabtree sticks,
To cut him skin from bone,
And the Miller, he has served him worse than that,
For he’s ground him between two stones.

And little Sir John in the nut-brown bowl,
And the brandy in the glass.
And little Sir John in the nut-brown bowl,
Proved the strongest man at last.

The Huntsman, he can’t hunt the fox,
Nor so loudly blow his horn,
And the Tinker, he can’t mend kettle nor pot,
Without a little Barleycorn.