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Posts Tagged ‘Lammas’

Nine Waves Protogrove gathered tonight in the park, under the late summer sun, and around an open fire, to celebrate Lammas. Our ritual honored Frea, the Golden Grain God, and celebrated not only with praise and offerings, but also with a personal sacrifice from each person, that they are willing to give up until Samhain to ensure a good harvest this year.

While we did not announce our sacrifices, I know mine will be hard to keep. I dunno if it’s the Wiccan background, but I take Lammas sacrifice VERY seriously. The harvest is a thing you don’t want to fuck up, especially when your surviving the winter depends on it. And with all the hardship that’s going around in our country, I figure a good harvest is something we all need right now. (With as badly as my garden did this year, I figure a difficult sacrifice is due – I got very little personal harvest this year, so I’m going to have to rely on my community until next year’s garden.) While Lammas is definitely a celebration – it is a High Day after all – it’s also a serious occasion and one that it’s important for us all to be mindful of each time we pick up a bag of fresh apples in January at the grocery store.

We also read the Tale of John Barleycorn – which you can listen to here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t8878chOvfI (This is a slightly different version than the one in my book, but it’s the more famous version by far.)

Our next ritual will be for the Autumn Equinox, and will celebrate the second harvest. Our ritual focus hasn’t been selected yet, but we’ll announce it as soon as we have it planned.

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Lammas week! Hooray! This is one of my favorite high days, so I’m excited to have celebrated it, both with my study group and on my own, as part of my home-based practice requirements. I did not attend my local protogrove’s ritual, simply because I was still getting over being sick, and it was clear on the other side of town from where I live, and an all-day event, and I just didn’t have the energy for something like that. My study group did a Loaf-fest ritual to Thor and Sif, and I did a solitary Anglo-saxon Lammas ritual to Thunor. I left some room for improvisation in the ritual, especially around the key offerings, and I think that went well. (I’m not sure if I need to include the full ritual text for my journal entry, but I don’t have it with me, so I’ll have to add it in later if it’s needed.)

Unfortunately, my mental health hasn’t been so good lately. This is not unusual when I get very busy over extended periods of time – I’m a pretty strong introvert, and need my space – but for whatever reason this particular down-period is both stronger and more persistent than usual. It’s likely that this is a bipolar episode, which is frustrating because I just have to wait for it to go away, but also kind of comforting, because I know it won’t last forever and I just have to wait for it to go away.

I know during tough mental times, I should be turning MORE to my daily practices, but I’m finding it very hard to stay motivated to do anything. My morning practices have all been at work this week, and done more out of a sense of duty than of any sort of joy or desire for the connection. But I am still doing them. I am trying to do more meditation as well, since that can help during rough brain times, but that hasn’t been as often as I’d like. I did buy some new candles for my hearth practice, which is nice – they smell good too.

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I celebrated my Lammas ritual at around 5pm on Saturday, July 27. Normally I try to do my rituals when I have time alone in the house, and I had extra time this weekend where I was by myself, so I did my ritual then. This was a solitary ADF style ritual that followed the COoR. I used the Solitary Norse Ritual template found here as the basis for my ritual, and added in special sections in honor of Freyr, as he was the god of the occasion, being that his is the sacrifice that goes with the first harvest. I honored Nerthus as the Earth Mother and Heimdallr as the gatekeeper. I brought incense for the fire and silver for the well, whiskey for Bragi and Heimdallr, a can of soda for the outdwellers, and shared a bottle of ginger beer as my primary offering. I also baked a loaf of corn bread to offer Freyr, which I then placed around the corners of my house as a blessing.

I liked this ritual template better for this ritual than I did when I used it for Ewemeolc. I still stumbled over the words some, which a practice run would have helped alleviate. I had real trouble getting the Two Powers to feel present, though I didn’t have much trouble feeling distracted – which is miraculous, as I forgot to feed the cat before my ritual, and he interrupted it. I made a cat-food offering at the same time as I offered (outside) to the outdwellers, and that worked fairly well. I used some of my own poetry to Freyr, as well as other published poems that I had collected, and used that as my primary offering and the centerpiece of the rite.

I wonder, in hindsight, if I shouldn’t have saved the loaf of bread for a magical working, after receiving the blessings. The loaf of bread was a sacrifice, but it was also used to bless my home afterwards (with chunks of the bread placed at each corner of the house).

After making my offerings, I asked the Kindreds to “give to me of your blessings” and drew the following runes:

  • Hagalaz: Hail – Destruction, death, an early Winter.
  • Mannaz: Man/Mortality – The self. A sense of resignation, of orlog, or fate. The way of the world, an inescapable cycle of events. The power of humans together to attempt to make a difference, to take control of things within their power.
  • Nauthiz: Need/Lessons Learned – work without reward, oppressive forces that cannot be avoided, hardship. Lessons can be learned from this situation, but they are hard won.

Yikes. I noted that this was decidedly less of a glowing review of my ritual, made some extra offerings of incense to the fire, and closed out the ritual without much further ado.

This is the first time I’ve gotten three “doom-y” runes in a row, and the first time I’ve ever pulled hagalaz as an omen in a ritual, so I’m a little shaken up. I find Hagalaz to be particularly disturbing at this, the first harvest festival, since a late hailstorm can totally ruin a year’s worth of work.

I also noted that in this ritual I gave alcohol to the first offerings (Bragi and Heimdallr) but since I usually make my offerings to the kindreds from my own cup (because I like that symbolism) offered them a non-alcoholic beverage. I am currently on a medication that has some SERIOUS side effects if combined with alcohol, so I can’t drink. This is sad, because I really would like to offer more mead. And maybe I can skip my medication on the days I do ritual so I can share mead with my Kindreds (it’s the type of medicine that skipping a day is OK, I take it as I need it. I just had already taken some today). I wonder if that got me the really negative reaction, or if I’m in for a world of hurt for the next short while.

I’ve done a lot of pondering on this rune drawing in the week since my ritual, as well as asked for help from more experienced rune readers, and while the general consensus is that things are probably not good (either now or in the future), there are more positive ways to look at this reading, or ways to look at it that place it into context as more than just DOOM AND DESTRUCTION. For one thing, it could simply be that the destruction is of something that is standing in my way – which might be painful to let go of, but would be a positive-outcome in the end. Nauthiz can be the lessons I learn from that clearing away (or the fact that it really needs to happen), and Mannaz can simply mean that it has to do with me personally, as part of my self (which could be a direct reference to the fall being a time that I generally struggle with my bipolar disorder, and that this fall I’ll make some breakthroughs through hard inner work done). This could also reference the instability of my job right now, which would also make sense.

This type of nuance is something I’m not very good at with the runes, and so I intend to use future studies to really try to get a better read on how to use them well and wisely.

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Lammas/Lughnasadh/Freyfaxi is the holiday celebrated on or around August 1st in the Wheel of the Year, and can have many different meanings depending on the particular culture your variety of Paganism celebrates (hence the many different names). Generally speaking, this is the first of the harvest festivals in the Wheel of the Year and is the celebration of the grain harvest.

Lammas is the Anglo-Saxon celebration of “loaf-mass”, when the first loaf of bread made from the new year’s wheat is blessed, and then used for magic, usually to protect the rest of the grain crop. In the Anglo-Saxon chronicle it is referred to as the “Feast of first fruits”, which is mirrored in the modern Pagan celebrations of this time as the first harvest. This time also marks the end of the hay harvest, and the beginning of the harvest of grains.

Lughnasadh is the Celtic celebration of the first harvest, as well as the commemoration of the god Lugh for his foster mother Tailtiu, who died after clearing the plains of Ireland for agriculture (usually celebrated with games and sport and feasting). This was one of the Celtic “Fire festivals” and was often celebrated with bonfires and the visiting of holy wells. Ashes from Lughnasadh bonfires would be used to bless fields and livestock (A tradition that continues in Christianized Ireland, where priests frequently bless fields on this day). This was also traditionally a time of handfasting.

Freyfaxi may be a type of Norse festival of sacrificing horses to Freyr, who is the God of the harvest cycle in that culture. Unfortunately it seems to be named for a horse who was dedicated to Frey, but was stolen by a traitor priest who then defiled Frey’s holy stead, so I’m not really sure why there is a celebration in honor of it. (However, it is possible that there were horses sacrificed to Frey, it’s more the name that is concerning). In modern times it is seen as a sort of parallel to Lammas (which comes out of the Anglo-Saxon tradition). Some modern Norse traditions celebrate this time as one of community and sport, as it was the time of the annual All-Thing in late July and early August.

In modern Paganism, this is the time of the sacrifice of the Grain God, who lays down his life (as the grain is the “sacrifice”) only to rise again with the next year. This is commonly retold in the story of John Barleycorn, who dies and is reborn the next year. Many traditions practice offering up sacrifices in order to continue the turning of the seasons, in a mirror of the sacrifice of the God, who must die for the fields to be replenished the next year. The Goddess is pregnant at this time with the God who will be born again at Yule, to be sacrificed at Lammas the next year. Often this is celebrated with sacrifices of bread and other grains, and magic that centers around reaping the fruits of hard labors. Similarly to the Anglo-Saxon tradition, a loaf of bread is often baked and then ritually “sacrificed” to represent the sacrifice of the Grain God.

I usually celebrate this time of year by clearing out my garden in preparation for the fall planting season. It feels appropriate to be cutting down the old plants and starting the plot anew, with offerings of compost and manure. It’s still too hot to plant anything yet, but I try to start the “sacrifice” of the old plants that get tilled into the earth to renew the garden and bless the upcoming harvest (that will be ready in November or so). I also try to make freshly baked bread (usually cornbread, since I can’t eat gluten, so I don’t keep wheat in the house) to add to the sacrifices that are made at this time of year. This year, since I have just discovered the tradition of using that first, blessed loaf as a magical ward, I’ll be baking the bread, giving it as an offering, and then placing quarters of the loaf around the outside of my house.

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I just got done reading about an “unscripted” but still COoR ritual over at Ozark Pagan Mamma. It really hit home for me – even though I like the poetry of highly scripted rituals that are put together well. Maybe I’ll try something like this for the Fall Equinox (I did my Lammas ritual this weekend, you’ll get the write up later this week). I think something like this could work really well as a solitary Druid, simply because I wouldn’t need a lot of the “ritual theatrics” that are mostly there to help keep a group ritual flowing together.

Of course, part of me really LIKES those ritual theatrics, but then that’s why I always do my rituals in an empty house – that way nobody but the cats has to listen to me!

Anyway, if you’re looking for a good middle ground in ritual, something that’s still following the COoR but not quite as scripted as the published ADF rituals (like the Solitary Self Blessing Rite, which I love), check out that post from Ozark Pagan Mamma. It cuts a really nice balance between having just an “observed” holiday (without a ritual) and having a full blown ritual High Day.

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Didn’t get a post written yesterday (ever have THOSE days? Yesterday was one of THOSE days) so here’s a Meditation Tuesday post instead.

I’ve been strugging with meditation recently, especially meditation intended to bring me closer to the Kindreds – especially Freyr. A lot of the reasons for that are pretty personal, so I won’t go into that here, but I asked a blogging friend to do some divination and she agreed. The results were very comforting, and so far very helpful.

One of the things she suggested was taking my meditation practice outside. Now – keep in mind that I live in southeast Texas, and it is nearly July. It was 85 degrees this morning at 6am on my drive in to work – and it’s been extremely humid. As such, it’s also high mosquito season. So I’ve opted for an in-between until things are not so blasted uncomfortable to be outside (it’s hard to settle into meditation with sweat pouring off of you). I’ve been meditating in my screen porch – it’s not quite as good as actually sitting on the ground, and the Cult of The Eternal Yard Work has been noisily disruptive, as usual, but it HAS helped some. I’ve been doing these meditations after I exercise (so I’m already hot and sweaty) and it’s been fairly productive at helping me re-make some connections.

I do my stress-reducing meditation inside though. Those are done after a shower, and I’m not wasting a perfectly good shower by then immediately returning outside where the heat index is over 115F.

Usually the summer is a reflective time for me – in the way that Winter is for a lot of people. It really is pretty inhospitable here in summer, and so while I do GET outside, I’m not as eager to stay outside like I am the other nine months of the year. (For reference, my wedding anniversary is in January, and it was sunny and 75 degrees outside that day this year (and on the day we got married!)).

I’ll definitely be doing more outside meditations as we start approaching Lammas and the Fall Equinox. These are big holidays for me, especially in my worship of Freyr (who is the God of the grain cycle, so the grain harvest is a good day to specifically honor Him). I want to try making some kind of loaves to offer as a sacrifice, and I want to deepen my connection to Him in preparation for that time of his sacrifice. The ADF Norse interpretation of this holiday is typically celebrated as the wedding of Thor and Sif (and of comunity coming together for the Thing, so the bounds of community and laws), but I haven’t decided if I will try to split my Lammas rite into two sections, or if I will just honor Freyr as Lord of the Grain Harvest (or if I’ll move my celebration of Freyr back to the Fall Equinox, as a more general Harvest festival, which would correspond more closely to what was going on in my garden). Things to ponder as summer progresses.

(I will also be finishing my “Wheel of the Year” at the Fall Equinox, so I have some big decisions to make about oaths and dedicating myself to Druidry as the ending of the Dedicant Path. I’d like to submit by Samhain, if possible, so I need to get all my ducks in a row with my essays before the Fall Equinox.)

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