Even though it doesn’t sound like a very spectacular way to celebrate, I typically choose to approach meals and time spent with my family as more relaxing and enjoyable on this day. By approaching these activities with a certain attitude on my part, I can usually overcome whatever possible drama that may be floating around (because we’re certainly not immune to that) and actually feel a bit more relaxed and enjoyable during and afterwards. While some people may want to hold/attend a ritual on one of the sabbats, I’ve found that Lammas feels better without doing so.
I’m a solitary, so this would mean that I would have to try to carve out time to not be disturbed by my family. It’s the beginning of August, though, and I just don’t feel like doing that. I’m currently in college, but my practice sort of started (in a relaxed way) while I was still in high school. I’ve spent what feels like most of the summer alone and working on summer homework for honors/AP classes or just preparing for the next semester. Lammas is the last bit of summer vacation before I really have to kick it into gear and start to get ready for school again, so I want to spend it with my family in some sort of relaxing way.
Decorating is an important physical sign that I’m celebrating a holiday, although I don’t have to put out a lot of objects to feel as if I’ve decorated adequately from one sabbat to another. For Lammas, I usually put out one candle from a selection, a red bowl, and two door decorations. I refer to them as door (handle) braids because they are lengths of colored yarn in a braid, which are attached to rings that can hang from a door handle. I think a family member made them years ago, but I’ve found them to be useful for the harvest sabbats because there are four. Two have the same colors (orange, yellow, brown, white, and two shades of green), and one of these is larger than the other three. The largest one and the similarly colored one both get hung on Lammas, as the large one represents the overall harvest season beginning and the other one is specifically for Lammas. I usually pick the yellow lemon shaped candle and put it in the red bowl, and a tan candle or yellow spherical candle with gold spirals acts as the main focal candle point. The vegetables from our garden typically don’t last long enough to be put out as decorations, but it is possible to put a smaller zucchini or yellow crook-neck squash in the red bowl.
In the past, I haven’t been a fan of lengthy and/or formal rituals. I also considered myself a Wiccan and focused on the Lord and Lady for a few years, up until the past eight months or so. This means that last year I said an impromptu thanks to the Lord for willingly being sacrificed by the Lady as the Reaper to sustain the harvest, which is typically grains but can include various summer vegetables (yellow crook-neck squash, zucchini, cucumbers, tomatoes, okra, etc.), depending on the area. I also read a short passage from “Simple Wicca” by Michele Morgan that describes Lammas, or as it is referred to in that book, Lughnasadh. As a book reader, I felt like I wanted to have something that could remain the same yet be read every time a sabbat comes along and help me to mentally align myself with the sabbat. So, after reading the passage on the respective sabbat for informational purposes during my first year of trying to follow the Wheel of the Year, I decided I would try to do that again for as long as I felt it would be helpful. I don’t view this book as the absolute truth or the only way to look at the sabbats, but it’s the book I’ve had, and I have found it useful to have the repetitive feeling of coming back to what I read last year.
About eight or nine months ago in the later part of my first semester of college, I came across the Nordic deities and Northern Tradition Paganism. I feel comfortable still including the Lord and Lady in my devotional practices, and I find it appropriate to still honor Them on the sabbats. I’ve included more individual gods into my life in other ways, so it just makes sense to me, right now, to let the Lord and Lady have some time to shine on the sabbats. This means that this year I did the same decorating, read the passage on Lughnasadh from “Simple Wicca”, and came up with an impromptu thank you prayer to the Lord.
I also gave a separate prayer of thanks to Frey, especially before the lunch my grandparents had prepared that included a pork roast. My family isn’t Pagan or Polytheistic in the slightest, and they likely just wanted some pork, but it felt particularly appropriate to pray to Frey because He is associated with pigs. My grandfather had also tried to use a bread-maker, so even though it wasn’t prepared by hand, I also thanked Frey for the homemade bread. I brushed up on what I had read of Frey by going through His shrine at northernpaganism.org, especially “Honey, Grain, and Gold: The Three Aspects of Frey” by Jack Roe. I made a point of reading the poem in that article, in addition to two prayers by Ari “Prayer to the Corn King” and “Prayer to the Harvest King” on the day of the sabbat.
I had never really paid the date that I celebrated Lammas on any attention. I had originally learned that it was on August first, so it seemed like a given that I would thank Frey on that day. After that, I came upon articles in the blogosphere that made a point of mentioning that some celebrated the sabbat on the astrologically timed cross-quarter, which typically makes it the seventh. I filed this bit of information away as potentially useful, but I wasn’t going to concern myself with it very much. As odd as it may seem to others who prefer to use the astrological timing, a part of me finds the pattern of having the cross-quarters on specific set dates while the quarters vary to be satisfying. I had also celebrated Lammas on the first for long enough that it almost feels awkward to try to change it, so I pretty much let my mind forget this as I went on with other parts of life.
On the sixth, I unintentionally fasted until dinner. I just didn’t feel hungry until I could smell that dinner was almost ready, and unlike other times when I have intentionally fasted, I didn’t feel ravenously hungry. My mother had tried a Chicken Helper for the first time, and it turned out to be chicken alfredo. She was also trying a different flavor of (out of the can, probably Pillsbury) biscuits for the first time, which were corn flavored. As I was setting the table, my mind just casually seemed to remind me that celebrations for a sabbat are commonly started or believed to start the night before the listed date and tomorrow was the seventh. It felt right, or very appropriate, to thank Frey for His sacrifice then. Because I didn’t feel starved, I chose to eat slowly and that meal was so damn good. Some inner part of me, and I don’t mean intestinal, found each savored bite to be warming and satisfying. While interacting with my family afterwards, it was a pleasant surprise to me that I was rather happy after eating that meal, and I was happier while interacting with them.
Despite the fact that I didn’t set out to do so, I ended up celebrating Lammas and Frey’s sacrifice twice this year. I don’t know if things could align like that again next year without me trying to recreate it. Part – of the dare I say, magic, – of the moment was that I didn’t plan it out, and I don’t feel as if I should try that. I didn’t participate in preparing the meal either time, and I didn’t have a say in what the meal would be this year, and it feels ineffective to try to plan out what has already happened. Whether I actually try to make bread from scratch, or I just hope those corn biscuits are around again to suggest, I think I’m going to aim for helping with next year’s meal. My devotional practice can’t rely totally on coincidences, after all.