Lammas-Letting Go, the Harvest before Dying

by Vivian Hadleigh on July 27, 2014

Lammas or Lughnasadh – The Lesson of Frodo Baggins & Batman

In spite of its association with the first crops of the year—a celebration of the first harvest of abundance resulting from the Great Rite or Sacred Marriage of the Lord and Lady on Beltane—there is an underlying poignancy, a bittersweet tang to this cross-quarter holy day that is inescapable.

Even as he called forth the Earth’s abundance and planned and organized our world since the Summer Solstice, the god knew what was coming, and now he begins preparations to sacrifice his very being between the Fall Equinox and Samhain.

Lughnasadh (pronounced loo-nah-sah), also called Lammas, is the Pagan holy day that traditionally takes place from sundown July 31 to sundown on August 1. It is a fire celebration, and, as with Beltane, bonfires are usually an important part of Lammas rituals. County fairs, which typically abound at this time of year, began as funeral games in honor of the popular Celtic god Lugh and his foster mother, who sacrificed her life to feed her people.

Lugh is a dying god, the god of the waning Sun whose days are getting shorter. His other names—John Barleycorn, Green Man, Corn Man, Holly and Oak Kings, and so on—are names of the god who is sacrificed and returned to the land to assure bounty in the coming year.

He is also associated with Mercury, the winged messenger, the only Greek god who can cross the River Styx into the Underworld to take messages to Pluto or Hades, a foreshadowing of Lugh’s own journey in a few short months.

The bittersweet feeling of this holy day is very much like the dark undertones in comic book superhero movies like the recent Batman trilogy and the various versions of the Incredible Hulk. So many superheroes are orphaned warriors who are willing to journey to, or live in, isolation or some kind of underworld domain in order to serve the greater good.

Frodo in the Lord of the Rings books and movies, Jake Sully in the movie Avatar, had no idea of the consequences when they first agreed to save their worlds. But they, and every other hero, reaches a point where he or she sees very clearly that they will have to sacrifice an essential part of their being, their future, and even their lives, in order to complete their mission.

This holy day is that moment of realization.

For you it could mean finally recognizing that the end is near for a job, a relationship, a lifestyle, or something similar. It could be the moment you realize you’re not invincible, or immortal, or perhaps when you accept that some long held dream will not come true.

In that moment there are two important tasks.

The first task is to acknowledge and preserve that which can be harvested, the fruits of your dreaming, the wisdom gained and joy experienced while pursuing the dream.

The second task is acceptance, finding the strength to release what must soon be sacrificed, and to move on without it.

The energy of this holy day can support and enhance rituals that say goodbye to things which are passing from your life, or things you meant to do which will not come to fruition. You can project your farewells and regrets into, or write them on, objects like pine cones, corn husks or other visual symbols. After meditating with them or leaving them on your altar for a while, throw them into a Lughnasadh fire or into a nearby body of water. Or you can write what you’re releasing on bulbs and plant them to manifest in a new form in the spring.

However you acknowledge Lammas, do it with awareness of its gifts and possibilities, as well as its sorrows!

Meditation

Once you’ve created quiet and relaxing space, and have writing tools on hand, get comfortable, and go within. You may want to use the clearing and grounding meditation in the final chapter, which is also a free download at this site, as a beginning.

It’s not necessary to select something for release ahead of time, but you may wish to do so. Be prepared for the goddess and the god to add something, however. This task is one of the most difficult for us humans, and it’s all too easy to forget—or not even realize—the thing which most needs ending and release.

If you began doing these meditations with Samhain and experienced each one in turn, you’re probably ready for the intense communications triggered by this encounter with the god and the goddess archetypes.

However, if you are relatively new to this kind of interaction with other realms, affirm as you begin that even if you feel you are having difficulty seeing and hearing the messages at the time, the information will be firmly planted in your psyche, and will emerge to consciousness over time.

It may jump start the power and effectiveness of this inner journey if you begin by imagining yourself sitting near a lively bonfire and surrounded by the sights, sounds and smells of a county fair.

When you invite the god into this meditation, he will probably be accompanied by the goddess carrying a basket heaped with symbols of the things you can harvest from the experiences, issues or dreams which you and they have selected for release.

Present them with your choices for release and allow the god to respond with his recommendations, if any. Leave plenty of time for this part, not because there will be many, but because the god’s recommendations may be difficult to hear, and may require explanation and discussion.

When the discussion is over, the goddess will step forward with her overflowing basket, and you and she will discuss its contents. She will explain, using words, feelings, sights, sounds, fragrances and touch, the value and use of each gift which has resulted from your experiences.

Then you, the god, and the goddess will enact a ritual which allows you to accept and celebrate the harvest bounty, and prepare yourself to fully release that which is to be sacrificed or ended on the Fall Equinox.

Thank and release them, and make notes when you emerge from your experience.

This and additional meditations for each of the eight pagan holy days are available in my book

Sacred Cycles, Ancient Doorways to Inner Space on Amazon.com

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