This festival celebrates ultimate sacrifice. The Goddess gives all of her energy, all of her life, so that the children are fed. The date is 2 August, when the Sun is in Leo and the days have begun to shorten. Lammas is a major festival and is celebrated mid afternoon.
The world has subtly changed since the verdant climax of Midsummer. At the roadside, the grass is going to seed and no longer looks green. This very thing is happening to many plants, and the colours are changing to beige and yellow and brown. The Goddess is giving us her first fruits, the first harvest of the Year. And at the same time she is still working, working hard and using her amazing energy to ripen the fruit. She surrenders herself to us at this time. And we honour her for it.
Witches and Wiccans honour the self-sacrifice of the God, who is the corn. He sacrifices himself in the harvest for the good of the people. That is why very often a loaf of bread plays an important part in the Lammas ritual. The word Lammas also means 'loaf mass'. To me, the corn grows out of the body of the Goddess. She is the Earth and what grows on it. This year, my home-baked loaf looked particulary impressive.
The day before Lammas, I visited the damp Common where I captured woodland after the rain. But the festival itself brought the first dry day in a while. It was wonderful to walk in the sunlight before my ritual, attuning to the feel of the day. It felt warm and expansive.
Lammas corresponds to the South Western point of the Circle, and that is where I place my altar. On it are symbols for each of the Elements. The focus of the magic is the Lammas loaf this time, and I place it at the centre of the Circle. I cast the circle and invoke Brigit, the nurturing Grandmother for the first time.
My rituals have changed over the last few Moons, turned upside down. I don't raise power straight away, but do the divination for the coming season first. My question is: 'What does the Earth need from me this season?' I have often felt that my magic and my work is too self-centered, and that it is time for me to start working for the outside world. I am convinced that my healing will come if I work to heal the world - or at least my corner of it. I want to give my abundance to the world, like Brigit does.
The answer to my question consists of three qualities I have to work on this season. I go deep inside in meditation and find those virtues within myself (after all, we all already have all that we need present within ourselves). I call upon the spirits present to help me find these qualities.
When I have found them, I raise their energy with a dance and a chant. I direct it into the bread at the centre of the Circle. I then cut a slice of wonderfully crusty bread from the loaf and eat it, taking the qualities I have invoked inside me. I also crumble some bread to scatter in the four directions later, so that this energy is spread into the world.
Then it is time to celebrate, with some more bread and some beer. Beer seems like a more appropriate drink at this festival of the corn. Thanking Brigit, the generous one, I open the Circle. I take my positive energy out into the world with me.