Some of you may also call it Lughnasadh or Lughnasa. To witches and pagans alike, it’s a Sabbat festival marketing the beginning of the harvest season. It’s celebrated on August 1 or 2 and is considered the cross-quarter day between the Summer Solstice and the Autumnal Equinox. It’s on the Wheel of the Year after Midsummer and before Mabon. Let’s discover more about this Sabbat and how we can tie it to our mental health and emotional wellness.
History of Lammas and Lughnasadh
Before we talk about the holiday’s impact on our mental health, let’s have a brief talk about its rich history. The English name Lammas comes from the old Anglo-Saxon “loaf mass,” but before it was called Lammas, it was a Gaelic festival observed throughout Scotland, Ireland, and the Isle of Man. Lughnasadh has always been a seasonal festival along with some of the other big holidays for pagans; Samhain, Imbolc, and Beltane. The festival itself is named after the god Lugh. Traditional activities included gatherings and feasting of new food.
During Lugnasadh you could expect athletic contests and even matchmaking events. Some people made visits to holy wells or held religious ceremonies. Eventually, it was re-cast as a Christian pilgrimage holiday. However, it’s never lost its original meaning and is still very much celebrated by Celtic neopagans and witches.
In Wiccan mythology, the God’s power starts to wane at the first harvest. He infuses the crops with power, so as they are cut down so is his bright light. The days are growing shorter and everything is ready for picking.
Modern Lammas Celebrations
Today, Wiccans and other pagans celebrate Lammas on August 1 or 2 and regard this as one of the four Greater Sabbats. Modern Lammas rituals often focus on gratitude and the first harvest. In regards to emotional wellness and healing, we like to think that Lammas can help jumpstart our “gratefulness season.” After all, many of us engage in much reflection and gathering when this time of the year begins.
During the time of the first harvest, think about what you’ve learned so far this year. Consider what you’ve accomplished and what you still need to do before the year is over. Above all, celebrate what you’ve done and use your discoveries and inner strength to forge forward.
Lammas Activities for Mental Health
Every Sabbat and Esbat is an opportunity to grow and work on our mental health. Lammas is special in that it can give you the fuel to keep going through the 2nd half of the year. Here are some activities that Amber Jǫrð and the Mental Health for Witches team recommend for Lammas and the first harvest:
- Journal your accomplishments and goals for the rest of the year
- Take a well deserved mini-break from your responsibilities; this could be a long weekend off work or a day outdoors away from the house
- Get yourself a treat (like a cup of tea or coffee) for a job well done and remind yourself how great you’re doing
- Call someone you care about and tell them you’re grateful for them
- Take a nap, especially if you don’t give yourself time for rest or self-care
- Meditate alone by candlelight; give thanks for what you receive and envision even more abundance
- Enjoy your favorite end-of-summer produce (like grapes and melons)
- Write down something you did well this year and something to look forward to later
- Harvest some of the herbs or crops from your garden to create a symbolic Lammas snack or meal
- Spend a morning or afternoon in the sun, reflecting on how it will soon be cooler and darker
- Chant or pray
- Leave offerings to Gods / Goddesses related to gratitude, accomplishment, harvest
- Create a special Lammas altar as a place for reflection over the next month
- Make that appointment you’ve been putting off (one-on-one therapy, support group, massage, etc.)
- Bake something to help you have fun, relax, and celebrate
Baking for Lammas
A traditional way to celebrate the “Loaf Mass” is to bake bread. This is something I’ve been doing for years as I love the concept of gratitude and witchy cooking/baking. I always bake something fresh for my family for dinner on August 1 or 2. This year I’m doing cornbread.
Cornbread is seasonal and makes for an excellent snack during this warm and toasty time of year. It’s also easy to do in nearly any kitchen (and trust me, I’m no expert baker!). Here are a few cornbread recipes to try:
A tasty alternative to summer cornbread is quick bread. These breads aren’t exactly traditional, but they’re quick to make because they leave out the yeast and are instead leavened with baking soda or baking powder. A few interesting quick bread recipes to try include:
If you don’t have time to DIY cornbread or quick bread this Lammas, it’s the intention that counts! Go ahead and buy a loaf or some rolls from the store. Many groceries and bakeries have loaves you can bake in the oven at home. Just pick it up and celebrate over take-out or a simple meal with loved ones.
We would also love to share Lammas bread recipes of your own… if you have something and delicious and witchy we can add to this post (with credit to you, of course!) please let us know. We’re always available to hear about your cooking and baking wins here.
Gratitude and the First Harvest
How are you feeling at the first harvest? This year’s Lammas celebration is about what speaks to you. If you’re grateful for your hard work and need a bit of rest, be sure to give your body the relaxation it deserves. If harvest time is about getting the most out of the last days of summer, get outside and enjoy the sun. Lammas can be about telling friends you care or about baking something delicious for your family. It can even about planning something new or showering yourself in positive affirmations to help fuel the present and future. You are the expert on yourself and your needs. You’re also the expert on how the Sabbats can nourish you.
Look to what the ancients did and use it a springboard for your celebrations. As witches, we think this is just the beginning of the most wonderful time of the year. We would love to hear about what you’ve learned so far this year and what you’re grateful for. We also can’t wait to see photos of your bread recipes and your end-of-summer harvests!
Want to learn more? Read our post on coping with the Darker Side of Summer and summertime seasonal affective disorder (SAD). We also have inspiration for your Witchy Wellness Activities and self-care.