In the wheel of the year tradition, tomorrow – August 1st – is Lughnasadh (pronounced ‘lunasa’) or Lammas.
This festival marks the start of the harvest season. The fields are full and so are the trees and bushes. Traditionally speaking, we are digging up the vegetables, harvesting grain and fruit, baking the first loaf of the year, and saying thank you to the earth – or our gods and goddesses – for everything it provides. This time is all about abundance and gratitude, gathering and sharing, and preserving food so it will last through the autumn and winter to come.
Here in the UK it’s the time of bilberries (a wild, scrappy, delicious little blueberry that grows on the moors). It’s a really beautiful time – late summer, still long yet shortening days, warm, moving towards that autumnal haze that I love so much. (More than anything, I love autumn.)
I’m not a Pagan or Wiccan or a member of any other earth-based spiritual tradition, but I find it incredibly helpful to mark and celebrate the eight sabbats on the wheel of the year. You can read all of my posts on these sabbats here.
Elementally, we’re part-way between fire (summer) and water (autumn).
Fire is the pro-active, busy, exciting, ‘up’-energy of sunshine and long, fun-filled days, whereas water has a more reflective quality. As autumn comes in, we go inwards, exploring those less-seen corners of our psyches. For now, however, we’re between the two! Can you feel the shift taking place?
The Wildwood Tarot places major arcana cards on the wheel of the year. At Lammas, there is The Woodward, corresponding to Strength in a traditional deck.
…the process encountered within the Wildwood is the beginning of a natural flow of withdrawal of energy and the beginning of initiation through endurance. […]
So, at a time of great physical comfort and fecundity, we are required to be aware of and prepared for the coming of autumn and sudden unforeseen challenge.
This card represents the understated strength and resilience of nature itself, the deep-rooted stoicism of the oak and the patient silence of the mountain. The Woodward represents strength, the ability to harness the unforeseen and wildly unpredictable, to channel lightening itself. It is grounded in maturity, wisdom and endurance gained through quiet contemplation and timeless understanding
Mary Ryan and John Matthews, The Wildwood Tarot
It’s a full moon tonight, too. A time for checking in.
This moon will be in the sign of Aquarius. That’s my sun sign, so I read Chani Nicholas’ thoughts on this with interest. The themes she discusses loom large for me at the moment. This tension between tapping into the collective consciousness – or at least working with my community –
Not a sign known for its emotive nature, Aquarius constantly meditates on what might liberate us collectively. Even tempered, modest and unconcerned with taking center stage, Aquarius is usually known for its intellectual capacities and its astute understanding of what makes us human and how we relate to each other, especially as it pertains to the systems we create in order to do so. […] A full moon in Aquarius asks us what our vision is for humanity and how we will move forward as a group towards it. It can lend us the necessary distance from our emotional response and grant us a perspective that we need in order to know how to best tackle the beast we are up against.
Tomorrow I’ll bake a loaf of bread – one of the oldest and simplest traditions associated with Lughnasadh/Lammas. To celebrate the abundance of right now. To welcome Emma home from her trip away.
I’ll use this recipe from the Tassajara Bread Book by Edward Espe Brown – a book that was important in my life some ten years ago, when my partner and I would bake bread together (though he was by far the better baker – I lack the patience needed to create a truly wonderful loaf…)
As I knead the dough, I’ll think over what’s happening in my life right now, the sources of abundance and support, the many things I am grateful for. I’ll think about how Emma, my love and my rock, will be coming home after three weeks away, and how grateful I am for that. I’ll think of my friends close by who cooked for me this week, a new friend who took me out for a drink. The food in my fridge, the coffee on my shelf, the warmth of my boat, simple as it is.
I’m also grateful for the shift I can feel coming. I’m looking forward to September, to autumn, to my favourite time of year, but I’m also keen to hang on to this sunshine and warmth for just another few weeks. Emma’s back just for a fortnight before she heads off again – I hope we’ll celebrate summer together during that time, eat, drink, spend sunny evenings by the water and check in with this strange and busy year before everything changes again.