Lunar Lammas, Solar Lammas, Celebrating Lammas in the Desert (or wherever you are)
I live the pagan part of my life on Lunar time—that is, all of my life that is not scheduled to interface with the dominant Julian calendar oriented culture. I prefer to celebrate my holydays not by mathematics (halfway between Solstice and Equinox) but by the closest Full or Dark/New Moon. I began observing the holydays this way, based on the We’Moon Calendar—Gaia Rhythms for Womyn, intuitively knowing the rightness for me of this “feminine” way of observing the Wheel of the Year.
I usually agree with the We’Moon collective’s choice of Full or New moon for the holydays. Spring Equinox, Beltane, Summer Solstice seem very celebratory to me, and so celebrating them on the nearest Full Moon feels appropriate, I usually find Brighid and Samhain very Dark Moonish (they call it New Moon; I distinguish between the waning and waxing energies before and after the astronomical “point in time”). Brighid is my time for going within to do the deep work of recommitting to my priestess vows and Samhain my time to commune with my beloved dead, both very Dark moonish.
Of course, in Tucson’s dominant Hispanic culture, communing with the ancestors (Dia de los Muertos) is very festive! And so this year I may see what I’m inspired to do at the Samhain Full Moon, perhaps a celebration! Likewise with Brighid—in my new reincarnation as a Happy Person, I may emphasize this celebration of the return of the Light. (I’m also seeing the possibility of two balancing observations of any holyday, one more “inward” at the Dark or New Moon, the other more “celebratory” at the Full!)
The next holyday coming up (after today that is), Autumn Equinox, can go either way for me—celebrating the harvest or grieving the waning light (and I’ve observed it both ways). And of course Yule can be not only the “happy birthday” to the Goddess or the New Year, but also the deep inward stillness like seeds waiting in frozen ground.
Lammas, the summertime cross quarter holyday which most pagans are celebrating tonight (on its Eve, August 1) or next weekend for convenience, was a celebration of the early harvest. In northern Europe and Britain, this would be the winter wheat or other staple grain, made into the first loaves of the year (The Catholic church co-opted Lammas into “Loafmass”). Imagine for a moment how wonderful this celebration would be in an agrarian society, and especially in a subsistence culture! Our challenge is to bring that deep gratitude for the food that nourishes and sustains us, and the cycles of Nature that brought it to fruition into our modern celebration of this holyday.
Lunar Lammas fell this year on the last Full Moon (July 22—the closest full moon to “solar” Lammas on Aug 2). Without a community of pagans in my physical reality, my celebration was simple and quiet, and I thought a lot that day about adapting one’s ancestral religion to the seasonal cycles of a radically different bioregion (for me, the low desert of southern Arizona). Lunar Lammas came at the peak of ripening of the nutritious pods of our native mesquite trees, the low-glycemic carbohydrate (and rather high protein) staple of local tribal peoples prior to their adoption of the SAD diet. And so I took more time and care with that day’s harvest.
Mesquite seeds are iron hard (ruining blenders!) and their protein lost in hand grinding of only the softer sweet pods. We modern folks usually wait until after the second mesquite harvest for the hammer mill to visit the farmer’s markets and neighborhood festivals (in November) to get our pods ground into the flour/meal that we use to replace some of the flour in our breads. So on Lunar Lammas I made mesquite atole—a sweet drink made from toasted whole mesquite pods, broken into a pot of water and in my case simmered in a solar oven. Thus I had the “ale” if not the “cakes” for the Queen of Heaven! And my trees were thanked and blessed.
I believe it is good for modern, too often “livingroom” pagans to get out into the fields or gardens or wild places to regain our connection with the food that sustains us, and with the seasonal cycles that we can loose touch with in “climate controlled” environments. This holyday is a perfect opportunity to reconnect with Nature and with the sources of our food! For those of us not able to harvest the grains that make our bread, we can at least bake our own loaf, perhaps hand grinding whole kernels in honor of the old ways. We can harvest whatever is ripe in our gardens, for a veggie loaf to be eaten with some reflection of the sacred honor given to the first loaf by subsistence farming peoples. We can go into the wilder places, forests and meadows and creeksides, the weedy verges of farmers’ fields and our own gardens to wildcraft the wild foods eaten by our own ancestors or the indigenous peoples who lived where we do now.
After thinking more about this, I have decided I will celebrate Lammas a second time this year. I’ll use my mortar and pestle to grind enough mesquite for a solar baked blue cornbread, and make a sacred veggie loaf with some of those amazing volunteer carrots in my gardens and the remnants of last year’s I’itois cowpea harvest (a traditional local Tohono O’odham selection). I’ll add herbs from the Healing Grove, and circle there with the spirits of my awesome homesteading grandmother Callie and my great aunt Anna (my dad’s mother and my mom’s aunt–I know they will love meeting each other!).
Due to appointments in town tomorrow, I’ll celebrate Solar Lammas a day or two late by the mathematics (or convention) of this cross-quarter date, but who cares? I challenge you also to do something a bit ancestral and Earth-honoring regarding this time of “early” harvest. (Pagan wuwu optional but recommended). It’s okay with me if you celebrate next weekend, or any time this summer month, just get out of the house, and do some local “slow food”, okay?
May you never hunger, may you never thirst!
via Nature Wisdom Journey » Blog http://naturewisdomjourney.com/2013/08/02/blogalong-2-lammas-musings-and-a-challenge/