This major sabbat, at the beginning of August, denotes the high point of the year; the crops are in their fullness, the weather is warm, and the countryside is bursting forth with the beauty of life. Pagans know we have the heavens above to thank for this and the gods of nature must be acknowledged for their generosity with a gathering of the tribe and a feast, ideally in the great outdoors.
Ask invitees to bring harvest-themed offerings for the altar: gourds, pumpkins, bundles of wheat stalks and corn, fresh pickings from their garden, and food to share in thanksgiving made from the same—pies, tomato salads, cucumber pickles, green beans, corn pudding, watermelon, lemon cakes, apple cider, and beer brewed from wheat, hops, and barley. This celebration of the harvests of the summer season should reflect what you have grown with your own hands. Fill your cauldron or a big, beautiful colored glass bowl half-full with freshly drawn water and get packets of tiny votive candles to float in it. At the feast table, make sure to have a place setting for the godly guest Lugh, who watched over the plantings to ensure this bounty. Place loaves of Lammas bread by his plate.
When all guests have arrived, everyone should add a food offering to the plate of the god and light a candle to float in the cauldron. Cut a slice of Lammas bread for Lugh and begin the ceremony with this prayer of thanks:
Oh, ancient Lugh of the fields and farms,
We invite you here with open arms,
In this place between worlds, in flowering fields of hay.
You have brought the blessings we receive this Lammas Day.
Begin the feast and, before the dessert course, everyone should go around the table and speak of their gratitude for the gifts of the year. Storytelling, singing, spiral dances, and all manner of merriment are part of Lammas Day.
Lammas Day Bread Recipe
Photo taken from 'How to Make Bread' by Emmanuel Hadjiandreou. Image © Ryland Peters & Small
2 cups (270g) whole-wheat flour, plus an additional ½ cup (70g) set aside
2 cups (270g) bread flour
¼ cup (35g) toasted sesame seeds
2 tablespoons active dry yeast
2½ teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons peanut butter
2 tablespoons honey
2 cups (475ml) milk, scalded
This recipe makes 1 large or 2 regular loaves.
Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add the peanut butter and honey to the hot milk and stir to combine. Cool the milk mixture to warm and pour into the dry ingredients.
Knead for 15 minutes, adding the extra flour, if needed, to make a smooth and elastic dough. Oil the surface of the dough, cover with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel, and let rise in a warm place until it has doubled in size; this usually takes 90 minutes. Punch it down and shape into your desired loaf size. Allow to rise again, covered in a warm place.
Bake in a preheated oven at 375ºF/190ºC/gas mark 5 for 30 minutes until golden brown and hollow-sounding when you rap on the bottom.
For more Pagan celebrations, rituals and recipes for the changing seasons, check out The Book of Kitchen Witchery by Cerridwen Greenleaf.