Wheel of the Year: A Simple Lughnasadh or Lammas Ritual
Celebrating Lughnasadh or Lammas
Lughnasadh, also known as Lammas, is the first of three harvest festivals on the Wiccan Wheel of the Year. It is the harvest of the grains, and a time that teaches us the nature of sacrifice-- including the ultimate sacrifice. In Wicca, at this time of year, we honor the ultimate sacrifice of the God, who prepares to die in the autumn. He sacrifices himself in the autumn each year so that he can be reborn, and eventually bring back the light that will make way for the season of fertility in the springtime.
This simple ritual honors the act of sacrifice, and the sacrifice of our God in particular.
A Ritual Recognizing Sacrifice
- You can adapt this ritual for a group if desired, by assigning people different parts.
- This ritual can be performed indoors or outdoors; if performing indoors, make sure the room is well ventilated and smoke detectors are temporarily off.
- If you honor a specific Sun God or sacrificial God (Ra, Helios, the Green Man, Dionysus, etc.), feel free to substitute His name.
You Will Need:
A fresh ear of corn (with leaves still covering it)
A bowl or basket to collect offerings
A cauldron or heat-proof pot
A candle, lighter or some sort of fire
A symbol of the Sun God that you can burn. This can be a simple, small little sun cut out of paper if indoors; if you’re outdoors and feel inclined, you can use a figure fashioned out of dried twigs, vines or leaves. But paper is fine in a pinch.
A corn muffin, piece of bread, roll, etc. wrapped tightly in foil – place it inside the cauldron
A cup of ritual beverage (juice, ale, mead, wine, water, etc.—something natural)
For a full, formal ritual, proceed with the following:
- Cleanse and consecrate the area
- Cast the circle
- Invoke the quarters/elements
You should have a standard ritual opening for these things if you've been Wiccan or holding rituals for any length of time. If you don’t, you can dispense with them. It’s okay—nothing will fall down out of the sky on top of you.
If you wish, you can use the standard ritual opening and closing that I give here.
Invoking the Deities:
Invoke God and Goddess of your choice, using your preferred invocations. Or, you can use these generic invocations:
Lady of the Earth, Mother of All,
On this Lughasadh, hear our call,
We hear your voice in the blowing wind,
We feel your pulse in the rolling tide,
We see your blood at the birth of our children,
We taste your flesh in the fruit of the vine,
We smell your perfume in the blooming wildflower,
Come! Be with us this sacred hour!
Lord of the Sun, Father of All,
On this Lughasadh, hear our call,
We hear your voice in rolling thunder,
We feel your pulse in the pounding rain,
We see your blood in the sweat of our labor,
We taste your flesh in the growing grain,
We smell your scent in the musky beast,
Come! Be with us for our Lammas feast!
Symbol of the Season:
State the Ritual Purpose:
We gather today to celebrate the first harvest, the harvest of the grains. In the tradition of our ancestors who were so intimately tied to the cycles of nature, we give thanks for the bounty that the Gods bestow upon us and ponder the meaning of Lughnasadh.
Hold up the ear of corn. Say:
This is a symbol of what we come to celebrate. It is the gift given to us by the Gods. But it comes at a price.
Begin ripping down corn leaves one at a time. For each one you rip down, cite something that went into growing the ear of corn, such as:
- The sun’s energy shone down on it every day
- The rains came to quench the plant’s thirst
- The winds blew to cool it
- The soil released its nutrients
- Animals and plants died, their bodies replenishing the soil with nutrients
- The earth worms processed the soil, making it rich and loamy
- The birds, bees and butterflies pollinated the blossoms
- The ladybugs and praying mantis controlled the pests
- The farmer plowed the field, watched over the crops, harvested the fruits
- The harvester packed the fruits
- The truckers shipped the fruits
- The grocers paid the truckers and stacked the fruits
- The shoppers purchased the fruits
Add more of your own as you can think of them, for each one you state rip off a corn leaf and place it on the altar.
When the corn is free of leaves, gaze down at the pile of leaves. Say:
Thus, this is the secret of Lugnasadh—nothing comes from nothing. Sacrifice is simply part of nature, and part of life. For everything we have, we (or someone) must give something up. If our ancestors wanted a ripe, abundant harvest, they had to put the work into plowing the fields. For most of us today, if we want a refrigerator full of food and a roof over our heads, we (or someone) must work to earn the money for it.
Today we honor the God and Goddess who make the ultimate sacrifice. For one thing to live, another must die. Plants suck up the nutrients in the earth. Herbivores and omnivores eat the plants. Omnivores and carnivores eat the animals. Both animals and plants die to replenish the nutrients in the soil so the plants may survive. Such is the cycle of life.
Death is the ultimate sacrifice, but is necessary to keep the Wheel turning.
Oh Sun Lord, as your power wanes and you prepare to deliver yourself to death, we are saddened to see you go—but we know your sacrifice is not in vain. You go so that you may return to us and bring back the spring and the season of fertility. You give yourself for us, so that you may give yourself back to us.
Oh Earth Lady, even as you say good-bye to your lover we are saddened by the loss you suffer—but we know your sacrifice is not in vain. You let Him go so that you may bring him back to us through your own womb. You give him up freely for us, so that you may give him back to us.
We thank you today, Earth Mother and Sun Father, for your sacrifices.
Take some of the corn leaves and a pen or marker. Pass them out to each participant in the ritual.
In thanks for your sacrifice, we make one of our own.
Each person should write on their leaf something they are willing to sacrifice for the Gods. Here is a short list of things you might consider offering, but also feel free to come up with your own:
- An hour or two of your time toward recycling or cleaning up litter
- A bag of groceries to be brought to a food pantry
- Donating time or money to a wildlife foundation
- Reducing your ‘carbon footprint’
- Starting a garden
- Planting a tree
- To treat others with more compassion and caring
Place the stalks you’ve written your pledges on and put them in a bowl. Place the corn in the bowl as well. You should return them to the Earth later, after the ritual, by burying them outdoors.
Hold up your symbol of the Sun God and say:
As we give, we freely take. As we take, we freely give. For we know the secret of the season.
Light the Sun God on a candle or fire and hold it above the cauldron until it’s burning well, then drop it into the cauldron or heat-proof pot on top of the foil package. Let it burn out.
After the symbol is burnt, retrieve the foil package, unwrap it and hold up the bread. Say:
Our Sun Lord gives his life so that life may go on. Like a phoenix, he rises out of the ashes to give himself back to us. For the secret of the season is sacrifice, and the purpose of sacrifice is renewal. This is the fuel that keeps the Wheel turning! In honor of this, let us partake of the harvest...
Everyone should take a bite of the corn bread, passing it around with the wish:
May you never hunger.
Hold up the cup with the ritual drink and say:
And the milk of the mother is ever-flowing, to nurture us and see us through the changes.
Pass the ritual drink around for everyone to take a sip, giving the wish:
May you never thirst.
If you wish, meditations, revelry or feasting may follow.
Close the ritual in the usual way—thanking the deities, releasing the elements/quarters, taking up the circle.
Have a blessed Lughnasadh!
© 2014 Mackenzie Sage Wright