Today is Lammas

Today is Lammas (also known as “Lughnasadh”), the first of three traditional harvest festivals, what my mother’s people were doing this time of year in Britain while my father’s people were still in the Middle East working on the monotheism that would eventually give rise to a modified polytheism in the form of a male Trinity (triple deities until then having mostly been female) that would overrun the entirety of Europe, detaching this day from its traditional mooring. “Lughnasadh,” named after the Celtic God Lugh, is likely the older name; “Lammas,” from “loaf-mass,” is likely later, when people would bring their first loaves of bread from the harvest to church to be blessed, then break it into four pieces and bury it at the four corners of their fields to bless their fields. Burying offerings in fields is as old as agriculture, maybe older. It doesn’t take much imagination to picture women in hunter/gatherer groups making these offerings to stands of wild grain or fruit trees. Thank you, and please stay healthy. Have a fish. Before anyone understood the science of compost, generations of women were burying offerings in fields.
Lammas is a good time to think about the old adage: You reap what you sow. What have you sown this year? Where have you put your heart, your mind, your energy, your time?


I woke up suddenly at 5AM this morning and ended up going outside to watch the dawn and listen to the birds. It’s a rare treat these days, one of the many things I miss from mothering a wee one. By the time she was 5, she would entertain herself until we woke up, and her pre-dawn need for me was over, just like that. Nothing marks the passage of time quite so mercilessly as living with a child. You reap what you sow: In some cases, you can sow and sow and never reap, or reap a bitter crop. I have been very lucky in my family. I have been very lucky in my children. I know many people who have not been so lucky, despite having done everything I did and more. The gratitude I have for this family, for these children, is immense.
Eat some grain today and thank the fields, the sun, the farmers, the earth, the Gods, your children, all children, our ancestors, our trancestors, the rain, the unimaginable luck that we have to live in a culture with such abundance; consider the unimaginable cruelty that we deny even small bits of that abundance to others because we selfishly believe we have the right to determine who deserves plenty and who does not, sad little kings of sad little hills that we are at times. Instead of burying a blessed loaf in your field, donate some money to a local food bank. There’s more than one way to give back, to make a Lammas offering to ensure the food safety of your community.

Harvesting grain in ancient Egypt

I baked my Lammas loaves last night and then sliced my finger open with the bread knife. Welcome, harvest. Please stay healthy. Have some bread and a few drops of unplanned blood. You reap what you sow: If you slice bread with a very sharp knife while looking at your husband, you will sow a cut finger. My husband is worth looking at, but perhaps not at that exact moment. Welcome, Lammas. Welcome, first glimmerings of fall, my favorite season.

“Ceres, Goddess of Agriculture” by Emily Balivet. See more of her work and purchase prints here.


4 thoughts on “Today is Lammas

  1. Erin Merritt says:

    This is the most lovely and elegant thing I’ve read in a long time, Melissa. You might even make me fall a little bit in love with Fall.

  2. Suzi Regan says:

    Yes. Thank you. You are a sage-warrior-rockstar-goddess.

  3. Kathleen says:

    Beautiful. Thank you.

  4. Kathleen Marshall says:


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