On February 4th at 3:45 “Universal Time” (as it is named) EarthGaia crosses the midpoint in Her orbit between Solstice and Equinox. In the Southern Hemisphere it is the Season of Lammas – the welcoming of the Dark, post-Summer Solstice. In the Northern Hemisphere it is the welcoming of the Light, post-Winter Solstice. All planetary times for this Moment may be found at archaeoastronomy.com. Many around the globe will celebrate it on the traditional date of 1st/2nd February, and some at a time when the season feels right, and some when it can be fitted into tick-tock time – and there are other cultural variations of celebrating this transition of our Planet’s orbit around Sun.
Thomas Berry named the points of seasonal transition as “moments of grace”. In Pagan tradition they are known as “Sabbats”. I name them Seasonal Moments … with capitals as is appropriate to any holy day.
In the oldest Earth-based traditions of Europe, Lammas has been a celebration of the Old One, the Crone face of Goddess … the Summer party is over, Sun has peaked in this region of our Planet. In later stories it became a celebration of the the grain God Lugh … it was his “wake” – a funeral, and named as Lughnasad: and traditionally straw figures of the god are burnt in ceremonies. Lammas (meaning the feast of the bread) may be an earlier name for this Seasonal Moment, though some are of the opinion that it is a Christian name: I disagree (see footnote below) … the Primordial Mother Goddess is the grain in many global indigenous cultures, and Lammas may be celebrated with the understanding that we are each and all the grain, the food, consumed – certainly after the peaking of being, if not before. References to this understanding of Lammas are noted in PaGaian Cosmology: Re-inventing Earth-based Goddess Religion, wherein Lammas may be celebrated with appropriate dedications made to this awesome aspect of Cosmic Creativity, in which all participate. The Dark is at the base of all existence – is the Matrix of Being. Dark is where we come from: the Dark then is a native place – Home … named and understood perhaps as Larger Self. Yet most of us, mostly live as if it is foreign, “other”. Lammas is an opportunity to express and be with our organism’s love of Larger Self – this native place, to express our organic desire for small self-transcendance, which does not have to be “up” as in hierarchy, but could be simply “expansive” as in a holarchy.
The Dark may be experienced as a merciful place. Lammas may be the time for asking: “What would I make sacred? What is sacred to me? If I understand the finite time or energy that I have, what is essential?” Lammas is traditionally a time of harvest, thus for celebrating the Harvest of Life, the Sacred Consuming. We are all consumed – even in every moment: who are we feeding? If you are not happy with what your time and energy is being spent on, perhaps offer this to the sacred dark from whom we emerge, for transformation – for a wise path beyond your knowing, trusting the deep wisdom of the Universe, which is within as much as anywhere.
Lammas, which may be felt as Late Summer (rather than Early Autumn – though it is the beginning of the Seasonal decline), is the time to dedicate to the larger purpose – to find and clarify larger purpose, time for saying “Yes” to the Larger Self to whom we all belong, setting one’s heart in the right place – the arms of the Matrix, the Dark Sentience out of Whom we arise. Only in this way can we be assured of true abundance and joy in what we do: this is the true World Bank. Some Lammas Poetry can be enjoyed here: PaGaian Lammas 2010. Brian Swimme has much to offer on The Sacred Cosmological Dynamic of Loss: over the years I have learnt much about this Seasonal Moment by understanding more of the Universe story, which is the story of Who we are, and embraces transformation.
Whereas Imbolc/Early Spring is the polar opposite – across the annual wheel, and may be a time of dedication to small self, to manifest form, to bringing forth and nurturing the new and tender being. It is traditionally celebrated as a special feast of Great Goddess Brigid of the Celtic peoples, who tends the flame of being: She is the Flame of Being. Imbolc/Early Spring is a celebration of the New Young One, the Promise of Life, and dedications are made to the nurturing of this – in one’s self and within all. It is often understood as a very maternal kind of celebration … but isn’t that the nature of re-generative mind? – it means taking on Maternal mind, no matter what variety of gender/sex you may identify with: re-generative/Maternally connected mind is what the Planet seriously needs more of from all beings.
The nurturance of Life is no wimpy task: it is for the brave and courageous. The Great Goddess Brigid who is traditionally invoked for such a task, embodies three primary capacities that may need spelling out in our times, as they are almost forgotten skills: She is imagined as Blacksmith, Physician and Poet … all three. Blacksmith is one who takes the unshapely lump of raw metal, melts it, then takes the fiery hot form and shapes it: She is spiritual warrior, shaman. Physician is one who understands the “physics” of being, of matter … how a body relates within itself and within its context, functions harmoniously and thus may heal/whole. Her physics is biologically connected – an understanding of dwelling within a whole and seamless Universe. Poet of Old is one who speaks the metaphors, the stories of cultural knowledge, the sacred language of Creativity – one who “spells” what may be so. It is a power of spirit: the voice enabled by air, resonant with the winged ones – the birds – whose perspective transcends boundaries. The ancients knew Poetry as a sacred and powerful task – that with our words, we do create what is so. Brigid’s “motherhood statements” are statements of the Mother/Creator, Who is never separate from Her whole self – the Young One and the Old One. Some Imbolc Poetry may be enjoyed here: PaGaian Imbolc 2008 and PaGaian Imbolc 2009 .
Blogs for Imbolc and an essay Winter-Spring EarthGaian Wisdom: Invoking the Power of Brigid, the Mother Creator (written in Southern Hemisphere Spring).
At my Place in Blue Mountains Australia we will gather to celebrate Lammas on January 31st at 7pm. The invitation reads:
This is the season of the waxing Dark …
You are invited to celebrate
the feast of the Old One –
who Creates the Space to Be.
The Darkness born at Summer Solstice now grows.
This is the time of celebrating the Larger Self,
the dedication of small self to the Dark Sentience – She to Whom we belong.
We meet to make sacred our lives
– in the Wisdom of the Compassionate One,
Who receives us in every moment: to be midwifed, by She who is the Transformation-of-the-Ages.
If you wish to attend, you may email me (Glenys) for an invitation and details: email@example.com
Some Lammas and Imbolc story may be found in Appendix F of PaGaian Cosmology, or if you have a paper version of the book there is an Index for references throughout. These Seasonal Moments in relationship to the whole Wheel of the Year may be found in Chapter 5, and ritual scripts are offered in Chapter 7, though they of course always evolve and adapt to personal and regional poetics – I try to keep the on-line versions up to date with changes to the sense of things here, so they are different from those in the paper copy of the book.
To participate in the on-line preparation for either Lammas or Imbolc see: Celebrating PaGaian Cosmology On-line for information or contact me firstname.lastname@example.org. There is also a preparation class offered for Lammas at my place in the Blue Mountains Australia if you are local.
There is a PaGaian Cosmology Facebook group where all members may initiate discussion and/or respond.
To be on the invitation list, or for notice of events, please contact me.
Footnote re the name “Lughnasad”: There has been conversation amongst Goddess scholars about the name for this Seasonal Moment after Summer Solstice. It is commonly named amongst Pagans as “Lughnasad” after the Celtic Sun/Grain God Lugh, but as Lawrence Durdin-Robertson seems to suggest in his book “The Year of the Goddess” (Aquarian Press 1990, p.143 quoting Adam McLean “The Four Fire Festivals” 1979, p. 21), originally the Deity of the harvest was the Goddess named Tailtu (reportedly Lugh’s “foster-mother”) so the name Tailtunasad has been suggested by Cheryl Straffon editor of Goddess Alive! Many (including myself) have preferred the name of Lammas, but some think it is a Christian term: however some sources say that Lammas means “feast of the bread” which is how I have understood it … and surely such a feast pre-dates Christianity. The evolution of all these things is complex, and we may evolve them further with our careful thoughts and experience.