In the Southern Hemisphere, we are entering the Season of the growing light celebrated as “Imbolc”/Early Spring: it is the first Seasonal Moment after Winter Solstice, the “cross-quarter” or meridian point between Solstice and Spring Equinox. In the North of the Planet it is the Season of the growing dark, celebrated as Lammas/Lughnasad: the first Seasonal Moment after Summer Solstice. The actual Moment is 7:40 UT (“Universal Time” as it is called) on the 7th August. That is 17:40 on the 7th August at my place – EST Australia. Other global times can be found at archaeoastronomy.com
Imbolc/Early Spring may be felt as a beautiful promise of the new: it is a Moment of seeing a new beauty, a new possibility, not present before. I felt it when I laid out the first lace doily, made by a woman now passed: I put the lace doily under the year candle we lit at Winter Solstice. In the process of dismantling of the old, making space for the new, my bodymind took comfort in the visual communication of this promise.
I remember as I lay out the doily, and another under my ceremonial headpiece, that I have witnessed so much renewal, and so has Gaia Herself: She is indeed all about never-ending renewal. And it requires a commitment and focus, a dedication to nursing the manifestation through sometimes tenuous and delicate stages.
Lammas/Late Summer – the polar opposite of Imbolc, across Her Centre – may be felt as a promise of rest as the new darkness grows. It is a Season of remembering the Sacred Consuming of what has been, the return of what has grown to fullness during the high energy days of the light part of Earth’s cycle, or of a period of one’s life, or of a whole life. This may be an enjoyment of the fruits, of the ‘harvest’, as well as at the same time experienced as loss. It is the other side of the entry into manifestation; the exit, or re-entry into the manifesting.
The Season of Lammas celebrates the consuming of the ‘Food’ which all being is … the turning over of the ‘crop’ back into the field whence it grew. This Seasonal Moment may celebrate the beauty of the Dark, which usually gets such short shrift in our cultural context. It also marks the sobering reality of the passing of All.
Both Imbolc and Lammas may be Moments on the Seasonal Wheel for dedication: one is a dedication to the small particular and unique self, and the other is a dedication to the large/deep self … and they are never separate. The small self to whom we may dedicate ourselves at Imbolc is grounded in the Deep/Large Self to whom we all belong; this self grows out of the fertility and sentience in which we are immersed – the Dark Matter/Mother to whom we may dedicate ourselves and sink into, at Lammas.
Imbolc with its task of nurturing of new life, and standing with integrity and truth of being, is not for the faint-hearted. And we need much more of it in these times. This is classically understood as a “maternal” task, and so it has been: and its value has commonly not been given its due. It requires the skill and daring of a spiritual warrior. More true Maternal mind is required in our times, by all of us – all genders, in whatever role you play each day. May it be so. Some video reflections may be enjoyed here: PaGaian Imbolc 2009 and PaGaian Imbolc 2008.
Lammas may be celebrated with the understanding that we are each and all the food/daily bread, the grain, consumed – actually in every moment. Each being and all creativity is constantly given over. Lammas is the “funeral” Moment, the consuming of the year’s harvest, of perhaps decades of harvest; and it reminds of life’s harvest … this is both a joy and a sorrow. A video reflection may be enjoyed here: PaGaian Lammas 2010. Cosmologist Brian Swimme offers a reflection 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.
Imbolc and Lammas are One: that is, the Not-Yet beckons always, even as we dissolve. The differentiated self comes out of the Well of Creativity – directly: these qualities of being, of Cosmogenesis, are One. An article that speaks to the mirror reflection of Imbolc and Lammas is Making Sacred: Space for the Not-Yet – originally written during Lammas in the Southern Hemisphere (Imbolc in N.H.). I may write it slightly differently now, but some may find useful thoughts there.
In the South of our Planet many groups will gather in early August to celebrate Imbolc. I will be living in a new region of Australia and indeed personally venturing into the new. Three priestesses will gather in the ceremonial space of MoonCourt to explore and feel for the new moment, and to find their voice for celebrating it. The invitation sent out from MoonCourt reads:
This is the Season of the waxing Light …
You are invited to celebrate
the feast of the Young One
– who is the Urge To Be within All.
The New One born at the Winter Solstice
This is the time of celebrating the small self –
each one’s Gaian uniqueness and beauty.
We meet to share the light of inspiration,
to be midwifed,
by She who tends the Flame of Being, deeply committed to Self, and Who is True.
Some Imbolc and Lammas story may be found in Appendix F of PaGaian Cosmology, and ritual scripts are offered in Chapter 7 – the on-line versions are a bit different from the paper copy versions, as they evolve. There is a lot of scope for many diverse ceremonial expressions – it depends so much on your particular place and passions how you may choose to express the Poetry of the Moment.
PaGaian Cosmology blogs for Imbolc
PaGaian Cosmology blogs for Lammas
Imbolc/Early Spring or Lammas/Late Summer meditations are offered on PaGaian Cosmology Meditations CDs to nurture your participation in this Seasonal transition – either just for yourself or for a group. The tracks may be purchased individually or you may choose to purchase the whole set.
Some Imbolc and Lammas 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 have always evolved, and have been adapted to personal and regional poetics: you may note that the on-line versions are different from those in the paper copy of the book.
(c) Glenys Livingstone 2017
re the name “Lughnasad” for this Season: 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 suggests 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 in this issue 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.
 I love the fact that the early Universe had a lacy pattern. Brian Swimme and Thomas Berry describe the early Universe: “After the fireball ended, the Universe’s primordial blaze extinguished itself, only to burn once more in the form of lacy veils of galaxies filling all one billion years of space-time existence.” (The Universe Story), p.34)