Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Lammas Lore

Lammas is definitely not my favorite sabbat, due mostly to the fact that it's usually scorchingly hot here which leaves one with little energy to devote to a celebration. But that doesn't mean I won't be baking loaves of wheat and multi-grain breads in honor of the day (despite the torture of turning on my oven on a really hot day), though I probably won't be doing much else. That said, like any of the sabbats, if you look deep enough you'll always find some truly odd bits of lore that are much darker than our modern observances, and that makes any festival day more interesting.

We may celebrate Lammas with the baking of grain bread or the making of corn dollies but the ancients celebrated it much differently. Thinking of marrying someone but not sure you're ready to commit your life to them? Tradition holds that you may begin a "trial marriage" on Lammas that lasts but a year and a day, ending on the following Lammas, at which point you must then decide whether to stay in the marriage permanently or kick your temporary partner to the curb.

Sacrifices have always been a part of the observation of this sabbat, not only to thank the Goddess and the God for abundances past, but also to ensure that the coming harvest will be a success and thus enable ourselves and our loved ones to survive the winter. At one time it would have been the king, god incarnate to his people, who was sacrificed, but with a substitute used in place of the actual king. In the year 1100, however, King William II after having publicly declared his disdain for Christianity and declaring himself a pagan, was killed in a suspicious hunting accident on August 1. Historians believe that his was a sacrifice in disguise for the benefit of the Christian church.

And then, of course, there's the Catherine Wheel. After the day's festivities were over, a large wagon wheel would have been taken to the top of the nearest hill, covered with tar, set ablaze and ceremoniously rolled down the hill into the village. This was symbolic of the sun or the Sun God himself in decline as autumn approaches.

I plan on keeping my husband well past next week and without any sacrifices or flaming wheels, my Lammas will undoubtedly be pretty boring. I do look forward to some lovely loaves of homemade bread though. Whatever you choose to do for the sabbat, rejoice in the passing of one season and welcome the coming of the next.

Photo of wheat courtesy of k.barker on flickr.


Not Hannah said...

Oh, lady, I have learned so MUCH from you today. In fact, I learned so much and enjoyed your voice so much that I am giving you an award on Divining Women. Yay!


Anonymous said...

I love your blog! I'm new here, came upon you from Not Hannah over at Divining Women. So glad I did.

Merry Meet!

Victoria said...

Thank you for the award Not Hannah- it's nice to be appreciated! lol
And welcome to my blog inannastar. Thank you also Cao Yun Ting (I hope I translated your name correctly- three years of Chinese school comes in handy occasionally!) Take care one and all. Peace!

Grace said...

I've always liked that marriage tradition; it's more mature thinking than our current happy-ever-after way of thinking.

Can you recommend any good books on the lore and celebration of the sabbats and equinoxs that aren't cheesy?

Victoria said...

You know, I don't use any books for my lore info. I get it from loads of different sources and a lot of it is in my head. Let me give this some thought and see if I can't come up with a good source book for you. You're right though: so many of them are really cheesy, hokey things that look more like kid's holiday craft books. If I don't get back to you on this, shoot me a reminder, okay?

Grace said...

sounds good, and perhaps you can leave it in a comment on my blog, cos I probably won't remember to check back here:)