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.