|Yarrow, July 2019|
A very happy new moon and Lammas to us all!
These seasonal celebrations of Midsummer and Lammas are especially tender, carrying within them, even as the sun feels to be at its height, the whispers of the waning of the year. I love those days when we can feel, almost beyond our surface consciousness, that the year is turning, that soon it will be autumn and time to turn to the dark. I imagine that this is how wild beings, both plants and animals, live; completely present in the moment but with an awareness beyond awareness of what is coming. We often mourn that we have lost that perception but I'm not sure that it's true. Perhaps we have just lost our ability to notice what our skin is sensing? Our disconnection, from ourselves and from the earth is great, but both these festivals of high summer offer us an opportunity to reconnect & remember; to learn again to taste the dark on our tongues.
There is a sadness that these days of grace carry with them, that we are somehow losing something. But, of course, the same awareness that tells us that frost is coming and that the dark is gaining a hold also tells us at Midwinter and Imbolc that the light is returning and that the promise of the first flowers of spring are just under the surface of the cold earth. This is where we find our hope. If we are wise, we walk always with both grief and gratitude in our pockets, because this is Life.
And so, we come to the time of the first harvest, of gathering in, & of beginning to contemplate what has been lost and gained since the first shoots grew as we turned to the light. Lammas, an Anglo-Saxon, & perhaps earlier, festival whose name comes from the Old English hlaf, 'loaf' and mæsse, 'mass', may have been the day when loaves of bread were taken to church to be blessed. For the Anglo-Saxons, harvest and the coming of autumn were the same thing, hence the beautiful 10th Century verse which tells us that;
"And after seven nights
of summer's brightness Weed-month slips
into the dwellings; everywhere August brings
to peoples of the earth Lammas Day. So autumn comes,
after that number of nights but one,
bright, laden with fruits. Plenty is revealed,
beautiful upon the earth."
|Lammas grassses, July 2019|
And, as for loss and hope, it is good to contemplate that there is such a thing as ‘Lammas growth’; the name given to the habit of some trees, such as oak, ash, beech, and hawthorn, to experience a period of renewed growth and tender spring-like green leaves at Lammastide. It’s thought that they do this to compensate for leaf damage due to insect activity in the spring; yet another example from the wild that loss can be harnessed to provide energy for the new. Life with death, death within life. Always.
And so we are turning to the dark and I am beginning to contemplate my own harvest. It has been a hard year in many ways and I will spend these days breathing into what I had hoped might grow and hasn’t, but I am also aware that I am entering this season much stronger than I was as the light came in; then I was full of hope but I had not properly prepared the ground in which those hopes would grow. Now I feel that much has been ‘dug over, and that I will plant more carefully and with more possibility of success. I put much of this down to my ever-deepening relationship with the green people, especially my journeys with the Lilac Being in May and with Blackberry in June. I am looking forward to exploring the ways in which Mugwort and Yarrow will support me in working with my boundaries; something which I desperately need. It is all such magic! I wasn’t consciously aware that I needed them but they have certainly brought me back to myself in the most magical of ways and I am quite in awe of the threads that were woven between the wild green and my knowing-beyond-knowing to make that happen. This season my harvest will be trust and I am grateful.
|Ragwort & Yarrow, July 2019|
Anglo-Saxon poem and Lammas inspiration to be found at:
And my favourite Lammas thing; ‘This is a Prayer for the Resistance’ can be found at:
|Long Man of Wilmington, Lammas 2014|