Lammas: Loaf Mass: Gŵyl Awst

Lammas: Loaf Mass: Gŵyl Awst

1st August

The time of the first harvest. In Pagan Traditions, based on ancient stories and reports, this was the harvest of the grain. Even before our ancestors became settled and started farming grain, the gatherers of the tribe would have collected the seeds from the wild grasses and made them into flour. Spelt is probably the oldest grain still available to us today. It is generally well known that the making of modern bread, especially here in the UK, makes many people very ill. The fast rise, quick bake, with many additives and preservatives, is most prevalent here and has been deemed responsible for the huge wave of gluten sensitive and intolerant people around the country. In the last ten years it has almost become an epidemic.

 The harvest of the grain was always a lottery. If the weather was in any way detrimental to the growing of the grain, too cold, too hot, too wet, too dry, the harvest could be destroyed and the tribe would suffer, many might even die of hunger during the long winter.

Many offerings were given. Some even go so far as to say that blood offerings were given, to make the harvest a good one.

An old folk song: John Barleycorn must die tells the story of just such a sacrifice.

The lyrics may seem metaphorical but anyone who has ever seen the movie The Wickerman will understand their real meaning.

Now, please do not worry, most modern Pagans are peace-loving folk. Nevertheless, the sacrifice of one for the many has been witnessed in many tribes throughout history.

Nowadays, our rituals for the harvest consist of baking a bread man or woman, or a plaited ring or even a beautiful harvest sheaf-shaped bread.

The bread is shared during our ritual or celebration ceremony for a successful harvest. In the old times, we always kept the last sheaf of grain and made a dolly out of it. The dolly would be hung above the mantelpiece of the main fire in the house and then in the spring it would be the first seeds to be planted. Often this was done ceremonially and the ones who had died during the winter would be honoured at the same time.

We often also drink grain alcohol, in order to honour the abundance gifted to us by Mother Nature. Whatever we have during the ceremony, we always gift the earth the first glass, and the first slice of bread to honour “She who feeds us”.

From there, anything goes. This is a celebration that goes on over many days after the harvest is in, it is extremely hard work, even today with all our luxury helpful machinery, the work is back-breaking with many long hours.

I think that those who go and mindlessly buy bread from the supermarket miss the magic of seeing the work, the dedication, the blood, sweat and tears that harvest time brings. Most are so out of touch with where their food really comes from that it is a crying shame.

Right now, as I write this, it is early July — the stalks are shooting up, the heads of the grain are beginning to really puff out, swaying gently in the breeze, many acres filled with golden goodness. I feel sorry for the city children who never see this poetry of nature in real life. I feel sadness that they may never stand in circle, passing round the pieces of bread to their neighbour with the heartfelt wish of:” may you never hunger, blessed be”.

Our celebrations are so much more intimate. Instead of sitting in pews, one after the other, separated and isolated, the Pagan folk stand together, hand in hand, passing forward the abundance and blessing each other. No one stands at a pulpit and preaches at them. All are connected, all pray together palm to palm, feeling the joy and gratitude so palpable it sizzles through the circle, with hearts filled with joy and happiness. 

Wherever you are this day, go stand in a circle and thank the divine Mother for Her gifts.

Blessed be 

Bee Helygen


Bee Helygen

Adoratrix of Cerridwen

Priestess of the Llwyth


Bee Helygen - Priestess of Cerridwen


Bee is the creatrix and course tutor for the Priestess of Cerridwen training which has been running as part of the Glastonbury Goddess Temple since 2015. This year she opened the Temple College of Avalon here in Glastonbury and added the Priestess of the Dark Goddess training to the offerings. Full bio

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