Once upon a Lammas Night
When corn rigs are bonny,
Beneath the Moon’s unclouded light,
I held awhile to Annie…
The time went by with careless heed
Between the late and early,
With small persuasion she agreed
To see me through the barley…
Corn rigs and barley rigs,
Corn rigs are bonny!
I’ll not forget that happy night
Among the rigs with Annie! – Robert Burns
As I mentioned in a response to Sailor Barsoom on my column of July 28, I knew more than a few escorts who followed some form or another of witchcraft or Neopaganism; when one considers the low regard in which the Judeo-Christian religions hold us it should hardly be surprising that many of us should turn to a faith which not only reveres the feminine principle as equal to the masculine, but also recognizes the goodness and power of sexuality. The best-known Neopagan faith is of course Wicca, which is based on traditional Celtic beliefs, but I have known girls who paid tribute to the Goddess under the names Aphrodite or Ishtar as well; some of us consider ourselves sacred prostitutes in the ancient tradition, but despite the 1st Amendment guarantee of religious freedom even those of us who hold valid minister’s credentials (as I do) can be persecuted for practicing our faith.
I don’t practice formal Wicca, but rather a mixture of beliefs (this “salad bar” approach seems strange to Westerners but is the norm in much of Asia); however, most of the holidays I observe are either important American secular holidays (including Independence Day and Christmas) or the seasonal holidays observed by Celtic-tradition witchcraft (as befits my Irish ancestry). Today is Lammas (also called Lambess or Lughnasadh), the festival of First Fruits, which I and my family observe with a feast; I am therefore taking the day off, and so I asked a witch friend to write a short essay to explain the spiritual meaning of the holiday:
The Significance of Lammas
Lammas, together with Imbolc (February 2), Beltane (May Eve) and Samhain (Halloween) are traditionally regarded as the “Great Sabbats”, At these times the magic is more tangible and powerful and while Imbolc and Beltane are times of joy and exaltation, death and sacrifice cast a shadow over Lammas and Samhain.
At Lammas the God’s power has gone “into the corn” and his strength dwindles. He must sacrifice himself for the land and let his blood fertilize it. In times past it seems likely that rituals included real sacrifices – willingly made. It’s also been suggested that when a ruler became old and feeble he would allow himself to be sacrificed this way for the common good, or arrange for a ‘substitute’ who would be given immense riches and prestige in return for being a willing sacrifice at the allotted time.
All rituals vary according to the will and desire of the group (if it’s a coven) or the individual working alone but for everyone burial, birth and bread are the themes of Lammas but it’s not a somber time – rather it’s a thankful time. The first fruits are there to be enjoyed and to encourage hope. They are a sign of what will be at the main harvest. Though everyone must die we share rebirth, from moment to moment, year to year, life to life. We die and are reborn, transformed. We are not separate nor ever, finally alone. That is the message of the Lammas ritual.
I wish all of my readers a happy Lammas, and ask that God (however you conceive Him or Her) bless you all with happiness and prosperity. Blessed Be!