Monday, August 1, 2016


For many pagans, today is celebrated as Lughnasadh or Lammas. The holiday is the first of the harvest festivals and one of eight celebrations on the pagan calendar of sabbats. The festival is old and was celebrated in Britain at least as far back as medieval times.

Traditions included baking a loaf of bread from the harvested wheat that was then blessed and could be used for magic. This was time when Christian and pagan beliefs where very intertwined.

(Which, by the way, brings to mind a quote from an episode of Penny Dreadful that I was watching last night. Ethan Chandler asked Sembene whether he believed in God and Sembene answered "I believe in everything.")

Maddy's Corn Dollie
Other traditions included making corn dollies from the harvested crops. These were intricate, woven designs that sometimes looked like a person. They were kept in a safe place for the winter and then buried with the new crop being planted in the spring to insure a successful harvest. The Guild of Straw Craftsmen in Britain has a section on corn dollies and the artists who are still making them today. There is also a section on the Crying the Neck ritual practiced in Cornwall that should be on your list of things to do before you die.

I think the spookiest association with Lughnasadh is the legend of John Barleycorn. John represented the barley crop and the story tells of his murder (harvest) and the drinking of his blood (the beer and whiskey made from the barley crop). Now, that's a good story.

The most popular telling is from Robert Burns.

There were three kings into the east,
three kings both great and high
and they hae sworn a solemn oath
John Barleycorn must die.

They took a plough and plough'd him down,
put clods upon his head,
and they hae sworn a solemn oath
John Barleycorn was dead.

It gets even more gruesome, but you get the idea.  Really, you should read the entire poem aloud today while drinking some whiskey....just a suggestion. I wonder if it wouldn't be easier if we all just believed in everything.

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