HekseCast

Join the Circle

Harvest Time

Harvest is called by many who follow a pagan tradition Lammas or Lughnasadh.

The name for Lammas derives from the Anglo Saxon ‘hlaf-maesse’ meaning ‘loaf-mass’, and this festival is very much celebrated as a festival of bread, beer and other things associated with the grain. This is said to be the first of three harvests. Beginning with the grain at Lammas time, it then leads onto harvesting of fruit around the autumn equinox, finishing up with the ‘meat harvest’ at Samhain.

Der Sommer by Abel Grimmer, 1607

In areas where the grain is already ripe enough to be cut, the traditions may include the story of John Barleycorn when celebrating and honouring the death of the Corn King. 

There are usually many games played around this time of year to challenge the local community. Holding a competition for traditional games can help bring excitement and fun for the younger children and also fun with the adults who choose to join in! 

As the harvest of grain, altars may be decorated with wheat sheaves and also with the end product of grain production- bread and beer. Using ears of corn or ‘corn dollies’ you can also enact the ritual of the Corn King dying to be reborn through symbolism. Depending on the mood of the performance, it will give attendees of the ritual a chance to think of their own relationship with death.

Another tradition that may be carried out at this time of year is the burning of the ‘wickerman’- a great structure, usually given a specific shape to represent. People offer their gifts and blessings to the wickerman to help bring life into their ventures, to let go of things that may hinder them; whatever they feel they have to give to the wickerman.

If you don’t have the space for a wickerman, another great option is to have a fire instead. This could be a simple, small fire for yourself or a larger bonfire for a group or community. It’s also a great thing to have if you are camping, etc. There will be many camps and pagan festivals around this time for celebrating Lammas/Lughnasadh, so this could be the perfect time to host or take part in a fire celebration. 

Within Paganism, a large celebration is centred around the cycles of life and death. We see it through the transition from summer to winter and back again, as well as the celebration of the sun and moon as they cycle through their phases or lengths. Lammas is just another of these transitions that we mark through celebration. Of course, as our farming methods have become almost completely machine based, many people no longer have that link to the land. When these celebrations were marked, the whole community would be involved in the harvest, as well as the sowing. There were no machines to do the work for them – it was all done by hand. So the first and last grains were especially important as marking a passage of sacrifice. 

Harvest in Provence by Vincent van Gogh, 1888

Although the farming practices are no longer done by hand, it is still important to honour and mark the occasion. Farming and import methods are now worldwide to the point that people don’t have to eat seasonally any more. You can get strawberries all year round. You can always get the ingredients you want. Some may argue that this is removing the traditional flow of the year, but it does make more things available to more people in the long run.

Colours associated with this time of year are many shades of green, along with shades associated with the sun and grains- yellows, oranges and other colours you’d like to associate with the time of year. 

Midsummer

A time of long days and short nights, balancing the darker half of the year with illumination. Although many may celebrate this just at the very date of the solstice itself, the time leading up to it and leading away from it is also very potent for magic and general celebrations of the summer sun.

In times gone past, fires were it high up on hills to celebrate the midsummer time. Some of these survived until the 1800s, and antiquarians may also re-enact these celebrations to keep the old ways alive. Another aspect of the fires was the blessing of domestic and farmyard animals through the fire. It was thought that the fire would cleanse and bless the animals for the coming year and guard them against ailments which may hinder the production of milk and other useful items to small-town folk from the time.

Although the old celebrations seem to have been distilled into quaint occurrences to modern man who has moved out of the villages in the UK, in many European countries the celebrations still go on.

For example, in Sweden, the schools are out mid-June and many begin their five-week holiday. Midsummer’s Eve is celebrated in the countryside, as it always has been, and the towns and cities are suddenly left deserted.

However, the main roads out of the built-up areas are another story- packed full of people desperately trying to get to their celebrations in time, friends and family waiting among the natural landscape for them to join in the annual celebrations. The date for the midsummer celebrations is usually a Friday between the 19th and 25th June, and people begin the day by picking flowers and making wreaths to place on the maypole. Whereas we here in the UK associate the maypole with May Day, it is a fertility symbol very much used within the midsummer celebrations in Sweden.

This maypole is raised in an open spot, and the traditional ring-dances begin to the delight of the children and some of the adults. The teenagers nowadays stay out of it and instead wait for the evening’s more riotous entertainment. The traditional activities revolve around the old Pagan rituals and games of strength, fun and fitness. These include many events you may see at your school’s sports day like the tug of war, and for the younger children the egg and spoon race, and of course the sack racing!
The menu includes different kinds of pickled herring, boiled new potatoes with fresh dill, soured cream and chives, which is often followed by a grilled dish of some kind like spare rib or salmon and the first strawberries of summer would be served for the dessert, usually in a cake or simply with cream.

Although such a tradition is not generally celebrated in many countries now, the Swedish midsummer celebrations are ancient and have been handed down from generation to generation for many years and it is such an important part of the Swedish culture. It brings great nostalgia to the young and the old, and many want to go dancing after all of the celebrations as their ancestors have before them. Legend has it that midsummer is a popular time for romance and for love- it is said that if seven different species of plants are picked and placed under their pillows.

At night, their future husbands will appear to them in a dream.
Regarding the origins of the festivities as they are today, it’s said the celebrations were to welcome the high point of summer and fertility into the communities who lived off the land. Although it was mainly celebrated in the countryside, the industrial workers of central Sweden were given a feast of pickled herring, beer and schnapps to celebrate. It wasn’t until the 1900s that the festival became one of the most important festivals in the Swedish year.

Since approximately 6 CE, bonfires have been lit around Europe. In Sweden, this was mostly in the southern part of the country. It is said that midsummer as the longest night is the best time to tell people’s futures. There was also a tradition for girls to eat salted porridge so their future husbands would bring them water in their dreams.

~Lotte

News & Updates 02.05.2019

Here we will feature news stories, events and updates of interest every Thursday. If you are part of an organisation based in Paganism, witchcraft or related subjects, please get in touch and we can share your events!


Treadwell’s Books are hosting a storytelling workshop on 28th May focused on the so-called ‘Lost Gods’ of England. This workshop looks into subjects such as how the names of the week were established, along with revealing the folklore, mythology and old folk practices which contain traces of the pagan English gods.

The evening is held by Andreas Kornevall, a mythographer and storyteller. He will talk about the main myth cycles throughout Northern Europe. He will also talk about the old English gods and their magic, including runes and charms. The evening will conclude with a short ceremony.

You can find out more about the event by clicking here. Alternatively, follow all of Treadwell’s events by clicking here.


ISON released their second full-length album on May 1st, Beltane. They also released the first music video from the album for the song Stranger79.

Unison, their second album, features 8 tracks of haunting, experimental music. Their music video for Stranger79 is a mysterious narrative, and I recommend you check it out!

You can find out more about ISON by clicking here. You can get their new album via Amazon here, via Google Play here, via iTunes here and listen on Spotify here.


Porthilly Spirit – as part of the Porthilly Spirit festival, there will be a talk about Cornish Tales of Witchcraft and Magic by Simon Costin, the director of the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic in Boscastle, Cornwall.

Simon will be speaking about the history of the museum, its founder Cecil Williamson and its unique collection of over 3000 magical objects and over 7000 books. The museum will celebrate being in Boscastle for 60 years next year and this talk will illustrate, what is the largest public collection in the world of occult and magical objects.

From their website: “Porthilly Spirit was born out of a dream to create a space to unplug, reconnect and be curious. Porthilly Spirit opens the farm’s first chapter by throwing open the gates and inviting you to join the celebrations for a long weekend of outdoor adventures, music, sumptuous feasting and inquisitive conversation.” Find out more via their website by clicking here.


Satanic Temple – though not all witches are Satanists, some are. The Satanic Temple is not a federally recognised church in the USA, a huge move for religious freedom.

From the official statement of the Satanic Temple:

“The Satanic Temple (TST), the world’s most eminent modern Satanic religious organization, is celebrating their recent approval – recognition as a legally protected Satanic church, receiving 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status from the IRS. This status, elevated beyond the previous designation as a religious non-profit, is a culmination of years establishing itself as a constitutionally protected class, completely encompassing all attributes designated to churches that are uniquely distinct from other charities and/or religious groups.”

The satanic temple, april 2019

You can read the full statement from them here (opens in a new window). There is a more in-depth article here focused around the history of the temple, as well as looking at people’s reactions in the United States.


Remember, if you run a pagan event, own a pagan shop with events coming up, or something has happened in the pagan scene that you want us to write about, let us know!

Page 1 of 9

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén