Lammas. The sun, having passed its peak at Litha, is now slowly descending. We are still experiencing the extreme heat of an Australian summer, but know the relief of autumn now steadily approaches.
Lammas, also known as Lughnasadh, signals the commencement of the harvest season, the ripening of corn and grain crops, the first harvest. Usually a time of abundance, this year has not fared so well. It is so dry, having not rained in many moons. The ground is parched and bone dry. Grass is brown, crispy, crunching under foot. Trees are wilting, those that we have planted throughout the past year, need constant watering. The blazing summer sun is taking its toll. The only plant life that flourishes, is those we can keep the water up to. My little rock garden, surrounded by jasmine creepers, is a welcome oasis of flowers and greenery, due only to the nightly hand watering.
Drought does not make for a superb harvest season. Drought stricken crops are cut for hay, a write-off. A year of planting and preparation, will now only feed stock. Paddocks of once green and abundant wheat, are now fields of stubble, awaiting the end of the fire ban, so they can be set alight. Fields cleansed, cleared and fertilized, in hopes of a more profitable season for the year ahead.
The stifling heat is definitely still upon us, Australia having experienced record-breaking heatwaves this year. Forty degrees plus, hot, dry winds and the ever-present bush fire threat. With the countryside so dry, the bush becomes a tinderbox, just waiting for the spark that ends in total eradication.
Lammas also signifies the return of the school year. This is a secular offshoot of this Sabbat, marking the end of the festive season and the six-week summer holidays. Daughter back to school, Husband back to work, and settling back into the usual routine.
A big theme of Lammas is sacrifice. The Horned God now willingly sacrifices his life for the life of the earth. Growing weaker by the day, he knows the time has come to return, once again, to the Underworld. The Goddess, Demeter, with sadness in her heart, lets him go, knowing his death is unavoidable and that they will be reunited again at the turn of the year.
As the God dies, his blood seeping into the ground, Demeter walks the earth, the crops ripening in her wake. She mourns her lover, but knows that without his death there is no rebirth, no renewal of themselves, nor the earth. Soon too, her daughter Persephone, will also return to the Underworld. Taking up her throne beside her husband, Hades. She will mourn for her daughter, and in her grief,refusing to fertilize the earth, bringing the temporary death of winter upon us. But for now, she is still Mother of earth and Persephone fertile and ripening. Yet she is now a widow, carrying the loss of her lover and son, in her heart.