Monday, July 30, 2012

Lammas – The Sabbat and Its Meaning

Lammas (pronounced La-mus) is one of the eight days that Wiccan practitioners celebrate.  The sabbat marks another turning of the seasonal wheel of the year, and the day is sometimes referenced as Lughnasadh (pronounced LOO-nə-sə or Loo-ne-sah) or the Bread Harvest.  In the Northern hemisphere, this holiday starts on August 1 and in the southern hemisphere, the day is honored on the first of February.  This is a day that is considered a greater sabbat: a day considered as consisting of elevated energies and which mark the earliest beginnings of a seasonal transition.

Lammas is a sabbat that follows Summer Solstice, and the holiday is recognized as the day when we honor the earliest beginnings of the autumnal season.  While seasonally we are still in the summer months, we acknowledge the fact that fall will be coming soon: this day is one of three harvest celebrations.  At Lammas, both spiritual and mundane growth over the course of the past year is explored.  The day marks a time when we can “reap what we have sown” and express our appreciation for what we have harvested in our lives, while simultaneously considering the new seeds we will plant in the coming year for a future harvest. Lammas is seen as time to express our gratitude for all that we have been given and earned. We can also share our appreciation for the harvest and abundance experienced during the months of spring and summer.  This day is honored with fasting, a ritual, and with a feast often consisting of grains, bread, fruits and vegetables from the harvest.

The Full Moon on Lammas

This year, there are two full moons occurring in the month of August – the first will occur on Lammas, August 1, 2012 and will appear at 11:27 pm EDT, 10:27 pm CDT, 2:27 PM MDT, and 8:27 PDT.  Since Witches gather to celebrate esbats during the full moon, this will make Lammas doubly special – it will serve as a day for Sabbat ritual and feasting as well as a full moon gathering.  The second full moon this month is set to occur on August 31, so there are two esbats to be had during the month.  Some practitioners may choose to celebrate esbat practices on both days, while others might prefer focusing on Lammas rites of August 1 and esbats for August 31.  The second full moon in the month is considered a “blue moon,” so called because the appearance of the second moon in a month does not occur often – in fact, it will be the last blue moon to occur until the year 2016!

The full moon occurring on Lammas is known by a variety of names; Native Americans referred to the moon as the Sturgeon Moon, and it has also been called the Dog Moon and the Red Moon.   The Red Moon is so called because the moon will appear with a reddish hue as it rises in the sky; for ancient fishing tribes, this full moon was called the Sturgeon Moon since it was the season when Sturgeon can be caught with ease.  Identifying the moon as “Dog Moon,” is making use of the reference to the Latin phrase diēs caniculārēs, meaning “Dog Days:” a further reference to the Dog Star Sirius, a star that is part of the Canis Major constellation, and the hottest days of the year; in ancient times was as believed that the sultriest days of the year were so hot becomes of the star’s proximity to the Sun.

Article by: Dayna Winters - Co-author of Wicca: What's the Real Deal? Breaking Through the Misconceptions.  More information about the book and the author is available at

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