Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Herbarium: Wheat


Gender: Feminine
Planet: Venus
Element: Earth
Powers: Abundance, Fertility, Money, Rebirth
Magical Uses and History: Wheat is the most sacred of the Seven Sacred Grains as it represented fruitfulness, bounty, and rebirth in its ability to replenish itself and its golden color. In ancient Egypt and Babylonia, wheat was often used in funeral rites to represent the rebirth of the deceased in the afterlife.

In ancient Greece, crowns of wheat were placed on the heads of brides and grooms as a symbol of fertility. Carried or eaten it is thought to increase fertility and conception.

Sheaves of wheat placed in the home, like my Wheat Wreath, attract money and abundance.  

Honeysuckle can be used in a number of spells including:
     Fertility Magic
     Money Spells

However, wheat is often used as the grain of choice for breads baked on Lammas or "loaf mass." Having a successful wheat harvest meant our ancestors could bake and store bread through the cold winter months. The lore surrounding bread magic is vast and best explained in another post.

 

Want to print a copy of this for your Book of Shadows? Click below for your free copy!
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B0KnNmfNfzc8c1M2XzFIRU1RczQ/view?usp=sharing

Friday, July 17, 2015

DIY Wheat Wreath


Lammas, the first of the harvest festivals, is a celebration of abundance. Wheat, barley, and oats are commonly harvested during this time, making them the center of the celebration. To kick off the holiday, I would like to share my DIY Wheat Wreath with all of you. I made this specifically for the holiday, but it can be displayed through the remaining harvest festivals and into Thanksgiving if you wish.

Supplies:
14 inch straw wreath, plastic on
Floral pins
5 bundles of wheat stalks
Floral flourishes of your choosing
Scissors and/or wire cutters

First you will want to cut your wheat stalks while they are still bundled. This reduces your mess significantly. I cut the stalks about 4 inches below where the wheat ended. As I layered the wheat I trimmed the stalks as needed, but for now, cut them 4 inches below the wheat and toss the stalks.

Next take 3-6 wheat stalks, depending on where you are working, and being pinning them around the wreath. Try to stagger the wheat within each bundle. You will cover more area with less wheat that way. Start by only doing the top of the wreath. Be sure to cover the floral pins as you work around. Add some darker colored wheat flourishes as you work. This will add depth to your wreath.


Once you have covered the top, begin placing wheat bundles and darker flourishes in the inside of the wreath. Again, be sure to cover your floral pins. After you have covered the middle, use the remaining wheat to do the outside. I did not completely cover the outside of the wreath. I simply filled in areas that were thin and made sure to cover the outside just enough to hide the straw wreath underneath.


Once you have completely covered your wreath with wheat, add your floral flourishes. I placed mine in the bottom left corner to add weight to one end. Off setting draws the eyes to the flourishes, giving them greater significance. If you don't want to add the floral flourishes, a burlap bow would also look nice.


I chose the sunflower to represent the dieing Sun, the corn, berries or grapes, and gourd to represent the harvest and abundance, and the fall leaves to represent the end of summer and the coming of fall. Acorns, pumpkins, and other fall inspired flourishes would also work well for this wreath.


So, what do you think? Have I inspired you to make a Lammas Wheat Wreath of your own? If so, I would love to see your work!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Lammas, History and Lore


Falling on the first or second of August, Lammas or Lughnasadh (Loo-nahs-ah) after the Celtic Sun God Lugh, marks the first of the three harvest festivals. The hot days of August are upon us and much of the earth is parched; the yellows, oranges, and reds of fall are quickly around the corner; apples are beginning to ripe and green corn stalks await picking. This is the time farmers begin reaping what they have sown, especially the grains corn, wheat, and barley, hence the name Lammas, which is the Anglo-Saxon word for loaf-mass.

Cultures across the world have held festivals during this time of year in honor of grain gods and goddesses. Native Americans held the Festival of Green Corn in honor of the Corn Grandmother; Romans honored the grain goddess Ceres at their annual August Ceresalia; In ancient Phoenicia, the grain god Dagon was honored by sacrificing a large portion of the harvest to him. However, like Imbolc, much of the modern traditions of Lammas originate from Irish traditions. The sun god Lugh, known as "the shining one," was a primary deity of druids. He was said to be able to take multiple forms, including that of a human who would worship alongside the druids. He was the God of Harvests, Fire, Light, and Metallurgy as well as the defender of the weak and King of the Tuatha De Danann, a mythological race. He ruled along side Dana, the Great Mother. While the sabbat focuses mainly on Lugh, Dana's role is also very important. She brings fourth the first fruits of the harvest, although still pregnant with later harvests.

Because grains are the first among the crops to be harvested and could be stored through the winter months, they became of high importance to all ancient civilizations. In Ireland it was considered bad luck to harvest any grain prior to Lammas as it meant that the previous year's harvest had run out early, a grievous error in any agricultural community.

Feasting while offering part of the harvest to the grain god or goddess is traditional at this time of year. Freshly baked bread, corn bread, berry cobblers, honey, and grain alcohol are commonly consumes and sacrificed. The baking of bread is a sacred ritual, representing not only the harvest, but Mother Earth, home, and hearth as well. Its gentle rising as it bakes symbolizes growth, fertility, and birth. Burying part of the first baked loaf of the season was thought to bring a bountiful crop the next year.

If you do not wish to celebrate Lugh or one of the other harvest deities during the sabbat, focus on celebrating the first harvest and remembering our ancestors who relied heavily on the first harvest for winter survival. Offer up a loaf of bread and honey to honor their hard work and determination. This is also a time to count your blessings and be thankful for what you have. After Lammas the sun drifts lower in the sky each evening, symbolizing the coming of fall and winter.

How do you celebrate Lammas? Are their any traditions you celebrate that I did not mention?



To learn more, please read the Lammas Correspondences post.

Lammas Correspondences

With Lammas around the corner and having already discussed the history and lore of the holiday, I would like to provide you with a correspondences list for the holiday. While traditions and lore are helpful in understanding, this list of correspondences will help you decorate your home and altar, plan your sabbat ritual, and figure out what magic is best preformed at this time of year.



Symbolism: fruitfulness, reaping, prosperity, abundance, purification, transformation, change, plenty, life, birth

Symbols: corn (fresh or dried), corn dolls, sun flowers, wheat stalks, threshing tools such as sickle and scythe, barley, oats, candles, cornucopias, gourds, sun wheels, bread, cauldrons

Colors: gold, yellow, orange, light brown, bronze, green

Food and Drink: wheat, barley, rye, oats, grains, corn, bread, honey, nuts, berries (especially blackberries), cider, red wine, fresh fruits and vegetables, pies and cobblers, jam, potatoes, cornbread, ale, beer, whiskey, mead, grapes

Herbs: heather, goldenrod, peony, clover, yarrow, vervain, myrtle, rose, sunflower, poppy, mushrooms, garlic, onion, basil, apple leaf, hops, marigold, grape vine, ivy, rosemary, rose hips, blackthron

Deities: Lugh, Corn Grandmother, Vulcan, Dagon, Ceres, Isis, Dana, Tammuz, Seelu, Tailltiu

Crystals and Gemstones: yellow aventurine, peridot, citrine, tiger's eye, lodestone, golden topaz, moss agate, obsidian, marble, lodestone

Animals: roosters, calves, griffins, phoenix, centaurs, pigs

Magic: This is a great time for hearth and home magic. Set up protection spells, cleanse the home, honor ancestors, and thank the Earth for her bountiful harvest.

Please note this is not a complete list but a brief overview of symbols, colors, herbs, deities, and the like. If I have missed something that you feel should make the list, please feel free to contact me via the comments or through email.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Endless Frustration

Honestly, I can say for the first time in my life that I just can't do anymore. I generally enjoy keeping busy, busier than most people in fact, but I think I have reached my limit. Between working full time, going to school full time, having multiple deaths in the family, being sick, having a major event every single weekend, trying to get my car fixed from the accident I was in in March, and the added stresses of moving forward with our lives (something I hope I can tell you has worked out in the upcoming weeks) has me worn to the bone. Today just added to the stress. I got an email from someone asking for more paperwork, paperwork he should have told me he needed from me weeks ago. But nooooo, he waits until today to tell me, putting us even further behind schedule. I'm at my wits end. You would think someone we are paying for services would at least have the decency to tell us what he needs from us before he needs them. Unfortunately they aren't documents I can fill out and submit myself. No, they have to be filled out by 4 other people, people I already had a hard enough time reaching in the first place! People act like I have no other commitments in my life, that I just sit around home on my ass all day watching TV. It'd be nice to have a day where I DON'T have to do anything.

My husband told me to take a bath and drink some wine to relax. Well we don't have any wine because my husband drank all the wine I drink, and I am not drinking cooking wine. So instead I made a nice hot cup of hot chocolate...in the middle of the Georgia summer heat. I regret nothing!