Lammas

Lammas, or “loaf-mass,” is the fourth festival of the Lady celebrated circa August 1st in the fifteenth degree of Leo. Also known as Lughnasadh, or “Lugh’s Day” this is the time of the first harvest. Leo, the zodiac sign that rules the period of July 21st through August 20th, is a fixed mode of the element of fire. It is a warm, dry, and constant energy, like the smith’s forge.

The theme of Lammas is sacrifice and gratitude. Sacrifice is traditionally seen as an offering made to propitiate a god. It is in essence an exchange. “I give you this if you give me that.” The traditional sacrifice at Lammas is the first reap of the harvest in exchange for the abundance of subsequent harvests.

Gratitude is traditionally seen as an acknowledgement of a blessing received. Again, it is a form of exchange. “You gave me this so now I give you that so that you won’t take this away.” The traditional gratitude expressed at Lammas is thanksgiving for rain so that the heavens will continue to water the crops.

What every Witch needs to remember is the exchange. Matter transforms into energy and energy transforms into matter. Everything is in balance. When a Witch offers gratitude, she is mindful that she gives equal thanks for what she has received, and then some, to keep the blessings coming. When a Witch offers sacrifice, he is mindful that the offering is equal to what he intends to receive.

One of the easiest ways to sacrifice is to offer to another what you would hope to receive yourself. When you want a promotion, you help others to promote themselves. When you want love in your life, you offer love to others. Like attracts like.

Though it appears that you are giving away the very thing you are trying to obtain, in essence, you are creating room for this new goal. Nature abhors a void, so “giving away” the very thing you wish to attract focuses your subconscious mind on how to obtain that very thing. The act broadcasts your intentions to the Universe. Observe miserable people, the things they say and do, and you will understand the principles of sacrifice and gratitude.

The Inner Warrior

The personal focus of Lammas is on the Inner Warrior. This festival of the Lady, Witches honor Her perseverance in the face of loss. Witches examine and hope to emulate how the Lady responds to the death of Her Beloved.

The path of the Warrior isn’t one of winning. It is a call to  self-discovery. It is a testament to how you respond to life’s hard knocks. As a Witch and a Warrior, you will be asked to confront your fears both inner and outer and all in the context of a seemingly “mundane” existence.

There are many paths to being a Warrior: emotional, mental, as well as physical. Emotionally, a Warrior may be called to confront the pain of past traumas. Mentally, the Warrior may be asked to overcome her inner, negative soundtrack. Physically, the Warrior may be charged to defend boundaries that society demands he relinquish.

The Warrior must be prepared. Through self-awareness she knows her strengths. He defines his weaknesses without judgment. She tempers the sword of those strengths and weaknesses in the fires and waters of the Lady.

Before any Warrior may set out on his quest in the world-at-large, he must ask important questions. Ask yourself the following:

  1. Who do you want to be?
  2. What is important to you?
  3. What parts of your life no longer serve you?

Lammas is an evaluation of what worked and what didn’t. The first harvest of a Witch’s magics happens at this time. Some magics are successful while others have fizzled and dispersed. These triumphs and failures are the markers of a Witch’s strengths and weaknesses.

Take some time now to evaluate the wins you’ve experienced. Write them down. When you’re done, evaluate your losses. Write those down too. Notice a pattern? What underlying theme do you notice? What does that theme speak to within you?

Witches understand that the tangible results of efforts that match their inner assessments are the true sign posts of success or failure. As you go through this process, try to identify where you are being overcritical or unreasonable. Apply reason and empirical inquiry to your soul-searching. This means you cannot rely on one opinion to come to a conclusion. Seek the opinions of others but always be sure to test those opinions against your inner compass.

The Great Rite

I’m told that Victor Andersen said something like this:

Clouds are the result of the elements of air and water making love.

In truth the Laws of Polarity and Attraction are at play in the creation of all things. The Big Bang? Yeah, that was the orgasm to end all orgasms (or begin?).

Sex is the joining of two concrete, separate entities that results in the creation of a third and separate entity that is greater than the sum of its parts. Air plus water, bow-chica-bow-wow, and voila! Clouds. Quantum physics is slowly figuring out that manifest creation is just one big porno, tastefully directed by and starring the Lord and the Lady.

We are alive because of Sex. Sex is a sacred act. Sex is Creation. The Lady’s desire to know Herself created the Lord. Her pursuit of the Lord, lying with Him, created EVERYTHING

Keep in mind that the Lord and the Lady are metaphors for yin and yang – you don’t have to believe in gods or God to get this part of the program. 

Sex is sacred and beautiful. Sex is a sharing, a balancing, and a creation of diversity. A child is different from her parents. Clouds are different from air and water.

Dogma, (we all know who’s dogma is to blame here, right? Not that I’m trying to point fingers, but I sure didn’t lay that turd right there in the middle of the living room) has divorced us from our connection to the sensual world. We have been taught that Sex is Evil and shameful. How can something that gives humans such pleasure be anything less than a divine gift? How can an act that creates new life be viewed as anything less than a miracle?

Sex is an exchange. It is a sacrifice and a devotion. When approached this way, with worship, a magical person mindfully chooses partners who will acknowledge the gift. She will acknowledge the man’s sacrifice of energy as he brings her pleasure. He will acknowledge the woman’s sacrifice of her boundaries as she brings him pleasure. In this way, he cannot see the woman as merely flesh. She cannot see the man as less than divine. These ideas fall away in an atmosphere of sacrifice and devotion.

The same principle applies to same-sex partners, who may have more flexibility over who gets to play Yin or Yang. The approach is the same between consenting, adult partners, and I’m not assuming that only two are allowed to play at a time.

The Symbolic Great Rite, the sensual joining of Yin and Yang through ritual, and within and through the bodies of the participants (though actual sex isn’t being performed), is a magical person’s way of honoring the source of all creation. The positive, projecting energy of Chokmah (Yang) is blended with the negative, receptive energy of Binah (Yin). Force ensouls Form.

The Great Rite can be done literally too, but not everyone has a partner at the moment, so this is the happy compromise and can be done with good friends without getting too awkward.

Another way of looking at the Great Rite is through Alchemy. The tarot card Temperance represents the processes of Alchemy, the goal of which is to purify the alchemist and make her as “the world brand new.” The overall purpose of the Great Rite is to burn away impurities, dissolve boundaries, separate that which serves from that which serves not, conjoin that which is in apparent opposition, ferment the joined so that they blend completely, distill that further into its purest essence,  and coagulate the resultant shining body of the celebrant.

This process can, but doesn’t as a general rule, happen all at once. Just know that every ritual activity is aimed at raising the magical person’s consciousness. The process could also be viewed as what Tantra calls “awakening the serpent” of the Kundalini, a potent, sensual energy that “sleeps” at the base of the spine. When the Kundalini rises, the result is known as “Enlightenment.” How about that? Sex, when performed in an attitude of worship, enlightens. That’s nothing to be ashamed of.

A few resources for the genuine Seeker:

Dismore, Joseph D. “The 7 Steps of Alchemical Transformation.” http://ordosacerdotalvstempli.net/seven.html, accessed August 1, 2013.

Moonshadow, Lady Raven. “By Chalice and Blade: The GreatRite.” http://sacredmistsblog.com/by-chalice-and-blade-the-great-rite-part-1, accessed August 1, 2013.

“Nadis.” http://www.tantra-kundalini.com/nadis.htm, accessed August 1, 2013.