Lammas is all about gratitude and new chances. Knowing which symbols represent it is super important for honoring this holiday and empowering your work.
Symbols for Lammas, or Lughnasadh, include grains, loaves of bread, corn dollies, sun wheels, scythes, apples, harvest baskets, fire, and the sacrificial king.
These symbols mark the celebration of the first harvest of the year and are used in rituals and decorations to honor abundance and the turning of the seasons.
Lammas festivities often include communal feasts featuring the first harvest foods, emphasizing the importance of sustenance and gratitude during this pagan festival.
What do the symbols stand for?
The earth is colored with gold; the grain that contains within itself the secret of Sacrifice and Rebirth ripens in the fields, giving them the same light as the sun’s rays. Summer is at its peak: in the air, you can feel the change of energies, the beginning of a new period. We are moving towards Winter, towards Samhain, to start a new cycle.
Lammas is now upon us and reminds us that the Harvest has come. This is the time not only to harvest but also to prepare new seeds for the next cycle.
A list of symbols for Lammas
Wheat has been assigned many different meanings for centuries. The grain of wheat is a symbol of death and rebirth. The grain of wheat from the last ear of the harvest represents the spirit of the divinity of the wheat or the sacrificial King whose sacrifice allowed you to survive during the dark period. His Spirit is in the wheat and corn and his sap is poured out on the fields.
Just as God dies in the harvest, he lives again from his own shoots. Here is the legend of the God who sacrifices himself and who will lie in the cold womb of Mother Earth for the whole winter, to ensure a new harvest at every turn of the wheel in an eternal dance.
Wheat is, therefore, a symbol that contains the promise of a new life in every ear and grain. In the British Isles, this cycle was told in the story of John Barleycorn (the spirit of the barley) who lives from sowing to the moment of his death by the scythe, who is reborn from his own seed, in an endless cycle.
This story is told through ritual celebrations. In this cycle, the God dies and descends to the underworld, where the Goddess of the Earth helps him and makes him reborn. This is true for most (if not all) deities related to crops and wheat, the most famous example being the myth of Demeter and Ceres.
Corn dolls can be prepared as an activity to celebrate this time of year. They are great for decorating alters but can also be hung on doors for protection. Once you make a corn doll, it can work all year round for you as a talisman. In ancient times, these dolls were placed in wheat fields to protect the crops. Whatever your intent, it is good to know that you are not making a simple doll: what you are making is a symbol that will help you tune into the energies of this period, which can teach you a lot.
These dolls represent the Earth ready for harvest, the Mother Goddess. They can be kept on your altar throughout the year. However, during the Imbolc period, some prepare a Brigid bed in which to place the doll (an ancient tradition related to the rebirth) as, in addition to being a symbol of harvest, these dolls are also the promise of a next harvest. They are born from the harvest we have obtained, and become the symbol of prosperity that will allow the earth to bear new fruit during the next cycle.
Whether you keep your doll on the altar, around the house, or hang it on your door, it is traditional to burn it at the next Lughnasadh and then create a new doll that will take its place so as to allow its spirit to be reborn.
Corn dolls can also represent our ancestors and connect us with their power and wisdom. When making a doll specifically for this purpose, one may wish to decorate the doll with symbols, accessories or clothing which belonged to or are reminiscent of the deceased.
The wheat is ground in the mills, and there, in those places, the first transformation takes place: the flour that is obtained from the grain is the essential ingredient of something that is consumed by all: bread. The second transformation comes from making dough into bread, which you can do yourself at home. Kneading bread is such a relaxing and meditative pastime as it involves methodical and repetitive movements that occupy your body as your mind is set free to contemplate. Pay your actions a good amount of thought; this way we can get closer to the ultimate transformation.
Bread, for the people of the past, was wealth. It was and still is a boast, a symbol of abundance and gratitude. With bread on the table, we gave thanks to Mother Earth for the harvest and God, who allowed man to survive thanks to the gifts of the Earth that he granted to his children. With the gesture of bringing the bread to our mouth, we introduce into ourselves the fruit of transformation, abundance and gratitude.
By eating our bread with awareness, we can bring the transformation we desire into us. We place ourselves in the condition of receiving abundance, but true abundance only comes to people who are aware of the secret ingredient: gratitude.
A figure/picture/image of Lugh
The ancient name Lugus means “illumination”, and although this seems to relate purely to the harvest season (Lughnasadh is the festival dedicated to Lugh in early August during the wheat harvest), it is also connected to all the capabilities of the human mind.
Lugh is related to intelligence or “brilliance”, specifically to the supremacy of the mind over problems. While Brigit, the Muse, provides the pure energy needed for creative endeavor, Lugh, the perfect artist, knows how to forge that energy. Lugh is well versed in all arts, from poetry to metallurgy, from the art of war to music.
Lugh, a god of the sun, light, and sky, conveys masculinity’s structurally vertical dimension. Lugh is also the savior hero, bringing us happy endings.
How to use these symbols?
- To customize your altar to celebrate Lammas uniquely and more powerfully
- To set your intentions before a meditation about this festivity
- To connect with the elements associated with Lammas
- To chant a prayer for Lammas
- To customize your craft using the energy of the symbols for Lammas
- To use Lammas’ energy to get your desires from this time of the pagan year