With Lammas 2021 behind us, I’ve completed my yearlong experiment in minimalist rituals. How did it go? How do I want to proceed?
tl;dr version: I loved it. I want to keep doing it. I need to make several decisions about how I’m going forward, but I feel I’ve prepared the ground well for those decisions and whatever grows from them. That’s the short version. Read on for the loooong version.
Bread is one of the the most fascinating human creations. It’s part science and part alchemy. It connects us to Earth, which gives us the wonders of grain, water, and yeast, and to millennia of ancestors who have fed themselves, their families, and their communities through this incredible process. Also, it’s delicious. So Lammas – literally a holiday for bread – is a big deal around here.
Of course there’s more to it than, “Yay bread!” (Although… “Yay bread!”) Lammas begins the harvest, when folks start to reap the fruits of careful sowing and tending. As a white person in the urban US, I have the privilege of year-round access to grocery stores and restaurants. I’m in little danger of starving to death even if my own personal harvest (mulberries. so many mulberries) isn’t enough to see me through the winter. In spite of that, or maybe because of it, I feel so much power in the reminder that, even if we feel disconnected from the land, we depend on it, and the people who tend it, for the food we need to live. Also, like any good postmodern neo-Pagan, I’m a sucker for a good harvest metaphor. I also feel a communal aspect in Lammas, related to the fact that, for many years, our Reclaiming community’s Lammas celebrations began early that morning, with many of us gathering in a community-member’s kitchen to bake bread for the afternoon’s ritual.
All of this is why Leora and I began our Lammas ritual this year by making skillet biscuit bread and mulberry quick jam (so. many. mulberries). While our cauldrons bubbled on the fire and filled our house with irresistible smells, we checked in with some tarot cards to see where we are and where we want to focus for this next segment of the Wheel. Then, in keeping with the day’s “autonomy” aspect, we parted ways for individual time doing whatever felt sacred to each of us in the moment. I don’t know how Leora spent their time (though I think wood burning tools came into play), but I spent mine lying on the ground in the backyard, doing death meditations and feeling my body dissolve into the body of the Earth. We ended by reconvening and – you guessed it – eating delicious bread and jam. (Seriously. If you like bread or fruit compote, try these recipes. So tasty and sooooo easy!)
It was exactly the kind of ritual I love: logistically uncomplicated but so spiritually fulfilling. I missed the large community aspects of past Lammases, but in our community of two we celebrated both the autonomy and the interdependence that make our lives possible. We examined what we’re harvesting in our lives (besides mulberries). And we created space for spiritual practices that held meaning for us, not just whatever the ritual outline dictated came next.