A Lammas Ritual Guide for Modern Witches

The Wheel of the Year was my introduction in to pagan ideologies. I felt the connection and celebration of the seasons was so intuitive. Today marks the beginning of the darker half of our year with the holiday called Lammas. As a cross-quarter festival, it marks the halfway point between the summer solstice and the fall equinox.

Lammas is the first of the harvest festivals, and a time for reaping what we’ve sown – both physically and energetically. You may notice Mother Nature bursting forward with life during this time of the year. In Anglo-Saxon England this was the celebration of the first grain harvest. Apples and grapes are ripe with life and ready to be harvested, the Sage and Basil bushes are nuts with growth,  and we give thanks to the bounty of food we receive.

If you’re interested in connecting with the energy of this transitional holiday, try a few of these simple and accessible ritual ideas. There is no right or wrong way to do it. Simply give yourself the space to connect in whatever way feels best to you.

Reflect and Recenter

Lammas is a time of reflection. We’re over halfway through the year. Where do you stand on some of the goals you set for yourself back in the winter? What can you take notice of and give thanks for, and what can you let go of? Sometimes the aspirations we set for ourselves seem wonderful in theory, but when it comes time to create we realize there’s no space for them in our lives. Or we get something we thought we wanted, only to find out it makes us feel even more bogged down. Image this as a time to take an imaginary scythe to your life. Where can you cut back, so you can give more fully to the areas of your life that make you feel authentic and whole?

Take out your journal and answer these questions for yourself:

Where do I want to focus my personal growth?

Where can I cut back, and give myself more space?

How can I create more balance for myself?

Set a Lammas Altar

Altar practices are the bread and butter of a ritual. Find a space where you can feel safe, relaxed and open. Maybe it’s a simple side table by the window. It doesn’t need to be complicated. Fill it with symbols and objects that represent abundance for you. Local, blooming flowers would be a lovely addition, as well as some decorative bits of wheat or corn. If you can get them from a more organic source, like a farmer’s market or from the wild, they’ll have a bit more magick in them for you. But store-bought items will always do. It’s all about the intention you put behind them. Colors of yellow, red, brown and green are traditional of harvest festivals like Lammas.

I found these super simple apple candle holders that would be a nice, handcrafted addition to any alter space.

Lammas Altar

Have a potluck dinner with friends

Enjoy your community and reap the rewards of the harvest season together! Pagan celebrations don’t always have to be super secluded and private. We love a good party just as much as anyone else 🙂 If you’re feeling extra festive, make a traditional Lammas loaf of bread. It’s a symbol of the traditional grain harvest of our ancestors and is a lot easier than you might think. Apple cider, potato and root vegetable dishes are also great seasonal selections. If your community would like to participate, you can do this lovely Lammas Harvest Ritual with them as well.

Take a walk to your local farmer’s market

Since we’re no longer in the time where we do much harvesting of our own food, it’s important to strengthen this relationship with the Earth however we can. If you have a garden, this is a wonderful time to harvest some of your bountiful produce. Be mindful and attentive to the energy of the plant, and make sure to say a thank you. If you don’t have access to a garden, local farmer’s markets are great. Connect with the people who’ve planted, tended and harvested the food. And have appreciation for the great cycle of life and how it sustains us all.

Abundance and gratitude meditation

Lammas begins the slow descent in to darker half of our year. It’s the time when we begin to slow down and turn inward. If you don’t have a regular meditation practice I encourage you to start small. Simply sit in a comfortable position where you can be undisturbed. Close your eyes and begin to focus on your breath. Take a mental note of all the things you’re thankful for in your life – big and small. Say a prayer of thank you to Source for guiding you, and allow yourself to clear space so that you may harvest the fruits of the season.

 

There are free apps like Insight Timer that have thousands of easy and accessible guided meditations for you.

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Sing to the Sun with a Special Beltane Playlist

We’ve made it, witches of the north! The bright morning of our Beltane sabbat has blossomed after the dawn of our equinox. Hopefully you’re feeling increased vitality and a warmer climate wherever you are.

Danu Forest, author of The Magical Year, describes our rising Beltane energy perfectly:

“During Beltane we can use the fresh energy of the earth’s life force to energize and inspire us, to discover where our passions lie and what makes us feel truly alive at this time.”

Since then it has been turned in to modern festivities like May Day. This cross quarter holiday is a special fire festival. Literally meaning “the goodly fire,” Beltane is a celebration of Bel, on old Celtic god of the sun. While Pagan at heart, traditional May Day festivities are still celebrated around Britain and Europe. It symbolizes the energies within the Earth opening with fertility. The last of the cold has finally fallen away, gardens are blossoming, the birds have returned and life is infused with creative energy. We celebrate the “fire in the sky” as we welcome in the energies of summer and expand the energy of our hearts.

Our Beltane playlist for this month captures the blossoming glee of summer. Indie masters Tame Impala and DIIV create “windows rolled down, driving along the beach” energy. While Odesza, Rüfüs Du Sol, and Duke Dumont get your blood pumping with specialty electronic beats. Close it down with the infectious Beach Boys, because, duh.

Blessed Beltane and peace to all!
Happy listening and merry magick making my loves.

Seven Ways to Celebrate the Witches Holiday Imbolc this Week

Imbolc Ritual

In Pagan traditions there are eight special holidays, or Sabbats, that are celebrated throughout the year. While still honored by modern witches and Pagans, the Sabbats are also a great way for non-practitioners to celebrate the season and connect to nature on a deep level.

The next upcoming sabbat falls on February 1st and is called Imbolc. A Gaelic festival celebrating the beginning of spring, Imbolc has since been translated into variations like Groundhogs Day and Candlemas.

In the name of inspiring and uniting witches everywhere (and opening the conversation for those who might be witch-curious) here are seven simple ways to honor our upcoming holy period of Imbolc.

1. Clear and Release

We already know this idea as “spring cleaning.” If you’re feeling the desire to purge and cleanse, that might be some Imbolc energy stirring. The onset of spring calls us to release the stagnant energy of winter and make room for something new. Clear out your closets; sweep and mop your floors; all the little things you keep telling yourself you’ll “get back to,” do them now. This is a cleansing process not only for the home but also the mind. With less clutter taking up your space and attention, the more energy you’ll have to give to upcoming endeavors. If you’re feeling extra witchy, you can top it off with an herbal smudging ceremony. Burn a mix of vervain and sage to give your space a total reset.

2. Set up an Altar

Having an altar is one of the first steps to a witchcraft practice (or any spiritual practice for that matter). Find a space that can go mostly undisturbed, but where you’re likely to see it often. The great part is, the rules basically stop there. You’re creating a space that makes you feel calm, sacred and inspired. Whatever your altar holds is totally up to you. If you’re interested in keeping it traditional, Imbolc is usually associated with the colors of white (for purification) and green (to honor the awakening of nature). Aventurine and Sunstone could make great crystal aids, and basil or angelica can be helpful herbal allies. Bring in some of the earliest spring flowers and anything else that invokes the sense of clarity and renewal for you.

Imbolc Snowdrop
Snowdrops are another great reminder of spring.

3. Start a Garden

Imbolc literally translates to “in the belly,” as the stirrings of spring are rustling deep in the belly of the earth. One of the best ways to connect with nature is to interact with it on a daily basis and start your own garden. If it’s still too cold in your area to begin planting seeds at this time, start some propagation indoors. As you plant the physical seeds, think of all the internal dream seeds you’d like to plant as well. Take the time to nurture them! Chamomile, Sage and Lavender all make wonderful, soothing plants both indoors and out. Plus, they’ll double as herbal medicine when the time comes to harvest. If you don’t have a green thumb, start with a more resilient plant like Aloe Vera or a Snake Plant. Enjoying the presence of nature can be for anybody!

4. Make a traditional Imbolc meal

This time of year places a little more emphasis on domesticity and nurturing the family and the home. For our early ancestors, milk and butter were invaluable resources of nutrition during the long winter. You can make your own butter and bread for a more simple celebration, or try Gather Victoria’s amazing recipe for Lavender and Rosemary Seed Cake or other seasonal recipes.

For Imbolc libations, try this warming Celtic cream whiskey from Danu Forest‘s The Magical Year: 

Imbolc celtic cream

Celtic Cream Recipe

  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp coffee powder, dissolved in a little hot water
  • 1 cup of fresh cream, warmed
  • 1 1/2 cups of condensed milk
  • 1 1/2 cups whisky

Combine almond and vanilla extract, dissolved coffee powder and hot cream in a large bowl. Let it cool completely. Add the condensed milk and whisky and blend or stir vigorously. Perhaps say a blessing before drinking and sharing with loved ones.

5. Practice a purity meditation

Spring represents the energy of purity. Through cleansing and renewal, there’s a beautiful innocence to this time of year. For a different spin, we can also practice purity of mind. In the yogic traditions this is called Saucha. It refers to purifying our mind from the clutter of distractions and scatteredness, “so we may gain clarity to meet each moment with integrity and freshness,” (Adele). Take this time to mentally catch up with yourself. Try to sit in meditation for 10 – 15 minutes every day this week, and be purely with each moment as it comes to you. Give yourself this space of purity in your mind and your heart, and see how you feel. For some awesome meditation resources check out Sally Kempton or Tracee Stanley.

6. Do something inspirational for yourself

Put all your fresh intentions and energy to use for yourself. Take the time to do something creative that gets you excited . Imbolc is also a celebration of creation. What can you create in your life to inspire yourself? Maybe you’d like to make a vision board for all your dreams for the upcoming year. Maybe you feel like dancing barefoot until you’re out of breath. Maybe you make yourself a flowered headdress to wear around the house while you clean because why the hell not. Creating raising our energy levels, opens our minds and overall leaves us feeling great.

7. Ritualize

You can perform your imbolc ritual however you’d like. Some witches like to get together outdoors and have a communal ritual, others prefer to practice in solitude. Do whatever feels right for you at this time in your life. Imbolc is associated with the goddess of birth Brigid, so perhaps an honorary ritual asking for her blessings feel right. Fire scrying is another big seasonal magickal tool. Or you can simply meditate on the themes of awakening and clarity and see what comes up for you. If you live in New Orleans we’d love to have you at our Imbolc Celebration.

I’d love for you to reach out to me with any questions or thought you have about the Imbolc Sabbat or the Pagan practices. I hope this has inspired you to honor yourself and the season.

Merry magick making my loves,

Xx Sierra xX

A Witchy Playlist for an Epic Samhain

We celebrate the witches’ New Year on October 31st

Samhain, Halloween, or All Hallow’s Eve – whatever name your tradition calls for – is time to put all to rest. Samhain acts as the end of the calendar year for many ancient cultures. This is the time of year when all the fields had been tended, the herds were drawn inside and everything else was left outside for Mother Earth. It is the role of death in the life and rebirth cycle. It is the crone in the triple goddess entity. It is a time of tying up loose ends and putting all else to rest. We say goodnight to the Sun god and prepare to draw inward until his return at Yuletide festivities.

Old Celtic lore says Samhain is the time when the past, present and future are all one. The veil between the physical and spiritual world is thin. Traditional rituals include honoring the ancestors and preparing their souls for a peaceful rest on the other side. Divination, séances and “dumb suppers” are common practices for this extra magickal evening.

In a more tangible sense, Samhain is a great time for breaking bad habits, journaling on endings and honoring all the life lived and yet to come.

For our Samhain magick making music, we ran with the energy of darkness and endings. Deep, alternative tracks set the tone for the lengthening nights ahead of us. Ethereal ballads from Cocteau Twins, Lykke Li and Mazzy Star calm the spirit, maybe creating a slightly hypnotic effect. And of course the obligatory Stevie.

Happy listening and magick making, my loves.

A Fall Equinox Playlist Perfect for Magick Making

September brings Mabon blessings upon us. This Fall equinox means the lengthening of night, a procession into stillness, and a time to rest and respect all that Mother Gaia has brought to us. As the elements of light and dark being to balance in our external world, so does the aspect of equality begin to come forward on a subtler level. How are you balancing work and play? Are you taking time for stillness, or are you caught in an ever-turning vortex of activity?

Traditionally a time of celebrating Celtic harvest queens and feasts of Avalon, Mabon is a time for gratitude and fruition. The sunlight is beginning to mellow. The wild flowers are pressing out for one last, glorious hello. The harvests are ready to be prepared, and all the world settles into the energetic cocoon of early fall and into the winter.

In Dorothy Morrison’s The Craft, she describes Mabon as “a time to reflect on the joys of community, personal freedom, and the wonders of the human species as a whole, and a time to count many blessings and give thanks to everyone who’s made them happen.”

For our Mabon playlist, we chose a mix of relaxing tracks to suit whatever magickal work you might be doing. The duality of light and dark plays out in two very different tracks from Irish songwriter Hozier. We travel through some lush, moody, folk-inspired tunes and around a revamp of a witchy classic before settling in to an ambient ending.

Happy listening and magick making, my loves.