As we enter the final two weeks of August, I’m submerging myself into a wondrous time and space to work magic between the eclipses. Currently we are in the midst of the season of Lammas, the ancient Celtic holiday celebrated on the 1st of August. Lammas, or Lughnasadh, is the first harvest of the year and the beginning of the end of summer. The hot nights are starting to grow shorter as wheat, corn and a variety of vegetables are ready to be gathered and stored for winter use. Lammas lore tells of a time when the God of Grain (the myth of John Barleycorn) is reaped and transformed into bread; he who gives up one state in order to become another, parting from his beloved Goddess, all for the greater good. Sound somewhat familiar? One of the key themes of Lammas is sacrifice and its mythology is one of the darkest in Wicca, only second to Samhain, the final harvest sabbat of the year. As we bow our head to the fading rays of summer, let’s use this powerful time between the recent Lunar Eclipse and the upcoming Solar Eclipse (and New Moon in Virgo) on September 1st, to reflect on our summer lessons and prepare for the cycle of change that lies before us.
Last Thursday we experienced a partial Lunar Eclipse and a Full Moon in Aquarius, also known as the Sturgeon Moon in some Native American tribes due to their savvy knowledge that fish were plentiful this time of year. The Aquarius Moon opposite a Leo Sun is symbolic of figuring out one’s place in the big, bad world. But is it really so bad? Are you feeling isolated and without a purpose, lost on a mammoth and unloving planet? Or are you feeling right in sync, weaving and working out differences with others, content with your place in the world at this point in time. As the Full Moon wanes, we leave magnanimous, sunny Leo and enter the practical earth sign of Virgo, the perfectionist maiden who is hard at work, collecting summer’s bounty and purposefully organizing it all with her delicate hands.
Use this waning energy to do a purification ritual with the intent of clarifying your visions and getting focused on “cleaning house,” both body and spirit. If you are so lucky to be near a lake or ocean, do your rites there, or a bathtub will suffice for urban witches. Wait until everyone has gone to sleep and gather the following herbs that are symbolic of the season and used for purification such as, heather, oak, basil, blessed thistle, elecampane, sage, hyssop or mandrake. (Any combination of these herbs will do.) If you’d like, feel free to add moonstone or opal to this bag for some extra lunar mojo. Assemble them into a muslin bag (a bag similar for steeping tea leaves) and grab a silver, white or blue bowl to collect water. Make sure you can see the Moon, in all her bright glory, regardless of your location. As you enter the water, feel the cool waves wash over you. Fill the bowl up with water and toss in the herbed sachet. Let it soak for as long as you’d like and meditate on the lunar mysteries. Reflect on your unique place in this vast universe even if you’re not quite sure where the next step will take you. Any anxieties or inadequacies will be washed away, the water absorbing those feelings with love and care. If you’re doing in ritual in the bathtub, simply toss the sachet into the cool water. If you’re out in nature, use the bowl to steep the herbs and pour the water over yourself asking for the Moon’s blessings.
On the morning of September 1st at 5:03am (Eastern time) we welcome the new month with a New Moon in Virgo along with a Solar Eclipse. The shadow side of Virgo as a frazzled, detail-obsessed workaholic missing the forest for the trees can reach an all time peak with planets Mercury and Jupiter also currently in Virgo. Use the energy of the Solar Eclipse to take the mental energy of Virgo and manifest it into something earthly by doing a ritual dance of the dawn.
In advance, prepare an incense of frankincense resin, honeysuckle flowers, marigold, benzoin resin and rose oil. Grind it in a mortar and pestle and burn on a charcoal tablet in a heat-safe cauldron. Again, any combination will do, but frankincense and benzoin will create a nice base that is easy to burn and blends well with the scent of rose and honeysuckle. As the sun rises, sit sky-clad (nude) and soak in the powerful beauty of the dawn. If you feel inspired, wear a piece of amber or any golden stone. As you breathe in imagine yourself to be one its rays, full of illumination and health. Light the incense and as you continue to meditate, stand up with your arms spread open and wide, receiving the Sun and begin to dance. Do not feel self-conscious for this is your private moment where you are honoring the beauty and strength of your physical body and its in rightful place in nature. Put on your favorite songs and get lost in a passionate dance all your own. As seasons change, unexpected opportunities, tragedies and non-events all happen simultaneously. The magic of our rites gives us permission to pause as we say farewell to days of summer and welcome the cool autumn nights.