Author: Anna Franklin & Paul Mason
Trade Paperback, 284 pages
Publication date: June 2001
Price & More Info: Click Here
Lammas: Celebrating the Fruits of the First Harvest is the fourth book published in Llewellyn's series of book on the Wiccan festivals. The previous books in this series (Halloween, Yule and Beltane) were aimed not just at Wiccans and Pagans but, by down playing magick and ritual, at the general population. They were books you could put out on the coffee table in your living room without fear of totally freaking the average non-Pagan visitor to your home. With about 100 pages of magick and ritual, this is not really true of Lammas.
The first two chapters cover the history and folklore of Lammas and related summer festivals in other cultures. As the authors are British, there's a lot of interesting material on British folk celebrations, including the reason why the days for these festivals are grouped around both August 1st and August 12th.
The third chapter discusses Lugh in myth and legend. As the stories vary somewhat by location, both the Irish and Welsh legends are provided. As with much of Celtic mythology, the stories are complex and even incomplete and contradictory in places. However, the authors try to piece together a complete picture from the differing accounts.
The fourth chapter is an overview of the second section of the book. The authors discuss the themes in ancient celebrations of the holiday and how modern Wiccans can adapt them.
The next chapter is about 40 pages of Lammas related magick. You will find instructions for such traditional (and less traditional) magick as corn dollies (to preserve the spirit of the corn from one year to the next), incenses, dyes, making a staff, home protection and more. Most are not complex and, with the exception of some of the incenses, most do not use hard to obtain or costly items.
I really enjoyed the sixth chapter on games. While most of these have a traditional basis, the authors warn that some of them are a bit too violent for modern use and are only included for historical interest. My personal favorite of the "too violent to play" games is shin kicking. According to the authors, opponents held each other by their lapels and kicked each other's shins with iron-toed boots with the loser having to buy the day's drinks. Fortunately, most of the games described sound much more fun to actually play.
Next is a long chapter on warrior magick. Much of the magick described in the first half of this chapter is different from what is found in most Wiccan books: body and face painting and mask magick, for example. The second half of the chapter talks about working with animal spirits.
The next to last chapter of Lammas is recipes appropriate to the holiday. There are recipes for breads, bannocks, fish, potatoes, and more. The final chapter covers Lammas rituals and provides three. One is listed as a druid ritual, but seems as Wiccan as the other two.
Lammas is competently written, well-illustrated, and parts of it are quite interesting. Unlike the other books I've read in this series, Lammas includes quite a bit of magickal and ritual material. While this makes it less of a coffee table book, it probably makes this book more useful to the average Wiccan. This book can't be considered a "must-have" book, but it is worth a look -- especially for Wiccan families with elementary or middle school age children.
Reviewed by Randall