Our family is Bible-based, but heavily connected to the earth. We don’t find it difficult to celebrate a lot of the pre-Christian earth-based days of significance because we have stripped them of their allegiance to any particular god/desses, worships or sacrifices. What remains are observances and activities that make us take pause, reflect, make plans or just bask in the wonder of nature in ways that draw our family closer together and help us keep our direction in the world. They are a compliment to our overall belief set rather than BEING the belief set. As such, it’s easy to involve friends of various faiths in our activities if we want since we are never honoring a specific god/dess or idol, not making sacrifices or conducting worship.
August 1 is a favorite day for my husband and I. Different faiths celebrate it for different reasons… the Christians remember St. Peter in Chains, people of the Bahá’í Faith observe Feast of Kamál, Eastern Orthodox recognize Procession of the Cross and the beginning of Dormition Fast, the Saxons (earth-based pre-Christian faiths) honor Loaf-mass or Lammas, and the Celts celebrate Lughnashad.
You find a lot of crossover of various faiths on any given day of recognition.
My husband and I like August 1 the way the earth-based faiths recognize it. When you strip away some of the more pagan attributions to various gods or sacrifices (not human, necessarily)–you can look deeper into the heart of what is being recognized. So we don’t do any of the activities that honor the grain gods (like making a Corn Dolly) as the early faiths did. But we look at what the intentions were in their various activities.
For our family, August 1 (which we do refer to as Lammas) is a time of reflection. I really love School of the Seasons ability to connect the days of observance to various faiths and give those of us with current-day faiths a way to use the day without disrespecting our (or our friends) various current-day faiths (or lack thereof).
Here is what they lay out for Lammas:
Food for Thought
Lammas is a festival of regrets and farewells, of harvest and preserves. Reflect on these topics alone in the privacy of your journal or share them with others around a fire. Lughnasad is one of the great Celtic fire-festivals, so if at all possible, have your feast around a bonfire. While you’re sitting around the fire, you might want to tell stories. Look up the myths of any of the grain Gods and Goddesses mentioned above and try re-telling them in your own words.
Regrets: Think of the things you meant to do this summer or this year that are not coming to fruition. You can project your regrets onto natural objects like pine cones and throw them into the fire, releasing them. Or you can write them on dried corn husks (as suggested by Nancy Brady Cunningham in Feeding the Spirit) or on a piece of paper and burn them.
Farewells: What is passing from your life? What is over? Say good-bye to it. As with regrets, you can find visual symbols and throw them into the fire, the lake or the ocean. You can also bury them in the ground, perhaps in the form of bulbs which will manifest in a new form in spring.
Harvest: What have you harvested this year? What seeds have your planted that are sprouting? Find a visual way to represent these, perhaps creating a decoration in your house or altar which represents the harvest to you. Or you could make a corn dolly or learn to weave wheat. Look for classes in your area which can teach you how to weave wheat into wall pieces, which were made by early grain farmers as a resting place for the harvest spirits.
Preserves: This is also a good time for making preserves, either literally or symbolically. As you turn the summer’s fruit into jams, jellies and chutneys for winter, think about the fruits that you have gathered this year and how you can hold onto them. How can you keep them sweet in the store of your memory?
We hope you consider taking an evening to sit by the fire pit and have these conversations with your spouse or the people you share your life with. As it is now more than halfway through the year (and just before the school year starts), it’s a good time to look at how things have been going and what you might want to do to keep (or get back) on track.
If your health is on the list of things needing attention, by all means–let’s talk.