Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Celebrating Lammas & How to Make Homemade Bread

Picture of rural landscape overlooking hills with the text 'Celebrating Lamma' overlaid.

This is the first year I've actively taken a day out to celebrate the first harvest as the festival Lammas. As I live in the countryside and feeling increasingly connected to the world around me through my mindfulness practice it felt important to me to celebrate this Pagan festival this year.

Lammas/Lughnadasadh celebrates the first harvest (particularly the cereal harvest) and falls between the longest day (summer solstice) and the day and night being equal length (autumn equinox). This generally tends to be recognised on the 1st or 2nd of August in the United Kingdom. I find that recognising these festivals make me more aware of the wonderful world around us along with its abundance and mysteries.

Picture of small black and white dog standing in a field looking at the crops.

'Harvest Festival' has always been one of my favourite celebrations. Maybe it's because I grew up in the countryside surrounded by farms on the English/Welsh border but this seems like a truly magical time of year for me. It is a wonderful opportunity to recognise our blessings and the abundance in our lives. For me, it's not only a time to give thanks for the harvest but also for our loved ones, opportunities and community around us. Obviously, in the United Kingdom, we don't have a particular equivalent of Canada's or the USA's Thanksgiving - in terms of a certain day of the year a nation celebrates, but I imagine these are quite similar.

I think taking some time to celebrate this time of year helps connect me to something bigger. It reminds me of how important this time of year would have been to my ancestors - everyone's survival depended on the quality of the harvest and this would have been a clear reminder of us coming closer to winter in the cycle of the year. Also, in a more modern context I think this festival reminds us of the importance of fair distribution and sharing - connecting us to our neighbours. I know that this time of year inspires many to volunteer and 'give back' to their communities alongside celebrations and feasting.

Image of Nicky, Curious Journeying writer, holding a blackberry in front of face.
This year's Lammas fell neatly on a new moon, so I decided to take August 2nd (my nearest day off work) as a great chance to celebrate. I decided to do this through several small 'rituals' or celebrations. Personally (and I very much recognise that this is just my own opinion) I think this time of year can be celebrated both spiritually and religious, or as a more secular activity - whichever is more appropriate for you and your family. However, this is an incredibly important time for many people's religious beliefs so it is important to do this with integrity and sensitivity.

One of the first things I did was to cast a 'Lammas Charm for Gathering In Abundance' which was adapted from the website, The Goddess and The Green Man, found here: (https://www.goddessandgreenman.co.uk/lammas).
As this is my first time practising, I leave it to you to discover more for this about yourself if you wish, as I am not a voice of authority and do not wish to cause offence through my ignorance.

The next activity was to make a homemade loaf of bread to celebrate. I deliberately chose a really easy recipe and method, so as many people could follow along as you want! This loaf would also be great for any time of year, not just to celebrate the harvest!

Ingredients:

- 500g strong white flour (with some extra for dusting the surface)
- 1 and a half teaspoons salt
- 7g sachet of yeast
- 3 tbsp vegetable oil (any oil should do, I just used this because we had it in)
- 300 ml water

Image of Lammas bread ingredients laid on table - Flour, salt, yeast sachets, salt and oil.
Preparation:

- Wash hands and clean preparation surfaces and tools
- Weigh out ingredients

Instructions:

1) Mix the flour, yeast and salt into a mixing bowl.

2) Make a well (dent in centre) and pour in the oil in water.

Image illustrating step two - a well in mixture filled with oil and water
3) Mix together and then knead until smooth. (I like to do this my stirring with a wooden spoon to combine and then tipping onto a lightly floured surface to knead).

Image showing mixture in bowl on left hand side with floured surface on right hand side.

Image of Nicky kneading bread mixture
4) Place mixture into a lightly oiled bowl with a damp teatowel on top, to rise for at least one hour until doubled in size. Alternatively, you can leave the mixture in the fridge to rise overnight.

5) Knead the dough again and leave for another hour. Pre-heat oven to 220C.

Image of bread dough with star shape cut in before being put into oven
6) Mark bread with a cross (or whatever shape you like) in the top with a knife.

7) Bake for 25- 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Leave to cool on a wire rack.

Image of finished Lammas bread cooling on wire rack
And there we have it, enjoy!



In one of the hour breaks, I took the opportunity to take my dog on a walk and enjoy the countryside! I feel so lucky to live in such a beautiful part of the world. I thought it would be a good idea to spend some time getting some exercise in before tucking into a feast!

Image of two ponies in a field in front of hill.
Image of Nicky (left hand side) looking down in a field.

Image of bee on thistle in foreground with a view of hill and Nicky's dog in the background.

Image of view down a hill from behind a fence.
I also plan to do some meditation and have a lovely bath with essential oils to wind up my day. In case it wasn't totally clear by now, I just love using essential oils. My oil diffuser is definitely one of my favourite things! Do you have any favourite oils or scents?

As an additional note, I am trying to make my blogs more inclusive by adding image descriptions to help blind readers or others who rely on screen reading technology. These image descriptions are in the captions underneath any photos I include. If there are any ways for me to improve these captions or continue to make my content more inclusive, please do not hesitate to comment and let me know how I can improve!

I hope you enjoyed this blog. Do you have any celebrations or recognitions for this time of year? What are your favourite things to do at this time before winter gets closer?

Best wishes and much love,
'Nicky xx'

8 comments:

  1. I don't have the patience to make homemade bread but this looks like such a good time! :)

    S .x http://ramblingsofayoungprgirl.blogspot.com/

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    1. I thought I didn't either but it's surprisingly easy! The whole 'making' part only takes about 15 minutes tops and then it's just leaving it to rise and cooking it :). Encouraging thought for me anyway, haha.
      Thanks for your support and comment! It's lovely to hear from you.

      Nicky xx

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  2. Oooh! I am going to try that bread recipe! Thanks for sharing!

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    1. You're welcome! I tried to keep it cheap and easy :).

      Thank you for your comment! It's great to hear from you and get positive feedback.

      Nicky xx

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  3. I had never heard of this festival before! MMM, this bread sounds delicious!
    Aleeha xXx
    http://www.halesaaw.com/

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    1. No, I don't think many people have. It's probably because I'm a country bumpkin :P. It was lovely thanks - not many better smells and tastes than freshly baked bread!
      Thank you for your lovely comment :D.

      Nicky xx

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  4. OMG! I found another pagan!
    I cast a circle with my *ahem* group (I use those words as not to cite those with issues), and enjoyed the even with them. It is done online, which means you can be any where in the world to celebrate the days. In the UK though, the timing can be difficult, but it worth it for the grounding alone.
    The bread looks delicious. :D
    Angie
    www.chocolateandlipstick.com

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    1. I'm new to it all and still discovering, but it feels very natural to me. Oh, I know. The words seem so political! It seems hard to believe it could be so offensive to so many.
      Oh, that sounds awesome! I'd love to learn more about it if you're able to give me more info :)
      Aww thank you. I was really chuffed with it! Haha

      Nicky xx | www.curious-journeying.com

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