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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Lunasa: The First Harvest

For those of us of the Pagan persuasion Lunasa (also known as Lammas as well as seven or eight other variations) is drawing closer. Falling on July 31st or August 1st it is the first of the three harvest festivals: Lunasa, Mabon, and Samhain. Lunasa is the first harvest when grains and the other first crops are brought in from the fields. There are several traditions surrounding the harvesting of these crops and they vary depending on which tradition you follow. Most of the world harvests corn in the beginning of August (though American growers harvest their crops in October) and those that follow traditional practices often leave the last corn stalk standing. Some cultures believed it was an offering to the Few and other supernatural creatures while the Native Americans left it standing so that Corn Grandmother would have a home in the fields. Other cultures bury the last stalk to ensure a productive harvest the following year.

As we celebrate the fruits of the first harvest we must also nurture the Goddess, who is still pregnant with the fruits of the harvests to come. We also honor the Holly King as he is the Goddess' consort until the Oak King rises again at Yule to take his place by the Goddess' side. The Holly King is representative of resting, withdrawal, and self reflection all of which become more common as winter draws closer and the general pace of life slows for the darker seasons. For this reason Lunasa is an excellent time to begin any self reflection work you've been considering as well as beginning preparations for winter.

In celebration of the first harvest and the approaching autumn (my favorite season!) I've been planning a lovely Lunasa party for the last Friday of July. Traditional foods of the Sabbat are corn, wheat, and pig products as well as berries and honey. Keeping this in mind I set up a Facebook event and invited several friends over to my place for a picnic, promising to provide a few essentials:
  • Pulled Pork in BBQ sauce (which lets me try out my new slow cooker)
  • Lunasa Loaves (Recipe at bottom of post)
  • Lemonade (featuring a few berry flavors)
  • Corn Bread
The lemonade was purchased from a local grocery chain and the corn bread is the Jiffy box brand. Normally I'm a fan of making my own baked goods but Jiffy makes a decent cornbread and it saved me from having to try my hand at three new recipes in one day. Even we obsessed cooks have our limits! I am going to share the recipes for the pulled pork and the Lunasa Loaves but with one disclaimer: I haven't tried these recipes yet so I have no idea of how they'll turn out. Let me know if you try them before July 29th!

Pulled Pork in BBQ Sauce (Slow Cooker Style; From All Recipes website) - Serves 10
2.5 lbs Pork Tenderloin
15 fluid ounces Root Beer
22 ounces of your favorite BBQ sauce
Burger Buns

Put the tenderloin in the slow cooker and pour root beer over the top. Cover and cook on low for 6-7 hours or until pork shreds easily. Drain out the root beer and shred the pork then pour BBQ sauce on top. Heat and serve on the buns.

Lunasa Loaves (From the 2001 Witches' Datebook; Llewellyn Worldwide)
1 1/2 cups warm water
1/2 oz active dry yeast
3 tablespoons honey
2 1/2 cup bread flour
1/2 cup cracked wheat (I'm substituting wheat berries that I crush with my mortar and pestle)
1 teaspoon salt
2 cup whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons butter, melted
Additional melted butter for topping

In large bowl mix warm water, dry yeast, and 1 tablespoon of honey. Wait a minute then stir in 2 1/2 cups bread flour. Let sit a half-hour or until foamy. In a small bowl, soak cracked wheat in 1 cup cold water for 5 minutes. Add salt, whole wheat flour, 2 tablespoons honey, and melted butter to yeast mix. Drain cracked wheat and stir in. Turn on to floured surface and knead with whole wheat flour until barely elastic (about 10 minutes). Coat a large bowl with cooking spray. Place dough in bowl  and turn once to coat. Cover with damp towel; let rise until doubled. Punch down and divide in to two greased loaf pans. Allow to rise just over top of pans. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 25 minutes. With pastry brush and melted butter paint crust with magical symbols such as a Sun, runes, ogham, etc.

I've already got several updates on what my guests are bringing so we're sure to have delicious food. One can not have a Sabbat on food alone, however. In the spirit of the holiday we will be making witch bottles for protection during the coming winter, discussing ways in which we're preparing for the harsh weather our area dishes out during the winter months, and doing some focused meditation. For the curious, a witch bottle is a glass bottle in which you place three pins, three needles, and three nails then top with vinegar and any protective herbs you wish. Top with a cork sealed in place with a wax seal and bury next to the entrance of your home. There are nastier variations of this home protection spell but they're not really my cup of... tea and so these are the witch bottles we'll be making.

It is my hope that those of you who are celebrating this Sabbat along with me found this post informative and perhaps a bit inspirational. As a solitary practitioner I know how hard it is to put something together for a Sabbat.

With summer drawing to a close there isn't much time for me to finish all those Yule gifts, which will be the subject of my next post. Until then, Blessed Be!



Celestial Elf said...

Great Post thank you :D
Thought you might like my machinima film The Lammas Wickerman
Bright Blessings

Xandria said...

The video is lovely! Thank you so much for sharing =)

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