August

The Sun God by Wyld Olde Souls

History of Bread

© Lady Dairhean

Bread, in one form or another, has been one of the principal forms of food for man from earliest times.  The trade of the baker, then, is one of the oldest crafts in the world. Loaves and rolls have been found in ancient Egyptian tombs. In the British Museum's Egyptian galleries you can see actual loaves which were made and baked over 5,000 years ago. Also on display are grains of wheat which ripened in those ancient summers under the Pharaohs. Wheat has been found in pits where human settlements flourished 8,000 years ago. Bread, both leavened and unleavened, is mentioned in the Bible many times. The ancient Greeks and Romans knew bread for a staple food even in those days people argued whether white or brown bread was best.

Further back, in the Stone Age, people made solid cakes from stone-crushed barley and wheat. A millstone used for grinding corn has been found, that is thought to be 7,500 years old. The ability to sow and reap cereals may be one of the chief causes which led man to dwell in communities, rather than to live a wandering life hunting and herding cattle. According to botanists, wheat, oats, barley and other grains belong to the order of Grasses; nobody has yet found the wild form of grass from which wheat, as we know it, has developed. Like most of the wild grasses, cereal blossoms bear both male and female elements. The young plants are provided with a store of food to ensure their support during the period of germination, and it is in this store of reserve substance that man finds an abundant supply of food. When ancient man discovered a food which would keep through the winter months, and could be multiplied in the summer, it could be said that civilization began. He might have a reasonably safe store of food to carry him over, which would give him time to develop other useful skills besides hunting, fishing and cattle-herding.

In Old Testament times, all the evidence points to the fact that bread-making, preparing the grain, making the bread and baking it, was the women's work, but in the palaces of kings and princes and in large households, the bakers' duties would be specialized. Bread was leavened, that is, an agent in the form of a 'barm' was added to the dough which caused the mixture to rise in the shape of our familiar loaf. The hurried departure of the Israelites from Egypt, described in the Book of Exodus in the Bible, prevented their bread being leavened as usual; the Jews today commemorate this event by eating unleavened bread on special occasions. The ruins of Pompeii and other buried cities have revealed the kind of bakeries existing in those historic times. There were public bakeries where the poorer people brought their bread to be baked, or from which they could buy ready-baked bread.

A Bakers' Guild was formed in Rome round about the year 168 B.C. From then on the industry began as a separate profession. The Guild or College, called Collegium did not allow the bakers or their children to withdraw from it and take up other trades. The bakers in Rome at this period enjoyed special privileges: they were the only craftsmen who were freemen of the city, all other trades being conducted by slaves. The members of the Guild were forbidden to mix with 'comedians and gladiators' and from attending performances at the amphitheatre, so that they might not be contaminated by the vices of the ordinary people. We suppose that the bakers, instead of being honored by the strict regulations, must have felt deprived by them.

The Greeks and Romans liked their bread white; color was one of the main tests for quality at the time of Pliny (A.D. 70). Those who think the craze for white bread is a modern fad should note this.
Pliny wrote:

'The wheat of Cyprus is swarthy and produces a dark bread, for which reason it is generally mixed with the white wheat of Alexandria'.

Plato (c. 400 B.C.) pictured the ideal state where men lived to a healthy old age on wholemeal bread ground from a local wheat. Socrates, however, suggested that this proposal meant the whole population would be living on pig-food. In those days, there were certain mean bakers who kneaded the meal with sea-water to save the price of salt. Pliny did not approve of this.

The Romans enjoyed several kinds of bread, with interesting names. There was oyster bread (to be eaten with oysters); 'artolaganus' or cakebread; 'speusticus' or 'hurry bread'. There was oven bread, tin bread, Parthian bread. There were rich breads made with milk, eggs and butter, but these of course, were only for the wealthy and privileged people. The Egyptian grammarian and philosopher Athenaeus, who lived in the third century A.D., has handed down to us considerable knowledge about bread and baking in those days.

He wrote that the best bakers were from Phoenicia or Lydia, and the best bread-makers from Cappadocia. He gives us a list of the sorts of bread common in his time-leavened and unleavened loaves; loaves made from the best wheat flour; loaves made from oats, or rye, and some from acorns and millet. There were lovely crusty loaves too, and loaves baked on a hearth. Bakers made a bread mixed with cheese, but the favorite of the rich was always white bread made from wheat. In ancient Greece, keen rivalry existed between cities as to which produced the best bread. Athens claimed the laurel wreath, and the name of its greatest baker, Thearion, has been handed down through the ages in the writings of various authors. During the friendly rivalry between the towns, Lynceus sings the praises of Rhodian rolls. 'The Athenians', he says,

'talk a great deal about their bread, which can be got in the market, but the Rhodians put loaves on the table which are not inferior to all of them. When our guests are given over to eating and are satisfied, a most agreeable dish is produced called the "hearth loaf", which is made of sweet things and compounded so as to be very soft, and it is made up with such an admirable harmony of all the ingredients as to have a most excellent effect, so that often a man who is drunk becomes sober again, and in the same way, a man who has just eaten is made hungry by eating of it.'

The island of Cyprus had a reputation for good bread. Another old writer, Eubulus, says,

"Tis a hard thing, beholding Cyprian loaves, to ride carelessly by, for like a magnet, they do attract the hungry passengers.'

All through the ancient days, bread and bakers were held in the highest respect; this respect lives on to our times, for what would we do without our bakers? In early English historical times, there were constantly recurring periods of famine, due to not enough, or too much rain, or frosts, and other natural causes.

The ruling classes, knowing that rebellion often followed famine, did their utmost to keep the price of bread from rising too high. Laws regulating its price were passed during the reign of King John (1202). Not only did the law fix the price, but it strictly allocated that price between cost of material and an allowance for necessary charges to the baker.

History of Beer

© Lady Dairhean

Notes on Lughnasadh

History of Lughnasadh I

Titled: Lughnasadh

by Mara Freeman

The Celtic harvest festival on August 1st takes its name from the Irish god Lugh, one of the chief gods of the Tuatha De Danann, giving us Lughnasadh in Ireland, Lunasdál in Scotland, and Laa Luanys in the Isle of Man. (In Wales, this time is known simply as Gwl Awst, the August Feast.)
Lugh dedicated this festival to his foster-mother, Tailtiu, the last queen of the Fir Bolg, who died from exhaustion after clearing a great forest so that the land could be cultivated. When the men of Ireland gathered at her death-bed, she told them to hold funeral games in her honor. As long as they were held, she prophesied Ireland would not be without song. Tailtiu’s name is from Old Celtic Talantiu, "The Great One of the Earth," suggesting she may originally have been a personification of the land itself, like so many Irish goddesses. In fact, Lughnasadh has an older name, Brón Trogain, which refers to the painful labor of childbirth. For at this time of year, the earth gives birth to her first fruits so that her children might live.
Tailtiu gives her name to Teltown in County Meath, where the festival was traditionally held in early Ireland. It evolved into a great tribal assembly, attended by the High King, where legal agreements were made, political problems discussed, and huge sporting contests were held on the scale of an early Olympic Games. Artists and entertainers displayed their talents, traders came from far and wide to sell food, farm animals, fine crafts and clothing, and there was much storytelling, music, and high-spirited revelry, according to a medieval eye-witness account:

"Trumpets, harps, hollow-throated horns, pipers, timpanists, unwearied…fiddlers, gleemen, bone-players and bag-pipers, a rude crowd, noisy, profane, roaring and shouting."
This was also an occasion for handfasting, or trial marriages. Young men and women lined up on either side of a wooden gate in a high wall, in which a hole was carved, large enough for a hand. One by one, girl and boy would grasp a hand in the hole, without being able to see who was on the other side. They were now married, and could live together for year and day to see if it worked out. If not, the couple returned to next year’s gathering and officially separated by standing back to back and walking away from each other.
Throughout the centuries, the grandeur of Teltown dwindled away, but all over Ireland, right up to the middle of this century, country-people have celebrated the harvest at revels, wakes, and fairs - and some still continue today in the liveliest manner. It was usually celebrated on the nearest Sunday to August 1st, so that a whole day could be set aside from work. In later times, the festival of Lughnasadh was christianized as Lammas, from the Anglo-Saxon, hlaf-mas, "Loaf-Mass," but in rural areas, it was often remembered as "Bilberry Sunday," for this was the day to climb the nearest "Lughnasadh Hill" and gather the earth’s freely-given gifts of the little black berries, which they might wear as special garlands or gather in baskets to take home for jam.
As of old, people sang and danced jigs and reels to the music of melodeons, fiddles and flutes, and held uproarious sporting contests and races. In some places, a woman-or an effigy of one-was crowned with summer flowers and seated on a throne, with garlands strewn at her feet. Dancers whirled around her, touching her garlands or pulling off a ribbon for good luck. In this way, perhaps, the ancient goddess of the harvest was still remembered with honor.

www.chalicecenter.com/lughnasadh.html 5/6/01 © Mara Freeman, 1999

History of Lughnasadh II

Titled:

Lammas - The First Harvest

by Mike Nichols

It was upon a Lammas Night

When corn rigs are bonny,

Beneath the Moon's unclouded light,

I held awhile to Annie...

Although in the heat of a Mid-western summer it might be difficult to discern, the festival of Lammas (Aug 1st) marks the end of summer and the beginning of fall. The days now grow visibly shorter and by the time we've reached autumn's end (Oct 31st), we will have run the gammut of temperature from the heat of August to the cold and (sometimes) snow of November. And in the midst of it, a perfect Mid-western autumn.

The history of Lammas is as convoluted as all the rest of the old folk holidays. It is of course a cross-quarter day, one of the four High Holidays or Greater Sabbats of Witchcraft, occuring 1/4 of a year after Beltane. It's true astrological point is 15 degrees Leo, but tradition has set August 1st as the day Lammas is typically celebrated. The celebration proper would begin on sundown of the previous evening, our July 31st, since the Celts reckon their days from sundown to sundown.

However, British Witches often refer to the astrological date of Aug 6th as Old Lammas, and folklorists call it Lammas O.S. ('Old Style'). This date has long been considered a 'power point' of the Zodiac, and is symbolized by the Lion, one of the 'tetramorph' figures found on the Tarot cards, the World and the Wheel of Fortune (the other three figures being the Bull, the Eagle, and the Spirit). Astrologers know these four figures as the symbols of the four 'fixed' signs of the Zodiac, and these naturally allign with the four Great Sabbats of Witchcraft. Christians have adopted the same iconography to represent the four gospel-writers.

'Lammas' was the medieval Christian name for the holiday and it means 'loaf-mass', for this was the day on which loaves of bread were baked from the first grain harvest and laid on the church altars as offerings. It was a day representative of 'first fruits' and early harvest.

In Irish Gaelic, the feast was referred to as 'Lugnasadh', a feast to commemorate the funeral games of the Irish sun-god Lugh. However, there is some confusion on this point. Although at first glance, it may seem that we are celebrating the death of Lugh, the god of light does not really die (mythically) until the autumnal equinox. And indeed, if we read the Irish myths closer, we discover that it is not Lugh's death that is being celebrated, but the funeral games which Lugh hosted to commemorate the death of his foster-mother, Taillte. That is why the Lugnasadh celebrations in Ireland are often called the 'Tailltean Games'.

The time went by with careless heed

Between the late and early,

With small persuasion she agreed

To see me through the barley...

One common feature of the Games were the 'Tailltean marriages', a rather informal marriage that lasted for only 'a year and a day' or until next Lammas. At that time, the couple could decide to continue the arrangement if it pleased them, or to stand back to back and walk away from one another, thus bringing the Tailltean marriage to a formal close. Such trial marriages (obviously related to the Wiccan 'Handfasting') were quite common even into the 1500's, although it was something one 'didn't bother the parish priest about'. Indeed, such ceremonies were usually solemnized by a poet, bard, or shanachie (or, it may be guessed, by a priest or priestess of the Old Religion).

Lammastide was also the traditional time of year for craft festivals. The medieval guilds would create elaborate displays of their wares, decorating their shops and themselves in bright colors and ribbons, marching in parades, and performing strange, ceremonial plays and dances for the entranced onlookers. The atmosphere must have been quite similar to our modern-day Renaissance Festivals, such as the one celebrated in near-by Bonner Springs, Kansas, each fall.

A ceremonial highlight of such festivals was the 'Catherine wheel'. Although the Roman Church moved St. Catherine's feast day all around the calender with bewildering frequency, it's most popular date was Lammas. (They also kept trying to expel this much-loved saint from the ranks of the blessed because she was mythical rather than historical, and because her worship gave rise to the heretical sect known as the Cathari.) At any rate, a large wagon wheel was taken to the top of a near-by hill, covered with tar, set aflame, and ceremoniously rolled down the hill. Some mythologists see in this ritual the remnants of a Pagan rite symbolizing the end of summer, the flaming disk representing the sun-god in his decline. And just as the sun king has now reached the autumn of his years, his rival or dark self has just reached puberty.

Many comentators have bewailed the fact that traditional Gardnerian and Alexandrian Books of Shadows say very little about the holiday of Lammas, stating only that poles should be ridden and a circle dance performed. This seems strange, for Lammas is a holiday of rich mythic and cultural associations, providing endless resources for liturgical celebration.

Corn rigs and barley rigs,

Corn rigs are bonny!

I'll not forget that happy night

Among the rigs with Annie! [Verse quotations by Robert Burns, as handed down through several Books of Shadows.] .

Document Copyright © 1986, 1999 by Mike Nichols. This document can be re-published only as long as no information is lost or changed, credit is given to the author, and it is provided or used without cost to others. Other uses of this document must be approved in writing by "mailto:mike_nichols@geocities.com". Revised: Sunday, February 7, 1999 c.e.

www.twpt.com/lammas.html 5/7/01

History of Lughnasadh III

Titled: Celtic Calender: Seasonal Observances

Lughnasadh

by The An Ceangal Mara Foundation

In Ireland in 1169, under the jurisdiction of the last High King, Ruraidh O'Conchobhar, the last Lughnasadh games, feast and fair were held. Lughnasadh or 'Festival of Lugh' was a time of thanksgiving and reverence to the Land for it's sacrifices to us. This was a time to test and give thanks for the skills and talents that we had been given and had achieved. It is said that Lugh (Llew, Lugos, Lugus), Master of All the Arts and Crafts, asked that this festival be held each year in commemoration of his foster mother Tailtu (pronounced tal-cha) who died of exhaustion after clearing plains of land to make them more fertile, thereby better providing for her people. On these plains, (now county Meath, Ireland) Lugh asked that the festival be held each year at this location, in honor of her. In varying regions of Celtic culture, the same commemorative festival is held in honor of other regional agricultural women The unity and identity of the tribe are re-enforced by bringing together the scattered households. As tempers run hot like the sun, healthy competitions of skill prevent fruitless warring and push youth to discover a strength and a vision of their future, bringing us together one last time before the time of great preparation for the long winter. A feeling of richness is enjoyed by all as our 'larders' become full from the harvest.

www.celtic.net/acm/summer_lughnasadh.html 5/7/01 © 1997 An Ceangal Mara Foundation

History of Lughnasadh IV

Periodical: LUGHNASADH 1998

Di Veteres Issue: Vol. 1 No. 5

Titled: Lughnasadh

by Gilbride

Lughnasadh was the festival of the pan-Celtic god Lugh, an omni-competant deity who was worshipped all over Celtic Europe. In Ireland, Lughnasadh was the occasion for a great feis, or national fair, a tradition which endured until the nineteenth century. But Lughnasadh was also the day of Crom Dubh, a dark and bloodthirsty god. A few towns in Ireland still celebrate "Old Crom Dubh" day on August 7th, sometimes called Garland Sunday. To the Anglo-Saxons, this day was Lammas, or "Loaf-mass", and the name Lammas is still used by many Wiccans.

Lughnasadh is a harvest festival. Even if the crop was not quite ready by this day, a token amount was harvested to honor the god. The purpose of Lughnasadh is to thank the gods for the bounty they have provided in the harvest. Therefore, a large Thanksgiving-style meal is an important part of this Sabbat. At least in the Celtic tradition, it's necessary to eat until one is very full, in order to stave off the "red-haired hag," the dreaded spirit of famine. This can be one way to reconnect with the life-and-death reality of the natural cycle, from which we may feel separated in the modern world.

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