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Monday, August 4

Creating Traditions with the Family

It has been my goal over the past 2 years to take the eight (generally accepted) Pagan sabbats with absolute seriousness.  I have been diligently building traditions and customs for my family that will hopefully be passed down to grands and greats.

If you are doing this too, then you know that each sabbat is only 6 weeks apart.  When you mash up 8 sabbats, 13 full moons, 13 new moons (if you celebrate), legal holidays, birthdays, secular holidays, school concerts, sports meets, and the eventual family obligation (wedding/graduation/funeral)...  that's a whole lot of SPECIAL days to cram down a family's throat.  Seriously.  How is one supposed to hold down a full time job, tend the garden, tend the children, AND come up with these traditions???

I've found that the answer is: "Very slowly."

We are lucky to have a semi-fertile Pagan community.  What I mean by that is that if I am too burned out to throw something together, we don't have to scrap Samhain or Ostara all together.  There is usually another group, circle, or Unitarian church we can celebrate with without me pulling my hair out.  Because I have this safety net, I have had the luxury of working out the details and ideas for our family's sabbat traditions slowly.

To start, I pick a holiday that is not a strength for us.  I read through my library of books, search Pinterest, troll blogs, and keep notes for a few months.  And believe me, it DOES take that long.

A friend and I were sitting out chatting around the fire at Litha (our Midsummer Huddle) and I lamented that I'd had to rush the writing of the Litha ritual because I'd had to start working on the designing of our Lammas celebration at the start of June.  She agreed that in order to get everything done for a large group or family, you certainly have to start planning months before a sabbat.

This is especially true for me.  I am not a half-asser.  I believe in eating seasonal foods, creating cloaks, learning chants, harvesting specific woods for the fire, hunting out just the right ritual libation, finding a "perfect triad" craft for the children (inspirational, entertaining, cheap).  I sew and cook and haul and sing and pour my heart into my family's holiday celebrations so that they may come to be touched as deeply by the God and Goddess as I have.  This is the legacy I am leaving for my great-great grandchildren.  

I have had rock-solid plans in place for only Ostara, Litha, Mabon, and Yule.  Every other holiday or moon has left me with weak plans or sent us dashing to the nearest circle.  I only just solidified our Lammas traditions this past month. 

We had a very fun Lammas and have all agreed that we liked it just the way it was.  Doodle Bug even asked if we could invite friends to join us next year.  I said "yes".  I feel comfortable with that, now.  If he were asking about Samhain or the full moon, I would have to say "no".  We don't have a fix on those holidays just yet.  

Of course, I understand that our plans may not stay exactly the way we've written them in our family book.  They're traditions.  They're meant to stretch and bend and grow with our family.  But the basic ideas, the central focus of the holiday, has been clarified for us and our family's path.

In our family grimoire, Lammas is celebrated with the following:

  • a ritual enactment of the cutting down of John Barleycorn
  • baking of a man-shaped loaf of bread (Mr. Barleycorn)
  • masks, crowns, face-paint, and other theatrical fare
  • large balefire heaped high with the first of the harvest debris (shrubbery cuttings, etc.)
  • feast prepared from our garden and items from farmer's market
  • bourbon shots (for the adults!)
  • the playing of Tailteann-style games
  • blessing the garden with smudge and rainstick
  • Lugh, solar disks, flames, and various sun-god imagery
  • Ocean Mother, shells, fish, and various sea-goddess imagery
  • corn, grain, tomatoes, zucchini, cabbage, beans, cucumbers
  • peaches, lemons, berries, cherries, melons
  • singing of harvest songs and chants

If other activities come along that we feel fit the theme of our family's Lammas, so be it.  If a large Lammas festival sprouts up in the area, we may decide to travel there instead of staying at home.  Perhaps we will find that we like to perform earthworks this day.  Maybe we'll get crafty and weave our harvest debris into a shape and burn it.  It wouldn't be odd for us to have a cold snap or blight that drains the life from our garden... veggie pizza sounds kinda Lammas-y to me :)

Will we always get everything to fit?  No.

Will I always be able to rally the troops to throw balls and draw lots?  No.

But, will we always strive to celebrate Lammas?  Yes.

And that's the point.

If YOU are trying to create family traditions for your family and need some ideas, check out these links for help making the decisions that need to be made:

Seasonal Foods for your area can be found here { EAT THE SEASONS }
My personal Pinterest page divides each sabbat into "Recipes", "Lore", and "Activities"  { MAMA STACEY'S PINTEREST }
Selena Fox, High Priestess of Circle Sanctuary, offers a fast rundown of the basics for each sabbat here: { CELEBRATING THE SEASONS }

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