How to Decorate a Lammas Altar

How to Decorate a Lammas Altar
The Lammas altar celebrates the first harvest of wheat. It is still high summer on August 1, but you have reached the gateway to autumn. Lammas is the midpoint between midsummer and fall equinox. You are standing on the threshold between the growing and the great reaping. As with Midsummer, your colors for Lammas include yellow, gold, orange, and sky blue. The yellow can be paler to reflect how the sun comes to bleach colors after an entire summer of blazing down upon the fields. Add accent colors of tan and brown. Decorate your altar with touches of brass, bronze, and gold.

Nature-themed decorations include sheaves of golden wheat in tall standing vases. Include robust, leggy yellow flowers such as black-eyed Susans and sunflowers. Put together a centerpiece using a wreath of wrapped straw or a dried grapevine wreath. Within it you can set a brass or earthenware bowl to display twigs wrapped in green or gold ribbons, or dried flower arrangements.

For a basic seasonal altar that is not overtly Wiccan, start by draping your altar with a pale yellow or rich golden cloth to represent the wheat fields of summer. Drape a smaller cloth in a contrasting yellow diagonally over it, and perhaps a smaller cream-colored cloth diagonally on top so that all the points of the altar cloths can be seen. For a centerpiece, use a woven basket or a wreath and bowl as described above. Add sun symbols in bronze and brass, and figurines of farmers with their scythes and oxen threshing the wheat. You can add art and photographs of ears of wheat (that distinctive formation at the top of the stalk that holds the seeds). A very pretty display can be made of clear mason jars filled with wheat grains, bran, semolina, or cereal that are placed around your altar to show the contrasting textures.

Overtly Wiccan items for your altar could include figures of the God as a virile young blond man who is god of the harvest. Place greenman figures on your altar. Make effigies of the Lord and Lady out of wheat or herbs or dried cornhusks. Bake bread in the shape of a man or a horse or ox and place on the altar as a symbolic sacrifice. There are different types of straw art that look great on a Lammas altar including the intricately woven corn dollies (actually made from wheat straw), and bits of straw glued on lacquered black wood to form abstract designs, landscapes, or sacred images.

Lammas is a fire festival and it celebrates the glory of the summer sun under which the wheat ripens. Therefore, candles are always appropriate. Decorate your altar with pillar candles or taper candles in gold, orange, and yellow. Never leave lit candles unattended. The safest to use are in glass jars, which can also reflect the candlelight through their thick glass for a beautiful magnifying effect.

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