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August - Feasts, Fest and Festivals


The month of August was originally the sixth month, named Sextilis in the Roman calendar - as in many cultures and traditions, the year began in March. (March, with its Equinox, is where the circle of the Zodiac, and the Wheel of the Seasons, begins, thus starting a folkloric and agricultural cycle). The Romans added two opening months to their 10 month calendar, the sixth month became the eighth month and was ultimately renamed August, in honour of the Emperor Augustus. The month had been one of important victories for the Emperor and to this day, the month of August is considered a lucky one for those who aspire to success!


This month brings fetes, processions and exuberance. It is a time when (hopefully!) the weather is bright and sunny, people take holidays and enjoy outdoor activities. Triumphal processions were not just for expressing the joy of victory, but a way of giving praise and thanks to the powers that be – plus a request for continued success. Bright colours, costume, decoration, plus noise and music are all part of this way to draw the energies together. Originally, a community fair and procession might be facilitated or subsidised by the local gentry, who would make a show of their generosity. This has nowadays given rise to sponsorship and advertising: sporting or music events, costume and carnival floats have become another way for organisations to make their presence felt – the trend has veered more and more towards charity and giving back to the community, so in a way, the concept is coming back to its roots. All whilst bringing entertainment at a time when people feel the need to have fun!

Carnivals of August


One of the big carnivals of August is the London Notting Hill Carnival, an event that has grown from being a smallish showcase of Caribbean dance and music in 1959, to a huge three-day street party, between the 29th and 31st August this year. This, with other events up and down the country, such as the week-long West Indian Carnival in Leeds, brings colour and sunshine, whatever the English weather may do! Other Carnivals are home-grown, evolving from the “Charter Fairs” in the 13th century in England. These would be fairs and street markets established by royal charter. Many English towns were granted the right to hold an annual fair, first for local trade but eventually attracting business from elsewhere, turning into festivities, with funfairs and travelling entertainers. The fair was usually held on the feast day of the town church’s saint. The London Bartholomew’s Fair became a major attraction in August and has been celebrated in traditional song, folklore and literature. The fair boasted beer and roast pork, circus acts, music, miracle medicine cures and even astrology readings – but inevitably, pickpockets, thieves and other undesirables. It gained such a bad reputation that it was eventually stopped, but there are plans to revive it!

Whether it’s a parade with horses, a demonstration of falconry or a show of prize-winning pigs, animals have their place at Summer events – our relationship with animals is there to experience: you can see jousting and dog agility at the Chertsey Agricultural Show on August 8th and 9th, sheep-shearing in Brecon at the County Show on the 1st of August or who would want to miss the duck-races at the Ross-on-Wye Carnival (Aug 1st)?

Food and feasting are an integral part of celebration: a burger from a stall at the annual Reading Music Festival, your own picnic lunch at the Leeds Festival (28th to 20th Aug), or shared bread at your own Lammas gathering, food is what keeps us alive and brings us together. This is the time of harvest, a time to enjoy and appreciate the result of our hard work.
In the astrological calendar, the month of August starts with the Sun in the sign of Leo and ends with it having moved into Virgo. This transition shows the power of the life-force, as symbolised by the Sun (the ruling planet of Leo), the energy that warms the corn, to the natural process that brings it to fruition, symbolised by Virgo, the Harvest Goddess. The celebration of the harvest comes at Lammas, August 1st.

Lammas or Loaf-mass is an important Festival in the Pagan and traditional calendar, representing the reaping of crops. It celebrates the harvest, the enjoyment of the fruits of one’s labours, in all its forms – what will you gather this August? Your reading will help you to find your true worth and guide you to reap the benefits, in whatever form they come.
The August Summer Bank Holiday Monday is on the 31st and with so much going on, it will be a joyous end to the month. What do you aim to make your personal “harvest”? Make contact with us to talk to one of our team.


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