The Empress... She’s been on my mind a lot recently. Especially as this past weekend I celebrated Lammas, which is a Pagan harvest festival. One of the key symbols of Lammas is grain and the bread that is made with it. The Rider-Waite Smith Empress card is full of abundant nature and fertility symbols. Right at The Empress’s feet is a field of wheat that promises continued abundance and the happiness that comes when you know that all your body needs is provided for.
This weekend I went to a Unitarian Church service. I had never been to a Unitarian Church before but I saw that they were in fact doing a special pagan service on Lammas so I decided to attend. This particular service was run in tandem with a local Chicago coven and the service was indeed Pagan themed. We called in the directions and invoked the God and the Goddess. Though what was really inspiring was the ‘sermon,’ which spoke of the value of grain and bread - for both us but especially our ancestors. For us bread is a common commodity, easily found at our local grocery stores and bakery. For our ancestors, however, bread and grain was truly a matter of life and death. I can only imagine what it must have been like to worry anxiously over a carefully tended field and then to finally reach the height of Summer were upon that Lammas day the first of the grain was carefully harvested - such a powerful moment that represented both a successful farming season and the reassurance that one would not starve during winter.
While most see The Empress card as tied to the Goddess Aphrodite, I think of her more like a combination of Ceres, Demeter, Persephone, and Aphrodite. All represent love and abundance in their own way. And with Lammas, they all remind us to be thankful of what we have in our lives.
Aphrodite reminds us to love - to love ourselves, each other, and mother Earth.
Demeter reminds us of fertility and the love one has for their children.
Persephone gives us hope when we are in the darkest of winters.
And Ceres— Ceres gives us the grain, a comforting reminder for us all to be thankful for the bounty we share each day.
What does the Empress card and the harvest festival of Lammas symbolize to you? Share in the comments below. I’d love to hear what you think. I also have another post about Lammas that I wrote last year. You can read it here if you're interested.