Posted in Sabbats
December 14, 2012 – 1:20 AM
Below is a variety of Yule history, traditions, symbols and lore for your information and entertainment. Enjoy.
These are not necessarily Magickal Winds’ views; we like to share research with the public; this does not mean we agree with everything we research and post.
Posted by Magickal Winds
Yule, (pronounced EWE-elle) is when the dark half of the year relinquishes to the light half. Starting the next morning at sunrise, the sun climbs just a little higher and stays a little longer in the sky each day. Known as Solstice Night, or the longest night of the year, much celebration was to be had as the ancestors awaited the rebirth of the Oak King, the Sun King, the Giver of Life that warmed the frozen Earth and made her to bear forth from seeds protected through the fall and winter in her womb. Bonfires were lit in the fields, and crops and trees were “wassailed” with toasts of spiced cider.
Children were escorted from house to house with gifts of clove spiked apples and oranges which were laid in baskets of evergreen boughs and wheat stalks dusted with flour. The apples and oranges represented the sun, the boughs were symbolic of immortality, the wheat stalks portrayed the harvest, and the flour was accomplishment of triumph, light, and life. Holly, mistletoe, and ivy not only decorated the outside, but also the inside of homes. It was to extend invitation to Nature Sprites to come and join the celebration. A sprig of Holly was kept near the door all year long as a constant invitation for good fortune to pay visit to the residents.
The ceremonial Yule log was the highlight of the festival. In accordance to tradition, the log must either have been harvested from the householder’s land, or given as a gift… it must never have been bought. Once dragged into the house and placed in the fireplace it was decorated in seasonal greenery, doused with cider or ale, and dusted with flour before set ablaze be a piece of last years log, (held onto for just this purpose). The log would burn throughout the night, then smolder for 12 days after before being ceremonially put out. Ash is the traditional wood of the Yule log. It is the sacred world tree of the Teutons, known as Yggdrasil. An herb of the Sun, Ash brings light into the hearth at the Solstice.
A different type of Yule log, and perhaps one more suitable for modern practitioners would be the type that is used as a base to hold three candles.
Find a smaller branch of oak or pine, and flatten one side so it sets upright. Drill three holes in the top side to hold red, green, and white (season), green, gold, and black (the Sun God), or white, red, and black (the Great Goddess). Continue to decorate with greenery, red and gold bows, rosebuds, cloves, and dust with flour.
Deities of Yule are all Newborn Gods, Sun Gods, Mother Goddesses, and Triple Goddesses. The best known would be the Dagda, and Brighid, the daughter of the Dagda. Brighid taught the smiths the arts of fire tending and the secrets of metal work. Brighid’s flame, like the flame of the new light, pierces the darkness of the spirit and mind, while the Dagda’s cauldron assures that Nature will always provide for all the children.
Symbolism of Yule: Rebirth of the Sun, The longest night of the year, The Winter Solstice, Introspect, Planning for the Future.
Symbols of Yule: Yule log, or small Yule log with 3 candles, evergreen boughs or wreaths, holly, mistletoe hung in doorways, gold pillar candles, baskets of clove studded fruit, a simmering pot of wassail, poinsettias, christmas cactus.
Herbs of Yule: bayberry, blessed thistle, evergreen, frankincense holly, laurel, mistletoe, oak, pine, sage, yellow cedar.
Foods of Yule: cookies and caraway cakes soaked in cider, fruits, nuts, pork dishes, turkey, eggnog, ginger tea, spiced cider, wassail, or lamb’s wool (ale, sugar, nutmeg, roasted apples).
Incense of Yule: Pine, cedar, bayberry, cinnamon.
Colors of Yule: red, green, gold, white, silver, yellow, orange.
Stones of Yule: rubies, bloodstones, garnets, emeralds, diamonds.
Activities of Yule: caroling, wassailing the trees, burning the Yule log, decorating the Yule tree, exchanging of presents, kissing under the mistletoe, honoring Kriss Kringle the Germanic Pagan God of Yule
Spellworkings of Yule: peace, harmony, love, and increased happiness.
Deities of Yule: Goddesses-Brighid, Isis, Demeter, Gaea, Diana, The Great Mother. Gods-Apollo, Ra, Odin, Lugh, The Oak King, The Horned One, The Green Man, The Divine Child, Mabon.
—Adapted by Akasha Ap Emrys
For all her friends and those of like mind
Yule Traditions and History
Yule is the Anglo-Saxon word for the festival of the Winter Solstice. It comes from the original ‘Iul’ meaning ‘wheel’. In the old Almanacs, the symbol of a wheel was used to mark Yuletide. The idea behind this is that the year turns like a wheel, The Great Wheel of the Zodiac, The Wheel of Life, of which the spokes are the old ritual occasions. The winter solstice, the rebirth of the Sun, is a particularly important turning point.
According to the Bardic Tradition, the winter solstice was called ‘Alban Arthan’ by the Druids. It was then that the Chief Druid cut the sacred mistletoe from the Oak, a custom that still lingers with our use of mistletoe for Christmas decoration. It is interesting to note that Mistletoe is usually banned from churches at Christmas, because of it’s Pagan association. However, at one time, there used to be a different tradition at York Minister. Stukeley, an eighteenth-century writer noted that on Christmas Eve, they carried Mistletoe to the High Altar in the church and proclaimed a universal liberty and pardon to all sorts of criminals and wrongdoers.
The idea of holding a festival at the winter solstice, to celebrate the rebirth of the Sun was so universal in the ancient world, that the Christians adapted it. No one really knows for sure when Christ was born, but by holding this feast at midwinter, Christ was mystically identified with the Sun. The Romans celebrated the winter solstice with a festival called Saturnalia. The winter solstice takes place when the Sun enters the Sign of Capricorn, and Saturn, the ruler of Capricorn, was also supposed to be the ruler of the far off Golden age of the past when the world was happy and fruitful. At this time of the year, the Romans decked their houses with boughs of evergreen trees and bushes. People gave each other presents, and all normal business was suspended and social distinctions were forgotten. Servants and slaves were given a feast by their masters who waited the tables.
The Pagan Saxons celebrated the feast of Yule with plenty of ale and blazing fires, of which our Yule log is the last relic. The Yule log is actually an indoor equivalent of the outdoor bonfire of Midwinter Eve. There used to be an old custom of saving a piece of the Yule log, ‘for luck’ to kindle the next year’s blaze.
The evergreens for Yuletide decorations were holly, ivy, mistletoe, bay, rosemary, and the green branches of the box tree. By Candlemas, all these had to be gathered up and burnt, or hobgoblins would haunt the house. In other words, by the time a new tide of life had started to flow, people had to get rid of the past and look to the future. Spring-cleaning was originally a nature ritual.
Yule marks the death and re-birth of the Sun God. It also marks the vanquishing of the Holly King, God of the waning year, by the Oak King, God of the waxing year. Old mumming plays, which still exist in some places as part of the Yuletide festivities, are linked with the rebirth of the Sun. Saint George in shining armor, comes to do battle with the dark faced ‘Turkish Knight’. Saint George is the Sun, slaying the powers of darkness. However, the victor immediately proclaims that he has slain his brother. Dark and Light, winter and summer are complementary to each other. So on comes the mysterious ‘Doctor’ with his magical bottle who revives the slain man. There is much rejoicing and all ends well. Another version of the Oak/Holly King theme, is the ritual hunting and killing of a Wren. The Wren, little King of the Waning Year, is killed by the Robin Redbreast, King of the Waxing Year. The Robin finds the Wren hiding in an Ivy bush (or as in some parts of Ireland – a holly bush).
At Yule, the Goddess shows her Life-in-Death aspect. At this season, she is the leprous-white lady, Queen of the cold darkness, yet, this is her moment of giving birth to the child of Promise, the Son-Lover who will refertilize her and bring back light and warmth to her kingdom.
The Winter Solstice rebirth and the Goddess’s part in it, were portrayed in ancient Egyptby a ritual in which Isis circled the shrine of Osiris seven times, to represent her mourning for him and her wanderings in search of the scattered parts of his body. For the festival, people decorated the outside of their houses with oil-lamps that burned all night. At midnight, the priests emerged from an inner shrine crying, “The Virgin has brought forth! The light is waxing!” and showed the image of a baby to the worshippers.
Lamps burning all night at Midwinter, survive in Ireland and elsewhere, as the single candle burning in the window at Christmas Eve, lit by the youngest in the house – a symbol of mircocosmic welcome to the Marcosm.
Whatever the form or name of Yuletide celebration, it is a festive time of year throughout the world. With the rebirth of the Sun, the giver of warmth, life and light, people had something to be genuinely happy about.
* Researched from various sources by The Silver Circle
Lisa Hutchins, 1997
The winter solstice takes place on or about December 21 every year, and is the moment when the sun is at its southernmost position. For those in the northern hemisphere, this means that on the winter solstice the sun rises the latest and sets the earliest of the entire year. It hangs low and weak in the sky during the brief daylight hours, and daytime shadows are the longest. Because the day is the year’s shortest, the winter solstice is also the time of the longest night.
Solstice rites are one of our oldest celebrations, dating back to the dawn of modern civilization some 30,000 years ago. For ancient peoples, the winter solstice was an awesome, mysterious, and powerful phenomenon.
Those of us today who have ever pondered the ramifications of a cataclysmic event such as a “nuclear winter” or the aftermath of a giant meteor impact can understand how frightening it must have been to see the sun slip away every fall. Harsh winter conditions and scare food supplies made survival risky. Vegetation was dormant, migratory birds had long since disappeared to warmer climes, and many animals had vanished into hibernation. As the weeks drew closer to the solstice, it was a time of anxiety over ever-darkening days. What if the sun lost its vigor and never came back? Would light and warmth simply fade away forever? Would the earth be wrapped in eternal night and cold?
Early peoples, living at the mercy of a hostile environment- and also highly sensitive to natural phenomena-held supplicating rites to the forces of nature as a way of ensuring the return of longer, warmer days. To early cultures, the winter solstice represented the death of the old solar year and the birth of the new. Yule festivities, accordingly, marked this planetary turning point away from darkness and the blessed return to light. And although the comforts of today’s modern civilization now shield us from winter’s harsh effects, Western cultures continue-knowingly or unknowingly-to honor this tradition through Yule celebrations.
Interestingly, Christmas (and its attendant holiday, Easter) actually have roots in ancient beliefs going back tens of thousands of years. Many folk holidays and celebrations were absorbed into Christian culture in the early days of Christianity to make the new religion more acceptable. There was no consensus among early Church fathers over the date to use for Christ’s birth. (In fact, as devout Christians know, there is no certain date for the birth of Christ. Current estimates based on historical and astronomical records put it at around February 6, 6 B.C.) A December festival to celebrate the birth of Christ didn’t exist until the fourth century when Christians simply adopted the popular Yule celebrations for their own use. Roman churchmen favored the Mithraic winter solstice festival, which they themselves had adopted from the Persians called the Birthday of the Unconquered Sun. On the old Roman calendar, December 25 (not December 21) was the date of the winter solstice. The winter solstice was also the traditional date to honor the birth of the pagan Divine Child, and Norsemen celebrated the birthday of their lord, Frey, at the winter solstice. After much argument, Pope Julius selected December 25 as Christ’s Mass, or Christmas, in 350 A.D.-in part to counter persistent pagan solstice rites, but also because people of the time were already used to calling it a god’s birthday. (This proclamation was not without objection, however. The date was so controversial that eastern churches refused to honor it for another hundred years, and the church of Jerusalemignored the date until the 7th century. And in an interesting twist, the fifth-century Bishop of Constantinople firmly believed December 25 was selected so Christians could celebrate Christ’s birthday undisturbed while “the heathen were busy with their profane ceremonies”!)
Even today, pagan and Christian belief is intermingled with Christmas celebration. Many traditions that are now a part of the mainstream Christian culture actually come from ancient pagan celebrations-rites such as decorating with evergreens, hanging ornaments on a tree, partaking of sweet confections, processions, gift giving, wassailing or singing carols, and the burning of the yule log.
Winter solstice observances were held by virtually every culture in the world. Solstice rites were practiced among such diverse groups as Native South Americans, Celts, Persians, Orientals, and Africans. Solstice was known as Sacaea to the Mesopotamians, as the Festival of Kronos to the ancient Greeks, and as Saturnalia to the Romans. According to Norse traditions, the Valkyrie looked for souls to bring to Valhalla during Yule. Norwegians abstained from hunting or fishing for the twelve days during Yule as a way of letting the weary world rest and to hasten the revived sun’s appearance. In old Russiait was traditional to toss grain upon the doorways where carolers visited as a way of keeping the house from want throughout the rest of the winter. Ashes from the Yule log were mixed with cows’ feed in France and Germany to promote the animals’ health and help them calve. In Baltic regions today, corn is scattered near the door of the house for sustenance and ashes of the Yule log are given to fruit trees to increase their yield. Romanians bless the trees of the orchard on Yule with sweetened dough to bring good harvests. Serbs toss wheat on the burning Yule log to increase livestock bounty.
The most significant Yule tradition to persist over the centuries is the Christmas tree. Although the origin of the Christmas tree is generally ascribed to Martin Luther, its beginnings actually go back to pre-Christian times. Christmas trees are thought to have evolved from the rite of symbolically selecting and harvesting a “sacred tree,” a practice found in many ancient cultures. Evergreens and firs were sacred to early peoples, including the ancient Greeks, Celts, and Germans. The first Yule trees were born when pagans went into the forests during the winter solstice to give offerings to evergreens. Pines and firs remained green while other vegetation lost their leaves and appeared lifeless during the bitter winter cold. Their mysterious survival and vigor seemed to signify a life force within which carried with it the hope of renewed life.
The pinea silva or sacred pine groves that were attached to pagan Roman temples also pre-figured the Christmas tree. On the night before a holy day, Roman priests called “tree-bearers” cut one of the sacred pines, decorated it, and carried it into the temple. In fact, the German word for Christmas tree is not Kristenbaum, or Christmas tree, but Tannenbaum, or sacred tree.
Church leaders from the early centuries of the Church all the way through Puritan society in 17th century Massachusettscondemned the custom of bringing decorated evergreens into the home at Yule time. The custom was so beloved and persistent, however, that repeated attempts to eradicate ‘heathen’ practices ultimately failed-and now these pagan traditions, which largely celebrate nature, are among the most treasured elements of the season.
Decorating the tree with objects resembling fruits, nuts, berries, and even flowers is thought to be a symbolic act designed to bring about the return of summer’s bounty. In this way early cultures hoped to hurry the return of spring, and ensure survival through the rest of the harsh winter months.
Christmas wreaths are also ancient, and were traditionally made of evergreens, holly, and ivy. The wreath’s circle symbolizes the wheel of the year and the completion of another cycle. Holly represents the female element; ivy represents the male. Like evergreens, holly was believed to contain a mysterious life force because it bore berries in the middle of winter. Both holly and ivy were thought to have magical properties, and were used as protection against negative elements.
Kissing under the mistletoe is an old Druid tradition. Mistletoe was considered highly sacred by this culture because, as a parasitic kind of vegetation, it never touched the earth (growing instead on oaks and other trees), and also because it bore berries in winter when everything else appeared dead. Druids gathered the leaves and berries from special oaks with sickles made of gold. They called mistletoe “all-heal” because they felt it had the power of protection against illness and bad events, and also because they believed mistletoe spread goodwill. Legend has it that enemies meeting under the mistletoe cast their weapons aside, greeted each other amicably, and honored a temporary truce. White linen clothes were spread beneath the mistletoe as it was being gathered so none of it would touch the ground, lest its power be accidentally released back to the earth. Mistletoe berries were considered to be a powerful fertility substance. A kiss under the mistletoe meant love and the promise of marriage.
Burning the Yule log is perhaps the oldest of all Yule traditions, possibly dating back eons. Since the winter solstice was a solar holiday, fire in different forms was closely associated with it. Fires and candles were lit during Yule to give the waning sun renewed power and vigor-and also surely to provide sources of cheery heat and light during the darkest part of the northern winter. Even the burning brandy on plum pudding symbolized the sun’s rebirth. Traditionally the Yule log was made of oak; in northern European countries, the log was massive enough to burn for the entire twelve days of Yule. It was selected early in the year and set aside, then at winter solstice decorated with sprays of fir, evergreen, holly, ivy, or yew. A piece of the previous year’s Yule log was used to light the new Yule log. Once the ashes were cold they were gathered into powerful amulets, or scattered throughout the garden and fields to ensure fertility and bounty in the coming year.
Spirituality of Solstice
The spiritual ramifications of yule are profound for both neo-pagans and Christians. For Christians, the birth of Christ means a turning point between eternal death and eternal life. Devout Christians celebrate Christmas as the beginning of a new spiritual age of eternal life.
For neo-pagans, Yule is also a time of spiritual beginnings. Jul, or Yule, is an old Anglo-Saxon word meaning “wheel.” The winter solstice is the turning point in the natural cycle of the year; this darkest night in all the year is followed by a day that will dawn just a little bit earlier.
Because Yule signifies the completion of the wheel of the year, the period around the winter solstice is considered to be a good time for spiritual work. Some neo-pagans believe the dark nights of winter are when the veil between the spirit world and the living world is the thinnest. It is therefore an appropriate time for self-examination and meditation on hidden energies-both the energies lying dormant within the earth, and also those within ourselves. Yule traditions celebrate nature’s renewal, and help affirm our connection to the energy and power of the earth and the cosmos.
Nature’s Enduring Cycle
The winter solstice demonstrates the enduring cycle of the heavens by an event that has been directly observable, year in and year out, century after century, for millions of years. The new year begins with the turning point of the winter solstice, as it has down through eons-an unending cycle of dark and light, waning and waxing, ultimately representing nature’s birth, death, and rebirth. The winter solstice is a time to affirm our spiritual ties to nature through celebrations and traditions that are thousands of years old.
Whether celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or Yule, we can all delight in the season as a time to renew family ties, take joy in our natural environment, reflect on the events of the old year, and look forward in anticipation to the new. As the winter solstice demonstrates to us, every ending is a new beginning.
Yule: December 22
Yule, also known as the Winter Solstice, Winter Rite, Midwinter, and Alban Arthan, is the celebration of the rebirth of the sun.
In Celtic tradition it is the the time of year in which the young Holy king defeats the aged Oak king. After a long battle the youth wins and brings back the sun.
The twelve days of Christmas should actually be called the twelve days of Yule. They are the last twelve days of December. Other familiar sights of the time that have pagan roots include: the red and green colors, the yule log, the tree, holly wreaths, burning bayberry candles, and reindeer. The log is because it is the festival of fire, of light. A piece of the log is kept throughout the year to light the next years log and to protect the home. The tree comes from an old German custom. Reindeer represent the God.
Yet another popular Christmas figure has pagan roots. Santa Clause, St. Nicholas, whatever you call him he is the German God of the season.
(Added Dec. 18, 2000)
The Teutonic Yule provided such customs for Christmas festivities as the Yule log and the “wassail bowl.” Yule is an Anglo-Saxon word meaning “feast”. Yule used to be a great winter festival of fire and light to mark new beginnings and the lengthening of days. The Yule log was lit to be one of the may offerings to the Sun god. The finding, the taking home and the lighting of the Yule log was a tradition, which survived to Christian times when it finally became part of these festivities; – the name Yule being the ancient basis for Christmas.
Many seasonal songs have a rivalry between the holly and the ivy. Both very dominant in the forest and in the home as they sybolize the man (holly) and woman (ivy). Many of todays carols are based on much older ones. “The Carol of the Bells” is based on a Ukrainian carol called “Shchedryk”. They are similar only in melody as the English version is different. “Shchedryk” means “Generous One”; it is a song about the god of generousity, Dazh Boh, the Giver God or sun.
Both Germanic and Celtic people celebrated Yule, as we have seen, but was it the same as their pagan brotheren to the south? Being northern farmers, this time of the year became very difficult for them. Winter supplies were starting to get low. Fruits and vegetables were pretty much out of the question. The nights were dark and long and the days short and overcast for the most part. Did this time of year become a time for slaughter and feasting?
Evergreens were cherished and brought into the house. They were used to catch the evil spirits that lingered during the long dark time. “Sort of like flypaper for faeries,” as one website put it. Who doesn’t like a little green in the house during winter, I myself have several plants growing and always give them extra care during this time. Most likely because I can’t go outside and play in the dirt.
In Sweden and Norway they have the Yule goat who dilivers presents on a bicycle. He was originally the messenger for Thor. There is also the Yule elf, from the same area, who is the servant of the goat. In Icelandthey have the Yule cat. This story is not as happy as those of Santa or the goat. It seems that the Yule cat likes to eat lazy humans, those who did not help in the village wool gathering. At the end of the year everyone who helped got an artical of clothing, if you didn’t you might just end up this kitty’s dinner.
Mistletoe, another Yuletide tradition, has come to us from the Druids.. Mistletoe was used by the Druid priesthood in a very special ceremony held around this time…five days after the New Moon following winter solstice, to be precise. The Druid priests would cut mistletoe from a holy oak tree with a golden sickle. The branches had to be caught before they touched the ground. The springs were then divided and given to every family in the village to hang over their door for protection. It was placed on cradles to protect babies from the faerie. A sprig was also fed to the first calved cow of the new year to protect the rest of the herd.
Although many sources say that kissing under the mistletoe is a purely English custom, there’s another, more charming explanation for its origin that extends back into Norse mythology. It’s the story of a loving, if overprotective, mother.
The Norse god Balder was the best loved of all the gods. His mother was Frigga, goddess of love and beauty. She loved her son so much that she wanted to make sure no harm would come to him. So she went through the world, securing promises from everything that sprang from the four elements–fire, water, air, and earth–that they would not harm her beloved Balder.
Leave it to Loki, a sly, evil spirit, to find the loophole. The loophole was mistletoe. He made an arrow from its wood. To make the prank even nastier, he took the arrow to Hoder, Balder’s brother, who was blind. Guiding Holder’s hand, Loki directed the arrow at Balder’s heart, and he fell dead.
Frigga’s tears became the mistletoe’s white berries. In the version of the story with a happy ending, Balder is restored to life, and Frigga is so grateful that she reverses the reputation of the offending plant–making it a symbol of love and promising to bestow a kiss upon anyone who passes under it.
Long before Christianity, European pagan tribes used evergreen trees and boughs during their ceremonies and festivities. In Germany, for example, the “Christmas” tree has been a tradition from as early as the Middle ages. The Saxons made use of ivy and holly. Mistletoe is a Celtic custom. The Druids brought quantities of mistletoe from the forests as means of decoration for their festivals. This plant was hung high up all doors and all pretty girls who walked under it would often get kissed. This was such an old custom that no one is really sure how and when it really began. Some people speculate that it started long before people first celebrated Christmas. It could have begun in ancient Britainas the word “mistletoe” is an old English word, meaning “different twig.” A long time ago Britons thought that this plant had powers to protect them from evil. For this reason they would wear a sprig as a charm or hang it in a doorway for good luck in the coming year.
Tradtional colors: red, green, white, gold, silver
Traditional herbs: bay, bayberry, blessed thistle, cedar, chamomile, evergreen, frankincense, holly, juniper, mistletoe, moss, oak, pinecones, rosemary, sage
Traditional incense: bayberry, cedar, pine, rosemary
Traditional gemstones: cat’s-eye, ruby
Traditional foods: roasted turkey, nuts, fruitcakes, caraway rolls, eggnog, mulled wine
Yule, Yuletide, Winter Solstice or Christmas whichever you prefer, is celebrated by Pagans the 21st or 22nd of December. This day marks the end of the dark half of the year and the beginning of the light half. Starting the next morning at sunrise, the sun climbs just a little higher and stays a little longer in the sky each day.
The Yule Log
The Yule log is the highlight of this festive season. The traditional wood used for the Yule log is Ash.
According to tradition, this log is decorated with seasonal greenery, soaked with cider or ale, dusted with flour and lit with a piece of log saved from the previous year. The log used for the season must be cut from the yard or given as a gift. It is considered unlucky to buy your own Yule log.
Once lit the log would burn throughout the night, then left to smolder for 12 days, before being put out.
A small piece of the log is then saved to start the fire for the log the next year.
Now that times have changed and fireplaces are not found in every home, some adjustments can be made for convenience.
You could look in your yard, nearby wooded areas or park for a small log or branch of evergreen. You may need to flatten one side so it will not roll.
Drill three holes in the top of the log/branch to hold 3 candles. Candle combinations include: Season – red, green, and white
Sun God – green, gold, and black Goddess – white, red, and black.
Decorate with greenery, bows, seasonal flowers, cloves, and dust with flour. Light candles and burn daily for 12 days. Save your Yule log for the following year.
Symbols of the Season
Foods of Yule: Cookies and caraway cakes, cider, cinnamon-ginger tea, fruits (roasted apples, clove studded apples and oranges), nuts, pork dishes, turkey, eggnog, spiced cider, wassail, ale.
Colors of Yule: Red, green, gold, orange, silver, white, yellow.
Incense of Yule: Ash, pine, cedar, bayberry, cinnamon, frankincense.
Herbs of Yule: Bayberry, blessed thistle, cedar, evergreen, frankincense, holly, laurel, mistletoe, oak, pine, sage.
Stones of Yule: Bloodstones, diamonds, garnets, emeralds, rubies.
Activities of Yule: Burning the Yule log, caroling, decorating the Yule tree, exchanging presents, hanging wreaths, kissing under the mistletoe, honoring Kriss Kringle.
Posted by Magickal Winds
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Posted in Origins
April 13, 2012 – 4:49 AM
[THESE ARE NOT MAGICKAL WINDS' VIEWS! ...As a matter of fact, I happen to love the number thirteen and have found the number 13 to be exceptionally Magickal and the date (Friday the 13th) to be especially lucky for me! As mentioned before, we like to share research with the public; this does not mean we agree with everything we research and post!]
Why Friday the 13th Is Unlucky
by David Emery
Posted and edited to fit MySpace’s format by: Magickal Winds
Well, Friday the 13th is upon us! We all know that Hollywood uses this day to release new horror movies, but we wanted to share some of the Friday the 13th lore with you!
Why Friday the 13th Is Unlucky
From David Emery,
Paraskevidekatriaphobia: Fear of Friday the 13th
I just finished reading the abstract of a study published in the British
Medical Journal in 1993 entitled “Is Friday the 13th Bad for Your
Health?” With the aim of mapping “the relation between health,
behaviour, and superstition surrounding Friday 13th in the United
Kingdom,” its authors compared the ratio of traffic volume to the number of automobile accidents on two different days, Friday the 6th and Friday the 13th, over a period of years.
Incredibly, they found that in the region sampled, while consistently
fewer people chose to drive their cars on Friday the 13th, the number of
hospital admissions due to vehicular accidents was significantly higher
than on “normal” Fridays.
Their conclusion: “Friday 13th is unlucky for some. The risk of hospital
admission as a result of a transport accident may be increased by as
much as 52 percent. Staying at home is
recommended.”Paraskevidekatriaphobics — people afflicted with a morbid,
irrational fear of Friday the 13th — must be pricking up their ears just
now, buoyed by seeming evidence that their terror may not be so
irrational after all. But it’s unwise to take solace in a single
scientific study — the only one of its kind, so far as I know —
especially one so peculiar. I suspect these statistics have more to
teach us about human psychology than the ill-fatedness of any particular
date on the calendar.
Friday the 13th – The Most Widespread Superstition?
The sixth day of the week and the number 13 both have foreboding
reputations said to date from ancient times, and their inevitable
conjunction from one to three times a year portends more misfortune than
some credulous minds can bear. Some sources say it may be the most
widespread superstition in the United States. Some people won’t go to
work on Friday the 13th; some won’t eat in restaurants; many wouldn’t
think of setting a wedding on the date.
Just how many Americans in 2007 still suffer from this condition?
According to Dr. Donald Dossey, a psychotherapist specializing in the
treatment of phobias (and coiner of the term “paraskevidekatriaphobia”),
the figure may be as high as 21 million. If he’s right, eight percent of
Americans are still in the grips of a very old superstition.
Exactly how old is difficult to say, because determining the origins of
superstitions is an imprecise science, at best. In fact, it’s mostly
13: The Devil’s Dozen
It is said: If 13 people sit down to dinner together, all will die
within the year. The Turks so disliked the number 13 that it was
practically expunged from their vocabulary (Brewer, 1894). Many cities
do not have a 13th Street or a 13th Avenue. Many buildings don’t have a
13th floor. If you have 13 letters in your name, you will have the
devil’s luck (Jack the Ripper, Charles Manson, Jeffrey Dahmer, Theodore
Bundy and Albert De Salvo all have 13 letters in their names). There are
13 witches in a coven.
Though no one can say for sure when and why human beings first
associated the number 13 with misfortune, the belief is assumed to be
quite old, and there exist any number of theories — all of which have
been called into question at one time or another, I should point out —
purporting to trace its origins to antiquity and beyond. It has been
proposed, for example, that fears surrounding the number 13 are as
ancient as the act of counting. Primitive man had only his 10 fingers
and two feet to represent units, this explanation goes, so he could
count no higher than 12. What lay beyond that — 13 — was an impenetrable
mystery to our prehistoric forebears, hence an object of superstition.
Which has an edifying ring to it, but one is left wondering — did
primitive man not have toes?
Despite whatever terrors the numerical unknown held for their
hunter-gatherer ancestors, ancient civilizations weren’t unanimous in
their dread of 13. The Chinese regarded the number as lucky, some
commentators note, as did the Egyptians in the time of the pharaohs.
To the ancient Egyptians, these sources tell us, life was a quest for
spiritual ascension which unfolded in stages — 12 in this life and a
13th beyond, thought to be the eternal afterlife. The number 13
therefore symbolized death — not in terms of dust and decay, but as a
glorious and desirable transformation. Though Egyptian civilization
perished, the symbolism conferred on the number 13 by its priesthood
survived, only to be corrupted by subsequent cultures who came to
associate 13 with a fear of death instead of a reverence for the
Other sources speculate that the number 13 may have been purposely
vilified by the founders of patriarchal religions in the early days of
western civilization because it represented femininity. Thirteen had
been revered in prehistoric goddess-worshiping cultures, we are told,
because it corresponded to the number of lunar (menstrual) cycles in a
year (13 x 28 = 364 days). The “Earth Mother of Laussel,” for example —
a 27,000-year-old carving found near the Lascaux caves in France often
cited as an icon of matriarchal spirituality — depicts a female figure
holding a cresent-shaped horn bearing 13 notches. As the solar calendar
triumphed over the lunar with the rise of male-dominated civilization,
it is surmised, so did the number 12 over the number 13, thereafter
On the other hand, one of the earliest concrete taboos associated with
the number 13 — a taboo still observed by some superstitious folks
today, evidently — is said to have originated in the East with the
Hindus, who believed, for reasons I haven’t been able to ascertain, that
it is always unlucky for 13 people to gather in one place — say, at
dinner. Interestingly enough, precisely the same superstition has been
attributed to the ancient Vikings (though I have also been told, for
what it’s worth, that this and the accompanying mythographical
explanation are apocryphal). The story has been laid down as follows:
Loki, the Evil One
Twelve gods were invited to a banquet at Valhalla. Loki, the Evil One,
god of mischief, had been left off the guest list but crashed the party,
bringing the total number of attendees to 13. True to character, Loki
raised hell by inciting Hod, the blind god of winter, to attack Balder
the Good, who was a favorite of the gods. Hod took a spear of mistletoe
offered by Loki and obediently hurled it at Balder, killing him
instantly. All Valhalla grieved. And although one might take the moral
of this story to be “Beware of uninvited guests bearing mistletoe,” the
Norse themselves apparently concluded that 13 people at a dinner party
is just plain bad luck.
As if to prove the point, the Bible tells us there were exactly 13
present at the Last Supper. One of the dinner guests — er, disciples —
betrayed Jesus Christ, setting the stage for the Crucifixion.
Did I mention the Crucifixion took place on a Friday?
It is said: Never change your bed on Friday; it will bring bad dreams.
Don’t start a trip on Friday or you will have misfortune. If you cut
your nails on Friday, you cut them for sorrow. Ships that set sail on a
Friday will have bad luck – as in the tale of H.M.S. Friday … One
hundred years ago, the British government sought to quell once and for
all the widespread superstition among seamen that setting sail on
Fridays was unlucky. A special ship was commissioned, named “H.M.S.
Friday.” They laid her keel on a Friday, launched her on a Friday,
selected her crew on a Friday and hired a man named Jim Friday to be her
captain. To top it off, H.M.S. Friday embarked on her maiden voyage on a
Friday, and was never seen or heard from again.
Some say Friday’s bad reputation goes all the way back to the Garden of
It was on a Friday, supposedly, that Eve tempted Adam with the forbidden
fruit. Adam bit, as we all learned in Sunday School, and they were both
ejected from Paradise. Tradition also holds that the Great Flood began
on a Friday; God tongue-tied the builders of the Tower of Babel on a
Friday; the Temple of Solomon was destroyed on a Friday; and, of course,
Friday was the day of the week on which Christ was crucified. It is
therefore a day of penance for Christians.
In pagan Rome, Friday was execution day (later Hangman’s Day in
Britain), but in other pre-Christian cultures it was the sabbath, a day
of worship, so those who indulged in secular or self-interested
activities on that day could not expect to receive blessings from the
gods — which may explain the lingering taboo on embarking on journeys or
starting important projects on Fridays.
To complicate matters, these pagan associations were not lost on the
early Church, which went to great lengths to suppress them. If Friday
was a holy day for heathens, the Church fathers felt, it must not be so
for Christians — thus it became known in the Middle Ages as the
“Witches’ Sabbath,” and thereby hangs another tale.
The name “Friday” was derived from a Norse deity worshipped on the sixth
day, known either as Frigg (goddess of marriage and fertility), or Freya
(goddess of sex and fertility), or both, the two figures having become
intertwined in the handing-down of myths over time (the etymology of
“Friday” has been given both ways). Frigg/Freya corresponded to Venus,
the goddess of love of the Romans, who named the sixth day of the week
in her honor “dies Veneris.”
Friday was actually considered quite lucky by pre- Christian Teutonic
peoples, we are told — especially as a day to get married — because of
its traditional association with love and fertility. All that changed
when Christianity came along. The goddess of the sixth day — most likely
Freya in this context, given that the cat was her sacred animal — was
recast in post- pagan folklore as a witch, and her day became associated
with evil doings.
Various legends developed in that vein, but one is of particular
interest: As the story goes, the witches of the north used to observe
their sabbath by gathering in a cemetery in the dark of the moon. On one
such occasion the Friday goddess, Freya herself, came down from her
sanctuary in the mountaintops and appeared before the group, who
numbered only 12 at the time, and gave them one of her cats, after which
the witches’ coven — and, by tradition, every properly- formed coven
since — comprised exactly 13.
There’s a very simple reason for that — nobody really knows, though
various explanations have been proposed.
The Knights Templar
The Unluckiest Day of All
The astute reader will have observed that while we have thus far
insinuated any number of intriguing connections between events,
practices and beliefs attributed to ancient cultures and the
superstitious fear of Fridays and the number 13, we have yet to happen
upon an explanation of how, why or when these separate strands of
folklore converged — if that is indeed what happened — to mark Friday
the 13th as the unluckiest day of all.
One theory, recently offered up as historical fact in the novel The Da
Vinci Code, holds that it came about not as the result of a convergence,
but a catastrophe, a single historical event that happened nearly 700
The catastrophe was the decimation of the Knights Templar, the legendary
order of “warrior monks” formed during the Christian Crusades to combat
Islam. Renowned as a fighting force for 200 years, by the 1300s the
order had grown so pervasive and powerful it was perceived as a
political threat by kings and popes alike and brought down by a
church-state conspiracy, as recounted by Katharine Kurtz in Tales of the
Knights Templar (Warner Books: 1995): “On October 13, 1307, a day so
infamous that Friday the 13th would become a synonym for ill fortune,
officers of King Philip IV of France carried out mass arrests in a
well-coordinated dawn raid that left several thousand Templars —
knights, sergeants, priests, and serving brethren — in chains, charged
with heresy, blasphemy, various obscenities, and homosexual practices.
None of these charges was ever proven, even in France — and the Order
was found innocent elsewhere — but in the seven years following the
arrests, hundreds of Templars suffered excruciating tortures intended to
force ‘confessions,’ and more than a hundred died under torture or were
executed by burning at the stake.”
A Thoroughly Modern Phenomenon
There are drawbacks to the “day so infamous” thesis, not the least of
which is that it attributes enormous cultural significance to a
relatively obscure historical event. Even more problematic, for this or
any other theory positing premodern origins for Friday the 13th
superstitions, is the fact that no one has been able to document the
existence of such beliefs prior to the 19th century. If people who lived
before the late 1800s perceived Friday the 13th as a day of special
misfortune, no evidence has been found to prove it. As a result, some
scholars are now convinced the stigma is a thoroughly modern phenomenon
exacerbated by 20th-century media hype.
Going back a hundred years, Friday the 13th doesn’t even merit a mention
in E. Cobham Brewer’s voluminous 1898 edition of the Dictionary of
Phrase and Fable, though one does find entries for “Friday, an Unlucky
Day” and “Thirteen Unlucky.” When the date of ill fate finally does make
an appearance in later editions of the text, it is without extravagant
claims as to the superstition’s historicity or longevity. The very
brevity of the entry is instructive: “A particularly unlucky Friday. See
Thirteen” — implying that the extra dollop of misfortune attributed to
Friday the 13th can be accounted for in terms of an accrual, so to
speak, of bad omens:
Unlucky Friday + Unlucky 13 = Unluckier Friday. If that’s the case, we
are guilty of perpetuating a misnomer by labeling Friday the 13th “the
unluckiest day of all,” a designation perhaps better reserved for, say,
a Friday the 13th on which one breaks a mirror, walks under a ladder,
spills the salt, and spies a black cat crossing one’s path — a day, if
there ever was one, best spent in the safety of one’s own home with
doors locked, shutters closed and fingers crossed.
Written by David Emery
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Posted in Sabbats
March 19, 2011 – 2:22 AM
Eostre, Ostara, The Spring Equinox, The Vernal Equinox, The March Equinox and ‘Easter’
Compiled and Posted by: Magickal Winds
O s t a r a :
The Goddess Eostre
Every year at Ostara, everyone begins chatting about a goddess of spring known as Eostre. According to the stories, she is a Teutonic goddess associated with flowers and springtime, and her name gives us the word “Easter”, as well as the name of Ostara itself.
However, if you start to dig around for information on Eostre, you’ll find that much of it is the same. In fact, nearly all of it is Wiccan and Pagan authors who describe Eostre in a similar fashion. Very little is available on an academic level. So where does the Eostre story come from?
Eostre first makes her appearance in literature about thirteen hundred years ago in the Venerable Bede’s Temporum Ratione. Bede tells us that April is known as Eostremonth, and is named for a goddess that the Anglo-Saxons honored in the spring. He says: “Eosturmonath has a name which is now translated “Paschal month”, and which was once called after a goddess of theirs named Eostre, in whose honor feasts were celebrated in that month.
After that, there’s not a lot of information about her, until Jacob Grimm and his brother came along in the 1800s. Jacob said that he found evidence of her existence in the oral traditions of certain parts of Germany, but there’s really no written proof.
Interestingly, Eostre doesn’t appear anywhere in Germanic mythology, and despite assertions that she might be a Norse deity, she doesn’t show up in the poetic or prose Eddas either. However, she could certainly have belonged to some tribal group in the Germanic areas, and her stories may have just been passed along through oral tradition. It’s fairly unlikely that Bede, who was a scholar as well as a Christian academic, would have just made her up. Of course, it’s equally possible that Bede simply misinterpreted a word at some point, and that Eostremonth was not named for a goddess at all, but for some other spring festival.
So, did Eostre exist or not? No one knows. Some scholars dispute it, others point to etymological evidence to say that she did in fact have a festival honoring her. Regardless, she has come to be associated with modern-day Pagan and Wiccan customs, and certainly is connected in spirit, if not in actuality, to our contemporary celebrations of Ostara.
Reconsidering a Historical Ostara/Eostre:
“A red light breaks over the horizon. Slowly and surely, a golden shaft creeps over the hills, with a quivering wind at its footsteps. The goddess of dawn arouses the hills by breathing life into it. It is as though the world was holding its breath under the spell of night.
At the foot of the Hag Hill, the first beam of light expands into a sliver against an ancient stone wall at 6:30, just five minutes after sunrise. Minute by minute, this sunray creature creeps against the back wall where the sacred symbols have been inscribed. Deep inside the cairn, ancient worshippers wield ceremonial tools. Some are staffs inscribed with ancient runes, decorated with straw, and tipped with obsidian flints.
In vigilant awe and silence, the whole mass beholds as a single sunray appears. She is golden as the hills – but gilded in pure, clean white. Outside, the blades of grass are dancing, birds are singing. This ray of light and the wind following are holy and pure – dewdrops sparkle with the light of life at its footsteps. As twenty-three minutes pass, a cheer goes out from the assembly. The back wall is lit as if it were made from gold.
The sunbeam scans this work of art – it is suns, depictions of sun rays, and spirits of the sun. With a single golden eye, it stops at its own reflection just nineteen minutes later. An eight-rayed sun like a golden bloom appears at the middle. In a mere eleven minutes, the light fades away.
It is the equal-night-and-day crowning aura of spring, the dawn of the year. This ancient hill is a cairn in Loughcrew, Ireland. This backwall is the “Equinox Stone.”
Of course, nowadays the average Pagan doesn’t go out to the nearest megalithic cairn to celebrate the sunrise of the Vernal Equinox. Some of us are, however, very keen on getting up to see the very first red – that part where the sun and the horizon haven’t completely separated. This moment of sunrise when the sun is not distinct – this is what the Romans called Aurora, and what the Greeks called Eos.
To those of us who got up especially early, just before the sun – a bright star, or rather, planet appears. It is to some the “son of the morning” and to others the “queen of heaven.” Either way it is the planet Venus that brings this amazing dawn.
In ancient Rome, the beginning of spring was the New year. Today in Iran there is the new year, Norouz. In India, the lunar months of the Hindu calendar determine many new years: Ugadi for the Telugu and Andra Pradesh. In mid-April, the sidereal vernal equinox is the New Year: Puthandu of the Tamils, Pohela Baisakh of the Bengals, and Vaisakhi of the Punjabs. The Thais, The Laos, the Cambodians, and the Sinhalese: Songkran, Bpee Mai, Chaul Chnam Thmey, Aluth Avurudhu.
Regardless of whether or not this is your new year, this is the time when the sun once transitioned from Pisces to Aries. This is the day when nights and days are equal, and days begin to get longer. No matter the case, in every culture that holds the equinox day holy there is a sense that through this commemoration some deep shadow has been conquered.
In Western culture, Easter shortly follows and occurs anywhere from March 22 – April 25. It is always on the Sunday after the full moon after the spring equinox. In Neopaganism, specifically most Wiccan sects, the equinox is calculated through the “tropical zodiac” – it is precisely on the date of our calendars when NASA informs us the equinox is present.
We call this holiday Ostara. It is also known as Eostre, Lady Day, and Alban Eilir. To Greek Pagans, the middle of March is Bacchanalia. All of these Western Pagan holidays can be considered as “the rites of spring.”
Ostara, however, has become quite the controversial term. Let me just say, that there are a few stories out there passed off as authentic folklore that are clearly not. This isn’t to say that these aren’t beautiful stories or that perhaps it’s not natural that folklore should be already emerging as we commit ourselves to reviving old holidays. However, it is fairly obvious that most of it is “fake” in the sense of “not that old.”
For starters, there’s a lot of inference and speculation around this goddess that has become packaged as historical facts. The only real thing that we know about Eostre/Ostara comes from a seventh-century monk who goes by the name of Saint Bede or Venerable Bede. For one brief section he explains the original English months, (and these are all wonderful months named after pagan practices. I highly recommend checking this work out.) What’s interesting to first note though is the word “Giuli” – both the names for December and January give us the “Yule-months” and June and July are the “Litha months.” Essentially the solstices were observed on lunar calendars as occurring between these two months. What is most important to note though is the origin of the original month of April. To the ancient Britons, October or the “winter’s full moon” was the beginning of Winter and April was the beginning of English Summer.
April was “Eosturmonath” – which Bede describes in the Reckoning of Time as named after the goddess Eostre (pronounced ohs-STRUH.) He reports,
“Eosturmonath has a name which is now translated ‘Paschal month’ and which was once called after a goddess of theirs named Eostre, in whose honor feasts were celebrated in that month. Now they designate that Paschal season by her name, calling the joys of the new rite by the time-honored name of the old observance.”
It is interesting to note that he considers the name “time-honored.” Some scholars falsely derive that he’s reporting of Eostre’s festivals as having died out, but what’s he’s actually saying is Christianity had enveloped it. What this says to me is these old rites were so honorable, and hence popular, that it was no offense to early Christianity to give this name to the English and German names for Easter.
Jakob Grimm several hundreds of years later studied the names of places and things he considered etymologically related to a similar Germanic Goddess named ‘Ostara.’ Many other authors arrive at some of the same conclusions as Grimm. Egg-laying rabbits had been in Europe for some mysteriously long time now and they associated these animals with this Goddess.
Although the Oschter Haws, or German Easter Hare, had been first recorded in the 1500’s, hare-hunting had been essential to Easter morning in records going back a ways. Many, many local superstitions surrounded these creatures. It only seemed logical to some, that perhaps hares were once a sacred or sacrificial animal to the Anglo-Saxon/Germanic Goddess of springtime, and eggs were an aniconic representation of Her fertility.
Critics of modern Ostara complain that Wiccans are distorting history in taking all these suppositions to the extreme. There is a very neat story, which was written very recently that describes the goddess Ostara saving a bird with a broken wing from winter starvation by turning it into a rabbit. This rabbit possessed the ability to lay eggs and as a result became the magical Easter Hare. Don’t get me wrong; this is a great story. It’s just that it’s very unlikely this or anything like it represents a true survival of equinox celebration anytime before now.
To the south of Britain, the spring equinox was a huge deal for a long time, representing the death and rebirth of many gods and goddesses of mystery traditions, springtime, and fertility. To the north, in the British Isles where Wicca was born, the four cross-quarter days and solstices were popular. We can’t really put a finger on much evidence for the equinoxes.
That’s not to say that someone somewhere wasn’t celebrating them. Obviously the stone calendars prove someone did at some point. I can’t help but feel a little angry as people point at us and call our religion completely unscholarly. I feel something bluntly obvious is staring critics in the face that few notice. Many critics greatest plea is that Eostre would be an April celebration and the equinox would occur in March. However, for one, solstices and equinoxes move.
The Hindu Calendar itself used a “sidereal” version – it has permanently recorded the date of the equinox to account for the “precession of the equinoxes.” In case you were wondering, solstices and equinoxes shift a few days every few hundred years. Christmas was once the ACTUAL date of the winter solstice. Long before this, the celebration of the rebirth of Osirs, January 6, was celebrated as the solstice by the Egyptians.
Now, what this means is all of the “25th” dates a few thousand years ago were completely accurate. St John’s Day was the actual Summer Solstice. “Lady Day” or the Catholic feast of Annunciation fell on March 25, and it was the spring equinox. Many Christians refused to accept the Julian concept of the New Year as January 1. They attributed the nine months before Christ’s birth as holy also and considered March 25 the new year.
The original moment when Mary is conceived by the Holy Spirit is considered the first presence of Christ on Earth and hence the true New Year. Coincidentally, many Christians also celebrated this fixed, unmovable date as the true crucifixion of Christ. In the Greek Mysteries, the death and rebirth of Attis occurred on the 25th of March also. Mithras, whose birth date was Dec 25, was also conceived on this date. Aligned with the Roman New Year, this day was considered holy by the Mysteries.
Some critics complain however that the equinox simply wasn’t observed in Britain. Ostara, they say, was at best a “springtime lunar goddess.” This is an incorrect assumption. Just because the deities ruling months were worshiped at the full or new moon, does not make them “lunar deities.” In fact, even in our own Craft lore it’s been postulated that seasonal observations like “sabbats” were often bumped to the closest full moon so there would be sufficient light and auspiciousness.
Some naysayers, like Nick Sayers, attempt to maintain that Easter is derived from the old German auferstehen, meaning resurrection. I must assert my own opinion on this matter. I feel that it’s a bit silly to doubt Bede’s word on this matter, as he is our only look into the past and was considered by some “the father of English history.” In any case, all of these words for Easter and Eostre will ultimately refer back to “aws” – an Indo-European root meaning “illumination, especially at dawn.” An etymology I found rather delectable is the idea that Eostre is “eos-aster” or a name that means, “dawn-star.”
However, if we take into account the inconsistency of a lunar calendar, the precession of equinoxes, the sloppy transitions between calendars, then what was known as the beginning of April could have very well once been the scientific beginning of Spring. If we also take into account that the ancient Britons regarded the first day of the year as Yule or solstice, than the beginning of the year would be what is today December 21. Likewise, April 1 (the first day of Eostre’s month) would have been our March 21. It is possible that Eostre/Ostara or Her earlier names were called out from these megalithic cairns on the dawn of Spring.
If the timing is right, Ostara could date back to the birth of the cairns themselves. The lunar calendar would preserve the old date among the pagan peoples or “peoples of the land” even with the advent of the Julian calendar. As access to the mysteries of solstices and equinoxes became sparse, folk traditions would disperse and would gravitate to more indistinct portions of time to commemorate Eostre and Ostara.
As a modern Pagan, I would like to speculate on how we can interpret Ostara:
1) First, Lady Day can be treated as a Christianized form of the same, astronomically updated holiday that was Ostara. Easter can be treated as a Christianized form of the old Eostre feast, except one Sunday later. Some Wiccan traditions even now celebrate Sabbats on the closest full moon. There is however no saying as to whether it was the new or full moon that was the height of Eostre’s rites. Either way, the feasts could have lasted a long time. Grimm suggests Ostara is a plural term for a number of feasts. Many of us believe that these holidays are rooted in the spring equinox and, in modern times, regard the “first day of spring” astronomically speaking as the most essential date.
2) Lady Day is a preservation of the “divine conception” aspect of Ostara. Many gods like Christ (and indeed the God of Wiccan tradition) are born on the winter solstice. It’s only logical that He is conceived nine months earlier. If we accept the presuppositions that hares and eggs were symbols of Ostara, it’s not such a stretch to say that She was a Goddess of fertility, and rites that involve “divine conception” were essential to this time. Fertility, though important, is only about humans’ fertility part of the time. Seeds and plantings are important to our modern Ostara because they represent the numinous powers of nature.
3) The death and re-birth holidays can be analyzed from a Freudian perspective. With Attis, Christ, and Dionysus, they are crucified against a symbol of the phallos. With Persephone and Inanna, there is a descent and return from the opening of the underworld. All of these are in some ways, mock deaths, because there is a miraculous re-birth. It is what the French call “le petit morte” – the little death that is the divine orgasm. The light that conquers the darkness is the arrival of sexual power recovered from the subconscious. These are not full-on deaths like the one we celebrate at Samhain – they are representations of one recollecting the events of a much earlier death and rebirth through sexual union.
4) Divine conception and mock death both happen simultaneously at Ostara. The very conception of a new child is in some ways a loss of the parent’s original substance. In the Wiccan timeline, this is the pubescence of the God and Goddess and the conception of the God of the next year. In every mystery tradition where a youthful deity is sacrificed, there is a sense of a disturbing loss of youth and innocence that transitions to new power. Like the literal loss of youth in literal puberty, there is a preoccupation with death and liminality. Following the descent of deities into the “subconscious realm of the underworld” is a joyous return. The uprushing of divine powers releases the seed that motivates the whole re-birthing process. The erotic power that is awakening in the earth heightens until it establishes codependence, and the wild courtship rituals that will appear at Beltane, the greatest fertility holiday in the modern Wiccan calendar.
5) Whether or not Ostara or Eostre had hares and eggs dedicated to them in the old days, they are great symbols of the month April, the dawn of spring, life, fertility, and should be re-dedicated to Her. Rabbits that appear just before dawn are most definitely sacred to Ostara as a dawn goddess.
6) We can give Ostara some lunar attributes through Her connection to the hare, but it is clear that Her associations could be interpreted as Solar (as Eos), Lunar (as Mani, or the moon, in her Spring form), and Astral (as the dawn-star). Regardless, celebrating Sabbats without lunar deities is shortsighted of the real work that occurs in the actual preceding season. It’s possible to connect deities of our esbats to our solar holidays. It’s also possible to give Ostara a much larger and complex domain than one orb in the sky.
7) No matter what they tell you, don’t give up your innermost intuitions about old holidays. A lot of the self-appointed “scholars” out there are keen on academic bullying. It’s a shame that so many Wiccans are asking for acceptance, because some of us would give up the mere possibility of so many things if a professional sounding “historian” demanded it. Many Wiccans are criticized for accepting Eostre as an authentic goddess without there being much written text on Her. However, while there have been a few texts that have emerged to tell of traditions from the past doesn’t mean they represent the bulk of them or don’t show a preselective bias.
There are some intuitions about Wicca that I refuse to give up. I feel is that some parts are old as dirt, and I don’t believe that to feel superior to anyone else. I believe that because I think it just is that way. While it’s unknowable as of now where a people that celebrated all eight of our holidays existed, or if we are the first ones to do it, I think it’s definitely worth a shot to be open-minded about it. If we truly study Bede’s calendar, it appears that to the Britons of the past, the year begins with the solstice and finds its height in Litha. Summer begins four months later and winter four months from summer. In our conception of the Celtic calendar, there is a similar idea but the opener of seasons are the cross-quarter and not quarter days. It’s not such a stretch to believe that if two neighboring nations collectively held these eight days sacred that there wasn’t, at some point, some tradition that revered all of them.
We may never find anything, but the pursuit of knowledge always yields fruit. It could be that even if the eight Sabbats are made up, that they are still “meant to be.” Like the avatars of the Hindu god Vishnu, our holidays are incarnations of the demand of this current age and Deity is proud to support them.
I believe that it’s actually good that so much of some holidays disappeared. If we had been tied to a constant tradition from the stone ages, our overconfidence would have kept us from growing much. And this moment of recovery is truly grand and amazing. The Gods are still alive. Ostara, no matter how putative or obscure, has come to life. This year she will be reborn again hopefully as active and as cherished as many popular god-forms are. Certainly, she can be a once-a-year-goddess, but that moment we return to Her worship and service is a sacred hollow in every year.
I challenged some of the accusations presented by scholars. I meditated not only Eostre, who ruled what the English thought of as April, but also on Hreda – the ruler of March. While indeed a personal mystical speculation, to me Hreda appears as the hawk-headed predator goddess. She rules the valkyries, winter, night, and the powerful sky of March. By allowing the manifestations of the hare-headed Eostre to survive in some amounts, the Earth grows fertile, and the Hare itself appears to lays eggs ensuring the regeneration of all forms of the Bird Goddess. In a way, both drive away winter and encourage the beginning of the new light.
We need to, as a people, wake up to the numens, or vital essences of our own deities. As symbols they are all-powerful and beyond our problems. As benevolent forces, they are only as powerful as we allow them to manifest. There are rituals for “drawing down” divine powers into places to bring Them more into contact with us. I challenge every one of you who know these to grasp onto the distinctive essence of Ostara, and bring her into this new age and year.
The way Bede made it sound, Christians were glad to be allowed to keep the name of Eostre sacred in some way. There is a popular image, a black and white print of Her that has been circulating for some time. Just like the image of the moon goddess that was interpreted by some as Eostre in A Restitution of Decayed Intelligence, her eyes are held from the viewer. Her wave that signifies her departure is a symbol of beatific joy and sorrow. In some ways it seems like a Pagan gesture akin to the Christ ascending with the sign of benediction. Something inside of me feels this is the moment she left our world to become a hidden part of Christianity. Let us now gladly re-greet her and discover her true essence.
Surely, there is much to be said on popular holidays like Beltane and Samhain. This is why we’ve held off regarding less knowable holidays, but as a result these lesser-known days of power retain a sense of mystery we’ve held off experiencing until now. They have become charged with very acute and knowable power. Their deities and emblems are teetering on the edge of awakening, bringing tremors of insight to their observers.
In the hypnotic images that have been regarded as Eostre, in the symbols that have been connected to Her, there is a mood and spell, to use a term popularized by Rudolf Otto, amysterium tremendum, which She casts on every viewer. She is letting us know that Her spirit has been freed from the darkness of winter and the suppression of Her worship.
This year, as she awaits her Rebirth, let us not disappoint, and may Goddess bless!
SPRING EQUINOX (EOSTRE/OSTARA):
Find out about the Spring Equinox – the Wiccan Eostre or Ostara Sabbat – this month’s seasonal witchcraft Sabbat celebrated by modern Wiccans and pagans.
The Rites of Spring
The end of March is the focus for a number of religious and traditional celebrations. As the sun appears to cross the earth’s equator on the 20th or 21st of March, entering the Zodiacal sign of Aries, day and night will be equal in length. This astronomical phenomenon is a day anciently revered amongst Pagan peoples. Their festivals included Alban Elfed, the Teutonic festival in honour of Eostre, Roman Hilaria Matris Deûm, Welsh Gwyl Canol Gwenwynol (‘Day of the Gorse’), the Wiccan Eostar (Ostara) Sabbat and the Christian Feast of the Annunciantion of the Virgin Mary (Lady Day) as well as Easter itself.
Origins and History of Ostara
Today, Ostara is one of the eight major holidays, sabbats or festivals of Wicca. It is celebrated on the Spring Equinox, which in the northern hemisphere is around the 20th or 21st of March and in the southern hemisphere around the 23rd of September. Its modern revival is linked to some of the oldest traditions of mankind.
The Month of the Goddess
The name is thought to be derived from a goddess of German legend, according to Jakob Grimm in his Deutsche Mythologie. A similar goddess named Eostre was described by the Venerable Bede. Bede indicated that this name was used in English when the Paschal holiday was introduced. Since then this name (not the holiday) has been converted to Easter, or in German Ostern. Some scholars question both Bede’s and Grimm’s conclusions due to a lack of supporting evidence for this goddess. Others argue that a lack of further documentation is not surprising given that Bede is credited with writing the first substantial history of England (in which he described Eostre as a goddess whose worship had already passed) and Grimm was specifically attempting to capture oral traditions before they might be lost.
Despite these reservations, the idea of Eostre has become firmly established in many minds. Without any consideration of these problems, the folklorist Dr Jonathan Young categorically states: Easter has deep roots in the mythic past. Long before it was imported into the Christian tradition, the Spring festival honored the goddess Eostre or Eastre.
According to Bede and Einhard in his Life of Charlemagne, the month called Eostremonat/Ostaramanoth was equated with April. This would put the start of ‘Ostara’s Month’ after the Equinox in March. It must be taken into account that these ‘translations’ of calendar months were approximate as the old forms were predominantly lunar months while the new were based on a solar year. Thus start of ‘Eostremonat’ would actually have fallen in late March and could thus still be associated with the Spring Equinox.
The holiday is a celebration of spring and growth, the renewal of life that appears on the earth after the winter. In mythology it is often characterized by the rejoining of the goddess and her lover-brother-son, who spent the winter months in death. This is an interesting parallel to the biblical story in which Jesus is resurrected (the reason Christians celebrate Easter), pointing to another appropriation of pre-Christian religious figures, symbols and myths by early Christianity.
Etymologically, Eostre, or, as it is sometimes called, Ostara, may come from the word ‘east’, meaning dawn. Others have also tried to link Eostre with ‘estrogen’ and ‘estrus’. These words, however, are more widely considered to be derived from the Greek oistros, meaning ‘gadfly’ or ‘frenzy’. Interestingly, the word ‘spring’ (from to spring, to leap or jump up, burst out, 0ld English springan, a common Teutonic word, ccompare German springen), primarily the act of springing or leaping, is applied to the season of the year in which plant life begins to bud and shoot.
The Antiquity of Ostara
Ostara is a modern Wiccan festival and there is no evidence that Spring Equinox festivals were called by this name in the past. However, there is no direct ‘proof’ of many Christian or pagan traditions, so a lack of evidence should not necessarily be taken as disproof.
The Cycle of Birth, Death and Rebirth
Goddess of fertility and new beginnings, we take this opportunity to embrace Eostre’s passion for new life and let our own lives take the new direction we have wanted for so long.
Many Wiccans situate Eostre (Ostara) within a symbolic cycle of birth, death and rebirth. As the quotation from Goddess.com.au demonstrates, the particular role of Eostre is internalized and turned into a self-empowering meditation.
Again Dr Young re-inforces this, by no means definitive, interpretation: The annual event in honour of Eastre celebrated new life and renewal. However, other views also add a darker element, according to Mike Nichols: The god of light now wins a victory over his twin, the god of darkness.
Nichols has attempted a reconstruction of the symbolic events of this time of year using the Welth mych-cycle of the Mabinogion. By this interpretation the Spring Equinox is the day on which the reborn Llew exacts his revenge on Goronwy by piercing him with the spear of sunlight. Reborn or returned to health at the Winter Solstice, Llew is now able to challenge and defeat his rival twin and mate with his lover/mother. Meanwhile the ‘Great Mother Goddess’, miraculously returned to virginity at Candlemas, now receives the sun god’s advances and conceives a child. This child will be born at the next Winter Solstice, nine months from now, at once closing the cycle and re-opening it.
Christianity and Easter
Contrary to what the Church may try and tell you, Christianity came late to the Easter party. There is no indication of the observance of the Easter festival in the New Testament, or in the writings of the apostolic Fathers. A comment made by St Chrysostom on I Cor. V. 7 has been supposed to refer to an apostolic observance of Easter, but this is erroneous. The sanctity of special times was an idea absent from the minds of the first Christians. The ecclesiastical historian Socrates (Hist. Eccl. V. 22) states that neither Jesus nor his followers enjoined the keeping of this or any other festival. He attributes the observance of Easter by the Church to the perpetuation of an old tradition, just as many other customs have been established.
Superstitions and Traditions
The Shock of the New
Elements of old beliefs linger in current ‘superstitions’. According to these, it is said that something new should be worn at Easter to bring good luck. Easter Parades reflect this idea about wearing new clothes.
Eggs and Rabbits
The Easter Bunny is German in origin. He first appears in literature in 16th century as a deliverer of eggs. All rabbits and hares were thought to lay eggs on Easter Day, but the Easter Bunny specifically sought out and rewarded well-behaved children with coloured eggs in a manner reminiscent of Yule customs. The movements of the hare, leaping and zig-zagging across the fields, were thought to hold clues to the coming year.
Eggs themselves are obvious symbols of resurrection and continuing life, as well as fertility. Early humans thought the return of the sun from winter darkness was an annual miracle, and saw the egg as a natural wonder and proof of the renewal of life. As Christianity spread the egg was adopted as a symbol of Jesus’s alleged resurrection from the tomb.
According to Young, the Easter Bunny is: a continuation of the reverence shown during the spring rites to the rabbit as a symbol of abundance. The honouring of such emblems of fertility extended to eggs. The egg serves as a representation of new life. It stands for the renewing power of nature and, by extension, agriculture. The egg can also symbolize regeneration in a spiritual or psychological sense. The ritual of colouring Easter eggs stems from the tradition of painting eggs in bright colours to represent the sunlight of spring.
The Inner Bunny
Young goes on to suggest that: This might also be a good time to find the inner Easter Bunny.
Whether you feel up to the challenge or not, the Spring Equinox is an ominous reminder of the ways in which Christianity has subverted and perverted the old traditions of Europe – a process that many are seeking to reverse and at what better time than now.
By: Dr Leo Ruickbie
• Bede, De Temp. Rat. c. xv.
• St Chrysostom, Commentary on I Cor. V. 7.
• Einhard, Life of Charlemagne, trans Samuel Epes Turner. Harper and Brothers, 1880.
• Encyclopedia Britannica, 1911.
• Goddess.com.au, accessed 9th February, 2006.
• Grimm, Jakob, Deutsche Mythologie. 1835.
• Nichols, Mike, ‘Lady Day: The Vernal Equinox’, 1999.
• Socrates, Hist. Eccl. V. 22.
• Young, Jonathan, ‘Symbolism of Spring’, Vision Magazine, April 2003.
News About this Spring Equinox (Eostre/Ostara) Article
This article has been cited by Justine Hawkins, ‘The Eostre bunny’, The Guardian, 23 March 2008, url: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/mar/23/bunnies.
The March Equinox Explained:
The March equinox will occur on March 20 in 2011, marking the beginning of spring in the northern hemisphere and fall (autumn) in the southern hemisphere from an astronomical viewpoint. The March equinox will occur at 23:21 (or 11:21pm) at Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) on this date.
Twice a year, around March 20 or 21 and September 22 or 23, the sun shines directly on the equator and the length of day and night are nearly equal in all parts of the world. These two days are known as the March(vernal or spring in the northern hemisphere) equinox and the September equinox.
To find the March equinox date in other time zones or other years, please use theSeasons Calculator.
What does equinox mean?
The word “equinox” derives from the Latin words meaning “equal night” and refers to the time when the sun crosses the equator. At such times, day and night are everywhere of nearly equal length everywhere in the world.
It is important to note that while the March equinox marks the beginning of spring in the northern hemisphere, it is the start of autumn in many parts of the southern hemisphere.
March Equinox Explained
The March equinox is the movement when the sun crosses the true celestial equator – or the line in the sky above the earth’s equator – from south to north, around March 20 (or March 21) of each year. At that time, day and night are balanced to nearly 12 hours each all over the world and the earth’s axis of rotation is perpendicular to the line connecting the centers of the earth and the sun.
In gyroscopic motion, the earth’s rotational axis migrates in a slow circle based as a consequence of the moon’s pull on a nonspherical earth. This nearly uniform motion causes the position of the equinoxes to move backwards along the ecliptic in a period of about 25,725 years.
During the equinox, the length of night and day across the world is nearly, but not entirely, equal. This is because the day is slightly longer in places that are further away from the equator, and because the sun takes longer to rise and set in these locations. Furthermore, the sun takes longer to rise and set farther from the equator because it does not set straight down – it moves in a horizontal direction.
Moreover, there is an atmospheric refraction that causes the sun’s disk to appear higher in the sky than it would if earth had no atmosphere. timeanddate.com has a more detailed explanation on this topic. timeanddate.com has more information on why day and night are not exactly of equal length during the equinoxes.
During the March equinox, the length of daylight is about 12 hours and eight to nine minutes in areas that are about 30 degrees north or south of the equator, while areas that are 60 degrees north or south of the equator observe daylight for about 12 hours and 16 minutes. Many regions around the equator have a daylight length about 12 hours and six-and-a-half minutes during the March equinox.
Moreover, one day does not last for the exact same 24 hours across the world and due to time zone differences, there could be a small difference in the daylight length between a far-eastern and far-western location on the same latitude, as the sun moves further north during 24 hours. For more information, find out the length of day in a particular city. Select a location in the drop-down menu below to find out the length of day around the time of the March equinox.
Vernal Equinox vs. Autumnal Equinox
The vernal equinox occurs in the spring while the autumnal equinox occurs during fall (autumn). These terms are derivatives of Latin. It is important to note that the northern hemisphere’s vernal equinox is in March while its autumnal equinox is in September. In contrast, the southern hemisphere’s vernal equinox is in September and its autumnal equinox is in March.
This distinction reflects the seasonal differences when comparing the two hemispheres. timeanddate.com refers to the two equinoxes simply as the March and September equinoxes to avoid false assumptions that spring is in March and fall (autumn) is in September worldwide. This is simply not the case.
A Greek astronomer and mathematician named Hipparchus (ca. 190-ca.120 BCE) was attributed by various sources to have discovered the precession of the equinoxes, the slow movement among the stars of the two opposite places where the sun crosses the celestial equator. Hipparchus made observations of the equinox and solstice. However, the difference between the sidereal and tropical years (the precession equivalent) was known to Aristarchus of Samos (around 280 BCE) prior to this.
Astronomers use the spring equinoctial point to define their frame of reference, and the movement of this point implies that the measured position of a star varies with the date of measurement. Hipparchus also compiled a star catalogue, but this has been lost.
March Equinox across Cultures
In the northern hemisphere the March equinox marks the start of spring and has long been celebrated as a time of rebirth. Many cultures and religions celebrate or observe holidays and festivals around the time of the March equinox, such as the Easter holiday period.
The astronomical Persian calendar begins its New Year on the day when the March equinox occurs before apparent noon (the midpoint of the day, sundial time, not clock time) in Tehran. The start of the New Year is postponed to the next day if the equinox is after noon.
Compiled and Posted by: Magickal Winds
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Posted in Origins
February 11, 2010 – 4:32 PM
By: Wendy Brinker
Posted by: Magickal Winds
Lupercalia is uniquely Roman, but even the Romans of the first century were at a loss to explain exactly which deity or deities were being exalted. It harkens back to the days when Rome was nothing more than a few shepherds living on a hill known as Palantine and was surrounded by wilderness teeming with wolves.
Lupercus, protector of flocks against wolves, is a likely candidate; the word lupus is Latin for wolf, or perhaps Faunus, the god of agriculture and shepherds. Others suggest it was Rumina, the goddess whose temple stood near the fig tree under which the she-wolf suckled Romulus and Remus. There is no question about Lupercalia’s importance. Records indicate that Mark Antony was master of the Luperci College of Priests. He chose the Lupercalia festival of the year 44BC as the proper time to offer the crown to Julius Caesar.
According to legend, the story of Romulus and Remus begins with their grandfather Numitor, king of the ancient Italian city of Alba Longa. He was ousted by his brother Amulius. Numitor’s daughter, Rhea Silvia, was made a Vestal Virgin by Amulius and forbidden to marry since her children would be rightful heir to the throne. Mars, the god of war, fell in love with her and she gave birth to twin sons.
Fearing that the boys would grow up and seek revenge, Amulius had them placed in a basket and thrown into the freezing flooded waters of the River Tiber. When the waters receded, the basket came ashore on Palantine Hill. They were found by a she-wolf who, instead of killing them, nurtured and nourished them with her milk. A woodpecker, also sacred to Mars, brought them food as well.
The twins were later found by Faustulus, the king’s shepherd. He and his wife adopted and named them Romulus and Remus. They grew up to be bold, strong young men, and eventually led a band of shepherds in an uprising against Amulius, killing him and rightfully restoring the kingdom to their grandfather.
Deciding to found a town of their own, Romulus and Remus chose the sacred place where the she-wolf had nursed them. Romulus began to build walls on Palatine Hill, but Remus laughed because they were so low. Remus mockingly jumped over them, and in a fit of rage, Romulus killed his brother. Romulus continued the building of the new city, naming it Roma after himself.
February occurred later on the ancient Roman calendar than it does today so Lupercalia was held in the spring and regarded as a festival of purification and fertility. Each year on February 15, the Luperci priests gathered on Palantine Hill at the cave of Lupercal. Vestal virgins brought sacred cakes made from the first ears of last year’s grain harvest to the fig tree. Two naked young men, assisted by the Vestals, sacrificed a dog and a goat at the site. The blood was smeared on the foreheads of the young men and then wiped away with wool dipped in milk.
The youths then donned loincloths made from the skin of the goat and led groups of priests around the pomarium, the sacred boundary of the ancient city, and around the base of the hills of Rome. The occasion was happy and festive. As they ran about the city, the young men lightly struck women along the way with strips of the goat hide. It is from these implements of purification, or februa, that the month of February gets its name. This act supposedly provided purification from curses, bad luck, and infertility.
Long after Palentine HIll became the seat of the powerful city, state and empire of Rome, the Lupercalia festival lived on. Roman armies took the Lupercalia customs with them as they invaded France and Britain. One of these was a lottery where the names of available maidens were placed in a box and drawn out by the young men. Each man accepted the girl whose name he drew as his love – for the duration of the festival, or sometimes longer.
As Christianity began to slowly and systematically dismantle the pagan pantheons, it frequently replaced the festivals of the pagan gods with more ecumenical celebrations. It was easier to convert the local population if they could continue to celebrate on the same days… they would just be instructed to celebrate different people and ideologies.
Lupercalia, with its lover lottery, had no place in the new Christian order. In the year 496 AD, Pope Gelasius did away with the festival of Lupercalia, citing that it was pagan and immoral. He chose Valentine as the patron saint of lovers, who would be honored at the new festival on the fourteenth of every February. The church decided to come up with its own lottery and so the feast of St. Valentine featured a lottery of Saints. One would pull the name of a saint out of a box, and for the following year, study and attempt to emulate that saint.
Confusion surrounds St Valentine’s exact identity. At least three Saint Valentines are mentioned in the early martyrologies under the date of February 14th. One is described as a priest in Rome, another as a Bishop of Interamna, now Terni in Italy, and the other lived and died in Africa.
The Bishop of Interamna is most widely accepted as the basis of the modern saint. He was an early Christian martyr who lived in northern Italy in the third century and was put to death on February 14th around 270 AD by the orders of Emperor Claudius II for disobeying the ban on Christianity. However, most scholars believe Valentine of Terni and the priest Valentine of Rome were the same person.
Claudius’ Rome was an extremely dangerous place to be Christian. Valentine not only chose to be a priest, but was believed to have been a leader of the Christian underground movement. Many priests were caught, one by one and imprisoned and martyred. Valentine supposedly continued to preach the word after he was imprisoned, witnessing to the prisoners and guards.
One story tells that he was able to cure a guard’s daughter of blindness. When word got back to Claudius, he was furious and ordered Valentine’s brutal execution – beaten by clubs until dead, and then beheaded. While he was waiting for the soldiers to come and drag him away, Valentine composed a note to the girl telling her that he loved her. He signed it simply, “From Your Valentine.” The execution was carried out on February 14th.
Another legend touts of a well loved priest called Valentine living under the rule of Emperor Claudius II. Rome was constantly engaged in war. Year after year, Claudius drafted male citizens into battle to defend and expand the Roman Empire. Many Romans were unwilling to go. Married men did not want to leave their families. Younger men did not wish to leave their sweethearts. Claudius ordered a moratorium on all marriages and that all engagements must be broken off immediately.
Valentine disagreed with his emperor. When a young couple came to the temple seeking to be married, Valentine secretly obliged them. Others came and were quietly married. Valentine became the friend of lovers in every district of Rome. But such secrets could not be kept for long. Valentine was dragged from the temple. Many pleaded with Claudius for Valentine’s release but to no avail, and in a dungeon, Valentine languished and died. His devoted friends are said to have buried him in the church of St. Praxedes on the 14th of February.
The Feast of St. Valentine and the saint lottery lasted for a couple hundred years, but the church just couldn’t rid the people’s memory of Lupercalia. In time, the church gave up on Valentine all together. Protestant churches don’t recognize saints at all, and very few Catholic churches choose to celebrate or observe the life of St. Valentine on a ‘Valentine’s Sunday’. The lottery finally returned to coupling eligible singles in the 15th century. The church attempted to revive the saint lottery once again in the 16th century, but it never caught on.
During the medieval days of chivalry, the single’s lottery was very popular. The names of English maidens and bachelors were put into a box and drawn out in pairs. The couple exchanged gifts and the girl became the man’s valentine for a year. He wore her name on his sleeve and it was his bounded duty to attend and protect her. The ancient custom of drawing names on the 14th of February was considered a good omen for love.
Arguably, you could say the very first valentine cards were the slips of paper bearing names of maidens the early Romans first drew. Or perhaps the note Valentine passed from his death cell. The first modern valentine cards are attributed to the young French Duke of Orleans. He was captured in battle and held prisoner in the Tower of London for many years. He was most prolific during his stay and wrote countless love poems to his wife. About sixty of them remain. They are among the royal papers in the British Museum.
By the 17th century, handmade cards had become quite elaborate. Pre-fabricated ones were only for those with means. In 1797, a British publisher issued The Young Man’s Valentine Writer, which contained suggested sentimental verses for the young lover suffering from writer’s block. Printers began producing a limited number of cards with verses and sketches, called “mechanical valentines,” and a reduction in postal rates in the next century ushered in the practice of mailing valentines.
This made it possible to exchange cards anonymously and suddenly, racy, sexually suggestive verses started appearing in great numbers, causing quite a stir among prudish Victorians. The number of obscene valentines caused several countries to ban the practice of exchanging cards. Late in the nineteenth century, the post office in Chicago rejected some twenty-five thousand cards on the grounds that they were not fit to be carried through the U.S. mail.
The first American publisher of valentines was printer and artist Esther Howland. Her elaborate lace cards of the 1870’s cost from five to ten dollars, some as much as thirty-five dollars. Since then, the valentine card business has flourished. With the exception of Christmas, Americans exchange more cards on Valentine’s Day than at any other time of year.
Chocolate entered the Valentine’s Day ritual relatively late. The Conquistadors brought chocolate to Spain in 1528 and while they knew how to make cocoa from the beans, it wasn’t until 1847 that Fry & Sons discovered a way to make chocolate edible. Twenty years later, the Cadbury Brothers discovered how to make chocolate even smoother and sweeter. By 1868, the Cadburys were turning out the first boxed chocolate. They were elaborate boxes made of velvet and mirrors and retained their value as trinket-boxes after the chocolate was gone. Richard Cadbury created the first heart-shaped Valentine’s Day box of candy sometime around 1870.
By: Wendy Brinker
Posted by: Magickal Winds
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Posted in Sabbats
February 2, 2010 – 12:44 PM
The Maiden Awakens
by Karl Lembke
Posted by Magickal Winds
In the waxing year, the Goddess awakens. The Maiden aspect awakens first, as winter fades into spring. Imbolc, Candlemas, and Lady Day are names given to this first of the three festivals of the waxing year.
Imbolc, literally “in milk”, refers to the beginning of lactation in the farm animals, in preparation for the birth of the young. The name Candlemas traces to the practice of blessing the candles for the coming year, making way for the light to come forth. Lady Day is the name given in honor of the Lady, who returns from the underworld, bringing the light and warmth of the newborn Sun.
Imbolc is the first of three Awakenings. In the waxing year, there is a festival of Awakening for each of the three aspects of the Lady. Imbolc is the Awakening of the light, when the first signs of new growth begin to appear, and the plans for the new year are laid. Seed catalogs are purchased, and farmers ready to sow their crops when the time comes. Animals prepare to bring forth life in their turn. Even in the Catholic holiday of Candlemas, the blessing of the candles is a preparation for the coming of light. The candles are not all burned at the ceremony.
The first Awakening is the awakening to the possibilities of the new year.
In writing an Imbolc rite for the year 1998, I was pondering various themes, and was reflecting on the curious fact that the traditional date for the holiday is also Groundhog Day. In American and European folklore, the groundhog emerges from his hole on this day, and if he sees his shadow, we are in for six more weeks of winter.
Six weeks is a curious interval. It is roughly the amount of time between Festivals – between spokes of the Wheel of the Year. If the groundhog sees his shadow on Imbolc, the return of the Light is delayed until the next Festival, Spring Equinox. In Greek mythology, we can find two stories of a person being returned from the underworld. The more famous is the story of Orpheus and Eurydice. Eurydice was the wife of Orpheus, a talented and powerful bard. Destitute, Orpheus ventures into the underworld to try to rescue his wife, and return her to the land of the living. Such is the power of his music that Thanatos relents and allows Eurydice to leave his realm. But he warns Orpheus that he must not look back to see if she follows, until both are safely in the world of the living.
Orpheus, as we all know, suffers a failure of nerve and looks behind him. Eurydice is returned to the underworld, to be reunited with her husband only in another life.
In another tale, the god Dionysus, son of Zeus and a mortal woman, longs to meet his mother Semele, who died before he was born. He ventures into the underworld, and convinces Thanatos to release Semele from his realm. Dionysus is successful, and Semele is not only restored to life, but also brought to Olympus.
I quote from the outline for the 1998 Imbolc rite…
“Similarly, on the day of Candlemas, the groundhog, a creature who lives in the realm between the surface and the underworld, and who travels back and forth in his affairs, comes to the surface and opens his eyes. If he sees his shadow, the return of the light is delayed for another six weeks, and the world languishes in the cold and dark.
The rebirth of the Light heralds the start of a new and untarnished time ahead of us. This is a window of time during which we are presented with opportunities. This is the Maiden Sowing, during which we sow not seeds, but plans. All that follows takes its shape from the shadows we cast before us on this day, and these shadows will become the rows which we plant and plow. And if we choose not carefully, the ruts in which we may be trapped.”
In all cases, the theme is one of the return of the light and of life from below, with a twist. If we look backwards, the light fades and its possibilities retreat from our grasp. Instead, we must walk with the light behind us, into the shadows of things to come. Only then do we approach and grasp the possibilities that are before us.
In the rite I devised, I began with a mystery play, in which the gates of snow were opened to allow Persephone to return from the underworld. But when the gates were opened, Persephone did not return. This led to a path-working in which we passed through the gates, and descended into the underworld to find Persephone and bring her back.
We descended through a long, dark tunnel into the depths of the earth. Eventually, we came to an onyx door. It opened at our knock, and we entered a large hall with keys all over. There were keys scattered over the floor, hanging on the walls, and hanging from the ceiling. At the end of the hall was a throne, on which was seated the goddess Persephone. From her came a glow which illuminated the entire hall.
We spent some time selecting keys to take with us. Certainly, we’d need at least one to unlock the door by which we entered. The other keys we selected were the keys to our own futures. These were the possibilities — the potentials — that we would unlock in the coming year.
We then invited Persephone to return with us to the world above, so that the newly reborn light could shine forth on the earth again. We unlocked the onyx gate and left the hall, and proceeded up the tunnel, back to the world of the living. We followed the shadows cast before us, mindful that we must resist the urge to look back, lest we be drawn into the paths of the old year, the very paths we’re trying to break away from.
Finally, we emerged from the tunnel and passed through the gates of snow, leading the way for the light to return to the world. We returned to the circle, and paused in silent meditation to consider what doors we needed to unlock for our own personal growth in the coming year.
And let the record show that this rite was held on a cloudy afternoon. When the point came where we were returning through the gate of snow, the clouds parted and the sun broke through for the rest of the path-working. The light was back.
Posted by Magickal Winds
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Posted in Moon
December 28, 2009 – 7:38 PM
It’s A Blue Moon New Year’s Eve Party!
Written by Tammy Plotner
Posted by Magickal Winds
Have you enjoyed our lunar studies together this year? We hope you’ve taken the time to follow the phases and to appreciate what you see. Although it would be wonderful to end our this year’s time together viewing the distant cosmos, something very cool is about to happen…
In 1982, a second full Moon of the month was visible. Known as a ‘‘Blue Moon,’’ the name does not refer to the Moon’s color but reflects the rarity of the event and gives rise to the expression, ‘‘once in a blue moon.’’ The Blue Moon of 1982 was even more special because a total lunar eclipse also occurred (for the United States) then. The image you see below has a strange significance as well. Not only is it the absolute finest photo of the full Moon I have ever seen, but it was recorded at a year’s end, too… on December 22, 1999 by incomparable astrophotographer Rob Gendler. That particular December’s Moon was special for another reason, as the full phase occurred on the day of the winter solstice, within hours of lunar perigee and just one month away from a lunar eclipse.
Although there were 41 Blue Moons in the twentieth century, there was one of only four during an eclipse, and the only total eclipse of a Blue Moon in the twentieth century. A Blue Moon happens every 2.7 years because of a disparity between our calendar and the lunar cycle. The lunar cycle is the time it takes for the Moon to revolve around Earth: 29 days, 12 hours, and 44 minutes.
So stay tuned. . . It’s about to happen again.
December’s Full Moon is traditionally known as the Old Moon, or the Moon after Yule. And on New Year’s Even we’re going to call it Blue. No matter what it is referred to, it is still a lovely sight to watch it rise in its grey-scale glory and glide across the luminous night sky. But for some lucky viewers in much of Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia the Old Blue Moon after Yule will also partially eclipse!
Only a very small portion of the Moon’s southern limb will be in the Earth’s umbral shadow, but there will be a noticeable darkening visible over the Moon’s face at the point of greatest eclipse. Need more? Then know this eclipse is the one of four lunar eclipses in a short-lived series. The lunar year series repeats after 12 lunations or 354 days. Afterwards it will begin shifting back about 10 days in sequential years. Because of the date change, the Earth’s shadow will be about 11 degrees west in sequential events.
For the eclipse, the duration of the partial phase will last within two seconds of a hour long, while the penumbral duration from beginning to end will run about four hours and eleven minutes. Penumbral contact will begin at 17:17:08 UT and umbral contact at 18:52:43 UT. The moment of greatest depth of shadow will occur at 19:22:39 UT, 31 December 2009. It will be visible from all of Africa, Europe, Asia, and Australia.
What a wonderful way to end our year together. . . at light speed!
Many thanks to Kostian Iftica for his “Blue Moon” image and to Robert Gendler. Once again, I strongly encourage you to look at the hi-resolution image of “A SkyGazer’s Full Moon” and Carpe Noctem, dudes…
Posted by Magickal Winds
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Posted in People
November 19, 2009 – 7:40 PM
For all of Oberon’s followers, Oberon’s birthday is November 30th, best wishes Oberon!
A Brief Bio
Oberon Zell-Ravenheart (born 11/30/42) has accomplished many things in his long and colorful career. A modern Renaissance man, Oberon is a transpersonal psychologist, metaphysician, naturalist, theologian, shaman, author, artist, sculptor, lecturer, teacher, and ordained Priest of the Earth-Mother, Gaia. Those who know him well consider him to be a true Wizard in the traditional sense. He is also an initiate in the Egyptian Church of the Eternal Source, a Priest in the Fellowship of Isis, and an initiate in several different Traditions of Witchcraft. He holds academic degrees in sociology, anthropology, clinical psychology, teaching, and theology.
On April 7, 1962, inspired by Robert A. Heinlein’s 1961 science-fiction novel, Stranger in a Strange Land, Oberon co-founded the Church of All Worlds. He has served as the Church’s Primate ever since. First to apply the terms “Pagan” and “Neo-Pagan” to the newly emerging Nature religions of the 1960s, and through his publication of the award-winning Pagan magazine, Green Egg (1968-1975; 1988-2000; 2007-), Oberon was instrumental in the coalescence of the Neo-Pagan movement, which for the past third of a century has been reclaiming the religious heritage of pre-Christian Europe. (Identified as the fastest-growing religion in the English-speaking world, US membership in the Pagan community is currently estimated in the millions.)
In 1970, Oberon formulated and published the thealogy of deep ecology which has become known as The Gaia Thesis—that our entire planetary biosphere comprises the body of a single vast living organism universally identified as “Mother Earth.” He met his soulmate, Morning Glory, at the Llewellyn-sponsored Gnostic Aquarian Festival in 1973, where he was a keynote speaker on the Gaia Thesis. They were legally married on April 14, 1974, in a spectacular Pagan handfasting in Minneapolis.
For eight years (1977-1985) Oberon and Morning Glory lived in a 5,600-acre intentional community called Greenfield Ranch, in the mountains of northern California, establishing a rural homestead and a Pagan retreat center. During this period they created large festivals, vision quests, ceremonies, and ritual events on the land. This work continues to this day on Annwfn.
Oberon and Morning Glory co-founded the Ecosophical Research Association in 1977, and their research into arcane lore and ancient legends resulted in the Living Unicorn project, begun in 1980. For the next four years they traveled all over North America exhibiting their authentic Medieval-style Unicorns at Renaissance Faires, before arranging a four-year exhibition contract with Ringling Bros./Barnum & Bailey Circus—“The Greatest Show on Earth”—which brought these legendary creatures to millions throughout the world.
In Feb. 1985, Oberon organized an ERA diving expedition to Australia and New Guinea which identified the species of the mysterious “Ri” and solved the ages-old mystery of the Mermaid; and in 1987 he conducted a research tour of ancient oracles and archaeological sites throughout Mediterranean Europe. Other magical journeys have taken Oberon to Peru, Hawaii, Alaska, back to Australia, and, in 1999, to the British Isles for the century’s last total Eclipse of the Sun.
Oberon is the author of numerous published articles on history, Gaian thealogy, magic, shamanism, mythology, anomalies, dinosaurs, archaeology, cosmology, and related topics, and has been interviewed and quoted extensively in many books on New Age religious movements and the occult. With many years of theatrical experience, Oberon has been an entertaining guest on a number of radio and television talk shows around the country (and in England, Canada and Australia), as well as being a regular featured speaker at various Pagan festivals and conventions. Oberon is also an accomplished ritualist, creating and conducting rites of passage, seasonal celebrations, Mystery initiations (such as the Eleusinia and the Panathenaia), Earth-healings and other rituals for up to 3,000 people.
Oberon’s artwork has illuminated the pages of various fantasy, science-fiction, and metaphysical magazines since the late 1960’s, as well as illustrating a number of books. His T-shirt designs may still be seen at any gathering of environmental activists. His favorite art project, however, is his ongoing sculpture series of ancient Gods and Goddesses, and of mythological creatures, currently marketed through TheaGenesis LLC, as the Mythic Images Collection. His masterwork is “The Millennial Gaia.”
Oberon and Morning Glory Zell-Ravenheart have had a special relationship with the Association for Consciousness Exploration for over 25 years, and between them they have appeared at over 20 Starwood Festivals (and a few WinterStar Symposiums). Largely because of their continuing participation, there has been a Church of All Worlds presence at Starwood, called the CAWmunity, for over a decade, and pivotal events in the saga of the C.A.W. have played themselves out on the stages of Starwood.
In 2002, Oberon gathered together many of the best-known minds in the Neo-Pagan movement to form the “Grey Council.” In 2004 Oberon and the Council published Grimoire for the Apprentice Wizard, a book filled with the accumulated wisdom and insight of dozens of the most experienced magicians, priests, artists, and authors in Pagandom. Also in 2004, Oberon created his proudest accomplishment, the online Grey School of Wizardry (www.GreySchool.com). The Grey School currently offers over 300 classes in 16 Departments, at seven levels, with more than 750 students aged 11-75. The faculty number 40 highly-qualified teachers. Graduates are certified “Journeyman Wizards.” Oberon is the school’s Headmaster, and has been called “The real Albus Dumbledore.”
Oberon and Morning Glory currently reside in Sonoma County, California.
Oberon on YouTube:
Posted and edited by Magickal Winds
1961 I begin freshman year at Westminster College, Fulton, MO, where I meet Lance Christie and Martha McCance.
1962 Lance and I read Stranger in a Strange Land and share water (April 7), vowing to begin living the dream set forth therein. We form a Nest, and I begin publishing The Atlan Torch.
1963 I marry Martha, and we have a son, Bryan (born Sept. 15).
1965 I graduate from college; begin graduate school at Washington University in St Louis; begin new Nest there.
1966 I quit graduate school, begin working for Human Development Corp as Head Start Counselor. Star Trek premiers on TV (Sept. 8).
1967 In Sept, I first go public with Church of All Worlds, apply for incorporation. I begin using term “Pagan” as self-identification for our religion. I complete college for a DD, become ordained as first Priest of CAW.
1968 CAW receives corporate status; we open our first coffee house/temple; I begin publishing Green Egg (all in March). I also obtain a Teacher’s Certificate and begin teaching grade school. We close the first Temple in Sept.
1969 With Fred Adams of Feraferia and others, we found the Council of Themis—the first Pagan ecumenical council. CAW Nest meeting held at homes on Friday nights, for Star Trek. Sci-Fi Worldcon in St Louis (Labor Day)—I attend as my first Worldcon, and meet many people…
1970 April: We open a new storefront Temple. I do my first acid trip (at Solar Eclipse, March 7); I meet Julie (April 1); CAW major participant at first Earth Day (April 22). CAW gets its IRS 501(c)(3) (June 18). On Sept. 6 I have major Vision of the Living Earth, which I write up as “TheaGenesis.” This is the first publication of what later becomes known as “The Gaea Thesis.”
1971 Martha and I separate, later to divorce. Julie and I travel to East Coast for Sci-Fi Worldcon. We meet Susan Roberts, Ray Buckland, Leo Martello, Robert Rimmer, and many famous Witches. I begin correspondence with Robert Heinlein.
1972 Council of Themis dissolves due to internal dissension; Council of Earth Religions formed. Julie and I attend Sci-Fi WorldCon in Los Angeles; win Grand Prize in costume contest as “Cernunnos & Cerridwen.” We meet many Califia Pagans, travel up to San Francisco and Greenfield Ranch to see the new land being bought into…
1973 Julie and I break up in Spring. I hitchhike to Rainbow Family Gathering in Lander, WY. Get arrested in Colo. for hitchhiking. Meet Bonnie Sherlock—receive initiation. I attend Gnostic Aquarian festival in Minneapolis at Mabon, as a keynote speaker on TheaGenesis. There I meet and fall in love with Morning Glory. She moves in with me.
1974 MG and I are married in huge public Pagan handfasting in Minneapolis (April 12). Isaac Bonewits & Carolyn Clark officiate; Margot Adler sings Gwydion songs. We share water with Robert Anton Wilson. MG and I attend Sci-Fi Worldcon in Wash. DC, win 1st prize in costume contest as “most primal.”
1975 I quite my job, rent out the house (now put into name of CAW), buy and fix up an old school bus: “The Scarlet Succubus.”
1976 MG and I leave St Louis for West Coast. After many adventures, we end up in Eugene, OR, where we teach classes on “Celtic Shamanism” at Lane Community college. Our research uncovers the lost secret of the Unicorn. Back in St Louis, GE folds. Soon, so does CAW.
1977 Morning Glory and I move onto 5,600-acre Greenfield Ranch as caretakers on 220-acre parcel named Coeden Brith, owned by Alison Harlow. Our plan: to raise Unicorns! Next door neighbor is Gwydion Pendderwen. Form Holy Order of Mother Earth (HOME) with Alison. We begin real land-based Pagan life, transfer CAW HQ to Califia.
1979 Total Eclipse of the Sun (Feb. 26) over full-scale Stonehenge replica in Washington state. MG and I officiate at rites, along with many other Pagan luminaries. 3-4,000 people attend. We clear the clouds, get much media attention! I receive new name of “Otter.”
1980 March—first baby Unicorns. HUGE thing! We spend most of year out in the world doing interviews, etc. We apply for patent on Unicorn process. Our life changes radically as we find ourselves traveling to make appearances, do Ren Faires, etc. over next few years.
1981 We go on Chautauqua with performers from the Oregon Country Faire, traveling around Pacific Northwest in caravan of buses.
1982 March: “Goddess Rising” conference in Sacramento. Many prominent pagan leaders attend—get to meet each other. Doing Ren Faires all summer, MG and I don’t see each other for 4 months. I meet and fall in love with Bella Dona and Jeanné. At Samhain, Gwydion is killed in a car wreck. Our first death. Serious grieving; begin creating darker rituals.
1983 We found the local Hometown Festival, and lead the parade down Main Street with our Unicorn. In the fall, taking pottery classes at the local college, I meet and fall in love with Diane Darling.
1984 We sign a 4-year exhibition lease for several of our Unicorns with Ringling Bros./Barnum & Bailey Circus. Diane and her son, Zack, move in with us.
1985 We mount a diving expedition to New Guinea to videotape and solve the mystery of the “Mermaids” sighted there. On the way, we visit Australia, connect with local Pagans. In the Fall, we leave Greenfield Ranch and move to “The Old Same Place.”
1986 Morning Glory and I create our dream store, “Between the Worlds,” bringing in Diane Darling and several others. After a couple of years, we pass it on to King & Joan Collins, who rename it “The Grey Whale.” In the fall, we found the Ukiah Hometown Festival, and for many years thereafter we lead the parade down Main Street in our full Ren Faire regalia—with a Unicorn.
1987 In March, I go on a month-long pilgrimage with Bella Dona to Spain, France, Italy, Greece, and Crete. In August, CAW sponsors big public 20th anniversary of Summer of Love at the park, with live bands, free food, etc. MG & I create ritual passing of torch to next generation.
1988 April—MG and I present at CIIS (Calif. Institute of Integral Studies) Conf. on Gaia Consciousness. At Beltane, Diane and I resurrect Green Egg 20 years after first issue. MG and I win May Games to become King & Queen of the May. Robert Heinlein dies May 8. At Samhain, I have vision of recreating Eleusinian Mysteries.
1989 March 19—MG, Diane and I handfast as Triad.
1990 April 20—20th anniversary of first Earth Day. We participate in major way. In Beltane issue of GE, MG coins term “Polyamory.” Labor Day—Heartland Pagan Festival in Kansas City hosts CAW Grand Reunion, bringing many old CAW-folk together again. We begin conducting elaborate annual recreations of Eleusinian Mysteries. At Samhain, I join Anodea and others for a Magickal Mystery Tour to Peru, where we connect with Quechua shamans.
1991 At Midsummer Gathering of Tribes in GA, Julie shows up and we reconnect. I found the Universal Federation of Pagans (UFP). Summer—I go on Magickal Mystery Tour to Crater Lake and lava caves, led by Richard Ely. Labor Day—we do major presentation, opening & closing rituals, at first big Poly-Con in Berkeley.
1992 30th anniversary of CAW founding, we hold wonderful Grand Convocation at 93-acre VM Ranch; create circle of magick to bring this place into our hands as our future home. With a newly-elected all-women Board of Directors, CAW becomes first legally-incorporated non-Christian church in Australia.
1993 We conduct recreation of ancient Greek Panathenaia at Parthenon replica in Nashville, TN, with 42-ft. statue of Athena. We meet Wolf at Samhain Gathering in Tenn.
1994 Diane quits GE. Maerian comes on-board as new Editor. At Beltane MG & I formally end our handfasting with Diane. In Aug. I drive to Nashville with Orion & Maerian for 2nd Panathenaia. In Sept. after serving as Hades in Eleusinia, I receive new name of “Oberon.”
1995 In April, I meet Liza Gabriel at Craftwise Festival in New England; begin serious relationship. In Nov. Wolf moves from Houston to join MG and me.
1996 Wynter Rose moves in with us in Feb., meets Wolf at Beltane. MG becomes High Priestess of CAW. Sept. 13, GE staff members who are also Officers of CAW BoD remove me from any control over the magazine I’d founded. Sept. 29, MG, Wolf and I handfasted as triad, with Liza & Wynter ladies-in-waiting. In Dec., Liza moves to Cal., and we (Liza, Wynter, MG & I) all pull up stakes and move to VM Ranch. We commit to 2-year lease with option to buy.
1997 Wolf moves in with us, and we all take family name of “Ravenheart.” In Sept., MG leads tour to Greece and Crete.
1998 I finish creation of “Millennial Gaia” statue just in time for Beltane. We offer her as incentive for membership renewal in CAW, raising $4,000 for our Church. In Aug. I am “impeached” as Primate by CAW BoD on what eventually turn out to be completely bogus charges, and take 1-year sabbatical from Primacy. MG and I return to Australia for big Pagan festival. MG and Liza go to Hong Kong to arrange for production of Gaia statues. MG stays there for a month.
1999 We decide not to buy VM Ranch, due to escalating power struggles with CAW BoD, who want to control it, although not pay for it. We find new home for all Ravenhearts in Penngrove, supporting ourselves with our statuary business, Mythic Images www.MythicImages.com. In August, I travel with Ariel Monserrat to England and France for final eclipse of 20th century, conducted at Boscanewen, an ancient stone circle in Cornwall. I meet Ken Kesey there, with his famous bus, “Furthur,” and give him Millennial Gaia “On The Bus.” Ariel and I are knighted by King Arthur.
2000 I convene Committee of Pagan leaders and initiate “Papal Apology Project” to ask Pope to include Pagans in his Apology for horrors of Inquisition, etc. We gather over 6,000 signatures. Pope does apologize for “crimes against indigenous peoples.” That Summer, major “Pagan Leaders Summit” held in Indiana—I attend with many others.
2001 Our entire Ravenheart Family conducts major “Mystery Play” at Walpurgisnacht at Annwfn. We also conduct spectacular Eleusinian Mysteries in Sept, with Wolf & Wynter as Hades & Persephone. Our last year of involvement with CAW, whose current BoD is inimically hostile to me personally. Wolf & Wynter are married in July; MG and I officiate.
2002 40th anniversary of CAW. I am not invited to attend Annual Meeting. Ohio BoD hires “secret lawyer” to abolish CAW Bylaws and replace them with “Constitution” to consolidate all power in the hands of the BoD. At Starwood (July) I formally disaffiliate with CAW. I am commissioned by New Page Books to write book of Wizardry for “Harry Potter generation.” I assemble “Grey Council” as advisory council for this project.
2003 Entire year spent writing Grimoire for the Apprentice Wizard.
2004 Grimoire published—enormously successful. I create online Grey School of Wizardry www.GreySchool.com (incorporated March 14). CAW BoD in Ohio dissolves CAW Inc., intending to transfer all assets to new org. they’ve created: “Church of All Worlds International.” They threaten to sue me and Starwood organizers for presenting talk at Starwood: “The Rise and Fall of the Church of All Worlds.” I do anyway. A month later, the entire CAW BoD in Ohio resign en masse, and CAW’s corporate status reverts to California.
2005 Liza gets engaged to a man who’s hostile to the Ravenhearts. She evicts us all to sell the house, and we have to find new homes and move in Oct. MG and I find a wonderful place in the country, outside of Cotati. I’m writing two books, Companion for the Apprentice Wizard and Creating Circles & Ceremonies.
2006 Companion for the Apprentice Wizard and Creating Circles & Ceremonies both published. MG and I travel to Australia in Jan., as guests of honor at CAW Summer Gathering and AGM. Overwhelmed by the stress of moving, MG’s mother, Polly, who’s been living with us, dies in Feb. In March, MG is diagnosed with multiple myeloma (blood and bone cancer). With CAW now back in Califia, I am now Pres. of BoD, and we begin total overhaul of entire structure. Cat DeVille is pivotal figure in this.
2007 Julie O’Ryan creates personal website for me: www.OberonZell.com. Ariel Monserrat and Tom Donohue revive Green Egg as an e-zine, publishing the first issue at Ostara at www.GreenEggzine.com. I’m working constantly on my latest book—A Wizard’s Bestiary. Another Magnum Opus, it comes out in November.
2008 Julie moves to Guerneville, and becomes my Personal Assistant. I spend much of year working on Green Egg Omelette—an anthology of 40 years of GE magazine. In July, right after returning from Starwood, I am diagnosed with colon cancer, and have surgery on July 29. In October, I begin six months of chemotherapy.
2009 Green Egg Omelette comes out in January. CAW makes major splash at Pantheacon (Feb.) with main ritual (“Phoenix Rising”) and hospitality suite. Working on next book: The Witch and the Wizard OZ, with John Sulak. I am Artist Guest of Honor at ConQuest 40 sci-fi con in Kansas City (May), and attend with Julie. We win costume contest as “Mother Earth & Rising Phoenix.” Morning Glory begins series of “Great Goddess Retreats” (June-Sept.).
Posted and edited by Magickal Winds
The Church of All Worlds
A Brief History
It all began on April 7, 1962, when, after reading Stranger in a Strange Land, Tim Zell and Lance Christie shared water and formed a water-brotherhood called “Atl” at Westminster College at Fulton, Missouri. During the mid-1960s the group was centered on the University of Oklahoma campus at Norman under the name Atlan Foundation. A periodical, The Atlan Torch (later The Atlan Annals), was published from 1962-1968. Following a move to St. Louis, Missouri, in 1968 the Church of All Worlds was legally incorporated. In March of that year, the first issue of Green Egg appeared and over the years made Tim Zell, its editor, a major force in Neo-Paganism, a term which Zell coined. CAW was the first Neo-Pagan/Earth Religion to obtain full federal recognition, although it was initially refused recognition by the Missouri Department of Revenue on the basis of its lack of primary concern about the hereafter, God, the destiny of souls, heaven, hell, sin and its punishment, and other supernatural matters. The ruling was overturned as unconstitutional in 1971. The Church of All Worlds took much inspiration from the science fiction classic, Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein. In the novel, Valentine Michael Smith was a human being born on Mars and raised by Martians. Upon being brought to Earth, he established the Church of All Worlds, built around “nests”, a combination of a congregations and an intentional communities. A basic concept was “grokking”, i.e., the ability to be fully empathic. Heinlein’s CAW emphasized non-possessive love and joyous expression of sexuality as divine union. Their greeting was “Thou art God” or “Thou art Goddess”, a recognition of immanent divinity in each person. The basic theology of the CAW is a pantheism focused on immanent rather than transcendent divinity, which is worshipped in female as well as a male form.
The most important theological statement came in revelatory writings by Zell in 1970-73, on a theory which later came to be known as the Gaia Thesis, a biological validation of the ancient intuition that the planet is a single living organism, Mother Earth. Pantheists hold as divine the living spirit of Nature. Thus the CAW recognizes Mother Earth, the Horned God, the Green Man and other spirits of animistic totemism as the Divine Pantheon. Church of All Worlds was an early forerunner of the Deep Ecology movement. Through its focus on Mother Nature as Goddess and its recognition and ordination of women as Priestesses, CAW can also rightly be held to be the first Eco-Feminist Church. Its only creed states: “The Church of All Worlds is dedicated to the celebration of life, the maximal actualization of human potential and the realization of ultimate individual freedom and personal responsibility in harmonious eco-psychic relationship with the total Biosphere of Holy Mother Earth.”
In 1974, CAW reported nests in Missouri, California, Illinois, Kansas, Wisconsin, Iowa, Wyoming, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, New Jersey, New York, and Ohio. It was then publishing two periodicals, Green Egg and The Pagan. Two years later Zell moved to Oregon with his new wife, Morning Glory, an ordained Priestess, for a rural life of writing, research and the practice of the religion he had developed. They left the administration of the CAW and the publication of the Green Egg in the hands of other Church leaders. After only a few more issues, the magazine ceased publication. Subsequently many Church Nests dissolved due to internal conflicts.
By the mid-1980s CAW survived only in California, focused around the sanctuary land bequeathed to the Church by its Bard, Gwydion Pendderwen. On and around this rural retreat, a Pagan homesteading community grew which included the Zells (Tim Zell had changed his first name to Otter in 1979 following a vision quest) and other long-time Church members who had moved to California, as well as many new people. Two new clergy were ordained during that time, Orion Stormcrow (a Church member since 1969) and Anodea Judith. (In 1991, Deborah Hamouris was ordained, bringing the present number of active clergy to six.) In the late 1980s, following Otter and Morning Glory’s emergence from eight years of living in the wilderness, the Church of All Worlds began reorganizing under the leadership of Anodea Judith. The membership program was radically upgraded to include a Progressive Involvement Program (PIP), intensive training courses and a new members newsletter, The Scarlet Flame. Activities and membership increased dramatically during this period as CAW emerged from its slumber. The first issue of Green Egg (The Next Generation!) appeared in May, 1988, the 20th anniversary of its original publication. It has risen to a position of prominence among Pagan periodicals. Diane Darling, who joined the Church in the mid-’80s, is its editrix, Otter its publisher and designer. In 1991, with 52 pages and a four-color glossy cover, Green Egg won the Silver Award from the Wiccan/Pagan Press Alliance (WPPA) for “Most Professionally Formatted Pagan Publication”. In 1992 Green Egg won the WPPA Gold Award for “Readers’ Choice” as well as the Dragonfest Awards for “Most Attractive Format” and “Best Graphics”. Diane won the Pentacle Award for “Favorite Pagan Editrix”, and Otter for “Favorite Pagan Writer”.
The non-fictional Church of All Worlds has grown far beyond Heinlein’s dream. There are nine concentric circles of member involvement, named after the planets and grouped into three rings. Each circle’s activity includes study, writings, magical training, sensitivity and encounter-group experience, as well as active participation in the life of the Church. The First Ring, Circles 1, 2, and 3, is for Seekers, those who are only participants. Second Ring, Circles 4 through 6, is made up of Scions, members who help run the church. The clergy, Council of the Third Ring, consists of legally ordained priests and priestesses; longtime members who have worked through the other circles, undergone personal and leadership development, religious training, and completed the Church’s ordination requirements. There are two governing bodies in addition to the Clergy: the Board of Directors, which determines policy and business matters, and the Fun Committee, which implements the activities and functions of the Church. The Fun Committee is made up of a Board member, a clergy member, and one representative from each of the church functions, such as Rites and Festivals, Publications, Membership, Communications and each subsidiary. There is an annual General Meeting to elect officers and make changes in the Church’s ever-evolving Bylaws. Worship involves attending weekly or monthly Nest meetings usually held in the homes of Nest members. Autonomous nests are composed of at least three members of 2nd Circle meeting monthly or more often. The basic liturgical form is based on a circle where a chalice of water is shared around as part of the ritual part of the Nest meeting. Longer events are celebrated at the Church sanctuary, Annwfn, a 55-acres of land in northern California. Annwfn has a two-story temple, cabins, garden, orchard and a small pond. It is maintained by a small community of resident caretakers. In addition to the eight Celtic seasonal festivals, the Church holds handfastings (marriages), vision quests, initiations, workshops, retreats, work parties and meetings on the land. As of 1993, the Church has ten chartered nests in California, with others in Florida, Illinois, Arizona, Maryland, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Australia (where CAW has become the first legally-incorporated Pagan church in that country). A number of proto-Nests are in the process of forming. Current President is priest Tom Williams (a member since 1968). Otter is presently engaged in the formation of the Universal Federation of Pagans (UFP), a worldwide association with which he hopes to unify the global Pagan community. 1992 was the 30th anniversary of the Church. A Grand Convocation was held in August, with an attendance of nearly 300. Membership at the end of 1993 was around 600.
The Mission Statement of the Church of All Worlds is as follows:
The mission of the Church of All Worlds is to evolve a network of information, mythology, and experience that provides a context and stimulus for reawakening Gaea, and reuniting Her children through tribal community dedicated to responsible stewardship and the general evolution of consciousness. Over the years, the Church of All Worlds has chartered a number of subsidiary branches through which it practices and teaches its religion:
- Forever Forests : Box 212, Redwood Valley, CA 95470. Founded in 1977 by Gwydion Pendderwen; the ecology branch. Sponsors tree-planting events and rituals.
- Lifeways : 2140 Shattuck #2093, Berkeley, CA 94704. Founded in 1983 by Anodea Judith; the teaching branch. Offers workshops, classes, healing rituals, recovery programs, wilderness excursions, and training for the priesthood. Handles the Progressive Involvement Program.
- Nemeton : Box 610, Laytonville, CA 95454. Founded in 1972 by Gwydion Pennderwen and Alison Harlow; the marketing branch. Tapes and CDs, songbooks, T-shirts, philosophical tracts and books. Catalog available.
- Ecosophical Research Assn. (ERA) : Box 982, Ukiah, CA 95482. Founded in 1977 by Morning Glory Zell; devoted to research and exploration in the fields of history, mythology and natural sciences. Produced the Living Unicorn, the New Guinea Mermaid expedition and a Peruvian Pilgrimage.
- Holy Order of Mother Earth (HOME) : Box 212, Redwood Valley, CA 95470 Founded in 1977 by the Zells and Alison Harlow; magical and shamanic branch open only to trained initiates. Creates and conducts the Church’s rituals and ceremonies.* Peaceful Order of the Earth Mother (POEM) : Box 5227, Clearlake, CA 95422. Founded in 1988 by Willowoak Istarwood; dedicated to children and child nurturing. Provides enriching activities for children at gatherings, summer camps and a quarterly magazine for Pagan youth, How About Magic? (HAM) :$7 per year.
- Green Egg : Box 1542, Ukiah, CA 95482. Award-winning quarterly journal of the New Paganism and the Gaian Renaissance, founded in 1968 by Otter Zell. Sample $6; subscription $15/yr US bulk mail; $21/yr US/Canada 1st class/envelope; $27/yr trans-Atlantic; $30/yr trans-Pacific.
- Annwfn : Box 48, Calpella, CA 95418. CAW’s 55-acre land sanctuary and retreat in the Misty Mountains of Mendonesia. Write for Visitor’s Policy.
- CAW Membership and General Correspondence :
(Australian Headquarters) PO Box 408, Woden, ACT 2606.
Further information on the Church of All Worlds may be found in the following books:
- Adler, Margot, Drawing Down the Moon: Witches, Druids, Goddess- Worshipers and other Pagans in America Today, Beacon Press, 1979; revised and updated 1987. (essential!)
- Ellwood, Robert, Religious and Spiritual Groups in Modern America, 1973.
- Gottleib, Annie, Do You Believe in Magic? The Second Coming of the Sixties Generation, Times Books, 1987
- Guiley, Rosemary, Encyclopedia of Witches and Witchcraft, Facts on File, 1989; (extensive!)
- The Perennial Encyclopedia of Mystical and Psychic Experience, 1990.
- Jade, To Know, Delphi Press, 1991.
- Martello, Leo Louis, Witchcraft, the Old Religion, University Books, 1973.
- Melton, J. Gordon, The Encyclopedia of American Religions, from the Institute for the Study of American Religions, POB 90709, Santa Barbara, CA 93190 1979 ( 3rd edition, 1988); The Essential New Age, 1990.
- Wilson, Robert Anton, Coincidence, Falcon Press, 1988
Posted and edited by Magickal Winds
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Posted in Goddesses
November 5, 2009 – 12:34 AM
November 16, 2009 is “The Night of Hecate”, this year, it is also The New Moon and The Void of Course Moon (2:14 PM EST)
Posted and edited by Magickal Winds
Days of Hecate are August 13 which She is honored and prayed to in order to not send fierce thunderstorms and ruin and the crops. November 16 is the Night of Hecate which begins at sunset. This is the night of the Three -formed Goddess (but not the only night, she is always Three-formed): Hecate is part of the most ancient form of the triple Moon goddess as Crone or Dark Moon. This is also the night of Hecate’s supper at the Crossroads. People who worshiped Hecate honoured Her by preforming Sympathetic Magick and holding a supper at what they believed to be the Crossroads; in addition, it is said they sacrificed animals in honour of Her. (As a Wiccan, I do not believe in the sacrifice of any living thing and I am sure neither did our Gods and Goddesses.) November 30 is Hecate-Trivia–the day of the Crossroads. The 29th of each month is the Moon of Hecate.
Posted and edited by Magickal Winds
Hecate: Short Biography and Offerings
Short Information on Hecate
Attributes: Fertility mother goddess, with double aspect: protectress and destroyer, mighty magical Queen of ghosts and loving and helping corn-mother like Demeter. Triple Aspect of the Goddess: Maiden, Mother and Crone. Shares many attributes with Morrigan, Kali and the Inanna.
Representation: Triple-Shape of body and/or face, carries torches and is followed by a pack of hounds. Appears most of the time as a maiden or younger women, only in later images is she the crone or the old woman.
Relations: Hecate is a Titaness, daughter of Perses and Asteria, Helper of Demeter in her search after Persephone, mighty protectress of Medea
Offerings: Sacrifice of dogs, puppies, Food at three-way- crossroads, burned torches and candles.
Sacrifice: Dogs, in Rome: black bulls wearing yewtree leaves.
Food laid down at crossroads, known as “the Supper of Hecate”: One source says eggs and fish; another fish, eggs, or roe; still another, goat cheese and bread.
Candles, Torches, Incense burned to worship her. Honey cakes and chicken, hearts on their door steps, or at crossroads. Sacrifices were regularly offered to Her, including dogs and female lambs.
“The Chtonian” was a -still in roman times- very popular Greek goddess, often accombined with Artemis or Persephone, who’s role -like mentioned before- transformed from a goddess of fertility, childbirth, protectress of mankind and all other earth-aspects from groth to death into a Queen of ghosts, a mighty and scary Goddess of Magic, Nights, the time of the waning moon, where she could could give vision and assist in magical procedures.
She was the Goddess of the three-ways (crossroads), where she protected people from taking the wrong road. And she protected the Gates from any evil spirit to enter. She also guides travellers in general and sailors in particular. She held the keys to three roads: to Hades, to Heaven and to a lucky life on earth.
In later times she became the patroness of witches, magicians and sorcery. The Question is not, that Hecate did not have these aspects in her nature, it is whether these are her only aspects.
Many today-pagans worship either the wonderful, loving and caring, sweet and gentle good Goddess or the lunatic, dark aspects of the Goddess. My opinion and believe is that these aspects can only be seen as a whole and that Hecate combines all these aspects of nature as an incarnation of the Great Goddess.
Her annual festival in Greece was on August 13th/14th was a propitiary one, to avert the harvest-destroying storms which the Moon was apt to send at around that time.
One of her festivals celebrated in the city Stratonicea in Caria was called: Hecatesia.
As a goddess of the Moon she is often set equal to Selene. As a goddess of growth and fertilitiy, she is seen equal to Demeter. As a goddess of the hunt and the wild animals, she is seen equal to Artemis. It is more than obvious that her attributes and her role have some similarities with Lilith and the dark sides of Ishtar and Astarte.
Goddess of witches – the Dark Mother
I have heard much about this great Mother. Both good and bad. I was unsure what to believe until I “heard” and “felt” Her call. Her robes were dark blue, Her hair dark, Her skin was fair, Her eyes were soft and caring. She seemed to speak to me with Her eyes. I could feel Her say, “I am the Great Mother. “She was gone. I have had the chance to speak to several people who follow Hecate. They also shared similar stories of a visitation. Some saw Her as Maiden, some as Mother and some as Crone. She comes to people as the Goddess that they work best with. For me this was the Great Mother.Being the most triple of all Goddesses Hecate can come to all in that one form that we will understand best. I come to Her in the dark moon. This page is dedicated in honor to Her, that perhaps, others may learn.
Hecate’s Signs and Symbols
All wild animals were sacred to Hekate, and she was sometimes shown with three animal heads – the dog, snake, and lion, or alternately the dog, horse, and bear. This aspect refers to her rulership over the ancient tripartite year of spring, summer, and winter. However, her primary animal form and familiar was the dog or wolf. Wolfs, Dogs, Snakes
Torches are Her symbol, for the Dark Mother also holds the light which illuminates the Unconscious and reveals its treasures.
Sacred Plants: Yewtree, the tree of death (greek: taxus),
Hemlock (see f.e. Shakespeare: Macbeth IV, 1.25) Key (to the Underworld), Rope, Dagger.
The Moon, especially the full or the dark moon.
For divination, the Greeks used an instrument called ‘Hecate’s Circle’, a golden sphere with a sapphire hidden inside it.
The hallucinogenic medicinal plant, Aconite, once called, “hecateis”, and produced by the saliva of Cerberus, belonged to Her. This herb reached mankind when Hercules forced Cerberus from Hades, spraying the Earth with the hound’s spittle.
Greek Cross – Before Christianity, the Greek Cross was an emblem of Hecate as the Goddess of Crossroads. Like the infinity sign or the ankh, it also represented union of male and female principles as vertical and horizontal members, respectively. Then it became a plus sign: one-plus-the-other.
Crossroads – Witches were said to hold Sabbats at crossroads, for the reason that in the ancient world crossroads were sacred to the Goddess Hecate, the Lady of the Underworld in pagan belief, the Queen of Witches in Christian belief. Her images and those of Hermes and Diana stood at crossroads throughout the Roman empire, until they were replaced by crosses during the Christian era. The Roman word for crossroads was compita, and the Lares compitales or crossroad spirits were regularly honored at roadside shrines during festivals called Compitalia. Christians continued to honor the chthonian deities at crossroads until they were persecuted for doing so, when the elder (Hecate) deities were newly defined as devils. In the tenth century A.D. it was ordered that any woman must be sentenced to a three-year fast if she was found guilty of dedicating her child at a crossroads to the Earth Mother.
We know the Crossroads are Hecate’s, but here is some amusing information:
The classic Greek herm was a phallic pillar dedicated to the god of magic and of crossroads. Hermes, whose head appeared at the top. Herms were usually plain shafts without projections except for the realistic phallus in front; some, however, had short crossbeams, probably drawn from identification between Hermes and the Egyptian god Thoth, his counterpart in the south, whose image was the ankh or Key of Life. Hermes guarded nearly all the important crossroads of Greece and the Roman empire, where they were named for the Roman Hermes, Mercury. Hermes and Hecate were worshiped together as lord and lady of crossroads, which were magical places because they always symbolized choices. Sometimes the herms were called Lares compitales, the crossroad spirits, to whom offerings were made and for whom there were special festivals called Compitalia. In the Christian era, the numerous herms at crossroads throughout Europe were replaced by stone crosses.
A mysterious incident occurred in 415 B.C. – at the height of a very patriarchal period in Athens, where public thoroughfares were protected by hundreds of herms. The night before the Athenians were to launch an expedition against Sicily was what came to be know as the night of the Mutilation or Castration of the Herms. In the morning, almost all the city’s herms were found with their penises knocked off. The culprits were never discovered, but it is believed they were militant Athenian women, using this threatening magical gesture to protest against the war.
Amulet – A Greek text gives directions for preparing a phylacterion or “amulet of undertaking”. It is to be a lodestone, cut in the shape of a heart and engraved with an image of the Goddess Hecate.
Basket – Basket-making was a female craft, so baskets were often sacred to the Goddess as agriculturist and harvest spirit. Baskets were carried by Moon-goddesses like Diana and Hecate, of whom Porphyry wrote: “The basket which she bears when she has mounted high is the symbol of the cultivation of the crops which she made to grow up according to the increase of her light”
Gate – Hecate was viewed as the guardian of both crossroads and gates – especially the gate of birth, since the Goddess was represented as a divine midwife and frequently invoked for assistance in childbirth and as the Goddess of the underworld “Destroyer” who ruled the gates of death. Much allegorizing was employed (by the Christian church) to conceal the fact that the gate was another emblem of female genitals, the gate through which life emerged at birth, and into which at least a part of a man might pass (to a higher vibration into the mysteries, symbolic death of phallic spirit).
Fairy – Yes, Fairy – read on… The fairy-tale image of the fairy as a tiny female sprite with butterfly wings and antennae seems to have been drawn from the classic Greek Psyche, which means “soul” and also “butterfly”. Like elves, the fairies were originally the souls of the pagan dead, in particular those matriarchal spirits who lived in the pre-Christian realm of the Goddess. Sometimes the fairies were called Goddesses themselves. In several folk ballads the Fairy Queen is addressed as “Queen of Heaven.” Welsh fairies were known as “the Mothers” or “the Mothers’ Blessing.” Breton peasants called the fairies God-mothers, or Good Ladies, or Fates from which comes fay (la fee), from the Latin fata. They claimed that, like Medusa or Circe, a fairy could transform a man into an animal or turn him to stone. Most medieval sources reveal, however, that the fairies were perceived as real women, of ordinary size, with supernatural knowledge and powers. Their Queen was their Goddess, under such names as Titania (Gaea, ancient mother of the Titans), Diana, Venus, Sybil, Abundia (“Abundance”) and Hecate.
Hounds – It seems that women were the first to domesticate the dog, because dogs were companions of the Goddess in may cultures, long before gods or men appeared with canine companions. Dogs accompanied Hecate in Greece. Dogs were accredited for being able to see the dead (ghosts) and other spirits. The ancients were also very impressed with canine keenness of another sense, the sense of smell. Pairs of dogs ere stationed at the gates of death (as on the Tarot card of the Moon) to detect the “odor of sanctity” and decide whether the soul could be admitted to the company of the gods. Three-headed Cerberus guarded the door of Hecate’s underworld.
Frog – Frogs were sacred to the Egyptian midwife of the gods, the Crone-Goddess Hekit, prototype of the Greeks’ Hekate (Hecate). The frog probably represented the human fetus, which it roughly resembles. Because little frogs, appearing with the first signs of the annual Nile Flood, were heralds of life-giving fertility in Egypt, people placed frog amulets on mummies to help them find rebirth. Mother Hekit’s “Amulet of the Frog” bore the words, “I Am the Resurrection.”
Henna – Also known as Egyptian privet or mignonette, henna produces a red dye that was very important to the women of antiquity. Its red color was associated with their own life-giving “magic blood.” They identified themselves with the Goddess by staining their hands and feet with henna. This was a custom of Greek women who worshiped Hecate.
Wolfbane, Aconite – The classic mythological origin of aconite was the saliva of the Three-headed underworld dog Cerberus. The plant sprang up when drops of slaver fell across the fields when Cerberus was dragged up to the earth’s surface by Hercules. Because it was originally sacred to Hecate, the queen of the underworld, the plant used to be called hecateis
Willow – Willow wands are used for divination and casting of the circle. The Greeks virgin form of Hecate was Helice, meaning “Willow”. Helice guarded Mount Helicon, the home of the Muses. Her willow wand was a cosmic symbol connected with the stars. The pole-encircling constellation of Ursa Major was sometimes known as Helice’s Axle..
Excerpts from “The Woman’s Dictionary, Symbols and Sacred Objects” by B. Walker
Sacred to Hecate
Key, torch, cauldron, dogs, owls, wild animals,
Poppy, animals dog, willow, star
I have encountered Hecate many times in my life. Those times when things are going smoothly and all of a sudden they take a turn, and I have been thrown into the throes of chaos. She was there when I closed the doors to my youth, and closed the doors to my past of pain and suffering. When we re renewing our life we have to learn to let go of the old…the past. And like the three fold goddess..we have to look to the past…to the present…and to the future.
I feel she was there sucking the blood slowly from my abusers. She kept me comparably safe, maybe allowing me to go through what I did to learn my lessons on the future…
I truly believe we have to walk the dark, unknown path in our lives before we can enter the light. We have to face the dark side, and make the decisions that will be right for us for renewal. She has been inside me when my intuition was working over time.
Hecate: Biography & Other Names
Greek Queen of the Night, Goddess of Witchcraft and the Underworld. Hecate is a shape-shifter.
Hecate, the Dark Goddess. Hecate, the Dark Mother. Hecate, the Triple Goddess. Hecate of the three faces. Hecate Antea, the sender of nocturnal visions. Hecate, protectress of flocks and sailors Hecate, Goddess of the Crossroads. Hecate, Queen of the witches. These are but a few of the names that Hecate is known by.
Each of these names has a special significance to every person that calls upon this the most feared of dieties. To begin to understand Hecate the Dark Goddess one must look back to the history of the ancients. Many are of the understanding that Hecate is purely Greek of origin. This however is not so. For She has been from the begining of time, from all ages.
Hecate was a Goddess of pre-Olympian time, Thracian of origin. She was however placed into the Greek and Roman pantheons. This placed Her in the Olympian’s war against the Giants. Hecate is the daughter of the Titans Perses and Asteria which are both symbols of shining light. In later times She was said to be the daughter of Zeus and Hera. Hecate has also been said to be one of the lovers of Hermes. “For behold, I stand at the edge of the lake to lead you home”……… One of the entrances to the land of the Shades was Lake Averna in Campania. This was where a departed soul would be lead by Hecate as they began their next existance. The hills around the lake used to be covered with trees sacred to Hecate. These were the Yew and the Willow or Osier. Hidden in the forests around Lake Averna were the caves through which one summoned the souls of the dead. Witches besoms were traditionally bound with Osier (willow). Without this they were said to be helpless.
Of all the Greek Goddesses Hecate was the most triple. She was seen in all three phases of the moon and especially the dark moon. To the Romans this triple Goddess was called Diana Triformis. This was made up of Diana, Persephone and Hecate. To the Greeks this triple Goddess was made up of Persephone, Demeter and Hecate. Hecate was depicted as a figure with three faces each facing a different direction, or as one with animal heads of a horse, dog and boar. Lethbridge wrote in “Witches, page 26″ that these three animal faces may be totem animals from Hecate’s primordial past. Dogs were with Hecate perhaps from their habit of howling to the moon and their path finding skills. At times Hecate was portrayed as a whelping bitch. She also shared with Herne of the North the reputation of leading the Wild Hunt of ghostly hounds through the night.
Hecate was to both Greek and Romans the Goddess of the Crossroads, where the traveler would face three choices in their life. At crossroads statues of Hecate would be placed where people could leave offerings to Her. People would take food offerings to these statues in the dead of night on the eve of the full moon. This was known as “Hecate’s Supper”. Once the food was placed the person would walk away without looking back. For no one dared to confront the Goddess face to face. Hecate’s annual festival is on August 13th in Greece, (and that of Diana on the same day in Rome). This annual festival was done in honor of Hecate in hopes of averting the harvest destroying storms which the moon would send around that time of year.
Hecate was also known to haunt graveyards as She would lead the souls of the departed across the lake. She also would haunt the scenes of crimes as a Goddess of explanation and purification. Hecate is the Dark Mother in both the positive and the negative sense. She can send demons to torment men’s dreams. She has also been known to drive men mad if they are not well integrated enough to cope with Her. But to those that dare to welcome Her, She brings creative inspiration. To this She is known as Hecate Antea, the sender of nocturnal visions. She also has a son that many do not know of. He is Museos, the Muse-Man. It is also legend that Hecate is the Mother of Marianina, who rose for a time to become Marianina, goddess of the sea. The Greeks would use for divination an instrument called “Hecate’s Circle”. This was a golden circle with a sapphire hidden inside of it. This was Her “mysterious moon” concealing the bright seed of understanding. Her symbol is the torch. For She, the Dark Mother, holds the light which illuminates the unconscious and reveals its treasures. Thus we are given the statement of….”In the shadows there is great light”…. Shakespeare used Hecate in his works. His witches’ deity was not Satan as some modern authorities claim, but the Dark Goddess. For She had the power and wisdom to pierce the darkness, bring visions, call back from the past, illuminate the present and give warning or promise of the future. The Goddess of moonlit crossroads, Hecate of the Three Faces.
Other Names and Titles
Like many goddesses she who’s name means
“The From-a-far-Powerful” had many names and titles.
Crataeis (the Mighty One),
Enodia (Goddess of the paths)
Antania (Enemy of mankind),
Kurotrophos (Nurse of the Children and Protectress of mankind),
Artemis of the crossroads
Propylaia (the one before the gate)
Propolos (the attendant who leads)
Phosphoros (the light-bringer)
Prytania (invincible Queen of the Dead)
Trioditis (gr.) Trivia (latin: Goddess of Three Roads)
Klêidouchos (Keeper of the Keys)
Tricephalus or Triceps (The Three-Headed)
Hecate – High Priestess
Priestesses of Hecate
According to Euripides in “Iphigeneia in Tauris” “Iphigeneia was a priestess of the goddess, worshipped in Tauri.
Circe (Kirke), the mighty hag in the Odyssee (Homer) was believed to have been a priestess of Hecate too.
Medea was also a priestess of Hecate and a mighty witch which is told in the Argonautica-Book. She called upon Hecates name in Colchis and Corinth to guide her:
Medea then going from chamber to chamber in search of her sister, for Hera detained her within that day; but beforetime she was not wont to haunt the palace, but all day long was busied in Hecate’s temple, since she herself was the priestess of the goddess.
Medea as a mighty witch:
“Son of Aeson, thou wilt despise the counsel which I will tell thee, but, though in evil plight, it is not fitting to forbear from the trial. Ere now thou hast heard me tell of a maiden that uses sorcery under the guidance of Hecate, Perses’ daughter. If we could win her aid there will be no dread, methinks, of thy defeat in the contest; but terribly do I fear that my mother will not take this task upon her. Nevertheless I will go back again to entreat her, for a common destruction overhangs us all.” (ll. 475-483)
“My friends, this indeed is left us at the last. But I deem that there will come to you some timely aid from my mother. Wherefore, eager though ye be, refrain and abide in your ship a little longer as before, for it is better to forbear than recklessly to choose an evil fate. There is a maiden, nurtured in the halls of Aeetes, whom the goddess Hecate taught to handle magic herbs with exceeding skill all that the land and flowing waters produce. (THE ARGONAUTICA BOOK III , here: ll. 523-539)
Medea as priestess of Hecate, worshipping her with sacrifice:
For Medea bade them land and propitiate Hecate with sacrifice. Now all that the maiden prepared for offering the sacrifice may no man know, and may my soul not urge me to sing thereof. Awe restrains my lips, yet from that time the altar which the heroes raised on the beach to the goddess remains till now, a sight to men of a later day (THE ARGONAUTICA BOOK IV(ll. 241-252).
Hecate was the daughter of Titans, Perses and Asteria. In later times her parentage was given as Zeus and Hera.. The Greeks called her “The Hag of the Dead” . She was also called “the most lovely one” a title of the moon.
Hecate dwelt in the Underworld, but had power elsewhere. She was a goddess of the Moon, of the Underworld, and of Magick. Also she was considered the protectress of flocks and of sailors.
The owl was her messenger, and the willow was her tree. And she rode a chariot pulled by dragons.
Hecate was also considered the goddess of crossroads. She belonged to the class of torch bearing deities, and was conceived as carrying a burning torch to suit the belief that she was the nocturnal goddess of the moon and a huntress who knew her way into the realm of spirits. She was depicted wearing a gleaming headdress of stars. All the secret powers of Nature were at her command. She had control over birth, life, and death. Because of her power in the three areas of nature, heaven and earth she was represented as a triple form. She was called the triple goddess. The three phased moon. She was depicted as three female figures or as one with three animal heads. Of horse, dog and bear, or sometimes of three dogs. All wild animals were sacred to her.
Her main area of work was goddess in the world of the dead, of night and darkness, mistress of all the witchcraft and black arts. We must remember that before Christianity the underworld was not the evil place it is considered today…then, it was the resting place of the dead.
During the Middle ages, Hecate became known as Queen of the Ghostworld, or Queen of Witches. She was especially diabolized by Catholic authorities who said the people most dangerous to the faith were precisely those whom Hecate patronized: the midwives. Her ancient threefold power was copied, however, by priestly writers who reassigned it to their own deity” The threefold power of Christ, namely in Heaven, in earth, and in Hell.”
Hecate was looked upon as a goddess of fertility, whose torch was carried over freshly sown fields to symbolize the fertilizing power of moonlight. In women’s agricultural mysteries her trinity took form as Kore the green corn, Persephone the ripe ear, and Hecate the harvested corn.
In later times Hecate took on the form of a pillar called Hecterion. One statue shows her with three heads and six arms, bearing three torches and three sacred emblems. A key, rope, and dagger. With the key to the underworld, Hecate unlocks the secrets of the occult mysteries and knowledge of afterlife. The rope symbolizes the umbilical cord of rebirth and renewal. The Dagger or Athame is a symbol of ritual power. Hecate was the protectress of far off places, roads, and byways. At night during the dark moon, Hecate could be seen walking the road of Greece with her howling dogs and torches. Statues of her stood at crossroads where the traveler faced three choices. Food offerings called “Hecate’s Supper” were left there late at night on the eve of the full Moon. The person leaving the food walked away without looking back, for they were afraid to confront the goddess face to face. This was a way of honoring the threefold goddess where on could look three ways at once. Hecate was accompanied by her dogs, Hermes, and her priestesses, Circe and Medea who it is said in some histories were Hecate’s daughters. Her dog, who was her sacred animal had been offered to her as a sacrifice. The appearance of black howling dogs at night meant that Hecate was near, and their barking announced her approach.
Then, earth began to bellow, trees to dance And howling dogs in glimmering light advance Ere Hecate came.
-Aeneid, Book VL (Dryden)
Hecate and her dogs are said to journey over the graves of the dead to search for souls of the departed and they carry them to refuge in the underworld. Hecate also enjoyed the company of the Furies. It is said that the Furies hounded and punished offenders who broke the taboo of insult, disobedience, or violence to a mother.
A festival was held every year in the island of Aegina. Mystery rites were held in her behalf. Another festival was held on August 13 in Greece at the House of Storms and Fertility. It was held to aid in keeping the harvest storms from destroying the harvest.
And still another was Hallowmas held on October 31 to honor Hecate at a time when the veil between the world was the thinnest.
In Italy by the lake of Avernus, there was a scared dark grove of Hecate. In private worship to her followers were offered Hecates suppers. The leftovers were placed outdoors as offerings to this goddess and her hounds.
Taken from “Moon Magick” by D.J. Conway
Your will need a ritual dagger, small cauldron, an apple, a piece of black cloth, and a small bit of salt, in addition to any other ritual items you use. Put the apple in the cauldron and cover the cauldron with the black cloth. Cast your circle. With the wand tap the cauldron five times and say:
Hecate, Wise one, I ask your blessings. Lift the Veil for me that I may greet my spirit helpers,
Long-ago friends from other lives, and those who are new.
Let only those who wish me well enter within this sacred place.
Uncover the cauldron. Take out the apple, raise it in offering, and lay it on the altar.
Hecate, your Magick cauldron is the well of death and rebirth
An experience each of us under goes again and again. Let there be no fear in me, for I know your gentleness, Here is your secret symbol of life in death
Cut the apple crosswise with the dagger. Contemplate the revealed pentagram in the core. Put the two halves of the apple back into the cauldron and cover them again with the black cloth.
Only the initiated may know your hidden Mysteries. Only the true seekers may find the spiral way. Only those who know your many secret faces May find the Light that leads to the Inner Way.
Put a pinch of salt on your tongue:
I am mortal, yet immortal. There is no end to life, only new beginnings. I walk beside the Goddess in her many forms. Therefore, I have nothing to fear. Open my mind and heart and soul To the Deep Mysteries of the Cauldron, O Hecate.
Do a meditation on seeking the Dark Moon goddess. Listen to her messages. Be aware of any new guides and teacher who may come through to help you.
So Mote It Be
Lo, I am with you, moved by your prayers, I who am the mother of the universe, the mistress of all elements, the first offspring of time, the highest of all deities, the queen of the souls, foremost of the heavenly beings, the single form that fuses all gods and goddesses; I who order by my will the starry heights of heaven, the healing-giving breezes of the sea, and the awful silences of those in the underworld: My single godhead is adored by the whole world in varied forms, in differing rites and with many diverse names. Apuleius Metamorphoses Book 11, 5
In my many years of study and growth I have met many great teachers. It has been during this time that I learned of the many paths that we all follow. Each path takes us on a new adventure in becoming one with the Universe. Along the path of Hecate I have found numerous traditions that branch off from Her greatness.
For us to truly find growth and wisdom we must learn to understand and accept each other.
The time is at hand for us all, each coven, circle, grove and solitary to join hands united as one.
May our circle grow ever stronger.
So mote it be
Hecate – In The Greek Pantheon
Relations in the Greek Pantheon
Hecate is a pre-olympian greek earth goddess. It is certain that her origin is Asia Minor (Karia). The greek sources don’t have a similar story of her parents or her relations in the greek pantheon: Sometimes Hecate is a Titaness , daughter of Perses and Asteria, who is a mighty helper and protector of mankind. She is a Titaness who was not banned into the underworldrealms after their defeat through the Olympians, because she was the only Titan that aided Zeus.
It is also told that she is the daughter of Demeter or Pheraia, which appears understandable due to the fact, that Hecate like Demeter was a goddess of the earth and fertility. Or that she may even be a daughter of Zeus.
Like many ancient mother or earth-goddesses she remains unmarried and has no regular consort. On the other side she is the mother of many monsters, f.e. of Scylla.
THE ARGONAUTICA BOOK IV (ll. 783-832):
Ausonian Scylla the deadly, whom night-wandering Hecate, who is called Crataeis, bare to Phoreys, lest swooping upon them with her horrible jaws she destroy the chiefest of the heroes.
But most sources agree that she is a goddess, who was never part of the Olymp or the olympian family, but still powerful and worshipped. She aided Demeter with news about her robbed daughter Persephone:
But when the tenth enlightening dawn had come, Hecate, with a torch in her hands, met her, and spoke to her and told her news: (ll. 54-58) `Queenly Demeter, bringer of seasons and giver of good gifts, what god of heaven or what mortal man has rapt away Persephone and pierced with sorrow your dear heart? For I heard her voice, yet saw not with my eyes who it was. But I tell you truly and shortly all I know.’ (ll. 59-73) So, then, said Hecate. And the daughter of rich-haired Rhea answered her not, but sped swiftly with her, holding flaming torches in her hands. (Homeric Hymns).
Leads Persephone back from Hades to Her mother, Demeter and gets reward:
Then bright-coiffed Hecate came near to them, and often did she embrace the daughter of holy Demeter: and from that time the lady Hecate was minister and companion to Persephone (Homeric Hymns, ll. 438-440) .
The close connection between Hekate, Persephone and Demeter is interesting in that one could suspect that the threesome is probably the earliest example of a triple-goddess involving Hecate.
She is also a mother-goddess who wears the lunar disk and carries a torch, referring to her role as lightbringer.
Hecate is the Triple Death Goddess, who lives on an island guarded by Willow trees. In the ancient calendar Her day is the one before the Winter Solstice. She holds the keys to safe passage through the Underworld.
As Hecate She is the darkness before the New Moon appears. She is the Moon Goddess of the Witches and Queen of all Hags. Statues of the Triple Goddess have three heads of a dog, a serpent and a horse. She has six arms carrying Her sacred symbols – three Torches to illuminate the Way in the Underworld, Her Athame of Ritual, Her Key to the secret passageways, and the Scourge with which She whips souls into Her Underworld realm. When souls arrive at the triple cross-roads of the Underworld it is Hecate who decides which realm they are fit for – the Asphodel Meadows of the Grey Annwn, the dark waters of the Black Annwn or the Apple orchards of the Middle Light. As an archetype She is vital to the understanding of our unconscious natures.
The Crone is also Mary Magdalena in Her role as the Death Goddess. It is She who anoints the Chosen One with oil, signifying the Sacrifice to be made. In paintings and sculptures the Magdalena often appears with a skull at Her feet. For many She is the main incarnation of the Black Goddess, the Sophia or wisdom of the Gnostics.
This painting of Mary Magdalene on the front of the altar in the Church dedicated to Her at Rennes-le-Chateau in France, shows Her with a skull at Her feet, symbol of the Death Goddess.
Posted and edited by Magickal Winds
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Posted in Moon
September 13, 2009 – 9:58 PM
By: Magickal Winds
Each Full Moon has a different meaning and magickal purpose. Because of this, it is a good idea to plan your Full Moon Rituals to work with the meaning and purpose of the Moon. The Full Moon is also a traditional time for divinations of all kinds, as the power of the Moon aids in such work.
If you want to gain something (friendship, money, job, intelligence) do your Magick during the WAXING MOON (when the moon is getting full)
If you want to lose something (bad habits, negative energy) do your Magick during the WANING MOON (when the moon is getting small)
The FULL MOON is a good time for Magick of all kinds, for the full moon brings great power to all Magick.
The NEW MOON is useful for starting new ventures.
October ~ Blood Moon: Plan a ritual to remember those who have passed from this world, and be sure to make an offering to them.
November ~ Snow Moon: Plan for a ritual to work on ridding yourself of negative thoughts and vibrations.
December ~ Oak Moon: Plan for a ritual to help you remain steadfast in your convictions.
January ~ Wolf Moon: Plan a ritual of protection around your home and family.
February ~ Storm Moon: Plan a ritual to ask the Old Ones for help in planning your future.
March ~ Chaste Moon: Plan a ritual to help fulfill your wishes is appropriate.
April ~ Seed Moon: Plan a ritual to physically plant your seeds of desire in Mother Earth.
May ~ Hare Moon: Plan a ritual to reaffirm your goals.
June ~ Dyad Moon: Plan a ritual to balance your spiritual and physical desires.
July ~ Mead Moon: Plan a ritual to decide what you will do once your goals have been met.
August ~ Wort Moon: Plan a ritual to preserve what you already have.
September ~ Barley Moon: Plan a ritual of Thanksgiving for all the Old Ones have given you.
By: Magickal Winds
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Posted in Sabbats
September 3, 2009 – 1:20 AM
ALL ABOUT MABON :
History, Recipes, Correspondences, Activities and Much More!
(A Diverse Collection of Mabon Information)
Posted and edited by MAGICKAL WINDS
(If viewing this post is difficult, please refer to http://www.magickalwinds.com or Magickal Wind’s MySpace Blogs).
The Time of Change is upon us again -
the Equinox comes, the Wheel turns…
The Goddess and the God prepare for
Their journey to the Otherworld,
as the Earth and all of Her children
prepare for the Time of Quiet and
Reflection that lies ahead…
May we use this Autumnal period
to seek for the strength and power within
to assist us on our own quests for
vision, feeling, and peace…
May we see and feel the presence of
the Goddess and the God within, though
without, the Earth begins Her slumber…
Keep us in Your light…
Who Was Mabon?
by Dana Corby
Lady Autumn, Queen of the Harvest,
I have seen You in the setting Sun
with Your long auburn tresses
blowing in the cool air that surrounds You.
Your crown of golden leaves is jeweled
with amber, amethyst, and rubies.
Your long, flowing purple robe stretches across the horizon.
In Your hands You hold the ripened fruits.
At Your feet the squirrels gather acorns.
Black crows perch on Your outstretched arms.
All around You the leaves are falling.
You sit upon Your throne and watch
the dying fires of the setting Sun
shine forth its final colors in the sky.
The purple and orange lingers
and glows like burning embers.
Then all colors fade into the twilight.
Lady Autumn, You are here at last.
We thank You for Your rewards.
We have worked hard for these gifts.
Lady Autumn, now grant us peace and rest.
Celebrated on the Fall Equinox.
Celebrated with wine, apples, garlands, gourds and cornucopias. With decorations of orange, russet and maroon. Honoring the aging Gods and Harvest deities.
Mabon (May-bawn) is also known as the Feast of Avalon and the festival of
the Wine Harvest. To the Celts, Avalon is the mysterious place for the land
of the dead. and literally means the “land of apples”. Thus this is a holiday for celebrating the bounty of the harvest and the desire for the living to be reunited with their deceased loved ones.
But the holiday is also named for the Welsh God Mabon. Mabon means the
“great son”. He was the son of Modred, kidnapped at the age of 3 and later
rescued by King Arthur. His life represents the innocence of youth, the strength of survival and the growing wisdom of the elderly. Perhaps it is this view of the cycle of life that brings Mabon to his most popular role, the King of the Otherworld and the God of Darkness.
His myths overlap with other Gods such as the Welsh God Gwyn Ap Nuad, which means “white son of darkness”. He is seen as the God of war and death, the patron God of fallen warriors. Once again this is a representation or connection to the Land of Avalon.
The Purpose of Mabon
As a holiday, Mabon represents the time of honoring the dead, visiting burial sites, giving thankfulness for the end of the harvest season and the bounty it provides. These are the themes of closing, letting go and remembering. For the year, the harvest and for those who were lost to land of Avalon during the year.
Although many view the Harvest season as a celebration of life, it is also a celebration of death. The bounty you gather from your garden provides nourishment for you, family and friends. But it is also the death of those plants and vegetables which have been harvested from that garden. Thus Mabon is a celebration of the cycle of life.
There are many ways to give honor during this 2nd harvest festival. One old
traditional way is to visit the burial sites of your loved ones, placing an apple on their marker. This represents the promise of the Great Spirits for renewed life (a new incarnation).
This is a Celtic festival of thanksgiving, so what a better way to give thanks than to prepare a meal with the harvest of your garden. Those that indulge in wine can brew a new batch of this home made nectar of the Gods. Those that do not indulge, can brew preserves and jellies from grapes, raspberries and blackberries. Don’t forget an apple pie for dessert.
A main course can consist of meats, most often red meats. But this is just a suggestion. In this day and age of healthy eating, you should prepare a meal that fits your personal lifestyle. However, your side dishes should consist of late summer and early fall vegetables.
During your meal, share tales and happy stories about those you lost during the year. Or share your experiences and review the lessons you feel you have learned during this past season. Reflect on your deeds and actions and give thanks for the gifts you were given.
After your meal, share the chore of cleaning up. This is a way of showing honor and respect to your host and hostess. Think of it as a physical action to show that you understand the interconnection of all life and the desire to respect what you have been given and thanks for receiving those gifts.
During the evening hours you can continue the festival with a formal holiday ritual. There are as many ways and suggestions for conducting such a ceremony as there are people on this planet. But if you need a detailed example you have two places on our network to look. For a simple Celtic Ritual or Ceremony Outline or I invite you to visit our Wiccan Star site and review the Mabon Sabbat Ritual.
End your evening in private reflection. It is important for anyone practicing a spiritual life to reflect on his or her actions. Record your thoughts, your emotions and your experiences. This is the true value of your book of shadows. And there is no better time to take stock of yourself and your life than during a High Holy Day.
The Wheel of the Year holds several purposes, both theological and practical.
Theologically, the story of the Wheel often varies depending on the Tradition. The Wheel gives the accounts of the mythological events that repeat throughout the year as well as a vague “history” of the Gods and Goddesses involved within the pantheon. For the newbies, by “Tradition” we mean “denomination”; for example Wiccan, Celtic, Druid, Native American, etc. On the more practical side, the Wheel trains us to be able to deal with death and the inevitability of re-birth that follows. Paganism teaches that death, a natural function of the universe, is a part of life; a dramatic change that is the beginning of a new experience, and something to be celebrated at the proper time not feared (not condoning Suicide!) Through the ideas of Heaven and Hell, Christianity teaches a deep fear of death, and this spurs our society’s horror of death. We are always trying to find new and improved ways to beat death, but we will never succeed. It is sad our society portrays death as such a terrifying experience; we would certainly have less emotional pain and suffering in the world if death could be seen as what it is: a transformation, nothing more.
In this section you will find a rendition of the upcoming quarter of the Wheel of the Year. Included will be the mythological lore and some traditional practices for the celebration, along with some ideas for activities and decorations.
September 21st or 22nd holds the date for the next Sabbat: Mabon (pronounced “MAY-bon”) marks the Second Harvest of the Celtic/Pagan year.
Mabon marks the Second Harvest, the end of the grain harvest (which begun at Lughnasadh), and rests on the Autumn Equinox. The Equinox mirrors dwindling of life (and eventual progression to rebirth), as well as the struggle for balance; day and night are equal for a single day. The pagans of antiquity didn’t have the ability to determine astrological positions as we do today. The European peasantry, therefore, celebrated this Sabbat on September 25th; actually, the Celts marked their days from sundown to sundown, so the Mabon celebration actually started on the sundown of our September 24th. Today, with the help of our technology, we can calculate the exact day of the Equinox; the date when the sun enters the sign of Libra, the Balanced Scales, which appropriately fits the Equinox.
September 25th is a medieval holiday which the Church Christianized under the label of “Michaelmas,” a feast in honor of the Archangel Michael. It is thought that the Roman Catholic Church at some point considered assigning the quarter dates to the four Archangels, since they had assigned the cross quarters to the four gospel-writers. Making the Vernel Equinox a holiday called “Gabrielmas” was taken into consideration in honor of the angel Gabriel’s announcement to Mary on Lady Day. This Sabbat can also be known as: the Second Harvest Festival, Feast of Avalon, Cornucopia, Wine Harvest, the Fall Equinox, Harvest Home, the Autumnal (or Autumn) Equinox, Festival of Dionysus, Alban Elfed (Caledonii, Druidic), Winter Finding (Teutonic), or Equinozio di Autunno (Strega). The full moon closest to the Autumn Equinox is called the Harvest Moon, and farmers would harvest their corps by this moonlight as part of the Second Harvest celebration.
Mabon is very much like Thanksgiving. Most of the crops have been reaped and abundance is more noticeable than ever! Mabon is the time when we reap the fruits of our labor and lessons, both crops and experiences. It is a time of joy, to celebrate that which is passing (for why should we mourn the beauty of the year or dwindling sunlight?), looking joyously at the experience the year has shared with us. And it is a time to gaze into the bright future. We are reminded once again of the cyclic universe; endings are merely new beginnings.
Since it is the time of dying sun, effort is also made to celebrate the dead with joyous remembrance. It is considered taboo to pass a burial site and not honor the dead. Natural energies are aligned towards protection, wealth, prosperity, security, and boosting self-confidence. Any spells or rituals centered around balance and harmony are appropriate.
*History/Mythology — Celtic/Welsh:
The tale of Mabon ap Modron, the Welsh God, (the “great son of the great mother”), also known as the Son of Light, the Young Son, or Divine Youth, is celebrated. The Equinox is also the birth of Mabon, from his mother Modron, the Guardian of the Outerworld, the Healer, the Protector, the Earth. Mabon was taken after he is a mere three nights old (some variations of the legend say he is taken after three years). Through the wisdom of the living animals — the Stag, Blackbird, Owl, Eagle and Salmon — Mabon is freed from his mysterious captivity. All the while Mabon had rested within his mother’s womb; a place of nurturing and challenge. With strength and lessons gained within the magickal Outerworld (Modron’s womb), Mabon is soon reborn as his mother’s Champion, the Son of Light, wielding the strength and wisdom acquired during his captivity.
Also, (from a variation in legend) the Equinox is the day of the year when the god of light, Lugh, is defeated by the god of darkness, Lugh’s twin and alter-ego, Tanist. The night conquers day. The tales state that the Equinox is the only day which Lugh is vulnerable and the possibility of his defeat exists. Lugh stands on the balance (Autumn Equinox-Libra) with one foot on the goat (Winter Solstice-Capricorn) and the other on the cauldron (Summer Solstice-Cancer). He is betrayed by Blodeuwedd, the Virgin (Virgo) and transformed into an Eagle (Scorpio).
Two events occur rapidly with Lugh’s defeat. Tanist, having beaten Lugh, now takes over Lugh’s place both as King of our world and lover to the Goddess Tailltiu. Although Tanist now sits on Lugh’s throne, his official induction does not take place for another six weeks at Samhain, the beginning of Winter, when he becomes the Dark King, the Winter Lord, the Lord of Misrule. He mates with Tailltiu, who conceives, and will give birth nine months later (at the Summer Solstice) to her son, another incarnation of Tanist himself, the Dark Child.
Lugh’s sacrifice represents not only the sun’s dying power, but also the cycle of
rebirth, his energy remaining within the corn we have since harvested. A incarnate (of Lugh) corn spirit was thought to specifically reside within the last stalk (or stock), which was traditionally dressed in fine clothes and decorations, or woven into a wicker man-shaped form. This symbolic decoration was then harvested and carried from the field to be burned with rejoicing for the spirits release and Lugh’s upcoming rebirth.
*Mythology — Greek:
In Greek mythology, Autumn begins as Persephone returns to the Underworld to live with Hades, her husband. The myth says that Demeter’s daughter, Kore, had taken a day to pick flowers in a meadow when the Earth opened up, and Hades pulled the girl into the Underworld to become his bride. Kore’s name became Persephone when she married Hades. For nine straight days, Demeter searched for Kore, with no success. In misery and despiration, Demeter questioned Helios, the Sun God, who informed her that her brother, Zeus, had given the girl to Hades. Furious, Demeter left Olympus to roam the Earth disguised as an old woman, ending up settled in her temple at Eleusis. Soon after, she cursed the Earth so it would yield no crops. Zues sent her a frantic message inquiring as to why she had prevented growth on the planet. She replied that there would be no regeneration of vegetation on the Earth until her daughter, Kore, was safely returned.
Zeus immediately dispatched Hermes into the Underworld to retrieve the girl. Hades, not wanting to relinquish his bride permanently, convinced Persephone to eat some pomegranate seeds before she returned to her mother, Demeter. Demeter was yet again distraught when she learned of this trickery! Finally, Zeus declared that Kore-Persephone would live with her mother during one half of the year and return to her husband, Hades, during the other half. In thanks, Demeter lifted the curse on the Earth, creating Spring. Every year hence, during her time of greatest sorrow, Demeter renews the curse, as her daughter returns to Hades and the Underworld.
*Mythology — Wiccan:
Day and night are equal and the God prepares to depart and begin the journey back to the strength and development within his mother’s, the Goddess’, womb. Both sad and joyful, the Goddess lovingly awaits her God’s rebirth.
*Decorations and Activities:
Activities vary with region and tradition, as well as personal preference. Some ideas include making a Sun Wheel as described in the Lughnasadh document. Also, one could mirror the Celtic tradition of dressing a corn stalk in cloths and burning it in celebration of the harvest and upcoming rebirth.
Simple altar decorations can be obtained by taking a calm “pilgrimage” through your local woods and collecting leaves, acorns, berries, and other things symbolic of nature’s bounty. Some chose to sprinkle Autumn leaves around the house and on the sides of walk ways as decoration, though this may not be convenient if one lives in the city or doesn’t enjoy the cleanup. Alternately, the changing leaves can be dipped in paraffin and put on wax paper. After the leaves dry, they may be placed around the house or in large jars with sigils of protection and/or abundance carved lightly into them.
Going through your personal gardens with thanks and lovingly harvesting what is ready is also appropriate. Breads may be baked in the shape of the Sun, combining fruits or vegetables and grains, incorporating both of the major aspects of this Harvest. The seeds of various plants are stored through winter for replanting, and therefore, the plant’s rebirth in the Spring. A feast for friends and family always provides a cheerful abundance of energy and thanks.
Additional seeds and grains can be set out as offering to our fellow creatures, and
provide a healthy chance for birds to join in the celebrations as well. Symbolic designs can be made out of the sprinklings if one chooses. Those less fortunate should not be omitted from the celebration. Small, meaningless (to you) packages of food and drink gifted to a homeless person will make their day!
To honor the dead, it is traditional to place apples on burial cairns as symbolism of
rebirth and gratitude. Furthermore, it is a time to honor the elders, who have devoted so much time and energy to your growth and development. Something special is in order for these gracious people.
*Symbolic of Mabon:
• Foodstuffs: Grapes, Acorns, Wheat Bread, Goat, Indian Corn, Horn of Plenty, Cornbread, Corn, Root Crops (ie Onions, Carrots, Potatoes, etc.), Nuts, Dried Fruits, Apples, Beans, and Squash.
• Drinks: Wine, Ale, and Cider.
• Colors (for those who work with Candle Magick): Red, Deep Gold, Orange, Brown, Maroon, Violet, Russet, Yellow, and Indigo.
• Animals: Dogs, Wolves, Stag, Birds of Prey (especially the Blackbird, Owl, and Eagle), Salmon, and Goat.
• Mythical Creatures: Gnomes, Sphinx, Minotaurs, Cyclops, Andamans, and Gulons.
• Stones: Yellow Topaz, Carnelian, Sapphire, Yellow Agate, Lapis Lazuli, and
Amethyst. Also, river or stream stones which have been submerged for the Summer may be used.
• Plants: Vines, Garlands (made of these various plants), Gourds, Pine Cones,
Acorns, Wheat, Dried Leaves, Corn, Pomegranate, Ivy, Hazel, Hops, Cedar, and Tobacco.
• Herbs: Myrhh, Thistles, Tobacco, Oak Leaves, Hazel, Mums, Hops, Acorns, Marigold, Roses, Sage, Milkweed, Solomon’s Seal, Asters, Ferns, Honeysuckle, Benzoin, Passionflower, Pine, and Cedar.
• Incense would include: Aloes Wood, Cinnamon, Cloves, Benzoin, Jasmine,
Frankincense, Myrrh, and Sage.
• Dieties: All wine Deities (especially Dionysus and Bacchus), the Mother aspect of the Triple Goddess, Persephone, Thor, Modron, Morgan, Snake Woman, Epona, Pamona, Muses, Mabon, Thoth, Hermes, Hotei, Harvest Deities, and Aging Deities.
• Other: Burial Cairns, Rattles, and Sun Wheels (which can be found in this document).
Autumn Equinox, 2nd Harvest, September 21st or 22nd
Mabon, (pronounced MAY-bun, MAY-bone, MAH-boon, or MAH-bawn) is the Autumn Equinox. The Autumn Equinox divides the day and night equally, and we all take a moment to pay our respects to the impending dark. We also give thanks to the waning sunlight, as we store our harvest of this year’s crops. The Druids call this celebration, Mea’n Fo’mhair, and honor the The Green Man, the God of the Forest, by offering libations to trees. Offerings of ciders, wines, herbs and fertilizer are appropriate at this time. Wiccans celebrate the aging Goddess as she passes from Mother to Crone, and her consort the God as he prepares for death and re-birth.
Various other names for this Lesser Wiccan Sabbat are The Second Harvest Festival, Wine Harvest, Feast of Avalon, Equinozio di Autunno (Strega), Alben Elfed (Caledonii), or Cornucopia. The Teutonic name, Winter Finding, spans a period of time from the Sabbat to Oct. 15th, Winter’s Night, which is the Norse New Year.
At this festival it is appropriate to wear all of your finery and dine and celebrate in a lavish setting. It is the drawing to and of family as we prepare for the winding down of the year at Samhain. It is a time to finish old business as we ready for a period of rest, relaxation, and reflection.
Symbolism of Mabon:
Second Harvest, the Mysteries, Equality and Balance.
Symbols of Mabon:
wine, gourds, pine cones, acorns, grains, corn, apples, pomegranates, vines such as ivy, dried seeds, and horns of plenty.
Herbs of Maybon:
Acorn, benzoin, ferns, grains, honeysuckle, marigold, milkweed, myrrh, passionflower, rose, sage, solomon’s seal, tobacco, thistle, and vegetables.
Foods of Mabon:
Breads, nuts, apples, pomegranates, and vegetables such as potatoes, carrots, and onions.
Incense of Mabon:
Autumn Blend-benzoin, myrrh, and sage.
Colors of Mabon:
Red, orange, russet, maroon, brown, and gold.
Stones of Mabon:
Sapphire, lapis lazuli, and yellow agates.
Activities of Mabon:
Making wine, gathering dried herbs, plants, seeds and seed pods, walking in the woods, scattering offerings in harvested fields, offering libations to trees, adorning burial sites with leaves, acorns, and pine cones to honor those who have passed over.
Spellworkings of Mabon:
Protection, prosperity, security, and self-confidence. Also those of harmony and balance.
Deities of Mabon:
Goddesses-Modron, Morgan, Epona, Persephone, Pamona and the Muses.
Gods-Mabon, Thoth, Thor, Hermes, and The Green Man.
Mabon is considered a time of the Mysteries. It is a time to honor Aging Deities and the Spirit World. Considered a time of balance, it is when we stop and relax and enjoy the fruits of our personal harvests, whether they be from toiling in our gardens, working at our jobs, raising our families, or just coping with the hussle-bussle of everyday life. May your Mabon be memorable, and your hearts and spirits be filled to overflowing!
Mabon, The Witch’s Thanksgiving
by Gordon Ireland
O Autumn. Laden with fruit, and stained
With the blood of the grape, pass not, but sit
Beneath my shady roof, there thou may’st rest,
And tune thy jolly voice to my fresh pipe;
And all the daughters of the year shall dance,
Sing now the lusty song of fruits and flowers.
Mabon, (May-bon) is known as the Autumn Equinox, Harvest Home, Second Harvest, the Witches Thanksgiving and Siring Fate. (Mabon in Welsh means son.) This reference usually refers to the son of the Welsh goddess Madron, Mother and Son. The Mother and son aspect is the most common among the neo-pagans, and fits well with in the Wiccan perspective of the Holly King mythology. It should also be noted that McCoy (page 185) claims that the Celts did not call Mabon by this name but rather it was originally a Norse festival. Though adopting other cultures, festivals and Gods fits in with the Celtic adaptability and mentality.
Autumn Equinox refers to a time of the year when day and night are equally balanced. The sun is in the process of crossing the equator and in astrological terms is entering the sign of Libra. The sun is the focal point of energy (along with the moon) and such; its life force pushes us to discover more about ourselves. This movement into the Libra puts a congenial, cooperative outlook on that time of year, just what was needed by the communities, as they all worked together to complete the harvest.
Harvest Home is an Anglo-Celtic version of the original Mabon, and fell in-between the First (Lugnasadh) and the Third (Samhain) Harvests. Harvests festivals were a very important part of the pre- industrialized culture. It was a time of relief and of rest. Relief that the crops were in and rest to catch their breath before the work of preparing for winter began. This was a time to give thanks.
The Witches Thanksgiving, according to McCoy is one of the oldest holidays known to Europe. On this I will have to disagree, first the author mentions that Mabon is actually a Norse holiday, then contradicts herself with the above statement. Actually I believe she is trying to draw comparisons between the Witches Thanksgiving and the American Thanksgiving. There are similarities, though the reason she states about the time differences are not the same. The American Thanksgiving is celebrated at the time of year it is, not because the Puritans choose that date to distance themselves from the Pagan Mabon, but rather because they had a late harvest and an early winter. Thus celebrating it when they could, survival being more important then distancing themselves from European witches Thanksgiving.
(McCoy page 185- 189)
Autumn is over the long leaves that love us,
And over the mice in the barley sheaves;
Yellow the leaves of the rowan above us,
And yellow the wet wild-strawberry leaves.
The hour of the waning of love has beset us;
And weary and worn are our sad souls now;
Let us part, ere the season of passion forget us,
With a kiss and a tear and dropping brow.
- W.B. Yeats (page 14-15)
Siring Fate according to King, are claims that this is the true name of Mabon. Using Greek Mythology, the story of Persephone and Madron and Mabon. Claiming that the name Mabon is the son’s name, not the Sabbats. He bases his claim on the fact that, Mabon, mates with his mother Madron, thus siring the new season. He uses the story of Persephone to back up his assertion, stating that when Persephone leaves her mother to be with Hades, the new season begins. While there may be similarities to these myths, King is making the common mistake of associating cultures based on similarities rather than the uniqueness of each myth, or culture. He Claims, as did Caesar and others, that the Celts, Gods, heroes, Legends and Myths, were in actuality Greco-Roman.
Mabon is a celebration of life and death, and giving of life again, the cycle of the
seasons. Mabon is a time to enjoy the fruits of a hard year’s labor, to stock up for the long winter. No matter how you celebrate Mabon, or how it came about, or whatever it’s true name may be, it is important to know that Mabon a time for giving thanks.
1 Lam leg 7-8 pounds
2 teaspoons dried dill weed
1/2 teaspoons dried rosemary leaves
1 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon of pepper
1 clove of garlic
Set oven at 325 F, for 3 1/2 hours for well done.
Sprinkle roast with seasonings, take knife and make several small insertions, place pieces of garlic in Roast. (Remove cloves before serving.) Place lamb, fat side up, on rack in shallow roasting pan.
Roast till desired pink(ness). 7-9 lb.: rare: 15-20 minutes, Medium: 20-25 minutes, well: 25-30 minutes per pound.
New Small Potatoes
Wash potatoes lightly and leave whole. Heat 1 inch salted water to boiling. Add potatoes.
Cover and heat to a boil; reduce heat. Boil to tender, 20-25 minutes; drain, and butter.
1 1/2 cups of boiling water
1 package (6 ounces) lemon flavored gelatin
2 cups ginger ale, chilled
Pour boiling water on gelatin; stir until gelatin is dissolved. Stir in ginger ale.
Refrigerate until slightly thickened.
Pare and section oranges and grapefruit. Cut sections into 1-inch pieces; stir into
gelatin mixture. Pour into 8-cup mold. Refrigerate until firm, about 4 hours; unmold. Garnish with additional orange sections and salad greens if desired.
Rum Cracker Torte
6 eggs, separated
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon rum flavoring
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup fine graham crackers
1 cup of finely chopped nuts
1 square (1 ounce) unsweetened chocolate, grated
Rum-flavored Whipped Cream
Heat oven to 350 F. line bottoms of 2 round pans, 8 or 9X1 1/2 inches with aluminum foil.
Beat eggs whites in 21/2-quart bowl until foamy. Beat in 1/2 cup of sugar. 1 tablespoon at a time; continue beat until stiff and glossy. Beat egg yolks, oil and rum flavoring in 11/2 quart on low speed until blended. Add 1/2 cup of sugar. Flour baking powder, cinnamon and cloves; beat on medium speed 1 minute. Fold egg yolk mixture into egg whites. Fold in cracker crumbs, nuts and chocolate. Pour into pans.
Bake until top springs back when touched lightly, 30-35 minutes. Cool ten minutes. Loosen edge layers with knife; invert pan and hit sharply on table. (Cake will drop out) Remove foil; cool completely.
Split cake to make four layers. Fill layers and frost torte with Rum Flavored Whipped Cream. Refrigerate for at least 7 hours.
Rum-flavored Whipped Cream
Beat 2 cups of chilled whipping cream, 1.2 cup powered sugar and 2 teaspoons of rum flavoring in chilled bowl till stiff.
The above Article by Gordon Ireland
Mabon Incense Recipe
Mabon is the time of the autumnal equinox and coming up soon (September 22nd, 2008). Here is a great incense recipe to celebrate this time of year:
Recipe by Scott Cunningham
2 parts Frankincense
1 part Sandalwood
1 part Cypress
1 part Juniper
1 part Pine
1/2 part Oakmoss (or a few drops Oakmoss bouquet)
1 pinch pulverized Oak leaf
Burn during Autumnal Equinox, September 22nd, 2009, or around that time to attune with the change of the seasons.
(This ‘Mabon Incense’ recipe is from “The Complete Book of Incense, Oils & Brews” by Scott Cunningham, Llewellyn Publications, 1989)
Recipes on this page: Fall Sabbat Incense, Stuffed Acorn Squash, Mabon Incense, Fresh Apple Pound Cake, Wild Rice with Apples and Walnuts, and Sweet Potato Casserole.
Fall Sabbat Incense
3 parts Frankincense
2 parts Myrrh
1 part Rosemary
1 part Cedar
1 part Juniper
Burn during fall and winter Sabbat rituals.
Stuffed Acorn Squash
2 acorn squash, washed and cut in halves
1/2 stick of butter
1/2 cup of crushed Ritz crackers
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup brown sugar
11. Wash and cut acorn squash in half from stem to bottom
12. Scoup out the seeds and rub the inside and cut parts with butter
13. Put the acorn squash on a cookie sheet
14. Melt the butter, and mix in the walnuts, brown sugar, and crackers
15. Place in the holes of the squash and bake at 350 degrees for 30 – 40 minutes or until done.
2 Parts Frankincense
1 Part Sandalwood
1 Part Cypress
1 Part Juniper
1 Part Pine
1/2 Part Oakmoss (or few drops of Oakmoss Bouquet)
1 Pinch Pulverized oak leaf
Burn during Mabon rituals.
Fresh Apple Pound Cake
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 large eggs
3 cups firm apples, diced
3 cups plain flour
1 cup pecans or walnuts, chopped
1 teaspoon baking soda
32. Mix together sugar and oil.
33. Add eggs and beat well.
34. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt.
35. Add to oil mixture.
36. Stir in vanilla, apples, nuts, and mix well.
37. Pour batter into a greased 9 inch tube pan
38. Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour and 20 minutes or until cake is done.
1 stick margarine
1/4 cup evaporated milk
1 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Heat margarine and sugar together over low heat. Add milk and let come to a full boil. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Drizzle over the cake.
Wild Rice with Apples and Walnuts
1 cup wild rice
2 cups water
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
Cook rice and oil in water for 50 minutes.
1 cup walnuts
1 rib of celery, chopped
4 chopped scallions
1 cup raisins
1 red apple, peeled and chopped, set aside in lemon water
2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
Combine nuts, celery, onions, raisins, drained apple and lemon rind and set aside.
3 T. lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 t. salt
1/3 cup olive oil
pepper, to taste
Whisk together juice, salt and pepper, garlic and oil and add to cooked rice.
Add fruit mixture to the rice (to which has been added oil, spices and juice) and mix well. May be served cold or heated.
Sweet Potato Casserole
3 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and steamed until completely soft
3/4 cup orange juice
2 eggs, beaten
2 Tablespoons melted butter
2 T. sugar
1 1/2 Teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 t. nutmeg
Mix juice, eggs, sugar and spices and blend thoroughly with potatoes using an electric mixer. Spread into a greased 9″x13″ pan.
1/2 cup flour
1/4 c plus 2 T. brown sugar
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/4 c. chopped butter
1/2 c. chopped pecans
Mix together flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, butter and nuts until crumbly, spread on top of sweet potatoes and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
by Stella Maris
Bountiful Fall Bouquets
Autumn gardens are filled with the makings for bouquets and arrangements that can be placed outside or, when it turns cooler and the holidays approach, brought inside for a centerpiece. Try an arrangement with the following late-blooming flowers, vegetables, berries, fruits, and leaves:
Vegetables and herbs:
Berries and fruits:
blue cohosh berries
Leaves – Colorful leaves from trees such as:
Leaves – Colorful leaves from bushes like:
vines such as:
Hollow out the pumpkins, gourds, apples, peppers, or squash to create a natural vase for the other items, or cradle the goods in a basket or bowl. You can create a more formal arrangement by using only one type of flower, or combine different flowers, berries, and leaves to create a mixed bouquet in the spirit of the bountiful fall season.
Vegetables Sacred To Mabon
Because there are so many varieties of veggies, only a very few of the more interesting ones…so in alphabetical order you have:
Latin name: Daucus carota
Part Used: Whole herb.
Herbal uses: An infusion of tea made from whole herb is considered an active and valuable remedy in the treatment of dropsy, chronic kidney diseases and affections of the bladder. A strong decoction is good for treating flatulence. Carrot seeds are carminative and a stimulant.
Associations: Carrot is associated with the planets Mercury and Mars, and with the element of the earth. As a vegetable it is one of the sacred Druidic herbs of Mean Fomhair (also called Mabon).
Magickal uses: The Carrot is used for sex magic
Latin name: Apium graveolens
Common names: Smallage, Wild Celery.
Parts Used: Ripe seeds, herb and root.
Herbal uses: celery is useful in treating hysteria, and promoting restfulness and sleep. It is said to be very good for rheumatism, and for treating swollen glands.
Associaions: Celery is a plant of the planet Mercury and the element of fire. As a
vegetable it is one of the sacred Druidic herbs of Mean Fomhair (also called Mabon).
Magickal uses: Celery is good to use in spells done for weight lose. Celery seeds can be used in divination and Celery is also used in sex magic.
Latin name: Cucumis sativa
Common names: cuke, Cowcumber
Herbal uses: Cucumber seeds are distinctly diuretic. It is also said that cucumber peel if bound around the head will cure a headache.
Associations: Cucumber is associated with the moon and the element of water. As a vegetable it is one of the sacred Druidic herbs of Mean Fomhair (also called Mabon).
Magickal uses: Cucumber is used in healing and fertility magick. For a fertility spell: keep a cucumber in your bedroom, and replace it every seven days.
Latin name: Lactuca virosa
Parts used: leaves
Herbal uses: Lettuce juice is useful for promoting sleep and relaxation – the juice can be ingested or can be rubbed on the e forehead. It also can be used as a lotion to treat acne.
Magickal associations: Lettuce is associated with the Moon and with the element of water.Lettuce is also associated with Adonis (he met his fate in a bed of lettuce)…. and Lettuce also seems to have a lot of associations with death and sterility in the minds of the Greeks. The Greeks considered lettuce a “wet” plant, and this wet nature suggested to them bogs and decaying corpses. In fact, in one of his comedies, Euboulos wrote, “Lettuce is a food for corpses.” As a vegetable it is one of the sacred Druidic herbs of Mean Fomhair (also called Mabon).
Magickal uses: Lettuce is useful in tranquility, protective and money magick.. It is
protective when grown in a garden. Lettuce can also be eaten in spells done to cool down lust.
Latin name: Allium cepa
Herbal uses: Onions can be used as treatment for infected wounds and for baldness. A roasted Onion is a useful application to tumors or earache. Drinking Onion juice is a protection against lung illnesses, colds, flu, and the plague.
Associations: Onion is associated with the planet Mars and the element of Fire. The Onion is also often linked to the Moon, mostly due to color and shape of an Onion. As a vegetable the onion is one of the sacred Druidic plants of the Sabbat of Mabon.
Magickal uses: Onion is useful in magick for exorcism, protection, clairvoyance,
cleansing, contacting other planes, divination, healing, lunar rites, purification and
spell-breaking. In protective magick, just as in cooking, onion is often combined with garlic. Onion combined with Garlic is said to fend off witches (But, why? Oh, why would you want to fend off a Witch?) and demons. Place cut onions in a sick persons room to absorb the illness. Leave them overnight and throw away in the morning.
Latin name: Raphanus sativus
Parts used: root
Herbal uses: Radishes are an excellent food remedy for jaundice and cough.
Associations: The Radish is associated with the planet Mars. As a vegetabl the Radish is one of the sacred Druidic plants of the Sabbat of Mabon.
Magickal uses: Use Radish in spells for strength or protection.
Herbs Sacred To Mabon
Acorn / Oak
Latin name: White Oak – quercus alba; Red Oak – quercus rubra; Black Oak – quercus velutina; etc.
Celtic name: Duir (pronounced: dur). Duir means ‘door’.
Herbal usage: Oaks are known for astringent tonics and therefore tea made from Oak is a good remedy for hemorrhoids. White Oak bark tea helps in sinus infections since it helps unclog congestion. Acorns can be peeled and used to make various homeopathic potions used to treat alcoholism, bad breath and constipation. Acorns can also be dried, crushed and made into flour from which bread can be made.
Associations: The Oak is associated with the element of fire and is ruled by Mars and Jupiter. The tree is sacred to Bridghid and the Dadga. The Druids were said to have worshipped in Oak-groves in Gaul.
Magickal usage: The Oak is the tree known as “The King of the Grove” and was one of the sacred three: ‘Oak, Ash & Thorn’. It bestows protection, healing, financial success, masculine virility, fertility and good luck. Uses of Oak in magick include carrying a piece of Oak for protection. Acorns placed in a window can ward off lightning or creatures that go bump in the night. They also can be carried to prevent illness and to bring good luck. Oak branches can be made into wands or staves. When gathering Oak, be sure to pour wine on the roots of the tree to thank it for allowing you to take a part of it. Acorns should be gathered in the daylight, and leaves and wood by night. A waning moon is the correct time to harvest Oak.
Latin name: Styrax benzoin
Part used: Benzoin is a gum (resin) collected from a tree that grows in Java, Sumatra and Thailand. The gum or resin, called storax, is collected much like rubber is, permitted to harden and then ground into a powder.
Folk names: Benjamin, Gum Benzoin, Siam Benzoin
Herbal usage: The powdered resin can be diluted with water and used externally as an antiseptic skin wash. Taken internally (10 to 20 drops in water or tea 4X day) itrelieves fart gas. Used in a vaporizer, Benzoin can relieve sinus congestion and bronchitis (thanks to Free for telling me about this).
Associations: Benzoin is associated with air, and is ruled by the sun.
Magickal usage: Benzoin is a powerful herb of purification. Add Benzoin powder to incense to sanctify the area or better yet, add a drop or two of Benzoin oil on a burning charcoal block. This will make billowing smoke that will cleanse and clean the area. Benzoin, in a tincture form, is also used as a fixative to preserve magickal oils. Benzoin can also be added to incense blends to attract business – just combine the Benzoin with basil, peony or cinnamon. As an oil, Benzoin can be used in calming spells since the oil brings peace of mind.
Latin name: Male Shield Fern – Dryopteris Filix-mas; Bracken Fern – Pteris Aquilina;
Moonwort – Botrychium lunaria.
Common name: Fern
Herbal uses: The Male Fern’s root can be used in a powdered form to make a remedy that will kill tapeworms . The root powder can also be added to salve for wounds and burns. Bracken Fern can be eaten – the inhabitants of Palmaand Gomera (islands of the Canary Group) use Bracken as food, grinding the rhizome to powder and mixing it with a small quantity of barley, and the young fronds are eaten in Japan. In Siberia and in Norway, the uncoiled fronds have been used for brewing a kind of beer.
Magickal Associations: Bracken Fern is associated with Mercury and Royal Fern with Saturn. All ferns have an earth association.
Magickal Uses: Male Fern can be used to bring luck and prosperity. If it is carried, it will attract women to the carrier and if it is burned outdoors it will attract rain. If the Fern is dried over a balefire on the day of the Summer Solstice, it can then be used as a protective amulet. The ‘seeds’ from a Fern are said to render one invisible – but only if the seeds are gathered on Mid-Summer’s eve. Moonwort is an herb of immortality and must be gathered by moonlight if it is to work. Moonwort aids in opening locks – Culpepper says: ‘Moonwort (they absurdly say) will open locks and unshoe such horses as tread upon it; but some country people call it unshoe the horse.’ Moonwort was also said to have been was used by the Alchemists, who thought it had power to condensate or to convert quicksilver into pure silver.
Latin name: Barley – Hordeum Pratense
Herbal uses: Barley is especially useful in treating shattered nerves and is good for getting rid of bladder and kidney problems. In fact Barley is just a good general tonic. Barley is one of the best feeds to put weight on a thin horse – the barley is cooked on a stove until the kernels split, and then fed to the horse warm.
Associations: Barley are associated with Saturn and with Venus. Its elemental association is with the earth. It is associated with the full moon of the month of August (The barley Moon) and as a grain is one of the sacred Druidic herbs of Mean Fomhair (also called Mabon).
Magickal uses: Barley can be used in Love, Healing, and Protection spellwork.
Latin name – Zea Mays, etc.
Common names: Indian Corn is often called Maize or Squaw Corn.
Parts used: Seeds, silk, husks
Herbal uses: Corn silk is a mild stimulant, diuretic and demulcent, useful in the
treatment of bladder irritation and has also been employed in gonorrhea treatments. The seeds are also diuretic and mild stimulants. A poultice can be made from the seeds to treat ulcers, swellings, and rheumatic pains. An infusion of the parched Corn can help control nausea and vomiting in many diseases. Cornmeal makes a palatable and nutritious gruel and is an excellent diet for convalescents. Corn oil is used in treating arteriosclerosis and high cholesterol. Mexicans of today are very skilful in making fermented liquors from Corn – ‘Chicka’ resembles beer and cider, and a spirituous liquor called ‘Pulque de Mahis,’ is made from the juice of the stalk.
Magickal Associations: Corn is a sacred Druidic herb of Mean Fomhair (also called Mabon) and of Samhain. Corn is associated with the element of earth and the planets Venus and Saturn. Because Corn was such an important part of the food supply of many early cultures, almost every ancient religion had a Corn God or Goddess. Some of these Corn deities are: Annonaria, Roman Goddess protector of the Corn supplies; Cerklicing, the Latvian god of fields and Corn; Kurke, the Prussian God of Corn; Nepit, an Egyptian Corn Goddess and Neper an Egyptian Corn-God; Nodutus, the Roman god who was held responsible for making the knots in the stalks of Corn; Nzeanzo, the Sudan god of rain, medicine, Corn, fertility and metal-working; Robigo, a Roman Goddess of Corn; Iyatiku, the Pueblo Corn Goddess; and Gabjauja, the Lithuanian Goddess of Corn (with the advent of Christianity She was, as were so many other Pagan deities, reduced to a demon).
*Magickal Uses: Corn can be used for spells protection, luck, and in divination. Corn on the altar represents the power of the Corn Mother, She who blesses and nourishes all Her earthly children. Often Corn husks and Wheat straw are used to create what are called ‘Corn Dollies’. These are usually in the shape of a doll or are woven into various other shapes and are carried as charms or put on an altar. Corn dollies can be hung from the rafters of a house to offer protection for the house and all those who dwell within. Corn can also be used in many forms of fertility magic. One Corn Fertility spell is used if you want to get pregnant…. it requires that you eat Corn on the cob while saying:
“Bless my womb,
this seed of earth,
grant to me,
a healthy birth.”
Corn can be worn as jewelry or in amulets to make the wearer closer to the spirit of the earth. Corn can be used to divine the future. An old folk spell said that if a damsel found a blood-red ear of maize, she would have a suitor before the year was out.
Remember that when harvesting Corn for magickal uses it is important to say thanks you to the grain spirits:
“Mother of Corn
I harvest thee.
In spring thou wilt
A maiden be.”
Latin name – Avena Sativa
Herbal uses: Oat tincture forms the basis for all nerve tonics and a mixture of cooked Oats and Slippery Elm powder make an excellent poultice for skin troubles. Oatmeal is ideal food for sick folks and a tea made from Oats will clear up chest congestion.
Associations: Oats have a planetary association with Mercury and Jupiter. The Oat is one of the sacred Druidic herbs of the Sabbats of Lammas and Mabon.
Magickal uses: Oats are useful in money and prosperity spells. Oats can be used on the altar in their grain form or straw form, and Oat flour can be used to bake Oat cakes as offerings to the Goddess.
Herbal uses: Wheat germ and Wheat germ oil are excellent dietary supplements.
Associations: Wheat is associated with Venus and Jupiter.Wheat and other grains are associated with Gods and Goddesses of death and resurrection. Tammuz (Sumerian) and Adonis (Assyrian, Babylonian and Phoenician) are both Grain Gods. The Greek Grain Goddess is Demeter and Ceres (where the word ‘Cereal’ comes from) is the Roman equivalent of Demeter. Freya is ‘The Lady’ or ‘Giver Of The Loaf’ in Norse religions. As a grain, Wheat is one of the sacred plants of the Druid’ s for the Sabbat of Mabon.
Magickal uses: Wheat can be used in Fertility and Money spells. You also can do Wheat flour divination – first dampen a surface (wood is good), then sprinkle Wheat flour onto the damp surface while concentrating on your future, then use unfocused eyes to see what patterns show up in the flour.
Latin name: Lonicera caprifolium, Lonicera Periclymenum.
Common names: Woodbine, Dutch Honeysuckle, Goats’ Leaf.
Parts Used: Flowers, seeds, leaves.
Herbal uses: The Honeysuckle is a favorite food of goats. Used as a herbal remedy, Honeysuckle has an effect on salmonella and streptococcus. It can be used as an antibiotic to treat colds, flu, etc. Honeysuckle has expectorant and laxative properties. The flowers (in syrup form) have been used against diseases of the respiratory organs and in the treatment of asthma. The leaves (as a decoction) have been used to treat diseases of the liver and spleen.
Associations: Honeysuckle is an herb of mercury and mars, and is associated with the element of earth.
Magickal Uses: Honeysuckle is an herb of the mind and prosperity. When the fresh herb is rubbed on the forehead, psychic abilities are heightened. In much the same way, if Honeysuckle oil is dabbed on the temples, the person will think quicker and clearer. Honeysuckle also adds memory. Honeysuckle is an important herb to use in prosperity spells and attract money spells. A green candle can be ringed with Honeysuckle flowers to attract money to the spell worker. In fact, Honeysuckle can be added to all prosperity incense or sachets. Honeysuckle is also an herb of devotion, fidelity and affection, and those who wear it will dream of their own true love.
Latin name: Calendula officinalis
Common names: Calendula, Husband’s Dial, Holigold, Marybud, Caltha officinalis, Golds, Ruddes, Mary Gowles, Oculus Christi, Pot Marigold, Marygold, Fiore d’ogni mese, Solis Sponsa.
Parts Used: Flowers, herb, leaves.
Herbal uses: Marigold is chiefly used as a local remedy. It is useful in the treatment of chronic ulcer, varicose veins, and jaundice. A Marigold flower, rubbed on the affected part, is a remedy for the pain and swelling caused by the sting of a wasp or bee. A lotion made from the flowers can be used for sprains and wounds. The leaves can eaten as a salad and a yellow dye has also been extracted from the flower, by boiling.
Associations: Marigold is associated with the sun and the element of fire.
Magickal uses: Magical attributes include prophesy, legal matters, the psychic, seeing magical creatures, love, clairvoyance, dreams, business or legal affairs and renewing personal energy. Be sure to gather your Marigolds for magickal workings at noon. A fresh Marigold flower can be worn to court for a favorable outcome of a trial. If you place Marigold in your mattress, you will have prophetic dreams… and if you place it under your mattress it will make whatever you dream come true. Since the Marigold embodies the sun, it can make a person more attractive and confident. Add Marigold to your bath water to make this happen. A vase of fresh and bright Marigolds in a room brings a renewed surge of life to those in the room!
Latin name: Asclepiadaceae
Parts used: flowers, bud, sap, root
Herbal uses: The Milkweed root is powdered and then used to treat bronchitis and other respiratory ailments. It has a very milky juice, which is used as a domestic application to warts (I’ve done this, and it works!). The root taken in tea is said to produce temporary sterility. The tender buds can be eaten when steamed and are said to taste like broccoli. Milkweed is TOXIC if too much is taken internally.
Magickal uses: Both Monarch butterflies and fairies like milkweed. If Milkweed is planted in a Witches garden, the fey will always be in the area. The silky tassels of the Milkweed pods can be added to a dream pillow to not only make it softer but also to make you dream of fairies. In the summer when the pods are bursting and the fluffy seeds are flying across the fields, a wish is granted for each seed that can be caught and then released again.
Latin name: Commiphora myrrha
Common names: Mirra, Morr, Didin, Didthin, Bowl, Karan, Mirra Balsam Olendron, Gum Myrrh.
Part Used: The oleo-gum-resin from the stem.
Herbal Uses: Myrrh is gathered from trees grown in Arabia and Somaliland. It has uses as a disinfectant wound wash. Used internally it increases circulation – although prolonged internal use causes kidney damage. It also is an excellent insect repellent and as a tincture it is good for bad breath and gum problems
Associations: Myrrh is associated with the Moon and Jupiter, and with the element of water. Myrrh is sacred to the Goddess Isis and is also associated with Adonis, Ra and Marian.
Magickal uses: Myrrh is used in magick for protection, peace, exorcism, healing,
consecration, blessing, meditation and heightening spirituality. As an incense Myrrh can be used to help deepen mediation and to aid contemplation. Myrrh can be used in any ritual to the Goddess Isis, since Myrrh is a Goddess plant of the moon’s sphere and is sacred to Isis. Myrrh can also be burned so that its smoke can purify and protect an area, and the smoke can also be used to consecrate and bless objects like rings, amulets, and ritual tools. As an essential oil, Myrrh can be used to purify, protect and also for hex breaking. If you are having trouble with pesky spirits or unwanted magickal energies sent to you, annoit your house both first thing in the morning and last thing at night with Myrrh for protection. Myrrh can be used in charm bags with Frankincense too, since combining it with Frankincense increases ts power. Any use of Myrrh – either as incense, oil, or carried as an amulet – will help raise the magickal energies of any spell work that is done.
Latin name: Passiflora incarnata
Common names: Passion Vine, Granadilla, Maracoc, Maypops.
Part Used: The dried herb, collected after some of the berries have matured.
Herbal uses: Passionflower is known to be a depressant and so can be used to treat insomnia and hysteria. It is said to be work well in controlling epilepsy. Its narcotic properties cause it to be used in treating diarrhea and dysentery. Some varieties produce edible fruits used in jellies and juices. Passionflower can also be used as a brain tonic when combined with Lady’s Slipper, Valerian and Skullcap.
Associations: Passionflower is a sun herb. It is associated with Venus and with the element of water. The Deities that are associated with this herb are Flora, Feronia and Venus.
Magickal uses: Passionflower has uses in protection and love magick. When Passionflower is used, it calms and brings peace to the home. You can sprinkle dried or fresh Passionflower over the doorsteps of your house or apartment to keep harm away. If you carry some of the herb in an amulet bag, you will make friends easier since it will work to increase your personal charisma making you more attractive and more likable. Place Passionflower in a dream pillow and it will help you get a good nights sleep. place it in power bundles and use in love spells to attract love. You can also burn it as an incense to promote understanding.
Latin name: Rosaceae
Common names: A Rose by any other name would still be a Rose.
Some General Rose Information: More than 10,000 kinds of Roses are known to be in cultivation but only three types of ‘Rose’ odors are recognized (those of the Cabbage Rose, the Damask Rose and the Tea Rose ). However because of how many hybrid rose types there are, every gradation of odor is possible.
Parts used: flowers, hips.
Herbal uses: Rose petals are known for their mild astringency and tonic value, but they are today mostly used to impart their scent to other pharmaceutical preparations. When Rose petals are used as a medicine they are used to treat stomatitis and pharyngitis.
Honey of Roses can be made from clarified honey and fluid extract of Roses and is popular for treating sore throats and ulcerated mouths. Rose Vinegar, prepared by steeping dried Rose petals in distilled vinegar, can be used to treat headaches. Two French liqueurs also have Rose petals as one of the chief ingredients. Ointment of Rose-water, commonly known as Cold Cream, is used as a soothing, cooling application for chapped hands or face and minor skin abrasions. Rosehips are a good source of vitamin C and a tea can be made of them which is good for treating colds and flu.
Associations: Rose is associated with the element of water and with Venus, and is known as a ‘Goddess Herb’. The Deities that Rose are associated with are: Venus, Hulda, Demeter, Isis, Eros, Cupid, and Adonis.
Magickal uses: Rose is known as *THE* herb of love. Add Rose bud petals to bath water to conjure up a lover. Put red Rose petals in a red velvet bag and pin this under your clothes to attract love – or you can wear Rosehips as beads to bring love to you. Rose oil and Rose incense are both used in love spells. If you wash your hands with Rose water before mixing love potions, the potions will be stronger. Rose is also good when used in healing rituals and spells. Burn Rose Petals in your bedroom before going to sleep and this will guarantee you a good nights sleep. Roses are loved by the fey so you can plant Roses in your garden to attract fairies.
Wild Roses are best for this purpose and you need to say the following spell as you plant your baby Rose bush:
“I ask a fairy from the wild,
To come and tend this wee rose-child.
A babe of air she thrives today,
Root her soul in the Goddesses’ good clay.
Fairies make this twig your bower,
By your magic shall time see her flower!”
Different color Roses have different meanings so you can use Roses to give someone a message magickally.
These are what the different Rose colors mean:
Red – I love you
White – I love you not
Yellow – I love another
Moss – I admire you from afar
Pink – My love for you is innocent
Orange – I love you vigorously
Amethyst – I will love you forever
Wild – I love you because you are fair and innocent
Latin name: Salvia officinalis
Common names: Sawge, Garden Sage, Red Sage, Sage spice
Herbal uses: Sage is used as a spice in many recipes (often in Thanksgiving turkey stuffing). It can be used as a tea to aid in digestion, and to relieve the discomfort of measles, dizziness, colds, fever, and headaches. An infusion can be made with Sage and honey and used as a mouth wash to help cure mouth sores and sore throats. A strong wash will help in cases of skin ulcers, rashes, and dandruff. It acts as a stimulating tonic to the digestive tract or nervous system. Rub fresh Sage leaves on the teeth to whiten and clean them. Sage is also used as an insect repellent, sending away flies and, in the garden, cabbage moths and carrot flies. It attracts bees, and the result is a very aromatic honey.
Associations: Sage is associated with Jupiter or Venus, and is associated with the
element of Air.
Magickal uses: Sage is used for fertility, longevity, wishes, wisdom, protection, money attraction, purification, healing, and health magick. Sage that is being gathered for magickal use should not be cut with a metal knife or athame. It is said that if you eat Sage you will become more wise and also immortal. Sage is often an herb used at handfastings since it will help bring about a long life and domestic virtue for the happy couple. Sage can be added to almost any healing spell. A good healing amulet may be made by putting a clove of Garlic, a bit of Eucalyptus and Cinnamon, two pinches of Sage and one pinch of Saffron into a small blue bag. This bag can then be worn or carried to promote healing. Sage can also be placed in with Tarot cards or Runes to protect and keep them ‘clean’. Sage can be used for attracting money and for wish manifestations. One of the most common magickal uses of Sage is as a purifier of sacred spaces, living areas, and magickal tools. Sage is often used as a main ingredient in “Smudgesticks” and “herb bundles. If you can gather and dry your own wild Sage for smudging, do so. Native Americans believe that Sage should never be bought or sold, as this ruins the spirituality of the herb. To purify a house of unwanted spirits or energy, just light a sprig of dried Sage and carry it from room to room, visualizing any negativity being replaced by the purifying fragrance of the Sage. Another way to do this is to burn Sage in a incense bowl and then brush the smoke around the room by using a feather as a fan.
Latin name: Polygonatum multiflorum
Common names: Lady’s Seals, St. Mary’s Seal, Dropberry, Sealwort, Sealroot
Part Used: Root.
Please note: this is an endangered species. Gather it with reverence and only when you find a large patch (take only a few, leave at least seven healthy plants).
Herbal uses: Solomon’s Seal is an astringent, demulcent and tonic. Combined with other remedies, Solomon’s Seal is given in pulmonary consumption and bleeding of the lungs. It is useful also in female complaints. It is a mucilaginous tonic, very healing and restorative, and is good in treating stomach problems. The powdered roots make an excellent poultice for bruises, piles, inflammations and tumors.
Associations: Solomon’s Seal is associated with Saturn and with the element of fire.
Magickal uses: Solomon’s Seal has excellent qualities of cleansing and purification. To exorcise evil or unwanted spirits from your home, sprinkle a bit of this dried herb in each corner of every room. Then anoint the door knobs and window sills with Solomon’s Seal protection oil. You can also add nine drops of this oil to your scrub water and wash around all entrances thoroughly. Solomon’s Seal can be added to incense so that the smoke can cleanse and purify a sacred space or can be scattered to the four winds to purify a large area.
There are many different varieties of Thistle so these are a few of the best known
Latin names: Holy Thistle – Carbenia benedicta; Milk Thistle – Silybum Marianum
Common names: Holy Thistle – Blessed Thistle; Milk Thistle – Marian Thistle, Our Lady’s Thistle
Part used: Holy Thistle – herb; Milk Thistle – Whole herb, root, leaves, seeds and hull.
Herbal uses: The Holy Thistle can be used as a liver tonic and also is useful in migraine headache relief. It can be made into a salve for canker sores and warts. The Milk Thistle is also a liver tonic but is also useful in helping cure depression. It is used in Germany for curing jaundice. The decoction when applied externally is said to have proved beneficial in cases of cancer. Thistle was also said to cure “bitings of mad dogs and venomous beasts.”
Associations: Thistles are associated with the planet of Mars and with the element of fire. Milk Thistle is associated with the Virgin Mary (Milk Thistle gets its name from the white veins in its leaves. Legend has it that one day Mary stopped to feed the Holy Child, and was so tired from her long ride that she fell asleep. The babe was also soon slumbering, and some drops of milk escaped from Her Breast, and fell upon a Thistle, which forever bears the imprint of this accident.) The Thistle is also associated with Scotland and is in fact the nation’s national emblem (When Scotland was ravaged by Viking invaders, the attacking Vikings crept up upon the sleeping Scots – unfortunately the Vikings stepped in Thistles with their barefeet and their cries of pain woke up the Scots who were able to fight off the attackers).
Magickal uses: Thistle has great value in protection spells and also is used to bring spiritual and financial blessings. If Thistle is thrown into a fire, it will protect the thrower from being struck by lightning during summer storms. Thistle can be carried in an amulet bag for joy, energy, vitality, and protection – in fact men who carry Thistle become better lovers! A shirt with Thistle woven into the cloth will protect the wearer from evil spirits. Thistle can be burned as an incense for protection and also to counteract hexing. Thistle powder can also be added to ritual baths to give added protection. Thistle can be grown in the garden to ward of those dreaded vegetable thieves, and a bowl of fresh Thistle will give off such good strengthening energies that it is the perfect thing to have in a sickroom. Thistle is a wonderful material to use to make magick wands for spirit conjuring and magickal walking sticks. In England, the wizards of old were said to select the tallest thistle and use it as a wand or walking stick. For a Witchling child, a thistle wand would be good because it might protect him or her from giving in to peer pressure. If you have a dream about Thistle this is a good thing because Thistles are good omens in dreams. Boil some thistle, then remove it from heat and lie or sit beside it as the steam rises. Listen carefully, and you should be able to get the spirits to answer your questions.
Traditional Harvest Game
This game which is actually a fertility rite, is a boisterous but authentic addition to an Autumnal Equinox Rite.
Ideally there should be equal numbers of men and women. Children enjoy taking part too.
You will need to wear old clothes, and bring something to change into afterwards. Towels are also an essential part of the equipment.
Find a place to represent Home, where there is a low wall or perhaps a large rock which an be used as a table. It is best if this table can be approached under cover from several directions. This place is secret: the men must not be told where it is, for part of the game is trying to find it.
Killing the Bright Lord:
A sheaf of corn, decorated with a red ribbon, is taken to a place some distance away from Home, out of sight and hearing. The men go off to Kill the Bright Lord, represented by the sheaf. They carry copious amounts of ale and an old sickle. They set up the sheaf in a cleared space and sing songs like “John Barleycorn” in the most macho voices they can manage. Forming a ring around the sheaf, each man steps four paces from the center, one for each winter month, and one for luck. The jug of ale is then passed round. Each man must drink before taking a throw at the sheaf. As each one throws the sickle he must say something to the God he intends to slay. This goes on until someone knocks or cuts the sheaf down. The men then split up to attack Home, coming from as many directions as possible. This approach is silent at first, and then wild cries are heard as they reach their objective.
The Cave of the Goddess:
The women, meanwhile, are busy preparing the table. This represents the cave of the Goddess to which the slain hero is brought. They lay out a feast, and prepare devious deterrents for the invading men. Buckets of milk and water, and sometimes plates of crazy foam, green slime and soot are added. These delightfully messy ingredients are placed in all kinds of booby traps: buckets, paper plates and so on. You can see why a change of clothes is required.
Once the men have launched their attack, it is essential that they are all made as wet as possible-especially the man carrying the sheaf, for he will be the one who has cut it.
This part of the game usually ends in a frontal attack, as the men pass the sheaf between themselves like a rugby ball or American football. Everyone sings:
Let us welcome home the fallen
To the Goddess all return
The seed shall fertilize the womb
So that life shall be re-born
The women defend Home with everything they can lay their hands on until one of the men succeeds in placing the now-soaking sheaf on the table. He is designated priest for the remainder of the rite.
A harvest feast:
The women who scored the first hit becomes the priestess. This couple now hang the sheaf suitably dowsed with clean water, from a branch. They bless the food and wine or ale and are the first to eat and drink-uttering whatever thanks they think fit. Everyone joins in and you all get down to some serious feasting.
After the feast the sheaf is either taken down and buried or kept until the spring when it should form part of the Imbolc fire. Either way it must eventually return to the Earth. This festival has a serious side, for it is one of balance. It points up the need for balance in the relationship between the two sexes, and their mutual dependence.
13 Ideas For A Family Mabon
by Heather Evenstar Osterman
(Heather Osterman is the Family Services Coordinator for the Aquarian Tabernacle Church.)
This is a gorgeous season. Nature is a blaze of color and everything seems to come into balance. Night and day are again equal. There is a bountiful harvest to be thankful for, yet we must plan for the sparse times ahead. This is a time of generosity and conservation. So, how do you share these values with your children? You can plan Mabon activities for the whole family to enjoy.
Mabon (also Harvest Home, Alban Elfed or Winter Finding) is celebrated at the Autumnal Equinox. This is the second harvest festival of the year, that of fruits and vegetables. Mabon is the Welsh God of all things wild and free. He is also associated with the Sun God whose power dies on this day.
We also give thanks to the spirit of vegetation for the sacrifice made so that we can live through the winter. The Goddess at this Sabbat is the grandmotherly crone, warm and wise. Here are some ideas to get your family started in celebrating this season:
*Have a potluck feast with a group of friends and loved ones to celebrate the abundance of the season. Feel the warmth of being part of a community.
*Adopt someone in a nursing home. As a family, take your special person baked goodies and colored pictures. Read them books or tell them stories.
*Walk around your neighborhood picking up garbage. Do what you can to improve your home and prepare for winter.
*Pick a subject that interests the whole family. Go to the library or find other
resources and study that subject. Together, share what you’ve learned.
*Look at old family photo albums or scrapbooks. Try to tell stories about each person in the pictures.
*Leave an apple on the grave of an ancestor. Cut an apple in half to show your children the star inside. This is a reminder that all life is renewed in some way.
*Bake cored apples filled with butter and cinnamon as a special treat.
*Create decorations for your front door out of colored leaves, pinecones, nuts, acorns and Indian Corn bundles.
*Take a walk in a wild place. Gather seedpods and dried plants. Sing songs and talk about all the things you’ve done over the summer. Make plans for the winter.
*Honor the birds and small animals in the wilderness or by your home by making a
birdfeeder or mandala filled with seeds and grain.
*Make rattles out of empty gourds and sunflower seeds or seeds collected from nature walks. Use the rattles to make music or scare away bad dreams.
*Look at your family habits and figure out what you can do to improve your conservation habits. Can you use less water or recycle more of your garbage?
*Make a Vine God (stick-type male figure with a hollow body) filled with foil-wrapped cornbread and sacrifice him on the campfire (or barbecue!).
Give thanks to the god for his sacrifice and enjoy the cornbread!
Mabon Celebration Teen Recipes
Sea Turtle Wisdom Bread
2 tsp. active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
2 tsp. sugar or honey
3/4 tsp. salt
2 tsp. vegetable oil
2 1/2 to 3 cups all-purpose flour
Green food coloring
Dissolve yeast in warm water. Whisk in sugar/honey, salt, and oil. Slowly fold in flour, as it becomes harder to stir, turn the dough onto a lightly floured countertop and dust the dough with flour. Knead the dough by folding it in half and pressing it with the palm of your hand until it springs back when you poke it lightly with a finger. Form into ball and place in lightly greased bowl. Dust dough with flour and cover it with a clean cloth towel. Let it rise for 30 minutes. (Shouldn’t spring back, now)
After the dough has risen once, punch it down and form balls for the shell (6in.
diameter), head (3in.) , and legs (2in.), and assemble on a greased cookie sheet. Etch a crisscross pattern on top of shell with a knife. Use 2 raisins for eyes. Let rise for 30 more minutes. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brush lightly with egg wash ( 1 egg whisked with 1 tbs. water and couple drops green food coloring) and bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown.
Makes 2 turtles
Harvest Morning Muffins
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup grated apples
1 cup grated carrots
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tbs. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a 12-muffin tin or line it with paper liners. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, blend the eggs, sugar and oil until well combined. Stir in the grated apples and carrots. In a separate bowl, sift the flours, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Blend the dry ingredients with the apple mixture until just combined. Spoon the batter into the muffin tins and bake for 25 minutes.
Makes 12 muffins.
1 cup rolled oats
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
6 tbs. butter
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. allspice
2 tbs. apple juice or orange juice
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly butter a 9-inch square baking pan or a casserole of the equivalent size, then dust it with flour. Peel, core and slice the apples, and arrange them in the pan. In the bowl of an electric mixer, blend the oats, brown sugar, flour, butter, cinnamon, salt and allspice on low speed until it forms a coarse meal.
Crumble the mixture evenly over the apple slices and sprinkle with the juice. Bake for 35 minutes.
Makes 6 servings.
(Serve warm with chilled fruit and vegetable plates, buffet style.)
Cinnamon Apple Butter (–N-Turkey) Sandwiches
9 to 10 apples, peeled and cored
2 tsp. apple pie spice
(or 1/2 tsp. each nutmeg and allspice and 1tsp. cinnamon)
1 cup apple cider
Cut the apples into 1-inch chunks. (Don’t worry about making them perfectly sized.) Place in a large, nonreactive saucepan and pour cider over them. Cover the pot and cook for about 30 minutes over low heat, until the apples are soft. Cool the mixture, divide it into two batches and puree each in a food processor or blender. (At this point, you have an unsweetened applesauce, which makes excellent baby food). Pour the pureed fruit into a large baking dish, sprinkle with the apple pie spice, and stir. Spread mixture evenly in a 13-by-9-by-2-inch pan. Bake in a 300-degree oven for 2 to 3 hours, until thick and deep brown. Stir every 20 minutes.
Cool the apple butter and then scoop it into a clean jar with a sealable lid. It will
keep for up to two months in your refrigerator.
Makes 1 1/2 cups.
Create your favorite turkey sandwich buffet with slice turkey breast, lettuce, tomatoes, avocado wedges, sprouts, etc. Use CAB* instead of butter or mayonnaise.
Share the Wealth Applesauce
24 tart apples
Juice of a lemon
2 cups water
1 cup sugar
4 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup raisins (optional)
Peel and core the apples, then cut them into chunks. Place the apples in a large
nonreactive saucepan, and add the lemon juice and water. Stir in the sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Cover the pot and cook for 30 minutes or until the apples are soft. Remove the mixture from the heat and add the cinnamon and raisins, if desired. Stir light for a chunky sauce and rigorously for a smooth sauce. For a pink applesauce, use red apples and leave the skins on. Once the apples are soft, you can strain out the skins or lift them from the sauce with a fork.
Makes 2 1/2 cups.
( Pour into resealable jars, decorate to give as Harvest gifts to relatives, friends, and neighbors.)
All Things Harvested Pot Roast
4-5lb pot roast
1 stick butter
1 large onion sliced
3 celery stalks, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
¼ tsp. dried thyme
¼ tsp. dried parsley
1 bay leaf
1/8 tsp. black pepper
¼ tsp. salt
2-10oz cans French onion soup
4 large potatoes, quartered
1-8oz package raw baby carrots
1-16oz pkg. frozen broccoli/cauliflower mix
In dutch oven or oven safe pot w/lid brown both side of the roast, using half the butter.
Set the roast aside. With remaining butter, saute’ the onion, garlic, and celery until onions are tender and beginning to brown. Add the the thyme, parsley, bay leaf, and pepper. Mix well and then return the pot roast to the pan. Sprinkle salt over the roast and add the french onion soup. Cook at 325 degrees for 4 hours. Baste meat as needed. Add potatoes and carrots and salt to taste. Cook for another 45 minutes. Add broccoli/cauliflower mix and cook for 20 more minutes. Serve with hot bread.
Makes 8 servings
Mabon Caramel Apples
1 package Kraft* Caramels
6 red or green apples, de-stemmed
6 popsicle sticks
Melt caramels slowly in a double boiler. When runny in consistency, stick popsicle sticks into top center of apple, and dip apple into caramel sauce, making sure to cover entire apple with a coating of caramel. Place dipped apples, stick up on wax paper covered cookie sheet an refrigerate till caramel hardens.
Makes 6 servings.
Remember, an apple a day keeps the dentist, doctor, and dermatologist away!!!!
Adapted by Akasha Ap Emrys
Mabon Celebration Small Childrens’ Activity Planner
Mabon is the Sabbat that celebrates the second harvest. Along with the grains, fruits and vegetables are harvested and stored for the oncoming winter, (or dark half of the year). This is a good time for parents to start planning inside activities for their small children.
Materials: That one glove in the bottom of the closet or drawer that lost its mate over the summer. A small ball, some dried grain, yarn, and a needle and thread, and 2 buttons.
Tuck the ring finger up inside the palm of the glove and stitch the hole closed. Fill the glove up to the stretch cuff with rice, beans, popcorn, etc, and tie it off with a piece of yarn. For the doll’s head, place a small ball (ping-pong) in the cuff and sew the glove closed. For hair, wrap the yarn around your hand several times, tie the loops together at one end with a strand of yarn, and cut the other end. Stitch the tied end to the top of the doll’s head. Finish the doll by stitching on some button eyes. (Explain to children that although we all look different on the outside, we are all the same inside. Tell how the God/dess made each of us with love and care.)
Materials: An apple, paring knife, lemon juice, whole cloves, pencil, jar, glove, felt
Peel the apple and remove some of the core from the bottom. (Parents) To carve the animal’s face, cut two holes for the eyes, slice two triangle flaps for the ears, cut a deep “X” for the nose and mouth, and some shallow slits for whiskers. Soak the apple in the lemon juice for about 15 minutes, then remove to a paper towel to dry. Insert cloves into the eye holes. Push the pencil into the bottom of the apple, and set it in a jar to dry. To hasten drying process, a food dehydrator works great! As the apple dries, lift the ears so they dry upright. When the head has dried, use the glove and felt scraps to make the body. Glue on markings and paws. Cut off the middle finger of the glove, and drop the pencil through it, with the head attached. Have the child grab the pencil with their 3 middle fingers, while using the thumb and pinkie for the animal’s forelegs. ( Discuss the habits of different animals during the winter months. Explain why we leave bird food and other tidbits out for our winged and furry brothers.)
Edible Autumn Leaves
Materials: 1 bag each of semisweet chocolate and white chocolate morsels (chips), broad leafed herbs such as mint, basil, celery, etc.
Select your sprigs of leaves in the produce section of your grocery store or from your garden. Wash leaves thoroughly and pat dry. Melt chocolate with 2 tsp. of butter, stirring until smooth. Pour chocolate into small bowls and give each child a clean small paintbrush. Paint the underside of the leaves with the chocolate and place on a wax paper covered cookie sheet. Refrigerate until firm. Slowly pull real leaves away from chocolate leaves. (Explain to children how art is a reflection of the true beauty of Nature.)
Woodsy Flower Vase
Materials: ¼ inch diameter sticks, scissors, an empty plastic (p-butter) jar, 2 thick rubber bands, ribbon, glue, and pinecones.
Break or snip sticks to about 1in. longer than jar. Place rubber bands around jar, 1in. from top and 1in. from bottom. Tuck the sticks under the rubber bands, placing them together as close as possible. Once the jar is surrounded by sticks, push the rubber bands to the center of the jar and cover with autumn colored ribbon. Ribbon can be tied into a bow. Glue on a few pinecones and fill the vase with flowers. (While hiking and looking for sticks, explain why fallen sticks are more Earth friendly, but if live branches are needed, to take only what is needed and thank tree for gift.)
Harm None Paper Bouquets
Materials: Autumn colored tissue paper, scissors, crayons, and pipe cleaners.
For each flower cut eight 3-1/2 in.squares. With side of crayon color down 2 opposite sides on each square. Lay on flat surface with colored sides at top and bottom. Start folding from the top, like a paper fan. Each pleat should be approx 1/2in wide. For the stems, bend a pipe cleaner 1-1/2in. from one end to form a hook. Place the pleated squares in a stack, and place the stack in the hook. Twist the hook around the stem. To open flower to full bloom, twist the petals a half-turn near the stem. (Thank children for beautiful vase of flowers that can be used on your alter for the Mabon ritual, and later a table center piece.)
Begin Again Eggheads
Materials : A couple of eggs per child, felt-tip markers or crayons, grass seed or bird seed, some soil, a nail, and some plastic wrap.
Have children draw funny faces on their eggs with the markers or crayons. Take the nail and make a hole at the top of the egg, keep working on hole until about the size of a quarter. Drain and rinse inside of egg and spoon some soil into it. Put in some grass/bird seed, moisten soil, and wrap in plastic wrap. Set in a sunny spot to sprout.
Once grass starts sprouting, remove the wrap and water daily. (Explain to children that although the egg is no longer what it was originally, it has gone through a death and a rebirth as something else living and part of Nature.)
Animal Guide Totems
Materials: A sheet of construction paper, plastic spoon, small water-based paint set, markers, paper towel tube, and glue.
Fold the sheet of paper in half, and have the child drop spots of paint along the fold. Fold the paper, lay it flat, and gently rub it. Re-open the paper and have the child tell you all about the animals, fish, and birds that they see in the paint blots. When the paint dries, help the child outline these creatures with the markers. Cut out and around the blot characters and glue to the paper towel tube to make the totem stand upright.
(Discuss the different Animal Guides, and the qualities we learn from them.)
Song of the Early Autumn Goddess
Blessings of my first frost on you
Blessings of the goose-stitched sky
Blessings of the trees in sunset glory
And warm hearths at the end of the day.
Blessings of the harvest set before you
Blessings of the food that comfort brings
Blessings on the fire that stays within you
Blessings on the fire that cannot stay.
Please take a seat and clear your mind of what fills it now and hear my words:
As you are sitting, close your eyes and feel the yellow of the sun..Reach up with your arms and let your fingertips touch that yellow..Now, lay back, with your arms extended and become a ray of the sun..As we all lay in a circle, we form the sun – we are all rays of this vivid starburst.
Look down to the Earth and see the fields ripe with the summer’s abundance..Find your self in the center of this abundance holding a large willow basket, eager to begin your autumn harvest.
Step first into an expanse of sweet corn..See the erect, regal, green stalks of
corn..Observe a ripe ear on a particular stalk which extends to you..Under its scruffy whiskers kernels that sparkle like gold shine through. You are reminded of your own riches – both tangible and intangible..Reach out and pick this ear and put it into your basket.
Leave the corn field and enter an orchard; an apple orchard..See the beauty of these trees, these majestic symbols of the Goddess..Feel the fullness of her boughs – full of ruby red apples of knowledge..Reach up, way up, and pick two. Put one in your basket and eat the other. Taste and enjoy this fruit – for in this garden tasting an apple is not forbidden.
Now move toward an onion field which beckons you..Once green, now browning spikes point up to you, tempting you to dig below…Pull gently and the ground gives birth to aniridescent, opal bulb, full of body and character and strength..A vegetable with the power to make you feel the power of tears..Add this to your growing harvest.
Notice ahead thick bushes of ripened raspberries..Sharp brambles protecting their
precious, succulent garnets..The sweet nectar of these berries remind you of your own sensuality – your own ability to feel, express, extend all that is soft and loving and warm to others..Take your time here and pick plenty of these supple jewels for your basket.
Step away now and look around you..Find a patch of fruit or vegetables that appeals to you..Enter it, admire its offerings, select a precious gem of your own to harvest..Choose a resource to sustain you in the rapidly upcoming time of cold and darkness…Capture some warmth and light and savor its presence.
With your arms now laden with this basket of bountiful treasures, it is time now to
rest..Take your harvest to the grassy knoll in the sun just beyond and sit and bask in the glory of its healing heat..Rest in contentment knowing you have collected that which you need to give you strength and nourishment in the winter days to come.
Put yourself back in the sky now..Become the sun once again..Shine down upon yourself and your gatherings..Absorb the energy of the fruits of your labors, bless these seeds you planted in the Spring and nurtured to fruition through the summer..Be the sun..Shine down upon all that is good and good-giving..Give the light of hope to all you shine upon.
When everything you have touched with your rays is full of your brightness, open your eyes and rejoin our circle.
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