Mabon in Southern Hemisphere – Ostara in Northern Hemisphere

Mabon blessings to us in the Southern Hemisphere, as the weather changes and the days are turning cold, I am sitting here with the heating on and the cat curled beside me to keep warm. We here have had many weather extremes, raging bush fires in some States and Floods in the top States. We in the Southern States desperately need the rain this winter. May everyone be warm and safe throughout the coming months. Blessed Be!

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Blessed Mabon

Posted on March 20, 2015 by Lady Beltane

From WOTC to all our readers in the Southern Hemisphere we wish you a happy and blessed Mabon. We hope your gardens have given you a good harvest this year. We send love and light to help you through the deary, cold months.

I hope the information, rituals, etc that I posted today and through out the last couple of weeks has help to increase your knowledge about Mabon. I  tried to do a good mixture of information to maybe give you some new ideas on ways to celebrate.

To me Mabon is a time I serve a meal almost completely from my vegetable garden with some type of meat to round it out. I tried to sneak tofu in one year in a stir fry but my husband knew immediately it wasn’t “real” meat. I tried to explain it was a little healthier then the usual steaks he grills to go with our veggies but he didn’t go for it so he made himself a hot dog to go with the stir fry…I just shook my head and enjoyed the meal.

I use leaves from our yard, flowers from our flower beds along with a candle I made at Imbolc to decorate the table every year. The candle is blessed to give continuous thanks to Mother Earth, Ra and the four elements for all they gave to help our gardens grow. I do not grow anything that is considered a fall flower, like Mums, because of allergies. I write a new “prayer” every year to give thanks not just for the food we have been given but also for having a warm, dry home to spend the winter in (as well as all the other seasons), blankets, enough food, warm clothes and boots to keep us warm and hopefully help to keep us healthy through out the cold months to come.

During the day I take out everything I have canned or frozen from the garden say a “prayer” of thanks for the ability to grow and have enough food for the cold months.

What you will need for the blessed candle:

1 -2/5.08 cm inch votive candle in red or yellow or orange

1 candle holder or eve better a heat proof plate with extra room under the candle

Enough sand to fill the bottom of the candle holder about 1/2 or 1.3 cm in deep

The blessing/spell I empower my candle with is:

Mother Earth, Ra, Ancient powers of Air Fire Water and Earth

I empower this candle to give thanks for all we have been given from our land

I ask you all to sit at our hearth

Until this candle burns down to the sand

The candle will go out once it reaches the sand. The melted wax will mix with the sand. I take this out and bury it in one of my flower beds or vegetable garden on a rotating basis. I feel this way the candle helps bless the garden or bed I bury it in. To bury it I dig down about 3-4 inches/7.62-10.16 cm and make the hole about the same size around. I loosely pack the dirt around the candle/sand disk and then mulch the garden or bed for the cold months. When the weather warms again the wax will flow into the ground and the sand just mixes with the dirt. The wax does not hurt the growth of anything because there isn’t much of it. If you only have one garden or flower bed bury the candle/sand disk in a different corner every year, this way you do not get a waxy build up in any one place.

If you would like to read even more ideas and information for Mabon click on this link: http://paganwiccan.about.com/od/mabonrituals/

Ostara – Northern Hemisphere

To all in the Northern Hemisphere I wish you a blessed Ostara. Although it is Spring there, from what I see on the news, you are still experiencing cold, snow and wintry conditions. I hope the sun begins to shine for you soon. Blessed Be!

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From: “The Witches Year” ~  by Lucy Cavendish

Each year around the 20th of September in the southern hemisphere (in 2003 it will be the 23rd of Sept) our beautiful green and blue planet earth lies “flat” in her orbit of the sun. Neither her north nor her south poles are tilted into or away from the sun. She is fully facing the sun – no turning away. During the coming 24 hours, she will rotate once on her axis – thus the sun’s rays will have a unique opportunity to strike her surface equally from north to south poles, resulting in precisely twelve hours of day and twelve hours of night. From this day forward the light will increase with each day or degree she turns. This is the magical, ancient and revered vernal, or spring, equinox.

It is a truly sacred time. They may be called the lesser sabbats, but to the ancients and to witches who understand the laws of nature, these astronomical festivals once were (and in fact still are) as significant as when the Druids gathered at Stonehenge, or the Mayans around their wheel of the year, because with the spring equinox we usher in the return of the force of life itself.

These festivals of spring equinox, summer solstice, autumn equinox and winter solstice, are immeasurably important in our human history, as the planetary movements revealed to humanity that the light, the sun, upon whose rays every single living thing depended was not only increasing, it would overpower the dark. Ancient people had no way of knowing that the stars would always be there, that the Sun was many millions of years old and would continue to exist for many more millions of years. Each winter meant the dread of eternal winter– indeed, how complacent should we be about the return of life each year? Are our inventions not as likely to blot out life on this planet as the loss of the light itself? Can we be sure how long we as individuals have on this planet this lifetime? The spring equinox is still signifies the coming of the light, of warmth, of the return of life itself. The myths of Celts, Romans, Greeks, Norse and the Egyptians all recognize the spring equinox as the new beginning.

Spring in colder climates may seem to be more a dramatic appeal to life than in Australia. Not so. Even in the Golden Bough, the 20th century bible of anthropology and myth by James Frazer, it recognizes Australia has its own seasonal rebirth.

“The natives of central Australia regularly practice magical ceremonies for the purpose of awakening the dormant energies of nature at what might be called the approach of the Australian spring. Nowhere apparently are the alterations of seasons more striking than in the deserts of central Australia, where at the end of a long period of drought the sandy and stony wilderness, over which the silence and desolation of death appeared to brood is suddenly, after a few days of torrential rain, transformed into a landscape smiling with verdure and peopled with teeming multitudes of insects and lizards, of frogs and birds.”

Even if the language is flowery, the point is well made. It is a sacred tradition to awaken spring through enacting sacred rites. The questions is, what is the modern, often city-bound witch to do?

To answer that, ask yourself, what is spring? At its heart, it seems to me to be a natural revival. As yourself what needs reviving in your life? Hope? Passion? Health? Following your heart? Vocation? This is a great time to literally start again. At the basis of spring is creative growth – the energy that fuels the obvious displays of later spring and summer. But first the sap must rise – or your energy must be increased. Your energy will naturally have been changing since the winter solstice – the sluggishness of winter becomes easier to shrug off once the darkest day is past. But now you need to reactivate your core energy.

Here’s a simple way to do that: Stand facing the sun each day. Feel its rays. Meditate on that which you desire to grow in your life. After doing this, take a green ribbon and tie it to a branch of a flowering tree (jasmine, magnolia, or even a fruit tree is perfect – you need a strong branch – jasmine is also lovely, but use a lightweight ribbon. If you have two areas you desire growth in, choose two ribbons. Chose the colours to correspond to that which needs stimulation. Weave your intent into the ribbon/s, and tie them about your branch with care.

As the spring days gather, and as the sun lengthens its stay in the sky on this half of the planet, your plant will unfurl and reach towards the light – this is exactly the growth you need to emulate. There comes a time when staying dormant and static becomes far more uncomfortable than the pain we imagine risk taking, growth, reaching out is – and so spring is the time for personal growth – the timing means that any chances you take are in harmony with the energy of the season and so your chances of success are magnified. You will literally be going with the flow. But back to the enchanted garden of spring ritual: If your plant flowers sooner than you expect, or if the flowers struggle to appear, these are all portents of your desires, and by reading the growth patterns of the flowers this spring, and for others in the future, you can see where you need to focus your energies.

Ritual for Spring Equinox

Decorate your altar with:

  • Green cloth
  • Green and golden candles (for the element fire)
  • seeds (for the element earth)
  • Salt for the cleansing and purity of spirit and intent
  • Spring water/dew from equinox morning (for the element water)
  • Open the magic circle
  • Light a cone or stick of jasmine incense (for the element air)
  • Raise each object one after the other, and invoke the elements (please see previous rituals for the method)
  • Once you have raised power, and welcomed the elements and guardians,
  • Write three wishes down the length of three separate ribbons.
  • Weave these together.
  • Place them on your magical altar
  • (You can use this charged magic binding for Beltane as part of the ribbon ritual)
  • Thanks the elements and the guardians
  • Thank the Goddess
  • Close the circle
  • So mote it be!

The Spring equinox is a time to celebrate the return of hope in your own life. By connecting with the dance of nature, you connect to your own being. It’s not a coincidence that humans become more sluggish during winter, that seasonal depression can take hold. The light, apart from we are creatures just as the blades of grass and small animals are: we need the light to live, and everything we live upon needs it too. We are reminded at this time to acknowledge our place in the web of life – not as some kind of center at the top of a mythical food chain, we are a part of life, effecting it and absorbed by it, influencing it yes, but no more powerful than any other agent of life. If we honour our place in life, we will have many more years on this planet. By inhabiting nature gladly and fully, we will continue to live, and to be guardians of the planet. If we do not, we will bring about our own catastrophic destruction.

Sacred travel for Spring Equinox

This would be an ideal time to make some kind of spiritual pilgrimage. The solstices and equinoxes are the times when landmarks like Stonehenge and mount warning in far northern nsw are visited. Astronomically, we are witnessing our own promise of life. The Celtic witches myth sees this time as the planting of the seed of light – the birth of the son of the God. (It’s strangely akin to the mystical Christian tale of Jesus.) One way to commemorate the life force of the spring equinox is to take an egg and paint it with symbols of the god and goddess, who are in complete harmony at the time of the vernal equinox, just as they are at the autumn equinox. Thus it is a favoured time to work out power balances with relationships, to handfast or marry, or to conceive a child.

Make a magical wand for spring
*As this is the season of the air it is an auspicious time to make your own magical wand, which is the witches tool that corresponds to the element of air, it will have been created in the perfect season and will have great power.

(This essay was copied from an old version of Lucy’s website which is no longer available online. Her new website is at http://www.lucycavendish.com)
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Lammas in Southern Hemisphere – Imbolc in Northern Hemisphere

Many Lammas blessings to those of us in the Southern Hemisphere, as the seasons start to change we are preparing for the cooler days as we head towards Autumn. Blessed Be!

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Lammas History: Welcoming the Harvest

By Patti Wigington, About.com

The Beginning of the Harvest:

At Lammas, also called Lughnasadh, the hot days are upon us, much of the earth is dry and parched, but we still know that the bright reds and yellows of the harvest season are just around the corner. Apples are beginning to ripen in the trees, our summer vegetables have been picked, corn is tall and green, waiting for us to come gather the bounty of the crop fields. Now is the time to begin reaping what we have sown, and gathering up the first harvests of grain, wheat, oats, and more.

This holiday can be celebrated either as a way to honor the god Lugh, or as a celebration of the harvest.

Celebrating Grain in Ancient Cultures:

Grain has held a place of importance in civilization back nearly to the beginning of time. Grain became associated with the cycle of death and rebirth. The Sumerian god Tammuz was slain and his lover Ishtar grieved so heartily that nature stopped producing. Ishtar mourned Tammuz, and followed him to the Underworld to bring him back, similar to the story of Demeter and Persephone.

In Greek legend, the grain god was Adonis. Two goddesses, Aphrodite and Persephone, battled for his love. To end the fighting, Zeus ordered Adonis to spend six months with Persephone in the Underworld, and the rest with Aphrodite.

A Feast of Bread:

In early Ireland, it was a bad idea to harvest your grain any time before Lammas — it meant that the previous year’s harvest had run out early, and that was a serious failing in agricultural communities. However, the first sheaves of grain were cut by the farmer, and by nightfall his wife had made the first loaves of bread of the season.

The word Lammas derives from the Old English phrase hlaf-maesse, which translates to loaf mass. In early Christian times, the first loaves of the season were blessed by the Church.

Honoring Lugh, the Skillful God:

In some Wiccan and modern Pagan traditions, Lammas is also a day of honoring Lugh, the Celtic craftsman god. He is a god of many skills, and was honored in various aspects by societies both in the British Isles and in Europe. Lughnasadh (pronounced Loo-NAS-ah) is still celebrated in many parts of the world today. Lugh’s influence appears in the names of several European towns.

Honoring the Past:

In our modern world, it’s often easy to forget the trials and tribulations our ancestors had to endure. For us, if we need a loaf of bread, we simply drive over to the local grocery store and buy a few bags of prepackaged bread. If we run out, it’s no big deal, we just go and get more. When our ancestors lived, hundreds and thousands of years ago, the harvesting and processing of grain was crucial. If crops were left in the fields too long, or the bread not baked in time, families could starve. Taking care of one’s crops meant the difference between life and death.

By celebrating Lammas as a harvest holiday, we honor our ancestors and the hard work they must have had to do in order to survive. This is a good time to give thanks for the abundance we have in our lives, and to be grateful for the food on our tables. Lammas is a time of transformation, of rebirth and new beginnings.

Symbols of the Season

The Wheel of the Year has turned once more, and you may feel like decorating your house accordingly. While you probably can’t find too many items marked as “Lammas decor” in your local discount store, there are a number of items you can use as decoration for this harvest holiday.

Crafts, Song and Celebration

Because of its association with Lugh, the skilled god, Lammas (Lughnasadh) is also a time to celebrate talents and craftsmanship. It’s a traditional time of year for craft festivals, and for skilled artisans to peddle their wares. In medieval Europe, guilds would arrange for their members to set up booths around a village green, festooned with bright ribbons and fall colors. Perhaps this is why so many modern Renaissance Festivals begin around this time of year!

  • Sickles and scythes, as well as other symbols of harvesting
  • Grapes and vines
  • Dried grains — sheafs of wheat, bowls of oats, etc.
  • Corn dolls — you can make these easily using dried husks
  • Early fall vegetables, such as squashes and pumpkins
  • Late summer fruits, like apples, plums and peaches

Lugh is also known in some traditions as the patron of bards and magicians. Now is a great time of year to work on honing your own talents. Learn a new craft, or get better at an old one. Put on a play, write a story or poem, take up a musical instrument, or sing a song. Whatever you choose to do, this is the right season for rebirth and renewal, so share your new skill with your friends and family.

Imbolc in Northern Hemisphere

To all in the Northern Hemisphere I wish you a blessed Imbolc as you move towards Spring.  I hope you begin to feel warmer as the snow melts and the sun shines. Blessed Be!

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Imbolc Lore

Posted on February 2, 2015 by ladyoftheabyss

It is traditional upon Imbolc, at sunset or just after ritual, to light every lamp in the house-if only for a few moments. Or, light candles in each room in honor of the Sun’s rebirth. Alternately, light a kerosene lamp with a red chimney and place this in a prominent part of the home or in a window.

If snow lies on the ground outside, walk in it for a moment, recalling the warmth of summer. With your projective hand, trace an image of the Sun on the snow.

Foods appropriate to eat on this day include those from the dairy, since Imbolc marks the festival of calving. Sour cream dishes are fine. Spicy and full-bodied foods in honor of the Sun are equally attuned. Curries and all dishes made with peppers, onions, leeks, shallots, garlic or chives are appropriate. Spiced wines and dishes containing raisins-all foods symbolic of the Sun-are also traditional.

Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner
Scott Cunningham

Imbolc Ritual

By Scott Cunningham

A symbol of the season, such as a representation of a snowflake, a white flower, or perhaps some snow in a crystal container can be placed on the altar. An orange candle anointed with musk, cinnamon, frankincense or rosemary oil, unlit, should also be there. Snow can be melted and used for the water during the circle casting.

Arrange the altar, light the candles and censer, and cast the Circle of Stones.

Recite the Blessing Chant.

Invoke the Goddess and God.

Say such words as the following:

This is the time of the feast of torches,
when every lamp blazes and shines
to welcome the rebirth of the God.
I celebrate the Goddess,
I celebrate the God;
All the Earth celebrates
Beneath its mantle of sleep.

Light the orange taper from the red candle on the altar (or at the Southern point of the circle). Slowly walk the circle clockwise, bearing the candle before you. Say these or similar words:

All the land is wrapped in winter.
The air is chilled and
frost envelopes the Earth.
But Lord of the Sun,
Horned One of animals and wild places,
Unseen you have been reborn of the gracious
Mother Goddess, Lady of all fertility.
Hail Great God! Hail and welcome!

Stop before the altar, holding aloft the candle. Gaze at its flame. Visualize your life blossoming with creativity, with renewed energy and strength.

If you need to look into the future or past, now is an ideal time.

Works of magic, if necessary, may follow.

Celebrate the Simple Feast.

The circle is released.

—Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner
Scott Cunningham

 

Super Blue Blood Moon

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The heavens are lining up and a stunning blood red moon will grace our sky tonight during a special total lunar eclipse.

If you’re anywhere in Australia, you’ll have a ringside seat — weather permitting — to the first total lunar eclipse since 2015.

Those in the west will get the most mind-bending view if the sky is clear.

Supermoon or superbuzz?

This lunar eclipse occurs more than a day after the Moon has come closest to Earth in this orbit. That just makes it a ‘supermoon’ — the third in three months — based on a loose definition first coined by an astrologist.

But it’s hard to spot the difference between a supermoon, even at its closest, and a regular full moon, says Dr Hill.

“There’s a tiny difference, but it’s not something we can see or relate to in the night sky.

“The ‘supermoon’ is just a bit of a superbuzz,” she says.

Find out more in our Beginner’s Guide to the Moon.

For much of Australia, the eclipse also just happens to fall on the second full moon of the calendar month — otherwise known as a “blue moon”.

You may have read that this event is first time a “blue, blood moon” has happened in 150 years. While it’s a relatively rare combination, some parts of the world (including Australia) were lucky enough to see a total lunar eclipse on a blue moon just over 35 years ago.

A total lunar eclipse occurs when the Earth’s shadow moves across the Moon, blocking out the light from the Sun.

The first of two total lunar eclipses this year will be visible right across Australia, Asia, the west coast of North America and the Pacific.

And it will be a beauty, says astronomer Tanya Hill of the Melbourne Planetarium.

“This one is going almost right into the centre of the Earth’s shadow, so it will be lovely and long,” Dr Hill says.

Shadow across the Moon

Everyone across Australia will see the Earth’s shadow glide across the Moon at exactly the same time over three hours starting from about 10:48pm (AEDT) (see timezone conversions below).

“Slowly you’ll see that shadow move across the Moon until it completely engulfs it. That’s when we have the beautiful colour of totality forming,” Dr Hill explains.

“After an hour or so the Moon will start to emerge and you’ll start to see the moon brightening up as it completely drifts away from the Earth’s shadow.”

And you don’t need special equipment to see it.

“If you do have a telescope or binoculars you do get to see a better or closer view, but it’s certainly not required to watch that shadow cross,” Dr Hill says.

Astronomer Brad Tucker of the Australian National University says the red appearance is caused by the light filtering and bending properties of our atmosphere.

“That red appearance is really the sunrise and the sunset of the Earth falling on the Moon,” he says.

When to watch the eclipse

Everyone in Australia will see the full eclipse, but people living in eastern states will get a different view to the west.

Partial eclipse begins Total eclipse begins Maximum eclipse Total eclipse ends Partial eclipse ends
Adelaide 10:18 PM 11:22 PM Midnight 12:38 AM (Feb 1) 1:41 AM (Feb 1)
Brisbane 9:48 PM 10:52 PM 11:30 PM 12:08 PM (Feb 1) 1:11 AM (Feb 1)
Canberra 10:48 PM 11:52 PM 12:30 AM (Feb 1) 1:08 AM (Feb 1) 2:11 AM (Feb 1)
Darwin 9:18 PM 10:22 PM 11:00 PM 11:38 PM 12:41 AM (Feb 1)
Hobart 10:48 PM 11:52 PM 12:30 AM (Feb 1) 1:08 AM (Feb 1) 2:11 AM (Feb 1)
Melbourne 10:48 PM 11:52 PM 12:30 AM (Feb 1) 1:08 AM (Feb 1) 2:11 AM (Feb 1)
Perth 7:48 PM 8:52 PM 9:30 PM 10:08 PM 11:11 PM
Sydney 10:48 PM 11:52 PM 12:30 AM (Feb 1) 1:08 AM (Feb 1) 2:11 AM (Feb 1)
Note: Full moon occurs at 12:26 AM AEDT Feb 1 (and equivalent time zones).

While the eastern states will see the full eclipse high in the sky, those on the west coast will see the eclipse start just after the sun sets and the moon rises.

“They’ll have a really fantastic view of this strangely large moon as it wanders into Earth’s shadow,” Dr Hill says.

This extra big moon is not because it’s a “supermoon”; it’s an optical illusion that makes things on the horizon look bigger.

A simple way West Australians can test this is to hold your thumb next to the Moon at the beginning of the eclipse, then put your thumb against the Moon when it is higher in the sky.

“You’ll see that it hasn’t changed size at all,” she says.

How rare is rare?

You may have read that a “blue, blood moon” is a “once-in-a-lifetime” event. That’s true only if you live in North America.

The last time people living in North America saw a total lunar eclipse on a blue moon was on March 31, 1866. This eclipse was not a “supermoon”. Nor was it visible from Australia.

“Everybody who is on the night side of the Earth will see the lunar eclipse, anyone who is on the day side won’t because the sun is in the sky and not the full moon,” Dr Hill explains.

However, total lunar eclipses during blue moons occurred over Australia on December 30, 1982 and December 30, 1963. But, thanks to time zone differences, these were not blue moons in North America. Both these eclipses would have been “supermoons”.

Even this lunar eclipse doesn’t happen on a blue moon for everyone in Australia.

The full moon happens at a precise time — 1:26PM UTC January 31— everywhere around the world at the equivalent time. This means the full moon will fall on January 31 in most Australian time zones, but it will be 12:26 AM February 1 in New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory.

Litha in Sothern Hemisphere – Yule in Northern Hemisphere

To all of us in the Southern Hemisphere I wish for you a Blessed Litha.  Enjoy the summer solstice as the summer months unfold.  Stay safe from the fires and Blessed Be!

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Midsummer, also known as Litha, is the time of the year when the days are longest and the nights shortest. The colors of the season are red and gold, representing heat and ripe fruit, and fruit is eaten in thanks.

In Australia the Sturt Desert Pea is a sacred flower of this time. Litha falls in the dry stifling heat of summer in the southern part of our land, but in the north, Litha falls in the hot, wet season, and represents fruitfulness.

Due to fire restrictions in Australia throughout summer, celebrations for this Sabbat tend to be quite different from those those throughout the rest of the year. No candles can be lit, no cauldrons burned, and no open flames are allowed throughout much of the country.

This means that we seek other ways of marking the quarters. One method is to make staffs for the Quarter Priest/esses to hold and brandish as the Elements are called in. Light sources include battery-operated torches that can be covered in colored cellophane to produce different colored light applicable to the various Elements. The cauldron can be replaced with a glass bowl of water, filled with rosewater and seashells, symbolising the importance of water to Australian Witches at this time. Garlands for our hair, wreaths to carry and use in ritual, and light, casual clothing are all a part of Midsummer celebrations.

Midsummer falls on the summer solstice, which is the longest day of the year, and a time of joy and strength for the light. This holiday celebrates the Sun King in all his glory, who can be identified amongst others as Mithras, the Bull God and Jesus Christ in Christian belief. In Pagan celebrations in northern Europe, this is the time when the Oak King, representing the waxing year, is cast down by the Holly King, representing the waning year. The two are aspects of the one: the Oak King is the growing youth while the Holly King is male maturity.

Because Midsummer in Australia falls close to the mainstream Christian festival of Christmas, a lovely traditional part of Midsummer celebrations is to ask Coven members to give small monetary donations, which can then be passed on to children’s charities. By doing this, we are acknowledging that although our faiths may differ, we are all part of the Australian community and have a responsibility towards caring for children – especially at this time of the year.

Healings, growth spells, empowerment spells, and love magick are all incredibly potent at this time of the year. It is a time when all things are possible, and the sprites and faeries of Midsummer Night can cause mischief in the mortal world. It is considered that the veil between the immortal and mortal worlds is thin at Midsummer, and that time can be stretched and twisted as the worlds are drawn closer together.

Midsummer is celebrated on the 21st and 22nd of December in the Southern hemisphere, and on the 21st and 22nd of June in the Northern hemisphere. It is associated with Alban Hefin (Scottish), and the general midsummer mysteries.

(From http://www.akashawitchcraft.net – website no longer available.)

 

Yule – Northern Hemisphere

To all in the Northern Hemisphere I wish you a blessed Yule, may you stay warm and comfy as the winter months unfold.  Blessed Be!

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The date of this sabbat varies from December 20 to December 23 depending on the year in the Gregorian calendar.  The winter solstice is celebrated at this time in the northern hemisphere but it is now time to celebrate the summer solstice (Litha) in the southern hemisphere due to the seasonal differences.

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, the sun’s “rebirth” was celebrated with much joy. On this night, our ancestors celebrated the rebirth of the Oak King, the Sun King, the Giver of Life that warmed the frozen Earth. From this day forward, the days would become longer.

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 (evergreens were sacred to the Celts because they did not “die” thereby representing the eternal aspect of the Divine). The wheat stalks portrayed the harvest, and the flour was accomplishment of triumph, light, and life. Holly and ivy not only decorated the outside, but also the inside of homes, in hopes Nature Sprites would 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 visit tthe residents. Mistletoe was also hung as decoration.  It represented the seed of the Divine, and at Midwinter, the Druids would travel deep into the forest to harvest it.

The ceremonial Yule log was the highlight of the Solstice 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 by 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.

Many customs created around Yule are identified with Christmas today.  If you decorate your home with a Yule tree, holly or candles, you are following some of these old traditions.   The Yule log, (usually made from a piece of wood saved from the previous year) is burned in the fire to symbolize the Newborn Sun/Son.

Deities of Yule:  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–

https://wicca.com/celtic/akasha/yule.htm

 

 

Beltane in Southern Hemisphere – Samhain in Northern Hemisphere

Many Beltane blessing to those of us in the Southern Hemisphere, although it is Spring here it is a cold drizzly day here on the mountain.  The Rhododendrons are blooming and everything looks beautiful.  Blessed Be!

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Beltane
In the southern hemisphere, the first week of November brings the cross-quarter day that marks the end of spring and the start of the heat and energy of summer, and the festival of love. It’s a time of lovers and spells to attract love, and celebrating the fertility of life, not just physically, but also of our dreams and ambitions. Symbolically this day marks the igniting of the fires of creativity and passion, of the fertility of our desires being made manifest, as the universe bursts with a raw energy and power that we can tap in to simply by breathing it in.
In the northern hemisphere Beltane falls around May Day, and while it has no relevance to us in terms of timing, I have been part of a coven ritual that involved a maypole dance, to represent the union of god and goddess at this point in the Wheel of the Seasonal Year. I’ve also leapt over the Beltane fires, although that was before I met my husband, when I jumped over it with friends as part of a personal ritual of purification and preparation, leaping out of my past, burning away the relationship issues that had kept my heart closed, and towards a future where love was possible (I met my partner two months later).
While I’ve been known to dress up as a vampire or a fairy and go to a Halloween party on October 31, privately or with coven members or witchie friends I’m celebrating the new blossoms and the vitality and fertility of Beltane at this time.

So, while it’s perhaps a little easier for northern hemisphere goddess worshippers to celebrate the cycle of the seasons, given that so many of them are actually woven into “normal” life, when you tune in to the earth and the rhythms of nature it is easy to know when it’s the right time to celebrate any of the old festivals. Because whether you live in the north, where they began, or the south, adding your own personal meaning to the traditional forms of celebration, the sabbats are still relevant to our lives. Even today, when we no longer live in harmony with the earth’s rhythms or agricultural cycles, modern pagans celebrate the Wheel of the Year as an honouring of nature and an acknowledgement of the continuing cycle of life, death and rebirth, both literally and symbolically. Becoming aware of the seasonal shifts and the patterns of nature wherever you live, and celebrating these ancient but still relevant festivals, is a simple way to tap in to the magic of the universe and harness it for your own growth. We may no longer grow our own grain or purify the fields with fire, but these celebrations still have power, particularly in the symbolic form – planting the seeds of our dreams in the metaphorical spring, watching them grow and manifest in the world before we give thanks for our literal harvest, then allowing the things that no longer serve us to die off or be released in our own personal winter, then starting all over again with new dreams as we celebrate our own rebirth.
I’ve spent a few sabbats in the northern hemisphere, leaping the Beltane fires in Glastonbury’s Chalice Well Gardens, sitting inside the Great Pyramid on the morning of the summer solstice, watching the sun set over the Hill of Tara at Lughnasadh, and the energy of each season is intense, real and tangible no matter which hemisphere I am in. Whenever I celebrate these magical turning points of our planet I feel so strongly a part of the earth, at one with nature and the universe. And so, regardless of which half of the world I’m in, I always acknowledge the opposite festival as well, in some small way. Perhaps this isn’t as important for those in the north, but for me it seems right to acknowledge the turning seasons all over the world, the beautiful, gracefully balanced dance of light and dark, heat and cold, day and night, that makes up this world that we are all a part of.
We are all connected to the earth, no matter where we live, and we need to learn how to (and accept that we can) follow the seasons of nature in our own unique way, based on the rising and setting of the sun in our own home town, the cycles of the moon as it crosses our part of the sky, and the very personal language of nature that is so different – and yet so similar –according to our own unique landscape.


Serene Conneeley is a healer, writer and witch who lives in Sydney, Australia. She is a reconnective healing practitioner and has studied magical and medicinal herbalism, reiki and many other healing modalities, as well as politics and journalism. Her first book, Seven Sacred Sites: Magical Journeys That Will Change Your Life, has just been published.

 Samhain – Northern Hemisphere

Many Samhain blessings to those in the Northern Hemisphere as you head towards the cold winter months, keep warm and cosy and today have a happy Halloween.  Blessed Be!

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Samhain Lore and Traditions

October 31 — Samhain Eve
Also known as: November Eve, Feast of the Dead, Feast of Apples, Hallows
and All Hallows Eve.
Possibly the biggest festival of the Witches’ year, Samhain is a time to remember those who have passed on, celebrate the Summers end and prepare for Winter months ahead. The Sun God and earth fall into slumber, as the nights lengthen and winter begins.

Samhain, (pronounced SOW-in, SAH-vin, or SAM-hayne) means “End of Summer”, and is the third and final Harvest. The dark winter half of the year commences on this Sabbat.

Various other names for this Greater Sabbat are Third Harvest, Samana, Day of the Dead, Old Hallowmas (Scottish/Celtic), Vigil of Saman, Shadowfest (Strega), and Samhuinn. Also known as All Hallow’s Eve, (that day actually falls on November 7th), and Martinmas (that is celebrated November 11th), Samhain is now generally considered the Witch’s New Year.

It is generally celebrated on October 31st, but some traditions prefer November 1st.It is one of the two “spirit-nights” each year, the other being Beltane. It is a magical interval when the mundane laws of time and space are temporarily suspended, and the Thin Veil between the worlds is lifted. Communicating with ancestors and departed loved ones is easy at this time, for they journey through this world on their way to the Summerlands.

It is a time to study the Dark Mysteries and honor the Dark Mother and the Dark Father, symbolized by the Crone and her aged Consort. Tradition also teaches that the aid of spirits and guides from the other world was easily enlisted at this time, so in the increasing moonlight of longer nights, many used this time to hone their psychic and divinatory skills, especially with regard to love and marriage.

Originally known as the “Feast of the Dead” this sabbat was celebrated in Celtic countries by leaving food offerings on altars and doorsteps for the “wandering dead”.Today a lot of practitioners still carry out that tradition. Single candles were lit and left in a window to help guide the spirits of ancestors and loved ones home. Extra chairs were set to the table and around the hearth for the unseen guest. Apples were buried along roadsides and paths for spirits who were lost or had no descendants to provide for them. Turnips were hollowed out and carved to look like protective spirits, for this was a night of magic and chaos.

The Wee Folke became very active, pulling pranks on unsuspecting humans. Traveling after dark was was not advised. People dressed in white (like ghosts), wore disguises made of straw, or dressed as the opposite gender in order to fool the Nature spirits.

The Christian religion has adopted this day as All Saints Day, or All Hallows Day, celebrating the eve as All Hallows Eve, or Halloween. The superstition and misconception linked to this celebration by the early church, led people to take some unusual precautions to protect themselves. They adopted the tradition of dressing in frightening costumes or disguises, and displaying scary looking Jack-O-Lanterns to help protect them from spirits they considered to be evil. In the British Isles, the young people would disguise themselves with hideous masks and walk through the village, lighting their way with lanterns made from carved turnips.

This was also the time that the cattle and other livestock were slaughtered for eating in the ensuing winter months. Any crops still in the field on Samhain were considered taboo, and left as offerings to the Nature spirits. Bonfires were built, (originally called bone-fires, for after feasting, the bones were thrown in the fire as offerings for healthy and plentiful livestock in the New Year) and stones were marked with peoples names. Then they were thrown into the fire, to be retrieved in the morning. The condition of the retrieved stone foretold of that person’s fortune in the coming year. Hearth fires were also lit from the village bonfire to ensure unity, and the ashes were spread over the harvested fields to protect and bless the land.

Symbolism of Samhain:
Third Harvest, the Dark Mysteries, Rebirth through Death.

Symbols of Samhain:
Gourds, Apples, Black Cats, Jack-O-Lanterns, Besoms.

Herbs of Samhain:
Mugwort, Allspice, Broom, Catnip, Deadly Nightshade, Mandrake, Oak leaves, Sage and Straw.

Foods of Samhain:
Turnips, Apples, Gourds, Nuts, Mulled Wines, Beef, Pork, Poultry.

Incense of Samhain:
Heliotrope, Mint, Nutmeg.

Colors of Samhain:
Black, Orange, White, Silver, Gold.

Stones of Samhain:
All Black Stones, preferably jet or obsidian.

Traditional Foods:
Apples, Pears, Pomegranates, All Grains, Pumpkin-pie, Hazelnuts, Cakes for the dead, Corn, Cranberry muffins and breads, Ale, Cider, Herbal teas (especially Mugwort) and Meat unless vegetarian and then tofu will do.

Herbs:
Calendula, Cosmos, Chrysanthemum, Wormwood, Hazel, Thistle.

Incense:
Mint, Heliotrope, Nutmeg, Sage or Floral’s.

Woods and Herbs Burned:
Apple, Heliotrope, Mint, Nutmeg, Sage.

Sacred Gemstone:
Aquamarine.

For further information on rites and rituals to celebrate the sabbats, we reccommend:

Pagan Holidays and Earth Magic by Kardia Zoe

However you choose to celebrate Samhain, be adventurous and investigate some of the older traditions. There is a large amount of interesting and sometimes comical lore surrounding this date. As an aside, it’s OK. to dress up as Witches’, Goblins and have fun with the more nonsense aspects of this holiday. It is good however to set aside some time to learn the true meaning behind this date and follow those observances as our ancestors did.

Blessed Be!

Reference:  https://wicca.com/celtic/akasha/samhainlore.htm