Beltane in Southern Hemisphere – Samhain in Northern Hemisphere

Many blessings to those of us in the Southern Hemisphere as we celebrate Beltane and welcome the summer days ahead.  Although it is not Halloween here, we do celebrate it as it would be difficult to explain to little children that it’s not the right time. Blessed Be!

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A blessed Beltane to you!

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  in Northern Hemisphere

Blessings to all my friends in the Northern Hemisphere as you celebrate Samhain and welcome the colder months. 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

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Imbolc in Southern Hemisphere – Lammas in Northern Hemisphere

Firstly I am sorry I am a day late but I have been out with a crippling migraine for a couple of days.   So to all of us in the Southern Hemisphere I wish a Blessed Imbolc.  It is still cold and wintry here, I know I am looking forward to some warmer days.  Blessed Be!

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Northern Hemisphere Date: February 2nd
Also known as Imbolg, Candlemas, Feast of Torches, Oimelc, Lupercalia and Brigid’s Day.

Imbolc is the time of the beginning of beginnings, the time to consider carefully what you will do with the year stretching before you. Imbolc brings the awakening of the life force when the first green shoots of bulbs appear. Life is stirring again and this marks the Goddess recovering after giving birth while the newborn God is depicted as a small child nursing from his mother. The God is growing, spreading sunshine all around causing things to grow. It is a time to honour the feminine and get ready for spring. At lmbolc, the Australian forests are bright with the colour yellow, the Acacia trees coming into full flower. Until fairly recently, the 1st of August was “Wattle day” in Australia (it has now been moved to the 1st of September).

 

Lammas – Northern Hemisphere

To all in the Northern Hemisphere I wish you a blessed Lammas.  I hope that everyone is safe from the fires raging over there.  Hopefully things will cool soon and you will get rain to clear it all away.  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 of August 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, on August 1, 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 set August 1 as the day to share your new skill with your friends and family.

Yule in Southern Hemisphere – Litha in Northern Hemisphere

Yule Blessings to us in the Southern Hemisphere.  It’s cold and wintery, particularly here on the mountain.  I am sitting beside the fire as I type this and the glow of the flames warms my heart.    We will be enjoying a Yule feast with friends and family. Keep warm and enjoy the many blessings of Yule. Blessed Be!

AN11

 

The Winter Solstice – Yule Lore

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

 

Litha – Northern Hemisphere

Litha Blessings to those in the Northern Hemisphere, may you be blessed by the sun as it shines down upon you warming your heart and opening your soul to the joy of summer.  Blessed Be!

litha

 

Litha (Summer Solstice)

Litha, or Midsummer, is celebrated at the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the Year, and the shortest night.

Litha celebrates the very height of the powers of the Sun and of Life. But it also acknowledges that after this date the Sun will begin to weaken and the days to grow shorter. Litha is a time of purification.  An Example of a purification Litha spell is to take a small herbal bag filled with Litha herbs/flowers, put all your problems, worries etc. into the bag, and drop it into the Litha fire to burn all those worries away.

Litha is also a time to pay attention to your dreams, as these could contain messages for the future.  This Sabbat is a good time to perform any Magikal workings, and jumping over a Litha balefire will increase the Magikal energy and give purification  Herbs and plants for ritual use can be harvested at Litha to make use of the high level of Magik power at this time.

Litha is also a time to make protection amulets, and bless people or animals.

Plants for Litha:  Mugwort, Vervain, Chamomile, Rose, lily, Oak, Lavender, Ivy, Yarrow, Fern, Elder, Wild thyme, Daisy, Carnation, St John’s Wort.

Stones: Moonstone, Quartz, Pearl.

Colours:  Green, Orange, Yellow, Gold.

Element:  Water.

Planet:  Moon.

Zodiac:  Cancer.

Pagan Beliefs:  The Goddess is mature.  The God prepares for his death.  Some traditions have the Holly King and the Oak King fighting again, but this time the Holly King wins, and rules until Yule.

Litha Goddesses: Athena, Bona Dea, Freya, Hathor, Isis, Juno, Nuit, Artemis, Dana, Eos, Kali, Sekhmet, Vesta.

Litha Gods: Apollo, Baal, Dagda, Balder, Helios, lugh, Oak king, Holly King, Prometheus, Ra, Thor, Sol, Zeus.

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!

AN11.jpg

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

 

 

Litha – Summer Solstice, Southern Hemisphere – Yule – Winter Solstice, Northern Hemisphere

To all of us in the Southern Hemisphere I wish you a blessed Litha as we feel the warmth of the sun upon our skin.  Stay safe throughout the fire season and Blessings to you and your families.

Blessed Be!

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Litha, or Midsummer, is celebrated at the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the Year, and the shortest night.

Litha celebrates the very height of the powers of the Sun and of Life. But it also acknowledges that after this date the Sun will begin to weaken and the days to grow shorter. Litha is a time of purification.  An Example of a purification Litha spell is to take a small herbal bag filled with Litha herbs/flowers, put all your problems, worries etc. into the bag, and drop it into the Litha fire to burn all those worries away.

Litha is also a time to pay attention to your dreams, as these could contain messages for the future.  This Sabbat is a good time to perform any Magikal workings, and jumping over a Litha balefire will increase the Magikal energy and give purification  Herbs and plants for ritual use can be harvested at Litha to make use of the high level of Magik power at this time.

Litha is also a time to make protection amulets, and bless people or animals.

Plants for Litha:  Mugwort, Vervain, Chamomile, Rose, lily, Oak, Lavender, Ivy, Yarrow, Fern, Elder, Wild thyme, Daisy, Carnation, St John’s Wort.

Stones: Moonstone, Quartz, Pearl.

Colours:  Green, Orange, Yellow, Gold.

Element:  Water.

Planet:  Moon.

Zodiac:  Cancer.

Pagan Beliefs:  The Goddess is mature.  The God prepares for his death.  Some traditions have the Holly King and the Oak King fighting again, but this time the Holly King wins, and rules until Yule.

Litha Goddesses: Athena, Bona Dea, Freya, Hathor, Isis, Juno, Nuit, Artemis, Dana, Eos, Kali, Sekhmet, Vesta.

Litha Gods: Apollo, Baal, Dagda, Balder, Helios, lugh, Oak king, Holly King, Prometheus, Ra, Thor, Sol, Zeus.

 

 

Yule – Northern Hemisphere

And to all in the Northern Hemisphere I wish you a blessed Yule.  May you stay safe and warm as the Winter Solstice wraps around you.  May you have a Blessed Christmas and may the Year ahead be magikal.

Blessed Be!

yule-blessings

Yule is celebrated at the winter solstice (Or the midpoint of winter). It is the shortest day of the year, and the longest night.

Yule comes from the Germanic “Iul” meaning “Wheel.” Yule celebrates Winter, and the rebirth of the Sun God. As Yule is the shortest day of the Year it marks the Suns low point, as after this the Sun will begin to grow stronger again. It is customary to have a Yule log – this is a log (Traditionally Oak or Pine) that you burn during this time, and keep it through the year for protection, and add it to the fire of the following year’s Yule log.

If you do not wish to have a fire, you can use a log with holes drilled into it as a candle holder which will represent the Yule fire.  It is also customary to light many lights and candles as sympathetic magik to bring the Sun back, persuading him to emerge from the womb of the Earth mother..

Holly is traditionally worn by men, and Ivy by women at this time.  The Yule tree (Also known as the Christmas tree) was a wishing tree, the wishes for the new year hang in the arms of the universe.

You can make a Pagan Yule tree by making decorations from Rose Buds, Cinnamon Sticks, Pop Corn, Bags of Herbs, Crystals suspended from wire, Apples, Oranges, Lemons etc.  After you have made the tree, dance around it Deosil (clockwise), singing and making wishes. A time for Rebirth, reflection, new ideas, dreams, hopes and giving.
Plants for Yule:  Holly, Mistletoe, Ivy, Evergreens, Pine, Cedar, Bay, Juniper, Rosemary, Pine, Apples, Oranges, Nutmeg, Lemon, Cinnamon, Frankincense.

Foods of Yule:  All “Christmas” foods (eg. Turkey, Roasts, Potatoes etc.), hearty Winter foods (Stew etc.), Nuts, Apples, Pears, Caraway, Pork, Hibiscus or Ginger tea.

Stones:  Onyx, Obsidian, Jet.

Colours:  Red, Green, Orange, White.

Element:  Earth.

Planet: Saturn

Zodiac: Capricorn.

Pagan belief:  The Goddess gives birth to the God.  Some traditions have a Holly King and an Oak King as the God, and they fight at Yule with the Oak King winning, and ruling until Litha.

Yule Goddesses: Fortuna, Gaia, Heket, Lilith, Frey, Ma’at, Pandora, Shekinah, Tiamat.

Yule Gods: Apollo, Balder, Cronos, Helios, Janus, Lugh, Oak King, Holly King, Ra, Sol, Attis, mithras, Odin, Saturn.

Beltane in Southern Hemisphere – Samhain Northern Hemisphere

Beltane Blessings to those of us in the Southern Hemisphere, although we are in Spring it is a cold wet day here, and we’re keeping warm and toasty in front of the fire with a cat curled up beside me.  Blessed Be!

beltane1

Five Ideas for Celebrating Beltane (Without A Group, Grove or Coven)

reblogged from www.witchesofthecraft.com

Samhain – Northern Hemisphere

Samhain blessings to all in the Northern Hemisphere, and happy Halloween.  Blessed Be!

samhain__s_night_by_wiccancountess08-d4b3obh

Ritual to Honor the Ancestors at Samhain

For many modern Pagans, there has been a resurgence of interest in our family histories. We want to know where we came from and whose blood runs through our veins. Although ancestor worship has traditionally been found more in Africa and Asia, many Pagans with European heritage are beginning to feel the call of their ancestry. This rite can be performed either by itself, or on the third night of Samhain, following the End of Harvest celebration and the Honoring of the Animals.

First, decorate your altar table — you may have already gotten it set up during the End of Harvest rite or for the Ritual for Animals. Decorate your altar with family photos and heirlooms. If you have a family tree chart, place that on there as well. Add postcards, flags, and other symbols of the country your ancestors came from. If you’re lucky enough to live near where your family members are buried, make a grave rubbing and add that as well. In this case, a cluttered altar is perfectly acceptable — after all, each of us is a blend of many different people and cultures.

Have a meal standing by to eat with the ritual. Include lots of dark bread, apples, fall vegetables, and a jug of cider or wine. Set your dinner table, with a place for each family member, and one extra plate for the ancestors. You may want to bake some Soul Cakes.

If your family has household guardians, include statues or masks of them on your altar. Finally, if a relative has died this year, place a candle for them on the altar. Light candles for other relatives, and as you do so, say the person’s name aloud. It’s a good idea to use tealights for this, particularly if you have a lot of relatives to honor.

Once all the candles have been lit, the entire family should circle the altar. The oldest adult present leads the ritual. Say:

This is the night when the gateway between
our world and the spirit world is thinnest.
Tonight is a night to call out those who came before us.
Tonight we honor our ancestors.
Spirits of our ancestors, we call to you,
and we welcome you to join us for this night.
We know you watch over us always,
protecting us and guiding us,
and tonight we thank you.
We invite you to join us and share our meal.

The oldest family member then serves everyone else a helping of whatever dishes have been prepared, except for the wine or cider. A serving of each food goes on the ancestors’ plate before the other family members recieve it. During the meal, share stories of ancestors who are no longer among the living — this is the time to remember Grandpa’s war stories he told you as a child, tell about when Aunt Millie used salt instead of sugar in the cake, or reminisce about summers spent at the family homestead in the mountains.

When everyone has finished eating, clear away all the dishes, except for the ancestors’ plate. Pour the cider or wine in a cup, and pass it around the circle (it should end at the ancestor’s place). As each person receives the cup, they recite their genealogy, like so:

I am Susan, daughter of Joyce, the daughter of Malcolm, son of Jonathan…

and so forth. Feel free to add in place names if you like, but be sure to include at least one generation that is deceased. For younger family members, you may wish to have them only recite back to their grandparents, just because otherwise they can get confused.

Go back as many generations as you can, or (in the case of people who have done a lot of genealogy research) as many as you can remember. You may be able to trace your family back to William the Conqueror, but that doesn’t mean you have it memorized. After each person recites their ancestry, they drink from the cider cup and pass it to the next person.

A quick note here — many people are adopted. If you are one them, you are fortunate enough to be able to choose whether you wish to honor your adoptive family, your biological family, or a combination of the two. If you don’t know the names of your birth parents or their ancestry, there’s nothing wrong with saying, “Daughter of a family unknown.” It’s entirely up to you. The spirits of your ancestors know who you are, even if you don’t know them yet.

After the cup has made its way around the table, place it in front of the ancestors’ plate. This time, a younger person in the family takes over, saying:

This is the cup of remembrance.
We remember all of you.
You are dead but never forgotten,
and you live on within us.

Tips:

If you didn’t do a separate ritual for animals, you can add photos and candles for deceased pets to your family altar.
If you like, you may wish to follow this ritual with a Seance.
If your children are younger, and you’d like to include them in a short ritual, consider holding an Ancestor Ritual for Families With Children instead.

Author

Patti Wigington, Paganism/Wicca Expert
Article originally published on & owned by About.com