Yule in Southern Hemisphere – Litha in Northern Hemisphere

Yule blessings to all in the Southern Hemisphere as we embrace the cold winter months and nurture with warm fires, tasty hearty food and enjoy a feast to celebrate this day.  Blessed Be!

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Yule is a time when the waxing sun overcomes the waning sun. The Holly King, which represents the death aspect of God, is overcome by the Oak King who represents the rebirth of the God. It is the time when you conclude the chapter of your life for the year and prepare for the rebirth of the New Year’s lessons and opportunities.

Celebrations vary from tradition to tradition, but there are some similarities that most people will probably recognise.

The festival is associated with fire, and the Yule log. The fire is the tool that returns all to its beginnings, “ashes to ashes”. And prepares the soul for rebirth, the “rise of the Phoenix from the ashes”.

The season is also represented by the colours red (for the fire) and green (for the rebirth) process. The season includes the cutting of the Yule tree, decorating the home with a holy wreath (nature’s red and green bush) and decorating special cookies for celebrating the sweet joys of the year past and the sweetness for the year to come.

Finally the season includes the reindeer stag to represent the horned God, the Wiccan God of death and the final chapter of the year.

 Litha – Northern Hemisphere

 Many Litha blessings to all in the Northern Hemisphere as you celebrate the Summer Solstice and embrace the warmth of the coming months. Blessed Be!

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Litha is also known as Summer Solstice.

The Litha Sabbat is a time to celebrate both work and leisure, it is a time for children and childlike play.

It is a time to celebrate the ending of the waxing year and the beginning of the waning year, in preparation for the harvest to come.

Midsummer is a time to absorb the Sun’s warming rays and it is another fertility Sabbat, not only for humans, but also for crops and animals.

Wiccans consider the Goddess to be heavy with pregnancy from the mating at Beltane – honor is given to Her. The Sun God is celebrated as the Sun is at its peak in the sky and we celebrate His approaching fatherhood – honor is also given to Him.

The faeries abound at this time and it is customary to leave offerings – such as food or herbs – for them in the evening.

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!

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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!

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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

 

Faerie Beings – Bean Tighe

Today’s Faerie Being is Bean Tighe (house faerie).

Bean Tighe

BEAN TIGHE

BEAN TIGHE (‘Woman of the House’) is an Irish HOUSE FAERIE who looks like a kindly faced old woman. Although these faeries are rarely seen, they perform household tasks for their adopted human families in return for a small reward, such as a bowl of cream.

One of them looks after the enchanted underwater castle that is the home of the Earl and Desmond, AINE’S son. She appears on Knock Adoon on a formation called the ‘Housekeepers Little Seat’ (Suideachan), which juts out into the Lough. She fell asleep there one day and the BUACHAILLEEN appeared and stole her golden comb.   When she woke, she realised what had happened and cursed all of the Little Herd Boys cattle. They all died, followed soon after by the boy himself, but not before he cast the comb into the Lough, where it still lies.

Source: Illustrated Encyclopedia of Fairies by Anna Franklin

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Magikal Trees – Aspen

The mighty Aspen

Aspen

ASPEN

The Aspen is frequently known as the “trembling Aspen” because of the way the leaves seem to constantly quiver. One of the many beliefs about this tree is that it was the wood used for Christ’s cross. Another story relating to Jesus that attempts to explain the quivering action of the leaves is that the Aspen was the only tree in the forest that did not bow down to the holy family. Jesus is said to have put a curse on it, which cause the tree to tremble in fear.

According to Cormack’s glossary1, a rod of Aspen, called a fe, was used to measure a fresh grave to ensure its occupant would fit. This is said to have given rise to Aspen’s association with death. In the Tain Bo Cuailnge, Aspen was cut for the charioteers of the sons of Garach for spears to slay the Ulster hero Chulainn.

Medicinally, Aspen has been used to alleviate fevers. The black poplar is used for skin abrasions and to relieve pain and inflammation. The buds, bark, and leaves contain salicin, which is similar to aspirin. It has also been used for earaches, asthma and coughs.

During time of famine, Native Americans used the inner bark of the Aspen as food. This was preferable over some other available food because of its sweetness. It was also used to feed animals.

Aspens have soft white wood that is prone to breaking in storms. They are one of the early trees to repopulate a forest after a fire or other disaster, their shade providing a gentle “nursery” for other trees. Aspens stabilise a damaged ecosystem, and like Alders, they are healers.

Latin Name: Populis tremuloids (quaking aspen), P. Alba (White poplar), P. Nigra (Black poplar), P. canescens (Grey poplar)

Seasonal Details: long clustered catkins that often release “Cottony” seeds March – May; small oval/heart-shaped leaves that turn vibrant yellow in autumn

Powers/Attributes: ancestry, astral projection, communication, courage, eloquence, endurance, harmony, healing, money, peace, protection, rebirth, rejuvenation, success

Elements: air, water

Ogham Character:    Eabhadh

Name: Eadhadh

Letter: E

Ogham Character:    Eadhadh

Name: Eabhadh

Letters: EA, CH, K

Rune Character:      Peorth

Name: Peorth/Pertho

Letter: P

Feng Shui Sectors: Centre, east, south east, south

Goddesses: Calypso, Frigg, Hecate, Morrigan, Persephone

Gods: Apollo, Achilles, Tyr, Zeus

Other Names for Tree: trembling Aspen, shivering tree, poplar

Zodiac: Capricorn, Libra

Celestial Bodies: Mercury, Saturn, Venus

Gemstone: grey topaz

Wildlife: butterflies, mourning dove, swan

Other Tree: Willow

Colours: grey, silvery white

Energy: masculine (White poplar cop), feminine (black poplar)

Bach Flower Remedy: fear of unknown things

Other Associations: death; dates: February 4 – eight, May 1 – 14, and August 5 – 13;

West; Sabbats: Mabon/Autumn equinox; sources disagree whether this is a Celtic peasant/common tree or shrub tree

Spellwork and Ritual: protection spell (especially against theft); travelling to or communicating with other realms; spells to help you through difficult times, as well as when you just need a boost in specific aspects of life

Glossary 1: this is an Irish/Latin dictionary compiled by Cormac Mac Cuilemmain of Cashel circa 900 CE. Ellis, the Druids, 150

Source: whispers from the woods by Sandra kynes

Magikal Trees – Ash

Today’s tree is the mighty Ash.

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ASH

The ancient Egyptian imported Ash and use the wood for bows and arrows shafts. In medieval Europe, Ash wood was used for wheel spokes and other products that required strength and flexibility. Today, Ash’s strong, shock resistant wood is used for tool handles, bats, snow shoes, and other sports equipment.

Ares, the Greek god of war and son of Zeus, was said to favour the ash because it produced excellent spar shafts. In an ancient Greek creation story, humans were formed from Ash and Oak trees.

Since it was known as “Venus of the Woods” in England, an ash leaf placed in the left shoe was believed to result in a person meeting his or her future spouse. Finding an ash leaf with an equal number of sections on both sides of the center vein was considered lucky and was often used in love charms. A double leaf was also considered lucky. In medieval folklore, the person on whose property an ash tree stood would be unlucky in love if seeds did not appear each year. An ash leaf placed under the pillow at night is said to aid in dream work.

In Norse mythology, Yggdrasil is a fantastic ash tree that connects heaven and earth. Its leaves provided shade and shelter for the entire earth and was known as the World Tree. This immortal tree carried the destiny of the world; if the tree was destroyed, the world would perish. In many legends, an evil serpent dangerously threatened to destroy the roots of Yggdrasil.

The underworld goddess, Hel, is said to have had her palace beneath one of the roots in the realm of Helheim. As Odin hung upside down from Yggdrasil, he drank from the Spring of Destiny that bubbled up at the base of the tree. This water is said to have given him great knowledge and revealed the mystery of the runes to him. Because of this, ash would is popular for rune tiles. In alternative versions of the story, Odin is said to have hung himself from his spear of ash.

In the ancient Eddas, the oral literature of Iceland, the wise eagle observed everything in the world from atop the sacred ash tree. Two streams flowed from the roots; one contained the knowledge of the past and the other the knowledge of the future. According to the stories, humans were created from the wood of the tree.

Three of the five great trees of Ireland were Ash: the tree of Uisnech, the tree of Tortu, and the tree of Dathi. The five trees were located in each of the five provinces and symbolised guardians who protected the sovereignty of the land. They were destroyed in 665 CE by the Celts themselves, rather than surrendered to the encroaching Christians.

Irish immigrants to America took pieces of an ash tree called the Tree of Creevna in Killura with them as protection against drowning.

Along with oak and hawthorn, ash was considered part of the triad of powerful faerie trees. In the traditional besom broom, ash is used for the handle.

Derived from the Gaelic fuinnse and fuinnseog for ash tree, the name of the town Funshin in Ireland means a “place of Ash trees”. The city of Fresno, California, gets its name from the Spanish word for ash tree because of the number of white ashes that grew there when the area was first settled.

Latin Name: Fraxinus Americana (White ash),

Seasonal Details: clusters of small flowers, April – May; one inch long winged seeds that stay on the tree until Autumn; multiple oval leaflets on stalks that turn orange to purple in Autumn.

Powers/Attributes: ambition, balance, communication, creativity, fertility, growth, healing, illumination/knowledge, love divination, peace of mind, poetry and storytelling, Prophecy, protection (especially from drowning), rebirth, stability, transition.

Elements: air, earth, fire, water

Celtic Calendar Dates: Ferbury 18 – March 17

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Ogham Character:

Name: Nion

Letter: N

Rune Character:

Name: As/Asa

Letter: A

Rune Character:

Name: Ehwaz/Eh

Letter: E

Rune Character:

Name: Gyfu/Gebo

Letter: G

Rune Character: 

Name: Man/Mannaz

Letter: M

Rune Character

Name: Wunjo/Wyn

Letter: W

Feng Shui Sectors: North, Northeast, East, South, Southwest, West

Goddesses: Eostre, Freya, Hel/Holle, Minerva, Nemesis

Gods: Ares, Dagda, Frey, Llyr, Neptune, Odin, Poseidon, Thor, Woden

Other Being/Character: Gwydion

Other Names for Tree: hoop Ash (Black Ash); tree of water (Teutonic)

Zodiac: Capricorn, Libra, Taurus, Virgo

Celestial bodies: Mercury, Neptune, Sun, Venus

Plants: wood anemone

Gemstones: clear quartz, coral, zircon

Wildlife: butterflies, common snipe

Colour: pale blue

Energy: masculine energy

Other Associations: connection with astral realm; doorway to other realms; dates: May 25 – June 6 and November 22 – December 1; sabbats, Ostara/vernal equinox, Beltane Celtic Chieftain/noble tree; Celtic Abred (Ireland) or Annwn (Wales), the innermost circle from which all lights sprang; Norse Asgard, the home of the gods which included Valhalla

Spell work and ritual: attraction spell; dispersion of negativity; divination (especially the seeds); protection spells; boosting the energy of spells; sea magic; solar magic; use in meditations, spells and rituals for seeking creative inspiration

Source: Whispers from the Woods by Sandra Kynes

Ash

The Magik of Trees

I am going to begin a section on trees and their magikal properties.   You can use this information for your magikal purposes and for writers can use them for your stories.

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ALDER

Derived from the trees Gaelic Irish name of fearn, the place name of Burrisnafarney in Ireland mean “the borough of the alder plain,” Mullafernaghan means “hill of the alder,” and Cloughfern means “stone of the alder.” In the second branch of the Welsh Celtic myth, The Mabinogion, Gwern’s (the son of Branwen and Matholwch) name means alder.

Medicinally, alder has been used as a substitute for quinine, as well as to reduce fever and inflammation. Alder has also been used to treat parasites such as lice. It’s inner bark is a natural pesticide. Since ancient times in Europe and North America, it’s bark, twigs, and flowers have been used for dyes (brown, green and red) and its wood for smoking meats.

The wood from young alder trees is easily worked. Mature alder wood is attractively tinted and veined. In Scotland, where alder is frequently used for making chairs, it is called Scottish mahogany. Alder has been used for barrel staves, spinning wheels, bowls, spoons, cigar boxes, clogs (in Holland and Lancashire, England) and fish weirs. One reason that alder has been considered magikal is due to the way it’s cut wood changes from white to red. Alder logs retrieved from bog’s have the colour but not the hardness of ebony.

Alder has an interesting relationship with the three elements of air, water and fire. Young, green branches can be easily turned into whistles by cutting both ends and pushing out the pith with a smaller stick. These hollow branches can be cut to various length and tied together to create “Pan” pipes. Whistles made from this would are said to be magikal and can summon the four winds.

Alders thrive near streams, but alder logs are water-resistant and have been used for pilings (most notably in Amsterdam and Venice). Alder branches have been used for divining rods, which are sometimes called “wishing” rods.

Concerning fire, alder does not burn well as fuel, but an excellent grade of charcoal can be created from it. According to Elizabeth Pepper and John Wilcox, people doing ceremonial magik were at one time advised to burn incense on alder charcoal.

Alder is a healer for its companion trees in the aftermath of trauma such as a flood, logging, or mining operations as noted by the seventeenth-century poet, William Brown, who wrote: “the alder, whose fat shadow nourisheth/each plant sets near him long flourisheth”. This is scientifically explained by alder’s ability to enrich soil with nitrogen, which trees and other plants need for healthy growth.

Powers and attributes:

Banishing, divination, foundation, guardian, healing, intuition, protection, rebirth, resurrection, transformation.

Elements: air, water, fire

Celtic Calendar Dates: March 18 – April 14

Name: Fearn

Letters: F, V, GW

Rune Character: I   Name: Is       Letter: I

Rune character:  Name: Man/Mannaz  

Letter: M

Feng Shui Sectors: Centre, East

Goddesses: Cailleach Beara, Bronwyn, Freya

God’s: Bran, Manannan Mac Lir, Proteus

Other beings\characters: Archangel Raphael, elves, faeries, Gwern, Gwydion, Taliesin

Zodiac: Pisces

Celestial Bodies: Mars, Venus

Plants: broom

Gemstones: Beryl (see green), Ruby, Serpentine

Wildlife: Fox, Herring gull, hawk, Raven, Seagull

Other Trees: birch, hazel, hornbeam, Willow

Energy: feminine

Other Associations: evolving spirit; leadership; the pentagram; Saturday; North; Celtic peasant\common tree

Spellwork and Ritual: banishing rituals and spells; protection spells; healing spells and meditations; water, wind and general weather magik; divination, especially’s scrying; moderation of the four elements

Source: Whispers from the Woods by Sandra Kynes

ALDER

TREE ZODIAC

The Celtic Tree Zodiac is based on the ancient idea that the time of our births is pivotal to the formation of our personality and behavior. The spiritually savvy Celts, particularly the druids were expert observers. Over time, they recognized that a child born within a certain season would develop certain qualities. Further, the druids observed patterns in the color and shape of a persons life according to the motions of the moon (their calendar being based on a lunar year being 13 months) and the season in which we are born. Below is listed the Tree characteristics of the Alder.
Alder – The Trailblazer
March 18 – April 14
If you are an Alder sign within the Celtic tree astrology system, you are a natural-born pathfinder. You’re a mover and a shaker, and will blaze a trail with fiery passion often gaining loyal followers to your cause. You are charming, gregarious and mingle easily with a broad mix of personalities. In other words, Alder signs get along with everybody and everybody loves to hang around with you. This might be because Alders are easily confident and have a strong self-faith. This self-assurances is infectious and other people recognize this quality in you instantly. Alder Celtic tree astrology signs are very focused and dislike waste. Consequently, they can see through superficialities and will not tolerate fluff. Alder people place high value on their time, and feel that wasting time is insufferable. They are motivated by action and results. Alders pair well with Hawthorns, Oaks or even Birch signs