Mabon in the Southern Hemisphere – Ostara in the Northern Hemisphere

Many blessings for Mabon here in the Southern Hemisphere as we come into Autumn and the earth and trees begin to change.  Blessed Be!

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From: “The Witches Year” ~  by Lucy Cavendish

The descent of Persephone

The bitter and the sweet collide at the festival of Mabon. It is at once a time to give thanks for the bounty you have created in your life – and a time to grieve for the little deaths we all must endure to truly be alive.

When the wheel of the year turns each year to Mabon, or the lesser sabbat of the Autumn Equinox, it is time to give thanks for whatever has come to fruition over the past year. Be it a new relationship you nurtured from raw beginnings, something you made, built, studied or created, any goals once desired and now attained must be honoured.

This is your chance to acknowledge the combination of your creative energy and the natural order, both of which helped you to grow this year. The purpose of paying this respect is twofold.

Firstly, the acknowledgement of change brought about by the power of your will brings symbolic closure to a phase. That in turn will leave you free to move forward. Secondly, honouring your achievements establishes magical growth as a soul principle – and positive reinforcement will give you the incentive we all need to make positive changes in the future. Processing this soul development at Mabon means you show the Goddess that you actively value enriching and nurturing yourself as a spiritual being in the Craft. This in turn, will bring you more blessings during the coming months.

Mabon brings equilibrium; the second time in the entire year when this happens (the other is at the spring equinox). Though Mabon’s light is as long as its dark, from this time forth that light will begin to shorten. With the lengthening of the night comes the increasing power of your own shadow self. Thus Mabon is the beginning of the wisdom of dark mysteries, of wise blood, of premonition, divination and facing your shadow. Working through any negativity that arises is actively promoted at Mabon. Don’t be afraid of working through your own darkness – it’s important to honour and respect your anger, your mistrust, your depression, your sorrows. We learn nothing from denial and repression – we need to engage with our shadow self and give it healthy expression.

But before your shadow self absorbs the light, it is vitally important for you to ready your psyche and your body for the intense crone energy that will grow more powerful each time the earth turns from Mabon forth.

How will you know when you are being affected by this energy? Even though you can pinpoint the turning of the earth into its flat zone with modern technology (and good astronomy sites!) there are plenty of seasonal signals that the sun god is dying. Watch for migrations of animals, particularly the birds, falling leaves, golding of the leaves, flowers becoming less abundant, the ground becoming colder and harder to the touch, and morning’s getting a distinct chill on them. The energy begins to go within in order to preserve itself. Personally you may find you look back, withdraw, feel aloof or confused regarding your relationships. You may feel less generous than you normally do, and you may also be nervous about any debt you may have accumulated over summer. You might feel it’s time to clean up your act – both in terms of your health and in terms of who you are.

It can be hard to let go of summer’s energy, its sensuous warmth and easy good times. Farewelling its carefree spirit made easier by witches observation of the astronomical and agricultural seasonal sacred signposts. That’s why, on a mundane level, it’s a wonderful season to begin:

  • a savings plan
    • set goals for the future
    • make jams and preserves for winter
    • restock your herbal medicine cabinet
    • clean out any essential oils, flower remedies etc that have lost their energy
    • completely clean out your fridge
    • repair broken windows,
    • think of how best to make your home secure and snug and warm for the coming introspection of Samhain
    • cooking soups, stews, any slow cooked foods with root vegetables

It’s a fortuitous time to clear energy in your house – sort of the reverse of spring-cleaning. This clean-up is to make ready for the colder nights coming, to acknowledge that the bare landscape has its own beauty and lessons – as well as a mental clarity and deep wisdom of experience that can be difficult to achieve during Beltane’s sensuous haze, and Litha’s youthful joy. This is older, wiser, deeper, sadder – and somehow more beautiful. Prepare to snuggle into it and delve into your own shadow side in comfort.

It’s essential to give thanks for bounty. Write down on a piece of parchment all you have achieved. If you like, use russet-red ink on coppery autumn leaves – I love doing this. Write down on each leaf something you felt you really mastered. It can be a small thing – to others – or a great success. It can be a relationship that you gained closure with – and this is a good time to remember any pain you may have gone through. This could also be a time for letting go. This is the phase of the natural year in which the earth goddess Demeter learned that although her daughter would be returned to her for six months of the year, she also was told that Persephone had eaten six seeds of the underworld fruit, the pomegranate, ensuring her daughter would be forever linked to Hades and live underground for six months. This is the beginning of Persephone’s departure from her mother’s home to return to her husband and the underworld, and thus the start of Demeter’s wild grieving. It was her grief that turned the earth cold, and it was the approaching winter that forced the people of the land to gather their second and last harvest of the year. Those who didn’t would be forced to confront the realities of a barren earth, perhaps without enough stores to get them through.

Persephone and Demeter: a Mabon ritual

Here is a very special spell. I developed it over a period of about one year, during which a very close friend endured a painful separation, and divorce, which had many ramifications on her relationship with her daughter. (This spell can be adapted to suit any situation – a job ending, a friendship changing, a household breaking up – or simply, then end of summer. It can even be used for an actual death, though I sincerely wish that none of you will have need for it in that regard.) Whatever you use it for, remember it is a spell to help heal the pain of parting, to help you deal with the whirlwind of emotions separation can inspire. It will plug you into the Goddess energy of Persephone and Demeter – two mother and daughter deities who know all about leaving each other – and leaving lovers. It’s also a great spell to perform if you’re experiencing tension between your family and your lover. And, as a mother, I can imagine no greater suffering that the separation from a child. Even though Demeter knows Persephone will return, her anguish is such that her mourning brings increasing cold to the earth. But it also means that the life energy goes underground to become strong again – which yours will do.

Grieving takes time. But with this spell, when the wheel next turns, we can be sure to be progressing through our sadness into a new era in our lives. It will help you avoid the tragic state of being stuck in a situation and in emotions of a situation that is dead.

You will need:
Real clay – green or it must be organic and able to decompose (enough for small figures, which you will shape by hand)
One small lemon verbena plant, and ample earth and a clay pot for it to be planted in. (If you wish, you could tend it from a seedling prior to the spell so you feel confident it will survive. Lemon verbena has wonderful qualities, both healing, calming and yet vigorously cleansing)
You must work this spell skyclad – anything that you wear during it can retain the energy. So no jewellery. You must not bathe until AFTER the spell is completed, after which you will thoroughly cleanse yourself with lemon myrtle soap, or a citrus-based cleanser. If you wish to take a natural approach, the fruit acids in a lemon will work just as well – grate up some rind and mix with one part olive oil and two parts sea salt. This will literally slough take any dead skin cells off, leaving you energised and refreshed. Water, blessed, in a ceremonial cup
One pot – you’ll need it for planting your healing lemon verbena tree

  • On the morning of the autumn equinox, cast your circle in your usual manner
    • Within the sacred circle, pour the earth into the pot and charge it with healing energy.
    • Still in the center of your circle, take your clay and forge two figures. These little people now represent you and the person or the situation that you are moving away from. Pour your emotions into them. Do not judge them, do not hold back, but do not let them own you.
    • Now, bury your little people deep in the earth.
    • Now, connect with your crone energy and feel her power merge with your essence Ask the crone to give you the wisdom to grieve well, and to move on when the wheel has turned
    • Cover the figures completely with the earth, and feel the relationship moving into the past.
    • Now, move your energy back to that of the crone. Meditate on moving on, and how best you can manifest that goal. When you feel the power peak, take a pen and write down everything you would like to achieve over the following year.
    • Once this is completed, ask the Crone to bless your plans and ask for her wisdom to guide you in manifesting them.
    • Finally, take your little lemon verbena tree, and plant it on top of the figures you have out in the earth. Water it with some water from your cup. Know that life is a wheel, that as there is sadness, there will be joy. That as there is growth, there is the dying off. That the past, with all its sadness, can feed a better future.



Say three times:
This wheel shall turn
This wheel shall turn
This wheel shall turn

Close you circle by walking widdershins round it.

Place your magical pot plant somewhere you can see it – NOT beside your bed. Somewhere you can see it but not obsess over it. Nurture the plant and notice its growth – this is your emotional and psychic progress made living green symbol. Over time, the clay figures to become one with the earth, and nurture the roots of the plant. This is the symbol that signals to you that there can be a natural, organic end of a relationship. At some time it will become indistinguishable from the earth itself. And the earth itself can bring forth new life.
There is only one question. Are you ready to let go? You will know you have absorbed this relationships’ wisdom into your life, strengthening your very soul, when you can drink tea from the leaves of the verbena tree you planted.

You will know how hard you are holding on if you are tempted to dig up the clay figures. If you do dig them up, wait till the next waning moon, and repeat the spell. But do not repeat your mistakes.

Blessed be!

Mabon’s Names
Alban elfed
Second harvest festival
The feast of Avalon

Mabon’s Goddesses
Epona
Morgon, snake woman
Morgan le Fey
Modron
Persephone
Demeter
Hecate
The Crone

Mabon’s sacred animals
The owl
The stag
The crow
The salmon
Dogs
Wolves
Birds of prey

Mabon’s magical stones
Amethyst
Yellow topaz
Carnelian
Lapis lazuli
Sapphire
Yellow agate
Ruby

Mabon’s ritual plants
Vines
Ivy
Hazel
Hops

Mabon’s enchanted herbs
Benzoin
Honeysuckle
Marigold
Myrrh
Passionflower
Roses
Sage

(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)

 Northern Hemisphere – Ostara

Ostara  blessings to all in the Northern Hemisphere as you say goodbye to winter and bask in the glory of Spring with all her wondrous beauty and colour.  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)

 

Lammas Southern Hemisphere – Imbolc Northern Hemisphere

Lammas blessings to those of us in the Southern Hemisphere as we flow through the summer months, although I have to say today is cold up here on the mountain, I am sitting here with jumper and ugg boots, and a warm cat curled up beside me trying to keep warm. Blessed Be!

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Lammas Ceremony

Posted on August 1, 2015 by ladyoftheabyss

Light the right candle and then the left as you say the following:

Right My Lord is the passion, He brings forth the light, The harvest is of his seed.
Left My Lady is the power, She brings forth the life, The harvest is her reward.

Cast the circle and call in the Guardians. Face the altar, and speak the following blessing:

My Lady, I know that naught receives naught,
That I shall reap, that which I have sowed.
On this night, shall I receive accordingly,
For nothing is withheld from those deserving.
Blessed shall be the Goddess,
And blessed shall be the fruits of my labor.

Pick up the four ears of corn. Hold them in offering and ask the following blessing on them:

Corn and grain are of this earth,
With love and work I gave them birth.
Though they were just once small seeds,
Through them I achieved my wishes and needs.

Proceed to offer, and then place the corn at each of the four quadrants. Walk to the East chanting as you go:

As the corn, I am reborn.

Offer the corn to the East. Place it next to the Eastern Quadrant candle. Then proceed to the South. Do the same for the West and the North. Then return to the altar. Say the following blessing, and light the gold pillar candle:

My Lord and Lady you shall provide,
Long after all has withered and died.
Though you have given me life through the land,
What I know hold is the work of my hand. I shall always
remember, just as the corn, That I am ever living, dying, and reborn.
As the corn, I am reborn!

Place the candle in the center of the altar on the pentacle, and invoke the God, and then the Goddess. Take a moment to meditate on the meaning of the ritual and season. At this point, you will want to energize the candle with your own wishes. Place your hands over the candle, express your desire, and then chant the following:

Corn and grain Bring joy and gain!

Pause, and bless the wine and bread through the Rite of Union, and Blessing of the Bread ceremonies. Begin your closing segment of the rite by offering this blessing:

Within my heart is devoted feeling
Vainly should my lips express.
I come before your altar kneeling,
And pray this time and place you bless.

Dismiss the Guardians and extinguish the altar candles, beginning with the left:

Left Blessed be the Maiden, Mother, and Crone
Bring me blessings from your harvest home.
Right Blessed be the King of corn and grain,
As now the season of abundance begins to wane.

Take up the circle and allow the gold candle to burn out. Hang the ears of corn to dry. When the ears of corn have completely dried, save them to make your corn-baba for Autumn Equinox.

Imbolc – Northern Hemisphere

A blessed Imbolc to everyone in the Northern Hemisphere, stay warm and toasty during the snowy days. Blessed Be!

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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

Yule Southern Hemisphere – Litha Northern Hemisphere

Yule blessings to those of us in the Southern Hemisphere, stay safe and warm in these cold wintery days.

Blessed Be!

yule dragon

Also known as Jul, Yuletide, Feill Fionnain, Alban Arthan.
Deities: Frey, Nerthus, Woden, Herne, Oak King, Holly King, Sul, Amaterasu, Isis, Osiris, Apollo.
Colours: Red, green, silver, gold, white.
Incense: Pine, cedar, frankincense and myrrh, cinnamon, orange.
Traditional Motifs: Evergreens, mistletoe, ivy, snowflakes, yule log, gifts, bells, solar disks, candles.

Yule comes from a Nordic word “Iul” meaning “wheel” and is a turning point, a point of change, where the tides of the year turn and begin to flow in the opposite direction. It is the darkest time of the year, the time of the longest night, but there is the promise of the return of light. Holly and mistletoe are often thought of at this time as they symbolise fertility – the mistletoe berries are white, representing the semen of the Horned God, and the holly berries are blood red, symbolising both the menstrual blood of the Goddess.

Evergreen trees also represent youth and freshness, and are symbols of the promise of spring. A Yule custom, still practised at Christmas (the time of Yule in the Northern Hemisphere) is to dress an evergreen tree, and make offerings. Pagans honour the spirit of the tree, and what it represents. The tree may be decorated with appropriate offerings such as fruit, pine cones, jewellery, symbols of the sun, symbols of fertility, etc. The star is put on the top of the tree as a sign of hope, the Goddess rising as the Star of the Sea, such as Isis, Ishtar, Aphrodite.

The God represents the Sun who passed away at Samhain, and will now be reborn after this long night to bring warmth and fertility to the land. The night belongs to the Goddess, and is a night of waiting, through Her pregnancy, for the Child of Promise. The Goddess turns the Wheel of the Year to its starting point for the morning after the longest night, Pagans greet the new Sun and celebrate the waxing year. The rising Sun brings the promise of Spring. It is still along time before the Sun will be strong. The Sun is now the Child of Promise, the young hero God. It is a time of making wishes and hopes for the coming year, and of setting resolutions. From the darkness comes light.

A popular custom at this time is the burning of the Yule log where a portion is saved for protection of the home during the coming year. The log is often decorated with holly and evergreens to symbolise the intertwining of the God and Goddess who are reunited on this day. The traditional roast pig served with an apple in its mouth represents the Goddess in Her dark aspect of Cerridwen, Freya, Astarte or Demeter to whom the pig is a sacred animal. The apple is sacred for it contains life itself, the essence of being, the soul which can be passed from one body to the other when eaten, the Goddess magick of immortality.

LITHA – NORTHERN HEMISPHERE

Many Litha blessings to all in the Northern Hemisphere, may the sun shine upon you and brighten your days

Blessed Be!

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Northern Hemisphere: 21 June

Also known as Alban Hefin.
Deities: Apollo, Balder, Oak King, Holly King, Sul, Isis, Hestia.
Colours: Sea green, red, gold, brown.
Incense: Frangipani, violet, cedar, St John’s Wort, basil.
Traditional Motifs: Oak leaves, acorns, antlers, straw wheels, bees, honey, floating candles, cauldrons, marigolds, ivy.

At the Summer Solstice the sun is at its highest and brightest and the day is at its longest. The Lord of Light has fought the powers of darkness, and is triumphant, ensuring fertility in the land. But in so doing, He sows the seeds of His own death. The Wheel turns and the Goddess shows Her Death-in-Life aspect, the Earth is fertile and all is in bloom, the Goddess reaches out to the fertilising Sun God at the height of His Powers. The Goddess is now heavily pregnant just as the Earth is full and ready to share Her bounty. The Summer Solstice is a time of fulfilment of love. Flowers are in bloom everywhere, ready for pollination, fertilisation, yet once fertilised they die so that the seeds and fruits may develop. At the same time, summer fruits appear, for a short but delicious season.

Although the days begin to grow shorter after Litha, the time of greatest abundance is still to come. The promises of the Goddess and God are still to be fulfilled. This is a time of beauty, love, strength, energy, rejoicing in the warmth of the sun, and the promise of the fruitfulness to come. It seems a carefree time, yet the knowledge of life is the knowledge of death, and beauty is but transitory. Pagans celebrate life, and the triumph of light, but also acknowledge death.

In many British Pagan traditions, the tale of the Oak and Holly King, the light and dark lords, is told. The Oak King represents the waxing year, Mid-Winter to Mid-Summer, while the Holly King represents the waning year, Mid-Summer to Mid-Winter. They are both necessary because without decay and destruction no new growth can begin. Twice a year they meet each other and fight. At Yule it was the Oak King who won the battle. At the Summer Solstice, although light is at its strength, it also is the peak of the Oak King’s reign, he is conquered by his darker twin, the Holly King, and the inevitable journey towards the darkness and the depths begins.

Litha in Southern Hemisphere – Yule in Northern Hemisphere

Blessed Litha to those of us in the Southern Hemisphere, as we celebrate the longest day, may we stay safe and cool in these days of intense heat.

Blessed Be!

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Litha – {Summer solstice}

Also known as ‘Midsummer Night’s Eve’, it is the longest day of the year. The Midsummer festival celebrates the kingly aspect of the God. It is a festival of passion and glory, a time to merge and commune with nature, sprites and fairies. In the Celtic traditions it is also a celebration of the Mother Goddess who is seen heavy with child, ready to deliver the fruits of the season so to speak.

Colours of red and maize yellow and gold are excellent decorations representing the Sun God, the masculine aspects of the season. Sunflowers and sunflower seeds are also excellent examples (provided you’ve planted them in early spring). Or replace the early spring wreath on your door with a new summer decoration of red feathers for sexuality and yellow feathers for prosperity, intertwined or braided with ivy. Altar candles should be of gold and red.

Money tree plants can be added to your mantle decorations for monetary wealth, (providing you once again have had an early planting season).

Yule – Winter Solstice – Northern Hemisphere

To those in the Northern Hemisphere, I wish you a blessed Yule, on this the shortest day of the year.  May you be safe and warm from the winter chills.

Blessed Be!

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The real “12 Days of Christmas”, Yule begins on “Mothers Night” and ends 12 days later on “Yule Night”. Typically starting on the 20th or 21st of December to December 31st (Northern Hemisphere), 20th or 21st of June to June 30th (Southern Hemisphere).

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.

Dark red or Bayberry candles are used to decorate the home and ensure wealth and happiness for the coming year. Many Witches will place the candles as a centerpiece on their dining table and allow it to burn until it extinguishes by itself. A set of candles can also be placed on the mantle and lit at the beginning of the Yule ceremony.

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 colors 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.

Ostara in Southern Hemisphere – Mabon in Northern Hemisphere

Many blessing on Ostara for all here in the Southern Hemisphere as we begin to feel the warmth on our skin and the sun shines through the clouds.

Blessed Be!

ostara-blessings

 Ostara – Southern Hemisphere

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)

Mabon – Northern Hemisphere

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To everyone in the Northern Hemisphere I wish you a blessed Mabon as the cooler days come your way.

Blessed Be!

From: “The Witches Year” ~  by Lucy Cavendish

The descent of Persephone

The bitter and the sweet collide at the festival of Mabon. It is at once a time to give thanks for the bounty you have created in your life – and a time to grieve for the little deaths we all must endure to truly be alive.

When the wheel of the year turns each year to Mabon, or the lesser sabbat of the Autumn Equinox, it is time to give thanks for whatever has come to fruition over the past year. Be it a new relationship you nurtured from raw beginnings, something you made, built, studied or created, any goals once desired and now attained must be honoured.

This is your chance to acknowledge the combination of your creative energy and the natural order, both of which helped you to grow this year. The purpose of paying this respect is twofold.

Firstly, the acknowledgement of change brought about by the power of your will brings symbolic closure to a phase. That in turn will leave you free to move forward. Secondly, honouring your achievements establishes magical growth as a soul principle – and positive reinforcement will give you the incentive we all need to make positive changes in the future. Processing this soul development at Mabon means you show the Goddess that you actively value enriching and nurturing yourself as a spiritual being in the Craft. This in turn, will bring you more blessings during the coming months.

Mabon brings equilibrium; the second time in the entire year when this happens (the other is at the spring equinox). Though Mabon’s light is as long as its dark, from this time forth that light will begin to shorten. With the lengthening of the night comes the increasing power of your own shadow self. Thus Mabon is the beginning of the wisdom of dark mysteries, of wise blood, of premonition, divination and facing your shadow. Working through any negativity that arises is actively promoted at Mabon. Don’t be afraid of working through your own darkness – it’s important to honour and respect your anger, your mistrust, your depression, your sorrows. We learn nothing from denial and repression – we need to engage with our shadow self and give it healthy expression.

But before your shadow self absorbs the light, it is vitally important for you to ready your psyche and your body for the intense crone energy that will grow more powerful each time the earth turns from Mabon forth.

How will you know when you are being affected by this energy? Even though you can pinpoint the turning of the earth into its flat zone with modern technology (and good astronomy sites!) there are plenty of seasonal signals that the sun god is dying. Watch for migrations of animals, particularly the birds, falling leaves, golding of the leaves, flowers becoming less abundant, the ground becoming colder and harder to the touch, and morning’s getting a distinct chill on them. The energy begins to go within in order to preserve itself. Personally you may find you look back, withdraw, feel aloof or confused regarding your relationships. You may feel less generous than you normally do, and you may also be nervous about any debt you may have accumulated over summer. You might feel it’s time to clean up your act – both in terms of your health and in terms of who you are.

It can be hard to let go of summer’s energy, its sensuous warmth and easy good times. Farewelling its carefree spirit made easier by witches observation of the astronomical and agricultural seasonal sacred signposts. That’s why, on a mundane level, it’s a wonderful season to begin:

  • a savings plan
    • set goals for the future
    • make jams and preserves for winter
    • restock your herbal medicine cabinet
    • clean out any essential oils, flower remedies etc that have lost their energy
    • completely clean out your fridge
    • repair broken windows,
    • think of how best to make your home secure and snug and warm for the coming introspection of Samhain
    • cooking soups, stews, any slow cooked foods with root vegetables

It’s a fortuitous time to clear energy in your house – sort of the reverse of spring-cleaning. This clean-up is to make ready for the colder nights coming, to acknowledge that the bare landscape has its own beauty and lessons – as well as a mental clarity and deep wisdom of experience that can be difficult to achieve during Beltane’s sensuous haze, and Litha’s youthful joy. This is older, wiser, deeper, sadder – and somehow more beautiful. Prepare to snuggle into it and delve into your own shadow side in comfort.

It’s essential to give thanks for bounty. Write down on a piece of parchment all you have achieved. If you like, use russet-red ink on coppery autumn leaves – I love doing this. Write down on each leaf something you felt you really mastered. It can be a small thing – to others – or a great success. It can be a relationship that you gained closure with – and this is a good time to remember any pain you may have gone through. This could also be a time for letting go. This is the phase of the natural year in which the earth goddess Demeter learned that although her daughter would be returned to her for six months of the year, she also was told that Persephone had eaten six seeds of the underworld fruit, the pomegranate, ensuring her daughter would be forever linked to Hades and live underground for six months. This is the beginning of Persephone’s departure from her mother’s home to return to her husband and the underworld, and thus the start of Demeter’s wild grieving. It was her grief that turned the earth cold, and it was the approaching winter that forced the people of the land to gather their second and last harvest of the year. Those who didn’t would be forced to confront the realities of a barren earth, perhaps without enough stores to get them through.

Persephone and Demeter: a Mabon ritual

Here is a very special spell. I developed it over a period of about one year, during which a very close friend endured a painful separation, and divorce, which had many ramifications on her relationship with her daughter. (This spell can be adapted to suit any situation – a job ending, a friendship changing, a household breaking up – or simply, then end of summer. It can even be used for an actual death, though I sincerely wish that none of you will have need for it in that regard.) Whatever you use it for, remember it is a spell to help heal the pain of parting, to help you deal with the whirlwind of emotions separation can inspire. It will plug you into the Goddess energy of Persephone and Demeter – two mother and daughter deities who know all about leaving each other – and leaving lovers. It’s also a great spell to perform if you’re experiencing tension between your family and your lover. And, as a mother, I can imagine no greater suffering that the separation from a child. Even though Demeter knows Persephone will return, her anguish is such that her mourning brings increasing cold to the earth. But it also means that the life energy goes underground to become strong again – which yours will do.

Grieving takes time. But with this spell, when the wheel next turns, we can be sure to be progressing through our sadness into a new era in our lives. It will help you avoid the tragic state of being stuck in a situation and in emotions of a situation that is dead.

You will need:
Real clay – green or it must be organic and able to decompose (enough for small figures, which you will shape by hand)
One small lemon verbena plant, and ample earth and a clay pot for it to be planted in. (If you wish, you could tend it from a seedling prior to the spell so you feel confident it will survive. Lemon verbena has wonderful qualities, both healing, calming and yet vigorously cleansing)
You must work this spell skyclad – anything that you wear during it can retain the energy. So no jewellery. You must not bathe until AFTER the spell is completed, after which you will thoroughly cleanse yourself with lemon myrtle soap, or a citrus-based cleanser. If you wish to take a natural approach, the fruit acids in a lemon will work just as well – grate up some rind and mix with one part olive oil and two parts sea salt. This will literally slough take any dead skin cells off, leaving you energised and refreshed. Water, blessed, in a ceremonial cup
One pot – you’ll need it for planting your healing lemon verbena tree

  • On the morning of the autumn equinox, cast your circle in your usual manner
    • Within the sacred circle, pour the earth into the pot and charge it with healing energy.
    • Still in the center of your circle, take your clay and forge two figures. These little people now represent you and the person or the situation that you are moving away from. Pour your emotions into them. Do not judge them, do not hold back, but do not let them own you.
    • Now, bury your little people deep in the earth.
    • Now, connect with your crone energy and feel her power merge with your essence Ask the crone to give you the wisdom to grieve well, and to move on when the wheel has turned
    • Cover the figures completely with the earth, and feel the relationship moving into the past.
    • Now, move your energy back to that of the crone. Meditate on moving on, and how best you can manifest that goal. When you feel the power peak, take a pen and write down everything you would like to achieve over the following year.
    • Once this is completed, ask the Crone to bless your plans and ask for her wisdom to guide you in manifesting them.
    • Finally, take your little lemon verbena tree, and plant it on top of the figures you have out in the earth. Water it with some water from your cup. Know that life is a wheel, that as there is sadness, there will be joy. That as there is growth, there is the dying off. That the past, with all its sadness, can feed a better future.



Say three times:
This wheel shall turn
This wheel shall turn
This wheel shall turn

Close you circle by walking widdershins round it.

Place your magical pot plant somewhere you can see it – NOT beside your bed. Somewhere you can see it but not obsess over it. Nurture the plant and notice its growth – this is your emotional and psychic progress made living green symbol. Over time, the clay figures to become one with the earth, and nurture the roots of the plant. This is the symbol that signals to you that there can be a natural, organic end of a relationship. At some time it will become indistinguishable from the earth itself. And the earth itself can bring forth new life.
There is only one question. Are you ready to let go? You will know you have absorbed this relationships’ wisdom into your life, strengthening your very soul, when you can drink tea from the leaves of the verbena tree you planted.

You will know how hard you are holding on if you are tempted to dig up the clay figures. If you do dig them up, wait till the next waning moon, and repeat the spell. But do not repeat your mistakes.

Blessed be!

Mabon’s Names
Alban elfed
Second harvest festival
The feast of Avalon

Mabon’s Goddesses
Epona
Morgon, snake woman
Morgan le Fey
Modron
Persephone
Demeter
Hecate
The Crone

Mabon’s sacred animals
The owl
The stag
The crow
The salmon
Dogs
Wolves
Birds of prey

Mabon’s magical stones
Amethyst
Yellow topaz
Carnelian
Lapis lazuli
Sapphire
Yellow agate
Ruby

Mabon’s ritual plants
Vines
Ivy
Hazel
Hops

Mabon’s enchanted herbs
Benzoin
Honeysuckle
Marigold
Myrrh
Passionflower
Roses
Sage

(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)

Imbolc in Southern Hemisphere – Lammas in Northern Hemisphere

Bright Imbolc blessings to those in the Southern Hemisphere as we look forward to warmer days and bright coloured gardens.  Below is a ritual from Scott Cunningham.

Blessed Be!

imbolc6

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

 Lammas – Northern Hemisphere

To all in the Northern Hemisphere I wish you warm blessings as you move towards the autumn and winter months.

Blessed Be!

lammas_ butterfly fairy

Lammas (Lughnasadh) is one of the eight “sabbats” or solar festivals in the Wiccan Wheel of the Year. It is the first of the three autumn harvest festivals, the other two being the Autumn equinox (or Mabon) and Samhain. Some Wiccans mark the holiday by baking a figure of the god in bread, and then symbolically sacrificing and eating it. The Celtic name seems to have been a late adoption among Wiccans, since in early versions of Wiccan literature the festival is merely referred to as “August Eve”.

Many Wiccans also use the name Lammas for the sabbat, taken from the Anglo-Saxon and Christian holiday which occurs at about the same time. As the name (from the Anglo-Saxon hlafmæsse “loaf-mass”, “loaves festival”) implies, it is an agrarian-based festival and feast of thanksgiving for grain and bread, which symbolizes the first fruits of the harvest. Wiccan and other eclectic Neopagan rituals may incorporate elements from either festival.

Samhain Southern Hemisphere – Beltane Northern Hemisphere

In the Southern Hemisphere I wish you a blessed Samhain, as the weather turns cold it is time to light the fires and snuggle up, be warm and honour the season as it changes. Blessed Be!

SamhainGreetings1

The Pagan year begins (and ends) with Samhain. It is a time of reflection, of looking back over the last year. This is the time when the boundary is thinnest between the worlds of living and dead; the powers of divination, the Sight, and supernatural communication are strengthened on Samhain night, and it is considered a powerful but dangerous time to communicate with lost loved ones. Pagans celebrate Samhain as an acknowledgment that without death, there can be no rebirth. At Samhain, the darkness increases and the Goddess reigns in her powerful aspect of the Crone. The God passes into the underworld to become reborn of the Goddess again at Yule. It is a time to honour those who have gone before us.

Blessed Be!

Beltane – Northern Hemisphere

Beltane1

And to everyone in the Northern Hemisphere, rejoice as the sun begins to shine and the flowers begin to bloom.  Let your hearts burst with joy as the light shines down upon you.  Blessed Be!

Beltane is the cross-quarter holiday between Spring Equinox and Summer Solstice. It is the time when the abundance of flowers and greens is a welcome relief from winter’s drabness; it was traditionally a day for leaping the Beltane fires, which were lit to honor the Sun God, and for celebrating fertility.

Beltane celebrates the blessing between Mother Earth and Father Sky and honors all life.

Both are times when the “veil” between the worlds is thought to be thinnest, and therefore magik can happen, such as visits from faeries or similar other-worldly occurrences.

This is a good time for invoking our spirit guides to help us.

A blessed Beltane to you!