Litha in Sothern Hemisphere – Yule in Northern Hemisphere

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Yule – Northern Hemisphere

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

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

Yule, (pronounced EWE-elle) is when the dark half of the year relinquishes to the light half. Starting the next morning at sunrise, the sun climbs just a little higher and stays a little longer in the sky each day. Known as Solstice Night, or the longest night of the year, the sun’s “rebirth” was celebrated with much joy. On this night, our ancestors celebrated the rebirth of the Oak King, the Sun King, the Giver of Life that warmed the frozen Earth. From this day forward, the days would become longer.

Bonfires were lit in the fields, and crops and trees were “wassailed” with toasts of spiced cider.  Children were escorted from house to house with gifts of clove spiked apples and oranges which were laid in baskets of evergreen boughs and wheat stalks dusted with flour. The apples and oranges represented the sun.  The boughs were symbolic of immortality (evergreens were sacred to the Celts because they did not “die” thereby representing the eternal aspect of the Divine). The wheat stalks portrayed the harvest, and the flour was accomplishment of triumph, light, and life. Holly and ivy not only decorated the outside, but also the inside of homes, in hopes Nature Sprites would come and join the celebration. A sprig of Holly was kept near the door all year long as a constant invitation for good fortune to visit tthe residents. Mistletoe was also hung as decoration.  It represented the seed of the Divine, and at Midwinter, the Druids would travel deep into the forest to harvest it.

The ceremonial Yule log was the highlight of the Solstice festival. In accordance to tradition, the log must either have been harvested from the householder’s land, or given as a gift… it must never have been bought. Once dragged into the house and placed in the fireplace it was decorated in seasonal greenery, doused with cider or ale, and dusted with flour before set ablaze by a piece of last years log, (held onto for just this purpose). The log would burn throughout the night, then smolder for 12 days after before being ceremonially put out. Ash is the traditional wood of the Yule log. It is the sacred world tree of the Teutons, known as Yggdrasil. An herb of the Sun, Ash brings light into the hearth at the Solstice.

A different type of Yule log, and perhaps one more suitable for modern practitioners would be the type that is used as a base to hold three candles. Find a smaller branch of oak or pine, and flatten one side so it sets upright. Drill three holes in the top side to hold red, green, and white (season), green, gold, and black (the Sun God), or white, red, and black (the Great Goddess). Continue to decorate with greenery, red and gold bows, rosebuds, cloves, and dust with flour.

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

Deities of Yule:  All Newborn Gods, Sun Gods, Mother Goddesses, and Triple Goddesses. The best known would be the Dagda, and Brighid, the daughter of the Dagda. Brighid taught the smiths the arts of fire tending and the secrets of metal work. Brighid’s flame, like the flame of the new light, pierces the darkness of the spirit and mind, while the Dagda’s cauldron assures that Nature will always provide for all the children.

Symbolism of Yule:
Rebirth of the Sun, The longest night of the year, The Winter Solstice, Introspect, Planning for the Future.

Symbols of Yule:
Yule log, or small Yule log with 3 candles, evergreen boughs or wreaths, holly, mistletoe hung in doorways, gold pillar candles, baskets of clove studded fruit, a simmering pot of wassail, poinsettias, christmas cactus.

Herbs of Yule:
Bayberry, blessed thistle, evergreen, frankincense holly, laurel, mistletoe, oak, pine, sage, yellow cedar.

Foods of Yule:
Cookies and caraway cakes soaked in cider, fruits, nuts, pork dishes, turkey, eggnog, ginger tea, spiced cider, wassail, or lamb’s wool (ale, sugar, nutmeg, roasted apples).

Incense of Yule:
Pine, cedar, bayberry, cinnamon.

Colors of Yule:
Red, green, gold, white, silver, yellow, orange.

Stones of Yule:
Rubies, bloodstones, garnets, emeralds, diamonds.

Activities of Yule:
Caroling, wassailing the trees, burning the Yule log, decorating the Yule tree, exchanging of presents, kissing under the mistletoe, honoring Kriss Kringle the Germanic Pagan God of Yule

Spellworkings of Yule:
Peace, harmony, love, and increased happiness.

Deities of Yule:
Goddesses-Brighid, Isis, Demeter, Gaea, Diana, The Great Mother. Gods-Apollo, Ra, Odin, Lugh, The Oak King, The Horned One, The Green Man, The Divine Child, Mabon.

–Adapted by Akasha Ap Emrys For all her friends and those of like mind–

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

 

 

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Beltane in Southern Hemisphere – Samhain in Northern Hemisphere

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

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

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


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

 Samhain – Northern Hemisphere

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

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Samhain Lore and Traditions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Incense of Samhain:
Heliotrope, Mint, Nutmeg.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sacred Gemstone:
Aquamarine.

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

Pagan Holidays and Earth Magic by Kardia Zoe

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

Blessed Be!

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

Ostara in Southern Hemisphere – Mabon in Northern Hemisphere

Ostara blessings to those in the Southern Hemisphere as we welcome Spring and head towards the warmer months.  Blessed Be!

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This festival is named after the Anglo-Saxon Goddess Eostre, also known in Old German as Ostara. Little is known about this Goddess except that Her festival was celebrated at the Spring Equinox. She was a Goddess of Fertility and was connected with hares and eggs. She may have been a Goddess of the Dawn. She may also be connected with the Greek Eos and the Roman Aurora, both Dawn Goddesses, and with the Babylonian Ishtar and Phoenician Astarte, both who are Love Goddesses.

The Spring Equinox is a time both of fertility and new life, and of balance and harmony. Light and dark are here in balance, but the light is growing stronger. It is a time of birth, and of manifestation.

The days grow lighter and the Earth grows warmer. At Ostara, seeds may be blessed and planted. Seeds of wisdom, understanding and magikal skills may also be planted. Eggs are used for the creation of talismans, especially for fertility, or ritually eaten. The egg is a symbol of rebirth and its yolk represents the sun, and the white representing the White Goddess. This is a time of both growth and balance, a time to work on balancing yourself.

Ostara is a celebration of birth and new life. You will begin to see shoots of new growth and swelling buds on the trees. Energy is building as the days become warmer. This is the time of the official return of the young Goddess after Her Winter hibernation. The young God has now grown into manhood. It is believed that at Ostara the Goddess and the God consummated their love for one another. From this the Goddess became pregnant with the God to be reborn at Yule.

The Green Man is very predominate at this time of the year. He is a personification of all life that exist deep within Nature and is usually represented as the foliate mask made up of greenery, leaves growing from mouth and nose, and encircling the face as beard and hair. In some pictures He looks savage, ugly or threatening; in others He is benevolent and watchfully protective.

Blessed Be!

Mabon – Northern Hemisphere

Mabon blessings in the Northern Hemisphere as your season changes towards the cooler months.  Blessed Be!

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Mabon is very much like Thanksgiving. Most of the crops have been reaped and abundance is more noticeable than ever! Mabon is the time when we reap the fruits of our labor and lessons, both crops and experiences. It is a time of joy, to celebrate that which is passing (for why should we mourn the beauty of the year or dwindling sunlight?), looking joyously at the experience the year has shared with us. And it is a time to gaze into the bright future. We are reminded once again of the cyclic universe; endings are merely new beginnings.

Since it is the time of dying sun, effort is also made to celebrate the dead with joyous remembrance. Natural energies are aligned towards protection, wealth, prosperity, security, and boosting self-confidence. Any spells or rituals centered around balance and harmony are appropriate.

Also, (from a variation in legend) the Equinox is the day of the year when the god of light, Lugh, is defeated by the god of darkness, Lugh’s twin and alter-ego, Tanist. The night conquers day. The tales state that the Equinox is the only day which Lugh is vulnerable and the possibility of his defeat exists. Lugh stands on the balance (Autumn Equinox-Libra) with one foot on the goat (Winter Solstice-Capricorn) and the other on the cauldron (Summer Solstice-Cancer). He is betrayed by Blodeuwedd, the Virgin (Virgo) and transformed into an Eagle (Scorpio).

Two events occur rapidly with Lugh’s defeat. Tanist, having beaten Lugh, now takes over Lugh’s place both as King of our world and lover to the Goddess Tailltiu. Although Tanist now sits on Lugh’s throne, his official induction does not take place for another six weeks at Samhain, the beginning of Winter, when he becomes the Dark King, the Winter Lord, the Lord of Misrule. He mates with Tailltiu, who conceives, and will give birth nine months later (at the Summer Solstice) to her son, another incarnation of Tanist himself, the Dark Child.

 

Imbolc in Southern Hemisphere – Lammas in Northern Hemisphere

Blessed Imbolc to all of us in the Southern Hemisphere.   Although it is still cold and wintery, the gardens are beginning to sprout with their beautiful winter flowers.  Here our gardens are lush with Camelias and Rhoddodenrons.  Blessed Be!

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Imbolc Lore

Posted on February 2, 2015 by ladyoftheabyss
It is traditional upon Imbolc, at sunset or just after ritual, to light every lamp in the house-if only for a few moments. Or, light candles in each room in honor of the Sun’s rebirth. Alternately, light a kerosene lamp with a red chimney and place this in a prominent part of the home or in a window.

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

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

Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner
Scott Cunningham

Imbolc Ritual

By Scott Cunningham

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

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

Recite the Blessing Chant.

Invoke the Goddess and God.

Say such words as the following:

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

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

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

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

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

Works of magic, if necessary, may follow.

Celebrate the Simple Feast.

The circle is released.

—Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner
Scott Cunningham

Lammas – Northern Hemisphere

Blessed Lammas to all in the Northern Hemisphere as you enjoy the summer sun and head towards the cooler days of Autumn/Fall.  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.

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! 

Ostara1

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!

lammas20

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!

imbolc5

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

Ostara in Southern Hemisphere – Mabon in Northern Hemisphere

Many Ostara blessings to those in the Southern Hemisphere as we come into Spring and have warmer days ahead.

ostara22

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

To those in the Northern Hemisphere I wish you blessed Mabon as you come into the cooler months and keep warmer by the fire.

mabon-2

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)