New Release – Where A Demon Hides by Thomas Watson

Today I have a New Release for you by my friend Thomas Watson, Where A Demon Hides: War of the Second Iteration – Coda, which sounds awesome, definitely on my TBR list, Thomas has very kindly given us a taste with an excerpt.

The war is over and Humanity has prevailed, but victory came at a terrible price. The weapon used to bring down the enemy killed or injured as many people as it saved. One of the unintended casualties, Alicia MacGregor, has existed in a medically induced coma for two years while her neurological injuries were repaired.

At last, to the relief of family and friends, the time has come for her to awaken and rejoin the world. She is healed physically, but the trauma she endured in that final battle left deep scars in her heart and mind. As she copes with the burden of horror and grief left by the war, Alicia discovers that she is haunted by something far worse than bad memories. Something that first threatens her sanity, and then her life.

Alicia awoke to nothing.

There was only the awareness of self, beyond which – nothing. She was frightened and confused. Lost. There were no boundaries; nothing contained her. She was open and vulnerable with no way to hide. For some reason, she very much wanted to conceal herself, but her self was all there was. There was nowhere to go.

Memories flickered at the edge of her fear, just within reach, and she clutched at them. They were horrible, the stuff of nightmares, but they were better than nothing — almost. Mind-shattering pain and a blinding light behind her eyes. She felt screaming rage mingled with tearing grief. And then she was dead. She was sure of this, so sure of her personal extinction that awareness was a painful shock. She existed and remembered, but the memories were brief and then, once again, there was – nothing.

Death.

This?

Terror surged through her and threatened to become madness, a ripped and ragged edge to her raw sense of self. But before it could fully grip her there was a voice. A familiar voice, in her and around her, much beloved. Hope swelled within the terrible, formless nothingness of it all. Alicia yearned toward that voice.

“Alicia, wake up,” it said. “Please, it’s time. Wake up. Come back to me.”

She heard, but she could not respond. Alicia wanted so very much to answer that voice. And yet with hearing alone came a sudden sense of true existence, a jumbled awareness of her own physical form; it all felt disconnected. She was exhausted. Bone-deep weariness filled the disparate bits of her. There was relief at feeling such things, feeling anything at all; relief so intense it verged on painful, and nearly overwhelmed her. The voice went on, pleading, and she knew the speaker. It was Robert, her husband, who for some reason she thought was dead. But no, that was their ara’sana. That was Holm, taken by the silver Faceless swarm, dead and gone.

“Alicia,” said Robert. “Please.”

She felt a gentle touch to the side of her face, a soft, warm pressure that stroked her cheek. With that touch, the constant undercurrent of terror receded. Alicia drew a breath, aware that she could see a dim, reddish glow. Light through closed eyelids. It was a moment before she could remember how to open her eyes, but at last she managed, blinking as a world of faintly colored blurs seemed to swirl around her. They steadied, but remained unfocused, and Alicia realized there were people leaning over her. She counted three of them, although she could see nothing in detail. Having succeeded in a small way with her eyes, Alicia reached for her voice. That worked, but not nearly as well her eyes.

“Rob?” she whispered. She wondered if she had even spoken aloud.

“Here, my love,” he replied. “I’m right here.”

She still couldn’t focus her eyes, but her ears worked well enough, and she could tell from his voice that Robert was crying. Her mind sent the command to raise her arm, but her body did not respond. The weariness filled her with irresistible dead weight and held her firmly in place.

“Don’t try to move just yet,” said another familiar voice, although this one she could not at first identify. There was a flute-like, musical quality over and behind the words she heard in her head. A voice being translated. It was a soothing, pleasant sound. Not Human, she was sure of that much, and she was vaguely irked that she couldn’t recall the name for those with such voices. The flute voice spoke again, with Human words sliding through it from the translation system, providing meaning. “You have been asleep for a very long time. Now you must be at ease and rediscover yourself.”

“How? Long?”

There was a pause before she received a reply from Robert.

“Just short of two years.”

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Beltane in Southern Hemisphere – Samhain in Northern Hemisphere

To those of us in the Southern Hemisphere I wish you a wonderful Beltane. We will have children Trick or Treating even though it is not technically Halloween here, we cannot explain to little children it is at a different time in this country. Whatever you are doing today enjoy it Blessed Be!


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

To all in the Northern Hemisphere, I wish you a blessed Samhain, may you have a joyous day and a fabulous Halloween. As your days grow colder, stay warm and snuggled Blessed Be!

How To Celebrate the God & Goddess at Samhain

Posted on by ladyoftheabyss

In some Wiccan traditions, by Samhain, the Goddess has entered her incarnation of Crone. She is the Old One, the earth mother, the wise one we turn to when we need advice. She teaches us that sometimes we must let go in order to move on. The God, at Samhain, is the Horned One, the stag of great antlers, the god of the wild hunt. He is the animal that dies so that we may eat, and the grains and corn that once lived in the field before our harvest. We can honor these late-fall aspects of both the Goddess and the God in one ritual.

Begin by casting a circle, if your tradition requires it. Prior to starting the ceremony, place three sheaves of corn or wheat around the ritual space. You’ll also need a statue or other image of the God and of the Goddess at the center of your altar. Around the statues, place five candles — red and black to represent the dark aspect of the Goddess, green and brown to symbolize the wild God, and white for the hearth and home.

Place a plate of dark bread, enough for each person present, near the center of the altar, along with a cup of wine or cider. Circle the altar. The youngest person present will act as the Handmaiden, and the oldest as the High Priest (HP) or High Priestess (HPs). If you’re performing this rite as a solitary, simply take on both parts. The HPs lights the red and black candles, and says:

A pair of candles is lit
in honor of the Goddess.
She is Maiden and Mother throughout the year
and tonight we honor her as Crone.

Next, the HPs lights the brown and green candles, saying:

A pair of candles is lit
in honor of the God.
He is wild and fertile and animal
and tonight we honor him as the Horned God.

The Handmaiden takes the bread and walks the circle with the plate, allowing each person to tear off a chunk. As they do so, she says: May the blessings of the Goddess be upon you. The cup of wine or cider is passed around, and each person takes a sip. As they do, the Handmaiden should say: May the blessings of the God be upon you.

The Handmaiden then lights the fifth candle, for the hearth, saying:

This candle is lit
in honor of hearth and home.
The mother and father, the Goddess and God,
watch over us tonight as we honor them.

The HPs then takes over, saying:

We light these five candles
for the powerful Goddess
and her mighty horned consort, the God,
and for the safety of home and hearth.
On this, the night of Samhain,
when the Goddess is a wise Crone,
and the God is a wild stag,
we honor them both.

The Handmaiden says:

This is a time between the worlds,
a time of life and a time of death.
This is a night unlike any other night.
Ancient ones, we ask your blessing.
Goddess, great Crone, mother of all life,
we thank you for your wisdom.
Horned God, master of the wild hunt, keeper of the forest,
we thank you for all that you provide.

At this time, the rest of the group may also say thanks. If you wish to make an offering to the God and Goddess, now is the time to place it upon the altar.

Once all offerings have been made, and thanks given, take a moment to meditate on the new beginnings of Samhain. Consider the gifts that the gods have given you over the past year, and think about how you might show them your gratitude in the coming twelve months. As the old year dies, make room in the new year for new things in your life. You may not know yet what’s coming, but you can certainly imagine, dream and hope. Tonight, this night between the worlds, is the perfect time to imagine what things may come.

End the ritual in the way called for by your tradition.

Tips:

 Decorate your altar with symbols of the God — antlers, acorns, pine cones, phallic symbols — and representations of the Goddess, such as red flowers, cups, pomegranates, etc.

 If your tradition honors a specific pair of male and female deities, feel free to substitute their names in this ritual wherever it says God or Goddess.

By Patti Wigington

Paganism/Wicca Expert

New Release – Missals From the Dark by Shel Calopa

A new release by my friend Shel Calopa, Missals from the Dark is the second book in the series and is sci-fi/dystiopian with a dragon, what more could you want.

A dragon-riding AI may hold the balance in a twisted Australia, where the sky is freezing and old foes are rising.

‘Letters from the Light is one of my favourite sci-fi books with its compelling characters and twisting plot. I was, therefore, first in line to read the sequel, Missals from the Dark. Bravo for another 5-star sci-fi wonder.’ Caroline Noe, author of the Canellian Eye series.

Following the Light War, Aggy is working hard to restore peace to Australis. Only, the climate is failing, a dragon-riding android is trying to kill her, and old enemies are working to bring back the days when light was rationed, and disabilities inflicted for control. Can Aggy unite the disparate races once again? If only she had more letters from the Light to guide her. Perhaps help is closer than she thinks.

Missals from the Dark is the stunning sequel to the dystopian sci-fi novel Letters from the Light.

‘The melange of ethnicities and cultures blended with concerns that reflect, all too glaringly, our own real-world problems was brilliant. I hope there’s a sequel to Letters from the Light, I’d love to know what happens next!’ TK Toppin, author of the Jax Marlin series.

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Ostara in Southern Hemisphere – Mabon in Northern Hemisphere

Ostara Blessings to all in the Southern Hemisphere, as we head towards the warmer weather (although it’s not happening yet) may we feel the warmth of the sun shining down upon us. Blessed Be!

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 in Northern Hemisphere

Mabon Blessings to the Northern Hemisphere, may you be warm and cosy as the colder months come your way. Blessed Be!

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.

Blessed Be!

New Release – Wings of Memories Past by Lisa Williamson

A new release Wings of Memories Past, by my friend Lisa Williamson. This book has trigger warnings.

We all have memories of our past. Decisions made that we regret or those made for us. Laura has lived a hard life since she, her mother and brother left her father. She works hard to help support her family and doesn’t believe that life will change. When someone from her forgotten memories returns, will she be able to deal with what it means? How is this handsome young man and why does he seem so familiar? Can she take a chance and hope that her future will be very different from her past?

trigger warnings: This book has fantasy combat, mentions of child abuse and torture and has sexual situations.

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New Release – Life Is A Highway by Simone Beaudelaire

New release by my friend Simone Beaudelaire. Life Is A Highway is a romantic suspense novel, just to let you know it has sex scenes and strong language. Simone’s books are always awesome and this is on my TBR list

It’s 1975 and the recession is waning, but for the small town of Beulah, Illinois, life will never be the same. An industrial accident has claimed the lives of five workers, leaving their wives and children struggling, and the company is fighting to deny their wrongful death payout.

Hi, I’m Janet and you might be wondering why I care. I run a bar, right? But my sister, Thea, is one of those widows. She’s struggling to raise two kids alone. I’m helping, along with my daughter Brandy and my boyfriend, Rick, but she’s still in a tough place. And while her attitude is starting to get on my nerves, she’s still my sister. I can’t leave her to face all these troubles alone.

To make matters worse, the manager isn’t done causing trouble. It may just be in everyone’s best interest if we make an unscheduled road trip to another state, where we can build a new life. All we want is a fresh start, far from the terrible memories. If we can survive the journey.

NOTE: This romantic suspense novella contains sexy scenes and strong language.

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New Release – Captured in Flames by Susan Illene

New Release by my friend Susan Illene, Captured in Flame, Book 5 of the Dragon’s Breath Series. Loving this book so far. The whole series is awesome so if you love Fantasy and Dragons, you’ll love this.

Dragons arrived on Earth nearly a year ago, decimating modern civilization.

Bailey Monzac discovered she was born to slay them the day they appeared. Though she has ruthlessly killed hundreds since then, she somehow fell in love with Aidan—a dragon shifter—along the way. Their relationship hasn’t been easy, and it’s about to be tested again.

Bailey finally got an opportunity to leave Oklahoma and return to her family’s ranch in Texas. The catch is that she and Aidan must join a war against the pure dragons controlling the territory there. They’ll be facing their largest and fiercest enemies yet with overwhelming forces against them. As they prepare for battle, more obstacles emerge that could ruin their plans. Aidan is with Bailey no matter what it takes, but it’s going to be a difficult journey to finally reunite with her family and hold onto the man she loves.

Word count- 97,000 (approximate)

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New Release – Demigod Magic By T. Jackson King

New Release Demigod Magic (Girl Magic Book 5) by my friend T. Jackson King. Tom writes amazing books so do yourself a favour and begin this series.

Janie the White witch is faced with new challenges due to her demigod status and her access to God Power magic. The Greek goddess Nemesis, who punishes mortals who show arrogance before the gods, attacks Janie. The Norse gods Thor and Odin appear to help her defeat Nemesis. As do the local vampires led by Master Brioc. Many adventures follow. Then Mother Earth captures her essence with a demand for her to reverse climate change. And no, Janie is not an eco-freak. But when the Mother Goddess of Earth dumps her green earth magic on you with a demand to ‘do something’ to stop her being poisoned and deforested, well, what’s a witch to do?

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Imbolc in Southern Hemisphere – Lammas in Northern Hemisphere

To all of us in the Southern Hemisphere a Blessed Imbolc, as we head towards Spring and hopefully the warmer weather may all your wishes come true. The flowers in our garden are trying to bloom, hopefully with a bit of sun they will. Blessed Be!

Posted on July 20, 2010 by Jenwytch at The Other Side. This article is also in the July 2010 edition of the “Axis Mundi”.

Imbolc is a cross-quarter day midway between the winter solstice (Yule) and the spring equinox (Ostara) and is the celebration of the banishing of winter, the imminent arrival of Spring and the stirring of new life in the earth. Imbolc recognizes the maiden aspect of the triple goddess – the fresh, the young, the naïve, the new – and is strongly connected with the Goddess Brigid. It is associated with and also known as the festivals of Oimelc, Imbolg, Imbolic (Irish), Candlemas (British), Feast of Torches, Lupercalia (Italian/Latin), Brigid’s Day, and Brigantia (Scottish).

Here in the southern hemisphere, in 21st century Australia, we are far removed from the climate and rural lifestyles of the people of ancient Europe where this festival, and others that make up the Wheel Of The Year, originated.

Due to the 6 month offset of the seasons between the northern and southern hemispheres many Australian Pagans prefer to celebrate Imbolc when it is seasonally appropriate here, on August 1st or 2nd, instead of on the traditional northern hemisphere date of February 2nd. Although the majority of modern day Aussie Pagans live in cities or the suburbs we can still look to our backyard gardens, public suburban parks or the National Parks and bushland reserves scattered all around us to see evidence of the cycle of the seasons relevant to this time of year.

Colours commonly associated with Imbolc are white, lavender, green, blue and gold. At lmbolc, the Australian forests are bright with the colour yellow, with many species of Acacia trees coming into full flower. Until fairly recently, the 1st of August was “Wattle Day” in Australia (it has since been moved to the 1st of September). In some climates, like southern Australia and New Zealand, snow and frosts prevail throughout winter, and white snowdrops and crocuses are among the first delicate harbingers of spring. Other flowers associated with this festival are the violet and lavender. In Australia the native violet and other mauve or purple flowers, such as the Black-eyed Susan, which are in bloom around this time of year, can be thought of as the flowers of Imbolc.

My personal “Imbolc flower”, although not native, is Lavender, simply because I planted an abundance of Lavender plants in my garden some years ago and they all thrived and continued to flower profusely. Each Imbolc I have decorated my altar with bunches of Lavender from my garden.

In general, Imbolc is a time for planting seeds and to recognize one’s duty to nurture inner seeds of growth as well as the physical seeds of the earth; to consider personal goals and dreams, and to embrace inspiration. It is common to bless and burn candles of inspiration at Imbolc rituals. You can approach situations and people with open eyes and open heart, and coupled with planning, this fresh approach to life can inspire your every moment to be happier and more energetic.

References:
http://www.mythinglinks.org/Wheel~SouthernYear.html
http://www.akashawitchcraft.net (website no longer available)
http://www.lucycavendish.com (original Imbolg page no longer available)

Lammas – Northern Hemisphere

To everyone in Northern Hemisphere, as you celebrate Lammas may the days become cooler and give you some respite from the unbearable heat. Prepare for the winter months snuggling for a fire or under a blanket. Blessed Be!

By Patti Wigington, About.com

The Beginning of the Harvest:

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

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

Celebrating Grain in Ancient Cultures:

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

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

A Feast of Bread:

In early Ireland, it was a bad idea to harvest your grain any time before Lammas — it meant that the previous year’s harvest had run out early, and that was a serious failing in agricultural communities. However, on August 1, the first sheaves of grain were cut by the farmer, and by nightfall his wife had made the first loaves of bread of the season.

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

Honoring Lugh, the Skillful God:

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

Honoring the Past:

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

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

Symbols of the Season

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

Crafts, Song and Celebration

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

 Sickles and scythes, as well as other symbols of harvesting

 Grapes and vines

 Dried grains — sheafs of wheat, bowls of oats, etc.

 Corn dolls — you can make these easily using dried husks

 Early fall vegetables, such as squashes and pumpkins

 Late summer fruits, like apples, plums and peaches

Lugh is also known in some traditions as the patron of bards and magicians. Now is a great time of year to work on honing your own talents. Learn a new craft, or get better at an old one. Put on a play, write a story or poem, take up a musical instrument, or sing a song. Whatever you choose to do, this is the right season for rebirth and renewal, so set August 1 as the day to share your new skill with your friends and family.

Yule in Southern Hemisphere – Litha in Northern Hemisphere

To those of us in the Southern Hemisphere, I wish a Blessed Yule. As the the days begin to grow longer and hopefully warmer may we all enjoy the coming of Spring. Blessed Be!

Yule – {The Winter solstice}

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

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

LITHA – Northern Hemisphere

To all in the Northern Hemisphere I wish you a blessed Litha. As the summer solstice moves you towards shorter days and cooler weather may you enjoy each day. Blessed Be!

Litha – {Summer solstice}

                 June 21st (Northern Hemisphere)

                 December 21st / 22nd (Southern Hemisphere)

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).