Beltane in Southern Hemisphere – Samhain in Northern Hemisphere

Many blessings to those of us in the Southern Hemisphere as we celebrate Beltane and welcome the summer days ahead.  Blessed Be!

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A blessed Beltane to you!

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

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


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

 

Samhain  in Northern Hemisphere

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

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Samhain Lore and Traditions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Incense of Samhain:
Heliotrope, Mint, Nutmeg.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sacred Gemstone:
Aquamarine.

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

Pagan Holidays and Earth Magic by Kardia Zoe

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

Blessed Be!

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

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Imbolc in Southern Hemisphere – Lammas in Northern Hemisphere

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

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

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

 

Lammas – Northern Hemisphere

 

To all in the Northern Hemisphere I wish you a blessed Lammas.  I hope that everyone is safe from the fires raging over there.  Hopefully things will cool soon and you will get rain to clear it all away.  Blessed Be!

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Lammas History: Welcoming the Harvest

By Patti Wigington, About.com

The Beginning of the Harvest:

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

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

Celebrating Grain in Ancient Cultures:

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

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

A Feast of Bread:

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

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

Honoring Lugh, the Skillful God:

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

Honoring the Past:

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

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

Symbols of the Season

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

Crafts, Song and Celebration

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

  • Sickles and scythes, as well as other symbols of harvesting
  • Grapes and vines
  • Dried grains — sheafs of wheat, bowls of oats, etc.
  • Corn dolls — you can make these easily using dried husks
  • Early fall vegetables, such as squashes and pumpkins
  • Late summer fruits, like apples, plums and peaches

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

Yule in Southern Hemisphere – Litha in Northern Hemisphere

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

Blessed Yule

 

YULE

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

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

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

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

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

 

Litha – Northern Hemisphere

Litha Blessings to those in the Northern Hemisphere, may you be blessed by the sun as it shines down upon you.  Blessed Be!

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Litha is also known as Summer Solstice.

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

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

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

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

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

 

Samhain in Southern Hemisphere – Beltane in Northern Hemisphere

Samhain blessings to all of us in the Southern Hemisphere, the days are growing cold as we head towards winter, soon the fire will be on keeping us toasty and warm. Blessed Be!

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How To Celebrate the God & Goddess at Samhain

Posted on October 31, 2014 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

 

Beltane – Northern Hemisphere

Many Beltane blessings to all in the Northern Hemisphere.  May you enjoy the warmer months after your long cold winter.  Blessed Be!

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Beltane Festival is held in honour of the god Bel.

 In some modern traditions he is also known by the names, Beli, Belar, Balor, or Belenus.

In the myth of many modern traditions of wicca/witchcraft, Beltane marks the appearance of the Horned One, who is the rebirth of the Solar God slain during the Wheel of the Year. He then becomes consort to the Goddess, impregnating her with his seed, and thereby ensuring his own rebirth once again.

 Beltane marks the beginning of summer’s half and the pastoral growing season. The word “Beltane” literally means “bright fire”, and refers to the bonfires lit during this season.

It is also a time of beginnings, the beginnings of many new projects.

 Beltane is a fertility festival, concerned with Nature enchantments and offerings to wildlings and Elementals.

 The return of full-blown fertility is now very evident.

 The powers of elves and faeries are growing and will reach their height at the Summer Solstice.

 The celts respected faeries, active at this sabbat, and were sure that these Little People would come to the celebration disguised as humans to ask for a part of the fire, which, when freely given, would give the faeries some measure of power over the giver.

 Beltane is the cross quarter holiday between Spring Equinox and Summer Solstice it is the time when the abundance of flowers and green is a welcome relief from winters drabness; it was traditionally a day for leaping the Beltane fires, which were lit to honour the sun god, and for celebrating fertility.

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

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

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

 A blessed Beltane to you!

Mabon in Southern Hemisphere – Ostara in Northern Hemisphere

Mabon blessing to us in the Southern Hemisphere, as the weather changes and the days are turning cold, I am sitting here with the heating on and the cat curled beside me to keep warm.  We here have had many weather extremes, raging bush fires in some States and Floods in the top States.  We in the Southern States desperately need the rain this winter. May everyone be warm and safe throughout the coming months. 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.

 

Ostara – Northern Hemisphere

To all in the Northern Hemisphere I wish you a blessed Ostara.  Although it is Spring there, from what I see on the news, you are still experiencing cold, snow and wintry conditions.  I hope the sun begins to shine for you soon.  Blessed Be!

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Posted on March 20, 2015 by ladyoftheabyss

History of Ostara

The Spring Equinox

Many Holidays, Many Names:

The word Ostara is just one of the names applied to the celebration of the spring equinox on March 21. The Venerable Bede said the origin of the word is actually from Eostre, a Germanic goddess of spring. Of course, it’s also the same time as the Christian Easter celebration, and in the Jewish faith, Passover takes place as well. For early Pagans in the Germanic countries, this was a time to celebrate planting and the new crop season. Typically, the Celtic peoples did not celebrate Ostara as a holiday, although they were in tune with the changing of the seasons.

A New Day Begins:

A dynasty of Persian kings known as the Achaemenians celebrated the spring equinox with the festival of No Ruz — which means “new day.” It is a celebration of hope and renewal still observed today in many Persian countries, and has its roots in Zoroastrianism. In Iran, a festival called Chahar-Shanbeh Suri takes place right before No Ruz begins, and people purify their homes and leap over fires to welcome the 13-day celebration of No Ruz.

Mad as a March Hare:

Spring equinox is a time for fertility and sowing seeds, and so nature’s fertility goes a little crazy. In medieval societies in Europe, the March hare was viewed as a major fertility symbol — this is a species of rabbit that is nocturnal most of the year, but in March when mating season begins, there are bunnies everywhere all day long. The female of the species is super fecund and can conceive a second litter while still pregnant with a first. As if that wasn’t enough, the males tend to get frustrated when rebuffed by their mates, and bounce around erratically when discouraged.

The Legends of Mithras:

The story of the Roman god, Mithras, is similar to the tale of Jesus Christ and his resurrection. Born at the winter solstice and resurrected in the spring, Mithras helped his followers ascend to the realm of light after death. In one legend, Mithras, who was popular amongst members of the Roman military, was ordered by the Sun to sacrifice a white bull. He reluctantly obeyed, but at the moment when his knife entered the creature’s body, a miracle took place. The bull turned into the moon, and Mithras’ cloak became the night sky. Where the bull’s blood fell flowers grew, and stalks of grain sprouted from its tail.

Spring Celebrations Around the World:

In ancient Rome, the followers of Cybele believed that their goddess had a consort who was born via a virgin birth. His name was Attis, and he died and was resurrected each year during the time of the vernal equinox on the Julian Calendar (between March 22 and March 25). Around the same time, the Germanic tribes honored a lunar goddess known as Ostara, who mated with a fertility god around this time of year, and then gave birth nine months later – at Yule.

The indigenous Mayan people in Central American have celebrated a spring equinox festival for ten centuries. As the sun sets on the day of the equinox on the great ceremonial pyramid, El Castillo, Mexico, its “western face…is bathed in the late afternoon sunlight. The lengthening shadows appear to run from the top of the pyramid’s northern staircase to the bottom, giving the illusion of a diamond-backed snake in descent.” This has been called “The Return of the Sun Serpent” since ancient times.

According to the Venerable Bede, Eostre was the Saxon version of the Germanic goddess Ostara. Her feast day was held on the full moon following the vernal equinox — almost the identical calculation as for the Christian Easter in the west. There is very little documented evidence to prove this, but one popular legend is that Eostre found a bird, wounded, on the ground late in winter. To save its life, she transformed it into a hare. But “the transformation was not a complete one. The bird took the appearance of a hare but retained the ability to lay eggs…the hare would decorate these eggs and leave them as gifts to Eostre.”

Lammas in Southern Hemisphere – Imbolc in Northern Hemisphere

Blessed Lammas to those of us in the Southern Hemisphere, as the season changes and the temperature cools as we prepare for the beauty of autumn.  Blessed Be!

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Lammas/Lughnasdh in Australia

Lammas is the traditional time of Harvest, and preparation for the coming winter months, celebrated on the 2nd of February in the Southern hemisphere, and on the 2nd of August in the Northern hemisphere.

Lammas is awareness of the approach of winter, and thanksgiving for the year’s harvest. The name Lammas derives from the Old English Hlaf-Mass, which means “bread feast”.

Lammas is traditionally the festival where the first loaf of bread from the harvest is broken and shared in the name of the Goddess. All crops associated with bread are sacred to this time, in particular barley. The drinks of the season are beer, ale, cider, and all things brewed.

In Australia, Lammas is an ideal Sabbat to spend down the beach on hot summer evenings, sipping cool drinks and honouring Mother-Sea by appreciating and respecting her cooling waves. Lammas is a harvest not only of crops, but of all that we have sown through the year, and so it is a good time to wander the beaches with a garbage bag, cleaning up the mess that thoughtless people have left behind, and doing our best to restore Mother-Sea to her natural glory.

Unfortunately, part of the harvest at this time is also the sad and distressing harvest that animal charities face when inundated with unwanted animals that had been Christmas presents just a few weeks earlier. Lammas is a good time to emphasize the importance of all Her creatures by supporting animal charities with donations of time and/or money. In this way, we can help ease the lives of unwanted animals and, when necessary, help with their passing into the next world where they will hopefully find true love and companionship according to their kind.

Lammas is the celebration of harvest, and ties in with Lughnassadh, the Celtic festival in honor of the Sun God, which is held on the 7th of February in the Southern hemisphere, and the 7th of August in the North. Tradition tells that the Sun King gives his energy to the crops to ensure life while the Mother prepares to transform into her aspect as the Crone.

Lammas is the time to teach and to share the fruits of our achievements. The baking of bread, the gathering of seed for the next year’s sowing, and the making of corn dolls are all traditional at Lammas. The altar is decorated with loaves of freshly baked bread, corn dolls and wreaths, and the fruits and vegetables of the harvest. Lammas is a time to share, be thankful for our blessings, and be joyful for the blessings that are to come.

Lammas is also known as Cornucopia (Italy/Latin) and Thingtide (Teutonic).

Source:   https://aussiewytch.wordpress.com/sabbats/lammas/lammaslughnasdh-in-australia/

 

Imbolc in Northern Hemisphere

To everyone in the Northern Hemisphere I wish you a blessed Imbolc as the cold begins to recede and the days begin to warm (hopefully) as you come into Spring. Blessed Be!

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Imbloc (Candlemass, Imblog, Imbole) – February 2nd

Pronounced: EE-Molc
Incense: Rosemary, Frankincense, Myrrh, Cinnamon
Decorations: Corn Dolly, Besom, Spring Flowers
Colours: White, Orange, Red

This holiday is also known as Candlemas, or Brigid’s (pronounced BREED) Day. One of the 4 Celtic “Fire Festivals. Commemorates the changing of the Goddess from the Crone to the Maiden. Celebrates the first signs of Spring. Also called “Imbolc” (the old Celtic name).

This is the seasonal change where the first signs of spring and the return of the sun are noted, i.e. the first sprouting of leaves, the sprouting of the Crocus flowers etc. In other words, it is the festival commemorating the successful passing of winter and the beginning of the agricultural year. This Festival also marks the transition point of the threefold Goddess energies from those of Crone to Maiden.

It is the day that we celebrate the passing of Winter and make way for Spring. It is the day we honour the rebirth of the Sun and we may visualize the baby sun nursing from the Goddess’s breast. It is also a day of celebrating the Celtic Goddess Brigid. Brigid is the Goddess of Poetry, Healing, Smithcraft, and Midwifery. If you can make it with your hands, Brigid rules it. She is a triple Goddess, so we honour her in all her aspects. This is a time for communing with her, and tending the lighting of her sacred flame. At this time of year, Wiccans will light multiple candles, white for Brigid, for the god usually yellow or red, to remind us of the passing of winter and the entrance into spring, the time of the Sun. This is a good time for initiations, be they into covens or self-initiations.

Imbolc (February 2) marks the recovery of the Goddess after giving birth to the God. The lengthening periods of light awaken Her. The God is a young, lusty boy, but His power is felt in the longer days. The warmth fertilizes the Earth (the Goddess), and causes seeds to germinate and sprout. And so the earliest beginnings of Spring occur.

This is a Sabbat of purification after the shut-in life of Winter, through the renewing power of the Sun. It is also a festival of light and of fertility, once marked in Europe with huge blazes, torches and fire in every form. Fire here represents our own illumination and inspiration as much as light and warmth. Imbolc is also known as Feast of Torches, Oimelc, Lupercalia, Feast of Pan, Snowdrop Festival, Feast of the Waxing Light, Brighid’s Day, and probably by many other names. Some female Witches follow the old Scandinavian custom of wearing crowns of lit candles, but many more carry tapers during their invocations.

IMBOLC LORE

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 honour 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 honour 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.

Litha in Southern Hemisphere – Yule in Northern Hemisphere

To all of us in the Southern Hemisphere I wish a blessed Litha as we feel the warmth of summer.  Stay safe from the fires everyone and enjoy Summer Solstice. Blessed Be!

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

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

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

Litha is also a time to make protection amulets, and bless people or animals.
Plants for Litha:  Mugwort, Vervain, Chamomile, Rose, lily, Oak, Lavender, Ivy, Yarrow, Fern, Elder, Wild thyme, Daisy, Carnation, St John’s Wort.

Stones: Moonstone, Quartz, Pearl.

Colours:  Green, Orange, Yellow, Gold.

Element:  Water.

Planet:  Moon.

Zodiac:  Cancer.

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

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

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

 

Yule – Northern Hemisphere

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stones:  Onyx, Obsidian, Jet.

Colours:  Red, Green, Orange, White.

Element:  Earth.

Planet: Saturn

Zodiac: Capricorn.

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

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

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