Thursday This is Your Spell – Rose Spell For The Fey

May 20, 2010 at 9:20 am (Fae, Faery, Fairies, Fairy, Flowers, Litha, Love, Magic, Midsummer, pagan, Plants, Spell, Thursday, Witch)

Rose Spell For The Fey
Said to be from a 17th century work

Midsummer is a time when the Fey are out and about, so it seems like it would be a good time to try to attract some to your garden – if you want to. Roses attract the Faery to a garden. Their sweet scent will lure elemental spirits to take up residence close by. Roses can be used in Faery love spells. When performing the spell, sprinkle rose petals under your feet and dance softly upon them while asking the Faery for their blessing on your magic. Roses are loved by the fey so you can plant Roses in your garden to attract fairies. Wild Roses are best for this purpose and you need to say the following spell as you plant your baby Rose bush:

"I ask a fairy from the wild,
To come and tend this wee rose-child.
A babe of air she thrives today,
Root her soul in the Goddesses’ good clay.
Fairies make this twig your bower,
By your magic shall time see her flower!"

Disclaimer: No one involved in this blog or its contents may be held responsible for any adverse reactions arising from following any of the instructions/recipes on this list. It is the reader’s personal responsibility to exercise all precautions and use his or her own discretion if following any instructions or advice from this blog.

Fair Use Notice: This page may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. This website distributes this material without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. We believe this constitutes a fair use of any such copyrighted material as provided for in 17 U.S.C § 107.

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Wednesday Whatever – Summer Solstice: Ura, the Night of the Heather

May 19, 2010 at 9:02 am (Ancestors, Associations, Fae, Faery, Fairies, Fairy, Flowers, Folklore, Heather, Herbs, History, Lore, Magic, pagan, Wednesday, Wisdom, Witch)

Summer Solstice: Ura, the Night of the Heather
by Sarah the SwampWitch,
Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002

The moon is perhaps humankind’s oldest form of marking time. According to some scholars, the Celts used a Lunar Calendar that consisted of 13 months, each 28 days in length. Each month of the Celtic Lunar calendar bears the name of a tree, which also stands for one of the consonants in the Celtic ‘tree alphabet’. There are basically two different versions of this Lunar calendar: the Beth-Luis-Nion (which begins on the Winter Solstice) and the Beth-Luis-Fearn (which begins on Samhain). I work with the Beth-Luis-Nion simply because it seems to work the best for my style of Witchcraft.

Beth-Luis-Nion version of The Celtic Tree calendar

  • B – Beth, the Birch Month (December 24th – January 20th)
  • L – Luis, the Rowan Month (January 21st – February 17th)
  • N – Nion, the Ash month (February 18th – March 17th)
  • F – Fearn, the Alder Month (March 18th – April 14th)
  • S – Saille, the Willow Month (April 15th – May 12th)
  • H – Huath, the Hawthorn Month (May 13th – June 9th)
  • D – Duir, the Oak Month (Jun 10th – July 7th)
  • T – Tinne, the Holly Month (July 8th – August 4th)
  • C – Coll, the Hazel Month (August 5th – September 1st)
  • M – Muin, the Vine Month (September 2nd – September 29th)
  • G – Gort, the Ivy Month (September 30th – October 27th
  • Ng – Ngetal, the Reed Month (October 28th – November 24th)
  • R – Ruis, the Elder Month (November 25th – December 23rd)

The five vowels I, A, O, U, and E have corresponding tree names to the nights of the solstices and equinoxes:

  • I – Idho, the Night of the Yew, Winter Solstice Eve
  • A – Ailm, the Night of the Silver Fir, Winter Solstice
  • – Herb too sacred to have a Celtic name, the Night of Mistletoe, Day after Winter Solstice
  • O – Onn, the Night of the Gorse Bush, Spring Equinox
  • U – Ura, the Night of the Heather, Summer Solstice
  • E – Eadha, the Night of the White Poplar, Alban Elfed or Autumnal Equinox

Here Is Lore On The Tree Of The Summer Solstice – Heather:

  • Latin name: Calluna vulgaris
  • Celtic name: Ura (pronounced: Oor’ uh)
  • Folk or Common Names: Common Heather, Ling, Scottish Heather
  • Parts used: herb, flowering shoots.
  • Herbal usage: Heather’s flowering shoots are used to treat insomnia, stomach aches, coughs and skin problems. The plant, used fresh or dried, strengthens the heart and raises blood pressure. It is slightly diuretic and a Heather Tea is often prescribed in cases of urinary infections. Heather is sometimes used in conjunction with corn silk and cowberries.
  • Magickal History & Associations: Heather is associated with the sun, and with the planet of Venus. Its color is resin colored and its element is water. Heather’s bird is the lark, and its animal association is the honey bee. In ancient times the Danes brewed a powerful beer made from honey and Heather. And for centuries the heather flowers have also been a special beverage to the bee, who in return creates delightful Heather honey! Its stones are amethyst, peridot, and amertine – and it is a feminine herb.

The herb is sacred to many Goddesses: Isis, Venus-Erycina, Uroica, Garbh Ogh, Cybele, Osiris, Venus, Guinevere, and Butes among them. White Heather was considered unlucky by Scottish loyalists because of its connection with the banishment of Bonny Prince Charles. Haether is the home to a type of Fey called Heather Pixies. Like other Pixies, the Heather Pixies have clear or golden auras and delicate, translucent wings. But these faeries are attracted specifically to the moors and to the Heather which covers them. They are not averse to human contact, but they don’t seek them out. They have a pranksterish nature.

Magickal Usage: Heather is sacred to the Summer Solstice. Heather is used for magick involving maturity, consummation, general luck, love, ritual power, conjuring ghosts, healing, protection, rain-making and water magick.

Charms made with Heather can be worn or carried as protection against danger, rape and other violent crimes. This flower represents good fortune and Heather can also be carried as a lucky charm. It was believed that wearing the blossom associated with your month of birth would bring exceptionally good luck – therefore people born in the month of Heather (August) should carry White Heather, for even better luck throughout the year.

Legend has it that a gift of white Heather brings luck to both the giver and the receiver, whereas red Heather is said to have been colored by heathens killed in battle by Christians, so is less lucky. Heather is associated with secrets from the Otherworld.

A sprig of white Heather placed in a special place of silence and meditation has the power to conjure ghosts, ‘haints’ or spirits. After picking a piece of white Heather at midnight, place it in a glass of river water in the darkest corner of your home. Sit and think of a departed loved one and it is said that the loved one’s shadow will visit you. Heather is said to ignite faery passions and open portals between their world and our own. Heather represents solitude because it thrives in wide open spaces, and Faeries who enjoy living in such undisturbed places are said to feast on the tender stalks of Heather.

The Fey of this flower are drawn to humans who are shy. Heather is useful for Solitary healing work (going within). Heather, if used along with Mistletoe, creates powerful healing medicine in both spiritual and physical aspects.

Heather can be used at Midsummer to promote love – carry red Heather for passion or white Heather for cooling the passion of unwanted suitors. If you give someone a gift of Heather it means: ‘Admiration’. A charm bag filled with Heather can be carried for decreasing egotism or self-involvement. As a water herb, Heather is very useful in weather magick. When burned outdoors with Fern, the herbal smoke of Heather attracts rain. Bouquets of Heather and Fern can also be dipped in water to call rain.

***Document Copyright © 99, 00, 01,02 by Sarah Nunn (Sarah the SwampWitch). This document can be re-published and shared only as long as no information is lost or changed, credit is given to the author, and it is provided or used without cost to others. Other uses of this document must be approved in writing by Sarah Nunn.

Disclaimer: No one involved in this blog or its contents may be held responsible for any adverse reactions arising from following any of the instructions/recipes on this list. It is the reader’s personal responsibility to exercise all precautions and use his or her own discretion if following any instructions or advice from this blog.

Fair Use Notice: This page may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. This website distributes this material without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. We believe this constitutes a fair use of any such copyrighted material as provided for in 17 U.S.C § 107.

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Thursday This Is Your Spell – A Midsummer’s Eve Honey Spell For Beauty

May 13, 2010 at 7:46 am (Beauty, Cosmetics, Fae, Faery, Honey, Litha, Magic, Midsummer, pagan, Self-image, Spell, Thursday, Witch)

A Midsummer’s Eve Honey Spell For Beauty
From Dancing with the Sun: Celebrating the Seasons of Life by Yasmine Galenorn

Summer is a time of beauty and honey is a food connected with beauty, both inner and outer. This is a simple spell to perform on Midsummer’s Eve and you can enchant enough honey to last through the year until next summer! You can double or triple the ingredients depending on how much you’ll be using.

On the Full moon before Midsummer’s Eve, gather the following:

  • 1 Lb honey
  • 1 sliced vanilla bean
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange zest
  • 1 inch sliced gingerroot
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • fifth of Apricoy Brandy
  • mirror
  • your hairbrush

In a heavy pan, stir together all the ingredients. Stir over medium-low heat for 20 minutes. Strain into a pretty jar with a tight fitting lid. Store until Midsummer’s Eve. Near dusk on Midsummer’s Eve, take your honey, a fifth of apricot brandy, a hand mirror, and your hairbrush outside (if it’s raining you can perform this at your Litha altar). Set up the mirror on a tree stump or rock so you can see yourself in it. Place the honey jar, the brandy and the brush on the rock with the mirror on it. Cast a circle and invoke the elements. Say:

"Queen Mab, Queen of faerie, Your blessing I ask
Reflect your beauty in my looking glass."

Look in the mirror and see your unique beauty, Say:

"Like honey my words will both charm and enchant
Stirring memories of wine and the labyrinth dance."

Eat a teaspoon of honey and hear the sweet sounds of your voice. Say:

"Like brandy my presence bewitches and glows
With elegance strength and the power of poise."

Drink a teaspoon of the brandy and feel your carriage shift, your posture straighten and your demeanor take on an otherworldly refinement. Say:

"Be it shorter or, I find in my hair
The power of beauty, my looks they are fair."

Take up the brush and brush your hair, feeling the strength of your beauty ripple from your inner core to radiate through your body and in your face. Meditate on your individual and unique beauty, comparing yourself to no one and then close the spell saying:

"Queen Mab, Queen of Faerie, bless my mirror and my brush,
To my lips bring bright crimson, to my cheeks, a fair blush,
To the honey bring charm and the power of song,
To the brandy bring strength for the winter so long,
To my heart bring both courage and the power to see
The beauty and glamour belonging only to me.
Blessed be."

Devoke the elements and open the circle. Take the honey and brandy and keep them on your personal altar or vanity table with your brush and mirror. Each evening eat a spoonful of the honey and drink a spoonful of the brandy.

Disclaimer: No one involved in this blog or its contents may be held responsible for any adverse reactions arising from following any of the instructions/recipes on this list. It is the reader’s personal responsibility to exercise all precautions and use his or her own discretion if following any instructions or advice from this blog.

Fair Use Notice: This page may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. This website distributes this material without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. We believe this constitutes a fair use of any such copyrighted material as provided for in 17 U.S.C § 107.

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Wednesday Whatever – Midsummer Hail and Farewell

May 5, 2010 at 9:39 am (Ancestors, Associations, Faery, Fairies, Fairy, Folklore, History, Litha, Lore, Magic, Midsummer, pagan, Wednesday, Wisdom, Witch)

Midsummer Hail and Farewell
by Ahneke Greystone, Midsummer 2000;
excerpt from:
Cauldrons and Broomsticks
A newsletter for and by the Pagan/Wiccan Internet Community,

That I am mortal I know and do confess
My span of day:
but when I gaze upon
The thousandfold circling gyre of the stars,
No longer do I walk on earth but rise
The peer of God himself to take my fill
At the ambrosial banquet of the undying.

– Claudius Ptolemaeus,
Greek-Egyptian, 2nd Century

Such a wonder, this season of paradox! A vibrant moment of existence, warm caresses from the Sun, long days to share with family and friends. It is a time for first harvest and second sowing. For some there is more to do than a day’s time allows; for others it is a time of sweet pause and respite. We are poised between increase and decline. Balanced on the Mystery.

Gathered around the fires of Midsummer Eve, we reflect on the turn of the Wheel and the symbolism of fire as a sign of our consciousness. The awakening we experience, as did the God, when times of frivolity and independence turn to times of responsibility and community. It is a time of maturity and reflection. On Midsummer Day our focus will be on celebration; a time for living in the moment and making merry. A Dance of Life, with our minds and bodies attuned to the awesome possibility and promise of existence. Tonight we are comforted knowing that as fire burns it cleanses and purifies, clearing the land and our psyche for the time of repose ahead. Providing the fertile source from which the cycle turns again in Winter.

This holiday transcends all time and culture. The heritage of the celebration is sometimes unacknowledged, and sometimes celebrated much as it has been for hundreds of years. Modern pagans recognize several names; it was called Litha or Vestalia in ancient Rome, Gathering Day in Wales, Feill-Sheathain in Scotland, Alban Heflin in the Anglo-Saxon tradition, Thing-Tideln in Scandinavia, All Couple’s Day in Greece, and it is the Celtic Feast of Epona. It was and often still is celebrated throughout Russia, Europe, the East, Africa and the Americas, and other places throughout the world honoring the season of ripeness and the advent of the harvesting.

In ancient times Midsummer was as well a time for celebration and reflection. Rites were ecstatic, celebrating fecundity and harvest, placating the gods for gentle rather than destructive weather. We knew that Divine whim could destroy the crops we needed to harvest in order for human and animal to survive the upcoming Winter. This was the most powerful fire festival of our solar holidays.

Summer was a time of war, a time of invasion and defense. Our ancient family connected the death of their compatriots with the peak and passing of Summer. The symbolism of the burgeoning land, cut into harvest, and the strong men who died in war was a powerful and integral part of the holiday. Even in ancient times, the paradox prevailed. Life and death.

The wedding month of June traces to our pagan roots. Courting traditionally began at the Winter Solstice, when days were not as filled with tasks, and there was time to focus on familial matters. Towards Spring, pregnancies became obvious. Marrying in May was considered unlucky, as that was the time of the Sacred Marriage. Thus, marriage became common after Beltane. Mead was traditionally drunk for the month following the bonding to guarantee fertility and the health of children conceived. The Full Moon in June is known as the Mead Moon, and we honor this today in our reference to a wedding holiday as a honeymoon.

Midsummer, especially the Eve, is a time when the Fairie become visible to our human eyes. The boundaries between the worlds are thin. Even those of us who rarely experience fey moments can be caught up in the mischief and mayhem brought to us this evening. We will be reminded that our world is a quixotic one. If we have become too staid, that will be remedied this evening! The fairies delight in revealing our human foibles and turning our world on end.

Midsummer in some traditions was the time the Ivy King was seen as battling and overcoming the Oak King. He ruled for the next six months, until the Winter Solstice when the fated battle began again, with the Oak King then victor. In other traditions, the Sun King was seen as born on the Winter Solstice, reaching his peak at Midsummer, to decline and pass either into the Underworld as reigning King there or into repose until his rebirth in Winter. The myth of Demeter and Persephone gave inspiration to a yearly cycle of the Feminine Divine, who at Midsummer is seen as the Daughter who has just begun her journey to the Underworld and the Mother who has not yet realized that her beloved daughter has gone. She will shortly understand this, and she will send the Earth into decline and mourning.

The Goddess at Midsummer is the Lover-Mother. She is pregnant and aware of the life within. This is a bittersweet time. The mature God is her husband and the father of her child. He is more her partner at this time than at any other. Emotionally and intellectually they are equals. She is enjoying this time of mundane connection. It is as though her tasks are done and she finds the time to relax and enjoy life. She who always leads and inspires can briefly lay her head upon the shoulder of her consort and let someone else take charge.

Shadowing her joy is the knowledge of what will come. Her lover will pass over and she will evolve once again separate from him. The child within is her connection to this Earthly time and the wonders of physical existence. It is also her connection to Eternity. What agony she will suffer, though, to see all that she loves pass. Even as her wiser self knows the purpose.

Goddesses for Midsummer include Earth Mothers and Goddesses of beauty and mature sexuality, fire Goddesses and Goddesses of the animals and the hunt. They include: Aine, Ameaterasu, Anahita, Aphrodite, Artemis, Asherah, Brighid, Cardea, Coaltique, Corn Mother, Danu, Erzulie, Esmeralda, Freya, Flora, Gaia, Hera, Hestia, Iamanja, Inanna, Ishtar, Li, Litha, Mawu, Oraea, Oshun, Oya, Pele, Rhea, Rhiannon, Spider Woman, The Corn Mothers, Tiamat, Tonantzin, Vesta, Yellow Land Earth Queen, Yemaya.

The God has matured from the free and independent young man to the wise elder, the King who has learned of commitment and responsibility to his Queen, his family and his community. He is the counselor and the person others turn to for leadership and guidance. The Lord of the Greenwood is now the Sun King. He wears his crown with dignity and with some sorrow. For he remembers how at Beltane he envisioned the blood upon the corn. He knows his time is about to end. He reflects on a life of joy and abandon, of peace and contentment, of accomplishment and triumph. It is the time when he looks back on his life, rather than forward. The time remaining is short. With age and maturity comes the wisdom in him that accepts his life, is aware of the contributions he has made and acknowledges his fate. He looks to the end with peace now, fearless and aware of his role in the theater of life.

The Gods of Midsummer are the Gods of the hunt, Gods of the Sun, Father Gods and the Gods of the Arts. They include: Apollo, Arthur, Balder, Balin, Cernunnos, Faunus, Gwynn ap Nudd, Hades, Heimdul, Helios, Herne, Hugh, Lugh, Pan, Perkunis, Phol, Ra, Taliesin, Woden.

Midsummer Correspondences

  • Colors – Verdant and growing shades, colors of light and fire – gold, green, hazel, orange, peridot, pink, red, yellow.
  • Trees: The most powerful being the oak, ivy and mistletoe, but also including evergreen and fruit-bearing trees – fir, holly, mistletoe, pine, hawthorne, maple, oak, peach, palm, rowan.
  • Crystals/Stones: Amber, carnelian, cat’s eye, citrine, clear quartz crystal, copper, emerald, garnet, peridot, ruby, sulfur, yellow topaz.
  • Flowers: Red flowers, carnations (red), honeysuckle, iris, lily, marigolds, nasturtiums, rose, sunflowers, trefoil, wisteria, witches’ broom.
  • Creatures: Cardinal, dove, lizard, magpie, parrot.
  • Herbs: Basil, chive, chervil, dragon’s blood, fennel, lavender, mint, parsley, Rosemary, rue, sage, St. John’s wort, tarragon, thyme, vervain, violet.
  • Incense: Carnation, cedar, cinnamon, copal, fir, frangipani, frankincense, myrrh, pine, rose, rosemary, sandalwood, tangerine, thyme, vervain, violet, wisteria.
  • Oils: Carnation, citronella, geranium, lime, musk, orange, tangerine, ylang-ylang.
  • Foods: Hot and spicy foods, corn, dark breads, tomato and red vegetable juices.

And now it is Midsummer! May you cherish the special moments of your life, honoring them as Divine gifts. May the love you have for family and community be paramount today, and may you see in the eyes of your mates, children, family and friends that spark of eternity that is a part of each of us. Celebrate!

Blessings of the Sun King and the Queen of Summer to you!

The night has a thousand eyes,
And the day but one;
Yet the light of the bright world dies
With the dying sun.

– William Bourdillon

Disclaimer: No one involved in this blog or its contents may be held responsible for any adverse reactions arising from following any of the instructions/recipes on this list. It is the reader’s personal responsibility to exercise all precautions and use his or her own discretion if following any instructions or advice from this blog.

Fair Use Notice: This page may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. This website distributes this material without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. We believe this constitutes a fair use of any such copyrighted material as provided for in 17 U.S.C § 107.

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Wednesday Whatever – The Twilight of the Celtic Gods for St Patrick’s Day

March 17, 2010 at 9:05 am (Ancestors, Fae, Faery, Fairies, Folklore, History, Lore, Magic, Ostara, pagan, Wednesday, Wisdom, Witch)

The Twilight of the Celtic Gods
by John Patrick Parle

The Milesians, according to myth, were the first Celts to settle in Ireland. This group was named after the eight sons of Mil (some texts say King Milesius); these Gaelic peoples, the myths report, came to Ireland from Spain. Ironically, the first phase of the diminishment of power of the Celtic gods came with the arrival of the Milesian Celts themselves. And, as might be expected, the second phase came with the arrival of St. Patrick. But elements of the Gods and Goddesses still remain in the Celtic mind as part of a folk-culture that bids many to dare not offend the fairies of the mounds or be outwitted by a cornered Leprechaun.
Ancestors of the Gaels
According to the Lebor Gabala in the Book of Leinster, there were 36 generations stretching from the Biblical Adam (via Seth) to Mil, and after, to the Milesian Celts. (The abundant influence of the Irish monks, working as scribes, can be clearly seen in this genealogy.) The bard-author of this myth states firmly that these earlier generations were "our ancestors." They were the Gaedels (sometimes spelled Goidils), or as we say, the Gaelic Celts.

The Gaels trace their mythic lineage to one Fenius Farsaid, a sort of king of Scythia, a territory in what is now southern Russia, near the Black Sea and Caspian Sea. According to the monk-inspired twist in the myth, Fenius was descended from Noah, through Japeth. And Fenius was active in helping build the Tower of Babel. When the dispersal of the 72 world languages occurred, Fenius was quick to found a great school of these languages in Scythia. (An ironic bend to this myth is that some historians believe that the Indo-European family of languages, of which Irish Gaelic is one, came originally from this region of the world.)

Pharaoh in Egypt was deeply enthused about learning all the languages, so he bid Fenius Farsaid and his son Nel to settle in the land of the Nile. Nel fell in love with pharaoh’s daughter, Scota, they married, and had a son named Gaedel Glas, whose chief role in Celtic mythology is having invented the Irish Gaelic language. The author of the myth also makes it clear that the armor and vesture of Gaedel Glas were all green in color.

The generations passed until Eber Scot, the great grandson of Gaedel Glas, got into difficulty in Egypt, was forced to leave, and thus his people began a period of travels lasting three hundred years. The mythic ancestors of the Gaels first went back to Scythia, but things did not work out there over the long run. Then a druid named Caicher had a vision. He announced: "Rise, we shall not rest until we reach Ireland." But the Gaels had never heard of a place named Ireland. Caicher assured them that it was very far away, and that it would be found only by their descendants.

According to the myths, the Gaels resided a long while in their boats in a place called the Macotic Marshes. (Speculation: what may really be meant here is an area around the Maeotic Sea, an ancient name for the region in the northern part of the Black Sea, adjacent to what was once Scythia.) This dark period was not to last forever.

Brath, a descendant of Eber Scot, urged his fellow Gaels to move on and explore. They left the Black Sea region, entered the Mediterranean, and landed for a while in Crete, and then for a while in Sicily. Finally, under Brath’s leadership they travelled westward until they reached Spain, where they wished to form a colony. Through a series of mythic battles, these Celtic Gaels gained control of Spain from the Iberians, and set the stage for fulfillment of the druid Caicher’s prophecy.

So the legendary story of the Gaelic Celts involved many generations, including the direct line of Fenius Farsaid, Nel (husband of the Egyptian Scota), Gaedel Glas, Eber Scot, and Brath (and many members in between). As the story proceeds, the myths tell us that Brath had a son named Breagon, who built an enormous watchtower on the northern coast of Spain (in a town he called Braganza or Brigantia, depending on what text you consult). Many feel that this tower was in the Galicia region of northern Spain, where Celtic culture still thrives today.

King Breagon, as some call him, had two sons: Ith and Bile; Bile had a son named Mil (or King Milesius, for whom the Celtic Milesians were named). Mil had eight sons, including Eber, Eremon, and Amergin the White Knee, a bard with druidic powers. It is these last three generations that in quick succession bring forward the story of conflict between the Celts and the Tuatha Dé Danann, the gods and goddesses of Ireland.
Milesians versus the Gods

One winter evening, Ith the son of Breagon stood on the watchtower and looked across the seas from Spain. He saw a land that sparked his curiosity. Ith wished to give the territory closer examination. He set off with thrice thirty warriors to this new land, which was Ireland.

The rulers of Ireland were now the Tuatha Dé Danann deities who had wrested control of the Isle from the Fir Bolg peoples and the Fomor giants. The tripartite kingship of the gods was now in the hands of Mac Cuill, Mac Cecht, and Mac Greine–these were sons of the god Ogma, and grandsons of the Dagda. When Ith arrived with his warriors, he spoke of Ireland in glowing terms, full of praises of the new land. The three kings of the gods considered this as a sign that the newcomer might try to possess the island, so they had Ith killed.
When news of Ith’s murder reached the Gaels in Spain, his nephew Mil rose up in anger and spoke his determination to even the score. So, the sons of Mil gathered a force of three score and five ships and sailed to Ireland,landing on the day before Beltaine, on the 17th day of the moon, in the year 3500 of the world. Amergin was the first to step off the ship, and plant his right foot on the Irish soil. Immediately he burst into an exposition of poetry, saying: "What land is better than this island of the setting sun?" The Celtic Milesians concurred that this would be their new home. But first they needed to contend with the Tuatha Dé Danann.

So the Milesians marched towards Tara, the seat of power of the gods. On their way, they met Eriu, one the deity queens, the wife of Mac Greine. She welcomed the warriors, and prophesied that Ireland would become theirs and that their race would be "the most perfect the world has ever seen." She then asked the Milesians to name the island after her, and Amergin consented to do this. Hence, Ireland’s name in the genitive Gaelic form is to this day "Erinn."
Once the Milesians reached Tara, the gods complained that the Celtic warriors had taken them by surprise. Amergin agreed to be fair and honorable, and concurred with a plan where the Milesians would embark on their ships once again and go a distance of nine waves from the shore. Upon returning to the land, the gods would then be ready for battle. This the Milesians did, but the gods raised up a powerful druidic wind, preventing the Milesians from reaching the shore.

Amergin’s voice then grew powerful. He proceeded to invoke the Land of Ireland itself, a charm higher then the gods. He bellowed: "I invoke the land of Eriu! The shining, shining sea! The fertile, fertile hill! The wooded vale! The river abundant, abundant in the water! The fishful, fishful lake! I implore that we regain the land of Eriu, we who have come over the lofty waves…" The incantation worked, and the Land of Ireland forced the druidic wind to die down. The Milesians landed and defeated the gods in two battles, the last in an area south of the present Tralee. The three kings of the gods were killed, and the Celtic Milesians gained control of Ireland. This is only partially true though, for the Tuatha Dé Danann retreated below the earth, continued to exert a strong influence, thus becoming the gods and goddesses of the Celtic Irish.

The New Order
The notion of a people defeating their own gods in battle, and reigning victorious in some way over them, is not a regular theme that one sees in the mythologies of the world. Why it happened this way in Ireland, or why the Celtic myths of Wales show humans leading successful raids to the Underworld, is not altogether clear. In the case of Ireland, though, it was not a complete victory.
The deities selected the god Dagda to be their new king, and he set about the task of giving each member of the Tuatha Dé Danann a fairy mound of their own, places where there would be "inexhaustible splendor and delight." In these sidh fairy mounds, the Celtic deities would engage in perpetual feasting, and never would a cauldron or drinking horn be dry. The Dagda chose the most elaborate mound for himself, at Newgrange (sometimes called the Brugh-na-Boyne; even so, his son Angus in a bit of chicanery tricked the Dagda, and took occupancy of the Newgrange sidh for his own).

The Milesian Celts, though now governors of Ireland, came to believe that the assistance of the gods and goddesses was necessary for living on the Isle. Charles Squire quotes an ancient tract from the Book of Leinster to this effect:

"Great was the power of the Dagda over the sons of Mil, even after the conquest of Ireland; for his subjects destroyed their corn and milk, so that they must needs make a treaty of peace with the Dagda. Not until then, and thanks to his good-will, were they able to harvest corn and drink the milk of their cows."

Hence the Celtic gods found their place within the Irish surroundings, and had a honorific role, even if their abode was below the ground.

Though the myths report that most of the gods remained in Ireland after the Milesian conquests, some gods left for the Otherworld of the West, the vast uncharted expanses of the Atlantic Ocean. Chief among these expatriate gods was Manannan, son of Lir the sea god. The Otherworld territories across the ocean had a number of names in myth: the Land of Promise (Tir Tairngire in Gaelic), the Plain of Happiness (Mag Mell), the Land of the Young (Tir-non-og), the Isle of the Women (Tir inna mBan), and others. In one myth, Bran the son of Febal (not to be confused with the Welsh Brân the Blessed) takes a voyage to the Otherworld of the West and meets Manannan, who extols the paradisiac quality of his adopted lands in the Atlantic. In another legend, an Irish king named Breasal voyages across the Atlantic and founds an island of magic that is visible only once every seven years. This legend spread around Europe, and medieval cartographers began placing the island on the western edges of their maps, calling the isle Hy-Brasil (a variant of the Gaelic words). One account is that when European explorers, who were well-familiar with these maps, reached South America they named the area Brazil, thinking they had reached Breasal’s Island.

The Annalists
With the coming of the Milesians a new form of Celtic myth arose. Oral legends of the new kings and their successors became standard practice, and the monk-scribes later wrote down these chronicles, the work of what became known as the annalists. To begin, there was the story of the first Milesian king of Ireland. Eber and Eremon, sons of Mil, divided Ireland between them after the conquest, Eber ruling over the south, and Eremon over the north. But quarrels soon began, battles commenced, and Eber was killed. Eremon then became the first Milesian Celtic king of all Ireland.

These kings of the annalists are quasi-historical, and more emphasis in the annals is placed on heroic humans and their feats. Although these myths show the humans interacting with the gods on occasion, the Celtic deities assumed roles that became smaller and smaller in the texts of the new stories.  Some kings merit mention. Tigernmas reigned about a century after Eremon, and legends say he was the first on Ireland to make ornaments of gold and to dye clothing. According to the stories, Tigernmas disappeared with the majority of Irishmen while worshiping a god named Cromm Cruaich. Conchobar was said to have lived about the time of Christ and was well known in myth; his rule in Ulster was the centerpiece of that cycle of legends. Conn of the Hundred Battles has high king sometime around 180 A.D., and his grandson was the illustrious King Cormac the Magnificent. The great grandson of Conn was Cairbre, who was said to have lived in about 280 A.D.

Another descendant of Conn was perhaps the first truly historical king of the lot: Niall of the Nine Hostages (379-404). He began the famous Ui Neill dynasty. Also, during Niall of the Nine Hostage’s reign, an event bearing a great impact on Celtic mythology happened: a Christian boy named Patrick was captured in a raid on Britain, and brought back as a slave to Ireland. The boy was to become a saint.

Saintly Legends and Pious Stories
The stories of Ireland in the fifth century are full of miraculous ordeals between St. Patrick and the druids; spiritual trials abound. Then there are the legends of Patrick driving the snakes out of Ireland, and explaining the Christian Trinity by way of a shamrock. A clever tale has St. Patrick raising the Celtic hero Cuchulainn from the dead, who then attests to the truth of Christianity while standing before high king Laogaire the Second. The once skeptical Irish monarch immediately converts.

In another story, the Fenian hero Ossian returns to Ireland after staying in the Atlantic Otherworld for three hundred years. Having been at the Land of the Young during this sojourn, he has not aged a bit. But everywhere Ossian looks in Ireland, things have changed. It is now the age of St. Patrick. Men no longer look heroic, and when he asks about Finn and the Fenians, people tell him that these were folks who lived long ago. Upon stepping off his fairy horse and touching the ground of Ireland, the years return to Ossian, and he becomes a haggard old man. St. Patrick takes Ossian to his house and tries to convert him. But Ossian wants no part of an eternal life where there is no hunting, no wooing of women, no enjoying the tales of the Celtic bards.

A different story has the four children of the god Lir returning to Ireland after their centuries of journey as swans. Everyone they once knew is gone. St. Caemhoc greets them, and converts them to the new faith. As soon as holy water is sprinkled on them, they changed back from swans into real people. But they are very old, and St. Caemhoc gives them a Christian burial when they pass on.

The stories of the Christian saints are full of legends, like the one where St. Columba was the first person to have seen the Loch Ness monster. And although every honest Irishman knows for certain that Irish monks were the first Europeans to have ventured to America, the modern mind is apt to quarrel with the story of St. Brendan.

According to Proinsias Mac Cana, the "Navigatio Brendani" (Voyages of St. Brendan) became Ireland’s "greatest single contribution to medieval European literature." This ninth century work took its form in Latin and in numerous vernacular translations, and spread across Europe, such that there are about a hundred old manuscripts of the Voyages of St. Brendan still in existence. The story goes that St. Brendan (circas 484-578) was born in Tralee, Ireland, and presided over a monastery at Clonfert in County Galway. He and his monks got into their coracle boats and crossed the Atlantic to discover a marvelous land in the Western world. Medieval map-makers placed Brendan’s Isle in this area, and Mac Cana suggests that this may have influenced explorers like Columbus to risk the Atlantic journey. An example of how myth may have influenced reality! Slán agat. Go n-éiri an bóthar leat!

Sources And References:

 

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Wednesday Whatever – The Origins of Halloween

October 14, 2009 at 10:06 am (Ancestors, Associations, Death, Divination, Faery, Folklore, Halloween, History, Lore, Magic, pagan, Samhain, Wednesday, Wisdom, Witch)

The Origins of Halloween
By Rowan Moonstone,
published in Cauldrons and Broomsticks
A newsletter
for and by the Pagan/Wiccan Internet Community
Samhain issue 1999.

In recent years, there have been a number of pamphlets put out by various Christian organizations dealing with the origins of modern day Halloween customs. Being a Witch myself, and a student of the ancient Celts, from whom we get this holiday, I have found these pamphlets woefully inaccurate and poorly researched. In an effort to correct some of this erroneous information, I have spent several months researching the religious life of the ancient Celtic peoples and the survivals of that religious life in modern day times. Listed below are some of the most commonly asked questions concerning the origins and Customs of Halloween. Following the questions is a lengthy bibliography where the curious reader can go to learn more about this holiday than space in this small pamphlet permits.

Where does Halloween come from? Our modern celebration of Halloween is a descendent of the ancient Celtic fire festival called "Samhain". The word is pronounced "sow-in", with "sow" rhyming with cow.

What does "Samhain" mean? The Irish English dictionary published by the Irish Texts Society defines the word as follows:

"Samhain, All Hallowtide, the feast of the dead in Pagan and Christian times, signalizing the close of harvest and the initiation of the winter season, lasting till May, during which troops (esp. the Fiann) were quartered. Faeries were imagined as particularly active at this season. From it the half year is reckoned. also called Feile Moingfinne (Snow Goddess).(1)

The Scottish Gaelis Dictionary defines it as

"Hallowtide. The Feast of All Soula. Sam + Fuin = end of summer." (2)

Contrary to the information published by many organizations, there is no archaeological or literary evidence to indicate that Samhain was a deity. The Celtic Gods of the dead were Gwynn ap Nudd for the British, and Arawn for the Welsh. The Irish did not have a "lord of death" as such.

Why was the end of summer of significance to the Celts? The Celts were a pastoral people as opposed to an agricultural people. The end of summer was significant to them because it meant the time of year when the structure of their lives changed radically. The cattle were brought down from the summer pastures in the hills and the people were gathered into the houses for the long winter nights of story- telling and handicrafts.

What does it have to do with a festival of the dead? The Celts believed that when people died, they went to a land of eternal youth and happiness called Tir nan Og. They did not have the concept of heaven and hell that the Christian church later brought into the land. The dead were sometimes believed to be dwelling with the Fairy Folk, who lived in the numerous mounds or sidhe (pron. "shee") that dotted the Irish and Scottish countryside. Samhain was the new year to the Celts. In the Celtic belief system, turning points, such as the time between one day and the next, the meeting of sea and shore, or the turning of one year into the next were seen as magical times. The turning of the year was the most potent of these times. This was the time when the "veil between the worlds" was at its thinnest, and the living could communicate with their beloved dead in Tir nan Og.

What about the aspects of "evil" that we associate with the night today? The Celts did not have demons and devils in their belief system. The fairies, however, were often considered hostile and dangerous to humans because they were seen as being resentful of men taking over their lands. On this night, they would sometimes trick humans into becoming lost in the fairy mounds, where they would be trapped forever. After the coming of the Christians to the Celtic lands, certain of the folk saw the fairies as those angels who had sided neither with God or with Lucifer in their dispute, and thus, were condemned to walk the earth until judgment day. (3)

In addition to the fairies, many humans were abroad on this night, causing mischief. Since this night belonged neither to one year or the other, Celtic folk believed that chaos reigned and the people would engage in "horseplay and practical jokes".(4) This served also as a final outlet for high spirits before the gloom of winter set in.

What about "trick or treat"? During the course of these hijinks, many of the people would imitate the fairies and go from house to house begging for treats. Failure to supply the treats would usually result in practical jokes being visited on the owner of the house. Since the fairies were abroad on this night, an offering of food or milk was frequently left for them on the steps of the house, so the homeowner could gain the blessings of the "good folk" for the coming year. Many of the households would also leave out a "dumb supper" for the spirits of the departed.(5)

The folks who were abroad in the night imitating the fairies would some- times carry turnips carved to represent faces. This is the origin of our modern Jack-o-lantern.

Was this also a religious festival? Yes. Celtic religion was very closely tied to the Earth. Their great legends are concerned with momentous happenings which took place around the time of Samhain. many of the great battles and legends of kings and heroes center on this night. Many of the legends concern the promotion of fertility of the earth and the insurance of the continuance of the lives of the people through the dark winter season.

How was the religious festival observed? Unfortunately, we know very little about that. W.G. Wood-Martin, in his book, "Traces of the Elder Faiths of Ireland" states,

"There is paritively little trace of the religion of the Druids now discoverable, save in the folklore of the peasantry, and the references relative to it that occur in ancient and authentic Irish manuscripts are, as far as present appearances go, meagre and insufficient to support anything like a sound theory for full development of the ancient religion. "(6)

The Druids were the priests of the Celtic peoples. They passed on their teachings by oral tradition instead of committing them to writing, so when they perished, most of their religious teachings were lost. We DO know that this festival was characterized as one of the four great "Fire Festivals" of the Celts. Legends tell us that on this night, all the hearth fires in Ireland were extinguished, and then re-lit from the central fire of the Druids at Tlachtga, 12 miles from the royal hill of Tara. This fire was kindled from "need fire" which had been generated by the friction of rubbing two sticks together as opposed to more conventional methods common in those days.(7) The extinguishing of the fires symbolized the "dark half" of the year, and the re-kindling from the Druidic fires was symbolic of the returning life hoped for, and brought about through the ministrations of the priesthood.

What about sacrifices? Animals were certainly killed at this time of year. This was the time to "cull" from the herds those animals which were not desired for breeding purposes for the next year. Most certainly, some of these would have been done in a ritualistic manner for the use of the priesthood.

Were humans sacrificed? Scholars are sharply divided on this account, with about half believing that it took place and half doubting its veracity. Caesar and Tacitus certainly tell tales of the human sacrifices of the Celts, but Nora Chadwick points out in her book "The Celts" that

"it is not without interest that the Romans themselves had abolished human sacrifices not long before Caesar’s time, and references to the practice among various barbarian peoples have certain overtones of self-righteousness. There is little direct archaeological evidence relevant to Celtic sacrifice." (8)

Indeed, there is little reference to this practice in Celtic literature either. The only surviving story echoes the story of the Minotaur in Greek legend. The Fomorians, a race of evil giants said to inhabit portions of Ireland before the coming of the Tuatha de Danaan, or "people of the Goddess Danu", demanded the sacrifice of 2/3 of the corn, milk, and first born children of the Fir Bolg, or human inhabitants of Ireland. The De Danaan ended this practice in the second battle of Moy Tura, which incidentally took place on Samhain.

What other practices were associated with this season? Folk tradition tells us of many divination practices associated with Samhain. Among the most common were divinations dealing with marriage, weather, and the coming fortunes for the year. These were performed via such methods as ducking for apples, and apple peeling.

Ducking for apples was a marriage divination. The first person to bite an apple would be the first to marry in the coming year. Apple peeling was a divination to see how long your life would be. The longer the unbroken apple peel, the longer your life was destined to be.(9)

In Scotland, people would place stones in the ashes of the hearth before retiring for the night. Anyone whose stone had been disturbed during the night was said to be destined to die during the coming year.

How did these ancient Celtic practices come to America? When the potato crop in Ireland failed, many of the Irish people, modern day descendents of the Celts, immigrated to America, bringing with them their folk practices, which are the remnants of the Celtic festival observances.

We in America view this as a harvest festival. Did the Celts also view it as such? Yes. The Celts had 3 harvests: Aug 1, or Lammas, was the first harvest, when the first fruits were offered to the Gods in thanks. The Fall Equinox was the "true harvest". This was when the bulk of the crops would be brought in. Samhain was the final harvest of the year. Anything left on the vines or in the fields after this date was considered blasted by the fairies, or "pu’ka", and unfit for human consumption.

Does anyone today celebrate Samhain as a religious observance? Yes. many followers of various pagan religions, such as Druids and Wiccans observe this day as a religious festival. They view it as a memorial day for their dead friends, similar to the national holiday of Memorial Day in May. It is still a night to practice various forms of divination concerning future events. Also, it is considered a time to wrap up old projects, take stock of ones life, and initiate new projects for the coming year. As the winter season is approaching, it is a good time to do studying on research projects and also a good time to begin hand work such as sewing, leather working, woodworking, etc. for Yule gifts later in the year.

Does this involve human or animal sacrifice? Absolutely not! Hollywood to the contrary, blood sacrifice is not practiced by modern day followers of Wicca or Druidism. There may be some people who think they are practicing Wicca by performing blood sacrifices, but this is not condoned by reputable practitioners of the modern day Neo-Pagan religions.

Footnotes:

(1) Rev. Patrick Dineen, "An Irish English Dictionary" (Dublin, 1927), p. 937

(2) Malcolm MacLennan, "A Pronouncing and Etymological Dictionary of the Gelic Language" (Aberdeen, 1979), p. 279

(3) W.G. Wood-Martin,"Traces of the Elder Faiths of Ireland" (Port Washington, 1902), p. 5.

(4) Kevin Danaher,"The Year in Ireland", (Cork,1972), p. 214

(5) Alwyn & Brinley Rees,"Celtic Heritage" (New York,1961), p. 90

(6) Wood-Martin, p. 249

(7) Rees & Rees, p. 90

(8) Nora Chadwick, "The Celts" (Harmondsworth,1982), p. 151

(9) Madeleine Pelner Cosman, "Medieval Holidays and Festivals," (New York, 1981), p. 81

Disclaimer: No one involved in this blog or its contents may be held responsible for any adverse reactions arising from following any of the instructions/recipes on this list. It is the reader’s personal responsibility to exercise all precautions and use his or her own discretion if following any instructions or advice from this blog.

Fair Use Notice: This page may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. This website distributes this material without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. We believe this constitutes a fair use of any such copyrighted material as provided for in 17 U.S.C § 107.

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Saturday Surprise! Samhain: Season of Death and Renewal

October 11, 2009 at 8:05 pm (Ancestors, Associations, Death, Divination, Faery, Folklore, Halloween, History, Lore, Magic, Mysteries, pagan, Samhain, Saturday, Witch)

Samhain: Season of Death and Renewal
by Alexei Kondratiev
Copyright © 1997 Alexei Kondratiev
All Rights Reserved
May be reposted as long as the above
attribution and copyright notice are retained

As the nights lengthen and the leaves take on their autumn colors, many of our cities prepare for a seasonal festival dominated by dark and frightening imagery. Ghosts, skeletons, hags, nocturnal creatures such as cats and bats, and grinning monster faces peer out at us from shop windows. Much of it is just commercialism, yet there is no denying that the atmosphere of the holiday still has a profound effect on the modern psyche – as we can see from the spontaneous outrageousness of Hallowe’en parades, the creative expressions of death-related themes, and the general surge in mischief-making. All these customs, however, are a diffuse reflection of the beliefs and practices of the Celtic populations of Europe, for whom this feast was a crucial turning-point in the flow of time.

The earliest record we have of the festival of Samhain in the Celtic world comes from the Coligny Calendar, a native Celtic lunar calendar inscribed on bronze tablets and discovered in eastern France a hundred years ago. The calendar – dated, through epigraphic evidence, to the 1st century CE – is written in the Latin alphabet and was found in conjunction with a Roman-style statue (identified by some writers as Apollo, by others as Mars), but the language used is Gaulish and the dating system itself bears little resemblance to Roman models, implying that it represents the survival of an indigenous tradition maintained by native clergy. A detailed discussion of the calendar lies outside the scope of this article, but for our purposes it will be enough to point out that its year consists of twelve regularly recurring months that fall naturally into two groups, one headed by the month that is labeled SAMON (for Samonios) and the other by the month GIAMON (for Giamonios), and that the names of these two months are clearly related to the terms samos "summer" and giamos "winter" (cf. Gaelic samh(radh) "summer", geamh(radh) "winter"; Welsh haf "summer", gaeaf "winter").

The date of SAMON- xvii is identified as TRINVX SAMO SINDIV, which can be readily interpreted as an abbreviation of Trinouxtion Samonii sindiu ("The three-night-period of Samonios [is] today"). This is one of the very few dates in the calendar that is given a specific name, testifying to its importance as a festival; and since Samoni is obviously the origin of the modern name Samhain, it is reasonable to equate the Trinouxtion Samonii with the feast that is still one of the most important dates in the Celtic ritual year. We should note, however, that since the Coligny Calendar gives no indication of how its months relate to those of the Roman calendar, we have no conclusive evidence that would allow us to fit it into the framework of our own year, and scholars are still very much divided on the issue. The most confusing element, of course, is that Samon refers to summer, and so would naturally lead one to think that a month with that name would head the summer half of the year; and many of the earlier interpretations of the Coligny Calendar take this for granted. In living Celtic tradition, however, the festival of Samhain, despite its name, is definitely the beginning of winter. Though such evidence doesn’t necessarily exclude the possibility that Continental Druids used a completely different terminology, many scholars now accept the authority of the living tradition and place the Samonios month in October/November.

What does the name of the festival mean, however? Here, again, we run into controversy. The traditional interpretation – first put forward in the Mediaeval glossaries and still held to by native speakers – is that it means "summer’s end", being a combination of samh "summer" and fuin "ending, concealment". This is obviously a folk etymology, since we know that the earliest form of the word (Samoni) had a different structure, but its importance to the living tradition should make us wary of dismissing it too lightly. Although philologists have been unable to find a plausible Indo-European explanation for a suffix -oni- meaning "end of" (the suffix, by the way, occurs in at least three of the other Coligny months), this is not conclusive in itself: there are quite a few other derivational suffixes attested in Old Celtic that resist an easy Indo-European etymology, although their meanings are uncontroversial. What should be kept in mind is that in the ritual context of the Celtic Year, Samhain is strongly identified with the "end" or "concealment" of Summer, the Light Half of the year. In the modern Gaelic languages the festival is called Samhain (Irish), Samhuinn (Scots Gaelic), and Sauin (Manx). The night on which it begins (Oíche Shamhna in Irish, Oidhche Shamhna in Scots Gaelic, Oie Houney in Manx) is the primary focus of the celebration. The Brythonic languages call the feast by a name meaning "first of Winter", borrowing the Latin term calenda which designates the first day of a month (Welsh Calan Gaeaf, Breton Kala-Goañv, Cornish Kalann Gwav), but the beliefs and practices associated with it are consistent with what we find in the Gaelic countries, and will help us discover a pan-Celtic theology of
Samhain.

The Coligny Calendar’s division of the year into two halves associated with summer and winter is still very strongly reflected in Celtic folk practice, where the yearly cycle consists of a dark half beginning on Samhain (November 1st), mirrored by a light half beginning on Bealtaine (May 1st). The rituals surrounding Samhain and Bealtaine are closely related to each other and make it clear that the two festivals are linked, but also that they deal with opposite energies within the unfolding of the year. What is explicit and active in one is implicit and dormant in the other, and vice versa. This is often expressed as the notion that what disappears in our world at once becomes present in the Otherworld, and it has even been suggested, on this basis, that Samhain’s "summery" name was originally intended to designate the beginning of an Otherworld summer! Whether this is plausible or not, it remains certain that while Samhain began one kind of yearly cycle, Bealtaine began another, and both could be construed as a kind of "New Year". In ancient Ireland the High King inaugurated the year on Samhain for his household (and, symbolically, for all the people of Ireland) with the famous ritual of Tara, but in nearby Uisneach, the sacred center held by the druids in complementary opposition to Tara, it was on Bealtaine that the main ritual cycle was begun. In both cases sacred fires were extinguished and re-lit, though this happened at sunset on Samhain and at dawn on Bealtaine. Bealtaine was a time of opening and expansion, Samhain a time of gathering-in and shutting, and for herd-owners like the Celts this was expressed with particular vividness by the release of cattle into upland pastures on Bealtaine and their return to the safety of the byres on Samhain.

Which of these two dates, then, should we think of primarily as the "Celtic New Year"? Although both deal with the beginning of a cycle, Samhain begins it in darkness, and there is no doubt about the pre-eminence of darkness in Celtic tradition. In De Bello Gallico Julius Caesar notes that the Celts began their daily cycle with sunset (spatia omnis temporis non numero dierum, sed noctium finiunt; dies natales et mensum et annorum initia sic obseruant, ut noctem dies subsequatur – "they define all amounts of time not by the number of days, but by the number of nights; they celebrate birthdays and the beginnings of months and years in such a way that the day is made to follow the night"), and this is confirmed by later Celtic practice. Darkness comes before light, because life appears in the darkness of the womb, all things have their beginning in the fertile chaos that is hidden from the rational mind. Thus the year begins with its dark half, holding the bright half in gestation as the seeds lie in apparent death underground, although the forces of growth are already at work in Otherworldly invisibility. The moment of death – the passing into the concealing darkness – is itself the first step in the renewal of life. This association of death with fertility provided the theological background for a great number of end-of-harvest festivals celebrated by many cultures across Eurasia. Like Samhain, these festivals (which, for example, included the rituals of the Dyedy ("Ancestors") in the Slavic countries and the Vetrarkvöld festival in Scandinavia) linked the successful resumption of the agricultural cycle (after a period of apparent winter "death") to the propitiation of the human community’s dead. The dead have passed away from the social concerns of this world to the primordial chaos of the Otherworld where all fertility has its roots, but they are still bound to the living by ties of kinship. It was hoped that, by strengthening these ties precisely when the natural cycle seemed to be passing through its own moment of death, the community of the living would be better able to profit from the energies of increase that lead out of death back to life. Dead kin were the Tribe’s allies in the Otherworld, making it certain that the creative forces deep within the Land were being directed to serve the needs of the human community. They were, in Celtic terms, a "humanising" factor within the Fomorian realm.

Whatever the specific elements had been that determined the proper date of the end-of-harvest honoring of the dead in various places, by the ninth and tenth centuries the unifying influence of the Church had led to concentrating the rituals on November 1st and November 2nd. The first date was All Hallows, when the most spiritually powerful of the Christian community’s dead (the Saints) were invoked to strengthen the living community, in a way quite consistent with pre-Christian thought. The second date, All Souls, was added on (first as a Benedictine practice, beginning ca. 988) as an extension of this concept, enlarging it to include the dead of families and local communities. Under the mantle of the specifically Christian observances, however, older patterns of ancestor veneration were preserved. Most traditional Celtic communities maintain a year-round link of some sort with their departed, making them a part of all significant occurrences in the family, such as births, weddings and funerals. In areas of the Irish Gaeltacht it is still not unusual for a household to have a seomra thiar ("western room"), a section of the house (often just a nook or alcove) dedicated to the dead of the family. Objects that bring individual dead relatives to mind (old photographs, pipes, jewelry, etc) are placed on a shelf or mantle piece, and as one contemplates them one faces the setting sun and the vastness of the Atlantic, the direction the dead follow in their journey to the Otherworld. The rituals of Samhain, however, involved a more intense bonding with the dead, using the institution which, in Celtic tradition, was used to cement social links in a sacred and durable manner: the communal feast. Sharing food in a solemn context ("in the sight of gods and mortals") placed common and mutual responsibilities on all participants. Inviting the dead to such a feast encouraged the living to remember and honor their ancestors, while the dead in return were encouraged to have an interest in the welfare of their living kin.

On Samhain, the moment of the year’s death, this world and the Otherworld become equivalent to each other, classificatory boundaries are removed from all categories, no barriers exist between the dead and the living, so both can authentically come together in one place to share a ritual feast. Individual Celtic communities have preserved a wealth of different customs related to the way this feast was actually celebrated: one can still discern some distorted
elements of them in modern urban practices, such as Hallowe’en parties and trick-or-treating. Most of the customs, however, fall into two broad patterns. According to the first, a certain amount of food was set aside for the exclusive consumption of the dead. The dead were believed to be present as invisible entities; doors and windows were left unlocked to facilitate their coming into the house. In some cases, a specific type of food (usually cakes of some kind) was made solely for the dead; in others, a portion of the same food that the living would eat was set aside for them. The most classic example of this pattern (which is also found in Ireland and Scotland) is the boued an Anaon ("food of the hosts of the dead") custom in Brittany. The Anaon (the word appears to be the same as Annwn, the Welsh Otherworld; it is certainly a pre-Christian term) are the massed hosts of ancestral spirits, usually portrayed as hungry for sustenance from the world of the living. A large amount of food was set aside for their sole use, and had to remain untouched by any living hand for the full duration of the ritual period. Eating the food of the dead (even if one was desperately hungry) was considered to be a dreadful sacrilege: it condemned one to becoming a hungry ghost after death, barred from sharing the Samhain feast along with the rest of the Anaon. It was, in effect, a particularly horrible form of excommunication.

The other pattern of Samhain custom, on the contrary, encourages the recycling of the offered food into the community, thus strengthening social bonds. The most classic example of this second pattern is the Welsh cennad y meirw ("embassy of the dead") custom, although similar customs are found elsewhere in the Celtic and ex-Celtic world. Here, while the wealthier members of the community put together lavish Samhain feasts for their households, the poor take on the collective identity of the community’s dead, and go from door to door to receive offerings in the name of the ancestors. At each house they are given a portion of the food that has been set aside for the dead. Originally the cenhadon would have been masked to abolish their mundane social roles and allow them to represent the dead more convincingly. To refuse food to the cenhadon for any reason at all was an act of impiety and would invite retaliation in the form of destruction of property – retaliation that would go unpunished because of the holy nature of the ritual period. We can here see one of the origins of the "trick" aspect of our modern Hallowe’en customs, although nowadays it has largely lost its moral dimension.

A communal feast, of course, involves more than just food. The dead would not only have to be fed, they would have to be entertained. Games and pastimes associated with Samhain feasting vary a great deal from community to community, but they have certain themes in common. While the younger people engage in the ritualized games, the elders will be gossiping, reviewing all the notable events of the past year for the benefit of the dead, who will then be encouraged to continue to take an interest in the affairs of the living. The games themselves, in many cases, seem to have specific links with the mythology of death and the afterlife. Many of them involve apples – in part, of course, because they are one of the last crops to be brought in and are thus easily available, but also as a reflection of the role apples play in beliefs about death: in Irish tradition the Otherworld place where the dead gather at a feast is called Eamhain Abhlach ("paradise of apples"), and its Welsh equivalent is Afallon. Some of the Scottish games in this context make use of parallel ordeals by water and fire, the two main elements out of which the world is made. The water ordeal is the familiar bobbing for apples, while the fire ordeal involves trying to take a bite out of an apple attached to a hanging stick which also bears a lit candle. This seems to be a reference to myths about the ordeals faced by the dead on their journey to the Otherworld – a body of beliefs we unfortunately know only through fragments, although the basic concept of the journey and the ordeals is well established. Sharing the experiences of the dead was yet another way of affirming the solidarity between the dead and the living, and of aligning the powers of renewal in the Otherworld with this world’s needs.

While the dead were brought closer to the living by the formal sharing of food, other offerings had to be made to the Land-spirits to reward them for their cooperation during the Harvest period, and to replenish their creative energy as they prepared to enter into a new cycle. With Samhain, the period of "truce" that had begun on Lúnasa was officially ended, and the fruits of the soil especially wild crops) could no longer be harvested with impunity. Well within living memory, children in Celtic communities were warned not to eat the late berries that might still be ripening on roadside bushes, because "the fairies" or "the devil" had made them dangerous to consume. Having enabled the human community to survive by making the crops grow and by standing aside to let the Harvest take place, the powers of the Fomorian realm were now entitled to a gift of life-renewing blood; and Samhain was the season when the cattle that would not be kept through the winter were slaughtered. In historical times the date of the slaughter has specifically been Martinmas (November 11), certainly in part because the name of the saint suggested the Gaelic word mart ("cattle marked for slaughter"). As late as the 1830’s, when Amhlaoibh Ó Súilleabháin discussed some of these customs in his famous diary, the occasion was understood as a ritual "shedding of blood," and other sources show that during the same period blood sacrifices could even still be held indoors, to protect a house from malignant "fairy" influences by sprinkling an offering of blood at each corner.

Renewing social links with the dead and feeding the Land-spirits were both ritual means of ensuring a safe future. While Samhain (and the phenomenon of death which it celebrated) was obviously the end of a cycle, it was more importantly the start of a new one. Because all true novelty springs from the chaotic freedom and vitality of the Otherworld, a new cycle could be inaugurated only by dissolving all of the structures of the old one – just as the moment of death dissolves our identity in this world, allowing the fresh energies of the Otherworld to impel us towards new life. This meant that, as happens in the feasts of renewal of many different cultures, certain types of social disorder were actively encouraged during the period of the festival, because they promoted the renewing influence of the Otherworld at the point in the yearly cycle where it would be most beneficial. Customs originating entirely in the world of cultural values – such as those relating to social rank or gender-appropriate behavior – were the most likely to be violated. Disrespect could be shown to elders or to members of the upper classes. Cross-dressing was one of the most widespread and popular ways of expressing the dissolution of social categories, and in parts of Wales groups of young men in female garb were referred to as gwrachod ("hags" or "witches") as they wandered through the countryside on Calan Gaeaf, indulging in all kinds of mischief.

But the disorder, of course, was only the prelude to the return of order in a strengthened form. The structures that had been dissolved had to be re-created in order to channel the new energy from the Otherworld in the desired directions. While local communities would have had their own diverse methods of accomplishing this ritually (often through the extinguishing and re-kindling of household fires), more elaborate ceremonies were conducted by religious specialists at the sacred centres of a territory, in the name of the entire population. In pre-Christian Ireland the ritual of Tara, focusing on the High King in his role as linchpin of the social order, was the means for re-creating the world on Samhain. The Middle Irish text entitled Suidigud Tellaig Temra (The Settling of the Household of Tara) describes the essentials of the ritual and relates some of the mythology that explains its symbolism (albeit with a somewhat Christianized background), while Geoffrey Keating, the seventeenth -century encyclopaedist of traditional Irish lore, provides us with additional explanations of some of the elements. Since the Land itself, as a ritual entity, was conceived of as a square, so was Tara, for the purposes of this ceremony, seen as a four-sided space. Each of the directions was associated with one of the three functional classes of society (and with the divinity who was seen as the ruler of that function), the South being devoted specifically to the power of the Land and to the goddess who gave energy to the exercise of the social functions. The High King occupied the center of the ritual area, while around him, strictly ordered by social rank, were representatives of the four provinces. Thus, when the New Year actually dawned, the magical heart of Ireland would contain a model of the entire social order of the country in miniature, engaged in the solemn feasting whereby all social links were strengthened, and all parts of the country would then benefit from the influence of this ritual. The actual inception of the new cycle was signaled by the lighting of a fire, not at Tara but at Tlachtga, which symbolically represented the southern province of Munster within the High King’s central realm. This was the place where Tlachtga, the daughter of the mythological Druid Mug Ruith, died after being raped by the "sons of Simon Magus" (who wanted to gain the knowledge and talents she had inherited from her father) and after giving birth to three sons from three different fathers. This myth is obviously garbled in its modern version, yet one can still discern in it the figure of the Land-goddess and her three "functional" consorts. The association of the festival with the pre-eminently "female" southern quarter may explain why in some Welsh and Scottish communities it is specified by custom that Samhain ritual (preparation of the ceremonial food, etc.) must be overseen by nine women (in contrast to the nine men who preside over Bealtaine).

What of the role of the gods in this crucial turning-point of the ritual year? Since virtually all our knowledge of detailed ritual practices among the Celts comes from Christianized communities, references to divinities who were actually worshipped are, as one would expect, rare and indirect. However, some of the stories preserved in both folklore and mediaeval literature seem relevant to the theology of this feast. Images such as that of the hero Diarmait killed by a boar after his romance with Fionn Mac Cumhail’s wife Gráinne; or that of wild Myrddin emerging from the forest with a herd of stags to kill his wife’s lover by piercing him with a pair of antlers; or that of Gwyn ap Nudd ("White son of Mistmaker") fighting with Gwythyr ap Greidawl ("Wrathful son of Hot") every Calan Mai (Bealtaine) "until the day of Judgment" for the hand of their common love, Creiddylad; and the notion of the Fianna living off the wilderness from Bealtaine to Samhain and indoors from Samhain to Bealtaine all suggest a myth of certain divinities changing their status in relation to the Land-goddess in response to the change of seasons along the Samhain-Bealtaine axis. The common denominator of these motifs seems to be the figure of the antlered god now conventionally referred to as "Cernunnos", whose mythology has definite links to the stories of the Fianna and whose attributes symbolize seasonal change as well as the interface between nature and culture. Antlers are a seasonal phenomenon: they drop off in winter and begin to reappear as velvet at winter’s end, returning to full glory in the spring. In Scots Gaelic terminology, the month immediately preceding Samhain is called an Damhar (damh-ghar, "stag-rut"), because it is when stags clash with each other during the mating season, shortly before losing their antlers, as the antlered god must undoubtedly lose his (which is why some "Cernunnos" statues – like the one from St. Germain – apparently had holes for removable antlers). Our sense of the seasonal importance of this event in Celtic ritual symbolism is reinforced by the custom in southwestern Brittany of baking appropriately shaped cakes called kornigoù ("little horns") to celebrate the coming of winter. From the many versions of the myth one can deduce that the antlered god is separated from his goddess-consort (who takes another lover) during the light half of the year, when he must live as a renunciate in the wilderness and wear his horns; but that with the coming of the dark season his rival is eliminated and he can return to his consort’s embrace in the Otherworld – abandoning, by the same token, the "horns" of his cuckoldry. It is unlikely to be a coincidence that the bonnag Samhna – the Samhain cake prepared specifically for the ritual- made by the women who preside over the Samhain feast in parts of Gaelic Scotland is named after a cuckold in the community. And we find echoes of the same motif (as we often do) at the other end of the Indo-European world, in the ritual calendar of India, where on Divali (Dipâvali), the Feast of Lights, which is usually celebrated very close to Samhain, Lakshmi, the goddess of abundance and well-being, leaves her usual consort Vishnu (who falls asleep at this time) to return temporarily to her first husband, Kubera, the fat god of material riches.

The Land-goddess, too, changes her appearance at this time: the fertile part of her retreats to the Otherworld where she can join with her consort in beginning the creative work of the new yearly cycle (in their summer, which is our winter, as it were), but in our world only her "Fomorian" aspect remains, making the land barren and hostile to human comfort. In the Scottish Highlands this is the season of the Cailleach Bheura, the monstrous hag who wanders in the hills bringing bad weather, while in Wales we hear of the Hwch Ddu Gwta ("tailless black sow") who lurks menacingly in the darkness. Yet these are all aspects of the same being, the multiform Provider on whom we all depend, who must, like all things, replenish herself through alternating periods of action and repose, and who touches – as we all must – darkness and death to find the source of true renewal.

Selected Bibliography
Céitinn, Seathrún (Geoffrey Keating), (ed. by Padraig de Brún)
Foras Feasa ar Éirinn. Dublin, 1982.
Danaher, Kevin,
The Year in Ireland. Cork, 1972.
MacNeill, Eoin, On the Notation and Chronology of the Calendar of Coligny, Ériu 10 (1926).
McNeill, F. Marian, The Silver Branch. Glasgow, 1953-66.
Owen, Trefor M.,
Welsh Folk Customs. Cardiff, 1959.
Rees, Alwyn & Brinley,
Celtic Heritage: Ancient Tradition in Ireland and Wales. New York. 1961.
Sébillot, P. Y.,
Le Folklore de la Bretagne. Paris, 1968.
Suidigud Tellaig Temra (R.I. Best, ed. and trans.), Ériu 4(1910).

Disclaimer: No one involved in this blog or its contents may be held responsible for any adverse reactions arising from following any of the instructions/recipes on this list. It is the reader’s personal responsibility to exercise all precautions and use his or her own discretion if following any instructions or advice from this blog.

Fair Use Notice: This page may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. This website distributes this material without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. We believe this constitutes a fair use of any such copyrighted material as provided for in 17 U.S.C § 107.

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Wednesday What Herb is This – Fairy Dream Pillow

June 17, 2009 at 10:59 am (Associations, Dreams, Fae, Faery, Fairies, Fairy, Garden, Herbs, Litha, Magic, Midsummer, pagan, Plants, Wednesday, Witch)

Rose Petals
Sacred to Aphrodite, Venus, Cupid, and Bacchus. Used in rituals to honor the Goddess. Represented joy to the Romans. Rose flower tea induces prophetic dreams if you drink it at bedtime. Rose petal and hips are used in healing spells and mixtures. Rose petals sprinkled around the house calm personal stress and household upheavals.

Primroses
Generates positive energy and dispels negative energies. Used as a tea it is a useful magical tonic. Aids those afraid of the dark, prevents nightmares, and protects against the evils of the night. Sew into a sleep pillow for these purposes. Carried to attract love. Protects soldiers in battle. Scattered about the home it brings happiness.

Bay Leaves
Sacred to Apollo. Leaves can be used as amulets or in amulet bags for protection. Protection, purification, exorcism, prophetic dreams, strength, protects against poltergeists and lightning. Attracts love.

Lavender
Love, protection, healing, sleep, chastity, purification, and peace. The oil is worn to attract the opposite sex. The flowers are put in sleep pillows, purification and peace incenses. Used in healing mixtures. When combined with rosemary it was believed to preserve chastity.

Milkweed
Sacred to Bacchus, Indra, Soma. For rituals to increase creativity or to ensure a long life, this herb is indispensable.

 

Faery Dream Pillow
Created by Moon ©1998-Y2k

Needed:

  • Velvet, velveteen or satin fabric
  • White or silver thread
  • Rose Petals
  • Primroses
  • Fresh bay leaves
  • Lavender
  • Milkweed pod – silky tassels

Cut out two squares of fabric approximately 6 inches square. Sew around three sides of the squares with the thread.

Mix in a bowl:

  • Rose Petals (two parts)
  • Primroses (one part)
  • Bay leaves, fresh (one part)
  • Lavender (one part )
  • Milkweed pod silky tassels (two parts)

Turn the pillow inside out so that the seams don’t show, stuff the pillow with your herb mixture. While you are stuffing it, say something like:

Milkweed, milkweed
Flying to and fro,
Secret Faery pod,
Where wishes grow & grow.
Whisper and chant
Our happy magic charm,
Hung in the garden,
Keep us safe from harm.

Sew up the end so that the herbs stay in the pillow. You can then decorate the pillow if you want with lace or silk, or embroider with designs, etc. Take this pillow to bed with you at night and put it under your pillow. This not only smells great but will help you to have dreams of the fey.

Note: After six months these pillows may lose their "fresh" scent. You can reuse them by emptying out the old contents and refilling them with new herbs.

Magical Associations from Full Moon Herbs 

 

Disclaimer: No one involved in this blog or its contents may be held responsible for any adverse reactions arising from following any of the instructions/recipes on this list. It is the reader’s personal responsibility to exercise all precautions and use his or her own discretion if following any instructions or advice from this blog.

Fair Use Notice: This page may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. This website distributes this material without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. We believe this constitutes a fair use of any such copyrighted material as provided for in 17 U.S.C § 107.

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Monday Make A – Faery House

June 15, 2009 at 11:16 am (Crafts, Decoration, Fae, Faery, Fairies, Fairy, Garden, Home, Litha, Magic, Midsummer, Monday, pagan, Witch)

Making A Faery House
from Lady Domnu

Needed:

  • Craft glue or hot glue
  • Flat piece of wood
  • Shale, flat stones or river stones in proper scale to size you want
  • Pebble
  • Acorns
  • Pinecones
  • A crystal
  • Twigs
  • Moss

Pick out the flat stones to make the sides of the house. Using the flat wood as a base, glue the stones on the wood. Be sure to leave a door opening for the Faery to enter. I like to leave a good inch or so border of wood base showing. When you have the sides of your house done put on your roof. I like to use twigs then place moss on top of that. After you get this done start decorating the house and wood base with the acorns, pinecones, pebbles, etc. in a pleasing manner. You can place some items inside the house if you like. These I don’t glue down. I attach the crystal above the door. You can use glue but I like to use floral wire wrapped around a section and then use that to attach it to one of the roof twigs. Give the house a day or two for the glue to set up. Do Not use paint on the house!!!!! Sometimes I will even place a trinket (Faery love bright and shining things) in the house. Don’t use iron or nickel as these repel Faery. When ready, place the little Faery home somewhere in your garden or flowerbeds. Call out and let the Faery know that this is a place for them. I like to place some milk or honeycakes near the home. Don’t do this if you’re concerned about attracting animals.

Now you have a special place for your Faery friends to visit. You can put as many of these around as you like. I usually keep two or three around.

Disclaimer: No one involved in this blog or its contents may be held responsible for any adverse reactions arising from following any of the instructions/recipes on this list. It is the reader’s personal responsibility to exercise all precautions and use his or her own discretion if following any instructions or advice from this blog.

Fair Use Notice: This page may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. This website distributes this material without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. We believe this constitutes a fair use of any such copyrighted material as provided for in 17 U.S.C § 107.

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Tuesday Try A New Taste – Midsummer Feast

June 2, 2009 at 12:22 pm (Breads, Chicken, Cooking, Dips, Fae, Faery, Fairies, Fairy, Herbs, Honey, Litha, Magic, Midsummer, Mushrooms, pagan, Recipe, Tuesday, Witch)

As I did for Beltane, I now do for Midsummer – but further in the future, so if you see something you like, you actually have time to make it…LOL I am going to do a non-vegetarian meal today, and a vegetarian menu next Tuesday.

So…Eat, Drink & Be Merry!

misc~tag2w~michele~eye4expression

Easy Mead
from Llewellyn’s Witches’ Calendar 2000; written by Breid Foxsong

Ingredients:

  • 1 quart dry cider (hard or alcohol-free)
  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup sliced citrus fruits
  • 3 (3-inch) cinnamon sticks

Combine in a container just large enough to hold everything. Seal and refrigerate, shaking or stirring daily for five days. Strain before drinking.

 

 

Old Fashioned Root Beer
From Excellent Recipes for Baking Raised Bread, from the Fleishman Company,
1912.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cake, compressed yeast
  • 5 lbs, sugar
  • 2 oz, sassafras root
  • 1 oz, hops or ginger root
  • 2 oz, juniper berries
  • 4 gallons, water
  • 1 oz, dandelion root
  • 2 oz, wintergreen

Wash roots well in cold water. Add juniper berries (crushed) and hops. Pour 8 quarts boiling water over root mixture and boil slowly 20 minutes. Strain through flannel bag. Add sugar and remaining 8 quarts water. Allow to stand until lukewarm. Dissolve yeast in a little cool water. Add to root liquid. Stir well. Let settle then strain again and bottle. Cork tightly. Keep in a warm room 5 to 6 hours, then store in a cool place. Put on ice as required for use.

Summer Salsa
Source Unknown

Ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 teaspoon marjoram
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 small Serrano peppers
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 small purple onion, diced small
  • 1 small red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped small

Stir together the thyme, marjoram, basil, and olive oil. Stir in the lemon and lime juice. Remove the seeds from the Serrano peppers, and mince the remainder. Stir in the minced Serrano peppers, purple onion, red pepper, and cilantro. Allow to sit for at least half an hour before serving to blend flavors.

Chilled Cucumber Soup
by Anna Franklin and Sue Phillips
found at White Wicca

Ingredients:

  • 1 large cucumber, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1/2 pt plain yogurt
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • Salt
  • Chopped fresh mint
  • Dash olive oil

Place the cucumber and yogurt in a liquidizer and blend until smooth. Add the oil and seasoning and blend a little more. Chill in the fridge. Garnish with the fresh mint to serve.

Green Nations Herb Bread
Source Unknown

Ingredients:

  • 1 c white or wheat flour
  • 2-2 1/2 cups assorted grain flours of your choice (or more white/wheat flour if you wish)
  • 1/2 to 1 cup assorted herbs
  • 2 T sugar
  • 1 1/2 t salt
  • 1 1/4 oz yeast (1 pkg.)
  • 1 1/4 c milk
  • 2 T vegetable oil
  • 1 egg

In a large bowl combine 1 c flour, sugar, salt and yeast and set aside. In small saucepan heat milk and vegetable oil until lukewarm. Be careful not to get your milk and oil too hot or it will kill the yeast. Add egg and warm liquid to flour mixture and mix well. Allow to sit for 3-5 minutes. With wooden spoon stir in herbs and remaining flour to make a soft dough. Turn dough out onto lightly floured board. Knead until smooth and elastic, adding more flour if needed. Dough should be elastic without being overly sticky or stiff. Place dough in warm greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover; let rise in warm place, free from draft, until doubled in bulk, 45-60 min. Punch down dough, knead and place on a pizza pan or cookie sheet, cover with a tea towel and allow to rise again to double it’s size. If you feel fancy sprinkle sesame, poppy or dill seed on top before baking. Heat oven to 400 ° and bake for 35-40 minutes or until done. Serve this bread warm with butter and honey.

What herbs you use depends totally on your personal tastes. Some suggestions: powdered rosemary, parsley, basil, cumin, coarse cracked black pepper, fennel, dill, dried and powdered radish tops, flaked dried carrot tops, nettle greens, calendula petals, finely ground dandelion greens, and thyme.

Orange Honey Butter
Found at Pagan Poet

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tablespoons Grated Orange Rind
  • 3 Tablespoons Powdered Sugar
  • 1/2 cup Unsalted Butter, at room temperature
  • 1 Tablespoon honey

Combine the orange rind, powdered sugar, butter and honey in a small bowl and blend until well mixed. Chill slightly and serve with Green Nations Herb Bread, scones or biscuits.

Herb Roast Chicken
From Red Deer & Elenya @ University of North Carolina

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup Dry white wine
  • 1 Lemon (juice of)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dried oregano
  • 4 pounds Chicken, quartered
  • 1/2 cup Olive oil
  • 1/2 cup Tomato sauce
  • 1 Onion, minced
  • 1 Green pepper, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon Garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cumin

In a shallow dish combine wine, lemon juice, garlic, 1 /4 teaspoon oregano and pinch of salt. Add chicken, turning to coat well and marinate for 1 hour. Preheat oven to 350° F. In a saucepan combine remaining ingredients and 1/4 teaspoon oregano and bring to a simmer. Cook for 15 minutes. Put chicken in a baking dish and top with sauce. Bake for 1-1/2 hours, or until done.

 

 

Litha Mushrooms in Cream
Source Unknown

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. Mushrooms
  • 2 T. Butter, melted
  • 1 C. Cream
  • Fresh thyme, parsley, garlic, rosemary, or other herbs of your choice
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Clean but do not peel the mushrooms. Pat dry with a paper towel. Place them in a single layer in a buttered baking dish and dribble the melted butter over them. Bake at 400° until soft (about three minutes). Pour the cream over the mushrooms and turn the oven to 250° so the cream does not boil. Sprinkle with your choice of fresh, chopped herbs and a dash of salt and pepper before serving,
S
erves 4.

The sudden appearance of wild mushrooms and their rapid growth were once believed to be a sign of magic. Campestri Agaricus (meadow mushrooms, those white caps commonly purchased in the produce section of the grocery store) growing in a circle were thought to be faerie circles where those wonderful, immortal creatures danced. Mortals were warned not to enter such a place or to fall asleep in a faerie circle because they were believed to be gateways to Faerie. Mushrooms in Cream honors the Fey Folk. Unless you are an experienced mushroom hunter, it is best to use mushrooms purchased through your green grocer. I like to use crimini mushrooms, who are in reality,  portabellos picked before they reach mature growth stage, large cap size. When picking through the mushroom bin on the produce aisle, always look at the under side of the caps and choose mushrooms whose gills have not yet opened.

Frosty Strawberry Pie
Submitted to All Recipes by: Jill D

Ingredients:

  • 1 (3-oz) package strawberry flavored gelatin
  • 2 cups sliced fresh strawberries
  • 2 cups vanilla ice cream
  • 1-1/4 cups boiling water
  • 1 (9-inch) prepared graham cracker crust
  • whipped cream
  • walnut halves (optional)

Dissolve gelatin in boiling water and gradually add ice cream, stirring until melted.Note:If pie is to be chilled 3-4 hours before serving, increase to 1-1/2 cups water. Chill until thick but NOT set (15-25 minutes), and then fold in strawberries and pour into pie crust. Chill until firm; garnish with whipped cream and walnut halves. A very yummy summer treat….and you can substitute sugar-free gelatin. Be sure to keep it refrigerated! Garnish with whipped cream and walnut halves.
Makes 1 – 8 or 9 inch pie.

Disclaimer: No one involved in this blog or its contents may be held responsible for any adverse reactions arising from following any of the instructions/recipes on this list. It is the reader’s personal responsibility to exercise all precautions and use his or her own discretion if following any instructions or advice from this blog.

Fair Use Notice: This page may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. This website distributes this material without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. We believe this constitutes a fair use of any such copyrighted material as provided for in 17 U.S.C § 107.

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