Monday Make A – Plant an Elemental Garden

May 10, 2010 at 9:19 am (Air, Associations, Earth, Fire, Garden, Herbs, Litha, Magic, Midsummer, Monday, pagan, Plants, Spring, Water, Witch)

Plant an Elemental Garden
From About.com

If you’re a Pagan or Wiccan who’s into gardening, you might want to consider planting an elemental garden. The four classical elements are often associated with Pagan and Wiccan spirituality, so why not incorporate them into your gardening? Litha is a great time to work on your garden, so if you haven’t gotten out there digging in the dirt yet, now’s your chance! The sun is at its peak, the earth is nice and warm, and plants are growing all around. Move some of your existing plants (or put some new ones in) and create an elemental garden. By connecting different parts of your garden with the four elements, you can add a little bit of magic into your life each year. Here’s how to get started.

Before you plant anything, you’ll need to figure out how much space you have to work with. Ideally, you’ll want to make your elemental garden in a circle. To make a circle in your yard, figure out first where you want the center to be. Mark the center by driving a temporary stake into the ground. Next, figure out what diameter you want the circle to be. Using a piece of string tied to the top of the stake, walk around in a circle, marking the perimeter. You can do this with birdseed, a handful of dirt, or anything else you like. Once you’ve marked your circle, till up the soil. Although it’s good exercise to use a shovel, it’s also backbreaking work. If you’ve got a large space to cover, you may want to invest in a good rototiller.

Once you’ve tilled up the soil, figure out which way is north. You can do this easily with a compass, or if you know where the sun rises and sets, it shouldn’t be too hard to determine which way is east and which is west. After you’ve figured out your directions, divide your circle into quadrants, so that each direction has one quarter of the circle. Mark your spaces with stones. You can either use small ones, (don’t just throw away the ones you dig up!), or you can use large pavers

Each of the four directions is associated with an element. North is connected to Earth, East to Air, South to Fire and West to Water***. To plant your elemental garden, figure out which plants are connected with those particular elements – and this will vary depending on where you live. For example, Earth is associated with stability and security. Why not plant some herbs there that carry the same associations? Bryony, cinquefoil, honeysuckle, and pennyroyal * are all related to Earth.

For the East section of your garden, which is tied into the themes of Air, use plants connected with inspiration, wisdom and knowledge. Sage, marjoram, mugwort and members of the mint family are perfect for this quarter of the circle. In the South, select plants related to the passionate qualities of Fire, such as basil, betony, rosemary and rue. Finally, the West quadrant is where your Water-related plants should go – hyssop, yarrow, chamomile and ivy will do well in this section.

* Be cautious when selecting plants for your garden, and be sure to do your research. Some forms of pennyroyal are toxic and can cause miscarriage in pregnant women, and can be potentially fatal if ingested by small children.

As you dig a hole for each plant, you may wish to add a blessing. Get your hands in the dirt, dig in, and feel the soil. Thank the Earth for the gift it’s going to give you. As you place the plant or seeds in the hole, you might want to offer something like:

May the gods smile upon this plant,
bringing it strength and long life.

Or, you may prefer to offer a specific blessing for each quadrant – for the South section, offer a blessing of Fire, for the West, a blessing of Water, and so on. In some traditions, it’s popular to smudge the garden or perform some other purification rite after planting – after all, a garden is a sacred space.

If you’re going to spend any time in your elemental garden – and you’ll need to, if you don’t want your plants to die – it’s not a bad idea to add accessories that make you feel at home. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but you might want to consider some of the following:

  • Statues of the gods of your tradition
  • A gazing ball
  • A fountain or other water feature
  • A fire bowl
  • A small altar
  • A bench or chair for meditation
  • Wind chimes or bells
  • A prayer pole or decorative flag

To tie in the accessories to the elemental theme, consider a Water feature in the South corner, a small brazier to the West, a pile of stones in the North, or a decorative flag on the East portion. Any of these will be perfect for bringing you closer to the elements in your garden. Make your garden a place where you can sit and reflect, and it will indeed be a spiritual and magical place!

Do you live in an apartment or dorm room, or some other location with limited space? Don’t worry – you can still grow things! Container gardening makes it a breeze. Use flower pots, hanging baskets, or other items arranged in a group of four to create your elemental garden. You can even paint them with colors or symbols associated with the four cardinal directions. If you’re really strapped for space, use one container with four plants in it. For more ideas, be sure to visit our Container Gardening site at About.com.

***Note from Dawtch – I have said this numerous times, but just in case there’s a new reader out there, my PERSONAL associations are different – North is Air, East is Earth. For more of my views, you can go here.

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 – A Celebration of May Day

April 7, 2010 at 9:54 am (Associations, Beltane, Fertility, Fire, Folklore, History, Lore, Magic, pagan, Wednesday, Wisdom, Witch)

A Celebration of May Day
by
Mike Nichols

‘Perhaps it’s just as well that you won’t be here…
to be offended by the sight of our May Day celebrations.’

-Lord Summerisle to Sgt. Howie
from ‘The Wicker Man’

There are four great festivals of the Pagan Celtic year and the modern Witches’ calendar, as well. The two greatest of these are Halloween (the beginning of winter) and May Day (the beginning of summer). Being opposite each other on the wheel of the year, they separate the year into halves. Halloween (also called Samhain) is the Celtic New Year and is generally considered the more important of the two, though May Day runs a close second. Indeed, in some areas – notably Wales – it is considered the great holiday.

May Day ushers in the fifth month of the modern calendar year, the month of May. This month is named in honor of the goddess Maia, originally a Greek mountain nymph, later identified as the most beautiful of the Seven Sisters, the Pleiades. By Zeus, she is also the mother of Hermes, god of magic. Maia’s parents were Atlas and Pleione, a sea nymph.

The old Celtic name for May Day is Beltane (in its most popular Anglicized form), which is derived from the Irish Gaelic ‘Bealtaine’ or the Scottish Gaelic ‘Bealtuinn’, meaning ‘Bel-fire’, the fire of the Celtic god of light (Bel, Beli or Belinus). He, in turn, may be traced to the Middle Eastern god Baal. Other names for May Day include: Cetsamhain (‘opposite Samhain’), Walpurgisnacht (in Germany), and Roodmas (the medieval Church’s name). This last came from Church Fathers who were hoping to shift the common people’s allegiance from the Maypole (Pagan lingham – symbol of life) to the Holy Rood (the Cross – Roman instrument of death).

Incidentally, there is no historical justification for calling May 1st ‘Lady Day’. For hundreds of years, that title has been proper to the Vernal Equinox (approx. March 21st), another holiday sacred to the Great Goddess. The nontraditional use of ‘Lady Day’ for May 1st is quite recent (since the early 1970’s), and seems to be confined to America, where it has gained widespread acceptance among certain segments of the Craft population. This rather startling departure from tradition would seem to indicate an unfamiliarity with European calendar customs, as well as a lax attitude toward scholarship among too many Pagans. A simple glance at a dictionary (‘Webster’s 3rd’ or O.E.D.), encyclopedia (‘Benet’s’), or standard mythology reference (Jobe’s ‘Dictionary of Mythology, Folklore & Symbols’) would confirm the correct date for Lady Day as the Vernal Equinox.

By Celtic reckoning, the actual Beltane celebration begins on sundown of the preceding day, April 30, because the Celts always figured their days from sundown to sundown. And sundown was the proper time for Druids to kindle the great Bel-fires on the tops of the nearest beacon hill (such as Tara Hill, Co. Meath, in Ireland). These ‘need-fires’ had healing properties, and sky-clad Witches would jump through the flames to ensure protection.

Sgt. Howie (shocked): ‘But they are naked!’
Lord Summerisle: ‘Naturally. It’s much too dangerous to jump through the fire with your clothes on!’

-from "The Wicker Man"

Frequently, cattle would be driven between two such bon-fires (oak wood was the favorite fuel for them) and, on the morrow, they would be taken to their summer pastures. Other May Day customs include: walking the circuit of one’s property (‘beating the bounds’), repairing fences and boundary markers, processions of chimney-sweeps and milk maids, archery tournaments, Morris dances, sword dances, feasting, music, drinking, and maidens bathing their faces in the dew of May morning to retain their youthful beauty.

In the words of Witchcraft writers Janet and Stewart Farrar, the Beltane celebration was principally a time of

‘…unashamed human sexuality and fertility.’

Such associations include the obvious phallic symbolism of the Maypole and riding the hobby horse. Even a seemingly innocent children’s nursery rhyme, ‘Ride a cock horse to Banburry Cross…’ retains such memories. And the next line ‘…to see a fine Lady on a white horse’ is a reference to the annual ride of ‘Lady Godiva’ though Coventry. Every year for nearly three centuries, a sky-clad village maiden (elected Queen of the May) enacted this Pagan rite, until the Puritans put an end to the custom.

The Puritans, in fact, reacted with pious horror to most of the May Day rites, even making Maypoles illegal in 1644. They especially attempted to suppress the ‘greenwood marriages’ of young men and women who spent the entire night in the forest, staying out to greet the May sunrise, and bringing back boughs of flowers and garlands to decorate the village the next morning. One angry Puritan wrote that men

‘doe use commonly to runne into woodes in the night time, amongst maidens, to set bowes, in so muche, as I have hearde of tenne maidens whiche went to set May, and nine of them came home with childe.’

And another Puritan complained that, of the girls who go into the woods,

‘not the least one of them comes home again a virgin.’

Long after the Christian form of marriage (with its insistence on sexual monogamy) had replaced the older Pagan handfasting, the rules of strict fidelity were always relaxed for the May Eve rites. Names such as Robin Hood, Maid Marion, and Little John played an important part in May Day folklore, often used as titles for the dramatis personae of the celebrations. And modern surnames such as Robinson, Hodson, Johnson, and Godkin may attest to some distant May Eve spent in the woods.

These wildwood antics have inspired writers such as Kipling:

Oh, do not tell the Priest our plight,
Or he would call it a sin;
But we have been out in the woods all night,
A-conjuring Summer in!"

And Lerner and Lowe:

"It’s May! It’s May!
The lusty month of May!…
Those dreary vows that ev’ryone takes,
Ev’ryone breaks.
Ev’ryone makes divine mistakes!
The lusty month of May!"

It is certainly no accident that Queen Guinevere’s ‘abduction’ by Meliagrance occurs on May 1st when she and the court have gone a-Maying, or that the usually efficient Queen’s Guard, on this occasion, rode unarmed.

Some of these customs seem virtually identical to the old Roman feast of flowers, the Floriala, three days of unrestrained sexuality which began at sundown April 28th and reached a crescendo on May 1st. There are other, even older, associations with May 1st in Celtic mythology. According to the ancient Irish ‘Book of Invasions’, the first settler of Ireland, Partholan, arrived on May 1st; and it was on May 1st that the plague came which destroyed his people. Years later, the Tuatha De Danann were conquered by the Milesians on May Day. In Welsh myth, the perennial battle between Gwythur and Gwyn for the love of Creudylad took place each May Day; and it was on May Eve that Teirnyon lost his colts and found Pryderi. May Eve was also the occasion of a fearful scream that was heard each year throughout Wales, one of the three curses of the Coranians lifted by the skill of Lludd and Llevelys.

By the way, due to various calendrical changes down through the centuries, the traditional date of Beltane is not the same as its astrological date. This date, like all astronomically determined dates, may vary by a day or two depending on the year. However, it may be calculated easily enough by determining the date on which the sun is at 15 degrees Taurus (usually around May 5th). British Witches often refer to this date as Old Beltane, and folklorists call it Beltane O.S. (‘Old Style’). Some Covens prefer to celebrate on the old date and, at the very least, it gives one options. If a Coven is operating on ‘Pagan Standard Time’ and misses May 1st altogether, it can still throw a viable Beltane bash as long as it’s before May 5th. This may also be a consideration for Covens that need to organize activities around the week-end.

This date has long been considered a ‘power point’ of the Zodiac, and is symbolized by the Bull, one of the ‘tetramorph’ figures featured on the Tarot cards, the World and the Wheel of Fortune. (The other three symbols are the Lion, the Eagle, and the Spirit.) Astrologers know these four figures as the symbols of the four ‘fixed’ signs of the Zodiac (Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, and Aquarius), and these naturally align with the four Great Sabbats of Witchcraft. Christians have adopted the same iconography to represent the four gospel-writers.

But for most, it is May 1st that is the great holiday of flowers, Maypoles, and greenwood frivolity. It is no wonder that, as recently as 1977, Ian Anderson could pen the following lyrics for the band Jethro Tull:

"For the May Day is the great day,
Sung along the old straight track.
And those who ancient lines did ley
Will heed this song that calls them back."

Document Copyright © 1986, 1999 by Mike Nichols HTML coding by: Mike Nichols © 1999. This document can be re-published 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 Mike Nichols. Revised: Sunday, February 7, 1999 c.e.

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.

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.

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Thursday This Is Your Spell – Two Blessings of the Hearth Fire

January 7, 2010 at 10:50 am (Ancestors, Blessing, Brid, Bride, Brighid, Brigit, Fire, Imbolc, Magic, pagan, Thursday, Witch)

Two Blessings of the Hearth Fire
from
Lady Anna’s Pages

The lighting of the fire by the Christianized Celtic women was of great importance in their daily duties. The Celts mixed their pagan belief systems with Christian doctrine, more so than any other tribal culture. The hearth fire had always been blessed, and they found no need to stop the process simply because Christianity appeared on the moors. They looked upon fire as a miracle of divinity and power. A Celtic blessing for the lighting of fire is said every morning under the women’s breath. It is as follows:

"I will kindle my fire this morning
In the presence of the holy angels of heaven
In the presence of Ariel of the loveliest form,
In the presence of Uriel of the mythic charms,
Without malice, without jealousy, without envy.
Without fear without terror of anyone under the sun
but the Goddess to shield me.
Without malice, without jealousy, without envy
Without fear without terror of anyone under the sun
but the holy Queen of the Angels to shield me.
Goddess kindle thou in my heart within
A flame of love to my neighbor,
To my foe, to my friend, to my kindred all,
To the brave, to the knave, to the thrall
From the children of my loveliest Queen
From the lowliest thing that lives
To the Goddess that is the highest of All."

Here is another, called The Blessing For Hearth-Keepers:

"Brighid of the Mantle, encompass us,
Lady of the Lambs, protect us,
Keeper of the Hearth, kindle us.
Beneath your mantle, gather us,
And restore us to memory.
Mothers of our mother,
Foremothers strong.
Guide our hands in yours,
Remind us how
To kindle the hearth.
To keep it bright,
To preserve the flame.
Your hands upon ours,
Our hands within yours,
To kindle the light,
Both day and night.
The Mantle of Brighid about us,
The Memory of Brighid within us,
The Protection of Brighid keeping us
From harm, from ignorance, from heartlessness.
This day and night,
From dawn till dark,
From dark till dawn."

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 – Imbolc Path Working

January 6, 2010 at 12:31 pm (Associations, Brid, Bride, Brighid, Brigit, Fire, Imbolc, Magic, pagan, Wednesday, Witch)

Imbolc Path Working
By Chris Thompson ( the source I had has ceased to be Sad)

I am the darkness at the source of the well.
I am the place where the waiting seeds swell.
I am the cave of the earth serpents’ sleeping.
All things wait in My cairn’s keeping…

The season of Imbolc, sometimes spelt Imbolg or Oimelg is one of the ancient Celtic or probably pre Celtic fire festivals celebrated at the beginning of  February. It is closely associated with the Christian festival of Candlemas which recalls the showing of the Christ child in the temple. Many connected customs are common to both festivals. The word Imbolc literally means "parturition" and refers to the time of lactation of the ewes. Imbolc is clearly a celebration of the start of Spring.

It seems strange to be celebrating Spring when January is hardly over and the coldest weather, in the Celtic countries, is still to come. And yet by the start of February, buds are swelling, the spears of daffodils are in evidence and for those involved in agricultural or horticultural activities the new season has definitely commenced. But February 1st is Brighid’s feastday and an invocation of Brighid in her various aspects will unlock deep experience of the season of Imbolc.

Brighid (earlier Brigit, sometimes Brid, or in English, Bridgit and Bride).

Bridgid. So many stories! Her name means "The Exalted One". Her influence is still strong in Ireland where she is a much loved and revered Saint. Her flame once kept perpetually alight in her shrine in Kildare is again kept burning by the Brigitine Nuns of Kildare. Her fire wheels are made by school children with love and reverence and her feastday is a national holiday. Holy Wells still resonate Her name. Her stories tell of her generosity and her gifts of abundance and her cloak, in the form of small cloths that are left out to catch the morning dew of her feastday, are used for healing.

However, it is interesting that she is remembered over a much wider area. She turns up in some unexpected places. For example The river that names the London Borough of Brent, is called after a tribe of her people, the Brigantes. In a part of Brent called Willesdon (the well near the hill), is the now reinstituted medieval shrine of Our Lady of Willesdon which was one of the great pilgrimage sites. In those days, a Black Madonna presided over a healing well, a memory, certainly of a Pre-Christian rite. It was destroyed, as was so much, by Cromwell, but it is good to see the shrine restored and the healing qualities of the well rediscovered. (I mention this example because I was born a couple of miles away from this site.) This is one example among many. In Ireland her power is persistent. The mythological Brighid, the Goddess of the Tuatha de Danaan was the daughter of the Dagda. She was the patroness of Poetry inspiration and Smithcraft. The Christian saint took over many of her attributes.

*Brighid’s gifts of abundance: She is a guardian of domestic animals presiding over their fertility, watching over Spring births. There is one story in which she shows influence over a wild animal, a fox. All animals are drawn to her. Another story shows her power over human fertility. She permits the fetus of a nun who was pregnant to be reabsorbed, not a story often told in Ireland. Saint Brigid is sometimes known as the Foster Mother of Christ and it is she who offers the cup of the milk of fostering. As a baby she is fed with the milk of from a wonderful white cow with red ears. This cow, known as the Glas Gaibhnenn, is highly relevant to the story of Ethlinn and is discussed in further detail. Another Saint, Ide also is said to have owned the Miraculous Cow, but she shares many stories with Brighid and is simply being invoked by a local name, Ide means thirst. No, the Cow is Brighid’s cow. Hers are the gifts of nourishment that feed the child hero within us. The saint has miraculous powers of hospitality being able to provide endless amounts of food for all in need, including being able to turn water into ale. She is also able to control the weather.

*Brighid’s Cloak: Her cloak expands until it covers all the territory that she wishes to influence. She also has a girdle that must be stepped through by those, people or animals, who wish to claim her protection. The story of the cloak and how it allowed her to claim her sacred land in Kildare seems to be of Medieval origin but it expresses her all encompassing influence. It is the white cloak of the winter with the transforming power to alter all it covers to green Spring and the potential of new life.

*Brighid’s fire: Her sacred fire was tended and kept ever burning by her priestesses, and renewed, cleansed, at her feastday. In the legends of the Saint it is said that the place where she slept was habitually haloed in flame and that once she hung her cloak on a sunbeam. She is the Goddess of the fires of the forge, and whether the fires create wonderful artifacts or inspire the power of poetic words, she is the origin of the flame. Therefore it is not surprising to find her White Cow at Goibniu’s forge. In her cauldron she forges the leaf shape flame sword of the Spring which will grow until it is offered to the Young Hero at his arming. The Brighid’s cross is a fire wheel, a symbol of the flame in the cauldron.

*Brighid’s Wells: Many wells are sacred to Brighid in Ireland and beyond. There is a well in County Rosscommon, Ireland, known as Lasair’s Well. It is a healing well with coin offerings placed in cracks deep into the huge Ash tree standing above it. St. Lasair was a sixth century saint, the sister of a local priest, but her name means Flame. Here is a memory of the flame of Brighid within the cauldron well. A wellspring is a source of life giving power. It is the bubbling of new potential from the deep earth womb, and a fitting symbol of Brighid’s regenerative gifts.

*Brighid’s snakes: When Patrick drove the snakes from Ireland it is clear that he was trying to reduce the power and influence of the Goddess Brighid. The stories of the Saint do not refer to the snake although it still appears on the badge of her sacred county Kildare, (Sacred enclosure of the Oak Grove). However the snake is a universal and powerful symbol of regeneration. The snake is seen to come from the earth reborn. It is the Brighid power that awakens the serpents of life potential art the start of Spring and sends them out into the world. Several Heroes including Cuchullain are conceived when there mothers swallow a small worm like snake.

Working With the Imbolc Season

The Goddess experience of Imbolc is of cleansing and preparation. It is about the awareness of the potential in life. The goddess path at Imbolc seems passive but is in effect, active. Its activity is about wakening and rousing the potential to action, freeing it and letting it go. The hero’s path seems active but is passive. The experience is about entering into the potential, unfocussed, being swept into life. Working with Brighid’s well

From the previous moon start "building" a well. This is not such an arduous procedure as it sounds. There is no need for drilling equipment or even a garden spade as this is a symbolic well. It could be a dark colored bowl set into the ground in a garden but it would be just as effective, and a lot warmer and more convenient, to have a small silver or plain dark colored bowl set on a table or shelf indoors. You can always do both.. In fact although much meditative and ritual work needs to be done indoors in January and February if you are contacting the experience of any Goddess of the Elements then She is honored best by direct contact with those elements in their natural form. When you work in the open air experiences are enhanced but that does not mean loosing a sense of proportion. Pneumonia is not a pleasant enhancement of experience. So a plain bowl will serve as a well.

Spend time collecting items to decorate the space around the well. If you are contemplating the cleansing of the passing winter, and the preparation for Spring, then bare twigs, especially Birch and Rowan will be suitable as will seeds of various shapes and sizes particularly if they are from plants that you grew yourself in the previous season. The well would also be suitably decked with stones and or crystals. You may have personal items that you also wish to add to the wellspring. Remember that this is your symbolic link with the Source, with the underground otherworld entrance to inner regeneration and still sleeping potential. So you can put by your well, symbols of the potential that you wish to awaken. Fill your well with water. If you can take it from a spring so much the better. During the time before Imbolc, spend regular time focusing on the potential that you wish to awaken. You may find the symbolism of the path working helpful. As the time draws near you may experience a feeling of light within the bowl or sense movement. Take a note of any significant thought or image that comes to you at these times. When you celebrate Imbolc, change the dry twigs for fresh ones and put them in water. Plant a few of the seeds in damp earth. (Plant them on, or even better, give them away when they grow,) Surround the well with living plants, Spring bulbs growing are ideal. When you light the Imbolc fire (see below), use it to light candles around the well. Spend time focusing on the well and experience the dancing patterns of the candles and the reflections in the water. Feel the potential awaken and cast your dreams to the air. To seal this some of the seeds could be scattered in open space outdoors. You cannot control their potential germination, but you have set them free.

Working with Brighid’s fire

At Imbolc the flame and well start to come together, but before Imbolc, the experience is one of patient waiting in the dark. There may well be a feeling of real solitariness, even loneliness, as you are waiting, as is Ethlinn, in winter seclusion. It is worth spending regular time focusing on this experience sitting in a completely dark space, outside if environmental restrictions allow, and as Imbolc approaches lighting a small candle or lantern. Focus on the shape and color of the flame. At Imbolc this candle can be used to ignite a fire , if you are able to have an open Imbolc fire, or a larger candle, kept especially for the celebration. It is traditional to clean out the grates and to light new fires for Imbolc. The "focusing" candle can also be used to light all the other candles around the well. One very effective gesture is to leave a single candle lantern burning in the darkness outside and then visualizing the Brighid transformation, to bring it in to an entirely dark house to light the first candle either above or standing in the well. Use the raised Brighid energy to try out new creative skills, perhaps things you have not tried before. Remember the birth of Lugh and that Brighid is Goddess of Inspiration. The energies can also be used for healing and while you are feeling creative, here are two traditional

Imbolc crafts to try.

  • The Brighid’s cross, the fire wheel – These were traditionally made from rushes gathered and left outside the door for Brighid to bless. They are then hung over the doors of houses, byres stables etc. as a protection. Each year the old crosses from the previous year are burnt in the hearth. Here in the West of Ireland the children still make these crosses at school although now they are taken to the church to be blest. A Brighid’s girdle can also be made and decorated with small fire wheels. These were used to step  through as a protection and they make an excellent symbol of rebirth and regeneration.
  • The Bride doll – Cloths were left outside the house on Brighid’s eve and these were said to be blest by Brighid. Each cloth was known as Brighid’s mantle, the "Brat Bhride" and used for healing. The cloths can be used to dress "bride dolls". These dolls are made from suitably shaped tree branches, branches cut to a roughly human shape and are used to  represent the presence and blessing of Brighid.

All the above ideas are only intended as initial stating points. They are Goddess focused but suitable not just for women but for anyone wanting a closer experience of the Goddess. For women, the loneliness of the dark waiting, the fiery release of birthing and the sharp pang of letting go is likely to be achingly familiar but experiencing it with the Goddess will create a new resonance.

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 – Egg Carton Fire Starters

December 28, 2009 at 11:09 am (Crafts, Fire, Magic, Monday, pagan, Winter, Witch)

Yule may be past, but winter has only just begun. Which means the season of building fires is still here. With that in mind I offer the following craft…

samhain_934efa62

Egg Carton Fire Starters
From “Circle Round” By Starhawk, Diane Baker and Anne Hill;

You will need:

  • paraffin wax or beeswax (old candle stubs work great for this)
  • the bottom halves of cardboard egg cartons
  • sawdust
  • pine needles
  • scraps of cotton material
  • dry pinecones or shredded paper
  • scissors
  • a pot

Reuse all those old candle ends in this practical, convenient fire project. Stuff each cardboard egg holder with sawdust or other flammable material. Melt the wax in a pot, over low to medium heat. When the wax is melted, carefully pour the wax into each depression in the egg cartons. Make sure the wax does not overflow. Let cool. After the wax has cooled down, use scissors to cut the fire starters apart from each other, leaving the hardened wax inside its cardboard shell. To use, set one or two fire starters in your fireplace, surround with kindling and larger wood, and light. The fire starters will keep burning long enough to light even the most stubborn logs.

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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Friday Form A Circle – SilverMyst’s Solitary Wiccan Litha Ritual

June 12, 2009 at 12:06 pm (Animals, Banish, Blessing, Circle, Fire, Friday, Litha, Magic, Midsummer, pagan, Ritual, Solitary, Witch)

SilverMyst’s Solitary Wiccan Litha Ritual

from Stormwing’s Wicca Page

Preparation: This Ritual shall be performed during the bright, sunny daytime hours. Alternately, it would also be acceptable to begin at precisely the astronomical time that the Summer Solstice actually begins. This particular Litha Ritual contains a cleansing/purification of Self, a Pet Blessing, a Re-Dedication Ceremony, and a Consecration of your Magical Jewelry.

Prior to the ritual, prepare a small cloth pouch of herbs, such as lavender and chamomile. As you prepare it, pour into it your troubles, problems, pains, sorrows and illnesses. Place it on your altar for later use. In addition to your basic altar and circle set-up, place the cauldron in front of the altar. To the right of the cauldron, place a red candle, and to the left of the cauldron, place a green candle. Have a cup of fresh spring water ready to place into the cauldron later in the ceremony. Also – if you choose to include a Pet Blessing – have a  picture of your pet and his or her Blessing Gift, placed upon the Pentacle. Sweep the area, starting in the North and moving deosil, with your magical broom to cleanse the Circle area and "sweep away" any lingering negative energies. Set up the Quarter candles (North-Green, East-Yellow, South-Red, West-Blue) and/or other items symbolizing the elements at the Four Quarters.

Set up your altar as desired, and face it to the North, covering it with a white or golden yellow altar cloth. For this ceremony, decorate the altar with seasonal flowers – especially sunflowers – although any flowers are fine (silk are also acceptable), along with whatever else feels right. In addition to your usual tools and props, upon the altar should be:

  • Golden Yellow Altar Cloth
  • Prepared Small Cloth Pouch of Herbs, such as Lavender and Chamomile
  • Cauldron
  • A cup of fresh Spring Water
  • Red Sun God Candle (in holder on the right side of the Cauldron)
  • Green Earth Goddess Candle (in holder on the left side of the Cauldron)
  • Your Pet’s Picture
  • Your Pet’s Blessing Gift
  • Incense – Summer Blend – any combination of Frankincense, Myrrh,
  • Sandalwood, Lemon, Pine, Jasmine, Rose, Lotus, or Wysteria

When all is set up, take a shower or bath for purification and don your Ritual Robe or other Ritual attire. Be sure to wear your Magical jewelry, if you have any. Sit quietly and meditate for a little while – to ground and center. When you feel ready to begin, play some quiet peaceful music for the Ritual.

The Ritual

Pick up your wand, and with arms upraised, face the South and say:

"I celebrate the noon of Summer with this rite held in honor of the Blazing God of the Sun…All of nature vibrates with the fertile energies of the Goddess and the God. The Earth is bathed with the warmth,and light and life of the Sun. The Wheel of the Year turns again… since Yule the light has been growing ever stronger. At Ostara the light finally became greater than the dark, and the light has kept on growing until today, the middle of the time of light, Litha, Midsummer.

From here, the light begins to fade again, until once more, the Wheel will turn to darkness and Yule will return. Today the Sun is high, the Light is bright, the Earth is warm. As the Lord of the Sun blazes above, the Fires of my celebration shall flame below."

Return the wand to its place on the altar. Light the green candle to the left of the cauldron, saying:

"O Green Forest Mother, Meadow Mother,
Great One of the Stars and the Moon, Spinner of Fates,
I give honor to you, and ask your Blessings here."

Light the red candle to the right of the cauldron, saying:

"O Great Red Sun God, Forest Father,
God of Fertility and Plenty, be here with me now.
I give honor to you, and ask your Blessings here."

Lift the small pouch of herbs from the altar, hold it aloft, saying:

"O fiery Sun, burn away the unuseful,
the hurtful, the troublesome, the painful,
the sickness, and ill luck.
Purify Me!!!"

Hold it over the main altar candle to light it afire. When it is burning, drop it into the cauldron, saying:

"By the powers of the Great Goddess and the Great God,
by the powers of the Great Spirit of All-That-Is,
by the powers of Earth, Air, Fire and Water,
and by the powers of the Sun, Moon and Stars…
I banish these banes from my life!
"

Visualize the negative energies burning away to nothing. When the pouch and the herbs have been consumed by the flames, place the container of water into the cauldron on top of the ashes. Say:

"As the Phoenix rises from the ashes,
So let this water be pure and new,
For this is the sacred cauldron of the Triple Goddess.
O Great Mother Goddess, bless this water,
So that its touch may bless and renew,
Even as the rays of the Midsummer Sun
Nourish and bless all life."

Pass your hands and arms between the two candles, over the cauldron, making wishes for luck, health, prosperity, and many other good things for your life. At this time, you may wish to bless pets or other animals in your life by moving the candles out away from the cauldron, and leading each animal between the candle flames, while saying:

"By these symbols of the Midsummer bonfires,
I do bless this animal friend and companion,
(state animal’s name), in the ways of my ancestors,
that he/she may be blessed with health and goodness
throughout his/her years upon the Earth."

If desired, place a previously consecrated and blessed amulet around the animal’s neck. Kneel before the altar, place a pinch of salt on your tongue, and say:

"I, (magical name), rededicate myself to the Pagan Way, to the Goddess and the God, who together form the Great Spirit, the All-That-Is, whose combined power is strong and vital here. I give my word-bond to follow the ancient paths that lead to true wisdom and knowledge. I will serve the Great Goddess,
and give reverence to the Great God. I am a Pagan, a Witch, a Wiccan…
a stone of the ancient circle, standing firmly balanced upon the Earth,
yet open to the winds of the heavens, and enduring through time. May the Blessed Goddess and God witness my words."

Face the North and say:

"Behold, O Powers of Earth, Spirits of the North,
I, (magical name), rededicate myself
To the Lady of the Moon,
And the Lord of the Sun."

Face the East and say:

"Behold, O Powers of Air, Spirits of the East,
I, (magical name), rededicate myself
To the Lady of the Moon,
A
nd the Lord of the Sun."

Face the South and say:

"Behold, O Powers of Fire, Spirits of the South,
I, (magical name), rededicate myself
To the Lady of the Moon,
A
nd the Lord of the Sun."

Face the West and say:

"Behold, O Powers of Water, Spirits of the West,
I, (magical name), rededicate myself
To the Lady of the Moon,
A
nd the Lord of the Sun."

Dip the forefinger of your power hand into the cauldron water, and trace a pentagram, and/or, a crescent moon on your forehead, saying:

"Let my mind be open to the truth."

Anoint your lips, saying:

"Let my lips speak the Truth,
E
xcept that they be silent
Among the unbelievers
Where there may be harm."

Anoint your heart, saying:

"Let my heart seek the ways of the Goddess always."

Anoint the centers of your palms, saying:

"Let my hands be gifted to work in magical ways."

Anoint the soles of your feet, saying:

"Let my feet ever walk upon the sacred paths."

Place your magical jewelry upon the pentacle, sprinkle it (lightly) with the salted water, then pass it through the flame of the candle and the smoke of the incense. Place it around your neck, saying:

"This (these) magical emblem(s)
I shall wear for all things magical.
Bless this (these) pendant(s),
O Great Goddess and Great God,
That I may be blessed and protected
I
n all ways whenever I shall wear it."

Now is the time for meditation and any spellworkings you may desire to end your Sun celebration. Good Midsummer spellworkings include: prosperity, fertility, good harvest… When you have finished and you are ready, follow the spellwork (if you performed any) by the Cakes & Ale Ceremony, and finally, Releasing the Circle.

** Please feel free to use the information contained on my Wiccan Web Pages for your own personal use or for the teaching of others… remembering the Wiccan Rede… and harming none… May You Never Thirst,

-StormWing…

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 – Fire Purification Spell

June 11, 2009 at 11:32 am (Banish, Candle, Fire, Litha, Magic, Midsummer, pagan, Spell, Thursday, Witch)

Fire Purification Spell
from Wiccan Whispers newsletter
(the link leads to a "Website Closed" message)

Here’s a very simple little spell that works great, especially around Midsummer. Materials Needed:

  • 1 Red or White Candle
  • 1 Black Ink Pen
  • 1 Small Square of White, Unlined Paper
  • 1 Pair of tweezers or tongs

Timing: Noon on a day when the moon is in the waxing phase. Preferably as close to the Summer Solstice as possible.

Procedure: Think of one bad habit you have that you would truly like to rid yourself of. Write it down in the center of the of paper. Now fold the paper top to bottom, then left to right, so that it is folded into fourths with the writing inside. As you fold the paper, visualize that habit being trapped inside the paper. Now light the candle and meditate on its flame for a moment. When you are prepared to continue, hold the paper in a diamond shape, with the writing down at the bottom. Now take the tweezers and hold the bottom tip of the diamond into the flame. Visualize the habit burning away with the flames. As the paper burns, chant the following or similar:

"Great spirits of fire, grow and consume
T
his habit of evil so goodness may bloom."

This spell should be cast outside, so that the ashes of the paper can fall to the earth. As they do so, visualize the earth as taking your habit and absorbing it. Be sure to leave a gift for the earth in exchange for taking your habit.

Note: This spell also works extremely well with balefires or the fire at your Litha ritual. Simply toss the paper into the flames and chant. Do not attempt to hold it over the flames as you would with a candle…

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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Friday Form A Circle – Pagan Family Summer Solstice Ritual

June 5, 2009 at 11:04 am (Ancestors, Children, Circle, Family, Fire, Friday, Fun, Kids, Litha, Magic, Midsummer, pagan, Witch, Witchlets)

Pagan Family Summer Solstice Ritual
From A Wiccan Primer: Rituals for Children by Wind*Dancer,

SPECIAL NOTES: Summer Solstice is the official first day of summer. Called Midsummer or Litha, the day usually falls about June 21st and is the longest day of the year. Midsummer is halfway around the Wheel Year from Yule, so while we celebrate the day when the sun is at its strongest, we also have to note that from here on, the sun will start to lose some of its power as the light slowly begins to wane.

Midsummer Eve has long been associated with faeries and magic. On this night you’re supposed to be able to see faeries, as the veil between the worlds is thinned. In ancient times our ancestors went out to gather their Mugwort on Midsummer Eve. Interestingly enough Mugwort was also called St John’s Wort, in an attempt to dilute the Pagan influence. Is it a coincidence that St John the Baptist’s Day was placed at June 23rd? Probably not.

Our children especially look forward to this ritual because not only does it coincide with the start of their summer vacation, it’s also usually our first picnic of the year. We head to a local campground because there are safe places to build campfires and there’s usually no one else nearby. We try to plan things to be set up by high noon, so we can greet the sun at the highest point in it’s daily cycle on the day of the highest point in it’s yearly cycle. As always, if you can take the kids outdoors to do this one, great! If not, just adjust things so they fit best for you. Remember, it’s not how you do it that matters, but just that you do it!!

This ritual involves making a mini-bonfire. This can be a campfire, your barbecue (those table top ones that can be placed on the ground) or a single candle. If you’re lucky enough to be able to do this outdoors, make sure you take precautions. If you’re having any kind of fire, large or small, be sure to bring a jug of water to put the fire out afterwards, or to quench any sparks that might get away from you. And please make sure you exercise Extreme Caution so this special day doesn’t end with burned fingers or a fire.

Extra Supplies:

  • Kindling for your bonfire (or charcoal or candles, whatever you choose.)
  • Matches to light the bonfire.
  • An aspergill, which is something you dip in water that will allow you to sprinkle or anoint the fire…a leafy branch works just fine.
  • A container of water to dip your aspergill in (if you have a small cauldron that would be perfect).
  • The bell and quarter candles are included here for those who choose to do this ritual indoors. If you’re going to be outside, make it easy on yourself and skip the quarter candles. You’re one with nature, so it should be easy for the kids to connect with Earth, Air, Fire and Water whether they have the candles or not.

Begin your ritual by ringing the bell to establish Sacred Space. The child chosen to be Bell Ringer rings the bell three times and says:

"I ring the bell
To cast the spell
Let sacred time begin
1 – 2 – 3
So mote it be
Let sacred time begin."

Then an adult casts the Circle by saying:

"Great Mother,
Weave around us
A circle of radiant light
Where we can honor
Our Lord and Lady.
Protect us, guide us and love us."

Tell the kids to imagine a silvery-blue light surrounding the table to create a Circle. Explain that this "Circle of Light" means we want to make this a sacred place to honor the Goddess and God. Explain that a Sacred Place doesn’t have to be a church. It can be in your dining room, a special spot in the forest, or even at school, as long as you show the respect and honor the Goddess and God deserve by creating your Sacred Space first. Next we "Call the Quarters." Explain that this is asking the Ancient Ones to add their powers to ours to make our Circle stronger. Because we do this outside (and you don’t want to have too many fires lit!) we pass on the candle lighting and just have the children invoke the elements verbally. It’s a great chance to actually connect with calling the Elements! The child chosen to call the Eastern Quarter faces the East, raises his/her hands and says:

"I call to you
Ancient Ones of the East
Guardian Spirits of Air
To witness this ritual and guard this Circle."

The child chosen to call the Southern Quarter faces South, raises his/her hands and says:

"I call to you
Ancient Ones of the South
Guardian Sprits of Fire
To witness this ritual and guard this Circle."

The child chosen to call the Western Quarter faces West, raises his/her hands and says:

"I call to you
Ancient Ones of the West
Guardian Spirits of Water
To Witness this ritual and guard this Circle."

The child chosen to call the Northern Quarter faces North, raises their hands and says:

"I call to you
Ancient Ones of the North
Guardian Spirits of Earth
To witness this ritual and guard this Circle."

Then the Adult says:

"The Circle has been cast
The Ancient Ones have been called
Now it is time to welcome
The Goddess and the God.
Great Mother,
Whose symbol is the bright night moon,
Heavenly father,
Whose symbol is the fiery sun,
We ask you to join our family
For this Midsummer Celebration."

The adult stands and faces the sun, raising his arms in joyous welcome:

"We greet the sun
At the zenith of its journey
On this day when it rides high in the sky!
Today is the celebration of Midsummer,
The Summer Solstice!
It is the longest day of the year
A day when light rules over dark!
Feel the power of the sun
And rejoice in its light and warmth!!"

Have the children face the sun and, closing their eyes, feel its warmth on their face. Explain to them that the warmth they’re feeling has traveled about 93 million miles through space to reach them today. That’s 400 times farther from the Earth than the moon is! And yet, even at that distance, we can still feel it! Now that’s magickal! To our ancestors, the sun was a God. They couldn’t understand how it moved across the sky, but they knew their lives depended on it. Today, even though we know a lot about the sun, and that it’s a star and not a God, we do acknowledge it’s strength and power, and admit that without it, all life on Earth. the people, plants and animals…would cease to exist. Now the adult turns to the bonfire (barbecue, candle or whatever) and says:

"Since Yule the power of the light has been growing stronger. At Ostara the light was equal to the dark. Today the turning of the Wheel Year has brought us to Midsummer, a day when the light rules supreme!"

Light the fire, letting the flames burn for a minute before continuing:

"We celebrate the Summer Solstice With this fire in honor of the Sun. Burn brightly, Sun! Summer has begun!!"

Have each person around the Circle take up the chant:

"Burn brightly Sun!
Summer has begun!"

You can go around once, or, if the kids are having fun, go around a couple of times! When the flames have died down everyone can take a turn jumping over the bonfire to make a wish. Be very careful! We make a very small bonfire so there’s no great risk, but we still hold the hand of the smaller children when they jump just be sure. Explain that fires were associated with purification, fertility and blessings. Tell them about the traditions of our ancestors, like lighting giant bonfires on the hilltops. It was sympathetic magic to call on the power of the sun. Another was to set fire to a wheel made of dried grass and send it rolling down a hill and into a pond. The fire represented the power of the sun, and the water quenching the flames symbolized the farmer’s wishes that summer wouldn’t be too hot and cause a drought or destroy the crops. Along these lines get your container of water and aspergill and return to your fire. Have the adult say:

"We love the warmth of the Summer Sun
We love its light and radiant heat.
But just as important to the earth
Is the gift of rain to fill our reservoirs,
Rain to water the plants and crops, Rain to cool us."

Dip the leafy branch into the water and sprinkle it like raindrops on the fire saying:

"Not too hot, not too dry
May the summer rains
Keep the Earth green."

Now invite everyone else to take up a branch and sprinkle the fire, repeating the chant until the fire is out.

"May the Summer rains
Keep the Earth green!"

When that’s finished have everyone sit down. The adult says:

"Summer has come again! We celebrate the sunshine, the freedom from school, the long hot days to swim and play! Lord and Lady, watch over your children and keep us safe during these busy Summer months!"

When everyone is finished you can close the Circle. Explain to the children that the ritual is over. Now it is time to thank the Ancient Ones for their help and their guidance. The child who called the Eastern Quarter now says:

"Thank you and farewell
Ancient Ones of the East
Guardian Spirits of Air
Go in Peace."

The child who called the Southern Quarter now says:

"Thank you and farewell
Ancient Ones of the South
Guardian Spirits of Fire
Go in Peace."

The child who called the Western Quarter says:

"Thank you and farewell
Ancient Ones of the West
Guardian Spirits of Water
Go in Peace."

The child who called the Northern Quarter says:

"Thank you and farewell
Ancient Ones of the North
Guardian Spirits of Earth
Go in Peace."

Then the adult says farewell to the Goddess and the God:

"We thank you God and Goddess for sharing this special time with our family. May we keep you in our hearts, and follow your path of love every day. Blessed be!"

Now the Bell Ringer rings the bell three times to release the Sacred Space and says:

"I ring the bell,
Release the spell
And Sacred Time will end.
1 – 2 – 3
So mote it be,
Until we meet again."

Explain that this is the signal that Scared Time is over. The circle has been released and the Sacred Space is no more. Now the adult says:

"The Circle is open and yet it remains a circle. around and through us always flow its magical powers. This ritual is over."

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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Sunday Surprise – Midsummer’s Eve or St. John’s Eve

May 31, 2009 at 3:27 pm (Ancestors, Divination, Element Encyclopedia of Witchcraft, Fire, Folklore, History, Litha, Lore, Magic, Midsummer, pagan, Sunday, Wisdom, Witch)

Midsummer’s Eve or St. John’s Eve

Taken in it’s entirety from The Element Encyclopedia of Witchcraft by Judika Illes.

Midsummer’s Eve was originally intended to coincide with the summer solstice, the day when the Sun enters the sign of Cancer, the astrological sign that belongs to the moon, and Earth’s magical forces are at their height. Midsummer’s Eve is a major holiday for witches and those who love them. Because fixed calendars came into existence, Midsummer’s Eve, especially in its guise as the Feast of John the Baptist, does not necessarily correspond exactly with the solstice. (The solstice moves; the Feast doesn’t.) Modern Neo-Pagans, however, frequently coordinate Midsummer’s Eve with the solstice and so this festival may be celebrated anytime, depending upon place, traditions, and participants, from approximately June 20 through the 24th. A wild anarchic joyous festival, the ancients would have had no objection to it lingering for three or four days.

Midsummer’s Eve is a fire and a water festival characterized by ritual baths and bonfires. Bonfires are built upon carefully selected magical wood with special aromatic herbs thrown into the fires. The ashes are later preserved as amulets. Bonfires are built on the shores of lakes, rivers, streams, and oceans. Just as livestock is driven between or around bonfires, so the were once driven into the sea to be buffeted by spiritually cleansing and magically empowering waves.

Midsummer’s marks the convergence of Sun and Moon. The sun is at its zenith but the zodiac has entered the watery sign of Cancer, the only sign ruled by the Moon.  Children born during this 30-day period are known as Moon Children. Lunar deities like Artemis, Diana, and Hecate have powerful associations with fire and water as well as botanical magic.

Midsummer’s Eve is considered the absolute optimal moment for harvesting magical and medicinal plants. Plants are ideally picked at midnight or when the first dew forms. (Rolling in the dew is believed beneficial for people, too.) Special, unique plants such as the fern seed that provides invisibility are available only on the night. Witch-hunters claimed that this was the night witches rode off to join Satan; witches, on the other hand, claimed that this was the night they congregated to celebrate the Earth and to harvest botanicals for the coming year’s spells. According to the tenets of Russian witchcraft, the most powerful botanicals in the world are ritually harvested on Midsummer’s Eve atop Bald Mountain.

This is the time to stay out all night reveling and then gather plants before calling it a night. It is a magical time for divination, communing with the spirits, and finding true love – or at the very least romance, flirtation, and fun.

Although Midsummer’s Eve was Christianized as St John’s Eve, this is perhaps the church holiday with the thinnest veneer. In Siberia a popular name for St John’s Day id Ivan Travnik (John the Herbalist) or Ivan Koldovnik (John the Magician.)

In Denmark, Midsummer’s Eve has been celebrated since at least the time of the Vikings and is associated with Odin. Healers gathered their botanical supplies for the year on this night. Bonfires were lit, a tradition that survives today, however, visits to the healing springs were once incorporated into the festival as well. Bonfires are still sometimes built on beaches, In Scandinavia, "maypoles" are sometimes erected at Midsummer’s instead.

Midsummer’s Eve bonfires and water celebrations were particularly beloved in Mediterranean regions. Midsummer’s Eve pre-dates Christianity and Islam, and although the later associations have diverged from each other (on the Mediterranean’s southern shore, in Muslim Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia, the festival is identified with Fatima, the Prophet’s daughter rather than with John the Baptist,) the rituals and associated botanicals are virtually identical on either side of the sea.

John the Baptist is much venerated by Freemasons. There is a tremendous Masonic component in Vodoun. In Haiti, John the Baptist is considered among the Iwa; his feast day is celebrated with bonfires, ritual bathing and ceremonial. Whether these celebrations arrived in Louisiana from Haiti, directly from France or even perhaps directly from Africa are unknown.

The most important annual New Orleans ceremonial during Marie Laveau’s time was held on St John’s Eve at the Bayou St John, the natural waterway which once connected Lake Pontchartrain, popularly known as St John’s Lake, with the Mississippi River ant the heart of the Vieux Carre. When these ceremonials began is unknown. Marie Laveau presided over St John’s Eve ceremonials at the Bayou St John for years. (See Hall of Fame: Marie Laveau) Celebrations included bonfires, ritual bathing, ancient snake rites, drumming, dancing, singing, and a communal meal. Once secret and forbidden, the festival’s reputation (and remember, ostensibly at least this is an official Church-sanctioned feast, although certain practices – those snakes! – were consistently condemned) spread and by 1831, the Pontchartrain Railroad began running special cars to the lake for the festivities for tourists and spectators, not for the participants.

Eventually St John’s Eve Voodoo celebrations became a tourist attraction. Tourists, non-practitioners, and observers came to watch, not to participate. Eventually tourist shows began to be staged for which fees were charged. Once again, it became necessary to hold true ceremonials in private. Post Civil War, the tourist fascination with Voodoo culture waned, resulting in periods of great oppression. By the late 1890s, private ceremonies as well as St John’s Eve celebrations at Lake Pontchartrain were routinely broken up by the police.

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 – Has Been Interrupted for Beltane Associations

April 23, 2009 at 3:06 pm (Associations, Beltane, Colors, Decoration, Fae, Faery, Faery Furniture, Fairies, Fairy, Fire, Flowers, Herbs, Incense, Magic, May Day, pagan, Thursday, Witch)

Beltane Associations
Unknown source

Herbs: Honeysuckle, St. John’s Wort, Hawthorn, All flowers
Incense: Frankincense, Lilac, Rose
Colors: Green, Soft pink, Blue and Yellow
Decorations: Maypole, Strings of beads or flowers, Ribbons, Spring flowers
Foods: Dairy, Oatmeal Cakes, Cherries, Strawberries, Wine Punches, Green Salads

Tools and Ritual Components:

Incense – Frankincense, Rose and Bluebells make a lovely scent to appease the Fey and bring trust and purification to your gathering.
Ritual Soap – Thyme and Rose for balance and beauty, and to tempt the faerie folk into joining your celebration.
Anointing Oil – Lily of the Valley, a traditional May Day flower.
Ritual Cup – Woodruff Wine to banish negativity, or Red Clover Tea, a Victorian favorite for spring.
Altar Decorations – Ivy, Rose, and Hawthorn adorn the altar, while fresh Marigold petals form the outer circle. Garnet is a symbol of union and may be placed central to the altar for fidelity, and friendship.
Clothing – Crown yourself with a wreath of Ivy. Wear bright, lively colors, especially the green of the forest to honor life and vitality.
Cakes – By May, strawberries have come into season. Why not enjoy them with Victorian popovers and a little cream? It’s one way of thanking the Earth for her bounty. Candied Violets are also a traditional Victorian treat for this holiday.

* Nine Woods Used in The Belfire *

Birch – (Attributes: Protection of children, purification, creativity) Add to the fire to represent the Goddess or female principle.
Oak – (Attributes: All positive purposes, magic for men, fidelity) Add to the fire symbolizing the God or male principle.
Rowan, or mountain ash – (Attributes: Divination, healing, astral work, protection) Add to the fire as the Tree of Life. .
Willow – (Attributes: – Romantic love, healing, protection, fertility, magic for women) Sacred to Hecate, add willow to the fire as a celebration of death.
Hawthorn – (Attributes: Fertility, peace, prosperity, binding) As Tree of Purification and a Sacred faeries tree, add hawthorn to the Belfire for purity.
Hazel – (Attributes: Manifestation, spirit contact, protection, fertility) As Tree of wisdom, add hazel to the fire to gain wisdom.
Apple – (Attributes: Fertility. Tree of love) Add apple wood to the fire for the magic of love.
Vine – (Attributes: Faerie work, Joy, Exhilaration, Wrath, Rebirth) This is the Tree of joy so add vine to the fire for joy.
Fir – (Attributes: Strength, life and immortality, rejuvenation) As the Tree of Immortality, add fir to your Beltane fire for rebirth.

Sources:

A Victorian Grimoire by Patricia Telesco

Celtic Myth and Magick by Edain McCoy (link to the book online)

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.

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