Yule – Winter Solstice

Yule Comments & Graphics

Yule – Winter Solstice

After Samhain and Beltane, Yule is the most important feast. Elaborate rites are performed to insure the rebirth of the Sun. It is the greatest crisis of the year, and before the commercial value of sentimentality was discovered, popular customs reflected a wide contrast of the dark and eerie against joyful music and glittering lights.

Samhain to Yule is a season of preparation. A fast is not exactly enjoined, but it is as good a time as any to lose a little weight, because you’ll surely gain it back during Yule. It is a time for serious introspection and spiritual discipline. Perform your devotions and meditations regularly. Just before Yule, thoroughly clean your home.

The celebration begins on Yule Eve with religious rites. Yule Day is for family observances of a cheerful, social nature, with a feast, perhaps in the evening, unless there is a ball or theater event. The next day is a peculiar time. It is the day left over in the old Pagan calendar of thirteen 28-day months. It belongs to no month and no year; truly a “time that is not time”. (On a leap year there are two of these intercalary days.) what is done on the third day, then, hasn’t really happened, or doesn’t count. It gives us a perfect opportunity to step outside our usual roles and experiment, even if we look foolish. No one is allowed to hold it against us. No commitments can be made of this day; they will not be binding.

The next day is the New Year from a solar point of view.

The season of Yule runs till the Eve of Oimelc, so for Pagans there is no post- Xmas letdown. You can have Yule parties every weekend till February. When your evergreen decorations dry up, you can renew them. But by Oimelc, every trace of the Yule greens must be out of the house. It is pleasant to burn them in your fireplace.

A Little Humor – Learning your ABC’s for Witches and Pagans

Learning your ABC’s for Witches and Pagans

To learn your letters you must start With a clever mind and a willing heart Each one is special, just like you And you will learn them all by the time we are through!

  • A is Athame, the knife that we use
  • B is for Beltane, when partners we choose
  • C is for Circle where we all are one.
  • D is for Deosil, path of the Sun.
  • E is for Esbat, when we gather round
  • F is for Fire and its crackling sound
  • G is the Goddess in beauty and love.
  • H is the Horned One, our Father above.
  • I is for Imbolg, candles light the way,
  • J is for June when it’s Midsummer’s Day
  • K is for Karma, the things that we do
  • L is for Lammas, harvest’s almost through!
  • M is for Moon, riding way up so high,
  • N is for Nighttime, which darkens the sky
  • O is for Ostara, when we hunt for eggs,
  • P is for Pan, with hairy goat legs
  • Q is the Quarters and there are just four,
  • R for the Rites when we open the Door
  • S is for Samhain, end of the year,
  • T is for Tarot cards, futures to hear
  • U is Undines from the watery West
  • V is Vervain for protection and rest
  • W’s Widdershins, the path of the moon.
  • X is the sign that’s the sign of the God
  • Y is for Yule and the sun’s return
  • Z is the Zodiac, 12 signs to learn

To learn them all you will have to try And now it is time to say goodbye Merry have we met, and Merry have we been Merry shall we part and Merry meet again!

Herbs for Every Sign

HERBS FOR EVERY SIGN

Herbs can be mixed and combined to produce a “recipe” that’s just right for each of us.  Since the Sun sign you were born under has such an amazing influence on your health and well-being, using the herbs that correspond with that sign alone can be a tremendous help in times of stress or illness. Here’s a short list of herbs that seem to be tailor-made for each of the signs, due to their associations with both the planetary ruler and the positive qualities of that sign.

Aries – Mars
Allspice, basil, cayenne, garlic, ginger, mustard, onion, pepper.
It’s no secret that Aries is the astrological equivalent of a bullet.
It’s a red-hot burst of energy that’s capable of overcoming any
obstacle by charging straight for it. The ruler of Aries is Mars, the “red”
planet, the ancient god of war who was known for his equally fiery
temperament. No wonder, then, the herbs that correspond with your sign
are also a bit “hot” to the taste. Use them in cooking to raise your
endorphins, the substance Mars loves best.

Taurus – Venus
Apple, apricot, blackberry, cherry, heather, hibiscus, raspberry, rose.
Taurus is the sign that’s fondest of the pleasures that life inside
these bodies can provide. Whether it’s a blazing sunset, a symphony by
Mozart, or a delicious meal, you folks are experts at enjoying the
physical delights of the senses. It’s no surprise that the herbs you’ll
enjoy most are the sweet ones, since your planet, Venus, is the
purveyor of sweetness. Use each of them to satisfy that sweet tooth.

Gemini – Mercury
Clover, eyebright, fennel, lemongrass, lemon verbena, marjoram, parsley.
Your quick-witted, fleet-footed energy just loves variety – in fact, the
expression “variety is the spice of life” was written with you in mind.
Each of these herbs provide a different type of taste, and most can be
combined in a light, aromatic tea you can sip on the run. Use clove or
slippery elm to protect against gossip and to keep your thoughts and
actions grounded.

Cancer – Moon
Aloe, lemon balm, chamomile, mimosa, lavender, lilac.
Nurturing is your business, Cancer, and you distribute your soothing
touch to one and all. There’s nothing you like better than a home that
smells good, too, whether it’s because there’s something wonderful
simmering on the stove, a vase of fresh flowers on the dining room
table, or a warm, fragrant bubble bath waiting for you upstairs. Each
of the herbs listed above are known for their ability to calm, heal, or
bring a wonderful aroma to the environment. Use aloe to soothe burns
and scrapes and chamomile for a wonderful bedtime tea.

Leo – Sun
Chicory, cinnamon, goldenseal, rosemary, St. John’s Wort, sandalwood.
Your planet is the Sun, Leo, the source of life and warmth that keeps
us all alive and provides us with the energy we need to keep pursuing our
life’s quest. It makes perfect sense, then, that the bright, cheerful
sunflower would be the perfect representation of your equally bright
and happy sign. Herbs like goldenseal and St. John’s Wort are tailor-made
for you, too, since their ability to keep the body resistant to illness
and depression are well known. Mix a bit of chicory with your morning
coffee to help remove any obstacles that come up.

Virgo – Mercury
Caraway, dill, eyebright, horehound, lily of the valley, marjoram, savory.
Your quick-thinking meticulous sign likes nothing better than a mental
challenge, Virgo, whether it’s organizing a pile of papers at the
office, solving a puzzle, or learning a new skill. The herbs listed
above are all well known for their subtle abilities to strengthen the
mind, and many can be mixed together in teas to give you a boost you
often need at the end of a long day. The lily of the valley seems
perfect for you, too, with its subtle, “clean” scent and delicate flowers.

Libra – Venus
Catnip, passion flower, persimmon, rose, sugar cane, violet.
There’s no sign as fond of pleasing others as yours, Libra, whether it’s
by saying just the right thing to bring warring factions together, or by
using your polite charm to draw the object of your desires closer. Of
course, catnip is famous for its effects on our feline friends, but its
also traditionally used in conjunction with rose petals to bring loving
relationships that last forever. Since you’re ruled by Venus, you’re
capable of being every bit as sweet as the sugar cane – but if you need
a bit of help to attract a beloved, use this potent plant (sugar cane)
that’s long been used to conjure love – sweetly.

Scorpio – Pluto/Mars
Ginseng, dill, patchouli, pomegranate, saffron, vanilla.
As fond as you are of intensity and intimacy, Scorpio, it’s no wonder
the herbs you’ll love best are famous for their use in stirring up
passion. Drink ginseng tea (or offer some to your beloved) to induce a
magnetic physical attraction. Wear patchouli to arouse lust and silently
conjure the magic of the Beltane rituals. Present the object of your
desire with a pomegranate, the fruit traditionally associated with
seductive Pluto, your ruling planet.

Sagittarius – Jupiter
Anise, clove, fig, hyssop, mugwort, myrtle, nutmeg, rosemary, sage.
There’s no sign that hangs on to youth with more fervency and
determination than yours Sagittarius. To keep that youthful appearance
and disposition going as you travel the world in search of yet another
experience, drink a tea made of anise, rosemary, and Vervain. To aid in
making your dreams more prophetic than they already are, use mugwort.
Burn clove incense to attract the wealth you’ll need to pay for your travels.

Capricorn – Saturn
Comfrey, horsetail, mint, poppy, sassafras, woodruff.
You’ve always been described as a very “focused” sign, Capricorn, intent
on self-sufficiency and material success. The influence of your planet,
Saturn, gives you the ambition and self-discipline to attain those
goals, and to ensure success and prosperity in business matters, too.
Each of the herbs mentioned above are known for their ability to attract
that success, and most can be mixed together in a tea.

Aquarius – Uranus/Saturn
Anise, bittersweet, citron, dandelion, lemon verbena, rosemary, sage.
Your sign is a cerebral one, Aquarius, and your ability to turn “odd” or
eccentric ideas into strokes of genius is well known. Since
communication (and mass communication in particular) is your specialty,
the herbs above are all associated with the air principle, which rules
the intellectual side of life. To increase your already powerful
intuition, use citron, clover, or rosemary. Above all else, listen to
that intuition. It will seldom prove to be wrong.

Pisces – Neptune/Jupiter
Aloe, bay, cotton, eucalyptus, lavender, Norfolk Island pine, rue.
As the most sensitive and psychic of all signs, Pisces, yours is the one
that requires help to ward off the adverse thoughts and intentions of
others. Since you have no boundaries to keep you separate from others,
you also need protection against negative influences. To that end, use
rue, a powerful herb known to ward off ills of every kind. To stay
positive and healthy keep a lavender plant growing either outside or inside your home.

SAMHAIN, All Hallow’s Eve / Halloween

SAMHAIN

All Hallow’s Eve / Halloween

by Mike Nichols

 


 

Halloween. Sly does it. Tiptoe catspaws. Slide and creep. But why? What for? How? Who? When! Where did it all begin? “You don’t know, do you?” asks Carapace Clavicle Moundshroud climbing out of the pile of leaves under the Halloween Tree. “You don’t really know!”   —Ray Bradbury, The Halloween Tree

 

Samhain. All Hallows. All Hallow’s Eve. Hallow E’en. Halloween. The most magical night of the year. Exactly opposite Beltane on the wheel of the year, Halloween is Beltane’s dark twin. A night of glowing jack-o’-lanterns, bobbing for apples, tricks or treats, and dressing in costume. A night of ghost stories and séances, tarot card readings and scrying with mirrors. A night of power, when the veil that separates our world from the Otherworld is at its thinnest. A “spirit night”, as they say in Wales.

All Hallow’s Eve is the eve of All Hallow’s Day (November 1). And for once, even popular tradition remembers that the eve is more important than the day itself, the traditional celebration focusing on October 31, beginning at sundown. And this seems only fitting for the great Celtic New Year’s festival. Not that the holiday was Celtic only. In fact, it is startling how many ancient and unconnected cultures (the Egyptians and pre-Spanish Mexicans, for example) celebrated this as a festival of the dead. But the majority of our modern traditions can be traced to the British Isles.

The Celts called it Samhain, which means “summer’s end”, according to their ancient twofold division of the year, when summer ran from Beltane to Samhain and winter ran from Samhain to Beltane. (Some modern covens echo this structure by letting the high priest “rule” the coven beginning on Samhain, with rulership returned to the high priestess at Beltane.) According to the later fourfold division of the year, Samhain is seen as “autumn’s end” and the beginning of winter. Samhain is pronounced (depending on where you’re from) as “sow-in” (in Ireland), or “sow-een” (in Wales), or “sav-en” (in Scotland), or (inevitably) “sam-hane” (in the U.S., where we don’t speak Gaelic).

Not only is Samhain the end of autumn; it is also, more importantly, the end of the old year and the beginning of the new. Celtic New Year’s Eve, when the new year begins with the onset of the dark phase of the year, just as the new day begins at sundown. There are many representations of Celtic Gods with two faces, and it surely must have been one of them who held sway over Samhain. Like his Roman counterpart Janus, he would straddle the threshold, one face turned toward the past, in commemoration of those who died during the last year, and one face gazing hopefully toward the future, mystic eyes attempting to pierce the veil and divine what the coming year holds. These two themes, celebrating the dead and divining the future, are inexorably intertwined in Samhain, as they are likely to be in any New Year’s celebration.

As a feast of the dead, this was the one night when the dead could, if they wished, return to the land of the living, to celebrate with their family, tribe, or clan. And so the great burial mounds of Ireland (sidhe mounds) were opened up, with lighted torches lining the walls, so the dead could find their way. Extra places were set at the table and food set out for any who had died that year. And there are many stories that tell of Irish heroes making raids on the Underworld while the gates of faery stood open, though all must return to their appointed places by cockcrow.

As a feast of divination, this was the night par excellence for peering into the future. The reason for this has to do with the Celtic view of time. In a culture that uses a linear concept of time, like our modern one, New Year’s Eve is simply a milestone on a very long road that stretches in a straight line from birth to death. Thus, the New Year’s festival is a part of time. The ancient Celtic view of time, however, is cyclical. And in this framework, New Year’s Eve represents a point outside of time, when the natural order of the universe dissolves back into primordial chaos, preparatory to reestablishing itself in a new order. Thus, Samhain is a night that exists outside of time and, hence, it may be used to view any other point in time. At no other holiday is a tarot card reading, crystal reading, or tealeaf reading so likely to succeed.

The Christian religion, with its emphasis on the “historical” Christ and his act of Redemption 2000 years ago, is forced into a linear view of time, where seeing the future is an illogical proposition. In fact, from the Christian perspective, any attempt to do so is seen as inherently evil. This did not keep the medieval church from co-opting Samhain’s other motif, commemoration of the dead. To the church, however, it could never be a feast for all the dead, but only the blessed dead, all those hallowed (made holy) by obedience to God—thus, All Hallow’s, or Hallowmas, later All Saints and All Souls.

There are so many types of divination that are traditional to Hallowstide, it is possible to mention only a few. Girls were told to place hazelnuts along the front of the firegrate, each one to symbolize one of her suitors. She could then divine her future husband by chanting, “If you love me, pop and fly; if you hate me, burn and die.” Several methods used the apple, that most popular of Halloween fruits. You should slice an apple through the equator (to reveal the five-pointed star within) and then eat it by candlelight before a mirror. Your future spouse will then appear over your shoulder. Or, peel an apple, making sure the peeling comes off in one long strand, reciting, “I pare this apple round and round again; / My sweetheart’s name to flourish on the plain: / I fling the unbroken paring o’er my head, / My sweetheart’s letter on the ground to read.” Or, you might set a snail to crawl through the ashes of your hearth. The considerate little creature will then spell out the initial letter as it moves.

Perhaps the most famous icon of the holiday is the jack-o’-lantern. Various authorities attribute it to either Scottish or Irish origin. However, it seems clear that it was used as a lantern by people who traveled the road this night, the scary face to frighten away spirits or faeries who might otherwise lead one astray. Set on porches and in windows, they cast the same spell of protection over the household. (The American pumpkin seems to  have forever superseded the European gourd as the jack-o’-lantern of choice.) Bobbing for apples may well represent the remnants of a Pagan “baptism” rite called a seining, according to some writers. The water-filled tub is a latter-day Cauldron of Regeneration, into which the novice’s head is immersed. The fact that the participant in this folk game was usually blindfolded with hands tied behind the back also puts one in mind of a traditional Craft initiation ceremony.

The custom of dressing in costume and “trick-or-treating” is of Celtic origin, with survivals particularly strong in Scotland. However, there are some important differences from the modern version. In the first place, the custom was not relegated to children, but was actively indulged in by adults as well. Also,  the “treat” that was required was often one of spirits (the liquid variety). This has recently been revived by college students who go ‘trick-or-drinking’. And in ancient times, the roving bands would sing seasonal carols from house-to-house, making the tradition very similar to Yuletide wassailing. In fact, the custom known as caroling, now connected exclusively with Midwinter, was once practiced at all the major holidays. Finally, in Scotland at least, the tradition of dressing in costume consisted almost exclusively of cross-dressing (i.e., men dressing as women, and women as men). It seems as though ancient societies provided an opportunity for people to “try on” the role of the opposite gender for one night of the year. (Although in Scotland, this is admittedly less dramatic—but more confusing—since men were in the habit of wearing skirtlike kilts anyway. Oh well…)

To Witches, Halloween is one of the four High Holidays, or Greater Sabbats, or cross-quarter days. Because it is the most important holiday of the year, it is sometimes called “The Great Sabbat”. It is an ironic fact that the newer, self-created covens tend to use the older name of the holiday, Samhain, which they have discovered through modern research. While the older hereditary and traditional covens often use the newer name, Halloween, which has been handed down through oral tradition within their coven. (This often holds true for the names of the other holidays, as well. One may often get an indication of a coven’s antiquity by noting what names it uses for the holidays.)

With such an important holiday, Witches often hold two distinct celebrations. First, a large Halloween party for non-Craft friends, often held on the previous weekend. And second, a coven ritual held on Halloween night itself, late enough so as not to be interrupted by trick-or-treaters. If the rituals are performed properly, there is often the feeling of invisible friends taking part in the rites. Another date that may be utilized in planning celebrations is the actual cross-quarter day, or Old Halloween, or Halloween O.S. (Old Style). This occurs when the sun has reached fifteen degrees Scorpio, an astrological “power point” symbolized by the Eagle. The celebration would begin at sunset. Interestingly, this date (Old Halloween) was also appropriated by the church as the holiday of Martinmas.

Of all the Witchcraft holidays, Halloween is the only one that still boasts anything near to popular celebration. Even though it is typically relegated to children (and the young-atheart) and observed as an evening affair only, many of its traditions are firmly rooted in Paganism. Incidentally, some schools have recently attempted to abolish Halloween parties on the grounds that it violates the separation of state and religion. Speaking as a Pagan, I would be saddened by the success of this move, but as a supporter of the concept of religion-free public education, I fear I must concede the point. Nonetheless, it seems only right that there should be one night of the year when our minds are turned toward thoughts of the supernatural. A night when both Pagans and non-Pagans may ponder the mysteries of the Otherworld and its inhabitants. And if you are one of them, may all your jack-o’-lanterns burn bright on this All Hallow’s Eve.


 

Document Copyright © 1983 – 2009 by Mike Nichols.

Lighten Up – Are You a TechnoPagan?

Are You a TechnoPagan?

You may be a TechnoPagan if…

If your athame has a SCSI interface…

If your OBE’s begin with a netsplit…

If your priest robes conceal a pocket protector…

If you calculate the phases of the moon with Windows ’95…

If your altar has a keyboard…

If drawing down a circle is a POST (power on self test)…

If you call the Watch Towers on your cell-tell…

If you do most of your correspondence by email and sign off with Blessed Be…

If you don’t call it a ritual, you call it a Macro…

If you end a circle with Ctl-Alt-Del…

If you have ever attached ribbons to a May Pole using a staple gun…

If you invite the God and Goddess to come online…

If you keep a Disk of Shadows (with encrypted backups)…

If you participate in online rituals more than you do FTF…

If you refer to eclectic ritual as cross-platforming…

If your Beltane ritual includes more than one news group…

If your candles have batteries…

If your cauldron is a crock-pot…

If your deities include Murphy and Gates…

If your drumming is done on a  CD player  (pre-recorded)…

If your herbs are always mail-ordered (express, overnight)…

If your idea of a great retreat has a Computer City, electricity, and a TV nearby…

If your incense is by Glade…

If your magic wand is a light pen…

If your magical name, email address, and online name are all the same…

If your magical writing is done in binary code or C++…

If your pentacle is made of computer chips…

If your technician compains about the wax and incense ash on your motherboard…

If, instead of asking what tradition someone comes from, you ask what operating system they run…

If your Yule ritual involves defragmentation…

If your coven is spread over a 12,000 sq. mi. area…

If your Book of Shadows has a 6-digit version number…

If you refer to deities using 3-letter acronyms (ODN, LKI, THR)…

If you do cord magick with ethernet…

If you ritually down your server for Samhain…

If your altar cloth is a mouse pad…

If, when your quarter candles burn out, the UPS backup system kicks in…

If erecting the temple entails formatting more than 4 disks…

If casteing the circle changes an (int) to a (float)…

If your Star Trek screen-saver signals when your meditation period is over…

If your Beltane ritual includes more than one news group…

If passing the cakes and ale entails using a /me command…

If your search for truth involves regular expressions…

If your familiar is a computer mouse…

If you draw down the moon using a light-pen…

If your cone of power has a surge suppressor…

If your tarot cards multi-task…

If your daemons collect news for you…

If your crystal ball has a horizontal-hold control…

If you refer to solitary practice as a stand alone…

If you tap into the collective unconscious using Netscape…

If your favorite deity has a homepage…

If the address of your covenstead begins with http://…

and finally, if your circle is a token ring…

Well, you just might be a TechnoPagan!

A Smattering of Solistice Spells

by Melanie Fire Salamander

As a pagan, you may well light a  bonfire Midsummer night and jump it,  for Litha is a fire festival. Likewise, you  may stay up to greet the Midsummer  dawn.

If you do, keep a pair of garden  shears handy. Midsummer’s Eve at midnight, Midsummer’s Day at dawn and Midsummer noon are prime times to collect plants sacred to the sun or special  to the fey. In fact, any magickal herb  plucked at Midsummer is said to prove  doubly effective and keep better. Divining rods cut on Midsummer’s Eve are  said to be more infallible, too. You can  charge your charms, depending on their  purpose, at midnight, noon or in dawn’s  first light.

Charms traditional at Litha include those for courage, dream divination, fertility, invisibility, love, luck, protection, wealth, the restoration of sight and the ability to see the fey. Midsummer is a fey time, both by tradition and observation. The scent of the air is thick, green and juicy; it’s lost its spring astringency and is simply lush. The whole world is stretching its limbs and frolicking. The fey are big on that.

Especially for charms of love, gardening and magickal abilities, the fey are  a great help in herb collecting. In exchange, they like gifts of milk and honey,  cookies, sweet liqueurs, or any sweet  food, drink or liquor. They also like  baubles, particularly pretty or shiny. Or  cold hard cash — but in coin, not paper,  and it’s best if shiny.

To stay in good with the fey and the  herbs you collect from, leave enough of  the plant or other plants of the type that  the herb survives in the spot collected  from. Remember too to always ask the  plant before taking a cutting, and to wait  for an answer. A quid pro quo usually  works: a shiny dime, some fertilizer, or  a bit of your hair or clothing — whatever  you think the plant most wants.

Courage: Tuscans use erba della  paura (stachys)collected on  Midsummer’s Day as a wash against fear.  Steep the herb in hot but not boiling  water, then rinse the limbs with long  strokes moving outward from the torso.  You might substitute wood betony, a  relative more common in North America.

Dream divination: Litha is a good time for foretelling things in dreams. Specifically, to induce dreams of love and ensure them coming true, lay a bunch of flowers under your pillow on Midsummer Eve. That’s what the girls of old Scandinavia did.

For effective dream divination, remember to keep a notebook beside  your bed. At bedtime, relax, ground and  center, then clearly define your question.  Meditate on that question until it’s firm  in your mind, and assure yourself you  will remember your dream on waking.  Then go to sleep.

As soon as you wake, record your dream. One trick is to set an alarm clock so you’re wakened artificially, which can help dream recollection. Dreams dreamed on Midsummer’s Eve are said to be more likely to come true.

Fertility for your garden: For a lush garden, mix ashes from the Midsummer bonfire with any seeds yet to  plant. (You still have time to plant cosmos and a handful of fall-blooming flowers.) Likewise, for fertility sprinkle bonfire ashes on any flowers or vegetables  you have growing.

Fey charms: To see the fey, pick  flowers from a patch of wild thyme where  the little folk live and place the flowers  on your eyes. A four-leafed clover not  only grants you a wish but also, carried  in your pocket or a charm, gives you the  power to see fairies dancing in rings. A  good place to look is by oaks, said in  Germany to be a favorite place for fey  dances. To penetrate fey glamour, make  and wear an ointment including fourleaved clovers.

St. John’s wort, also known as ragwort, has a strong connection to the fey  and transportation. You might add it to  charms to travel quickly. The Irish call  the plant the fairy’s horse, and the fey  are said to ride it through the air. But  beware: The Manx say if you step on a  ragwort plant on Midsummer’s Eve after sunset, a fairy horse springs out of  the earth and carries you off till sunrise,  leaving you wherever you happen to be  when the sun comes up.

Invisibility: Collect fern seed on  Midsummer Eve for use in charms of  invisibility. To become invisible, wear or  swallow the seed (that is, the spores)  you have collected. Such spores also  put you under the protection of spirits.

The fern is said to bloom at midnight on Midsummer Eve, either a sapphire blue or golden yellow depending  on your source.

Love: Plant two orpine starts (Sedum telephium) together on Midsummer  Eve, one to represent yourself, one to  represent your lover. If one withers, the  person represented will die. But if both  flourish and grow leaning together, you  and your lover will marry.

Luck and human fertility: As at  Beltaine, leap the Midsummer bonfire for  fertility and luck.

Protection: Herbs traditional to  Litha (also know as St. John’s Day) in  England include St. John’s wort, hawkweed, orpine, vervain, mullein, wormwood and mistletoe. Plucked either at  Midsummer’s Eve on midnight or noon  Midsummer Day and hung in the house,  they protect it from fire and lightning.  Worn in a charm on your body, they protect you from disease, disaster and the  workings of your enemies.

Sight: Dew gathered Midsummer  Eve is said to restore sight.

Wealth: The fern also has a connection with wealth. Sprinkle fern seed  in your savings to keep them from decreasing. The alleged golden-yellow fern  flower, plucked on Midsummer Eve at  midnight, can be used as a dowsing tool  to lead to golden treasure. Alternatively  (the Russian version), you throw the  flower in the air, and it lands on buried  treasure. Or, if you’re Bohemian, you pluck  the flower and on the same Midsummer  Night climb a mountain with blossom in  hand. On the mountain, you’ll find gold  or have it revealed in a vision.

If you wait patiently till midnight on  Midsummer Eve and see no such golden  fern flower, perhaps invisibility will have  to do.

Deity of the Day for Monday, June 11 – Cailleach

 Deity of the Day

 

Cailleach

In Irish and Scottish mythology, the Cailleach (Irish pronunciation: [ˈkalʲəx], Irish plural cailleacha [ˈkalʲəxə], Scottish Gaelic plural cailleachan /kaʎəxən/), also known as the Cailleach Bheur, is a divine hag, a creatrix, and possibly an ancestral deity or deified ancestor. The word Cailleach means ‘hag’ in modern Scottish Gaelic, and has been applied to numerous mythological figures in Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man

In Scotland, where she is also known as Beira, Queen of Winter, she is credited with making numerous mountains and large hills, which are said to have been formed when she was striding across the land and accidentally dropped rocks from her apron. In other cases she is said to have built the mountains intentionally, to serve as her stepping stones. She carries a hammer for shaping the hills and valleys, and is said to be the mother of all the goddesses and gods.

The Cailleach displays several traits befitting the personification of Winter: she herds deer, she fights Spring, and her staff freezes the ground.

In partnership with the goddess Brìghde, the Cailleach is seen as a seasonal deity or spirit, ruling the winter months between Samhainn (Wintermas or first day of winter) and Bealltainn (Summermas or first day of summer), while Brìghde rules the summer months between Bealltainn and Samhainn. Some interpretations have the Cailleach and Brìghde as two faces of the same goddess, while others describe the Cailleach as turning to stone on Bealltainn and reverting back to humanoid form on Samhainn in time to rule over the winter months. Depending on local climate, the transfer of power between the winter goddess and the summer goddess is celebrated any time between Là Fhèill Brìghde (February 1) at the earliest, Latha na Cailliche (March 25), or Bealltainn (May 1) at the latest, and the local festivals marking the arrival of the first signs of spring may be named after either the Cailleach or Brìghde.

She intends to make the winter last a good while longer, she will make sure the weather on February 1 is bright and sunny, so she can gather plenty of firewood to keep herself warm in the coming months. As a result, people are generally relieved if February 1 is a day of foul weather, as it means the Cailleach is asleep, will soon run out of firewood, and therefore winter is almost over. On the Isle of Man, where She is known as Caillagh ny Groamagh, the Cailleach is said to have been form of a gigantic bird, carrying sticks in her beak.

In Scotland, the Cailleachan (lit. ‘old women’) were also known as The Storm Hags, and seen as personifications of the elemental powers of nature, especially in a destructive aspect. They were said to be particularly active in raising the windstorms of spring, during the period known as A’ Chailleach.

On the west coast of Scotland, the Cailleach ushers in winter by washing her great plaid in the Whirlpool of Coire Bhreacain. This process is said to take three days, during which the roar of the coming tempest is heard as far away as twenty miles (32 km) inland. When she is finished, her plaid is pure white and snow covers the land.

In Scotland and Ireland, the first farmer to finish the grain harvest made a corn dolly, representing the Cailleach (also called “the Carlin or Carline”), from the last sheaf of the crop. The figure would then be tossed into the field of a neighbor who had not yet finished bringing in their grain. The last farmer to finish had the responsibility to take in and care for the corn dolly for the next year, with the implication they’d have to feed and house the hag all winter. Competition was fierce to avoid having to take in the Old Woman.

Some scholars believe the Old Irish poem, ‘The Lament of the Old Woman of Beare’ is about the Cailleach; Kuno Meyer states, ‘…she had fifty foster-children in Beare. She had seven periods of youth one after another, so that every man who had lived with her came to die of old age, and her grandsons and great-grandsons were tribes and races.

Herbs For Every Sign

Herbs can be mixed and allbined to produce a “recipe” that’s just right for each of us. Since the Sun sign you were born under has such an amazing influence on your health and
well-being, using the herbs that correspond with that sign alone can be a tremendous help in
times of stress or illness. Here’s a short list of herbs that seem to be tailor-made for each of the
signs, due to their associations with both the planetary ruler and the positive qualities of that sign.
Aries – Mars
Allspice, basil, cayenne, garlic, ginger, mustard, onion, pepper.
It’s no secret that Aries is the astrological equivalent of a bullet.
It’s a red-hot burst of energy that’s capable of ove alling any
obstacle by charging straight for it. The ruler of Aries is Mars, the “red”
planet, the ancient god of war who was known for his equally fiery
temperament. No wonder, then, the herbs that correspond with your sign
are also a bit “hot” to the taste. Use them in cooking to raise your
endorphins, the substance Mars loves best.
Taurus – Venus
Apple, apricot, blackberry, cherry, heather, hibiscus, raspberry, rose.
Taurus is the sign that’s fondest of the pleasures that life inside
these bodies can provide. Whether it’s a blazing sunset, a symphony by
Mozart, or a delicious meal, you folks are experts at enjoying the
physical delights of the senses. It’s no surprise that the herbs you’ll
enjoy most are the sweet ones, since your planet, Venus, is the
purveyor of sweetness. Use each of them to satisfy that sweet tooth.
Gemini – Mercury
Clover, eyebright, fennel, lemongrass, lemon verbena, marjoram, parsley.
Your quick-witted, fleet-footed energy just loves variety – in fact, the
expression “variety is the spice of life” was written with you in mind.
Each of these herbs provide a different type of taste, and most can be
allbined in a light, aromatic tea you can sip on the run. Use clove or
slippery elm to protect against gossip and to keep your thoughts and
actions grounded.
Cancer – Moon
Aloe, lemon balm, chamomile, mimosa, lavender, lilac.
Nurturing is your business, Cancer, and you distribute your soothing
touch to one and all. There’s nothing you like better than a home that
smells good, too, whether it’s because there’s something wonderful
simmering on the stove, a vase of fresh flowers on the dining room
table, or a warm, fragrant bubble bath waiting for you upstairs. Each
of the herbs listed above are known for their ability to calm, heal, or
bring a wonderful aroma to the environment. Use aloe to soothe burns
and scrapes and chamomile for a wonderful bedtime tea.
Leo – Sun
Chicory, cinnamon, goldenseal, rosemary, St. John’s Wort, sandalwood.
Your planet is the Sun, Leo, the source of life and warmth that keeps
us all alive and provides us with the energy we need to keep pursuing our
life’s quest. It makes perfect sense, then, that the bright, cheerful
sunflower would be the perfect representation of your equally bright
and happy sign. Herbs like goldenseal and St. John’s Wort are tailor-made
for you, too, since their ability to keep the body resistant to illness
and depression are well known. Mix a bit of chicory with your morning
coffee to help remove any obstacles that up.
Virgo – Mercury
Caraway, dill, eyebright, horehound, lily of the valley, marjoram, savory.
Your quick-thinking meticulous sign likes nothing better than a mental
challenge, Virgo, whether it’s_mysticmagicspells.organizing a pile of papers at the
office, solving a puzzle, or learning a new skill. The herbs listed
above are all well known for their subtle abilities to strengthen the
mind, and many can be mixed together in teas to give you a boost you
often need at the end of a long day. The lily of the valley seems
perfect for you, too, with its subtle, “clean” scent and delicate flowers.
Libra – Venus
Catnip, passion flower, persimmon, rose, sugar cane, violet.
There’s no sign as fond of pleasing others as yours, Libra, whether it’s
by saying just the right thing to bring warring factions together, or by
using your polite charm to draw the object of your desires closer. Of
course, catnip is famous for its effects on our feline friends, but its
also traditionally used in conjunction with rose petals to bring loving
relationships that last forever. Since you’re ruled by Venus, you’re
capable of being every bit as sweet as the sugar cane – but if you need
a bit of help to attract a beloved, use this potent plant (sugar cane)
that’s long been used to conjure love – sweetly.
Scorpio – Pluto/Mars
Ginseng, dill, patchouli, pomegranate, saffron, vanilla.
As fond as you are of intensity and intimacy, Scorpio, it’s no wonder
the herbs you’ll love best are famous for their use in stirring up
passion. Drink ginseng tea (or offer some to your beloved) to induce a
magnetic physical attraction. Wear patchouli to arouse lust and silently
conjure the magic of the Beltane rituals. Present the object of your
desire with a pomegranate, the fruit traditionally associated with
seductive Pluto, your ruling planet.
Sagittarius – Jupiter
Anise, clove, fig, hyssop, mugwort, myrtle, nutmeg, rosemary, sage.
There’s no sign that hangs on to youth with more fervency and
determination than yours Sagittarius. To keep that youthful appearance
and disposition going as you travel the world in search of yet another
experience, drink a tea made of anise, rosemary, and Vervain. To aid in
making your dreams more prophetic than they already are, use mugwort.
Burn clove incense to attract the wealth you’ll need to pay for your travels.
Capricorn – Saturn
allfrey, horsetail, mint, poppy, sassafras, woodruff.
You’ve always been described as a very “focused” sign, Capricorn, intent
on self-sufficiency and material success. The influence of your planet,
Saturn, gives you the ambition and self-discipline to attain those
goals, and to ensure success and prosperity in business matters, too.
Each of the herbs mentioned above are known for their ability to attract
that success, and most can be mixed together in a tea.
Aquarius – Uranus/Saturn
Anise, bittersweet, citron, dandelion, lemon verbena, rosemary, sage.
Your sign is a cerebral one, Aquarius, and your ability to turn “odd” or
eccentric ideas into strokes of genius is well known. Since
allmunication (and mass allmunication in particular) is your specialty,
the herbs above are all associated with the air principle, which rules
the intellectual side of life. To increase your already powerful
intuition, use citron, clover, or rosemary. Above all else, listen to
that intuition. It will seldom prove to be wrong.
Pisces – Neptune/Jupiter
Aloe, bay, cotton, eucalyptus, lavender, Norfolk Island pine, rue.
As the most sensitive and psychic of all signs, Pisces, yours is the one
that requires help to ward off the adverse thoughts and intentions of
others. Since you have no boundaries to keep you separate from others,
you also need protection against negative influences. To that end, use
rue, a powerful herb known to ward off ills of every kind. To stay
positive and healthy keep a lavender plant growing either outside or
inside your home.

HOW TO DESIGN RITUALS AND SPELLS

The Lesser Banishing Pentagram Can Be Used To Cleanse A Working Area When
Preparing, Or To Close A Spell Or Ritual Down. Be sure that all energies are
removed from the area. The LBR can also be written in before the opening and at
the closing. The LBR should definitely be incorporated in the following
instances:

There has been an argument or an extremely emotional outburst in the same room
you are working in within the last 24 hours.

There are guests attending that you have never met before.

One of your guests occasionally follows the left hand path (they could be
dragging something along with them).

The group contains possible inflammatory personalities.

Whenever you sense negative energies or the presence of hostility.

All Rituals Should Invoke A Deity. If other forces are invoked as well, always
invoke the deity first (this does not apply to calling the quarters). Elemental
energies should normally be invoked last (they are most likely the lowest form you will ever use). If calling elemental forces, always call on the Kings of the
Elementals before the elementals themselves.

Don’t Overkill In A Ritual/Spell. Figure out the ritual/spells purpose and build
slowly, incorporating all necessary items. Recheck your work. Add only a few
asides if necessary. Do not include overly long passages, poems, etc. No one
likes to stand around for forty-five minutes listening to a droning recitation.

Make Sure the Ritual Officers Are Not The Only Ones Doing The Work. At the very
least, every one should be joining in responses (such as so mote it be’ or ‘hail
and farewell’). Group participation can also be called upon at the calling of a
quarter. The group minds works together better if everyone is included at some
point.

Never Put Anything In A Ritual/Spell That You Do Not Understand. For example, if
you have never worked with elementals and don’t know how to address them or what
they are to do, don’t throw them in because it makes the ritual/spell look
elaborate. If invocations or other passages are in foreign tongue, don’t use
them because they sound cool. First, you must know exactly what you are saying.
Second, you must know how to say it. Often passages are important for their
tonal quality as well as their meaning.

Outline A Ritual/Spell Before You Write It, whether it is short or complex. You
do not want to miss any steps.

Make Sure You Know What Sort Of Energies and Step Elements Your Ritual/Spell
Needs For The Purpose You Have In Mind. You wouldn’t be dealing with ghosts at
Beltane. Keep the elements, steps, and goal in mind when writing rituals/spells.
You should have several source books from which to work. The best rituals/spells
are those you write yourself, or those the group mind has written for your
Tradition. However, in the past, groups and covens have dissolved out of sheer
boredom. Don’t let this happen to your group. Keep it interesting and keep it
Fun!

Major Rituals And Most Minor Works Should Have A High Point Or Climax Of Some
Sort. Ritual is dramatic vehicle and the intent of the participants is
strengthened by the excitement. The climax of the ritual should coincide with
something goal related to the group, the deity, or the season. If your ritual is
casting a spell, the climax of the ritual is the body of the spell, the rest of
the ritual should revolve around it. At Yule, the climax is the Goddess giving
birth to the new Son/Sun. Everything in ritual should revolve around a
particular theme.

Make Sure That The Words And Gestures Of The Ritual Suit Each Other. For
example, you wouldn’t cast a spell for Universal Love with a sword, or display
fruits or harvest props at a Yule ritual. Choose the correct incense, candle
colors, etc. These are as important as the invocation, which should be
especially designed for the ritual/spell.

Be Able To Recite Your Altar Devotion, Circle Casting, And Quarter Calls In Your
Sleep. Even if you mess up the rest of the ritual/spell or stumble somewhere
else, YOU SHOULD NEVER MAKE A MISTAKE ON THESE.

Try Not To Throw Rituals/Spells Together If You Can Help It. Good planning leads
to a great ritual. However, be prepared for missing people, upsets of various
kinds, missing notes, forgotten lines, etc. Humans are not perfect and errors
will occur. Do not act like it is the end of the world if a glitch nuzzles its
way into the ritual. A good high priest or high priestess can overcome all
difficulties without emotion.

Choose Your Quarter People And Other Players Wisely. Don’t always let the
experienced people do it. Make sure everyone in the group has several chances to
fill these positions. It is the only way they can learn. When you are teaching
someone else, or an entire group, learn when to step back and allow them to
perform, even if it is your favorite thing to do. When Overseeing A
Ritual/Spell, Learn When To Let Your Student Sink Or Swim. Sometimes the only
way you can tell if they are learning is to let them make mistakes. Likewise,
learn when to step in without being a know it all. When Overseeing A
Ritual/Spell, Learn When To Let Your Student Sink Or Swim. When Overseeing A
Ritual/Spell, Learn When To Let Your Student Sink Or Swim.

If You Are Working With A Mixed Group (Yes, Boys and Girls) Try To Keep The
Ritual/Spell In Balance As Much As Possible. However it is okay to design a
ritual/spell where only the three faces of the Goddess, or the three faces of
the God, are the focal point. This will keep your rituals/spells interesting and
refreshing. Just don’t do it all the time.

Do Not Throw Your Degree Around In Rituals. In home rituals (seat of the coven)
do not delineate with unusual garb between degrees and do not relegate them to
special quarters.

When Attending Someone Elses Rituals/Spells Do Not Tell The Host How Bad Their
Ritual/Spell Was. Neither should you give it a rave review, then pick apart the
finer points. This is very bad breeding. They went to a great deal of trouble to
have you as a guest. Don’t consider yourself the most important person there,
because you are not. If you think they did a good job, say so. If you think you
could have done better, thats your business, but do not share this opinion on
your host. If you do, you’ve just put yourself beneath anything they could have
done wrong. If you are attending one of your own students rituals, likewise say
nothing that evening. Later, when the rush is over, you can go over the ritual,
step by step, and work out any bugs.

From 1996 Lwellyn Magical Almanac, by MaraKay Rogers and Silver Ravenwolf, page
200-203

Beliefs and practice Of Wicca

Beliefs and practice Of Wicca

Its is commonly understood that Wiccans worship two deities, the Goddess and the God sometimes known as the Horned God. Some traditions such as the Dianic Wiccans mainly worship the Goddess; the God plays either no role, or a diminished role, in Dianism. Many Gardnerian Wiccans do not claim to be duotheistic, but rather, may practice some form of polytheism, often with particular reference to the Celtic pantheons; they may also be animists, pantheists, agnostics or indeed any of the other spectacular range of possibilities.

Wiccans celebrate eight main holidays (or Sabbats): four cross-quarter days called Samhain, Beltane (or Beltaine), Imbolc (also called Imbolg, Oimelc, or Candlemas) and Lammas (or Lughnasadh), as well as the solstices, Litha and Yule, and equinoxes, Ostara (or Eostar or Eostre) and Mabon (see Wheel of the Year). They also hold Esbats, which are rituals held at the full and new moon.

Generally, the names are of ancient Germanic or Celtic holidays held around the same time, although two do not have any historical precedent. Ritual observations may include mixtures of those holidays as well as others celebrated at the same time in other cultures; there are several ways to celebrate the holidays.

Some Wiccans join groups called covens, though others work alone and are called “solitaries”. Some solitaries do, however, attend “gatherings” and other community events, but reserve their spiritual practices (Sabbats, Esbats, spell-casting, worship, magical work, etc.) for when they are alone. Some Wiccans work with a community without being part of a coven.Many beliefs hold that the ideal number of members for a coven is thirteen. When a coven grows beyond their ideal number of members, they often split into multiple covens, yet remain together as a group. A grouping of multiple covens is known as a grove.Wiccans weddings can be called “bondings”, “joinings”, or “eclipses” but are most commonly called “handfastings”.

Some Wiccans observe an ancient Celtic practice of a trial marriage for a year and a day, which some Traditions hold should be contracted on Lammas (Lughnasadh), although this is far from universal. When someone is being initiated into a coven, it is also traditional to study with the coven for a year and a day before their actual initiation into to the religion, and some Solitary Wicca choose to study for a year and a day before dedicating themselves to the religion.

A much sensationalized aspect of Wicca, particularly in Gardnerian Wicca, is that some Wiccans practice skyclad (naked). Though many Wiccans do this, many others do not. Some Wiccans wear a pure cotton robe, to symbolise bodily purity, and a cord, to symbolise interdependence and which is often used during rituals.

Others wear normal clothes or whatever they think is appropriate. Robes and even Renaissance-Faire-type clothing are not uncommon.In usual rites the Wiccans assemble inside a magic circle, which is drawn out in a ritual manner followed by a cleansing and then blessing of the space. Prayers to the God and Goddess are said, and spells are sometimes worked. Traditionally, the circle is followed by a meal. Before entering the circle, some Traditions fast for the day, and have a thorough wash.

Many Wiccans use a special set of altar tools in their rituals; these can include a broom (besom), cauldron, Chalice (goblet), wand, Book of Shadows, altar cloth, athame (personal knife), altar knife, boline, candles, and/or incense. Representations of the God/Goddess are often also used, which may be direct, representative, or abstract. The tools themselves are just that–tools, and have no innate powers of their own, though they are usually dedicated or charged with a particular purpose, and used only in that context. It is considered rude to touch another’s tools without permission.

There are different thoughts in Wicca regarding the Elements. Some hold to the earlier Greek conception of the classical elements (air, fire, water, earth), while others recognize five elements: earth, air, water, fire, and spirit (akasha). It has been claimed that the points of the frequently worn pentagram symbol, the five pointed star, symbolise five elements.

The pentacle (a pentagram (five-pointed star) inside of a circle) is most often shown with its point facing upward. Alexandrian Wicca believe that the upper point represents spirit, and the four remaining points symbolise earth, air, fire, and water. This symbolism has slowly worked itself into other traditions such as Solitary Wicca and Seax-Wica, but most Gardnarian Wicca will deny that the points of the pentagram or pentacle actually represent anything at all.

Some people believe that the top point of the pentacle was chosen to represent the spirit as it is often recognized as being more important than the four elements. When, in Satanism for example, the pentacle is usually inverted, the point representing spirit faces downward, and it is often taken that this symbolises that it is less important than physical things.

Another much less common view on the symbolism of the pentacle is that the upright pentacle is a protective charm which protects its wearer through passive energies, such as good will or pleasing emotions, and that the inverted pentacle protects its wearer using aggressive energies, such as curses or angry emotions.

In either case, these are the elements of nature that symbolize different places, emotions, objects, and natural energies and forces. For instance, crystals and stones are objects of the element earth, and seashells are objects of the water element. Each of the four cardinal elements, air, fire, water and earth, are commonly assigned a direction and a color. The following list is not true for all traditions, or branches of Wicca:

  • Air: east, yellow
  • Fire: south, red
  • Water: west, blue
  • Earth: north, green

Elemental, directional correspondences, and colors may vary between traditions. It is common in the southern hemisphere, for instance, to associate the element fire with north (the direction of the equator) and earth with south (the direction of the nearest polar area.) Some Wiccan groups also modify the religious calendar to reflect local seasonal changes; for instance, in Australia Samhain might be celebrated on April 30th, and Beltane on October 31st to reflect the southern hemisphere’s autumn and spring seasons.