Correspondences for Sacred Plants of the Winter Solstice

Sacred plants of the Winter Solstice

by Selena Fox

HOLLY

Symbolizing: Old Solar Year; Waning Sun; Protection; Good Luck

Forms: boughs over portals, wreaths

Divinities: Holly King; Old Nick; Saturn; Bacchus; Wood Spirits; Holly Boys

Traditions: Roman, Celtic, English, Christian

 

 

MISTLETOE

Symbolizing: Peace, Prosperity, Healing, Wellness, Fertility, Rest, Protection

Forms: boughs, amulet sprigs above doorways, kissing balls

Divinities: Oak Spirit; Frigga and Balder

Traditions: Celtic, Teutonic

 

 

IVY

Symbolizing: Fidelity, Protection, Healing, Marriage, Victory, Honor, Good Luck

Forms: crowns, wreaths, garlands

Divinities: Dionysius; Bacchus; Great Goddess; Ivy Girls

Traditions: Greek, Roman, English, Christian

 

 

FRANKINCENSE

Symbolizing: Sun, Purification, Consecration, Protection, Spiritual Illumination

Forms: incense, oils

Divinities: Sun Gods, Ra at Dawn, Bel

Traditions: Babalyonian, Assyrian, Egyptian, Jewish, Greek, Roman, Christian

 

 

MYRRH

Symbolizing: Healing, Death and Afterlife, Purification, Inner Peace

Forms: incense, oils

Divinities: Isis, Ra at Midday

Traditions: Egyptian, Jewish, Christian

 

 

WHEAT

Symbolizing: Sustenance, Abundance, Fertility, Good Luck

Forms: grain, straw figures and symbols, cookies, cakes, breads

Divinities: Earth Goddesses; Saturn & Ops; Goat Spirit; Fairy Folk

Traditions: Roman, Celtic, Scots, Teutonic, Sweedish, Christian

Meeting Dionysus

Meeting Dionysus

by NightOwl

 

“Take a deep, slow breath, and as you exhale, allow yourself to begin to relax.” Sitting on the floor, I began the meditation hoping to meet Dionysus, the god I am dedicated to.

I was leading the meditation that night, for the rest of my circle. I believed I would not go as deeply into trance as I would if someone else were speaking, so I did not really expect to be very successful in meeting my god.

Still, as I began to speak, I found myself drifting deeper and deeper into an altered state of consciousness. Even if I did not meet Dionysus, I felt certain that some teacher or guide would appear for me and reveal something of importance for my life.

The goddess in all her many forms has always been present for me in every aspect of life. A few times a teacher who appeared male has manifested in meditations, but I had not really thought very much about the gods, or about following a god, until I was dedicated to a coven and had to choose one.

My High Priestess suggested Dionysus when I asked for her advice, because of who she knows me to be, and I agreed, but continued to be much more focused on the goddesses and what they were teaching me.

When I am responsible for leading a pathworking (meditation ritual), I seldom expect to fully participate, so I was pleasantly surprised to find myself walking upon a path winding through a beautiful meadow. Birds were singing, insects made small buzzes and chirps. The mingled scents of wildflowers in bloom and other plants flooded my senses. The peace and beauty of the natural world filled me with joy as I walked toward the hill ahead.

Occasionally opening my eyes a tiny slit to check on those following my voice, I was pleased that everyone else appeared relaxed and deep in trance.

The path became steeper as I climbed and I instructed everyone to open their hearts to the one waiting ahead, focusing intention on asking him to appear and advise. A twinge of anxiety made me shiver. The thought intruded that I was being foolish, I was making this all up, that even if everyone else in the group met their god, I would not be worthy to do so.

With the next breath I let go of the tension and fear from those thoughts, remembering that what I do not know is much greater than what I do know, so I was opening my heart in trust and love toward the god awaiting me. Creating a state of pleasant anticipation for whatever lay ahead, I continued to climb the path and mentally call for Dionysus to appear and instruct me.

Finally the path became level. A giant boulder rested directly ahead, and the path circled to the right around it. Seeing it, I described it out loud and said, “When you walk around this huge rock, you will meet your god. Allow yourself to feel happy that you are going to meet him and have this opportunity to learn something important.”

Again fear and doubt vibrated through me, again I began breathing deeply, relaxing my body, and affirming my willingness to be present to whomever or whatever appeared. Much to my surprise, when I walked around the rock, Dionysus stood there smiling at me.

Gasping with shock and joy, I paused for a moment and then slowly moved nearer. I always slow way down when approaching a sacred one, as I am not really sure just how to behave. I definitely try to avoid doing anything that might be annoying to a god. Many years ago when I rushed up to a group of them, demanding answers to questions which were driving me crazy at the time, I was swatted really hard energetically. I hope never to annoy a god again.

Dionysus is so beautiful! He appeared as a young man about 25-30, dressed in a loose fitting toga-like white robe. When he looked into my eyes and smiled, it took my breath away and I staggered from the impact of his energy.

“Thank you for coming here and allowing me to see you,” was all I could manage to think of to say. I somehow remembered to speak out loud to remind everyone to ask their god if he had a gift or advice for them, and mentally asked the same of Dionysus. He smiled more, and as I approached closer, held out a bottle of wine and a loaf of bread, inviting me to eat and drink with him. I accepted the bread but, with much fear said, “I no longer drink alcohol, will you still accept me?”

He laughed and changed the wine to fruit juice, took a drink and offered it to me. I drank some, and ate some bread, while never taking my eyes away from his. He reached out and began caressing my face, my breasts, and then rubbing and stroking my whole body. Again I was finding it difficult to breath.

I reached out to caress him in return as he began changing from a young, slim muscular man to one who was older, fatter, and whose smile became a friendly leer as he rubbed his aroused body against mine. In the next moment, he transformed to another male, and then another, continuing to fondle me and bathe me in his extraordinary energy and passion.

By this time I was almost panting with arousal myself, while observing his changing form with amazement. My own arousal gave me the courage to talk, and I said, “I really like this, and I am honored by your attention, but I wonder if I am not just making this all up to justify my behavior in life. You know, it’s not that I’m a slut, I’m a follower of Dionysus?”

At this he laughed out loud, gently hugged me, and stared so deeply into my eyes that I almost fainted, saying, “You are acting exactly how I wish my priestesses to behave, don’t be afraid,” and laughed again.

Stepping back away from me, he smiled again and held out a pinkish heart-shaped stone, saying, “Here, take this and always remember that sexual ecstasy helps people open their hearts to each other and to the deeper mysteries of life. Sex is one of the greatest creations. It enables two to join and create a third which carries their energy into the future. Ecstasy and celebration make life worth living because they open humans up to the joyous energy of the universe, of creation. Never be afraid to love, or to express that love with another.” Then his form began to slowly fade and disappear.

I turned and walked back around the rock, down the path I had earlier climbed, my mind trying to contain and sort the vastness of what he had shown me. My body was almost in a state of shock from the intensity of his energy. Fortunately I was only walking in my altered state and my body was physically sitting on the floor. I doubt I would have been able to have had this experience standing without falling down. It took a few minutes to return to a more ordinary state of consciousness, but I was able to remember to instruct the others to do so too.

Each of us in the group took a turn in describing what had happened to them, and everyone else had also had an equally powerful experience.

This encounter with the god made me want to know more about him and, I learned that he was Bacchus to the Romans, Lusios the Releaser, and Zagreus – son of Zeus and Persephone who was killed by the Titans and eaten. Athene saved his heart, which was swallowed by Semele, another lover of Zeus, and conceived anew. Hera convinced Semele to trick Zeus into revealing himself in his full glory, which burned Semele to ashes. Zeus rescued Dionysus from her ashes, stitched the unborn babe into his thigh until he was able to be born again, so he is sometimes called twice-born, and Zeus then gave him to the nymphs to raise.

When grown he became the god of all altered states, including drunkenness, religious ecstasy, and celebrations of music, dancing, theater and lustful excess. His male followers were the satyrs, half man and half goat with a horse’s tail, and his female followers were the maenads (mad women). His followers often carry a staff with a pine cone on the end, called a thyrsus, sometimes twined with grape or ivy vines.

The experience I had in this ritual meditation has continued to reverberate through my life and I am deeply honored to express the energy of Dionysus into the world.

The Sacred Herbs Of The Gods

The Sacred Herbs Of The Gods:

Adonis: myrrh, corn, rose, fennel, lettuce, white heather

Aesculapius: bay, mustard

Ajax: delphinium

Anu: tamarisk

Apollo:  leek, hyacinth, heliotrope, cornel, bay, frankincense, date palm,

cypress

Attis: pine, almond

Ares: buttercup

Bacchus: grape, ivy, fig, beech, tamarisk

Baldur: St. John’s wort, daisy

Bran: alder, all grains

Cupid: cypress, sugar, white violet, red rose

Dagda: oak

Dianus: fig

Dionysus: fig, apple, ivy, grape, pine, corn, pomegranate, toadstools, mushrooms, fennel, all wild and cultivated trees

Dis: cypress

Ea: cedar

Eros: red rose

Gwydion: ash

Helios: oak

Horus: horehound, lotus, persea

Hypnos: poppy

Jove: pine, cassia, houseleek, carnation, cypress

Jupiter: aloe, agrimony, sage, oak, mullein, acorn,  beech, cypress, houseleek, date palm, violet, gorse, ox-eye daisy, vervain

Kernunnos: heliotrope, bay, sunflower, oak, orange

Kanaloa: banana

Mars: ash, aloe, dogwood, buttercup, witch grass, vervain

Mercury: cinnamon, mulberry, hazel, willow

Mithras: cypress, violet

Neptune: ash, bladderwrack, all seaweeds

Odin: mistletoe, elm, yew, oak

Osiris: acacia, grape, ivy, tamarisk, cedar, clover, date palm, all grains

Pan: fig, pine, reed, oak, fern, all meadow flowers

Pluto: cypress, mint, pomegranate

Poseidon: pine, ash, fig, bladderwrack, all seaweeds

Prometheus: fennel

Ra: acacia, frankincense, myrrh, olive

Saturn: fig, blackberry

Sylvanus: pine

Tammuz: wheat, pomegranate, all grains

Thoth: almond

Thor: thistle, houseleek, vervain, hazel, ash, birch, rowen, oak, pomegranate, burdock, beech

Uranus: ash

Woden: ash

Zeus: oak, olive, pine, aloe, parsley, sage, wheat, fig

 

As the Craft, we will take only that which we need from the green and growing things of the Earth, never failing to attune with the plant before harvesting, nor failing to leave a token of gratitude and respect.

The Sacred Herbs Of The Gods

Adonis: myrrh, corn, rose, fennel, lettuce, white heather
Aesculapius: bay, mustard
Ajax: delphinium
Anu: tamarisk
Apollo:  leek, hyacinth, heliotrope, cornel, bay, frankincense, date palm, 
cypress
Attis: pine, almond
Ares: buttercup
Bacchus: grape, ivy, fig, beech, tamarisk
Baldur: St. John's wort, daisy
Bran: alder, all grains
Cupid: cypress, sugar, white violet, red rose
Dagda: oak
Dianus: fig
Dionysus: fig, apple, ivy, grape, pine, corn, pomegranate, toadstools, 
mushrooms, fennel, all wild and cultivated trees
Dis: cypress
Ea: cedar
Eros: red rose
Gwydion: ash
Helios: oak
Horus: horehound, lotus, persea
Hypnos: poppy
Jove: pine, cassia, houseleek, carnation, cypress
Jupiter: aloe, agrimony, sage, oak, mullein, acorn,  beech, cypress, houseleek, 
date palm, violet, gorse, ox-eye daisy, vervain
Kernunnos: heliotrope, bay, sunflower, oak, orange
Kanaloa: banana
Mars: ash, aloe, dogwood, buttercup, witch grass, vervain
Mercury: cinnamon, mulberry, hazel, willow
Mithras: cypress, violet
Neptune: ash, bladderwrack, all seaweeds
Odin: mistletoe, elm, yew, oak
Osiris: acacia, grape, ivy, tamarisk, cedar, clover, date palm, all grains
Pan: fig, pine, reed, oak, fern, all meadow flowers
Pluto: cypress, mint, pomegranate
Poseidon: pine, ash, fig, bladderwrack, all seaweeds
Prometheus: fennel
Ra: acacia, frankincense, myrrh, olive
Saturn: fig, blackberry
Sylvanus: pine
Tammuz: wheat, pomegranate, all grains
Thoth: almond
Thor: thistle, houseleek, vervain, hazel, ash, birch, rowen, oak, pomegranate, 
burdock, beech
Uranus: ash
Woden: ash
Zeus: oak, olive, pine, aloe, parsley, sage, wheat, fig

As the Craft, we will take only that which we need from the green and growing 
things of the Earth, never failing to attune with the plant before harvesting, 
nor failing to leave a token of gratitude and respect.

Calendar of the Moon for February 14th

Calendar of the Moon
14 Luis/Gamelion

Lenaia Day III

Colors: Purple and green
Element: Water
Altar: A large post is set up behind the altar, draped in robes of purple and green, with a mask of Dionysus upon it, and arms raised upwards made of grapevine and fruit tree branches. The altar is draped in purple and green, and upon it set two purple candles, a wreath of grapevines, two jugs of wine (one white and one red), and a chalice.
Offerings: Dancing. Drumming. Music. Transforming dreams into reality.
Daily Meal: Wine. Goat or lamb. Lentils. Grape leaves. Greek food if possible.

Lenaia Invocation I

Hail, son of Semele! Iakkhos, Giver of Wealth!
Not only wealth of body and thought,
But wealth of spirit as well,
Numinous in sacrifice,
One whose mysteries
Cannot fully be spoken,
One who we can only truly know
Through the way of unknowing,
We ask for fertility of soul
Not merely for us, but for
The whole world of humanity.
We dance for the soul’s creation
And re-creation, again and again,
You who understand the cycle
And know that all endings
Are simply beginnings.
From our souls down through our bodies,
From our bodies into your Soul,
From your Soul into the Earth,
We give you our open eyes
That you may fill them with vision.

(Instead of a particular chant, a drum circle is formed and all dance for at least an hour. Any appropriate chant may be used. After the drum circle is closed, the red wine is passed around and shared, with the worker saying, “Behold the blood of Iakkhos.” The remainder is poured out as a libation. Then the white wine is passed around and shared, with the worker saying, “Behold the dreams of Iakkhos.” The remainder is poured out as a libation.)

Calendar of the Moon for February 13th

Calendar of the Moon
13 Luis/Gamelion

Lenaia Day II

Colors: Purple and green
Element: Water
Altar: A large post is set up behind the altar, draped in robes of purple and green, with a mask of Dionysus upon it, and arms raised upwards made of grapevine and fruit tree branches. The altar is draped in purple and green, and upon it set two purple candles, a wreath of grapevines, two jugs of wine (one white and one red), and a chalice.
Offerings: Dancing. Drumming. Music. Transforming dreams into reality.
Daily Meal: Wine. Goat or lamb. Lentils. Grape leaves. Greek food if possible.

Lenaia Invocation II

Son of Semele! Iakkhos, Giver of Wealth!
Not only wealth of the land,
But wealth of thought,
Creativity of the mind,
Spun out of enchantment
Woven of fascination
Cut through with ecstasy
And the fine threads of madness.
The earth sleeps outside,
But our spirits never sleep,
And always they thirst for your
Inspiration and growth,
Sprouting new thoughts
From the fertile field of nonsense
That we did not expect
And will greet with amazement.
We dance for fertility of mind!
From your body into the Earth,
From the Earth into our feet,
From our feet up through our heads,
You give us your intoxication
And we return it three times over.

(Instead of a particular chant, a drum circle is formed and all dance for at least an hour. Any appropriate chant may be used. After the drum circle is closed, the red wine is passed around and shared, with the worker saying, “Behold the blood of Iakkhos.” The remainder is poured out as a libation. Then the white wine is passed around and shared, with the worker saying, “Behold the dreams of Iakkhos.” The remainder is poured out as a libation.)

Calendar of the Moon for Sunday, Feb. 12th

Calendar of the Moon
12 Luis/Gamelion

Lenaia Day I

Colors: Purple and green
Element: Water
Altar: A large post is set up behind the altar, draped in robes of purple and green, with a mask of Dionysus upon it, and arms raised upwards made of grapevine and fruit tree branches. The altar is draped in purple and green, and upon it set two purple candles, a wreath of grapevines, two jugs of wine (one white and one red), and a chalice.
Offerings: Dancing. Drumming. Music. Transforming dreams into reality.
Daily Meal: Wine. Goat or lamb. Lentils. Grape leaves. Greek food if possible.

Lenaia Invocation I

Son of Semele! Iakkhos, Giver of Wealth!
Not wealth from below the Earth,
But wealth from above it!
Fruit like jewels, wealth of tree and vine!
Tonight your living coffers sleep
In stasis through the winter’s cold.
Yet their roots are anchored firmly
In the frozen soil of life,
And soon they will awake
To draw upon its nourishment.
We sing fertility into your roots!
Our dances prepare the soil
That you may in turn be fed.
From our heads down through our feet,
From our feet into the Earth,
From the Earth into your body,
We give you our life force
That you may one day return it.

(Instead of a particular chant, a drum circle is formed and all dance for at least an hour. Any appropriate chant may be used. After the drum circle is closed, the red wine is passed around and shared, with the worker saying, “Behold the blood of Iakkhos.” The remainder is poured out as a libation. Then the white wine is passed around and shared, with the worker saying, “Behold the dreams of Iakkhos.” The remainder is poured out as a libation.)

Calendar of the Sun for Jan. 26th

Calendar of the Sun
26 Luis/Gamelion

Gamelia: Day of the Sacred Marriage

Colors: Red and green
Elements: Fire and earth
Altar: On cloth of red and green, place a chalice of water or wine, a blade, a red candle and a green one, incense, a wreath of flowers or herbs, and a branch on which are slipped two rings.
Offerings: Do something in partnership with someone else.
Daily Meal: Sweet cakes, breads, and fruit. Two of everything.

Gamelia Invocation

On this day we invoke the sacred marriage
Of the Lady and Lord,
Whether we call them Hera and Zeus,
Jupiter and Juno,
Dagda and Boannan,
Shiva and Parvati,
Ariadne and Dionysus,
Odhinn and Frigga,
Or any other two who joined not only in love
And the bonds of the fiery flesh,
But chose to be bound together
In the sight of their community
And create the keel of the ship
That was anchored by love
And that carried the hopes of many others.
For to be married is to make a commitment,
Whether that marriage is to another soul
Or to the soul of the Divine.
Come forth and show us divine love,
And may we all be in awe
Of its holiness and power.

(The ritual for this day is the Great Rite, performed by one man and one woman. If done symbolically, the man plunges a blade into the chalice held by the woman, and then it is poured as a libation. Ideally, it should be done literally, either by members of the house or by two who have come in for this purpose. If outsiders, it would be an auspicious time to conceive a child. All sit facing outwards in a circle and chant as the couple are wrapped in a red cloth and lay together in the center, and when it is done all repair to their rooms and either contemplate love or have ritual sex, alone or together.)

The Goddess Hestia

The Goddess Hestia

Hestia is one of the three great goddesses of the first Olympian generation, along with Demeter and Hera. She was described as both the oldest and youngest of the three daughters of Rhea and Cronus, sister to three brothers Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades, in that she was the first to be swallowed by Cronus and the last to be disgorged. Originally listed as one of the Twelve Olympians, Hestia gave up her seat in favor of newcomer Dionysus to tend to the sacred fire on Mount Olympus. However, there is no ancient source for this claim. As Karl Kerenyi observes,”there is no story of Hestia’s ever having taken a husband or ever having been removed from her fixed abode.” Every family hearth was her altar. Of the Olympian gods, Hestia has the fewest exploits “since the hearth is immovable, Hestia is unable to take part even in the procession of the gods, let alone the other antics of the Olympians,” Burkert remarks. Sometimes this is assumed to be due to her passive, non-confrontational nature. This nature is illustrated by her giving up her seat in the Olympian twelve to prevent conflict. She is considered to be the first-born of Rhea and Cronus; this is evidenced by the fact that in Greek (and later Roman) culture ritual offerings to all gods began with a small offering to Hestia; the phrase “Hestia comes first” from ancient Greek culture denotes this.

Immediately after their birth, Cronus swallowed Hestia and her siblings except for the last and youngest, Zeus, who later rescued them and led them in a war against Cronus and the other Titans. Hestia, the eldest daughter “became their youngest child, since she was the first to be devoured by their father and the last to be yielded up again”—the clearest possible example of mythic inversion, a paradox that is noted in the Homeric hymn to Aphrodite (ca 700 BC): “She was the first-born child of wily Cronus—and youngest too.”

Poseidon, and Apollo of the younger generation, each aspired to court Hestia, but the goddess was unmoved by Aphrodite’s works and swore on the head of Zeus to retain her virginity. The Homeric hymns, like all early Greek literature, reinforce the supremacy of Zeus, and Hestia’s oath taken upon the head of Zeus is an example of surety. A measure of the goddess’s ancient primacy—”queenly maid…among all mortal men she is chief of the goddesses”, in the words of the Homeric hymn—is that she was owed the first as well as the last sacrifice at every ceremonial assembly of Hellenes, a pious duty related by the mythographers as the gift of Zeus, as if it had been his to bestow: another mythic inversion if, as is likely, the ritual was too deep-seated and essential for the Olympian reordering to overturn. There are theories (by modern neopagans among others) that Hestia, as goddess of “home and hearth”, was one of the most ancient of all gods later worshiped as Olympians; as a maternal goddess of humans finding safety and homes in caves around a fire, worship of Hestia, by other names, may literally be hundreds of thousands of years old and has continued through classical Greek times to the present day.

“The power worshipped in the hearth never fully developed into a person,” Walter Burkert has observed. Hestia evolved into a lesser goddess in the same ranks of Pan and Dionysus, who was incorporated into the Olympian order in Hestia’s place. At Athens “in Plato’s time,” notes Kenneth Dorter “there was a discrepancy in the list of the twelve chief gods, as to whether Hestia or Dionysus was included with the other eleven. The altar to them at the agora, for example, included Hestia, but the east frieze of the Parthenon had Dionysus instead.

EARTH

EARTH
Direction: North.
Rules: The body, growth, nature, sustenance, material gain, money, creativity,
birth, death, silence, chasms, caves, caverns, groves, fields, rocks, standing
stones, mountains, crystal, jewels, metal.
Time: Midnight.
Season: Winter.
Colors: Black, brown, green, white.
Signs of the Zodiac: Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn.
Tools: Pentacle.
Spirits: Gnomes, ruled by King Ghob.
Angel: Gabriel.
Name of the North Wind: Boreas, Ophion.
Sense: Touch.
Jewel: Rock crystal, salt.
Incense: Storax.
Plants: Comfrey, ivy, grains:barley, oats, corn, rice, rye, wheat.
Tree: Oak.
Animals: Coworbull, bison, snakes (earth-dwelling), stag.
Goddesses: Ceres, Demeter, Geae, Mah, Nephthys, Persephone, Prithivi, Rhea,
Rhiannon.
Gods: Adonis, Athos, Arawn, Cernunnos, Dionysus, Marduk, Pan, Tammuz.