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.

About Litha: A Guide to the Symbolism of the Wiccan Sabbat

a guide to the symbolism of the Wiccan Sabbat

by Arwynn MacFeylynnd

Date: June 20-23 (usually, the date of the calendar summer solstice).

Alternative names: Summer Solstice, Midsummer, Midsummer’s Eve, Alban Heruin, Alban Hefin, Gathering Day, Vestalia, La Festa dell’Estate (Summer Fest), the Day of the Green Man.

Primary meanings:  This Sabbat celebrates the abundance and beauty of the Earth. From this day on, the days will wane, growing shorter and shorter until Yule. It is a time to absorb the Sun’s warming rays, and to celebrate the ending of the waxing year and beginning of the waning year in preparation for the harvest to come. Midsummer is another fertility Sabbat, not only for humans, but also for crops and animals. This is a time to celebrate work and leisure, to appreciate children and childlike play and to look internally at the seeds you’ve planted that should be at full bloom. Some people believe that at twilight on this day, the portals between worlds open and the faery folk pass into our world; welcome them on this day to receive their blessings.

Symbols: Fire, the Sun, blades, mistletoe, oak trees, balefires, Sun wheels, summertime flowers (especially sunflowers), summer fruits, seashells and faeries. If you made Sun wheels at Imbolc, display them now prominently, hanging from the ceiling or on trees in your yard. You may want to decorate them with yellow and gold ribbons and summer herbs.

Colors: White, red, maize yellow or golden yellow, green, blue and tan.

Gemstones: All green gemstones, especially emerald and jade, and also tiger’s eye, lapis lazuli and diamond.

Herbs: Chamomile, cinquefoil, copal, elder, fennel, fern, frankincense, galangal, heliotrope, hemp, larkspur, laurel, lavender, lemon, mistletoe, mugwort, oak, pine, roses, saffron, St. John’s wort, sandalwood, thyme, verbena, wisteria and ylang-ylang. Herbs gathered on this day are said to be extremely powerful.

Gods and goddesses: All father gods and mother goddesses, pregnant goddesses and Sun deities. Particular emphasis might be placed on the goddesses Aphrodite, Astarte, Freya, Hathor, Ishtar and Venus and other goddesses who preside over love, passion and beauty. Other Litha deities include the goddesses Athena, Artemis, Dana, Kali, Isis and Juno and the gods Apollo, Ares, Dagda, Gwydion, Helios, Llew, Oak/Holly King, Lugh, Ra, Sol, Zeus, Prometheus and Thor.

Customs and myths: One way to express the cycle of the Earth’s fertility that has persisted from early pagan to modern times is the myth of the Oak King and the Holly King, gods respectively of the Waxing and Waning Year. The Oak King rules from Midwinter to Midsummer, the period of fertility, expansion and growth, and the Holly King reigns from Midsummer to Midwinter, the period of harvest, withdrawal and wisdom. They are light and dark twins, each being the other’s alternate self, thus being one. Each represents a necessary phase in the natural rhythm; therefore, both are good. At the two changeover points, they symbolically meet in combat. The incoming twin — the Oak King at Midwinter, the Holly King at Midsummer — “slays” the outgoing one. But the defeated twin is not considered dead — he has merely withdrawn during the six months of his brother’s rule.

On Midsummer Night, it is said that field and forest elves, sprites and faeries abound in great numbers, making this a great time to commune with them. Litha is considered a time of great magickal power, one of the best times to perform magicks of all kinds. Especially effective magick and spells now include those for love, healing and prosperity. Wreaths can be made for your door with yellow feathers for prosperity and red feathers for sexuality, intertwined and tied together with ivy. This is also a very good time to perform blessings and protection spells for pets or other animals.

Nurturing and love are key actions related to Midsummer. Litha is a good time to perform a ceremony of self-dedication or rededication to your spiritual path as a part of your Sabbat celebration. Ritual actions for Litha include placing a flower-ringed cauldron upon your altar, gathering and drying herbs, plunging the sword (or athamé) into the cauldron and leaping the balefire (bonfire) for purification and renewed energy. Considered taboo on this holiday are giving away fire, sleeping away from home and neglecting animals.

About Litha

a guide to the Sabbat’s symbolism

by Arwynn MacFeylynnd

Date: June 20-23 (usually, the date of the calendar Summer Solstice).

Alternative names:                 Summer Solstice, Midsummer, Midsummer’s Eve, Alban Heruin, Alban Hefin, Gathering Day, Vestalia, La Festa dell’Estate (Summer Fest), the Day of the Green Man.

Primary meanings:                  This Sabbat celebrates the abundance and beauty of the Earth. From this day on, the days will wane, growing shorter and shorter until Yule. It is a time to absorb the Sun’s warming rays, and to celebrate the ending of the waxing year and beginning of the waning year in preparation for the harvest to come. Midsummer is another fertility sabbat, not only for humans, but also for crops and animals. This is a time to celebrate work and leisure, to appreciate children and childlike play and to look internally at the seeds you’ve planted that should be at full bloom. Some people believe that at twilight on this day, the portals between worlds open and the faery folk pass into our world. Welcome them to receive their blessings.

Symbols: Fire, the Sun, blades, mistletoe, oak trees, balefires, Sun wheels, summertime flowers (especially sunflowers), summer fruits, seashells and faeries. If you made Sun wheels at Imbolc, display them now prominently, hanging from the ceiling or on trees in your yard. You may want to decorate them with yellow and gold ribbons and summer herbs.

Colors: White, red, maize yellow or golden yellow, green, blue and tan.

Gemstones: All green gemstones, especially emerald and jade, and also tiger’s eye, lapis lazuli and diamond.

Herbs: Chamomile, cinquefoil, copal, elder, fennel, fern, frankincense, galangal, heliotrope, hemp, larkspur, laurel, lavender, lemon, mistletoe, mugwort, oak, pine, roses, saffron, St. John’s wort, sandalwood, thyme, verbena, wisteria and ylang-ylang. Herbs gathered on this day are said to be extremely powerful.

Gods and goddesses: All father gods and mother goddesses, pregnant goddesses and sun deities. Particular emphasis might be placed on the goddesses Aphrodite, Astarte, Freya, Hathor, Ishtar and Venus and other goddesses who preside over love, passion and beauty. Other Litha deities include the goddesses Athena, Artemis, Dana, Kali, Isis and Juno and the gods Apollo, Ares, Dagda, Gwydion, Helios, Llew, Oak/Holly King, Lugh, Ra, Sol, Zeus, Prometheus and Thor.

Customs and myths: One way to express the cycle of the Earth’s fertility that has persisted from early pagan to modern times is the myth of the Oak King and the Holly King, gods respectively of the waxing and waning year. The Oak King rules from Midwinter to Midsummer, the period of fertility, expansion and growth, and the Holly King reigns from Midsummer to Midwinter, the period of harvest, withdrawal and wisdom. They are light and dark twins, each being the other’s alternate self, thus being one. Each represents a necessary phase in the natural rhythm; therefore, both are good. At the two changeover points, they symbolically meet in combat. The incoming twin — the Oak King at Midwinter, the Holly King at Midsummer — “slays” the outgoing one. But the defeated twin is not considered dead — he has merely withdrawn during the six months of his brother’s rule.

On Midsummer Night, it is said that field and forest elves, sprites and faeries abound in great numbers, making this a great time to commune with them. Litha is considered a time of great magickal power, one of the best times to perform magicks of all kinds. Spells and magick for love, healing and prosperity are especially effective now. Wreaths can be made for your door with yellow feathers for prosperity and red feathers for sexuality, intertwined and tied together with ivy. This is also a very good time to perform blessings and protection spells for pets or other animals.

Nurturing and love are key actions related to Midsummer. Litha is a good time to perform a ceremony of self-dedication or rededication to your spiritual path as a part of your sabbat celebration. Ritual actions for Litha include placing a flower-ringed cauldron on your altar, gathering and drying herbs, plunging the sword (or athamé) into the cauldron and leaping the balefire (bonfire) for purification and renewed energy. Giving away fire, sleeping away from home and neglecting animals are considered taboo on this holiday.

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.

Walking The Path As A Public Witch

Walking The Path As A Public Witch

Author: Medea

I am a ‘public Witch’. The phrase means different things to different people but generally it means I am one who has come ‘out of the broom closet’. That has come to mean different things to me as the years have gone by.

I never was really in the ‘broom closet’. From the time I was introduced to The Craft by way of The Tarot at age eighteen, I was very open about it. Sometimes the openness was just for ‘shock value’. Sometimes it was just to be ‘different’. More often than not my openness was just a part of my personality. Like a puppy, I gleefully and playfully was just ‘me’ all over the place.

Now, at the age of forty-seven (can I really be that old?) and High Priestess in my tradition, I am still open about it, yet in very different ways. I rarely go for ‘shock value’ anymore (there are, however, those occasions when I cannot seem to help myself) . I have been a professional Nurse for twenty plus years and have learned in some instances the less said, the better. This learned, of course, the hard way. In many, many areas of my life I am much more tolerant and not so quick to take offense. I cannot attribute this to age or wisdom, as in many ways I am very immature and like it that way. It is a by-product of the path in which I have chosen to walk. One of the many, many gifts I receive.

I no longer feel the need to flash a Pentacle ring or necklace every chance I get. Most jewelry associated with the Craft and my religion are worn in private or under my clothes, close to my heart, as they should be. Yet, if I choose to wear such things in public (or forget to take them off) I make no effort to hide them, give no explanations, and make no apologies. My car is no longer adorned with bumper stickers proclaiming me ‘Witch’ or ‘Happy Heathen’. I didn’t take them off, but simply quit feeling the need to replace them each time I had to replace a vehicle. Yet I would not refrain from putting one on my bumper if it caught my fancy.

These days when I find it necessary or appropriate to speak of the Divine in general company I am as apt to say ‘God’ as ‘Goddess’ or ‘The Gods’. I have seen that getting caught up in nomenclature or schematics lessons somehow the sacredness of what one speaks of. If I am asked what Church I go to (a common question here in the South) I tell them. I don’t use flowery or holier- than -thou phrases such as ‘Nature is my Church’.

I say I am Pagan, if need be I say I am ‘Witch’, but more than that, I say I am a person of faith. And in some eyes I see the flash of recognition and in others I see distrust and incomprehension. These things no longer bother me. I am not meant to crusade. Neither am I, or my life, meant to be perfect. I can lapse in my old ways from time to time without being ‘lost’. I can make mistakes.

These days my Pentacle hangs on the lamppost in my yard. It hangs there for protection of my home and property as well as a nod to The Craft. It matters not who sees it and who does not. My home is Pagan and I call it a Temple House. It is where our rituals are mostly held. Where our classes are held. Where I sit and work on my computer on things that are important to the Temple. It is filled with altars which range from very simple to elaborate. Like all things, they change as they should, and I understand one does not need the trappings of religion to walk one’s faith. The house is lived in. It is welcoming to The Gods and Spirits I call, to my blood family and my Temple family and to visitors who come and go. It is meant to be welcoming to visitors of all faith and I believe for the most part it is. It is a work in progress, like the Temple itself. Like all things which grow and change. Like me.

I returned to the place I was born and raised after a twenty-year hiatus. It is a rural area in the Wilds of Tennessee, deep in the Bible Belt. It is a wonderful and beautiful place and the people are wonderful and beautiful too. Yet suspicions and prejudices linger along side traditions that smack of the Old Religion. I am known as a Witch and there is no mistake I am ‘the Real Thing’. At first I was humored, seen as a local girl who went ‘Out West’ and got some very strange ideas. There is often surprise when it is learned I was first introduced to the Craft in good ol’ Nashville, Tennessee. But here in the Wilds, Nashville, too, is a long way and there are many strange ideas to be found there. Maybe not as strange as ‘Out West’, but still strange.

When the realization came that this is not a passing fad for me, and that not only did I practice what I believed but ‘preached’ what I practiced the attitudes began to change. Family members and childhood friends, some I loved dearly and had missed for a long time, began to avoid me. Their attempts to ‘save my soul’ fell on deaf ears, and I took offense to being prayed for in Churches that I would ‘find my way and be saved’. They could not convert me, could not understand when I asked ‘saved from what?’ or said ‘I’m already saved’. And so I became a lost cause and to some a threat. There is no brand of persecution as scorching as that of those we know and love. My invitations to my home were unanswered by some. It became clear there were homes in which I was no longer welcome.

The Goddess does not demand sacrifice though at times it may seem so. I eventually came to understand that in order to have the things I found important in my life there were some things that by nature had to go. There is always grief, but as all things it passes and is, if not understood, accepted.

There were those who came and went. And there are those who stayed. Rituals of one became rituals of two and then three and then as many as fifteen at any given time. Others want card readings or advice or a little magick to ‘help out a situation’. Sometimes they are open about it and do not care who knows or what is thought of their association with me. Sometimes they come on the sly. I have learned to recognize those who come for a reason, such as the Goddess may have, and those who want what I can give and firmly believe me to be going to a Christian hell. There are those who do not care what becomes of me, but care about what it is I can do. Sometimes I still grow angry, usually out of hurt from the fall of one who I may have at some point respected. Mostly I do what I feel to be right and it has become very easy.

Inevitably the question will come from somewhere: ‘How did you get into that?’ that, of course, being Paganism or Witchcraft and sometimes thinly veiled ‘in league with The Devil’. I no longer feel the need to explain how Christianity never ‘felt right’ for me, implying of course I was somehow superior to that particular belief. These days I usually shrug and say ‘Like anyone of faith, I was called to it.’ This leaves little to argue about.

In my tradition today we celebrate Lenaia at the time of Imbolc, yet like so many things, the lines are blurred and the messages are the same. This Imbolc season I find myself taking stock and reflecting on many things about my life and the Path I walk. They, this life and this path, have somewhere along the line become one and the same. Perhaps it is the knowledge of having achieved this very thing, without setting out to do so or even hoping that I could, which is causing me to reflect. Perhaps it is my age, and the realization that, though I am not so old, I have most certainly lived longer in this life than I am going to live. It could be the weathering of so many changes over the last several years, some devastating enough to make me question my faith. Having come to terms with myself I have accepted many things I thought I could not. I can do this; accept these things, because at some point I began to trust that my Gods know what they are doing.

In January of 2001, I performed a solitary ritual outside in the yard at the old house my brother and I shared, divorced siblings clinging together in the changes of life. This was many years after I had picked up my first Tarot deck and felt the power of Otherworlds and the promise of mysteries revealed in them. It was cold and the Full Winter Moon rose high in a dark and starless sky. The moon was the color of ecru and its light brightened and dimmed with my incantation and my song. I had felt and witnessed the Power of the presence of the Divine before. I had seen first hand the workings of magick. Yet this was different. It was as if I were tapped on the shoulder. I had the feeling that Someone had finally gotten my attention. She had been waiting patiently for me to notice She wanted my attention. The voice I heard on the Wind, though the night was Windless, was real even though I could not make out the words. It was as if there was one voice, no, a thousand voices, and though the words were unintelligible I knew they said ‘Follow Me’.

I did not call the God and Goddess by name then, a last holdout of my Pentecost upbringing. They were to me The Lord and Lady. Yet I knew there were names, many names, and I would come to know Them. Although I became a Priestess of Hekate, it was Diana, the Huntress Mother, who called to me that night. I now know Her feel and Her smell and I recognize Her voice. When I hear Her name mentioned I see in my mind’s eye the silver disk floating in the Winter Sky. I often thank Her for calling me.

It wasn’t long after that I held my first private Imbolc ritual, as I have ever since, as I will continue to do. The day was sunny, bright, and cold. The kind of day that often depressed me. With stick incense in hand (patchouli because that is all I had) and the instructions from Scott Cunningham’s ‘Wicca’ in my head I picked my way through the thickets behind our rental house. I found a clearing and sat down, my nose running and the frozen ground pressing against my too thin pants for the weather. I meditated in silence, one thing I was only beginning to get good at. I sat there a long while, sometimes registering the sound of small animals in the thickets. Somehow understanding the sounds of the animals were gifts. I then told the Gods the things I have told them many times since:

I am Your daughter and Your lover. I give myself to You in this life and in any others to come. Set my feet upon the path You wish for me. Teach me the things I need to know. Give me the strength to learn them. I honor You and I love You. So Mote it be.

I meant those words the day I said them. And many times after, even as I wondered how hard this life has to get. I mean them now. The Gods listened and they knew I meant them and they have granted me the very things I asked for.

I love this life. It is at times messy and ugly, often chaotic, and on occasion extremely painful. It is equally interesting, comforting, and fun. And so there is balance. And so I am very, very blessed.

I love being Pagan. It is a wonderful thing to know what one’s path is and to be allowed to walk it. The Buddhist say ‘do the dishes for the sake of doing the dishes’. The clean dishes are only a result of doing the dishes correctly and wholeheartedly. Clean dishes are not the goal, doing the task well is the goal, everything else is, well, gravy. They say the same about the journey we call life. The journey is the point, the destination only the result of taking the journey well and wholeheartedly. Take the journey for the sake of taking the journey, walk the path for the sake of walking the path. Every now and then cast your eyes to the top of the mountain for a moment, but only a moment, focus on your goal, reassess your progress, make the proper adjustments, and get back to the task at hand.

In giving true love for the sake of giving true love, I have been given the truest of love. In giving friendship for the sake of giving friendship, I have received friendship. In being faithful for the sake of being faithful, I am given faithfulness. In giving mercy and kindness and justice for the sake of giving mercy and kindness and justice, I have received mercy and kindness and justice far beyond that I ever expected. In teaching the things I know for the sake of teaching the things I know I have been taught. And such fine teachers I have.

I walk the Pagan Path and the Path of the Priestess (and yes, Witch) for many reasons but mainly because it is my journey, what is put before me to do. It is an awesome task, an honor, and a door to many fleeting moments of happiness, which add up to a joyful life when all is said and done. Sometimes this path of mine is walked on nothing but faith because all else seems to elude me. Yet that which eludes me becomes mine if it is meant to be, and though I question and rail against the way, I am committed.

Along the way I catch the most peaceful sunrises, beautiful sunsets, healing breezes, and mighty storms. I am taught humility; I am reprimanded, led gently back when astray, and kicked hard when I need it. I am loved unconditionally and I know this without a doubt. I neither fear Death nor look for it, waiting for the rewards that I think might be my due. My rewards are many, and they are now. I may at times dread the act of dying and wonder if I will be granted a merciful death or if suffering at the end of this life is part of my lesson and task. Yet I trust that I will have what is needed for me and what is in the end the best. And I will not make that journey alone.

Those who have gone before will welcome me. The Gods will guide me and the Lady Hekate will walk with me as She always has. Cunningham pointed out that there is a difference in believing in something and knowing something. Many of the things I thought I believed I have come to know. To know a thing to be true is to accept it without having to understand it. There are many things I do understand and many things I will someday understand. But knowing, that is something that is not given lightly. It cannot be earned or bought; it can only come from walking the journey and walking it with an open heart and a willing soul.

I am one of many who aid this Phoenix we call Paganism to rise. My voice is among the silent ones who roar their presence into this world in this time. Our books and our Temples were burned and like so many things, though the way could have been easier, it had to be. Our Temples stand in our hearts and in our souls, in our country homes, and our suburban yards, in our small apartments in sprawling cities. This wonderful thing we call the Internet weaves us together across many, many miles. We have new books with words from Powerful hearts. We have remnants from the past which survive and which are important yet unimportant and therefore kept in perspective. We have the new and the old in which to learn and to build from. Balance. As it should be.

I am parched with thirst, and perishing,
But drink of me, the ever-flowing spring on the right (where) there is a fair cypress.
Who are you? Where are you from?
I am a child of Earth and starry Heaven, but my race is of Heaven (alone)
— Orphic Lamella from Thessaly

Historical Roots to Modern Practice of Witchcraft

Historical Roots to Modern Practice of Witchcraft


The roots of the religion called Wicca, or Witchcraft, are very old, coming down to us through a variety of channels worldwide. Although any general statement about our practices will have exceptions, the following will attempt to present a basic foundation for understanding. Some of the old practices were lost when indigenous religions encountered militant Christianity and were forced to go underground for survival. The ancient mystery religions were lost when the practice of the rites was stopped and the old oral traditions were no longer available. Parents transmitted their traditions to their children, with parts being lost and new parts created in succeeding generations. These survivals, along with research into the old ways, provide a rich foundation for modern practice. Other factors contributing to the revival of the Craft are archaeological and anthropological studies of the religious practices of non-Christian cultures, the works of the Golden Dawn and other metaphysical orders, and the liberalization of anti-Witchcraft laws.

Modern Witches hold rituals according to the turning of the seasons, the tides of the moon, and personal needs. Most rituals are performed in a ritual space marked by a circle. We do not build church buildings to create this sacred, ritual space — all Earth is sacred and in touch with the Goddess and so any place, indoors or out, may be consecrated for ritual use. Outdoor spaces tend to be used from Ostara to Lammas, indoor spaces from Samhain to Imbolc.

The Wiccan Book of Days for Feb. 3rd – Februa in Februarius

Wiccan Pictures, Images, Comments, Graphics

Februa in Februarius

The transition from January to February heralded the arrival of a major Sabbat, but now that Imbolc has been celebrated, there is time to reflect on the name of the second month of the solar year. “February” is ultimately derived from the Latin word februum, which means “purification” or “purgation” and is linked with the Februa (or Februalia) festival of purification, expiation, and atonement that was held in Rome on February 15. It is thought that both the Roman month of Februarius an Februa, during which sacrifices were made to he dead were dedicated to Febuus, a god of the underworld.

“Many Happy Returns”

On this day, ponder upon the Wiccan threefold law of return, which holds that any magick that you do unto others will rebound three times as strongly upon yourself. Think hard before casting a spiteful spell lest you later have personal cause to rue its consequences.

Imblc – Brigid’s Well Spell

Imbolc – Brigid’s Well Spell

To Heal Or Bring General Good Health

Purpose:  To ease ill-health or bring well-being in the coming year.

Background:  Imbolc is also known as the Feast of Brigid, a well-beloved Irish Goddess renowned as a patron of healing. Many springs and rivers are sacred to her, bearing features of her name, in Brittany, England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, but her strongest association with the healing power of waters is with wells.

In pre-Christian times, people venerated the genii loci, or “spirits of place,” of natural locations that were considered particularly sacred springs and wells, sources of water that came up from the earth, were considered very special, and healing properties, including cures for eye and skin problems, became attributed to many of those associated with Brigid. In this spell, you will be recreating Brigid’s Well in symbol, in the form of a pottery or stone bowl or cup. Since Brigid’s Healing Well is a spiritual symbol, this recreation is just as valid as if you had applied to the spirit of a well in Kildare, in Ireland, or a river in Wales. You may make up to three requests for healing, including one for general good health, as appropriate.

How to cast the Spell

Items You Will Need:

  • Six white candles, 6-8″ in length
  • One stone or pottery cup or bowl
  • Three small beach pebbles
  • One small cup of salt
  • Spring water
  • Matches

Timing:  Cast this spell at Imbolc

Casting the Spell:

  • Place the candles all around the cup.
  • Name each stone as an ailment you wish healed, as appropriate, sprinkling a pinch of salt over each. Breathe onto them, saying:

By my breath.

  • Cover them with your hands, saying:

By my flesh.

  • Place the in the cup, and cover them with water, saying:

By the living waters of Brigid, may health prevail and good reside.

  • Light each candle, saying:

Hail, Lady of Fire.

  • Hold your palms toward the flames and close your eyes, then visualize dark stains on the stones dissolving in the water, rising to the surface to be burned away in the candle flames.
  • Chant the following until you feel the energies in the circle rise:

Earth, water, flame

Work in Her name

Earth, water, fire

Work my desire.

Discharge the energy raised by raising your hands into the air and mentally releasing it.

  • Return the stones to a beach as soon as possible after Imbolc night.
 The Spells Bible
The Definitive Guide to Charms and Enchantments
Ann-Marie Gallagher

Candles and Lights

Candles and Lights

 
Candles (leading to the name, “Candlemas”) are sometimes burned in every window in the house, starting the night of February 1st, until the candles burn themselves out. (If you practice this, be watchful of fire hazards. We use battery-operated candles, and the if the bulbs and batteries are new, the lights remain on all night.)
 
This is yet another time to enjoy outdoor luminaria, as well. That’s when you take bags (lunch bags work fine, and you can cut designs in them), put a couple of inches of sand in the bottom of each bag, and then put a tea candle in each bag. If the bag is on a wooden porch or other flammable surface, make certain to use plenty of sand to insulate. Also check the bags regularly, in
case a stiff wind tilts a bag and the paper goes up in flames.
 
A similar tradition (in older houses where families have lived for generations) is to light a candle, one in the window of each room
where someone has died. One candle for each person who died in that room. Again, the candle is allowed to burn itself out.
 
A related tradition is to make candles the night before the holy day, thentake them to church to be blessed on the feast, and use those candlesthroughout the rest of the year.
 
Snow candles
 
Yet another candle tradition, which we have used with delight, is to collect a bowl of snow. (A white cereal bowl is perfect.) Bring the bowl indoors, place a “floating candle” in the center of the pile of snow and light it. As the snow melts, the candle will remain alight because it floats in the water. This is a very visual symbol for the return of light and heat to the earth, melting the snow.
 
Bride’s Bed
 
There are a variety of traditions related to making a “Bride’s bed” (also called “Brighid’s bed”) with a homemade cradle, an ear of corn, a wand (smaller but related to the coronation wand given to the kings of Ireland), and small tokens of respect and/or adornment. Many books on Celtic traditions give the details of this ritual.
 
St. Brighid’s Cross
 
“St. Brighid’s Cross,” is another tradition. It is a woven cross made from straw, sometimes with a diamond shape woven around the center. (Compare thiswith the Native American “God’s eye” crosses.) In some places, wells and other water sources (such as faucets) are decorated with ivy and early flowers.
 
Blessed clothing
 
Brighid’s healing arts are called upon in yet another delightful tradition.As night falls, place an item of clothing outside, for Brighid to bless as she passes over the earth on Imbolc. In the morning, bring the item indoors, and wear it whenever you need an extra blessing to heal. People with migraines are supposedly helped by this tradition, in particular. (Due to winter winds, it’s
a good idea to tie the item to a tree or fence so it doesn’t blow away during the night.)
 
And, in the morning…
 
In keeping with the milk theme of the holiday, some people pour a small amount of milk onto the soil early on February 2nd morning, as they thank Mother Earth for having fed them for the past year. The dairy theme of the festival also makes it appropriate to enjoy rich dishes and desserts such as cheesecake.
 
As with many holidays, it’s always appropriate to drum or ring in the festival, with a drum, rattle, or bells.
 
This is also a time for housecleaning and preparing for the new growing season. (Some women do a ritual “spring cleaning” of house, or use a cleansing tonic at this time, to mark a fresh start and a new year.)
 
In many ways, New Year’s Eve is somewhat misplaced. We do far better to begin our “resolutions” at Imbolc, which celebrates new beginnings.
 
Written by Fiona Broome http://www.fionabroome.com

The Wicca Book of Days for February 2nd – Imbolc and Candlemas

Book & Candle Comments 

Imbolc and Candlemas

 

The festival of Candlemas has ancient roots, for in Pagan Europe, fires were kindled at this time of year to reflect and encourage the growing strength of the sun. Its name is Christian, however, being derived from the tradition of the future year’s supply of candles being blessed before the first mass of February 2, and then being carried around the church in a pious procession. This is also the feast of the purification of the Virgin Mary and the presentation of the infant Jesus in the Temple; the parallel between the Vrgin Mary an the Goddess in her maiden aspect, and Baby Jesus and the Solar Child of Promise, are unmistakable.

 

 “Candlemas Creativity”

White represents purity, pale green denotes a fresh start and growth and a flame signifies the kindling of creativity. Light candles of these colors to commemorate the concepts symboized by Candlemas. As you gaze at the flaming taper, ask the Goddess for inspiration. 

~Magickal Graphics~