Seasons Of The Witch – Ancient Holidays (and some not so ancient!)


The Romans celebrated the festival of Fornax, goddess of ovens, by hanging garlands of flowers on ovens and wreaths on the necks of the mules who turned the mills.

Field, Carol, The Italian Baker


– In ancient Rome, this was the day set aside for a public festival for the hearth goddess Vesta. Women walked barefoot around her round temple with offerings. The Vestal Virgins prepared the ritual food: mola salsa, a cake of salt and the first grain. The water came from vessels that could not be set down without spilling and the salt was pounded in a mortar, baked and sawn. It became a holiday for millers and bakers. Blackburn, Bonnie and Leofranc, Holford-Strevens, The Oxford Book of Days, Oxford University Press, 2000
Monaghan, Patricia, The Book of Goddesses and Heroines, Llewellyn 1981

St Columba*

Day of Colum Cille the beloved
Day to put the loom to use
Day to put sheep to pasture
Day to put coracle on the seas
Day to bear, day to die
Day to make prayer efficacious
Day of my beloved, the Thursday.

This is the luckiest day of the year when it falls on Thursday (alas! This year it falls on Monday). St Columba was one of the most beloved of Celtic saints. The magical herb, St John’s Wort, which flowers around summer solstice, was said to be his favorite herb. He wore it underneath his armpit to ward off all kinds of evil. If find some accidentally and you say this charm when you pick it, you can use it the same way:

Arm-pit package of Columba the kindly
Unsought by me, unlooked for
I shall not be carried away in my sleep
Neither shall I be pierced with iron
Better the reward of its virtues
Than a herd of white cattle.

In Norway, this is considered the day the salmon start leaping.

Blackburn, Bonnie and Leofranc, Holford-Strevens, The Oxford Book of Days, Oxford University Press, 2000
Carmichael, Alexander, Carmina Gadelica, Lindisfarne Press



School of the Seasons

Remember the ancient ways and keep them sacred!




Vesta was the Roman Goddess of the hearth and home (Hestia was her Greek counterpart). Her six Vestal Virgins (virgin in the sense that they belonged to no man – they were “one within”) tended her sacred fire in a round temple in Rome and the Romans offered a prayer to her every day at their own hearths. On March 1st, every year, her priestesses extinguished the fire and relit it. Her worship was connected with fertility and to let her light go out would mean that civilization would also end. On June 9th, the Vestalia was held when her priestesses baked salt cakes and sacrificed them on Vesta’s fire for 8 days, after which the temple was closed, cleaned out and then reopened the next day. She holds an oil lamp from 1st century Pompeii and wears a Roman earring from the 3rd-4th centuries. The statues of Senior Vestal Virgins in the background are from the House of the Vestal Virgins in the Roman Forum (heads and hands restored ). On the wall is a Roman frieze from the College of Vestal Virgins.