Sunday, July 25, 2010

Lughnasadh Harvest Celebration

Lughnasadh or as the more modern Celtic call the beginning of harvest season, Lá Lúnasa, is on August 1st. We welcome the harvest of grain, vegetables and berry fruit with traditional gatherings, festivals, farmer's markets and activities. This is a time for reunions of family and friends who may arrive in time for handfasting ceremonies.

In Celtic mythology, the Lughnasadh festival began as a funeral feast for the god Lugh. Physically punishing games commemorated his foster-mother, Tailtiu, who died of exhaustion after clearing the plains of Ireland for agriculture. The Áenach Tailteann was a time for contests of strength and skill, and a favored time for contracting marriages and winter lodgings. Peace was mandated at the festival, and the freedom to practice religious celebrations were enjoyed by all.

Traditional Gaelic tend to celebrate Lughnasadh at the time of first fruits, or on the full moon that falls closest to this time. In the Northeastern United States, this is often the time of the blueberry harvest, while in the Pacific Northwest the blackberries are often the festival fruit. Lá Lúnasa thanks the spirits and deities for the beginning of the harvest season, and to propitiate them with offerings and prayers to not harm the still-ripening crops. The god Lugh is honored by many at this time, as he is a deity of storms and lightning, especially the storms of late summer. Gentle rain on the day of the festival is seen as his presence and his bestowing of blessings. Many honor the goddess Tailtiu on this day, and may seek to keep the Cailleachan ("Storm Hags") from ruining the crops.

Lughnasadh or Lammas is one of the eight sabbats in the Wiccan Wheel of the Year. It is the first of the three autumn harvest festivals, besides the Autumn equinox (also called Mabon by Wiccans) and Samhain. Both Beltane and Lughnasadh are best for handfasting. Some Wiccans may bake the figure of the "corn god" in bread, symbolically sacrificing the bread before eating it.

Traditional Foods Apples, Grains, Breads and Berries.

Herbs and Flowers All Grains, Grapes, Heather, Blackberries, Sloe, Crab Apples, Pears.

Incense Aloes, Rose, Sandalwood.

A Sacred Gemstone Carnelian.

Harvest Activities
Many Pagans celebrate the harvest bounty with a shared feast and Celtic games. If you've saved the seeds from the fruits consumed during previous feasts or ritual, now is the time to plant them. When they sprout, plant the tree or shrub with care to symbolize your love for the Lord and Lady. Spend time strolling through forests, fields and orchards, dip your feet into the springs, creeks, rivers, ponds and lakes that nourish the Earth.

Here's a Blessing for Earth, Wind, Fire and Water
Blessed be the Earth for giving birth to this food
Blessed be the Sun for nourishing it
Blessed be the Wind for carrying its seed
Blessed be the Rain for quenching its thirst.
Blessed be the hands that helped to grow this food

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Triple Goddess

The Maiden, the Mother, and the Crone, symbolize the three separate stages in the female life cycle and a phase of the moon. Many Pagans of old and Neopagans are not Wiccan, but worship the "Triple Goddess" of maiden, mother, and crone. This practice goes back to mid-twentieth-century England and beyond. The belief is that, sexuality, pregnancy, breastfeeding — and other female reproductive processes — embody the Goddess, making the female physical body sacred.

The Great Goddess is vital to the health of humankind and stands for unity, cooperation, and participation with all creation, not just a selected few. Whether you choose to believe in the Goddess, her counterpart the Horned God and Paganism in general is a personal thing. The philosophy of a mother and father figure, who care for every living thing without exclusion is comforting to many.

  • The Maiden represents enchantment, inception, expansion, the promise of new beginnings, birth, youth and youthful enthusiasm, represented by the waxing moon.
  • The Mother represents ripeness, fertility, sexuality, fulfillment, stability, power and life represented by the full moon.
  • The Crone represents wisdom, repose, death, and endings represented by the waning moon.
Here are a few Pagan Goddess names, but this list is in no way complete. As you join in your Circles, you've probably invoked many of these Goddesses at one time or another.
Aphrodite, Venus- Greek Goddess of beauty and love
Artemis, Diana - Greek/Roman Goddess virginity, hunt
Astarte - Greek Goddess of war, fertility, and sexuality
Athena - Greek Goddess of wisdom, defensive wars
Bast - (using a cat body) Egyptian solar and war Goddess
Baubo - Greek Goddess of mirth, jests, and bawdy humor
Brighid - Celtic Goddess of poetry, healing, and crafts
Cerridwen - Celtic Goddess of transformation, cauldron, prophecy
Cybele - Greek Earth Mother
Danu - Irish Mother Goddess
Eos - Greek Goddess of the dawn
Ereshkigal - Mesopotamian Goddess of darkness, gloom, death
Flora - Roman Goddess of flowers
Fortuna -Roman Goddess of fortune
Freya or Freyja - Norse Goddess of fertility, sexual liberty, war
Frigg - Norse Goddess of marriage, love, wife of Odin
Gaia, Gaea (Earth Mother) - Goddess of earth, mother of Titans
Hathor - Egyptian Goddess of the Milky Way, childbirth, death.
Hecate - Greek Goddess of witchcraft, magick, harvest moon
Hestia - Greek Goddess of the hearth and domestic life
Hera - Roman Goddess of the Hearth, of women, and of marriage
Inanna - Sumerian Goddess of sexual love, fertility, and warfare
Isis - Egyptian Goddess of nature, magick, creativity, underdog
Ishtar - Mesopotamian Goddess of sexual love, fertility, and war
Juno - Roman Queen of the Gods and Goddess of matrimony
Kore - Greek Maiden Goddess of bountiful Earth
Kuan Yin , Kwan Yin Ma , Quan Yin - Chinese Goddess of mercy
Luna Goddess - Roman Goddess of the Moon
Ma'at - Egyptian Goddess of truth, balance, justice, and order
Mary - Mother Goddess, Queen of Heaven, Goddess of Femininity
Maya - Hindu The Goddess of illusion and mystery
Minerva - Roman Goddess of wisdom and war
Morrigan - Celtic war Goddess
Pele - Hawai'ian volcano Goddess, Destroyer and Creatrix
Persephone - Greek Goddess, Queen of the dead, and grain
Rhiannon - Celtic Goddess of the Moon
Rosmurta - Celtic/Roman Goddess of abundance, business success.
Wisdom - Creatrix
Selene - Greek Goddess of Moon
Sol - Norse Sun Goddess
Sophia - Greek Goddess of wisdom
Tiamat - Mesopotamian dragon Goddess and primordial chaos
Vesta - Roman Goddess of the hearth
Voluptas - Roman Goddess of pleasure

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Mystery of the Cauldron

A Middle Iron Age cauldron, dating from around 200 BC. Only the rim is original and it was found in a ditch at the Iron Age settlement at Blackhorse Road in Letchworth Garden City, Hertfordshire.

Almost every story that came from the ancient roots of European witchcraft, a cauldron was used for brewing potions, casting spells and as a holy vessel to the powers of the Night. The cauldron produces change and transformations, physically, spiritually and mentally. All cauldrons are a powerful symbol of the Great Goddess for her womb and rebirth. The vessel made with bronze, iron or steel, can bestow wisdom, inspiration and knowledge to the witch and coven.

Place a cauldron in the sacred circle and burn items that will be set alight during a ritual. Place water in a cauldron for scrying (a method of divining the future, see article on this website) or it can hold the ingredients necessary for a spell or incantation.

To understand The Mystery Teachings of Wiccans, you must go back to 500-600 A.D. to the Cauldron of Cerridwen. Cerridwen created a potion that was brewed for one year and a day before drinking. (This coincides with the tradition of training a witch by degrees of one year and a day). This brew was poisonous, but when ingested by initiates of Wicca, their bodies would fight the poison and each could retrieve the memories of their ancestors.

Generations ago, Wiccans understood without knowing about DNA, that the memories of our grandparents and far beyond was within our grasp. The elixir conferred Inspiration, like the nine Muses who gave inspiration to humans as early as 800 B.C. By subjecting the human body to intense stress, physical or mental, it was believed that greater psychic powers would be bestowed to the survivors.

Within many of us today, there lies an ancient Pagan with knowledge of the old ways. Some of us search and open ourselves to collect and activate these memories. Those of us who are lucky enough to trace our lineage for generations, or have the family Book of Shadows full of the old knowledge, protect our faith. The cauldron is an integral part of the blood mysteries and Pagan rites with Wiccan's today.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Wishing with Bird Seed

I found this old charming spell on a piece of paper, slipped into my families Book of Shadows. I believe it was written by my great grandmother, it looks like her handwriting. Helping her children and grandchildren to make wishes was one of Roselyn's favorite pastimes. We would gather in the unruly garden during the spring and summer after gathering our necessary implements.

1.  Green paper
2.  Pen or pencil
3.  Glass bowl (small)
4.  Bird Seed

Roselyn believed in making "the good wish", not for profit or fame, but for our family of loved ones. Our wishes were for one another, so I would ask beforehand what my cousins wanted that fit the criteria of a "good wish" and held that in my mind. Each of us chose from a jar, the name of the person we would wish for until the jar was empty. Sometimes I would have two or three names and make separate wishes.

As a sole practitioner, choosing a "good wish" can be for anyone, including yourself. First write the wish on the green paper, then fold the paper three times and place the written wish into the glass bowl. Now cover the paper with bird seed as you visualize what the wish could mean for you or the one you have chosen to receive the "good wish".

Set the bowl outside for the birds in a dry, covered area from the elements and you're wish should come true within two weeks. If you feel the wish needs more power, fill the bowl with bird seed and wait another two weeks. Difficult wishes take time and love, remember to allow for both. Blessed Be.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Spell for Lasting Friendships

When you feel a good friend slipping away from a misunderstanding or your lack of attention, here's a spell to recapture their good friendship.

1.  Put an acorn in your friends hand, create a necklace by gluing the acorn onto a rawhide tie or leave have them carry the acorn in their pocket. The important thing is for the acorn to be on their person, close to them.

My honor to the mighty Oak, I planted your seed
on my dear friend (name), through thought and deed
that our friendship still be heartfelt and strong
Let (name) return to me not take long
Blessed Be,
so mote it be.

This spell must be chanted thrice every day for three days. The longer your friend wears or carries the acorn, the stronger the bond between you will grow.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Casting the Ritual Circle

During a Wiccan ceremony or ritual, with great care, a circle is cast. Some may be as large as two hundred feet or more to accommodate the followers within the microcosm of the physical and spiritual world you've created. As protection and a means to bring the world between the worlds together. Once established, the circle contains both the metaphysical and magickal energies inside the sphere. Celebrants enter and exit the northeast point of the circle, the threshold. The north is the realm of the gods power, east is a realm of enlightenment. This is now the sacred womb of the mother goddess.

1.  Mark the circle out with lines in the dirt, sand or wherever you've decided to hold the ritual.
2.  Once the celebrants are inside the circle, the elements of the four quarters are called.
          a.  Earth is to the north, air is to the east, fire to the south and water to the west.
3.  As a group, you must visualize the sphere as a ball of energy everyone assists to create.
4.  Evoke the Watchers to each of the four quarters to magicakally guard the sacred area.
          a.  Watchers bear witness to the rites and can use great influence during the ritual.
5.  Movement in the Northern Hemisphere must be clockwise of all members. To dissolve the circle or when negating magickal energy move counterclockwise. This is reversed in the Southern Hemisphere.

When the circle is established the participants will stay in harmony, keeping attentive to the ebb and flow of the energy and magick. Feeling the natural flow of the Earth's energy will empower the witch/Wiccan to use their innate psychic ability, magickal powers and great insight.