Celebrating the Seasons

by Selena Fox

yule02Focus of Celebration:consider first your purpose(s) for the celebration, such as:

  • Strengthen family bonding with each other
  • Expand upon existing patterns of family celebrations
  • Attune family to Nature's cycles
  • Attune family to its membership in the community of all life on planet Earth
  • Connect with ancestors
  • Celebrate ethnic/cultural heritage(s)
  • Educate about ancient and contemporary folkways
  • Extend the celebration of Christmas, be an alternative, or expand upon it
  • Deepen understanding about spiritual renewal and love
  • Have fun

Timing of Celebration: pick a time that fits form of celebration and family patterns, such as:

On Solstice:

  • at moment of Solstice (check astrological/astronomical calendar)
  • at twilight
  • in evening before going to sleep
  • at sunrise
  • at noon or midday

Near Solstice:

  • night before Solstice
  • weekend before Solstice

Length of Celebration:structure with age and attention range of family members in mind

  • Very Short: under five minutes
  • Short: five to twenty minutes
  • Medium: twenty minutes to ninety minutes
  • Long: ninety minutes to three hours
  • Very Long: more than three hours, such as a twenty-four hour period

Settings of Celebration: pick a suitable location; some options include:

Indoors in Family Home:

  • at kitchen or dining table
  • by fireplace
  • by holiday tree
  • in living room or family room

Outdoors:

  • back or front yard of family home
  • deck
  • nearby park
  • Nature preserve/wilderness area

Components of Celebration: select one or more that fits focus, timing, length, and setting

Yule Wreath

  • purchase a wreath or make a wreath from evergreens collected by family members.
  • have family members gather around the wreath and consider it as a symbol of cycles of Nature; mention Yule and Jul, names for Winter Solstice time (and Christmas) mean wheel.
  • have family members each share something they appreciate about Winter
  • put the wreath in a visible location, such as on the front door, on an inside wall, or in the center of the dining table.
  • On or after New Year's Day, wreath can be returned to Nature, or kept until Summer Solstice and then burned in a bonfire.

Solstice Feast

  • Prepare favorite family foods and beverages.
  • Before beginning the dining experience, do a family prayer of thanksgiving.
  • End the feast with a cake or pie with a sun image on it.
  • Birthday candles can be put on this solar dessert. Each family member can light a candle and make a wish for the holiday season or the upcoming calendar year. Once all candles are lit, the family as a whole can blow them out to send wishes on their way. Then call out "Happy Solstice" or "Good Yule" in unison.

Candlelight Circle

  • Can be done as part of a feast or separately.
  • Family gathers in a circle around a card table or dining table. There is an unlit new red taper candle in a candleholder for each family member, plus a larger new red taper or pillar candle in a candleholder to represent the family as a whole and the Solstice Sun. Candles are arranged evenly around the central larger candle.
  • Parent(s) begin the circle by sharing some background about Winter Solstice, such as how it has been celebrated across time and cultures, and how its celebration is reflected in contemporary secular and religious Christmas customs. Then parent(s) describe the focus for this candlelight circle, such as to attune the family members to each other, to the ways of ancestors, and/or to Nature.
  • Lights are extinguished. Family stands or sits in darkness for a few moments and contemplates the reduction of daylight at this time of year, the importance of the Sun to life on the planet, and the symbology of light as indicators of renewal.
  • Then, parent(s) light the central candle with a blessing of renewal for the family and the planet and guide a short meditation on light and renewal.
  • Next, parent(s) invite each member to light her/his personal candle and give a thanksgiving for something in past or present or a blessing for the year to come.
  • When all the candles are lit, the family joins hands and chants or sings. The song, "We wish you a Merry Christmas" can be adapted to "We wish you a Merry Solstice" and sung to end the circle.
  • Candles can be left burning if in a safe, attended location, throughout the rest of the Solstice celebration, if there are other component parts.
  • Candles can be extinguished by everyone doing it simultaneously after one of the family members states that the light of renewal remains in our hearts.

Yule Log

  • An oak log, plus a fireplace or bonfire area is needed for this form of celebration. The oak log should be very dry so that it will blaze well. It can be decorated with burnable red ribbons of natural fiber and dried holly leaves. In the fireplace or bonfire area, dried kindling should be set to facilitate the burning of the log.
  • Begin by having parent(s) or some other family member describe the tradition of the Yule log. The tale of the Oak King and Holly King from Celtic mythology can be shared as a story, or can be summarized with a statement that the Oak represents the waxing solar year, Winter Solstice to Summer Solstice, and the Holly represents the waning solar year, Summer Solstice to Winter Solstice.
  • Lights are extinguished as much as possible. The family is quiet together in the darkness. Family members quietly contemplate the change in the solar year. Each in her/his own way contemplates the past calendar year, the challenges as well as the good times.
  • Then the Yule Log fire is lit. As it begins to burn, each family member throws in one or more dried holly sprigs and says farewell to the old calendar year. Farewells can take the form of thanksgiving and appreciation and/or a banishment of old habits or personal pains.
  • Once the Yule Log itself starts blazing, then the facilitator invites family members to contemplate the year ahead and the power of possibilities. Each member then throws in an oak twig or acorn into the fire to represent the year ahead, and calls out a resolution and/or a hope.
  • When this process is done, the family sings a song together. The traditional carol, "Deck the Halls," is good because it mentions the Solstice, the change in the solar year, and the Yule log.
  • Let the Yule Log burn down to a few chunks of charred wood and ashes. Following an ancient tradition, save remnants of the fire and use them to start the Yule Log fire the following year.

Bell Ringing

  • This can take a simple form of the family ringing bells together at the moment of Solstice, or it can be a circle ceremony in and of itself. It also can be incorporated into other components of the celebration such as the Candlelight Circle or Yule Log Ceremony -- in these cases, bells can be rung after each blessing/sharing is stated.
  • Each family member chooses a bell to ring. Bells can be of varying sizes and types, but should blend well with each other when rung together. Brass bells and/or jingle bells are commonly available and have long time associations with the season.
  • For a bell ringing Solstice Circle, the family gathers together in a circle. Each has a bell in hand to ring. Parent(s) or some other family member serves as facilitator(s). She/he begins by saying a few words about the Solstice being the start of the new solar year and how the calendar year used today in many places around the world was structured on the solar year. The facilitator then describes how bells have been rung in connection with many types of celebrations. Bells have been rung at this time of year to ring out the old year and to ring in the new year. Then the facilitator invites the family to celebrate the Solstice with bells.
  • If the family is used to honoring the directions as part of spiritual practice (Wiccan, Native American, Buddhist, Hermetic, etc.), the family begins by facing each of the compass points (North, East, South, West) and ringing the bells in unison, honoring connections with each sacred direction. Then the family rings bells in the three directions connected with the center: upward, the place of the cosmos; downward, the place of the planet; and center; Divine unity.
  • In place of or in addition to individual direction honoring, the family rings all their bells together to celebrate their connection with each other as a family; then they ring them in unison again to celebrate their connection with the cycles of Nature; and then they ring them a third time in unison to celebrate their connection with life on planet Earth and all of Nature.
  • Then from the oldest to the youngest, each family member speaks a vision or wish for the planet for the coming year. After each one speaks, all ring bells together to affirm that vision/wish. After all have shared, the ceremony ends as the family calls out "Happy Solstice" or "Good Yule" three times and rings bells.

Yule Tree

  • Decorate an evergreen tree as a Yule tree. The tree can be a living tree growing in the yard of the home or in a container indoors to be planted outside in Spring. Or, the tree can be a harvested one purchased or cut yourself from a tree farm.
  • The Yule Tree can be decorated prior to or on Solstice for the entire holiday season. If decorated prior to Solstice, on Solstice day, family members can each add an ornament. Members may want to speak a blessing on the Solstice celebration as they add their ornaments. Ornaments can be of any type, but those that represent the Sun, such as sun figures or shinny red or golden balls, are very appropriate because of their symbolism. A star, sunburst, or light at the top of the tree is another traditional Solstice symbol.
  • Electric lights on the tree can also play into the Solstice celebration. They can be first turned on during the Solstice celebration. Or, if the family custom is to have a lit holiday tree for much of December, the lights can be turned off during a celebration as the family focuses on the year passing and the longest nights of the year and then turned on to represent renewal and the new Solar year.
  • After the holiday season is over, the Yule tree can be burned in a bonfire, chopped up and used as mulch, or placed in the wilds as additional habitat for wild creatures. A branch can be saved and stored away until next year and then burned with the Yule Log to represent the continuity of Nature's cycles.

Winter Nature Communion

  • Grains and seeds, and the feeding of creatures have been associated with Yuletide holidays for hundred of years in Europe. To continue this tradition, gather some sunflower seeds in a large basket or bowl. Go outside next to the home or to a place frequented by wild birds and other wild creatures.
  • The family gathers around a bird feeder, a tree stump, a rock ledge, or other spot where the seeds are to be placed. Someone in the family serves as facilitator and guides the family in a Nature attunement meditation. First, the family silently focuses on the experience of being outdoors in the Winter at this Solstice time. Next, the family silently focuses on being part of the fabric of life of Nature. Then the family silently focuses on expressing appreciation for the beauty of Nature and the relationships with other lifeforms. Each family member then takes a handful of seeds and focuses on the seeds as symbols of life and as messengers of goodwill toward other parts of Nature.
  • Now, each family member in turn places the seeds in the feeder or on the stump, ledge, or other spot, and speaks an appreciation of Nature. After all the offerings have been made, the family joins hands and says together several times, "We are part of the Family of Nature!" The ceremony ends as the family in unison calls out "Happy Solstice!" or "Good Yule!"

Solstice Stories

  • The family can share Solstice related stories with each other. Parents, grandparents, and/or other older relatives can share how they celebrated Yuletide (Solstice, Christmas, New Year's) when they were young. Parents and other relatives also can speak about their ethnic roots and share whatever they know of Yuletide folk customs of their ancestors.
  • If little or nothing is known within the living extended family itself about ancestral folk ways, prior to Solstice, one or more family members can do some research into customs connected with ancestral nationalities, ethnicities, spiritualities, and other cultural forms. Some places to check for information include bookstores and libraries, gifts shops with ethnic themes, cultural societies, folklore centers, museums, and multicultural centers at universities.
  • In addition to stories about folk customs connected with Yuletide, myths and legends connected with Winter, the Sun, and/or Renewal can be told.
  • To facilitate passing this family heritage on to future generations, the family may wish to tape record or videotape the story sharing.

Gift Giving

  • Across many cultures for at least several thousand years, gifts have been exchanged among family and friends at Solstice time. Even if the family already has a tradition of exchanging gifts at Christmas or Epiphany, some gifts can be exchanged on Solstice as well. Having gift giving occur over a period of time extends the holiday celebration and is a time honored tradition, as commemorated in the song "Twelve Days of Christmas."
  • The Solstice gift exchange can take a variety of forms. When all family holiday gifts are displayed under the Yule tree for several days, each family member can select one gift with their own name on it to open on Solstice night or morning. In cases in which family members give each other multiple gifts, each member can select a gift to give each other member. Another method of gift distribution is to have family members place their names in a hat or basket, and when this is done, to each draw a name, which indicates the person to whom they will give a Solstice gift.
  • Still another alternative is to have a gifting experience unique to Solstice. A group of similar, yet distinctive small gifts, individually wrapped can be placed in a large basket or cauldron. There should be one for each family member. At least one extra gift could be included and this could be kept for the family as a whole or later given to a family friend. Some examples of gift groups include an assortment of pieces of tumbled agate or quartz crystals, a collection of animal figurines or exotic sea shells, an array of candles or bells, or a variety of pieces of candy or other food treats. Gift picking can be according to age: oldest to youngest, youngest to oldest; according to birth date in the year; by first name in alphabetical order; by lot; or by some other method. The gift exchange, when involving Nature gifts, can have an educational component. For example, if bird images are the gift form, the family can talk about each type of bird after each figure is unwrapped.
  • A good way to bring closure to the gift exchange on Solstice night is for the family to join hands together in a circle and spend a few moments focusing together on the sharing of love, a on-going gift that transcends time and physical presents.
  • Focus on appreciating each other strengthens the family as well as imbues the gift giving and other Solstice celebration experiences with a spiritual context.

 

Sunday, 22 July 2012 07:51

Saturnalia Poem

by Selena Fox

DSCF4713Selena first publicly shared this poem on Solstice night 1994 during Circle's public Winter Solstice Celebration in Madison, Wisconsin.

It is the middle of December.
The nights are longer, the weather is colder, winter comes.

Celebration is at hand.
Renewing bonds of friendship.
Visiting with family and friends.
Exchanging gifts with loved ones.
Candles, Dolls, Cookies, Sweets, Holly, Wreaths of Green.
Surprises.

Courts close. Battles stop.
Time off from school and work.
Holiday Break.

Singing, Dancing, Games, Merry-Making.
Food ... Lots of Food and Drink.
Great Feasts and Parties.

To celebrate the Sun, the Land, the Ancient Ones, the great Circle of Nature.
To welcome in the Winter and the New Year.
To bring forth renewal, peace, and joy.

Solstice Present .... Solstice Past.
This is the legacy of Saturnalia,
weeklong Pagan Winter Solstice Festival of Ancient Rome.

Saturnalia, your spirit and these traditions live on
in the world today
in Christmas feasts and New Year's parties,
in our Winter Solstice celebration tonight.

Bless our connection with the ancients.
Bless our connection with each other.
Bless our connection with future generations.

We rejoice.
Io, Saturnalia!
Io, Saturnalia!
Io, Saturnalia!

Sunday, 22 July 2012 07:51

Saturnalia

DSCF9910by Selena Fox

Timing of Saturnalia

  • varied during the course of Roman history.
  • began as feast days for Saturn (December 17) and Ops (December 19).
  • with Julian calendar, Saturnalia on December 17 & 18; Opalia on December 19 & 20.
  • during the empire, extended to a week (December 17-23); longer with other holidays.

Associated holiday festivals

  • Consualia, end of sowing season festival (December 15).
  • Dies Juvenalis, Coming of Age for Young Men (mid-December).
  • Feast of Sol Invicta, the Unconquered Sun, set in 274 A. D. (December 25).
  • Brumalia, Winter Solstice on pre-Julian calendar (December 25).
  • Christmas (December 25), Christians move Christ's birthday to this date in 336 A.D.
  • Janus Day and Beginning of Calendar Year (January 1), set in 153 B.C.; again in 45 B.C.
  • Compitalia, blessing of the fields rural festival (January 3-5).

Deities honored around Winter Solsticetime

  • Saturn - God of Agriculture; merged with the Greek Cronos.
  • Ops - Goddes of Plenty; Mother Earth; partner to Saturn and Consus.
  • Sol Invicta - Sun God; connected with the Persian Mithra, honored by Roman soldiers.
  • Consus - God of Storebin of Harvested Grain.
  • Juventas - Goddess of Young Manhood; related to Greek Hebe of Youthful Beauty.
  • Janus - God of Beginnings and Gates; Solar God of Daybreak; Creator God.

Celebrations included

  • merry-making
  • rest and relaxation
  • connections with family and friends
  • celebrating beginning of Solar year
  • prayers for protection of Winter crops
  • honoring Deities

Legacies of Saturnalia in contemporary holiday celebrations

  • Religious Rituals -- joining in spiritual community to honor the Divine.
  • Honored Figures -- Santa and Father Time -- Saturn; Holy Mother -- Ops.
  • Sacred Flames -- candles lit and new fires kindled to represent new Solar year.
  • Greens -- Holly given with gifts, homes decorated with wreaths and garlands.
  • Time Off from Work -- government, schools, businesses closed; multiple days off.
  • Peace -- dispensing of punishments suspended and courts closed; wars ceased.
  • Relaxing with Family and Friends -- renewing bonds, sharing celebration.
  • Gift Giving -- dolls to children, candles to friends; fruit symbols representing increase.
  • Feasting -- sharing food with family and friends; on-going eating and drinking.
  • Helping Less Fortunate -- class distinctions suspended; food for all; masters waiting on servants.
  • Exhuberant Play -- masquerades, gaming, gambling, mock king, jokes, partying, letting loose.
  • Paper Hats -- soft hats (pilei) worn at Saturnalia banquets to signify informality.
  • Dancing in the New Solar Year -- music and dancing.

Sunday, 22 July 2012 07:51

Samhain Lore and Rituals

Samhain-Spirit-Altar-best

Article by Selena Fox

Samhain, popularly known as Halloween, occurs in late October and early November. For most Wiccan practitioners, this is the New Year, and a time for letting go of the old and looking ahead to the new. It marks the end of the harvest season. Since ancient times, Pagans have paid their respects to departed loved ones, ancestors, and guides in the Spirit World at Samhain. The Goddess manifests as the Crone and the God as the Horned Hunter and Lord of Death. Sacred colors are Black and Orange. It is the festival of endings and transformation.

Sunday, 22 July 2012 07:50

Lammas

Lore and Rituals by Selena Fox

IMG 7943Lammas, or Lughnassad, occurs in late July and early August. It is marks the middle of Summer and the beginning of the harvest. It is the first of three harvest festivals and is usually associated with ripening grain. It heralds the coming of Autumn. The Goddess manifests as Demeter, Ceres, Corn Mother, and other agricultural Goddesses. The God manifests as Lugh, John Barleycorn, and vegetation Gods. Colors are Golden Yellow, Orange, Green, and Light Brown. It is a festival of plenty and prosperity.

Sunday, 22 July 2012 07:50

Imbolc Lore & Rituals

imbolcBrigid Spring at Circle SanctuaryCelebrating the Seasons
by Selena Fox

Imbolc, also known as Candlemas and Groundhog's Day, occurs at the beginning of February. It marks the middle of Winter and holds the promise of Spring. The Goddess manifests as the Maiden and Brigid. The Groundhog is a manifestation of the God. Colors are White, and sometimes Red. It is a festival of spiritual purification and dedication.

Sunday, 22 July 2012 07:49

Fall Equinox

Lore and Rituals by Selena Fox

DSCF9452Fall Equinox, also known as Mabon, occurs in the middle of September. It is the main harvest festival of the Wiccan calendar and marks the beginning of Autumn. The Goddess manifests in Her Bountiful Mother aspects. The God emerges as the Corn King and Harvest Lord. Colors are Orange, Dark Red, Yellow, Indigo, and Brown. It is the festival of thanksgiving.

Select the best of each vegetable, herb, fruit, nut, and other food you have harvested or purchased and give it back to Mother Earth with prayers of thanksgiving. Hang dried ears of corn around your home in appreciation of the harvest season. Do meditations and chanting as you store away food for the Winter. Do a thanksgiving circle, offering thanks as you face each direction -- for home, finances, and physical health (North); for gifts of knowledge (East); for accomplishments in career and hobbies (South); for relationships (West); and for spiritual insights and messages (Center).

More Articles:

Harvest Thanksgiving Rite

Cornucopia: Horn of Plenty

Podcast: Celebrating Fall Equinox - traditions, lore and rites

DSCF9507

Chants and Songs:

Fall Equinox Chant

The Mabon by Damh the Bard

Mabon Song by Lisa Thiel

Mabon/Fall Equinox by Omnia

John Barleycorn (traditional), rendition by Damh the Bard

 

Sunday, 22 July 2012 07:49

Litany of the Five Elements

by Selena Fox

This call and response chant was designed for use at Candlemas (Imbolc) festivals and for healing rituals. Chant can be either intoned (on a single note or a sequence of notes with harmonic fourths and/or fifths) or spoken.

P signifies Priestess and/or Priest.

All signifies All participants including Priest/ess.

Sound indicates sacred sound making to bring closure to each segment. It can take the form of a single bell run by Priestess/Priest or drum and rattle rhythms made by all.

Chant is suitable as a preparatory blessing chant for those beginning a ritual and as a means of honoring sacred space and circle casting. Chant can be done facing the five directions: North for Earth, East for Air, South for Fire, West for Water, Center for Spirit.

The Litany:

P: Powers of Earth, Come to Us.
All: Powers of Earth, Come to Us.

P: May our Bodies be cleansed of Disease.
All: May our Bodies be cleansed of Disease.

P: Powers of Earth, Purify Us.
All: Powers of Earth, Purify Us.

P: May our Bodies be filled with Wellness.
All: May our Bodies be filled with Wellness.

P: Powers of Earth, Bless Us.
All: Powers of Earth, Bless Us.

(Sound)

P: Powers of Air Come to Us.
All: Powers of Air Come to Us.

P: May our Minds be cleansed of Confusion.
All: May our Minds be cleansed of Confusion.

P: Powers of Air, Purify Us.
All: Powers of Air, Purify Us.

P: May our Minds be filled with Wisdom.
All: May our Minds be filled with Wisdom.

P: Powers of Air, Bless Us.
All: Powers of Air, Bless Us.

(Sound)

P: Powers of Fire, Come to Us.
All: Powers of Fire, Come to Us.

P: May our Actions be cleansed of Malice.
All: May our Actions be cleansed of Malice.

P: Powers of Fire, Purify Us.
All: Powers of Fire, Purify Us.

P: May our Actions be filled with Bliss.
All: May our Actions be filled with Bliss.

P: Powers of Fire, Bless Us.
All: Powers of Fire, Bless Us.

(Sound)

P: Powers of Water, Come to Us.
All: Powers of Water, Come to Us.

P: May our Hearts be cleansed of Resentment.
All: May our Hearts be cleansed of Resentment.

P: Powers of Water, Purify Us.
All: Powers of Water, Purify Us.

P: May our Hearts be filled with Compassion.
All: May our Hearts be filled with Compassion.

P: Powers of Water, Bless Us.
All: Powers of Water, Bless Us.

(Sound)

P: Powers of Spirit, Come to Us.
All: Powers of Spirit, Come to Us.

P: May our Souls be cleansed of Despair.
All: May our Souls be cleansed of Despair.

P: Powers of Spirit, Purify Us.
All: Powers of Spirit, Purify Us.

P: May our Souls be filled with Hope.
All: May our Souls be filled with Hope.

P: Powers of Spirit, Bless Us.
All: Powers of Spirit, Bless Us.

(Sound)

Sunday, 22 July 2012 07:48

Imbolc Customs & Lore

by Selena Fox

Other Festival Names:

Candlemas, Oimlec, Brigid's Day, Groundhog's Day; merged with Lupercalia/Valentines Day

Festival Dates:

January 31, February 1, February 2, February 6, February 7.

Multicultural Parallels:

Ground Hog's Day (USA); Aztec New Year; Chinese New Year; Roman Lupercalia; Valentine's Day (USA); Armenian Candlemas.

Flames: Sacred Fire

  • torchlit processions circling fields to purify & invigorate for the coming growing season (old Pagan)
  • lighting & blessing of candles (11th century, Christian)
  • sacred fire of Brigid (Celtic Pagan)
  • torchlit procession to honor Juno Februata/Regina (Pagan Rome; Christianized, 7th century)

Brigid: Celtic Goddess

Triple Aspects:

    • Goddess of Inspiration - poets, poetry, creativity, prophecy, arts
    • Goddess of Smithcraft - blacksmiths, goldsmiths, household crafts
    • Goddess of Healing - healers, medicine, spiritual healing, fertility (crops, land, cattle)

Symbols:

    • Fire - flames, candle crown, hearth
    • Water - cauldron, springs, wells
    • Grain - Brigid wheels, corn/oat sheaf Goddess effigy, Brigid's Bed
    • Creatures - white cow with red ears, wolf, snake, swan and vulture
    • Talismans - Shining Mirror to Otherworld, Spinning Wheel and Holy Grail

Name variations:

Brighid; Bride (Scotland), Brid, Brigit, Bridget, Briganta (England), Brigan, Brigindo (Gaul), Berecyntia, Brigandu (France)
Name means Bright One, High One, Bright Arrow, Power.
Christianized forms: St. Brigit (Irish), St. Ffraid (Welsh), St. Bridget (Swedish), Queen of Heaven, Prophetess of Christ, Mary.

Pictish Pagan Roots

Bruide, the Pictish royal throne name, is said to derived from the Pagan Goddess Brigid. The Bruide name was given to each Pagan Pictish king who was viewed as the male manifestation of the spirit of the Goddess. The most sacred place of the Picts was Abernethy in Fife. It was dedicated to Brigid, in Pagan times, and to St. Brigid, in Christian times. Columban monks tended a Celtic abbey there and hereditary abbots were of the Earl of Fife branch of the Clan MacDuff, which survived to the present day as Clan Wemyss (Weems).

Irish Transitions and Traditions

When Ireland was Christianized, veneration of the Pagan Goddess Brigid was transformed into that of St. Brigit, said to be the human daughter of a Druid. St. Brigit became a saint after her "death" and was supposedly converted and baptized by St. Patrick. Pagan lore was incorporated into the Christian traditions and legends associated with Her as a saint. For example, as St. Brigit, She had the power to appoint bishops and they had to be goldsmiths. She was associated with miracles and fertility. Into the 18th century a women's only shrine was kept to her in Kildare (meaning Church of the Oak) in Ireland. There, nineteen nuns tended Her continually burning sacred flame. An ancient song was sung to Her: "Brigid, excellent woman, sudden flame, may the bright fiery sun take us to the lasting kingdom." Brigid/St. Brigit was said to be the inventor of whistling and of keening.

Customs

  • Blessing rushes/straw and making Brigid wheels
  • Putting out food and drink for Brigid on Her eve (such as buttered bread, milk, grains, seeds)
  • Chair by hearth decorated by women; young woman carries in first flowers & greens, candle.
  • Opening the door and welcoming Her into the home. "Bride! Come in, they bed is made! Preserve the House for the Triple Goddess!" Scottish Gaelic Invocation: "May Brigit give blessing to the house that is here; Brigit, the fair and tender,Her hue like the cotton-grass, Rich-tressed maiden of ringlets of gold."
  • Brigid's Bed (Scotland): Putting grain effigy and a phallic wand in a basket next to the hearth/candles at night and chanting three times: "Brigid is Come! Brigid is Welcome!"

Purification

  • removing Yuletide greens from home & burning them (Celtic)
  • cleaning up fields and home (old Roman, Februa "to cleanse" month)
  • Mary purification festival (Christian, Western church)
  • burning old Brigid's wheels and making new ones (some parts of Ireland)
  • placing Brigid's wheel above/on door to bless home (Celtic, Wiccan)

Signs of Spring: Ground Hog's Day

  • seeds as a symbols of new life to come
  • first greens and flowers as offerings
  • weather - bright or grey
  • hibernating animals - groundhog, bear, badger

If Candlemas day be sunny and bright, Winter again will show its might.
If Candlemas day be cloudy and grey, Winter soon will pass away. (Fox version)
If Candlemas day be fair and bright, Winter will have another flight.
If Candlemas day be shower and rain, Winter is gone and will not come again. (Traditional)

Spiritual Awakening: Spirit Within

  • initiations - self, group (Dianic & Faery Wiccan); Christchild in temple (Christian, Eastern church)
  • dedication - shrines, temples (contemporary Pagan)
  • self blessing and spiritual dedication
  • inner journey for Divine inspiration
  • affirming the artist/innovator within; energizing creative work.

References

  • Farrar, Janet & Stewart (1987). The Witches Goddess. Custer, WA: Phoenix. Chapter 14 & page 206.
  • Fox, Selena (1996). Weems-Wemyss-MacDuff Family History. work in progress. ancestral lineage chart.
  • Green, Miranda (1995). Celtic Goddesses. London: British Museum Press. Chapter 9.
  • Jones, Kathy (1991). The Ancient British Goddess. Glastonbury: Ariadne. pages 23-38. Monaghan, Patricia (1990). The Book of Goddesses and Heroines. St. Paul: Llewellyn. pages 59-60.
  • Moncreiffe, Sir Ian (1977). The Highland Clans. Bramhall House edition. pages 46, 101.
  • Walker, Barbara (1983). The Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets. San Francisco: Harper. pages 166-118

 

Sunday, 22 July 2012 07:48

Beltane Lore & Rites

by Selena Fox

DSC 2730-smallAlso known as May Eve, May Day, and Walpurgis Night, happens at the beginning of May. It celebrates the height of Spring and the flowering of life. The Goddess manifests as the May Queen and Flora. The God emerges as the May King and Jack in the Green. The danced Maypole represents Their unity, with the pole itself being the God and the ribbons that encompass it, the Goddess. Colors are the Rainbow spectrum. Beltane is a festival of flowers, fertility, sensuality, and delight.