Samhain

Samhain

At Samhain, the Goddess retreats into the deep vault of the earth to join her dark lover in the Underworld. Life withdraws, and the landscape turns bleak, cold, and grey. There are no more fruit or flowers, and the birds have left on their journey to the south. We mark this time of death and decay by remembering and honouring those who have gone before us. Death is but a stage of the wheel of life. Far below the surface, the Goddess sheds her old cloak and falls into a deep meditation that regenerates her vital life-giving energies.
We face the darkness of the cold season, as the Sun grows weaker and has little power left to warm us.

At this time, remember that life and death are aspects of the same eternal cycle. One cannot exist without the other. There is no light without darkness. This is a time for reflection and reminiscence, and for gathering our inner strength in contemplation – for soon, the wheel of the year will turn again, and the Sun will be reborn once more.

Autumn Equinox

Autumn Equinox

Happy Autumn Equinox!

At the Autumn Equinox, night and day are in balance once again. The forces of light and dark are in perfect equilibrium. The Equinox marks the end of the harvest season, and we celebrate the gifts of the Earth on Thanksgiving (not to be confused with the American celebration, which takes place in late November). From this day on, the vital earth energy begins to retreat below ground. The days are getting shorter, and summer is over.

The end of the summer marks an intensely busy time of gathering and preserving the gifts of the earth, giving thanks and preparing for the coming winter months. Most of the harvest has been brought in. Now we hunt for nuts and mushrooms.

Autumn Equinox is the time to give thanks, take stock and prepare for the lean months ahead. Stock up the larder and make sure your woodpile is high and dry so that your supplies will see you through the winter until the Sun will be reborn once more.

Image by Sabrina Ripke from Pixabay

Lughnasad

Lughnasad

The time of the grain harvest

Lughnasad marks the beginning of the harvest season. The fruit and vegetables are ripening, and the grain is turning golden. It is an intensely busy and happy time, especially for gardeners. The efforts of the early part of the year are paying off.

 

The growing period from spring to harvest is fraught with danger: Late frosts can kill sensitive starters, and summer storms can ruin the crop in just a few minutes. The harvest is by no means guaranteed. But once the grain has been cut, we reap the efforts of our labour. It is time to celebrate. 

 

Lughnasad is called Lammas in the Christian tradition, which comes from the Anglo-Saxon ‘hlaf-mas’, meaning ‘loaf mass’. Bread and wine are the traditional sacraments of the Eucharist.

 

But harvesting the seed is only one of the stages of the perpetual cycle of life. The harvest does not only fill our bellies now but must sustain us through the dark season and provide the potential of growth for the year ahead. We reap as we sow, but we also sow as we have reaped.

 

In the face of the unfolding climate catastrophe, it is especially important that we not only give thanks for the gifts of today, but that we also reflect on what we wish to reap in the year(s) ahead. 

Summer Solstice

Summer Solstice

The Midsummer Solstice marks the day when the Sun reaches the zenith of its annual journey. We celebrate it as the longest day and shortest night. It is a magical time: nature’s blossoming is at its peak and the veils between the world are thin: sprites and spirits cross easily between them and some of us may catch a glimpse of the little folk.

Bel, the young Sun-God, has reached his climax. His powers are exhausted. Lugh takes over the reign. It is for him to ripen the fruits of the earth that will sustain us through the dark half of the year.

The Summer Solstice is a time for honouring the Gods. We make our ritual offerings and pray for protection, for health and well-being, and a plentiful harvest.

But most of all it is a festive time of gatherings and celebrations, of revelling around huge bonfires fires throughout the night. Dancing, feasting, and merry-making are the order of the day.

The herbs are now at their most potent, and we should gather our supplies for the year.

Spiritually, it is a time to seek guidance and protection through divination or to retreat on a vision quest.

Happy Beltane!

Happy Beltane!

On May 1, we celebrate Beltane, the festival of spring. Mother Earth is donning her lushest gown of flowers and blossoms, and birds are singing from the trees. The heart rejoices as the spirit soars! At Beltane, we celebrate the magical powers of creativity, fertility and abundance – the sheer miraculous beauty of life. The God and the Goddess who preside over the undying force of life are in love, turning the land green and lush wherever they go. Every fragrant flower – a kiss and a blessing of their adoration. Let’s share in their passion and celebrate life’s miracle! Beauty, love and merry-making are their rituals. Taste the zest of life! If you have a garden, you are witnessing and partaking in this magic as you nurture your young seedlings. Pouring energy into your budding projects produces a similar experience of participating in this magic of creating. The magic of manifestation lies in the nurture and love that nurtures the seed ideas. Take time to reflect on nature’s generosity and practice gratitude and mindfulness to attune to every nuance of this blessed time of the year.   Photo credit: Image by Ronny Overhate from Pixabay
Easter/ Oestara

Easter/ Oestara

Easter is a festival of sacrifice and resurrection. We commemorate Christ’s sacrifice on the day he died on the cross as Jesus, the man, only to be resurrected as Christ, the son of God and the redeemer of mankind. However, the cross, which in Christian mythology signifies the crucifixion, is a much older symbol.
In pre-Christian traditions, it symbolised the cosmic order: the four directions, the axis of time and space, and the surrender of the ego, which is bound to the material world.
In the symbolism of the ancient world, sacrifice was not a celebration of death, as it may seem, but of life. It was seen as a way of giving back, so life may continue. Death and rebirth were seen as two sides of the same door. Like the Ouroboros, life feeds on itself, thereby continuously regenerating itself.
For a sacrifice to be meaningful, it had to be of value. It had to be something special. Any old rat would not do! This was meant to be a gift to the Gods!
Originally, only the king himself was worthy of being sacrificed. But in time, Kings were not so keen on being sacrificed and instead of themselves, they offered up their first-born. But in time, that too was deemed too much. Animals now had to play the part. At Ostara, when the Earth renews itself, that sacrificial animal was an innocent lamb – which it still is to this day: a lamb roast serves as the centrepiece of the Easter feast. This is a distant echo of an age-old sacrificial tradition.
Easter is a movable feast – a clear indication that this festival pre-dates Christian times. The exact date changes every year. It always falls on the first Sunday following the first Full Moon after the Spring Equinox (Worm Moon). Originally, Easter, or Ostara, as it was known, was the festival of the Goddess Eostre, a Mother Goddess that is known by many names: Ishtar, Astarte, or the Great Mother Kali.
Her sacred ‘Moon Hare’ (a symbol of fertility) has become the ‘Easter Bunny’. The eggs symbolise life as unborn potential as well as the promise of rebirth. Traditionally, the eggs would have been dyed red, the colour of blood as a conduit of life. A gift of such dyed eggs is a symbolic blessing: A gift of life and abundance! May your potential unfold and blossom!

Source:

The Woman’s Encyclopaedia of Myths and Secrets, Barbara G. Walker, HaperCollins, 1983

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