Seasons Of The Witch
- This Catholic festival, which takes place on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday, promotes the Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation: that the host consecrated in the Mass becomes the Body of Christ. It was first established by the Council of Vienna in 1311 and really promoted during the Reformation as a demonstration of Catholic solidarity. It features a procession during which the priest displays the host in a monstrance, which is shaped like a sunburst. The whole point is a conspicuous display of pomp and pageantry. This year when it falls so close to summer solstice, the similarities between the two festivals, in symbolism and attitude, are readily apparent.
In France, it is called Fete Dieu or the Feast of God. The priest wears red and gold lavishly embroidered garments. The monstrance is a golden vessel shaped like the sun. It is usually shielded by a canopy of silk and cloth of gold. Streets are scattered with flower petals and householders decorate their homes, often by pasting flower petals on a sheet and hanging them up.
Small altars are created along the roads. In France, they’re called reposoirs and are built at crossroads. They are decorated with flowers, garlands and greens and covered with canopies of interwoven boughs. The priest goes around and blesses them. Perhaps this would be a good day for witches and pagans to sponsor Altar Tours, opening our homes for viewing of our altars and shrines. Or maybe we should go out and build a shrine at the nearest crossroad.
Carol Field describes the way Corpus Christi is celebrated in Spello, Italy, where pwople transform the main street into a carpet of color using flower petals (infiorate). Collecting the flowers takes as long as two weeks. The oldest women are given the job of taking the flowers apart, petal by petal, and separating them by the subtle differences of hue. Pine needles, ivy leaves, chamomile and fennel are ground up to make green. Poppies are used for red, broom for yellow and white from daisies. The designs are complicated, and often reproduce famous paintings, usually religious ones. The priest when he emerges from the cathedral holding up the Host walks down the length of flower carpet, and the petals scatter to the breezes. It is a display of beauty and richness that is as ephemeral as it is extravagant. Field, Carol, Celebrating Italy, Morrow 1990
Saints Gervase and Protase – Another weather oracle day associated with the saint’s day of two martyrs of Milan. It is said that if it rains on this day, it will rain for forty days afterwards. Blackburn, Bonnie and Leofranc, Holford-Strevens, The Oxford Book of Days, Oxford University Press, 2000
School of the Seasons
Remember the ancient ways and keep them sacred!