December, the Twelfth Month of the year of our Goddess, 2014

YuleBlessings

The Light Has Been Reborn

(Tune:  “Good Christian Men Rejoice”)

The Light has been reborn
Upon this happy morn.
Sing O sing in jubilee.
Oh, oh, Io Io Evohee!
Sing O sing glad tidings.
The round of life is new begun:
Mother – Father – Daughter.
Mother – Father – Son.

—-words by William Baldwin

christmas-divider2December – Oak Moon

December is the twelfth month of the year, its name derived from the Latin for “ten,” as it was the tenth month of the Roman calendar. Its astrological sign is Sagittarius, the archer (November 23 – December 23), a mutable fire sign ruled by Jupiter. Winter owns the land now. Snow covers the land and ice silence the streams. Still, this is a month of joy and renewal. Holiday lights litter, and kitchens fill with spice fragrance from holiday season sweets and pastries. Yule, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and Christmas are the holidays of December. At Yule, we celebrate the return of the Sun God and burn the Yule log to honor the strengthening Sun. As we decorate the Yule tree, we honor the evergreen as a symbol of eternal life. The decorations we use on the Yule tree are rich with symbolism. The lights represent stars, fruit shaped ornaments represent fertility and the star atop the tree is a symbol of the divine spirit. December’s Full Moon, the first of the winter season, is known as the Cold moon. It is a white distant Moon that shimmers above the frozen landscape. Acknowledge her by lighting a single white candle in the window. As the wheel of the year makes its final turn, we arrive at New Year’s Eve, a time to honor our pass and think of the future. The endless rhythm of the seasons continues.

christmas-divider2Oak Moon

THE OAK MOON is the thirteenth esbat. It is one of the most magical full moons because it doesn’t occur every year. This high moon draws upon the power of the mighty oak. A tree of tremendous magical power, everything that grows on an oak is sacred. As the “Forest King” of endurance, and the tree of the Norse God Frey, oak is the primary wood of the sacred fire of the Goddess, associated with fertility, ancestry, and love. Its fruit, the acorn, is a symbol of the Goddess. Faeries, elves, and lovers meet and dance under the oaks and the sacred mistletoe graces the mighty tree. This thirteenth moon is a time to generate strength, endurance, success, and protection. It represents the completion of a cycle.

— Wiccan Spell A Night: Spells, Charms, And Potions For The Whole Year

Sirona Knight

christmas-divider2DECEMBER CORRESPONDENCES

NATURE SPIRITS: Snow faeries, storm faeries, winter tree faeries

HERBS: holly, English Ivy, fir, mistletoe

COLORS: Blood red, white and black

FLOWERS: holly, poinsettia, christmas cactus

SCENTS: Violet, patchouli, rose geranium, frankincense, myrrh, lilac

STONES: serpentine, jacinth, peridot

TREES: Fir, pine and holly

ANIMALS: mouse, deer, horse and bear

BIRDS: rook, snowy owl, and robin

DEITIES: Hathor, Hecate, Neith, Athene, Minerva, Ixchel, Osiris, Norns, Fates

POWER/ADVICE: To endure, to be reborn, Earth tides turning, Darkness, a time to reach out to friends and family and those in need.

christmas-divider2Symbols for the Month of December

December’s Sign of the Zodiac
Sagittarius:  November 22  – December 21
Capricorn:  December 22 – January 19

December Birthstone
Blue Topaz or Turquoise (modern)
Zircon, Turquoise, or Lapis Lazuli (traditional)

November Birth Flower
December’s Birth Flower is the Narcissus.
The Narcissus stands for self-love.

Characteristics of Sagittarius
Great sense of humor, idealistic, generous.

christmas-divider2December’s Month Long Observations

  • World AIDS Day (December 1)
  • International Day of People with Disability (December 3)
  • The Residential Golf Tournament (December 6)
  • Pearl Harbor Day in the United States (December 7)
  • Day of the Immaculate Conception of Mary. (December 8)
  • In the Ásatrú religion, Egil Skallagrimsson’s Day (December 9) is a day of remembrance for the Viking hero.
  • Nobel Prizes awarded (December 10) on the anniversary of Alfred Nobel’s death.
  • Human Rights Day (December 10)
  • Saint Lucy (December 13)
  • Honolulu Marathon is held on second Sunday in December.
  • Monkey Day (December 14)
  • Bill of Rights Day (United States). (December 15)
  • Hannukah (December 20 in 2011)
  • First day of winter (December 21)
  • Solstice (called the winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere and the summer solstice in the Southern Hemisphere) occurs on dates varying from December 20 to December 22 (in UTC). See also Yule
  • HumanLight (Humanist holiday), (December 23)
  • Christmas Eve (December 24)
  • Christmas (December 25)
  • Boxing Day (December 26)
  • Day of Goodwill (December 26)
  • Kwanzaa (December 26 to January 1)
  • Philippines – Rizal Day (December 30)
  • New Year’s Eve (December 31)
  • Yule (December 20 to December 31)

christmas-divider2History of Yule

A Festival of Light:
Many cultures have winter festivals that are in fact celebrations of light. In addition to Christmas, there’s Hanukkah with its brightly lit menorahs, Kwanzaa candles, and any number of other holidays. The Pagan holiday called Yule takes place on the day of the winter solstice, around December 21 in the northern hemisphere (below the equator, the winter solstice falls around June 21). On that day (or close to it), an amazing thing happens in the sky. The earth’s axis tilts away from the sun in the Northern Hemisphere, and the sun reaches at its greatest distance from the equatorial plane. As a festival of the Sun, the most important part of any Yule celebration is light — candles, bonfires, and more.
Origins of Yule:
In the Northern hemisphere, the winter solstice has been celebrated for millenia. The Norse peoples viewed it as a time for much feasting, merrymaking, and, if the Icelandic sagas are to be believed, a time of sacrifice as well. Traditional customs such as the Yule log, the decorated tree, and wassailing can all be traced back to Norse origins.
Celtic Celebrations of Winter:
The Celts of the British Isles celebrated midwinter as well. Although little is known about the specifics of what they did, many traditions persist. According to the writings of Pliny the Elder, this is the time of year in which Druid priests sacrificed a white bull and gathered mistletoe in celebration.
Roman Saturnalia:
Few cultures knew how to party like the Romans. Saturnalia was a festival of general merrymaking and debauchery held around the time of the winter solstice. This week-long party was held in honor of the god Saturn, and involved sacrifices, gift-giving, special privileges for slaves, and a lot of feasting. Although this holiday was partly about giving presents, more importantly, it was to honor an agricultural god.
Welcoming the Sun Through the Ages:
Four thousand years ago, the Ancient Egyptians took the time to celebrate the daily rebirth of Ra, the god of the Sun. As their culture flourished and spread throughout Mesopotamia, other civilizations decided to get in on the sun-welcoming action. They found that things went really well… until the weather got cooler, and crops began to die. Each year, this cycle of birth, death and rebirth took place, and they began to realize that every year after a period of cold and darkness, the Sun did indeed return.
Winter festivals were also common in Greece and Rome, as well as in the British Isles. When a new religion called Christianity popped up, the new hierarchy had trouble converting the Pagans, and as such, folks didn’t want to give up their old holidays. Christian churches were built on old Pagan worship sites, and Pagan symbols were incorporated into the symbolism of Christianity. Within a few centuries, the Christians had everyone worshipping a new holiday celebrated on December 25.
In some traditions of Wicca and Paganism, the Yule celebration comes from the Celtic legend of the battle between the young Oak King and the Holly King. The Oak King, representing the light of the new year, tries each year to usurp the old Holly King, who is the symbol of darkness. Re-enactment of the battle is popular in some Wiccan rituals.

—-By Patti Wigington

Article found & owned by About.com

christmas-divider2How to Make a Yule Log

A Time-Honored Tradition

As the Wheel of the Year turns once more, the days get shorter, the skies become gray, and it seems as though the sun is dying. In this time of darkness, we pause on the Solstice (usually around December 21st, although not always on the same date) and realize that something wonderful is happening.
On Yule, the sun stops its decline into the south. For a few days, it seems as though it’s rising in exactly the same place… and then the amazing, the wonderful, the miraculous happens. The light begins to return.
The sun begins its journey back to the north, and once again we are reminded that we have something worth celebrating. In families of all different spiritual paths, the return of the light is celebrated, with Menorahs, Kwanzaa candles, bonfires, and brightly lit Christmas trees. On Yule, many Pagan and Wiccan families celebrate the return of the sun by adding light into their homes. One of our family’s favorite traditions – and one that children can do easily – is to make a Yule log for a family-sized celebration.
A holiday celebration that began in Norway, on the night of the winter solstice it was common to hoist a giant log onto the hearth to celebrate the return of the sun each year. The Norsemen believed that the sun was a giant wheel of fire which rolled away from the earth, and then began rolling back again on the winter solstice.
As Christianity spread through Europe, the tradition became part of Christmas Eve festivities. The father or master of the house would sprinkle the log with libations of mead, oil or salt. Once the log was burned in the hearth, the ashes were scattered about the house to protect the family within from hostile spirits.

Gathering the Symbols of the Season

Because each type of wood is associated with various magickal and spiritual properties, logs from different types of trees might be burned to get a variety of effects. Aspen is the wood of choice for spiritual understanding, while the mighty oak is symbolic of strength and wisdom. A family hoping for a year of prosperity might burn a log of pine, while a couple hoping to be blessed with fertility would drag a bough of birch to their hearth.
In our house, we usually make our Yule log out of pine, but you can make yours of any type of wood you choose. You can select one based on its magickal properties, or you can just use whatever’s handy.

To make a basic Yule log, you will need the following:
A log about 14 – 18” long
Pinecones
Dried berries, such as cranberries
Cuttings of mistletoe, holly, pine needles, and ivy
Feathers and cinnamon sticks
Some festive ribbon – use paper or cloth ribbon, not the synthetic or wire-lined type
A hot glue gun
All of these – except for the ribbon and the hot glue gun — are things you and your children can gather outside. You might wish to start collecting them earlier in the year, and saving them. Encourage your children to only pick up items they find on the ground, and not to take any cuttings from live plants.
Putting it All Together

Begin by wrapping the log loosely with the ribbon. Leave enough space that you can insert your branches, cuttings and feathers under the ribbon. In our house, we place five feathers on our Yule log – one for each member of the family. Once you’ve gotten your branches and cuttings in place, begin gluing on the pinecones, cinnamon sticks and berries. Add as much or as little as you like. Remember to keep the hot glue gun away from small children.
Once you’ve decorated your Yule log, the question arises of what to do with it. For starters, use it as a centerpiece for your holiday table. A Yule log looks lovely on a table surrounded by candles and holiday greenery.
Another way to use your Yule log is to burn it as our ancestors did so many centuries ago. In our family, before we burn our log we each write down a wish on a piece of paper, and then insert it into the ribbons. It’s our wish for the upcoming year, and we keep it to ourselves in hopes that it will come true.
If you have a fireplace, you can certainly burn your Yule log in it, but we prefer to do ours outside. We have a fire pit in the back yard, and on the night of the winter solstice, we gather out there with blankets, mittens, and mugs full of warm drinks as we burn our log. While we watch the flames consume it, we discuss how thankful we are for the good things that have come our way this year, and how we hope for abundance, good health, and happiness in the next.

—-By Patti Wigington

Article found & owned by About.com

 christmas-divider2Holding a Family Yule Log Ceremony

If your family enjoys ritual, you can welcome back the sun at Yule with this simple winter ceremony. The first thing you’ll need is a Yule Log. If you make it a week or two in advance, you can enjoy it as a centerpiece prior to burning it in the ceremony. You’ll also need a fire, so if you can do this ritual outside, that’s even better. As the Yule Log burns, all members of the family should surround it, forming a circle.
If you normally cast a circle, do so at this time.
This first section is for the adults – if there is more than one grownup, they can take turns saying the lines, or say them together:
The Wheel has turned once more, and
the earth has gone to sleep.
The leaves are gone, the crops have returned to the ground.
On this darkest of nights, we celebrate the light.
Tomorrow, the sun will return,
its journey continuing as it always does.
Welcome back, warmth.
Welcome back, light.
Welcome back, life.
The entire group now moves deosil – clockwise, or sunwise – around the fire. When each member has returned to his or her original position, it is time for the children to add their part. This section can be divided amongst the children, so that each gets a chance to speak.
Shadows go away, darkness is no more,
as the light of the sun comes back to us.
Warm the earth.
Warm the ground.
Warm the sky.
Warm our hearts.
Welcome back, sun.
Finally, each member of the group should take a moment to tell the others one thing that they are thankful for about their family – things like “I am happy that Mom cooks us such wonderful food,” or “I’m proud of Alex because he helps people who need it.”
When everyone has had a chance to speak, walk sunwise once more around the fire, and end the rite. If possible, save a bit of this year’s Yule log to add to the fire for next year’s ceremony.

—-By Patti Wigington

Article found & owned by About.com

christmas-divider2 Silent Night

(Tune:  “Silent Night”)

Silent night, Solstice Night
All is calm, all is bright
Nature slumbers in forest and glen
Till in Springtime She wakens again
Sleeping spirits grow strong!
Sleeping spirits grow strong!
Silent night, Solstice night
Silver moon shining bright
Snowfall blankets the slumbering Earth
Yule fires welcome the Sun’s rebirth
Hark, the Light is reborn!
Hark, the Light is reborn!
Silent night, Solstice night
Quiet rest till the Light
Turning ever the rolling Wheel
Brings the Winter to comfort and heal
Rest your spirit in peace!
Rest your spirit in peace!

 —-Ellen Reed

christmas-divider2yule candle

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Hmm, Don’t Know How to Word This, So Just Read!


Litha Comments & Graphics

By the time we get up in the morning, those below the equator will be celebrating Summer Solstice.

It is our wish that you have a very Blessed & Peace Summer Solstice.

May the Goddess Bless You & Yours in the upcoming Harvest season!

 

For the rest of us,

more day till Yule!

Then the Light starts to return to us!

Wherever you are or whatever you are celebrating at this time of year,

Our wish for you & yours….

May the Goddess Bless You with Much Love, Many Blessings and All the Happiness you deserve!

Love ya,

Lady Of The Abyss

&

Witches Of The Craft

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‘THINK on THESE THINGS’ for December 19th

‘THINK on THESE THINGS’
By Joyce Sequichie Hifler

If we could but read it, all human beings carry the marks of their character in the lines of their faces. The very expressions are etched there by habitual thought. The most beautiful features my be blank by expression, lacking depth of thought or understanding, while the plainest face may be lighted with a radiance only sincerity and inner beauty can produce.

Alexander Smith was a Scottish poet who wrote, “On your features the fine chisels of thought and emotion are eternally at work.”

No pretense can hide the thoughts and feelings. The narrowed eyes of suspicion and discontent tattle, while serenity and devotion to others can reveal such beauty of spirit that the shape of the face is forgotten.

“In thy face I see the map of honor, truth, and loyalty,” wrote Shakespeare, and it is safe to say that being able to see those things in another’s face is an assurance that he also had such a face. To see only avarice and selfishness in every expression turned to us is to know that our own expressions lack something to be desired.

Life does not have to be full of ease to reflect beauty. Some of the most beautiful faces in history have not had eyes to see nor voices to move their lips, but have possessed peace and serenity that only faith could render.

 

____________________________________

Available online! ‘Cherokee Feast of Days’
By Joyce Sequichie Hifler.

Visit her web site to purchase the wonderful books by Joyce as gifts for yourself or for loved ones……and also for those who don’t have access to the Internet: http://www.hifler.com
Click Here to Buy her books at Amazon.com

Elder’s Meditation of the Day
By White Bison, Inc., an American Indian-owned nonprofit organization. Order their many products from their web site: http://www.whitebison.org

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Elder’s Meditation of the Day – December 19

Elder’s Meditation of the Day – December 19

“Flexible strength is better than inflexible. Let the storm flow over you, and then pop back up.”

–Michael Kabotie, HOPI

Flexibility is taught by nature. You will see the trees bend in the wind. You will see that tree branches are flexible. To be rigid is to break. When we have life problems it is good for us to be flexible. Sometimes we need to flow with what is going on. If we resist, it becomes more painful. We need to be on the path of least resistance. Water flows down the mountain through the path of least resistance. Electricity flows through the path of least resistance. Power flows through the path of least resistance. As Indian people our strength has always been our flexibility.

Creator, I will be flexible today because I know You are with me.

 

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December 19 – Daily Feast

December 19 – Daily Feast

The road winds along the edge of the woodland and down over a steep hill until it reaches a gradual decline to the river bottom. The land is rich with wildlife, turkeys, rock chucks, squirrels, and in the nighttime this is a meeting place for singing coyotes. Herds of whitetail feed on rich bottom grass, and mountain lions stalk their prey. A little country school was once nestled in the glen and its storm cellar and spring still jut from the overgrown soil. Nearby a wagon road dug deep by many wheels goes on down to cross the river to join community with community. Who were these people, what were their dreams, and how did they overcome all the obstacles? They knew nothing of television or nuclear plants or miracle medicines. Some of them handled life with faith – and so can we.

~ We thank thee that thy wisdom has always provided. ~

SOSE-HA-WA – SENECA, 1851

‘A Cherokee Feast of Days, Volume II’ by Joyce Sequichie Hifler

 

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The Daily Motivator for December 19th – Invest yourself

Invest yourself

To make something special in your life, invest yourself in it. To give richness and meaning to a particular place, or a relationship, or a job or other experience, give some meaningful part of yourself to it.

If you have no stake in it, you won’t get any real joy or fulfillment from it. Just because something is expensive or impressive or popular doesn’t mean that it will enrich your life.

You don’t have to have the biggest, brightest or fanciest. You just have to really care, really give, and make a living investment.

Life is overflowing with great opportunity because it is constantly giving you ways to make a difference. By giving your time, your care, your interest and your love, you transform generic abundance into personal treasure.

The more you invest of yourself, the more valuable that treasure grows. Whatever is already meaningful to you can be made even more meaningful with your care, attention and effort.

Every moment you encounter is a chance to invest yourself in life. Take every opportunity to invest yourself, and enjoy a lifetime of beautiful rewards.

— Ralph Marston

Source:
The Daily Motivator

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The Daily OM for December 19th – Animals In Nature

Animals in Nature
Messengers of Direction

by Madisyn Taylor

Animals in nature always have a message for us, start noticing what animals show up in your life and when.

Animals share our planet with us, but experience it differently—each has its own abilities and gifts that allow them to interact successfully with the natural world. Since we are merely one manifestation of the universe’s energy in action, when we feel the need for direction we can turn to animals in nature for guidance. Animals can show us different ways to approach and deal with our challenges.

As we hold a question in mind, we can begin to pay attention to the animal activity around us. Staring out a window we may notice a bird soaring high in the sky, showing us how to look at our situation from a greater distance. If we don’t get an immediate answer, we can remember that the universe has its own perfect timing that doesn’t heed the ticking of the clock. Instead, we can release our question into the universe’s care, and then trust that an animal messenger will carry inspiration our way. In the meantime, we align ourselves with the universe’s rhythm—opening, humbling ourselves, and shifting our perceptions so that at the perfect time we will be ready. Then, even weeks later, the sight of a small bird hopping from branch to branch may signal for us to use a talent other than our greatest strength and to take small leaps rather than fly over details. A squirrel bounding across an open expanse of grass to stash its latest prize may remind us to check our favorite hiding places for forgotten treasure. Even if we don’t see actual animals, their representations may hold messages; whether we see them in a shape in the clouds, a picture, or a show on television, their symbolic meaning is the same.

Animals are closer to the rhythms and cycles of nature and have fewer distractions from it than humans do. That is why they are the perfect messengers when we are in need of advice. Just by being themselves they remind us of the wisdom of the universe, and that all answers are available to us when we reconnect with our source and with those who know how to be nurtured by it.

 

Source:
The Daily OM

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Winter Solstice: Other Mid-Winter Traditions

Winter Solstice: Other Mid-Winter Traditions

Author: Christina Aubin

Yule/Winter Solstice (between December 21st and 23rd) also known as: Nollaig; Yuletide, Alban Arthan; Juul; Jul; Jiuleis; Joulupukki; Children’s Day; Dies Natalis Invicti Solis; Saturnalia; Mid-Winter; Brumalia; Sacaea; Festival of Kronos (Cronos); Dazh Boh; Chaomos; Inti Raymi; Dong Zhi; Soyal; Sada; Touji; Zagmuk; Sacaea

Other Mid-Winter Traditions

Yule Log

Yule log also known as the Yule clog, and Yule block, is the foundation log for the Yule eve’s hearth fire. When this tradition began is hard to say, it was mentioned in the 1600’s by John Aubrey, however as traditions are they may have well existed far longer than written word.

The Yule Log was the largest log that could fit in the hearth that had to be found and not cut; it was kindled with a section of the prior year’s Yule log. There is much ceremony and lore surrounding the Yule log. The log itself was treated much like a special guest on Yule eve, libations were poured on it, and songs sung to it, it was paraded in with much merriment and festivity. It was considered ill fortune if the log were to go out on Yule day.

“Ever at Yuletide, when the great log flamed in chimney corner, laugh and jest went round.” Aldrich: Wyndham Towers, stanza 5

There is folklore surrounding the use of the ashes of the Yule log — from the missing them with animal feed, ashes stepped in water assisting animals to bear young and for overall animal good health, placing ashes in the nest’s of poultry to increase their yield and ashes used to help in fertilizing the fruit trees in orchards. The ashes of the Yule log were revered as a potent magical entity.

Yule Candle

Yule candles were traditionally large, around a foot and half, candles, which were lighted on Yule Eve. Once lit the candle should not be moved. A small piece of the candle is kept for the following year to light the next Yule candle.

Candles have long been associated with the winter holidays; they cast a soft warm light, whilst reminding us of the central theme of the Winter Solstice holiday. We have always made wax talismans from the wax drippings, infusing them with the greenery we decorated with.

Mari Lwyd

The Mari Lwyd, the gray mare, is a Mid-Winter tradition from the area of Glamorgan and Gwent in Wales, it involves a horse, long since parted, enigmatically returning to life. Today one can see the horse and his companions travel house-to-house, and pub-to-pub through the streets of Llangynwyd on New Year’s Day, due to a revival of the tradition in the 1980’s. Upon the arrival of the Mari and his party the singsongs of introduction, followed by pwnco, a battle of wits. Folks inside the home or pub exchange challenges, mocking one another in verse, which carries on for as long as creatively allows.

Mummers Plays

Mumming plays typically reenact the struggle of Mid-Winter between the energies of life and the energies death and the resurrection of life from death. The Seven Champions also know as the Guisers, the Tipteerers, the Johnny Jacks, the Soulers, the Soulcakers, the Pace Eggers, the White Boys, the Paper Boys, the play actors, still enact mummer’s plays during mid-winter celebrations to this day throughout most areas of the British Isles and has spread into other areas of world with English emigrants and the increasing popularity of Morris Dance groups.

The majority of Mumming Plays feature a battle between a champion and an opponent, reminiscent of the clash between the Oak King and Holly King that is traditional at Mid-winter. One typically witnesses the champion being killed by his opponent, perhaps many times, only to then see the champion brought to life each time by a physician. The other two kinds of the Mumming Plays are the Sword Dance Play and the Wooing or Plough play.

The plays, are difficult to summarize due to their numerous and diverse displays through time and place. From where and when mumming plays became a part of English seasonal celebrations is still a question that puzzles both folklorists and historians. The first certain references to the mumming plays sprung up in the late 18th century, how long they had been around is still a mystery.

Wassailing

“Wassaile the trees, that they might beare; Many a plum and many a peare: For more or lesse fruits they will bring, As you do give them wassailing” Robert Herrick, Hesperides (1648)

Wassailing can be traced back through written history back into unwritten history, when traditions, legends and song were remembered and told, when life itself was magical by just being. Although thought of as of Celtic origins, variations of Wassailing can be found in Ancient Rome and even in the present day Romanian custom of turta.

Wassailing began, according to a fifth-century Saxon legend, by a lovely lasso, the beautiful Rowena. It is she who toasted with the words “Wes-hal”(Good health!) to the English King Vortigern. Rowena toasted to the king with a wine that was a form of the ancient Roman drink hypocras, also know as hyppocras. Hypocras is a type of mulled wine of which spans back through time, it is claimed that this wine is named after the Greek Hippocrates.

Wassailing traditions have taken varied forms, most dependent on the geographic area. All, however, seemed centered firmly around song, drink, merriment, health, fruitfulness, the banishing of spirits bend on ill and the welcoming of those who bring fruitfulness and bounty. The word Wassail is derived from the Old English ‘Wes Hal’, meaning “Good Health” or “Be Whole”

Since times origination apples have been thought to be the “food of the Gods”. Apples have a long and celebrated place in history. Ensuring a good harvest was imperative to the success and survival of families and groups. Some time in the dim past people during winter began toasting and singing to the health of the trees in the orchard.

In some areas, cake and toasts were soaked in cider then brought to the orchard and either laid on the ground around or hung in the braches of the oldest and best trees. This ritual of offering is then followed by a merry ruckus created by those who are wassailing to scare off any bad sprits intent on harming the future apple crop. Singing a traditional, or perhaps not so traditional Wassailing song follows the ruckus. The singing is said to bring the beneficial spirits, who enable a bountiful crop to bless the orchard.

In another tradition, it is the village men who go into the orchards bearing the all important wassail bowl. They share drink, food, song and dance with the apple trees, a merry event indeed. In some places the tree is even threatened with an ax if it not to bear ample fruit, in others the spirits of ill are chased with said ax in hand. As it is with folk customs, the actual components of the custom can vary, sometimes greatly from area to area each adding its own special flare.

Wassail is served in a special Wassail bowl, sometimes known as the Loving cup. Through time the materials used for the Wassailing bowl varied and changed sometimes from silver or pewter, later from wood. The bowl decorated festively – and the Wassail is drunk directly from the bowl. References to Wassailing and the Wassail bowl can be found in the writings of Charles Dickens; by Dickens’ time Wassailing has become entwined with begging door to door.

Traditional Wassailing songs – also called wassails, were sung much like holiday carols.

1. “Here’s to thee, old apple tree, that blooms well, bears well. Hats full, caps full, Three bushel bags full, An’ all under one tree. Hurrah! Hurrah!”

2. “Here’s to thee, old apple tree; Whence thou may’st bud and whence thou may’st blow, And whence thou may’st bear apples enow Hats full, Caps full, Bushel, Bushel sacks full And my pockets full too! Huzza!”

3. “Old Apple-Tree, we Wassail thee, And hoping thou will bear For the Lord doth know where we shall be Till apples come another year; For us to bear well and bloom well, So merry let us be, Let everyman take off his hat And shout to the old Apple-tree; Old Apple-Tree, we Wassail thee, And hoping thou will bear Hats-full, caps-full Three Bushel bag-fulls, And a heap under the stair.”

4. “Apple tree prosper, bud, bloom and bear, that we may have plenty of cider next year. And where there’s a barrel, we hope there are ten, that we may have cider when we come again.

5. With our wassail, wassail, wassail! And joy come to our jolly wassail! A-wassail, a-wassail!

6. The Moon, she shines down; the apples are ripe and the nuts they are brown. Whence thou mayest bud, dear old apple tree, and whence thou mayest bear, we sing unto thee. With our wassail, wassail, wassail! And joy come to our jolly wassail! A-wassail, a-wassail!”

7. “Here we come a-wassailing among the leaves so green, Here we come a-wandering, so fair to be seen. We are not beggars’ children that go from door to door, But we are neighbors children that you have seen before. Love and joy come to you, and to you your wassail too, And God bless you and send you a happy New Year, And God send you a happy New Year!” Our wassail cup is made of rosemary-tree, So is your beer of the best barley. -English North and Midlands traditional song

Yuletide Greenery It is a long tradition for greenery to be brought indoors during the Winter Solstice as a remembrance that even when it seems the world is dead and lifeless, life does indeed persist. Customary greens include holly with its berries, hawthorn, mistletoe, and other evergreens, which are made into garlands, ropes and wreaths and other decorations

The holly and the ivy,
When they are both full grown,
Of all trees that are in the wood,
The holly bears the crown:
O, the rising of the sun,
And the running of the deer
The playing of the merry organ,
Sweet singing in the choir.

– Christmas Carol

Evergreens have long since reminded people of the continuation of life through death, of life in winter, and harkens the eventual return of the Sun. The bringing indoors the evergreens at mid-winter, throughout many cultures, have been documented for as long as there is written records, and as is the way of traditions the practice pre-dates those very records. Evergreens are thought to offer protection and to bring good fortune to the household. Traditional winter evergreens include: Bay, Box, Holly Ivy, Mistletoe, Rosemary, and Yew.
Mistletoe, is an important symbol at Mid-Winter. It is a parasitic plant which has a root system embedded in its host plant. It tends to grow on oak, maple, juniper, cypress and other deciduous trees. It is speculated that kissing under the mistletoe is a remnant of an old fertility ritual this is due to the physical properties of the mistletoe. To the Romans mistletoe was a plant of peace, under which the parties of a dispute would find solution.

In times long past, after the new moon, following the winter solstice, Druids would harvest the mistletoe off the oak trees in a specific Druidic ritual. In England and Wales the farmers would give a bunch of mistletoe to the first cow given birth to after Winter Solstice in later days Christmas, bringing luck to the whole herd. It is believed to ward of fires, lightening, water brought fertility and was an antidote to poison. Its ancient uses can be traced back to the writings of Pliny in his Natural History (77 CE).

Hawthorn, more specifically the Holy Thorn, is an important Winter Solstice as it blooms twice a year — mid-winter and again in May. It is customary to burn the household hawthorn that had been bent and woven into a sphere that had hung in the house as protection and create a new one for the coming new year. Every Christmas branches of the Hawthorn bush at St. John’s are sent to the Queen and Queen Mother, reminiscent this practice during Stuart times.

Holly finds itself one of the most recognizable winter decorations. It is a potent symbol as it bears fruit, its berries, in the deep of winter, reminding that life is always burgeoning forth even when it seems impossible. It is said that Holly can only be brought in the home during mid-winter – to bring it in during other times was unlucky. Holly is a plant generally thought of to be highly protective, thus the tradition of planting it near both homes and churches. It was also used in divination regarding matters of the heart. The size of the berry yield traditionally indicates the severity of the coming winter.

Halcyon Days The Rapper Sword Dance

The “Halcyon Days” are the fourteen windless, days seven days before and seven days after the Winter Solstice, so named for the Greek Halcyon or Kingfisher and their nesting period. The Halcyon Days are calm, peaceful, happy, and prosperous days. The Kingfisher is a symbol of peace and prosperity.

The explanation for the Halcyon Days can be found in the myth of one of the sisters of the Pleiades, Alcyone sometimes known as Halcyone. The myth goes as such:

Alcyone, was the daughter of ®olus, who is the (guardian of the winds and ®giale,. Alcyone married Ceyx of Trachis. Ceyx drowned in a storm at sea. Alcyone, who was heartbroken by the loss of her love, threw herself into the sea upon receiving the news of her husband’s demise. The Gods who pitied poor Alcyone her anguish so they transformed her into a halcyon, the kingfisher of Greece.

The halcyon hen lays her eggs around Winter Solstice at the edge of the sea. In order to ensure the safety of his daughter’s eggs, ®olus stops his winds so the water is calm for 14 days centered on the winter solstice to allow incubation.

Blessed Solstice!

Categories: Articles, Daily Posts, The Sabbats | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

The Summer Solstice: A Time for Awakening

The Summer Solstice: A Time for Awakening

Author: Robin Fennelly

The Great Wheel has turned once again and the longest day, the Summer Solstice, offers opportunity to stand in the heat of Solar Flame, cast the strength of our Inner Sun into the spotlight and bask in the expansive culmination of the prior months’ hard work and efforts.

Many celebrate the Summer Solstice with the story of the Oak King and Holly King. The Oak King having been crowned at the Winter Solstice is filled to bursting with the energy and power of solar energy and light; and it is He who draws the sacred seasons toward the bounty of Summer’s fullness. The Holly King has lain silently in his space of renewed slumber and HE waits to rise again at the time of the Summer Solstice. On the sacred day of the Solstice, the Holly King emerges to claim his own and triumphant in the battle for dominance with his brother now reigns as the keeper of death and rebirth. HE stands in command as the harvest is reaped and the silence of the cold and snows fall upon the lands. HE knows that he will only have half of the year to weave His magick before the battle ensues once again and the world will bow to his brother, the Mighty Oak. They are one and the same but each work their will wearing the appropriate face and archetypal energy in accord with the ebb and flow of the seasons, the expansion and contraction of the energetic state and the necessary demise of one so the other may reign supreme.

It is this same action that is applied to our inner spiritual workings. We work diligently with goal of increasing and expanding the flow of energy that moves within and ultimately arrive at the temporary state of that form of energy being dominant. This dominance must surrender to the gradual giving way towards a new form and a re-birthing (or re-crowning) of what will then serve us in continued growth. And, similarly it often does become an inner battle when we cling too fiercely to the comfort and familiarity of the old way of being. With this thought in mind, I would like to share another way in which to honor this season.

We can use this dynamic of energy to call forth our Inner Sun and the energetic changes that have occurred in concert with the increasing of the outer sun’s strength and have brought us to this midpoint of peak. To consciously engage the energy of the Solstice as a tool for enlivening our inner light is similar to the pulling back and tautness of the slingshot band forming its own state of temporary imbalance in order to send the stone straight, steady and fully propelled on its intended course. It is the tipping of the scales towards one extreme of expansion before the necessary contraction that draws all into a state of equilibrium and (temporary) balance at the equinox. This cycle of expansion and contraction- balance and purposeful imbalance- occur in a pattern of alternating the center of focus and the point of expression.

We find ourselves drawn to the longer days that have been gradually moving towards the apex of this day of the longest hours of light. We feel ourselves emerging into the fullness of this Light filled with the realized potential and life sustaining energy of the sun. We are infused with its power and take pleasure in opening our senses to the full experience of being lit from within and shining that magick on all we encounter. This is the center of our focus and we cling to the last vestiges of daylight before the cycle moves towards the waning time.

And, it is from this place of extreme that we drink in all of the light we able to hold to carry us forward in the days and months ahead, knowing they will bring increasingly shorter hours of daylight and longer times of nightscape. This absorption of the catalytic fires will be the fuel that will burn throughout the months ahead as we move into the space of darkness, cold and introspection and become the lantern of that light.

I usually craft a personal working for the solstices and the equinoxes using the solar energies as the continuous energetic thread. Below is a simple ritual that you may use to celebrate the Solstice as an awakening to and reaffirming of the solar energies that are part of our inherent make-up. Each of the workings I do serves to enliven and increasingly strengthen the solar current. It is this current that I use for energetic protocol and workings. And, it is this current that supports the lunar work that I do. In this way, I maintain the tools that are needed so that I may remain in sync with the energetic tides that flow around me and have as my foundation the Inner Sun that will Light the way.

A Ritual of Awakening

For the working:

1/Gold or Yellow Pillar Candle
1/White Pillar Candle
1/Black or Dark Pillar Candle
Candle snuffer (optional)

Place the candles in a triangular shape on a small altar table. The White Pillar would be the point of the triangle with the Gold on the Left base and the Black on the Right base. A white or gold altar cloth would be suggested. Something plain is preferable rather than a patterned cloth. Everything should be very simple, uncluttered and clean with the candles as the central focus.

Sacred space is prepared is whatever way is compatible with your path. Invoke those Patrons, Guides or Deity that you work with and wish to have witness and support this rite. For my ritual I would use RA, as the sustaining light and Anpu as holder of the dark and the midnight Sun. I also work regularly with Het-Heru (as the Ureaus) and would call Her forth as inner anchor for the energy.

Make statement of your intent to enliven and awaken your Inner Sun that its flame may burn brightly in the months ahead. You want to speak this aloud, so that all of your subtle bodies may respond to the physical vibration of the words you are setting forth.

Begin by lighting the Gold candle. Declare this candle as the energy of the Sun (RA) held in its peak of potency and life sustaining properties. It is the catalyst that bursts forth at the dawn of each day. It is the strength and fullness of light as the midday sun. And, it is the drawing of the solar energies into the belly of night; still burning brightly as its mysteries are held in the Midnight Sun. Take some time to connect with these energies and envision this solar cycle in whatever way presents and feels natural to you. Breathe in deeply, feeling the expansion of your lungs and imagining this expansion as the heat and warmth of the growing sun.

Next, stand before the White Candle (Het-Heru) . Make declaration that this candle represents the pure illumined energy of your Higher Self and the power and strength that is held within. This candle represents your Spirit and the true nature of your being, that flows with the cycles of nature, the seasons, the Universal and Cosmic laws. Feel its resonance within you as you speak each work of description. You may also wish to say your mundane and magickal names, affirming your identify in Spirit and Matter. Using the Gold pillar as Source, light the White candle of your Being. Place the Gold pillar back on its stand. Return your focus to the growing flame of the White candle as the brilliance of Light that is held within the solar fires that have burned so hot and so pure that nothing remains except that which holds All. Breathe your energy into this candle feeling the resonance and connection to the core of your inner sun. And, inhale deeply the reciprocity of its energetic return spreading throughout your body. Allow this enlivened energy to move through your body as it will and making note of where it settles. You may experience a pulsating feeling at the center of your solar plexus or feel something like a sun-filled liquid warmth moving gently through you. Just continue to breathe gently as you envision the circuit you have created of inhale and exhale, receipt and return.

Move to stand in front of the Dark Pillar (Anpu) . Make declaration that this candle represents the coming season of darkness and decrease in visible light. This is also the power and the mystery of the Midnight Sun and the spark of potent flame that lay within the depths of all that gives illusion of shadow. Take a moment to feel the raw energy of this darkness and the imposing silence that reaches long into the night. Using the White Pillar, light this candle. As you do so, declare this as the quickening of the darkness so that it may nurture and hold strong the spark of catalytic flame that will burst forth at the Winter Solstice. Place the White Pillar back on its stand. Return your focus to the Dark Candle and breathe into its flame and open to connecting deeply to the contrast of white/blue flame and dark wax. Envision the lantern of your own Inner Sun lighting the paths of this darkness. Envision the reality that on this earth plane; night and day occur simultaneously with only the designation of geographical location as the determining factor as to what we name as dark and light.

Come to stand at center point in front of these three lit candles. Allow your gaze to move from one to the other, remembering what each represents and the energy of connection you have made. Soften your gaze, and allow the stream of light emanating from each to interweave. Breathe deeply and fully as you relax into this weaving. Soften your gaze further and see these three streams coming to a central point directed towards you. Breathe into this co-mingling of energy feeling its point of connection at the same place you felt the settling of your inner flame previously when connecting to the Gold pillar. Feel the strength of the Sun (Gold Pillar) , Your Inner Sun (White Pillar) and the Midnight Flame (Dark Pillar) coalescing as a singular Source of Light to bring forward and light the paths of your own inner darkness as the year wanes.

When you have received all that is needed, offer up gratitude for this experience. Offer up service to the nurturing and tending of this Fiery energy within and the gift and blessings of the Solar Flame you have received. Stand once again before each of the candles and offer thanks to their individual energies and then gently use a snuffer to extinguish each candle in turn. When you have extinguished the Dark Pillar, take a deep breath in and gently breathe out in exhale of release allowing whatever excess energy you may feel to gently fall away, leaving you feeling renewed and empowered.

Thank the Deities and those seen and unseen Who have offered their witness and support. Close down your sacred space in whatever way is in keeping with your path. Be sure to get something to eat and drink immediately following to ground and center. If necessary, connect with the earth or floor beneath you allowing any excess to drain into the Great Mother.

May the blessings of Solstice Light burn ever brightly informing and infusing all of your actions. Blessed Be.

Categories: Articles, Daily Posts, The Sabbats | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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