Daily Posts

Daily Correspondences, Affirmations, Thought of the Day, Cosmic Calendar, Lunar Almanac, Calendar of the Sun, Calendar of the Moon, etc.

The Gift of Yule: An Illuminated Wheel

The Gift of Yule: An Illuminated Wheel

Author: Robin Fennelly

The night is cold and I stand facing the darkness; thick and almost opaque in its veiling. I think on all that has brought me to this point of the Great Wheel and call to myself the memories of lessons learned and shadowy places uncovered needing nurturance and cultivation. Each memory is illuminated from within and I feel the heat of my Inner Sun flaring out from center’s core; extending light filled streams of connection to each treasured sensation and image.

Tingling energy moves across my back affirming my growing anticipation of the promise held in the rising sun as I await the dawning of the Solstice Sun. I think on the moments of waiting I have seen at this same cycle of time the many years before and how each has held its own joy of new expression. I breathe into these thoughts, envisioning the flame of sunlight growing within myself. I breathe deeply into the joy of being able to turn the focus of that light outwards as the sun gains strength in the sky above and I attune to that same solar cycle within.

I look ahead and see rays of filtered light flowing around and through me casting their long slim finger-like beams on the snowscape in front of me. The time is now. One more deep breath in affirming the strength of the dark that has come before, and I turn to face the rising sun. Dawn of the Winter Solstice has come and with its rising so too does the rising of my illuminated self; forever changed.

As we celebrate the Winter Solstice and the blessings of the return of the Light that holds the promise of lengthening days we are also priming our Inner Light that has been in process of quickening during this waning half of the year. There are many stories that are woven through the cycle of the Wheel, the cycles of the God and Goddess primary among them. I would like to offer an interpretation of the Greater Wheel of the Year as a journey of Light that begins at the time of the Winter Solstice. We are all familiar with the concept of the Divine Spark, Inner Flame or Inner Sun said to reside within each of us. This is the aspect of our being that emits great light and connects us with the outer particles of light, in all of its forms, which surround us. This light serves as a beacon calling to itself the flow of Prana (the life force) that enlivens us and makes us identifiable by our own personal signature to all other beings of light. In rhythm with the outer movement of the Sun and its waxing and waning of energy from solstice to solstice we can attune to our inner sun’s rhythm and use the energy of the Wheel to quicken, enliven, sustain and renew its energy.

I like to use the analogy of a lighthouse, shining the brilliance of its massive light 360-degrees out over the waters as beacon and guide for all to see as they are carried on the waters towards the edge of shore. They have set their course and the light serves to offer up clarity and safety on their journey. We are the strength of that lighthouse and the beacon of light is that which emanates from our inner sun’s core. Each action we take from the time of that light being birthed and renewed at the time of the Winter Solstice is a step towards the brilliance of our own light radiating outward in dynamic outpour towards all whom we encounter.

At the point of its reaching its full spectrum of expression at the Summer Solstice, this light now begins its journey of turning inward. And, the fullness of this light now guides the way for navigation through our inner waters and landscape. It becomes the lantern of the Hermit as we move through the darkness of our fears and doubts and is fueled by those things we find in these spaces that are to be transformed and energized as seedlings of the greater light to be reborn at the Winter Solstice.

The Waxing Sun’s Light

The cycle of the Waxing of the Light begins at the time of the Winter Solstice. This is the space of our inner awakening. Through the energy of this cycle of rebirthing we have opportunity to experience the inner awakening of our own Divine flame. We light candles and wait in anticipation of the rising of the sun on Solstice morning and are uplifted in the joy of the Great Mother and her giving birth to the Sun King of Life. This Light of the Solstice is in process of renewal and what lay hidden beneath the shadow of the longest night and darkness is the time for reaffirming the light within and awaiting the birth of an awakened mind, heart and spirit ready to do the Great Work.

This inner light we have cultivated and called forth continues to grow and we welcome the fires of Imbolc as the sustenance of what the burgeoning of longer days holds as potential. The Goddess takes her place as new mother, fiercely protective of the light she has brought into being. And through the quickening of the fires of this light she begins the process of transformation and renewal as her energy shifts into the form of the Maiden. We guard and nurture the growing flame within as mother and anticipate with the fervency of the Maiden the maturing of what has been created.

We find ourselves now at the time of the Vernal Equinox. This is the pause of respite when there is equal balance of day and night. This is the point of integration and synthesis of the work and effort offered beginning at the Winter Solstice. The Vernal Equinox holds the product of renewal and the stirrings of the increasing state of awareness illuminated by the potential that is held within the fertile space of manifest form. We find the space of balance within ourselves and seek out the opportunity to shine that light more brightly as it has strengthened and we open to taking in more of the light that surrounds us. We begin the dance of enlivened exchange shifting eagerly between what has been and what will be.

This opening to receiving the downpour of the light of growth is the preface to the union of the polarities at Beltane. These take the forms of male and female, God and Goddess and are the positive and negative charges needed to generate sufficient electrical current of vibrant and pulsing Light to flow and move towards a state of overt Life. This is the time of procreation and as such the continuation of what has been seeded within is ready to be conceptualized and brought forth into manifest form. Like attracts like and we use the electro-magnetic attraction of our inner sun to create the cycle of connection and flow to the physical sun. We open to receiving and mirroring back the life giving properties as above, so below, as within, so without.

We continue this expansion of our inner light and reach its apex of form and intent at the Summer Solstice. In opposition to the longest night of the Winter Solstice, the brilliance of full sun and illuminated action holds the power of this outpouring. It is at this point that we have fully ignited our Inner Sun and it is now the time of full expression of the strength and power of its dynamic energy that will carry us forward into the waning light of the year. This lengthened day is the pivotal point of beginning to turn within. The light will begin to dwindle in outward expression and the need to cultivate, and nurture the inner space of light we hold at our core becomes the focus.

I stand in a fragrant field bursting with Summer’s flowers. The sun shines brightly overhead and I feel the radiance of warmth and the pulsing of vibrant light moving through me. I am a reflection of that sun and all that has been nurtured and tended within has grown into the abundant field of beauty that lay before me. I breathe deeply into these thoughts. Affirming my own strength and the longevity of my solar outpouring.

I breathe deeply into the inner space of warmth and see the flaming sun at my center’s core. As I continue to breathe into this truth, the sun begins its descent into the evening. The sky darkens and the final light of sunset retreats; the darkness moving in shadow and drawing this hidden light inward; moving through me as I stand strong and resilient in receipt. The time of the Solstice is at hand and the work of refocusing the brilliance of summer’s light becomes the breath of my intent.

The Waning Sun’s Light

The Waning half of the year supports the process of redirecting the inner light we have brought to its fullness and sending focus inward. We celebrate Lammas and eat heartily of the grain of life, cut down at its peak and offered up as sacrifice to fuel our hunger. As we move through this turning within the need to cull and harvest what will act as the fuel to sustain the brilliance of its fire is the task of intent. In the physical world we gather our food and energy stores and offer up to sacrifice those products which did not thrive in the heat of the spring and summer sun. We look carefully at what we think will nourish and sustain us in the dark months ahead and we choose wisely where we shine our light so as not to exhaust its outward presence.

If we have chosen well and have done the necessary work to maintain that which will carry us through the long night’s journeys those inner fires burn brightly at the time of the Autumnal Equinox. This point of balance offers another time of integration and rest from the efforts laid forth. We begin to settle in as the days grow shorter and the cooler air fulfills the promise of winter’s hold. We spend more time in reflection and stoke the fires of our inner hearth lights, feeding them from what we have brought into this inner space from our plantings during the waning light. The balance of light and dark is the fertile womb that begins the transition of what has been revealed by the inner flames and is ready to become the seeding of wisdom.

The growing darkness consumes the fullness of day and we look to our ancestors as the veils part at Samhain. The fires of the cauldrons and candles light the way for their return to this world in shadow and as specter; and our own inner light shines brightly as beacon to welcome their wisdom into our hearts, minds and bodies. This is the calling to the Midnight Sun and the deep transformation that will illuminate the way of the mystic. This is the sun that burns hot and intent-filled within the earth’s core. This is the hidden sun that although we may not see its face at the midnight hour in our geographical location, the sun has reached its apex of noon at the exact geographical polar opposite. This is the sun of the Great Work that glows its brightest within the fuelings of our will and intent. And, it is within this shadowy landscape that those parts of self which have eluded the sun’s full light are analyzed, refined and embraced as we clear the way for what will be birthed anew at the Winter Solstice.

This journey of Light is one that contracts and expands, much like the astrological retrograde of planetary energy. There is opportunity to reach back in time and space before turning full thrust ahead. And there is space for hovering in momentary pause, not stagnation, but dynamic pause during the balance of the Equinoxes. Each of the cross quarter days offers the point of flexible expansion towards the next contraction or pause. Each is a mini-birth of sorts of the refined energy in preparation for what lay ahead. We return to the Winter Solstice as the cycle begins anew, but we have been changed in the process. Our inner light has transformed every space it has reached and the you that stands waiting to call forth the Light of return emerges from the longest night blazing in full glory.

The night is cold and I stand facing the darkness; thick and almost opaque in its veiling. I think on all that has brought me to this point of the Great Wheel…

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How the Wheel of the Year Works “Down Under”

How the Wheel of the Year Works “Down Under”

Author: Aquarian Tabernacle Church

This year has been an exciting one at WiccanSeminary.EDU. As we bring WiccanSeminary.EDU/Australia online, we have discovered many new and wonderful things about our brothers and sisters from the Southern Hemisphere. Wicca begs us to ask questions that lead us to enlightening answers. As we worked with our new Australian Dean, Adam Barralet (BEAR-uh-lay) , and his assistant Phoenix Silverstar, new and unexpected questions emerged.

“The seasons are opposite, does that make a difference? How do the current Witches practice down there? And ultimately, IF the sabbats are celebrated during different Astrological times of the year, wouldn’t that have an effect on the energy of the Sabbat? And if YES, then what would those changes mean?”

My lifelong work has been about decoding Wicca as an astrological mystery religion, so this was a very juicy brainteaser of a question. Since I had never been to the Southern Hemisphere, I could not know what the energy is like, or how it would be different. So I pulled out my scientific baseline for studying Wicca, “The Wheel of WISE” and began the deciphering process. I figured after forming a theory, we would compare what I found to Adam’s experience.

The Wheel of WISE is my brainchild. It started during my formal training, as my teacher had a wooden spell wheel with what was considered the usual correspondences on it. I loved it. Everyone that came into his shop loved it. After we lost contact, I worked to recreate it. After 15 years of study and tweaking, what emerged changed the way I study magic. I use this wheel in my teachings to help my students and I refer to it any time new questions arise in my practice. The Wheel of WISE helps keep me on track, “As Above, So Below, ” with the sacred sciences our religion is built upon. It keeps me from losing my way or wandering off on a magical tangent. Scientists call this a scientific baseline. I find it an invaluable tool that answers every question I have put to it. This time was no exception.

When the question came, I found some interesting answers that are in flow with the questions of our time. I found that those born in the Southern Hemisphere are born into a different energy altogether. I remembered a public service commercial jingle that echoed the sentiment perfectly, and it kept ringing in my head as I worked through this project. It was as though my guides were chanting it, “More WE, less ME.” I felt we were uncovering something very important to our changing, Post-2012 universe. Whereas the overriding theme in the Northern Hemisphere is the success of the individual, the Southern hemisphere has more of a focus towards success of the community as a whole. Here each individual in the south determines their value based on their ability to contribute to those around them.

Interesting shifts can be noticed where the attitudes of the Northern Hemisphere (which has dominated history in the last few hundred years) about success of the individual has come at the determinant of the greater whole. We now see shifts in consciousness as people across the globe resent individuals, such as the super rich, and are turning back to valuing grassroots and community projects that benefit the whole. This demonstrates a more altruistic existence for humanity. I couldn’t wait to share what I found with the officers at Wiccan Seminary and hear Adam’s thoughts.

Adam explained that most of the people in the Southern Hemisphere only change the times that they present the sabbats, meaning they celebrate Yule in July, rather than December. He tells us that the Gardenarians he knows hold true to the BOS regardless of the season or weather, as the Sun is still in that Astrological sign, no matter where you are on the globe. We had no working precedent or tradition to reference when moving forward with this study other than our own astrological knowledge and understanding of the sabbats. It was an enchanting challenge to unravel these energies.

What we discovered is that in the Southern Hemisphere you are born into a universe of Relationships (Libra) , instead of one focused on the Self (Aries) , where you are a part of something that already exists. Your experience with the world around you is as a member of something larger than yourself – a family, a tribe, a village, etc. As I discussed this perspective with Adam, who also hasn’t experienced the Northern Hemisphere wheel, we discovered some very important differences in the worldview. Understanding these differences can deeply enrich both halves of our globe.

In an effort to share a quick overview of this exciting information, rather than present a long narrative, I offer the following table. This has ended up being groundbreaking in our view of the Southern Wheel of the Year. We are very excited to be presenting this new information in the Wheel of the Year – Southern Hemisphere class starting this January at WiccanSeminary.EDU at new times that are convenient for our Australian and European Students.

Northern Hemisphere (NH)
Ostara @ Aries
Aries is about SELF

Born into a world that didn’t exist before your arrival. Everything in the world is there for you to use to obtain your goals, wants and desires. We define our surroundings by things that are “mine” and “not mine”. We learn of Sacred Selfishness, and the right to thrive.

Southern Hemisphere (SH)
Ostara @ Libra
Libra is about RELATIONSHIPS

Born into a relationship, where you are defined by your place in the family, tribe or village. Your focus is on where you fit in, and what role you play in the whole. We share resources. We look to see how their talents and abilities can benefit the group. This is a time for regaining balance, a constant task of Librans. We are shifting from a time of solitude to a more social time. We prepare ourselves and start to birth projects that will enable us to contribute to the Greater Good. As the weather warms we enjoy more social activities such as BBQs and beach visits. “Mateship”, the concept that we stick by each other, is a theme that is given attention at this time.

NH: Beltaine @ Taurus
Taurus is about LOVE

We seek our partner, the one that makes our heart sing. LOVE is our number one motivation. How the person makes us feel, and what they bring to our world, is the number one consideration. We often fall in love with someone who isn’t good for us in other areas and we work towards learning to be good for each other, so that we can experience the elation of the chemical responses that our company elicits

SH: Beltaine @ Scorpio
Scorpio is about POWER

We seek a partner that compliments our purpose, as well as the family or tribe. One that helps us accomplish our larger goals. We connect with those who help us be better people and who make us more successful in our endeavors. This is also a time when we are summoning and gathering power for our projects. We find strength and passion within and seek resources and people who can help us succeed.

NH: Litha @ Cancer
Cancer is about MOTHER and amp; HOME

At Litha we look for our purpose, what we are supposed to be doing with our life, and how our current surroundings support that purpose. We build a life and nurture a home that supports our needs, and look to improve on ourselves that we may be better able to achieve our goals.

SH: Litha @ Capricorn
Capricorn is about FATHER and amp; REPUTATION

At Litha in Capricorn we are focused on how what we do builds our value to the group. We are concerned about how our actions bring honor to our house. We focus on how to apply our skills and talents in a purposeful way to build a positive reputation within our community.

NH: Lammas @ Leo
LEO is about being APPRECIATED for your INDIVIDUALITY

At Lammas we are experiencing the mastery of our skill and accomplishment. We evaluate our achievements based on how we feel looking at ourselves in the mirror. We thank the Gods for all that they have given us, and demonstrate what greatness we have accomplished with the resources we have been given. We take pride in our work, and appreciate what was sacrificed to achieve it.

SH: Lammas @ Aquarius
Aquarius is about REVOLUTIONARY THOUGHT and amp; HELPING OTHERS

This is a time to reflect on the past cycle. Conscious of those around us, we evaluate our successes often by the reaction of our peers. If we have made a positive change and evoked reassuring feedback, we feel good about our actions. If we have become selfish and forgotten about the welfare of the community, we shall be cut down. In Australia, we have a dislike of over-achievers or showing off. We call it “tall poppy syndrome, ” meaning we disapprove of those who attempt to better themselves at the expense of others. This shows the cultural difference of focus on growing the self where in Australia, if you grow too much of the self, it shows that you don’t do enough to help others.

NH: Mabon @ Libra
Libra is about RELATIONSHIPS

Mabon at Libra is the time that we die and return to the All. It’s the time when we truly experience ourselves as part of a whole, something larger than ourselves. We no longer experience the world as an individual striving to accomplish something.

SH: Mabon @ Aries
Aries is about SELF

This is the time that we have completed our work and we take time for ourselves, to rest. Each individual reflects on what they did and looks at what they can do in preparation for the next year to contribute to the community. It is a time of solace and much attention is given in comparing your work to that of others.

NH: Samhain at Scorpio
Scorpio is about POWER

At Samhain in Scorpio we are merged with the All. We are one with the Goddess. We are part of the whole, the ultimate power in the Universe. We are reunited with loved ones, soul mates, soul families and celebrate our time of reuniting with our true nature. On a microcosmic level, this is the time of year when we start our holiday season and make plans to travel to visit family.

SH: Samhain @ Taurus
Taurus is about LOVE

In Australia they see the dying process as Earth taking you back to her breast to nurture you again. In the north, many of our religions see you dying with your soul rising up to the sky. In the south, they see you as returning to the earth. Many of the Australian Aboriginal myths and stories. Much of it looks at the land and its animals and how they came to be. There is a great focus on connection to the Earth rather than the Heavens.

NH: Yule @ Capricorn
Capricorn is about FATHER and amp; REPUTATION

Here we honor and express gratitude to those that helped us throughout the year with gifts. We forgive those who might have hurt us, and focus on being good people and doing good deeds.

SH: Yule @ Cancer
Cancer is about MOTHER and amp; HOME

This is the time of year to take stock in ourselves, to look at how we were able to be of service in the previous year, and how we can build on that in the coming year. We give gifts that are helpful and needed, especially to those less fortunate.

NH: Imbolc @ Aquarius
Aquarius is about REVOLUTIONARY THOUGHT and amp; HELPING OTHERS

We set goals for the new Year. This is the time when we are most able to make long-term plans, and when we are the most connected to our higher purpose. We plan our next incarnation so that we can most easily fulfill our purpose.

SH: Imbolc @ Leo
LEO is about being APPRECIATED for your INDIVIDUALITY

This is the time when we look at how our unique qualities serve the greater good. We take personal stock and plan our next incarnation based on where we can put our individual qualities to best use for the benefit of the group.

 

____________________________
Footnotes:
This article was written by Belladonna Laveau and Adam Barralet.

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Mother Wit for Yule

Mother Wit for Yule

Author: Sia@FullCircle

I have a quote button on my office bulletin board that says:

“I am the Mother of All Things and All Things should wear a sweater”

Good advice, that. I keep it there to remind me that the Mother Goddess I know is warm hearted, nurturing and very, very practical. Like all good mothers she gently reminds me what is important and what isn’t. I need those reminders on a regular basis and never more so than at Yule.

Don’t get me wrong; I love this time of year. I love the change in the air and in the earth. I love watching the migration of birds and making the wonderful foods that come with cold weather. But I also dread this time of year because with it comes a secular horror I refer to as “Xmas”. (1)

Xmas, the cause of so much winter discontent, is the reason I used to overspend, overeat, and overwork myself in a flurry of Martha Stewart-like activity. But no matter what I did, I could never do enough, buy enough, bake enough or decorate enough to make myself happy.

Xmas stress and the unreal expectations that come with it added to the seasonal depression I already feel this time of year from lack of sunlight. This is not a good time for me to wander through crowds of grumpy, discourteous human beings. Don’t even get me started on the music.

Xmas, I noticed, isn’t just bad for me alone, it is also very bad for the planet. Think of all those landfills packed with wrapping papers, plastic cartons, tinsel and the other non-biodegradable remains of the season. Bah! I said, “down and double down with Xmas”.

So I opted out. I called friends to see how they felt about it. “Would you mind not exchanging gifts this year?” I asked. Every one of them said “No, not at all” in what I can only describe as relieved tones. I now keep a loving, gift giving circle that consists of those people with whom I share special ties. Within that circle of friends and family the adults agreed to keep their gift buying below a certain price, thus making the holiday easier on all of us. I still go a little wild when it comes to giving gifts to my friend’s children but I also take them on walks in the woods, teach them to bake cookies or have them over for a movie night. I’ve found that their parents appreciate having some time off and I get to play Aunt as much as I like.

I was much happier in winter after that, but I still felt something was missing in my life. Then I started on a Pagan path and discovered Yule & Solstice. It is here that I find the joy and meaning in winter.

Yule and Solstice are holidays in tune with our own rhythms. The energy of Gaia becomes dormant, yet remains vital. So too, does my spirit. In my tradition, this is a time for reflection. The animals follow their instincts and take to their dens and shelters. We humans also need a bit of rest and quiet. For me, that is the peaceful meaning of Yule. Add to that the beauty and hope of Solstice; a time of dark, cold reality made easier by the hope we hold of a warmer, more prosperous future. Keeping watch at Solstice links us to our friends in the present day and to our Pagan ancestors long since past.

I began to take back the things of the past many seasons ago. That tree for one thing, that World Tree, that’s mine. And those bright, hopeful candles are mine again, as well. This is a festival of light, after all. That circle called a wreath is mine, so too, the holly bush. Before I became Pagan, I was always drawn to pictures of a stag standing alone in snow. I’d see this design in different forms over the years and it always spoke to me. Now I know why. And look at that old Shaman dressed in furs. He’s mine now, too. He was lost for a time, selling sodas if you can believe it, but he’s back again where he belongs. He still brings gifts, but the gifts he offers are very different than the ones I’d known before.

Yule is also a time for good company and feasting. For our ancestors this was the time when the Harvest was in and the clan gathered to celebrate. Whatever they had gathered or grown that year is all they had to live on until spring. There’s hope in that and terror, too. They knew to watch warily for the winter storms and to fear the floods and freezing temperatures that followed. No merchant ships could bring in supplies in such weather and the game they had hunted so easily in summer was now scarce. This is the time when Death stalked the weak, the sick, the very young and the very old. For that reason this was a time to gather together with friends around the fire. You and I take pleasure in celebrating with our friends and family. For us, such gatherings make for a pleasant diversion. For them it was a matter of survival. “Send out the call to feast”, they said, “and gather the Clan. For we need to know who to count on in the dark days ahead and who will need our support.”

Gifts were exchanged during this season for a variety of reasons. The most important one of all was to strengthen the bonds of family and tribe. Only the very rich could afford to be frivolous in this regard. The rest of us needed and exchanged useful items like needles and cloth, knives and arrows, food, pots or clothing. These things didn’t sit on a shelf, unused, unwanted and gathering dust. They were thoughtfully given and gratefully received because they were needed. Gifts in those days were serious business.

Shamans used this time to meditate and to gather strength and spirit for the long, dark months ahead. I find that I also need to be alone. Sometimes I feel sad, and no wonder; it’s a dark time of the year in more ways than one. Yule invites us to listen to that still, small voice inside ourselves. Go back into the cave for a while and come out again in spring. Change comes in this way. So does renewal.

I want that renewal. In order to get it, I have to avoid the temptation to turn Yule into a Pagan form of Xmas. For if I am not careful, I will get caught up in another round of gift giving, partying and pressure. Some Pagans I know feel pressured to buy Yule gifts for every Pagan friend, Circle member and teacher. If you look at the amount of money and time they spend on Yule and add that to their Xmas obligations, then our splendid holiday could easily become a burden instead of a blessing.

I realize that merchants have to make a living. How could I not? I make my own living that way. But I wouldn’t want anyone to buy things from me that don’t enrich their life or bring them joy. Gifts are for me, as they were for my ancestors, a serious business. This makes me uniquely qualified to offer absolution to any Pagan who needs it and so I will: Trust your instincts here and use your head, as well as your heart. Buy what and as you like but not so much that you suffer next year. None of your friends and family members will be better off if you do that. We are a kind of tribe. Let’s think like one. The good of one of us is the good of all.

Now some of the Pagans I know make or bake every single one of their Yule gifts. I admire their skill and the effort this takes. But as much as I love the crafty part of The Craft, I’ve found that for me, personally, making all my gifts takes up too much of my free time. I’ve learned over the years to carefully preserve some time at Yule to be my loved ones. I am even more jealous of the time I need for myself. I’d make a pretty poor Priestess, otherwise.

The social and sacred rounds pose a challenge for me, as well. I could exhaust myself by attending every Pagan ritual, concert, drumming circle and party or I could go the other way and worry that I’m not doing enough. Some of these “How To” Pagan manuals make it look like everyone else but me is out there having a magical time of it. As I said, I could go down either path but then I might forget that an obsession with people and things was never good for my spirit in the first place. I want my practice to make me more centered and more whole, not more fractured and stressed.

And so I keep that quote button on my bulletin board. It reminds me that the Great Mother encourages me to stay warm, healthy and balanced. She would like me to laugh a bit more and to enjoy time with my friends and she also wants me to spend some time just gazing into the fire. These are the gifts she put into the Shaman’s bag. Like I said, she’s very practical.

Take care of yourselves this season.

Blessed Yule to you and yours,

Sia

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Midsummer/Summer Solstice

Midsummer/Summer Solstice

Author: Christina Aubin

“Turn your face to the sun and the shadows fall behind you.” — Maori proverb

Summer Solstice falls at the precise moment when the Sun’s power is at its zenith. It is the time of year when the noon sun appears to be farthest north from the celestial equator. “Solstice” is Latin for “sun stands still” (sol “sun” and sistere “to stand”). Summer Solstice is so named because to the naked eye the sun appears stationary in its northern and southern progression. The sun is directly over the tropic of Cancer at the summer solstice, at which time the sun is 23¡27′ north. The sun travels 23.5 degrees to reach its maximum distance from the celestial equator during both the summer and winter solstice.

It is the longest day and shortest night of the year. From the moment of Summer Solstice, the Sun immediately begins to wane. The journey into the harvest season has begun.

Midsummer has been one of the important solar events throughout the evolution of humankind. It was an indicator that the year was about to begin waning, thus winter would be again returning. Although not all the ancients were as precise in the calculations from an astronomical point, you can be sure that they were keenly aware of the sun’s progression, and did most assuredly know when Solstice was upon them, as the sun appeared to stand still in its northern progression.

The axis of Stonehenge, which aligns with the monument’s entrance, is oriented in the direction of the midsummer sunrise. The Teotihuac‡n Temple of the Sun, a pre-Columbian temple located in Mexico, was also oriented to the sun’s passage at the Summer Solstice. During the time of the ancient Egyptians, Sirius (the dog star) rose on the Summer Solstice (today it rises August 10) heralding the beginning of their new year, just before the season of the Nile’s flooding. Richard Hinckley Allen suggests that the star is connected with the dog because it was thought of by the ancients as the “guardian of the horizon and also the solstices” (Richard Hinckley Allen’s Star Names: Their Lore and Meaning).Ê The impact of the sun’s journey was one that traversed all the world’s population throughout all time.

The ancients knew that life came from the sun, it was life giving, life supporting, without it life would be lost. The journey of the sun impacted life at every level in the course of time, only relatively recently with the advances of electricity, greenhouses, transportation networks, has human reliance on the passage of the sun been lessened. Even with this dependence lessening, in this technological age, necessity of the sun and its path is crucial to our existence, however it is not as apparent today to many.

Midsummer celebrations begin with Midsummer eve, as the Celts and many ancient groups, reckoned the beginning of day to occur at dream-time or nightfall. Through the progression of Christianity Midsummer’s Eve became Saint John’s Eve, but the roots of which are and were firmly planted in their Pagan origins.

Midsummer Eve is the evening of herbs. The herbs and flowers gathered this night are considered exceptionally potent. St John’s wort, burdock, thorn, and nettle , harvested on Midsummer Eve are hung on doors and windows and placed around the home for protection. Houses are decorated with fennel, orpine (also know as Sedum; live forever; stone crop), St. John’s Wort and birch branches. Royal Fern (Raithneach na Ri) seeds which are gathered on midsummer are said to make the possessor invisible. They who find Royal Fern blossoms on Midsummer’s eve become wise, lucky, wealthy and and all around happy folk. Women wear braided circlets of clover and flowers, while men wear chaplets of oak leaves and flowers around their heads. In times past livestock were also decorated with garlands made of flowers, foliage, and oak leaves.

It is at Midsummer that the Holly King, God of the Waning Year, has encountered the Oak King and succeeded in usurping the reign of the year. In Celtic Mythology the Young God withdraws into the Wheel of the Stars and it is here he waits and learn before his rebirth at Winter Solstice. It is the time when Belenus, Belenos – the Sun god, begins to die, fir-branches; Balefires; were kindled to light his downward path, he will return again at the Winter Solstice, when the Yule logs and lit fir-braches will guide His return. A few of other deities associated with Midsummer include: Lugh, Lleu, Lugos, Aine.

Fire is an important aspect to Midsummer celebrations. The balefires, bonfires on hilltops, at crossroads, or any place where folks could gather reaches far back through the progression of time. The fire of Midsummer is traditionally kindled from the friction of two sacred woods, fir and oak. Nine different types of herbs are thrown upon the Midsummer fire. These consist of mistletoe, vervain, St. John’s Wort, heartsease, lavender, and a choice of four others chosen from herbs typical of this season such as yarrow. Folks would feast, dance and jump the fire for luck and fertility. The herds were driven through the embers in days long ago to purge disease and illness from them. When the fires had burned down, folks would carry ashes back to their homes to sprinkle on fields, the four corners, and lay embers on the hearth. Ashes bring powers of protection, health and luck.

Water is the other important aspect of Midsummer. In times past folks swam in waters that flowed towards the rising sun as it climbed in Midsummer morning sky. Bathing in springs and rivers on Midsummer brings healing, cleansing and protection. The dew of Midsummer is said to bestow health to whomever drinks of it. Especially powerful is fetching running water of Midsummer morn and mixing it with ashes from the bonfire, sprinkling it around the house, yard and on oneself bestows protection and luck.

Midsummer is the time of sweet strawberries, blueberries, cherries, blackberries and more. New potatoes, lettuce, peas, carrots, radishes and onions are ready for picking. Tarragon, chamomile, sweet woodruff, St. John’s wort, hyssop, lovage, mint and other herbs are fresh and delightfully robust. Bee balm, phylox, oxeye daisies, roses, lily of the valley, calendulas, St John’s wort, marigolds and others are in bloom, it is a time of olfactory abundance. Foods and decorations center around what nature has bestowed, rich, colorful and flavorful – mint iced teas, dandelion salads, strawberry shortcakes, geranium leaf sorbet, berry pies, daisy chains, lavender wreaths, rosemary garlands. The pure enjoyment that only summer fresh foods, sweet summer flowers and joyful company that only midsummer can bestow.

Midsummer is the time when everything is abundant and flourishing. Flowers smell their sweetest, colors are their most vibrant, trees are their greenest, berries are their sweetest, and faeries are their most playful, it is the time that nature’s lavishness has reached a pinnacle point. It is said that during a full moon on Midsummer Eve a mortal may witness fairy dances and celebrations. Be sure to leave an offering for the fey on Midsummer eve, so they may think fondly of you and yours.

The passion at Midsummer has escalated from the playfulness of Beltane to a more fervent intensity. Couples who handfasted the year before at Beltane, tend to marry in a more formal handfasting at Midsummer or Lughnasadh. Divination on matters of love are especially powerful Midsummer’s eve. In Scandinavian countries, the night before Midsummer, every young girl places a bunch of flowers tied with nine pieces of grass or nine flowers under her pillow, upon which she will sleep and dream of her future husband. In Ireland the young lasses place yarrow under her pillow to dream of her mate.

The moon of Midsummer have a few names one being the Honey Moon, as this is a time when the hives are been rich in honey, which gathered and fermented into a drink known as mead, customarily, drunk at wedding parties. Mead is rumored to be an aphrodisiac; thus we can observe the roots of modern day marriage practices and “honeymoons”, in their Pagan soil.

This being the season of passion, will, strength and surprisingly that of soothing love – Midsummer is the perfect time to understand the dynamic aspects of passion, will, strength and the need of the corresponding gentle aspects that love can bestow. The Sun and fire, akin to the Spirit upon which we ride, is coupled with, the Soul, the softening Lunar and water influence. Spirit without Soul is ego in a frenzy whereas Soul without Spirit languishes, there needs to be a proper balance between Fire and Water; Sun and Moon; Spirit and Soul. For it is only through understanding these dynamics, acknowledging our deep pounding passions, our intense sense of will, and the strength united with the gentility of love that is bestow upon us can we utilize them correctly. Giving us a sense of purpose, a direction, a heartfelt and determined course upon which we can set sail. For these passions, will take us to heights unseen, will fuel our creativity, and bring us into realms unrealized in the mundane mind and life.

It is through this season that we can see the beauty of life, the intensity of being, the rapture of passion, the exhilaration of awareness, possibilities of creation and the surprising tenderness of love. For it is passion and love that have driven humankind to realize some of its greatest treasures and its most extreme violations. It is only through awareness and conscious action that passion can bring us to the zenith of existence. This is the time to experience our passions and the force within, to be conscious of how we use them and the gifts they can bring and experience our own true power.

Blessed Midsummer to you and yours!

Christina Aubin

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Incense of the Day for Those Down Under is Litha Fire Incense

Incense of the Day

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Litha Fire Incense

Midsummer is a great time for herb gardens, because there are buds and blooms everywhere. This is a powerful time to gather herbs, and also to prepare and use them. Any fresh herb can be dried simply by picking it and tying it up in small bundles in a well-ventilated area. Once they are completely dry store them in airtight jars in a dark place.

To make your own magical summer incense, first determine what form you’d like to make. You can make incense with sticks and in cones, but the easiest kind uses loose ingredients, which are then burned on top of a charcoal disc or tossed into a fire. This recipe is for loose incense, but you can always adapt it for stick or cone recipes. As you mix and blend your incense, focus on the intent of your work. In this particular recipe, we’re creating an incense to use during a Litha rite — and since Litha is all about the sun and its strength, we’re going to make this a fiery and powerful incense. You’ll need:

  • 3 parts myrrh
  • 1 part apple blossoms
  • ½ part bay leaves
  • ½ part cinnamon bark
  • 1 part chamomile flowers
  • 1 part lavender flowers
  • 2 parts mugwort
  • ½ part rosemary

Add your ingredients to your mixing bowl one at a time. Measure carefully, and if the leaves or blossoms need to be crushed, use your mortar and pestle to do so. As you blend the herbs together, state your intent. You may find it helpful to charge your incense with an incantation, such as:

Balance of the heavens and earth below,
The power of the sun in this incense grows.
Cinnamon, mugwort, apple and bay,
Fire and water, on this longest day.
Herbs of power, blended by me,
As I will, so it shall be.

Store your incense in a tightly sealed jar. Make sure you label it with its intent and name, as well as the date you created it. Use within three months, so that it remains charged and fresh.

 

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Incense of the Day for December 19th is Yule Incense

Incense of the Day

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YULE INCENSE

2 Parts Frankincense
2 Parts Pine needles or resin
1 Part Cedar
1 Part Juniper Berries

Mix and smolder at Wiccan rites on Yule or during the winter months.

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Crystal of the Day for December 19th is Salesite

Crystal of the Day

Salesite



Salesite is named for Mr. Reno H. Sales, the Chief Geologist of the Anaconda Copper Mining Company of Chile.

Hardness: 3               
Specific Gravity: 4.77                      
Chemistry: Cu(IO3)(OH)
Class: Iodates – Hydroxyl or Halogen              
Crystallography: Orthorhombic                  
Cleavage: perfect
Fracture: brittle                             
Streak: light green                                
Luster: vitreous


Healing: Salesite is used to treat dehydration and water retention issues. It is also used to assist in the assimilation of vitamins A and C. Saleslite is used to alleviate headaches as well.

Magical Workings: Salesite is known as the “Merchant’s stone”. It is quite useful for those in such professions. It is also an excellent stone for artists, for it enahnces creativity. It is often used in sweat lodges to cast out negativity. Salesite is associated with the astrological sign of Gemini and vibrates to the number of 9.

Chakra Applications: None

Foot Notes: Salesite is found in oxidized copper ore. Salesite is insoluble in water but is easily soluble in nitric acid. The residue left after heating on charcoal is readily reduced to metallic copper.
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Author: Crick
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Herb of the Day for December 19th is Myrrh

Herb of the Day

Myrrh


Its name is derived from the Hebrew murr or maror, meaning “bitter.”


Medicinal Uses: Especially valued as a disinfectant, myrrh is used as a wash for wounds. Use as a wound wash only after the wound has been well cleaned. It has the tendency to seal wounds once it is placed on them. Use the alcohol tincture in water or the tea as a wound wash.
Myrrh promotes circulation and increases heart rate and power. Said to move stagnant blood through the uterus, it has been used for menopause, menstrual irregularities , and uterine tumors. Myrrh benefits diabetes and obesity; the dose is one to fifteen grains. Combined with echinacea and mullein to one quarter part myrrh; steep two teaspoons per cup of water for twenty minutes; take a quarter cup every four hours. Myrrh, goldenseal, arnica, and cayenne can be soaked in rubbing alcohol for a few weeks to make a liniment for bruises and sprains.
Myrrh is used in mouthwashes to soothe mouth and throat irritations.

Prolonged internal use of myrrh (longer than a few weeks) can lead to kidney damage.

Magickal Uses: Myrrh , which is sacred to Isis, is burned to purify sacred space. Myrrh increases the power of any incense to which it is added. Myrrh is also used in healing incenses and sachets. Its smoke is used to consecrate and purify objects such as amulets, talismans, charms, and magickal tools. It also aids meditation and contemplation. The essential oil can be added to blends designed to enhance spirituality and meditation.

Properties: Antibacterial and antifungal. Myrrh contains volatile oil, resin (myrrhin), gum, ash, salts, sulphates, benzoates, malates, and acetates of potassa.

Growth: Myrrh grows as a  small tree or shrub. The bushes yielding the resin do not grow more than 9 feet in height. They are sturdy built, with knotted branches, and branchlets that stand out at right-angles, ending in a sharp spine. It is of the botanical family “Burseraceae”.
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Author: Crick
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