The Sabbats

How to Make Ice Candles

How to Make Ice Candles

By , About.com

Ice candles are a lot of fun and easy to make during the winter months. Since February is traditionally a snow-filled time, at least in the northern hemisphere, why not make some ice candles to celebrate Imbolc, which is a day of candles and light?

You’ll need the following:

  • Ice
  • Paraffin wax
  • Color and scent (optional)
  • A taper candle
  • A cardboard container, like a milk carton
  • A double boiler, or two pans

Melt the paraffin wax in the double boiler. Make sure that the wax is never placed directly over the heat, or you could end up with a fire. While the wax is melting, you can prepare your candle mold. If you want to add color or scent to your candle, this is the time to add it to the melted wax.

Place the taper candle into the center of the cardboard carton. Fill the carton with ice, packing them loosely in around the taper candle. Use small chunks of ice — if they’re too large, your candle will be nothing but big holes.

Once the wax has melted completely, pour it into the container carefully, making sure that it goes around the ice evenly. As the hot wax pours in, it will melt the ice, leaving small holes in the candle. Allow the candle to cool, and then poke a hole in the bottom of the cardboard carton so the melted water can drain out (it’s a good idea to do this over a sink). Let the candle sit overnight so the wax can harden completely, and in the morning, peel back all of the cardboard container. You’ll have a complete ice candle, which you can use in ritual or for decoration.

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Snow Magic

Snow Magic

By , About.com

When winter rolls around, in some parts of the world there is an abundance of wonderful white stuff – snow! If you live in one of those areas, it makes sense to take advantage of snow’s natural properties and work those energies into your magical endeavors. Think about, for starters, some of snow’s physical characteristics. The most obvious one is that it’s cold. It’s also white. Sometimes it’s light and powdery, other times it may be heavy and wet. How can you incorporate these into your magical workings?

  • If you’re a fan of candles, make ice candles – they’re are a lot of fun and easy to make during the winter months. Try the instructions here: Imbolc Ice Candles to make your own ice candles.
  • Build a snowman as a very large magical poppet. Assign a snowman the magical task of being a guardian at the entrance to your property.
  • Got a bad habit you need to get rid of? Form that bad habit into snowballs, and throw them as far away from you as you can.
  • Snow quartz crystals are often associated with fulfillment of hopes and dreams. Use actual snow instead of crystals in workings related to wishes and goals.
  • If someone is bothering you and won’t leave you alone, try this simple bit of magic. Write their name on a slip of paper, and pack it in snow in a zip-loc bag. Place the bag in your freezer, and leave it there until the person “chills out.”
  • Go for a walk in the woods on a day that it’s snowing. Enjoy the silence, and the magic of the snowfall – some people report that they have experienced messages from the Divine as they walk on a snowy day. Perhaps it’s because we’re better able to hear the gods when it’s quiet!
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History of Yule

History of Yule

By , About.com

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. 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 Horus – 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.

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Aspects of Yule

Yule Comments & Graphics
Aspects of Yule

Time of deepest darkness
The God is born anew
Seedling in the frozen earth
Awaiting springtime dew.

The ground, an icy wasteland,
Though neighbors hearts are warm
We share our goods with everyone
So no one comes to harm.

Snow lies on her shoulders
Frosted mantle for her hair
Winter’s Queen is giving birth
The Goddess, always there

The sun is growing brighter.
It happens every year
Promising return of light
For sod and oak and deer

Stag King, his mighty antlers
Rising from a drift
Leaps for the hunter’s arrow
Just as strong and swift

He knows his time has ended
He is heading to the plain
Where joy caresses memory
Like softly summer rain

New fawn takes his first step,
The buck he will become.
After the time of knowing
A new year has begun.

(poem by: Zephyr Lioness )

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Good Monday Morning, My Dear Family & Friends!


The Childs’ Wonder

“Daddy”, she said, her eyes full of tears,
“will you talk to me and quiet my fears?
Those bad boys at school are spreading a lie
’bout the impossibility of reindeer that fly.
There’s no Santa Claus, they say with a grin there’s not one now and there has never been.
 
How can one man take all of those toys
to thousands of girls and boys?
But I told them Daddy, that they were not right,
that I would come home and find out tonight.
Mama said wait until you come home.
Please tell me now that I was not wrong.”
 
Her Daddy looked at her questioning face
and puffed his pipe while his frantic mind raced.
He had put this off as long as he could,
he had to think fast and it better be good.
Whispering a prayer, he began with a smile,
 
“Remember at circle how we learned to pray,
asking the Goddess to take care of us each day?
And you know how we say a prayer before each meal?
To this same Goddess whom we know to be real.
Though we never see her, we know she is there
watching her children with such loving care.”
 
“The Goddess started Yule a long time ago
when she gave us herself to love and to know.
A spirit of giving came with that gift,
and her generosity filled the whole earth.
Man had to name this spirit of giving
just as he names all things that are living.”
 
“The name Santa Claus came to someone’s mind
probably the best name of any to find.
There is, you can see, and I think quite clear
Truly a Santa who visits each year.
A spirit like the Goddess, whom we never see,
She enters the hearts of your mother and me.”
 
“Each year at Yule for one special night
we become him and make everything right.
But the REAL spirit of Yule is in you and in me
and I hope that you are old enough now to see
that as we believe and continue to give,
our friend Santa Claus will continue to live.”

~Author Unknown~

 

 

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Reindeer Folklore

Reindeer Folklore

Santa’s reindeer most probably evolved from Herne, the Celtic Horned God. Eight reindeer pull Santa’s sleigh, representative of the eight solar sabbats. In British lore, the stag is one of the five oldest and wisest animals in the world, embodying dignity, power and integrity. From their late Autumn dramatic rutting displays, stags represented strength, sexuality and fertility. As evidenced by multiple prehistoric excavations of stag antler ritual costumes, the wearing of stag antlers in folk dance recreated the sacred male shaman figure called Lord of the Wild Hunt, Cernunnos, or Herne the Hunter, among others–he who travels between worlds, escorting animal spirits to the afterlife and sparking wisdom and fertility in this world. Likewise, the stag’s branching antlers echo the growth of vegetation. In America, the stag represents male ideals: the ability to “walk one’s talk,” and powerfully, peacefully blend stewardship and care of the tribe with sexual and spiritual integrity.

In Northern European myth, the Mother Goddess lives in a cave, gives birth to the sun child, and can shape shift into a white hind, or doe. Therefore, the white hind was magical, to be protected and never hunted. In myth, graceful running women of the forest–who were actually magical white hinds–brought instant old age or death to hunters who chased them.

To the Celts, all deer were especially symbolic of nurturing, gentle and loving femaleness. White deer hide was used to make tribal women’s clothing. White deer called “faery cattle” were commonly believed to offer milk to fairies. In Britain amongst the Druids, some men experienced life-transforming epiphanies from spiritual visions or visitations by white hinds, balancing and healing their inner feminine energy. In Europe white hinds truly exist, and are many shades of warm white cream-colors, with pale lashes–otherworldly in their peaceful and modest behavior. To many Native American tribes, deer are models of the graceful and patient mother who exhibits unconditional love and healthy, integrated female energy.

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Let’s Look At The Folklore About Santa Claus

Folklore of Santa

Santa is a folk figure with multicultural roots. He embodies characteristics of Saturn (Roman agricultural god), Cronos (Greek god, also known as Father Time), the Holly King (Celtic god of the dying year), Father Ice/Grandfather Frost (Russian winter god), Odin/Wotan (Scandinavian/Teutonic All-Father who rides the sky on an eight-legged horse), Frey (Norse fertility god), the Tomte (a Norse Land Spirit known for giving gifts to children at this time of year), and Thor (Norse sky god who rides the sky in a chariot drawn by goats). Julbock or Julbukk, the Yule goat, from Sweden and Norway, had his beginnings as carrier for the god Thor. Now he carries the Yule elf when he makes his rounds to deliver presents and receive his offering of porridge.

When Early Christians co-opted the Yule holiday, they replaced the ancient Holly King with religious figures like St. Nicholas, who was said to live in Myra (Turkey) in about 300 A.D. Born an only child of a wealthy family, he was orphaned at an early age when both parents died of the plague. He grew up in a monastery and at the age of 17 became one of the youngest priests ever. Many stories are told of his generosity as he gave his wealth away in the form of gifts to those in need, especially children. Legends tell of him either dropping bags of gold down chimneys or throwing the bags through the windows where they landed in the stockings hung from the fireplace to dry. Some years later Nicholas became a bishop–hence the bishop’s hat or miter, long flowing gown, white beard and red cape.

When the Reformation took place, the new Protestants no longer desired St. Nicholas as their gift-giver as he was too closely tied to the Catholic Church. Therefore, each country or region developed their own gift-giver. In France he was known as Pare Noel. In England he was Father Christmas (always depicted with sprigs of holly, ivy, or mistletoe). Germany knew him as Weihnachtsmann (Christmas man). When the communists took over in Russia and outlawed Christianity, the Russians began to call him Grandfather Frost, who wore blue instead of the traditional red. To the Dutch, he was Sinterklaas (which eventually was mispronounced in America and became Santa Claus). La Befana, a kindly witch, rides a broomstick down the chimney to deliver toys into the stockings of Italian children. These Santas were arrayed in every color of the rainbow–sometimes even in black. But they all had long white beards and carried gifts for the children.

All of these Santas, however, never stray far from his earliest beginnings as god of the waning year. As witches, we reclaim Santa’s Pagan heritage.

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NIGHT STALKING: STAR-WATCHING

NIGHT STALKING: STAR-WATCHING

by Stormy
This is the time of year when many interesting things happen. As we approach the Winter Solstice on December 21, the days are shorter, and the nights are longer and colder. The frosty nights make for some very interesting sky activity. More UFOs are reported at this time of year than at any other time.
The magnetic pole activity is increased around the Solstice, and there are some wonderful displays in the most northern regions. Sometimes these magnetic lights, known as the Aurora Borealis, are seen as they streak from pole to pole by those living further south.
These dark and frosty nights also enable us to see the Milky Way better. But to really see the stars well, you need to get away from the city, and visit the countryside where electric lights and streetlamps are rare. Go outside and look toward the most northern horizon. The Milky Way appears as a dense band lighting the sky with millions of stars, divided by a dark area with fewer stars. The Aborigines of Australia, refer to this dark area dividing the Milky Way as a river. Most of Europe and Western Asia say the Milky Way is spilt milk, or even rain. The Desna Indians of the Amazon called the Milky Way the ‘brain in the sky.’
There is a fascinating event that sometimes happens on the shortest day of the year if the moon is right! A year from now, on December 21, 1995, the moon will be new and it will be a very dark night. On December 22, 1995, the Winter Solstice, there will be the beginning of a thin waxing crescent moon which will not be seen at night. Either on the eve of or the day of the Solstice, go out at night between midnight and 2 a.m. to witness the sun bleeding over the North pole from the completely opposite side of this planet! The northern sky will appear rosy-red above the northern horizon.
I believe we’ll see this next year. I experienced this phenomenon on Winter Solstice, 1993, last year, and it was an awesome sight. I didn’t telephone anyone in the middle of the night to tell them about it, and I’m sure I have friends who were disappointed I didn’t wake them up from their warm beds to share the sight.
This year on the Winter Solstice, which is on December 21, the moon sets at 9:13 a.m. E.S.T. and rises at 8:03 p.m. E.S.T. This means the night will probably be too bright to see the bleed-over of the sun because the waning moon will be just six days past the full moon.
Keep an eye on the Big Dipper this year. Those in the north can see it fairly well. In the south it dropped below the northern horizon and is now rising back up, dipper first and handle last. If you can locate the Big Dipper (see previous issue, #11), you can locate the North Star, Polaris, and a star constellation known as Cassiopeia’s Chair (see diagram, this page). This time of year it changes from an ‘M’ in the fall, to an upside-down ‘B’ or Greek-looking ‘E’ in the winter, to a ‘W’ in the spring, and then a ‘B’ in the summer. Even in the most southern areas of the United States, Cassiopeia can be seen clearly throughout the entire year. In the fall, this queen sits high on her throne, only to get dumped off of it during the winter months. She certainly deserves it for what she did to her beautiful daughter, Andromeda! Cassiopeia is well-known for having chained her daughter to the rocks as a sacrifice to the ugly sea monster Cetus, which was actually a sea whale. Persus asks Andromeda to marry her and she will consent if he saves her from Cetus. Pegasus, Persus’s flying horse, saves Andromeda and she keeps her promise to Persus by marrying him.
Enjoy star-gazing this time of year. Watch for falling stars, and if you see a real UFO, keep your camera or camcorder handy!
Sources:
Krupp, E.C., Ph.D. Beyond the Blue Horizon, Myths and Legends of the Sun, Moon, Stars, and Planets. 1991. Harper Collins Publishers, New York, NY.
Pearce, Q. L. Stargazer’s Guide to the Galaxy. 1991. Tom Doherty Assoc., Inc., New York, NY.
Pennick, Nigel. Practical Magic in the Northern Tradition. 1989. The Aquarian Press, Hammersmith, London, England.

Raymo, Chet. 365 Starry Nights. 1982. Simon and Schuster, New York, NY.

The Hazel Nut

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