Posts Tagged With: Christmas

Holiday Traditions Through the Zodiac

Holiday Traditions Through the Zodiac

Use Astrology to find your perfect yearly ritual

Sally PhilipsSally Philips on the topics of holidays, astrology

 

What’s your favorite part of the holidays? Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or Winter Solstice, you’ve got plenty of traditions to choose from. Here are some of each zodiac sign’s favorite ways to make the season merry.

 

Aries (March 21 – April 19)

You’re in luck, Aries, because most holiday traditions include your favorite element — Fire! Both Kwanzaa and Hanukkah have candle-lighting rituals that last seven days. On Christmas day, you can take charge of burning the Yule log, an ancient custom that originated in pagan winter solstice Fire festivals.

Taurus (April 20 – May 20)

With all of their delicious traditional foods, the holidays are made for your discerning palate. Christmas party hosts would be wise to check with you when it comes to fine-tuning their spiked eggnog. And if you’re Jewish, surely your latkes are the tastiest.

Gemini (May 21 – June 20)

Some people complain about the holidays being too busy, but this time of year is perfect for your short attention span. You love keeping your dance card chock full as you flit from shopping spree to social gathering. Don’t be surprised if your family nicknames you “the Blur.”

Cancer (June 21 – July 22)

From twinkling lights to boughs of holly, you excel in making your home a warm and comfy haven for intimate gatherings, often decorating with your own handcrafted items. Your friends and family rely on you to create the perfect atmosphere for their best holiday memories.

Leo (July 23 – Aug. 22)

With your big heart, giving thoughtful presents is key to a happy holiday. You also love to hang with the kids because they bring out your playful side … so you’re usually the one on the floor helping them open, assemble and play with their new toys.

Virgo (Aug. 23 – Sept. 22)

You love the miraculous story of Mary’s virgin birth, so you look forward to setting up a creche each Christmas season. Since white is your color, you surround the manger scene with billows of cotton snow. Spraying white frost figures on your windows is another one of your favorites. And if it snows on Christmas day … ecstasy!

Libra (Sept. 23 – Oct. 22)

You have a blast picking out ribbons, paper and other baubles for wrapping presents. It calls on your artistic abilities, satisfies your love of beauty and gives you practice in overcoming your personal bugaboo — indecision — since you’ve only got so many shopping days before your gifts must be wrapped and ready.

Scorpio (Oct. 23 – Nov. 21)

For you, dear Scorpio, it’s got to be mistletoe. Adopted from Scandinavia, this tradition gives you the perfect excuse to amp your favorite flirtation up a notch. One can never tell what will come of a kiss in a doorway … but you could have a very happy New Year!

Sagittarius (Nov. 22 – Dec. 21)

You’re a big fan of getting away for the holidays, but if you must stay home, gambling with your cronies on a Christmas football game — or playing a competitive game online — can satisfy your restless nature. For Jewish celebrants, try a bout of the traditional Hanukkah betting game and spin the dreidel.

Capricorn (Dec. 22 – Jan. 19)

Family traditions of all types make your nostalgic soul happy as long as they follow the same patterns you grew up with. The Christmas dinner table must have all of your favorite dishes, and everything else, from decorating the tree to opening presents, must be “just so” as well.

Aquarius (Jan. 20 – Feb. 18)

Some families have developed a tradition of volunteering to help the needy during the holidays. Whether that means donating toys to children or helping out in a soup kitchen, you and your community-oriented soul are on board. Sending a hefty donation to your favorite cause might also be on your list.

Pisces (Feb. 19 – March 20)

Even though you usually describe yourself as spiritual rather than religious, you make an exception for Christmas when you look forward to attending a midnight Mass. The dimly lit cathedral with twinkling candles, chiming bells, magical singing and chanted prayers feeds your mystical soul.

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Let’s Talk Witch – Christmas and Yule Customs

Winter Images

Christmas and Yule Customs

 

The following article is one of my favorites. It drives this point home and then some, I hope you enjoy it.

Christmas and Yule Customs
by Rick Hayward

Now that Christmas is fast approaching and the year has once more come full circle, most of us will soon be busy adorning the house with brightly coloured decorations, a Christmas tree and all the other paraphernalia that goes to create a festive atmosphere.

Holly and mistletoe will almost certainly be included in our decorations as evergreens have been used in the winter festivities from very ancient times and definitely long before Christianity appeared on the scene.

What Christians celebrate as the birthday of Christ is really something that was superimposed on to a much earlier pagan festival–that which celebrated the Winter Solstice or the time when the Sun reaches its lowest point south and is reborn at the beginning of a new cycle of seasons.

In Northern Europe and Scandinavia it was noted by the early Christian scholar, Bede, that the heathens began the year on December 25th which they called Mother’s Night in honour of the great Earth Mother. Their celebrations were held in order to ensure fertility and abundance during the coming year, and these included much feasting, burning of lamps, lighting of great fires (the Yule fires) and exchanges of gifts.

The Romans, too, held their great celebrations–Saturnalia– from December 17th to 25th and it was the latter date which they honoured as the birthday of the Unconquered Sun. The Saturnalia was characterized by much merry-making, sometimes going to riotous extremes, with masters and slaves temporarily exchanging roles. The use of evergreens to decorate the streets and houses was also very much in evidence at this great winter festival.

That we now celebrate the birth of Christ at the same time is largely due to the early Church Fathers who found it was much easier to win converts to the faith by making Christ’s birthday coincide with an already long established pagan festival. In fact, it wasn’t until the 4th century that Pope Julius I finally established the 25th as the official birthday of Christ; earlier Christians differed widely as to this date– some choosing September 29th, while others held that January 6th or March 29th were the correct dates.

As we have seen, the pagan element in Christmas lives on in the festival at the Winter Solstice. But these elements are also very much alive in our use of evergreens as decorations at this time of year.

Like most evergreens, the holly and mistletoe have long been held to symbolize eternal life, regeneration and rebirth.

Holly, with its bright red berries and dark spiky foliage, has been revered from ancient times as a symbol of life everlasting. It was associated with strength and masculinity and was considered useful in the treatment of various ailments which were seen to lower the vital spirits.

In old England, a decoction of holly leaves was considered a cure for worms; but most of all this prickly evergreen was looked upon as a luck bringer–particularly in rural areas where a bunch of holly hung in the cow shed or stable was thought to favour the animals if placed there on Christmas Eve. Many people used to take a piece of holly from the church decorations at Christmas as a charm against bad luck in the coming year. Holly was also considered a very protective tree which, if planted outside the house, was believed to avert lightning, fire and the evil spells of witches.
An old holly spell describes how to know one’s future spouse. At midnight on a Friday, nine holly leaves must be plucked and tied with nine knots in a three-cornered cloth. This is then placed under the pillow and, provided silence is observed from the time of plucking until dawn the next day, your future spouse will come to you in your dreams.

In certain areas of Wales, it was thought extremely unlucky to bring holly into the house before December 24th and if you did so there would be family quarrels and domestic upheavals. You would also be inviting disaster if you burned green holly or squashed the red berries.

Turning now to mistletoe, it seems that this is by far the most mystical of the plants associated with Christmas and has, from very ancient times, been treated as magical or sacred. It is often included in modern Christmas decorations simply for the fun of kissing beneath it and, though this seems to be a peculiarly English custom, it probably harks back to the mistletoe’s association with fertility.

The real reason why mistletoe is now associated with Christmas is very much a carry-over from ancient practices, when it was considered as somehow belonging to the gods. The Roman historian, Pliny, gives an early account of how the Druids would hold a very solemn ceremony at the Winter Solstice when the mistletoe had to be gathered, for the Druids looked upon this unusual plant, which has no roots in the earth, as being of divine origin or produced by lightning. Mistletoe which grew on the oak was considered especially potent in magical virtues, for it was the oak that the Druids held as sacred to the gods.

At the Winter Solstice, the Druids would lead a procession into the forest and, on finding the sacred plant growing on an oak, the chief priest, dressed all in white, would climb the tree and cut the mistletoe with a knife or sickle made of gold. The mistletoe was not allowed to touch the ground and was therefore caught in a white linen cloth.

On securing the sacred mistletoe, the Druids would then carry it to their temple where it would be laid beneath the altar stone for three days. Early on the fourth day, which would correspond to our Christmas Day, it was taken out, chopped into pieces and handed out among the worshippers. The berries were used by the priests to heal various diseases.

Mistletoe was considered something of a universal panacea, as can be gleaned from the ancient Celtic word for it–uile, which literally translated means ‘all-healer’. A widespread belief was that mistletoe could cure anything from headaches to epilepsy; and indeed modern research has shown that the drug guipsine which is used in the treatment of nervous illnesses and high blood pressure is contained in mistletoe.
Until quite recently the rural folk of Sweden and Switzerland believed that the mistletoe could only be picked at certain times and in a special way if its full potency as healer and protector was to be secured. The Sun must be in Sagittarius (close to the Winter Solstice) and the Moon must be on the wane and, following ancient practices, the mistletoe must not be just picked but shot or knocked down and caught before reaching the ground.

Not only was mistletoe looked upon as a healer of all ills, but if hung around the house was believed to protect the home against fire and other hazards. As the mistletoe was supposed to have been produced by lightning, it had the power to protect the home against thunder bolts by a kind of sympathetic magic.

Of great importance, however, was the power of mistletoe to protect against witchcraft and sorcery. This is evident in an old superstition which holds that a sprig of mistletoe placed beneath the pillow will avert nightmares (once considered to be the product of evil demons).

In the north of England, it used to be the practice of farmers to give mistletoe to the first cow that calved after New Year’s Day. This was believed to ensure health to the stock and a good milk yield throughout the year. Underlying this old belief is the fear of witches or mischievous fairy folk who could play havoc with dairy produce, so here mistletoe was used as a counter magic against such evil influences. In Sweden, too, a bunch of this magical plant hung from the living room ceiling or in the stable or cow-shed was thought to render trolls powerless to work mischief.

With such a tremendous array of myth, magic and folklore associated with it, reaching far back into the pagan past, it is understandable that even today this favourite Christmas plant is forbidden in many churches. Yet even the holly and the ivy, much celebrated in a popular carol of that title, were once revered as sacred and magical by our pre-Christian ancestors.

In view of what has been said, one could speculate that even if Christianity had never emerged it is more than likely that we would still be getting ready for the late-December festivities, putting up decorations, including holly and mistletoe, in order to celebrate the rebirth of the Sun, the great giver and sustainer of all earthly life.

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It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Chri… Yuletide!

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Chri… Yuletide!

Author: Lori Dake

One of the things I truly enjoy doing is decorating for the Holidays, and the Sunday before Thanksgiving is when I start doing my yearly ritual. It was a lot later when I was growing up, sometimes as late as Christmas Eve, because we always had a real tree, and as you all know, real trees tend to dry out and look rather Charlie Brown-ish if it’s left up too long.

I do miss the wonderful pine smell, but I certainly don’t miss the pine needles all over the floor stabbing my toes, or the resin giving me a terrible rash as I string up the lights, nor do I miss the aftermath of what an urban Pagan apartment dweller is to do with a tree that was cut down for our amusement. So, since we use an artificial tree year after year, I get to decorate mine much earlier, as well as lavishly cover our humble abode in twinkly white lights and pretty red ribbons. So, early decorating is a bit of a tradition I have started, and hey – one of the perks of having your own family is to change things up a bit!

And why do I choose to decorate before Thanksgiving? I means seriously! Don’t we always complain about how the holidays are rolling around earlier and earlier, no thanks to the Big Box stores (and all their evilness!) trying to make a few more dollars? Well, quite frankly, I’m going to be busy preparing Thursday’s feast all this week starting on Monday, since I do prep work like a well-founded catering company! Also, since we run a home business predominantly through eBay, the Dakes will be in a retail full swing, trying to compete with those aforementioned Big Box stores and their incredibly low prices! And, Sunday is Clean Up The House! day around these parts, so this is really the only opportunity I have to decorate before Santa starts to pack up his sleigh. That, and well, decorating, for me at least, is a lot of work – an all-day thing actually! – so I want to enjoy the fruits of my labor for just a little bit longer. But I promise, after New Year’s Day, they really do come down! I swear! Really! No ornaments will be discovered with decorated eggs!

So, with this being the Saturday before, I’ve already started straightening up the living room / warehouse to make room for all the decorations, and I’ve even bought a couple new items for this year’s Yule Diorama, which is my version of the Nativity Scene; I have a wolf and a moose to add! I have such fond memories of playing with the cast of characters as a kid, so I restructured the scene to more accurately reflect my Pagan beliefs.

My husband said if I keep adding onto it, that by the time our son has his own kids, my little “manger scene” is going to take up a whole wall! And since almost all of the pieces in my Yule Diorama were originally intended to be children’s playthings, as opposed to being delicate, hand painted porcelain religious icons to be admired and not touched, I happily welcome the thought of having that wall of critters and magickal creatures readily available for my future grandchildren.

We also break another tradition of throwing ourselves into bankruptcy over buying the biggest and best gifts for extended family and ourselves. My husband’s family is huge, and their tradition is that everyone buys everyone a gift. When his sisters, their husbands, their children and now, their children’s husbands and children are factored in, even token five dollar gifts can easily jack up to over a thousand dollars!

So, in order to still manage to give something to everyone, I also invest a full day of cookie baking, with at least four varieties and a dozen cookies per gift bag. (Yes, that’s a LOT of flour and sugar, but soooo good!) Okay, so we end up looking like cheapskates to some of our wealthier family members, especially when the gifts we get in exchange are pretty darn sweet, but I am at least trying to convey the message we do care and hopefully one day, someone will do the math and realize just how much work and love was put into them all. If anything, I got to make my home smell delicious and was able to sprinkle a little magick into their tummies!

Now, one tradition I have retained intact from childhood is to add at least one new ornament for the tree. For at least the last decade, I’ve been desperately searching for a blue Santa, more like a Father Christmas than the Coca-Cola image people are mostly familiar with, because somehow, it just feel ‘right’, for lack of a better term. Our tree is very Pagan-ish, but without being blatant or tacky about it, and I feel it reflects our faith as a whole. So, to find that special Santa would be such a wonderful addition to all the birds, bells, stars, icicles, snowflakes and winter woodland creatures that currently adorn our happy little tree, and it would just plain make me happy.

Here’s the way I see it:

Yes, we’re Pagan, yes we celebrate Yule, but yes, we also open presents on Christmas and have no problem calling them Christmas presents. Sure, we also open a special gift at Yule, but just like any religiously blended family, that’s another perk: more presents for the holidays! But no, we do not send out cards that say “Merry Christmas!” on them, unless we specifically know the recipients celebrate the holiday as such.

Oh, and no – I wouldn’t be offended if you or anyone else were to wish me a “Merry Christmas”. I know a couple times, people have tap-danced around that term, and it always came off as rather awkward, even in email form. I was able to just sense that fumbling around with a half-hearted, generic “Happy Holidays”, and to me, it just took away from the gesture.

Now, while I honestly do appreciate that extra effort, the sentiment is all the same to me, so I kindly ask my friends and family to just say whatever comes to mind. It’s not necessary with us. We always appreciate the sincere wishes, in all its guises. I’m a vegetarian too; as just the same, I’m not out to inconvenience anyone when what he or she gives me is out of love (I’ll just stick with the sides!)

So in closing, I wish a Merry Christmas to you, a Blessed Solstice, a Happy Yuletide, a Happy Hanukkah, a Happy Kwanzaa, a Happy Boxing Day and a thousand other ways to wish you a wonderful holiday, however you wish to call and celebrate it!

PS. Pssst! So hey – if anyone comes across a blue Santa ornament, would you kindly let me know where to find it? :) I’d really like to start a new quest!

______________________________________

Footnotes:
Yule Diorama: http://pagan-wiccan-practice.suite101.com/article.cfm/the_pagan_nativity_scene

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A Little Humor for Your Day – Twas the night before crisis

Twas the night before crisis

Twas the night before crisis,
And all through the house,
Not a program was working,
Not even a browse.

Programmers were wrung out,
Too mindless to care,
Knowing chances of cutover
Hadn’t a prayer.

The users were nestled
All snug in their beds,
While visions of inquiries
Danced in their heads.

When out in the lobby
There arose such a clatter,
That I sprang from my tube
To see what was the matter.

And what to my wondering
Eyes should appear,
But a Super Programmer,
Oblivious to fear.

More rapid than eagles,
His programs they came
And he whistled and shouted
And called them by name.

On Update! On Add!
On Inquiry! On Delete!
On Batch Jobs! On Closing!
On Functions Complete!

His eyes were glazed over,
His fingers were lean,
From weekends and nights
Spent in front of a screen.

A wink of his eye,
And a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know
I had nothing to dread.

He spoke not a word,
But went straight to his work,
Turning specs into code,
Then he turned with a jerk.

And laying his fingers
Upon the ENTER key,
The system came up,
And worked perfectly!

The updates updated;
The deletes they deleted;
The inquiries inquired;
And the closing completed.

He tested each whistle,
He tested each bell,
With nary an abend,
And all had gone well.

The system was finished,
The tests were concluded,
The client’s last changes
Were even included!

And the client exclaimed,
With a snarl and a taunt,
“It’s just what I asked for,
But it’s not what I want!”

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The Witches Magick for Feb. 17th – The Memory Rite

 

Witchy Cat Graphics & Comments

MEMORY RITE

This rite is good for anyone, even those who assume they have had perfect childhoods. You don’t always realize the past is dragging you down until it’s too late and you would be amazed by what you can find out about yourself.

You will need:

Yellow candles

Kamea of sol

A box of any shape or size

A solar incense

And music of a childlike nature to enhance the atmosphere

Preparation:

The box should have a lid. Paint the inside glossy black, or line it with an irregular reflective surface such as aluminum foil. The outside should be decorated with any drawing, pictures or whatever one may want to help evoke a childlike state of mind and help trigger childhood memories.

Start with an opening of any sort you feel comfortable with. Light candles and incense as desired.

State the intent “It is my will to greet my past and accept it for what it is”.

Recite the invocation:

I call the past to meet the present,

That the future may be bright.

I bring myself forth from the dark,

And hold me to the light.

Let not the past control my present,

Let not my future be dark as night.

I meet and greet my with open arms,

And move back into the light.

At this point, one person sits in the center of the group with their box, keeping it closed. She focuses on the box while the rest of the participants circle around, teasing, insulting, degrading her. At this point, the teasing should not be too personal. When she reaches gnosis, she opens the box and gazes inside, seeing whatever she sees. Now the taunting should reach a more personal and vicious attitude. This continues until they close their box again.

The box then is dealt with in whatever manner she sees fit. It can be destroyed, left open in a spot of sunlight, or kept for future uses as it may be a good idea to do this more then once.

When the first person is finished, another takes her place until the entire group has a turn.

Banish with laughter and embraces

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Full Moon Invocation

Full Moon Invocation

Mother, Goddess of moon and star,
Bring Your presence from afar,
Manifest on this, Your night,
And bless me in this sacred rite!
Grant the knowledge and clarity
To understand Your words to me,
Lend Your power, send Your light,
Aid me in my work tonight!
With love and wisdom please embrace,
All within this sacred space,
Mother, I now call to You,
Bring Your message clear and true!

***AutumnRose***

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Your Animal Spirit for February 10th is the Turkey

Your Animal Spirit for Today
February 10, 2014

Turkey

Has turkey gobbled his way into your life today? If so he brings a message of sacrificing for the greater good. To some indigenous tribes, Turkey represents the spirit of the giveaway–a ceremony where those who have more give to those who have less, thus “sacrificing” for others. If Turkey helps you feel the spirit of giving, who can you help?

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CALL OF THE GOD

Witchy Comments & Graphics

CALL OF THE GODI am the radiant King of the Heavens, flooding the Earth with warmth and
encouraging the hidden seed of creation to burst forth into manifestation. I
lift my shining spear to light the lives of all beings and daily pour forth my
gold upon the Earth, putting to flight the powers of darkness.

I am the master of the beasts wild and free. I run with the swift stag and soar
as a sacred falcon against the shimmering sky. The ancient woods and wild places emanate my powers, and the birds of the air sing of my sanctity.

I am also the last harvest, offering up grain and fruits beneath the sickle of
time so that all may be nourished. For without planting there can be no harvest;
without winter, no spring.

Worship me as the thousand-named Sun of creation, the spirit of the horned stag
in the wild, the endless harvest. See in the yearly cycle of festivals my birth,
death and rebirth – and know that such is the destiny of all creation.

I am the spark of life, the radiant Sun, the giver of peace and rest, and I send
my rays of blessings to warm the hearts and strengthen the minds of all.

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