Posts Tagged With: Holly King

A Very Blessed & Happy Yule To All of the WOTC Family!

Yule Comments & Graphics

Days like today are important.
Whether it is getting time to
spend with our offline family
or grasping a few moments with
our online family, it doesn’t matter.
 
 
Every moment is precious, now is the time we
give thanks to the Goddess for our many blessings.
One of my biggest blessings is all of you. Someone
that thinks like you, has the same beliefs and practices,
a kindred spirit.
 
 
I have found many kindred spirits here and for that I am truly
grateful. Some I know well, others I hope to some day. But it
doesn’t matter. Just remember as I celebrate my Yule this
year, I will be thanking the Goddess for each and everyone of you.
 
 
My wish and prayer for you, my dear family, is one of great happiness,
much love, and the Goddess’ blessings on you throughout the year.

Merry Yule,

Love,

Lady A

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Solitary Yule Ritual

Solitary Yule Ritual

Start by decorating the perimeter of the Circle with pinecones, evergreen boughs, sprigs of holly, ivy, oak, and or mistletoe, wreaths, and holly-decorated candles at the 4 quarters.

The candles should be Green for the North, Red for the South, Silver for West and Gold for East, the candles should remain unlit for the time being.

Set up the altar as is most comfortable for you; a gold pillar candle should be unlit on the altar as well.

When you are ready, stand facing the North and say:

“Tonight I honor the darkness, for from darkness is born the light. From the void, the darkest night of the year is at its threshold. And the Sun is born again.”

Face east and light the Gold Candle (not the one on the altar), saying:

Powers of Air, come forward from the darkness Enter my circle, as dark gives way to light. Bring with you the essence of the pine trees, Remind me of Spring on this Solstice Night.”

Going to the South, light the Red Candle and say:

“Powers of Fire, come forward from the darkness, Enter my circle, as dark gives way to light. Bring with you the first glint of tomorrow, Remind me of Summer on this Solstice Night.”

Move to the West and light the Silver Candle, saying:

“Powers of Water, come forward from the darkness, Enter my circle, as dark gives way to light. Bring with you the bittersweet memories, Remind me of Autumn on this Solstice Night.”

Face the North and light the Green Candle and say:

“Powers of Earth, come forward from the darkness, Enter my circle, as dark gives way to light. Bring with you the land that now sleeps, Remind me of Winter on this Solstice Night.”

Finally, take up the Athamé and facing East, the direction of the Rising Sun, take a moment to center yourself and begin to cast the Circle. Visualize a white light coming from the tip of the athamé and with arms straight out, turn the blade point out, slowly turning clockwise the light following you.

When you return to the East bring the athamé back to you and say:

“As above, so below.”

As you say this, visualize the light going above you and below you forming a perfect sphere.

Invoke the God and Goddess

“Goddess of all seasons, I see You now as Mother with Child. Be with me tonight.”

“God of all seasons, I see You now as the dying Sun, and also as a tiny Baby, the Sun Reborn. Be with me tonight.”

Begin the Ritual

“As the darkness grows, I felt the passing of the Sun King. Yet, in the darkest hour of Winter, He is reborn as the light of the Infant Sun. The Great Mother who gives birth to Him, Who brought the Child of Promise to the Earth. It is the Lord of Light and Life who is born once more!”

“Awake now Mother – Awake now Goddess of Life, Death and Rebirth! Awaken, Lady, look upon Your Divine Child, His rebirth while you slept was subtle and silent. The Sun Lord awaits Your wakening!”

Light the gold candle on the altar at this time and say:

“Hail the Oak King, His rebirth a promise! Hail the Divine Child, Giver of Life Hail the Blessed Sun, reborn of the Mother For He retakes His throne at the end of Solstice Night!”

Meditate for a time on the meaning of the Winter Solstice and the return of the Sun. When you are done, thank the Goddess and God:

“Lovely Mother and Tiny Child, Thank you for blessing me with your presence tonight. As the days grow longer, I will know you are always with me.”

Take in the Circle in whatever manner is appropriate for you, and release the Quarters by saying:

“Carry tidings sweet around the world and beyond, I change as Messengers Earth, Water, Fire and Air Let all rejoice loudly in the Sun King’s return Teach all that you meet with tidings that you bear.”

The circle is ended.

 Ritual by Ravenna Angelline

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Spiritual Aspects of Yule

Spiritual Aspects of Yule

Author:   Crick   

As we approach the season of Yule (Winter Solstice, Alban Arthan) , I personally find myself entering a state of both celebration and reflection. When I reach out and touch the heartbeat of Mannuz, I can sense the intense joy of our Sacred Mother. For her son, our God, is about to be reborn, thus completing yet another segment in the Wheel of Life. When we entered the New Year, which commenced with Samhain and began our life travels anew, I found myself filled with an anticipation and excitement of that which is yet to unfold.

But before I look too far ahead, I muse on that which went before. The highs and the lows of the preceding year, that are now all but fading memories. For each experience is a contribution to our spiritual growth, whether it had a positive or negative impact.

I personally feel that spiritual knowledge is a gift and that the more knowledge that one attains that the greater the gift becomes. And there is no greater gift then that of a life experience that has had some effect on our lives.

As the wheel of the year slowly turned, there were at times life experiences that seemed insurmountable, but we found a way over. There were life experiences that caused so much grief, that we cried a river of tears, but we found a way across. And of course there were life experiences that had us laughing so deeply that we could barely catch a breath, but we found a way to breathe.

And so though the past year has been bittersweet, there is still much to rejoice about within the coming Yuletide season.

It is no secret that some religious belief systems have superimposed the alleged birth date of their God over that of the God of the pagans. This was done, in spite of the fact that the placement of the constellations from that period speaks otherwise. But then Yule is not a time to foment ill will, even if an established cause could be presented.

Instead I feel empathy for those who worship a distant and revengeful God to the exclusion of the Sacred Mother, for they are missing out on some of the most ancient joys of life. For not only do we as pagans have such a deep and enduring love from our Mother, but we also draw strength and wisdom from our sacred father. And between the two, we as pagans have an opportunity to walk the spiritual path with a steady sense of balance. It is through our own perspectives and actions that we maintain this balance or fall out of stride.

As individuals, the choice is ours to make. We have the opportunity to draw upon the spiritual aspects offered by both our Sacred Mother and Sacred Father in order to advance within our spiritual growth.

Yule is a feisty, twelve-day period of celebration, a time during which, feasting is a common activity. But while we feast on food to sustain the physical self, it is also a time to feast on the experiences of the year past in order to sustain knowledge for the journey ahead.
Yule is a time of reflection, then acceptance and then of moving on.

Upon the longest night of the year, our God is re-born from the slumbers of death. He brings with him the sacred light by way of the Sun. And from this moment forth the fertility of the land is once again restored. And so too are the fertility of fresh thoughts and new goals introduced into our hearts and souls. Our spirits cherish this moment of his birth for it is a time to shed the chains of the experiences past and to surge forth with a renewed purpose in our lives. The birth of our Sun God is an affirmation that life goes on and that the door to spiritual growth stands wide open.

Yule is a time to celebrate both the joys and the sorrows we have experienced up to this point. For both aspects, that of light and that of dark have strived to offer us knowledge of life that we can use to build upon as we travel forth. The rebirth of the Sun God, who brings so much joy to the heart of our Goddess is a sign that even within the darkness one can always find a ray of light. For his birth marks the time when the Oak King vanquishes the Holly King. This analogy of victory represents the power of light overcoming the power of darkness. This represents a balance and a sense of hope in the challenges of life that await each of us.

The nights become shorter and the days become longer as life begins to stir within the grasp of the Winter Solstice in anticipation of the coming of Spring.

It is a time to realize that no matter how tough or insurmountable a barrier may seem, we have been given the gift of our life experiences as a tool to achieve our spiritual goals.

As a time of celebration, Yule is also a time to be with family and close friends with which to share the joy of our Blessed Mother as she smiles with anticipation at the thought of reuniting with her son, as the time of the sacred birth draws near. For from such relationships we receive the gifts of love. And like a seed that has laid dormant, awaiting the warm touch of the Sun to sprout forth and prosper, we should take heed and allow these moments of love to define our actions and our mind set as we venture forth into the approaching segments of the wheel of life. To let such an experience to wither away with the passing of Yule is to cast such a special gift asunder.

And so with that I wish each of you a very joyous celebration of our Sun God.

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Spiritual Aspects of Yule

Spiritual Aspects of Yule

Author:   Crick 

As we approach the season of Yule (Winter Solstice, Alban Arthan) , I personally find myself entering a state of both celebration and reflection. When I reach out and touch the heartbeat of Mannuz, I can sense the intense joy of our Sacred Mother. For her son, our God, is about to be reborn, thus completing yet another segment in the Wheel of Life. When we entered the New Year, which commenced with Samhain and began our life travels anew, I found myself filled with an anticipation and excitement of that which is yet to unfold.

But before I look too far ahead, I muse on that which went before. The highs and the lows of the preceding year, that are now all but fading memories. For each experience is a contribution to our spiritual growth, whether it had a positive or negative impact.

I personally feel that spiritual knowledge is a gift and that the more knowledge that one attains that the greater the gift becomes. And there is no greater gift then that of a life experience that has had some effect on our lives.

As the wheel of the year slowly turned, there were at times life experiences that seemed insurmountable, but we found a way over. There were life experiences that caused so much grief, that we cried a river of tears, but we found a way across. And of course there were life experiences that had us laughing so deeply that we could barely catch a breath, but we found a way to breathe.

And so though the past year has been bittersweet, there is still much to rejoice about within the coming Yuletide season.

It is no secret that some religious belief systems have superimposed the alleged birth date of their God over that of the God of the pagans. This was done, in spite of the fact that the placement of the constellations from that period speaks otherwise. But then Yule is not a time to foment ill will, even if an established cause could be presented.

Instead I feel empathy for those who worship a distant and revengeful God to the exclusion of the Sacred Mother, for they are missing out on some of the most ancient joys of life. For not only do we as pagans have such a deep and enduring love from our Mother, but we also draw strength and wisdom from our sacred father. And between the two, we as pagans have an opportunity to walk the spiritual path with a steady sense of balance. It is through our own perspectives and actions that we maintain this balance or fall out of stride.

As individuals, the choice is ours to make. We have the opportunity to draw upon the spiritual aspects offered by both our Sacred Mother and Sacred Father in order to advance within our spiritual growth.

Yule is a feisty, twelve-day period of celebration, a time during which, feasting is a common activity. But while we feast on food to sustain the physical self, it is also a time to feast on the experiences of the year past in order to sustain knowledge for the journey ahead.
Yule is a time of reflection, then acceptance and then of moving on.

Upon the longest night of the year, our God is re-born from the slumbers of death. He brings with him the sacred light by way of the Sun. And from this moment forth the fertility of the land is once again restored. And so too are the fertility of fresh thoughts and new goals introduced into our hearts and souls. Our spirits cherish this moment of his birth for it is a time to shed the chains of the experiences past and to surge forth with a renewed purpose in our lives. The birth of our Sun God is an affirmation that life goes on and that the door to spiritual growth stands wide open.

Yule is a time to celebrate both the joys and the sorrows we have experienced up to this point. For both aspects, that of light and that of dark have strived to offer us knowledge of life that we can use to build upon as we travel forth. The rebirth of the Sun God, who brings so much joy to the heart of our Goddess is a sign that even within the darkness one can always find a ray of light. For his birth marks the time when the Oak King vanquishes the Holly King. This analogy of victory represents the power of light overcoming the power of darkness. This represents a balance and a sense of hope in the challenges of life that await each of us.

The nights become shorter and the days become longer as life begins to stir within the grasp of the Winter Solstice in anticipation of the coming of Spring.

It is a time to realize that no matter how tough or insurmountable a barrier may seem, we have been given the gift of our life experiences as a tool to achieve our spiritual goals.

As a time of celebration, Yule is also a time to be with family and close friends with which to share the joy of our Blessed Mother as she smiles with anticipation at the thought of reuniting with her son, as the time of the sacred birth draws near. For from such relationships we receive the gifts of love. And like a seed that has laid dormant, awaiting the warm touch of the Sun to sprout forth and prosper, we should take heed and allow these moments of love to define our actions and our mind set as we venture forth into the approaching segments of the wheel of life. To let such an experience to wither away with the passing of Yule is to cast such a special gift asunder.

And so with that I wish each of you a very joyous celebration of our Sun God.

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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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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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For The Beginner – Witchcraft 101 – Lesson 3

Lesson 3

The 8 Sabbats

Samhain/Halloween October 31 or first full Moon in Scorpio. Ancestor night. Feast of the Dead. Halloween. Pronounced “sow-en” or “sow-un”.  This is the last day of the Pagan year. The new year begins November 1. This is the day when the veil between this world and the spirit world is thinnest. Communication with the dead is easiest and spirits are most common.  Also an excellent night for divination. Feasts and parties are held in remembrance of those who have died. This is a time for resolving problems.

Ways of celebrating Samhain can be the traditional giving of candy to trick-or-treaters, divining, or placing out cookies and cakes for the spirits. Leave doors and windows open as it is thought to allow the dead to pass through the house without getting confused and lost inside.

Samhain (pronounced SOW-EN) literally  means “summer’s end.” Today, Samhain falls on October 31st and most know it as  Halloween. Halloween, from “hallowed eve” (meaning “sacred night”) is one of the  most important and sacred holidays of the pagan year. Traditionally, Samhain  begins at sundown on October 31st and runs through a set of 2 days,: Oct 31st  and November 1st. The days between Samhain and Yule are considered the “Time  which is no time.” Depending on your traditions, the new year can begin at  Samhain or at Yule. This time between the worlds has been considered very  magickal and dangerous. it is a time when the veil that separates the world of  the living and the world of the dead is at its thinnest. It is for this reason  that many consider this to be a time that does not exist on our earthly realm.     Samhain is also called the “Feast of the Dead.” During this  time, the dead can return to visit their loved ones and the gates to faery  kingdoms are opened. It is traditional to leave cakes, honey, milk and cider  outside for the fey. If they are not given gifts of food, they will play tricks  on those who are not generous. most pagans set a place at the dinner table for  their dead ancestor.     Samhain is also known as the “Last Harvest.” Originally  celebrated when the Sun reached 15 degrees Scorpio, Samhain was the last day  that crops were harvested. Animals were slaughtered on this day giving the name  of the full moon in October the “blood moon” and much of the harvest and meat  was dried and preserved and stored away for the coming winter months. Samhain is  a time of feasting and of celebrating the harvest and the gifts of the earth.     Samhain is also a time for divination. it is easier to  commune with spirits, both human and non-human and it is a very powerful time  for divination, especially for divining the outcome of the winter months to  come.     The tradition of trick-or-treating originated in and is  unique to the United States. Children dress in costume and go from door to door  asking for treats. This tradition may stem from an ancient tradition of  traveling door-to-door asking donations of food for the Halloween town feast. It  may also come from the tradition of leaving sweets on the porch for the faery  folk to prevent them from doing harm during the year.     Even jack-o-lanterns come from old Irish traditions. The word  jack-o-lantern comes from the old Irish tale “Jack of the Lantern.” As the story  goes, there was an evil old man named Jack who, upon death, was neither allowed  into heaven or hell and was cursed to roam the earth with only a candle in a  turnip to light his way through the night. Irish children carved and carried  lanterns of turnips, a symbol of the harvest, over the moor sides on Samhain  night. Pumpkins were not used until settlers arrived in America and discovered  squashes along with other harvest symbols such as corn and turkey.     Most importantly, Samhain is a time to spend with family,  both living and deceased. It is a time to think about our own mortality. Altars  are set up as shrines to the dead and are decorated with skulls, skeletons and  other symbols of death flanking pictures and belongings of our deceased and  candles. It is also traditional to light a special candle for the new year and  allow it to burn throughout the night.

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Yule/Winter Solstice December 21 or Winter Solstice. Alban Arthuan. Festival of lights. The first day of winter and the longest day of the year.  This day is celebrated as the death and birth of the Sun God – the Divine Child. The full moon after Yule is considered the most powerful of the whole year. Yule is the celebration of the death of the Holly king and the rebirth and renewed reign of the Oak king.

We celebrate Yule nearly exactly as you would Christmas. When the  pagans of old were taken over by Christian rule, the Christians found it  impossible to convert the pagans. They eventually allowed the pagan peoples to  keep their holidays as long as they did them in the name of their Lord, Jesus  Christ. This is why Christians celebrate the birth of their lord on this night,  even though (even stated in the bible for those bible thumpers out there) Christ  was born in the spring with the lambs. The Yule log, made of oak, is burned as  sacrifice of the old dead Holly king. This day is a light festival, with as many lights on the tree  and altar as possible to celebrate the coming of the new child. Mistletoe is  hung because in the ancient days couples would play out their trial marriages on  this day. ceremonies were held beneath Oak trees strung with garlands of  mistletoe.

Yule is known to Pagans as the “Time of  Great Darkness.” The nights grow long and the days grow short and the Sun before  Yule seems to wither and die. Yule marks the coldest, darkest and harshest part  of the year. Yule is always celebrated on the Winter Solstice. The Christian  holiday Christmas was adapted from the ancient pagan tradition of celebrating  the coming of the newborn Sun/Son to light the world. In the Pagan traditions he  is born unto the Mother Goddess and in the Christian religions he is born to the  Mother Mary.

“The first written record for this  holiday’s occurrence on December 25th was in 354 AD in Rome when one scholar  wrote: ‘It was customary for Pagans to celebrate the birth of the Sun…when the  doctors of the church perceived that the Christians had a leaning to this  festival, they took counsel and resolved that the true Nativity should be  solemnized on that day.’” (From “You Call it Christmas, We Call it Yule” by Peg  Aloi – Witches’ Voice writer)

Pagans celebrate Yule by blessing their  crop plants and animals. A common Yule practice is Wassailing. Apples from the  fall harvest are made into a cider known as wassail. To ensure the fertility of  their apple trees for the coming years, bits of cider-soaked bread were placed  in the branches of the trees and libations of cider were poured over their  roots. Later in history, guns were fired up through the branches to ward off  evil spirits. In the same way, cider was often poured on livestock to ensure  their fertility and good health for the next year.     Kissing under the mistletoe also stems from ancient Celtic  traditions. The Winter Solstice was a time for marriage ceremonies. There was  feasting and games and couples who wished to marry would come together at this  time. Mistletoe was considered a very sacred plant and was thought to grow  between the worlds symbolically because it grew on trees and not out of the  ground. It was considered especially lucky when mistletoe grew on oaks because  oaks have antibiotic properties which prevent fungi from growing on them.  Mistletoe on oak was a symbol of harmony in unity and became an important symbol  for marriage. Garlands of mistletoe were strung between trees and couples would  dance or pass under the boughs and kiss, thus sealing their marriage for 1 year  and 1 day. After this time if they no longer wished to be married, they could go  their separate ways. This began the modern tradition of kissing under the  mistletoe.     Holly is used in Yule decorations to symbolize the Holly King  who dies at Yule to make way for the Oak King. The Yule log stems from this  tradition. Some say that the log should be oak, some say ash and others say  holly. Burning the Yule log symbolizes the sacrificial death of the Holly King  and the reign of the Oak King over the second half of the year. The Yule log is  decorated with paper decorations and plants such as holly, mistletoe, and  evergreen sprigs. Red ribbons and tinsel are tied to the top of the  log  before it is burned in the fire. The Yule log must be lit on the first try and  must remain burning for 12 hours for good luck. a piece of the log is saved to  use to light the next year’s fire.     There are many ideas on where Christmas trees originally came  from. Some say that the practice originated in ancient Egypt. Others say that it  stems from ancient tree-worshiping practices. Today many Pagans refuse to cut  down trees and use fake trees instead. Those who still cut down trees every year  say that you must cut your own instead of buying one and afterward, the tree  should be burned.     During this night, the longest night of the year, Pagans  light as many candles as can be found both to symbolically wait out the death of  the Lord and to celebrate the coming of new light. At no other time of the year  is light more sacred. Many believe that it is taboo to extinguish any flame or  to travel at Yuletide.     Feasting has always been a Yule tradition. These meals  celebrate the harvest that was gathered in the autumn and to celebrate the  passing of winter. It is the time when the days begin to grow longer as the Lord  grows stronger and climbs further and further up the sky. Tables, altars, and  Yule trees are covered in lights and candles. As many lights as possible lie  strewn about in anticipation of the birth of the new child Sun King from the  womb of the Mother.

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Imbolc/Imbolg/Candlemas February 1 or the first full moon in Aquarius. Brigantia, Imbolc, Candlemas.

The time of cleansing and newborn lambs. The name is from “oimelc” or “sheep’s milk”. The word has also been know to mean “in the belly.” Festival of the maiden, in preparation of growth and renewal. Time of spring cleansing.  Festival of the goddess Brigit, whose breath gave life to the dead.

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Ostara/Spring Equinox March 21. Ostara, Aeostar, Easter. Spring Equinox. The first day of spring. Time when light and dark are in perfect balance, yet the light is growing stronger. Sowing time in the North. New beginnings.

Ways of celebrating are dying beautiful eggs and leaving them in the forests and the gardens for the spirits and little people. Leave dyed eggs in the fields to promote fertility of crops and abundance. You can also celebrate by allowing the children to find the eggs and then going back and leaving the most beautifully dyed eggs for the nature spirits. This is also another Pagan holiday turned Christian. One must wonder, after all, what dyed eggs and fertility bunnies have to do with Christ’s resurrection. This is also a time for lovers to get together. Celebration often involves lovemaking.

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Beltane/Mayday May 1 or first full moon in Taurus. May Day. Lady Day. A fertility festival with nature enchantments. Powers of elves and fairies are growing and will peak at the Summer Solstice. A time of great magic, it is good for divination and for establishing a woodland or guardian shrine.

Ways of celebrating are building shrines to nature spirits. This is the time to honor the house guardians. Leave small gifts of honey cakes, wine and sweets for the little people.

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Midsummer/Summer Solstice June 22. Alban Heruin. The first day of Summer. This is a time of dedication to your religion. The sun casts three rays to light the world.

Celebration includes dedication ceremonies, giving of thanks and the lighting of yellow candles.

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Lughnassadh/Lammas August 1 or the first Full Moon of Leo. Lunasa. This is the turning point of the year. The waning God and waxing Goddess.

Celebration includes harvest festivals and spell work for good fortune and abundance.

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Mabon/Autumnal Equinox September 21, Alban Elved. First day of autumn. The balance of light and dark. Time of long rest after labor and completion of the harvest. A time of thanksgiving.

Celebration includes quiet feasting, and meditation and reincarnation in preparation for Samhain.

The Esbats Esbats are the full and new moons of every month. Certain spell work is done during different phases of the moon.

-Spells for invoking or drawing things toward yourself are done on the Waxing (getting larger) moon. -Spells for banishing or repelling things away from you are done on the Waning (getting smaller) moon. -The full moon is the most powerful moon. Most spells are done during the full moon. Spell work is often for banishing unwanted influences, protection magic, and divination. Planning, releasing and working backwards in time are done on the full moon as well. -Spells for renewal and new beginnings are done during the new moon, as well as personal growth, healing, and the blessing of a new project or venture. -A blue moon is a month that contains more than one full moon.

There are thirteen full moons during the month:

January – Wolf Moon February – Storm Moon March – Chaste Moon April – Seed Moon May – Hare Moon June – Dyad (pair) Moon July – Mead Moon August – Wyrt (green plant) Moon September – Barley Moon October – Blood Moon November – Snow Moon December – Oak Moon (variable) – Blue Moon

The Pentacle

The pentacle, or pentagram, is the most revered and most popular sign of the craft. It is similar to the Cross or Crucifix of the Christian religions. This symbol has nothing to do with the devil or with evil.  Devil worshippers use this symbol inverted as a symbol of Satan, but it has  nothing to do with the devil in our religion. Devil worshippers use this symbol  because it was once a popular Christian symbol used to signify the five wounds  of Christ. It was abandoned early in history but can still be found in much of  the art and architecture of old churches and monasteries. This, for its  protection and Christian meaning, was the symbol carried on sir Gawain’s shield.

In witchcraft the pentagram and pentacle represent the five  elements and are symbols not only of the religion, but also as a sigil of protection and unification. The elements are Earth, Air, Fire, Water, and Spirit. This is not to be confused with the Holy Spirit of the Christian religion. The spirit is the energy vibration attributed to each and every thing. People have them as well as animals, stones, trees, planets, moons, stars, even the universe. It is often used for protection and is included on most amulets and talismans. It can be drawn in certain ways to promote specific results in spell work.

The banishing (getting rid of something – i.e.: negativity,  evil, etc.) pentagram is drawn starting at the bottom left-hand point going up to the top, down to the bottom right-hand corner and so on. This pentacle is drawn this way in all rituals involving banishing. It is also drawn over doors and windows to prevent evil from entering a space.

The invoking (bringing something toward you – i.e.: money,  luck, etc.)  pentagram is drawn starting at the top corner, down to the bottom left hand corner, up to the top right hand corner and so on. The invoking pentacle is drawn in this way when you want to draw something toward you or to gain something. This pentacle heightens power and aids in invocative spell work.

The pentacle is also representative of the five points on the human body. The circle is considered feminine and is indicative of the womb and the points represent the male member. Sometimes the inverted pentacle is used to signify the God and the upright pentacle is used to represent the goddess. This method is not often used, however, as it has very evil connotations in other religions. In many other pagan religions, the pentacle was the symbol of the earth or the earth-womb and is often used to signify the earth. It is also used to represent the God and Goddess at each point. The top three points represent the aspects of the goddess: Maiden, Mother and Crone. The bottom two are the aspects of the god: Oak King – light, and the Holly King – dark. It also represents the 5 stages of     life: birth, Maiden, Mother, Crone, death. The Wiccan kiss, or the five-fold kiss is used in ritual and is represented by the pentacle: feet, knees, womb, heart and lips.

The All – Gods and Goddesses Witches do not worship any single God or Goddess. Witches believe in the balance and equality of all things. The All is sometimes referred to as the Wiccan deity. The All is just that. It represents  everything of everything. It is all that is and is not. The All is divided into two “categories” which are masculine and feminine. All gods are of the masculine division and all Goddesses are of the  feminine division. Think of it as the yin and the yang. Dark an light, good an  evil, male and female. Though there are two parts, they are always together,  always the same and yet different, and always co-existing in harmony.

The God and Goddess do not really play a part in my religion as I choose to work with spirits and elements. It is hard and rather unnerving for me to envision gods who look and act like people (which seems also highly unlikely to me). If you choose to incorporate them into your religion then you will wish to know the following:

The God: Lord of the underworld (not hell), the sun, life itself, passion, male aspects. Fire and Air elementals. He is worshipped in rituals for passion, fertility, meditation and all other fire and air rituals.

The Goddess: Mate and Mother of the lord. (yes, it sounds strange, doesn’t it?) She gives birth to the new lord in the winter and when the male aspect grows older in the spring, becomes her lover. She is motherhood, femininity, water, earth, the moon, the night,  love and caring, nurturing, and also a warrioress and fierce protector.

List of Gods and Goddesses -by Silver Ravenwolf

GODDESSES:

Aphrodite: Greek; Goddess of passionate, sexual love. Aphrodite will assist you in pulling loving energy toward yourself.

Aradia: Italian; Queen of the Witches, daughter of Diana. Aradia is an extremely powerful entity and a protectress of Witches in general.

Arianrhod: Welsh; Goddess of the stars and reincarnation. Call on Arianrhod to help with past life memories and difficulties as well as for contacting the Star People.

Artemis: Greek; Goddess of the Moon.

Astarte: Greek; Fertility Goddess. Whether you wish to bear children or have a magnificent garden, Astarte will assist in your desire.

Athena: Greek; Warrior Goddess and Protectress and Goddess of wisdom. Someone giving you a rough time at work? Call on Athena to help you.

Atlas: holds the world up on his shoulders: symbol  of strength

Atropos: Goddess of Death

Bast: Egyptian; Goddess of Protection and Cats. Bast is great for vehicle travel as well as walking down a dark alley. Call on her essence in the form of a giant panther to see you through to your destination.

Brigid: Celtic; Warrior Goddess and Protectress. Brigid is also a Triple Goddess. She is strong and wise. Call on her to help protect your children in a rough situation.

Ceres: Roman; Goddess of the Harvest.

Cerridwen: Welsh; Moon and Harvest Goddess, also associated with the Dark Mother aspect of the Crone.

Demeter: Greek; Earth Mother archetype. Excellent Goddess where birthing or small children are involved. Goddess of the harvest

Diana: Roman; Moon Goddess and Goddess of the Hunt. Diana is many faceted. She is a seductress (as she enchanted her brother Lucifer to beget Aradia in the form of a cat) as well as a mother figure for witches.

Dryads: Greek feminine spirits of the trees.

Flora: Roman; Goddess of Spring and Birth. For beautiful flower, babies and all bounties of Earth Mother.

Fortuna: Roman; Goddess of Fate.

Freya: Scandinavian; Moon Goddess and wife/lover of Odin. Also commander of the Valkyries.

Gaia: mother earth; goddess of the earth

Hades: God of the underworld

Hathor: Egyptian; Protectress of Women in business. A Hathor’s Mirror is very important for the Witch. Hathor was cunning as well as beautiful.

Hecate: Greek; Goddess as in Crone or Dark Mother.

Hera: Greek;  Goddess of marriage and childbirth. If handfasting or some type of commitment is the issue, Hera is the Goddess to seek. Just remember that she has a vindictive side.

Hestia: Greek; Goddess of home and hearth. Building a house, remodeling or apartment hunting. Safety in the home and the family unit.

Inanna: Sumerian; Goddess representation of the Mother.

Isis: Egyptian; represents the Complete Goddess or the Triple Goddess connotation in one being.

Kali: Hindu; Creative/Destructive Goddess. Protectress of abused women. Kali-Ma should be called if a woman is in fear of physical danger. Her power is truly awesome.

Lilith: Hebrew; Adam’s first wife and said to be turned into a demoness; however, if ou have ever read any of Zecharia Sitchin’s work, you may change your mind. In my opinion, Lilith was a Star Woman bred with Adam. This would make her a goddess of Higher Intelligence o a representation of the Star People.

Maat: Egyptian; Goddess of Justice and Divine Order. Maat is the true balance of any situation. She plays no favorites and will dispense justice to all parties involved. Be sure your own slate is clean in the situation before you call her.

Morgan: Celtic; Goddess of Water and magic. Morgan was said to be married to Merlin. It was from him that she learned her magic. She was also doubled with the Lady of the Lake.

Muses: Greek; Goddesses of Inspiration who vary in number depending upon the pantheon used.

Nephtys: Egyptian; Goddess of Surprises, Sisters and Midwives.

Norns: Celtic; the three sisters of the Wyrd. Responsible for weaving fate – past, present and future.

Nuit: Egyptian; Sky Mother. Often seen depicted in a circular fashion cradling the stars.

Persephone: Greek; Goddess of the Underworld as well as Harvest. Daughter of Demeter.

Selene: Greek; Goddess of the Moon and Solutions. Appeal to Selene to bring a logical answer to any problem.

Valkyries: Scandinavian; women warriors who carried the souls of men slain in battle to heaven.

Venus: Roman; Goddess of Love and Romance.

Vesta: Roman; Goddess of Fire.

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GODS

Achilles: Great warrior

Adonis: Greek; consort of Aphrodite. Also another name for “Lord.” In Phoenician his counterpart is Astarte. A vegetation god. Roman counterpart is Venus.

Anubis: Egyptian; guardian of Isis. Jackal-headed God of Protection, death and the underworld. Call on him to protect both home and person.

Apollo: Greek and Roman; twin brother of Artemis. God of the Sun, Light and the Arts.

Apsu: Babylonian; his mate is Tiamat.

Cernunnos: Celtic; Horned God and consort of the Lady. Also Kernunnos. Lord of the wild, spirit, animals and plants; nature in general.

Cronus: god of time

Erebus: personification of darkness

Eros: Greek; God of Romance and passionate love.

Hephestus: blacksmith of the Greek gods

Horus: Egyptian; Head of a Falcon and body of a man. God of the all-seeing eye and healing.

Hymen: Greek; God of Marriage and Commitment. His counterpart is Dionysus.

Lucifer: Italian; Soulmate and Brother of Diana. Father of Aradia. God of the Sun and Light.

Mithra: Persian; Sun God and bringer of Light. A soldier’s God.

Neptune: Poseidon: god of the sea

Nyx: god of night

Odin: Scandinavian; counterpart of Freya. This is the God who hung on the Tree of Yggdrasil to obtain second sight. His familiars are the Raven and the Wolf. In his youth he is depicted as a terrible God, in his old age as a God of Wisdom and psychic sight.

Osiris: Egyptian; counterpart of Isis. Over-all God form including vegetation and after-life.

Pan: Greek; God of Nature and the woods, laughter and passion. Also music and personal abandon.

Poseidon: Greek; God of the Sea. His familiars are dolphins and horses.

Ptah: Egyptian; Expert craftsman and designer. God of creative enterprise with the hands.

Shiva: Hindu; consort of Kali. God of the universal cycle of birth-death-rebirth. Shiva can be both kind and terrible.

Thor: Scandinavian; God of Sky and Thunder. A kindly God of the common people, including farmers and sailors.

Thoth: Egyptian; God of Reincarnation. Also a Moon God and favorable to science and wisdom.

Uranus: god of the sky

Zeus: supreme ruler and father of the gods

Magical Names There are many kinds of witches and many different beliefs on the Craft name. Some will tell you that you must be given your name by an accomplished witch after a year and a day of study. I believe, as do others, that you only need to choose a name that you like. It should be a name that you feel comfortable with. A Craft name can be changed at any time (because you change as well) and many witches will change their names a number of times before they settle on one for life.  You do not have to choose a craft name, but many witches choose one for their working. It is a symbol of rebirth and using a craft name allows you to step out of your “real” self so that the pressures of daily life can be left behind you when you are performing magic and rituals. There is also a numerological method of determining if your name is right for you. Though I do not use this method, many will swear by it. Begin by adding the digits of your birth date:

May 10, 1980 = 5+1+0+1+9+8+0=24=2+4= 6

in the above case, your astrological number would be 6. Then you would take your name and refer it to a numerological chart as follows:

1          2            3            4            5            6            7        

A         B            C            D            E            F            G

J           K           L           M            N           O            P

S         T            U            V            W           X           Y

 

8         9

H        I

Q        R

Z

Take your craft name and determine the number of each letter. Then add them together as you did your birth date.

AmberSkyfire = 1+4+2+5+9+1+2+7+6+9+9+5 = 60 = 6+0 = 6

If both of the numbers from your name and your birth date match, then your name is said to be right for you.

Lady Pixie  Moondrip’s Guide to Magickal Names - go ahead, have a laugh

Witchcrafted

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Esbats and Sabbats – The Holy Days of Witchcraft

Esbats and Sabbats – The Holy Days of Witchcraft

By

Every religion has its own days of power, reverence and  celebration. Wicca is no different in this regard. The holidays that Wiccans  celebrate are referred to as Sabbats, or the Eight High Holy days. They occur  approximately every six weeks, and denote the changing of the seasons. The sun,  as a representation of the God, is revered during a sabbat, and the ceremony for  a particular holiday is often performed at high noon. The other type of holy day  that is more familiar to most people is the Esbat. The Esbat is a monthly  occurrence that generally coincides with the moon being full. It is the night  when witches gather to perform ritual and magickal workings for the coming  month.

This article will detail all of these holy days and  hopefully shed a little light on what witches do throughout the year to honor  their Deities.

The Esbat
As stated  above, the Esbat is a ceremony that coincides with the cycles of the moon.  Generally, the day that it is done occurs when the moon is full, though this is  not necessary. The full moon is significant because witches firmly believe that  the power of magickal workings wax and wane with the phases of the moon. When  the moon is waxing, or becoming fuller, it is good to perform rites that are  drawing things to you or increasing positive influences in general. When the  moon is waning, or diminishing, it is good for banishing influences that are no  longer wanted, or getting rid of negativity. Yet when the moon is full, the  magickal workings are at their peak, and it is good for nearly any rite that a  witch may wish to perform. The new moon, or dark moon, occurs when the moon is  not visible at all. During this time, the rites that are performed are either  for extreme protection rites or negative magicks.

On whatever day the esbat is performed, it is done in the  evening or at night. The reason behind this is that these rites are meant to be  working with the Goddess, who represented by the moon.

The actual process of performing the esbat can be summed  up very concisely. The witch or coven will gather at a designated ritual space.  There, they will cast a circle, and perform rites that will raise their magickal  and psychic power, and then direct that power at their desired goal. Since there  are so many variables as to what a witch or group of witches may wish to direct  their energy, it is difficult to offer up an example of what these rites may  entail.

However, one of the things that is a common theme among  esbats is that it is a time for connecting and communing with Deity. This is  often done by the reciting of The Wiccan Rede and The Charge of the Goddess  while in circle. Afterwards, time may be spent in either meditation or  performing acts of divination with tarot cards, runes or other means. This is  followed by a communion of cakes and wine, where the gathered witches will  celebrate their coming together and catch up on the previous month and make  plans for the coming one. Then the ritual circle is opened, the leftover cakes  and wine are offered up to Nature, and the witches will go their separate  ways.

The Eight High Holy Days
There are eight major holidays that Wiccans celebrate:
- Samhain (pronounce saw-vin or sow-en)  – Yule – Candlemas – Ostara – Beltane – Midsummer -  Lammas – and Mabon

Each of the Holy Days represents a different turning of  the seasons, and a different phase of life. The common representation of these  phases is the God, though many practitioners incorporate an aspect of the  Goddess in some fashion as well. They are primarily Sun festivals, and, unlike  esbats, the rituals are often performed when the sun is at its highest in the  sky.

Sabbats are usually large gatherings where entire families  will come together and celebrate with food and drink in addition to the  religious rites.

Samhain
Samhain is  probably the most recognizable of all of the Wiccan Sabbats. It falls on October  31st and signifies the ending of one cycle of the year. While many view it as  the beginning of the next yearly cycle, that does not actually occur until Yule  in December.

The main symbolism behind this holiday is death and  honoring loved ones that have passed on. It is commonly thought that on this  night, the veil between the worlds is at its thinnest, and witches take  advantage of this opportunity to communicate with their family and friends who  have passed on.

Samhain is also the last harvest festival of the year, and  the last opportunity for the coven and their families to come together to share  their resources before digging in for the winter. The period of time between  Samhain and Yule is spent contemplating plans for the coming year and  remembering the year that has passed.

Yule
Yule is  generally thought to coincide with the Christian holiday of Christmas. This is  not precisely so. Yule actually falls on the day of the winter solstice, which  generally falls on or around December 21st.

The significance of this holiday is that of rebirth. This  is the day where the days begin to grow longer, and the sun is making a  comeback. The general representation of this is of Holly King, a Dark God,  passing and being replaced by the Oak King, or Sun God. Though the sabbat that  signifies the beginning of the year may vary from tradition to tradition, this  is the one that is most popular in signifying the beginning of the year.

All of the sabbats represent a phase of life, and Yule  falls into the fertility category. This is a time of conception, where the  beginnings of life begin to stir. When covens and families come together on this  holiday, plans begin to be made for the coming year, as well as preparations for  the coming spring.

Candlemas
Candlemas  is also known by the name of Imbolc. It is well and truly the first fertility  festival of springtime. The specific date that this day falls on varies from  tradition to tradition, but it can be anywhere from January 31st to February  2nd. At this time, we are beginning to see the very first signs of spring, and  the renewal of life.

The festivities for Candlemas all center on clearing out  the old and making way for the new. The Maiden aspect of the Goddess is honored  at this time, as are any Gods and Goddesses that relate to love and fertility.  This holiday is considered an especially auspicious time for a new marriage or  relationship.

One of the traditional symbols of Candlemas is the plough.  They are often decorated and incorporated into the festivities. Another  tradition for the holiday is to create a besom, a simple broom constructed of  twigs or straw, and use it to ritually cleanse the home. It is then placed near  the front, symbolizing sweeping out the old and welcoming the new.

Ostara
Also called  Eostar, this High Holy Day falls on the spring equinox, on or near March 21st.  This is the second of the three fertility festivals. Springtime is coming on  full force at this time, and planting for the year’s crops is well underway. New  spring growth can be seen everywhere, and the Gods are petitioned for luck with  the crops and the home.

Two of the traditional symbols for this holiday are the  egg and the rabbit. The egg is an emblem of new life and new growth, and it is  incorporated into many ritual workings and festivities at this time. The rabbit,  known for its prolific mating habits, is also a symbol of growth and abundance.  Both also symbolize change. The Christian faith has fully adopted both of these  symbols into their celebrations that occur at near the same time.

Beltane
Also know as  May Day, this Holy Day falls on May first. It is the last of the fertility  festivals for the year, and with it comes unabashed sexuality for many  traditions. The May Pole is one symbol of this holiday that is found throughout  many traditions. It is a tall pole set in the ground, symbolizing the Sun God  uniting with Earth. It is decorated with long ribbons and fresh flowers, and, of  course, maidens traditionally dance around the pole.

One of the traditional May Day activities for this holiday  is to secretly leave baskets of flowers and goodies at the doors of your  neighbors.

Generally, this is a holiday that celebrates and revels in  the return of the sun.

Midsummer
This Holy  Day celebrates the God, represented by the sun in all of his glory. It is  celebrated on the summer solstice, when the longest day of the year takes place.  Midsummer is neither a fertility festival nor a harvest festival. In this way,  it is similar to Yule. On this day, rites often center on protection for the  home and family for the coming year, rites of divination, and celebrating the  abundance of The Oak King in his prime of life.

For those who work with faerie energy in their rites,  Midsummer is an ideal time to commune with them. It is a common tradition for  witches to go out in the twilight and look for faerie folk in stands of oak, ash  and thorn trees.

Lammas
Another name  for this holiday is Lughnassadh. It occurs on August 1st, and it is the first of  the three harvest sabbats celebrated by witches. Attention turns now to harvest  the crops and gardens, and preparations begin for the coming winter. The days  are beginning to grow shorter, and the Sun God begins to lose his strength as  the days grow shorter.

As this is the time of year when we first begin to reap  the bounties of harvest, it is often a holiday accompanied with feasting and  celebration. Decorations and dollies are often made from dried ears of corn, and  used in rites and to decorate the home.

Mabon
Mabon is the  primary harvest festival, counterpoint to Ostara, and it occurs on the Autumnal  Equinox. On this day, witches pay homage to retreating daylight, and prepare for  the coming winter. This holiday symbolizes the God in old age and readying for  his impending death and rebirth.

Though this holiday is a little more somber than the rest  of them, it is also one where Wiccans are sure to give thanks for what they have  received throughout the past year. It is a popular time of year for witches and  pagans to give back to their communities, and generally share their bountiful  harvests.

With so many holidays to celebrate, Wiccans always have  something to look forward to in their faith. As the seasons come and go, witches  around the world celebrate the wheel of the year. Though traditions and names  may be a little different from place to place, they are all basically the same  at heart.  Thanks for reading, and, as  always: Blessed Be!!

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