Posts Tagged With: Middle Ages

Celebrating 365 Days A Year of Legends, Folklore & Spirituality for November 25th – Chinese Harvest Moon Festival, St. Catherine’s Day

Forest Dragon

November 25th

Chinese Harvest Moon Festival, St. Catherine’s Day


It is around this time of the year that the Chinese celebrate their Harvest Moon Festival. According to Chinese beliefs, the moon influences the crops and is therefore held in high esteem, especially when it is full. The chief symbol of the Moon Festival is the “moon cake,” a small cake made in the shape of a moon. The cake is about an inch thick and filled with sweetened soy bean paste, whole egg yolks, and melon seeds. The cake is backed to a golden brown and served with pomelo, which is similar to a grapefruit except twice as large and very sweet.

Unlike a lot of Chinese festivals, which are preceded by days of preparation and often followed by days of recovery, the Moon Festival only lasts one day. Along with the moon cake, small figures of rabbits and other small animals are made into cookies and placed in small reed cages. The use of the rabbits has special significance. According to Chinese mythology, a rabbit lives in the moon, forever busy pounding out the elixir of life.

St. Catherine was one of the major female saints of the Middle Ages, always portrayed with the spiked wheel on which she was to have been broken, but which itself was broken by a thunderbolt from heaven. According to her legend, she was a virgin of noble birth and exceptional intelligence who bested 50 philosophers in a debate ordered by the emperor. She was known as Catherine of the Wheel and the patron of spinsters. On her day in France, women have the right to ask men to marry.


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The Daily OM for February 19th – An Alphabet of Enlightenment

An Alphabet of Enlightenment

by Madisyn Taylor

When casting the Runes you will find illumination in the unlimited possibilities laid out before you.

Many millennia ago in northern Europe, ancient peoples sought a means to understand their roles in the world at large. They created runes—an alphabet of symbols that served both as a functional writing system and as a unique system of divination. Though the symbols themselves were little more than varying combinations of straight lines carved on natural mediums such as wood, stone, or bone, these individuals devised a method of comprehending the past, making sense of the present, and interpreting the future using the runes as guides. The significance of each symbol was a product of its general orientation once cast and its location with respect to other runes. In the present, runes can play the same role in our lives that they played in the chronicles of distant history. Through them, we open ourselves to a form of universal guidance that helps us help ourselves.

There are many casting styles, each of which serves an individual function. Casting a single rune can help you answer specific questions or choose a daily meditation subject. Three runes, cast during confusing or distressing situations, provide you with insights into the past, present, and future—as represented by the first, second, and third runes cast, respectively. A nine-rune cast can help you understand where you are on your spiritual path. The runes that land face up relate to your current circumstances and the events leading up to them, and any runes touching are read as concurrences. Rune readings, however, are by their very nature subjective and open to interpretation. Your casting style should reflect your intuitive knowledge of your needs. Grabbing a handful of runes to cast at random can be just as effective as choosing a set number to cast.

Whether you buy your runes or carve them yourself is less important than your sincere desire to understand the messages conveyed to you via this alphabet of enlightenment. Your intentions will have a direct impact on the wisdom you receive while casting. The runes are representative of forces outside of the realm of human understanding, so your intent will act as your anchor. By simply reading the runes, you will find illumination in the unlimited possibilities laid out before you in each new cast

The Daily OM

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Daily Feng Shui News for Feb. 19th – “Amethyst”

February’s birthstone is the amethyst, an amulet that is closely associated with sobriety, courage and prudence. This gemstone purportedly protects from drunkenness and can even help someone recovering from a bad breakup to stop obsessing over their ex. This stone is also recommended for stress removal and is believed to help treat mild mental conditions. Hold this stone in your receptive hand (the hand opposite that you write with) and its peaceful vibrations will soon soothe and calm. It’s a true gem of a stone.

By Ellen Whitehurst for

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Valentine’s Day: Another Kind of Love

Valentine’s Day: Another Kind of Love

Spread love to everyone during this Aquarian holiday

Jeff Jawer   Jeff Jawer on the topics of love, blogs, astrology, aquarius

Valentine’s Day is this Friday, February 14. The holiday that celebrates romantic love seems to have nothing to do with the saint for which it was named. Its association with amour began in the 14th century, about 1000 years after the death of St. Valentine. Although it’s a great way to sell chocolate and flowers and, hopefully, to open hearts, the astrological association with the holiday is almost as strange as its connection with a martyred priest.

The Sun is always in Aquarius on February 14. This is the sign of the Water-bearer but it’s not a sentimental Water sign. Aquarius is an Air sign characterized more by the head than the heart. Aquarius is about friendship, community and collective ideals rather than couples. It tends to be chilly, using the intellect to step back from the messy world of feelings to achieve understanding with the mind. Aquarian love is universal rather than personal and usually needs some emotional breathing space and independence to counter the confinement of intimacy.

Valentine’s Day, like Aquarius, is more about an idea than about reality. Its origins in the 14th Century reflect the romanticism of the Middle Ages … which was a model for spiritual rather than erotic love. (Robert Johnson’s book “We” is a good source of information on this subject.) Romantic yearning represented a desire for a divine connection, not personal pleasure. The partner was a symbol for God and the desire to experience sacred union. This model comes closer to Aquarius because it’s an ideal instead of a physical reality.

A higher plane

But the myth of romance has permeated culture for so many centuries that we’ve lost sight of its higher meaning. The unspoken expectation of becoming complete within a relationship is bound to produce disappointment. While personal love can be a delicious affirmation of our desirability, and intimacy serves as a bulwark against isolation, human partnerships usually fall short of our highest hopes. The familial, emotional, physical and financial connections we share within them have their divine moments but cannot confer immortality or answer life’s biggest metaphysical questions.

Romantic love comes with strings attached. Desire, jealousy, conflicting values and contrasting tastes are tests for even the most harmonious couples. Chocolate, flowers, champagne, a good dinner and great sex go a long way to erasing the illusion of our separateness but cannot eliminate it entirely. And depending on one person as the source of love is not an Aquarian formula for fulfillment … being part of a community is.

The sign of selfless love

One connection Aquarius has with romantic love is its opposition to Leo. The Lion is the sign of the heart and represents the personal experience of amour. It’s the rising of excitement we feel in the chest when someone arouses our feelings. It is the expression of affection that flatters others and warms ourselves. Yet if Leo is the heart, Aquarius is the circulatory system. The Water Bearer distributes, which is an important message about another kind of love. It is the love of humanity, called “agape” by the Greeks.

Agape aligns with Aquarius’ community consciousness and represents a less personal but equally noble expression of the human heart. Giving to others without expecting anything return is generosity of the highest order. It is a reminder that a truly Aquarian Valentine’s Day gift would be a contribution to a charity or acting as a volunteer for an organization. We can still give our chocolates and flowers for personal romance but contributing to people in other ways will make this day of love even more complete

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Your Charm for February 10th is Leo the Lion

Your Charm for Today

Leo the Lion

Today’s Meaning:

This aspect of your life will be strongly influenced by a person who is generous, warm-hearted, creative, enthusiastic, broad-minded, expansive, faithful and loving. This person is most likely a relative.

General Description:   

Fifth sign of the Zodiac, July 23rd to Aug. 23rd. Ruled by the Sun; correct metal, Gold. Those born under the influence of Leo were believed to be enthusiastic, high spirited, affable, generous, strong, quick tempered, artistic, inventive, generally successful and proverbially lucky. The Leo stones are the Peridot and Onyx, also Amber. The Peridot was in former times valued more than the Diamond. In Rome it was worn as a charm to drive away evil spirits, despondency and illusions. Peridot amulets enjoyed a great reputation in the Middle Ages for inspiring wisdom and eloquence. Many medicinal properties were attributed to Amber, and its supposed virtues are still relied on in the East

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Animals, Nature, and the Craft

Animals, Nature, and the Craft

Author:   Flame warped mind 

I love animals — not all of them mind you, little bugs, spiders, bees, and rodents still freak me — but I respect each for what they are. Respect. It’s a big part of being Pagan. Ants and spiders are just as important as cows and elephants, each being distinctly different from the next.

‘Witches only love their black cats! They sacrifice everything else to the Devil!’

Really? I don’t like cats at all, and I’ve never sacrificed anything to the devil. I’m just far too busy trying to gather what understanding I can from the animal kingdom to worry about sacrificing to a being I don’t believe exists. “What we have here is failure to communicate.” –Cool Hand Luke.

For as long people outside the Craft have known about any form of earth based spirituality and the people involved in such practice (whom we will refer to as Pagan for the remainder of this piece) , there have been misconceptions involving animals and the Craft. An animal spiritually tied to a person practicing witchcraft (often called a familiar) , was and still is often thought of as a demon in animal form sent to assist in spells against and bewitchment of the God-fearing public. This theory is both prejudicial and nonsensical, not just to the person but also to the animal involved as well. During the Witch Hunts, animals were routinely sentenced and executed for witchcraft along with their masters. This practice went so far that in medieval Europe cats were massacred based on the theory that all cats were Witches’ familiars.

Oftentimes people assume that all Pagans have cat familiars (as though it were a requirement) and while cats have been a part of Pagan society since before the Pyramids were built, they are not by any means spiritual requirements for practicing Pagans.

Another old (incorrect) theory, which has become common knowledge is that Pagans routinely sacrifice animals to appease the devil, a demon, or a god or goddess. The vast majority of Pagans love and respect animals as much, if not more so, than the average person because of an inherent desire to be close to nature. Some pagans forgo all meats in order to avoid the feeling of having caused the death of an animal. The confusion here lies in the difference between “animal sacrifice” and an animal that was hunted to be eaten. Sometimes a ritual item or personal belonging fulfills this function. Sometimes the sacrifice is the worshiper’s dinner. Ask a deity bound pagan, a bought offering is rarely as desirable as an offering strived for.

In my home we have several animals. If at any time animals are used in my practice, the cat is the absolute last choice for a spiritual partner I would seek out. For me, there is only one choice of animal to partner myself with spiritually, ball pythons. Don’t run away screaming just yet.

Snakes are amazingly beautiful creatures contrary to their poor reputation. Captive bred snakes are wonderful animals to work with. The temperament is different between wild (aggressive) to captive bred (calm) snakes. You can have an animal very close to its naturally occurring instinct, (usually) without the aggressive nature. I have three beautiful ball pythons all of which have been involved with some ritual or another. One of their biggest strengths in a ritual is how predicable they are. Dogs, cats, rodents, arachnids, lizards, all have a tendency to be unpredictable, and occasionally volatile. Dogs bark and fight. Cats don’t do what their pets (owners) tell them. Arachnids are entirely unpredictable and easily injured in my estimation. Lizards have a tendency to run away or get into obnoxious places when no ones looking. They’re all too impatient for my taste.

A snake will sit still until they smell food, get too cold/hot, or get curious enough to slowly wander off. They don’t make noise, and, for the most part, don’t resist where they are placed. Best of all, when there is an occasion where they get aggressive/defensive, the posturing and hissing gives those around ample warning as to the change in demeanor. If this occurs, it is normally during a very active part of the ritual; snakes don’t like things being moved past their heads quickly. (At this point most other species of animals are retired from the rites anyway.) Also as long as the surrounding temperature is amiable, they can be placed in a bag, which is then tied up, to prevent wandering and to bolster the animal’s sense of security. I’ll bet your dog wouldn’t let you do that!

When humans allow themselves to be as close to nature as animals, our instincts take over. Some of the most powerful and well-balanced magical workings I have ever witnessed involved Pagans reverting to base instinct. Powerful and pure, Nature is instinct. Nature is not always civilized and pleasant; oftentimes it is harsh, cruel, and gory. The more “civilized” humans become, the more we forget how powerful instinct can be. Animals are the epitome of instinct, and so it is wise to sit back, watch, and learn from the varying multitudes our scaly, slimy, furry, feathered, chitinous, brethren encompass. Even though their speech is limited to sounds that mean nothing to humans, they each have something to say. There is always something new to learn, an untapped facet of primal knowledge… if only we know where to look.

Some of the smallest animals often teach us the most valuable lessons. The ants learned long ago that to cooperate is to survive; infighting only leads to ruin. Salmon show that life is an uphill battle, but anything worth doing should receive our full effort. A snake could have easily inspired Theodore Roosevelt when he said, “speak softly, but carry a big stick.” These are but a few of the lessons that nature offers those willing to listen.

So sit back, shut up, watch and learn, and above all remember nature is “natural”. It’s not good or evil. It’s not right or wrong. It is spectacular and beautiful, bountiful, and calm and at the same time, nature is savage, bloody, vicious, and violent… a self-sustaining balance at its finest.


Cool Hand Luke
Theodore Roosevelt

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Herb of the Day – Peppermint

Herb of the Day – Peppermint

Peppermint is a prolific plant, often spreading beyond its intended borders. In Pliny’s writings, he mentions that the Greeks and Romans decorated their feasting tables with sprigs of peppermint, and in fact flavored many of their foods with it. Dioscorides, the Greek physician, notes that it had medicinal properties, when its oil was extracted and used to treat spasms and disorders of the digestive system. Peppermint may have been cultivated by the ancient Egyptians as well. It appears in the Icelandic Pharmacopoeias around 1240 C.E., and eventually was accepted for use in western Europe around the mid-1700s.

During the Middle Ages, monks — who were known for their herbal wisdom — used peppermint leaves to polish their teeth. Around the same time, cheesemakers figured out that mint leaves sprinkled around cheese piles would keep the rats out of the storeroom.

Peppermint is a natural stimulant, and in Back to Eden, Jethro Kloss says it should be in every garden. He says Peppermint is “an excellent remedy for chills, colic, fevers, dysentery, cholera heart trouble, palpitation of the heart, influenza, la grippe and hysteria.” It also works nicely as a toning astringent, and peppermint applied to the skin provides a nice refreshing feeling (try a peppermint foot bath at the end of a long day at work!).

Peppermint, like other members of the mint family, is found often in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cooking. Use it to season lamb, curry, couscous, or your favorite vegetables.

Magically speaking, peppermint is often used in healing and . It can be burned or rubbed against objects to clear them of negative energies, or consumed as an elixir or tea to bring about healing. Pliny also noted that peppermint “excites the emotion of love”; add it  to bring passion your way.

Other Names: Lammint, Brandy mint
Gender: Masculine
Element: Fire
Planetary Connection: Mercury
Deity Connection: Pluto

You can make a tasty peppermint tea in the same way people make sun tea: Gather up about two cups of fresh peppermint leaves, and place them in a gallon of water. Allow the tea to steep outside in the sun until fully blended. Add a bit of stevia to sweeten it for drinking, or use the mint tea as a refreshing cleanser in the bath.

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A Look At Today’s Totem/Power Animal, The Cat

A Look At Today’s Totem/Power Animal, The Cat

Perhaps no animal inspires such devotion and dedication-or such animosity and abhorrence-as the cat.

To the ancient Egyptians, the cat was accorded a place of reverence in both the home and the temple. A cemetery containing the mummies of thousands of black cats was unearthed in Egypt.

The popular folk belief that the cat possesses nine lives goes back to Egyptian worship of Bast, the Cat-Mother goddess, who had nine incarnations, including that of the benevolent aspect of Hathor, the Lioness. The Egyptian word for cat was Mau, which is at once an imitation of the cat’s call and the nearly universal human cry for Mama, mother. Cats came to be worshipped with such intensity in those ancient cities along the Nile that the wanton killing of a cat was punishable by death.

Bubastis, a city in Lower Egypt, dedicated itself to the worship of the cat. Each May some 700,000 pilgrims journeyed to the city to participate in a cat festival.

Because the old Egyptians has a great fear of the dark, they observed with awe that the cat, a nocturnal creature, walked the shadowed streets with the greatest of confidence. The ancient Egyptian sages made so much of the cat’s midnight forays they declared that the cat alone was responsible for preventing the world from falling into eternal darkness.

On the other hand, in the old European tradition, the cat was accused of plotting to bring the world into the dark clutches of Satan. The cat, especially a black one, was regarded as the favorite familiar of the practitioners of dark and evil witchcraft. The Grand Inquisitors condemned nearly as many cats to the stake as witches. It is because of this baseless, old ecclesiastical judgement that the sighting of a black cat is said to be and omen of fast-approaching misfortune.

Whether people in the Middle Ages truly believed that the unawavering stare of a cat could cause demonic torments and even their deaths, an unreasoning fearful response to cats is known today as ailurphobia. The very sight of a cat would set Adolf Hitler trembling. Napoleon Bonaparte conquered nearly all of Europe, but if he should sight a cat in his palace, he shouted for help. Henry III of England would faint at the very appearance of a cat.

In ancient India, the cat was held sacred. A number of Sanskrit texts make many favorable references to the influence of the cat on humankind.

In Scandinavian countries, brides used to try their best to be married on Friday, the day of the goddess Freya. If a young woman married on a sunny Friday, it was certain that Freya, the cat-goddess of the Nodic people, would bless the union.

The domestic cat was, of course, unknown to the Native Americans until the advent of the European settler. Because of the creature’s fondness for roaming at night, the Pueblos associated the cat with witchcraft, though this may also have been a result of the Spanish influence on their community.

It the cat is your totem animal, you have a spirit helper who is resourceful, strong, and fearless. You will experience a sense of confidence and a new feeling of courage will suffuse your being. You will find that you are no longer intimidated by any opposition that may be arrayed against you.

With the cat as your totem animal, you will be encouraged to express an agility in body and mind. You will be challanged to explore new vistas. Quite likely you were already a night person before you acquired the cat as your spirit helper, but if not, you will gain a new appreciation for the creative energy that can arrive after midnight.

Your spirit journeys will enable you to maintain a careful balance so that your emphasis on an independent lifestyle and quest for mystical truths do not cause you to develop a taste for the bizarre and occult, which can tempt you to detour from the true spiritual goal of you lifepath.


Someone could be seeking your downfall or humiliation in the workplace. Ask the Great Mystery for increased awareness.


The Transformative Power Of Your Personal Animal Totem

Brad Steiger

ISBN 0-06-251425-3


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