Posts Tagged With: Winter solstice

Magically Decking Your Halls and Walls

By Patti Wigington To view images go to:

There are so many great ways you can decorate your home for the Yule season. Adapt store-bought Christmas decorations, or make your own Pagan-themed home decor for the season. Here’s how you can put together a Yule log of your own, some fun and simple ornaments, a Pagan twist on the “manger” scene, some seasonally-scented potpourri andincense, and more!

Decorate a Yule log for your family’s celebration.Image by Steve Gorton/Dorling Kindersley/Getty Images

Decorate a Yule Log

The Yule log is an ancient tradition, but you can make one for your own family’s holiday celebration. Put one together with items you find outside, and include it as part of your Yule ritual.

Use salt dough and cookie cutters to make your own Yule ornaments. Image by ansaj/E+/Getty Images

Salt Dough Ornaments

These easy ornaments can be assembled in hardly any time at all. Once they’ve baked, paint them and hang them around your home for Yule! More »

Inscribe ornaments with symbols, or decorate with icing before you hang them on your tree. Image by Dorling Kindersley/Dorling Kindersley Collection/Getty Images

Cinnamon Spell Ornaments

Use a blend of cinnamon, applesauce, and spices to make these spell ornaments – decorate with magical symbols, and hang them on your holiday tree this year

Use dried juniper berries, along with cedar and pine, to make a Yule incense blend. Image by Ed Reschke/Photolibrary/Getty Images

Winter Nights Incense

Scents have a way of making time stand still for us sometimes, and the aromas of the winter holidays are no exception. For many people, re-creating the smells and emotions of our childhood, or even of some distant ancestral memory, is part of the magic of the Yule season. More »

Make a magical gingerbread poppet for yourself or a friend!. Image by PhotoAlto/Michele Constantini/Getty Images

Magical Gingerbread Poppets

Gingerbread men are everywhere during the Yule season – and they’re the perfect shape to use for a magical poppet. Why not get crafty and make some magic for the season? More »

Use your favorite spices to make scented pinecone ornaments. Image by Mike Bentley/E+/Getty Images

Pine Cone Ornaments

The pine cone has long been a symbol of the winter solstice. Make these nature- friendly ornaments to sparkle and shine during your Yule celebration. More »

Make an herbal sachet to hang on your Yule tree.Image by Patti Wigington

Yule Herbal Sachet

This sachet is simple to make, and combines some of the most delightful scents of the season. Make them small and hang on a tree, make them a bit larger and give them as gifts! More »

Use three chenille stems to shape this pent — one makes the circle, and the other two get folded around to form the star.Image © Patti Wigington

Easy Pentacle Ornaments

This is a super-easy craft project you can get your kids working on, and have them create a whole bunch of pretty pentacles to hang around your house during the Yule season. More »

Use pine boughs and other natural items to make an outdoor Yule scene. Image by Cultura RM/Jonatan Fernstrom/Getty Images

Make a Pagan “Nativity” Scene

So your neighbors all have cute little mangers in their yards, complete with plastic baby Jesus, light-up sheep, and a couple of Wise Men who have probably seen better days. Are you feeling a bit left out? Don’t worry — you can still set up a Nativity scene (or something close to it) that represents your Pagan or Wiccan beliefs, and honors the birth of the sun, rather than the son of another religion’s god. More »

Make a batch of potpourri to simmer on your stovetop. Image by sozaijiten/Datacraft/Getty Images

Yule Simmering Potpourri

Make a batch of Yule potpourri, get it simmering on your stovetop, and enjoy the scents of the season! More »

Categories: Coven Life, Pagan Craft Making, The Sabbats | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Being An Upside Down Witch – for those Living in the Southern Hemisphere

Goddess Pages
British spiritual magazine

Living in Australia – or anywhere in the southern hemisphere for that matter – can be a little confusing for a witch. All the books about magic print elemental correspondences that are back to front (the fire of the sun is certainly not in the south down here!), and list dates for the sabbats that bear no relation to the actual cycle of our seasons. I’ve met a surprising number of people from the US and UK who didn’t realise that our seasons are six months behind (or ahead, depending on how you look at it) the northern ones. Our Midsummer falls around December 20-23, when the north is blanketed in snow, while our winter solstice falls around June 20-23, the height of summer up there.
Perhaps long ago we may have followed the oft-printed dates and celebrated these rituals along with our northern friends, linking up psychically in December to celebrate Yule and welcome the birth of the sun god, even as here he was about to start fading as summer reached its peak, or doing autumn rituals of harvest and release while our land was quickening with the new growth of spring.
But I don’t know of a single southern witch who follows the northern model. At coven rituals, open celebrations and alone at home, groups and solitary practitioners follow our own seasonal cycle, because paganism and goddess worship are intimately attuned to the heartbeat of the planet and the seasons, and these festivals are prescribed by the movement of the earth in relation to the sun, not a fixed date on a modern calendar. The land, as the embodiment of the goddess, speaks to all of us, and the goddess path is about learning to hear this language of nature, to sense the movement and emotional shifts as the earth moves through its cycles, and feel the rhythm of its turning. And so a spring fertility festival will be marked in spring, when the planet is alive with new life and energy, regardless of what is happening on that day in the other hemisphere.
There has been mention in these pages that it is wrong to import “northern” festivals to the southern lands. But celebrating the beauty and bounty of nature and the dance of the seasons is not anyone’s exclusive right. Maybe people in the Celtic lands can feel historically possessive of the names themselves (Lughnasadh, Beltane), but they have no ownership of the winter solstice or the first day of spring, and this is what these festivals are.
The Wheel of the Year reflects the constant universal cycle of life, death and rebirth. Mythologically it is tied to the story of the god and goddess as she shifts from young lover to mother to crone, and he is born, grows in power, sacrifices himself then is reborn, but literally it refers to the changing seasons – the fertility and vibrant life force of summer, the balance and harvest of autumn, the introspection and endings (death) of winter, and the rebirth of spring. Being in the southern hemisphere doesn’t necessarily change this seasonal pattern, it merely shifts the dates. There are parts of Australia such as the Red Centre – and parts of the northern hemisphere too – where the seasons don’t play out in a standard, balanced rhythm through summer, autumn, winter and spring. Some places experience just two main seasons, wet and dry, yet even there the people living in harmony with the land are able to feel the earth as it surges with new life, grows, becomes ready for harvest then withdraws its energy within the earth again, and celebrate their own personal Wheel that reflects their reality.
But in much of the coastal region of the country, where around eighty per cent of the population is based, the seasons do follow a regular pattern, and many witches celebrate the traditional Wheel of the Year, moved forward six months to reflect their personal experience. Of course it can seem a little strange and out of whack sometimes, because the Christians hijacked so many of the magical sabbats and they have become such a part of western life. So how and when do we celebrate the turning points of the witches’ year Down Under, and how do we deal with the inconsistencies of modern festivities?

The Summer Solstice
As the western world gears up for Christmas and northern witches mark Yule, in the southern hemisphere we are celebrating the summer solstice. In 2008 this fell on December 21, and in 2009 it will fall on December 22. This is Midsummer Day, when the sun reaches its southernmost latitude before it turns and heads back towards the north. In some ways it would be easier to celebrate Yule during this festive season, as our northern hemisphere counterparts do, when everyone is feasting, exchanging gifts and acknowledging the birth of the son of God – or the sun god. But Down Under this is the longest, not shortest, day of the year. The sun is strong (some would say merciless), and the energy is fast and active. It’s a time of abundance, achievement and culmination. Despite the snow-covered decorations, men sweating in Santa suits and hot roast dinners – a legacy of our ancestors – on this day we absorb the solar energy, feast on luscious summer fruits, give thanks for the goals we’ve reached and revel in the strength and heat of the long day of sunshine and the power of the sun god.
Sometimes I go to the beach at dawn and watch the sun rise over the ocean, or climb the hill in the park near my house at sunset, farewelling it as it begins its journey back to northern parts, and its energy starts to wane from this day forward as it begins its descent into the dark half of the year. Sometimes I do a formal ritual with a group, or have a feast of celebration with my magical friends, wrapping pots of sunshiney flowers and summer herbs in gold and red velvet as gifts, and breathe in the scent of orange blossoms, lavender and rosemary. I celebrate Christmas with my family too, but I see no conflict here, as the modern version has little to do with the real Yule in intent or meaning, and I’m quite happy to honour the power of the summer solstice and then a few days later enjoy the spirit of giving of the festive season.

In the first week of February we celebrate Lughnasadh, the cross-quarter day that marks the end of summer and the first day of autumn, although where I live it will still be hot and fiery for some time to come. In the north it’s Imbolc, linked to fertility, love and Valentine’s Day, but down here it’s the opposite. The earth is still throbbing with life and energy, but it’s mature, fully ripened and almost over-abundant. This is the first harvest festival, and fruit picking becomes a popular form of employment for many travellers, with farms all over the country taking on seasonal workers. The grape harvest begins, to make the wine that is now internationally renowned, and an abundance of other delicious fruits and vegetables, as well as golden wheat and other cereal crops, are also picked at this time.
As well as a time of feasting and of thanksgiving for the life-giving properties of our crops, and recognition of the cycle of sowing and reaping, Lughnasadh is also about the symbolic things we grow and create in our life. It’s a day of harvesting the fruits of our labours and acknowledging our successes and what we’ve achieved in the past year. A month after New Year’s resolutions are made, it seems a good time to take stock. On this day I perform a ritual to celebrate and acknowledge the goals I’ve reached, making a list of all the things I’ve gained – the gifts I’ve been given, the new talents I’ve developed, the friends I’ve made, the experiences I’ve had, the healings I’ve received, the opportunities I’ve pursued – and giving thanks for it all. We may no longer be so connected to the creation and production of our food, as in days gone by, or believe that our prayers or sacrifices influence the success of the crops, but being grateful for what we have and giving thanks is still a beautiful way to live. I also try to pass on some of my good fortune so the energy of abundance continues and is strengthened, by giving time or money to a charity of some kind.

Autumn Equinox
Late March is another strange time for Down Under witches, because the stores are filled with chocolate bunnies and eggs in preparation for Easter, the Christian holiday based on the spring festival of Ostara, which northern hemisphere witches are marking now. While most of the world – both pagan and non-magical – celebrates rebirth, resurrection and new life with the fertility goddess Ostara’s symbols of eggs and hares, in Australia it’s the middle of autumn, a time of crisp, chilly mornings, pale blue skies and a world aflame with colour as the trees turn a hundred shades of red-orange-yellow-brown. Daylight savings ends, and from the autumn equinox onwards, which this year falls on March 20, the days start getting shorter and the weather cooler, but this day of equal light and dark is the moment of balance in nature and within – a time of harmony, joy and gentle calm. While I certainly eat my share of chocolate eggs at this time, acknowledging on some level the energy of Ostara, I also prepare a harvest feast of richly coloured fruits and root vegetables, golden grains and heavy warm breads, and start drying my herbs. I feel immense joy as I skip through the crackling autumn leaves and chart the turning of the seasons by the patterns of leaves on the trees. I give thanks for my metaphorical harvest, honouring my achievements, experiences and wisdom in a way that feels right to me, be it with a big celebration or a personal ritual of gratitude. It’s a time of balance – my world is poised between summer and winter, and day and night are in harmony, which is reflected in the earth’s energy and within me.

In the first week of May we celebrate the cross-quarter day that marks the end of autumn and the beginning of the coldness and dark of winter. In the north it’s all hot, fertile love energy, with abundant blossoms, the hatching of birds, bees pollinating flowers and lovers leaping the Beltane fires. But in the southern hemisphere at this time it’s the opposite. It’s the start of winter, a season of introspection and darkness both metaphorically and literally. Traditionally this was the time to store food for the cold barren months ahead; symbolically it’s about rest and renewal, of preparing for what’s ahead and withdrawing a little to conserve your energy. While the grass becomes green and lush at this time with the onset of rain, many of the trees are stripped bare, and bitterly cold winds add to the starkness of the season. This is the time we start readying ourselves for the rebirth we’ll experience at Yule, a time of inner reflection and contemplation, of studying the Mysteries (of our tradition or our life), and scrying for answers and illumination. It’s also the night when the veil between the worlds is at its thinnest, and we honour our ancestors and commune with the dead. Of course southern witches do find it hard to explain to people that we are celebrating “Halloween” at this time, but if you pay attention to the earth, to nature, to the seasons, it’s very clear that this is our Samhain.

The Winter Solstice
In late June we celebrate the winter solstice; this year it will fall on the 21st. This is our midwinter – the longest night and shortest day of the year, when the sun is as far north as it will get, making it midsummer in the northern hemisphere. Snow falls in some parts of Australia, and in others it’s cold and rainy. Even in the Red Centre, where winter is their dry season, nature is introspective at this time – the seeds are all closed up, waiting for the heat and rainfall of summer to explode into life. Winter, and this midpoint in particular, is a time to rest and reflect, to acknowledge sadness and loss – of dreams, of friendships, of parts of your self – and conserve your energy and life force.
Yet it’s a day of hope too, for the solstice is the turning point in this time of darkness, introspection and dreaming. Considered the dark night of the soul that gives birth to the creative spark, it marks the period when the dark half of the year relinquishes its hold to the light half. From this day forward the days slowly start to lengthen, the sun becomes stronger and the energy within and without increases and builds. On Midwinter’s Night Eve I light a candle to symbolise the sun and its activating energy, and list my dreams for the coming year. Sometimes I stay up all night to await the return of the light, other years I get up for the sunrise and toast the dawn and give thanks for this energetic reawakening. As the sun is reborn I open myself up to the promise of new growth and achievement, the energy of renewal and the rebirth of my own self and creativity.
I’m more inclined to refer to this festival as Winter Solstice rather than Yule, because the latter has connotations of Christmas, which is still six months away for us, yet many southern witches retain the traditional name, particularly in colder areas where open fires and Yule logs are more typical. Interestingly, there is now increasing recognition in Australia that Christmas is based on a winter tradition that involves magic, and many mainstream events are planned to coincide with our winter solstice. The Pagan Awareness Network holds Hollyfrost, an annual Midwinter retreat and ritual, and in the Blue Mountains the Winter Magic Festival is held on the day of the solstice and is open to everyone, regardless of beliefs. And the more touristy than magical Yulefest and Christmas in July are also celebrated around this time, in recognition that here Yule should not take place in December, in the heat of the Australian summer, but in the cool of winter.

In the first week of August, we in the southern hemisphere honour the cross-quarter day that marks the end of winter and the first day of spring. The earth starts to shake off the severity of the cold period and emerge back into the light. Some of our stunning wildflowers, like the delicate golden wattle, explode into glorious bloom, and it’s a time of hope, renewal and fresh starts after winter’s sluggishness. The sun starts to strengthen and the days grow longer, symbolising the return and renewal of the life force of the land and its people. Energetically it’s a time of awakening and new energy, and is the day we sow the seeds of what we want to achieve in the coming year. It’s also a time of purification and cleansing after the long dark of winter, when I feel motivated to physically clean my house and energetically clear my space, sweeping out old energy and thoughts so the new can thrive. Imbolc represents new beginnings, initiations and inspiration, and the budding plants, swooping baby birds and buzzing bees always fill me with vitality, passion and the impetus to start (or rededicate myself to) new projects.

The Spring Equinox
In the southern hemisphere, the spring or vernal equinox falls in late September – this year it’s on the 23rd. It’s a beautiful time of year, with bright blue skies and pale sunshine without the merciless heat of summer… perfect temperate weather. It’s one of only two times of the year when the length of day and night is equal, and on a personal level it’s a time of balance and harmony too, of union between the physical and spiritual as the balance of universal energies is reflected within. It’s also a time of growth and fertility, when crops are sown, the buds on the trees open, birds build nests and lay eggs and new life is celebrated. Energetically it’s also a very fertile time, as the seeds we sowed of our goals begin to sprout and gain momentum. Traditionally the spring equinox is tied up with rabbits, eggs and fertility goddesses, so it does feel a bit strange to be celebrating “Easter” at this time, but the beautifully blossoming and budding earth and the wild energy and vitality make it obvious that it’s the time for it. It’s a celebration of new life, hope, passion, growth and energy, the time of year that I meditate on my metaphorical fertility and my ability to manifest dreams into reality. In many ancient cultures, including the Romans whose calendar ours is based on, the spring equinox was the first day of the year, and the sense of new hope and optimism inherent in this day remains. It hasn’t always fallen around March/September 21 – our dating is a modern invention – and there are still countries where this is the first day of the year. The Ancient Roman year began on the spring equinox, the day they called Martius 1, which is March 21 in Gregorian terms. In the modern Iranian calendar, used in Iran and Afghanistan, each new year begins on the spring equinox as precisely determined by astronomical observations from Tehran and Kabul (making it the perfect solar calendar, because each calendar year corresponds exactly to the solar year, with no leap days necessary). The Baha’i calendar also begins on the spring equinox.
I got married on September 22 – our spring equinox – a few years ago, so we celebrate our anniversary on Ostara each year. Yet we ran away and wed in the northern hemisphere, which means where we were that day was actually the autumn equinox. Thus each year as we celebrate our anniversary at home, in the springtime, we also acknowledge the energy of autumn. I add a few autumn colours to my spring bouquet, and consider not only what seeds we want to plant for the next year of our relationship, but what we have harvested over the previous one. As Mabon and Ostara are the two days of the year when all is balanced, within and without, they are both good days to renew commitments or pledge a new one, be it a vow of love, magic, career or anything else. I feel like I incorporated the best of both worlds by making my wedding day span both festivals.

In the southern hemisphere, the first week of November brings the cross-quarter day that marks the end of spring and the start of the heat and energy of summer, and the festival of love. It’s a time of lovers and spells to attract love, and celebrating the fertility of life, not just physically, but also of our dreams and ambitions. Symbolically this day marks the igniting of the fires of creativity and passion, of the fertility of our desires being made manifest, as the universe bursts with a raw energy and power that we can tap in to simply by breathing it in.
In the northern hemisphere Beltane falls around May Day, and while it has no relevance to us in terms of timing, I have been part of a coven ritual that involved a maypole dance, to represent the union of god and goddess at this point in the Wheel of the Seasonal Year. I’ve also leapt over the Beltane fires, although that was before I met my husband, when I jumped over it with friends as part of a personal ritual of purification and preparation, leaping out of my past, burning away the relationship issues that had kept my heart closed, and towards a future where love was possible (I met my partner two months later).
While I’ve been known to dress up as a vampire or a fairy and go to a Halloween party on October 31, privately or with coven members or witchie friends I’m celebrating the new blossoms and the vitality and fertility of Beltane at this time.

So, while it’s perhaps a little easier for northern hemisphere goddess worshippers to celebrate the cycle of the seasons, given that so many of them are actually woven into “normal” life, when you tune in to the earth and the rhythms of nature it is easy to know when it’s the right time to celebrate any of the old festivals. Because whether you live in the north, where they began, or the south, adding your own personal meaning to the traditional forms of celebration, the sabbats are still relevant to our lives. Even today, when we no longer live in harmony with the earth’s rhythms or agricultural cycles, modern pagans celebrate the Wheel of the Year as an honouring of nature and an acknowledgement of the continuing cycle of life, death and rebirth, both literally and symbolically. Becoming aware of the seasonal shifts and the patterns of nature wherever you live, and celebrating these ancient but still relevant festivals, is a simple way to tap in to the magic of the universe and harness it for your own growth. We may no longer grow our own grain or purify the fields with fire, but these celebrations still have power, particularly in the symbolic form – planting the seeds of our dreams in the metaphorical spring, watching them grow and manifest in the world before we give thanks for our literal harvest, then allowing the things that no longer serve us to die off or be released in our own personal winter, then starting all over again with new dreams as we celebrate our own rebirth.
I’ve spent a few sabbats in the northern hemisphere, leaping the Beltane fires in Glastonbury’s Chalice Well Gardens, sitting inside the Great Pyramid on the morning of the summer solstice, watching the sun set over the Hill of Tara at Lughnasadh, and the energy of each season is intense, real and tangible no matter which hemisphere I am in. Whenever I celebrate these magical turning points of our planet I feel so strongly a part of the earth, at one with nature and the universe. And so, regardless of which half of the world I’m in, I always acknowledge the opposite festival as well, in some small way. Perhaps this isn’t as important for those in the north, but for me it seems right to acknowledge the turning seasons all over the world, the beautiful, gracefully balanced dance of light and dark, heat and cold, day and night, that makes up this world that we are all a part of.
We are all connected to the earth, no matter where we live, and we need to learn how to (and accept that we can) follow the seasons of nature in our own unique way, based on the rising and setting of the sun in our own home town, the cycles of the moon as it crosses our part of the sky, and the very personal language of nature that is so different – and yet so similar –according to our own unique landscape.

Serene Conneeley is a healer, writer and witch who lives in Sydney, Australia. She is a reconnective healing practitioner and has studied magical and medicinal herbalism, reiki and many other healing modalities, as well as politics and journalism. Her first book, Seven Sacred Sites: Magical Journeys That Will Change Your Life, has just been published. Visit Goddess Pages magazine here.

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Healing Arts and Pagan Studies ~ February 2; Celebrating Candlemas

Native American Comments & Graphics

Healing Arts and Pagan Studies ~ February 2; Celebrating Candlemas

One of the great cross-quarter days which make up the wheel of the year. It falls midway between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox and in many traditions is considered the beginning of spring.

Awakening the Ground

In Western Europe, this was the time for preparing the fields for the first planting. Even in Seattle, you can begin turning over and enriching the soil in anticipation of the first sowing in March. Pamela Berger has written a book, The Goddess Obscured: Transformation of the Grain Protectress from Goddess to Saint, about the rituals celebrated at this time of year, when the ground is first awakened and the seed placed in the belly of the earth. This is a significant moment in a community which depends on the earth for sustenance. The fields were purified and offerings were made to the Goddess.

This medieval Anglo-Saxon plowing charm, recorded by Berger, was said by the farmer while cutting the first furrow.

Whole be thou Earth
Mother of men.
In the lap of God,
Be thou as-growing.
Be filled with fodder
For fare-need of men.

The farmer then took a loaf of bread, kneaded it with milk and holy water and laid it under the first furrow, saying:

Acre full fed,
Bring forth fodder for men!
Blossoming brightly,
Blessed become;
And the God who wrought the ground,
Grant us the gifts of growing,
That the corn, all the corn,
may come unto our need.

The promises of the return of the light and the renewal of life which were made at the winter solstice are now becoming manifest. It’s the dawn of the year. It’s the time when a woman who is pregnant begins showing. It’s time to creep out of the hibernation of winter, cautiously, like the Ground Hog who supposedly emerges on this day to check his shadow. It’s the time of germination. This is a traditional time for new beginnings. Covens of Witches usually initiate new members at this time.

•           •           •           •

Courtesy of GrannyMoon’s Morning Feast

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The Witches Magick for the 1st Day of the Wolf Moon – Eyes of the Wolf Spell

Miscellaneous New Year Comments

Eyes of the Wolf Spell


As the first full moon after the winter solstice or Yule, the Wolf Moon is one of the most important of the high moons. A full moon occurs when the sun and the moon are aligned on opposite sides of earth. This alignment of the two celestial bodies has a strong effect on the earth, producing a time when energy is high. This is why full moon rituals can be incredibly powerful times for doing magick.

When looking through the eyes of the wolf the idea is to perceive the true nature of people, events and experiences. Expand your perception and awareness using the instincts of the wolf. The wolf is part of a pack that use their knowledge and wits to survive a time when the earth is cold and barren. This is also when new patterns are conceived, setting the stage for what is to come. This is also the ideal time for foretelling the future, clairvoyance, and divination practices.

At midnight, begin by drawing a circle of light. This is done by standing at your altar and pounding the stick end of your wand on the altar nine times. Pick up your athame and point it toward the north point of your circle. Starting and ending in the north, draw a magical circle of light clockwise around the circle. Next, call in the elements of earth, air, fire and water.

Standing in the middle of the circle, call in the power of the wolf:

On the night at this hour
I call now upon the ancient animal powers.
To guide me in the ways of the wolf
Where instinct and wit prevail
Through darkness, wind, rain, and hail
I am the wolf the wolf is me
So be it! Blessed Be!


As you enjoy your evening, imagine seeing through the eyes of the wolf. Imagine dreaming with the eyes of the wolf. In the morning pull up the circle and thank the elements. Also thank the wolf for its guidance and power.

Wiccan Spell A Night
Sirona Knight

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Your I Ching Hexagram for December 26th is 24: Returning

24: Returning

December 26th, 2014
There is a turning point that recharges you and eventually brings success. This hexagram is associated with a turning back of long nights towards more light, the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year, the seasonal change when our hours of daily light begin to increase again. This is the beginning of a turnaround; a time of letting go of the old and making way for the new; a time of new beginnings. Ironically, it all starts with rest.

Don’t move too fast. The new momentum is just beginning; the turn-around demands that your energy be recharged by adequate rest, so that your life force will not be spent prematurely. This principle of hibernation, of allowing energy to renew itself and be strengthened by rest applies to many situations — recuperation after an illness, the slow return of trust after period of estrangement, the careful development of new relationships after a splitting apart of old ones.

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How to Get the Most Out of Your Year

How to Get the Most Out of Your Year

Author: Merlin Hekatos

In this article I will explain the eight Wiccan Sabbats and how I choose to celebrate them. First of all, why do we celebrate these seasonal festivals? And whom are we worshipping and honouring by doing so?

Wiccans, Pagans, and Witches celebrate these holidays to attune themselves with the cycles of nature and to build a connection to the Goddess and God. Most Wiccan festivals are connected to a specific Deity, such as Brigid on Imbolc and Lugh on Lughnassadh. The eight Wiccan Sabbats are the most popular Wiccan holidays; four of them are Greater Sabbats, which are agriculturally based. The remaining four are Lesser Sabbats, which are astronomically based. The days leading up to the Greater Sabbats are the days of the “Wild Hunt” in which the Horned One and his entourage soar across the skies. The word “holiday” is derived from “holy day”. Therefore, these days aren’t just an excuse to be lazy or have time off school or work; they are sacred!

Wiccan mythology promotes the idea of the “Wheel of the Year” which is symbolic; the phrase “the wheel has turned” means the seasons are changing or that another Sabbat has arrived. Throughout the “Wheel of the Year” the Goddess changes from Maiden to Mother to Crone.

The First of the Sabbats, which begins the “Wheel of the Year”, is Samhain, which is pronounced “sow-in”. This is the “Witches’ New Years Day” and a Greater Sabbat. Samhain also is known in the common tongue as “Halloween” and “Alls Hallows”. On Samhain it is a known fact (amongst Witches) that the “veil” between the worlds is thin, both the worlds of the Living and Dead and of the Human and Faery and possibly many others. Samhain is one of the most important of the Sabbats and is a time to honour our Ancestors and to acknowledge our shadow selves. You can celebrate Samhain by carving pumpkins and setting a lit candle inside to welcome friendly spirits and to scare away malicious ones. Bobbing for apples also is a traditional festive game; apples are sacred at this time and have many connections to magick. Just a few of these connections are that apples carry the Pentagram inside them (the ancient symbol of the five elements) and that their peel can be cast into water to divine the initials of your true love. Samhain means “summers end”. This Sabbat is sacred to most deities especially crones such as Hecate and Cerridwen. You can celebrate Samhain by trick or treating (if, like me, you’re still a child at heart). Or you can get together with other Witches and have a circle. You can also try a séance (commune with the Dead although I wouldn’t recommend using an Ouija board, unless you are either very experienced or with someone who is.)

Samhain falls on October 31st and November 1st. The God dies and descends under the Earth, thus autumn and winter begin because of the Goddess’s sorrowing, and she, too, descends under the earth to be with her lord.

Yule is a Lesser Sabbat, falling on 21 December. Yule also is known as the Winter Solstice and is the time when God the sun is reborn again. Yule is four days before Christmas; therefore it is rumoured that Christians heard that it was the birth of the sun, but then chose to teach that it was the birth of the son (Jesus). Yule is the longest night of the year; the following sunrise begins the ascent of the sun, and the days will become longer from now on. The Holly king rules at this time, and holly is sacred at this time, along with Mistletoe and Juniper. It is traditional to burn a Yule log as part of your celebrations; the wood used is traditionally oak. It also is traditional to sprinkle myrrh and frankincense resin on the Yule log along with handfuls of leaves and make a wish and let the smoke carry your wish up, to the newborn sun, which will grant your wish. You can either burn your Yule log in a fireplace or in a bonfire; it will not make a difference. Everyone can take home a piece of the Yule log, in a festive red or green bag, and you may put this under your bed to ensure a safe and happy home. Mulled wine is a traditional concoction of mulled spices, wine, apples, and brandy, too, (although I have been successful in making a non- alcoholic “mulled wine” with mulled spices, shandy , lemonade, apples and lemons, and even some shloer). Mulled wine is the perfect thing to keep you warm and enlivened throughout the Yule celebrations. At Yule we celebrate the sun’s growing strength. Solstice means “suns stand still” while Yule translates as “wheel”. The wheel is symbolic of the wheel of the year, the ever-changing, never-ending cycle of birth, death, and rebirth.

Imbolc, or Imbolg, is a greater Sabbat that falls on the 2nd and 3rd of February. Imbolc also is known as the festival of lights. Imbolc means “In the belly”. The first of the plants are beginning to grow again, and the first of the animals are been born as the Goddess resurfaces to renew the land. Imbolc also is known as Candlemas or Brigid; this holiday is sacred to the Goddess Brigid, the Goddess of fire, inspiration, and water wells. She is the bride; her entire desire and purpose is to find her mate. Imbolc, along with the Roman holiday of Lupercalia, honours the God of nature and coincides with the modern holiday of St. Valentine’s Day. Imbolc is a good time to spring clean both inside and outside your body.

Ostara or Oestara is a lesser Sabbat. also known as the Spring Equinox, Ostara falls on 21 March. Ostara is sacred to the Ancient Goddess Eostar or Astarte, whose symbols are the egg and hare and who give rise to the term Oestrus. She is probably the oldest Goddess of fertility and can be traced back over 4, 000 years. Ostara is the first sign of spring; it also is the Witches’ version of Easter. It is a time to celebrate that spring is here and that the land is alive.

Beltane is a Greater Sabbat and is the fertility festival falling between April 30th and May 1st. Beltane is time to honour creation itself and is sacred to the Irish god Bel. Beltane is the marriage of the Goddess and God. It is traditional to dance around a maypole (symbolic of the God) and wind ribbons around it (representative of the Goddess.) On Beltane the Lord and Lady will their magick, which makes the land fertile and the wheel dance. On Beltane you celebrate the sheer joy of being alive and rejoice in all of nature’s creations. Also on Beltane it is traditional to light bonfires that are named Bel-fires or Balefires.

Litha is a Lesser Sabbat that falls on 21 June and is celebrated on the 22 June. Litha also is known as the Summer Solstice, the shortest night of the year and the longest day. Litha also is known as Midsummer. The Holly king defeats his Twin brother the Oak king and begins his annual reign. From now on the descent of the sun begins, as well as the descent to winter. It is traditional to throw lavender on the fire to ensure safety for the coming year. Litha also is a traditional time of the year when we have rededication ceremonies, renewing our vows to follow the Lord and Lady. Litha is the best time to pick flowers for healing purposes, for the sun is at its strongest. Litha is the time to celebrate the joys life has brought and practice letting go of things that no longer serve your highest good.

Lammas or Lughnassadh (pronounced loo-nus-oo) is celebrated on 31 July and 1 August. Lughnassadh also is one of the Greater Sabbats and marks and honours the harvest. The Mother knows she must sacrifice her lover king to the wheel of time and for the good of all. Lughnasadh also is known as the Feast of Breads, so it is traditional to bake bread and to offer some to the Goddess and God on this festival.

Mabon ,also known as Madron, is the final harvest of the crops before winter. You can write down what you feel most proud of and throw the paper into the fire, along with a handful of sage, as an offering to the Goddess and God, asking them to bless and acknowledge your efforts. Mabon also is known as the autumnal or fall equinox; it is the other time of the year, along with the spring equinox, when night and day is in balance. It is the Witches’ version of Thanksgiving, and we celebrate the coming of the fall on 23 September.

Another powerful time that we Witches celebrate is every full moon, new moon, or dark moon; these are called Esbats. These are potent times for making magick of all kinds and are very appropriate to honour or to ask for the aid of the Goddess at her most visible and invisible phases, the Maiden at the New Moon Esbat, the Mother at the Full Moon Esbat and the Crone at the Dark Moon Esbat.

I hope this essay inspires you to become closer to the Goddess and God and shows you how. I hope I have provided some insight to the Wiccan Sabbats, and I would like to thank both Witchvox and all the people who read and commented about my last essay, the journey of my spirituality. You have been my inspiration to write this essay. Also thanks to the Goddess and God for providing me with the knowledge to write this.

Blessed Be!

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Daily Feng Shui News for December 22nd – “Wealth” Area

Yesterday not only commemorated the annual Winter Solstice but it was also ‘Flashlight Day’ and ‘Look on the Bright Side Day.’ Sensing a theme here? There is also a way to use a bright light to bring in prosperity, cash and coin. Put a flowing water fountain in the ‘Wealth’ area of your living space (far back left-hand corner) and shine a light on it, unless it can be placed where it gets natural sunlight. Look on the bright side indeed.

By Ellen Whitehurst for

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Daily Feng Shiu News for Dec. 21 – “WINTER SOLSTICE”

Today celebrates the Winter Solstice, a time when the dead of winter is passing and we now wait for the coming of the light. The Yule log represents the rebirth of God and the returning of the sun. That is why many invoke magical energies by carving a figure of a sun into the Yule log. You can carve this same image into a red, orange or yellow candle if you don’t have a log. Traditionally, this ritual is enacted at dusk. This is also a perfect time to create mystical charms that represent your desires for the coming year. These include fruits for good harvest, coins for prosperity, and mistletoe for fertility, to name just a few. Happy return of the light! Your future is really bright.

By Ellen Whitehurst for

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