Seasons of the Witch – Legends and Lore, Ancient Holidays And Some Not So Ancient!
Today Is …
Lithuanian Lovers Festival. In Lithuania, the ancient goddesses of love are invoked during an annual lover’s festival called The Binding of the Wreaths, which takes place on this day.
On this date in the year 1980, famous Dutch clairvoyant Gerard Croiset passed away. He was renowned as both a psychic healer and psychic criminologist.
Slavic Pagan: Perun’s Day. On this day a human sacrifice was chosen by ballot. There is record of a viking’s son being chosen and the viking refusing to give him up. Both father and son were killed as a result. This day was considered a “Terrible” holiday. The sacrifice was seen as necessary to placate the God and keep him from destroying the crops with late summer storms. A bull was also sacrificed and eaten as a communal meal.
Feast of the Redeemer – On the third Sunday in July, Venetians celebrate their escape from a plague. After Mass in the Church of San Redentore, people picnic on the water and watch fireworks in the evening. Some folks stay up all night to watch the sun rise the next morning. This holiday seems to be a dim reflection of summer solstice customs. Blackburn, Bonnie & Leofranc Holford-Strevens, The Oxford Companion to the Year, Oxford University Press 1999
St Margaret – Famous in the medieval ages as a saint for women (she was one of the voices speaking to Joan of Arc), she has faded off the church calendar, probably because of lack of evidence for her existence. She is called Marina in the East. There’s also a Saint Pelagia, whose nickname is Maragarito.
Both Marina and Pelagia mean sea. The name Margaret itself derives from the Greek word, maragarites, meaning pearl. These names link Margaret to the great Sea-Mother known under many names including Mary, Marina and Miriam. Pelagia is one of the names of Aphrodite in her aspect as the Goddess of the Sea. And July is the month of a Greek festival celebrating the wedding of Adonis and Aphrodite.
Margaret’s story is similar to that of many virgin martyrs. She’s said to be the daughter of a pagan priest at Antioch who rejected the advances of a prefect who then denounced her as a Christian. She suffered many ordeals, including being swallowed by Satan in the form of a dragon, but she caused his belly to burst and stepped forth unharmed. She was invoked by pregnant women for protection from the dangers of childbirth and for those who were dying for escape from the Devil.
Margaret is often represented standing over a dragon, like other saints, including Martha (whose feast day falls on the nearby July 28th). The Dragon Project researchers believe the image of slaying the dragon, which is always accomplished with an iron pole, has something to do with earthing energy which is floating about loose and might hurt the crops or the animals.
The Chinese say that the dragon is thunder (and this is the time of thunderstorms), a creature of the waters who rests in pools in the winter and rises up as the rain in the spring. The dragon is a symbol of the force operating beneath the surface of the earth which emerges at the proper time. Given the association of Margaret with water and the time of the year at which she is honored (the height of summer), it is possible that the dragon is really a sea-serpent. Perhaps when Margaret strikes the ground with her iron staff, she brings forth a life-giving spring or calls forth the flood waters of the Nile.
The wheatfield poppy supposedly sprang from the blood of the dragon she slew. Long before, it was dedicated to Diana and Demeter as the source of healing sleep and death. St Margaret’s flower is the Virginian dragon’s head.
Her feast day was sometimes seen as the start of the dog days, as in this mnemonic: Margaret is the dog’s mouth, Laurence (Aug 10) brings his tail.
St Wilgefortis or St Uncumber – Like St Distaff, whose feast day follows the Twelve Days of Christmas, she is a fictitious saint. Legend says that Wilgefortis was a daughter of the King of Portugal who did not wish to marry. When her father tried to press marriage upon her she prayed for help and sprouted a copious beard, which drove all prospective suitors away. Her name Wilgefortis may be derived from Virgo Fortis (Mighty Maiden). She is also known as Liberata, Livrade, Kummeris and Uncumber (in England) and invoked by women who wish to rid themselves of troublesome husbands or importunate suitors. Rago says you can achieve the same thing by picking parsley at dawn and wishing aloud for release.
Her story and feast day may derive from the stories of the Corinthian Aphrodite who grew a beard and impregnated women.
Rago, Linda Ours, The Herbal Almanack, Washington DC: Starweed Publishing 1992
Remember The Ancient Ways and Keep Them Holy!
Courtesy of GrannyMoonsMorningFeast