Imbolc – History, Traditions, Correspondences, and Simple Ritual Ideas

Many Pagans, Witches, and those interested in Nature Spirituality celebrate the seasonal cycles. Sometimes referred to as the Wheel of the Year, and consisting of eight celebrations. Four of these festivals (Imbolc, Beltane, Lughnasadh, and Samhain) are rooted in Celtic history and origins. The other four (Spring Equinox, Summer Solstice, Autumn Equinox, and Winter Solstice) represent the sun’s location. I created a complete guide to each season, including history, traditions, symbols, correspondences, ritual ideas, and how you can celebrate.

Imbolc is a fire festival that celebrates the home and the halfway point between Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. It is quite literally Midwinter and while the days continue to grow lighter it is still dark and cold outside. Cabin fever has set in and we are all yearning to unburden ourselves from the long dark days. This can be an especially difficult time for those who suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and is a BIG reason why a celebration is so lovely right now!

After months of self-reflection, planning, and goal setting, aspiration and ambition are beginning to stir. The tiniest bits of enthusiasm is starting to awaken beneath the surface. Goals and dreams that you’ve created over the long cold nights are now being lit from the flames of Midwinter. Let your creativity and imagination help manifest these dreams!

Table of Contents

Click here to read more of this article about Imbolc from www.thepeculiarbrunette.com

Flashback 2002 Imbolc

Imbolc is an important day of purification and initiation; on the Sun’s day, February 2, the energies are very airy. This Sabbat is a good day for coven work, with an emotionally detached masculine Moon and Sun on the Sun’s day.

Dress yourself and your altar in white, while serving white beverages or any dairy food to honor the calving season. Spread the top of a one-pound round Camembert or Bire cheese with raspberry preserves. Cut a circle of puff pastry large enough to cover the cheese, wrap it, tucking the ends of the pastry under. Use scraps to decorate the top with goddess symbols. Brush with beaten egg yolk. Bake at 425 degrees until golden, and serve hot and melting on crackers. During this ritual, bless and dedicate all candles you will need for other ritual work throughout the year. A good way to start the ceremony is to light candles in the darkened room with chanting to encourage the lengthening days.

©️ By K. D. Spitzer Llewellyn’s Witches’ Datebook 2002 Page 41

IMPORTANT NOTE for the Southern Hemisphere Imbolc falls on August 1st.

Flashback 2011 – The Rise of Wicca and Neo–Paganism in the United States


Author: Govannon Thunderwolf

Wicca is becoming the fastest growing religion in the United States. This statement was something I was hearing and reading more and more. Being a member of the Pagan community, I didn’t really notice any of this growth happening. The more books and articles on the Internet that I read, the more I kept seeing this statement. The research into this declaration became my focus of interest. What fascinated me the most about this account was the fact that Wiccans and neo – Pagans do not go around with the specific intent of finding converts. In the teachings and ideas of Wicca and Paganism, the idea of looking for converts is not encouraged and is looked down upon. Anyone seeking converts into Wicca or Paganism is breaking a cardinal rule.

Even though Wicca is generally a female dominated religion, there are men involved as well. Wicca is a religion that recognizes women and men as equals, but it does put a slight emphasis on women and the Goddess. Female witches out number males two to one in the United States, according to the Covenant of the Goddess’s estimates. Covenant of the Goddess is one of the oldest and largest Wiccan groups in the United States. They also state that much of the recent growth in Wicca and neo – Paganism has been among women. (Sanders xiv)

Where would someone look to find followers of Wicca and Pagans? They can be found anywhere and everywhere. The actual number of Wiccan and Pagan followers in the United States changes constantly, but in 1999 Helen Berger, a sociologist who spent ten years as a member of the neo – Pagan community, estimated that there are between 150, 000 and 200, 000 Pagans in the United States. It is suspected that there are many more among the ranks of Pagans today. Berger’s census also found that California has the highest amount of Pagans living within its boundaries at 15.7 percent, followed by Massachusetts at 7.6 percent, and New York at 7.3 percent. (Sanders xiv)

While there were many contributors to the construct of Wicca since the 1890’s, there was one man, who in 1954 wrote and published Witchcraft Today, and that man was Gerald Gardner (1884 – 1964) . Even though Druidism, Witchcraft, and other forms of Paganism were originally oral traditions, their revival is attributed to written text. (Clifton 14 – 15)

Very little is known about Gerald Gardner except for what is public record. He was a civil servant for the United Kingdom, and spent most of his career in Britain’s Asian colonies before he retired and settled in southern England. Gardner was one of the many who thought it more prestigious to have learned the “craft”, a term used for Witchcraft, an elder of one’s own family. Gardner didn’t claim to have learned Wicca from an elder of his own family, but did claim to have learned it from elders with family ties that went way back many generations. For most people in the Pagan community, it was well know that Gardner was considered a bit of a pervert due to his tendency toward bondage and ritualized punishment. It came through in his writings and ideas of practice, but the resurgence of “the craft” is mainly attributed to him. The people of Britain have always made changes to religions to try and make them their own, but Wicca is the only religion that originated in the United Kingdom. (Clifton 14 – 15)

Wicca is generally a solitary religion and seventy percent of its followers are solitary, taking personal responsibility for their own religious practice, rather than following an authority figure. Without a strict set of beliefs, “each practitioner can add or subtract beliefs at will, ” this is a part of what makes Wicca so popular. (Sanders 5)

Now I will continue this paper on three main reasons that I found the most compelling reasons for people of all walks of life to be drawn to Wicca and Paganism, beginning with a concern for the Earth.

The fear of Global Warming and preserving what we now have for future generations is a major common concern among contemporary Pagans. Most of modern society has lost an important connection with nature. In some cases there is even a fear of nature. To be fearful of the natural world, in which we as human beings came from, just as all life has, is quite a cause for alarm. When the system of Wicca was originally developed, its focus was on fertility, just as the ancients were focused on fertility. As history has shown, fertility was a main concern for all people in ancient times.

Life was hard for our ancient ancestors and fertility of the land, animals, people, etc. was the only way for them to continue life and surviving. With human fertility becoming less of a concern in modern times because of improvements in science, the focus has now shifted to nature. This change is another way in which Wicca and Paganism can remain a positive religion. It is a religion that recognizes change and changes with it. If something can’t change with the times, it will get left behind and become history.

The American mainstream religions have done very little to foster concern for nature. Never, have I heard of any sermons given on how people should be encouraged to care for the environment, be good caretakers of nature, and preservation of natural resources. This again, leads many to view Paganism and Wicca more approvingly. (Sanders 22)

Paganism also acknowledges nature by following the cycles of the seasons and life. Pagans and Wiccans are encouraged to live their lives by looking to nature as their guide. They live in the here and now as opposed to living and planning for the end of life. Through this view of nature, Wiccans and Pagans acknowledge their connection to all life and the greater cosmos. Many mainstream religious writers believe that honoring nature is not enough for religion or life because it contains violence and brutality. (Harvey 187) This worldview on life and nature is the basis for Wiccans and Pagans to believe in no absolute good or evil. All things in nature are good and evil at the same time and therefore it applies to life as well.

The second reason for the attraction to Paganism and Wicca is empowerment for women. The Christian church has treated women like “second – class citizens” for much of its history. This treatment of women is also prevalent in much of the Western world as well. (Sanders 22) Many women have become quite discontent with the Christian church. When women have expressed an interest in becoming more involved in the church, they are usually directed to make coffee and teach Sunday school. With the concerns of equal rights coming more and more to the forefront in our society, how do the patriarchal religions expect women to remain subservient? (Sanders 22)

For the last several thousand years of patriarchal religions domination of the Western world, large numbers of women have been searching for a spiritual existence free from the patriarchal dogma. With Wicca’s emphasis on Goddess worship, it attracts those women who want to find a spiritual side to their feminism. (Adler 207 – 24)

The feminist views of women have been the main driving force pushing Wicca to be accepted as a religion. Not all Wiccan groups are feminist though. Most Pagans and Wiccans have a more moderate view of the feministic ideas. Feminist Wiccan groups have dropped a lot of common beliefs in the Pagan community in favor of an all female belief system. By doing such things as only recognizing the female deities and eliminating the male deities, they are alienating themselves from the rest of the Pagan and Wiccan community. (Adler 180 – 81)

Many women have become quite discontent with the Christian church. When women have expressed an interest in becoming more involved in the church, they are usually directed to make coffee and teach Sunday school. With the concerns of equal rights coming more and more to the forefront in our society, how do the patriarchal religions expect women to remain subservient? (Sanders 22)

One doesn’t need to look very hard to see the atrocities that have been committed against women in history by patriarchal societies. One common saying in modern Pagan communities that can be found imprinted on t – shirts and bumper stickers is, “Don’t forget the burning times.” This refers to the days of the infamous witch-hunts. Malleus Maleficarum (The Hammer of Evildoers) published in 1486/87 by Jacob Spenger and Heinrich Krämer was the authoritative witch hunter’s manual. One key phrase from this manual that modern Pagan writers like to quote is: “All witchcraft comes from carnal lust, which in women is insatiable.” (Clifton 100) This “authoritative” work also stated that women were created from the bent rib of Adam, therefore women are “imperfect animals” if they are even animals at all. (Pearson 302)

In the Malleus Maleficarum, inquisitors, the ones who were authorized to verify involvement in witchcraft, were informed that guilty women would make sexual pacts with Satan. Therefore, after this pact was made, any event in the local community that disrupted the well being of the people was most certainly caused by a witch in their ranks. (Pearson 302 – 3)

When the inquisitors were in search of a “witch”, one could be found quite readily. More often than not, the accused was just a woman that someone had a grudge against. Many also speculated that these “witches” might have been highly learned women, such as early scientists. Because of the ridiculous information contained in the Malleus Maleficarum on how to proceed with the “trials” of the accused, there generally was “no mistake” of finding them guilty. Guilty women and a few men as well, were relatively few in the colonies of America. On the other hand, in Europe the numbers of the accused were astronomical. Imagine the amount of people that lost their lives due to the feelings of resentment of some sort or other, such as the amount of land they owned or a person’s general success. Many Wiccans and Pagans feel that the amount of people who were actually true witches during these “trials” was closer to none. (Gibson 112 – 18)

The final main reason that I would like to point out for the attraction of Wicca and Paganism is the attraction of the supernatural. While Pagans and Wiccans accept the belief in an unseen world, forces, and entities, many, if not all, Christian churches, in these modern times, ignore this belief. In many cases, a person could stir up quite a bit of trouble for themselves by stating a belief in an unseen world in the Christian church. (Sanders 23 – 26)

Reading ones future by using tarot cards and runes are very popular forms of divination among Pagans and Wiccans. There are many other popular forms of divination and occult sciences such as the use of crystals. Even though many of these beliefs forms were allowed by Christianity in their early years of development, now these systems have no place in Christianity. Many people have speculated when and why this shift occurred. Modern science has been trying to validate these occult sciences for quite some time now, but with limited success. The simple fact that the occult sciences are being tested gives valid support in their existence. (Handbook of Contemporary 425)

There are still many things in the world that can’t be explained by modern science. In the acknowledgement of this fact is where modern Pagans revel. It still gives room for belief in the ideas of fairies, mythical beings, and other such beliefs.

Discussions of the supernatural will quickly conjure up visions and ideas in relation to recent popular movies such as Harry Potter, The Seeker, Lord of the Rings, and many, many other movies. While these movies and books quickly catch the imagination, their similarities to actual supernatural occurrences are very, very limited. For the most part, these movies and books are purely fantasy. Even so, there have been some Christian based groups that are in opposition of these forms of entertainment. They believe that it sways people, especially children, to take an interest in Wicca and Paganism. (Handbook of New 459 – 60)

As Catherine Edwards Sanders, a Christian journalist, points out, “most Wiccans [and Pagans] have thought more seriously about spirituality and some of life’s big questions than many in the secular and even Christian cultures. They have not been content to skate through life seeking the gods of fashion, peer pressure, or materialism, reserving religion for weekends and special holidays.” (30)

Most Pagans and Wiccans actually view their lives as being interconnected with the rest of the world as a whole. They realize that there are, in fact, fewer events in their lives through this interconnection with the rest of the world.

With the impending end of the Mayan calendar in 2012, there have been many theories in reference to the end of the world. In fact, recently the “dooms day” movies have been coming out more and more frequently. One can only speculate that as 2012 draws nearer, the apocalyptic world movies and theories will by coming out at a frantic pace.

In the Wiccan and Pagan groups though, ideas of the world coming to an end are not so prevalent. Many think that the date of 12 December 2012 will be a beginning of a ‘New World Age.’ Many experts believe that this will be an age of peace and interconnection with the rest of the world and beyond for the next 5, 200 years. The experts are also saying that the ‘veil’ that separates our world from the spirit world will be lifted. The descendents of the Ancient Mayan’s say that we are already in the twenty – five year timeline of this change. (Rennison np.)

This information of the coming change according to the Mayan calendar is something that modern Pagans and Wiccans are looking forward to.

In conclusion, is there a rise in the Wicca and Pagan belief system? Given the research, the answer would definitely be a resounding yes. The movement is very broad and difficult to pin down, but it has been noticed. Many authors and professionals are calling on others to try and do research on the subject. With others taking an interest in the movement, maybe someone or maybe a group of individuals will come forward with some new views or theories on this movement. With these new views and theories we can only hope to find a definite reason for this shift.

Until then, there will be many I’m sure who will take on this daunting task. There are hundreds of theories already studied or in the process of being studied. I’m sure that there are many other ideas out there that have not yet been discussed or found in the public forum. With the case of the ancient Mayans, their descendants have said that there is plenty more information that they are in possession of, but have yet to let the rest of the world know about it. Whether there is more information yet to come remains to be seen.

I’m sure that there other ancient civilizations out there that have possessed knowledge or information, now lost. Unfortunately, just as these civilizations have disappeared, so has their immediate knowledge of this information. They did leave behind recordings of information that are in the processes of being deciphered and theories investigated. The only problem is that many individuals in the modern world have a very difficult time believing what the ancients were saying. This in turn leads to very different ideas in what is being told, many times the information is right there, but many misinterpret the information only because the obvious is just too difficult to comprehend.

 



Footnotes:
Works Cited:

Adler, Margot. Drawing Down the Moon Witches, Druids, Goddess-Worshippers, and Other Pagans in America. New York: Penguin (Non-Classics) , 2006. Print.
Berger, Helen A., Evan A. Leach, and Leigh S. Shaffer. Voices from the Pagan Census A National Survey of Witches and Neo-Pagans in the United States (Studies in Comparative Religion) . New York: University of South Carolina, 2003. Print.
Clifton, Chas S. Her Hidden Children: the Rise of Wicca and Paganism in America. Lanham: AltaMira, 2006. Print.
Gibson, Marion H. Witchcraft Myths in American Culture. New York: Routledge, 2007. Print.
Handbook of New Age (Brill Handbooks on Contemporary Religion) . New York: Brill Academic, 2007. Print.
Handbook of Contemporary Paganism (Brill Handbooks on Contemporary Religion) . New York: Brill Academic, 2009. Print.
Harvey, Graham. Contemporary Paganism Listening People, Speaking Earth. New York: NYU, 2000. Print.
Pearson, Joanne. Belief Beyond Boundaries Wicca, Celtic Spirituality and the New Age (Religion Today-Tradition, Modernity and Change) . Grand Rapids: Ashgate, 2002. Print.
Sanders, Catherine. Wicca’s Charm Understanding the Spiritual Hunger Behind the Rise of Modern Witchcraft and Pagan Spirituality. Wheaton: Shaw, 2005. Print.
“Susan Rennison’s Website.” Susan Joy Rennison’s Website. Web. 18 Dec. 2009. .

Special Edition of Witchcraft/Magickal Correspondences, Rituals and Other Things for Beltane

THREE RITUALS FOR BELTANE

Beltane is a cross-quarter holiday on the Wheel of the Year that honors the return of summer, the return of the fertility of the Earth, and the element of fire. It’s a nature-based holiday that many of our ancestors celebrated for a long time, and now we get to carry that tradition forward.

Like Samhain, Beltane is a time when the veil is thin. This holiday is a particularly beautiful time to connect with nature spirits, as well as any other beings you’re wanting to create a connection with.

At Beltane, we honor the goddess as part of us. We honor the body, pleasure, sensuality, and sexuality. We bask in the fiery energy of the sun and the fertile energy that’s present.

In this blog, I’m sharing three rituals and suggested tools for Beltane that you can work with to honor this sacred holiday. Keep scrolling to watch a video and read more!

OPTIONAL RITUAL TOOLS FOR BELTANE

Feel free to add any of the symbols and tools outlined below to your Beltane rituals or altar. They each correspond with the energy of Beltane. They are not necessary and should be viewed as optional layered energy in your rituals.

Crystals: Rose quartz, garnet, pink tourmaline, rhodochrosite, emerald, malachite, and moonstone

Scents and plants: Sandalwood, ylang-ylang, lilac, angelica, jasmine, and rose

Candle colors: Pink, orange, and red

Element: Fire

Tarot: Empress

Rune: Berakno

Goddess: Venus/Freya

Tools and Symbols: Cowry shell, flowers, and anything that represents pleasure and creativity to you

PLEASURE RITUAL FOR BELTANE…

Click here to read the rest of the rituals from cassieuhl.com

Beltane Correspondences

From paganpages.org

Also known as: Bealtaine, Beltane, Bhealtainn, Bealtinne, Festival of Tana (Strega), Giamonios, Rudemass, and Walburga (Teutonic), Cetsamhain (opposite Samhain),Fairy Day,Sacred Thorn Day, Rood Day, Roodmas (the Christian term for Rood Day, Old Beltane, Beltain, Baltane, Walpurgis Night, Floriala (Roman feast of flowers from April 29 to May 1), Walpurgisnacht (Germanic-feast of St. Walpurga), Thrimilce (Anglo-saxon), Bloumaand (Old Dutch)

Date: May 1

Animals: Swallow, dove, swan, Cats, lynx, leopard

Deities: Flower Goddesses, Divine Couples, Deities of the Hunt, Aphrodite, artemis, Bast, Diana, Faunus, Flora, Maia, Pan, the Horned God, Venus, and all Gods and Goddesses who preside over fertility.

Tools: broom, May Pole, cauldron

Stones/Gems: emerald, malachite, amber, orange carnelian, sapphire, rose quartz

Colors: green, soft pink, blue, yellow, red, brown

Flowers & herbs: almond tree/shrub, ash, broom, cinquefoil, clover, Dittany of Crete, elder, foxglove, frankincense, honeysuckle, rowan, sorrel, hawthorn, ivy, lily of the valley, marigold, meadowsweet, mint, mugwort, thyme, woodruff may be burned; angelica, bluebells, daisy, hawthorn, ivy, lilac, primrose, and rose may be decorations, st. john’s wort, yarrow, basically all flowers.

Incense: frankincense, lilac, rose

Symbols & decorations: maypole, strings of beads or flowers, ribbons, spring flowers, fires, fertility, growing things, ploughs, cauldrons of flowers, butterchurn, baskets, eggs

Food: dairy, bread, cereals, oatmeal cakes, cherries, strawberries, wine, green salads

Activities & rituals: fertilize, nurture and boost existing goals, games, activities of pleasure, leaping bonfires, making garlands, May Pole dance, planting seeds, walking one’s property, feasting

Wiccan mythology: sexual union and/or marriage of the Goddess and God

It’s association with fire also makes Beltaine a holiday of purification.

Wiccan weddings are frequently held on or around Beltaine.

Beltane Foods to Bring to your Fire Festival

From PlentifulEarth.com

A beautiful, spring sun shines overhead on a beautiful Beltane morning, bringing blessings of warmth, love, and passion to every Witch present at the festival of Beltane. A bright fire burns in the distance, marking the celebration between Ostara and the Summer Solstice. The Green Man and Mother Earth each bless handfastings while dozens of Witches happily maypole dance to celebrate the fertility of this beautiful Sabbat.

45 minutes into the Beltane celebration, you think to yourself, “Is it time for the cakes and ale? I’m so ready for the feast! Oh! Hail and welcome!” We’ve literally all been there. Good news; food is a huge part of Wiccan and Pagan celebrations!

In this article, we’ll share the fruits, vegetables, meats, and foods that are best for a Beltane fire festival.

Beltane Recipes and Food Correspondences

Fruits

Vegetables

Nuts

Herbs & Spices

Breads

  • Banana Bread
  • Bannock Bread
  • Oatcakes

Cheeses

  • Goat’s Cheese

Meats

  • Beef
  • Goat
  • Rabbit
  • Oysters

Drinks

Toppings

  • Chocolate Sauce
  • Curry Sauces
  • Honey
  • Hot Sauce
  • Olive Oil

The Tools Of Ritual Magick

The Tools Of Ritual Magick

Formal ritual magick requires its own special tools. These may be real or symbolic.

The list I give here is intended only as a guide: some of these may not be relevant to your own way of working. I have listed the areas of the circle in which each tool is traditionally placed. There are many sources of magical tools and, as I mentioned in the section on spells, you may already have a number in your home. You do not need to spend a great deal of money unless you wish, but I would suggest that you take time in finding the right items. Even if you work in a group, you may like to build up a set for your own personal work.

Some people prefer to make their own magical tools and this certainly does endow them with energies. I have suggested books that tell you how to make your own candles for special ceremonies and even your own knife. Woodcarvers are an excellent source for small staves suitable as wands and will often make items to order. In time, you will build up a collection of items and by personalising and charging them, you make them not only powerful, but also your own.

Keep your magical tools in a special place, separate from your everyday household items, wrapped in a natural fabric. You can buy excellent hessian bags and may wish to keep fragile or items that will scratch in separate ones. You can also use silk. Secure your bags with three protective knots.

You may have heard various warnings about needing to destroy charged tools on the demise of the owner, and the dire consequences of their being touched by any outsider. This is real late-night-cinema stuff. But common sense dictates that you should not leave knives, sharp wands, etc. where children might harm themselves and on the whole it is better to keep magical items away from the curious and the sceptical.

There is really no reason why you should not use your kitchen knife for cutting vegetables and then, after a quick purification in water or incense, chop herbs in an impromptu spell, or open your circle with it. But on the whole it is better to keep a separate knife for your special ceremonies.

I believe that even formal tools are like electrical devices that are lying unplugged and unused: they contain the potential to help or harm only if misused. What is more, without your personal vibes, which act as your password, the power cannot flow; you have not created an independent life form.

The following tools are commonly used in formal magick.

The Athame
An athame is, quite simply, a ceremonial knife. It is one of the ritual tools that entered the tradition through the influence of magicians and witches who set out the wisdom, mainly at the beginning of the twentieth century and in the upsurge of covens during the 1950s. Gerald Gardener, one of the founding fathers of Wicca, considered ritual knives and swords of prime importance in modern formal witchcraft.

You can obtain an athame from a specialist magical shop, but as I said before, any knife – even a letter opener – will do, although it should preferably have a silver-coloured blade. Athames are traditionally double-edged and black-handled, but a single-edged blade is better if you are new to magick, to avoid unintentional cuts.

There is a vast array of scouting and craft knives available, with black wooden handles on which you can engrave magical symbols such as your zodiacal and planetary glyphs with a pyrographic set obtained from an art shop. You can also paint moons, stars, spirals, suns, or crosses with silver paint. I use a curved-bladed knife with a silver engraved scabbard, which I bought from a souvenir shop in Spain.

The athame is set in the East of the altar and represents the element of Air. Like the sword, it is traditionally used for drawing magical circles on the ground and directing magical Air energies into a symbol. When you are casting a circle, you can point your athame diagonally towards the ground, so that you do not need to stoop to draw (which is not very elegant and bad for the back). With practice, the movement becomes as graceful as with a sword.

The athame can also be used as a conductor of energy, especially in solitary rituals, being held above the head with both hands to draw down light and energy into the body. This uses the same principle as that of arching your arms over your head to create a light body as described on page 124. One method of releasing the power is then to bring the athame down with a swift, cutting movement, horizontally at waist level, then thrust it away from the body and upwards once more to release this power. If others are present, direct the athame towards the centre of the circle. After the ritual you can drain excess energies by pointing the athame to the ground.

An athame may be used to invoke the elemental Guardian Spirits by drawing a pentagram in the air and for closing down the elemental energies after the ritual. With its cutting steel of Mars, it is effective in power, matters of the mind, change, action, justice, banishing magick, protection and for cutting through inertia and stagnation. The athame is sometimes also associated with the Fire element.

If you don’t like the idea of a full-sized athame, there are some lovely paper knives in the shape of swords or with animal or birds’ heads.

Some covens give each of their members a tiny athame, to be used for drawing down energies during ceremonies. The main athame is used by the person leading the ritual who may draw the circle, open all four quarters and close them after the ritual.

An athame with a white handle is used for cutting wands, harvesting herbs for magick or healing, carving the traditional Samhain jack-o’-lantern, and etching runes and other magical or astrological symbols on candles and talismans. Some practitioners believe that you should never use metal for cutting herbs but instead pull them up, shred them and pound them in a mortar and pestle, kept for the purpose. Pearl-handled athames are considered to be especially magical.

The Sword
Like the athame, the sword stands in the East of the circle as a tool of the Air element. Swords are the suit symbol of Air in the Tarot and are also one of the Christian as well as the Celtic Grail treasures.

Each of the Tarot suits and the main elemental ritual items in magick, represented by these four suits, is associated with one of the treasures of the Celts. The treasures belonged to the Celtic Father God, Dagda, and are said to be guarded in the Otherworld by Merlin. There were 13 treasures in total, but four have come into pre-eminence in magick and Tarot reading.

These four main sacred artefacts – swords, pentacles, wands and cups, or chalices – have parallels in Christianity and were associated with the legendary quest of the knights of King Arthur, who attempted to find them. The Grail Cup was the most famous of these. The Christian sword of King David, identified in legend with Arthur’s sword Excalibur, appears in Celtic tradition as the sword of Nuada whose hand was cut off in battle.

With a new hand fashioned from silver, he went on to lead his people to victory. According to one account, the Christian treasures were brought in AD 64 to Glastonbury in England by Joseph of Arimathea, the rich merchant who caught Christ’s blood in the chalice as He was on the cross and took care of His burial after the crucifixion.

Some present-day, peace-loving witches, myself included, do not really like the concept of using swords, even though they are pretty spectacular for drawing out a circle on a forest floor, and swords are rarely used in home ritual magick. If you do want to use one, however, you can obtain reproduction ceremonial swords.

The sword is the male symbol to the female symbol of the cauldron, and plunging the swords into the waters of the cauldron can be used in love rituals and for the union of male and female, god and goddess energies as the culmination of any rite. However, the chalice and the athame, or wand, tend to be used for the same purpose, unless it is a very grand ceremony.

The Bell
The bell stands in the North of the circle and is an Earth symbol. It is an optional tool and can be made from either crystal or protective brass. Best for magick is the kind that you strike.

The bell is traditionally rung nine times at the beginning and close of each ritual; the person ringing the bell should stand in the South of the circle, facing North. (Nine is the magical number of completion and perfection.) It is also rung to invoke the protection of angels or the power of a deity and in ceremonies to welcome departed members to the circle. You can also sound the bell in each of the four elemental quadrants, before creating the invoking pentagram, to request the presence of each elemental guardian. It can also be sounded as you pass your chosen symbol around each quadrant of the circle. However, you should not use the bell to excess – it is better under-utilised.

The Broom
The broom, or besom, was originally – and still is – a domestic artefact. It represents magically the union of male and female in the handle and the bristles and so is a tool of balance. Brooms have several uses in magick. A broom is sometimes rested horizontal to the altar to add protection, and couples jump over one in their handfasting ceremony. Most important, you should use your broom to cleanse the ritual area before every ritual.

Brooms are easily obtainable from any garden centre (you want one in the traditional ‘witches’ broomstick’ shape, not an ordinary brush). Brooms made with an ash handle and birch twigs bound with willow are traditionally recognised as being especially potent, being endowed with protective and healing energies. Some practitioners carve or paint a crescent moon at the top of the handle, others decorate theirs with their personal ruling planetary and birth sign glyphs entwined.

When cleansing the area for rituals, you might like to scatter dried lavender or pot pourri and sweep it in circles widdershins, saying:

Out with sorrow, out with pain,
Joyous things alone remain.

You can also sweep areas of your home such as uncarpeted floors, patio paths and yards to cleanse the home of negativity. Remember to sweep out of the front door, away from the house and eventually into the gutter, or if in you live in a flat, you can collect the lavender and dust in a pan and send it down the waste disposal unit.

You may also wish to cleanse the area further by sprinkling salt and pepper dissolved in water after sweeping. If you are working on carpet, you can use a very soft broom (some modern witches even hoover in circles widdershins and sprinkle the area with water in which a few drops of a cleansing flower essence, such as Glastonbury Thorn, has been added).

The broom is an Earth artefact.

The Cauldron
The cauldron is the one ritual tool that is positively charged by being the centre of domestic life and can replace the altar as a focus for less formal magick spells. If you can obtain a flameproof cauldron with a tripod, you can, on special occasions such as Hallowe’en, light a fire out of doors and heat up a brew of herbs and spices in the cauldron. When not in use, you can keep your cauldron filled with flowers or pot pourri.

If your circle is large enough, you can place your cauldron in the centre. Then, if you are working in a group, form your circle of power around it, so that the altar is within the outer consecrated circle and you make a human inner circle with the cauldron as the hub. If you are working alone, you can have your altar in the centre with the cauldron in front of it. Alternatively, you can have a small pot or cauldron in the centre of the altar.

Experiment with the different positions both for group and solitary work and walk or dance your way around to work out the logistics. Some practitioners do not use a cauldron at all.

In your rituals, you can light a candle in front of the cauldron, fill it with sand in which to stand candles, or surround it with a circle of red candles to represent Fire. Wishes written on paper can be burned in the candles. Water darkened with mugwort may be placed in the cauldron, especially on seasonal festivals such as Hallowe’en and May Eve, and white candle wax dripped on the surface to create divinatory images that offer insights into potential paths.

You can cast flower petals into the cauldron water to get energies flowing. For banishing, add dead leaves and tip the cauldron water into a flowing source of water. You can also burn incense in the cauldron if this is the focus of a ritual.

The cauldron is a tool of Spirit or Akasha, the fifth element.

The Chalice
The chalice, or ritual cup, used for rituals is traditionally made of silver, but you can also use crystal, glass, stainless steel or pewter. The chalice represents the Water element and is placed in the West of the altar. Like the sword, it is a sacred Grail treasure and is a source of spiritual inspiration.

The Grail cup is most usually represented as the chalice that Christ used at the Last Supper, in which His blood was collected after the crucifixion. As such, it signifies not only a source of healing and spiritual sustenance, but also offers direct access to the godhead through the sacred blood it once contained. Tradition says that the original Grail cup was incorporated by Roman craftsmen into a gold and jewelled chalice called the Marian Chalice after Mary Magdalene. In Celtic tradition, it became the Cauldron of Dagda.

In rituals, the chalice can be filled with pure or scented water with rose petals floating on top. I have also mentioned its ritual use with the athame in male/female sacred rites, as the symbolic union of god and goddess that has in many modern covens replaced an actual sexual union (that now tends to occur in privacy between established couples only).

The chalice is also central to the sacred rite of cakes and ale that occurs at the end of formal ceremonies – the pagan and much older equivalent of the Christian holy communion. The offering of the body of the Corn God is made in the honey cakes on the pentacle, or sacred dish, and the beer or wine in the chalice is fermented from the sacrificed barley wine. In primaeval times, actual blood was used to symbolise the sacrifice of the Sacred King at Lughnassadh, the festival of the first corn harvest. The rite goes back thousands of years.

The cakes and ale are consumed by the people acting as High Priestess and Priest in a dual energy rite or by those initiated in those roles. Crumbs and wine are first offered to the Earth Mother or poured into a libation dish (a small dish for offerings). Then the priestess offers the priest a tiny cake and then takes one herself and he offers her the wine before drinking himself. The dual roles work just as well in a single-sex coven. The cakes and ale are then passed round the circle and each person partakes of the body and blood of the Earth, offering a few words of thanks for blessings received.

In some groups each person has an individual chalice set before them, but everyone still drinks one after the other, offering thanks, unless there is a communal chant of blessing before drinking.

The chalice can be filled with wine or fruit juice or water, depending on the needs and preferences of the group.

The cakes and ale ceremony and the male/female chalice rite can both be easily incorporated into a solitary ritual.

The Pentacle
The pentacle is a symbol of the Earth and is familiar to users of Tarot packs. It is placed in the North of the altar.

It consists of a flat, round dish or disc, engraved with a pentagram within a circle. The pentacle has been a magical sign for thousands of years. The five-pointed star of the pentagram within it is a sacred symbol of Isis and the single top point is considered by many to represent the Triple Goddess.

You can place crystals or a symbol of the focus of the ritual or charged herbs on the pentacle to endow it with Earth energies. It can then be passed through the other elements or empowered by passing over the pentacle incense for Air, a candle for Fire and burning oils or water itself for the Water element.

The pentacle can be moved to the centre of the altar once the symbol on it has been fully charged. It is very easy to make a pentacle of clay, wood, wax or metal, and on it mark a pentagram with the single point extending upwards. This is what you might call the all-purpose pentagram – drawn this way it always has a positive influence.

You might also like to make a larger pentacle for holding the tiny cakes for the cakes and ale ceremony. You can find special recipes for these cakes in books but any tiny honey cakes will serve well.

The Wand
The wand is a symbol of Fire and should be placed in the South of the altar.

The wand is sometimes represented by a spear. Both the wand and spear, like the athame and sword, are male symbols. The spear, another Fire symbol, is not used in magick, except occasionally in the form of a sharpened stick in sacred sex rites, when it is plunged into the cauldron or the chalice as a symbol of the sacred union of Earth and Sky, Water and Fire.

The wand is traditionally a thin piece of wood about 50 centimetres (21 inches) long, preferably cut from a living tree (some conservationists disagree unless the tree is being pruned). After a strong wind or in a forest where trees are being constantly felled, it is often possible to find a suitable branch from which the wand can be cut. It should be narrowed to a point at one end and rubbed smooth.

You can make a series of wands from different woods for your ceremonies.

Ash is a magical wood, associated with healing and positive energies.

Elder wands are symbols of faerie magick and so are good for any visualisation work.

Hazel comes from the tree of wisdom and justice and is linked with the magick of the Sun. The wand should be cut from a tree that has not yet borne fruit.

Rowan is a protective wood and so is good for defensive and banishing magick.

Willow is the tree of intuition and is said to be endowed with the blessing of the Moon.

You can also use a long, clear quartz crystal, pointed at one end and rounded at the other, as a wand. In its crystalline form, especially, the wand is used for directing healing energies from the circle to wherever they are needed.

The wand is used for directing energies and for making circles of power in the air – hence the image of the faerie godmother waving her wand – deosil for energies to attract energies and widdershins for banishing. It can be used to draw pentagrams in the air at the four quarters and it can also be used for drawing an invisible circle when you are working on carpet or another fabric that cannot be physically marked.

In some traditions, the wand is a tool of Air and so this and the athame, or the sword, are fairly interchangeable. However, the wand seems more effective for casting and uncasting circles, invoking quarters and closing power. It is also particularly good for directing energies in rites of love, healing, fertility, prosperity and abundance.

 

Practical Guide to Witchcraft and Magic Spells By Cassandra Eason

With my thanks to Lady Abyss for this great information first posted in April of 2019

What Is the Meaning of the New Moon? – Article Brought Back From the Past

 

What Is the Meaning of the New Moon?

This moon phase is a time to rest, recharge and renew

New Moons are special, as a time to unfold into your real self, the timeless one. If it’s true that we rest between lives, in our real home, the New Moon is a time to rest, before the next cycle of happenings.

Because of that, it’s one to get juiced up again, by merging with that renewing, spiritual source. And like other moments of soul searching, like the Sun’s “New Moon” at Winter Solstice, it’s a time to remember who you are and get guidance on the road ahead.

Sun and Moon
When the Moon is new, the Luminaries — the Sun and Moon — are aligned in the same Zodiac sign. That makes it a charged time with concentrated energies of that sign. A New Moon is a symbolic point of attention and a symbolic portal for new beginnings.

New Moons are a great time to set intentions for things you’d like to create, develop, cultivate, make manifest. There are many ways to initiate this communion with the Universe from lighting a candle to elaborate rituals. What matters is that you’re committing yourself to your vision, and open to receiving guidance, healing, support from Spirit.

Following the Moon
When you tune into the Moon’s phases, it’s reassuring to know that there are many chances during the year to tap into lunar energy. Like the tides, the Moon ebbs and flows, a rhythm that women understand intimately. New Moons are a blank page on which to speak your dreams out loud, and Full Moons are for taking action and celebrating the fruit of your efforts.

In the chaotic and temporal world, looking to something larger that is also part of yourself can fill you with awe and make you feel connected. For whatever path you’re on, opening to working with planetary energies links you to the power of the divine.

Getting Ready
It’s a good idea to spend some time reflecting in the days leading up to the new Moon. Knowing exactly what you want to draw into your life is not always easy. Part of preparing for the new Moon is making sure you are clear about your intentions. Sometimes it’s a quality you’d like to cultivate like forgiveness, courage — other times it’s a more specific request for a promotion at work or a new place to live.

What Is a New Moon Ritual?
This depends on your personal tastes, the pace of your life and the time you have to devote to it. Some simply light a candle, while others gather objects and pictures for their altar. Try writing your intentions on a 7-day candle and leaving it in a prominent (and safe) place. With a candle, you can return to it and relight it while meditating on your intentions.

Ritual helps focus your entire being on the quest at hand. In the days leading up to the new Moon, you might gather pictures and totems that symbolize your goal. Creating a New Moon collage gives you a visual reminder of your dreams.

What Does It Mean for Each Different Zodiac Sign?
Every new Moon is different, and this gives you the chance to claim the energies of each different sign. Even if you don’t have planets in the sign for a given month, it falls somewhere in your birth chart. We each have elements of the entire Zodiac in our make-up, with some more emphasized than others. Find out where the new Moon falls in your chart for clues as to what to “call in” that month.

How Is It Different From the Full Moon?
The new Moon has a more inward feel, has a void or empty quality, and therefore can be frightening to those not comfortable with uncertainty. Can you learn to trust the dark? It’s the moment when the old passes away and the new is not yet here. That’s why it’s a powerful time for sending out your prayer, wishes, desires to the Universe.

Source

Molly Hall, Author
Published on ThoughtCo.com

Shrine discovered in Egyptian temple with evidence of previously unknown rituals

The Sikait Project research team, directed by Professor Joan Oller Guzmán from the Department of Antiquity and Middle Age Studies at the UAB, recently published in the American Journal of Archaeology the results obtained from the January 2019 excavation season at the ancient seaport of Berenike, located in Egypt’s Eastern desert.

The paper describes the archaeological dig of a religious complex from the Late Roman Period (4th to 6th centuries CE) named the Falcon Shrine by researchers, and located within the Northern Complex, one of the most important buildings of the city of Berenike at that time.

The site, which was excavated by the Polish Center of Mediterranean Archaeology and the University of Delaware, was a Red Sea harbor founded by Ptolomy II Philadelphus (3rd century BCE) and continued to operate into the Roman and Byzantine periods, when it was turned into the main point of entrance for commerce coming from Cape Horn, Arabia and India.

Within this chronological period, one of the phases yielding the most new discoveries was the one corresponding to the Late Roman Period, from the fourth to sixth centuries CE, a period in which the city seemed to be partially occupied and controlled by …

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Wheel of the Year: The 8 Wiccan Holiday Festivals

For the Northern Hemisphere

For the Southern Hemisphere

In Wicca, we make it a point to honor both feminine and masculine energies, lunar and solar cycles. When we’re practicing our craft according to the lunar cycles, we honor the Moon Goddess with esbats. However, we also have eight solar festivals throughout the year, which are represented by the Wiccan Wheel of the Year.

The Wheel of the Year is a physical representation of the eight pagan festivals that celebrate nature’s life cycles. These eight Sabbats include four solar events — two solstices and two equinoxes — and four cross-quarter events. But how did this calendar come about in the first place?

The Origin of the Wheel of the Year Calendar

Many historians postulate that ancient pagans marked the passing of time by celebrating certain solar events. On top of that, some of their celebrations were a way to mark events that had agricultural significance. Even so, we can’t say that the seasonal festivals we’re about to discuss ever existed in their current forms. So how did we get to the Wheel of the Year we observe today?

Well, believe it or not, the Wiccan Sabbats are a result of decades, if not centuries, of modern interpretations of ancient rites. In fact, some pretty famous scholars unknowingly participated in the…

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Ancient sanctuary used by Roman soldiers nearly 2,000 years ago found in the Netherlands

One of the most extensive ancient Roman temple complexes in northern Europe, which includes sacrificial altars used by soldiers on a far frontier of the Roman Empire, has been unearthed in the Netherlands.

The first century A.D. site — known as a temple sanctuary — was located near the fork of the Rhine and Waal rivers and a short walk from Roman forts along the Lower German Limes, which was then the northernmost border of the empire. It now lies near the Dutch city of Zevenaar in the eastern Gelderland region, near the border with Germany.

The sanctuary consisted of at least three large temples and many smaller altars dedicated to particular Roman gods and goddesses, and would mainly have been used for sacred vows by Roman soldiers stationed at the nearby forts, project leader Eric Norde, an archaeologist at the Dutch archaeology agency RAAP, told Live Science.

Hundreds of artifacts have been found at the site, including coins and jewelry; while the tips of spears and lances, and the remains of armor and horse harnesses, emphasize its military nature, he said.

The discoveries give a glimpse of the lives of soldiers stationed on the frontiers of the empire, far from the Roman heartlands.

“It’s the best-preserved Roman sanctuary in the Netherlands, and perhaps in a much larger area,” Norde said. “It’s quite extraordinary.”

The central government of the Netherlands and the provincial Gelderland government have contracted RAAP to excavate the site, which was first unearthed during commercial clay extraction works in 2021, according to a statement by the Dutch cultural ministry (opens in new tab). The clay extraction has been stopped for the excavations but is continuing nearby, and so the archaeological site is closed to the public for now.

Votive altars …

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Mysterious ‘Lord of the Universe’ Deity from Ancient Palmyra Finally Identified

The identity of an unknown god described in inscriptions from the ancient city of Palmyra, located in modern-day Syria, has long baffled scientists. But now, a researcher declares that she has cracked the case.

Palmyra existed for millennia and the city flourished around 2,000 years ago as a center of trade that connected the Roman Empire with trade routes in Asia, such as the Silk Road.

The anonymous deity is mentioned in numerous Aramaic inscriptions at Palmyra and is referred to as “he whose name is blessed forever,” “lord of the universe” and…

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The Full Wiccan Rede – Printable and Typed In

The Full Wiccan Rede

Bide within the Law ye should To keep unwelcome spirits out.
To bind the spell well every time
Let the spell be spake in rhyme.For tread the Circle thrice about In perfect love and perfect trust.
Live ye must and let to live
Fairly take and fairly give.

Light of eye, and soft of touch
Speak you little, listen much.
Honour the Old Ones in deed and name
Let love and light be our guides again.

Deosil go by the waxing moon
Chanting out the Wiccan Rune.
Widdershins go by the waning moon
Chanting out the Baneful Rune.

When the Lady’s moon is new
Kiss the hand to her times two.
When the moon ridesat Her peak
Then your heart’s desire seek.

Heed the Northwinds mighty gale
Lock the door and trim the sail.
When the wind blows form the East
Expect the new and set the feast.

When the wind comes from the South
Love will kiss you on the mouth.
When the wind whispers form the West
All hearts will find peace and rest.

Nine woods in the Cauldron go
Burn them fast and burn them slow.
Birch in the fire goes
To represent what the Lady knows.

Oak in the forest towers with might
In the fire it brings the God’s insight.
Rowan is a tree of power
Causing life and magick to flower.

Willows at the waterside stand
Ready to help us to the summerland.
Hawthorn is burned to puify
And to draw faerie to your eye.

Hazel – the tree of wisdom and learning –
Adds it’s strength to the bright fire burning.
White are the flowers of the Apple tree
That brings us fruits of fertility.

Grapes grow upon the vine
Giving us both joy and wine.
Fir does mark the evergreen
To represent immortality seen.

Elder is the Lady’s tree
Burn it not or cursed you’ll be.
Four times the Major Sabbats mark
In the light and in the dark.

As the old year starts to wane
The new begin; it’s now Samhain.
When the time for Imblolc shows
watch for flowers through the snows.

When the wheel begins to turn
Soon the Beltane fires will burn.
As the wheel turns to Lammas night
Power is brought to magick rite.

Four times the Minor Sabbats fall
Use the Sun to mark them all.
When the wheel has turned to Yule
Light the log The Horned One rule.

In the spring, when night equals day
Time for Ostara to come our way.
When the sun has reached it’s hight
Time for Oak and Holly fight.

Harvesting comes to one and all
When the Autumn Equinox does fall.
Heed the flower, bush and tree
By the lady Blessed you’ll be.

Where the rippling waters go
Cast a stone, the truth you’ll know.
When you have and hold a need
Harken not to others greed

With a fool no season spend
Or be counted as his friend.
Merry Meet and Merry Part
Bright the cheeks and warm the heart.

Mind the Three-fold Law you should
Three times bad and three times good.
When misfortune is enow
Wear the star upon your brow

Be true in love this you must do
Unless your love be false to you
Eight words the Rede fulfil
“An it harm none, do as ye will”

2,550 Submerged Wooden Objects Recovered From The Templo Mayor Of Tenochtitlan

Archaeologists have recovered as many as 2,550 wooden objects from the Templo Mayor in the Aztec city of Tenochtitlan in Mexico City. The rescued objects have survived more than 500 years submerged in water, some completely flooded.

As explained on AncientPages.com earlierthe “most important sacred temple complex of the Aztecs – the Main Temple (in Spanish: Templo Mayor) was built in the center of the Aztec capital Tenochtitlán.

According to Aztec chronicles, the first temple (later followed by its twin temple) was built after 1325 and enlarged several times over the course of the 14th and 15th centuries.

The twin temples were dedicated to the god of rain and fertility, Tlaloc (“the one who makes sprout“), and Huitzilopochtli, god of war and sun.

Aztec chronicles confirm that both gods were frequently appeased with human sacrifices and other public rituals that took place in the temple.”

Scientists report the extraordinary offerings found at the foot of the Great Temple of old Tenochtitlan include darts, dart throwers, pectorals, earrings, masks, ornaments, earmuffs, sceptres, jars, headdresses, a representation of a flower and another of bone, all found in the ritual deposits made by the priests to consecrate a building or make a request to the Aztec gods.

A high and constant level of humidity, little oxygen, and …

Click here to read the rest of this article by Conny Waters on AncientPages.com

 

Planetary location of the Moon and Their Association With Spellwork

 

Moon in Aries: Spells involving authority, willpower and rebirth.

Moon in Taurus: Spells involving love, real estate, and money.

Moon in Gemini: Spells involving communication, public relations and travel.

Moon in Cancer: Spells involving domestic life and honoring lunar deities.

Moon in Leo: Spells involving power over others, courage, child birth.

Moon in Virgo: Spells involving employment matters, health and intellectual matters.

Moon in Libra: Spells involving court cases, partnerships and artistic matters.

Moon in Scorpio: Spells involving secrets, power and psychic growth.

Moon in Sagittarius: Spells involving publications, sports and the truth.

Moon in Capricorn: Spells involving career, political matters and ambition.

Moon in Aquarius: Spells involving science, freedom, personal expression, problem solving and friendship.

Moon in Pisces: Spells involving music, telepathy and clairvoyance.