May Day by Jami Shoemaker – Part 3

[This article will alternate days between CovenLife.co and WitchesOfTheCraft.com]

Medieval & Tudor Britain

May Day found a great popularity in medieval and Tudor times. Women rose before sunrise and went into the field to bathe their faces in the dew—an act believed to enhance beauty and restore a youthful complexion. Hawthorn was associated with May, and the gathering of Hawthorn boughs was know as “going-a-Maying.” Accompanied by song. dance, and general merriment, the hawthorn boughs were brought back to the village, and used to garland the throne of the May Queen, a young woman of the village crowned “Queen” for the day. This custom seems to hearken back to celebrations of Flora, keeping alive the knowledge of the goddess of growth and flowers. Flowers gathered on May Eve would be left at houses in the village, in exchange for food and drink. Our custom of leaving baskets on doorsteps has its roots in this tradition. The flower-bears were seen as messengers of spring, and it was thought that those who reward them with generosity were assured abundance in the coming season.

Along with the Queen of May, spectators were also entertained by Robin Hood, Maid Marian, Friar Tuck and other characters modeled from old Pagan customs of the gods of greenwood. Other festivals included games, sports, archery contests, and more dancing. Carols heralding the arrival of spring were sung, and children parade about carrying a doll dressed in white—the “Lady of May.”

People of the village decorated their homes with wreaths and garlands, and a Maypole, cut by the young men and carried into the town with great ceremony, was set up in the village square. Some of these poles reached enormous heights, as the villages competed to have the tallest pole. Ribbons and other decorations were added, and the practice of dancing around the Maypole and weaving ribbons together has become one of our most beloved traditions.

Copyright Llewellyn’s Witches’ Datebook 2001 Pages 21 to 25

The Origins of Halloween by Sliver Raven Wolf – Part 7

[This article will alternate days between CovenLife.co and WitchesOfTheCraft.com]

Halloween Comes to America

Our first inkling of Halloween coming to America revolves not around a specific set of people (many indicate the Irish) but with William Penn’s motley collection of refugees from Europe. In 1663, Penn wrote a promotional tract about the Americans. As a result, fifty ships dropped the anchors in the Delaware River. They discharged persecuted souls from England, Ireland, Wales, and the Rhineland (now Germany). Collectively, the Germans and Irish shared Celtic heritage. Therefore many of the folk customs resonated together—including Halloween.

From 1684 through 1930, Halloween was more a time for tricking rather than for treating. Many of the tricks the German and Irish communities became universal, such as overturning outhouses, dismantling a wagon and putting it back together on top of a house or barn, and tying cows to church bells. The tricks often served as social function, such as mildly chastising a neighbor who exhibited antisocial behavior.

By 1910, several American manufactures were making or importing party products just for the American holiday Halloween. From noisemakers to costumes, a new holiday meant new business and an opportunity to make money.

The drawback to the new holiday came in the form of the “declared” Mischief Night, Goblin Night, or Devil’s night on October 30. Minor offenses, such as trying several garbage cans together and hanging them from a light pole, soaping windows with lard, and later, bars of hand soap, abounded. As the pranks grew to vandalism shopkeepers would bribe youngsters to ward off destruction of their property.

In an effort to stop the criminal behavior, the Boy Scouts, in conjunction with local town councils, cities, boroughs, instituted the custom of Trick-or-Treat night to help keep youngsters from naughty practices. By the 1930s the custom of trick-or-treating was well entrenched in our American culture. Halloween, like Christmas, became a holiday for children, and parents strove to make the holiday as much fun as possible for the enjoyment of their youngsters.

During he 1950s. ’60s, and ’70s our American Halloween stayed primarily the same, but in the ’70s and ’80s, with a recession coupled by a candy scare, groups and organizations once again sought to find appropriate avenues to make Halloween safe for America’s children. Halloween practices extended through the entire month of October. Haunted houses, parties, hay rides, plays, story hours, and numerous other events were held throughout the month.

In the mid-to-late 1990s certain sects of the Protestant Christian church declared war on Halloween. using the same erroneous propaganda cultivated hundreds of years ago. Other groups size Halloween for their own political agendas—hosting haunted houses showing aborted babies, drug addicts, and other modern day violent situations. This did not go over well, as the holiday had become an event primarily for children, not adult political issues. Radical Christian groups said that the holiday was Satanic—which, as we’ve seen from our research, is a bizarre and fantastic claim, based on misinformation, politicking, personal agendas and fear. With America’s policy of separation of church and state the battle for destroying Halloween in the United States is an uphill battle.

The original Samhain marked the the close of the agriculture season and functional third harvest festival. In America, Halloween has become the first holiday in our end-of-year rush for partied gaiety. Our Halloween functions as the opening of the three-month-long celebratory fest that includes Thanksgiving, Christmas, Yule, Kwanzaa, and Chanukkah, and ends with the popular American New Year.

As our children crave pumpkins with delightful chatter, adults find solace in a night when they can be whatever they want to be. We have little doubt about the joy this holiday bring to the American people. I am sure we will forever love the haunted house, the harvest Moon, the thrills and chills of a well-wrought tale—and, of course, the deliciously scary things that go EEEEK! in the night.

 

Copyright Llewellyn’s Witches’ Datebook 1999 Pages 24 to 29

The Origins of Halloween by Silver Raven Wolf – Part 5

[This article will alternate days between CovenLife.co and WitchesOfTheCraft.com

The Witches

So far, we’ve talked about the land of the dead, how the early Christians managed to superimpose Satan onto Samhain, and how fairies got zapped into demons, but there has been no mention of Witches, commonly associated in our time with Halloween. Where did Witches come from?

During the Dark Ages, the Church sought to eradicate the Pagans and wise women from the countryside so that the church could amass both power and property. First, they had to devalue women because women kept the holy days, trained the children, and provided the cohesive socialization of the culture, thus women held the power to shape society. The church taught, among other things, that women had no souls. Once this teaching had occurred, it was only a small step to make them inhuman, and the Church was able to incite the superstitious populace.

The Celtic women were the strong hold of the family environment, and although the Celts accepted Christianity at first, they did not want to give up their family traditions or their lifestyle. The Church was not into free thinking—therefore anything that did not follow the church dictates was evil. Hence, the Witches (really the women) became evil. Since Samhain was a primary festival of the Celts and the Church had already determined that Samhain was evil, the association between Witches and Halloween was born.

Copyright Llewellyn’s Witches’ Datebook 1999 Pages 21 to 25

 

 

May Day by Jami Shoemaker – Part 1

[This article will alternate days between CovenLife.co and WitchesOfTheCraft.com]

Ancient Customs

Beltane (Anglicized spelling) is a fire festival, and was dedicated to the god of light, called variously Bel, Balor, Belenos, and Baldur. It marked the beginning of the summer season, and the return of the Sun to light and nourish the earth. Among the customs associated with the Celtic celebration of Beltane (literally “Bel’s fire”) is the lighting of two fires on a hilltop. The Druids gathered gathered wood from nine different trees to make their fire every year on top of Tara Hill in County Merath, Ireland. Traditionally, all other fires were extinguished, and relit from these sacred “need fires” as an act of renewal. Before cattle were taken into the open pasture for the summer they were driven either between the fires or through the ashes to purify them of disease, and men and women would leap the flames for protection, and for luck in matters of fertility, romance, and home.

This brings us to perhaps the most significant part of the Beltane customs—that of fetility and growth. With the return of light and warmth, the earth’s fertility was assured for another season. This mystery was seen as the union of the earth and sky, or Goddess and God. The fruit of the union was seen as greening of the countryside, and in the harvest to come. This coming together of the forces of nature was honored as the “Sacred Marriage” of the Goddess and God. Imitating their union was the ultimate act of the community.

In light of this “marriage of the gods,” Pagan weddings or “handfasting” were popular at this time of year. This was the commitment of a year and a day. giving the couple sort of “trial run” at marriage and after that time both parties could agree to a long-term relationship, or could go their separate ways without remorse.

For those only looking for a night of frolicking, the “greenwood marriage” was popular. Young men and women would spend the night at the Beltane fires, or would go into the woods on Beltane Eve, gathering garlands and flowers, making love, and staying up to greet the Sun. If a woman were lucky, she would find herself with child, as children conceived on May Eve were considered favored by the the gods. These “greenwood marriages” continued long after Christian form of marriage replaced the peasants’ handfasting. May Eve was a time to drop all inhibitions and enjoy unbridled sexuality. No rules applied. even married or handfasted couples would relax their commitment for this night.

Symbols of fertility abounded at May time—the greening of the woods, the flowering of plants, the mating of animals. Perhaps one of the most blatant symbols of fertility is the Maypole, traditionally cut and carried from the forest by the villages most viral young men. Though the symbol of the Maypole is universal (the living tree representing the growth that awakens with spring), the tradition of erecting a Maypole may stem from an ancient Roman tree-giving custom. It has been said that the erection of the Maypole, which includes burying one end in the earth, is yet another representation of the union of the gods.

Beltane falls exactly opposite Hallows,which marks the beginning of the dark half of the year. These two turning points were seen as powerful times in the wheel of the year. They fell on the “in-between” times, embodying the mysteries of light and dark, life and death, and the transitions between. It is at these times when the veil between the worlds of spirit and matter, the dead and the living, are the thinnest. Beltane was then associated with great magic. This was a time for divination, and for spells that would bring love and prosperity. It was also a time when the faery folk were more easily seen. Their appearance could bring good fortune, or, if a mortal were enticed by their mischievous ways, he or she might fall into a trance and be taken to a place beyond time.

Copyright Llewellyn’s Witches’ Datebook 2001 Pages 21 to 25 

The Origins of Halloween by Silver Raven Wolf – Part 3

Feast of the Dead

As the Celtic religious system solidified so did the beliefs of the Celts concerning the dead—as has occurred in all religions, before and after the Celts. Since the turning points of the year were considered fissures in time and space, the Celts believe that the dead they loved so dearly could travel through time and space and return from Tir nan Og to visit them. The custom of leaving food at the table (the birth part of the treat part of trick-or-treat) was a gesture of welcome to the departed. From these visits came the belief that those who had gone beyond the land of the living could provide information on past or future events. This is how divination became associated with Samhain.

The Celts did not believe in devils or demons, but they did believe in the Fairy Folk, whom they thought inhabited the land of the dead (the land in-between). Fairies were thought to be resentful of humankind for taking over their land. Because time and space could be conquered on Samhain, fairies were said to roam countryside creating mischief and kidnapping a human or two now and then—just for fun, you understand.—except the humans never came back. Here then is the root of the scary stuff associated with Halloween. The mischief, of course, was caused by living humans, and accepted by the Celts as a psychological release before the onset of winter gloom—though I doubt they would explain it in those terms.

Is it odd, gross, or unusual that a group of people should set aside a day for the dead? Nope. Different cultures and religions have followed such a practice for centuries. Let’s get on our broom again and check out Rome and its contributions to Halloween.

A Fly-BY of Ancient Rome

Rome had the habit of changing rulers as many times as you empty the lint trap in your dryer. Between 14 and 37 CE, Christianity had begun its rise in Rome. By 41 CE, Claudius had distinguished himself with the conquest of Britain. The Romans also had a harvest festival, so the Celts didn’t have much trouble blending the two holidays together after they came into contact with the Romans. It was around 314 CE when Constantine the Great declared the Roman Empire to be Christian, and the fate of Samhain and Druids was sealed.

The Origins of Halloween by Silver Raven Wolf – Part 1

(This article will be posted on an alternate day basis between WOTC and our affiliated website CovenLife.co)

Harvest Moon, velvet sky, pumpkins glowing, children laughing, costumes, candy, scary stories—just where did this autumn gaiety begin? Let’s look through those cobwebby corridors of time to unearth the exciting genealogy of the American Celebration we call Halloween!

Nothing is ever as simple as it seems—especially when dealing with history. Too often events and circumstances of our past were written or re-written by people who, for whatever reason, operated under an agenda, or simply wanted history to reflect how it should have been, rather than how it was. How, then, do we determine what is fact and what is fiction? In some cases, we can’t. In other situations, we dig.

Copyright 1999 Llewellyn’s Witches’ Datebook Pages 24 to 29

Correspondences for Thursday

 

Correspondences for Thursday

Thursday (Thor’s day)

Planet: Jupiter

Colors: Purple, Deep Blue

Crystals: Amethyst, Lepidolite, Sugilite, Tin

Aroma: Melissa, Clove, Oakmoss, Jupiter Oil, Cinnamon, Musk, Nutmeg, and Sage

Herb: Cinquefoil Ruled by the planet Jupiter and dedicated to Thor, god of thunder and agricultural work. His parallels in various European Traditions include Zeus, Taranis, Perun, and Perkunas.

Magical aspects: controlled optimism, energetic growth, physical well-being, material success, expansion, money/wealth, prosperity, leadership, and generosity.

Thursday is the day of Jupiter, the largest of the planets and said to be the most powerful. Spellcasters would be wise to use this day for attempting wealth, success and prosperity spells.

Thursday is also associated (in Greek mythology) to Thor – Thor’s day – and some even say that Jupiter and Thor are one in the same. Both are strong and powerful, yet wise and just. Try a small prayer to Jupiter before commencing any ritual on Thursday as a sign of respect. This is the proper day of the week to perform spells and rituals involving luck, happiness, health, legal matters, male fertility, treasure, wealth, honour, riches, clothing, money, desires, business, group pursuits, joy, laughter, and expansion.

 

Hey It Says Free, I’m going to grab it – Free Quiz – Are You a Natural Born Witch?

This post was originally put up by Lady Abyss

Free Quiz – Are You a Natural Born Witch?

You may be a natural born witch and not even know it! Many people are born with a lot of natural magical ability. Some people are aware of their ability, but many are not. There are many religions, such as Wicca that teach real magic in one form or another. However, you do not need to practice any particular religion in order to learn how to develop real magical ability. The first step is to determine your level of natural ability. The next step is to learn how to develop it and make the most of it.

Here’s a quiz to help you determine your level of natural magical ability. Answer the
following questions to find out if you are a natural born witch:

Do your watches or clocks always seem to run either slow or fast?

Do electrical things seem to act strange around you?

If yes, is it more noticeable when you’re emotional or when discussing certain
topics?

Have you ever just “known something, even if there’s no rational way you could
know it?

Have you ever had dreams that came true?

Have you ever “seen other people’s past lives?

Do you have unusually good luck with certain things?

Do things seem to happen just because you want them to?

Do other people seem to do things because you want them to?

Do you often know what other people are thinking or feeling?

Do you often find a great parking space, even when a parking lot is full?

Do you often know who’s calling before you answer the phone or look at the caller
ID unit?

Do other people seem to feel a need to touch you?

Are children and/or animals attracted to you?

Do people seem to fear you, or feel intimidated by you for no apparent reason?

Do you have a “green thumb”?

Did you have any kind of “imaginary friends as a young child?

Have you ever seen or felt the presence of ghosts?

Do people seem to be either very attracted to you, or very repelled by you?

Do people seem to stare at you for no apparent reason?

How many “yes answers did you have:
1-5 You have a small amount of natural ability
6-10 You have an average amount of natural ability
11-15 You have a very high degree of natural ability
16 -20 You are exceptionally gifted!

Mistress of Magic

Crafting Your Own Sacred Schedule – Part 8

(Parts 1, 3, 5,7 for this topic will be posted on Coven Life. Parts 2, 4, 6, 8 will be posted on Witches of The Craft)

How Do You Celebrate?

Now, all this exploration doesn’t mean that every day you note as important must be acknowledged with elaborate ritual. Lighting a candle on your altar, taking a few moments to meditate outside, or preparing a favorite meal of a deceased loved one all work beautifully. If you know a particular day is going to hit you hard emotionally or mentally, then remember to schedule self-care of some kind. That can be anything from taking a cleansing bath to scheduling an outing with friends to dedicating the day to doing community service.

Copyright by Laura Tempst Zakroof Llewellyn;s Witches’ Datebook 2020 Pages 20 to 23

Crafting Your Own Sacred Schedule – Part 6

(Parts 1, 3, 5,7 for this topic will be posted on Coven Life. Parts 2, 4, 6, 8 will be posted on Witches of The Craft)

Local Festivities

Where we live has a huge impact on how we turn the Wheel. The landscape, the seasons, and local culture all affect how we experience the world around us. The community in which you live probably all ready has festivals that honor certain changes, such as a harvest festival, an annual block party, a yearly parade to commemorate an event in the town’s history, or a natural phenomenon that happens like clockwork (monsoons, fog season, second summer, etc.) These modern-day observances can have just as much power as the commonly accepted sabbats — and even more personal meaning for you because the event directly reflects the spirit of where you live. Remember everything has an origin!

Copyright by Laura Tempst Zakroof Llewellyn;s Witches’ Datebook 2020 Pages 20 to 23

Crafting Your Own Sacred Schedule – Part 4

(Parts 1, 3, 5,7 for this topic will be posted on Coven Life. Parts 2, 4, 6, 8 will be posted on Witches of The Craft)

Saint and Deity Days

While certain sabbats may have an associations with specific deities, what if those gods aren’t deities you feel connected to? Maybe the one or ones you choose to work with historically have a special date used to honor them. If you can’t find a specific date or seasons in the records, you might use the day of dedication instead, if you have performed such a rite. Or you could use divination or trance work to determine which day would be pleasing to them.

There’s also a fair amount of folks who have a fondness for saints — whether because they are coming from a Catholic background or they made a connection to that saint via their current path. In some religions, the deities of old became saints because of their powers that be couldn’t squash the belief in them, so they were “legitimatized” instead. In other instances, they can be viewed as the Mighty Dead, or enlightened humans who act as intermediaries to the divine.

Copyright by Laura Tempst Zakroof Llewellyn;s Witches’ Datebook 2020 Pages 20 to 23

Crafting Your Own Sacred Schedule – Part 2

(Parts 1, 3, 5,7 for this topic will be posted on Coven Life. Parts 2, 4, 6, 8 will be posted on Witches of The Craft)

Anniversaries, Birthdays, and Other Important Life Moments

The first category may seem pretty obvious, but we often tend to not look at these dates in a spiritual context. We may even view them as obligations versus observances over time. Birthdays aren’t just about getting older; they are opportunities to reflect on the events that took place in the past year and set goals for the next year. A birthday can serve as a reminder for us to be kinder to ourselves.

Marking the beginnings of a relationship (wedding, union, handfasting, etc.) is a great time to remember what brought you together and what you have accomplished along the way. Similarly, anniversaries of endings can be moments to recall we have come and how we have changed. For example, nearly a decade after the fact, I still remember the date when I finally decided to end an abusive relationship. It marks not only the end but also a new beginning, the new me. Celebrate your moments of strength in dark times as well as your triumphs in the best of times.

What other important moments mark significant changes in your life? A college graduation date, the day you arrived in a new place, an initiation or elevation into a tradition, the day you met you best friend, or the day you reconciled with someone — all are possible things you might choose to acknowledge on a yearly basis.

Copyright by Laura Tempst Zakroof Llewellyn;s Witches’ Datebook 2020 Pages 20 to 23

WOTC and CL Websites and Coven’s Combined Logo

Untitled

I am going to use this as the combined logo for WOTC, Coven Life, and Heart’s Spirit Coven as all threes logo as part of a letterhead, places that ask for our logo online, etc.

I picked the Tree of Life because to me not only does it represent As Above, So Below but also how 2 separate websites are coming together as one through the Heart’s Spirit Coven. All who read and/or follow Witches of The Craft and Coven Life whether you practice as a Solitary or in a face to face pagan group are a student with Coven Life, etc you are welcome to join me and the rest of Heart’s Spirit Coven for Open Chats, Esbat and Sabbat celebration gatherings. We do not follow a pure Wiccan path but a path of many different traditions so we are a eclectic coven of Solitary Witches and students who come together for gatherings and to chat.

As you can see WOTC is in yellow for Sun light, Coven Life is in blue for Life Giving water, both of which nourish learning and work together to form Heart’s Spirit Coven and Coven Life’s Witchcraft School. Please let me know over the next week whether or not you like this as a logo or not. If not, please give me you suggestions on what you think a good logo would look like combining the 2 websites and coven