The Pagan Calendar for Friday, December 25th

Winter Animals-1The Pagan Calendar for Friday, December 25th

Dies Natalis Solis Invicti (‘the birthday of the unconquered sun’) (Roman) – The title Sol Invictus had been applied to a number of solar deities. Many Oriental cults were practised informally among the Roman legions from the mid-second century, but only that of Sol Invictus was officially accepted. Sol Invictus was identified with the earlier Roman sun god Sol. This is the traditional birth date of sun gods and gods with solar attributes such as Pryderi, Frey, Saturn, Dionysus, Adonis, Attis, Tammuz, Baalim, Quetzalcoatl, Mithra and Zeus.

Juvenalia – After the Saturnalia, the Romans celebrated the birth of new life with a festival honouring children, who were given talisman (like bells, shoes, warm clothese and toys) for good luck in the coming year.

Saint Anastasia’s Day – Yet another Christian virgin whose chastity was threatened by a Roman Pagan. This time the Roman prefect thought he was embracing Anastasia, when in face he was making love to the cooking pots and kitchen utensils. When he emerged from his imaginary amorous encounter he was covered with soot, and his servants thought him a demon, and chased him away with blows.

Anna Franklin, Yule (The Eight Sabbats)

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Celebrating Other Spiritual 365 Days A Year – Megalesia Mater

Flower Graphics

April 4th

Megalesia Mater

This day marked the beginning of Ludi Megalenses, the first day of the weeklong Megalesia Mater in honor of the Goddess Cybele–generally described as Magna Mater. Her cult originated in Asia Minor and came to be centered on Mount Dindymus at Pessinus in Phyrgia, where she was know as Agdisis. Her consort was Attis, and there was a great deal of mythology that surrounded their relationship.

It was during the war with Carthage that Cybele’s cult was brought to Rome in 204 B.C., following a prophecy in the Sibylline Books and advice from the Oracle at Delphi. The prophecy stated that the invaders would be driven back if Magna Mater was brought to Rome. Soon after, her sacred black stone was brought to Rome and housed in the temple of Victoria, later to be placed in a temple on the Palatine Hill, which was dedicated to Magna Mater in 191 B.C.

The Megalesia lasted from April 4 to 10 and originally consisted of games in the Circus Maximus. It was a festival of fertility in the most primal of forums. A large pine tree representing the God Attis was adorned with white cloth and placed in the center of the temple of Cybele. The novice priests would then cut their arms and sacrifice their virility to the God. The severed portions of their manhood were dashed against the pine tree and then buried. This brutal and bloody display of adoration was considered instrumental in recalling Attis to life,k and thus the return of summer growth.

How To Hold a Lammas Bread Sacrifice Ritual

How To Hold a Lammas Bread Sacrifice Ritual

By , About.com Guide

Grain is the heart of Lammas, and the beginning of the harvest season is a milestone in many societies. Once the grain is threshed and milled it is baked into bread and consumed, honoring the spirit of the grain god. This ritual celebrates both the harvest and the sacrifices we make each year, as well as the sacrifice of the grain god. Decorate your altar with symbols of the season — sickles and scythes, garden goodies like ivy and grapes and corn, poppies, dried grains, and early autumn foods like apples. If you like, light some Lammas Rebirth incense.

Difficulty: Average
Time Required: Varied

Here’s How:

  1. For this rite, you’ll need a loaf of Lammas bread and a cup of wine or water. You’ll also need pieces of straw or other plant material, enough for each person in the ritual to make a small doll, and some yarn or string to tie the dolls together. Finally, you’ll need a fire. You can either have a large bonfire, or a small tabletop fire in a pot or brazier.
  2. If your tradition requires you to cast a circle, do so now.

    The High Priest or High Priestess says:

    It is the time of the harvest once again. Life, growth, death and rebirth, all have come full circle. The god of the harvest has died once more, That we may eat and consume him, Giving us strength in the months to come.

  3. The HPs hands each member of the group a sheaf of straw, saying:

    We now create dolls in our image. These dolls symbolize our selves, in our many aspects, and all the things we give up each year, so that we may thrive and flourish later on.

    Each member of the group constructs a doll to represent themselves. Use the instructions here if you don’t know how to make a doll: Corn Doll or Straw Man. As each person creates their doll, they should energize the doll with personal qualities. These are the essences of self that each person is bringing to sacrifice, so that they may be reborn as the harvest god is each year.

  4. When everyone has completed their dolls, the High Priestess says:

    The god of grain is dying, vegetation returns to the earth. We call upon the gods of the harvest, asking them for their blessings. Tammuz and Lugh, Adonis, Dumuzi, Cernunnos and Attis, Mercury, Osiris. You are born each year, and live in our fields and are sacrificed as part of the cycle.

  5. Raise energy by circling your fire or altar three times, moving in a counter-clockwise (widddershins) direction, building speed each time (you’re moving against the pattern of the sun, because it’s the end of the harvest season). If you like, you can increase the feeling of power by chanting one of these popular traditional Wiccan verses:

    Hoof and horn, hoof and horn, all that dies shall be reborn. Corn and grain, corn and grain, all that falls shall rise again.

    or:

    Earth my body, water my blood, air my breath and fire my spirit.

  6. If your group is musically inclined, have half the group sing the “Hoof and horn” part, and the second half sing the “Earth my body” verse, so that it forms a round robin. The effect is amazing!

    When the raising of energy is complete, each person in the group approaches the fire, one at a time, and casts their doll into the fire. They can either say out loud what their sacrifice will be this year, or speak it only to themselves and the gods. As each doll is placed in the fire, direct leftover energy into the flames as well.

  7. When everyone has made their sacrifice, the HPs holds up the loaf of Lammas bread. Say:

    Months ago, we planted seeds, and through the summer watched them grow. We have tended the fields in our lives, and now we are blessed with abundance. The harvest has arrived! Thank you, lord of the harvest, For the gifts yet to come. We eat this bread, grain transformed by fire, in your name, and honor you for your sacrifice.

  8. The HPs breaks off a piece of bread for herself, and passes it around the circle, so that everyone can take a piece. Eat the bread, and then pass around the cup of wine or water. If you wish, you can say something as the cup is passed, like:

    May you reap the blessings of the harvest.

    Once everyone has eaten their bread and sipped from the cup, take a moment to reflect on what you have harvested for yourself this season. End the ritual as you normally would or move directly into a Cakes and Ale ceremony or other rites you wish to perform.

What You Need

  • A loaf of Lammas bread
  • Straw or plant material
  • String
  • A fire
  • A cup of wine or water

Deities of the Fields

Deities of the Fields

Gods and Goddesses of the Early Harvest

By , About.com Guide

When Lammastide rolls around, the fields are full and fertile. Crops are abundant, and the late summer harvest is ripe for the picking. This is the time when the first grains are threshed, apples are plump in the trees, and gardens are overflowing with summer bounty. In nearly every ancient culture, this was a time of celebration of the agricultural significance of the season. Because of this, it was also a time when many gods and goddesses were honored. These are some of the many deities who are connected with this earliest harvest holiday.

  • Adonis (Assyrian): Adonis is a complicated god who touched many cultures. Although he’s often portrayed as Greek, his origins are in early Assyrian religion. Adonis was a god of the dying summer vegetation. In many stories, he dies and is later reborn, much like Attis and Tammuz.
  • Attis (Phrygean): This lover of Cybele went mad and castrated himself, but still managed to get turned into a pine tree at the moment of his death. In some stories, Attis was in love with a Naiad, and jealous Cybele killed a tree (and subsequently the Naiad who dwelled within it), causing Attis to castrate himself in despair. Regardless, his stories often deal with the theme of rebirth and regeneration.
  • Ceres (Roman): Ever wonder why crunched-up grain is called cereal? It’s named for Ceres, the Roman goddess of the harvest and grain. Not only that, she was the one who taught lowly mankind how to preserve and prepare corn and grain once it was ready for threshing. In many areas, she was a mother-type goddess who was responsible for agricultural fertility.
  • Dagon (Semitic): Worshipped by an early Semitic tribe called the Amorites, Dagon was a god of fertility and agriculture. He’s also mentioned as a father-deity type in early Sumerian texts and sometimes appears as a fish god. Dagon is credited with giving the Amorites the knowledge to build the plough.
  • Demeter (Greek): The Greek equivalent of Ceres, Demeter is often linked to the changing of the seasons. She is often connected to the image of the Dark Mother in late fall and early winter. When her daughter Persephone was abducted by Hades, Demeter’s grief caused the earth to die for six months, until Persephone’s return
  • Lugh (Celtic): Lugh was known as a god of both skill and the distribution of talent. He is sometimes associated with midsummer because of his role as a harvest god, and during the summer solstice the crops are flourishing, waiting to be plucked from the ground at Lughnasadh.
  • Mercury (Roman): Fleet of foot, Mercury was a messenger of the gods. In particular, he was a god of commerce and is associated with the grain trade. In late summer and early fall, he ran from place to place to let everyone know it was time to bring in the harvest. In Gaul, he was considered a god not only of agricultural abundance but also of commercial success.
  • Neper (Egyptian): This androgynous grain deity became popular in Egypt during times of starvation. He later was seen as an aspect of Osiris, and part of the cycle of life, death and rebirth.
  • Parvati (Hindu): Parvati was a consort of the god Shiva, and although she does not appear in Vedic literature, she is celebrated today as a goddess of the harvest and protector of women in the annual Gauri Festival.
  • Pomona (Roman): This apple goddess is the keeper of orchards and fruit trees. Unlike many other agricultural deities, Pomona is not associated with the harvest itself, but with the flourishing of fruit trees. She is usually portrayed bearing a cornucopia or a tray of blossoming fruit.
  • Tammuz (Sumerian): This Sumerian god of vegetation and crops is often associated with the cycle of life, death, and rebirth.

Silver Fir (Day Of Winter Solstice)

SILVER FIR LORE

  • Tree of the day of the Winter Solstice
  • Latin name: Abies alba.
  • Celtic name: Ailim (pronounced: Ahl’ em).
  • Folk or Common names: Common Silver Fir, Balm of Gilead Fir, Balsam Fir, American Silver Fir.
  • Parts Used: Needles, wood, sap.
  • Herbal usage: The Silver Fir is one of the tallest trees native to Europe, sometimes exceeding 160 feet tall. The wood of the Fir is beautiful and is  often used in making musical instruments and in the interior of buildings. The sap from the Silver Fir can be manufactured into a turpentine like oil that is  a pale yellowish or almost water-white liquid of a light, pleasant fresh turpentine like odor. It is a diuretic, and stimulates mucous tissues if taken in  small doses. In large doses it is purgative, and may cause nausea. The oil also has some uses as perfume and in essential oils that can be added to  homeopathic bath and beauty products.
  • Magical History & Associations: The Silver Fir is associated with the moon and with the planet of Jupiter. Its colors are piebald and light or pale  blue. Its birds are the eagle and the Lapwing, and its animal association is the red cow. Its stones are Tourmaline and Amber – and it is a feminine herb.  This tree belongs to the triple aspect Goddess in Celtic lore, offering learning, choice and progress. The tree is sacred to many Goddesses: Artemis (the  Greek Goddess of Childbirth), Diana and Druantia among them. It is also sacred to the Gods Osiris and Attis, both who were imprisoned in Fir/Pine trees.
  • Magickal usage: the Silver Fir is used for magick involving power, insight, progression, protection, change, feminine rebirth, and birth. The Silver Fir  and the Yew are sisters standing next to each other in the circle of the year and their foliage is almost identical. However the Yew is known as the tree of  death and the Silver Fir is the tree of birth or rebirth. The Silver Fir was a sacred tree to the Druids who felt that it stood for hope. The Silver Fir wood  is used for shape-shifting and magic involving change, since it offers a clear perception of the present and the future. The wood chips are sometimes used as  incense and the wood can be used in the construction of magickal musical instruments. Burning the needles of the Silver Fir or sweeping around the bed with a  branch that has been blessed will protect a new born baby and its mother. In the Orkney area of Scotland, the new mother and baby are ‘sained’ by  whirling a fir-candle three times around her bed. For a ‘Weather Witch’ the cones of the Silver Fir warn of wet weather and foretells when a dry  season approaches. Charms made of Fir can be given as good luck tokens to departing friends. In its appearance (and in its current, and undoubtedly ancient,  use) the Silver Fir is the quintessential Yule tree. Its branches can be used as decorations at Yule time either as wreaths or as garland, where it will  provide protection for the household and its occupants.

Beltane

 

Beltane

by Lila

 

Gather Round the Maypole Friends

Twist and Turn and Back Again

Dancing, Laughing, Joyful Glee

Now pair off lovers, Secretly

 

In Love’s embrace

The Goddess Grace

The May Queen and Consort Lay

Entangled Limbs on this Sweet Day

 

Gather Round the Maypole Friends

Twist and Turn and Back Again

The Lovers Rest in Quiet Heaps

In Fall the Bountiful Harvest Reaps

 

 

The ancient Celts called this holiday Beltane and began celebrating at sunset on April 30th. It marked the beginning of summer, the time to move with the flocks up to the summer pastures. Other names for May Day include: Cetsamhain (‘opposite Samhain’), Walpurgisnacht (in Germany), and Roodmas.

 

In Germany, April 30th is Walpurgisnacht, the night when it was believed that witches flew on their brooms to mountaintop gatherings where they danced all night around bonfires. Like Halloween, this is a night when witches, fairies and ghosts wander freely. The veil between the worlds is thin. The Queen of the Fairies rides out on a snow-white horse, looking for mortals to lure away to Fairyland for seven years. Folklore says that if you sit beneath a tree on this night, you will see Her or hear the sound of Her horse’s bells as She rides by. If you hide your face, She will pass you by but if you look at Her, She may choose you.

 

Many May Day customs involve flowers and green branches. Flowers are woven into wreaths to exchange as gifts between lovers or to hang on doors as decoration. Hawthorn is particularly auspicious since it begins blooming when the weather is warm enough for planting. Anyone who went out into the woods and found a branch of flowering hawthorn would bring it triumphantly into the village and announcing the start of planting season. However there were warnings about bringing hawthorn into the house, since it would invite the fairies in.

 

The Maypole is a symbol with many meanings. Often celebrated as and considered a phallic symbol, it also resembles the garlanded trees associated with moon goddesses. In the Phrygian rites of Attis, celebrated around the spring equinox, a fir tree was chopped down, wrapped in a shroud and placed in a tomb. Resurrected three days later, it was decorated and danced around. In some places, May Day ceremonies took place beneath a sacred tree, which was not uprooted. These trees represented the world-tree, the axis between heaven and earth. The Maypole dance is a round dance of alternating male and female dancers, weaving in and out, plaiting ribbons as they go. Maypole dances fulfilled social and sacred functions. They helped people flirt and mingle socially and they also raised energy.

 

Bring the May into your life by bringing home green branches, flowers and branches of flowering trees. Transform your house into a bower by making a wreath to hang on the door or to crown your version of the Goddess. This is a time for giving gifts. Gather flowers with special messages for friends and relatives. Make up your own explanation of the meaning of each flower and give it along with the bouquet. For friends at a distance, send pressed flowers or May Day cards or packets of flower seeds.

 

If you can, stay up all night, preferably outdoors. At least go for a walk in the night on April 30th and listen for the bells that herald the approach of the Fairy Queen. And you can run around, under cover of darkness, leaving May baskets of flowers on doorsteps. On the first of May, wear your most colourful clothes or dress all in green (the colour of the fairies). Consider wearing a flower in your hair.

 

Treat yourself like a Goddess. Take a long luxurious bath in scented water. Anoint yourself with oils. Crown yourself with flowers. Indulge yourself. Sip your May wine. Honor your sexual choices. In your journal, recall the times when sex was magical, when you felt alluring or you fell in love. Write about smoldering glances, the times your body caught fire, the sweetness of a first kiss or caress. If you have a partner, celebrate sex as a sacred activity. Make the time you spend together and the space you inhabit special. Light candles or strew the bed with rose petals. Notice how your lover represents the God or Goddess to you. This is the time to celebrate attraction and pleasure.

Setting Up Your Ostara Altar

Setting Up Your Ostara Altar

By Patti Wigington, About.com Guide

It’s Ostara, and it’s a time of year in which many Wiccans and Pagans choose celebrate the balance of light and dark that heralds the beginning of spring. It’s a time to celebrate new life and rebirth — not only the physical embodiment of renewal, but the spiritual as well. Try some — or all — of these ideas to ready your altar for Ostara.

Colors

To get an idea of what colors are appropriate for spring, all you really have to do is look outside. Notice the yellows of the forsythia blooming behind your house, the pale purples of lilacs, the green of new leaves appearing in the melting snow. Pastels are often considered spring colors as well, so feel free to add some pinks and blues into the mix if the idea strikes you. Decorate your altar in any of these colors — try a pale green altar cloth with some purples and blues draped across it, and add some yellow or pink candles to carry the color up.

The Balance of the Equinox

Altar decor should reflect the theme of the Sabbat. Ostara is a time of balance between light and dark, so symbols of this polarity can be used. Use a god and goddess statue, a white candle and a black one, a sun and moon, even a yin/yang symbol.

New Life

Ostara is also a time of new growth and life — add potted plants such as new crocuses, daffodils, lilies, and other magical spring flowers. This is the time of year when animals are bringing forth new life too — put a basket of eggs on your altar, or figures of new lambs, rabbits, calves, etc. Add a chalice of milk or honey — milk represents the lactating animals who have just given birth, and honey is long known as a symbol of abundance.

Other Symbols of the Season

  • Seeds and bulbs
  • Caterpillars, ladybugs, bumblebees
  • Symbols of nature deities — Herne, Flora, Gaia, Attis, etc.
  • Gemstones and crystals such as aquamarine, rose quartz, and moonstone
  • Ritual fires in a cauldron or brazier

The Wicca Book of Days for March 15th – Of Ides and Attis

The Wicca Book of Days for March 15th

Of Ides and Attis

Julius Caesar by Paul Helm

The Romans knew March 15 as the “ides of March,” and this date, has since been regarded as unlucky or dangerous because it is the anniversary of the assassination of Julius Caesar in 44 bc. Ides (derived from the Latin verb, iduare, which means “to divide”) occurred in the middle of every month and were once synchronized with the full moon. In Roman times, March 15 was also the start of a festival recalling the story of the doomed love affair between the Phrygian mother goddess Cybele and Attis, a young shepherd. During Canna Intrat (“Entry of the Reed”). The baby Attiss’s abandonment amid needs by the River Gallus was commemorated.

The Chaste Moon

Many Wiccans dedicate the March esbat to the Goddess in her springtime guise as a young maiden of budding beauty, whose imminent sexual awakening and flowering will mirror that of nature. Incorporate symbols of chastity in your rituals, such as tightly furled buds.