Mabon: The God of Light Is Defeated By His Brother, The God of Darkness


Mabon Comments & Graphics

“Mythically, this is the day of the year when the god of light is defeated by his twin and alter-ego, the god of darkness. It is the time of the year when night conquers day. And as I have recently shown in my seasonal reconstruction of the Welsh myth of Blodeuwedd, the Autumnal Equinox is the only day of the whole year when Llew (light) is vulnerable and it is possible to defeat him. Llew now stands on the balance (Libra/autumnal equinox), with one foot on the cauldron (Cancer/summer solstice) and his other foot on the goat (Capricorn/winter solstice). Thus he is betrayed by Blodeuwedd, the Virgin (Virgo) and transformed into an Eagle (Scorpio).  Two things are now likely to occur mythically, in rapid succession. Having defeated Llew, Goronwy (darkness) now takes over Llew’s functions, both as lover to Blodeuwedd, the Goddess, and as King of our own world. Although Goronwy, the Horned King, now sits on Llew’s throne and begins his rule immediately, his formal coronation will not be for another six weeks, occurring at Samhain (Halloween) or the beginning of Winter, when he becomes the Winter Lord, the Dark King, Lord of Misrule. Goronwy’s other function has more immediate results, however. He mates with the virgin goddess, and Blodeuwedd conceives, and will give birth — nine months later (at the Summer Solstice) — to Goronwy’s son, who is really another incarnation of himself, the Dark Child.  Llew’s sacrificial death at Harvest Home also identifies him with John Barleycorn, spirit of the fields. Thus, Llew represents not only the sun’s power, but also the sun’s life trapped and crystallized in the corn. Often this corn spirit was believed to reside most especially in the last sheaf or shock harvested, which was dressed in fine clothes, or woven into a wicker-like man-shaped form. This effigy was then cut and carried from the field, and usually burned, amidst much rejoicing. So one may see Blodeuwedd and Goronwy in a new guise, not as conspirators who murder their king, but as kindly farmers who harvest the crop which they had planted and so lovingly cared for. And yet, anyone who knows the old ballad of John Barleycorn knows that we have not heard the last of him.”

 

–  Mike Nichols, Harvest Home

Deity of the Day – Arianrhod

Deity of the Day

Arianrhod

 

Is a major goddess in Welsh legends. Her name means “silver wheel” or “silver disk”. Legend has it that Arianrhod claimed to be a virgin, but when her virginity was tested she gave premature birth to twins – Dylan who escaped into the sea, and Lleu Llaw Gyffes who became the object of his mothers scorn.

Many Wiccans believe that Arianrhod is a noon goddess and they associate her with birth and rebirth. In some traditions she is perceived as the triple goddess – Arianrhod, Blodeuwedd and Cerridwen. She is also connected with the “Spiral Dance”.

Calendar of the Moon for July 23rd

Calendar of the Moon

23 Tinne/Hekatombaion

Day of Llew Llaw Gyffes

Color: Blue
Element: Air
Altar: Upon a sky-blue cloth lay the figure of a hawk, a chalice of milk, and a spear.
Offering: Put your trust in something risky, and accept the failure if it comes.
Daily Meal: Poultry and/or fish.

Invocation to Llew Llaw Gyffes

Llew of the Skillful Hand,
Hawk’s flight, Quick-Eyed One,
Child of Innocence,
You teach of the costs
And blessings of trust.
You turn your eyes, a trusting babe,
Onto Gwydion of the clever tongue
And many small dishonesties,
And he is struck with love and swears
That he will protect you forever,
And in loving you,
He learns to do good in the world.
Yet your trust is betrayed
By Blodeuwedd, flower maiden,
Who is constructed for your use
Without your thought, or hers.
That trust which turns even a tainted heart
To good, fails against the breast
Within which no heart beats,
And this is a hard lesson for you,
And for all of us.
What can we learn from your struggle?
What can we learn about trust,
And where to place it?
Yet better to risk than never to open at all,
And this, too, you teach us.
Help us with this lesson, Skillful Hand,
That we may always know when to open our own,
And when to close them.

(Pass the milk and pour the rest out as libation. Each shall announce what it is that they shall endeavor to trust.)

[Pagan Book of Hours]

Earth Deities

Earth Deities

Gods/Goddesses– the Dagda, Cernunnos, the Horned God, Nuada, Adonis, Pan, Cronus, Faunus, Consus, Saturn, Seb, Osiris, Pachacamac, Cerridwen, Blodeuwedd, Creiddylad, Anu, Tailtiu, Demeter, Gaea, Hera, Persephone, Asia, Rhea, Cybele, Tellus Mater, Juno, Ops, Ceres, Proserpina, Nerthus, Heqet, Isis, Coatlicue, Izanami, Inanna
Color– Yellow, Brown
Incense/Oil– Birch, Cherry, Cloves, Lilac, Rosemary
Animals– Toad
Spirits– Fairies, Elves, Gnomes
Stones– Rock Crystal
Metal– Nickel
Plants– Corn, Willow, Lily, Ivy, Grains
Wood– Fir
Planet– Earth
Tarot Cards– Four Tens, Four Pages
Magickal Tools– Wand, Goblet
Direction– North
Rituals– Organized Material Manifestations, Healing Mental and Physical Illnesses, Improving Life, Centering Oneself, Healing Plants and Animals, Trance, Psychic Work with Spirits

Calendar of the Moon for July 23

Calendar of the Moon

23 Tinne/Hekatombaion

Day of Llew Llaw Gyffes

Color: Blue
Element: Air
Altar: Upon a sky-blue cloth lay the figure of a hawk, a chalice of milk, and a spear.
Offering: Put your trust in something risky, and accept the failure if it comes.
Daily Meal: Poultry and/or fish.

Invocation to Llew Llaw Gyffes

Llew of the Skillful Hand,
Hawk’s flight, Quick-Eyed One,
Child of Innocence,
You teach of the costs
And blessings of trust.
You turn your eyes, a trusting babe,
Onto Gwydion of the clever tongue
And many small dishonesties,
And he is struck with love and swears
That he will protect you forever,
And in loving you,
He learns to do good in the world.
Yet your trust is betrayed
By Blodeuwedd, flower maiden,
Who is constructed for your use
Without your thought, or hers.
That trust which turns even a tainted heart
To good, fails against the breast
Within which no heart beats,
And this is a hard lesson for you,
And for all of us.
What can we learn from your struggle?
What can we learn about trust,
And where to place it?
Yet better to risk than never to open at all,
And this, too, you teach us.
Help us with this lesson, Skillful Hand,
That we may always know when to open our own,
And when to close them.

(Pass the milk and pour the rest out as libation. Each shall announce what it is that they shall endeavor to trust.)

 

[Pagan Book of Hours]

A Midsummer’s Celebration

 by Mike Nichols

The young maid stole through the cottage door, And blushed as she sought the Plant of pow’r; — “Thou silver glow-worm, O lend me thy light, I must gather the mystic St. John’s wort tonight, The wonderful herb, whose leaf will decide If the coming year shall make me a bride.”

In addition to the four great festivals of the Pagan Celtic year, there are four lesser holidays as well: the two solstices, and the two equinoxes. In folklore, these are referred to as the four “quarter days” of the year, and modern Witches call them the four “Lesser Sabbats”, or the four “Low Holidays”. The summer solstice is one of them.

Technically, a solstice is an astronomical point and, due to the calendar creep of the leap-year cycle, the date may vary by a few days depending on the year. The summer solstice occurs when the sun reaches the Tropic of Cancer, and we experience the longest day and the shortest night of the year. Astrologers know this as the date on which the sun enters the sign of Cancer.

However, since most European peasants were not accomplished at reading an ephemeris or did not live close enough to Salisbury Plain to trot over to Stonehenge and sight down its main avenue, they celebrated the event on a fixed calendar date, June 24. The slight forward displacement of the traditional date is the result of multitudinous calendrical changes down through the ages. It is analogous to the winter solstice celebration, which is astronomically on or about December 21, but is celebrated on the traditional date of December 25, Yule, later adopted by the Christians.

Again, it must be remembered that the Celts reckoned their days from sundown to sundown, so the June 24 festivities actually begin on the previous sundown (our June 23). This was the date of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Which brings up another point: our modern calendars are quite misguided in suggesting that ‘summer begins’ on the solstice.  According to the old folk calendar, summer begins on May Day and ends on Lammas (August 1), with the summer solstice, midway between the two, marking midsummer. This makes more logical sense than suggesting that summer begins on the day when the sun’s power begins to wane and the days grow shorter.

Although our Pagan ancestors probably preferred June 24 (and indeed most European folk festivals today use this date), the sensibility of modern Witches seems to prefer the actual solstice point, beginning the celebration on its eve, or the sunset immediately preceding the solstice point. Again, it gives modern Pagans a range of dates to choose from with, hopefully, a weekend embedded in it.

Just as the Pagan Midwinter celebration of Yule was adopted by Christians as “Christmas” (December 25), so too the Pagan Midsummer celebration was adopted by them as the Feast of John the Baptist (June 24). Occurring 180 degrees apart on the wheel of the year, the Midwinter celebration commemorates the birth of Jesus, while the Midsummer celebration commemorates the birth of John, the prophet who was born six months before Jesus in order to announce his arrival.

Although modern Witches often refer to the holiday by the rather generic name of “Midsummer’s Eve”, it is more probable that our Pagan ancestors of a few hundred years ago actually used the Christian name for the holiday, “St. John’s Eve”. This is evident from the wealth of folklore that surrounds the summer solstice (i.e., that it is a night especially sacred to the faerie folk), but which is inevitably ascribed to “St. John’s Eve”, with no mention of the sun’s position. It could also be argued that a coven’s claim to antiquity might be judged by what name it gives the holidays. (Incidentally, the name ‘Litha’ for the holiday is a modern usage, possibly based on a Saxon word that means the opposite of Yule. Still, there is little historical justification for its use in this context.) But weren’t our Pagan ancestors offended by the use of the name of a Christian saint for a pre-Christian holiday?

Well, to begin with, their theological sensibilities may not have been as finely honed as our own. But secondly and more  mportantly, St. John himself was often seen as a rather Pagan figure.  He was, after all, called “the Oak King”. His connection to the wilderness (from whence “the voice cried out”) was often emphasized by the rustic nature of his shrines. Many statues show him as a horned figure (as is also the case with Moses).  Christian iconographers mumble embarrassed explanations about “horns of light”, while modern Pagans giggle and happily refer to such statues as “Pan the Baptist”. And to clench matters, many depictions of John actually show him with the lower torso of a satyr, cloven hooves and all! Obviously, this kind of John the Baptist is more properly a Jack in the Green! Also obvious is that behind the medieval conception of St. John lies a distant, shadowy Pagan Deity, perhaps the archetypal Wild Man of the wood, whose face stares down at us through the foliate masks that adorn so much church architecture. Thus, medieval Pagans may have had fewer problems adapting than we might suppose.

In England, it was the ancient custom on St. John’s Eve to light large bonfires after sundown, which served the double purpose of providing light to the revelers and warding off evil spirits.  This was known as “setting the watch”. People often jumped through the fires for good luck. In addition to these fires, the streets were lined with lanterns, and people carried cressets (pivoted lanterns atop poles) as they wandered from one bonfire to another. These wandering, garland-bedecked bands were called a “marching watch”. Often they were attended by morris dancers, and traditional players dressed as a unicorn, a dragon, and six hobbyhorse riders. Just as May Day was a time to renew the boundary of one’s own property, so Midsummer’s Eve was a time to ward the boundary of the city.

Customs surrounding St. John’s Eve are many and varied.  At the very least, most young folk plan to stay up throughout the whole of this shortest night. Certain courageous souls might spend the night keeping watch in the center of a circle of standing stones. To do so would certainly result in either death, madness, or (hopefully) the power of inspiration to become a great poet or bard. (This is, by the way, identical to certain incidents in the first branch of The Mabinogion.) This was also the night when the serpents of the island would roll themselves into a hissing, writhing ball in order to engender the “glain”, also called the “serpent’s egg”, “snake stone”, or “Druid’s egg”. Anyone in possession of this hard glass bubble would wield incredible magical powers. Even Merlyn himself (accompanied by his black dog) went in search of it, according to one ancient Welsh story.

Snakes were not the only creatures active on Midsummer’s Eve. According to British faery lore, this night was second only to Halloween for its importance to the Wee Folk, who especially enjoyed a ridling on such a fine summer’s night. In order to see them, you had only to gather fern seed at the stroke of midnight and rub it onto your eyelids. But be sure to carry a little bit of rue in your pocket, or you might well be “pixie-led”. Or, failing the rue, you might simply turn your jacket inside out, which should keep you from harm’s way. But if even this fails, you must seek out one of the “ley lines”, the old straight tracks, and stay upon it to your destination. This will keep you safe from any malevolent power, as will crossing a stream of “living” (running) water.

Other customs included decking the house (especially over the front door) with birch, fennel, St. John’s wort, orpin, and white lilies. Five plants were thought to have special magical properties on this night: rue, roses, St. John’s wort, vervain, and trefoil. Indeed, Midsummer’s Eve in Spain is called the “Night of the Verbena (Vervain)”. St. John’s wort was especially honored by young maidens who picked it in the hopes of divining a future lover.

And the glow-worm came With its silvery flame, And sparkled and shone Through the night of St. John, And soon has the young maid her love-knot tied.

There are also many mythical associations with the summer solstice, not the least of which concerns the seasonal life of the God of the sun. Inasmuch as I believe that I have recently discovered certain associations and correspondences not hitherto realized, I have elected to treat this subject in some depth in my ‘Death of Llew’ essay.  Suffice it to say here, that I disagree with the generally accepted idea that the Sun God meets his death at the summer solstice. I believe there is good reason to see the Sun God at his zenith—his peak of power—on this day, and that his death at the hands of his rival would not occur for another quarter of a year. Material drawn from the Welsh mythos seems to support this thesis. In Irish mythology, midsummer is the occasion of the first battle between the Fir Bolgs and the Tuatha De Danaan.

Altogether, Midsummer is a favorite holiday for many Witches in that it is so hospitable to outdoor celebrations.  The warm summer night seems to invite it. And if the celebrants are not, in fact, skyclad, then you may be fairly certain that the long ritual robes of winter have yielded place to short, tunic-style apparel. As with the longer gowns, tradition dictates that one should wear nothing underneath—the next best thing to skyclad, to be sure. (Incidentally, now you know the real answer to the old Scottish joke, “What is worn beneath the kilt?”)

The two chief icons of the holiday are the spear (symbol of the Sun God in his glory) and the summer cauldron (symbol of the Goddess in her bounty). The precise meaning of these two symbols, which I believe I have recently discovered, will be explored in the essay on the death of Llew. But it is interesting to note here that modern Witches often use these same symbols in their Midsummer rituals. And one occasionally hears the alternative consecration formula, “As the spear is to the male, so the cauldron is to the female.” With these mythic associations, it is no wonder that Midsummer is such a joyous and magical occasion!


Document Copyright © 1983 – 2009 by Mike Nichols. Text editing courtesy of Acorn Guild Press. Website redesign by Bengalhome Internet Services, © 2009

Goddess of the Day for April 8th – Blodeuwedd

Goddess of the Day

Blodeuwedd

Blodeuwedd was created out of flowers by Gwydion to wed Llew Llaw Gyffes. She betrayed Llew, either because she had no soul, being non-human, or because she resented being his chattel, or because the triplet of one woman and two men must play itself out in Welsh myth, and Llew Llaw Gyffes must die. At any rate, she fell in love with Goronwy and, wishing to be rid of Llew, she tricked out of him the clearly supernatural and ritual manner in which only he could be killed: neither by day nor night, indoors nor out of doors, riding nor walking, clothed nor naked, nor by any weapon lawfully made. She asked him to explain this, and he did: he could be killed only if it were twilight, wrapped in a fish net, with one foot on a cauldron and the other on a goat, and if the weapon had been forged during sacred hours when such work was forbidden. Blodeuwedd convinced him to demonstrate how impossible such a position was to achieve by chance, and when he was in it, het lover Goronwy leapt out and struck. Llew was transformed into an eagle and eventually restored to human form, after which he killed Goronwy. Blodeuwedd was transformed into an owl, to haunt the night in loneliness and sorrow, shunned by all other birds.

About Oestara

About Oestara

a guide to the Sabbat’s symbolism

by Arwynn MacFeylynnd

Date: March 21–23 (usually, the date of the calendar spring equinox).

Alternative names: Spring Equinox, Vernal Equinox, Alban Eiler, Mean Erraigh, Eostre.

Primary meanings: Oestara is light and dark balanced, with light gaining power. It’s the turning point from winter to spring. It is a beginning of the agricultural year, and its rites ensure fertility of crops and flocks; it is a time of planting, nurturing and growth. The God and Goddess begin their courtship now. Oestara was not originally a part of the Celtic year but was named for a Teutonic goddess of spring and new life, Eostre. The holiday was probably brought to prominence in the Celtic world by the Saxons.

Symbols: The hare or rabbit, eggs, seeds, potted plants, the New Moon, butterflies and cocoons.

Colors: Lemon yellow, pale green and pale pink, all pastels, robin’s-egg blue and white.

Gemstones: Aquamarine, rose quartz and moonstone.

Herbs: Crocuses, daffodils, ginger, jasmine, Irish moss and snowdrops.

Gods and goddesses: All youthful and virile gods and goddesses, sun gods, mother goddesses, love goddesses, moon gods and goddesses and all fertility deities. Goddesses include Persephone, Blodeuwedd, Eostre, Aphrodite, Athena, Cybele, Gaia, Hera, Isis, Ishtar, Minerva and Venus. Gods include Robin of the Woods, the Green Man, Cernunnos, the Dagda, Attis, Mithras, Odin, Thoth, Osiris and Pan.

Customs and myths: Spell-work for improving communication and group interaction is recommended, as well as for fertility and abundance. Oestara is a good time to start putting those plans and preparations you made at Imbolc into action. Plan a celebratory walk (or ride) through gardens, a park, woodlands, forest or other green places. A popular Oestara activity is decorating and coloring or dying hard-boiled eggs, or other eggs such as those made of wooden or papier-mâché. Use gold and silver paint pens to draw pagan designs and magickal symbols all over your eggs, or use other color combinations. Try interconnected triangles, symbolizing the Triple Goddess, pentagrams and other God and Goddess symbols, or words written in magickal scripts. Other traditional activities include gardening and practicing all forms of herbal work — magickal, artistic, medicinal, culinary and cosmetic.

Goddess Of The Day for November 17th is Blodeuwedd

Blodeuwedd

by Karen Davis
 
Blodeuwedd was created out of flowers by Gwydion to wed Llew Llaw Gyffes. She betrayed Llew, either because she had no soul, being non-human, or because she resented being his chattel, or because the triplet of one woman and two men must play itself out in Welsh myth, and Llew Llaw Gyffes must die. At any rate, she fell in love with Goronwy and, wishing to be rid of Llew, she tricked out of him the clearly supernatural and ritual manner in which only he could be killed: neither by day nor night, indoors nor out of doors, riding nor walking, clothed nor naked, nor by any weapon lawfully made. She asked him to explain this, and he did: he could be killed only if it were twilight, wrapped in a fish net, with one foot on a cauldron and the other on a goat, and if the weapon had been forged during sacred hours when such work was forbidden. Blodeuwedd convinced him to demonstrate how impossible such a position was to achieve by chance, and when he was in it, het lover Goronwy leapt out and struck. Llew was transformed into an eagle and eventually restored to human form, after which he killed Goronwy. Blodeuwedd was transformed into an owl, to haunt the night in loneliness and sorrow, shunned by all other birds.

Earth Correspondences

Earth Correspondences

 

 

ZODIAC

Capricorn: Beginning and structure

Taurus: Saving and fixed

Virgo: Changing (mutable) and review oriented

COLOR ASSOCIATION

Yellow or green, depending on the tradition you practice. Yellow for ceremonial Wicca and green for shamanic Wicca.

WICCAN TOOL

Cauldron or pentacle

ANGELS/GUARDIANS

Abundance: Barbelo

Agriculture: Rismuch

Alchemy: Och

Animals: Thegri, Mtniel, Hehiel, Hayyal

Commerce: Anauel

Creeping Things: Orifiel

Dust: Suphlatus

Earthquakes: Sui’el, Rashiel

Farming Sofiel

Fertility: Samandiriel, Yushamin

Food: Manna

Gaia: Michael, Jehoel, Metatron, Mammon

Gardens: Cathetel

Nourishment: Isda

Forests: Zuphlas

Fruition: Anahita

Mountains: Mehabiah

Plants: Sachluph

Trees: Maktiel, Zuphlas

Vegetables: Sealiah, Sofiel

Wild Birds: Trgiaob

DEITIES

African: Earth Mother, Divine Queen, Nimba, Oshun, Tenga

Egypt: (Female) Anatha, Bast, Isis, Mehueret, (Male) Min, Geb

Greek/Roman: (Female) Atlantia, Clonia, Flora, Hestia, (Male) Fauna, Pan

Norse: (Female) Frigga, Holda, Nanna, She-Wolf.

Celtic: (Female) Aine, Anu, Blodeuwedd, Cailleach Beara, Magog, Rosemerta