History of Yule

History of Yule

By , About.com

A Festival of Light:

Many cultures have winter festivals that are in fact celebrations of light. In addition to Christmas, there’s Hanukkah with its brightly lit menorahs, Kwanzaa candles, and any number of other holidays. The Pagan holiday called Yule takes place on the day of the winter solstice, around December 21. On that day (or close to it), an amazing thing happens in the sky. The earth’s axis tilts away from the sun in the Northern Hemisphere, and the sun reaches at its greatest distance from the equatorial plane. As a festival of the Sun, the most important part of any Yule celebration is light — candles, bonfires, and more.

Origins of Yule:

In the Northern hemisphere, the winter solstice has been celebrated for millenia. The Norse peoples viewed it as a time for much feasting, merrymaking, and, if the Icelandic sagas are to be believed, a time of sacrifice as well. Traditional customs such as the Yule log, the decorated tree, and wassailing can all be traced back to Norse origins.

Celtic Celebrations of Winter:

The Celts of the British Isles celebrated midwinter as well. Although little is known about the specifics of what they did, many traditions persist. According to the writings of Pliny the Elder, this is the time of year in which Druid priests sacrificed a white bull and gathered mistletoe in celebration.

Roman Saturnalia:

Few cultures knew how to party like the Romans. Saturnalia was a festival of general merrymaking and debauchery held around the time of the winter solstice. This week-long party was held in honor of the god Saturn, and involved sacrifices, gift-giving, special privileges for slaves, and a lot of feasting. Although this holiday was partly about giving presents, more importantly, it was to honor an agricultural god.

Welcoming the Sun Through the Ages:

Four thousand years ago, the Ancient Egyptians took the time to celebrate the daily rebirth of Horus – the god of the Sun. As their culture flourished and spread throughout Mesopotamia, other civilizations decided to get in on the sun-welcoming action. They found that things went really well… until the weather got cooler, and crops began to die. Each year, this cycle of birth, death and rebirth took place, and they began to realize that every year after a period of cold and darkness, the Sun did indeed return.

Winter festivals were also common in Greece and Rome, as well as in the British Isles. When a new religion called Christianity popped up, the new hierarchy had trouble converting the Pagans, and as such, folks didn’t want to give up their old holidays. Christian churches were built on old Pagan worship sites, and Pagan symbols were incorporated into the symbolism of Christianity. Within a few centuries, the Christians had everyone worshipping a new holiday celebrated on December 25.

In some traditions of Wicca and Paganism, the Yule celebration comes from the Celtic legend of the battle between the young Oak King and the Holly King. The Oak King, representing the light of the new year, tries each year to usurp the old Holly King, who is the symbol of darkness. Re-enactment of the battle is popular in some Wiccan rituals.

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FRIDAY – The Day of the Love, 
The Day of Venus

FRIDAY

The Day of the Love
The Day of Venus

frigedaeg or frige dag (Anglo-Saxon) freitag (Germanic) dies veneris (Latin) sukra-var (Hindu) juma (Islamic) vendredi (French) kin youbi (Japanese)

This is traditionally the sixth day of the week. The name given to this day in ancient Rome was ‘dies Veneris’ as is was a day dedicated to Venus. Later the French named the day ‘Vendredi’ believed to have derived from the same origin. In northern countries the closest equivalent to the Goddess Venus was ‘Frigg’ or ‘Freya’ with the day becoming known by the Anglo-Saxons as ‘Frige dag’, later to Friday. Traditionally associated in many parts of Europe with misfortune as this was believed to be the day when Christ was crucified at Calvary, and also that this was the day that Adam was tempted by Eve with the Forbidden Fruit. Within the Roman Catholic faith Friday was traditionally a day of abstinence. Today it is a still viewed as a day for some private act of self-denial (For further information see Mystical WWW Easter). According to tradition there are some practices that should be avoided if possible on a Friday including, births, weddings, the sailing of a ship, cutting your nails or starting a new job. This is indicated in the following rhyme:

‘Whoever be born on Friday or it’s night, He shall be accursed of men, Silly and crafty and loathsome to all men, And shall ever be thinking evil in his heart, And shall be a thief and a great coward, And shall not live longer than to middle age.’

A contradiction is expressed if a child was born on this day in ‘Days of the Week’, which indicated a more favourable omen. And indeed it is said that in 1492 Columbus set sail and sighted land on a Friday. In Hungarian (Europe) folklore it was believed be an omen of bad luck to be born on a Friday although it was believed that the onset of misfortune could be avoided or removed by placing some of your own blood on some of your own old clothing and then burning it. The criminal underworld have an old belief that ‘a burglary committed on a Friday will probably result in arrest’ as perhaps a sign of divine intervention and retribution upon the criminal, and if you were bought to trial for any offence on a Friday it was thought to be a bad omen. In the British Isles and USA Friday was the customary day to carry-out hangings and so was sometimes referred to as ‘Hangman’s Day’ or ‘Hanging Day’. (This perhaps is connected to the Christian belief in a Friday being the worst day of the week, as this was the day identified with the Crucifixion and the death of Christ). If it rains on a Friday an old rural belief (UK) was that it indicated the forecast would be fine on the following Sunday. If you dreamt on a Friday night of an event or people and then told the content of the dream to someone in your family on the Saturday morning it was more likely to happen. In Scotland (UK) and Germany (Europe) according to an old belief Friday was thought to be a good day to go courting (dating). Norse men traditionally saw this as a positive day, the luckiest of the week. ‘Black Friday’ has been regularly used to label days of significance within the British culture. This was the name given to December 6 1745 in the British Isles. This was the day that information reached London (UK) that the Young Pretender had reached Derby (UK). The threatened General Strike was cancelled on 15 April 1921 affecting the stance of the British Labour Movement (UK). The Government (USA) flooded the open market with gold to bring down prices on 24 September 1869 ruining the livelihoods of many speculators in USA. Mohammedans believe that Adam was created on a Friday, and so the day is seen to be the Sabbath. It is also believed that Eve tempted Adam with the Forbidden Fruit on this day, and that later both died on a Friday. Friday is believed to be a day of misfortune too for Buddhists and Brahmins. ‘Long Friday’ was another name given to Good Friday (For further information see Mystical WWW Easter) by the Saxons. It is thought that the name derived from the fact that this was a day of abstinence. According to the English historian Richard Grafton certain dates of the month were unlucky as published in the ‘Manual’ in 1565. Days throughout the year were identified and of course could have related to any day of the week. The date was the most important point to consider. The work was reputed to have some credence with support given by astronomers of the day.

(For more information see Mystical WWW Mystical Time : Mystical Months).

SATURDAY – The Day of Reckoning, 
The Day of Saturn

SATURDAY

The Day of Reckoning
The Day of Saturn

saterndaeg or soeterdaeg (Anglo-Saxon)
samstag (Germanic)
dies saturni (Latin)
sani-var or sanichar (Hindu)
sunneecher (Islamic)
samedi (French)
dou youbi (Japanese)

Traditionally seen as the seventh day of the week. The Latin name for this day was ‘Dies Saturni’ meaning the ‘Day of Saturn’ (Saturn being a Roman deity) which was later developed by the Anglo-Saxons to ‘Soeterdoeg’. Saturn was associated with the ancient Greek ‘Kronos’ or ‘Time’ (some refer to this deity as Father Time). Kronos was said to have attempted to devour each one of his children but was unsuccessful with ‘Neptune’ or ‘Water’, ‘Jupiter’ or ‘Air’ and ‘Pluto’ or ‘The Grave’ as it was believed that not even Time can harm these. Jupiter eventually banished Saturn from his thrown. Saturn was also known as the God of the Seed and Harvest being symbolised by a scythe. Those who practised the ancient art of alchemy believed that Saturn was linked to the metal lead, and that anyone born under this sign would be influenced by its evil nature. Alchemists referred to the ‘Tree of Diana’ also known as the ‘Philosopher’s Tree’ as ‘Saturn’s Tree’. Modern astrologers indeed still link the disposition of anyone born under the influence of Saturn as being likened to the qualities of the metal, these being gloomy, dull, sluggish, grave, phlegmatic:

‘Then rose the seed of Chaos and of Night To blot out order and extinguish light. Of dull and venal a new world to mould, And bring Saturnian days of lead and gold.’ Pope : Dunciad, IV, 13.

Saturday in India is traditionally believed to be an unlucky day as this is the day dedicated to the God of Misfortune named ‘Sani’. In Ireland (UK) it is believed that if a the visual phenomena of a rainbow appears on this day then the following week will be nothing but wet weather. In Scotland (UK) it was traditionally believed that any child born on this day would have the gift of seeing ghosts. In rural areas of the British Isles it was traditionally believed to be bad luck to change jobs on a Saturday, an old English (UK) rhyme to support this was:

‘Saturday servants never stay, Sunday servants run away.’

‘Black Saturday’ was the name given to August 4 1621. It is said that a violent storm symbolically blew-up in Scotland (UK) at the moment when Parliament was in the house discussing whether to make change of the Episcopacy laws, and force this upon the people of Scotland. According to the English historian Richard Grafton certain dates of the month were unlucky as published in the ‘Manual’ in 1565. Days throughout the year were identified and of course could have related to any day of the week. The date was the most important point to consider. The work was reputed to have some credence with support given by astronomers of the day.

(For more information see Mystical WWW Mystical Time : Mystical Months).

FRIDAY – The Day of the Love, 
The Day of Venus

Days Of The Week Comments
FRIDAY

The Day of the Love
The Day of Venus

frigedaeg or frige dag (Anglo-Saxon) freitag (Germanic) dies veneris (Latin) sukra-var (Hindu) juma (Islamic) vendredi (French) kin youbi (Japanese)

This is traditionally the sixth day of the week. The name given to this day in ancient Rome was ‘dies Veneris’ as is was a day dedicated to Venus. Later the French named the day ‘Vendredi’ believed to have derived from the same origin. In northern countries the closest equivalent to the Goddess Venus was ‘Frigg’ or ‘Freya’ with the day becoming known by the Anglo-Saxons as ‘Frige dag’, later to Friday. Traditionally associated in many parts of Europe with misfortune as this was believed to be the day when Christ was crucified at Calvary, and also that this was the day that Adam was tempted by Eve with the Forbidden Fruit. Within the Roman Catholic faith Friday was traditionally a day of abstinence. Today it is a still viewed as a day for some private act of self-denial (For further information see Mystical WWW Easter). According to tradition there are some practices that should be avoided if possible on a Friday including, births, weddings, the sailing of a ship, cutting your nails or starting a new job. This is indicated in the following rhyme:

‘Whoever be born on Friday or it’s night, He shall be accursed of men, Silly and crafty and loathsome to all men, And shall ever be thinking evil in his heart, And shall be a thief and a great coward, And shall not live longer than to middle age.’

A contradiction is expressed if a child was born on this day in ‘Days of the Week’, which indicated a more favourable omen. And indeed it is said that in 1492 Columbus set sail and sighted land on a Friday. In Hungarian (Europe) folklore it was believed be an omen of bad luck to be born on a Friday although it was believed that the onset of misfortune could be avoided or removed by placing some of your own blood on some of your own old clothing and then burning it. The criminal underworld have an old belief that ‘a burglary committed on a Friday will probably result in arrest’ as perhaps a sign of divine intervention and retribution upon the criminal, and if you were bought to trial for any offence on a Friday it was thought to be a bad omen. In the British Isles and USA Friday was the customary day to carry-out hangings and so was sometimes referred to as ‘Hangman’s Day’ or ‘Hanging Day’. (This perhaps is connected to the Christian belief in a Friday being the worst day of the week, as this was the day identified with the Crucifixion and the death of Christ). If it rains on a Friday an old rural belief (UK) was that it indicated the forecast would be fine on the following Sunday. If you dreamt on a Friday night of an event or people and then told the content of the dream to someone in your family on the Saturday morning it was more likely to happen. In Scotland (UK) and Germany (Europe) according to an old belief Friday was thought to be a good day to go courting (dating). Norse men traditionally saw this as a positive day, the luckiest of the week. ‘Black Friday’ has been regularly used to label days of significance within the British culture. This was the name given to December 6 1745 in the British Isles. This was the day that information reached London (UK) that the Young Pretender had reached Derby (UK). The threatened General Strike was cancelled on 15 April 1921 affecting the stance of the British Labour Movement (UK). The Government (USA) flooded the open market with gold to bring down prices on 24 September 1869 ruining the livelihoods of many speculators in USA. Mohammedans believe that Adam was created on a Friday, and so the day is seen to be the Sabbath. It is also believed that Eve tempted Adam with the Forbidden Fruit on this day, and that later both died on a Friday. Friday is believed to be a day of misfortune too for Buddhists and Brahmins. ‘Long Friday’ was another name given to Good Friday (For further information see Mystical WWW Easter) by the Saxons. It is thought that the name derived from the fact that this was a day of abstinence. According to the English historian Richard Grafton certain dates of the month were unlucky as published in the ‘Manual’ in 1565. Days throughout the year were identified and of course could have related to any day of the week. The date was the most important point to consider. The work was reputed to have some credence with support given by astronomers of the day.

(For more information see Mystical WWW Mystical Time : Mystical Months).

SUNDAY – The Day of the Sun

SUNDAY

The Day of the Sun

sunnandaeg (Anglo-Saxon)
sonntag (Germanic)
dies solis (Latin)
ravi-var (Hindu)
etwar (Islamic)
dimanche (French)
nichi youbi (Japanese)

Traditionally seen as the first day of the week by the ancient Hebrews and as identified by the fourth commandment (Exodus, xx, 8-11). This day was in ancient times dedicated to the Sun and later as ‘The Lord’s Day’. Sunday is traditionally a time for rest, reflection and worship. It is believed to be a lucky day for babies born on this day according to tradition as the child was thought to be safe from witches and evil spirits. Some born on this day are believed to have psychic or devining abilities. Any cures that are administered on a Sunday were believed to be more likely to succeed. In some parts of the British Isles (UK) there is a belief that announces that any agreements that are made on a Sunday are not legal as it will offend God to make any transactions of a day of reflection and dedicated to worship. In the USA this is enforced by the saying ‘ Never make plans on a Sunday’. In rural areas of the British Isles those employed for a new job on a Sunday would soon leave their post:

‘Saturday servants never stay,
Sunday servants run away.’

It was also thought to be unlucky to put clean sheets on the bed on a Sunday along with cutting your hair or nails. Regarding music, choir singers who sang a false note on this day were according to a traditional English (UK) belief expected to have a burnt Sunday dinner. You could expect a busy profitable week ahead, especially if you were in business, if you found a pair of gloves on this day, and quite naturally very unlucky to be the person who had lost them according to a rural English (UK) belief. A prehistoric cairn marks the spot of Druid worship where a Christian settlement was created Slieve Donhard, near Newcastle, England. Set up by Donhard (a convert of St. Patrick), pilgrimages regularly visit the place of worship, high on the hill, as it is said that St. Patrick himself appears as a result of Donhard’s faith each Sunday of the year. As he appears before everyone, it is said that St. Patrick also leads the people in the mass. (For more on St. Patrick see Mystical WWW Mystical Time : Mystical Months, March 17. For more on Donhard see Mystical WWW Mystical Time : Mystical Months, March 24). According to the English historian Richard Grafton certain dates of the month were unlucky as published in the ‘Manual’ in 1565. Days throughout the year were identified and of course could have related to any day of the week. The date was the most important point to consider. The work was reputed to have some credence with support given by astronomers of the day.

(For more information see Mystical WWW Mystical Time : Mystical Months).

SATURDAY – The Day of Reckoning
, The Day of Saturn

Days Of The Week Comments
SATURDAY

The Day of Reckoning
The Day of Saturn

saterndaeg or soeterdaeg (Anglo-Saxon)
samstag (Germanic)
dies saturni (Latin)
sani-var or sanichar (Hindu)
sunneecher (Islamic)
samedi (French)
dou youbi (Japanese)

Traditionally seen as the seventh day of the week. The Latin name for this day was ‘Dies Saturni’ meaning the ‘Day of Saturn’ (Saturn being a Roman deity) which was later developed by the Anglo-Saxons to ‘Soeterdoeg’. Saturn was associated with the ancient Greek ‘Kronos’ or ‘Time’ (some refer to this deity as Father Time). Kronos was said to have attempted to devour each one of his children but was unsuccessful with ‘Neptune’ or ‘Water’, ‘Jupiter’ or ‘Air’ and ‘Pluto’ or ‘The Grave’ as it was believed that not even Time can harm these. Jupiter eventually banished Saturn from his thrown. Saturn was also known as the God of the Seed and Harvest being symbolised by a scythe. Those who practised the ancient art of alchemy believed that Saturn was linked to the metal lead, and that anyone born under this sign would be influenced by its evil nature. Alchemists referred to the ‘Tree of Diana’ also known as the ‘Philosopher’s Tree’ as ‘Saturn’s Tree’. Modern astrologers indeed still link the disposition of anyone born under the influence of Saturn as being likened to the qualities of the metal, these being gloomy, dull, sluggish, grave, phlegmatic:

‘Then rose the seed of Chaos and of Night To blot out order and extinguish light. Of dull and venal a new world to mould, And bring Saturnian days of lead and gold.’ Pope : Dunciad, IV, 13.

Saturday in India is traditionally believed to be an unlucky day as this is the day dedicated to the God of Misfortune named ‘Sani’. In Ireland (UK) it is believed that if a the visual phenomena of a rainbow appears on this day then the following week will be nothing but wet weather. In Scotland (UK) it was traditionally believed that any child born on this day would have the gift of seeing ghosts. In rural areas of the British Isles it was traditionally believed to be bad luck to change jobs on a Saturday, an old English (UK) rhyme to support this was:

‘Saturday servants never stay,

Sunday servants run away.’

‘Black Saturday’ was the name given to August 4 1621. It is said that a violent storm symbolically blew-up in Scotland (UK) at the moment when Parliament was in the house discussing whether to make change of the Episcopacy laws, and force this upon the people of Scotland. According to the English historian Richard Grafton certain dates of the month were unlucky as published in the ‘Manual’ in 1565. Days throughout the year were identified and of course could have related to any day of the week. The date was the most important point to consider. The work was reputed to have some credence with support given by astronomers of the day.

(For more information see Mystical WWW Mystical Time : Mystical Months).

Celebrating Our Spirituality 365 Days A Year – Samhain

Samhain Comments & Graphics
October 31st

Samhain, Halloween

Samhain (pronounced Sow-in) marks the end of the agricultural season and the beginning of Winter. For the Celts, who inhabited the British Isles more than 1,000 years ago, Samhain was the beginning of the year and the cycle of seasons. It was a time when they turned to their Gods, seeking to understand the turning of the cycle of life and death. For the Celtic people, Samhain was a time when the gates between this world and the next were open. It was a time of communion with the Spirits who were believed to roam free on this night. It was a time of divination, when the ancestors were contacted for warnings and guidance through the dark Winter months.

In medieval Ireland, Samhain was the major festival that marked the opening of Winter; it was sometimes spelled “Samain” or “Samuin,” although still pronounced the same. It was believed that Samhain was a time of unusual supernatural power, when all manner of fairies, goblins, and monsters roamed the Earth. It was unfavorable to walk about on this night, lest one might stumble onto an open fairy mound and fall victim to the fairy’s enchantment.

Samhain was also a time of truce with no fighting, violence, or divorce allowed. Hence it was a time of marriage. Acounts were closed, debts collected, contracts made and servants hired. Magickally, Samhain is a time of reflection, ending thing that are not producing results, and releasing negative thoughts. Samhain is the perfect time to make a talisman for self control and protection of the family and home.

You Call It Hallowe’en… We Call It Samhain

You Call It Hallowe’en… We Call It Samhain

by Peg Aloi

 

October 31st, commonly called Hallowe’en, is associated with many customs, some of them mysterious, some light-hearted, some of them downright odd. Why do we bob for apples, carve pumpkins into jack-o-lanterns, and tell ghost stories on this night? Why do children go door-to-door asking for candy, dressed in fantastical costumes? How is Hallowe’en connected to All Soul’s Day, celebrated by some Christian denominations on November 1st? And what is the significance of this holiday for modern-day Witches?

A Brief History of Hallowe’en

Hallowe’en has its origins in the British Isles. While the modern tradition of trick or treat developed in the U. S., it too is based on folk customs brought to this country with Irish immigrants after 1840. Since ancient times in Ireland, Scotland, and England, October 31st has been celebrated as a feast for the dead, and also the day that marks the new year. Mexico observes a Day of the Dead on this day, as do other world cultures. In Scotland, the Gaelic word “Samhain” (pronounced “SAW-win” or “SAW-vane”) means literally “summer’s end.”

Other names for this holiday include: All Hallows Eve (“hallow” means “sanctify”); Hallowtide; Hallowmass; Hallows; The Day of the Dead; All Soul’s Night; All Saints’ Day (both on November 1st).

For early Europeans, this time of the year marked the beginning of the cold, lean months to come; the flocks were brought in from the fields to live in sheds until spring. Some animals were slaughtered, and the meat preserved to provide food for winter. The last gathering of crops was known as “Harvest Home, ” celebrated with fairs and festivals.

In addition to its agriculture significance, the ancient Celts also saw Samhain as a very spiritual time. Because October 31 lies exactly between the Autumnal Equinox and the Winter Solstice, it is theorized that ancient peoples, with their reliance on astrology, thought it was a very potent time for magic and communion with spirits. The “veil between the worlds” of the living and the dead was said to be at its thinnest on this day; so the dead were invited to return to feast with their loved ones; welcomed in from the cold, much as the animals were brought inside. Ancient customs range from placing food out for dead ancestors, to performing rituals for communicating with those who had passed over.

Communion with the dead was thought to be the work of witches and sorcerers, although the common folk thought nothing of it. Because the rise of the Church led to growing suspicion of the pagan ways of country dwellers, Samhain also became associated with witches, black cats (“familiars” or animal friends), bats (night creatures), ghosts and other “spooky” things…the stereotype of the old hag riding the broomstick is simply a caricature; fairy tales have exploited this image for centuries.

Divination of the future was also commonly practiced at this magically-potent time; since it was also the Celtic New Year, people focused on their desires for the coming year. Certain traditions, such as bobbing for apples, roasting nuts in the fire, and baking cakes which contained tokens of luck, are actually ancient methods of telling fortunes.

So What About Those Jack-O-Lanterns?

Other old traditions have survived to this day; lanterns carved out of pumpkins and turnips were used to provide light on a night when huge bonfires were lit, and all households let their fires go out so they could be rekindled from this new fire; this was believed to be good luck for all households. The name “Jack-O-Lantern” means “Jack of the Lantern, ” and comes from an old Irish tale. Jack was a man who could enter neither heaven nor hell and was condemned to wander through the night with only a candle in a turnip for light. Or so goes the legend…

But such folk names were commonly given to nature spirits, like the “Jack in the Green, ” or to plants believed to possess magical properties, like “John O’ Dreams, ” or “Jack in the Pulpit.” Irish fairy lore is full of such references. Since candles placed in hollowed-out pumpkins or turnips (commonly grown for food and abundant at this time of year) would produce flickering flames, especially on cold nights in October, this phenomenon may have led to the association of spirits with the lanterns; and this in turn may have led to the tradition of carving scary faces on them. It is an old legend that candle flames which flicker on Samhain night are being touched by the spirits of dead ancestors, or “ghosts.”

Okay, What about the Candy?

“Trick or treat” as it is practiced in the U. S. is a complex custom believed to derive from several Samhain traditions, as well as being unique to this country. Since Irish immigrants were predominantly Catholic, they were more likely to observe All Soul’s Day. But Ireland’s folk traditions die hard, and the old ways of Samhain were remembered. The old tradition of going door to door asking for donations of money or food for the New Year’s feast, was carried over to the U. S. from the British Isles. Hogmanay was celebrated January 1st in rural Scotland, and there are records of a “trick or treat” type of custom; curses would be invoked on those who did not give generously; while those who did give from their hearts were blessed and praised. Hence, the notion of “trick or treat” was born (although this greeting was not commonly used until the 1930’s in the U. S.). The wearing of costumes is an ancient practice; villagers would dress as ghosts, to escort the spirits of the dead to the outskirts of the town, at the end of the night’s celebration.

By the 1920’s, “trick or treat” became a way of letting off steam for those urban poor living in crowded conditions. Innocent acts of vandalism (soaping windows, etc.) gave way to violent, cruel acts. Organizations like the Boy Scouts tried to organize ways for this holiday to become safe and fun; they started the practice of encouraging “good” children to visit shops and homes asking for treats, so as to prevent criminal acts. These “beggar’s nights” became very popular and have evolved to what we know as Hallowe’en today.

What Do Modern Witches Do at Hallowe’en?

It is an important holiday for us. Witches are diverse, and practice a variety of traditions. Many of us use this time to practice forms of divination (such as tarot or runes). Many Witches also perform rituals to honor the dead; and may invite their deceased loved ones to visit for a time, if they choose. This is not a “seance” in the usual sense of the word; Witches extend an invitation, rather than summoning the dead, and we believe the world of the dead is very close to this one. So on Samhain, and again on Beltane (May 1st), when the veil between the worlds is thin, we attempt to travel between those worlds. This is done through meditation, visualization, and astral projection. Because Witches acknowledge human existence as part of a cycle of life, death and rebirth, Samhain is a time to reflect on our mortality, and to confront our fears of dying.

Some Witches look on Samhain as a time to prepare for the long, dark months of winter, a time of introspection and drawing inward. They may bid goodbye to the summer with one last celebratory rite. They may have harvest feasts, with vegetables and fruits they have grown, or home-brewed cider or mead. They may give thanks for what they have, projecting for abundance through the winter. Still others may celebrate with costume parties, enjoying treats and good times with friends. There are as many ways of observing Samhain as there are Witches in the world!

Let’s Talk Witch – Who Are The Celts?

links

 

Who Are The Celts?

Definition:

For many people, the term “Celtic” is a homogenized one, popularly used to apply to cultural groups located in the British Isles and Ireland. However, from an anthropological standpoint, the term “Celtic” is actually fairly complex. Rather than meaning just people of Irish or English background, Celtic is used by scholars to define a specific set of language groups, originating both in the British Isles and in the mainland of Europe.

says, “The Celts are an Indo-European people who spread from central Europe across the European continent to Western Europe, the British Isles, and southeast to Galatia (in Asia Minor) during the time before the Roman Empire. The Celtic family of languages is divided into two branches, the Insular Celtic languages, and the Continental Celtic languages.”

Today, the remains of early Celtic culture can be found in England and Scotland, Wales, Ireland, some areas of France and Germany, and even parts of the Iberian Peninsula. Prior to the advancement of the Roman Empire, much of Europe spoke languages that fell under the umbrella term of Celtic.

Sixteenth-century linguist and scholar Edward Lhuyd determined that the Celtic languages in Britain fell into two general categories. In Ireland, the Isle of Man and Scotland, the language was classified as “Q-Celtic,” or “Goidelic.” Meanwhile, Lhuyd classified the language of Brittany, Cornwall and Wales as “P-Celtic,” or “Brythonic.” While there were similarities between the two language groups, there were distinct differences in pronunciations and terminology. For specific explanations on this fairly complex system, read Barry Cunliffe’s book, The Celts A Very Short Introduction.

Because of Lhuyd’s definitions, everyone began considering the people who spoke these languages “Celts,” despite the fact that his classifications had somewhat overlooked the Continental dialects. This was partly because, by the time Lhuyd began examining and tracing the existing Celtic languages, the Continental variations had all died out. Continental Celtic languages were also divided into two groups, the Celt-Iberian and Gaulish (or Gallic), according to

As if the language issue wasn’t confusing enough, continental European Celtic culture is divided into two time periods, Hallstatt and La Tene. The Hallstatt culture began at the onset of the Bronze Age, around 1200 b.c.e., and ran up until around 475 b.c.e. This area included much of central Europe, and was focused around Austria but included what are now Croatia, Slovakia, Hungary, northern Italy, Eastern France, and even parts of Switzerland.

About a generation before the end of Hallstatt culture, the La Tene cultural era emerged, running from 500 b.c.e. to 15 b.c.e. This culture spread west from the center of Hallstatt, and moved into Spain and northern Italy, and even occupied Rome for a time. The Romans called the La Tene Celts Gauls. It is unclear whether La Tene culture ever crossed into Britain, however, there have been some commonalities between .

In modern Pagan religions, the term “Celtic” is generally used to apply to the mythology and legends found in the British Isles. When we discuss  here at About Pagan/Wiccan, we’re referring to the deities found in the pantheons of what are now Wales, Ireland, England and Scotland. Likewise, modern Celtic Reconstructionist paths, including but not limited to Druid groups, honor the deities of the British Isles.

SUNDAY – The Day of the Sun

SUNDAY

The Day of the Sun

sunnandaeg (Anglo-Saxon)
sonntag (Germanic)
dies solis (Latin)
ravi-var (Hindu)
etwar (Islamic)
dimanche (French)
nichi youbi (Japanese)

Traditionally seen as the first day of the week by the ancient Hebrews and as identified by the fourth commandment (Exodus, xx, 8-11). This day was in ancient times dedicated to the Sun and later as ‘The Lord’s Day’. Sunday is traditionally a time for rest, reflection and worship. It is believed to be a lucky day for babies born on this day according to tradition as the child was thought to be safe from witches and evil spirits. Some born on this day are believed to have psychic or devining abilities. Any cures that are administered on a Sunday were believed to be more likely to succeed. In some parts of the British Isles (UK) there is a belief that announces that any agreements that are made on a Sunday are not legal as it will offend God to make any transactions of a day of reflection and dedicated to worship. In the USA this is enforced by the saying ‘ Never make plans on a Sunday’. In rural areas of the British Isles those employed for a new job on a Sunday would soon leave their post:

‘Saturday servants never stay, Sunday servants run away.’

It was also thought to be unlucky to put clean sheets on the bed on a Sunday along with cutting your hair or nails. Regarding music, choir singers who sang a false note on this day were according to a traditional English (UK) belief expected to have a burnt Sunday dinner. You could expect a busy profitable week ahead, especially if you were in business, if you found a pair of gloves on this day, and quite naturally very unlucky to be the person who had lost them according to a rural English (UK) belief. A prehistoric cairn marks the spot of Druid worship where a Christian settlement was created Slieve Donhard, near Newcastle, England. Set up by Donhard (a convert of St. Patrick), pilgrimages regularly visit the place of worship, high on the hill, as it is said that St. Patrick himself appears as a result of Donhard’s faith each Sunday of the year. As he appears before everyone, it is said that St. Patrick also leads the people in the mass.  According to the English historian Richard Grafton certain dates of the month were unlucky as published in the ‘Manual’ in 1565. Days throughout the year were identified and of course could have related to any day of the week. The date was the most important point to consider. The work was reputed to have some credence with support given by astronomers of the day.

(For more information see Mystical WWW Mystical Time : Mystical Months).