Flashback 2002 Imbolc

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

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

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

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

Flashback 2002 Lammas

Lammas is the first of the harvest festivals and this year despite the fiery Sun, it has a strong, sensual feel of cardinal earth. Mars lends a masculine energy to the Sun this week to help with the organizing for this bread festival. Round cornbread as a solar disk is an apt and easy choice for the altar, but if you plan several days ahead, you can sprout a small amount (1/4 cup) of wheat or barely for kitchen witchery. Add this to your other grains to your own bread from scratch; or buy frozen bread dough, thaw, pat into a rectangle, and sprinkle the sprouted grains. Roll up your dough like a jelly roll and place in a greased bread pan into which you have sprinkled Irish oats. You can use a sharp knife to crave goddess symbols into the loaf before baking.

©️ By K. D. Spitzer Llewellyn’s Witches’ Datebook 2002 Page 93

Flashback 2000 Imbolc

Daylight hours are gradually lengthening, and the Earth is beginning to stir. Although she is still in the middle of her winter’s rest, our planet subtly begins to plan. It’s appropriate that this period is represented by Aquarius, an air sign, since all change begins first in the mind. Every new thought or idea is full of raw potential as the Earth is now,nailing for the touch of fire to ignite her new growth period. Uranus is the ruler of Aquarius, and the planet best known for its jurisdiction over the future. This electric energy only looks forward, never back. It is during Imbolc, in fact, as the Sun is passing through Aquarius, that many ideas are born. As we prepare for the upcoming Equinox, then, it’s important to be sure that we’re looking ahead, as Uranus does, with all the electric enthusiasm and genius of Aquarius. Honor the potential of the coming spring by uncovering your gift of prophecy. Whether you use a crystal ball, a dream journal, or another type of predictive tool, prepare for the Equinox in your heart, by understanding how much is possible now.

©️ By Kim Rogers-Gallagher Llewellyn’s Witches’ Datebook 2000 Page 95

Flashback 2000 Lammas

At Lammas, the Sun is at the very peak of Leo, the sign this planet loves above all others. Our star’s warmth is at its most powerful now in the Northern Hemisphere, as it appears directly overhead. At this time, life too, ia at its peak—as are the crops. The ancients celebrated this festival by giving thanks for their first harvest, most especially the grain harvest, even as they accepted the beginning of the God’s descent into the underworld. The myth of the asteroid-Goddess Ceres (Demeter), giver of the grain, also relates to this season. It was now when she would bid her daughter Farwell, since Persephone was obligated to return to the Underworld to rejoin Hades (Pluto). So bereaved was Ceres to see her daughter leave her, she refused to all the Earth to produce grain until her return. At this time,nothing, modern practitioners should be remind of both astrological principles: the fullness of life the Sun brings, and the necessity for rest, as signified by the coming fall.

©️ By Kim Rogers-Gallagher Llewellyn’s Witches’ Datebook 2000 Page 95

Beltane Sunset to Sunset. April 30th – May 1st

Beltane honours Life. It represents the peak of Spring and the beginning of Summer. Earth energies are at their strongest and most active. All of life is bursting with potent fertility and at this point in the Wheel of the Year, the potential becomes conception. On May Eve the sexuality of life and the earth is at its peak. Abundant fertility, on all levels, is the central theme. The Maiden goddess has reached her fullness. She is the manifestation of growth and renewal, Flora, the Goddess of Spring, the May Queen, the May Bride. The Young Oak King, as Jack-In-The-Green, as the Green Man, falls in love with her and wins her hand. The union is consummated and the May Queen becomes pregnant. Together the May Queen and the May King are symbols of the Sacred Marriage (or Heiros Gamos), the union of Earth and Sky, and this union has merrily been re-enacted by humans throughout the centuries. For this is the night of the Greenwood Marriage. It is about sexuality and sensuality, passion, vitality and joy. And about conception. A brilliant moment in the Wheel of the Year to bring ideas, hopes and dreams into action. And have some fun…..

Traditions of Beltane

Beltane is a Fire Festival. The word ‘Beltane’ originates from the Celtic God ‘Bel’, meaning ‘the bright one’ and the Gaelic word ‘teine’ meaning fire. Together they make ‘Bright Fire’, or ‘Goodly Fire’ and traditionally bonfires were lit to honour the Sun and encourage the support of Bel and the Sun’s light to nurture the emerging future harvest and protect the community. Bel had to be won over through human effort. Traditionally all fires in the community were put out and a special fire was kindled for Beltane. “This was the Tein-eigen, the need fire. People jumped the fire to purify, cleanse and to bring fertility. Couples jumped the fire together to pledge themselves to each other. Cattle and other animals were driven through the smoke as a protection from disease and to bring fertility. At the end of the evening, the villagers would take some of the Teineigen to start their fires anew.” (From Sacred Celebrations by Glennie Kindred) Green Man – Beltane

To read more interesting things about Northern Hemisphere Beltane click here

Category Samhain/Deep Autumn

WE ARE THE ANCESTORS: MAY WE BE INTERESTING FOOD

May 9, 2020 · by Glenys D. Livingstone · in Samhain/Deep Autumn · Leave a comment Our present lives are formed by all who came before us. We are in-formed by them, whether conscious or not. In PaGaian Samhain ceremony as it has been done traditionally, participants are invited to remember the ancestors in this way: Let us remember our ancestors, those who have gone before, whose lives have been harvested, […]

THREADS OF GOLD IN THE COMPOST

April 20, 2020 · by Glenys D. Livingstone · in Samhain/Deep Autumn · 2 Comments There are threads of gold in the compost, if one has the vision for it. And we may take the golden thread, exclaim the strongest natural fibre known – our creative selves, our imaginations – for the building of a new world made sacred, of our conceiving: yet beyond our knowings, across the vast Darkness between […] For more interesting article about Southern Hemisphere Samhain click here  

5 Simple Mabon Rituals

5 Simple Ostara Rituals

Lammas/Lughnasadh Blessings Sisters, Brothers, and Guests

May your harvest be plentiful growing from what you sowed on Imbolc.

Blessed be dear ones.

Imbolc Blessing

Imbolc and Lammas Gathering Sunday, February 2, 2020

Any Witch or Pagan is welcome to come celebrate Imbolc and Lammas with us. Everyone attending needs to stay until the rituals for both hemispheres are done. It is up to you if want to do both rituals. For these Sabbats we are doing something new the sacred circles and Watchtowers will be called and dismissed for each hemisphere. We ask that you do not print these rituals out but you are welcome to bookmark them for future use.

NORTHERN HEMISPHERE – RITUAL FOR THE SABBAT IMBOLC: IN HONOR OF THE GODDESS GAIA AND GOD AENGUS OG  Written and Led by our novice Melinda.

SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE – RITUAL FOR THE SABBAT LAMMAS: IN HONOR OF THE GODDESS HARVEST MOTHER AND GOD LUGH Written and Led by our adept Dawn of the Day

WHEN:

Northern Hemisphere –

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Chatroom opens at 3:00 PM CT

Circle will be cast at 4:00 PM CT

Southern Hemisphere –

Monday, February 3, 2020

Chatroom opens at 8:00 AM AEDT

Circle will be cast at 9:00 AM AEDT

WHERE:

Heart’s Spirit Coven Chatroom

If you have applied to be in the chatroom and have not received a reply yet, it will come to you at least 5 minutes before the circle is cast on Sunday. No approval for entering the chatroom when we are only 5 minutes away from casting the circle to begin the Imbolc and Lammas Rituals.

RITUALS:

EVERYONE: Set up your altar before the ritual starts. Placing an object represents .each of the elements so they form a pentagram.

In the upper right-hand point of the pentagram –

Air: Dream catcher, feather, incense, any object that you are drawn too

Lower right-hand point of the Pentagram

Fire: A symbol of the Sun, red or orange candle, a picture of a fire.

Lower left-hand point of the Pentagram

Earth: gnome, a bowl of salt or dirt, or object of your choice

Upper right-hand point of the Pentagram:

Water: Seashell, a bowl of water, any type of sea creature, object of your choosing

Top point of the Pentagram Spirit:

Angel Statue or whatever represents the element of Spirit to you.

Goddess: Goddess candle will be on the right side of altar decorate in color of green. You can also use green crystals in place of the candle which are green calcite, amber. Fragrances can be used such as honeysuckle or cypress, or any flower, or a picture of Gaia.

God: Gods candle will be on left side of altar decorate it in the colors of Green, pink, or red. You can also use crystals such as Rose Quartz, Peridot, Copper. Incense such as Sandal wood, Rose, or Lavender, Or a picture or statue of the God Aengus.

Casting the Circle:

Raven Spiritwalker: We walk this circle clockwise three times asking that all who are in it or outside of it be kept safe and no harm to no one.

EVERYONE: Face your altar and touch what is representing the Goddess and say:

“Gaia, our mother, You who nourishes all living things I honor and pray to thee, guide us and thank you for the promise of the return of Spring.”

Now touch what is representing the God and say:

Aegnus, God of love, youth, and poetic inspiration, guide us from this day forward and thank you for the promise of the return of Spring.”

(Now light the incense or candle if you are using one)

Mediate for 1 minute to allow the rise of power from the Goddess and God

When you have meditated for a minute with the God and/or Goddess please type “DONE”

Opening the Circle:

To the Guardians of the West, Archangel Gabriel:

We dismiss you from our Watchtower and thank you for protecting us.

To the Guardians of the South, Archangel Michael:

We dismiss you from our Watchtower and thank you for protecting us..

To the Guardians of the East, Archangel Raphael:

We dismiss you from our Watchtower and thank you for protecting us..

To the Guardians of the North, Uriel:

We dismiss you from our Watchtower and thank you for protecting us.

Raven Spiritwalker: We walk this circle counter-clockwise three times asking that all who are in it or outside of it be kept safe and no harm to no one.

(You can go back and commune with the Gods and/or Goddesses from one or both rituals after the Southern Hemisphere circle is opened)

Remember to offer a bite to the God and Goddess of your favorite snack and drink to give thanks to the God and Goddess. 

Lammas ritual

Lammas is known as the 1st of the 3 harvest festivals, it is still a time of hot intense sun but the days are starting to get shorter.  The grain is starting to ripen in the fields along with some of the fruits on the apple trees.

The goddess is pregnant and the god is still very strong but slowly weakening as we move into fall.  The animals are fattening for the winter slaughter and there is a push to start the process of storing food away for the lean months but at this time the days are still easy

Items needed for the ritual:

Apples, grapes, bread

gold or yellow cloth

sunflowers or raw wheat

Incense sandalwood and frankincense

Have a candle on your altar to represent the Harvest Mother — choose something in orange, red or yellow.

Corn husk or two

Place symbols of your craft or skill on the altar—a notebook, your special paints for artists, a pen for writers, other tools of your creativity. To represent the god Lugh

Please decorate your altar properly with a yellow or gold cloth, a nice sunflower and or a sheath of wheat, maybe an apple or a few grapes and/or a loaf of bread. This is to represent the sun  in the yellow or orange cloth.   A goblet of ritual wine is optional.

EVERYONE IN SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE: We open the ritual with the walking around the circle 3 times in a counter clockwise direction.  We first point at the ground with our dominate hand asking the earth for its power to make this circle secure for the work we are to do here.  We walk a second time with our dominate hand outstretched at shoulder level asking water to secure our circle and finally we walk a third time with our hand pointed to the ceiling asking  air to help secure our circle and the work that we do here.  We finally say what is above is below and what is below is above we have created a circle to protect ourselves while we do our work may we harm no one and may no one harm.

Starting in the west and while touching the item that represents the west say watchtower of the west please help us with our circle today and protect us as we do our work

Next is the south and while touching the item that represents the south say watchtower of the south please help us with our circle today and protect us as we do our work

Next the east and while touching the item that represents the east say watchtower of the east please help us with our circle today and protect us as we do our work

Finally in the north and while touching the item that represents the north say watchtower of the north please help us with our circle today and protect us as we do our work

Light the candle, and say:

The wheel of the year is upon use

The food is plentiful and soil fertile

With this ritual we ask for the blessings

Of the Mother of the harvest

In honor of the Harvest we now will make a representation of the goddess using your corn husk and once the ritual is over please leave it on your altar to honor the goddess.

PLEASE READ THE DIRECTIONS BEFORE THE GATHERING AND PRINT THEM OUT OR TAKE NOTES SO YOU KNOW HOW TO MAKE IT.

Here is an example of how to make a corn husk doll

When you are done please type the word “DONE”

 

Now we will finish our ritual.  Point to the ceiling with your dominate hand and walk in a counter clockwise direction and say thank you air for your protection of our circle.  Now at shoulder level walk around the circle in a counter clock wise manner and thank water for the protection of our circle.  Finally point to the ground and walk in a counter clockwise manner thanking earth for protecting our circle.  Finally raise your hands above your head bring them down and point your palms at the ground and send any extra energy into the earth to help and heal our Mother.  End with the comment our circle is now open but it is never broken our work is done now may everyone go in peace.

Starting in the north and while touching the item that represents the north say Thank you to the watchtower of the north for helping us with our circle and you may leave if you must but stay if you like

Next is the east and while touching the item that represents the east say Thank you to the watchtower of the east for helping us with our circle and you may leave if you must but stay if you like

Now the South and while touching the item that represents the south say Thank you to the watchtower of the south for helping us with our circle and you may leave if you must but stay if you like

Finally is the west and while touching the item that represents the west say Thank you to the watchtower of the west for helping us with our circle and you may leave if you must but stay if you like

Blessed Be

Please enjoy some of the gifts from your altar, take a sip of the wine some of the bread etc.  Make sure you have enough, to enjoy the treats, also that you can leave some on the altar but also make sure you share some with the creatures of nature.  As you eat of your sacrifices remember and meditate on how the cycle of life goes from the seed to the plant and then back to seed to start all over again just like the wheel of the year continues to cycle through birth, adolescents, maturity, age, death and then of course rebirth.

References for Lammas ritual:

https://witchesofthecraft.com/tag/lammas-ritual/

Wicca Wheel of the Year Lisa Chamberlain pgs 88-95

https://www.learnreligions.com/setting-up-your-lammas-lughnasadh-altar-2562171

https://www.almanac.com/content/seasonal-crafts-cornhusk-doll

 

Origins of Lupercalia

WOLVESOrigins of Lupercalia

Type of Holiday: Ancient

Date of Observation: February 15

Where Celebrated: Rome

Symbols and Customs: Blood, Februa, Goat, Milk, Wolf

Colors: Red and white, in the form of BLOOD and MILK , both played a part in the earliest observance of the Lupercalia. Nowadays these are the colors associated with Valentine’s Day, to which this ancient festival has been linked.

Related Holidays: Valentine’s Day

ORIGINS
The Lupercalia was a festival in the ancient Roman religion, which scholars trace back to the sixth century B . C . E . Roman religion dominated Rome and influenced territories in its empire until Emperor Constantine’s conversion to Christianity in the third century C . E . Ancient Roman religion was heavily influenced by the older Greek religion. Roman festivals therefore had much in common with those of the ancient Greeks. Not only were their gods and goddesses mostly the same as those in the Greek pantheon (though the Romans renamed them), but their religious festivals were observed with similar activities: ritual sacrifice, theatrical performances, games, and feasts.

The Lupercalia festival was held in honor of the WOLF who mothered Romulus and Remus, the legendary twin founders of Rome. During the original Roman celebration, members from two colleges of priests gathered at a cave on the Palatine Hill called the Lupercal-supposedly the cave where Romulus and Remus had been suckled by a she-wolf-and sacrificed a GOAT and a dog. The animals’ BLOOD was smeared on the foreheads of two young priests and then wiped away with wool dipped in MILK . The two young men stripped down to a goatskin loincloth and ran around the Palatine, striking everyone who approached them, especially the women, with thongs of goat skin called FEBRUA . It is believed that this was both a fertility ritual and a purification rite. It may also have been a very early example of “beating the bound, or reestablishing the borders of the early Palatine settlement.

There is some confusion over which god the Luperci or priests served; some say it was Faunus, a rural deity, and some say it was Pan, the god of shepherds who protected sheep from the danger of wolves. All that is certain is that by Caesar’s time, the annual ceremony had become a spectacular public sight, with young men running half-naked through the streets and provoking much good-natured hysteria among the women. February 15 was also the day when Mark Antony offered Julius Caesar the crown. Thanks to this historic event, and Shakespeare’s account of it in his play Julius Caesar, the Lupercalia is one of the best known of all Roman festivals.

It is interesting that such a rustic festival continued to be celebrated in Rome for centuries after it had been Christianized. Its survival can be partially credited to Augustus, who rebuilt the Lupercal in the first century B . C . E ., thus giving the celebration a boost. It continued to be observed until 494 C . E ., when Pope Gelasius I changed the day to the Feast of the Purification of the Virgin Mary. There is some reason to believe that the Lupercalia was a forerunner of the modern VALENTINE’S DAY: Part of the ceremony involved putting girls’ names in a box and letting boys draw them out, thus pairing them off until the next Lupercalia.

Source:
The Free Dictionary

As Imbolc Approaches

Imbolc/Candlemas Comments
As Imbolc Approaches

a guide to the Sabbat’s symbolism

by Arwynn MacFeylynnd

Date: February 1 or 2.

Alternative names: Imbolg, Candlemas, Oimelc, Brighid’s Day, Lupercus, the Feast of Lights, Groundhog’s Day

Primary meanings: The name “Imbolc” derives from the word “oimelc,” meaning sheep’s milk. It is considered a time of purification, preparation and celebration for new life stirring, anticipating spring. The holiday is also known as Candlemas; the custom of blessing candles at this time signifies awakening of life and honors the Celtic goddess Brighid, to whom fire is sacred. This Sabbat also celebrates banishing winter.

Symbols: Candle wheels, grain dollies and Sun wheels, a besom (witch’s broom), a sprig of evergreen, a bowl of snow and small Goddess statues representing her in the maiden aspect.

Colors: White, yellow, pink, light blue, light green; also, red and brown.

Gemstones: Amethyst, aquamarine, turquoise, garnet and onyx.

Herbs: Angelica, basil, bay, benzoin, clover, dill, evergreens, heather, myrrh, rosemary, willows and all yellow flowers.

Gods and goddesses: Brighid, the Celtic goddess of healing, poetry and smithcraft; all virgin and maiden goddesses; all fire and flame gods, connected with the newborn Sun.

Customs and myths: In Irish legends of the Tuatha De Danaan, Brighid is the name of three daughters of Dagda who over time were combined into one goddess. She was venerated in Scotland, Wales, on the Isle of Man and in the Hebrides. When celebrating Candlemas or Imbolc, spellwork for fertility, inspiration and protection are appropriate, defining and focusing on spiritual and physical desires for the future. Imbolc is a good time to get your life in order — physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally. Make plans, organize, clean out drawers and closets to bring in the new and clearing out the old. Make and bless candles; light one in each room in honor of the Sun’s rebirth. Carry out rites of self-purification. Burn mistletoe, holly and ivy decorations from Yule to signify the end of harsh weather and old ways.

Calendar of the Sun for Friday, January 31

Calendar of the Sun

31 Wolfmonath

Imbolc Eve: Day of the Bean Sidhe

Color: Black
Element: Air
Altar: Upon cloth of black place a cup of blood, kept from the last slaughtering. Before it lay bloodstained rags and a flute, and many small unlit votive candles. Block the windows and shut out all sunlight.
Offering: Give aid to a child who has lost their mother.
Daily Meal: Red meat and milk.

Imbolc Eve Invocation

Go, my children, to the riverbank,
In the dark of the night when the wind is howling,
And you shall hear the wails of one who mourns,
And you shall see her kneeling by the water,
Washing the bloody clothes of those
Who did not survive the giving forth of life.
She weeps for the mothers lost,
She weeps for the children lost,
She weeps for the life cut short,
What should have been a joyous day
Become a night of mourning.
She weeps above all for those
Who have no one else to weep for them.
So we shall light a candle, on this night
Before the morn of Candlemas,
For all those who have no one to weep for them,
And we shall shed the tears
And we shall be the voice,
And we shall do the work
Of the lonely Bean Sidhe.

(The cup of blood is poured as a libation. Each comes forward and lights a small votive candle, and then all wail in a great torrent of sound together, with one playing the flute wildly over the cacophony. Those who can shed tears should do so. This should go on until all are exhausted from wailing, and then all should go quietly to their other tasks in silence until Hesperis.

[Pagan Book of Hours]

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C A N D L E M A S: The Light Returns

C A N D L E M A S:  The Light Returns
=====================================
by Mike Nichols

It seems quite impossible that the holiday of Candlemas should be considered
the beginning of Spring.  Here in the Heartland, February 2nd may see a blanket
of snow mantling the Mother.  Or, if the snows have gone, you may be sure the
days are filled with drizzle, slush, and steel-grey skies — the dreariest
weather of the year.  In short, the perfect time for a Pagan Festival of Lights.
And as for Spring, although this may seem a tenuous beginning, all the little
buds, flowers and leaves will have arrived on schedule before Spring runs its
course to Beltane.

‘Candlemas’ is the Christianized name for the holiday, of course. The older
Pagan names were Imbolc and Oimelc.  ‘Imbolc’ means, literally, ‘in the belly’
(of the Mother).  For in the womb of Mother Earth, hidden from our mundane sight but sensed by a keener vision, there are stirrings.  The seed that was planted in her womb at the solstice is quickening and the new year grows.  ‘Oimelc’ means ‘milk of ewes’, for it is also lambing season.

The holiday is also called ‘Brigit’s Day’, in honor of the great Irish
Goddess Brigit.  At her shrine, the ancient Irish capitol of Kildare, a group of
19 priestesses (no men allowed) kept a perpetual flame burning in her honor.
She was considered a goddess of fire, patroness of smithcraft, poetry and
healing (especially the healing touch of midwifery).  This tripartite symbolism
was occasionally expressed by saying that Brigit had two sisters, also named
Brigit. (Incidentally, another form of the name Brigit is Bride, and it is
thus She bestows her special patronage on any woman about to be married or
handfasted, the woman being called ‘bride’ in her honor.)

The Roman Catholic Church could not very easily call the Great Goddess of
Ireland a demon, so they canonized her instead. Henceforth, she would be ‘Saint’
Brigit, patron SAINT of smithcraft, poetry, and healing.  They ‘explained’ this
by telling the Irish peasants that Brigit was ‘really’ an early Christian
missionary sent to the Emerald Isle, and that the miracles she performed there
‘misled’ the common people into believing that she was a goddess.  For some
reason, the Irish swallowed this.  (There is no limit to what the Irish
imagination can convince itself of.  For example, they also came to believe that
Brigit was the ‘foster-mother’ of Jesus, giving no thought to the implausibility
of Jesus having spent his boyhood in Ireland!)

Brigit’s holiday was chiefly marked by the kindling of sacred fires, since
she symbolized the fire of birth and healing, the fire of the forge, and the
fire of poetic inspiration.  Bonfires were lighted on the beacon tors, and
chandlers celebrated their special holiday. The Roman Church was quick to
confiscate this symbolism as well, using ‘Candlemas’ as the day to bless all the
church candles that would be used for the coming liturgical year.  (Catholics
will be reminded that the following day, St. Blaise’s Day, is remembered for
using the newly-blessed candles to bless the throats of parishioners, keeping
them from colds, flu, sore throats, etc.)

The Catholic Church, never one to refrain from piling holiday upon holiday,
also called it the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  (It is
surprising how many of the old Pagan holidays were converted to Maryan Feasts.)  The symbol of the Purification may seem a little obscure to modern readers, but it has to do with the old custom of ‘churching women’.  It was believed that women were impure for six weeks after giving birth.  And since Mary gave birth at the winter solstice, she wouldn’t be purified until February 2nd.  In Pagan symbolism, this might be re-translated as when the Great Mother once again becomes the Young Maiden Goddess.

Today, this holiday is chiefly connected to weather lore.  Even our American
folk-calendar keeps the tradition of ‘Groundhog’s Day’, a day to predict the
coming weather, telling us that if the Groundhog sees his shadow, there will be
‘six more weeks’ of bad weather (i.e., until the next old holiday, Lady Day).
This custom is ancient.  An old British rhyme tells us that ‘If Candlemas Day be
bright and clear, there’ll be two winters in the year.’  Actually, all of the
cross-quarter days can be used as ‘inverse’ weather predictors, whereas the
quarter-days are used as ‘direct’ weather predictors.

Like the other High Holidays or Great Sabbats of the Witches’ year,
Candlemas is sometimes celebrated on it’s alternate date, astrologically
determined by the sun’s reaching 15-degrees Aquarius, or Candlemas Old Style (in 1988, February 3rd, at 9:03 am CST). Another holiday that gets mixed up in this is Valentine’s Day.  Ozark folklorist Vance Randolf makes this quite clear by
noting that the old-timers used to celebrate Groundhog’s Day on February 14th.
This same displacement is evident in Eastern Orthodox Christianity as well.
Their habit of celebrating the birth of Jesus on January 6th, with a similar
post-dated shift in the six-week period that follows it, puts the Feast of the
Purification of Mary on February 14th.  It is amazing to think that the same
confusion and lateral displacement of one of the old folk holidays can be seen
from the Russian steppes to the Ozark hills, but such seems to be the case!

Incidentally, there is speculation among linguistic scholars that the vary
name of ‘Valentine’ has Pagan origins.  It seems that it was customary for
French peasants of the Middle Ages to pronounce a ‘g’ as a ‘v’.  Consequently,
the original term may have been the French ‘galantine’, which yields the English
word ‘gallant’.  The word originally refers to a dashing young man known for his
‘affaires d’amour’, a true galaunt.  The usual associations of V(G)alantine’s
Day make much more sense in this light than their vague connection to a
legendary ‘St. Valentine’ can produce.  Indeed, the Church has always found it
rather difficult to explain this nebulous saint’s connection to the secular
pleasures of flirtation and courtly love.

For modern Witches, Candlemas O.S. may then be seen as the Pagan version of Valentine’s Day, with a de-emphasis of ‘hearts and flowers’ and an appropriate
re-emphasis of Pagan carnal frivolity.  This also re-aligns the holiday with the
ancient Roman Lupercalia, a fertility festival held at this time, in which the
priests of Pan ran through the streets of Rome whacking young women with
goatskin thongs to make them fertile.  The women seemed to enjoy the attention
and often stripped in order to afford better targets.

One of the nicest folk-customs still practiced in many countries, and
especially by Witches in the British Isles and parts of the U.S., is to place a
lighted candle in each and every window of the house, beginning at sundown on
Candlemas Eve (February 1st), allowing them to continue burning until sunrise.
Make sure that such candles are well seated against tipping and guarded from
nearby curtains, etc.  What a cheery sight it is on this cold, bleak and dreary
night to see house after house with candle-lit windows!  And, of course, if you
are your Coven’s chandler, or if you just happen to like making candles,
Candlemas Day is THE day for doing it.  Some Covens hold candle-making parties and try to make and bless all the candles they’ll be using for the whole year on this day.

Other customs of the holiday include weaving ‘Brigit’s crosses’ from straw
or wheat to hang around the house for protection, performing rites of spiritual
cleansing and purification, making ‘Brigit’s beds’ to ensure fertility of mind
and spirit (and body, if desired), and making Crowns of Light (i.e. of candles)
for the High Priestess to wear for the Candlemas Circle, similar to those worn
on St. Lucy’s Day in Scandinavian countries.  All in all, this Pagan Festival of
Lights, sacred to the young Maiden Goddess, is one of the most beautiful and
poetic of the year.

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