The Old Ways: Hallows

by Doug and Sandy Kopf

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Samhain (pronounced Sow-wen), also called Hallowmas, is the final festival in the Witches’ year. It is celebrated on October 31st. The word Samhain means ‘Summer’s End’. It is the first day of Winter and the Witch’s New Year. In earlier agricultural societies, Samhain was also the end of the Harvest, the time to put aside the seed corn for the coming Spring. It was a time for feasting, too, as the weaker animals were culled and killed. Only the livestock most likely to make it through the hard Winters were spared. Feasts consisted of any parts of the animal that couldn’t be salted and preserved. It was also considered by the Celts to be one of the Spirit Nights. It was a time to remember the ancestors and tell stories about them. At this time, when the Veils are thin, we honor our ancestors and invite them to attend our celebrations.

Although the modern calendar counts four cross-quarter seasonal celebrations, some early Celts recognized only two: Gamain (Winter’s End), on May 1st, and Samhain (Summer’s End), on November 1st. As Gamain (or Beltane) is marked by the rising of the Pleiades, so Samhain is marked by it’s setting. Many of the old Festivals were timed according to the movement of the stars, a calendar available to everyone, even to the illiterate peasantry.

Now, we are aware of howling winds, the days are short and the nights are long. Fruit trees are bare and Winter coats come out of mothballs. Storm clouds gather in the sky. Coming home in the evenings, we are aware of the darkness, the light disappearing earlier with each passing day. Checking our supermarket shelves, very little is available in the way of fresh produce. More and more often, we find ourselves in front of the frozen food counter (for some of us, our only encounter with ice)! This is not a subtle seasonal change, even in the city.

Today, at Halloween, you probably open your door and dispense candy and treats to children in adorable or frightening costumes, as their parents watch, in both pride and concern, from a respectable distance. But why do they do it? Well, today, they do it because children love candy and are game for any excuse to play dress up. (Wait a minute…that applies to most of the adults we know! Modify that to read ‘people’ love candy and costumes, not just children!). However, that wasn’t the real reason for going house to house at Samhain.

The earlier custom was called Soul-caking. Soul-cakers would go to each house, singing either a begging song or a plea for prayers for the dead. They would put on a mummers play for the residents of the house, which would consist of a challenge, a battle, a death, and a magical revival. Specially-made cakes were given to the Soul-cakers at the conclusion of their performance. Soul-caking is still the custom at Antrobus, in Cheshire, but there has been a change or two. Instead of going house-to-house, the Soul-cakers go pub-to-pub, by car! Leaving cakes and wine out for visiting ancestors is also an old custom that has carried over into many British households, even today.

The Hooden Horse, a similar but more threatening counterpart of the Beltane ‘Obby ‘Oss, is another Samhain tradition. The Hooden Horse often accompanied the Soul-cakers, with its head made from the skull of a horse, its eyes from bottoms of glass bottles and a hinged lower jaw that could snap or bite. It was held by a man, draped in a blanket or a sheet, known as the ‘Hoodener’. The origins of the word Hoodening are unknown. It may have come from ‘Wooden’ horse or ‘Woden’s horse’, or possibly from ‘Robin Hood’s horse’. According to Janet and Colin Bord (‘Earth Rites’), it most likely meant ‘hooded’, referring to the covered Hoodener. There are thirty-three recorded sites in Kent for Hooden Horse performances, but they are all before the turn of the century. The custom has been revived in Folkestone and Charing, during this century.

Like the more comic ‘Obby ‘Oss, the Hooden Horse has, as companions, a groom with a whip, several musicians and a man dressed in women’s clothing, called ‘Mollie’, who carries a besom (broom). They go from house to house and are rewarded with food and drink. The horse snaps it’s jaws and chases young women, while being restrained by the groom. In Cheshire, the horse is attached to the Soul-caker’s mummers play.

The name Soul-caking probably came from the Christian All Souls Day, but it is obviously a carryover of an earlier custom. The Church adopted November 2nd as All Souls Day in the year 998 c.e., but Frazer shows, (in ‘Adonis, Attis, Osiris’) that this was simply another case of the Church creating a holiday to explain the Pagan customs they were unable to suppress. All Saints Day, on November 1st, was recognized in the seventh century, when the Pantheon in Rome was turned into a place of Christian worship and dedicated to Mary and all the martyrs. This was probably a first attempt that didn’t quite work. The Reformation abolished All Souls Day in the Church of England, but Anglo-Catholics have revived it. All Saints Day still exists as a date in the Christian calendar.

At this time of celebration, Christians in many countries leave lamps and candles burning overnight to commemorate the dead. This reminds us of the Egyptian Feast of Lamps, thought to have been approximately November 8th, during which lamps were also burned through the night in honor of the dead. So, in this case, the Christian custom may have been had it’s origins in the Egyptian one.

In Mexico, November 2nd is a National holiday. This is The Day of the Dead. For the week preceding the Festival, the face of Death can be seen everywhere, in the form of fantastic skulls and skeletons decorating store windows and homes. In the bakeries, you will find decorated loaves in the shapes of men, women, children and animals. These fancy breads are ‘ofrendas’ or ‘offerings to the dead’. They are placed on elaborate Day of the Dead altars in every home. These gifts are offered to those who have crossed over, along with the favorite foods of the departed loved ones, who are thought to visit on this day. Elaborate receptions are held to welcome them. The offerings of food are first given to the dead, then eaten by the living.

The souls of small children are called ‘angelitos’ and they arrive earlier, on October 31st. The little one are given toys and sweets and parents light fireworks to guide the souls of their lost children. These celebrations also include visits to cemeteries and parades in honor of the dead. The Day of the Dead customs are recognized by the Catholic Church, but their Pagan origins are hard to ignore.

Bonfires were part of the Samhain celebrations (this is another of the four great Fire Festivals) in many areas. They were prepared during the day and lit at dusk on a hilltop, if possible. Celebrations were held round the fires and apples and nuts were roasted. This was a time when the spirits were nearby and the events of the coming year could be foretold. Marked stones were cast into the fire and the prophecies made according to the condition of the stones in the morning. If a stone could not be found the next day, it was believed that the person would soon die. These fires were believed to consume all the miseries of the year gone by, and leave the people free to make a fresh start for the New Year.

Often, an effigy was burnt in the fire, representing any malevolent forces which might have been causing ill to the community. This effigy was called ‘The Hag’. In recent centuries, it has come to be called ‘The Witch’. Why did they change the effigy’s name to ‘Witch’? Because, during the Burning Times, Samhain was thought to be the best time to burn the real thing!

It was felt that Witches, who were well hidden through the rest of the year, would venture out of hiding for this, the most important gathering of the year. (At Samhain, they might be able to get aid from the spirits of the dead in handling their many problems, or throw those problems into a bonfire to be consumed.) Therefore, this was the time to burn Witches, because it was the time to FIND Witches. (And there were nice, ready-made fires, too!)

We queried a friend in England as to whether the bonfire custom existed anywhere, today. She replied:

“In a village with which I am familiar, picture this event. The celebrations have of course been moved to November 5th, and called Bonfire Night or Guy Fawkes Night, but a bonfire is built, as it used to be. It is composed of anything for which the villagers have no further use, broken equipment, tree prunings, ancient furniture – just about anything which will burn. The children carry lanterns made from hollowed out swedes (no pumpkins here!!) There is a fireworks display, after which they all go into the village hall for the feast. What do they eat? Sausages, stew, potatoes, parkin (cake), toffee and apples. The sausages and stew contain meat which could not be preserved; the stew contains offerings from various farmers who have grown swedes (rutabagas), carrots etc. The ladies in the village cook potatoes (also donated by the farmers) in their skins and bring them to the hall. Everyone talks to everyone else; those who have not met socially for a long time get caught up on family news, and tell stories about what has happened to them during the year. After the feast, people wander to the fire, and can be seen quietly gazing into it What are they seeing? Pictures? Do these pictures mean anything to them?”

“Isn’t this familiar? The bonfire and fireworks to send help to the declining sun, the feast, the stories, divination in the fire, and the mutual support and co-operation. We still hold parties, where we bob for apples, roast chestnuts, tell ghost stories and sing the old songs. Food and wine is left on the hearth for our unseen kinsfolk, past, present or future!”

Guy Fawkes Night is a commemoration of the famous ‘Gunpowder Plot’ which occurred on November 5, 1605. According to Trefor Owen (‘Welsh Folk Customs’), the Samhain festivities were moved to this date in 1758. He refers to a letter, written by William Morris in that year, stating that this year the bonfires and nut-burning had moved to the new date, for the first time. November 5th is in keeping with this cross-quarter Festival, because if you divide the year between the Equinox and the Solstice, you will come up with something closer to the 5th than to the 31st or the 1st. It seems to us that Samhain in England isn’t gone, it’s just wearing a bit of a disguise!

In Wales, this night was ‘Nos Galan gaeaf’ or ‘Calan gaeaf’, (the eve of the Winter Kalend) and the feast was ‘ffest y wrach’, (The Hag’s Feast). As the fires burnt low, people would call out ‘Home! Home! Let each try to be first! May The Tail-less Black Sow take the hindmost’, and run as fast as they could for the safety of their homes. Not only would the good spirits aid them, but bad ones would harass them, and they felt safe only as long as the fire burned. The ancient Celts saw this as a very dangerous time of year, indeed, when all manner of spirits ran rampant. Their rituals served to protect them, as well as aid them.

Samhain, when people felt a closeness to the Otherworld, was seen as a time for divination of all sorts. Many of these activities can be tried in our celebrations today. One tradition, from Merioneth, in Wales, is the ‘mash of nine sorts’. The ingredients for this dish are potatoes, carrots, turnips, peas, parsnips, leeks, pepper, salt and enough milk to bring it to a good consistency. A wedding ring is carefully hidden in the mash. All participants stand around it, spoons in hand, and eat. The fortunate person who finds the ring will be first to marry and will have good fortune.

Another divination game requires placing three bowls on a table. One is filled with clear water, one with cloudy water and one with earth (or with nothing at all). A contestant is then blindfolded and asked to dip his or her hands into one of the bowls. A prophecy is based on the choice. The clear water signifies success throughout life, the cloudy water means marriage, followed by strife and the other bowl signifies death before marriage. We would think that other meanings could be applied to the choices, though.

Of course, apples are involved in many of the traditional Samhain games. Did you know that both bobbing for apples in a tub and catching an apple suspended from a string are very old traditions? Here’s another form of this game, but look out, it won’t be easy. A stick is suspended from the ceiling with a string tied around the middle. An apple is attached to one end of the stick and a lit candle to the other. Spin the string so both items are rotating, then try to catch the apple in your teeth. Good luck!

Samhain is also known as ‘Nutcrack Night’ in parts of England, because of the many divination games using nuts. One that is simple is to toss a nut into the fire and see how it burns. If it burns brightly, the thrower’s wish will come true. If not, it won’t. Another idea is to see how many nuts can be picked up in one hand. An even number indicates a faithful love, an odd number is betrayal.

On Okinawa, an Asian island, this is the time of Obun, an Ancestors Worship Festival. The Okinawans prepare special packets consisting of ‘Spirit Yen’ (incense wrapped in white rice paper) and put them out with fruits and flowers to honor their ancestors. The Spirit Yen is burnt as an offering at the end of the celebration.

Samhain is a Festival that has survived ’round the world. Call it by any name you like, but whether you bob for apples, practice some of the many forms of divination, light a fire (or just a candle) or spend the evening greeting costumed children at the door, you are celebrating in The Old Ways. Celebrate with your Honored Dead and have a wonderful Samhain (and May The Tail-less Black Sow take the hind-most!).

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How to Recognize the Indigo Child

How to Recognize the Indigo Child

The Indigo Child is recognizable by his or her aura and by certain other traits, according to The Indigo Children website (owned by Kryon Writings).

They come into the world with a feeling of royalty (and often act like it)

They have a feeling of “deserving to be here,” and are surprised when others don’t share that.

Self-worth is not a big issue. They often tell the parents “who they are.”

 They have difficulty with absolute authority (authority without explanation or choice).

They simply will not do certain things; for example, waiting in line is difficult for them.

They get frustrated with systems that are ritually oriented and don’t require creative thought.

They often see better ways of doing things, both at home and in school, which makes them seem like “system busters” (nonconforming to any system).

They seem antisocial unless they are with their own kind. If there are no others of like consciousness around them, they often turn inward, feeling like no other human understands them. School is often extremely difficult for them socially.

They will not respond to “guilt” discipline (“Wait till your father gets home and finds out what you did”).

They are not shy in letting you know what they need.

(For some examples of a few parents in the Houston area who have identified their children as Indigos, see Krider 2002. The children don’t necessarily agree with the parents’ assessments.)

One can understand why many parents would not want their child to be labeled as ADD or ADHD. The label implies imperfection. Some may even take it to mean the child is “damaged.” Specifically, it means your child’s behavior is due to a neuro-biological condition. To some, this is the same as having a malfunctioning brain or a mental disorder. Understandably, emotions run high here. Treatment of children with problems is a hot button issue for the mass media, attack lawyers, talk show hosts, columnists, and others not known for their role in clarifying complicated scientific or medical matters. Many jump on the bandwagon and attack the drug industry and psychiatrists for overdrugging our children. Opposition is fruitless, because few will listen to those who would defend those who “abuse” children. Fewer still will bother to investigate to see whether the critics know what they are talking about.

The National Institute of Mental Health says that ADHD is the most commonly diagnosed childhood disorder. It affects some 3 to 5 percent of all school-age children. (David Kaiser says 10% of school-age children have been diagnosed with ADD/ADHD and that in some parts of the country 50% of the children are so diagnosed.) With so many children affected, it should be easy to find cases of misdiagnosis, inappropriate treatment, adverse drug reaction, and so on. Anecdotes of abuse, however, should not substitute for scientific studies or clinical observations by the professionals who treat these children on a daily basis. But we all know that an anecdote told on Oprah or Larry King Live by Arianna Huffington or Hilary Clinton is much more powerful than a controlled scientific study. Yet, those scientific studies must be done. Ritalin has been around since 1950, yet there are no long-term  studies I am aware of that show it is safe, effective, or better than any alternative. The support for its prescription comes mostly from those in the trenches, the practitioners who treat the millions of children and adults with AD/HD. Support also comes from Ritalin’s manufacturer, New Jersey-based Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp., which says the drug “has been used safely and effectively in the treatment of millions of ADHD patients for over 40 years,” attested by the results of 170 studies (Donohue). However, Novartis is hardly a disinterested party.

In any case, no matter how many long-term studies are done that find nothing spectacularly wrong with Ritalin, there will always be the possibility that the next one will find something horrible. For example, “researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, say their study, tracking ADHD youths into adulthood, has found a connection between Ritalin use and later abuse of tobacco, cocaine and other stimulants” (Donohue 2000). Is the connection strong enough to warrant worry? How can we be sure it wasn’t the ADHD, rather than the Ritalin, that was the main basis for the connection?

The hype and near-hysteria surrounding the use of Ritalin has contributed to an atmosphere that makes it possible for a book like Indigo Children to be taken seriously. Given the choice, who wouldn’t rather believe their children are special and chosen for some high mission rather than that they have a brain disorder? 

Source:

the Skeptic’s Dictionary

 

How To Hold a Family Abundance Rite for Beltane

How To Hold a Family Abundance Rite for Beltane

By , About.com

 

Beltane is a celebration of fertility, and despite that it’s a perfectly natural aspect of the human existence, let’s face it — some parents may not always be comfortable discussing the erect phallus of the god or the open womb of the goddess with their young children. However, in addition to sexual fertility, the Beltane sabbat is also about abundance, in many forms. Don’t just focus on material gains — it’s about the growth of the earth and its bounty, and it’s about increasing your own spiritual and emotional wealth.

This family ritual is one that you can easily include children in. Hold it at night, if possible. Before beginning, prepare your family’s evening meal. Include spring foods, such as a light salad, fresh fruit, or breads. Set the table as you normally would, and go outside. For this ritual, you’ll need the following:

  • A small flower pot for each person in the family
  • A bowl of dirt or potting soil
  • Seeds for your favorite herbs or flowers
  • A cup of water
  • A small fire
  • A piece of paper for each person in the family

Go out in your yard with the entire family — be sure you have a small table or other flat surface you can use as an altar. For the fire, you can either build a large one in your yard, or if space is an issue, use a table-top brazier. A small cast iron pot is perfect for this purpose. You may want to decorate your altar space beforehand with symbols of the season. If your tradition requires you to cast a circle, do so now.

The oldest person in the family should lead the ritual. Begin by saying:

Welcome, spring!
The light has returned, and life has come back to the earth.
The soil is dark and full of energy,

so this evening we plant our seeds.
They will lie in the soil, taking root and growing,
until the time has come for them to meet the sun.
As we plant these seeds, we give thanks to the earth
for its strength and life-bringing gifts.

Each person fills their pot with soil. You can either pass the bowl of dirt around, or if you have small children, just let each approach the altar or table. If there are a number of people participating, you may want to sing a chant as everyone fills their pot. A good chant for this is:

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

repeated multiple times, or sung as a round-robin.

Once everyone has filled their pot with soil, pass out the seeds. Say:

Tiny seeds, containing life!
They travel upon the wind and bring to us abundance.
Flowers, herbs, vegetables, fruit…
all the bounty of the earth.
We give thanks to the seeds,
for the gifts that are to come in the harvest season.

Each person should push their seeds down into the soil. Older participants can help smaller children with this. Finally, pass around the cup of water. Say:

Water, cool and life-giving!
Bringing power to these seeds,
and moistening this fertile soil.
We give thanks to the water,
for allowing life to bloom once more.

When each person has finished potting their seeds, set the flower pots on the altar or table. Give each participant a small piece of paper and something to write with. Say:

Tonight we plant seeds in the earth,
but Beltane is a time in which many things can grow.
Tonight we plant seeds in our hearts and souls,
for other things we wish to see blossom.
We plant the seeds of love, of wisdom, of happiness.
We dig deep, and begin a crop of harmony, balance, and joy.
We add water to bring life and abundance of all kinds into our homes.
We offer our wishes into the fire, to carry them out to the Universe.

Each person should write on their paper something they wish to see blooming in their own life — harmony, happiness, financial security, strong relationships, healing, etc. For small children, it may be something very simple — even if your first-grader writes down that he wants a pony, don’t discourage anyone’s wishes. After each person has written their wish down, they approach the fire one at a time and cast the paper into the flames (help little ones with this part, just in the interest of safety).

When everyone has placed their wishes into the fire, take a few moments and think about the meaning of Beltane. Think about the things you want to see bloom and grow in your own life, in both the material and the non-physical realm. When everyone is ready, end the ritual. You may wish to follow the ceremony with another Beltane festivity, such as a Maypole Dance, or the traditional cakes and ale.

Elder’s Meditation of the Day – April 2

Elder’s Meditation of the Day – April 2

“With children we always have to think about seven generations to come but yet unborn.”

–Janice Sundown Hattet, SENECA

What we do today will effect the children seven generations form now. How we treat the Mother Earth will affect the children yet to be born. If we poison the water today, our children’s children will be affected by the decision we made. Our children are the gateway to the future. Let us conscientiously think about the children and the seven generations to come.

My Creator, I thank you for my ancestors, seven generations ago.

A Little Humor for Your Day – ‘Your Getting Old When…’

Your Getting Old When. . .

You know you’re getting older when…
Everything that works hurts, and what doesn’t hurt doesn’t work.
You feel like the morning after, and you haven’t been anywhere.
Your little black book only contains names ending in M.D.
Your children are beginning to look middle-aged.
Your mind makes contracts your body can’t keep.
You look forward to a dull evening.
Your knees buckle and your belt won’t.
Your back goes out more than you do.
You sink your teeth into a steak, and they stay there.
You know all the answers, but nobody asks the questions.

AhaJokes.com

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Pagan Parenting: Combating the Violence of the World Today

Pagan Parenting: Combating the Violence of the World Today

Author:   Crystal Blanton   

There are violence, crime, pain, drugs and death all around us. It has become a part of society and we have begun the process of normalizing it into our everyday world.

The video games, music videos and songs that depict violence are just unbelievable. So, if you are anything like me, as a parent there is a certain amount of anxiety you carry when thinking of your kids in the “real” world.

You may be thinking, “What does this have to do with Paganism?” Well, it has everything to do with paganism and living a spiritual path. We, as adults, know we make different and make better decisions when we are rooted in a spiritual path. Why do we automatically assume that kids are so different from us?

Granted, children don’t have the life skills and experiences we do. Children do not have the critical thinking skills some adults have, and notice I did say some.

Children are learning how to operate in the world with every passing moment. Sometimes, in the world of an adult where things seem to move so fast, we forget the true path of a kid and that path is all about learning the life skills to live and make decisions. More often than not, it is about learning to recognize choices and make better choices.

With those thoughts at the forefront of our minds, let’s go back and revisit the original thought. As humans, children and adults alike, we make different and better decisions when we are rooted in a spiritual path.

So by putting that concept into the proper perspective, the time for action is now.

The time is now to teach our children responsibility and accountability, not by preaching but by example. Remember, attraction rather than promotion and we can always show better than we can “tell”.

The time is now for spiritual knowledge. Broaden their minds; kids can never have too much knowledge or understanding of the world that is beyond this world.

The time is now to teach our kids structure. We cannot pretend that our kids will automatically understand that the world is based on rules, some real and some invisible. If we don’t provide our kids structure, how will they learn how to exist in the world?

The time is now to teach our kids to respect life and everything in it. They must begin the long process of understanding that we are connected to everything and everything is connected to us. Understanding this principle helps to take away the false illusion that we are not affecting others, the world or ourselves with our attentions.

The time is now to teach our kids how to think. Children are accustomed to reacting to life instead of thinking things through and evaluating consequences. This is a skill many adults didn’t learn and they are still suffering the effects of bad choices made in the past and in the present.

The time is now to have open and honest communication with our children about life.
We think we can save our kids from the reality of the world but, when our kids don’t get the answers from us, they are looking from the answers from others. And sometimes the places our kids look for answers is the last place we would wish.

The time is now to teach our kids that they create their own reality. Kids often immediately think life is horrible or unfair when things don’t go their way. We all need to understand life is hard but I chose how I am going to deal with it or what feelings I am going to accept or adopt. How I chose to look at life will dictate how I feel about my life. There are people who have much less in life than I do and they wake up happy in the morning because they actually opened their eyes to another day. Wow, what a harsh realization at how many of us are self-centered and don’t appreciate our blessings. Guess what? We pass that along to our kids.

The time is now to teach our kids that we cannot control other people’s thoughts or actions. We just have to learn to live in spite of the outside world. The building of coping and life skills through spiritual foundation can be invaluable to a child, especially since most children feel like their power resides in the choices of others

With all of that in mind, again let’s look at the mission of this article. We cannot actually remove our children from the violence in the world today because, no matter how far away we move, and violence is a part of our everyday life. But we can give our kids the tools to understand life in a way that doesn’t promote violence and destruction.

Let’s stop acting like it is ok that our kids are exposed to senseless violence in movies and TV. I am not promoting censorship but our attitudes will help dictate how our children see these things. If we were acting like it is ok or “cool” then why wouldn’t we think our kids would think the same thing?

Ask yourself what things are you lenient with that you should tighten up on and what things should you give more freedoms? What are you teaching your children when you are not mentally and spiritually present?

Sit with yourself and a piece of paper and think of some of the discussion topics that you feel you need to start opening the lines of communication around, and then just start. Start talking about the values of your faith and what is means to them. Talk about almost anything to help forge the connection between you as the parent and the supporter of spiritual development. Don’t get stuck on how to do this or what to say. Sometimes it isn’t about the how but just to do. And don’t forget to incorporate spirituality into almost everything.

Just imagine if all parents started doing the same.

Blessed Be!!

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The First Yule

The First Yule

Author:   Serenity Starbright Dilsworth (Owl)    

Once upon a time … before your mother was born … and before her mother was born …and even before your mother’s mother was born …. when the world was new and the Earth and the Sun gave birth to the first beings …the very first people … the very first animals … and the very first plants.

It was the season of Spring, which celebrates new life, and the Sun shone warm and smiled down upon the world from his lofty perch in the sky while Earth took pride in all her newborns and nurtured them tenderly and with love. It was a time of great joy!

The Moon waxed and waned and traveled the night skies and Earth’s Children grew healthy and strong through the warm Summer season. They laughed and worked, played and danced and The Earth and Sun watched over them lovingly.

Then came the Autumn season …and the Earth began to sleep longer with every passing day. She grew so tired and was not able to feed her children any longer. She did not have enough strength to bring forth new life. High overhead … the Sun grew distant … and took longer and longer to return each morning. The nights grew longer and cold winds replaced the gentle breezes of the Summer.

Then …one very cold day …the Earth went to sleep. She laid her head down upon a pile of fallen leaves and nestled under a pure white blanket of snow. And she slept … and she slept … and she slept and nothing the Children could do would disturb her Winter slumber. The children called and called to her, but she did not wake up.

The children looked to the skies for advice and comfort from the Sun … but he was so distant that he could no longer be seen at all …and the children were frightened and sad … it was the Longest Night they had ever known.

The people wept and wondered what would happen to them now for it was bitterly cold and the bounty from Spring and Summer was depleting. They were afraid that they would starve and freeze with Father Sun so far away and Mother Earth sleeping.

They went to the Moon … sister to the Sun … with all their concerns and worries … entreating her to have the Sun return and Moon listened quietly.

The Moon gazed upon the children and advised them gently:” Do not fear little ones … go climb the tallest of trees and the highest of mountains … turn your voices to the sky and yule a mighty song to reach the Sun.”

The children had never heard of a yule or a song. (In the Ancient Tongue, to yule means to yell or yodel … to call out loudly in song.) And they asked Moon to explain what it is because they very much wanted to reach the Sun in hopes he could wake the Earth.

The Moon smiled gently. “Look deep within yourselves and find your magick …find that thing that makes you the special person you are … find the thing that brings you joy …take your dreams and your desires … your hopes and your love … and weave all of that together into sound.”

So the children climbed the tallest trees and the highest mountains and closed their eyes to find the magick within them …they brought forth their hopes, their dreams, their joys and their love and when they opened their mouths … their voices rang across the skies in a symphony or harmony and the Sun heard them …he turned and began his journey back … the better to hear this glorious sound.

The closer he came … the more his warmth spread across the Earth … and the Earth smiled in her sleep and dreamt of Spring… The Wheel turned and hope and joy spread amongst the children.

And that …dear children …is the story of the first Yule.

This is an old story that has been told and retold many times. It is one I used to tell at Winter Solstice in the coven I belonged to when I lived in New England. I put it into writing so that the story may be preserved and enjoyed by others and it is my hope that folks will tell the tale to their children who in turn will eventually tell it to their children.

Yule is a time of joy, of hope, of dreams and wishes. On the Longest Night, it is good to gather with those that we love and cherish and stand upon the Earth as she slumbers and call out to the Sun in mighty song to herald his return and the fulfillment of dreams and wishes.

Rowan Pendragon explains: The winter solstice occurs when the Earth is tilted on its axis farthest away from the sun. This means that when the northern half of the Earth is pointed away from the sun at winter solstice then the southern part of the Earth is going to be tilted closest to the sun. This is why when we are celebrating winter solstice in the northern hemispheres our Pagan friends “down under” are celebrating summer solstice. We often celebrate Yule and the solstice on either December 20th or 21st but the fact is the date varies each year since the holiday is based on an astronomical event; when the event occurs is when the holiday takes place.

When the winter solstice comes we experiences the longest night of the year and the shortest day of light. On the night of Yule we first honor the death of the God and the decline of the sun, something that has been slowly happening from the day after the summer solstice. After we make this honoring we then begin to work acts of sympathetic magick to encourage the sun’s return and to aid the Goddess in her long night of labor as she prepares to birth the Son, the Child of Light, the Young God.

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Footnotes:
Day 1 of Yule – Preparing for Yule 2011 by Rowan Pendragon
Day 7 of Yule – The Return of The Light by Rowan Pendragon

Let’s Look At The Folklore About Santa Claus

Folklore of Santa

Santa is a folk figure with multicultural roots. He embodies characteristics of Saturn (Roman agricultural god), Cronos (Greek god, also known as Father Time), the Holly King (Celtic god of the dying year), Father Ice/Grandfather Frost (Russian winter god), Odin/Wotan (Scandinavian/Teutonic All-Father who rides the sky on an eight-legged horse), Frey (Norse fertility god), the Tomte (a Norse Land Spirit known for giving gifts to children at this time of year), and Thor (Norse sky god who rides the sky in a chariot drawn by goats). Julbock or Julbukk, the Yule goat, from Sweden and Norway, had his beginnings as carrier for the god Thor. Now he carries the Yule elf when he makes his rounds to deliver presents and receive his offering of porridge.

When Early Christians co-opted the Yule holiday, they replaced the ancient Holly King with religious figures like St. Nicholas, who was said to live in Myra (Turkey) in about 300 A.D. Born an only child of a wealthy family, he was orphaned at an early age when both parents died of the plague. He grew up in a monastery and at the age of 17 became one of the youngest priests ever. Many stories are told of his generosity as he gave his wealth away in the form of gifts to those in need, especially children. Legends tell of him either dropping bags of gold down chimneys or throwing the bags through the windows where they landed in the stockings hung from the fireplace to dry. Some years later Nicholas became a bishop–hence the bishop’s hat or miter, long flowing gown, white beard and red cape.

When the Reformation took place, the new Protestants no longer desired St. Nicholas as their gift-giver as he was too closely tied to the Catholic Church. Therefore, each country or region developed their own gift-giver. In France he was known as Pare Noel. In England he was Father Christmas (always depicted with sprigs of holly, ivy, or mistletoe). Germany knew him as Weihnachtsmann (Christmas man). When the communists took over in Russia and outlawed Christianity, the Russians began to call him Grandfather Frost, who wore blue instead of the traditional red. To the Dutch, he was Sinterklaas (which eventually was mispronounced in America and became Santa Claus). La Befana, a kindly witch, rides a broomstick down the chimney to deliver toys into the stockings of Italian children. These Santas were arrayed in every color of the rainbow–sometimes even in black. But they all had long white beards and carried gifts for the children.

All of these Santas, however, never stray far from his earliest beginnings as god of the waning year. As witches, we reclaim Santa’s Pagan heritage.

Daily OM for Nov. 4th – Learned Self-reliance

Learned Self-reliance

The Negative Effects of Spoiling Children

by Madisyn Taylor

When children are spoiled we do them a great disservice because they are not being allowed to earn and learn.

Parents are moved by instinct to love, nurture, and provide for their offspring. Because our children are so much a part of us, we want to see them blissfully happy. Also, our own desire to be liked, materialist pressures, and a fervent wish that our c

hildren have everything we lacked as youngsters can prompt us to spoil them. However, while it might seem that buying your child expensive gifts will give them fond memories of childhood or that you can heal your emotional wounds by doting on your sons and daughters, you may be unconsciously interfering with your children’s evolutional development. One of the most precious gifts you can grant your children is the true independence they gain when they learn to earn what they covet and become stewards of their own happiness. Try allowing your children to experience life to the fullest. Let them work and earn what they want. When the time comes for them to go to college and enter the workforce, you will have the confidence that you have raised a child that can both enter and contribute to society confidently.

When children are not afforded the opportunity to explore self-reliance, to understand that with possession comes price, and to fulfill their own needs, they develop a sense of entitlement that blinds them to the necessity of hard work and the needs of others. We may spoil children because giving them gifts is pleasurable. Or we may want to avoid conflict out of fear that our children won’t love us. Yet children who are given acceptance, love, and affection in abundance are often kinder, more charitable, and more responsible than those whose parents accede to their every material demand. They develop a strong sense of self that stretches beyond possessions and the approval of their peers, and as adults they understand that each individual is responsible for building the life they desire. If you find yourself giving in to your child’s every whim, ask yourself why. You may discover that you are trying to answer for what you feel is lacking in your own life.

Rearing your children to respect the value of money and self-sufficiency as they grow from infants to young adults is a challenging but rewarding process. It can be difficult to watch a child struggle to meet a personal goal yet wonderful to be by their side as they achieve it. Your choice not to spoil your children will bless you with more opportunities to show them understanding and compassion and to be fully present with them as they journey toward adulthood.

The Daily OM

The Witches Magick for Oct. 22nd – Fertility Spell

sam7

I have had several individuals write for help with fertility. So I decided to post a spell which will be helpful for conception. Remember magick might not be the cure to infertility, I would also advice you to seek a medical doctor for help.

Spell For Fertility

Items You Will Need:

Man or Woman

Blanket (pink or blue light colored)

Paper

Pen (Permanent Black)

Silver Cup

Wooden Spoon

3 Candles (Red, White, and Blue)

Concentration

Holy Water

Dried Rose Petals

Lighter

Bronze Pitcher

Get your significant other in one room with you. In complete silence take out either a pink blanket symbolizing a girl baby or a blue blanket symbolizing a boy baby. Take your permanent black pen and draw a pentagram. Put the pentagram in the middle of the blanket, then put the silver cup on top of it. Take the pen and let the woman write her name first on the paper with the pentagram on it. Then the man must take the pen and write his name on the paper. Writing the name on the pentagram will have the spiritual power know the couple that wants the baby. Take out all three candles and put them in a line to the right side of the couple. Do not put the candles on the blanket unless you have a metal plate for the candles to be put on. Use the lighter to light the candles. Take the holy water and pour it in the silver glass without spilling a drop. Let the woman take the rose petals and crunch it up until it is just crumbs of rose petals. After the petals are crunched put them in the silver cup. Then the man must take the wooden spoon and mix the dried rose petals in the holy water until the rose petals are covered in water. The the man with his own hands must take the holy water and lather it on the woman’s stomach. The woman will then concentrate on the pentagram sign. As the man rubs it on the woman’s stomach he too must think of the pentagram sign. After five minutes the woman will pull down her shirt covering her belly. The man and woman must join hands, even though the man’s hands are wet, and chant these words:

“Baby Baby come to me,
Baby Baby Mote it be.
Goddess will give you life with me,
Baby Baby mote it be.
Life with you will be so good,
playing games and building wood.
You’ll be ours and you will see,
Baby Baby mote it be.”

After saying this once, the woman will become pregnant in a matter of 24 hours. This spell is for couples who cannot have babies or for couples who don’t want to go through sexual intercourse.