Seasons of the Witch – Legends and Lore, Ancient Holidays And Some Not So Ancient!
Today Is …
Swedish Midsummer Bride Festival. Celebrate the lusciousness of Summer with another.
Bawming the Thorn. On this date in Appleton, England, the boughs of a large and very old hawthorn tree are decorated with flowers, flags, and ribbons as part of a centuries-old Pagan tree-worship ritual known as Bawming the Thorn.
Papa Legba. This is a sacred day to Papa Legba, a powerful loa in the Voodoo religion. Originally a Dahomean sun god, Papa Legba is worshipped as the spirit-master of pathways and crossroads, and is the most important deity of the Vodoun pantheon.
Sts. Peter and Paul/Elegba – Midsummer and St Petertide are the favorite seasons for “rush-bearing”in England: rushes or new-mown hay are brought in to be laid on the floors of churches. In northwestern England, rushcarts with towering flower-bedecked loads of plaited rushes are the focus of processions.
Good Day to you, you merry men all
Come listen to our rhyme
For we would have you not forget
This is Midsummer time
So bring your rushes, bring your garlands
Roses, John’s Wort, Vervain too
Now is the time for our rejoicing
Come along Christians, come along do.
Bishop’s Castle Rushbearing Song, Shropshire
Photographer Jeffrey Bezom describes the way the festival is celebrated in Poroa de Varzim in Portugal where St Peter is honored as a fisherman. The houses are decorated with garlands of lights, nautical banners, tinfoil boats and colorful ribbons. Stages are trimmed with nets, oars and rigging for life-sized paper-mache Peters in fishing boats. At sunset, the townsfolk, dressed in black, march to the beat of drums, following an empty coffin draped with flowers and lace. Some carry candles and others poles topped with large realistic wax heads representing the beloved dead of the town. Onlookers strew their path with rushes and mint and thyme. Later, they drink green wine, run about with torches, dance around huge bonfires and jump through the flames, feast on fresh grilled sardines and set off fireworks.
Obviously this celebration has acquired some of the aspects of midsummer as well as acknowledging St Peter’s role as the gatekeeper of Heaven. He is often shown holding two crossed keys. The primula veris is also known as St Peter’s wort because it is said to resemble a bunch of keys. He is also associated with the yellow rattle and wall-barley which is called St Peter’s corn in Germany.
In the Vodou tradition, Elegba is honored on the same day since he is also a messenger between the two worlds.
This is another day for weather oracles. A French proverb says that if it rains on this day, it will rain for thirty more dangerous days. Folklorist Alexander Carmichael who collected folk customs from the Scottish Highlands and compiled them in a book called Carmina Gadelica records a saying used by fishermen to predict the weather from the winds on this day:
Wind from the west, fish and bread;
Wind from the north, cold and flaying;
Wind from the east, snow on the hills;
Wind from the south, fruit on the trees.
Blackburn, Bonnie and Leofranc, Holford-Strevens, The Oxford Book of Days, Oxford University Press, 2000
Kightly, Charles, The Perpetual Almanack of Folklore, Thames & Hudson 1987
Teish, Luisah, Jambalaya, Harper & Row 1985
NOTE: Because of the large number of ancient calendars, many in simultaneous use, as well as different ways of computing holy days (marked by the annual inundation, the solar year, the lunar month, the rising of key stars, and other celestial and terrestrial events), you may find these holy days celebrated a few days earlier or later at your local temple.
Remember The Ancient Ways and Keep Them Holy!
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Courtesy of GrannyMoonsMorningFeast