Seasons of the Witch – Legends and Lore, Ancient Holidays And Some Not So Ancient!

the pink dragon

Seasons of the Witch – Legends and Lore, Ancient Holidays And Some Not So Ancient!

 

Today Is …

Egyptian: Anubis Ceremony

Midsummer Eve (old calendar) ~ This is a traditional day for a man and a woman to make their relationship official. It was also a night for bonfires throughout the ancient world, and still to this day. In Ireland there were celebrations for the Faery Goddess Aine, who inspired lots of good things. At night by torchlight, the peasantry would invoke Aine and run through the fields and cattle to purify them of evil in hopes for a good harvest. Other areas have their own celebrations of Earth Mothers.

Britain: Traditional Midsummer. Although Midsummer is celebrated by most Pagans worldwide on the eve and day of the actual Solstice, Britain traditionally celebrates on June 23rd. In the North it is the time of the midnight sun.

In parts of Ireland and Great Britain, Pagans celebrate an annual festival on this date called the Day of Cu Chulainn. It is dedicated to the legendary Irish folk hero of the same name and to the ancient Pagan fertility god known as the Green Man.

Asatru: Sommerblot. The Midsummer Festival is a century-old tradition in Scandinavia, celebrating the earth, summer, and the longest day of sunlight – the Summer Solstice.

Saint John’s Eve. This night is a traditional time for Witches to gather herbs for spells and love potions, for it is believed that the magickal properties of plants are at their peak on this mystical night.

Remember The Ancient Ways and Keep Them Holy!

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Courtesy of GrannyMoonsMorningFeast

 

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Celebrating Other Spirituality 365 Days a Year – Midsummer Eve/Summer Solstice


Litha Comments & Graphics
June 20, 21, and 22

Midsummer Eve/Summer Solstice

The Summer Solstice is celebrated between June 20 and June 22—the longest day and shortest night of the year. The festival of Midsummer venerates the potential of the life-sustaining powers of fire and water, forces that were vital to our ancestors’ survival. It was believed that fire would help keep the sun alive and that the blessing of water wells would continue their flow to nurture the parched earth. Without sun and water, there would be no crops and all would perish.

One of the most popular customs that grew out of the early fertility rites was that of jumping or leaping over Midsummer bonfires. The idea being, the higher one jumped, the higher the crops would grow.

Another symbol that was popularized at this time was the Wheel. The turning of the Wheel represented the turning or progression of the seasons. Wheels decorated with brightly colored ribbons and fresh flowers. Lighted candles were placed on them, and then they were set afloat on the lakes and rivers.

Midsummer Eve and Midsummer Night are genuinely thought to be particularly uncanny times. It was reasoned that certain plants were endowed with magickal properties on this night, that, if gathered before sunrise, could be used for protection against all evil spirits and forces.

With the sun at its zenith, Midsummer was, and still is, a time for marriages, family celebrations, and coming-of-age parties.

Symbolically, Midsummer is the time to nurture those goals you made at the beginning of the year as you reflect on the progress you made toward bringing them into fruition.

A Midsummer Night’s Lore

by Melanie Fire Salamander

Cinquefoil, campion, lupine and foxglove nod on your doorstep; Nutka rose, salal bells, starflower and bleeding-heart hide in the woods, fully green now. Litha has come, longest day of the year, height of the sun. Of old, in Europe, Litha was the height too of pagan celebrations, the most important and widely honored of annual festivals.

Fire, love and magick wreathe ’round this time. As on Beltaine in Ireland, across Europe people of old leaped fires for fertility and luck on Midsummer Day, or on the night before, Midsummer Eve, according to Funk and Wagnall’s Standard Dictionary of Folklore, Mythology and Legend.Farmers drove their cattle through the flames or smoke or ran with burning coals across the cattle pens. In the Scottish Highlands, herders circumnabulated their sheep with torches lit at the Midsummer fire.

People took burning brands around their fields also to ensure fertility, and in Ireland threw them into gardens and potato fields. Ashes from the fire were mixed with seeds yet to plant. In parts of England country folk thought the apple crop would fail if they didn’t light the Midsummer fires. People relit their house fires from the Midsummer bonfire, in celebration hurled flaming disks heavenward and rolled flaming wheels downhill, burning circles that hailed the sun at zenith.

Midsummer, too, was a lovers’ festival. Lovers clasped hands over the bonfire, tossed flowers across to each other, leaped the flames together. Those who wanted lovers performed love divination. In Scandinavia, girls laid bunches of flowers under their pillows on Midsummer Eve to induce dreams of love and ensure them coming true. In England, it was said if an unmarried girl fasted on Midsummer Eve and at midnight set her table with a clean cloth, bread, cheese and ale, then left her yard door open and waited, the boy she would marry, or his spirit, would come in and feast with her.

Magick crowns Midsummer. Divining rods cut on this night are more infallible, dreams more likely to come true. Dew gathered Midsummer Eve restores sight. Fern, which confers invisibility, was said to bloom at midnight on Midsummer Eve and is best picked then. Indeed, any magickal plants plucked on Midsummer Eve at midnight are doubly efficacious and keep better. You’d pick certain magickal herbs, namely St. Johnswort, hawkweed, vervain, orpine, mullein, wormwood and mistletoe, at midnight on Midsummer Eve or noon Midsummer Day, to use as a charm to protect your house from fire and lightning, your family from disease, negative witchcraft and disaster. A pagan gardener might consider cultivating some or all of these; it’s not too late to buy at herb-oriented nurseries, the Herbfarm outside Fall City the chief of these and a wonderful place to visit, if a tad pricey. Whichever of these herbs you find, a gentle snip into a cloth, a spell whispered over, and you have a charm you can consecrate in the height of the sun.

In northern Europe, the Wild Hunt was often seen on Midsummer Eve, hallooing in the sky, in some districts led by Cernunnos. Midsummer’s Night by European tradition is a fairies’ night, and a witches’ night too. Rhiannon Ryall writes in West Country Wiccathat her coven, employing rites said to be handed down for centuries in England’s West Country, would on Midsummer Eve decorate their symbols of the God and Goddess with flowers, yellow for the God, white for the Goddess. The coven that night would draw down the moon into their high priestess, and at sunrise draw down the sun into their high priest. The priest and priestess then celebrated the Great Rite, known to the coven as the Rite of Joining or the Crossing Rite.

Some of Ryall’s elders called this ritual the Ridencrux Rite. They told how formerly in times of bad harvest or unseasonable weather, the High Priestess on the nights between the new and full moon would go to the nearest crossroads, wait for the first stranger traveling in the district. About this stranger the coven had done ritual beforehand, to ensure he embodied the God. The high priestess performed the Great Rite with him to make the next season’s sowing successful.

In the Middle Ages in Europe, traces of witchcraft and pagan remembrances were often linked with Midsummer. In Southern Estonia, Lutheran Church workers found a cottar’s wife accepting sacrifices on Midsummer Day, Juhan Kahk writes in Early Modern European Witchcraft: Centres and Peripheries, edited by Bengt Ankarloo and Gustave Henningsen. Likewise, on Midsummer Night in 1667, in Estonia’s Maarja-Magdaleena parish, peasants met at the country manor of Colonel Griefenspeer to perform a ritual to cure illnesses.

In Denmark, writes Jens Christian V. Johansen in another Early Modern European Witchcraft chapter, medieval witches were said to gather on Midsummer Day, and in Ribe on Midsummer Night. Inquisitors in the Middle Ages often said witches met on Corpus Christi, which some years fell close to Midsummer Eve, according to Witchcraft in the Middle Ages, by Jeffrey Burton Russell. The inquisitors explained witches chose the date to mock a central Christian festival, but Corpus Christi is no more important than a number of other Christian holidays, and it falls near a day traditionally associated with pagan worship. Coincidence? Probably not.

Anciently, pagans and witches hallowed Midsummer. Some burned for their right to observe their rites; we need not. But we can remember the past. In solidarity with those burned, we can collect our herbs at midnight; we can burn our bonfires and hail the sun.

A Smattering of Solistice Spells

by Melanie Fire Salamander

As a pagan, you may well light a  bonfire Midsummer night and jump it,  for Litha is a fire festival. Likewise, you  may stay up to greet the Midsummer  dawn.

If you do, keep a pair of garden  shears handy. Midsummer’s Eve at midnight, Midsummer’s Day at dawn and Midsummer noon are prime times to collect plants sacred to the sun or special  to the fey. In fact, any magickal herb  plucked at Midsummer is said to prove  doubly effective and keep better. Divining rods cut on Midsummer’s Eve are  said to be more infallible, too. You can  charge your charms, depending on their  purpose, at midnight, noon or in dawn’s  first light.

Charms traditional at Litha include those for courage, dream divination, fertility, invisibility, love, luck, protection, wealth, the restoration of sight and the ability to see the fey. Midsummer is a fey time, both by tradition and observation. The scent of the air is thick, green and juicy; it’s lost its spring astringency and is simply lush. The whole world is stretching its limbs and frolicking. The fey are big on that.

Especially for charms of love, gardening and magickal abilities, the fey are  a great help in herb collecting. In exchange, they like gifts of milk and honey,  cookies, sweet liqueurs, or any sweet  food, drink or liquor. They also like  baubles, particularly pretty or shiny. Or  cold hard cash — but in coin, not paper,  and it’s best if shiny.

To stay in good with the fey and the  herbs you collect from, leave enough of  the plant or other plants of the type that  the herb survives in the spot collected  from. Remember too to always ask the  plant before taking a cutting, and to wait  for an answer. A quid pro quo usually  works: a shiny dime, some fertilizer, or  a bit of your hair or clothing — whatever  you think the plant most wants.

Courage: Tuscans use erba della  paura (stachys)collected on  Midsummer’s Day as a wash against fear.  Steep the herb in hot but not boiling  water, then rinse the limbs with long  strokes moving outward from the torso.  You might substitute wood betony, a  relative more common in North America.

Dream divination: Litha is a good time for foretelling things in dreams. Specifically, to induce dreams of love and ensure them coming true, lay a bunch of flowers under your pillow on Midsummer Eve. That’s what the girls of old Scandinavia did.

For effective dream divination, remember to keep a notebook beside  your bed. At bedtime, relax, ground and  center, then clearly define your question.  Meditate on that question until it’s firm  in your mind, and assure yourself you  will remember your dream on waking.  Then go to sleep.

As soon as you wake, record your dream. One trick is to set an alarm clock so you’re wakened artificially, which can help dream recollection. Dreams dreamed on Midsummer’s Eve are said to be more likely to come true.

Fertility for your garden: For a lush garden, mix ashes from the Midsummer bonfire with any seeds yet to  plant. (You still have time to plant cosmos and a handful of fall-blooming flowers.) Likewise, for fertility sprinkle bonfire ashes on any flowers or vegetables  you have growing.

Fey charms: To see the fey, pick  flowers from a patch of wild thyme where  the little folk live and place the flowers  on your eyes. A four-leafed clover not  only grants you a wish but also, carried  in your pocket or a charm, gives you the  power to see fairies dancing in rings. A  good place to look is by oaks, said in  Germany to be a favorite place for fey  dances. To penetrate fey glamour, make  and wear an ointment including fourleaved clovers.

St. John’s wort, also known as ragwort, has a strong connection to the fey  and transportation. You might add it to  charms to travel quickly. The Irish call  the plant the fairy’s horse, and the fey  are said to ride it through the air. But  beware: The Manx say if you step on a  ragwort plant on Midsummer’s Eve after sunset, a fairy horse springs out of  the earth and carries you off till sunrise,  leaving you wherever you happen to be  when the sun comes up.

Invisibility: Collect fern seed on  Midsummer Eve for use in charms of  invisibility. To become invisible, wear or  swallow the seed (that is, the spores)  you have collected. Such spores also  put you under the protection of spirits.

The fern is said to bloom at midnight on Midsummer Eve, either a sapphire blue or golden yellow depending  on your source.

Love: Plant two orpine starts (Sedum telephium) together on Midsummer  Eve, one to represent yourself, one to  represent your lover. If one withers, the  person represented will die. But if both  flourish and grow leaning together, you  and your lover will marry.

Luck and human fertility: As at  Beltaine, leap the Midsummer bonfire for  fertility and luck.

Protection: Herbs traditional to  Litha (also know as St. John’s Day) in  England include St. John’s wort, hawkweed, orpine, vervain, mullein, wormwood and mistletoe. Plucked either at  Midsummer’s Eve on midnight or noon  Midsummer Day and hung in the house,  they protect it from fire and lightning.  Worn in a charm on your body, they protect you from disease, disaster and the  workings of your enemies.

Sight: Dew gathered Midsummer  Eve is said to restore sight.

Wealth: The fern also has a connection with wealth. Sprinkle fern seed  in your savings to keep them from decreasing. The alleged golden-yellow fern  flower, plucked on Midsummer Eve at  midnight, can be used as a dowsing tool  to lead to golden treasure. Alternatively  (the Russian version), you throw the  flower in the air, and it lands on buried  treasure. Or, if you’re Bohemian, you pluck  the flower and on the same Midsummer  Night climb a mountain with blossom in  hand. On the mountain, you’ll find gold  or have it revealed in a vision.

If you wait patiently till midnight on  Midsummer Eve and see no such golden  fern flower, perhaps invisibility will have  to do.