The 14th Day Before Yule – Halcyon Days begin
Halcyon Days begin – The Halcyon Days are the seven days before and the seven days after (or some say the seven days surrounding) the winter solstice, when the weather is supposed to be calm and storms never occur. The name comes from Greek myth, reported by both Ovid and Hyginus.
Alcyone was the daughter of Aeolus, and married Ceyx, son of Eosphorus, the Morning Star. They were very happy together but made the mistake of blasphemously calling each other Zeus and Hera. Not surprisingly, this made Zeus very angry and he threw a thunderbolt at Ceyx’s ship, as he was sailing to consult an oracle. Ceyx appeared to Alcyone as a ghost, and in grief, she threw herself into the sea. Out of compassion, the gods changed them into halcyon birds (kingfishers). During the Halcyon Days, Alcyone the kingfisher lays her eggs, and her father, the god of winds, ensures that they are safe. The Mediterranean is typically calm around the time of the winter solstice. The dried body of a kingfisher was used as a talisman against lightning.
Ember Days (moveable) -The Wednesday, Friday and Saturday after December 13th are Ember Days, when Catholics say special prayers for the clergy.
Rural Dionysion – The ancient Greeks celebrated this holiday around the time of the full moon in the month of Poseidon. Plutarch complained that the rustic festival he remembered from his youth, featuring a jar of wine, a vine, a goat, a basket of raisins and a depiction of a phallus had been replaced with an elaborate procession featuring gold vessels, decorated horses and people wearing costumes and masks. This was a time for revelry including bawdy songs and raucous game.
—Anna Franklin, Yule (The Eight Sabbats)
Pomona, Goddess of Apples
Pomona was a Roman Goddess who was the keeper of orchards and fruit trees. Unlike many other agricultural deities, Pomona is not associated with the harvest itself, but with the flourishing of fruit trees. She is usually portrayed bearing a cornucopia or a tray of blossoming fruit. She doesn’t appear to have had any Greek counterpart at all, and is uniquely Roman.
In Ovid’s writings, Pomona is a virginal wood nymph who rejected several suitors before finally marring Vertumnus – and the only reason she married him was because he disguised himself as an old woman, and then offered Pomona advice on who she should marry. Vertumnus turned out to be quite lusty, and so the two of them are responsible for the prolific nature of apple trees. Pomona doesn’t appear very often in mythology, but she does have a festival that she shares with her husband, celebrated on August 13.
Despite her being a rather obscure deity, Pomona’s likeness appears many times in classical art, including paintings by Ruben’s and Rembrandt, and a number of sculptures. She is typically represented as a lovely maiden with an armful of fruit and a pruning knife in one hand. In J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, Professor Sprout, the teacher of Herbology — the study of magical plants — is named Pomona.
The Wicca Book of Days for June 27
The Initium Aestatis – “Beginning of Summer” in Latin – was celebrated in ancient Rome on June 27. Although not much is known about the precise form that this summer festival took it is likely to have featured corn in some way, for Aestas, the Goddess of Summer, was depicted adorned with ears of corn, and the Roman poet Ovid in his Metamorphoses (Book II, line 25) describes “Summer, lightly clad, crowned with a wreath of corn ears: attending Sol, the Sun God. Aestas’s name is the root of the English word aestival, or estival, which means “of summer,” or “in summer.”
Sweet Summer Corn
Relish the flavor of summer by roasting corn on an open fire(or if not practical on your grill). Carefully peel back the husks, without detaching them, so that you can remove the cornsilk. The replaced the husks and soak the ear(s) of corn in water for an hour. Roast for 10 – 15 minutes on a rack over the fire.
I step forward into the future with faith and courage, confident in my ability to face whatever challenges come my way.
“All things change, nothing perishes.”
Ovid (43BCE – 17C)
Meditating on the sunset can help us come to terms with the loss that we experience with endings. On a clear evening, find a place outside where you can watch the sunset. As the sun sinks in the West, surrender to the final moments of the day. Allow the warm tints of the sky to open your heart to the poignancy of parting. Take strength to bear the ending from the potency of the setting sun, knowing that after night will come the start of a new day.
If you cannot watch the sunset outside, perform this exercise by visualizing the sunset instead.
Ye stars and moon, that, when the sun retires,
Support his empire with succeeding fires;
And thou, great Hecate, friend to my design;
Songs, mutt’ring spells, your magick forces join;
And thou, O Earth, the magazine that yields
The midnight sorcerer drugs; skies, mountains, fields;
– Ovid, “Metamorphoses,” Dryden’s translation.
Silver was, by the ancient alchemists,
called “Diana” or the Moon.
– Brewer, “Dictionary of Phrase & Fable”.
The silent city was flooded with the
mellowest light that ever streamed from the moon,
and seemed like some living creature
wrapped in peaceful slumber.
– Mark Twain, “The American Vandal Abroad.”