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

Wiccan

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

Today Is …

 

Day Dedicated to the Sea Goddess Ys of Brittany. Enjoy a swim or soak your feet in water. Put a little salt under your tongue in remembrance of Her.

Many folks still believe in this ancient superstition: if you make a secret wish wile looking up at the new moon (which normally begins on or near this date in August), your wish will be granted before the year is through.

Oyster Day – Londoners believe that if you eat an oyster today you will not want for money all year. This sentiment is expressed in the following rhyme from Hone’s Every-Day Book, published in 1829, which describes the mad dash to Billingsgate where the fish market was located:

Greengrocers rise at dawn of sun
August the fifth — come haste away
To Billingsgate the thousands run
To Oyster Day! To Oyster Day!

Actually in England, the legal close season for oysters was 15 June to 4 August so this was actually the day after oyster season closed. But the common saying is that one should never eat oysters in months without an R, which would include August, as well as June and July.

Blackburn, Bonnie & Leofranc Holford-Strevens, The Oxford Companion to the Year, Oxford University Press 1999
Kightly, Charles, The Perpetual Almanack of Folklore, Thames & Hudson 1987

Brigg Fair – The date of a famous horse fair held in Lincolnshire, mentioned in the lovely folk song: Horse-racing was a common activity at Lammas, particularly in Ireland.

It was on the 5th of August
The weather fair and fine
Unto Brigg Fair
I did repair
For love I was inclined.

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Live each Season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influences of each. ~Henry David Thoreau (1817 – 1862)

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Seasons of the Witch – Legends and Lore, Ancient Holidays

to infinity and beyond:queen of dragons

Seasons of the Witch – Legends and Lore, Ancient Holidays

And Some Not So Ancient!

 

Today Is …

 

Festival of our Lady of the Snows. Celebrate with a snow cone or a big glass of ice water.

“Egyptian; Festival of the Dead” ~ Offerings were given in the Necropolis in a sunset ceremony.

Loch-mo-Naire: Each year on this date, it was believed that the waters of Scotland’s Loch-mo-Naire became charged with miraculous magickal powers to heal all who drank it or bathed in it. For many years it was a custom for those who visited Loch-mo-Naire to toss in a coin of silver as an offering to the benevolent spirits that dwelled within the lake.

The Lady of the Lake – On the first Sunday in August, the Welsh used to make pilgrimages to Llyn y Fan fach (a lake near Llanddeusant in Dyfed) to watch for the annual reappearance of the fairy from this lake who married a mortal but returned to the lake the third time he struck her. Before she left, she bequeathed her knowledge of herbal medicine to her sons, who became the ancestors of the renowned physicians of Myddfai.

When I visited Wales many years ago, I made a special pilgrimage to Myddfai (although not in August). It was a pretty little village but not a soul was around, not even a dog or a cat, although it was the middle of the day. I have to believe it is indeed an enchanted place. Blackburn, Bonnie & Leofranc Holford-Strevens, The Oxford Companion to the Year, Oxford University Press 1999

Tiu Chen (Laying Down Needles), Weaver Woman – On the 7th day of the 7th lunar month, the Chinese honor the Weaver Woman who wove the robes of the deities. All needlework is admired on this day. Girls put a needle into a bowl of water and look at in the sunlight. They inspect the fineness of the shadow and the patterns it makes (of flowers or clouds) for predictions of the quality of their needlework.

At this time of the year, the star Vega (known to the Chinese as the Maiden) seems to cross the Milky Way (which the Chinese called the Bridge of Magpies) and join the star Altair (known as the Cowherd). The myth which explains these stellar movements tells about how the Cowherd and the Maiden were going to be wed. She was so happy she stopped weaving. The Sun-God ordered a flock of magpies to bridge the Heavenly River and ordered the Cowherd to cross to the other side. Now the two only meet once a year on this day, when the Magpies form a bridge for the Maiden to cross. But she cannot do so if it rains, so women pray for clear skies. They also ask the Maiden for skill in needlework and make offerings to her of cakes and watermelons.

Tun Li-Ch’en has a slightly different version of this legend, which he says is often enacted as a play on this holiday. The Spinning Damsel (identified with the constellation Lyra) was banished from Heaven to earth where she met and married the Oxherd (identified with the constellation Aquila). When she was forced to return to Heaven, he tried to follow but was blocked by the Milky Way. Only once a year, when magpies form a bridge over the Milky Way, can they see each other again.

Chang Chin-ju writes that in the Tang dynasty, one Buddhist deity was depicted as a baby holding a lotus flower and laughing. On the seventh of the seventh, which he calls a festival for unmarried women, boys parade through the streets holding lotus flowers. He thought this might be connected to the idea that the lotus (a symbol of fertility because of its many seeds) helps mothers produce boys. Li-Chen records a similar custom on the 15th day of the seventh lunar month (see August 11). My guess is that two holidays are getting confused here. It makes sense that the 7th of the 7th is a festival for unmarried women, whose specialty is needlework (much like St Catherine, patron of spinsters and spinners) while the carrying of the lotus leaf may have more to do with rebirth.

Blackburn, Bonnie & Leofranc Holford-Strevens, The Oxford Companion to the Year, Oxford University Press 1999

Byrd, Deborah, “Sky-Watching Center,” www.earthsky.com/features/skywatching

Chang Chin-ju, translated by Jonathan Barnard, “Lotus, Flower of Paradise,” www.sinorama.com.tw/en/8607/607038e3.html

Li-Chen, Tun, translated by Derk Bodde, Annual Customs and Festivals in Peking, Peking: Henri Vetch, 1936

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Live each Season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influences of each. ~Henry David Thoreau (1817 – 1862)

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

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

 

Today Is …

July 28 In the olden days of Pagan Europe, the great thunder-god Thor was honored on this day with prayers for protection of the crops against destructive storms.

July 28-Birthday of Pythias, Oracle of Delphi. Practice divination skills today and though them seek to know yourself better

July 28-29 Vardavar – Armenians celebrate the Monday and Tuesday seven weeks after Pentecost as Rose Day. Once this was a midsummer festival of the goddess, Anahid, who was offered roses and doves. These are still part of the ritual, along with sprinkling water on each other and spending the day outdoors.

According to Injejkian, in Armenia, women and children often carried a broom dressed in rags called the boub ‘lad ‘gin through the village, singing special songs. Onlookers threw water on the ragged broom or bride, as it was sometimes called, and gave those who carried it lard, cracked wheat, and eggs. After the procession, the boub’lad’gin carriers gathered at a sacred spring and dined on pilav.
Blackburn, Bonnie & Leofranc Holford-Strevens, The Oxford Companion to the Year, Oxford University Press 1999

Injejkian, Hasmig, “In Search of Nine Keghi Songs,” Canadian Journal for Traditional Music (1990), http://cjtm.icaap.org/content/18/v18art7.html

Brussels, Belgium: KERMESSE. A 600-year-old-spectacular parade featuring elaborate floats & enormous balloon creatures & characters.

Virgin Islands: HURRICANE SUPPLICATION DAY.

MAYAN CALENDER: NEW YEARS DAY! Eighteen 20-day months (appended by five ‘bad days’); beginning today with the Month of Pop
Remember The Ancient Ways and Keep Them Holy!

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


Egyptian Comments & Graphics
Seasons of the Witch – Legends and Lore, Ancient Holidays

And Some Not So Ancient!

 

Today Is …

 

Day of Hatshepsut. On this day each year, the eighteenth dynasty Healer Queen of ancient Egypt is honored. Healing rituals are performed by many Pagans.

The Procession of Witches: In Belgium, a centuries-old event known as The Procession of Witches takes place every year on this day.

Greater Panatheneae – This Athenian festival, the most important of the year, was celebrated every fifth year on the last day of the first month of the year, in the brilliant heat and light of summer. It was a time for excess and the display of the new peplos or veil, woven for Athena out of white wool and gold threads, which was so large it was used as a sail on one of the boats in her procession.

St. Pantaleon – I had to include this holiday out of affection for the daimon, Panteleon, in the wonderful trilogy by Phillip Pullman, which begins with The Golden Compass. St Panteleon (whose name means all-compassionate) was supposedly the personal physician of the emperor Maximiam. He is a patron of doctors and midwives. Blackburn, Bonnie & Leofranc Holford-Strevens, The Oxford Companion to the Year, Oxford University Press 1999

Seven Sleepers – According to myth, seven Christian youths of Ephesus hid in a cave to avoid the Decian persecution (250), were walled up by the emperor, fell asleep and woke up nearly 200 years later whereupon they testified to the resurrection of the dead and fell back asleep. Whenever they turn over, bad luck follows. I’ve never seen any details about how to celebrate this holiday but the title is suggestive. Sleep all day? Blackburn, Bonnie & Leofranc Holford-Strevens, The Oxford Companion to the Year, Oxford University Press 1999

Black Crom’s Sunday – In Ireland, on the Sunday before Lammas, pilgrims climb mountains and high places, particularly Croah-patrick in County Mayo, where Patrick allegedly fasted for 40 days and battled demons. Until then the mountain was sacred to a pagan deity, Crom Cruach (Crom of the Reek). Pilgrims often climb the mountain barefoot.

Bilberry Sunday – The Sundays before and after Lammas were the usual times for celebrating a feast that was essentially communnal. People climbed to the top of high mountains, picking bilberries as they went, thus giving rise to the popular name of Bilberry Sunday. Bilberries (also known as whortle-berries and blaeberries) are the small, dark-blue berries of the vaccinium myrtillus a hardy shrub that grow on heaths and sunny moors in Great Britain and Northern Europe. They are one of the first berries to ripen (in Seattle, I go out picking blackberries on this day). In some places, boys thread the berries on grass stalks and make bracelets of them for the girls of their choice. In Cashel Plantin’ in County Armagh, these strung berries were brought home as presents and kept around the house for luck.

Often people left offerings of flowers and grains at the top of the mountains. Many scholars believe this was because Lugh was a sun-god. But some of the Irish folks surveyed by MacNeill said the offerings were left for the fairies, who would be extraordinarily active on quarter days. MacNeill believes the practice of standing on a peak overlooking the landscape, keep alive a passion for the land and its history.

MacNeill, Maire, The Festival of Lughnasa, Oxford University Press 1962
Blackburn, Bonnie & Leofranc Holford-Strevens, The Oxford Companion to the Year, Oxford University Press 1999

Remember The Ancient Ways and Keep Them Holy!

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

Celtic Queen

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

 

Today Is …

Nessie ~ On this date in the year 1930, the first sighting of the famous monster of Loch Ness was officially recorded in Scotland. Old Nessie (as the monster has been affectionately nicknamed) has since been witnessed by thousands of people and continues to attract countless numbers of tourists with cameras to Loch Ness each year.

Day Dedicated to Arinna – She is an Anatolia Sun Goddess. Spend as much of the day as you can in the sun or try starting a fire using a concave lens and the sun. Place a sunflower on your altar.

Horse God – On the 23rd day of the 6th lunar montyh, the Chinese honor the Horse-god (Mawang).

Blackburn, Bonnie & Leofranc Holford-Strevens, The Oxford Companion to the Year, Oxford University Press 1999

St Mary Magdalene – Today is the Feast day for St. Mary Magdalene Mary Magdalene is the fallen woman who washed Christ’s feet with her tears and dried them with her hair; thus she is the patron saint of prostitutes. Because of her long hair she is the patron of hairdressers, and because her emblem is the ointment jar, she is the patron of apothecaries. She was also invoked for help with fasting. The red rose is her plant. For a new treatment of her story, see Clytie Kinstler’s The Moon Under Her Feet.

She may have been a devotee of Astarte. There is some connection between the seven demons which afflicted her, and the seven initiations Inanna undergoes in her descent to the Underworld and the seven veils which Salome wears in her famous dance. The village of Migdala (from whence her name) is the Village of Doves, which connects her with Anahit, the Persian goddess honored with a sacrifice of doves and roses at her midsummer festival (see Vartavar, July 28).

She has long been associated with dance and music. In Normandy, in the thirteenth century, nuns danced on her feast-day.

If it rains today, the English say that Mary Magdalen is washing her handkerchief to go to her cousin St James’s Fair in three days time. But heavy rain now can be disastrous for the harvest and the Cumbrians say:

A Magdalen flood

Never did good.

Tristram and Iseult ~ One of the greatest legends of Cornwall is the tragic tale of Tristram and Iseult – sometimes known as Tristan and Isolde. The story is that Tristram, the nephew of King Mark of Cornwall, was mortally wounded in a fight where he killed the brother of the Queen of Ireland. As he was expected to die, he was sent out to sea in a boat without sails. By chance, the boat reached the shores of Ireland, where he was nursed back to health by the beautiful Iseult, daughter of the King of Ireland.

To cut a long story short, Tristram could not stay in Ireland as he was responsible for the death of the Queen’s brother, so he returned to Cornwall. A little later, King Mark sent him back to Ireland to bring back Iseult who was to be his queen. On the way back, the couple accidentally drank a love potion intended for Mark and Iseult on their wedding night.

The young couple fell deeply in love and carried on an illicit affair even after she married. King Mark became suspicious and although Iseult managed to allay these suspicions, Tristram left the country. He married a Breton girl, who was also called Iseult, but he never stopped loving the Queen of Cornwall. When he was wounded in battle, he sent for her to heal his wounds and asked that a white sail be flown from the ship if she was on board when it returned.

Tristram’s jealous wife told him that the returning ship flew only a black sail and he died of grief. When Iseult heard of his death, she died of a broken heart. A cross at Castle Dor is said to mark the grave of Tristram.

Remember The Ancient Ways and Keep Them Holy!

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


Gothic Comments

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

 

Today Is …

 

Lithuanian Lovers Festival. In Lithuania, the ancient goddesses of love are invoked during an annual lover’s festival called The Binding of the Wreaths, which takes place on this day.

On this date in the year 1980, famous Dutch clairvoyant Gerard Croiset passed away. He was renowned as both a psychic healer and psychic criminologist.

Slavic Pagan: Perun’s Day. On this day a human sacrifice was chosen by ballot. There is record of a viking’s son being chosen and the viking refusing to give him up. Both father and son were killed as a result. This day was considered a “Terrible” holiday. The sacrifice was seen as necessary to placate the God and keep him from destroying the crops with late summer storms. A bull was also sacrificed and eaten as a communal meal.

Feast of the Redeemer – On the third Sunday in July, Venetians celebrate their escape from a plague. After Mass in the Church of San Redentore, people picnic on the water and watch fireworks in the evening. Some folks stay up all night to watch the sun rise the next morning. This holiday seems to be a dim reflection of summer solstice customs. Blackburn, Bonnie & Leofranc Holford-Strevens, The Oxford Companion to the Year, Oxford University Press 1999

St Margaret – Famous in the medieval ages as a saint for women (she was one of the voices speaking to Joan of Arc), she has faded off the church calendar, probably because of lack of evidence for her existence. She is called Marina in the East. There’s also a Saint Pelagia, whose nickname is Maragarito.

Both Marina and Pelagia mean sea. The name Margaret itself derives from the Greek word, maragarites, meaning pearl. These names link Margaret to the great Sea-Mother known under many names including Mary, Marina and Miriam. Pelagia is one of the names of Aphrodite in her aspect as the Goddess of the Sea. And July is the month of a Greek festival celebrating the wedding of Adonis and Aphrodite.

Margaret’s story is similar to that of many virgin martyrs. She’s said to be the daughter of a pagan priest at Antioch who rejected the advances of a prefect who then denounced her as a Christian. She suffered many ordeals, including being swallowed by Satan in the form of a dragon, but she caused his belly to burst and stepped forth unharmed. She was invoked by pregnant women for protection from the dangers of childbirth and for those who were dying for escape from the Devil.

Margaret is often represented standing over a dragon, like other saints, including Martha (whose feast day falls on the nearby July 28th). The Dragon Project researchers believe the image of slaying the dragon, which is always accomplished with an iron pole, has something to do with earthing energy which is floating about loose and might hurt the crops or the animals.

The Chinese say that the dragon is thunder (and this is the time of thunderstorms), a creature of the waters who rests in pools in the winter and rises up as the rain in the spring. The dragon is a symbol of the force operating beneath the surface of the earth which emerges at the proper time. Given the association of Margaret with water and the time of the year at which she is honored (the height of summer), it is possible that the dragon is really a sea-serpent. Perhaps when Margaret strikes the ground with her iron staff, she brings forth a life-giving spring or calls forth the flood waters of the Nile.

The wheatfield poppy supposedly sprang from the blood of the dragon she slew. Long before, it was dedicated to Diana and Demeter as the source of healing sleep and death. St Margaret’s flower is the Virginian dragon’s head.

Her feast day was sometimes seen as the start of the dog days, as in this mnemonic: Margaret is the dog’s mouth, Laurence (Aug 10) brings his tail.

St Wilgefortis or St Uncumber – Like St Distaff, whose feast day follows the Twelve Days of Christmas, she is a fictitious saint. Legend says that Wilgefortis was a daughter of the King of Portugal who did not wish to marry. When her father tried to press marriage upon her she prayed for help and sprouted a copious beard, which drove all prospective suitors away. Her name Wilgefortis may be derived from Virgo Fortis (Mighty Maiden). She is also known as Liberata, Livrade, Kummeris and Uncumber (in England) and invoked by women who wish to rid themselves of troublesome husbands or importunate suitors. Rago says you can achieve the same thing by picking parsley at dawn and wishing aloud for release.

Her story and feast day may derive from the stories of the Corinthian Aphrodite who grew a beard and impregnated women.

Rago, Linda Ours, The Herbal Almanack, Washington DC: Starweed Publishing 1992

Remember The Ancient Ways and Keep Them Holy!

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

Remember The Ancient Ways and Keep Them Holy!

 

Ancient Egyptian: Ma’at unites as one with all the Netjeru of the heavens Ancient Rome: The Ides of June and climax of Vestalia. Ma’at is the Goddess of truth, justice and the order of the universe. Her symbol is the feather. She sits in the underworld, judging the souls that pass through.

Celebration of the Muses: Calliope – song, Clio – history, Euterpe – lyric song, Thalia – comedy, Melpomene – tradedy, Terpsichore – dance, Erto – erotic poetry, Polyhymnia – sacred hymns, and Urania – astronomy. Select your favorite(s) and dedicate your day to Her.

On this date in the year 1648, Margaret Jones of Charlestown, Massachusetts, was executed in Boston for practicing Witchcraft and magickal healing. This was the first pre-Salem Witch execution to be officially recorded in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Trinity Sunday – The Sunday after Pentecost is set aside by Catholics for honoring the doctrine of the Trinity, the three deities in one: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Urlin comments wryly that “perhaps the identification of this day with a dogma, rather than an event, or a personage, has tended to discourage the growth of folk-lore around it. At any rate, there is a certain dearth of Trinity Sunday customs recorded by English writers.”

In Russia, this is the day when people got out and collect birch branches and picnic outside. The same is true in Yugoslavia. The floors of the churches are covered with grass and flowers. People weave wreathes during the morning services, then take them home to hang as symbols of blessing beneath icons or above doors.

There is a folk belief in Lorraine, France, that on Trinity Sunday you can see three suns rise. Pansies are the flowers used to decorate for this holy day in Saxony, where they are called Trinity flowers, perhaps because they bloom at this time or because of their tripartite structure. Spicer, Dorothy Gladys, The Book of Festivals, The Woman’s Press 1937
Urlin, E, Festivals, Holy Days and Saints Days

End of Vestalia – In ancient Rome, this day marked the end of the week of festivities devoted to Vesta (see June 7). Her temple was cleaned, the refuse thrown into the Tiber, the penus (or inner storehouse) was closed up and the Vestals went back to their regular duties. This marked the first day (in over six weeks) considered propitious for marrying.
Blackburn, Bonnie and Leofranc, Holford-Strevens, The Oxford Book of Days, Oxford University Press, 2000

St. Vitus – St Vitus is one of those obscure fourth century martyrs. The story goes that his father, angry because his son had been converted to Christianity by his nurse and her husband, turned him over to the authorities. Angels danced for him while he was in prison, thus he is the patron of dancers, actors, mummers and those inflicted with fit-producing diseases like epilepsy and chorea (also known as “St Vitus’ Dance). He is also the patron saint of Bohemia and he helps those who have difficulty rising early. His emblem is a cock or a dog.

If St Vitus’ day be rainy weather
It will rain for thirty days together
Blackburn, Bonnie and Leofranc, Holford-Strevens, The Oxford Book of Days, Oxford University Press, 2000

 

 

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Today Is …

Today Is …

 

Day of Devi-Hindu Goddess of all force and form. Use Her to bring clarity of vision and organization to your life.

Fire-Walking Festival – In certain villages in northern Greece, on the feast day of Saint Constantine, the Anastenarides (the groaners) dance barefoot on hot coals for hours at a time. It is said that the Saint protects those men who he summons to this dance.

After the dance, a black bull is sacrificed on the steps of the church and the raw, still-steaming meat is distributed to all. The strips of hide are given out as well to be made into sandals. According to Blackburn, these rituals “are opposed by the Church as survivals from the ancient worship of Dionysos, the God of wild Nature in such manifestations as plant growth, wine, and ecstasy, but are stoutly defended by their practitioners as Christian defenses against the Devil.” [p. 216] Blackburn, Bonnie and Leofranc Holford-Strevens, Oxford Companion to the Year, Oxford University Press 1999 Rufus, Anneli, The World Holiday Book, Harper San Francisco 1994

St. Elena – While discussing the link between bread and religion that runs so deep in Italy, Waverley Root comments on a ritual that takes place at Quartu Sant’Elena, near Cagliari in Sardinia on May 21st. The people dress in traditional costumes and make an offering to St. Elena of eight large loaves of bread, which contain wine and honey, and are sweetened with jam. Root, Waverley, The Food of Italy, Scribner 1971

St. Rita – This 14th century Italian woman is the patron saint of the unhappily married, due to her sufferings at the hands of a vicious husband, and after his death in a vendetta, her two sons who had inherited their father’s tempers. Only after their deaths, was she free to enter an Augustinian convent and dedicate her life to ministering to the sick. Blackburn, Bonnie and Leofranc Holford-Strevens, Oxford Companion to the Year, Oxford University Press 1999

Rome: The Agonalia of May – dedicated to Vediovis, a personification of Mars as a protector.

 

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Today Is …

Witchcraft

Today Is …

 

Floralia, Roman Festival of Flora Goddess of Prostitutes. She was secretly known as “Mother of Rome.” Celebrate your knowledge of Her sexual secrets.

St. Zita If you frequently misplace your keys, you probably need to know about St Zita, who is invoked for help finding keys, apparently because she was a sanctimonious Italian serving girl who frequently gave away her master’s bread (and even his fur cloak) to beggars. Apparently she also misplaced his keys from time to time. During her ecstasies, angels baked her bread, so she is also the patron of bakers, housewives and servants
Blackburn, Bonnie and Leofranc Holford-Strevens, Oxford Companion to the Year, Oxford University Press, 1999

Africa: In the African republic of Mali, a mythical half-man, half-animal being called Tyi Wara is honored by farmers on this date with songs and dance. The Bambara tribe believe that Tyi Wara was send to Earth by the Nature Gods to each human beings the necessary skills of farming.

Voudun: Dan Wè Zo, alias St Louis Cleimeille

1991 As many as 70 tornadoes hit the states of Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Iowa. Thousands were left homeless; there were 23 fatalities.

28 May 3:The three day Festival of Flora and Venus, or the Florialia in Rome; Goddess of Sexuality and Spring flowers.

30: Walpurgisnacht celebrated by German witches

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Seasons Of The Witch for July 19

Seasons Of The Witch

Corpus Christi

– This Catholic festival, which takes place on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday, promotes the Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation: that the host consecrated in the Mass becomes the Body of Christ. It was first established by the Council of Vienna in 1311 and really promoted during the Reformation as a demonstration of Catholic solidarity. It features a procession during which the priest displays the host in a monstrance, which is shaped like a sunburst. The whole point is a conspicuous display of pomp and pageantry. This year when it falls so close to summer solstice, the similarities between the two festivals, in symbolism and attitude, are readily apparent.

In France, it is called Fete Dieu or the Feast of God. The priest wears red and gold lavishly embroidered garments. The monstrance is a golden vessel shaped like the sun. It is usually shielded by a canopy of silk and cloth of gold. Streets are scattered with flower petals and householders decorate their homes, often by pasting flower petals on a sheet and hanging them up.

Small altars are created along the roads. In France, they’re called reposoirs and are built at crossroads. They are decorated with flowers, garlands and greens and covered with canopies of interwoven boughs. The priest goes around and blesses them. Perhaps this would be a good day for witches and pagans to sponsor Altar Tours, opening our homes for viewing of our altars and shrines. Or maybe we should go out and build a shrine at the nearest crossroad.

Carol Field describes the way Corpus Christi is celebrated in Spello, Italy, where pwople transform the main street into a carpet of color using flower petals (infiorate). Collecting the flowers takes as long as two weeks. The oldest women are given the job of taking the flowers apart, petal by petal, and separating them by the subtle differences of hue. Pine needles, ivy leaves, chamomile and fennel are ground up to make green. Poppies are used for red, broom for yellow and white from daisies. The designs are complicated, and often reproduce famous paintings, usually religious ones. The priest when he emerges from the cathedral holding up the Host walks down the length of flower carpet, and the petals scatter to the breezes. It is a display of beauty and richness that is as ephemeral as it is extravagant. Field, Carol, Celebrating Italy, Morrow 1990
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Saints Gervase and Protase – Another weather oracle day associated with the saint’s day of two martyrs of Milan. It is said that if it rains on this day, it will rain for forty days afterwards. Blackburn, Bonnie and Leofranc, Holford-Strevens, The Oxford Book of Days, Oxford University Press, 2000

School of the Seasons

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