Celebrating Legends, Folklore & Spirituality 365 Days a Year for Feb. 29th – Leap Year’s Day, Job’s Birthday

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Feb. 29th

Leap Year’s Day, Job’s Birthday

February 29th occurs only once every four years, its addition being designed to rectify the discrepancy between the calendar of 365 days and the solar year of approximately 365 1/4 days.

Leap Year is regarded as generally unlucky in Scotland, and Leap Year’s Day is especially considered ill-omened; this is because it was Job’s birthday, and supposedly the prophet cursed the day he was born. However, the Lord took mercuy upon him and thus only allowed it to occur once every four years.

This day is said to be hazardous for men, as ladies have full and absolute license to propose marriage to single gentlemen. Should the gentleman rudely refuse the offer, then he is honor bound to give the lady a present of fresh flowers, white gloves and chocolate.

Leap Day Customs & Traditions

Black cats:-)
Leap Day Customs & Traditions

Leap Day, on February 29, has been a day of traditions, folklore and superstitions ever since Leap Years were first introduced by Julius Caesar over 2000 years ago.

Women Propose to Their Men
According to an old Irish legend, or possibly history, St Brigid struck a deal with St Patrick to allow women to propose to men – and not just the other way around – every four years.
This is believed to have been introduced to balance the traditional roles of men and women in a similar way to how leap day balances the calendar.

In some places, leap day has been known as “Bachelors’ Day” for the same reason. A man was expected to pay a penalty, such as a gown or money, if he refused a marriage proposal from a woman on Leap Day.

In many European countries, especially in the upper classes of society, tradition dictates that any man who refuses a woman’s proposal on February 29 has to buy her 12 pairs of gloves. The intention is that the woman can wear the gloves to hide the embarrassment of not having an engagement ring. During the middle ages there were laws governing this tradition.

Leap Day Babies World Record
People born on February 29 are all invited to join The Honor society of Leap Year Day Babies.

When do Leap Day Babies Celebrate Their Birthdays?
According to the Guinness Book of Records, there are Leap Day World Record Holders both of a family producing three consecutive generations born on February 29 and of the number of children born on February 29 in the same family.

Unlucky in Love
In Scotland, it used to be considered unlucky for someone to be born on leap day, just as Friday 13th is considered an unlucky day by many. Greeks consider it unlucky for couples to marry during a leap year, and especially on Leap Day.

St Oswald’s Day
Leap day is also St Oswald’s Day, named after the archbishop of York who died on February 29, 992. His memorial is celebrated on February 29 during leap years and on February 28 during common years.

Deity of the Day for November 12th – Cailleach, the Ruler of Winter

Deity of the Day


Cailleach, the Ruler of Winter


The goddess known as Cailleach in Scotland and parts of Ireland is the embodiment of the dark mother, the harvest goddess, the hag or crone entity. She appears in the late fall, as the earth is dying, and is known as a bringer of storms. She is typically portrayed as a one-eyed old woman with bad teeth and matted hair. Mythologist Joseph Campbell says that in Scotland, she is known as Cailleach Bheur, while along the Irish coast she appears as Cailleach Beare. Her name is varied, depending on the county and region in which she appears.

According to The Etymological Dictionary Of Scottish-Gaelic the word cailleach itself means “veiled one” or “old woman”. In some stories, she appears to a hero as a hideous old woman, and when he is kind to her, she turns into a lovely young woman who rewards him for his good deeds. In other stories, she turns into a giant gray boulder at the end of winter, and remains this way until Beltane, when she springs back to life.

Cailleach rules the dark half of the year, from Samhain to Beltane, while her young and fresh counterpart, Brighid or Bride, is the queen of the summer months. She is sometimes portrayed riding on the back of a speeding wolf, bearing a hammer or a wand made of human flesh.

Interestingly, even though Cailleach is typically depicted as a destroyer goddess, she is also known for her ability to create new life. With her magical hammer, she is said to have created mountain ranges, lochs, and cairns all over Scotland. She is also known as a protector of wild animals, in particular, the deer and the wolf, according to the Carmina Gadelica.

In some Irish counties, Cailleach is a goddess of sovereignty, who offers kings the ability to rule their lands. In this aspect, she is similar to the Morrighan, another destroyer goddess of Celtic myth.




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Celebrating Other Spirituality 365 Days A Year for Sept. 25 & 26 – Old Holy Rood Day

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September 25& 26

Old Holy Rood Day


Old Holy Rood Day, known as Mid-Autumn Day in the Highlands of Scotland, is traditionally the beginning of mating season for deer. It is believed that whatever the weather is like in Scotland this day will continue for 40 days thereafter.

This is also the traditional day for women and young maidens to gather St. Michael’s carrots. The root vegetable had to be taken in a special way by digging a triangular hole (the shape of St. Michael’s shield) with a three-pronged mattock. The carrots were then tied with three strands of red thread and presented to male visitors on Michaelmas Day. Forked roots were exceptionally lucky and a portent of marriage.

Imbolc: Traditional Celebrations for a Modern Time

Imbolc: Traditional Celebrations for a Modern Time

Author:   Morgan 

This holiday is called many names including Imbolc, Oímealg, Lá Fhéile Bríde, Laa’l Breeshey, and Gwyl Mair Dechrau’r Gwanwyn and was originally celebrated when the ewes first began to lactate. Some older sources mention Imbolc being celebrated on February 13th, although now the date is fixed on February 2nd. This holiday is a celebration of the loosening of winters hold on the land and the first signs of spring’s immanent arrival. Three main types of ceremonies could be undertaken – purification with water, blessing with fire, and consecration of talismans or charms. In addition, the main ritual theme centered on inviting the goddess Brighid into the home, either in effigy or in the form of a person acting the part.

The fire represents the growing light of the sun. Candles are lit to celebrate the increased daylight, and often candles were blessed for use in the year to come; this connection to candles offers another alternate name for the holiday, Candlemas. In my personal practice I light special “sun” candles, and bless my candleholders for the year to come.

Ritual washing was done to cleanse and prepare the people for the agricultural work of the coming seasons. Water was blessed and then used to ceremonially wash the head, hands, and feet. Each year when I do this, I dip my fingers in the blessed water and run them over the body parts in question, asking that I be cleansed of winter’s cold and filled with summer’s warmth to work towards a new season. Then I pour the remaining water out onto the earth thanking Brighid for her blessing.

The main charms and talismans of Imbolc are related to Brighid. First there is the Brighid’s cross, a woven sun wheel shape which represented the cycle of the year and the four main holy days, according to the book Apple Branch. On Imbolc, you can weave new Brighid’s crosses, or bless ones you already have, although it may be better to burn the old and weave new each year when possible. A Brighid’s cross is protective and healing to have in the home.

A second talisman is the brídeóg, or “little Brighid” a small cloth or straw doll wearing white clothes which is an effigy of the goddess. In some cases, the brídeóg would be made from straw saved from the previous Lughnasadh. This doll played a role in ritual after being brought outside, usually carried by the eldest daughter, then invited to enter the home where it was led with all ceremony to a specially prepared little bed. The doll was left in the bed over night and its presence was believed to bless all those in the household.

Another talisman connected to Imbolc is Brigid’s mantle, or an brat Bríd, a length of cloth left out on the window sill over the course of the holy day and night. It is believed that this cloth absorbs the energy of the goddess during the ritual, and can be used for healing and protection throughout the year. This talisman would be kept and recharged every year, attaining full power after seven years.

The ritual for Brighid on Imbolc centers on inviting the goddess in and offering her hospitality. In some cases a woman was chosen to play the part of the goddess, in other cases the brídeóg was used. The door would be opened to her and she would loudly be invited in, shown to her “bed” and offered specially baked bread. Candles would be lit at the windows and next to her “bed”, songs would be sung and prayers said calling on Brighid to bless all present in the coming seasons, and grant health and protection to the household.

A small broom or white wand would be placed next to the “bed”, and the ashes from the fire would be smoothed down in the hopes that the morning would reveal the marks of the wand, or better yet, the footprints of the goddess herself, either of which would be a sign of blessing. Placing the doll in her bed at night would be followed by a large family meal.

In Scotland a hundred years ago when entire communities still celebrated Imbolc in the old way, a sheaf of corn would be dressed as Brighid and taken from house to house by the young girls. The girls would carry the doll from home to home where the “goddess” would be greeted and offered food and gifts. After visiting each home, the girls would return to the house they started from where a party would be held with music, dancing, and feasting until dawn; all the leftover food would be handed out to the poor the next day.

Other rituals involve blessing the forge fires for blacksmiths and Otherworld divinations. In some Scottish mythologies, it is believed that Brighid is held by the Cailleach Bhur during the winter months but escapes, or is rescued by her brother Aonghus mac óg, on Imbolc. In others, it is said the Cailleach drinks from a hidden spring and transforms into Brighid on this day.

For modern people seeking to celebrate Imbolc in a traditional way, there are many options. Rituals can be adapted to feature the brídeóg. If you celebrate in a group, you could have one person wait outside with the doll while the other members prepare her bed, and then the group leader could go to the doorway and invite the goddess in. This could even be modified for use in an urban setting with the brídeóg “waiting” out in a hallway or separate room to be invited in.

Once invited in the goddess can be offered food and gifts as was done in Scotland and stories about Brighid from mythology could be told. Water can be used for purification; blessing with fire or of candles can be done, as well as making and consecrating the charms associated with Brighid. After ritual, the doll could be left in the bed while the group celebrates with a party; to keep the spirit of the way this was done for a modern time all members should bring food to donate to a local food pantry. A solitary celebration could still include inviting the goddess in, placing the brídeóg in her bed, making offerings to her, and a private celebration and food donations.

Imbolc is a powerful holy day with many beautiful traditions. By understanding how this day was celebrated in the past, we can find ways to incorporate those methods into modern practice and preserve the traditions that have surrounded Brighid’s day for so many generations


Carmichael, A. (1900) . Carmina Gadelica. Floris books. ISBN-10 0-86315-520-0
Evert Hopman, E. (1995) . A Druid’s Herbal of the Sacred Earth Year. Destiny Books ISBN 0-89281-501-9
Kondrariev. K. (1998) . The Apple Branch: A Path to Celtic Ritual. Citadel Press ISBN 0-8065-2502-9
McNeill, F. (1959) . The Silver Bough, volume 2. McLellan and Co.

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Celebrating Other Spirituality 365 Days A Year – Up-Helly-Aa

Witchy Comments & Graphics
Celebrating Other Spirituality 365 Days A Year – Up-Helly-Aa

January 28th – 29th


Up-Helly-Aa is a centuries-old fire festival held in the Shetland Islands. It is derived from the ancient Yuletide festival celebrating the triumph of the sun over darkness and winter, and it pays

tribute to the ancient Viking Gods and Goddesses. The festival began with torch light processions that ignited giant bonfires and culminated with the burning of a replica of a Viking ship. It was believed that the fire would dispel evil spirits from the villagers and their homes. The festivities usually ended with great feasting and dancing until dawn.

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Calendar of the Sun for December 31

Calendar of the Sun

31 Yulmonath


Color: Brown
Element: Earth
Altar: Upon a brown cloth set symbols of all the projects around the house that need to be finished, as well as a bottle of wine or beer and cups.
Offerings: Cleaning and finishing projects.
Daily Meal: Leftovers.

Hogmanay Invocation

We stand at the turning of the year,
In the place predicted by the Fates.
We are here because this time, this place
Is where we were destined to be,
Though we never knew before this moment,
We could not have seen this time and place.
Yet here we are, standing together with each other,
Hand to hand, soul to soul, with open eyes.
Yet well we know that nothing lasts forever,
And things well begun should not be left half done.
So it is that we shall take up the tools
And finish those things left undone,
Tying up the strings of our existence
Before the turning of the New Year
And the coming of the Fates yet again.
Hail to the Fates! We await your day,
And the next year, to see what it may bring.

(Each goes forth and takes up the symbol of some thing that is yet undone around the House, and declares that they will do it, and what it will mean for them to complete that task. Then the wine is shared around, a toast is made to the new year, and the rest is poured out as a libation.)

[Pagan Book of Hours]

Celebrating Spirituality 365 Days A Year – Mumming, New Year’s Eve, Hogmany

Celebrating Spirituality 365 Days A Year

December 30 and 31

Mumming, New Year’s Eve, Hogmany

The end of December ushers in the New Year, a time of anticipation and celebration. For our pre-Christian ancestors, most of the New Year’s festivities were designed to ward off the barrenness of Winter and insure the fertility of Spring. This was accomplished with the actual or symbolic killing of the king of the old year and the welcoming of a new king—a metaphor still dramatized in the popular British mumming play.

It was during the 19th century, when the hustle of the Christmas Day celebrations were over and the new year was fast approaching, that the mummers took to the streets, pubs, and private homes to act our their plays. Masked and costumed, they portrayed three different themes: the Hero-Combat of St. George, the “Sword Dance,” and the Plough or Wooing play. Of the three, the Hero-Combat was the most favored.

The central part of the play begins with the Hero fighting an opposing champion or, occasionally a whole succession of enemies—the Black Prince, the Turkish Knight, or the Bold Slasher. After a spirited battle, in most but not all cases, the villain is slain. Suddenly a doctor appears, who boast lengthily (with a great deal of buffoonery) of his skill and travels, after which the dead man suddenly regenerates. Once the mummers have been paid, they journey to their next performance.

It might not be as well know as Christmas or New Year’s Eve, but Hogmanay is still celebrated in parts of England and Scotland. Although the word Hogmanay has never been satisfactorily established, it very well may come from the Anglo-Saxon Haleg Monath (Holy Month) or from the giant Gogmagog or Hogmagog, guardians of the cities of London and Plymouth. For the most part, Hogmanay is met with massive enthusiasm. Parties are held, people ring bells, fireworks are set off, and everyone makes a conscious effort to make a clean break with the past by making New Year’s resolutions.

Scotland has always made more of Hogmanay than England and still has a variety of customs associated with the holiday. Some of these include divination, of which Bibliomancy is the most popular. The Family Bible is prayed over, and then the person Seeking his or her future will open the Bible at random. Without looking, a verse is marked with the index finger and then read. Whatever the verse discusses will be the person’s fortune for the year. Another popular custom is to open the back door of the home and then close it just before midnight to let out all of the bad luck. At the stroke of midnight, the  front door is then opened to let in the good luck. Finally, Hogmanay is a favored time for predicting the weather by observing the direction of the wind with this old Scots rhyme:

“If New Year’s Eve night-wind blow south, That betokens warmths and growth. If
west, much milk, and fish in the sea, If north, much cold and storms will be. If east,
the trees will bear much fruit, If north-east, flee it, man and brute.”