Hold An Imbolc House Cleansing Ceremony

Hold An Imbolc House Cleansing Ceremony

By , About.com

Give your whole house a thorough cleaning at the end of winter.

A clean physical space feels good spiritually.

Be sure to clean your windows so they’re free of winter’s grime.

No one really likes to clean, but we all know we feel better when our physical space is tidy. It’s one of life’s necessary chores. Start your spring off with a good thorough cleaning, and then follow that up with a spiritual cleansing. This is a great ritual to perform at Imbolc — remember that for many of our ancestors, washing came only a few times a year, so by February, a house was probably smelling pretty ripe. Pick a bright sunny day to do a clean sweep, and then invite friends and family to join you in a blessing of your home.

First, do a complete physical cleaning of your house. Put on some music and thoroughly clean every room. Strip sheets off the beds, turn the mattresses, dust every surface, and vacuum every floor. Sort through those piles of paper on your desk, and get rid of things you don’t need to keep; file everything else. Gather up the kids’ toys and put them in baskets for easy storage. If you need to get rid of things, do it now — set aside a box for charity and put gently used items in it. Set aside another box for trash, and see if you can fill it up!

Once your house is clean — and this assumes you did the kitchen as well — it’s time to have some fun. Call up some friends and invite them over for a potluck. Cook up some Imbolc-themed comfort foods, such as Braided Bread or Beer Battered Fish & Chips, and have a small potluck celebration. Ask each guest to bring a small token to bless your house — pebbles, shells, interesting bits of wood, beads, etc.

You’ll also need the following:

  • A bowl of water
  • Some sea salt
  • A smudging bundle of sage or sweetgrass
  • A blue candle
  • Some Blessing Oil
  • A bowl or bag

Begin at the front door — it is, after all, where you welcome guests into your home — and go through the house in a sunwise direction (clockwise). Ask your guests to help you by smudging the perimeter of each room with the salt, sage, candle flame and water. You may wish to say some sort of incantation as they do this, something like:

With the purifying power of water, with the clean breath of air, with the passionate heat of fire, with the grounding energy of earth we cleanse this space.

As you pass from room to room, anoint each door and windowsill with the Blessing Oil by tracing the shape of a pentagram or other symbol of your tradition. This prevents anything negative from crossing into the home. If you like, you can offer a small incantation as you do this, something like:

May the goddess bless this home, making it sacred and pure, so that nothing but love and joy shall enter through this door.

Finally, once you’ve gone through the house, ask each of your guests to deposit their blessing token in your bowl or bag. Keep it in a place of honor in your home — on the mantel or in your kitchen is a good idea. Gather around the dinner table, break out the goodies, and enjoy a feast with your friends and family!

Tips:

* If you don’t have Blessing Oil, you can use rosemary oil instead. Make your own by infusing fresh rosemary in grapeseed or flaxseed oil.

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How To Hold an Imbolc Candle Ritual (for Solitaries)

How To Hold an Imbolc Candle Ritual (for Solitaries)

By Patti Wigington, About.com

Imbolc is a festival of light — celebrate it with candles and flames!

Hundreds of years ago, when our ancestors relied upon the sun as their only source of light, the end of winter was met with much celebration. Although it is still cold in February, often the sun shines brightly above us, and the skies are often crisp and clear. As a festival of light, Imbolc came to be called Candlemas. On this evening, when the sun has set once more, call it back by lighting the seven candles of this ritual.

** Note: although this ceremony is written for one, it can easily be adapted for a small group.

Difficulty: Average
Time Required: Varied

Here’s How:

  1. First, set up your altar in a way that makes you happy, and brings to mind the themes of Imbolc. You’ll also want to have on hand the following:
    • Seven candles, in red and white (tealights are perfect for this)
    • Something to light your candles with
    • A large bowl or cauldron big enough to hold the candles
    • Sand or salt to fill the bottom of the bowl/cauldron

    Prior to beginning your ritual, take a warm, cleansing bath. While soaking, meditate on the concept of purification. Once you’re done, dress in your ritual attire, and begin the rite.

  2. If your tradition requires you to cast a circle, do so now.

    Pour the sand or salt into the bowl or cauldron. Place the seven candles into the sand so they won’t slide around. Light the first candle. As you do so, say:

    Although it is now dark, I come seeking light. In the chill of winter, I come seeking life.

    Light the second candle, saying:

    I call upon fire, that melts the snow and warms the hearth. I call upon fire, that brings the light and makes new life. I call upon fire to purify me with your flames.

  3. Light the third candle. Say:

    This light is a boundary, between positive and negative. That which is outside, shall stay without. That which is inside, shall stay within.

    Light the fourth candle. Say:

    I call upon fire, that melts the snow and warms the hearth. I call upon fire, that brings the light and makes new life. I call upon fire to purify me with your flames.

  4. Light the fifth candle, saying:

    Like fire, light and love will always grow. Like fire, wisdom and inspiration will always grow.

    Light the sixth candle, and say:

    I call upon fire, that melts the snow and warms the hearth. I call upon fire, that brings the light and makes new life. I call upon fire to purify me with your flames.

    Finally, light the last candle. As you do so, visualize the seven flames coming together as one. As the light builds, see the energy growing in a purifying glow.

    Fire of the hearth, blaze of the sun, cover me in your shining light. I am awash in your glow, and tonight I am made pure.

  5. Take a few momemnts and meditate on the light of your candles. Think about this Sabbat, a time of healing and inspiration and purification. Do you have something damaged that needs to be healed? Are you feeling stagnant, for lack of inspiration? Is there some part of your life that feels toxic or tainted? Visualize the light as a warm, enveloping energy that wraps itself around you, healing your ailments, igniting the spark of creativity, and purifying that which is damanged.

    When you are ready, end the ritual. You may choose to follow up with healing magic, or with a Cakes and Ale ceremony.

What You Need

  • Seven candles, white and red, and something to light them with
  • A bowl or cauldron with sand in the bottom
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Prayer for Imbolc

Imbolc/Candlemas Comments
Prayer for Imbolc

On this Imbolc day, as I kindle the flame upon my hearth,
I pray that the flame of Brigid may burn in my soul,
and the souls of all I meet today.

I pray that no envy and malice,
no hatred or fear, may smother the flame.
I pray that indifference and apathy,
contempt and pride,
may not pour like cold water on the flame.

Instead, may the spark of Brigid light the love in my soul,
that it may burn brightly through this season.
And may I warm those that are lonely,
whose hearts are cold and lifeless,
so that all may know the comfort of Brigid’s love.

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Night of the White Candles

Imbolc/Candlemas Comments

Night of the White Candles

Night of lit white candles darkness turned into light
“everything she touches changes”
feast of waxing flame
fire of heart and hearth
fire on the mind
flickering of spark
quickening of air
warming into inspiration
thawing in her innocence
snow into desire
“she shines for all of us
she burns within us all”
sipral heat of life
“she shines for all of us
within us all she burns”
the fires to create
“she shines in all of us
she burns us all within”
awakening arising is her need
“she shines for all of us
she burns within us all”
Her candle is our only source

Poem by: Diane Stein
A Collection of Imbolc Poetry
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Calendar of the Sun for Friday, January 31

Calendar of the Sun

31 Wolfmonath

Imbolc Eve: Day of the Bean Sidhe

Color: Black
Element: Air
Altar: Upon cloth of black place a cup of blood, kept from the last slaughtering. Before it lay bloodstained rags and a flute, and many small unlit votive candles. Block the windows and shut out all sunlight.
Offering: Give aid to a child who has lost their mother.
Daily Meal: Red meat and milk.

Imbolc Eve Invocation

Go, my children, to the riverbank,
In the dark of the night when the wind is howling,
And you shall hear the wails of one who mourns,
And you shall see her kneeling by the water,
Washing the bloody clothes of those
Who did not survive the giving forth of life.
She weeps for the mothers lost,
She weeps for the children lost,
She weeps for the life cut short,
What should have been a joyous day
Become a night of mourning.
She weeps above all for those
Who have no one else to weep for them.
So we shall light a candle, on this night
Before the morn of Candlemas,
For all those who have no one to weep for them,
And we shall shed the tears
And we shall be the voice,
And we shall do the work
Of the lonely Bean Sidhe.

(The cup of blood is poured as a libation. Each comes forward and lights a small votive candle, and then all wail in a great torrent of sound together, with one playing the flute wildly over the cacophony. Those who can shed tears should do so. This should go on until all are exhausted from wailing, and then all should go quietly to their other tasks in silence until Hesperis.

[Pagan Book of Hours]

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Imbolc Incense

Imbolc Incense

3 parts Frankincense

2 parts Dragon’s Blood

1/2 part Red Sandalwood

1 part Cinnamon

a few drops Red Wine

To this mixture add a pinch of the first flower (dry it first) that is available in your area at the time of Imbolc (February 1st). Burn during Wiccan ceremonies on Imbolc, or simply to attune with the symbolic rebirth of the Sun — the fading of winter and the promise of Spring.

 

(The above recipe for Imbolc Incense is directly quoted from Scott Cunningham’s book: The Complete Book of Incense, Oils & Brews, page 72, Llewellyn Publications, 1992.)

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The Wheel of the Year and It’s Influences in our Daily Life

The Wheel of the Year and It’s Influences in our Daily Life

Author:   MissElphie   

Wicca, and many other pagan paths, celebrate the Wheel of the Year. The festivities around the Seasons and the Path of the Sun in the Sky have been a motive of celebration in History. Today I’m going to talk about its influence on modern practitioners and its influence in our daily lives.

The Wheel of the Year is something very important and essential in a Pagan’s life. It celebrates the path of the Sun God throughout the year. We celebrate the different phases: Birth, Growth, Marriage, Aging, Death and Rebirth. We cast spells to bring happiness and wellness to our loved ones and us. We light bonfires to celebrate fertility in our lives. We light candles to help the God rise higher and higher in the Winter Skies… But, do we feel those changes? Has anyone ever wondered how important and meaningful all of these changes in Nature are in our lives?

Some of you might know what I’m talking about, but for those who don’t, I’ll explain. The Wheel of the Year isn’t just eight times a year; it’s in every minute of our lives. We feel those changes in ourselves and eventually we won’t even need to look at the calendar to see that a Sabbat is approaching. All around us we see Nature change; we see the changes that we usually celebrate.

When Autumn is coming you can see that some birds are already migrating, that the leaves are falling from the once full trees, those little animals are getting ready for the cold Winter that is getting closer and closer. You can see that with your own eyes. You can see the flowers growing, snow and rain falling, bees and butterflies and every little thing that changes in Nature. Even in a city, you can see that. I live in a fairly big city and I see that. In the trees and gardens that are scattered around town, in the birds… and even in the weather. When it starts raining, getting colder and colder, maybe even a bit of snow… You can see and feel that.

The Wheel of the Year is part of our daily life.

The modern man has grown accustomed to routine. You get up, have breakfast, take a shower, drive to work, work, get back from work, sit on the couch and watch some lame TV show, go to bed and in the next morning you do it all over again. You repeat this process every single day. Never caring about what happens outside, in Nature.

A Pagan usually does not do that. Yes, he or she has his/her normal routine but with a small change. When getting up in the morning, a pagan might look outside and see how nature is going and maybe even take a few minutes to just watch what’s happening.

When driving to work, or back from work, instead of listening to a radio show and cursing the other drivers, he or she might be more aware of what’s going behind the cars and the smoke and all the pollution included in traffic jams. And even at work he/she might notice those little things, little details, that shows us that something is changing. A co-worker that brought his scarf today because it was getting colder or a friend who dressed a t-shirt instead of a sweater because the temperature was rising.

These are the little details in our life that we usually don’t care. We just don’t notice that all of this is going around us and happening. We tend to ignore it because we are so consumed by this consumerist and materialistic society and way of life that we ignore the simplest things that show us the world and nature at its best.

Life has more to it than buying, selling, partying, studying, etc. It has an essence. And its essence has been getting lost for the past centuries. Mankind has been driving further away from Nature, using it only for its own selfish purpose and not to connect with it. Our Ancestors lived with Nature, felt Nature and saw Nature with different eyes. Why should we, a so-called modern society, forget that we are a part of Nature? That she can, and will, live without us but we can’t live without her? She is part of us and we are part of her.

So, I’m telling you: Be more careful with details. See those little things in your daily life that connect yourself with the Divine and with Nature.

Look at your friends. How are they dressed? What are they doing? Look at Nature. How are the trees? Are they big and filled with bright green leaves? Or are they naked and numb for the cold Winter? How is the weather? Hot? Cold? Rainy? The flowers, the animals, the smell in the air, the heat and love you feel from the solar rays bathing your skin in a warm summer afternoon or the delight of being at home drinking hot coffee while it’s raining outside.

Don’t just watch the World. We are no longer just watchers of the World and Nature; we are a Part of it. We need to live with it. Feel it.

Feel the hot Summer breeze, the cold Winter snow, and the fresh rain in the Autumn and Spring. Try to connect. Go out for a walk on the beach, feel the waves and listen to the seagulls and the splashing of the waves on the sand. Go to the countryside and see the animals, smell the fresh and clean air, feel the sun and the warm breeze…

Paganism, no matter what tradition or path, isn’t just a religion. It’s a way of life. Being a Pagan isn’t just going to be for 4 times a month (Lunar Celebrations) and 8 times a year (Wheel of the Year) or any other celebrations you might have. Being a Pagan is going to influence your entire life, entire way of watching, feeling and connecting to the World around you. No matter where you live, whether it is in the biggest city of the World or the farthest countryside.

So, my advice is just to be aware. Look beyond the obvious and into the core of Nature and its essence. Live the Mysteries that Nature has to offer. Nature is something beautiful and constantly changing. It’s a never-ending cycle. Live it. Feel it. Feel it in your life and all around you. How it influences you, the ones you love, everyone and everything.

Be with Nature. Don’t just watch it.

Blessings!

MissElphie

The Witches Magick for Oct. 30th – Solitary Samhain Ritual

cat

Solitary Samhain Ritual

Place upon the altar apples, pomegranates, pumpkins, squashes and other late autumn  fruits. Autumn flowers such as marigolds and chrysanthemums are fine too.  Write on a piece of paper an aspect of your life which you may wish to be free of; anger, a baneful habit, misplaced feelings, disease. The cauldron or some similar tool must be present  before the altar as well, on a trivet or some other heat-proof surface (if the legs aren’t long enough). A small, flat dish marked with an eight-spoked wheel symbol should also be there. [This is just what it sounds like. On a flat plate or dish, paint a large circle.  Put a dot in the center of this circle and paint eight spokes radiating out from the dot to the larger circle. Thus, you have a wheel symbol  – a symbol of the Sabbats, a symbol of timelessness.]

Prior to ritual, sit quietly and think of friends and loved ones who have passed away.  Do not despair. Know that they have gone on to greater things. Keep firmly in mind that the  physical isn’t the absolute reality, and souls never die.

Arrange the altar, light the candles and censer, and cast the Circle of Stones. Recite the Blessing Chant. Invoke the Goddess and God.

Lift one of the pomegranates and, with your freshly-washed Boline, pierce the skin of the  fruit. Remove several seeds and place them on the wheel-marked dish. Raise your wand, face the altar and say:

On this night of Samhain I mark Your passing,
O Sun King, through the sunset into the Land of the Young.
I mark also the passing of all who have gone before,
and all who will go after.
 
O Gracious Goddess, Eternal Mother,
You who gives birth to the fallen,
teach me to know that in the time of
the greatest darkness there is the greatest light.
 

Taste the pomegranate seeds; burst them with your teeth and savour  their sharp, bittersweet flavour. Look down at the eight-spoked symbol on the plate; the Wheel of the Year, the Cycle of the Seasons, the End and Beginning of all Creation.

Light a fire within the cauldron (a candle is fine).  Sit before it, holding the piece of paper, gazing at its flames. Say:

Wise One of the Waning Moon,
Goddess of the Starry Night,
I create this fire within
Your cauldron to transform
that which is plaguing me.
May the energies be reversed:
From the darkness, light!
From bane, good!
From death, birth!

Light the paper in the cauldron’s flames and drop it inside. As it burns, know that your ill diminishes, lessens and finally leaves you as it is consumed within the universal fires.  [The cauldron, seen as the Goddess.]

If you wish, you may attempt scrying or some other form of divination, for this is a perfect time to look into the past or future. Try to recall past lives too, if you will.  But leave the dead in peace. Honor them with your memories but do not call them to you. [Many Pagans  do attempt to communicate with their deceased ancestors and friends at this time, but it  seems to me that if we accept the doctrine of reincarnation, this is a rather strange practice. Perhaps the personalities that we knew still exist, but if the soul is currently incarnate in another body, communication would be difficult, to say the least. Thus, it seems best to remember them with peace and love – but do not call them up.] 

Release any pain and sense of loss you may feel into the cauldron’s flames. Works of magick, if necessary, may follow. Celebrate the Simple Feast. The circle is released.

 

The Herbs Of The Sabbats

The Herbs Of The Sabbats

To be used as decorations on the altar, round the circle, in the home.

Samhain:
Chrysanthemum, wormwood, apples, pears, hazel, thistle, pomegranates, all
grains, harvested fruits and nuts, the pumpkin, corn.

Yule:
Holly, mistletoe, ivy, cedar, bay, juniper, rosemary, pine. Place offerings of
apples, oranges, nutmegs, lemons and whole cinnamon sticks on the Yule tree.

Imbolc:
Snowdrop, rowan, the first flowers of the year.

Eostara:
Daffodil, woodruff, violet, gorse, olive, peony, iris, narcissus, all spring
flowers.

Beltane:
Hawthorn, honeysuckle, St. John’s wort, woodruff, all flowers.

Midsummer:
Mugwort, vervain, chamomile, rose, lily, oak, lavender, ivy, yarrow, fern,
elder, wild thyme, daisy, carnation.

Lughnasadh:
All grains, grapes, heather, blackberries, sloe, crabapples, pears.

Mabon:
Hazel, corn, aspen, acorns, oak sprigs, autumn leaves, wheat stalks, cypress
cones, pine cones, harvest gleanings.

A Samhain Dance

A Samhain Dance

Author: Lady Wolfwind 

The wheel turns. I can feel it. The angle of the light in the morning is different, glowing lower in the sky. The air is cooler. The earth is beginning to give up her heat. The cooler air meeting the warm soil has created a low-lying fog in the meadows. Droplets hang from the long grass. It won’t last long this time of year. Slowly, the rising sun will burn it away. For now it is quiet and it is mine to share with the creatures of the earth. I watch as the squirrels scamper, grabbing nuts and noisily run back up the tree. The birds are busy foraging for their share as well. I see a beautiful red cardinal, his beak full of seeds, land on a nearby tree limb. The yard is alive with activity. Even their frenzied activity tells me that a change is upon us.

This is my favorite time of year. I have anxiously waited for the harvest season. The changing light patterns signal changes in my body. I feel as though I need to prepare for something. Maybe it is an ancestral need to put up supplies for the winter. I feel as though I can take a deep breath, as if the time for rest is near.

Later, in the evening, I return to the yard and it is alive once more. As I sit under the moon, very gradually a vision appears before me. I can see the spirits of my ancestors celebrating around the balefire and they are beckoning for me to join them. The harvest festivals have begun. I hear the drumming and the laughter. I hear the whispered conversations. I see their faces glowing in the firelight. They’re strong, determined faces of people who have know joy and sorrow, of people who have worked hard and the struggle shows in the lines of those faces. I feel their eyes gaze upon me from time to time. They feel my presence as well. They know who I am and they are happy I am here.

Tonight, I sit and I watch. I feel as if I’m an intruder, watching something I shouldn’t. At times I don’t feel it is normal, these glimpses of the past that I am granted. I don’t speak of these things to many people for fear they would think me insane, not even my family. I quietly say a blessing and thank the Goddess for the gifts of insight She has bestowed upon me. I wonder how many people think of their ancestors and all they owe to them.

I sit and contemplate as I watch the dancers celebrate, as I listen to the music quietly suspended in time, meant for my ears to hear. I silently communicate and ask them to tell me about their life as they lived it. I hear snatches quietly whispered in my ear. They tell me of living by the wheel of life. They explain how babies are born and die too soon. They tell me that some years the crops are good and others the crops they rely upon don’t fill the pantries and the cellars. They tell me how it is to be hungry.

Others whisper about good fortunes and fertile cows that they’ve sold for some gold pieces that have increased the family’s standing, about buying more land, and building bigger, better homes for their families. They talk mainly about the harvest and the dark half of the year, of the cold and the boredom and the fear of disease. There is always talk of fear of the dark.

I sit for a while longer and watch. I promise them that I will return on Samhain. I will be ready and we (my children and I) will participate. I’ve always favored Samhain, even before I knew it by its real name or true reason of existence. We will be prepared.

In our home Samhain is a truly special time of year. My daughter and I cook a great assortment of foods. I tell them stories of my family and encourage my husband to do the same. Samhain is a day of feasting and of celebration. Not so much a celebration of the last harvest, but a celebration of our ancestors. I want these people to be remembered, even if it is not by name, but by the fact that they are the reason we are all here today. We build a bonfire and we invite people to our home. They usually are here to celebrate Halloween as they know it, but to us it is nice to have the energy of the living mingling in our midst.

My daughter and I have prepared the names of people who have passed this year and we have woven a grapevine wreath on which to put these names. As the clock tolls midnight we cast the wreath upon the fire and wish those no longer with us safe journeys on the continuation of their paths. We light candles and place them around the yard and the house and invite the wandering souls a quiet, safe place to rest for the night. The quiet, lost souls are always welcome here. I feel them and my daughter sees them from time to time. We both acknowledge their presence and say a welcome to them as long as they don’t cause any trouble.

After all the guests have left, we, as a family, gather together and talk about all we wish to see in the coming year. Samhain is truly the end of this one. I think this year I will speak of my vision and of the departed ones desire for us to participate in their festivities. I think we will throw another log on the fire and dance. We will dance a celebration of life and all that it brings. We will dance to the joys and the sorrows we have faced. We will dance in thankfulness for all that we have and stop longing for all that we think will make our lives better. Most of all, we will dance with all those who have crossed over, one more time. We will not mourn their loss but celebrate all that they have taught us. We will dance in celebration of lives well lived and the gratefulness of having had the opportunity to have crossed paths with these truly special people.

At dawn we will lie in the cool grass and say our farewells and feel overjoyed by the delightful time we have shared with those others have forgotten. The sun will begin to rise and the fire will only be small wisps of smoke. The children and I will look at each other and know that we share a secret, a magical one. We will be hesitant to leave and return to our mundane lives. I think my children have a deeper appreciation of all that it means to be Pagan. We’ve spoken of the Sabbats and we have honored the Goddess at the full moon, but they have never truly been blessed with the presence of the Old Ones reaching out to them. I believe that their lives will be forever changed starting with this new year.

I am thankful for the wisdom I now see in their eyes, wisdom I could never have imparted. They have both been securely set upon their path and I am so ever grateful for this. It gives me a sense of peace that I no longer need to worry about this area of their life. As Pagans I know they will live as kind and compassionate human beings.

Now it is time to look to the future and of the coming year. My children and I will grasp each other’s hands and head into our home to rest. It’s funny how our ancestors have helped strengthen the bond between us. How many people can say something like that? We’ve allowed the long line of family to help build the future. Not only have they helped build our future but also they have helped build it in a positive way.

I hope everyone out there is enjoying this harvest season. It is time to reap what you have sown, may it all be pleasant. If it is not, now is the time to set aside the negativity and allow the positive to flow into your life. A new year and a new start are upon us. You have the power to make this coming year into anything you dream of; you can reach goals you never thought attainable. Take the opportunity of the dark half of the wheel to plan and build your energies, to rest and to prepare yourself to put your plans in place.

I wish you all the greatest Samhain.

Love to all my fellow witches,

Lady Wolfwind

Samhain Ancestor Meditation

Samhain Ancestor Meditation

Calling Upon the Ancient Ones

By , About.com

A Time of Darkness

Samhain is known as the night when the veil between this world and the next is at its thinnest. It’s a time to sit back and honor the spirit world, and call upon those ancestors who came before us. After all, if not for them, we wouldn’t be here. We owe them something, some gratitude for their ability to survive, their strength, their spirit. Many Wiccans and Pagans choose Samhain as a time to honor their ancestors. If this is something you’d like to do, you can celebrate with a ritual or by hosting a seance or dumb supper in their honor:

In addition to these more formal rituals, you may also want to take some time alone for a quiet meditation. This is a point in the Wheel of the Year when the spirit world is a bit closer than normal, and if you’ve never tried to contact your ancestors before, now is a good time to do it.

When performing an ancestor meditation, people experience different things. You may find yourself meeting a specific person that you are aware of in your family history — maybe you’ve heard the stories about great-uncle Joe who went out west after the Civil War, and now you have the privilege of chatting with him, or perhaps you’ll meet the grandmother who passed away when you were a child. Some people, however, meet their ancestors as archetypes. In other words, it may not be a specific individual you meet, but rather a symbol — instead of adventurous great-uncle Joe, it may be a non-specific Civil War soldier or frontiersman. Either way, understand that meeting these individuals is a gift. Pay attention to what they say and do — it may be that they’re trying to give you a message.

Setting the Mood

Before you perform this meditation, it’s not a bad idea to spend some time with the tangible, physical aspects of your family. Bring out the old photo albums, read through wild Aunt Tillie’s diary from the Great Depression, get out your grandfather’s old pocket watch that almost sank with the Titanic. These are the material things that connect us to our family. They link us, magically and spiritually. Spend time with them, absorbing their energies and thinking of the things they’ve seen, the places they’ve been.

You can perform this ritual anywhere, but if you can do it outside at night it’s even more powerful. Decorate your altar (or if you’re outside, use a flat stone or tree stump) with the symbols of your ancestors — the photos, journals, war medals, watches, jewelry, etc. No candles are necessary for this meditation, but if you’d like to light one, do so. You may also want to burn some Samhain spirit incense.

Claiming Your Birthright

Close your eyes and breathe deeply. Think about who you are, and what you are made of, and know that everything within you is the sum of all your ancestors. From thousands of years ago, generations of people have come together over the centuries to create the person you are now. Think about your own strengths — and weaknesses — and remember that they came from somewhere. This is a time to honor the ancestors who formed you.

Recite your genealogy — aloud if you like — as far back as you can go. As you say each name, describe the person and their life. An example might go something like this:

I am the daughter of James, who fought in Vietnam and returned to tell the tale. James was the son of Eldon and Maggie, who met on the battlefields of France, as she nursed him back to health.    Eldon was the son of Alice, who sailed aboard Titanic and survived. Alice was the daughter of Patrick and Molly, who farmed the soil of Ireland, who raised horses and tatted lace to feed the children…

and so forth. Go back as far as you like, elaborating in as much detail as you choose. Once you can go back no further, end with “those whose blood runs in me, whose names I do not yet know”.

If you happened to meet a certain ancestor, or their archetype, during your meditation, take a moment to thank them for stopping by. Take note of any information they may have given you — even if it doesn’t make sense just now, it may later on when you give it some more thought. Think about all the people you come from, whose genes are part of you. Some were great people — some, not so much, but the point is, they all belong to you. They all have helped shape and create you. Appreciate them for what they were, with no expecations or apologies, and know that they are watching over you.

Southern Hemisphere Magick

Southern Hemisphere Magick

Author: Frances

Despite what appears to be a wealth of information available on neo-Pagan traditions, one section of the community seems to be grossly under-represented and that is those of us who reside in the Southern Hemisphere – Australia, New Zealand and even South Africa, to name but three countries. The majority of authors residing in the Northern Hemisphere seem to have little or no knowledge at all of the differences between the hemispheres. And if such a difference is acknowledged, it is usually limited to only the Sabbats. It is no wonder that endless debates occur on how to “do things” down under.

The following is a suggestion based on my own personal observances as both a Wytch and magickian who resides in the Southern Hemisphere, which may be of assistance to others.

There are at least four major differences between the Hemispheres. The first is the obvious six-month difference in the seasons. When it is Midsummer in the Northern Hemisphere, we in the South are celebrating Midwinter (the “Christmas in July” theme is becoming a popular event even amongst non-Pagans). The dates, according to general consensus, of the Southern Sabbats are:

Samhain – 30 April

Midwinter Solstice (Yule) – 21 June

Imbolg – 1 August

Spring or Vernal Equinox (Eostre) – 21 September

Bealtaine – 1 November

Midsummer Solstice (Litha) – 21 December

Lughnasadh – 1 February

Autumn Equinox (Mabon) – 21 March

If we use the astrological signs in which the Sun moves into to determine each Sabbat date as opposed to actual calendar dates, then this too is changed by six months:

Samhain – 15 deg Taurus

Midwinter Solstice – 0 deg Cancer

Imbolg – 15 deg Leo

Spring Equinox – 0 deg Libra

Bealtaine – 15 deg Scorpio

Midsummer Solstice – 0 deg Capricorn

Lughnasadh – 15 deg Aquarius

Autumn Equinox – 0 deg Aries

This means that Northern Hemisphere-based festivals appear largely out of place in the Southern Hemisphere. Our Morris Dances however still celebrate “May Day” on 1 May regardless of the fact that it marks the beginning of Winter; likewise the Christian Easter falls in Autumn as opposed to Spring in the Northern Hemisphere. However, there are specific events that do align – in particular specific Southern Hemisphere-based public holidays. One good example is ANZAC Day, the day on which we remember Australian and New Zealand service men and women that died at war. This day of remembrance occurs on 25 April, close to the Southern Samhain on 30 April.

The next major difference between the Hemispheres is the direction in which the Sun moves across the sky. As in the Northern Hemisphere, the Sun still rises in the East and sets in the West, however on its journey across the sky in the Southern Hemisphere, it travels via the North because of the tilt of the Earth’s axis. For this reason, most Pagans in the Southern Hemisphere cast their circles in this direction, via the North or in an anti-clockwise direction.

It irks me when authors refer to deosil as meaning “clockwise” and widdershins as meaning “anticlockwise.” Not only does this not apply to the Southern Hemisphere, but also it is etymologically incorrect. According to the Australian Concise Oxford Dictionary, the word deosil comes from the Anglo-Saxon word meaning “sunwise” or “in the direction of the (apparent) motion of the sun,” and in the Southern Hemisphere this is anticlockwise. The term widdershins comes from the Middle High Germanic word “widersinnes” meaning “against the sun.” In the Southern Hemisphere, this is clockwise, representing the direction for banishing, winding down energies or even for darker workings. Of course, as English – as well as other European languages incorporated into the English language – stem from the Northern Hemisphere as opposed to the Southern Hemisphere, Northern associations are more dominant. For example, deosil is also said to come from the Irish word “cor deiseil” which means “auspicious right hand turn,” while widdershins is akin to the Irish “cor tuathal” meaning “the mundane left-hand turn.” To save confusion, however, for Southern Hemispheric Pagans, I prefer and recommend the first definition with respect to the Sun.

A further observance is that the energy flow of the Earth between the Northern and Southern Hemispheres is also reversed. Prior to spending time in England I was told to observe the direction in which the water drained down the plughole. In the Northern Hemisphere, energy moves in a clockwise direction, whereas in the Southern Hemisphere, it is anti-clockwise.

If we take the above information into consideration when placing the elements around our magickal circle, it then seems logical for the placement of Fire to be in the North, while Earth is placed in the South. Environmentally, to the North is the Equator and from the North come the scorching Summer winds. North is also the placement in the sky of the Noonday Sun. In the South however, where the Sun never appears in the Southern Hemisphere, are the bitter cold Winter winds, as well as the frozen mass we refer to as Antarctica. However, this goes against the directional placements of the elements in more traditional Pagan groups.

I know a number of traditional Crafters who continue to place their altars in the North because according to their tradition (despite it being Northern Hemispheric-based) this is the “dark quarter.” One reasoning behind this is that on the astral the directional placements of the elements do not matter. If this is the case, then when I operate between the worlds, it should not matter if my physical altar and circle casting reflects the land in which I reside. Surely, if the founders of Earth-based traditions such as the Craft and Wicca (for example, Gerald Gardner, Alex Sanders or even Aleister Crowley) were based, or had spent some time, in the Southern Hemisphere, would they not have taken the differences into consideration?

Some Pagans living in the eastern states of Australia not only swap the elemental directions of Fire and Earth around, but also Water and Air. When you take the environment into consideration, it is easy to see why they do this. East of Australia is the Tasman Sea or even the Pacific Ocean – large bodies of water. In the Southern Hemisphere our weather patterns move largely from the West (therefore the placement of Air).

Another difference between the hemispheres, which is often overlooked, is the direction in which the crescents of the Waxing and Waning Moons point. In the Southern Hemisphere, the Waxing Moon in the sky actually points to the right, while the Waning Moon points to the left. Therefore the symbol of the Triple Moon Goddess (the maiden, mother and crone) reflects an introverted appearance opposed to the extroverted appearance in the Northern Hemisphere. But there are times where the Moon decides to really throw the spanner into the works and the Waxing Moon can be observed lying on her back pointing upwards, and the corresponding Waning Moon pointing downwards.

For us Southern Pagan practitioners, there is more to take into consideration when we work our magick and our circles than simply swapping the Sabbat dates around. And with the varying opinions and reasons behind even basic circle casting, it is little wonder newcomers to the various Pagan traditions in the Southern Hemisphere find it all very confusing. Maybe Pagan book publishers should take this into consideration, and if anyone is interested in issuing a contract for such a book, I would be interested in writing one (shameless plug, but I couldn’t resist).

In the Southern Hemisphere not only do we appear to do things standing on our heads but also working backwards as well – or maybe it is you Northern Hemispheric Pagans who have got it wrong!

How To Honor the Ancestors at Samhain

How To Honor the Ancestors at Samhain

By

Many Wiccans and Pagans choose Samhain as a night to honor their ancestors.

For many modern Pagans and Wiccans, there has been a resurgence of interest in our family histories. We want to know where we came from and whose blood runs through our veins. Although ancestor worship has traditionally been found more in Africa and Asia, many Pagans with European heritage are beginning to feel the call of their ancestry. This rite can be performed either by itself, or on the third night of Samhain, following the End of Harvest celebration and the Honoring of the Animals.

Here’s How:

  1. First, decorate your altar table — you may have already gotten it set up during the End of Harvest rite or for the Ritual for Animals. Decorate your altar with family photos and heirlooms. If you have a family tree chart, place that on there as well. Add postcards, flags, and other symbols of the country your ancestors came from. If you’re lucky enough to live near where your family members are buried, make a grave rubbing and add that as well. In this case, a cluttered altar is perfectly acceptable — after all, each of us is a blend of many different people and cultures.
  2. Have a meal standing by to eat with the ritual. Include lots of dark bread, apples, fall vegetables, and a jug of cider or wine. Set your dinner table, with a place for each family member, and one extra plate for the ancestors. You may want to bake some Soul Cakes.

    If your family has household guardians, include statues or masks of them on your altar. Finally, if a relative has died this year, place a candle for them on the altar. Light candles for other relatives, and as you do so, say the person’s name aloud. It’s a good idea to use tealights for this, particularly if you have a lot of relatives to honor.

     

  3. Once all the candles have been lit, the entire family should circle the altar. The oldest adult present leads the ritual. Say:

    This is the night when the gateway between our world and the spirit world is thinnest. Tonight is a night to call out those who came before us. Tonight we honor our ancestors. Spirits of our ancestors, we call to you, and we welcome you to join us for this night. We know you watch over us always, protecting us and guiding us, and tonight we thank you. We invite you to join us and share our meal.

  4. The oldest family member then serves everyone else a helping of whatever dishes have been prepared, except for the wine or cider. A serving of each food goes on the ancestors’ plate before the other family members recieve it. During the meal, share stories of ancestors who are no longer among the living — this is the time to remember Grandpa’s war stories he told you as a child, tell about  when Aunt Millie used salt instead of sugar in the cake, or reminisce about summers spent at the family homestead in the mountains.
  5. When everyone has finished eating, clear away all the dishes, except for the ancestors’ plate. Pour the cider or wine in a cup, and pass it around the circle (it should end at the ancestor’s place). As each person recieves the cup, they recite their genealogy, like so:

    I am Susan, daughter of Joyce, the daughter of Malcolm, son of Jonathan…

    and so forth. Feel free to add in place names if you like, but be sure to include at least one generation that is deceased. For younger family members, you may wish to have them only recite back to their grandparents, just because otherwise they can get confused.

  6. Go back as many generations as you can, or (in the case of people who have done a lot of genealogy research) as many as you can remember. You may be able to trace your family back to William the Conqueror, but that doesn’t mean you have it memorized. After each person recites their ancestry, they drink from the cider cup and pass it to the next person.
  7. A quick note here — many people are adopted. If you are one them, you are fortunate enough to be able to choose whether you wish to honor your adoptive family, your biological family, or a combination of the two. If you don’t know the names of your birth parents or their ancestry, there’s nothing wrong with saying, “Daughter of a family unknown.” It’s entirely up to you. The spirits of your ancestors know who you are, even if you don’t know them yet.
  8. After the cup has made its way around the table, place it in front of the ancestors’ plate. This time, a younger person in the family takes over, saying:

    This is the cup of remembrance. We remember all of you. You are dead but never forgotten, and you live on within us. 

    Take some time to meditate on the value of family, how fortunate we are to be able to know the connections of kin and clan, and the value of heritage. If your family has a tradition of music or folktales, share those as a way to wrap up the ritual. Otherwise, allow the candles to burn out on their own. Leave the plate and cup on the altar overnight.

Tips:

  1. If you didn’t do a separate ritual for animals, you can add photos and candles for deceased pets to your family altar.
  2. If you like, you may wish to follow this ritual with a Seance.

What You Need

  • Items to represent your family members
  • A meal to eat
  • A cup of cider or wine to drink
  • Candles

Mabon Thoughts

MABON – THE AUTUMNAL EQUINOX

This is the Harvest Home and falls in a busy season. Agricultural work all
through the harvest season, from Lughnassadh to Samhain, should be done
communally and with simple rites, keeping the presence of the Gods in mind, and accompanied by games and amusements where they can be fitted in. The Harvest Queen with her chosen Lord preside at all these occasions, leading the work, the dances and the feasting. Wagons coming in from the fields at Mabon form a parade. There are garlands around the necks of the draft animals, and the
Harvest Queen rides in rustic splendor on the last wagon.

THEMES

Many fruits and nuts full-ripe. Leaves turning. Harvest in full swing. Bird
migrations begin. Chill of winter anticipated. Farewell to Summer. Friendship
and family ties remembered.

Thesmophoria, the Eleusianian Mysteries and the Cerelia, all in honor of Demeter or the Roman Ceres. Feast of Cernunnos and of Bacchus.

The myth of Dionysos: the young god is sacrificed or abducted as Winter begins.
Hy is restored to his mother in the spring. Dionysos (vegetable life) if the
offspring of Persephone (the seed corn) and Hades (the underworld, beneath the
surface of the earth).

PURPOSE OF THE RITES

Thanksgiving to the gods for the harvest. Magic for good weather and protection
of the winter food supply. Blessing the harvest fruits.

FOLK CUSTOMS

Gala processions to bring home the harvest. One or two fruits left on each tree,
no doubt originally meant as an offering to the spirit of the trees. Harvest
customs are too numerous to list here. Refer to The Golden Bough. They include
relics of purification rites and sacrifice of the God-King.

SYMBOLIC DECORATIONS

Colors: gold and sky-blue
Autumn leaves and berries
Fruits of harvest
Nuts
Acorns
Pine cones
Autumn flowers

SOCIAL ACTIVITIES

Husing bees
Harvest parade
Barn dances
Harvest ball
Country fair
Canning and preserving parties

THE RITE

Takes place late afternoon of Mabon Day, in a field or garden, not in wild
woods. The Circle may be marked out with autumn braches. Altar in the west. A
sky-blue altar cloth makes a beautiful background for harvest-gold candles and
decorations of autumn foliage.

Make an image of the Goddess from a sheaf of grain, so that the ripe ears form a
crown. Place this image, decorated with seasonal flowers (chrysanthemums are
sacred to Her, being really marigolds) above the altar. It is a barbaric-looking
figure – no Praxiteles goddess. Have a jug of cider and a supply of cups or
glasses near the altar.

Build the central fire in the cauldron and wreathe the cauldron with autumn
branches.

Coveners may wear work clothes or white robes, or dress in ordinary clothing in
autumn colors. HPS and HP should wear crowns of autumn leaves and berries.
Everyone walks in a procession to the Circle, each carrying a sheaf of grain or
a basket or tray of apples, squashes, melons, nuts, etc. as they continue to walk deosil within the Circle, HP and HPS take their burdens from them and stack them around the altar.

Banish the Circle with sat water. In the prayer of intention, refer to absent
friends and relatives who are present in spirit and to the harvest offering. Bid
Summer farewell.

HP kindles the fire. HPS invokes the Goddess and charges the fire. Communion
materials are cider and Sabbat cakes.

The Ritual of Harvesting:

Have a fruit-bearing potted plant at the North. Reap the fruit and carry it
slowly, elevated at about eye-level on the Pentacle, on a tour of the Circle.
The fruit represents the benefits and results of our efforts during the year.
The elevation, with all eyes fixed on the fruit, represents our assessment and
evaluation of our results. The coveners’ individual messages, burned in the
fire, briefly detail these. The fruit itself is divided with the knife and eaten
by the coveners as a token that they accept the consequences of their actions.

Have a platter prepared for the Goddess, bearing some of each kind of food
provided for the feast. Using the knife, HPS buries this food before the altar,
inviting the Goddess to share in and bless the feast. HP pours a libation. Then
he pours cider all around and proposes a toast to the harvest.

HPS gives thanks to all the gods for the harvest. HPS asks the blessing. The
usual divinations and similar business follow, then feasting, dancing and games
and the rite ends as usual.

What is Mabon?

What is Mabon?

By

Between September 19-22, Wiccans and other pagan religions celebrate the lesser sabbat of Mabon, the Autumnal Equinox. Other names for Mabon are the Autumnal Equinox, Foghar, Alban Elfed, Harvest Home, Fruit Harvest and Wine Harvest. The celebration of Mabon highlights the point where both day and night hold equal power across the land. Mabon is a period during the year. To honor those who have crossed the veil to spirit, to remember lost friends and family members with love and acceptance in the full knowledge that you will meet once again when your time comes.

There are numerous ways to celebrate Mabon, but essentially the controlling focus points either to the Second Harvest, or the equal balance between light and dark during mid September. Spend some time contemplating all of the positive aspects of your existence, both spiritual and material. Allow a feeling of gratitude to overtake you as you examine all of the good around you, light a candle and stare into the flickering flame and thank the gods for your continuing good fortune.

This is also a time to pay homage to the Ancient Deities that have frequented the world since the dawning of creation and continue to do so as the eternal seasons wax and wane in synchrony with the Moon. Some of the Gods originally linked with the Autumnal Equinox are Thor, Thoth, Hermes, The Green Man, Demeter and Persephone. During Harvest Home, the Corn Moon is celebrated in the month of September, the following Harvest Moon is celebrated in October, and Blood Moon on November thereafter.

The first full moon closest to the Mabon celebration is generally known as an Harvest Moon. The term Harvest Moon was taken from the fact that farmers would reap their crops during the night using the illumination of the full moon giving them greater visibility whilst working. European Wiccan/pagan groups do not believe that Mabon is an authentic sabbat therefore give it little credence, though it is widely celebrated in the United States.

Mabon highlights the end of the second of three Harvest Festivals, and is a time when the majority of crops have been gathered and the crop fields become bare in preparation for the upcoming Winter. Mabon sets the marker to the end of the Harvesting Season as the Pagan calendar rotates towards the darkening winter.

Paul Fitzpatrick

Writer of all things Wiccan and Magical.