From little acorns mighty oaks will grow

DSCF1501I have two baby oaks growing in my garden – what a sweet blessing! Have no idea how they got there but I have my suspicions. About three years ago I cast a handful of acorns around my garden as part of a ritual I was doing. Well I did forget I’d done this until now. Or maybe they are the children of the oaks that stand behind the boundary fence at the very back of the garden. Who knows but for the fact they are here. One is much small than the other and I’m not sure if they will both survive but I’m going to try to keep them safe. I’ve already cut away the tall grasses and thistle plants surrounding them so they both get access to sunlight.

So what is the meaning for me? Well the oak tree has been a symbol of strength, power and sacredness in a great many cultures and indigenous tribes across Europe. The Celts especially, and the Teutonic tribes, venerated oaks and considered them chieftain amongst trees. Oaks were associated with a great number of deities – Zeus, Jupiter, The Dagda and Thor amongst others. The Green Man is always most often seen surrounded by a partial mask of oak leaves. Because they live a long time (it takes an oak a very long time to grow so I won’t see these at their full glory during my present incarnation) they embody endurance too. And of course wisdom from the Gods.

The oak also stands for great protection, justice, honesty and bravery. Apparently its associated stone is Aventurine so I will lay one of these at each stone as a blessing for it – a gift! It’s position on the Wheel of the Year is at the Summer Solstice, when once again the Oak King will battle with his brother the Holly King. But this time it’s the Holly King that will win the bout and the waning year begins once more.

The medicinal park of the Oak is its bark, because of the strong astringent properties. Internally as a tea it helps fight diarrhoea and dysentery. Externally it can be used to treat haemorrhoids, inflamed gums, wounds, and eczema. The tannin found in oak can help reduce minor blistering by boiling a piece of the bark in a small amount of water until a strong solution is reached, and applying to the affected area.

It is tradition for the Litha fire to be oak wood representing the God, since this is the time of year when oak reaches its Zenith power.

The Oak trees essence helps boost energy levels and the ability to manifest our goals. The tree’s roots mirror its branches and stretch as far below ground as the branches do above  – this reminds me of the saying ‘As Above So Below’, which usually refers to the astral plane and the physical but I think it can also refer to the physical and the underground realms, the land of the dead.

Oak twigs bound together with red thread into a solar cross or a pentagram will make a greatly protective talisman for the home, car, or in your desk or at work.

LESSON OF THE Oak from The Wisdom of Trees by Jane Gifford

The oak represents courage and endurance and the protective power of faith. The tree’s noble presence and nurturing habit reassured ancient people that, with the good will of their gods, their leader, and their warriors, they could prevail against all odds. As the Tree of the Dagda, the oak offers protection and hospitality without question, although its true rewards are only apparent to the honest and brave. The ancient Celts deplored lies and cowardice. To be judged mean-spirited could result in exclusion from the clan, which was one of the most shameful and most feared of all possible punishments. Like the oak, we would do well to receive without prejudice all those who seek our help, sharing what we have without resentment or reservation. The oak reminds us all that the strength to prevail, come what may, lies in an open mind and a generous spirit. Inflexibility, however, is the oak’s one weakness and the tree is prone to lose limbs in storms. The oak therefore carries the warning that stubborn strength that resists will not endure and may break under strain.

I honour the energy of oak, the doorway to the mysteries. I will call upon the strength of the Horned One when I feel in need of protection. So mote it be

C is for Cunning Folk

cunning folk1Who are Cunning Folk, and do they exist today? Cunning folk (both women and men) have been around for centuries, and the term ‘cunning’ was entitled to these people as far back as the 1400’s (AD). When we think of the cunning woman (or man) we usually think of a poor peasant woman healing the sick with herbs, acting as midwife, or tending to sick animals and so forth. Indeed, cunning folk were all these but a lot more. The term ‘cunning’ did not have the same connotation as it does today, back then it meant someone who is skilful and knowledgeable. But they were also known as many other things depending on where their area of expertise lay. Not only that, they were not only peasants but also people of high status too. Titles that they were known by were wise man/woman, cunning man/woman, witch, wizard (for men), conjurer, charmer, magician, wight, necromancer, seer, blesser, cantel, soothsayer, fortune-teller, girdle-measurer, enchanter, incantrix (for women) and many more depending on the village or town where they lived, as these titles tended to be geographical in nature. Practically every village or town had a cunning man or woman often families of them, where their arts were passed down orally from mother to daughter, or father to son. They were honoured for their wisdom and knowledge; when they spoke, people listened. Such men and women carried on the beliefs and traditions handed down to them through the centuries – those of their traditions and that of the land and of nature. The practices of these women and men had much in common with shamans and witch doctors around the world- a belief that we are surrounded by spirits and that we can commune with them, that the land is alive and must be honoured and cared for, that our actions affect the world around us and we must seek to live in harmony with it, that we are part of the ebb and flow of the seasons and must perform certain actions at the correct time.

Famous cunning folk of old are numerous. Some examples are that of George Pickingill (1816-1909) was a well-known cunning man who practiced his art in the Essex village of Canewdon. Julia of Brandon, who had lived in a village north of Thetford in Norfolk.  In Essex, from 1812 to 1860, nearby Hadleigh was the home of James Murrell, called Cunning Murrell, the seventh son of a seventh son. Robert Berewold from St Mildred Poultry, who was accused of theft in 1382. John Harries (1785–1839) from Cwrt y Cadno in Wales and Mother Merne from Milborne Down in Dorset.  These are just a handful, yet research has shown that men actually made up two-thirds of all cunning folk. For every famous cunning man or woman there were probably many more who went about their business out of the public eye.

cunning folk2

Now we come onto that word ‘business’ because contrary to popular Wiccan belief these old cunning folk did in fact charge for their services, either financially or by bartering. It is a popular notion today that one should not charge for magical or healing services yet this is not traditional. Remember, many cunning folk were poor and had to eat and find shelter, so charging something for services rendered was perfectly acceptable and expected. It is the same for us today – those who perform magical or healing services should be expected to charge for their services and it is not against any pagan law to do so.

Cunning Folk practiced in all kinds of ways – some were experts in plant lore (or wort cunning), some had a great knowledge in astrology or divination (also weather magic), and others cast all kinds of spells on behalf of their customers. What most of these earlier cunning folk had in common was their reliance on folk magic and amalgamation of earlier times such as druidic  and Anglo-Saxon practices. In England during the Early Medieval period, various forms of folk magic could be found amongst the Anglo-Saxons, who referred to such practitioners as wicca (male) or wicce (female), or at times also as dry, practitioners of drycraeft (there is speculation among historians that this was the anglicised term for the Irish drai, meaning Druid). Even after Christianisation, cunning folk would still hold onto their ways because magic is energy and perfectly natural.

So what about today? Well, by the beginning of the twentieth century, the number of cunning folk across Britain had dropped markedly from that of a century before, and by the 1940s they had essentially vanished from the country. Despite this, other professional practitioners of popular magic, such as astrologers and fortune tellers, continued to remain popular. Historian Owen Davies suggests that the reason for the decline in the cunning craft was the declining belief in the existence of witchcraft in the country brought about by modernization and increasing education and literacy rates. however, I believe that anyone who still utilises folk magic and the healing arts,  and is attune to the natural cycles of the seasons can call themselves a cunning man or woman.

References

Owen Davies – Cunning Folk: Popular Magic in English History

Anna Franklin – Wise Women

Ronald Hutton – The Triumph of the Moon: A History of Modern Pagan Witchcraft

Emma Wilby – Cunning Folk and Familiar Spirits: Shamanistic Visionary Traditions in Early Modern British Witchcraft and Magic

 

In Perfect Love & Perfect Trust

‘In Perfect Love and Perfect Trust’… these words are heard often in Wiccan circles and covens everywhere. But where did they come from and what do they mean? Is it actually possible to have ‘perfect’ love and ‘perfect’ trust?

These six words appear in what is known as The Wiccan Rede (Rede of the Wiccae), a poem of 26 rhyming couplets published by Lady Gwen Thompson (1928-1996), and said to have been written by her grandmother Adriana Porter in the 1930’s. However, the Wiccan Rede has an older tradition, it also being found in the writings of Gerald Gardner, the so-called Father of Modern Witchcraft.

Now bear in mind that ‘perfect love and perfect trust’ is not applicable to everyone as it is a Wiccan admonition [Bide the Wiccan Laws ye must, in perfect love and perfect trust]. So obviously people of other pagan persuasions and paths do not necessarily hold to this. However, for the Wiccan it is a phrase that really is very powerful in their spiritual path. The idea of perfect love and perfect trust is a simple one: that you are safe within the circle of your coven’s practices. To stand in a circle with someone is to share an intimate space with them, and it can only be done effectively with someone whom you trust implicitly. By that same token, if we are able to love our coven brothers or sisters, we are able to trust them with our safety and our lives. Most often it is something expected of coven members and not people outside the coven.  This might hearken back to the ‘bad old day’s when Witchcraft was illegal, witches were persecuted, and one had to really be able to trust one’s covenmates on pain of death.

So how are we supposed to interpret this phrase? Well to a spiritual person this concept is multi-layered – not only should we have trust in those around us, but also in the deities we give honour to, as well as our spirit guides etc. However, we do this not because someone tells us to trust them but from our personal experiences with them. It’s the same with love – we love because of our experience of love with them. But this is all well and good but what does it mean as regards other human beings with whom we are supposed to have perfect love and perfect trust. Most, if not all of us, have been badly hurt at some time in the past and for some of us loving and trusting another doesn’t come easy.

From my own experience I had to begin by learning to love and trust myself first. That’s not easy either and sometimes all I can manage is acceptance of myself. But is that enough? Yes, I think it is actually. Acceptance means I’m not beating up on myself, not resorting to self-harm as I used to, and all the other detrimental coping mechanisms I used to employ. Acceptance of oneself and others is good! Does this mean I believe in ‘perfect’ love and trust? Well I think it is something to strive for but I’m not sure it is manageable for us humans, as we are not actually perfect. However, in striving for it we need to exercise responsibility and discernment don’t we. For example, would I take a walk in a rough neighbourhood after dark and expect perfect love and perfect trust to be exercised? No, of course I wouldn’t! Would I have perfect love and perfect trust towards a complete stranger? No, of course not! Love and trust need to be cultivated and earned.

We can, however, practice the spirit of perfect love and perfect trust, even though we won’t actually manifest it perfectly. how can we do this? Well, by being discerning about what we say and do…taking responsibility for our thoughts and actions…treating others in the same way we would like to be treated…trying not to judge others too harshly (yes, I am still working on this one folks!)…practicing mindfulness, which will help us not to blurt out stuff we later regret…knowing and understanding that we are ALL part of the Web of Life. All these things can help us live in the spirit of perfect love and trust, whether we are Wiccan or not. In fact, I think all spiritual paths, pagan or not, have similar concepts but are just known by different names.

While writing this I remembered the recent hoo haa about ‘fat’ issues amongst the Pagan community. It got quite nasty apparently but that’s the thing, there doesn’t NEED to be all these arguments and nastiness within any kind of community whether pagan or not if we try to practice tolerance, compassion, love and trust. If we just put our own egos in their proper place life would run much more smoothly. I know this from experience because a few years ago I would have been the first person to write a stinging comment in answer to someone I didn’t agree with. However, now I just walk away and cool down if it gets my gander up. Then I might go back and write a reasonable response. My life has been far happier doing that than it was before. Oh yes, there are times when I forget this and shoot my mouth off, and then cringe afterwards (did I REALLY say such and such?) but yes, I’m a human being and my spirit is learning what it’s like to be human. So, I keep trying to practice the ideal of perfect love and perfect trust but just not perfectly.

Celebrating the Summer Solstice

Litha History
Nearly every agricultural society has marked the high point of summer in some way, shape or form. On this date – usually around June 21 or 22 – the sun reaches its zenith in the sky. It is the longest day of the year, and the point at which the sun seems to just hang there without moving – in fact, the word “solstice” is from the Latin word solstitium, which literally translates to “sun stands still.” The travels of the sun were marked and recorded. Stone circles such as Stonehenge were oriented to highlight the rising of the sun on the day of the summer solstice.

Although few primary sources are available detailing the practices of the ancient Celts, some information can be found in the chronicles kept by early Christian monks. Some of these writings, combined with surviving folklore, indicate that Midsummer was celebrated with hilltop bonfires and that it was a time to honor the space between earth and the heavens.

In addition to the polarity between land and sky, Litha is a time to find a balance between fire and water. According to Ceisiwr Serith, in his book The Pagan Family, European traditions celebrated this time of year by setting large wheels on fire and then rolling them down a hill into a body of water. He suggests that this may be because this is when the sun is at its strongest yet also the day at which it begins to weaken. Another possibility is that the water mitigates the heat of the sun, and subordinating the sun wheel to water may prevent drought.

Saxon Traditions
When they arrived in the British Isles, the Saxon invaders brought with them the tradition of calling the month of June Aerra Litha. They marked Midsummer with huge bonfires that celebrated the power of the sun over darkness. For people in Scandinavian countries and in the farther reaches of the Northern hemisphere, Midsummer was very important. The nearly endless hours of light in June are a happy contrast to the constant darkness found six months later in the middle of winter.

Roman Festivals
The Romans, who had a festival for anything and everything, celebrated this time as sacred to Juno, the wife of Jupiter and goddess of women and childbirth. She is also called Juno Luna and blesses women with the privilege of menstruation. The month of June was named for her, and because Juno was the patroness of marriage, her month remains an ever-popular time for weddings. This time of year was also sacred to Vesta, goddess of the hearth. The matrons of Rome entered her temple on Midsummer and made offerings of salted meal for eight days, in hopes that she would confer her blessings upon their homes.

Midsummer for Modern Pagans
Litha has often been a source of contention among modern Pagan and Wiccan groups, because there’s always been a question about whether or not Midsummer was truly celebrated by the ancients. While there’s scholarly evidence to indicate that it was indeed observed, there were suggestions made by Gerald Gardner, the founder of modern Wicca, that the solar festivals (the solstices and equinoxes) were actually added later and imported from the Middle East. Regardless of the origins, many modern Wiccans and Pagans do choose to celebrate Litha every year in June.

In some traditions, Litha is a time at which there is a battle between light and dark. The Oak King is seen as the ruler of the year between winter solstice and summer solstice, and the Holly King from summer to winter. At each solstice they battle for power, and while the Oak King may be in charge of things at the beginning of June, by the end of Midsummer he is defeated by the Holly King.

This is a time of year of brightness and warmth. Crops are growing in their fields with the heat of the sun, but may require water to keep them alive. The power of the sun at Midsummer is at its most potent, and the earth is fertile with the bounty of growing life.

For contemporary Wiccans and Pagans, this is a day of inner power and brightness. Find yourself a quiet spot and meditate on the darkness and the light both in the world and in your personal life. Celebrate the turning of the Wheel of the Year with fire and water, night and day, and other symbols of the triumph of light over darkness.

Litha is a great time to celebrate outdoors if you have children. Take them swimming or just turn on the sprinkler to run through, and then have a bonfire or barbeque at the end of the day. Let them stay up late to say goodnight to the sun, and celebrate nightfall with sparklers, storytelling, and music. This is also an ideal Sabbat to do some love magic or celebrate a handfasting, since June is the month of marriages and family.

Litha Legends and Lore
In England, rural villagers built a big bonfire on Midsummer’s Eve. This was called “setting the watch,” and it was known that the fire would keep evil spirits out of the town. Some farmers would light a fire on their land, and people would wander about, holding torches and lanterns, from one bonfire to another. If you jumped over a bonfire — presumably without lighting your pants on fire — you were guaranteed to have good luck for the coming year.

After your Litha fire has burned out and the ashes gone cold, use them to make a protective amulet. You can do this by carrying them in a small pouch, or kneading them into some soft clay and forming a talisman. In some traditions of Wicca, it is believed that the Midsummer ashes will protect you from misfortune. You can also sow the ashes from your bonfire into your garden, and your crops will be bountiful for the rest of the summer growing season.

It is believed in parts of England that if you stay up all night on Midsummer’s Eve, sitting in the middle of a stone circle, you will see the Fae. But be careful – carry a bit of rue in your pocket to keep them from harassing you, or turn your jacket inside out to confuse them. If you have to escape the Fae, follow a ley line, and it will lead you to safety.

Residents of some areas of Ireland say that if you have something you wish to happen, you “give it to the pebble.” Carry a stone in your hand as you circle the Litha bonfire, and whisper your request to the stone — “heal my mother” or “help me be more courageous”, for example. After your third turn around the fire, toss the stone into the flames.

Astrologically, the sun is entering Cancer, which is a water sign. Midsummer is not only a time of fire magic, but of water as well. Now is a good time to work magic involving sacred streams and holy wells. If you visit one, be sure to go just before sunrise on Litha, and approach the water from the east, with the rising sun. Circle the well or spring three times, walking deosil, and then make an offering of silver coins or pins.

Sunwheels were used to celebrate Midsummer in some early Pagan cultures. A wheel — or sometimes a really big ball of straw — was lit on fire and rolled down a hill into a river. The burned remnants were taken to the local temple and put on display. In Wales, it was believed that if the fire went out before the wheel hit the water, a good crop was guaranteed for the season.

In Egypt, the Midsummer season was associated with the flooding of the Nile River delta. In South America, paper boats are filled with flowers, and then set on fire. They are then sailed down the river, carrying prayers to the gods. In some traditions of modern Paganism, you can get rid of problems by writing them on a piece of paper and dropping them into a moving body of water on Litha.

William Shakespeare associated Midsummer with witchcraft in at least three of his plays. A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Macbeth, and The Tempest all contain references to magic on the night of the summer solstice.

Litha Fire Incense
Midsummer is a great time for herb gardens, because there are buds and blooms everywhere. This is a powerful time to gather herbs, and also to prepare and use them. Any fresh herb can be dried simply by picking it and tying it up in small bundles in a well-ventilated area. Once they are completely dry store them in airtight jars in a dark place.

To make your own magical summer incense, first determine what form you’d like to make. You can make incense with sticks and in cones, but the easiest kind uses loose ingredients, which are then burned on top of a charcoal disc or tossed into a fire. This recipe is for loose incense, but you can always adapt it for stick or cone recipes.

As you mix and blend your incense, focus on the intent of your work. In this particular recipe, we’re creating an incense to use during a Litha rite — and since Litha is all about the sun and its strength, we’re going to make this a fiery and powerful incense.

You’ll need:

• 3 parts myrrh
• 1 part apple blossoms
• ½ part bay leaves
• ½ part cinnamon bark
• 1 part chamomile flowers
• 1 part lavender flowers
• 2 parts mugwort
• ½ part rosemary
Add your ingredients to your mixing bowl one at a time. Measure carefully, and if the leaves or blossoms need to be crushed, use your mortar and pestle to do so. As you blend the herbs together, state your intent. You may find it helpful to charge your incense with an incantation, such as:

Balance of the heavens and earth below,
The power of the sun in this incense grows.
Cinnamon, mugwort, apple and bay,
Fire and water, on this longest day.
Herbs of power, blended by me,
As I will, so it shall be.

Store your incense in a tightly sealed jar. Make sure you label it with its intent and name, as well as the date you created it. Use within three months, so that it remains charged and fresh.

Source: Patti Wigington

History of Yule

A Festival of Light
Many cultures have winter festivals that are in fact celebrations of light. In addition to Christmas, there’s Hanukkah with its brightly lit menorahs, Kwanzaa candles, and any number of other holidays. The Pagan holiday called Yule takes place on the day of the winter solstice, around December 21. On that day (or close to it), an amazing thing happens in the sky. The earth’s axis tilts away from the sun in the Northern Hemisphere, and the sun reaches at its greatest distance from the equatorial plane. As a festival of the Sun, the most important part of any Yule celebration is light — candles, bonfires, and more.

Origins of Yule
In the Northern hemisphere, the winter solstice has been celebrated for millenia. The Norse peoples viewed it as a time for much feasting, merrymaking, and, if the Icelandic sagas are to be believed, a time of sacrifice as well. Traditional customs such as the Yule log, the decorated tree, and wassailing can all be traced back to Norse origins.

Celtic Celebrations of Winter
The Celts of the British Isles celebrated midwinter as well. Although little is known about the specifics of what they did, many traditions persist. According to the writings of Pliny the Elder, this is the time of year in which Druid priests sacrificed a white bull and gathered mistletoe in celebration.

Roman Saturnalia
Few cultures knew how to party like the Romans. Saturnalia was a festival of general merrymaking and debauchery held around the time of the winter solstice. This week-long party was held in honor of the god Saturn, and involved sacrifices, gift-giving, special privileges for slaves, and a lot of feasting. Although this holiday was partly about giving presents, more importantly, it was to honor an agricultural god.

Welcoming the Sun Through the Ages
Four thousand years ago, the Ancient Egyptians took the time to celebrate the daily rebirth of Horus – the god of the Sun. As their culture flourished and spread throughout Mesopotamia, other civilizations decided to get in on the sun-welcoming action. They found that things went really well… until the weather got cooler, and crops began to die. Each year, this cycle of birth, death and rebirth took place, and they began to realize that every year after a period of cold and darkness, the Sun did indeed return.

Winter festivals were also common in Greece and Rome, as well as in the British Isles. When a new religion called Christianity popped up, the new hierarchy had trouble converting the Pagans, and as such, folks didn’t want to give up their old holidays. Christian churches were built on old Pagan worship sites, and Pagan symbols were incorporated into the symbolism of Christianity. Within a few centuries, the Christians had everyone worshipping a new holiday celebrated on December 25.

In some traditions of Wicca and Paganism, the Yule celebration comes from the Celtic legend of the battle between the young Oak King and the Holly King. The Oak King, representing the light of the new year, tries each year to usurp the old Holly King, who is the symbol of darkness. Re-enactment of the battle is popular in some Wiccan rituals.

Deities of the Winter Solstice
While it may be mostly Pagans and Wiccans who celebrate the Yule holiday, nearly all cultures and faiths have some sort of winter solstice celebration or festival. Because of the theme of endless birth, life, death, and rebirth, the time of the solstice is often associated with deity and other legendary figures. No matter which path you follow, chances are good that one of your gods or goddesses has a winter solstice connection.

Alcyone (Greek): Alcyone is the Kingfisher goddess. She nests every winter for two weeks, and while she does, the wild seas become calm and peaceful.

Ameratasu (Japan): In feudal Japan, worshippers celebrated the return of Ameratasu, the sun goddess, who slept in a cold, remote cave. When the the other gods woke her with a loud celebration, she looked out of the cave and saw an image of herself in a mirror. The other gods convinced her to emerge from her seclusion and return sunlight to the universe.

Baldur (Norse): Baldur is associated with the legend of the mistletoe. His mother, Frigga, honored Baldur and asked all of nature to promise not to harm him. Unfortunately, in her haste, Frigga overlooked the mistletoe plant, so Loki – the resident trickster – took advantage of the opportunity and fooled Baldur’s blind twin, Hod, into killing him with a spear made of mistletoe. Baldur was later restored to life.

Bona Dea (Roman): This fertility goddess was worshipped in a secret temple on the Aventine hill in Rome, and only women were permitted to attend her rites. Her annual festival was held early in December.

Cailleach Bheur (Celtic): In Scotland, she is also called Beira, the Queen of Winter. She is the hag aspect of the Triple Goddess, and rules the dark days between Samhain and Beltaine.

Demeter (Greek): Through her daughter, Persephone, Demeter is linked strongly to the changing of the seasons and is often connected to the image of the Dark Mother in winter. When Persephone was abducted by Hades, Demeter’s grief caused the earth to die for six months, until her daughter’s return.

Dionysus (Greek): A festival called Brumalia was held every December in honor of Dionysus and his fermented grape wine. The event proved so popular that the Romans adopted it as well in their celebrations of Bacchus.

Frau Holle (Norse): Frau Holle appears in many different forms in Scandinavian mythology and legend. She is associated with both the evergreen plants of the Yule season, and with snowfall, which is said to be Frau Holle shaking out her feathery mattresses.

Frigga (Norse): Frigga honored her son, Baldur, by asking all of nature not to harm him, but in her haste overlooked the mistletoe plant. Loki fooled Baldur’s blind twin, Hod, into killing him with a spear made of mistletoe but Odin later restored him to life. As thanks, Frigga declared that mistletoe must be regarded as a plant of love, rather than death.

Holly King (British/Celtic): The Holly King is a figure found in British tales and folklore. He is similar to the Green Man, the archetype of the forest. In modern Pagan religion, the Holly King battles the Oak King for supremacy throughout the year. At the winter solstice, the Holly King is defeated.

Horus (Egyptian): Horus was one of the solar deities of the ancient Egyptians. He rose and set every day, and is often associated with Nut, the sky god. Horus later became connected with another sun god, Ra.

La Befana (Italian): This character from Italian folklore is similar to St. Nicholas, in that she flies around delivering candy to well-behaved children in early January. She is depicted as an old woman on a broomstick, wearing a black shawl.

Lord of Misrule (British): The custom of appointing a Lord of Misrule to preside over winter holiday festivities actually has its roots in antiquity, during the Roman week of Saturnalia.

Mithras (Roman): Mithras was celebrated as part of a mystery religion in ancient Rome. He was a god of the sun, who was born around the time of the winter solstice and then experienced a resurrection around the spring equinox.

Odin (Norse): In some legends, Odin bestowed gifts at Yuletide upon his people, riding a magical flying horse across the sky. This legend may have combined with that of St. Nicholas to create the modern Santa Claus.

Saturn (Roman): Every December, the Romans threw a week-long celebration of debauchery and fun, called Saturnalia in honor of their agricultural god, Saturn. Roles were reversed, and slaves became the masters, at least temporarily. This is where the tradition of the Lord of Misrule originated.

Spider Woman (Hopi): Soyal is the Hopi festival of the winter solstice. It honors the Spider Woman and the Hawk Maiden, and celebrates the sun’s victory over winter’s darkness.

Source: Patti Wigington

Sunday 13th December 2009 ~ Waning Crescent Moon in Scorpio

I have completely forgotten what day it is. This probably has something to do with being so excited about Meadowhawk’s visit and Yule and all the things I have to do between now and then. This time next week Meadowhawk will be here and I’M SO EXCITED!!!!!!!!! I cannot wait to meet him at the airport and give him a huge squish. And then there’s Yule too. Yesterday me, Jess and her boyfriend Ben put up all our decorations. The tree looks lovely but the cats are already trying to dismantle it during the night. We found 6 baubles off it and rolling around on the floor this morning, one of them smashed. This will be an ongoing occurrence now between now and 12th Night when the tree comes down again. Oh well, the kitties have to have their fun don’t they. And I think it’s an exercise in patience and tolerance for us too.

Today I do my 2nd Shamanic Journey, this time to meet my Guardian Spirit. I’m excited about it but also am feeling the pressure of this course. I have to get the feedback in by tomorrow but I also have to write a short research paper on my Guardian Spirit, the animal rather. Doesn’t leave me much time. This is what I’m finding hard – the pressure to get things done. I find it hard to work to tight deadlines but on the other hand working purely at my own speed isn’t all that good either because then I put things off and off forever it seems. Like the Historical Paganism course. I’ve done absolutely nothing on that for weeks now, not since I began the Shamanism course anyway but I’ll be picking it up again in the New Year for sure.

Then there’s all the other mundane things I need to do today – washing clothes, washing dishes etc. It never seems to end.

And as I speak the kitties are still dismantling the tree…LOL
Oh they are so naughty!

Blessings
Deep~Glade

Tuesday 25th August 2009 ~ Waxing Crescent Moon in Scorpio

Not feeling so good today – I’ve got a really bad sinus infection and bronchitis and am in quite a bit of pain. Feel so blah! Feeling irritable too and trying not to take it out on everyone else. Really I should got to bed and I will in a minute but I wanted to write something here first. Haven’t been doing so well in drawing a card each day from The Enchanted Oracle Deck, probably because I’m not feeling well.

Anyway, Elendil and her boyfriend ‘B’ are doing well and things seem to have been going ok since he moved in. I’m very glad I made some rules though and have stipulated a time limit on his stay. I feel more in control about things. Of course there are teething problems, not really problems but just a settling in period but it all seems to be going ok. No big things and I’m determined NOT to sweat the small stuff. I really need to do this in many areas in my life. I have a tendency to get worked up over the little things, when in fact they are only little and don’t need stressing over. So whenever I feel myself starting to get niggly over something I say to myself…Deep~Glade, don’t sweat the small stuff…and it seems to be working 🙂

I just completed Lesson 3 of the Historical Paganism course and submitted it. I am really enjoying this course, even though it’s very involved with a lot of research and reading. Although I still have to start Lesson 14 of the 2nd Degree – must do that this week!

Blessings
Deep~Glade