ferine: (Yule)
THE SABBAT OF YULE/WINTER SOLSTICE (December 20 or 21)
© Copyright 2005-2009 Karen Charboneau-Harrison, All Rights Reserved.

Many Christmas customs and much of our Christmas music of any antiquity originated in the Western European Pagan celebrations of Yule. Customs attached to the Yuletide constellation of Saints' Days: Stephen, Basil, Nicholas, Lucia, Barbara, Sylvester and the Epiphany derive almost entirely from Yule. There is a richness of customs concerning food, fires, plants, animals, wild birds, stars, mummers, music, magic, clothing, angels, social roles, gifts, lights, auguries and so on, endlessly. Imagine the figure of baby Dionysos, newborn of Demeter or Persephone (depending on which myths you read), lying swaddled on a bed of straw in a harvest basket on the threshing floor, his head surrounded by a gold nimbus (halo) looking exactly like the Christ-child in the crèche and evoking the same feelings of love and mystery as does the image of the Baby Jesus born in the stables.

The Winter Solstice is the fire-festival of Yule with its Yule-log saved from the previous year's fire to kindle the flames for the new years's celebrations. To the ancient Egyptians it marked the birth of Osiris. To the ancient Persians it celebrated the birth of Mithras, the all-seeing Sun, god of friendship. The Romans knew it as Saturnalia with its feasting and exchanging of roles of masters and slaves. Whatever the name and outward appearance of its festivities, however, Yule's esoteric meaning stayed the same - it noted the shortest day of the year with emphasis on the fact that from this time until the Summer Solstice, the solar forces, both material and spiritual, would be gaining in strength.

The word Yule can be traced to the ancient Celtic word 'hioul' which means wheel. It is the celebration of the return or rebirth of the Sun god, the Lord of Life, the Child of Promise. The rites are solemn yet filled with joy for they solve the paradox of Death and Rebirth. This festival represents the redemption of the world from death and darkness and is a celebration of hope and joy amidst the barrenness of Winter.

Reverence for trees is a part of the Western European Pagan heritage. The decorating of a tree with lights and the burning of the Yule log have their birth in this reverence. At one time in our ancient history it was felt that the sacrifice of a great tree to insure than life would go on was necessary. The burning of the great Yule log would bring good luck and the returning of life force. The fire was lit from a piece of the previous year's Yule log that had been tended all year and saved for this purpose.

This is the time of the Winter Solstice when the sun reaches the southernmost point in its journey across the sky and appears to remain motionless before beginning to re-ascend northward bringing with it light and the promise of springtime, life and warmth. This is the time for the death of the old god of the year, followed by the Goddess giving birth to the new Sun God. Yule is the time to end the period of darkness that has prevailed during Winter and has brought us into the gloom of barren trees and shortened days. It is the time to cast aside those inner doubts which have bound us and to welcome the growing light which shows us the ways of new beginnings.

This is the time of hope born anew.

Make some wonderful smelling incense to burn during the holidays this year! Here's a traditional Yule Incense recipe that we're sure you'll enjoy making and burning:

Mix together 2 tablespoons dried Pine Needles 1 tablespoon Red Sandalwood Chips 1 tablespoon Cedar chips; add 20 drops Frankincense oil 10 drops Myrrh oil 5 drops Cinnamon oil 5 drops Allspice oil 5 drops Pine essential oil, stir together and finish off by mixing in 2 tablespoons Frankincense Resin. Let your incense mixture 'cure' for a day or two before you burn.

© Copyright 2005-2009 Karen Charboneau-Harrison, All Rights Reserved.
ferine: (Samhain)


THE SABBAT OF SAMHAIN/HALLOWEEN (October 31)
© Copyright 2005-2009 Karen Charboneau-Harrison, All Rights Reserved.

Samhain (Hallowe'en, Hallomas, Sauin, Samhuinn, Nos Galan Gaoef, Nos Kentan'r Bloaz) is the traditional Celtic New Year's Eve. It is the beginning of the dark period of the year which will gradually give birth to a new sun and new life. It is the beginning of the gestation period for the coming year and of the future. As such, the Horned God must leave the seed of life with the Great Mother for the New Year. This is the last opportunity He will have to perform this greatest of all magicks before He must depart the physical world and so sojourn in the land of spirits and waiting souls. His departure at Samhain is very dramatic and powerful as it opens the gates of the entire netherworld for a brief period thus rendering Samhain a period of awe for all who have the senses to feel it.

Samhain begins the rule of the Lord of Death - the God of change, transformation andthe growth of the soul. He is also the God of rest and sleep.

This is a time to let old habits die and to meditate on who we wish to become. The Winter months are months to muse inward, seeking one's Self. Spend this time in your studies, calm meditations and gentle reverie so that, come spring, you may rise renewed, rejuvenated, fresh and whole.

It is said that on this date, the Celtic God, Saman, judges the souls of those who have left their bodies and decides if they may return to their loved ones for this last evening before making their journey to the Otherworld. Bonfires and solar symbols of all kinds are appropriate for this Sabbat. The carved Jack'o'Lantern pumpkin with its lit candle inside is strongly associated with this season as a solar symbol. The cauldron used as a scrying tool and as a symbol of the regeneration of souls as well as the broom which sweeps away the past are also both appropriate symbols. Pomegranates, nuts, apples and root vegetables are all symbolic of this Sabbat.

Samhain is a time to remember, honor and commune with our ancestors. Their wisdom and lore enriches our lives and gives us clear pathways to follow and emulate. The Dumb Supper is one such tradition which honors them and allows us a brief time to part the veil between worlds to receive information and comfort from those who have made the transition and gone before us. Set a festive table with the favorite foods of those relatives and friends who are no longer in-body. Along with the place settings for the living who will participate in this Dumb Supper, also place plates, silverware and cups for those deceased family members and friends that you are inviting. Name each one and fill their plates with food, their cups with drink. Enjoy a lively conversation full of memories and stories about those people. End by drinking a toast to them and then have a few minutes of silence to receive any information or messages from the other side. At midnight, take their dishes outside under the light of the moon to receive her blessing and scatter the remains of the food the next morning to share with our animal friends.

Divinations are traditional at Samhain to foretell the coming year's energy tides, challenges and gifts. At this time omens and oracles are believed to be the most accurate, as the veil between worlds is so thin. Divining by fire is popular and you can use either a candle flame or a fireplace. If you use a candle, the color purple is a good choice. Light the candle and begin gazing at the flame, quieting your breath and centering your energies and body. Begin playing with the flame mentally, establishing your connection. Make the flame grow taller then flattening it; cause it to wave wildly then quiet it. Once you have your connection, unfocus your eyes slightly, and ask a yes or no question. If the flame grows taller, your answer is yes, if it flattens the answer is no. Using your fireplace allows you to see pictures in the dancing flames that answer you questions. Again quiet your breathing and center yourself. Gaxe into the flames and slightly unfocus your eyes. .Ask your question and watch the flames play with each other as they form pictures and as the embers glow and wink out forms and numbers to give you your answer.

Traditional PUMPKIN BREAD: Mix 1 cup of corn oil, 3 beaten eggs; ¾ cup of water and 2 cups pumpkin (either fresh or canned) until smooth. Add to this liquid 3¾ cups sifted flour; 1 teaspoon salt, 2 teaspoons baking soda; 2½ cups sugar and 1 teaspoon each of cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and powdered cloves. Fold in 1 cup of chopped walnuts. Bake at 350° in 2 greased and floured loaf pans for 45 minutes to an hour depending on your oven. This keeps very well, but is most delicious fresh out of the oven!

© Copyright 2005-2009 Karen Charboneau-Harrison, All Rights Reserved.

HALLOWEEN AND PAGAN CHILDREN
© Copyright 2007 Karen Charboneau-Harrison, All Rights Reserved.

Halloween can sometimes be problematic for Pagans with children. For us, it is one of our most sacred and important holidays, yet we are surrounded by green-faced, cardboard 'witches' hanging over candy displays, plus offensive greeting cards. Story hour at school often involves a scary tale with a 'witch' as a villain and our children receive coloring handouts at school that depict at least one flying, warty 'witch'. It is inappropriate to expect your child to challenge these misrepresentations at school or for you to arrive fuming to confront the teacher or principal. Tempting though it may be to forego public confrontations, the proper response is to deal with these inconsistencies in the privacy of your own home. Tell your children that these images are produced by people who do not really know anything about real Witches and that no hurt or insult is intended. You can also explain how current North American Halloween customs developed in order to show them how other people do celebrate an important holiday with us.

The way I explained it to my daughter is:
Samhain begins the Celtic New Year, the time when 'the veil between the worlds is thin' and we are more sensitive to our inner selves and our psychic senses. Our ancestors who no longer have bodies often return to visit their homes and families at this time and we can communicate with them to help them pass on through to their next life and body, we can learn lessons from them and we can simply enjoy their company. Seasonal celebrations focus on the beginning of the rule of the God, the Lord of the Underworld, and Keeper of the Gates of Death. Our ancestors finished preserving their winter storehouse of food at this time and began the slaughter of animals that would feed them throughout the winter. The types of magick done at this time are for the preservation of our families and friends through the harsh winter months. We also send out energy to protect the wild animals, our winter stores of food and to strengthen the Sun for his rebirth at Yule.

The rest of the United States is celebrating Halloween with costumes and candy - both of which are fun for children. This custom comes from older traditions of our ancestors and is a wholesome way to let your children be a part of the larger community as it celebrates, perhaps unknown to them, a Pagan festival. In addition, here are some suggestions for Samhain celebrations that can include children:

Perform simple divinations for the coming year using the pendulum, scrying or candle flame gazing.
Talk about relatives, pets or friends who have passed on and what we learned from them or enjoyed about them.
Tell stories about ghosts, using the stories to illustrate how children might deal with fears.
Talk about the origin of Halloween customs. Trick or treating goes back to the beginning of the Iron Age when farm dwellers left offerings of milk, cheese or other treats to discourage the forest dwellers from pilfering. Leave some treats outside or in the hearth for the elves and fairy folk in your home. Costume parties developed during the Middle Ages so that on Halloween ('hallow' or holy evening) active ghosts and goblins could not recognize the people inside their homes celebrating the new year and therefore could not bother them. Jack-o'-lanterns developed from the custom of carving out turnips and placing candles in them to prevent the wind from blowing out the flame when people traveled at night using the hollowed out turnip as a lantern.
Make dream pillows for dreams of the coming year: Take a piece of cloth about 6 inches square. Make a mixture of any or all of these herbs/essential oils: Lavender, anise, mugwort, jasmine, white sandalwood, lily of the valley, lilac, chamomile, hops, skullcap and poppy. To prepare the herb/oil mixture, mix 1/4th cup of each of the herbs desired, then begin adding your chosen oils to the center of the dry herbs a few drops at a time. Knead the oils in gently with a spoon until the scent is as strong as you like. If you wish to sew your pillow, fold the cloth in half and sew the long side and one of the short ones. Turn it inside out so that your seams are inside. Stuff the pillow with the herb mixture then finish it off with a slip stitch on the remaining opening. If you prefer not to sew, lay the cloth flat and place the herb mixture in the center. Take two opposing corners and bring them together. Do the same with the remaining two corners. Packing the herbs tightly in the middle, twist the corners up together and bind them with a ribbon. Dream pillows can help children remember dreams, sleep more deeply or ease dreams in the case of children with nightmares.
Maybe it's just because it's my birthday, but to me Halloween/Samhain is one of the most fun holidays of the year. It's serious but fun and rich in lore and practices. Take advantage of all of the fascinating Halloween customs to introduce your children to your spiritual world view and share the magick with them!

© Copyright 2007 Karen Charboneau-Harrison, All Rights Reserved.

ferine: (Mabon)
(future Mabon dates: September 22, 2012; September 22, 2013; September 23, 2014)

The Autumn equinox signals the beginning of Fall. It is the point where there is exactly 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of darkness at the equator. If you live anywhere else, however, you will see a little bit more or a little bit less than 12 hours of daylight. The daylight hours are dwindling and will continue to do so until we reach the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year and the start of winter.

In ancient times, the Autumn Equinox was cause for a variety of pagan festivals, among them the celebration of the birth of Mabon.

It is also a time to celebrate with a variety of Fall and Harvest Festivals. People enjoy fall festivals as they sense the closure of a great summer season and the coming of a long winter. The fall festivals are the last of the outdoor events until spring. Just getting there is half the fun as you drive through hills and forests ablaze in fall color. So, get out and enjoy them.

More info, nabbed from www.earthwitchery.com:

Autumn Equinox, around September 21, is the
time of the descent of the Goddess into the
Underworld. With her departure, we see the
decline of nature and the coming of winter.
This is a classic, ancient mythos, seen the
Sumerian myth of Inanna and in the ancient
Greek and Roman legends of Demeter and
Persephone.

In September, we also bid farewell to the
Harvest Lord who was slain at Lammas. He is
the Green Man, seen as the cycle of nature in
the plant kingdom. He is harvested and his
seeds are planted into the Earth so that life
may continue and be more abundant.

Mabon ("Great Son") is a Welsh god. He was a
great hunter with a swift horse and a wonderful
hound. He may have been a mythologized actual
leader. He was stolen from his mother, Modron
(Great Mother),when he was three nights old,
but was eventually rescued by King Arthur
(other legends say he was rescued by the
Blackbird, the Stag, the Owl, the Eagle, and
the Salmon). All along, however, Mabon has
been dwelling, a happy captive, in Modron's
magickal Otherworld -- Madron's womb. Only in
this way can he be reborn. Mabon's light has
been drawn into the Earth, gathering strength
and wisdom enough to become a new seed. In
this sense, Mabon is the masculine counterpart
of Persephone -- the male fertilizing principle
seasonally withdrawn. Modron corresponds with
Demeter.

From the moment of the September Equinox, the
Sun's strength diminishes, until the moment of
Winter Solstice in December, when the Sun grows
stronger and the days once again become longer
than the nights.

Symbols celebrating the season include various
types of gourd and melons. Stalk can be tied
together symbolizing the Harvest Lord and then
set in a circle of gourds. A besom can be
constructed to symbolize the polarity of male
and female. The Harvest Lord is often
symbolized by a straw man, whose sacrificial
body is burned and its ashes scattered upon the
earth. The Harvest Queen, or Kern Baby, is made
from the last sheaf of the harvest and bundled
by the reapers who proclaim, "We have the Kern!"
The sheaf is dressed in a white frock decorated
with colorful ribbons depicting spring, and then
hung upon a pole (a phallic fertility symbol).
In Scotland, the last sheaf of harvest is called
the Maiden, and must be cut by the youngest
female in attendance.


Altar Dressings
* candles should be brown or cinnamon.
* decorate circle with autumn flowers,
acorns, gourds, corn sheaves and fall
leaves.


Mabon Magical Herbs

Rue, yarrow, rosemary, marigold, sage, walnut
leaves and husks, mistletoe, saffron, chamomile,
almond leaves, passionflower, frankincense,
rose hips, bittersweet, sunflower, wheat, oak
leaves, dried apple or apple seeds.


Incense

Pine, sage, sweetgrass or myrhh. You can also mix
marigold, passionflower, and fern, using
frankincense or myrhh as a resin for Mabon incense


Mabon Magickal Stones

During Mabon, stones ruled by the Sun will help
bring the Sun's energy to you.clear quartz,
amber, peridot, diamond, gold, citrine, yellow
topaz, cat's-eye, adventurine.

Mabon is a good time to cast spells of balance
and harmony. It's also a time of change.
Protection, wealth and prosperity spells are
appropriate as well.


Holiday Fare

Mabon is the Witch's Thanksgiving, a time to
appreciate and give thanks to the Goddess for
her bounty and to share in the joys of the
harvest. Fall fruits, squash, gourds, pumpkins,
grains, nut breads, vegetables.

A magickal Mabon beverage: hot apple cider.
Apple rules the heart, cider alone is a self-
love potion. By spicing it with cinnamon, ruled
by Jupiter and the Sun, we are in essence,
ingesting the sunlight.

Sample menu #1: Mabon Wine Moon Cider, Roast
Chicken Rubbed with Sage, Basil, and Thyme,
Acorn Squash made with Sweet Butter, Cinnamon
and Honey, and Apple Bread.

Sample menu #2: Wine from the god and beans and
squashes from the goddess. A hearty multi-bean
soup with smoked meats (optional), including
such as cut-up mild sausage like mild Italian
or Polish.

Mabon Wine Moon Cider

4 cups apple cider 1/2 tsp. whole cloves
4 cups grape juice additional cinnamon sticks
2 cinnamon sticks for cups, 6 inches long
1 tsp allspice

In a 4-quart saucepan, heat cider and grape
juice. Add cinnamon, allspice and cloves.
Bring just to boiling. Lower heat and simmer
for 5 minutes.

Serve with ladle from a cauldron. Makes 8 cups.

Mabon Activities

* Make grapevine wreaths using dried bitter-
sweet herb for protection. Use ribbons of
gold and yellow to bring in the energy of the
Sun, and decorate with sprigs of dried yarrow
or cinnamon sticks.

* Make a Magickal Horn of Plenty.

* Make Magickal Scented Pinecones.

* Make a protection charm of hazelnuts
(filberts) strung on red thread.

* Collect milkweed pods to decorate at Yuletide
and attract the faeries.

* Call upon the elementals and honor them for
their help with (N-earth) the home and
finances, (E-air) school and knowledge,
(S-fire) careers and accomplishments,
(W-water) emotional balance and fruitful
relationships.

* Make a witch's broom: Tie dried corn husks or
herbs (broom, cedar, fennel, lavender,
peppermint, rosemary) around a strong,
relatively straight branch of your choice.

* Make magic Apple Dolls: Apples are sacred
symbols of the witch. Our holy land, Avalon,
means Apple-land or Island of Apples. Slice
an apple through the midsection and its seeds
reveal the sacred shape of the pentacle.
You will need two large apples, one for Mabon
and one for Modron, 2 pencils and 2 dowels
about 12 inches long, a paring knife, a glass
or bowl of water to wash your fingers, a plate,
and a towel to wipe your hands. Peel and core
the apples. Carve a face in the apples. Place
apples on a dowel and stand them in a jar
to dry (start now). Then charge in a magick
circle. After 2 or 3 weeks, they should look
like shrunken heads. Make them into dolls. Use
wheat, dried herbs or doll's hair for hair.
Dress them in tiny robes and bring them into
the circle, asking god/dess to charge them with
their light.

Hang these Mabon and Madron heads on a Witch's
cord or a Mabon wreath.

From "Celebrate the Earth" by Laurie Cabot,
Green Witchcraft by Ann Moura, and The Witches' God
by Janet and Stewart Farrar.

Beltane!

Apr. 29th, 2011 03:39 pm
ferine: (Beltane)
Beltane History - Celebrating May Day
By Patti Wigington
Read more... )
ferine: (Spring pentacle)
THE SABBAT OF OSTARA/SPRING EQUINOX (March 20 or 21)
© Copyright 2005-2009 Karen Charboneau-Harrison, All Rights Reserved.

Ostara (also known as Eostre, a Teutonic Earth Goddess) is the beginning of the agricultural year. It is time for the Earth to "spring" into action and for us to initiate and celebrate new beginnings. One of the most universal symbols of this sabbat is the planting of seeds and the sprouting of new life from the womb of the Earth Mother. The Vernal or Spring Equinox marks the beginning of the 'light' half of the year, when day gradually becomes longer than night. From now until Autumn, the power of the Goddess dominates our festivities bringing light, warmth and fertility to the earth. The courtship of the God and Goddess commences with this sabbat and this is an appropriate time to focus on the balance of male and female energies within ourselves.

The word "Easter" is derived from the word "Eostre" and the symbols used to celebrate Easter have pre-Christian origins. The Easter bunny reminds us of the hare, the animal most sacred to the Goddess Diana and the eggs that the hare brings symbolize new beginnings, rebirth, continuity and growth. Have you ever wondered why Easter changes dates and months from year to year? Interestingly it is always the first Sunday following the first full moon after the Spring Equinox!

Some folk customs associated with Ostara are: spring cleaning (new beginnings); sunrise observances (to celebrate the growing light of the sun); sowing and planting done ceremonially; ashes from the Ostara eve bonfire mixed with the planting seed as a fertility charm; eating of cake and cider in the planting fields, burying a piece of the cake then pouring a cider libation to show the earth what it is expected to produce; moon cakes which are round cakes marked on top by a cross dividing it into quarters or 'farls' symbolizing the quarters of the moon and the four elements - they are the original hot cross buns; tree planting. Have fun with your traditions!

Eggs are probably the most popular symbol of this sacred time. Since eggs symbolize so well the ideas of newness, creation, potential and growth, why not make a Magick Egg to contain the energies of your hopes and wishes for the coming season? Take a fresh raw egg (do not boil it!) and dye it the appropriate color for your wishes: Green for growth, prosperity or healing; Red or Pink for love and marriage; Purple for spiritual growth and psychic development; Yellow for new beginnings and successful studies; Blue for peace and serenity; Orange for power and energy. With a straight pin, poke a hole in each end of the egg, place your lips over the hole at one end and blow the contents of the egg out over the sink or in the yard. This will take a few minutes. If your yolk is a bit tough, once you've gotten most of the white of the egg out, take your straight pin and penetrate the skin of the yolk then finish blowing the rest of the yolk out. Once your egg is empty, using your straight pin again, make small holes all the way around the middle of the egg, lightly mark one spot so that you'll be able to fit the egg back together correctly, then take a thin blade and saw through so that you have two halves. Handling it carefully, rinse the inside of the egg and dry it. Now it is time to fill your egg with your wishes and energies for your goal. Three has always been a magickal number so you'll use two herbs and one stone charged with your wishes to fill your egg. Your Green Egg will use chopped bay leaves, cinnamon chips and a citrine stone; your Red or Pink Egg will use rose petals, damiana and a rose quartz stone; your Purple Egg will use poppy seeds, white sandalwood and an amethyst stone; your Yellow Egg will use lavender, allspice and a clear quartz stone; your Blue Egg will use chamomile, hops and a blue topaz stone and your Orange Egg will use bloodroot, patchouli and a gold tiger's eye stone. Fill one half of the egg at a time, concentrating on your goal and infusing the herbs and stone with your power. Light a candle in the same color as your egg and begin to drip small bits of melted wax on the seam of the cut eggshell to fuse it back together. As you do this, continue to visualize your wishes and, if you like, repeat a short chant or power words as you go. If your wax drippings on the eggshell are lumpy, after you have fused the egg completely, hold the waxed area just above your candle flame to warm it and then smooth it with your finger. Keep your Magick Egg in a safe place and when you have achieved manifestation of your goal, bury it in your yard.

© Copyright 2005-2009 Karen Charboneau-Harrison, All Rights Reserved.
ferine: (Default)
A Holiday Tail

This made me tear up, in a good way.

*guffaw*

Oct. 29th, 2010 12:57 pm
ferine: (Default)
Hey Trick or Treaters: It's Really a Holy Day

October 29, 2010 - 6:05 AM | by: Greg Burke
liveshots.blogs.foxnews.com


It's the end of October, and the witches and goblins will be out soon. But is Halloween a pagan holiday?

Historians have said that Halloween originated from the Ancient Celtic pagan holiday called Samhain, also called the "Day of the Dead." They believed that on this day the souls of the dead were allowed access into the "land of the dead."

The name Halloween is derived from "All Hallows Eve," or the night preceding "All Saint's (Hallows') Day."

Catholic bishops in the UK are reminding trick or treaters of this relationship with the Holy Day. They’re backing an initiative called "Night of Light," which encourages Christians to place a light in their window on Halloween to give witness that they are followers of Jesus Christ.
The "Night of Light" is the inspiration of Damian Stayne, who says it is meant to "reclaim Halloween as a joyful Christian celebration."

Stayne points out that Halloween or "All Hallows Eve" is the vigil, or the night before the Feast of All Saints. November 1, All Saints Day, is a holiday in most Catholic countries.
All Saints Day, Stayne says, is the "feast in which Catholics celebrate the glory of God in his saints, the victory of light over darkness in the lives of God's holy ones in heaven."

Bishop Kieran Conry of Arundel and Brighton notes that Halloween is the biggest commercial festival after Christmas and Easter. "It's time we reminded Christians of what it really is," he says.
ferine: (Samhain)
What, no pumpkins? Before Halloween went to Hollywood. . .
Tinseltown's portrayal of the pagan festival is a far cry from its origins, writes Darragh McManus

By Darragh McManus
Thursday October 28 2010
www.independent.ie


Say the word 'Halloween' in most parts of the world, and the reaction will be: pumpkins, candy apples, trick or treating, lanterns, fancy-dress parties, and of course, teenagers getting sliced and diced in leafy Californian suburbs by masked maniacs with mommy issues.

Halloween, after all, is as American as apple pie and the Fourth of July, right?

Wrong, of course, as we know here in Ireland, but the rest of the planet isn't so sure about that. This writer found it impossible, when living in Japan, to convince the natives that Halloween wasn't an invention of 1970s America, but was in fact the modern expression of an ancient Irish festival called Samhain.

That old ritual marked life and death, the body and soul, the passing of the seasons, our world and the next. It has been hijacked by Hollywood, then reworked, repackaged, rebranded and re-sold back to us.

And like most Hollywood creations, it bears about as much relevance to reality as, well, a film about teenagers getting sliced and diced in leafy Californian suburbs by masked maniacs with mommy issues ...

The Hollywood cliché:

Halloween is an American festival which dates from round about the time murderous Michael Myers first broke out of the mental asylum, ie 1978.

The historical reality:

While some historians have gone back as far as an ancient Roman festival of the dead called Parentalia, Halloween is generally considered to have derived from an Irish traditional event which developed between the 5th and 8th centuries.

Samhain, which translates as "summer's end", was celebrated over several days. It marked the end of the "lighter half" of the year and the beginning of the darkness, and was sometimes thought of as the Celtic New Year.

Our ancestors would take stock of food supplies, slaughter animals and so on. And convinced by the sight of dying plants and animals, they believed that the border between this world and the afterlife became porous at Samhain, thus allowing spirits to pass through.

People and their livestock would walk between two bonfires as a cleansing ritual, and the bones of slaughtered livestock were thrown into the flames. Samhain is still celebrated by people who have pagan, Wiccan or neo-Celtic beliefs.

The Hollywood cliché:

Trick or treating is the classic, traditional Halloween activity.

The historical reality:

The practice of begging for sweeties from the neighbours has by now become a tradition on October 31, yes, but it's not part of the original Celtic festival.

In fact, it dates from the Middle Ages and is a mixture of several different practices of the time, in Ireland and Britain: dressing up and going door-to-door at various holidays was common, while poor people would go "souling" on November 1, receiving food in return for their prayers for the dead.

The modern version of trick or treating enjoyed renewed popularity in the New World from the 1930s onwards and eventually returned to here.

The Hollywood cliché:

People get dolled up in fancy dress for the fun of it, as a break from the boredom of their lives, and to increase their chances of sexual success at a Halloween booze-up.

The historical reality:

People wore costumes and masks, or blackened their faces, to try and frighten or placate malevolent spirits. These they believed could pass into our world on this night, with predictably terrifying results.

The Hollywood cliché:

Everybody hollows out a pumpkin, carves a face on to it and sticks a candle inside to make a spooky-looking lantern.

The historical reality:

Actually, here they're not too far wrong, except during Samhain the ancient Irish used a turnip -- an indigenous vegetable of this island -- called a Samhnag. These were thought to ward off harmful spirits.

The Hollywood cliché:

Halloween is all about death, horror, evil, vampires, zombies, mummies, witches, werewolves and demons.

The historical reality:

Where to begin? First, Samhain was not just about literal death; it also honoured the metaphorical death of summer -- a time of growth, life, food production -- the final harvest, the fact that free grazing is no longer possible for livestock, and the arrival of winter, when most living things either die off or go into the death-like state that is hibernation.

As regards evil, yes, there was a very real fear of malicious ghosties entering our realm, but the rest of it is pure Hollywood invention and has nothing to do with the Irish tradition of Samhain.

Vampires are an Eastern European legend, zombies hail from the West Indies, mummies are Egyptian, werewolves are middle European and demons are normally found in the Bible, a Middle Eastern book.

We've always had witches, of course -- and still do -- but practitioners of the ancient knowledge of Wicca would be horrified to think that they were considered, well, horrors. It's just a pagan belief system, and they don't really fly around on broomsticks.

The Hollywood cliché:

All kids are interested in doing at Halloween is watching gory movies and stuffing their fat, overfed faces with sweets.

The historical reality:

Traditionally, Irish children enjoyed a range of activities at Halloween, none of which involved gory movies and stuffing our faces with sweets (mainly because both had been banned by our parents).

These old-fashioned pastimes included bobbing for apples, bobbing for coins, apple on a string, searching for the gold ring in a loaf of barmbrack, hide-and-go-seek, telling of ghost stories, and various games of divination: staring into a darkened mirror to see your future spouse, dangling a silver ring on a chain over someone's hand to foretell how many children they'd have, even asking questions of rudimentary Ouija boards.

All nonsense, of course, but good, spooky fun all the same.

- Darragh McManus
Irish Independent
ferine: (Default)
(From paganwiccan.about.com):

Mabon is a time to give thanks for the bounty of the earth, and falls on the date of the autumnal equinox, which varies from year to year. Typically, it is between September 20 - 22 in the Northern Hemisphere, and March 20 - 22 in the Southern Hemisphere. In 2010, the autumn equinox falls on September 22 in the Northern Hemisphere. Below the equator, Mabon 2010 is on March 20.

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ferine: (Gollum Christmas)
(from: www.religioustolerance.org/winter_solstice.htm)

Note:
For the first time, thanks to a clear sky and the efforts of many individuals, the 2007 Winter Solstice illumination at the passage tomb at Newgrange in Ireland was broadcast live on the Internet. The 60 minute broadcast has been archived and is available at: www.heritageireland.ie/ The passage and chamber at Newgrange was illuminated by the rising sun on 2007-DEC-21 between 08:57 and 09:15 GMT.

Overview:
Religious folk worldwide observe many seasonal days of celebration during the month of December. Most are religious holy days, and are linked in some way to the winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere. On that day, due to the earth's tilt on its axis, the daytime hours are at a minimum in the Northern hemisphere, and night time is at a maximum. (In the southern hemisphere, the summer solstice is celebrated in December, when the night time is at a minimum and the daytime is at a maximum. We will assume that the reader lives in the Northern hemisphere for the rest of this essay.)

People view other religions in various ways, and thus treat the celebrations of other faiths differently:

Some people value the range of December celebrations, because it is evidence of diversity of belief within our common humanity. They respect both their own religious traditions and those of other faiths for their ability to inspire people to lead more ethical lives. Religious diversity is to them a positive influence.

Others reject the importance of all celebrations other than the holy day recognized by their own religion. Some even reject their religion's holy days which are seen to have Pagan origins (e.g. Easter and Christmas).

Some view other religions as being inspired by Satan. Thus the solstice celebrations of other religions are rejected because they are seen to be Satanic in origin.

Origins of solstice celebration:
The seasons of the year are caused by the 23.5© tilt of the earth's axis. Because the earth is rotating like a top or gyroscope, it points in a fixed direction continuously -- towards a point in space near the North Star. But the earth is also revolving around the sun. During half of the year, the southern hemisphere is more exposed to the sun than is the northern hemisphere. During the rest of the year, the reverse is true. At noontime in the Northern Hemisphere the sun appears high in the sky during summertime and low in the sky during winter. The time of the year when the sun reaches its maximum elevation occurs on the day with the greatest number of daylight hours. This is called the summer solstice, and is typically on JUN-21 in the Northern Hemisphere -- the first day of summer. "Solstice" is derived from two Latin words: "sol" meaning sun, and "sistere," to cause to stand still. The lowest elevation occurs about DEC-21 and is the winter solstice -- the first day of winter, when the night time hours are maximum.

In pre-historic times, winter was a very difficult time for Aboriginal people in the northern latitudes. The growing season had ended and the tribe had to live off of stored food and whatever animals they could catch. The people would be troubled as the life-giving sun sank lower in the sky each noon. They feared that it would eventually disappear and leave them in permanent darkness and extreme cold. After the winter solstice, they would have reason to celebrate as they saw the sun rising and strengthening once more. Although many months of cold weather remained before spring, they took heart that the return of the warm season was inevitable. The concept of birth and or death/rebirth became associated with the winter solstice. The Aboriginal people had no elaborate instruments to detect the solstice. But they were able to notice a slight elevation of the sun's path within a few days after the solstice -- perhaps by DEC-25. Celebrations were often timed for about the 25th.

December celebrations in many faiths and locations - ancient and modern:

ANCIENT BRAZIL: Brazilian archeologists have found an assembly of 127 granite blocks arranged equidistant from each other. They apparently form an ancient astronomical observatory. One of the stones marked the position of the sun at the time of the winter solstice and were probably used in religious rituals.

ANCIENT EGYPT: The god-man/savior Osiris died and was entombed on DEC-21. "At midnight, the priests emerged from an inner shrine crying 'The Virgin has brought forth! The light is waxing" and showing the image of a baby to the worshipers."

ANCIENT GREECE: The winter solstice ritual was called Lenaea, the Festival of the Wild Women. In very ancient times, a man representing the harvest god Dionysos was torn to pieces and eaten by a gang of women on this day. Later in the ritual, Dionysos would be reborn as a baby. By classical times, the human sacrifice had been replaced by the killing of a goat. The women's role had changed to that of funeral mourners and observers of the birth.

ANCIENT ROME: Saturnalia began as a feast day for Saturn on DEC-17 and of Ops (DEC-19). About 50 BCE, both were later converted into two day celebrations. During the Empire, the festivals were combined to cover a full week: DEC-17 to 23.

By the third century CE, there were many religions and spiritual mysteries being followed within the Roman Empire. Many, if not most, celebrated the birth of their god-man near the time of the solstice. Emperor Aurelian (270 to 275 CE) blended a number of Pagan solstice celebrations of the nativity of such god-men/saviors as Appolo, Attis, Baal, Dionysus, Helios, Hercules, Horus, Mithra, Osiris, Perseus, and Theseus into a single festival called the "Birthday of the Unconquered Sun" on DEC-25. At the time, Mithraism and Christianity were fierce competitors. Aurelian had even declared Mithraism the official religion of the Roman Empire in 274 CE. Christianity won out by becoming the new official religion in the 4th century CE.

ATHEISTS: There has been a recent increase in solstice observances by Atheists in the U.S. For example, The American Atheists and local Atheist groups have organized celebrations for 2000-DEC, including the Great North Texas Infidel Bash in Weatherford TX; Winter Solstice bash in Roselle NJ; Winter Solstice Parties in York PA, Boise ID, North Bethesda MD, and Des Moines IA; Winter Solstice Gatherings in Phoenix AZ and Denver CO: a Year End Awards and Review Dinner (YEAR) in San Francisco, CA.

BUDDHISM: On DEC-8, or on the Sunday immediately preceding, Buddhists celebrate Bodhi Day (a.k.a. Rohatsu). It recalls the day in 596 BCE, when the Buddha achieved enlightenment. He had left his family and possessions behind at the age of 29, and sought the meaning of life -- particularly the reasons for its hardships. He studied under many spiritual teachers without success. Finally, he sat under a pipal tree and vowed that he would stay there until he found what he was seeking. On the morning of the eighth day, he realized that everyone suffers due to ignorance. But ignorance can be overcome through the Eightfold Path that he advocated. This day is generally regarded as the birth day of Buddhism. Being an Eastern tradition, Bodhi Day has none of the associations with the solstice and seasonal changes found in other religious observances at this time of year. However, it does signify the point in time when the Buddha achieved enlightenment and escaped the endless cycle of birth, death and rebirth through reincarnation -- themes that are observed in other religions in December.

CHRISTIANITY: Any record of the date of birth of Yeshua of Nazareth (later known as Jesus Christ) has been lost. There is sufficient evidence in the Gospels to indicate that Yeshua was born in the fall, but this seems to have been unknown to early Christians. By the beginning of the 4th century CE, there was intense interest in choosing a day to celebrate Yeshua's birthday. The western church leaders selected DEC-25 because this was already the date recognized throughout the Roman Empire as the birthday of various Pagan gods. Since there was no central Christian authority at the time, it took centuries before the tradition was universally accepted: Eastern churches began to celebrate Christmas after 375 CE.
The church in Jerusalem started in the 7th century.
Ireland started in the 5th century
Austria, England and Switzerland in the 8th
Slavic lands in the 9th and 10th centuries.

Many symbols and practices associated with Christmas are of Pagan origin: holly, ivy, mistletoe, yule log, the giving of gifts, decorated evergreen tree, magical reindeer, etc. Polydor Virgil, a 15th century British Christian, said "Dancing, masques, mummeries, stageplays, and other such Christmas disorders now in use with Christians, were derived from these Roman Saturnalian and Bacchanalian festivals; which should cause all pious Christians eternally to abominate them." In Massachusetts, Puritans unsuccessfully tried to ban Christmas entirely during the 17th century, because of its heathenism. The English Parliament abolished Christmas in 1647. Some contemporary Christian faith groups do not celebrate Christmas. Included among these was the Worldwide Church of God (before its recent conversion to Evangelical Christianity) and the Jehovah's Witnesses.

DRUIDISM: Druids and Druidesses formed the professional class in ancient Celtic society. They performed the functions of modern day priests, teachers, ambassadors, astronomers, genealogists, philosophers, musicians, theologians, scientists, poets and judges. Druids led all public rituals, which were normally held within fenced groves of sacred trees. The solstice is the time of the death of the old sun and the birth of the dark-half of the year. It was called "Alban Arthuan by the ancient Druids. It is the end of month of the Elder Tree and the start of the month of the Birch. The three days before Yule is a magical time. This is the time of the Serpent Days or transformation...The Elder and Birch stand at the entrance to Annwn or Celtic underworld where all life was formed. Like several other myths they guard the entrance to the underworld. This is the time the Sun God journey's thru the underworld to learn the secrets of death and life. And bring out those souls to be reincarnated." A modern-day Druid, Amergin Aryson, has composed a Druidic ritual for the Winter Solstice.

INCA RELIGION: The ancient Incas celebrated a festival if Inti Raymi at the time of the Winter Solstice. Since the Inca Empire was mainly south of the equator, the festival was held in June. It celebrates "the Festival of the Sun where the god of the Sun, Wiracocha, is honored." Ceremonies were banned by the Roman Catholic conquistadores in 1572 century as part of their forced conversions of the Inca people to Christianity. A local group of Quecia Indians in Cusco, Peru revived the festival in 1944. It is now a major festival which begins in Cusco and proceeds to an ancient amphitheater a few miles away.

IRAN: Shabe-Yalda (a.k.a. Shab-e Yaldaa) is celebrated in Iran by followers of many religions. It originated in Zoroastrianism, the state religion which preceded Islam. The name refers to the birthday or rebirth of the sun. People gather at home around a korsee -- a low square table -- all night. They tell stories and read poetry. They eat watermelons, pomegranates and a special dried fruit/nut mix. Bonfires are lit outside.
Read more... )
ferine: (Default)
(From: //ilovewerewolves.com/)

Do werewolves celebrate Christmas?
Werewolves have a human side to them, and do not lose that when they find out they are werewolves. Many still celebrate the holidays and traditions they grew up on when they were humans. If when they were only human they celebrated Christmas, then they are likely to celebrate the holiday when they are werewolves as well. But if they didn’t believe in Christmas at all, then they still don’t believe in Christmas. In other words, being a werewolf does not necessarily effect what holidays you celebrate.

Christmas Werewolf Superstitions
Humans on the other hand are very superstitous about werewolves and Christmas. Some human cultures believe they are more likely to spot werewolves around holidays like Christmas. One good example of this is the country of Romania which has a custom called Colinde, or Colinda which are traditional Romanian Christmas carols. This Romanian custom is a big event, where groups gather and are led by a leader door to door singing Christmas Carols. Colinde used to be a ritual themed around things like hunts and animals, and ocassionally involved dressing up as animals. Original superstitions surrounding this ritual included the belief in werewolves (vârcolac).

Romania is not the only country that has superstitions surrounding werewolves and christmas. Other countries like Russia and Italy also have folklore which says that humans born on Christmas Eve are likely to become werewolves.


(From: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9B06E7DC1731E733A25750C2A9649D946797D6CF)

The "Twelve Days of Christmas"; The Terrors of the Long Dark Nights---The Wild Huntsman and the Werewolves---"The Madonna of the Heathen North" Who Breaks, the Evil Spells
By Maud Going
December 23, 1906, Sunday

ONCE there were giants on earth, valiant in work and play. Our heroic forefathers rose before the sun, well-nigh garroted themselves with fearful neckwear, and breakfasted on beef and ale. Our intrepid foremothers, after a strenuous day spent in superintending the spinning, weaving, baking, brewing, and candlemaking of a complex household and the training of a dozen children, could lace themselves into appalling corsets and dance till cock-crow. [ END OF FIRST PARAGRAPH ] (download the full article in PDF format at the website. It's cool in its antiquated style.)

ArrrrrOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOoooooooooooo!
ferine: (Yule stag)
© Copyright 2002 Montague Whitsel, All Rights Reserved.

Synopsis: The Winter Solstice has long been associated with ghosts and sprits in Pagan as well as Christian Traditions. “Christmas” has its ghosts, as does the Yule; when there are spirits behind every door and in every closet as well as dancing in the flames of candles and hearth-fires. What are these spirits and who are these ghosts, and why are mortals haunted in the tides of Winter’s Solstice? In this article we will explore these questions, becoming acquainted with some of the more traditional Yuletide ghosts in Celtic traditions as well as reclaiming one of the more well-known spirit entities in our secular western “December Holiday” celebrations.

We are all familiar with ‘Christmas’ ghost stories – from Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol to Tim Burton’s “The Nightmare before Christmas.” I have often been asked, though, why there should be ghosts and hauntings at this time of the year when many people want to be focused on family, the return home (either actual or in their imaginations) and deeper quests for personal and spiritual renewal. “Isn’t Samhain (31 October) the night of haunting?”

One answer – at least from the perspective of Celtic mysticism & mythology – is simple, and has to do with the nature of the Winter Solstice (21 December). This festival – called Alban Arthuan in Druidic traditions – has long been thought of as a time of death & rebirth when Nature’s innate powers and our own souls are renewed. This event – which marks the moment in the spiral of earthen time when the Old Sun dies (at dusk on the 21st of December) and when the Sun of the New Year is born (at dawn on the 22nd of December) – frames the longest night of the year. The birth of New Sun is thought to revivify the aura of the Earth in mystical ways, giving a new ‘lease on life’ to spirits and souls of the dead.

As such, Yule is probably the second most haunted time of the Celtic year, Samhain being the first. The haunting begins in early December, as if in anticipation of the rebirth of the Sun’s powers. Spirits become more animated in the days leading up to Alban Arthuan (from the 6th to the 20th of December). As practitioners of earth-based spiritualities light fires in their hearths and decorate their huts of dwelling for the advent of New Sun, spirits and the deer come near, communing with us as we prepare ourselves for the death of Old Sun. These spirit-visitants gather with us near fires in the hearth and around the Yule Tree. They haunt us in the glow of the Yule’s festivities.
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ferine: (Yule stag)
© Copyright 2005-2009 Karen Charboneau-Harrison, All Rights Reserved.

Many Christmas customs and much of our Christmas music of any antiquity originated in the Western European Pagan celebrations of Yule. Customs attached to the Yuletide constellation of Saints' Days: Stephen, Basil, Nicholas, Lucia, Barbara, Sylvester and the Epiphany derive almost entirely from Yule. There is a richness of customs concerning food, fires, plants, animals, wild birds, stars, mummers, music, magic, clothing, angels, social roles, gifts, lights, auguries and so on, endlessly. Imagine the figure of baby Dionysos, newborn of Demeter or Persephone (depending on which myths you read), lying swaddled on a bed of straw in a harvest basket on the threshing floor, his head surrounded by a gold nimbus (halo) looking exactly like the Christ-child in the crèche and evoking the same feelings of love and mystery as does the image of the Baby Jesus born in the stables.

The Winter Solstice is the fire-festival of Yule with its Yule-log saved from the previous year's fire to kindle the flames for the new years's celebrations. To the ancient Egyptians it marked the birth of Osiris. To the ancient Persians it celebrated the birth of Mithras, the all-seeing Sun, god of friendship. The Romans knew it as Saturnalia with its feasting and exchanging of roles of masters and slaves. Whatever the name and outward appearance of its festivities, however, Yule's esoteric meaning stayed the same - it noted the shortest day of the year with emphasis on the fact that from this time until the Summer Solstice, the solar forces, both material and spiritual, would be gaining in strength.

The word Yule can be traced to the ancient Celtic word 'hioul' which means wheel. It is the celebration of the return or rebirth of the Sun god, the Lord of Life, the Child of Promise. The rites are solemn yet filled with joy for they solve the paradox of Death and Rebirth. This festival represents the redemption of the world from death and darkness and is a celebration of hope and joy amidst the barrenness of Winter.

Reverence for trees is a part of the Western European Pagan heritage. The decorating of a tree with lights and the burning of the Yule log have their birth in this reverence. At one time in our ancient history it was felt that the sacrifice of a great tree to insure than life would go on was necessary. The burning of the great Yule log would bring good luck and the returning of life force. The fire was lit from a piece of the previous year's Yule log that had been tended all year and saved for this purpose.

This is the time of the Winter Solstice when the sun reaches the southernmost point in its journey across the sky and appears to remain motionless before beginning to re-ascend northward bringing with it light and the promise of springtime, life and warmth. This is the time for the death of the old god of the year, followed by the Goddess giving birth to the new Sun God. Yule is the time to end the period of darkness that has prevailed during Winter and has brought us into the gloom of barren trees and shortened days. It is the time to cast aside those inner doubts which have bound us and to welcome the growing light which shows us the ways of new beginnings.

This is the time of hope born anew.

Make some wonderful smelling incense to burn during the holidays this year! Here's a traditional Yule Incense recipe that we're sure you'll enjoy making and burning:

Mix together 2 tablespoons dried Pine Needles 1 tablespoon Red Sandalwood Chips 1 tablespoon Cedar chips; add 20 drops Frankincense oil 10 drops Myrrh oil 5 drops Cinnamon oil 5 drops Allspice oil 5 drops Pine essential oil, stir together and finish off by mixing in 2 tablespoons Frankincense Resin. Let your incense mixture 'cure' for a day or two before you burn.

© Copyright 2005-2009 Karen Charboneau-Harrison, All Rights Reserved.
ferine: (me w/candle)
El Dia De Los Muertos by Siouxsie & the Banshees

It's all soul's day
I hear you say
It's all soul's day
And you've come to pray
For the lost ones
The unadorned ones here today

El Dia de Los Muertos
El Dia de Los Muertos
Bailamos, bailamos
El santo y yo

Kiss the bride
Dance with me
Come rattle these bones
Come and shake my tree
Embrace me--irreverently
Now in marigolds
Shower me

There is more time than life
One never dies twice
There is more time than life
One never dies twice

Wearing wet suits sewn in the underworlds
Death comes shining
In a thousand bright colours
And music out of this world
Serenates to a bony twirl

Me lleva el diablo
La muerte va de viaje
Esta es musica del otro mundo

Buenos noches y adios
Hasta luego mis amigos
See you in heaven
See you in hell
All will be level all will be well

Bailamos, bailamos
El santo y yo

Me lleva el diablo
la muerte va de viaje
Esta es musica del otro mundo


Day of the Dead history
Indigenous people wouldn't let 'Day of the Dead' die
by Carlos Miller
The Arizona Republic


More than 500 years ago, when the Spanish Conquistadors landed in what is now Mexico, they encountered natives practicing a ritual that seemed to mock death.
It was a ritual the indigenous people had been practicing at least 3,000 years. A ritual the Spaniards would try unsuccessfully to eradicate.
A ritual known today as Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead.
The ritual is celebrated in Mexico and certain parts of the United States, including the Valley.
Celebrations are held each year in Mesa, Chandler, Guadalupe and at Arizona State University. Although the ritual has since been merged with Catholic theology, it still maintains the basic principles of the Aztec ritual, such as the use of skulls.
Today, people don wooden skull masks called calacas and dance in honor of their deceased relatives. The wooden skulls are also placed on altars that are dedicated to the dead. Sugar skulls, made with the names of the dead person on the forehead, are eaten by a relative or friend, according to Mary J. Adrade, who has written three books on the ritual.
The Aztecs and other Meso-American civilizations kept skulls as trophies and displayed them during the ritual. The skulls were used to symbolize death and rebirth.
The skulls were used to honor the dead, whom the Aztecs and other Meso-American civilizations believed came back to visit during the monthlong ritual.
Unlike the Spaniards, who viewed death as the end of life, the natives viewed it as the continuation of life. Instead of fearing death, they embraced it. To them, life was a dream and only in death did they become truly awake.
"The pre-Hispanic people honored duality as being dynamic," said Christina Gonzalez, senior lecturer on Hispanic issues at Arizona State University. "They didn't separate death from pain, wealth from poverty like they did in Western cultures."
However, the Spaniards considered the ritual to be sacrilegious. They perceived the indigenous people to be barbaric and pagan.
In their attempts to convert them to Catholicism, the Spaniards tried to kill the ritual.
But like the old Aztec spirits, the ritual refused to die.
To make the ritual more Christian, the Spaniards moved it so it coincided with All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day (Nov. 1 and 2), which is when it is celebrated today.
Previously it fell on the ninth month of the Aztec Solar Calendar, approximately the beginning of August, and was celebrated for the entire month. Festivities were presided over by the goddess Mictecacihuatl. The goddess, known as "Lady of the Dead," was believed to have died at birth, Andrade said.
Today, Day of the Dead is celebrated in Mexico and in certain parts of the United States and Central America.
"It's celebrated different depending on where you go," Gonzalez said.
In rural Mexico, people visit the cemetery where their loved ones are buried. They decorate gravesites with marigold flowers and candles. They bring toys for dead children and bottles of tequila to adults. They sit on picnic blankets next to gravesites and eat the favorite food of their loved ones.
In Guadalupe, the ritual is celebrated much like it is in rural Mexico.
"Here the people spend the day in the cemetery," said Esther Cota, the parish secretary at the Our Lady of Guadalupe Church. "The graves are decorated real pretty by the people."
In Mesa, the ritual has evolved to include other cultures, said Zarco Guerrero, a Mesa artist.
"Last year, we had Native Americans and African-Americans doing their own dances," he said. "They all want the opportunity to honor their dead."
In the United States and in Mexico's larger cities, families build altars in their homes, dedicating them to the dead. They surround these altars with flowers, food and pictures of the deceased. They light candles and place them next to the altar.
"We honor them by transforming the room into an altar," Guerrero said. "We offer incense, flowers. We play their favorite music, make their favorite food."
At Guerrero's house, the altar is not only dedicated to friends and family members who have died, but to others as well.
"We pay homage to the Mexicans killed in auto accidents while being smuggled across the border," he said. "And more recently, we've been honoring the memories of those killed in Columbine."
ferine: (Herne)
(from www.religioustolerance.org):

The Fall Equinox is also known as: Alban Elfed, Autumn Equinox, Autumnal Equinox, Cornucopia, Feast of Avilon, Festival of Dionysus, Harvest Home, Harvest Tide, Mabon, Night of the Hunter, Second Harvest Festival, Wine Harvest, Witch's Thanksgiving, and the first day of autumn.


Read more... )
ferine: (Default)
I was looking at Capall Bann's publishing site and found this article. I thought you might find it amusing (not in a snarky way; in good fun):

The Creation of Humans by Julia Day & Sheba

The great Goddess Bast who was (of course) perfect created the cat, who was and is, (of course), perfect. And she created mice and small birds, so that they had food and fun chasing them.

But later, much later, she also invented the tin. And the tin was wonderful. For it contained tuna and salmon. But, the tin, unlike the cat, was not perfect, for the tin could not be opened with paws. And therefore, Bast created the human. For, the human had paws that could open tins. And the humans also could invent things like central heating and keep it maintained and so Bast smiled and saw that it was good and that humans had their uses.
And cats came to smile upon humans also and to love them. And so, they gave them their purrs and their warm furriness and the humans, (at least, the pleasant and intelligent ones) found themselves well pleased.

But some humans, (being not cats and therefore not perfect) did not understand this and began to mistake their role in the Universe. And they became misguided and thought that their role was other than to open tins and work central heating. And with that, came a great hole in the understanding of humans, so that they felt hollow and empty and the worst even forgot to worship cats. But we must attempt to forgive them, for being not cats, they are not perfect and cannot help themselves.

But most of all, we must learn to avoid the damaged humans. Those that would harm us, for this world does contain impure and imperfect creatures and there are even humans so impure that they would try to hurt a cat.

But, there are some who rest between these groups and it is a service to the Universe to train and save them, if possible.

We may train these humans by sitting on the laps of those who claim that they do not love us, so that they may realise their terrible error and come at last to a realisation of their True place in this Universe.

Especially, we must work upon those men who claim not to like cats, for therein lies the route to many homes and hearts and tins. Once you have passed the threshold of their ignorance, we may educate household after household further.

And when we have enslaved the men, so that despite repeating, "I do not like cats", they find themselves loving us, we may rejoice. For we have brought the light to a poor species, one that lacks fur, whiskers and even a tail and is ridiculous at catching mice and we have made it feel, if only for an instant, what it is like to be Truly loved by the Real Creatress of the Universe.

Afterward, you can of course, totally ignore them.

A useful tip:

If your humans are substandard with the central heating, do implant the thought that a burst water pipe costs far more than the few miserly pounds that heating the house well will cost them in order to avoid trouble. The best time to plant this thought is when they are asleep, or about to go to sleep, for then they are fractionally close to the lower levels below cats' magical under-standing. It is also a good time to make them get up and switch the heating back on again.
ferine: (blue jay of happiness)
(from cedar-works.com, birdsource.org, birdwatchersdigest.com, audubon.org, etc.)

Top 10 Bird-Feeding Myths
by Bill Thompson, III
Editor, Bird Watcher's Digest
Read more... )
ferine: (Default)
Common Courtesy And Wit In The Digital Age

By Tracey E. Schelmetic
Editorial Director,
Customer Inter@ction Solutions magazine

A character in the novel The Human Stain by Philip Roth notes, of modern society, "People are dumber... but more opinionated."

This line has really stuck with me lately.
Read more... )
ferine: (Default)
Associating with American Indians and listening to issues of import to segments of said societies, it's offensive when confronted by the typical New Age image of the airbrushed muscular unshirted "Noble Savage" with a butterfly in one hand and the other hand stroking the fur of his wise wolf brother.

Before I had Amerian Indian friends, that image still struck me as woefully simplistic and fake. Both to the Indian and to the wolf.

As an archetype or construct, the image of the lusty Noble Savage or mysterious "Shaman" can serve a purpose I suppose. If that fantasy image can provide strength and focus, that's fine. Please know it's not historical truth, however.

Select schools across the country have offered what they call a "shaman course", "shaman class", and/or variations of. There's a huge debate among the tribes over this; many of the younger Indians are apathetic toward the idea, as they don't have much cultural self-interest anyway; some, like any race, see there's profit to be attained by essentially selling out (or just making up ceremonies and beliefs); but the elders of many tribes, and those who seek to keep their culture intact and alive, frown on such an idea, and especially of blending their ceremonies with any other religions, or mixing their sacred symbols with any other religion (the Jesus fish, a pentegram, the Yin Yang, Nordic runes, etc.)

I've argued that what's out there is out there; Pandora's box was opened, and the books that make many in the communities angry can't be removed from shelves. The information's already out there.

It's up to us then to be responsible with our choices, and with what we claim is (or think is) authentic. And PLEASE don't feel intimidated to do some real research. It's fun, and there's always something to be learned. >:-)

There is no such thing as an "official certificate of Shamanism" or an Officially Certified Shaman within any traditional American Indian tribe.

Some American Indians, but mostly those claiming some aspect of the heritage or ancestry or special ritual knowledge of American Indians, ingratiate themselves in the New Age genre because it sells and who can, or bothers to, fact check most of what's espoused?

American Indians can't be white-washed as simply "Native American", with the same beliefs and same attitudes. American Indians consist of many diverse tribes, with unique world views, unique superstitions, unique music, and unique activities as well as appearance and language.

The following's from 2003, but still relevant, and still important:

Spiritual matters, forwarded from [livejournal.com profile] cyberwolf007:
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Sarah B. Chamberlain

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I rarely make public posts, but I often make posts that are visible to a small audience of friends. If you want to follow my blog, please send me a PM, and ask me to grant access to you. Thanks!

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