For many pagans, the New Year starts at Samhain. This framework merges solar and lunar cycles, dividing into just two seasons, summer and winter. The thirteen months take their names from thirteen of the sacred trees listed in the ogham. Holy days derive from the solar cycle, with the principal Celtic festivals occurring at the mid-points between the solstices and equinoxes. These days are considered auspicious as being part of the time between times.
This modern pagan calendar conflates the holy days from both the Celtic and Germanic traditions with the additions of Midsummer and Yule representing the solstices. The Lengthen Efiniht and Harfest Efiniht are the vernal and autumnal equinoxes, respectively. Although, many pagans refer to the vernal equinox as Ostara and the autumnal equinox as Mabon.
Some of the holy days already have undeniable associations. The most obvious being Lugh/Lughnasad and Belenus/Beltene. Owing to the blending of Celtic and Germanic traditions, the remaining holy days are not so easily assigned. For those of us who prefer venerating Celtic deities, that means that one cannot simply point to archeological evidence and come up with a definitive answer, because no such answer exists for half the sabbats.
After a fair bit of research, reading, and soul searching, I have matched each sabbat with a Celtic deity. These are presented below: Continue reading →
I give this book 5/5 stars only because it is not possible to award it an entire constellation.
Delightful Workbook for Magical Women
This book kept me from languishing! While nearly everyone was bemoaning being locked-up, locked-down, and social distanced, I explored the magical world that was my own kitchen. The spells, rituals, and informational asides kept me entertained through much of the pandemic, nurturing both body and soul. Continue reading →
I’m in the process of removing an enormous shrub in my backyard and planting a fairy garden in its place. Quite a bit of thought has gone into deciding which plants to include and how they should be arranged. Shamrock was one of the plants I settled on.
All clover varieties are sacred to fairies. The shamrock especially so for leprechauns, those lusty, capricious little fellows whose magic might delight you one day and kill you the next. And you needn’t search for a four-leafed clover in order to be blessed. The distinctive tri-leaved pattern of common clovers is sacred to the Celtic triple goddess Brigid. (That’s Saint Brigid for the Catholic folks among us.) Continue reading →
Len Pennie, a 21-year-old Fife student is making waves in Scotland with her poem, In Memorium. The poem honors Scots women who were persecuted for witchcraft between 1563 and 1736.
The poem was commissioned by the Witches of Scotland campaign who have lodged a petition with the Scottish Parliament seeking to secure a pardon, apology, and national memorial for the nearly 4,000 Scots accused, convicted, and executed for practicing witchcraft. Their petition states: “As with elsewhere in Europe, the vast majority of those accused, some 85 percent were women.”
Pennie describes the treatment of accused witches as “state-sanctioned murder” and pledges to “demand justice” for those who were tortured and tried under the Witchcraft Act, branding it “a punishment lacking a crime.” Continue reading →
This book came to me at an exceptionally low point in my life. I was juggling three jobs, one of which required me to deal with a gas-lighting supervisor, was experiencing chest pains and hypertension, and sleeping maybe four hours a night. To say I was burnt out was an understatement. With the help of this book, I set healthy boundaries, quit what was an undeniably bad job, lost 52 pounds, and saw my blood pressure drop 30 points.
In The Witch’s Book of Self-Care, the author quickly addresses the common misconception that self-care involves sitting on your laurels, eating bonbons, having spa days, and engaging in retail therapy. Self-care takes work in order to have a lasting impact on your life. This is not a book to be read in an afternoon. It needs to be savored, taking as much time as necessary to master each task before moving on to the next topic. Continue reading →
‘Tis the season to celebrate cats. Halloween cards and decorations feature black cats sporting witches’ hats, slinking through graveyards, and riding on brooms. Halloween is synonymous with fun—and frights, but for cats, Halloween tricks can seem all too real. Strangers slink through the neighborhood. Unusual smells and horrifying noises fill the air. Costumes turn ordinary people into monsters. Make no mistake, Halloween is a spooky time for cats. Those frights come with an even more frightening history. Continue reading →
The time of the vernal equinox was auspicious in ancient cultures. In the Anglo-Saxon calendar, Eostremonath was named after Eostre (Ostara in Old High German), the maiden goddess of dawn and the spring. At the time of the equinox a feast is celebrated in her honor, replete with offerings of rabbit shaped cakes and colored eggs. This is because Eostre adopted both the hare and egg as her symbols.
According to legend, a magical white hare wanted to please Eostre by bringing her a gift. After careful contemplation of which gifts to bring, he settled on eggs, however, not the usual white or brown ones. Using his magical powers, he charmed the eggs, so the shells were a variety of pretty colors. In lieu of a basket, he presented his gift in the very same nest from which he stole the eggs. The goddess was very pleased with the gift and bestowed upon the hare the nickname ‘Egg Bringer.’ For this reason rabbits and hares, especially white ones, are sacred to her. Continue reading →
I picked up an autographed copy of this book at an author signing event at BookPeople of Moscow. It can be a little frightening to try a new author, but Christine Cohen did not disappoint. Being a person who also dislikes having other people’s winter holidays thrust upon me, I found the main character’s resistance to winter festivities not only relatable, but a delightfully refreshing character trait.
Being an impoverished fifteen-year-old kitchen maid is tough. Survival is even more difficult when the entire village believes your family has been cursed. Yet, this is Cora Nikolson’s lot in life. And she knows exactly where the blame lays, with the Winter King. The God cursed her family, took her father’s life, and brought them to the brink of starvation. Cora has no love for God, King, or country. She despises religion and the Aldormany who carry out the Winter King’s cruel edicts.
After her mother loses her position as head cook, Cora takes on additional work as a housemaid, hoping the extra wages will keep her family from starving. While dusting shelves in the library, she overhears a conversation between the Master House Steward and the High Aldorman. They are discussing a book containing secrets regarding the Winter King. Despite repeated attempts, they have been unable to destroy the book and it is imperative that no one in the village learns about its existence. Continue reading →
All the other December holidays come and go peacefully. Unfortunately, there is something about Christmas that just brings out the worst in Christians. The simple action of wishing someone “Happy holidays” has them frothing at the mouth. They seem to have forgotten that “Seasons greetings,” “Happy holidays,” and “Merry Xmas” have been in circulation over 100 years.
Instead of demonstrating peace on Earth and goodwill toward men, Christians go around insisting everyone has declared war on Christmas. That simply isn’t true. No one has declared war on Christmas. (At least not since 1659, when the Puritans banned it.) Christmas has declared war everyone else.
December is a busy month. A short list of religions holidays, ardently ignored by Christians, includes: Bodhi Day, Jamhuri Day, Saturnalia, Yule, Midwinter, Dongzhi Festival, Hanukkah, Human Light, Festivus, Kawanzaa, and Incwala Day. Many of these holidays, like Bodhi Day (originating in 596 BCE) predate Christianity by hundreds of years. December is also home to a host of national, international, and secular holidays. Some examples are: Continue reading →