Season and Spirit: Magickal Adventures Around the Wheel of the Year

The Wheel of the Year is the engine that drives NeoPagan practice. Explore thw magick of the season beyond the Eight Great Sabbats.

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Leni Hester

Leni Hester

Leni Hester is a Witch and writer from Denver, Colorado. Her work appears in the Immanion anthologies "Pop Culture Grimoire," "Women's Voices in Magick" and "Manifesting Prosperity". She is a frequent contributor to Witches and Pagans and Sagewoman Magazines.

Dishwater Days: Clearing out the end  of Winter

Towards the very end of Winter, the weather suddenly turns darker. The days have been getting longer, so by early March, there is a lot more daylight. The weather is slowly warming up. There may even be signs of the approaching Spring in birds returning or buds developing on trees. But suddenly a cloudy day no longer has a white or pale gray sky. The clouds are brooding, bruise-colored, dark. The clouds that pour over the mountains on those days are not fluffy and soft. They look dirty, like mop water. I call these dishwater days, the late Winter days when the season has lost all its icy sparkle and it looks as though all the grime and soot from the past three months is being washed away.

Because as thick as the cloud cover is, the clouds get blown away by strong winds, after they dump whatever sleety snow-rain mix they carry, and the whole next day feels fresh and clean. The wind is bracing, not brutal. It suddenly seems easy to think about new possibilities, new ideas. The wind blows through our hair, through our thoughts, sweeps detritus away like a broom.

There is a reason that “spring cleaning” is a time-honored tradition, and that both Lent and Passover traditions codify dietary restrictions that effect a type of cleansing. With the first hints of Spring in the air, we feel the longing to finally cast off the heavy clothes of Winter, we want to throw open the windows and scrub the house down, put coats and boots away for another year. We are waking up from the long slumber of Winter and we want to get cleaned up and get out into the world.

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Pagan Faith 1: Science v Religion?

I've been helping my oldest kid with her homework lately. Her grades are slipping a bit in science, which is normally her best subject. It's not a mystery why this is happening: she's in middle school and the work is getting harder, the concepts more complex. Her class is working on geology and evolution at the moment, so she's learning about continental drift, natural selection, DNA, fossils and mutation. She's working hard on it, and I'm glad. She has to work hard because there's a lot of material and it requires her to put real effort into understanding and applying it. It's hard because she's learning science, real science, and that's something you cant take for granted anymore.

We live in a very conservative congressional district. Our house is literally surrounded by churches of various kinds. My congressman is rabidly anti-immigrant and has sponsored fetal person-hood legislation; he obviously does not represent me or my values. While I do not hide my faith, I do not feel empowered to speak about it to my neighbors or the parents of my kids' friends. I accept all of that with more or less good grace. While I hate to use the phrase 'culture war' and give energy to that narrative, I feel the annoyance and discomfort that comes with being a member of a minority religion, when the majority culture is resentful of sharing space. So I put up with the clueless chirping about “having a blessed day” and puzzled inquiries into whether I'm Jewish, when replying “none” to inquiries about which church my family attends. And I fully admit, I still fall back on traditions I grew up with, putting up a Christmas tree and saying, “Merry Christmas” without discomfort, and let other people make whatever assumption they want. I have no desire to do a mini-interfaith negotiation with random neighbors and co-workers by wishing them “Happy Solstice, and have a blessed Yule.”

But given the demographics of where I live, and what feels like the constant push to include and privilege a Christianist thread in all public discourse, I was very relieved to see what my kid was struggling to learn. The science curriculum for her class listed the age of the Earth in millions of years, not thousands. It presented fossil and DNA evidence of human origins, and made no mention of ”teaching the controversy” or presenting “both sides” of an evolutionary “debate.” The teacher is not framing this in any way as “science versus religion”. There was no allusion that this might even be an issue: this is the curriculum, this is what my kids are learning. No mention was made of religion at all. This is how it should be. And I am so grateful this is so, knowing what other school districts are going through on the issue of how and even if this branch of science should be taught. I am grateful that I don't have to ring in on this issue with her school, or provide my own corrective lessons at home.

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Breaking ice: Deep Winter and Imbolc

Driving past the reservoir the other day, I saw something on the surface of the water I have not seen in a while: sunshine. When the lake's frozen, as it has been since December's deep freeze, it's a somber picture of dull grey snow and slush, dotted with unhappy geese clustered along the shore. But it was a sunny day, and had followed a few other sunny days, and the ice had melted away in a large spot in the center. It was this unexpected ring of bright water that caught the light, and suddenly the turn toward Spring was revealed.

It was the light that caught my eye, because it's been so dark. Now that the lights and decorations of the Solstice have been taken down, nights are very dark indeed. The days are still short and freezing cold. And my body is not done hibernating. It's Winter, and we're still in repose, along with land. I look out in my snow-covered yard, and although I want to start plotting how I'm going to set up my garden this year, plotting is all I can do. Everything is still in the Underworld, the seeds, sleeping animals, my own thoughts, my energy. And even as much as that gleam of pale sunlight on dark water cheered me up, it still feels right to feel the dark of Winter all around, to linger in the dark even as we notice the returning light.

We are changed by the Descent into the dark of the year, and by our time in the dark of the Underworld. We can';t help it. Because everything that goes into the dark emerges from it changed. The bear who went into his den fat and glossy at the end of summer, emerges starved and bony. The squirrel emerges from her nest accompanied by babies. I never know which bulbs are going to pop up in the garden, whether the aconite or lily of the valley will appear, whether the apple trees will blossom. And we never know what we ourselves will encounter in the dark, when we make the descent in the Autumn, or what treasures we will bring back into the light with us. Some treasures buried in the dark come unwilling into the daylight, but they are deeper and more precious for all the fallow time. Although there is plenty more Winter left to come, more snow and ice and freezing winds, although the tree branches are still bare and hard as wire, the ice has begun to break, the Sun has begun to climb in the sky. Slowly, things are about to start waking up. But that moment is not yet. There is more time for me to steep in the cold dark, more time for the dark to touch us and deepen our magick.

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The Nameless Day

Years ago I read about the so-called Nameless Day, an intercalary day that marks between the last, darkest day of the dying Year and the first, brighter day of the newly born one. It's a movable feast. I usually mark it on the last night of the lunation after Winter Solstice, before the New Moon in Capricorn. This year, it fell on New Year's Eve, with the New Moon on New year's Day itself. It's not always that such delicious synchronicity brings such auspicious days together, the cultural and the magical aligned so beautifully. Such a purity of intention is rare. As an occasion of bidding farewell to a year that had taken such a toll on me, I was delighted to spend the cold sunny light of the Nameless Day in contemplation, reflection and release.

Everything about that day lent itself to letting go and wrapping things up. A brisk wind all morning felt bracing and clear, the clouds of the afternoon felt renewed, reassuring and gentle. I found I had come to the very last page of my to-do notebook, and had to literally decide which events and tasks to move into the new year, and which to just discard. Just that simple act compelled me to declare my priorities. I learned that two of my teachers were closing down or changing their classes. I decided that I wanted to pull my energy back from certain things, and put it towards other projects. It was a quiet, subdued day, followed by a sleepy evening. Just before bed, I cast circle and read cards for the year.

New Year's Day felt clean and clear. I could feel lightness and space, where the burdens of 2013 had been. I had good solid clues as to what 2014 would hold, and what to start working on. It felt so fortunate to be able to set intentions for the upcoming year on New Years's Day itself, which the support of the Sun, Moon and planets in the strong, prosperous sign of Capricorn. All of that felt strong and stable and present in a very quiet way. My clues and intentions felt like sleeping seeds. They were the first hints of what was to unfold, not yet the blossom or fruit. I felt in hurry to rush them along, but I am so curious to see how they grow.

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A Light in the Darkness: Celebrating the Winter solstice

A Light in the Dark: Celebrating the Solstice

Because the night is dark and full of terrors.

-Game of Thrones

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Going Deep

Last week we had the first true cold snap. We've had cold and snow so far this season, despite the warm weather that lingered long into November. But this was the first time we'd had a good hard freeze and as it does every year, this day caught me off-guard. It's really not that cold, compared to how cold it can get, how cold it will get soon. But this was first time, after months of warm weather, that the bite of Winter asserted itself. The wind was full of flying ice, and a lovely snow, dense but not very deep, seemed rather threatening.

The energy of Samhain and the darkening weeks that follow tells a simple message: shore up for Winter. The Sun's transit through Scorpio teaches us the paradox of “addition through subtraction.” Scorpio drives us to cut away whatever is non-essential, what no longer serves, what drains and does not replenish us. The call is to cut away the superfluous, the distracting, all the things that keep us from getting quiet and zoning into voices that do not echo the noise of our larger culture. These voices speak to us from our deepest selves, they carry the wisdom of our ancestors and Guides, they blossom with our imagination and visions. It takes incredible focus to hear these things above the din of the larger culture, especially now as we head into the end of the year holidays.

Once we dispense with what is non-essential, once we get started on battening down the hatches in preparation for very hard weather, we are able to tune into and really hear these voices. And in this stillness, in the dark and the chill, we can rest, we can renew ourselves.

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What the Dark Reveals

The day before Samhain I went to the creek to pour libations. In the week since my last visit, a cold snap and windy weather had shaken many of the leaves from the trees, and had finally driven many plants and shrubs into dormancy. It was a wonderful warm sunny day, but I could see the descent very clearly. The sky between the branches was getting larger, as the vibrant green of the woods and fields faded into copper and brass, and then into taupe and gray.

The magick of October is undeniable. Nature's showiest, most voluptuous month is a 31

day count down to our culture's greatest celebration of the uncanny, the magical and the mysterious. The stunning beauty of the Wheel turning before our eyes, the trees aflame in golden sunlight and dazzling blue skies, sweetens ancient anxieties about the approach of winter. We approach the final and most solemn harvest of our harvest rites, Samhain. The Veil thins, we perceive sharply the presence of the numinous powers of the land, the spirits that surround us, the echoes of those we have lost. We confront our shadow, in the shape of what we fear. Movie monsters provide a comforting stand-in for the very real terrors—pain, trauma, loss, addiction and fear—that we live with every day, hiding them even from ourselves. And then we allow ourselves to dance and adorn ourselves with them at Hallowstide.

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Switch: September & the Transition to Autumn

This year September 1st was very hot, approaching 100 degrees, bright and sunny. I love how hot 9/1 is, because I know that 9/30 will be radically different. No matter how hot and sultry September begins, it will end looking and feeling different. The month may start in triple digits but could see a hard frost before it ends. The transition into Autumn doesn't happen in an instant, and certainly this September I had several hot days that felt like late Summer. But as we get closer to, and then pass, the Equinox, the days mellow and ripen as the Summer fades away.

The light becomes more golden, thicker somehow. We are startled to notice how early it gets dark. The trees begin to turn. There's a chill that wasn't present in the early morning, and in the late evening. There are several cultural cues to emphasize this feeling of transition, of change, of excitement as new adventures begin. The new school year, no matter how long it;s been since I was in a classroom, always brings with it a desire to make changes, to shift focus. I want to do more ritual, to deepen and formalize my practice. Everything starts to slow down but all our senses are sharper. The Wheel is turning, and moving us closer to the Descent into the Dark of the Year. We're not quite there yet, but we are moving steadily in that direction. And everything—the trees, the animals and birds and insects, the water, the sky—everything reflects back that turning.

 

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The Sensual World

Summer is the time of lived experience, rather than reflection. In the Summer's heat, we tend our gardens, we travel, we play, we party. The long days of light and the beautiful evenings encourage us to go out, to extend ourselves, to flirt, to drum and dance around campfires. We blaze like the Sun, with the ecstasy of living and experiencing this beautiful World. Our senses reel – the air is perfumed with flowers and filled with the songs of birds and insects. The Sun can be brutal on our skin, and the shock of cold water when we dive in can sting with delight. We revel in the taste of juicy peaches and sweet corn. In the Summer we come into a sharp awareness of the sensual World: our living planet as we experience it through our senses. It feels almost redundant to analyze any of this. What Summer teaches us is to live fully in the moment, to be present here and now. This is where we find joy, where our bodies and spirits are made whole in the healing caress of pleasure and play.

An unexpected death in my family at the beginning of the season added the trauma of grief and loss to a time of growth and excitement, but ironically it served to underline the in-your-face immediacy of Summer. Along with all the sensory pleasures was the sharp bite of grieving and sorrow. The demands of the garden and its labors balanced the sudden tasks and burdens that come with a loved one passing. And all of it brought home the fact that all we truly have is this moment, and this moment is fleeting. It will never come back, and once gone is gone forever.

At Lughnasadh (August 1), we hit the tipping point of the season. Although the Summer itself is at its halfway point, it has now hit its peak and the harvest begins. We have to name our harvest in order to claim it, but despite our hard work, our rewards are not yet certain. And despite the fact the growing season is not over, we must begin to reflect and assess on what we have sown. What is our harvest, is it ready? Does it need a little more time to fully ripen, or did it fail to come to fruition at all? Does it need to be plowed under? How much space do we need to clear out in our lives, to bring this harvest in? Part of Lughnasadh's ritual work for me is to re-read the dedications and intentions I made six months earlier, at Imbolc. In looking over those goals, I have to evaluate what I managed to accomplish, what still has to be done, and what no longer seems possible or necessary. There's always satisfaction in seeing what you have accomplished, but even the so-called “failures” can be instructive. They make us consider what we need, what quality of will or execution, in order to fulfill what we set out at the year's beginning. They reveal to us whether or not these goals were realistic, whether we bit off more than we could chew, and sometimes they reveal even deeper needs or desires hiding underneath what we told ourselves we wanted.

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Feral Roses: Soaking in the Sun at Midsummer

With the Summer Solstice on June 21, the Summer season commences with the Sun at its peak! The longest day pours the power of light and heat upon a dazzled Earth, and every living thing celebrates. We celebrate through dance, and merriment, and flirtation, while everything green photosynthesizes as hard as it can. The bees are at play among the wildflowers, the birds are flying sorties overhead, as a warm wind stirs the branches. It's Midsummer’s Day, also known as Litha, and the whole world goes Ahhh!

At noon on Litha, I go into the garden and cut roses for the altar. It never ceases to amaze me that June 21 and 22 is always the precise time that the sunflowers bloom, when suddenly the tiger swallowtail butterflies appear in my neighborhood. It's the time when I go outside and notice that the seed-heads on the tall grass have turned from tender green to pale gold. We are that the tipping point, the whole Earth is vibrating at its living, breathing, teeming limit, lit by a Sun at the peak of its power. We are at the crest of a wave, sitting at the very top of fountain of life unfolded in its glory. In the waxing part of the year, we sense that “Everything is Possible.” Today, on the Summer Solstice, all possibilities are present, in this very moment. It's beyond possibility: everything is happening right now! Everything is at its furthest extreme: the Sun is brightest, the shadows are deepest. We feel the ecstasy of desire and the pang of jealousy deeper. On Midsummer we are balanced on that furthest point, ablaze and joyful on this longest day.

Timing is everything, of course, because we cannot remain at this intensity forever. Although the beginning of Summer signals a season of intense heat and growth, we are descending into the waning half of the Year, each day getting a little shorter. I'm always aware of this as I pick the roses. I'm afraid I neglected pruning the bushes this Spring, so there are dozens of roses at all stages of bloom. It's been so hot and dry that the open ones are wilted and drooping in just a few days of opening, but plenty of buds ready to open are right behind them. Cutting roses for the altar is all about timing as well, because the practice is to find roses at the peak of their loveliness, at their own perfect moment. And that moment is brief indeed, as the warm the of the Sun and the wind will bake the fresh loveliness of the rose a little each day, as soon as it emerges from its tight bud. Because they have been neglected, the roses are at their own riotous extreme, having gone almost completely feral. The thorns are as exquisitely sharp and new as the blossoms themselves are beautiful, and picking the roses for their loveliness and fragrance, for their sensory lushness, involves risking a painful pricking of my fingers. It always feels appropriate to spend a drop of blood in gathering the Solstice roses.

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The Pleasures of Spring

By the end of May, Spring is definitely in full swing and might even be tipping into Summer. It is always a luscious sensation to be feeling the Earth wake up, feel the welcome and optimism in the growing light, the warmer air, the green haze in the trees and the slight sweet hum of things growing. The Goddess has ascended from the Underworld, the Earth rejoices and blossoms. May encourages us all to play, to feel, to flirt and luxuriate. To pursue pleasure.

It's ironic that, despite loving May's sensory pleasures as much as I do, I really don't much care for Beltane. Yes it's a shocking confession, and I don’t enjoy sounding like such an anti-hedonist. I'm too much of an introvert to truly enjoy the enormous crowds of public Pagan events. I have had, more than once, the experience of being quite pregnant at Beltane. The very sight of the Maypole made me queasy and as for the Love-chase, oh forget that. What felt particularly isolating about being at a Beltane gathering while pregnant was how I felt somehow excluded, as if being already engaged in reproducing, I wasn't someone who would respond to touch, comfort, and attention. As if all the sensory pleasures of the day were off limits to me, either redundant or inappropriate. That struck me as being woefully anti-erotic.

Beltane has always held the energies of union and re-union, the alchemical magick that is present in the core of every star exploding into being as well as in the collision of 2 distinct cells creating new life. May Day reminds us all of the power we have when we envision a brighter future and better world. It is a hinge upon which the World shifts from the time of Darkness to that of Light, a moment when the Veil between the worlds is thin. As we cast into past to remember at Samhain, we cast into the future at Beltane, and throw our wishes, intentions, dreams and goals into the webs of Fate deliberately. This is magick that can be done by jumping over fires in ecstatic fellowship with the community, or alone in your temple.

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April gets a really bad rap, for such a beautiful month. Spring is officially on, and every day brings another example of the Earth's awakening. In my neighborhood, the first bulbs are popping out—hyacinth, grape hyacinth, snowdrop and crocus. The dandelions are showing up, of course, and suddenly the robins and wrens are joined by woodpeckers and blackbirds. Every day the clouds dapple a brilliant blue sky, and bring in a sorely needed sleety rain. But there are daily reminders of why TS Eliot once wrote, “April is the cruelest month.” He was referring to Easter, to the sacrifice of the Christian God and his resurrection. April has been the time of tragedies, of uprisings, assassinations and shootings. It is tax season and therefore makes us account for ourselves (and who enjoys that, really?). In many ways, April compels us toward hard paths and tough choices, to make sacrifices and commitments. April pushes us out of our comfort zones, in order that we may grow and aspire.

One of the best known April traditions is that of the April Fool, a tradition of misrule where pranks and practical jokes are tolerated. In France, “le poisson d'Avril” or April fish, was a gullible person sent upon a fool's errand. Much like the Fool of the Tarot card, representing pure potential and possibility, all things are contained in that moment of setting out. Courage necessary to take that first step, to step out of the safety of what we have known, and venture forth. It is a leap of faith, a deliberate giving up of control and surrendering to the Universe. The Fool card often depicts the Fool about to go off a cliff to represent the free fall of surrender. This movement, out of what's familiar and comfortable, into the unknown, can be as scary and jarring as a fall, but it can bring about tremendous growth and profound transformation. Sometimes this movement is precipitated by a Fool's errand—we follow an intuition, against all logic, or circumstances around us force us to change, or we find ourselves swept along by powers we cannot control. When everything around us is “going crazy,” we fight to regain control and resist the letting go that is called for. That loss of control is maddening; it feels dangerous and threatening to us. And so it is! It is threatening to the old patterns and systems of our lives. It is threatening to our masks and facades, to the games we play, to all our ego attachments. Departing from the safety of the known path is “crazy.” It flies in the face of logic to deliberately embrace risk when we have achieved safety. But we are often driven to choose risk. And in that irrational movement, incredible amounts of energy is released. That energy is what renews the Earth in Spring, and what renews us as well.

April begins with the Sun firmly in the sign of Aries, the first sign of the Zodiac, the cardinal sign which ushers in the Zodiacal year. Ruled by Mars, Aries embodies the intensity of Earth energy as the land wakes up to Spring. That push that drives the seeds to rise out of the soil, that drives the trees to put out leaves and the birds to begin nesting requires a lot of energy, and Aries ignites the fuse. Whether it's getting dirty in the garden, or making progress on creative projects, or committing to our work in a deeper way, right now the Earth is humming with drive to go forward. What is it that you truly want to do? What goals seem out of reach, what behaviors seem too ingrained to ever change? As we begin the new astrological year, and welcome the opportunities for renewal and cleansing, what new possibility can we dream and actually make manifest in the world? Part of April's discomfort is sitting with these questions and trying to listen for the answers.

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When I was a child growing up in Michigan, the seasonal adage of March coming in like lion and going out like a lamb was taught to us as a divination. IF March came in like a lion, cold and stormy, it would leave with lamb-like warmth and gentleness, perfect for Easter time. And year after year, I saw that March 1 was often a stormy sleety mess but by March 31 the cherry blossoms were about ready to pop.

But the reverse was also true: if March came in like a lamb, it would leave like a lion. And some years, we would have a sudden inexplicable warm snap towards the end of winter. There would be warmer air and clear skies when there should still be storms, and March would come in Springlike and inviting. And sure enough, March 31 would be wracked with tornadoes and electrical storms, going out very much like a lion.

The transition from Winter to Spring is a dynamic one, with lots of pulling and pushing as the weather goes from one extreme to the other. In this dance between two opposing forces, we can see the Earth’s changes at their most dramatic. There is increasing light, but the rain-heavy clouds are much darker and gloomier than the bright icy snow clouds of a month ago. As we celebrate Ostara, and honor the divine balance it represents—the balance as night and day, life and death are both equal—we are reminded this balance is hard won. Perhaps we see this transition as a movement away from the hardships and struggles of Winter, to the greater ease and gentleness of Spring. Or we feel the movement from the repose and introspection of Winter to the increasing noise and activity of Spring. While we may welcome the arrival of spring, it's not uncommon to feel irritable or restless and dissatisfied this time of year. Waking up to the waxing year, whether the month of March begins as a lamb or lion, we feel the energies of the Vernal Equinox calling us to balance, a place where light and dark are equal. This balance is never easy to achieve.

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Outside it is Winter. There's a fierce wind whipping up from the Southwest and more snow is due tonight. Imbolc is a few weeks past, March is around the corner, and signs of the shift into Spring are already happening. Despite the cold temperatures, there are some trees showing tiny swells of buds on the tips of their branches. Despite snow in the forecast, there is more light in the sky. All signs are pointing towards the Waxing Year, the growing light, and the energies of the burgeoning Spring.

We start to feel the stirrings despite the calender, despite the weather: a certain restlessness, or irritation, or pops of energy out of nowhere. The garden catalogs start coming in the mail and we realize the year is in full swing.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_Strobe-star.pngI don't make New Year's resolutions. I never really have. As a kid I was intrigued with all the lip service this idea got, but I noticed that no one ever discussed what actually became of the resolutions they made at the beginning of the year. And then it was never a surprise how quickly people joked that they had broken them. Making resolutions seemed, quite frankly, futile. So I never make any resolutions. Nor do I panic about making all kinds of plans and commitments right on New Years Eve and Day. A New Year needs a few weeks to start unfolding itself and revealing what it is.

Traditions abound about how New Year's Eve and Day should be best spent, to ensure a new year's worth of blessings and prosperity. Special foods are prepared to ensure prosperity (black eyed peas & collards, grapes, baked fish, are a few examples), and folk magic spells are still passed down through the generations. In my own family, right after we watched the ball drop in Time Square, we'd throw a big pot of water out the front door onto the lawn, to carry all the past year’s ills and troubles with it. The innate sense of freshness, renewal and change that is associated with the Winter Solstice and its different iterations , is also reflected in the magic of the turning of the calendar year.

At New Year's we get an opportunity to move forward and let go of what weighs us down, and to bring into our lives greater joy and fulfillment. Like any act of magick, we prepare the space by cleansing it, and then invite our desired “guests” into the space we have cleared. It's a good idea to clear one' space psychically from time to time, and New Years is an excellent time to do energetic and psychic housekeeping in your home space. After cleaning the house, you clean away psychic junk by smudging your space with sage, sweet grass or incense. You can charge salt water and flick it all around to dispel negativity lingering in the space. Rooms can be cleared sonically as well, thru chanting, singing or by ringing temple bells. And of course, by stating your intention: I clear this space of all negative and unwelcome energies. Keeping that thought in mind as well as saying it aloud while you smudge or asperge amplifies the intention.

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Our planet is powered by the Sun, and the constant ebb and flow of light and darkness is the engine for the dynamic forces that shape our world and all life on it. When we begin to awaken to Earth-centered spirituality, we are often called to come into a more intimate relationship with the natural world. The day to day and season to season changes our planet goes through that are visible in the composition of the earth's physical body, in the weather, in the migrations of animals, in the blooming and fruiting of plants—all of these phenomena are the signs by which the Universe reveals itself to us. This is the material reality that is the basis of all we do, all we dream of and aspire to. We can in no way “liberate” ourselves from these cycles and rhythms and events, and indeed this is where the oldest human societies looked to find answers to their deepest questions. Religious celebrations the world over reflect these natural cycles, as they reflect times of seeding, growing, harvesting and decay.

At our deepest core, we can feel these shifts in the world around us. They reside in a million moments of grace and beauty, only some of which we can ever perceive with our senses. But they are all round us. All magickal traditions encourage developing the skills to perceive these cycles and forces, and to understand their meanings. This is where so many wisdom traditions are grounded. For millenia, our ancestors' awareness of these forces and cycles was not an abstract process. Their very survival depended on it!

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  • Carolina Gonzalez
    Carolina Gonzalez says #
    Such beautiful, wise and true words!

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October 30, 2011.The night before Samhain, and I was getting into bed: exhausted, restless and ungrounded. Thinking about the next day was stressing me out even further. I realized I was starting to dislike Halloween in the same the way many devout Christians dislike the “holiday season” of Christmas. Yup: Halloween was starting to interfere with my Samhain.

Hallowe’en has always been my favorite holiday. But these days Halloween has become hectic and hyper-commercial. Throughout late October, I was so busy I could barely stop for breath: taking my kids to parties, decorating the house, and preparing my altar. I was also reading Tarot cards at a local haunted house, which meant that I was spending my weekends listening to screaming teenagers and a constant loop of ghastly sound effects. On top of work and family responsibilities, Hallowe’en was getting to be pretty tiring, even before Samhain Eve itself rolled around.

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