Middle Earth Magic: Inspired Ideas and Seasonal Spells for Your Enchanted Life

I grew up on a farm in West Virginia and learned much about herbs, trees, animals, gardening, foraging  and so much about nature. I incorporate this wisdom I learned from elders in my family into my spellwork. When I finally left the farm, I majored in Medieval Studies, my attempt to emulate my idol, J.R.R. Tolkien. All these influences led me to my own blended brew which I call "middle earth magic," containing a mix of the modern and the time-tested "old ways." 

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December 21 - Longest Night Fire Ceremony

December is named for the Roman goddess Decima, one of the three fates. The word Yule comes from the Germanic jol, which means midwinter, and is celebrated on the shortest day of the year. The old tradition was to have a vigil at a bonfire to make sure the sun did indeed rise again. This primeval custom evolved to become a storytelling evening and while it may well to be too cold to sit outside in snow and sleet, congregating around a blazing hearth fire, dining and talking deep into the night is important for your community to truly know each other, impart wisdom and speak to hopes and dreams. Greet the new sun with stronger connections and a shared vision for the coming solar year.

What you need:

  • Candles in the following colors: red, yellow, green, blue, white and black

  • Herbs: tobacco, rosemary, lavender, cedar, sage, and rose petals

  • Incense: copal, myrrh, or any resin-based incense

  • 2 cups sugar

  • 1 chocolate bar per person

  • Bells, rattles, drus, and other noisemakers

  • A firepot, fireplace, or safe place for an outdoor fire

  • Paper for written intentions

The candle colors represent the six directions: north, south, east, west, up, and down (or sky and earth). They also represent the different people of the world.

Gather your friends together at dusk on the shortest day of the year and ask them to bring a colored candle (assign them a color), a noisemaker, and an open mind. Ask them also to write out what they want to purge from their life and bring the paper into the circle. The Solstice Fire Ceremony serves to bring positive new influences into our lives and also to dispel what no longer serves for good. This “letting go” can be anything. For me, one year ago, it was cancer, and this year it was too much clutter. For you, it could be an unhealthy relationship, a job that makes you miserable, or a cramped apartment.

Here are the steps to the ritual:

Build a fire at 5:00 p.m. and have it burning brightly as your guests arrive. Place a big bowl of herbs, flower petals, and incense near the fire.

Create a circle around the fire and ask the eldest in the group to slowly draw a circle of sugar around the fire.

When the elder has moved back into place in the circle, each person should light his or her candles from the fire and place it in the sugar circle, creating a mandala.

Ask the youngest person to lead the group in this chant:

My life is my own
I must but choose to be better,
Vital breath of life I breathe
No more pain and strife!
Wise ones, bring us health and life
Bring us love and luck
Bring us blessed peace
On this Winter’s Day.
Into the fire, we toss the old
Into the fire, we see our future
On this, our longest night.
Harm to none and health to all!
 
Everyone should rattle and drum away, making merry and rousing the good spirits. The spirits of the wise elders will join you.

After the drumming, start around the circle, beginning with the eldest. Allow people to speak about what they want to release from their life, and have them toss their “letting go” paper into the fire. Then the eldest person should lead the group in a prayer for collective hopes for the coming your, and anyone who wants to add something should also speak out wishes for positive change, for themselves and for the world.

Thank the wise elders and ancestors for their wisdom and spiritual aid by throwing some chocolate into the fire. Be sure to keep some for members of the circle to share and enjoy. The Mayans held the belief that a plentitude of offerings to the ancestors would bring more blessings. They also believed that fire ceremonies helped support the planet and all the nations of the word. Gifts to the fire signal to the elders that they can return through the door and to the other world, until you call upon them for help in the future.

Lunar Astrology is the calendar by which early humans marked the passing of time and how they evolved their calendar, which is a lunar calendar. You should keep track of the moon and see what works for you.

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    Cerridwen Greenleaf has worked with many of the leading lights of the spirituality world including Starhawk, Z Budapest, John Michael Greer, Christopher Penczak, Raymond Buckland, Luisah Teish, and many more. She gives herbal, crystal and candle magic workshops throughout North America. Greenleaf's graduate work in medieval studies has given her deep knowledge she utilizes in her work, making her work unique in the field. A bestselling author, her books include Moon Spell Magic, The Book of Kitchen Witchery, The Magic of Gems and Crystals and the Witch’s Spell Book series.  She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.  

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