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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Vegan Ritual Objects

            Despite the convenience of the internet, most Neo-pagans love the experience of a brick-and-mortar magic shop. The incense, statues, music, and company are inspiring. For vegans who may be trying to avoid the use of animal products (including feathers, fur, and leather), finding that perfect something can be a little more difficult. With the addition of some down-home craftiness, we can make certain objects and have fun cruising the shops for the rest.

            One of the easiest ways to attain ritual objects is to find them in nature. Stones, feathers, shells, bones, shed reptile skins, and leaves are just a few examples of items you can just pick up on a walk in the woods or on the beach. Finding animal products is often considered a better alternative than buying them. Buying them sometimes sustains a market for animal exploitation. Finding items gives you a more magical connection to them. They remind you of an experience that you had in nature.

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Beltane Rites and Lore

Beltane is the start of summer, at the opposite end of the Wheel of the Year to Samhain, Summer's End. Cattle would be brought to the higher ground and summer pastures, tended by the women and children while the men would work the farms. In Irish Gaelic it is Beltaine, in Welsh it is Calan Mai, and in Scottish Gaelic Bealtainn. It is the other time when the veils between the worlds are thin, and the Fair Folk can be seen wandering the land in abundance. By the calendar, Beltane begins at dusk on the 30th April and runs to dusk on the 1 May. If celebrating by the local flora, it is when the hawthorn, or May is out in flower. In the UK, the first weekend in May is still celebrated with a bank holiday, perhaps as a remnant of this very important Celtic Festival.

Fire is an important part of this festival, for Beltane is often translated as "the fires of Bel", who was a sun deity. All household fires were extinguished on the eve of Beltane, and then fires were lit on hilltops at dawn, similar to but in reverse at Samhain, where fires were lit at sunset.[1] It was important to not give away any fire from your household at Beltane, for your luck would soon run out. In Ireland, the focus on fire and hilltops shifted from Tlachtga and Tara to Uisnech.  It is said that the first Beltane fire was lit at Uisnech by the Druid, Mide, whose name means "the centre". Beltane is a hinge for the world to open and change, as at Samhain. [2] In Scotland and Wales, the Beltane bonfires were made from nine woods collected and put together by nine men, and called "needfires". [3] Cattle were driven between two bonfires on this day before heading out to their summer pastures. They were said to pass close enough to the fires so that their hair might be singed. The heat and smoke of the bonfires might have been enough to cause any parasites to fall off the animals that may have taken up residence in the winter quarters. Fire is also an important part of the Beltane ceremonies today, as at Edinburgh with the Beltane Fire Society putting on a spectacular event every year, as previously mentioned.

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Spring Equinox tradition and lore

The Spring Equinox or vernal equinox occurs between 20 - 22 March. The word equinox is Latin for "equal night". It is also known as Ostara, Eostre or by its Welsh name, Alban Eiler, "the light on the earth". It is a time when day and night are of equal length, and the sun rises and sets due east and west respectively. In secular society, the spring equinox marks the first days of spring, but as we've seen above, Imbolc is actually when the first signs appear, at least in Britain.

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The Rites of Eleusis - A Continuation

 

“You should come see what we do.” this Archpriest “Pete” guy said to me.  “We work with Demeter and Persephone.  I think you’ll like it.”  So, here I stood on this beautiful, warm sunny Friday morning, wide-eyed and excited, waiting to see, to experience, what promised to be nothing less that a trip to Eleusis itself.

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Imbolc - Welcoming Brighid, welcoming Spring

The word Imbolc stems from the older Celtic Oimelc, which means "of  milk" or "in the belly". Traditionally it was a time when the ewes from the sheep flocks began to lactate, having just given birth. This was an incredibly important time for our ancestors, as the winter's stores would be running low and the fresh milk available would provide nourishment and sustenance to get people through until the first crops began to appear. Fresh butter, cream and cheeses could be made to supplement the restrictive winter diet. Imbolc occurs around the beginning of February, if we are working with the traditional gestation period of the ewes. Nowadays, farmers have the sheep give birth at times that are more convenient; for example, a few villages over, one farmer has his lambing season during the Christmas holidays, as that's when he and the rest of his family are home and can help out.

If we are following the calendar, the dates for Imbolc are 31st January to 1st February. As the Celtic day began at sunset, we start the night before. Imbolc is often confused with the Christian holy day of Candlemas, which occurs on 2nd February. No doubt this was intentional, in order to compete with the beloved Pagan celebration of the lambing season and Spring.

Imbolc is a holiday that is dedicated to the goddess Brighid. She is so entwined with the season and the time, that most traditions honour her in some way during this festival. She is the goddess of poetry, smithcraft and healing, and is also often seen as a goddess of Spring. She is the sacred waters of the wells and springs, and the sacred flame tended first by nineteen priestesses, and then later by nineteen nuns dedicated to her in the guise of St Brighid. In Wales, Brighid is known as Braint, and is connected to the river Afon Braint which floods around this time every year. [1] The name, Brighid, has been adapted all over Britain and Europe, and indeed Britain is named after her, in the form of Briganti (Romanised to Brigantia). There are also myths that link the goddess Brig with the Spring in the form of the maiden, who alternates with the winter goddess the Cailleach. At Imbolc, the Cailleach drinks from a sacred stream, or makes her way to the seashore before dawn, and there transforms into the young maiden, Brigid. Other myths tell of Brigid immersing a white wand into the mouth of winter, which awakens the earth and brings in the thaw.[2] Brighid's name might also come from the Gaelic Breo-Saighead, which means "fiery arrow", and many modern-day devotees of Brighid see this as her aspect in the flow of awen, the fire in the head of the poet and artist as well as the returning light of Spring. For those who celebrate Imbolc by the signs in the vegetation, it is when the first snowdrops appear, pale white and green against the stark greyness of winter.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

Tapestry is a long-running and respected CBC Radio program that looks at different religions in Canada.  As far as I know, this is the first time Wicca, or any Pagan faith, has been featured on the show.  I thought it was worth sharing!

Listen here:

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Recent comment in this post - Show all comments
  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Thanks for sharing! I'll definitely give this a listen in the near future.
Happy Yule from The Holly King (free gift)

This time of year is pure magic. The days grow shorter, the crops are all brought in and processed for the long winter ahead, and family and friends are pulled close.

We appreciate you for serving the Goddess with us, and for bringing us joy, love, and growth in the previous year. We gift you this greeting card as a way to help show how much we appreciate you, and all you do each and every day.

The Holly King brings you and yours gifts of love and prosperity this holiday season, as you make your way through the long night of winter. You may download and distribute this card to anyone whom may be deserving of your love this season.

This is also the time of year for you to remember the institutions that serve you, and need your contributions to survive. If there is a group in your life that fills this need, take the time to show your support. If the Aquarian Tabernacle Church is one of those organizations, consider making a charitable donation.

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