Pagan Paths

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The oak-log symbolises the regeneration of the earth at Winter Solstice but at this time of the year, the attention is on the holly and between the beginning of the month and the Winter Solstice (21st) the scarlet berries on the holly will become more and more spectacular. The kind of holly brought into a couple’s home for their first Midwinter Festival together is of great significance. If the holly leaves have sharp prickles (known as he-holly) the man will be master of the marriage; if the holly has no prickles, or the prickles feel soft and flexible (she-holly) then the woman will rule the marriage. Some folklore says this only holds true for one year, so the same procedure needs to be carried out at each Midwinter Festival to find the dominant partner for the following twelvemonth.


The wood of the holly gives a hot fire, but burns very quickly but the wood can be burned ‘green’ (freshly cut) without waiting for it to dry. Magically, a witch would use holly to keep intruders at bay and return spells to their sender, so use holly in charm bags and incense for all defensive rituals; in times of greatest danger position sprigs of holly around the boundary of your home to keep out all negative forces. When out walking at night, a holly cane or staff will keep you safe from all mischievous entities — at one time, no coachman would drive at night unless the handle of his whip was fashioned from holly wood. A wand made of holly is also very useful in keeping unruly spirits under control. Holly also works well as a guardian of domestic animals. Fasten a little to any animal’s collar to keep it safe when away from your protective influence, and be sure to hang a sprig in any outbuildings where animals are kept, both to make them thrive and to protect them from the attentions of the Faere Folk. In country lore, it is said that if you throw a spring of holly after a runaway animal, it will return of its own accord.




The Holly and the ivy


When they are both full grown


Of all the tree in the Green Wood


The holly bears the crown …


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Mélusine Draco originally trained in the magical arts of traditional British Old Craft with Bob and Mériém Clay-Egerton. She has been a magical and spiritual instructor for over 20 years with Arcanum and the Temple of Khem, and writer of numerous popular books on magic and witchcraft. Her highly individualistic teaching methods and writing draws on ancient sources, supported by academic texts and current archaeological findings.


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