Festival

Yule Correspondences

December, 2018

(Primitive Witch Hat Tree Topper, “Winter”, by Loren Morris of PrimWitchery on Etsy.)

 

Lesser Sabbat – Winter Solstice, circa Dec 21

Other Names:
Jul (“wheel”, Old Norse), Saturnalia(Rome ~December 17 & 18), Yuletide(Teutonic), Midwinter, Fionn’s Day, Alban huan, Christmas (Christian~December 25), Xmas, Festival of Sol, Solar/Secular/Pagan New Year

Animals/Mythical beings:
yule goat (nordic), reindeer stag, squirrels, yule cat, Sacred White Buffalo, Kallikantzaroi-ugly chaos monsters(greek), trolls, phoenix, yule elf, jule gnome, squirrels, wren/robin

Gemstones:
cat’s eye, ruby, diamond, garnet, bloodstone

Incense/Oils:
bayberry, cedar, ginger, cinnamon, pine, rosemary, frankincense, myrrh, nutmeg, wintergreen, saffron

Colors:
gold, silver, red, green, white

Tools,Symbols, & Decorations:
bayberry candles, evergreens, holly, mistletoe, poinsettia,mistletoe, lights, gifts, Yule log, Yule tree. spinning wheels, wreaths, bells, mother & child images

Goddesses:
Great Mother, Befana (strega), Holda (teutonic), Isis(egyptian), Triple Goddess, Mary(christian), Tonazin(mexican), Lucina(roman), St. Lucy (swedish),Bona Dea (roman), Mother Earth, Eve(Hebrew), Ops(roman Holy Mother), the Snow Queen, Hertha (German), Frey (Norse)

Gods:
Sun Child, Saturn(rome), Cronos (Greek), Horus/Ra(egyptian), Jesus(christian-gnostic), Mithras(persian), Balder(Norse), Santa Claus/Odin(teutonic), Holly King, Sol Invicta, Janus(God of Beginnings), Marduk (Babylonian)Old Man Winter

Essence:
honor, rebirth, transformation, light out of darkness, creative inspiration, the mysteries, new life, regeneration, inner renewal, reflection/introspection

Dynamics/Meaning:
death of the Holly (winter) King; reign of the Oak (summer) King), begin the ordeal of the Green Man, death & rebirth of the Sun God; night of greatest lunar imbalance; sun’s rebirth; shortest day of year

Purpose:
honor the Triple Goddess, welcome the Sun Child

Rituals/Magicks:
personal renewal, world peace, honoring family & friends, Festival of light, meditation

Customs:
lights, gift-exchanging, singing, feasting, resolutions, new fires kindled, strengthening family & friend bonds, generosity, yule log, hanging mistletoe, apple wassailing, burning candles, Yule tree decorating; kissing under mistletoe; needfire at dawn vigil; bell ringing/sleigh-bells; father yule

Foods:
nuts, apple, pear, caraway cakes soaked with cider, pork, orange, hibiscus or ginger tea, roasted turkey, nuts, fruitcake, dried fruit, cookies, eggnog, mulled wine

Herbs:
blessed thistle, evergreen, moss, oak, sage, bay, bayberry, cedar, pine, frankincense, ginger, holly, ivy, juniper, mistletoe, myrrh, pinecones, rosemary, chamomile, cinnamon, valerian, yarrow

Element:
earth

Threshold:
dawn

Book Excerpt from A Modern Celt: Day of the Dead by Mabh Savage

October, 2017

Day of the Dead

 

Samhain, for many on a Pagan path, is “the biggy”, the festival of all festivals, and much of this is to do with the day’s association with the dead and thus ghosts, spirits and other things otherworldly. It’s generally celebrated on October 31st although in Gaelic the word actually means “November” so the festival being named thus would seem to indicate that is to be celebrated at the start of November. This is probably because the Celts believed a new day started at sunset, so when fires were lit on the 31st October as the sun went down, it was already Samhain, the next day, and time to celebrate another point in the year when the veil is thin and one can almost speak to one’s ancestors, as they walk amongst us. Sometimes the night time celebrations are still called “Samhain Eve” rather than Samhain, and I think it’s key to understanding the Celts that we recognise that they weren’t taken too much by the time of day or the date, but more by splitting things into light and dark. Sunset was the end of the current day, therefore it was the beginning of a new day. Samhain was the halfway point between equal night and day (the autumn equinox) and the longest night (the winter solstice). Winter was darker; summer was brighter.

 

This is how I believe they saw the world, and this is how, as someone trying to understand their ancestors, I am also finding myself looking at the world. Even though we are, as a modern society, so obsessed with timekeeping and date stamping, it’s nice just to think “It’s cold and the sun is low after only a few hours, it must be winter. The moon is full and the sky is clear- it will be cold tonight. The leaves are yellowing; it is autumn.” It’s so much more special to watch the world change around you, to feel the turn of each season, than to mark its continuation by the flick of the page in a diary and waiting for dates to happen. The most physical evidence of any sort of calendar kept by a Celtic people is the Coligny Calendar, bronze plates dating from around the year 200 (although it’s thought the calendar usage may go back as far as 800 BCE) which show a calendar based on a 5-year cycle using both the solar and lunar cycles to describe an approximately structured year. This is not unlike our modern Gregorian calendar if you think about it- we have months roughly based on the cycle of the moon, although as we only have 12 now we stick in random days here and there (i.e. the 30 and 31-day months), and every 4 years when we’ve not managed to travel quite all the way around the sun, we get an extra day!

 

So here we are at Samhain. We now understand that the Celts were looking forward into the darker part of the year and preparing for winter, whilst at the same time feeling the touch of the other world; the fae, the Tuatha Dé Danann and indeed their own ancestors. Ever since I can remember this has always been a time to remember one’s own ancestors and honour them the best you can. This can be simply saying their names out loud, or holding a feast with their favourite food included. A common practice is to leave an image out of the ancestor or ancestors in question, and if no image is available or appropriate then something that either belonged to them or reminds you keenly of them. This is their physical link to you; this is how they know where to come through when they reach the veil. Offerings are left with this image or symbol, as a way of thanking your ancestor for what they have brought to you. Hopefully, your ancestor will see the gesture and be grateful, but also be at peace seeing that you are doing well and honouring your traditions; understanding yourself as a whole person, and acknowledging what came before you and what will come after; after all, by whole heartedly embracing this practice you accept that one day you will be on the receiving end of the gesture- whether through a direct blood descendant or even from friends or students- anyone you may have had significant and positive influence on.

 

As well as honouring our ancestors, we also accept that in the long run, they no longer belong here. Not that they are unwanted, but that they now reside somewhere else, and only at Beltane and Samhain can we be this close to them again. Samhain, starting at sunset, has the longer darkness, and therefore the greatest opportunity to light fires and candles as beacons to guide the dead, which I think is why this winter festival is more widely recognised as the day of the dead, rather than its summer counterpart, which is more about the continuity of life and fertility.

 

So at Samhain, there tends to be a threefold celebration. We welcome the ancestors- we draw them towards us somehow, we feel their presence and we celebrate their return. We spend time among them, enjoying their company like one would a friend you have not seen for years. Not only ancestors but friends and acquaintances past, including pets and working animals that may have been close to us. Because of this it can be a very bitter sweet time of year: although it’s wonderful to feel the presence of someone or something deeply missed, it also brings sharply into focus the original grief when you lost them. Because of that though, it can be a great way of dealing with grief. Sometimes we bottle things up too much, and Samhain has a tendency to bring to the fore feelings we would not normally have to deal with on a daily basis. It’s a good idea, because of this, to surround yourself with friends, family and loved ones or whoever can best support you through this.

 

Of course, you may be someone who genuinely deals with grief better on your own, but when you are also dealing with the potentially supernatural, it’s good to know that you are not alone; that you are not the only person who is feeling the presence of someone long gone but clearly not forgotten. So this is the second stage of Samhain: being with those we lost, and dealing with it either with happiness or grief while ensuring we are supported and making it as joyous as possible with feasting, drinking, and even gifts. Some celebrate Samhain as New Year too (understandable looking at how the Coligny calendar split the year into two halves), so again, more drinking, gifts and excuses for tomfoolery! The third stage is a little more solemn, and just as important. This is the stage where we feel the veil closing, and we say farewell to our ancestors (and other loved ones) and ensure we guide them on their way.

 

There are many different ways of doing this and I would not recommend that you practice rituals, rites or magic with the intention of guiding the dead without the guidance of someone experienced in such matters- quite frankly it can be a bit scary. More simply and traditionally, candles can be lit as symbolic beacons to show the dead their paths. can be played, for in Celtic tradition music is a gift from the otherworld and thought to be very magical indeed. Ancestral feasts are cleared away and images of ancestors are cleaned and put away until after the season is over, to remove temptation for the spirit to stay. It’s like saying, we’ve been happy to have you here, and we wanted to let you know how grateful we are for your influence in our lives. But we are the living; you are the dead. It’s time for us to get back to our lives, and for you to return to whence you came. I think it’s very healthy in that way; we accept that our loved ones are gone. We in no way cling on to them or expect them to return to us to be a permanent part of our lives, and in this way we can deal with our grief and move on, although it can take several years for grief to lose its keen edge of course. But we also accept that here is a time when we can celebrate them. Whether you believe that the dead physically (or metaphysically) return or not, how can anyone sneer at the idea of having a whole festival dedicated to love, remembrance and joy?

 

 

 

 

 

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About the Author:
Mabh Savage is a Pagan author, poet and musician, as well as a freelance journalist.

She is the author of A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors and Pagan Portals: Celtic Witchcraft.

 

Follow Mabh on TwitterFacebook and her blog.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lughnasadh/Lammas Correspondences

August, 2017

(Loo-nas-ah) Major Sabbat (High Holiday) – Fire Festival August 1, 2

 

 

Other Names: Lunasa (meaning August), Lughnasaad, Lughnasa Celtic),First Harvest, August Eve, Feast of Cardenas, Feast of Bread, Tailltean Games(Irish), Teltain Cornucopia (Strega), Ceresalia (Ancient Roman) Harvest Home, Thingtide (Teutonic), Lammas (Christian). Laa Luanys, Elembious, Festival of Green Corn (Native American)

Animals and Mythical beings: Griffins, Basilisks, Roosters, Calves, Centaurs, Phoenix

Gemstones: aventurine, citrine, peridot, sardonyx, yellow diamonds, citrine

Incense and Oils: wood aloes, rose, rose hips, rosemary, chamomile, eucalyptus, safflower, corn, passionflower, frankincense, sandalwood

Colors: red, orange, golden yellow, green, light brown, gold, bronze, gray

Tools, Symbols, and Decorations: corn, cornucopias, red, yellow flowers, sheaves of grain (wheat, barley, oats), first fruits/vegetables of garden labor, corn dollies, baskets of bread, spear, cauldron, sickle, scythe, threshing tools, sacred loaf of bread, harvested herbs, bonfires, bilberries, God figures made of bread or cookie dough, phallic symbols

Goddesses: The Mother, Dana (Lugh&’s wife & queen ), Tailltiu (Welsh-Scottish), Demeter (Greek), Ceres (Roman grain goddess .. honored at Ceresalia), the Barley Mother, Seelu (Cherokee), Corn Mother, Isis (Her birthday is celebrated about this time), Luna (Roman Moon Goddess), other agricultural Goddesses, the waxing Goddess

Gods: Lugh (Celtic, one of the Tuatha De Danaan), John Barley Corn, Arianrhod’s golden haired son Lleu (Welsh God of the Sun & Corn where corn includes all grains, not just maize), Dagon (Phoenician Grain God), Tammuz/ Dummuzi (Sumerian), Dionysus, plus all sacrificial Gods who willingly shed
blood/give their life that their people/lands may prosper, all vegetation Gods & Tanus (Gaulish Thunder God), Taranis (Romano-Celtic Thunder God), Tina, (Etruscan-Thunder God), the waning God

Essence: fruitfulness, reaping, prosperity, reverence, purification, transformation, change, The Bread of Life, The Chalice of Plenty , The Ever-flowing Cup , the Groaning Board (Table of Plenty)

Meaning: Lugh’s wedding to Mother Earth, Birth of Lugh; Death of Lugh, Celtic Grain Festival

Purpose: Honoring the parent Deities, first harvest festival, first fruits grains & drink to the Goddess in appreciation of Her bounty, offering loaves of sacred bread in the form of the God (this is where the Gingerbread Man originated)

Rituals and Magicks: astrology, prosperity, generosity, continued success, good fortune, abundance, magickal picnic, meditate & visualize yourself completing a project you’ve started

Customs and Activities: games, the traditional riding of poles/staves, country fairs, breaking bread with friends, making corn dollys, harvesting herbs for charms/rituals, Lughnasadh fire with sacred wood & dried herbs, feasting, competitions, lammas towers (fire-building team competitions), spear tossing, gathering flowers for crowns, fencing/swordplay, games of skill, martial sports, chariot races, hand-fastings, trial marriages, dancing ’round a corn mother (doll)

Foods: loaves of homemade wheat, oat, & corn bread, barley cakes, corn, potatoes, summer squash, nuts, acorns, wild berries (any type), apples, rice, pears, berry pies, elderberry wine, crab apples, mead, crab, blackberries, meadowsweet tea, grapes, cider, beer

Herbs: grain, acacia, heather, ginseng, sloe, cornstalks, cyclamen, fenugreek, aloes, frankincense, sunflower, hollyhock, oak leaf, wheat, myrtle

Element: Fire

Gender: Female

In the Words of Mama Bear

January, 2016

What Goes on in Putting Together a Pagan Festival

Mama Bear hopes you all had a wonderful Yule. Now that everything has settled down, with the holiday season, I hope you’re enjoying a calm, restful time of the year.

Most people I know enjoy the winter months as a time for drawing inward, introspection, and self-work. Not this Mama Bear! Between classes and festival preparation, it seems as if every day is a new and magical adventure! Someone asked me what it takes to put on a pagan festival, so…

What goes on in producing a Pagan festival: time, money, blood, sweat, tears and a lot of coffee. (Hail Caffinea!) That is what goes into the production of a Pagan festival. Whether it’s a weekend intensive, a 2 week festival, a 4 day festival or your local Pagan Pride Day or Pagan Picnic, it’s an epic ton of work.

I’d try to dive into a breakdown, but like the elements of a spell, everything is interconnected. So, bear with me as I explain things to you from the heart and mind of an organizer. I also present this like I’m trying to teach you the basics, because that is just the way I explain things.

Organizing and actually putting on a festival.

A year or so before, you sit down and hammer out a budget. You need to account for everything from toilet paper, to airline tickets for speakers. Believe it or not, speakers and bands actually want to be paid for coming out to entertain people. This is how some of them make their living. Would you work at a job that didn’t pay you? No? Good. These people have bills to pay, food to put on the table and things like house payments. So they have to be paid. Travel expenses, lodging and meals for your speakers and bands must be paid for as well. In my experience, none of these expenses are arbitrary.

Then there’s insurance. You’d best have event insurance. From everything from natural disaster to stupid human tricks, if it can happen, it will happen. Insurance will give you peace of mind, but it does come at a price, and generally runs into several hundred if not thousands of dollars, dependent upon your event.

Venue Rental. Unless you are very lucky and own a property free and clear, you will incur a venue rental fee. That can be anywhere from a few thousand dollars to upwards of $25,000. Having written a couple of checks for one venue for around that amount, I can tell you, it’s not a far-fetched number. For instance, for a festival of 200 people, that comes out to $125 PER PERSON. Not per adult. But per infant, child, teenager, and adult. That does not include speakers and bands whose admission festivals are absorbed into the costs by the festival.

Then there’s everything else. Toilet paper, lightbulbs, supplies for ritual, supplies for children’s activities, shelters for this that and the other, portapotties if your venue needs them, ice supplies if you need them, shower trailers or portable showers, first aid kits, postage (pre festival need), website (pre festival need) program printing, sign printing, the list can go on and on. But, you need to set a budget to cover all of it. You estimate your cost at $10,000. (Trust me this number is low. I’ve worked on a festival a few years back with a budget of over $80,000) Then you estimate how many people will want to come to your festival. (After all you are putting on the best festival EVER! Why wouldn’t they want to come?) You estimate that 500 people will want to come to your festival. Well divide that in half. (I’ll explain more on that in a minute, hang in there with me.) So 250. Then divide $10,000 by 250. That equals $40 per human being on site regardless of age.

I told you I’d get back to you on something yes? That divide it in half? 250. You NEED 250 PAID IN FULL REGISTRATIONS to make your budget. That does not include speakers, bands, your festival staff or children. So you tier festival pricing to cover your speakers and bands, and because you like children, you tier the pricing for children. So, $40 per person, $20 for children….WAIT! And here’s where it can go downhill quickly. Some people don’t want to pay anything to bring their children. Even their 17 year old, consumes like a grown up, children.

Now you get to go play with math. Or, you can adjust your figures by drawing on the experiences of others. Whatever you do, make sure that what you’re charging is going to cover your budget and also give you a little wiggle room, because again, Murphy’s law. But wait, there’s more.

You’re going to get people who feel entitled to come to your festival without paying. For a myriad of reasons, whether it be their status in the community, the ownership of a large pagan store, or the fact that they believe all pagan festivals should be free, they are seriously not going to want to pay. When you politely but firmly tell them that there are no free tickets to your event they will get huffy, defensive, and not come to your festival, and will also run it down to others every chance that they can. Stick to your guns. You don’t want to pay out of your own personal pocket for them to come do you? Then stick to the admission fee. For everyone.

To add to the time factor, you must make rules for your event, and STICK TO THEM. This brings in both time and tears, lots of coffee and sometimes, even a little blood. Making rules is never easy, nor is it pretty. People get offended for rules designed to keep all event attendees safe, and to ensure the safety of the venue.

That’s where your first and basic set of rules comes from. The Venue. Those rules are out of your control. List them out first. Sometimes, they are all that you need. Other times, you need to create and enforce rules based on past experiences, voiced concerns from your staff and co-coordinators, or based on things you’ve seen done wrong elsewhere.

Two of the biggest rule issues I’ve seen are over nudity and alcohol. Huge controversies that have people up in arms because they want to be drunk and naked. They use the phrase “All acts of love and pleasure are my rituals” to excuse behavior better suited, frankly, to a frat party. There are huge issues that come up when allowing alcohol at events. They shouldn’t but they do. Everything from people with alcohol poisoning, to minors with alcohol. It’s more hassle than it’s worth. Do you want to be responsible personally for those sorts of situations? Think about it carefully.

Same goes for nudity. Most pagans are fine with keeping their clothes on. We live and work in a society that deems it necessary. However, you will get people who argue with you that they should be given special permission since their path demands it. Here’s the deal, not everyone is comfortable with nudity. Some venues do not allow it. Then, there’s always that one person who tends to creep on others who are nude. They take nudity as consent. From anyone. Regardless of age. What’s right? What’s wrong? Your best bet as an organizer, IMHO, is to not allow nudity. Again, is that something you want to be personally responsible for?

By this time you’re well past the “thinking about planning stage and are well into the planning stage, there’s so much more that goes on in this stage. The biggest one being sweat.

Let’s talk about sweat. You’re going to sweat. Whether you’re hauling wood for the fires, helping in the kitchen, or merely trying to negotiate things with people, you are going to perspire. Your brain is going to hurt. You’re going to bleed. Wait, I said I’d get back to that bleeding part didn’t I? Let’s talk about the blood, because we all know about sweat equity. Blood is infinitely more interesting.

You are going to bleed. Keep a first aid kit handy. I’m not saying this to scare you, but I know from experience, that unless you’re wrapped in bubble wrap, you will bleed. Paper cuts, cats doing burn outs on your leg while you’re updating the website, walking into a door frame because you’re reading where the most awesome people on the planet are coming to your festival, or banging your shin on a chainsaw blade, catching your chin on a car door….there will be blood. Take it in stride. However, you’re going to want to also make sure that you have the same supplies on hand to help out your attendees. Make it a dedicated medical team. Seriously. Those people are going to save you a lot of headache. Take care of them.

Speaking of taking care of people, let’s talk about more of the time aspect.

Take care of your meals provider. That team is going to keep you fed, and go above and beyond for you and all of your attendees. They’re also saving you time, money and headache by taking on a sometimes thankless task. They are invaluable. Invest in them as much as you can. Give your time to promote their meal plan, and them as people too.

Take care of your merchants as well. They put in a lot of hard work doing what they do, and they bring something unique to your event. In fact they bring things to people who might not have access to magical items otherwise. Treat them well and they’ll sing your praises far and wide. Give them the time to promote them and encourage people to “shop locally”.

Take care of everyone who waltzes through the gates of your festival. If they are there, it’s up to you to make sure they feel valued, welcomed and safe.

Invest some time into researching what needs to be done to put on a festival. Go buy Tish Owens’ book “Chasing the Rainbow” and READ IT CAREFULLY. There are myriads of reasons that Tish is my hero, and this book covers them all.

 

 

Hekate’s Enchanted Cottage

September, 2015

Season of the Witch

seasonofwitch

 

 

The days grow cooler and the nights draw closer as an air of mystery blankets the land. As Autumn approaches the Season of the Witch begins. The scents and sights of decay delight the senses of the macabre minded, and the colorful splash of red, gold, and orange bring warmth to the shadowed landscape. This is the time I feel more alive and closer to the Lands Enchanted. I welcome the uncanny feel of bewitchment as I ready myself for the mischief and mayhem the Spirits of Shades and Shadows bring. The soulfulness of the Enchanted Realm of the Dead awaken my mind to the mysteries that dwell beyond the Veil—beyond the Gates of Hekate. Communication with our Beloved Dead become easier as the Gates are swung open and the veil becomes thinner.

For me, the Dark half of the year begins in the Fall, when the nights grow longer and a certain chill is in the air. The Dead start to stir, and the Dark Fae of the Shadow-Lands come into full power. This lasts until Spring, when the Shining Ones awaken, blanketing the land in light and the pastel colors of newly born flowers paint the Earth in splendid delight.

My home reflects the changing of the seasons, my altars taking on the visage of light or dark—Seelie or Un-Seelie. Being a Hedge and Cottage Witch means being in tune with Nature and Her Spirits, learning to understand the ever changing tides of time. I walk the crooked, gray path of Witchcraft, communing with those Unseen, both dark and light. I embrace that which is within, accepting my dark and light self.

OracleCards

 

(Oracle of Shadows from Etsy)

 

As I prepare myself for the encroaching darkness, I consult with my Beloved Dead and the Spirits of the Shadow-Lands who have made themselves known to me. I ask them for protection and insight, listening keenly for all they impart to me. I ward my home against malicious spirits and pay homage to those Spirits who have been charged to protect my home and my loved ones. I have found Red Brick Dust and my own home made Holy Water (sacred water consecrated on the Altar of Hekate) to work wonderfully in the warding and protecting of my home.

When the wards are set and my Spirits thanked I am able to sit back and enjoy my favorite seasons, Fall and Winter. I prepare my home for celebrations and merriment and make plans for our annual visit to the Pumpkin Patch—(Sadly, I need to find a new one to visit. Our favorite one closed last year.) With birthdays, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Yule all coming one right after the other, I have plenty to celebrate and look forward to time spent with loved ones. Parties, bon-fires, hayrides, baking and much more are what I love about this time of year and why I embrace the darkness that comes with it.

As the Season of the Witch begins, I wish you all a very Blessed and Merry Autumn, Mabon, and Harvest-Fest. May the love of family and friends bring warmth and happiness to your lives…

Faeries, Elves, and Other Kin

June, 2010

Midsummer Eve:  Second Faerie Festival of the Year

By

Kat Cranston

Midsummer Eve, also known as Litha, Samradh, Alban Hefin, Aerra Litha, Mother Night, and St. John’s Eve, is the second of the three yearly Faerie Realm festivals.  This sabbat is tied to the Summer Solstice, which occurs on 21 June in the Northern Hemisphere this year.  The other two faerie festivals occur on May Eve and November Eve (Samhain).

Midsummer Eve is a sabbat that has a lot of faerie lore attached to it.  This is the time when entrance to the faerie realm is easiest and faerie mounds are practically “open to the public!”  Faerie powers are at their strongest, and they are frolicsome and very merry, dancing around bonfires, singing and cavorting with abandon.

Seeing Faeries

Midsummer Eve at dusk, especially if the moon is full, is precisely the best time for viewing faeries—if you have their favor or they wish to procure your services. Oak, ash and thorn make up the faerie tree triad of Britain, and where they grow together one can see faeries.  Here is a recipe from the 16th century that, when rubbed on the eyelids, will help one to gain faerie sight:

Take a pint of sallet oyle and put it into a vial glasse; and first wash it with rose-water and marigold-water; the flowers to be gathered toward the east.  Wash it until the oyle becomes white, then put into the glasse, and then put thereto the budds of young hazle, and the thyme must be gathered near the side of a hill where fairies use to be; and take the grasse of a fairie throne; then all these put into the oyle in the glasse and sette it to dissolve three days in the sunne and keep it for thy use.

Note that there are several varieties of flowers that go by the name of “marigold.”  The marigold referred to in this recipe is the pot marigold, also known as calendula and native to the European continent, and not to be confused with the common marigold, or tagetes, native to the American continent.

Remember to prepare and set out an offering so they will not feel you are infringing on their privacy and whatever you do, look only!  Faeries can be dangerous and they are capable of playing all kinds of tricks ranging from innocent pranks to inflicting death.  Faerie morality is high unpredictable.

Protective Measures

To gain protection from the faerie tricks and mischief, you should jump the ritual Midsummer Eve bonfire and drive your herds (or better yet, walk with your children) between two bonfires.  To increase the fire’s protection, add the herb St. John’s Wort, which is in full bloom this time of year.  Place St. John’s Wort over your doorway or weave it into a garland with marigolds and ivy, then put it around the neck of any farm animals you possess.  If you don’t feel like you’ve done enough, take your protective measures further by following this description of London written by historian John Stow in 1598:

Every man’s door was shaded with green birch, fennel, St. John’s Wort, orpin, white lilies, and the like, ornamented with garlands of beautiful flowers.  They…had also lamps of glass with oil burning in them all night; and some of them hung out branches of iron, curiously wrought, containing hundreds of lamps lighted at once, which made a splendid appearance.

Steer Clear

An Irish faerie that changes shape from a very wide man in a high hat and scarf to a beast or bearded sheep, the Amadán-na-Briona, also known as The Fool of the Forth, is very dangerous.  His mere touch causes an incurable madness or death.  He is very active the entire month of June with Midsummer being especially provocative.  If you meet him, shout, “The Lord be between us and harm,” otherwise as the Irish say, “To meet the Amadán is to be in prison forever.”  Look for him to knock on your door late at night or pop up from behind a hedge.

A German faerie that loves to create elflocks in people’s hair and beards, the Pilwiz can become dangerous if you trespass in its mountainous lands and it shoots you with an elfbolt.  Worse still, the Pilwiz is a thief, raiding cornfields at night.  If you can catch the Pilwiz in the act of thievery at noon on Midsummer Day, the Pilwiz will die for a year.  However, if the Pilwiz sees you first, you will die.  There are less dangerous means of dealing with a Pilwiz and if one plagues you, I urge you not to take this risk.

A Shetland faerie with an aversion to sunlight, Trows, also called Night Stealers or Creepers, live in mounds amongst vast treasure hoards.  At Midsummer, the music-loving Trows contort their squat and misshaped bodies in a crouching and hopping dance called henking.  Trows engage in kidnapping children and leaving changelings in their place, so it’s best not to spend too much time in their company, although they also are fond of giving gifts of money to humans who please them, especially fiddlers.

Faerie Paths

Folklore has well documented the existence of faerie paths; dire were the consequences to those who built a human structure on one.  Invisible to the human eye, one way to check a site to ensure it would not impede any faerie traffic was to nail down four hazel branches, one each at the four corners of the proposed structure, and see if the branches were disturbed the next morning.  If they were, the verdict was in and construction was wisely abandoned.

If you see a procession of lights moving in a direct line from one faerie mound to another on Midsummer Eve, the faeries are on the move along a faerie path.  They are on their way to visit their neighbors for a grand Midsummer Eve party, or they are pulling out and moving to a new location.  Either way, don’t risk getting in their way.

Faerie Brides

Midsummer Eve is when male fae are wont to steal away pretty, human girls to become their brides.  They often appear as tall, dark, noble looking men that charm the desired girl, dancing with her all night long.  The next day the girl, imbued with inhuman, ethereal grace and beauty, will begin to waste away, becoming more beautiful each day, until she dies.  Her soul then travels to Tir Na Og, where it is always summer, and she becomes the bride of her faerie sweetheart.  Such marriages are accompanied by rigorous taboos and conditions, such as the fairy husband must not be looked upon on certain days nor struck a certain number of times nor touched by the bride with iron.  If the faerie husband abandons his human wife, she will waste away and die…again.

Dressing of Wells

The faeries that guard and are responsible for the well-being of fountains, wells, springs, streams and brooks are the naiads.  These faeries may appear in the guise of a fish, a frog, a mermaid, a winged serpent, or even a fly.

To honor and appease these guardians, place garlands of flowers, ribbons and other finery around the well at Midsummer.  First, approach the well from the east and walk about it sunwise three times.  You may also toss offerings of pins or coins into the well.  This will ensure that the water runs fresh and clean for another year.

Battle of the Kings

At Midsummer, the sun seems to stand still, for this is the longest day and shortest night of the year.  From this time onwards, the days gradually grow shorter again.  Although they are not typical faeries, yet neither are they Gods, the Kings of Oak and Holly meet at Midsummer to battle for their kingship.  The Holly King defeats the Oak King and begins his six-month reign until the two Kings meet again at Yule.  These foliate Kings share many aspects of the Horned God and the Green Man of forest, both of which are dedicated to the preservation of nature, as are the fae.  For lovers of the fae to include and honor these two mighty forces in their Midsummer celebration is wholly appropriate.

Bibliography and Works Cited/Recommended Reading:

  • Kowalchik, C. and Hylton, W.H. Editors, Rodale’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs , Rodale , 1998, p. 60
  • McCoy, Edain, A Witch’s Guide to Faery Folk, Llewellyn Publications, 2006
  • Ellis, Jeanette, Forbidden Rites: Your Complete Introduction to Traditional Witchcraft, O , 2009, p. 151
  • Lenihan, Eddie, Meeting the Other Crowd, Penguin Putman Inc., 2003
  • Franklin, Anna, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Fairies, Paper Tiger, 2002
  • Franklin, Anna, Working With Fairies: Magick, Spells, Potions & to Attract & See Them, New Page , 2005
  • Briggs, Katharine, An Encyclopedia of Fairies, Pantheon , 1976

Tri-State Interfaith Festival

May, 2009

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Greetings to those reading this. I want to take a minute and sum up what this festival is all about. I personally got tired of dealing with everything wrong in this world: The corrupt political views, the destruction of our environment, the petty labels that society places upon those to cause separation and segregation. The sole fundamentals of this festival is I’m asking everyone for just one weekend out of a year to put aside all your mainstream prejudices and come together, people concerned about humanity and nature.

I invite all paths of beliefs: Christian, Wicca, Pagan, Hindu, Muslim, Native American, Voodoo, Methodist, Agnostic, Protestant, Catholic, and all the others too many to list to come together and exist together peacefully and nonjudgmental for a weekend in nature. To celebrate nature and offer her healing energies we create from our weekend together. Our mission this year is DRUMS-Natures healing rhythm. Please come and enjoy a weekend of fun and music as you have never experienced.
I think with everything going on in the world, we all need to spend a weekend together, learn, laugh, and grow as people. Come feel the breeze in your hair in a very special nook located in the tip of the northern panhandle of West Virginia. We are located 1 mile from Ohio and 3 miles from Pennsylvania. There are several major highways leading into us to make it simple to find and a rather short drive for most in the tri-state area. Enjoy the warm summer nights, a sky full of stars, and good companionship as we host a gathering that most only dream of.
This year the festival will be packed full of non stop entertainment. We have 8 bands coming to perform from New York, Ohio, West Virginia, Indiana, and more. The music will range from Celtic, humor, acoustic, folk, and rock. Just a few of the bands on the main stage are Gypsy Nomads, Brian Henke, Telling Point, Poohba, and several more. There will also be performances from Etheric Belly Dancers, Native American flutes of LaughingFox, and all leading up to the anticipated Union of Fire show that will blow you away! Union of Fire is the joint efforts of Terry SilverOwls fire spinning, jesters, belly dancers, and a tons of surprises.
There will be a second stage featuring Greek Dramas, Lectures of exotic herbs, Native American spirituality, and different demonstrations of various faiths. Also on the secondary stage will be meditation circles, belly dance classes, yoga classes, and much more.
We are excited to also announce a few really fun things going on at the festival such as one of the largest drum circles in a 300 mile radius featuring drummers surrounding a huge bale fire Friday and Saturday night. We will feature a general and vegetarian friendly food station. There will be a vendor alley of 24 of the best vendors all selling awesome items. We strive to pick 24 different booths so there is a huge shopping selection and each one very unique in what they sell. Some of these vendors are Spirit Apothecary Herbs, Sue Balaschak African Drums, Wands by Terry SilverOwl, The Dragons Wardrobe cloaks, Adena Pathways specializing in Native American items, Faerie Nonsense Gifts and so many more to mention.

Daltons Earth Celebration Party (for youth)
I have been talking about this festival being family/youth friendly and I want to honor that. After last years festival, my 11 yr old son Dalton has really expressed a ton of interest in the festival. So I am giving him full reign over a “celebrate Earth” party for anyone under 15. This is Daltons “baby” and I will post updates as he figures things out and decides what he wants to have. So check out some of the things below and hope to see a big turn out for this event.

In staying true to “healing Mother Nature” theme, there is going to be a swap meet for you to bring gently used items of magickal and spiritual nature This is a fun way to get rid of something you might have picked up and decided it just wasn’t meant for you, but maybe someone else would benefit from.
Instead of throwing it away, bring it with you and swap it out.
We are going to have a booth set up that you can bring your used items to, turn it in, have it appraised by a staff member, and in return, you will receive “monopoly money” for that item to use to purchase other items that others brought in.
Also, there is going to be a fashion show for everyone to sign up for and show off their favorite exotic, magickal, period, or enchanting clothing to win prizes.
With the current state of our economy, we are packing this years festival to the brim with family fun and excitement. And doing it so that we can still maintain an affordable entry fee. The fees for this years festival is $50 for an adult weekend pass, $25 for an adult 1 day pass, $10 for a youth (12-18) weekend pass, and children under 12 are FREE. I ask everyone take note to the fact this is family oriented. There will be no skyclad permitted. Skimpy is fine, but no nudity and no private parts showing. This event is BYOB. The entry fees will cover the entertainment listed above and primitive/rustic tent camping (you must bring your own tent).
There are a ton more things not mentioned here that is on the festival site, there will be weekly updates, and several more surprises announced closer to festival time.
You can obtain further info about this at www.myspace.com/lammasfestival or our NEW site openning on May,1st-2009 at www.tristateinterfaithfestival.com.