festivals

Review: 2019 Lunar & Seasonal Diary (Northern Hemisphere) by Stacey DeMarco

December, 2018

Review:

2019 Lunar & Seasonal Diary (Northern Hemisphere) by Stacey DeMarco

Rockpool Publishing

ISBN: 978-1-925682-13-7

List Price: $21.95 USD / £16.99 GBP

The 2019 Lunar and Seasonal Diary is a beautiful, spiral-bound calendar, richly illustrated with pleasing sepia color pages. As one would expect, it tracks the waxing and waning of the moon and the lunar eclipses of the coming year. It also provides the astrological house of each new and full moon and features the eight annual festivals of the wheel of the year.

I reviewed the Northern Hemisphere edition of the Seasonal Diary. Both Stacey DeMarco and Rockpool Publishing are based in Australia, which is why special care is made to tie the festivals to the seasons themselves instead of calendar dates. After all, our calendars follow the reality of the Earth and her seasons, not the other way around.

Especially well fitted to the new pagan, the diary has a well written introduction the hows and whys of spellcraft and the basics of working with crystals. The moon phases are introduced, as well as the elements, directions and the wheel of the year – not enough to complicate things, but enough guidance to use the daily and monthly prompts that follow. Each month features a specific deity, as well as an appropriate ritual or spell, drawing inspiration from traditions as varied as Slavic, Celtic, Hindu, Norse, Egyptian, Greek, and Shinto. I think the selection is broad enough to be interesting for almost any pagan.

I found the Lunar & Seasonal Diary a beautiful resource to keep me connected to the monthly rhythms of the earth. Each month begins with a page questioning “What am I devoted to?” – asking us to simultaneously reflect on what we have been wrapped up in the month just past as well as what we would aspire towards in the month ahead. Prompts are given for important dates and goals to focus on and manifest in the month ahead.

This monthly return to focus seems a positively recharging reset to our frame of reference, especially during those stressful times when we’re just happy to it through one calendar page to the next. It reminds us to recall what we are working for in the first place, reminding us that the daily grind is a process and not an end in itself. This monthly taking-stock can allow you to stay open to the living world around you, to stay fast with what is truly important to you, or to shift your focus and goals each month, working on different aspects of your life just as the energy of the earth changes through different phases around you.

With the space for taking notes, prompts for both reflective and aspirational record keeping, I think this is a great notebook for any pagan who sees the value of the occasional ritual to keep one in tune with the seasons, and it especially shines for those new to the pagan path.

2019 Lunar & Seasonal Diary: Northern Hemisphere on Amazon

Notes from the Apothecary

December, 2018

Notes from the Apothecary: Christmas Cactus

 Oh no, not the C-Word! That’s right, my fellow Pagans, I said it. Christmas. Love it or loathe it, come December the 25th, possible birthday of Dionysus and Mithras (but unlikely to be the birthday of Jesus) the nation, nay, the world goes Christmas mad and we shake our heads. Don’t they know it’s just another solstice celebration? Or at the very most, an adoption of the festivities of Roman Saturnalia? Well, it might surprise you to know that I love Christmas. Yeah, it’s a touch annoying when people deny the Pagan roots, but I’m a sucker for seeing other people happy. And Christmas makes people happy! It also gives its name to some amazing things: Christmas Island, Christmas Jones and of course, the beautiful and exotic Christmas Cactus.

The botanical name is Schlumbergera, chosen by botanist Charles Lemaire (1801-1871) in honour of Frédéric Schlumberger (1823-1893) who was a renowned collector of cacti and succulents.

 

The Kitchen Garden

 Christmas Cacti are generally kept as houseplants as they are native to Brazil and used to this type of climate. In the wild they grow attached to rocks and trees, but they are happy in some well-drained, good quality compost with a bit of grit or sand.

The cacti are normally grown from cuttings and their spikes are barely there, making them resemble a succulent more than a traditional cactus. The leaves are flattish pads and they form chains which eventually erupt into bright and beautiful flowers. They are normally quite happy sharing a large pot with other succulents and cacti as long as it doesn’t become too crowded.

Don’t let them have too much direct sunlight. It can damage the leaves. But too little light, and they may never flower. Many schlumbergera flower in winter, making them a wonderful addition to natural holiday decorations, whatever you celebrate.

 

The Witch’s Kitchen

Cacti in general are associated with fire and the south. They are also associated with the zodiac sign of Aries, but Christmas cactus is specifically associated with Sagittarius. Unsurprisingly this plant is associated with the month of December and the festival of Yule or the Winter Solstice. Christmas cacti make a great altar decoration for any festive period, and ones with pink or red flowers are particularly appropriate for the south of your sacred space.

The association with the zodiac sign of Aries can be expanded to include the god Aries, and Mars, Aries’ Roman Equivalent. This lends the Christmas cactus the power of strength, courage but also of conflict and success in battles.

Sagittarius is another fire sign, but one particularly associated with November and December, the signs time in the zodiac ending around the winter solstice. Sagittarius is the archer, and associated with prophecy and divination. The Christmas cactus, therefore, could be a great tool in meditative divination or prophetic spellwork.

Sagittarius is ruled by Jupiter, so the Christmas Cacti could also be a great addition to expansion magic, and lawfully aligned magic.

 

Home and Hearth

Collect the flowers of your Christmas Cacti before they begin to fade. Let them dry; laying them on some paper in an airing cupboard or a sunny windowsill away from damp is good for this. Place the dried and hopefully colourful flowers in a small, clear jar. Either hang the jar on a thong or chain, or keep it in a pocket when you are going into situations where you need a little more courage. This could be confrontations with friends or family that you are nervous about, or perhaps raising a grievance in the workplace. The energy of Mars will walk with you, and the balance of a very hardy plant.

 

I Never Knew…

For those who enjoy growing succulents and cacti, the adorable name for baby succulents is pups!

All images from Wikipedia.

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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: Modern Witchcraft Meets Celtic Ways.

A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors on Amazon

 

Pagan Portals – Celtic Witchcraft: Modern Witchcraft Meets Celtic Ways on Amazon