night

GoodGod!

October, 2018

Meet the Gods: Chernobog

(“Day and Night (Belobog and Chernobog) by Maxim Sukharev)

Merry meet.

This time of the waning year is the time of the dark gods, who balance the gods of the light during the waxing year.

Slavic god Belobog is the “White God,” with his sunshine that brings life. He is prayed to for a plentiful harvest, and for a light that guides through dark times and places. Belobog appears only during daylight, wearing a white robe and holding a staff. He brings good things to those he meets.

Belobog’s brother is Chernobog, the equally powerful god of the dark who rules the night, and is associated with evil and devastation.

Twice each year the two brothers dueled, with the winner controlling the season along the length of the day and night.

The Black God survives in numerous Slavic curses and in a White God, whose aid is sought to obtain protection or mercy,” Evel Gasparini wrote in “Slavic religion” on britannica.com.

(“Creation of the Earth (Belobog and Chernobog)” by Maxim Sukharev)

Chernobog was associated with bleak attributes such as cold, famine, poverty and illness. Despite this, he is still respected among all the other gods,” Ivan wrote in “12 Gods Of Slavic Mythology And Their Amazing Powers” on ancient-code.com.

In that tradition, the dark was respected, as was the light, knowing it was necessary of cosmic balance, and knowing each year, they would find their way back to the light. These cycles of the universe were due to the polarizing actions of Chernobog and Belobog, Ivan wrote.

Egyptian brothers Set and Horus engage in a similar struggle between light and dark, providing a symbol of harmony. Set, the god of darkness, was associated with evil, deserts, wastelands and the northern stars; although he murdered his brother he was still seen as a protector and a source of strength. He was wild and untamed with bright red hair. Horus was depicted as a winged sun disk. He was the god of the east and of sunrise, and also the god associated with the sunset.

In other cultures, the Greek god of darkness was Erebos while Hodr was the Norse god of winter and darkness. Known for murdering his brother, Set was the Egyptian god of darkness and evil. According to anglefire.com, “Itzcolihuqui was the Atzec demon god of darkness, deep freeze, volcanoes and disaster.”

As the darkness grows, working with these gods can offer strength and power.

Merry part. And merry meet again.

***

About the Author:

Lynn Woike was 50 – divorced and living on her own for the first time – before she consciously began practicing as a self taught solitary witch. She draws on an eclectic mix of old ways she has studied – from her Sicilian and Germanic heritage to Zen and astrology, the fae, Buddhism, Celtic, the Kabbalah, Norse and Native American – pulling from each as she is guided. She practices yoga, reads Tarot and uses Reiki. From the time she was little, she has loved stories, making her job as the editor of two monthly newspapers seem less than the work it is because of the stories she gets to tell. She lives with her large white cat, Pyewacket, in central Connecticut. You can follow her boards on Pinterest, and write to her at woikelynn at gmail dot com.

 

The Wind Came at Night

October, 2018

The Wind Came at Night

 

In the days of chilling blaze

Springtime sun as winter fades

Dazzling spears and green grass blades

The gale the only blight.

Driving out to picnics gay

February turning into May

Hearts and smiles throughout the day

But the wind came at night.

 

Batten hatch and throw the catch

Draw the curtains and the latch

Find the candle; light a match

Glow ghostly and white.

Lights to ward off what’s outside

Whatever feral monsters ride

Abroad; their entrance is denied

Though the wind comes at night.

 

I saw a face outside my place

Swiftly passed, as in a race

I blinked and there was not a trace

I shivered with the fright.

I ran upstairs to check again

Peering through the glass in vain

The window howled as if in pain

From the wind in the night.

 

Clutch the blade and don’t be swayed.

Seek the spirit! Seek the shade!

Call the cook and tell the maid!

We search until the light.

Laughter in the face of fear

No bravery but a butt of beer

The wetness on my face a tear

From the wind in the night.

 

I grabbed my hat and stroked the cat

I peered between the shivering slats

I shrugged my coat on, faced the mat

I now would find this Wight.

For who was in this deathly storm?

What poor fool trapped and all forlorn?

Or was it evil ‘pon my lawn

When the wind came at night?

 

Slam the door and stand before

The howling horror’s mealy maw

Step forward though the soul abhors

This strange and streaming sight.

Trees are bent and strain to rise

Back to the black and bubbling skies

Clouds thick and crying; flying eyes

Borne on the wind at night.

 

The muddy grass was slippy glass

The rain like ice; cold, hard and fast

I braced against it, held the mast

Pressed on, quick as I might.

To save a soul or fight a ghost

I knew not what I feared the most

So wide eyed, I became engrossed

In the wind in the night.

 

Turn around, and back you bound

Running from the brutal sound

Cacophony of sky meets ground

The planet bursts alight!

Or stand and see the riders’ glee

The horses stamping fretfully

Red eyes, black coats, white spittle; see

The wind come in the night.

 

I didn’t flee; I had to see

What creatures stomped and stared at me

I turned and riders one, two, three

No reins; no bit to bite.

Recognition jarred my heart

My lord! My earth! My burning hearth!

My words though, they were ripped apart

By the wind in the night.

 

See the fire, see the spark

The star, the candle in the dark

The life, the sound to which we hark

The blood, the beat, the light;

The terrifying truth of life

The endless struggle, burning strife

Turning key and turning knife

The wind that comes at night.

 

It was no waif I had to save

Nor any ghostly, haunting wraith

I had spied from my house so safe

So warm and kind and light

Cernunnos!’ I cried out. ‘Herne!’

Take me with you, let me learn!’

They laughed, and all my visions burned

In the wind that came at night.

 

North or South or East or West

I know not which gust is the best

I only know I need to rest

I have no will to fight

Though each day dawns well

and morning swells

with promise fierce and true

Once evening creeps I cling to you.

The wind

It comes

At night.

 

*Copyright 23rd February 2016

 

***

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

 

Pagan Portals – Celtic Witchcraft: Modern Witchcraft Meets Celtic Ways

Musings From the Mossy Trail

October, 2011

Winter Nights

It is nearing midnight and a crisp Autumn wind chills the air. She clutches her wrap tightly and, though her old joints creak in protest, she presses forward.  Her destination is not much farther. Just beyond the Oaks along the wooded path – thirteen feet at most.

The forest floor is thick with moss and cushions her footsteps. She reaches the sacred mound, shakes out a thick blanket and pauses while listening to the howl of a lone wolf. From the corner of her eye, there is movement and light; they are here.

She stands in silence, just as she had as a young girl, beside her grandmother; and then as a woman, alongside her mother and her own daughter who crossed much too young. But on this night, before those who are named and those whose names were lost with time, she is reunited.

Some retain the beauty they had in life, some are hags and some are hardly more than bones, with long silver hairs billowing in the moonlight, though collectively they form the cosmic womb. Tears of love spill from her eyes as she basks in the knowledge that she is finally taking her place among them.

Winter Nights, or old Norse Vetrnætr, occurs in mid October and is a celebration to honor the Disir, female ancestral spirits who have crossed to the Otherworld. For traditionally, in Scandinavian lore it is the women who are the protectors of the family line. One such example tells of two Disir, Thorgerd and Irpa from the clan Hladhr:

These disir had an elaborate temple of their own and fought beside

their kinsmen in battle by appearing in the sky shooting darts of hail

from their fingertips. (Njal’s Saga 88, Saga of the Jomsvikings, and     Skaldskarpamal. See Simek pp. 326-7.)

The Disir aid in childbirth, death and crossing over, and maintain the intricate  patterns that weave the sagas through generations. They are the voices of guidance, the whispers of consciousness, cunning, wise. They share in our greatest victories and bring comfort in our deepest sorrows. It is in their honor that we tell their stories, hail their names, known or not, and repay their gifts with offerings and devoted attention.

Though they are always close, as in the Celtic Samhain, it is at this time, when the earth turns to darkness, that the veil between the worlds thins. This phenomena greatly enhances our ability to communicate with the dead, and they to us, whether it be through inner silence, visitation, runes, tarot or other means of divination.

This is a time to turn your attention inward, to make amends, to complete that which is left undone. A time for lavish feasts, for toasting and boasting the deeds of those glorious women who came before us, and to pay homage in advance for their continued endurance and support as they help to carry us through the coming winter.

May we always honor their unending strength and love.

Rites and Rituals

December, 2010

The Long Night’s Moon and Yule

The Wheel turns and I feel my fire has burned away.

I feel the Earth holding me tight. I know the Crone now walks through the night.

And I know the Wheel still slowly turns, back to me to make me burn,

With the love, I forever, hold for thee…..”

For me, both of these moments separately mark very significant changes upon the Wheel. When they coincide within the same night, something that occurs roughly once every 19 years, there is magick in the air.  This night, I am able to witness and emerge myself in the middle of the dance that shadow and light eternally share. I am able to stand at the edge of the deep dark and reach out to touch the spark of the journey anew. It is to me, both the end and the new beginning of my own path around the Wheel.  As I sit in the quiet darkness I try to recall all of the signs, all of the sights and smells and the sacred moments I experienced throughout this turning of the Wheel. From the inward searching Winter’s hold asks of my spirit, to the first fragile glimpse of the dreams of Spring, I remember how the air felt upon my skin. Soon, the maiden began to dance away the snow, awakening the earth from her slumber and chasing away the last grasp of Winter. I remember feeling the forest come back to life. I remember the rich, deep breath the forest shared and how the air tingled with energy. The stillness of the cold was long gone, replaced with the passion and vibrancy new life promised. Where there was only black and white, there now exploded a world of color, fueled with the magick of wet and warm touching, and the days grew. Longer, warmer, filled with the sounds and scents of Nature’s rejoicing, the days stretched themselves into the night. The Tiger Lilies returned and the Ghost plant made its brief appearance as the shadows all but disappeared from the forest. The Spring rains faded and the Sun rose higher.  Sitting by the altar in my house, holding a rock I borrowed from the river, I think back to the morning of the Summer Solstice. I pick up my wand and trace my finger over the ring I burned into it that day, with the Sun’s fire. I remember how connected I felt that day, standing beneath the Sun, between the forest and the river.  Slowly I gaze over everything I’ve placed on the altar and savor the memory each item conjures. Shadow and light, love and death, the endless dance that weaves itself within the change beckoned by the turning of the Wheel, it all lies represented upon my altar. Beneath my altar I notice the coiled black cord. The black cord we used in our Mabon ritual to represent the Mother pulling up the shadows from the God’s passing. I reach out and hold the cord. I   wonder what the end of the ritual is like, for I have never witnessed the closing, choosing instead to embrace the path the God walks that night. I close my eyes and drift within the shadows of the Fall. I remember the way the feel of the air changes, a damp heaviness on my skin as I begin to smell the decay of those things forgotten by the fading Sun. My thoughts turn to the Crone and her lone walk through the trees under a stark moon. I recall the way her touch turns the leaves to the colors of his fire. I think about the last days of the salmon, keeping their long promise to return, giving themselves back to the forest and the river. I have come full circle once more and although my memories of the past flow with similarities, I recognize my need to embrace change. Here at the place where I believe the end and the beginning touch, I ready  my spirit to step into the unknown. In this night, within this moment the Goddess sheds the Crone’s dark mantle, her shadows sliding back into the Earth, revealing the Mother. I consider how I should honor the past and remember its weight as I acknowledge the Mother’s presence, breathing in the present. I light a single yellow candle to celebrate the return of the God. It is a small spark of light that will slowly push against the edge of the dark, until the days are once again long and warm.  Until then, I will hold space for the future and the untold promises of wonder, the new year that turns to me, can manifest.  Blessed be and Merry Yule to all,

John

Winter’s Night

December, 2010

A wall of dark clouds cover me
Like a warm ocean wave
Darkness is here
My friend is here

She has shown me her creatures
She has shown me their shadows
She has shown me the fears
That hide in the daylight

The darkened skies colors are my palette
And I paint on this winter’s night
For this is the time
When the velvet is alive

With the light
She will fade
To be remembered
And, I shall remember

Night Rites

December, 2008

Northern Star Rite

As we approach the Yule season, we are reminded that although we have been in the dark half of the season, we will always return to the light. The Winter Solstice marks the beginning of the return of the sun. Our days will continue to grow longer, and our nights will become shorter. It is a time of quiet reflection, but also joyous celebrations of winter.

This rite is in honor of the North Star that brightens the winter night and offers its power of guidance to all that accept it. The North Star can be found in many traditional stories of the winter holiday season, so this rite may be a comforting childhood reminder of the power of the brightest star in the night sky.

Gather with friends to perform this ritual on an evening before the Winter Solstice. This rite is written as if it would be too cold to perform outside, like it is here in Maine in December! However, you can certainly do all of this ritual outdoors as weather permits.
Disclaimer

Please use caution when burning candles and incense. Never leave candles or incense unattended or in the reach of small children or curious pets. Also, please use caution when handling ritual blades and burning candles. Inform participants ahead of time about the use of incense, and check on possible food allergy issues.

Supplies
Black altar cloth
Small bowl of water
Small bowl of salt
Incense burner with trivet
Charcoal tablet
Loose pinon pine resin
Feather
Athame or ritual blade
Chalice of milk
Plate of star-shaped cookies
One white taper candle in holder
Two red and white striped candles in holders
Several tea lights in holders
Matches
Markers
Thin ribbon and scissors
Gentle, instrumental music
Basket of wooden cut-outs of stars with holes pre-drilled for a hanging ribbon
Altar set-up

Spread out the black altar cloth on the altar. Place the white taper candle in its holder on the center of the altar. Place the bowl of salt (representing earth) to the left of the white candle and the bowl of water (representing water) on the right of the white candle.

Add the incense burner to the left side of the altar and place an unlit charcoal tablet on it (representing fire). Make sure to place the incense burner on a trivet to prevent heat damage to your altar. Have the pinon pine resin (representing air) handy nearby.

Also add the ritual blade to the left side of the altar. Place the chalice of water to the right side of the altar, along with the feather. Have the plate of cookies somewhere on the altar if there is room.

Place one of the red and white striped candles on either side of the altar. These candles represent the God (left) and the Goddess (right).

Place the tea lights in their holders and place them safely around the room. Use enough so you can turn off all the electric lights and still see and safely maneuver around the ritual space.  The tea lights represent the twinkling, starry sky. Light the tea lights right before you are ready to begin.

Rite

Lead the group in a grounding and centering breath exercise.

Sprinkle some of the salt into the bowl of water, and stir three times with your ritual blade or athame.

Light the charcoal tablet and place on the incense burner. Wait until the tablet is smoking, and then add a small amount of the loose incense on to it.

Have the first participant to volunteer approach you at the altar. Dip your finger into the water and draw the shape of a star on the forehead of the participant.  Then use the feather to move the incense smoke in their direction. Repeat with all participants (ending with yourself) while repeating:

Charcoal lit and incense burn

Salt and water stirred in turn

Earth, water, fire and air

Blessed in the name of the sacred pair

Once everyone has been cleansed and blessed, join together around the altar and take each other’s hand. Cast the circle by saying together:

Hand to hand, this circle is cast

Be us not in the now

Yet not in the past

From above and below

To dare and to know

Within and without

To whisper, to shout

As the Gods will it

So mote it be

Take a moment to enjoy the energy flowing between you all, and then release your hands.

You can call the four elemental quarters here if you like, but it is not necessary.

Light the Goddess candle (striped candle on the right side of the altar) and invoke the Goddess with spontaneous words.

Light the God candle (striped candle on the left side of the altar) and invoke the God with spontaneous words.
Drawing in the Star Power

Participants should find a comfortable spot to sit or lay down. Start playing the meditation music.  Add more incense to the charcoal, if desired.

Lead the participants through a meditation. Have them imagine themselves standing in a snowy, flat landscape, where are compelled to gaze at the magnificent, clear night sky. The sky is full of beautiful, sparkling stars, yet one stars stands out from the rest. This is the North Star. Spend some time developing the scene for the participants. Don’t rush things. Let the description naturally come to your mind’s eye and then describe it out loud to the group. When you’ve reached a full description, ask them to open their eyes.

Pass around a basket of thin wooden cut-outs of stars and encourage everyone to take one.  Then, pass around some markers.

Now, ask them to imagine themselves back at the landscape again. This time, they should imagine reaching out their hands and drawing the energy gently down from the North Star and into themselves.  Explain to them that the North Star’s energy is a guiding energy. Ask them to think about where they need guidance in their life.

Allow several minutes of time to pass, before asking them to open their eyes again and hold their stars. Ask them to write down on the wooden stars what they would like guidance on. When everyone is ready, have everyone gather around the altar, and light the middle white taper candle on the altar.  Ask everyone to hold their star between the palms of their hands, while reciting together:

Brightest star of the dark, night sky,

And kin to the sun in the daylight hour,

We reach out to you from on high,
And wish to honor your power.

Finding that within and that without,
Which guides our hearts and minds,
We follow you without any doubt,
Beyond the realm of places and times.

We take your strength within ourselves,
Hold fast to your rays of light,

Where our spirit and hope truly dwells,
With the sincerity of new sight.

We look upon your shining glow,
In need of wisdom, a path we seek
Please help us go, we must know,

At this night hour of your peak.

So mote it be!

Invite participants to come up to the altar, one-by-one and share with the group about how they plan on using their star energy to guide them. You can seal their star tokens by dripping a few drops of wax from the white taper candle onto the tokens and leaving them on the altar to dry. Be careful not to get any candle wax on yourself or the participant.

Allow the tokens to dry before moving them again. Invite the participants to tie a red ribbon on the star for hanging in a Northern-facing window at home.

When everyone is ready, pick up the chalice of milk and hold it out in front of you, saying:

We drink to the Gods, fair and true.
We drink to our kin, those we know and knew.
We drink to the evening sky and the stars so bright.
We drink to the slumbering earth and the cold, dark night.

We drink to honor the moment and times past.

We drink to change the future and help our magick last.

Blessed be!

Pass the chalice around the room and enjoy! Pour the remainder on the ground outside later.

Pick up the plate of cookies and hold it out in front of you, saying:

We partake in the honor our constant companion, the North Star.

Pass the plate around the room and enjoy! Toss the remaining food on the ground outside later.

Give thanks to the God and Goddess in any way you see fit.

Dismiss the four elemental quarters, if you called them.

When you are ready, gather around the altar once more and take each other’s hands, saying:

Hand to hand, this circle is broken.

Let us return to the now,
As our magick has been spoken.
Let us find harmony in the work we’ve done,
With greater good and harming none.

So mote it be!