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Ostara Correspondences

March 1st, 2018

(Ostara Book of Shadow Pages, 5 Digital, Downloadable Grimoire Pages by Rowan Morgana of Morgana Magick Spell on Etsy.)

 

Ostara (Oh-star-ah) – Lesser Sabbat – Spring/Vernal Equinox, March 20-21st – when the Sun enters Ares

Other Names: Ostre, Oestre, Eostre, Rites of Spring, Eostra’s Day, Lady Day, First Day of Spring, Easter, St. Patrick’s Day, Alban Eiler, Bacchanalia, Mean Earraigh, Pasch, Caisg, Pess

Date: Spring Equinox (March 20-22 in Northern Hemisphere) or when the Sun is 1 degree Aries.

Symbolism: The beginning of spring, new life and rebirth, the God and Goddess in Their youth, balance, fertility

Goddesses: all love, virgin, and fertility Goddesses; Anna Perenna (Roman), Aphrodite (Greek), Astarte (Canaanite, Persia, GrecoRoman), Athena (Greek), Cybele (Greco-Roman), Blodeuwedd, Eostre (Saxon Goddess of Fertility), Flidais (Irish), Gaia (Greek), Hera, Ishtar (Assyro-Babylonian), Isis (Egyptian), Libera (Roman), Minerva (Roman), The Muses (Greek), Persephone (Greek), Renpet (Egyptian), Venus (Roman), Ostara (the German Goddess of Fertility), Kore, Maiden, Isis, Youthful Goddesses. Faerie Queen, Lady of the Lake(Welsh-Cornish), the Green Goddess

Gods: all love, song & dance, and fertility Gods; Adonis (Greek), Attis (Greco-Roman), Cernunnos (Celtic), The Great Horned God (European), Liber (Roman), Mars (Roman), Mithras (Persian), Odin (Norse), Osiris (Egyptian), Thoth, Pan (Greek), the Green Man, Hare, Youthful Gods, Warrior Gods, Taliesin, Lord of the Greenwood (English), Dagda(Irish),Adonis (Greek)

Symbols: Eggs, rabbits, similar to easter symbols.

Purpose: Plant and animal fertility, sowing

Meaning: The God comes of age, sexual union of the Lord & Lady, sprouting, greening, balance of light and dark

Essence: Strength, birthing, completion, power, love, sexuality, embodiment of spirit, fertility, opening, beginning

Customs: Wearing green, new clothes, celtic bird festival, egg baskets coloring eggs, collecting birds eggs, bird watching, egg hunts, starting new projects, spring planting

Foods: Hard-boiled eggs, honey cakes, fresh seasonal fruits, milk punch, leafy green vegetables, dairy foods, apples, nuts, flower dishes, sprouts, fish, maple sugar candies, hot cross buns, sweet breads, milk, punch, egg drinks

Plants & Herbs: Acorn, celandine, cinquefoil, crocus, daffodil, dogwood, Easter lily, Irish Moss, ginger, hyssop, linden, strawberry, gorse, honeysuckle, iris, jasmine, jonquils, narcissus, olive, peony, rose, tansy, violets, woodruff and all spring flowers

Incense and oils: African violet, jasmine, rose, strawberry, lotus, magnolia, ginger, sage lavender, narcissus, broom

Colors: Light green, lemon yellow, pale pink, pastels, gold, grass green, robin’s egg blue, lemon yellow.

Stones: Amethyst, aquamarine, rose quartz, moonstone, bloodstone, red jasper

Animals and Mythical Beasts: Rabbits/Easter bunny, snakes, pegasus, unicorns, chicks, swallows, merpeople

Decorations: Daffodils, tulips, violet, iris, narcissus, any spring flowers, eggs, butterflies, cocoons

Spell/Ritual Work: Garden/plant blessings, seed blessing, spellcrafting, balance, growth, communication, invention, new growth, new projects

Planetary Ruler: Mars

Element: Air

Gender: Male

Threshold: Dawn

Lughnassadh 2015 

The warm season is going by fast, isn’t it? Can you believe Lughnasadh, the beginning of harvest is nearly upon us?

This year’s harvest will not be so great for some of us.

El Nino began messing things up for some of us in March. Drought in California, flooding in Texas and Oklahoma, and the first four months of this year were the highest on record, according to NASA.

Some would say this is global warming and that we should recycle and ride our bicycles more.

Regardless of what is causing this, harvests will be drastically affected. Even in my own garden in Ohio, I lost almost all my sunflowers, all my sun loving wildflower seedlings, nearly every nasturtium, and I also lost my temper! We had heat come on suddenly, and it withered every last sprout that in years prior would have done marvelously well. I have never done pest control on my plants either, but with the dryness and heat, thirsty bugs are munching on my cool, green leaves for subsistence. Hello spray on pesticide!

First world problems!” you might joke. Wilted flower seedlings and pests on my flowers will not kill me.

But were it not for modernization, a weather event like this one might just wipe out food and destroy everything.

This is what I have been meditating on while I have been scrambling to try and save plants that I could not.

There is something you might not have figured out about me. I am a bit of a control freak. Having a rose to prune is the ideal activity for me. I tend my plants daily. I bless the water I use the first time I water them. I talk to the plants. I fertilize. I soak seeds prior to planting. I research all winter long. I buy seeds before the season and plan what goes where. I discuss things with neighbors. I am in a gardening group with friends. If I find cat doots and dog doots in garden patches, I respond by spreading cayenne pepper and bamboo skewers around plants.

I am pretty obsessive about gardening! I never had an unsuccessful growing season. Being unable to save the seedlings from the overnight heat snap was unbearable for me. I am an action based individual. I experience existence by doing. When I am helpless and can do nothing to create the change I want, it really bothers me.

I am more than certain that weather events like this have happened in my lifetime before. I was just unaware before because I was not connected to the earth. Any gardener experiences what the earth experiences.

Because we have our grocery stores, we simply do not get the sense of reliance on the earth the people who grow all their own foods do. We ARE reliant on the earth. It’s just that because of our culture, we don’t all know it.

I told my husband that generations ago, the weather this year would wipe a lot of people out. He kind of ignored what I said , but he IS worried about his elm tree. He planted it a few summers ago and said there are no new leaves developing right now due to heat he calls drought. But the thing grew so much! It has to be 30 feet tall at this point, and it was only about five feet tall when we got it!

As far as it being a drought, I do not know that Ohio has a drought at this point, especially since we are now having some rains and flooding that is wiping out some of the gardens the heat did not. But, it is hotter out than it was a couple of weeks ago, and we had no rain for as many days last month as my husband thinks we should have. So he insists Ohio is in a drought. I don’t know about that, but my dead seedlings agree with my husband.

One of my favorite depictions of drought was the Mesopotamian demon, Pazuzu. He is the son of a god, and is specifically in charge of the southwestern wind which brings locusts during storms and famines during drought. Ironically, this guy who brings things that have the capacity to starve everybody to death was also called upon to protect against other things deemed threatening. Most especially a goddess named Lamashtu, who could harm a mother in childbirth.

Maybe I was a Catholic for too long, but I don’t understand how one demons presence with their respective life threatening bad things is any better than other things with their respective life threatening bad things, but I guess I don’t have to.

When I looked at my garden this week, I kind of felt like Pazuzu, or something similar had been at work! Rationally, I know better, it’s El Ninos effect, and other places have it a lot worse, but the little kid in me that pitches a tantrum every time I am out of chocolate wants something to blame!!!!!!!

I had planned a specific garden harvest in my head and started damn hard work for it clear back at Imbolc. Now it is mid June ( and this article will go in mid July) and some of those plans are wrecked and it is too late to start again. I have to plan for next year and start next February.

This is actually a perfect analogy to what happens in our lives if you think about it.

I have no clue who said “Life happens when we are making plans” but it is one of the wisest things I have ever heard. I remind myself of it all the time. Control Freaks like me plan carefully and try very hard to be in the driver’s seat of our own lives. Just like in the garden. Some of us want to control everything. We are the pruners and the ones who thin out the weakest seedlings. We choose which seeds we plant. Carefully.

I admit, I eyed the wildflower mixes greedily for years, refusing to buy them because I was worried I might not like what grew unless I handpicked the plants. This year, I found some for eleven cents a bag. I nabbed ten bags of them and threw them into the ground in a space nobody ever used for planting and none of us expected anything out of it. Imagine my surprise when those cheap seeds thrived in the weather my husband called a drought and the seeds I carefully chose outright died on me!

I took equal care of both, but I expected more from the seeds I chose than the seeds that were random. So when those survived, it was a special joy. Isn’t it funny that what we harvest in life is just the same as what I am harvesting in my garden this year sometimes?

What does it mean to harvest?

For many of us in modern cities, we are not going to harvest a farm or an orchard, or even herbs or a flower garden. But we harvest spiritual things.

We work hard all the days of our lives for something or another. Babies work hard to crawl and eventually walk…and their parents work hard to keep up with them! Kids work hard at school, even if it is to get out of school to reap the benefits of having the summer off! Teens work hard at those summer jobs to earn spending money so they can enjoy good times with their friends. Adults work hard to make a living and live a comfortable life. Everybody is always busy working on something.

We also work on things beyond our mundane survival. We have our personal goals. Maybe there is someplace we want to go or something we would like to experience and everything we put towards that plants and cultivates the seeds that go towards that harvest.

Like my garden this year, life develops its own way regardless of our efforts. I always say our results are partly our efforts and partly what is meant to be. While we have to be proactive in our own lives and move things forward in our own progress, we have to also understand that the universe has its own plans for us sometimes. It is at those times we are called to graciously accept the harvest we are blessed with even if it was not everything we had planned for and expected.

The Lughnasadh working I will include here will focus on opening ourselves to just that. The harvest we are meant to have, not necessarily the one we THINK we are going to get. But first, let’s discuss historic Lughnasadh.

What is Lughnasadh?

Back in pre Christian days, the folk had harvest celebrations and games and traveled to healing wells. Like all of the Sabbats, historically, many different people did many different things at different time periods and different locations. The specific thing I want to discuss is what we believe are the true origins of Lughnasadh, and the beautiful tribute the god Lugh paid to his foster mother for clearing the land so the folk could plant.

It all started in Ireland.

Tailtiu was the foster mother of the god Lugh, and she died of exhaustion, after clearing space for planting crops. Lugh established what is known as an Aonach, or an honorary mourning festival in her name. It is now named Lughnassadh, after him. The festival entails not only funerary processions, but also, athletic competitions, lawmaking and handfastings, first fruit and animal sacrifice, merchants, and pilgrimages to holy wells.

On a sidenote- this all reminds me of the Highland Games they have these days with music and athletic competitions, food, and vendors. If you have never attended a Highland Games, which I realize is not specifically Irish…but still is very very fun and very Celtic, look online at The Association of Scottish Games and Festivals online at www.asgf.org. You can also do an internet search for your individual state, like typing in “Ohio Scottish Games”, for example. The Ohio Scottish Games will be June 27, in Lorraine , Ohio. Before this article is published! There is always next year. But remember the Dublin Irish Festival will be in Dublin, Ohio right smack dab in Lughnasadh time. July 31, August 1 and 2, and the Druids in Columbus , Ohio will do public ritual Sunday morning yet again. Information to attend this can be found at www.dublinirishfestival.org. I hope to see you there!

Back to the origins of this wonderful Sabbat!

Lugh established the festivities at County Meath. It was called the Tailteann Games and a complex of earthworks dating back to the Iron Age has been found there. Lugh buried his foster mother in a mound onsite, and the games were at the end of July or the beginning of August. Games were held there until the Norman Invasion and some events in Medieval times took place. A closer look at all the wonderful things that took place!

Funerary processions, lawmaking, and handfastings

The whole reason Lughnasadh started in the first place was to honor the dead! The specific kind of mourning festival this was is called an Aonach. Tailtiu was not the only one honored with these. This was a specific kind of funeral.

First, the funeral took place, which included chanting and a funeral pyre, which is interesting because it is said Lugh BURIED Tailtiu in a mound as opposed to cremating her. Many, however, did the cremations, and had other bonfires aside from the funeral pyres.

As for lawmaking, tribal people passed clan authority on when somebody died. It makes perfect sense to get the transfer of power and establishment of authority out of the way before brawling can begin. What better place than at the funeral where everybody is already gathered?

One way to make a political alliance was through marriage. Couples could be temporarily joined for as long as a year and a day to see if their union worked out. If it did not, they would part with no consequences. Rather than a cord to ritually bind as is oft used in modern handfastings, they grasped hands through a hole in a door. The couple could break up or make the bond permanent at any time during that year and a day.

One thing Neo Pagans will not like about these ancient handfastings is that sometimes, they were arranged. I cannot imagine any of you reading this would consent to such a pairing. Some of the couples were introduced to one another for the first time this way and may have seen one another only after joining hands through the door hole. Depending on who their parents were, they may not have been allowed to break off their bond. It was acceptable in tribal societies to carefully arrange marriages for political alliances. Contrary to popular belief, this had roots in Paganism, not Christianity.

One thing to keep in mind is Lughnasadh has been celebrated for generations, and many many people were handfasted for many different reasons there. Each couple had their own story and while it was not always for political gain, it was likewise not always like moving in with each other in modern times. This would be a fascinating research topic in and of itself, for sure!

Athletics

Interestingly enough, attempts to revive the Lughnasadh athletics in the 1920’s and 1930’s occurred, and part of the games included climbing, which persists to this day. It is unsurprising that some of the climbing today is now done in the name of Christian pilgrimages. Reek Sunday pilgrimage is held the last Sunday in July every year in Ireland. Barefooted climbers climb Croagh Patrick in honor of the Saint it was named for, and it is said this climb has been observed for 1,500 years. Up to 30,000 people do this climb annually. It only takes about an hour and a half to do the climb if the weather is decent, that is. It is also said site was used for Pagan pilgrimages since 3,000 BCE at Summer Solstice. This is yet another reason we can thank the Christians of Ireland for helping to keep Pagan practice alive and well.

All the athletic events you can imagine have been held Lughnasadh. Running, feats of strength, horseracing, fights, swimming, swordfighting, jumping, throwing various objects. It has been referred to as an Olympic gathering of sorts. In the 1920’s, motorized vehicle races were thrown in! Shooting was included as well as boating competitions and even chess matches! People from other parts of the British Isles and the Americas were welcomed to participate in the 20th century games as well!

Bull sacrifice and Harvest sacrifice

I apologize in advance for what I am about to write. I am sure all my articles say this exact same thing about this… BUT…

Animal sacrifice was done to prepare fresh meat to be eaten out of necessity. These were the days before refrigeration and meat went bad faster. Blood was given to the gods, and people ate the meat. The people feasted with the gods in a sacred meal. A lot of people today look back on this practice as barbaric as they open up their store bought steak and slap it on the barbeque grill. This always amuses me.

Bulls were sacred as they were seen as great wealth to the people of Ireland. You gave the best tribute you had to the gods in thankfulness and rejoicing.

The first corn and the first bilberries were offered to the gods as well. These foods were part of the feast as well. Bilberries are closely related to blueberries and huckleberries. This makes it convenient for those of us in the USA who want similar foods for Lughnassadh as are traditional in Ireland. We can have corn on the cob with steak and blueberry pie! These first fruits of the earth go directly to the gods in thanks, and the people partake of the feats as well.

Merchants

What festival would be complete without good things to eat or buy to take home? Human beings have always looked forward to festivals for this. In times past, if money was not used, things could be traded. Back before industrialization, there was still specialization. A good time to trade for what you needed or liked would be at festivals. Remember that people traveled by wagons, horseback, and by foot, not by jumping in the car and speeding off to a store conveniently nearby. Whatever they could not make, they might not be able to get for many months, and these festivals provided valuable commercial opportunities sometimes. Craftspersons and metalworkers would offer their wares as well as weavers, and you know very well that aside from the main ritual foods, there were people serving up delectable yummies! Baked goods would be sold and traded, and farmers would offer their fruits and veggies to hungry customers. Just like we do today!

Puck Fair is said to be a survival of the early Lughnasadh fairs. A climb up a mountain to catch a “king goat” keeps with the tradition of climbing, and while there is a horse fair, the importance of cattle is not lost to the Irish, as a cattle fair is held. The fair can only be inconclusively traced back to the 1600’s, but many say it does go back to the original Lughnasadh fairs.

Holy Wells and Healing

The Irish have always visited holy wells for healing. The very wells the Pagans visited are now venerated by Christians. Holy healing is holy healing, period. Visits to wells to cast in coins and tie strips of cloth or rags to trees and ask for healing are made. This is practiced in Scotland as well. The cloth is called a cloot or clootie in Scottish. A hawthorn tree in county Meath, the same county where the original Lughnasadh was held, is on the site of megalithic monuments, and is used to tie clooties to. These ancient sacred places are still used by the descendants of the people of these early gods. The deities might have changed for many of the celebrants, but the meaning behind the practices has not.

Reaping your own Harvest

Maybe you will go to a public event with friends or host a Sabbat yourself for Lughnasadh. I humbly suggest a working to open yourself to acceptance of the things you are given , as opposed to just what you were expecting. And I include a pilgrimage in it. It seems as if the original gathering was a bit of a trip for many attendees. A lot of planning and travel went into it and to this day, some of the remaining festivities include tens of thousands of people. This first harvest is just the beginning harvest in the wheel of the year for us, and to prepare for each blessing you will harvest, here is my suggested working.

Lughnasadh 2015 First Harvest Celebration

Singly or with your group, go on a pilgrimage. This may be a walk at a local park, or even a trip out of town to get a fresh perspective.

Before you embark on your journey, you will need to give sacrifice. You will be giving away an offering of the fruits of your labor for your gods and guides. But this will not simply be something sat on an altar to be discarded or burned at a later time. This will be something given away to somebody else in a way that pleases your gods.

For gardeners, that is easy. Whatever is growing in the garden, give some of it to somebody who will enjoy it. For you, if you grew nothing, it might be something you bought as an offering that symbolizes your efforts. If you cook, then create something delicious to give to somebody to eat. If you are a musician, perform a song for somebody. If you are an artist, donate a piece of art to a library or homeless shelter or to a friend who likes your art but cannot afford a piece. It could even be a cash donation to a charity in the name of an ancestor you would like to honor. Surprise a stranger and pay for their lunch. Be extra nice to a grumpy, difficult customer. (Yes, that is a HUGE sacrifice, and it counts.) If you genuinely cannot think of what to give at this time, offer a future good deed! The gods will guide you, I promise.

Then, before the journey is about to begin, say this short prayer, “ Mother, Father, first harvest is at hand. Look upon all I have done this growing season and all the things I have worked for. I accept that I am limited by my own perceptions and cannot fully understand which blessings are mine and which are not mine to want as they unfold. I diligently continue to be proactive in my own growth and industrious in fulfilling my responsibilities. In gratitude, I accept all that is mine, and relinquish my grip on that which I cannot control. Accept my gift of my labors in thanks and enlighten me to that which you want me to know on my journey.”

Then, begin your pilgrimage. It can be a daytrip or something as simple as a walk on a nature trail.

Keep in mind that enlightenment and guidance comes when your gods and guides will it. It might happen the minute you open yourself, even before you utter the prayer. It may happen ten years after the pilgrimage. But it will happen. May you have a Blessed Lughnasadh.

Blessed Be.

Imbolc 2017 for Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times

Bright Blessings,

Here in Central Ohio, we have enjoyed temperatures in the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s in late January this year. We are lulled into a false sense that Spring is here due to the warmth. Winter isn’t over yet.

Or is it?

Our ancestors would say this time of year IS the beginning of Spring, regardless of temperature. First signs are everywhere from groups of returning birds, to animals awakening from hibernation, and buds on the trees.

For me, it means time to start planning the garden again. I dug out my seed stash, sorted what I do not want, communicated with my gardening partners, and I have a seed catalogue on the way!

This week, I’ll buy some soil and start sprouting seeds that need to be transplanted to the ground in eight to ten weeks. I will go bastshit nuts planting, tending, and harvesting clear up to Samhain, and then, do garden cleanup. I will be tired of it all for a month or two and then start dying to get started again by mid January next year. My crazy has it’s own “Wheel of the Year!”

I was pleased, in researching what I’d like to write about, to find some new things I did not know about Imbolc! I’ll share what I learned, and then share a simple working I’ll be doing, myself this year.

Light it Up!

While much of the attention is given to the celebration of the goddess Brigid by Pagans, and then St. Brigid by Catholics, what gets little attention is some of the candle ceremonies that happen.

Some Pagans have their candles they have at the traditional places on their altars, and just stick with that for all Sabbats. Ancient Pagans had different practices.

For example, some Germanic and Celtic Pagans celebrated in late January that bears, sacred animals, came out of hibernation. They had torch lit processions and bonfires. With days continuing to grow longer, the awakening of these animals was seen as more signs of Spring. Fires were used as blessing and purification, but also emulated the light the people were enjoying more of.

It is speculated it was these very practices that were used to inspire Xtian churches to create festivals of light at this time of year. Instead of the returning sacred light brought by the gods, and the return of the spiritually powerful creatures like bears, the sacred purity of Mary, mother of the Xtian god was celebrated.

The candle magic, which Catholics would hardly call magic, however, is practiced at many Candlemas celebrations. Some devotees bring candles to church to have them blessed to use in their homes for the rest of the year. This emulates the pre-Xtian Pagan practice of having a communal bonfire and letting each participant take a lit stick of fire back to their own homes, and lighting their hearth fires from that.

The whole point of the lighting of fires and candles was to emulate the strengthening sun, and longer, soon to be warmer days, approaching the growing season. For Pagans, it depended on what deity they served, and for Xtians, of course their god was “the light of the world.”

divination was also practiced around Imbolc time. One method in Wales entailed lighting two candles and having each participant take turns sitting between the candles. A horn filled with beer was given to them, and once they drank it, they tossed the horn behind them. If it landed upright, it meant they would live a long life. If it did not land upright, it meant they would not live as long.

Spring Cleaning

Spring cleaning was also practiced by some. There was more light to work by, and dust and cobwebs in corners would be more noticeable. Plus, in parts where people decorated for either Yule, Solstice, or Xmas, it would be the time to take all those decorations down if it was not done by then. I don’t know about you, but one of the happiest days of the year for me is when I get all the holiday décor packed away and I get my house back to normal. In Ancient Rome, they would burn the evergreen branches they had used, while in modern times, we pack up our artificial trees.

Each of us who have groups will observe whatever is most meaningful to us collectively. For Earth Based people, as well as people who have cabin fever by now…(raises hand) …holidays that mark returning and strengthening light is a wonderful time, indeed.

Blessing the Earth

One thing I read about was people blessing the grounds before preparing it and then planting seeds, and for me, being a gardener who is VERY VERY excited about gardening again, I thought I would make a garden blessing ceremony including light as well as holy water in the working. It’s very simple and can be done discreetly if you are not out of the closet and don’t want neighbors nosing about, or with as much ceremony as you prefer.

Saoirse’s Imbolc Garden Blessing Ceremony

Set up an altar to your liking or one that is appropriate for your tradition. You will be blessing your garden space or garden pots you grow things in. You can bless your garden tools as well if you like.

You will need to do this outdoors in the garden space. Have a little gift as offering for the critters. Something like birdseed, a salt lick for a deer, a bat box or birdhouse, or even a cat house for a stray works nicely.

On your altar, place one thing of your choosing to represent each element or Earth, Air, Fire, Water, and you, yourself will be the representation of Spirit. Place the items in position that is most meaningful to you. This may entail the traditional Earth in the North, Air in East, Fire in South, and Water in West or not. However, for the sake of using fire in this, for the actual representation for the element of fire, make sure to use a candle, any color you feel is appropriate. Green for life, or red for fire and magic for example, or even gold to represent the sun.

Cast circle as you see fit, or do this open circle. If you do cast circle, remember to cast it around your whole garden space you will be blessing.

Light your candle first and say “I welcome the strengthening light. Shine down upon this earth where I grow food and flowers. Bless it with abundant life, protect it from drought, and give me a great harvest. So mote it be.” Then walk around your planting space, holding the candle over it, emulating how you want the sun to shine on it. Replace the candle on the altar.

Pick up what represent Water and say, “I welcome the waters of rain. I ask you to bless my garden the whole season long with all the water it needs to grow. I ask protection against floods, washing away of plants, and water logging. Give me a great harvest. So mote it be” If you used water or holy water, sprinkle it across your garden space. If you did not use water, wave your representation of water over the garden as you did the candle. Replace the representation of water onto the altar.

Next pick up the representation of Earth, Say “ Hail Mother, Earth we walk on, and which gives us food season after season. I will touch your body, and tend it this growing season with love. I will nurture plants and share with the creatures that live here with me. Guide me to know what you need and what I can do to make the best harvest for all of us. Blessed Be.” Pass the representation of earth over your garden patch. Replace it on the altar.

Next, pick up the representation of Air. Say “ Breath of life, move upon my garden. Breathe growth, and health into it. Begin growing it with me, and grow it with me until we have a bountiful harvest together. So mote it be.”

Leave your gift for the critters as an offering to the spirits of nature.

Do not banish.

Put everything away.

May your garden be glorious and abundant.

Blessed Imbolc

Blessed Be.

Spring Equinox (March 20-22 in Northern Hemisphere)

 

Ostara

 

(Oh-star-ah) – Lesser Sabbat – Spring/Vernal Equinox, March 20-21st – when the Sun enters Ares

Other Names: Ostre, Oestre, Eostre, Rites of Spring, Eostra’s Day, Lady Day, First Day of Spring, Easter, St. Patrick’s Day, Alban Eiler, Bacchanalia, Mean Earraigh, Pasch, Caisg, Pess

Date: Spring Equinox (March 20-22 in Northern Hemisphere) or when the Sun is 1 degree Aries.

Symbolism: The beginning of spring, new life and rebirth, the God and Goddess in Their youth, balance, fertility

Goddesses: all love, virgin, and fertility Goddesses; Anna Perenna (Roman), Aphrodite (Greek), Astarte (Canaanite, Persia, GrecoRoman), Athena (Greek), Cybele (Greco-Roman), Blodeuwedd, Eostre (Saxon Goddess of Fertility), Flidais (Irish), Gaia (Greek), Hera, Ishtar (Assyro-Babylonian), Isis (Egyptian), Libera (Roman), Minerva (Roman), The Muses (Greek), Persephone (Greek), Renpet (Egyptian), Venus (Roman), Ostara (the German Goddess of Fertility), Kore, Maiden, Isis, Youthful Goddesses. Faerie Queen, Lady of the Lake(Welsh-Cornish), the Green Goddess

Gods: all love, song & dance, and fertility Gods; Adonis (Greek), Attis (Greco-Roman), Cernunnos (Celtic), The Great Horned God (European), Liber (Roman), Mars (Roman), Mithras (Persian), Odin (Norse), Osiris (Egyptian), Thoth, Pan (Greek), the Green Man, Hare, Youthful Gods, Warrior Gods, Taliesin, Lord of the Greenwood (English), Dagda(Irish),Adonis (Greek)

Symbols: Eggs, rabbits, similar to easter symbols.

Purpose: Plant and animal fertility, sowing

Meaning: The God comes of age, sexual union of the Lord & Lady, sprouting, greening, balance of light and dark

Essence: Strength, birthing, completion, power, love, sexuality, embodiment of spirit, fertility, opening, beginning

Customs: Wearing green, new clothes, celtic bird festival, egg baskets coloring eggs, collecting birds eggs, bird watching, egg hunts, starting new projects, spring planting

Foods: Hard-boiled eggs, honey cakes, fresh seasonal fruits, milk punch, leafy green vegetables, dairy foods, apples, nuts, flower dishes, sprouts, fish, maple sugar candies, hot cross buns, sweet breads, milk, punch, egg drinks

Plants & Herbs: Acorn, celandine, cinquefoil, crocus, daffodil, dogwood, Easter lily, Irish Moss, ginger, hyssop, linden, strawberry, gorse, honeysuckle, iris, jasmine, jonquils, narcissus, olive, peony, rose, tansy, violets, woodruff and all spring flowers

Incense and oils: African violet, jasmine, rose, strawberry, lotus, magnolia, ginger, sage lavender, narcissus, broom

Colors: Light green, lemon yellow, pale pink, pastels, gold, grass green, robin’s egg blue, lemon yellow.

Stones: Amethyst, aquamarine, rose quartz, moonstone, bloodstone, red jasper

Animals and Mythical Beasts: Rabbits/Easter bunny, snakes, pegasus, unicorns, chicks, swallows, merpeople

Decorations: Daffodils, tulips, violet, iris, narcissus, any spring flowers, eggs, butterflies, cocoons

Spell/Ritual Work: Garden/plant blessings, seed blessing, spellcrafting, balance, growth, communication, invention, new growth, new projects

Planetary Ruler: Mars

Element: Air

Gender: Male

Threshold: Dawn

Opening to the Anima Mundi – The Gift of the Equinox

 

 

The Great Wheel has turned once again and we find ourselves at the time of the Autumnal Equinox. The air is cooler, the leaves are turning and beginning to fall from brittle branches and all of life is giving pause to prepare for what changes lay ahead. This is the second of the three harvests and the fields are already beginning to brown as the day’s light gently wanes and we are enveloped in the quickening darkness of the setting sun. It is at this time we begin to gather our stores of ripened summer foods and draw the remainders of outdoor activities into ourselves to carry us through the winter months ahead. Soon the time for introspection and the gentle quickening of the light that will be birthed at Yule will be at hand. 

 

Many will celebrate this Sabbat as Mabon and give honor to the God as the wild lord of the hunt and Green Man of the forests. The Goddess becomes Gaia, the great earth mother who offers up her lands as sacrifice in the cycle of life and death and to that, which will be prey and those that must be predator. In her form as Lady of the Beasts she will guide and protect her animals to insure that new life will come from those that survive the harshness of winter. 

 

If we look to the astronomical energies that are occurring we celebrate the space of balance between the waning light of the year and the waxing of the dark. The energy of Virgo readies itself as bridge and gateway to the opening of Libra as the transition is made from one solar month to the other. This is the action of the Mutable (Virgo) flexibility reaching out towards the Cardinal newly formed growth that is the balance of Libra. And for those moments in time when the midpoint of transfer of these energies is achieved we stand at the center of the Autumnal equinox; each being in balance with the other; equal day and equal night. 

 

One of the ways I use this turning of the Great Wheel is to reaffirm my connection to the greater world and the deeper exploration of the Anima Mundi- the World Soul. I reflect on my place in this world and on what helps to sustain that presence. I reflect on the connection that I have with all that surrounds me, and the actions that I will put into motion to strengthen and deepen that connection at all levels. Using the energy and balance of the equinox offers the space of intent that establishes a closer relationship between man and animal and the acknowledgment of the collective consciousness of the world soul that is informed by both. 

 

By definition, the Anima Mundi is considered to be the pure ethereal spirit that is contained and disseminated throughout all nature. This spirit was thought to animate all matter of the natural world in the same sense in which the soul is thought to animate the human form. If we reach back in time, our ancestors had great understanding of this premise and perceived all of life as interconnected with no separation between the human and natural world. Each was dependent upon the other for its survival and the cycles of planting and harvesting flowed smoothly and in harmony. Gaia, the goddess as Mother Earth holds within her being the essence of this animating spirit and is the sustainer of all life that is enfolded in her body.

 

If we use the dynamics of this concept of a World Soul, we can draw on the energy of this cycle to bring about a balance of animal and man; humanity and the natural world in which we are all participants. The potential is in the opening to a wholistic state of consciousness that is inclusive of the collective awareness of all levels and streams of existence that comprise our Greater Earth. 

 

So, how do we reaffirm our connection? Being guided by an ecological conscience is a given expectation of all who consider themselves pagan and follow an earth-based spirituality. The actions that are in support of living lightly and respectfully on our planet is a commitment made because it is the right thing to do. This mindset is the beginning of making personal commitment to remain in balance with our world. We must also consider the natural world as inclusive of city streets, malls, the urban sprawl and clutter as well as the preserved forests, protected lands and spaces of wildlife and clean air. All are alive and all are part of the greater whole each having its own dynamics, rules, detriments and positives. That which we consider as polluted and over trafficked are the result of man’s creation and as such are connected to the spirit of man and therefore also that of nature.

 

One very concrete and tangible effort is volunteering at an animal shelter. My daughter walks dogs for the local shelter and has fostered kittens. Food, blankets and carrier donations are gratefully accepted by most. Spending time in a nature preserve and observing animals in their natural habitat gives a greater sense of the beauty and complexity of exchange between nature and her inhabitants. At a spiritual level, spending some time in meditation to connect with your own power (or Totem) animal will open up other pathways of understanding. Regularly working with this animal and asking it to share its mysteries and place among all of the wild can help to guide you towards those physical steps you can take in the manifest realm. 

 

If you are so inclined, planting a garden and dedicating it as green space with emphasis on those plants that attract butterflies and birds gives sanctuary to the animals in your neighborhood. Working with medicinal herbs and plants and getting to know the energies of the Devas and land spirits will connect you more deeply with the green world. Their healing and opening properties will offer opportunity to feel the potency of their energy and listening to the wisdom of the land spirits will guide you in living in a manner that is in support of sustainability and maintenance. 

 

And, a key component to all of these is the work we do for ourselves to align and balance those parts of ourselves that act as interface for this exchange. When we work in balance with our parts of self, we are working in accord with the world around us. In order to connect with our natural world we must first find those places of connection to the wild within our selves. The Lower Self is the place of direct connection with our instinctual and basic survival nature. This is the place of the animal and of the wild that makes decision propelled by its basic needs. Those things within us that stir the desire to interact with others, to form community and to create safe haven are part of the order of the natural world. 

 

The Middle Self draws that basic instinct up to a place of balance so that the excess of these things is in agreement with our place in the world as we know and perceive it to be. It, in effect acts as the gatekeeper allowing what is productive at any given moment to be given the pass-go so we may remain effective in our work as part of a larger whole. 

 

The Higher Self is the point of connection with the Divine and the Higher mind. It is this self that streams information from the collective conscious and informs the actions that will ultimately be taken by the Middle Self. It is the connecting point of the highest levels of understanding of the unity and thread of commonality in all things and the source from which they originated. The work that we do in aligning these aspects of our true nature eventually brings us to the center point of balance and it is from this point that we find our place in the natural world as participant and guardian of the life that is contained therein. This is the space where our perceptions broaden and we sense the entirety of the world and can then be effective in all of our workings within it. 

 

I invite you to join me at this time of the Autumnal Equinox and celebration of the wild. Breathe into the space of yourself in all of your parts and then breathe out the blessed gift of your power to the Earth.

 

***

 

About the Author:

 

 

 

Robin Fennelly is a Wiccan High Priestess, teacher, poet and author. She is the author of:

 

The Inner Chamber, Vol. One

It’s Written in the Stars

Astrology

 

The Inner Chamber, Vol. Two

poetry of the spheres

Qabalah

 

The Inner Chamber, Vol. Three

Awakening the Paths

Qabalah

 

A Year With Gaia

The Eternal Cord

 

 

Temple of the Sun and Moon

Luminous Devotions

 

The Magickal Pen, Volume One

A Collection of Esoteric Writings

 

The Elemental Year

Aligning the Parts of SELF

 

The Enchanted Gate

Musings on the Magick of the Natural World

 

Sleeping with the Goddess

Nights of Devotion

 

 

A Weekly Reflection

Musings for the Year

 

Her books are available on Amazon or website and her Blogs can be found at: Robin Fennelly 

 

Follow Robin on Facebook and on Instagram

(image from: https://hiveminer.com/Tags/fraktur%2Clettering)

 

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

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