Spring Equinox: The Time of Balancing

A Sensitive Plant in a garden grew,
And the young winds fed it with silver dew,
And it opened its fan-like leaves to the light.
And closed them beneath the kisses of Night.

And the Spring arose on the garden fair,
Like the Spirit of Love felt everywhere;
And each flower and herb on Earth’s dark breast
Rose from the dreams of its wintry rest.

The Sensitive Plant by Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)

As the sun moves into the sign of Libra, it gathers in strength and makes its way across the equator to warm the southern part of the earth.  Nature echoes the increasing warmth as blossoms burst forth and new growth makes its presence felt.  As the sun’s strength increases, so do the visible signs of activity upon the earth’s surface.  It is as if, were you to close your eyes for a moment, you would miss the experience of another aspect of creation being reborn all over again.

In areas where the ground was still too cold to plant seeds at Imbolc, or the weather too uncertain, by the Spring Equinox (taking place on 22 September this year), both the soil and weather offer a perfect environment for seed planting.

The hours of darkness and light are equal now.  Life appears with great vigour and abundance.  There is an urgency in the air, as if life were both trying to make up for the months of delay during winter, and getting all the plants fully established before the heat of summer arrives.  Here in South Australia, we can experience extremes in climate with both cold winters on the one hand and stifling hot summers on the other. These Summers can arrive as early as October and last until the end of March – there can be some six months of baking the ground.

Echoing what is occurring in nature around him, the young God increases not only his strength but also his knowledge of the role he plays within the sacred Wheel of Life.  He realises his potential, his masculine power and he ventures out into the world, ready to establish his rule and prove his manhood.  He is now mastering his own Mysteries, that of the Divine Masculine.  His rough-and-tumble childhood games serve little purpose as he matures into the Hunter/Warrior.  Eager to impress, to make a statement and to announce his arrival, he bounds forth with great exertion – that is until he is distracted by the sight of his beloved Goddess.

Under his nose she has blossomed into a creature of exquisite beauty, shyly toying with him to gain his attention.  However, she is not as naïve as she may first appear to be.  She too has been schooled in the Mysteries and knows only too well the cycle of life and the roles that she and her beloved God will play within them.

The Goddess is ready to fulfil her role, to become pregnant in order for life to continue, while the God is holding the potent seed of life itself.  The pace quickens. Their eyes meet like in a classic Hollywood romantic movie and the game commences.  Both are aware of their own sexuality and their role within the Wheel of Creation.

Source: Dancing the Sacred Wheel by Frances Billinghurst

Brighid’s Cross at Imbolc

Brighid’s Cross was a symbol derived from ancient solar symbols known from early times in Europe. There were several regional forms but none resemble the classic Christian cross.  The crosses were made from straw, sheaves of grain, rushes, or grass, depending on the region of origin. They were hung in the house and farm buildings as protection against illness and other misfortune.

In the Scottish Highlands, women also made Brighid crosses before a wedding and placed one in the mattress of the marriage bed to ensure fertility.

Making the crosses themselves was a ritual. The exact procedure varied and in some places the crosses were made ahead of time to be distributed as part of the bríde óg procession. But in most places in Ireland, they weaving material was ceremonially brought into the house and laid under the table where the feasting would occur. After the meal, the household created the crosses. A farmer might also make circlets to hang round the necks of lambs as they were born. Any leftover materials were used to create a bed for Brigid or sprinkled in the byre for good luck. The crosses were hung the next day.

To make a Brighid’s Cross, you will need about 28 reed, each approximately 30 cms in length.

Position two reeds across each other so that they make a “+” sign.  Turn the weave 90 degrees and fold the vertical reed down over the top of itself.  Turn the weave 90 degrees again to repeat with the now vertical reed. 
Turn the reeds again 90 degrees and add the third reed, placing it to the right of the vertical folded reed and under the horizontal folded reed.  Fold thee added reed, turning the weave once again to add the fourth and final reed to this round in the same fashion.

Continue to add folded reed.  Avoid letting them bunch up or lie on top of those in a previous round. Build the weave outward, resting the reeds side by side. At first, you may find it difficult to hold the arms together and at right angles, but as the weave gains substance, this will prove easier.  Just remember to watch for gaps and fill them by repositioning and tightening the reeds as necessary.

When all 28 reeds have been incorporated, tie each arm off about 6cms from the centre of the design. Trim the ends of the reeeds and threads.
As the reeds dry, the cross will become loose.  To remedy this, untie the ends, pull the reeds tight again before retying.

Brat Bríde The brat or cloak or mantle of Brigid was a ribbon, piece of cloth, or an article of clothing. They were left outside on the evening before the feast of Imbolc to receive the blessing of Brigid as she passed through the household. After wards, the cloths and ribbons were used as talismans of protection and healing, particularly aiding childbirth. Ribbons and strips of cloth were sewn into clothing or carried in a pocket. Articles of clothing were worn in times of stress and need; for example, a woman might wear a man’s vest while giving birth. Shawls that had been blessed might be laid on ailing human or animal while a prayer of healing was recited.

Críos Bríde The críos or girdle of Brigid was a rope of plaited straw or rope three or four meters long and formed into a circle held vertically aloft while those gathered ritually passed through, reciting a charm. The ceremony appears to have symbolized regeneration.

It is the Autumn Equinox and NOT “Mabon”

It is that time of the year again that despite the ever lingering daylight savings, a definite change can be felt as the earth’s wobbling rotation pulls away from the sun here in the Southern Hemisphere.  The mornings are distinctively darker and the sun lingers longer below the horizon, and there is an ever slight chill in the air.  Yes, the time of the Autumn Equinox draws near (21st of March to be exact for this year).

As such, it appears time again to point out an erroneous association that first appeared in the 1970s and which, despite numerous attempts to rectify over the years, still perpetuates itself within modern Paganism – that being the usage of the term “Mabon” as an alleged alternative name for the Autumn Equinox.

Yemaya Blessing of the Waters

Yemaya Blessing of the Waters, Grange Beach, Adelaide

For over ten years, around the first full moon of the year, I have lead a special beach side rite that honours the Yorùbá Orisha or Goddess of the living ocean, Yemaya (also spelt Yemoja and Iemoja). This is year is no different, with the Yemaya Blessing of the Waters rite being held this evening at Grange Beach.

Originally from West Africa where her name means “Mother whose children are like fish”, Yemaya is the owner of the Ogun River and a lake named for her.  As the African diaspora occurred, Yemaya traveled with her children to the Americas and Caribbean, where the Mother of Waters became known as Mother of Oceans.

The Time of Janus is Upon Us

New yeare forth looking out of Janus gate,
Doth seeme to promise hope of new delight:
And bidding th’old Adieu, his pass’d date
Bids all old thoughts to die in dumpish spright
And calling forth out of sad Winters night,
Fresh love, that long hath slept in cheerlesse bower:
Wils him awake, and soone about him dight
His wanton wings and darts of deadly power.

To the ancient Romans, the dual faced God, Janus, was the God of beginnings and transitions, and as such, he was also perceived to be the God who ruled over gates and doors, doorways and passages, as well as also endings.  With one face looking back into the past, and the other into the future, it is little wonder that as we approach New Year’s Eve, Janus can easily come to mind. 

Honoring Hekate of the Underworld and Ourselves: A Death Walking Ritual of Transformation | Night of Hekate of the Underworld (Cyndi Brannen)

Night of Hekate of the Underworld is November 16. Celebrate her chthonic side and honor your own darkness with a solitary ritual sacrificing what longs to die within you to Hekate.  We hold within us all the energy of the Underworld. There are parts of us that long to die and others that call to be retrieved. On Hekate’s Night, offer to her the parts of you that need to die, thus creating the space for your soul to return.

Transformative Death Walking

Death walking refers to forms of witchcraft that explore the Underworld side of magick, including communicating with spirits and spiritual death. As witches, we are forever walking on the other side of the veil, whether through mediumship or personal development work. Offering to Hekate an emotional sacrifice of that which longs to die within us is part of our Witches’ Journey. Keeping the past and our pain on life support while we attempt to transform ourselves inevitably yields poor results. What is it that longs to die within you? A past hurt? A dysfunctional way of thinking? Perhaps ideas or practices relating to your witchery?

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Yemaya Blessing of the Waters annual event

Yemoja/Yemaya is considered to be the mother of all orishas found within the Yoruba religion of western Africa, having given birth to the 14 Yoruba gods and goddesses.  Here she is also the patron deity of the Ogun River and is worshipped at various waterways including streams, creeks, and springs.

Her name is contraction of the Yoruba words Yeye (meaning “mother”); ọmọ (“child”), and ẹja (“fish”).  Together her name is roughly translated as meaning “Mother whose children are like fish, which reflects the vastness of her motherhood, her fecundity, and her reign over all living things.  Yemaya governs everything pertaining women; childbirth, conception, parenting, child safety, love, and healing.  She also oversees deep secrets, ancient wisdom, the moon, sea shells, and the collective unconscious.

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