When I was younger I recall a teacher warning us that if you try to put yourself out to be something that you are not, you will eventually get caught out. The statement may have been made in relation to cheating on school exams or maybe even the age-old advice as we left the protected life of school and entered the dreaded work force. Regardless of circumstance, there are only a certain about of time that you can “wing it” before you come across people whose eyes you simply cannot pull the wool over.
As the sacred Wheel of the Year is turning towards Lughnasadh and beyond in the Southern Hemisphere, now is the time for bringing in your harvest, for giving thanks for or acknowledging what you have received (whether expecting or not). Sometimes the reasoning behind what we have received is not always clear to us at the time – we need to have “faith” as the underlying meaning will make itself known when the “time is right”. This meaning may even call for an action or direction that we have not been expecting.
As the Wheel of the Year turns, for those of us residing south of the equator, the festival of Lughnasadh is almost upon us. A Celtic word believed to mean “the commemoration of Lugh”, the Irish God associated with the Sun and agriculture, the festival of Lughnasadh marked the funeral games that Lugh held in honour of his foster mother, Tailte, who died while clearing the Forest of Breg and making it a plain for cultivation. The modern day Telltown (Tailtean) in County Meath, Eire, is believed to have been named after Tailte.
us the Celts were believed to commence the celebrations of their festivals at dusk the previous day and continue through the night until the dawn, in the Southern Hemisphere Lughnasadh is usually celebrated aroond 31 January through until 2 February. With February being associated with some of our hottest weather, the power of the Sun King might seem to be a long way off, however to the more observant, the dwindling hours of light are starting to be noticed.
The first of the three harvest festivals that make up the Wheel of the Year, Lughnasadh is the festival of first fruits, where a blessing of the crop would take place around this time of the year as now was the time that apples were beginning to ripen on the trees, Summer vegetables being picked from the gardens, and the corn, tall and green, awaiting to be harvested. It is the time that we can start gathering in the first harvests of grain, wheat and barley.
To the Anglo-Saxons, this was the festival of Lammas (meaning “loaf-mas day”), marking the harvesting of the grain. The first sheaf of wheat was said to have been ceremonially reaped, threshed, milled and baked into a loaf which is then eaten, providing life. The Christian sacrament of Communion, where the bread is blessed, becomes the body of God and is then eaten to nourish the faithful, echoes the Pagan Mystery of the Grain God.
Grain has always been associated with Gods who are killed and dismembered and then resurrected from the Underworld, such as Tammuz, Osiris and Adonis. The Greek myth of Demeter and Persephone is a story about the cycle of death and rebirth associated with grain. Demeter, the fertility Goddess, will not allow anything to grow until she finds her daughter who has been carried off to the Underworld. The ancient Eleusinian Mysteries, believed to have been celebrated around the Autumn Equinox, culminated in the revelation of a single ear of corn, a symbol to the initiate of the cyclical nature of life, for the corn is both seed and fruit, promise and fulfilment.
Within many traditions of Wicca, the God has moved from His guise as the Solar King to that of the Shadow One. Just like the Sun, His power and energy is waning as He freely gives it to the crops in order to ensure life. The Goddess is also changing, slowly moving from Her guise as the bountiful mother to that of the wise old Crone. While it is the God who figures prominently at this Sabbat, without the Goddess, there would be no crops, no harvest to be thankful for.
Juliet Batten indicates that in the old Maori calendar the eight month was when kua makura te kai; ka kai te tangata i nga kai hou o te tau (“fruits have now set and people eat the first fruits of the year”). Young gourds might now be ready to eat, but the kumara still had much growing to do. Rehua (Antares) was the Summer star, personifying heat and the power to ripen all fruits, the star that governed the migration of whitebait, with many proverbs indicating its importance, or that of his wife, Ruhia.
Kaore ana a Rehua i tatu ki raro (“Rehua has not yet alighted”) referred to the stage before fruit has formed on the trees. On a hot day people would say Kua tahu a Rehau (“Rehua has burnt/kindled”). Other proverbs refer to te paki o Rhuia (“the fine weather of Ruhia”) and the heat that she brings. Another saying was Rehua kai tangata (“people become food for Rehua”), for now that the planting season was over, men were again free for raiding expeditions. Food was scarce now.
Lughnasadh is the festival that reminds us to refresh and vitalise the body and spirit for the important harvesting work that lies ahead. It is also the time of giving thanks for the bountiful harvest that can be seen and felt all around. You should be seeing the efforts of your labour beginning to manifest. Look at your life and see where you have aimed. What have you accomplished that you set out to do? What still needs to be done? Now is the time to stop and look at the big picture – are you still on track? Are you where you want to be? Are you who you want to be? If you are unhappy, not satisfied, are you able to see what needs to be changed? Are you prepared to make that change?
The Goddess provides but only what we are willing to work for and harvest by our own efforts. All that she provides will rot on the vine and grow wild if we do not add our own labour of love and care to her efforts.
Hoof and horn, hoof and horn
All that dies shall be reborn
Corn and grain, corn and grain
All that falls shall rise again.
Billinghurst, Frances, Dancing the Sacred Wheel (TDM Publishing, 2014)
Moorey, Teresa and Brideson, Jane, Wheel of the Year: Myth and Magic through the Seasons (Hodder & Stoughton, 1997)
Rainbird, Ariadne, and Rankine, David, Magick without Peers (Capall Bann Publishing, 2001)
Batten, Juliet, Celebrating the Southern Seasons: Rituals for Aotearoa (Tandem Press, 1995)
Nichols, Mike, The Witches’ Sabbats (Acorn Guild Press, 2005)
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.
A new calendar year is almost upon us and as such I am currently putting together the finishing touches to my Manifest Your Dreams workshop that I will be hosting on Saturday, 19 January 2019. However I thought I would share the following article from Madisyn Taylor about removing clutter. The two themes are often considered to be connected because if our lives (and our environment) are cluttered then we often lose sight of our dreams and desires. Therefore once the clutter is removed, then we often find ourselves back on track to pursue the things that we truly want.
We hold onto material objects because we think they make us feel secure, when in reality they are cluttering our lives.
In life, we tend to have an easier time acquiring possessions than we do getting rid of them. Just as we harbour emotional baggage that is difficult to let go of, our lives can tend to be filled with material objects that we may feel compelled to hold on to. Most people are not conscious of how much they own and how many of their possessions are no longer adding value to their life. They fiercely hold on to material objects because this makes them feel secure or comfortable. While it is true that the ownership of “stuff” can make you feel good for awhile, it seldom satisfies the deep inner longings that nearly everyone has for fulfilment and satisfaction. It is only when we are ready to let go of our baggage and be vulnerable that it becomes possible to recognize the emotional hold that our possessions can have on us.
It is not uncommon to hold on to material objects because we are attached to them or fear the empty spaces that will remain if we get rid of them. Giving away the souvenirs from a beloved voyage may feel like we are erasing the memory of that time in our life. We may also worry that our loved ones will feel hurt if we do not keep the gifts they have given us.
It is easy to convince ourselves that unused possessions might come in handy someday or that parting with them will cause you emotional pain. However, when your personal space is filled with objects, there is no room for anything new to enter and stay in your life. Your collection of belongings may “protect” you from the uncertainties of an unknown future while keeping you stuck in the past. Holding on to unnecessary possessions often goes hand in hand with holding on to pain, anger, and resentment, and letting go of your material possessions may help you release emotional baggage.
When you make a conscious decision to fill your personal space with only the objects that you need or bring you joy, your energy level will soar. Clearing your personal space can lead to mental clarity and an improved memory. As you learn to have a more practical and temporary relationship to objects, positive changes will happen, and you will have space to create the life that you desire.
If manifesting your dreams and setting a vision for 2019 is something you would like to do then register for the Manifest Your Dreams workshop that will be taking place on Saturday, 19 January 2019.
Limited places are available so book early as this workshop will not be repeated this year.
For those of us residing in the Southern Hemisphere, mid Summer is upon us, marking the time of the year when the sun is allegedly in its glory, being the time of the longest day and the shortest night.
While the term “Mid Summer” indicates the height of the Summer, there is still an undertone of darkness in the light. This is because as the power of the sun is celebrated, from this point, it also commences its decline in power as the Southern Hemisphere begins to rotate away from the sun (as in the diagram below).
As the sun completes is southward journey, it rests briefly over the Tropic of Capricorn before moving northward again. When it enters the astrological sign of Capricorn in the Southern Hemisphere, we know that the sun is at its highest and brightest, and that the time of the Summer Solstice has arrived. For those of us residing in Adelaide in South Australia, this timing will be on Friday, 22 December 2017 around 2:58 am).
Within contemporary wytchcraft, there is the concept of acting with respect to one’s “Highest Ideal” – as is stated within the “Charge of the Goddess” where the Moon Goddess speaks:
“Keep pure your highest ideal; strive ever towards it;
let naught stop you or turn you aside.”
One’s “Highest Ideal” can be likened to one’s “True Will” as found within the Thelemetic magickal tradition, where an individual, a follower of that path acts in accordance with their Higher Self, one’s Holy Guardian Angel.
Being an avid reader, it is not unusual for me to have not only a number of books on the go at any one time, but also books on various subjects, especially the numerous techniques and/or magickal practices. One book I read a number of years ago which I thoroughly enjoyed was Abrahadabra: Understanding Aleister’s Thelemic Magick by Rodney Orpheus (Weiser Books, 2005). A strange choice for someone proclaiming to following contemporary wytchcraft some may say. However, within it, I came across a passage that, while I have adapted it to having a more witchcraft focus in the posting below, even in its original format within Orpheus’s book, it provides much food for thought regardless of what spiritual path you may follow …
“One of the keys to contemporary witchcraft is personal development. This means you have to do the work yourself. Simply reading books and/or web sites is not good enough. While this may increase your theoretical knowledge (or then again may totally confuse you further), unless you do it, you are wasting your time. Knowledge is not the same thing as understanding.”
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?