Friday, August 18, 2017

Litha, The Summer Equinox - Wiccan Rituals and Lore

The Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year when the sun seems to stand still (literally "solstice" in Latin means "sun stands still). It marks the mid-point of summer and has been celebrated in nearly every agricultural community in some way since the coming of man. Stonehenge was oriented to highlight the rising sun on the Summer Solstice. 

The Romans celebrated it as a holiday dedicated to Juno for which the month of June was named. As the wife of Jupiter (Zeus), she was the patroness of marriage which is why June is always a popular month for weddings. It is also sacred to Vesta, goddess of the hearth, and Romans would make offerings of salted meat to her for 8 days in hopes she would bless their homes.

For Pagans, the Summer Solstice is seen as a battle of dark and light. The Oak King has ruled the year from the Winter Solstice, but the Holly King, born at the Spring Solstice, challenges him and ultimately defeats him ruling from summer to winter.

The heat of the sun, so necessary for the continued growth of crops, is also dangerous able to burn and kill as quickly as it nurtures. It is only with cooling, nurturing waters that the crops can thrive.  This is why the Summer solstice is also a day of balance between fire and water. Many ancient rituals involved prayers for water to avoid drought which would kill the much needed crops before Autumn's harvest. European traditions included settling large wheels on fire letting them roll downhill into a body of water thus symbolically bringing water to cool the fires.

This is the time of the year of brightness and warmth. Get outside and celebrate with a BBQ, at the beach, or in a pool - even running thru the sprinklers is a great, modern way to celebrate fire and water. It is said a witch's power is at it's peak with the inner fires burning bright allowing all spellwork to be enhanced.  If you worship any of the sun Gods - Ra, Alaunus, Belenos, Horus, Apollo, Zeus, etc - set their statues outside where they can be charged by the sun and make offerings to them.

from All Wicca

Danu - the Celtic Mother Goddess

Danu of the flowing waters, Queen of the fertile land - the Great Mother Goddess of the Irish Celts. Known as Don by the Welsh Celts, she is the Creator Goddess of the Tuatha de Danann, the first of the Celtic tribes to invade Ireland. She gave birth to all life in the land of the Celts and is also known as Danann, Ana and Anann.

While few stories of her survive, she is the most ancient of all the Celtic deities. She is associated with water - the seas, wells, springs, and the Danube River. She is said to give her children the magic of transformation, inspiration and wisdom.

Also known as an Earth Goddess, she gives abundance embodying the wisdom of living in balance with nature and the Earth. She is also connected with Brigid, Goddess of Healing, Poetry and Smithcraft.

Being the Goddess of Life, her counterpart is the Morrigan, the Celtic Goddess of Death. Her colors are the blue of the waters, green of the Earth, and silver/white of inspiration and Divine wisdom.  She is associated with mares, snakes, seagulls, and fish. Her sacred trees are the rowan tree, the apple tree, and the hawthorne.

Danu calls us to recognize the abundance of life lighting the fires of inspiration connecting us to the Divine spark. She helps us find our creativity and the power to transform to new beginnings.

from All Wicca

Amethyst - The Magical Stone of Divinity and Royalty

Amethyst is one of the most popular gemstones for spiritual jewelry, not just because of its mystical deep purple color, but because of its powers to stimulate, sooth and heal the emotions and physical body. Today it is considered a semi-precious stone and is not particularly rare, but at one time it was worth as much if not more than a diamond.

Amethyst is a form of quartz name from the Greek word "ametusthos" meaning "not intoxicated" based on an ancient legend that says it could prevent drunkenness. The wine god Bacchus, angry over an insult, vowed to have his tigers devour the first mortal he met. That mortal, however, turned out to be a beautiful maiden named Amethyst who was a priestess of Diana. When the tigers sprang to attack, the goddess heard the maiden's pleas and protected her by transmuting her into a beautiful clear crystal.  Bacchus, taken by the dazzling beauty of the maiden and crystal, poured the juice of his sacred grapes over the stone as an offering for forgiveness turning it a lovely purple shade.

Ancient Greeks and Romans would add Amethyst to their goblets either studding the vessel with them or placing one inside the bowl believing the wine would lose its power to intoxicate them. Catholic bishops wore Amethyst in a ring to protect them from mystical intoxication - kissing the ring was said to protect others.

Other mystical properties attributed to Amethyst include control of evil thoughts, increasing intelligence especially in business, and protection for travelers. It was also said to protect soldiers on the battlefield and grant victory over their enemies. It could guard its wearer against black magic and protect against disease. amethyst is one of the most popular gemstones for mystical and spiritual jewelry

Purple, the color of royalty and mystics, connects us to the Divine helping to open the inner eye for dreaming and divination. In Egypt, it was known as Hemag and is mentioned in the Book of the Dead as the stone which should be carved into heart-shaped amulets for burial. It is said to provide a sense of mental peace and calm. It ranges in hue from light violet to a deep, rich purple.

The most common uses of Amethyst today is to help open the inner eye, enhance meditation and divination. It helps bring focus, creativity and passion.  In healing, it is a powerful tool against headaches or other issues of the mind. I like to lay on my back with an amethyst on my forehead to relieve a headache and keep a pear shaped piece of raw Amethyst especially for this purpose.

Amethyst is one of the best crystals for meditation allowing a raise in vibration of the Third Eye encouraging the mind to surrender to that which is greater than itself to gain understanding and wisdom.  Hold an Amethyst crystal or cluster in the palm of the left hand pulling its energy thru your body infusing your aura with its power.

from All Wicca

Celebrating the Spring Equinox

The Spring Equinox is when day and night are equal, a time of balance and celebrating the beginning of Spring.  It is also known as Ostara and is considered one of the 4 Sabbats of the Wiccan Year.

Celebrated in Mid-March every year, Ostara is a time to plant the new seeds for the coming year - both physically in the garden and metaphorically. It is a great time for reviewing your goals and setting new ones.

(more coming soon!)

from All Wicca