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A Bit about Yule

Trug filled with firethorn (Pyracantha) berries, holly (Ilex aquifolium) and mistletoe (Viscum album) covered in snow

Yule is celebrated at the Midwinter Solstice, the shortest day of the year. And one of the “lesser” sabbats. The word Yule comes from the Germanic “Jul” and means “Wheel.” At Yule we celebrate winter, and the rebirth of the Sun. At Samhain the Goddess followed the God into the Underworld and the Earth began its long winter slumber. As the Wheel turns to Yule, the Goddess is with child and gives birth to the tiny Oak King, God of the waxing Sun. The Old God or Holly King is defeated and returns to the Underworld to rest until Summer Solstice when he will again be reborn as Lord of the waning Sun.

Yule is also a celebration of the birth of the Sun King and nature’s renewal. We practice sympathetic magick by lighting fires or candles to encourage the sun to grow stronger. This is a time of new beginnings both physically and spiritually, the wheel of the year has made a complete circle. The darkest night of winter is a good time for self-examination and discovering the “seeds” of spiritual growth or hindrance which are lying dormant within us. The Winter Solstice is the turning point in the natural cycle of the year, this darkest night in all the year is followed by a day that will dawn just a little earlier!  Continue reading

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Greek God Hades

Hades is one of the most well known Gods. He is the God of the underworld, however he is not the God of death. He is the son of Cronus and Rhea. He is the brother of Zeus, Posiden, Hera, Hestia and Demeter. He is the partner of Persephone who is also his niece.

When he was young he was eaten with his siblings by their father Cronus. Zeus was the only one to escape being eaten and then grew up and freed his siblings. When they were freed. Hades and his siblings joined together and defeated the Titans. They then split the world up. Zeus becoming the God of the Sky’s, Posiden becoming God of the Oceans and Earthquakes. Hades became the ruler of the dead as the God of the underworld. In some legends this was forced upon him and in others he enjoys being the ruler of the underworld. He is also not considered an Olympian God because of residing in the underworld. He grew to have a very morbid personality unlike the rest of the Gods and enjoys being feared. He has a three headed dog who guards the underworld. This dog is known as Cerberus.

Zeus and Demeter had a child named Persephone. She grew in beauty and innocence. Hades decided to take her to the underworld and make her his wife. He wanted to steal her innocence and her virginity. Sure enough he did so. He took her unwillingly and she is rarely allowed to leave the underworld. When Demeter learned of Hades taking her daughter away she was furious. They all came to an agreement that Persephone was allowed to leave the underworld once every 6 months. Demeter swore that one season every year nothing would grow until she got her daughter back for good. When Persephone would leave the underworld Spring-Summer she would spend away from Hades but fall and winter she had to spend as Hades queen. They bore no children together. She remained faithful to Hades. Hades however tried to seduce a nymph which angered Persephone and she turned the Nymph into a white poplar tree,

Hades symbol is a pitchfork.

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Greek God Zeus

By far the most popular and well known Greek God. Zeus is the king of the Gods and God of the sky. He is also the lord of rain. Zeus is the son of the titans Cronus and Rhea. He is the brother of Posiden, Hades, Hera, Demeter, and Hestia. He is the father of most of the Olympians. Such as, Athena, Ares, Hephaestus, Apollo, Artemis, Metis, Leto, Maia, Hermes, Semele, Dionysus, Dione, the Muses, the Graces and in some myths Aphrodite. He is also the father of the most well known demi-God Heracles. He has many other demi-God children as well. He is also the partner of Hera, his sister.

Before his birth Cronus, his father ate Zeus’ brothers because of Gaia told him he would be overthrown by his son. However, Rhea hid Zeus at birth and gave Cronus a rock instead after learning of the prophecy given . Zeus was then raised by Gaia in a cave on Mount Ida. Another myth says he was raised by others such as a goat, two different nymphs, a women named Melissa, and a Shepard family. Once he reached manhood, he found his father and cut him open freeing his brothers. He also freed his uncles, the Cyclopes, the Giants, and the Hecatonchires from their prisons in Tartarus. As a reward the cyclops gifted Zeus with a thunderbolt. Together with all his brothers and sister they rose up against Cronus and overthrew him. In the end all of the titans were imprisoned inside Tartarus. Zeus shared the earth with his family. He got the sky and air, Hades got the underworld and Posiden got the waters. The Earth could not be claimed because of Gaia because the earth consisted of all their abilities. This is why Posiden became the God of earthquakes as well as oceans and Hades got the deceased. Gaia hated Zeus for what he had done to her children the titans after he became king of the Gods. Her other children such as Typhon fought against Zeus only become trapped under Mount Etna.

Hera being Zeus wife  is well known for being jealous of her husbands affairs. Once Heracles was born she was so enraged that she forced Zeus to make his name to be a namesake for her. He also did this to honour Hera and to appease her jealousy.

Aphrodite did not want Zeus to know about the Trojan war so she hired Hypnos to put him to sleep. When Zeus awoke he was furious with Hypnos. Hypnos to avoid Zeus’ wrath threatened to involve his mother Nyx, the only God/Goddess Zeus feared.

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Greek God Hephaestus

Hephaestus is the Greek God of black-smiths, sculptors, metallurgy, fire and volcanoes. He is the son of Zeus and Hera. In other versions he is solely the son of Hera. He was born crippled and was abandoned by Zeus and Hera and thrown into the ocean. He was then raised by Thetis and Eurynome. He became married to Aphrodite by an arranged marriage. Another theory states he was married to one of the Graces, Agalia. It is also believed he may be the father of the half man half serpent Erichthonius.

Another version of how he became disabled is that he became so from protecting his mother from Zeus’ wrath but was thrown off mount Olympus by him. To which he fell on an island and became a master craftsmen. At some time he was accepted back into Olympus and became the God of craftsmen.

When he was married to Aphrodite it is said she had an affair with her brother Ares. He created a plan to humiliate them to the other gods of Olympus. He trapped them in the bed and revealed their affair. He is often compared with Athena since they both have given gifts to humanity. Hephaetus created the shield Athena holds, her created the arrows for Eros (cupid) and the armor that Achilles wore in the Trojan war.

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Gardening in the Desert

Trying to garden in the desert really drives home the truth that soil is life.  Careful study by people more dedicated than me is revealing that soil is a very complex molecular society, with various fungi, bacteria, and assorted creepy crawlies playing vital roles in a dance between Sun and Earth that gives us life.

So what does the culture of soil say to me about the soil of culture?

Soil says we need to take the control of our future away from businessmen and lawyers, and give that control to scientists and farmers.  We need inquisitive and intelligent people to lead us; we need people who will nourish the land that feeds and clothes us.

Soil says we don’t need clever leaders who profit from our foolishness and apathy. We don’t need leaders who will dazzle and deceive, we need leaders who will honor and respect.

Soil says no more broken treaties, no more greased palms, no more taking for the thrill of gain.

Soil says I am a living and breathing society, and without me you will surely perish. Look to the glaring arrogance of your chemical fertilizers and the thoughtlessness of maximizing yield for profit.  Compare that to the amazing complexity that arises from creatures taking what they need and no more.

Our mother produces life in abundance when we love her  in return, not when we gnash at her womb. We need to see love in life, remove the scales from our eyes, embrace the connection that is life eternal.  When you do nothing but take for yourself, you create a desert around you.  It spreads and drifts, the sands burying our world in dry indifference.  But bring water to the desert, give of your excess and share, and the desert will bloom.

 

Deepest respect to all of our relations upon whom we depend.  Our relationship with the air we breathe, the atmosphere that shields us from the space that holds us.  Our relationship to the water cycle that keeps us hydrated and clean.  Our relationship with the web of life around us… if we cut too many strands the web will collapse and need to be re-woven.

 

 

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The Blarney Stone

 

Like many placeskiss-the-blarney-stone in Ireland, there is a wonderful myth and lore aspect of the famous Blarney stone in Ireland. The Blarney, in county cork, Ireland is well known for its legendary power to give whoever kisses it, the “gift of the gab”, or the gift of eloquence. Pilgrims come from all over to kiss the stone at Blarney castle. Years ago, people were held over the battlements by their legs to kiss the stone, but these days with safety regulations and a good deal more common sense, the castle is now adapted to that people simple have to lean in backwards, while lying on the floor, with the assistance of an on hand helper to help keep their balance, to kiss the stone. It is the gift of eloquence, a highly regarded trait, that drives people to make such a risky endeavour. However there are now safety beams in the gab between the walkway and the stone. It is 120 steps up to the battlements to reach the Blarney stone.

The stone is not simply a tourist attract. It is steeped in great history and lore and there is a variety of different beliefs and stories surrounding the stone.

One story tells the stone is actually Lia Fail, also known as the Stone of Destiny, the stone brought by the Tuath de Dannan, when they came to Ireland. Lore tells that the Lia Fail possessed the power to identify who would be the next High King of the land. And in later lore there are stories that tell of how the Mc Carthy family prevented a witch from drowning and in thanks she revealed to them the stones powers. The McCarthy family, owners of the original castle were said to have been given part of the stone of destiny in thanks for helping with the defeat of the English by the Scottish in 1314 at the battle of Bannockburn by Robert the Bruce

The stone is made of blue stone, which is the same stone that Stonehenge comprises of and is said to have been part of the stone of scone, that the original King of The Scots, who I could not find a name for, sat on during his coronation. However, it is not believed by archaeologist that it was indeed cut from the same stone as Stonehenge or even part of the stone used to seat the King of the Scots, nor do they believe it is actually the Lia Fail, but we can dream and enjoy the stories and lore none the less.

Another story as to how to the tradition of Kissing the Blarney stone came about is that of Queen Elizabeth the 1st sending the Earl of Leinster to visit Cormac McDermot McCarthy, who was the lord of Blarney, to give the land to Queen Elizabeth as a token of his Loyalty. On his travels to Blarney, the Earl was said to have met an old woman who asked why he looked so down. He explained the situation to her and his difficult task ahead. She told him of the Blarney stone in the battlements of the castle, which was unreachable but would grant the gift of eloquence to any who kissed the stone. He was not a man who was good with his words, so in desperation he found the stone and kissed it. Although he could not convince the Lord to give the grounds to the Queen, he was able to write he a letter filled with flattery and well made excuses. Although she is said to have said his letter was full of “Blarney”, he lived to tell the tale (lol)

Yet another tale, a more magical tale mixed with history, tells of Cliodhna, the Irish goddess of beauty, who fell in love with a human man. In the tale, before she is carried by the waves back to the faery realm, she tells the man who built blarney castle, who was about to go to court to kiss the stone. In court he was able to win his case with words of persuasion.

 

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Doreen Valiente: The Play- Coming Soon

an-english-witch-2A new play about the life and times of Doreen Valiente will premier in Brighton this November to coincide with Witchfest, also being held in the south coast city this year.

Running from 21st to the 25th of November (just heard a new venue is having to be chosen to accommodate a longer run – more details soon) Doreen – An English Witch is being staged by Normal People Productions, cowritten by Archie Caine and Roman Withers, and features well-known local actress Peta Taylor in the titular role.

“The play will be a talking head style play, featuring a single set throughout, and will see Doreen tell stories of her life, ranging from meeting Gerald Gardner al the way to her last partner with the help of a training postulate,” explains Withers.

Tickets will be on sale from the end of March, and there are also plans afoot to hold a Q&A session after the first performance (hopefully attended by what Withers refers to as “some famous pagan names”), while after the last performance the team hope to stage a big Witches’ Ball to finish the week off in style.

“Nothing like this has been put on before and we are pleased and excited to be part of this project,” says Withers. “Obviously there will be some information that is oath bound so that will be kept hidden. But we are also working with the Doreen Valiente Foundation, who are completely supporting this project and are going to receive all the profits.”

More information at https://www.facebook.com/normalpeopleproductions

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Five Signs You Shouldn’t Run a Pagan Group

wellspring209-241Paganism collectively, and witchcraft in particular, tends toward egalitarianism. Practitioners tend to be independent and self-directed. We resist organization, and we don’t like being told what to do. Nonetheless, we have our celebrities. There are pathways in place by which we may individually achieve some pretty far-reaching social clout. We don’t have elected leaders or prophets (though from time to time someone tries), but we do have writers, artists, and teachers. Whether or not their incomes reflect it, we talk about some of our published authors as though they were pop stars. We pay incredible amounts of money to take their online classes and attend workshops with them. Within larger traditions, there are famous leaders. Some of them run covens, some are event organizers, and others are prolific writers, speakers, and thinkers.  Continue reading

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Lugh: A god of the Tuath de Dannan

 

Lugh or Lugus, islugh a Celtic God who has similarities to the Roman God Mercury. In Ireland he was known as sam ildanach. He was part of the Tuath de Dannan. His name also may mean “shining one”. He was noted by Julius Ceaser to be a God of Great importance to the Celts. There are many dedications to in the form of statues and inscription, which lend to the heavy evidence of genuine worship him of him from circa 500 BC. He is one of the most documented of all Celtic gods and for that reason he is one of the most well known and understood.

He is known to many to be a god of skill and the giving on talents to humans. He is also known as a warrior, though not in the same sense as a God of War but rather he is skilled in battle, as he is skilled in so many other arts. As a warrior, his weapon is a magic spear, which was able to fight without the aid of its owner. Other arts that he is highly skilled at include: arts and crafts, manual arts, smithing, healing and martial arts. Commerce, lightening, reincarnation, prophecy and revenge are also attributed to this God. Lugh possesses eternal youth , and is cery handsome and full of energy. This energy is what lends to his high level of skill in the aforementioned areas.

He is is the son of the sun and father to Chullain and is sometimes known as the deity of the sun. In other mythological sources he is stated to be the son of Ethlinn and Ciann. His grandfather is Balor of the Evil eye. His special day is the Celtic and pagan festival, Lughnasagh, which marks the beginning of the harvest seasons. It is also custom to honour his with grains, bread and other symbols of the harvest as a god of grain and late summer storms.

Lugh appears in many Celtic mythological tales.

One appearance of which occurs during the Battle of Moy Turra.

Lugh travelled to Moyturra. At the time of his arrival, a huge feast was taking place in the Royal court. He was greeted at the gate by the guard and was asked to tell what skills and talents her had for only one person possessing each skill or talent to the highest standard was permitted to enter the royal court. Lugh told the guard “I am a wright” to which he was given the reply that there was already a wright in the royal court. So Lugh offered again and said “ I am a smith” to which he received the same reply. He went through all his various skill, those being he was a champion, a poet, a musician, a hero, a historian, a sorcerer, and a craftsman. To which he was told that all these positions were already in the royal court. At this, Lugh retorted “Ah but you you have an individual who possesses all of these skills simultaneously?” The guard could not argue with this and admitted that they did and allowed Lugh to enter the court and join the feast

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The Tuath de Dannan- A brief synopsis

 

riders_of_the_sidhe-1The Tuath de Dannan or the people of danu were so named because they were thought to have been descendant of the Goddess Danu.They existed thousands of years ago in Ireland between the years of 1897 BC and 1700 BC, they were said to have been an ancient tribe of tall beautiful people who were talented warriors, poets, musicians and sportsmen. As well being a mythological race of deities, they were a race of heroes in Irish history.

Their arrival in Ireland was quite the dramatic entrance, both in historical and mythological context. In historical accounts they arrived on the west coast of Ireland, from a great mist on large ships.

They burned their boats to ensure they would not leave this new land and settle into it, making it their home. In mythology, they arrived in Ireland on ships floating through the sky but could not land due to protective force fields cast by the Fomorians around the country. They sailed around Ireland nine times before they could find a weak spot in the energy field, which they sailed through and set down. They came from four different mythical cities, these were called Falias, Gorias, Findias and Murias.

They were the rulers of Ireland during this time, after winning the battle ( the first battle of Moytura) with Irelands previous rulers, the Fir Bolg, who they allowed to remain rulers of Connaught out of respect for their fine fighting skills displayed during the battle.

They were a cultured people who brought new skills and customs to Ireland. They were held to high esteem because of this and were respected despite having invaded the country.

The Tuath de Danna brought four treasures with them to Ireland, one each from each of the four cities which they were said to have come from. These four treasures had valuable attributes which assisted them greatly. These were the Lia Fail or stone of destiny, the Magic Sword of Nuada, the sling shot of Lugh and the Cauldron of Daghda.

Lia fail (stone of destiny)

The slia fail was said to have been brought to Ireland by the de Dannan from the city of Falias. It’s magical properties include being able to tell when the rightful king of Ireland was standing on it and would emit a scream when he stood on it. It was placed on the Hill of Tara which was known as the Seat of Kings in Ireland

Nuadas Sword:

Nuadas sword was thought to have been brought from the city of Findias by King Nuada of the Tuath de Dannan. When used, it would strike his opponents dead in a single blow. All blows struck with this sword were fatal.

Spear of Lugh

The spear brought by lugh was brought from the city of Gorias. No shot fired from this weapon was missed as it’s power was unfailing accuracy. Other sources claim that lughs weapon was in fact a sling shot rather than a spear.

Daghdas Cauldron:

Daghdas Cauldron was brought from Murias. This cauldron gave an endless supply of food, enough to satisfy any mans hunger and to feed an army and will not empty by means of the food simply running out. It is also said that any injured warrior placed in the cauldron when empty will be instantly healed, even if they are on the brink of death.

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