Fire blend and firelight, I celebrate Beltane this warm Spring night. This is the time of the most fertile Earth, the greening of the land, and new rebirth. Fire and passion and labor’s toil, life grows anew out of the soil.
It was so nice today: warm temperatures and lots of sunshine. The Harbinger-of-Winter, Crocus, and Periwinkle are blooming. The snowdrops should be done blooming, soon. Birds chase each other and sing the songs of reproduction. That sounds better and more kid-appropriate than calling it the “Screams of Sex”. Soon, we will have birds building nests and tenting for their offspring. The bears come out of their Winter dens after a long Winter of hibernation. Nature begins to wake up. I’m still waiting for my little chipmunks to appear in our yard. I haven’t seen them, yet. They might snooze for another couple of weeks.
Traditionally the groundhog awakens from his nap for a nice welcomed break during the winter to see if he can see his shadow. Many believe if the groundhog sees his shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter. If this is so, he retreats into his den and goes back to sleep. However, if he does not see his shadow, the groundhog remains outside to play, and people celebrate, believing spring is just around the corner.
Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, has hosted the annual Groundhog day event. Thousands of people come to the town of Punxsutawney on Groundhog Day for this day of celebration.
Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow: Pedicts six more weeks of Winter
Connecticut’s Chuckles didn’t see his shadow: Predicts an early Spring
Texas Bee Cave Bob is an armadillo and predicts an early Texas Spring
Imbolc, also called Oimealg, by the Druits, is the festival of the lactating sheep. It is derived from the Gaelic word “Oimelc”, which means “ewes milk”. Herd animals have either given birth to the first offspring of the year or their wombs are swollen and the milk of life is flowing into their teats and udders. It is the time of the Blessing of the seeds and consecration of agricultural tools. It marks the center point of the dark half of the year. It is the festival of the Maiden, for from this day to March 21st, it is her season to prepare for growth and renewal. Brighid’s snake emerges from the womb of the Earth Mother to test the weather, (the origin of Groundhog Day), and in many places, the first crocus flowers began to Spring forth from the frozen earth.
The Maiden is honored, as the Bride, on Sabbat. Straw Brideo’gas (corn dollies) are created from oat or wheat straw and placed in baskets with white flower bedding. Young girls then carry the Brideo’gas door to door, and gifts are bestowed upon the image from each household. Afterward the traditional feast, the older women make special acorn wands for the dollies to hold, and in the morning the ashes in the hearth are examined to see if the magic wands left marks as a good omen. Brighid’s Crosses are fashioned from wheat stalks and exchanged as symbols of protection and prosperity in the coming year. Home hearth fires are put out and re-lit, and a besom is placed by the front door to symbolize sweeping out the old and welcoming the new. Candles are lit and placed in each room of the house to honor the re-birth of the Sun.
February Winter walks and starlit nights, Good books and cozy hours, Time for friends, heartfelt sharing, Dreams of springtime flowers… Although it may be short on days, Each February brings The simple little gifts we count Among life’s precious things.
The few days before Christmas, I was very homesick. No day went by without me wanting to return to Texas. When Katelynn arrived in Denver, Colorado she called Sara on Christmas Eve. Her box arrived on time. And in that box was a Texas Waffle Maker. Awww, that made my day.
The following day, on Christmas morning, Sara wanted waffles before opening the presents. Our pets had to wait a little bit longer for their new toys. Joshua, Chewbacca, Luis, and Benny were patient. On the other hand, Zoey and Ozzy were going crazy. They wanted to play with the wrapping paper so bad.
The date varies from December 20 to December 23 depending on the year in the Gregorian calendar. Yule is also known as the winter solstice in the northern hemisphere and the summer solstice in the southern hemisphere due to the seasonal differences.
Yule is when the dark half of the year relinquishes to the light half. Starting the next morning at sunrise, the sun climbs just a little higher and stays a bit longer in the sky each day. Known as Solstice Night, or the longest night of the year, the sun’s “rebirth” was celebrated with much joy.
Today is the first Advent Sunday. Three more Sundays will follow before Christmas will be here. On each Sunday, we will burn a candle. So, by the Sunday which will be followed by Christmas, all four candles will burn on our Advent wreath. Advent is the season to prepare for the Birth of Christ. But it actually originated from the ancient Celtic tradition. It has the symbolic meaning of the season leading to the Winter Solstice. Yule is upon us.
This year we had a beautiful Halloween. First I had to carve two more pumpkins for display at our Halloween Graveyard. After that, Sara needed some make-up. She could wear her Scarecrow costume another season. Sara went trick-or-treating with her friends, across town. We had some trick-or-treaters showing up before Kevin and I went on a walk in the neighborhood. Kevin was dressed as a Pirate, while I wore my Sorcerer costume. Too bad, we forgot to capture photos of ourselves. Maybe will remember it next year.
Now in the darkening of the year the veil between the world wears thin and those gone on ahead draw near. In the hours of quiet remembrance that the waning season brings, we may feel their whispered presence like the brush of a gentle wind.
SAMHAIN (The Summer’s End)
Samhain marks one of the two great doorways of the Celtic year, for the Celts divided the year into two seasons: the light and the dark, at Beltane on May 1st and Samhain on October 31st. Some believe that Samhain was the more important festival, marking the beginning of a whole new cycle, just as the Celtic day began at night. The most magically potent time of this festival is the night of October 31st, known today of course, as Halloween. The date marked both an ending and a beginning in an eternal cycle. In the country year, Samhain marked the first day of winter, when the herders led the cattle and sheep down from their summer hillside pastures to the shelter of stable and byre. The hay that would feed them during the winter must be stored in sturdy thatched ricks, tied down securely against storms. Those destined for the table were slaughtered, after being ritually devoted to the gods. All the harvest must be gathered in, barley, oats, wheat, turnips, and apples for come November, the faeries would blast every growing plant with their breath, blighting any nuts and berries remaining on the hedgerows. Peat and wood for winter fires were stacked high by the hearth. It was a joyous time of family reunion, when all members of the household worked together baking, salting meat, and making preserves for the winter feasts to come. The Celts believed that at the time of Samhain, more so than any other time of the year, the dead were able to mingle with the living, because at Samhain the souls of those who had died during the year traveled into the otherworld. As a feast of the dead, it was believed the dead could, if they wished, return to the land of the living for this one night, to celebrate with their family, tribe, or clan.
The Pumpkins, squash, and beans are ready for harvest. And the bright light of the Harvest Moon allows us the extra time needed to finish the harvest. The leaves on the trees begin to turn color. The Summer’s sunshine gives way to the fall’s Darkening evenings.
The Harvest Full Moon is a time to find balance in our lives, of settling into a slower rhythm after the Summer’s adventures. It is a time of giving thanks and enjoying the abundance in our lives.
Lughnasadh, also known as Lammas, is the festival of the First Harvest. It’s held from the 1st to the 2nd of August, halfway between the Summer Solstice and the Autumn Equinox. This festival is named after the Celtic God Lugh It focus on the First Harvest of crops and offering them to the Deities.
Nature stands at the threshold of Autumn, it is still filled with summer’s warm delightful energy, yet there is something in the orange-tinted sunlight that speaks of change. Dusk arrives a little sooner than anticipated. The grain in the field and the fruits and vegetables in the garden begin to ripen.
We celebrate our progress and achievements, as well as the harvest at hand. We celebrate, knowing that we must stay focused on the crops that are still ripening. It is a time to reconcile our hopes with our fears. We joyfully receive the first rewards for our efforts, yet we still await the outcome of the remaining crops.
Blessed Litha! Sacred fire! Magical sunrise stirs a desire Queen of Heaven and of Earth We celebrate your bright rebirth We see your first blessed rays In these magical solstice days Ascending cycle to fulfill Dancing on the silver hill.
Lilies burn with your desire Intoxicating spirit fire As oak and myrrh and mugwort burn Elder, chamomile, and fern The sacred serpent eats the Spring Then brings Autumn on the wing Burning wreaths of sweet vervain The Goddess will return again.
Blessed be the Maiden innocent and fresh, Blessed be the Mother fertile and loving Blessed be the Crone powerful and wise – Blessed be the Lord gentle and kind, Blessed be the Father protective and warm, Blessed be the King forever reborn.