Poem: Equal and Opposite

A double drabble (200 words) prose poem

phases of the moon
Photo by Alex Andrews on Pexels.com

I worship the sun, bask in the life giving rays
the light brings growth, and also casts welcome shade
Reborn at the winter solstice, bringing new hope
Peaking at the summer solstice in full glory
The seasons turn, spring to summer, autumn to winter
Endless and enduring
The sun is fire and solar winds, creative and inspired
The nineteenth tarot card, sign of good fortune
Ruler of the day, rising in the east and setting the west
Helios, Apollo, Lugh, Amaterasu

I worship the moon, bathe in the life affirming rays
there is beauty in darkness, and light in the dark
Reborn at the dark moon each month, unseen but present
Peaking at the full moon, in all her glory
The month turns, waxing to full, waning to dark moon
Endless and enduring
The moon is of earth and brings the tides, reflective and empathic
The eighteenth tarot card, illusion and hidden truths
Ruler of the night, rising in the east and setting in the west
Artemis, Cerridwen, Hecate, Thoth

I acknowledge the turning of the day, the month, the year
There is a time for action and for rest
A place for opposites and the middle ground between them

Notes and selected sources

There are many deities associated with the sun and moon, some more accepted than others, for example some see Lugh as a storm god rather than a sun god.
https://www.thoughtco.com/sun-gods-and-sun-goddesses-121167
https://www.learnreligions.com/lunar-deities-2562404

The moon rises in the east but “however, depending on the phase of the Moon and the time of the year, the rising might actually occur in the east-northeast or east-southeast, and the setting might take place in the west-northwest or west-southwest.” https://www.farmersalmanac.com/does-the-moon-rise-in-the-east-2782

Tarot cards
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Moon_(Tarot_card)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Sun_(Tarot_card)

 

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Imbolc

For this last #writingwednesday of January is an article, slightly edited from a previous overview of the festival sometimes referred to as Imbolc.

Imbolc, also known/celebrated as Imbolg, Oimelc, Candlemas, (St) Brigid’s Day, Groundhog Day, and the Festival of Nut, takes place around the 1st/2nd of February and is a festival marking a cross-quarter day in the wheel of the year, heralding the first signs of spring.
Imbolc/Candlemas Comments
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This is a festival particularly associated with Brighid (Brigit, Bride, or Brigid), goddess of healing, smith craft, and poetry. She shares many aspects, some going so far as to say she was Christianised as St Brigid of Kildare.


Brighid of the sunrise, Rising in the morning, Rising with the springtime, Greening all the land Brighid’s Kiss, La Lugh, lyrics here

Imbolc is a festival associated with candles, milk, new beginnings, and poetry. The emphasis is on warmth and light and burgeoning spring, being the halfway point between Yule and the Spring Exquinox.
A few ideas on how to celebrate Imbolc:
Make and drink a milkshake
Buy and plant some spring flowers, such as crocuses and early daffodils
Take a photo of something that signifies approaching spring to you
Write a poem
Clean part or all of your home
Scatter nuts, a sign of prosperity, in a garden
Make a candle – try making ice candles. Bless your candles. Burn a candle and think about what you’re grateful for and what your plans are.

This article gives some background about the history of Imbolc and some of the other festivals taking place at this time.
In the Southern Hemisphere, it is the time of Lammas/Lughnasadh, which is the first of the harvest holidays.

More about Imbolc, symbolism, and ways to celebrate, under the cut

Continue reading Imbolc

Drabble: A Meditation on the Element of Air

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A gentle breeze stirred her hair, rustling the leaves of the chestnut tree she sat meditating beneath.

The wind could be a welcome draught to mitigate summer’s heat, or an icy gust during winter. The helpful zephyrs that spread dandelion seeds, and dried laundry, were one aspect of the same element of air that had battered the coast last winter with hurricane force winds felling trees.

The absence of wind could leave ships without engines stranded on a becalmed sea, while fierce gales could whip up the waves to capsize a vessel.

Balance; that was the lesson she needed today,

All the Arts

title page: All the Arts

She loved him the moment she laid eyes on him. He was sat on the stage, strumming a guitar, his golden hair lying around his shoulders, his eyes half-shut as he focused on the music.

Her friends were at least as interested if not as truly enraptured.

“I heard he’s an Olympian,” April said. “Javelin.”

Kendra gave a sigh. “I heard he writes poetry.”

“He won that chess championship last year,” Gary put in.

“You would know that,” April said, giving Gary a playful shove with her shoulder.

She sushed them, wanting to hear more of the music. As if he’d heard, he looked up and met her gaze. She felt her cheeks flush as she took in his ocean coloured eyes and the quirk of his full lips.

“A ballad,” he said and began to sing as he played. The melody was haunting, the words in a tongue she didn’t understand, his voice soulful. Tears pricked at her eyes before the last notes faded away.

The audience had swelled as he sang, the club filling up as night approached. The applause was deafening. He bowed in head briefly in acceptance.

“Something a little happier?” he asked and received an enthusiastic response. The tune this time made her heart sing and to the astonishment of her friends she moved to the dance floor. Usually too shy to dance in public, she found herself shaking her hips, tossing her hair, swaying to his voice.

When that song was done he disappeared backstage and the usual DJ returned to play a mix of late nineties tunes. She returned to her friends, sipped at her wine.

“I heard he’s got a degree in history,” April said, staring at the stool where the guitar player had sat.

“His Instagram has pictures of his woodwork,” Gary said, sighing as April giggled. “He’s a carpenter.”

“I bet he is good with wood,” April persisted.

“Uh-uh. Connie showed me a bracelet he made for her. He mostly works with metal,” Kendra said. “Connie said she commissioned him to make a decorative sword for Alex’s birthday.”

She shook her head. No one man could be capable of all those things.

April, in the midst of checking her phone and chattering as she did so fell silent and everyone looked at her before they realised she was looking behind them.

He approached them, tall, broad shouldered and limber, head held high with confidence, a man at ease with himself. She felt she loved him, told herself that was ridiculous.

“Good evening,” he said. “I hope you’re enjoying yourselves.”

April nodded and began gushing, Kendra trying to get a few words in edgeways. Shoved out of the conversation, Gary had given up entirely, looking around to see if John had arrived yet.

“I’m glad to hear it,” he said when April paused for breath and then turned his body to her, all his attention on her in a way that was unmistakable. “And you?”

He’d noticed her silence or her staring? She was flustered once more.

“Your singing is lovely.” Pathetic, trite! She sought to find better words but he gave her a genuine smile.

“Thank you.” He pushed back a strand of golden hair and she longed to reach out to caress the silky lock. “What’s your name?”

“Nas,” she said.

“Nas,” he repeated. He reached out to shake her hand but as she reached out he lifted her hand and pressed his lips to her knuckles. Her stomach clenched, warmth spreading through her. “It is a pleasure to meet you. My name is Lugh.”

— — —
Previously I’ve written about a modern day Dionysus and Ariadne. I wanted to test the waters with something a bit different, a modern day Lugh, and maybe write more of this later.

Samhain/Halloween


Samhain Comments & Graphics

~Magickal Graphics~Happy Halloween and a blessed Samhain, or All Soul’s Night, to those celebrating.

All Hallows Eve, or Halloween, is the modern name in English for the great north European festival which signalled the end of the light and warm half of the year, and ushered in the cold and dark one, and so divided the season of autumn from that of winter in these northern lands. It was known in Irish as Samhain, summer’s end; in Welsh as Nos Galan Gaeaf, “winter’s eve”; in Anglo-Saxon as Blodmonath, “blood month”; and in Norse as the “winter nights”. As such it was one of the greatest religious festivals of the ancient northern pagan year – x

Samhain also known as Halloween, Hallowe’en, All Hallows Eve, Lá Samhna and Allhelgona amongst others. It takes place on the last day of October. It is the end of summer, where only summer and winter are recognised as seasons. In certain traditions this is the start of the new year. Samhain is celebrated as the Dia de los Muertos in Mexico (Day of the Dead–usually held on November 1) and All Saints Day (also on November 1) by the Catholic church.
It is the last of the harvest festivals in the Wheel of the Year. Across the world, in the Southern Hemisphere, it is Beltane, a fire festival full of fertility symbolism – the time of Brighid rather than the Cailleach.

It is believed that the Veil between the worlds is at its thinnest at this time and so it is both a time to be wary of spirits – hence the jack’o’lanterns to scare away evil spirits. Pumpkins are carved into lanterns, though any squash can be used, and before the American influence of pumpkins took over, the more traditional turnips and beets prevailed. This article Original Irish Jack-o-Lanterns were truly terrifying and made of turnips discusses the original folklore behind the carving of gourds.

It’s also a time for remembering ancestors or those who have passed on. Some people hold a dumb supper at which their loved ones who have passed over are welcome at. Livejournal member introduced me to Allhelgona; the Swedish version of All Hallow’s Eve – full name Alla Helgons Dag which translated to English would be “All Saints Day”. For the protestants of the Swedish Church it’s the time to go put flowers and little white candles on the graves of their loved ones.

Samhain is an idea time for divination, be it through tarot cards, runes, scrying, or other means. Other themes and workings include reflecting on the past, release of bad habits/banishing, candle magic, protection spells, manifesting transformation, knowledge, death & rebirth/new beginning.

Apples are traditional for this festival, plain for apple bobbing, and covered in caramel as toffee apples/candy apples. Other foods and drink associated with the festival includes gourds, cranberries, baked potatoes, pork and other meats, soups, mulled cider/mead/red wine, nuts, sweets, pomegranates, dark breads, pumpkin pie, roasted pumpkin seeds.

Colours include black, orange, grey, deep blue, deep purple, gold, silver, and burgundy. Stones like obsidian, haematite, jet, onyx, and amethyst are appropriate for October.

Deities: Cernunnus, Horned God, Osiris, Hades, Anubis, Loki, Dis, Arawn, Erebos, Pluto, Iku, Eshu, Gywnn Ap Nudd (Welsh), The Crone, Hecate(Greek), Cerridwen(Welsh-Scottish), Arianrhod(Welsh), Demeter, Caillech (Irish-Scottish), Baba Yaga (Russian), Al-Ilat(persian), Santa Muerte (Mexican), Bast (Egyptian), Persephone (Greek), Hel(Norse), Kali(Hindu), All death and underworld/Otherworld Goddesses and gods.

A besom or broom is an appropriate decoration. Other correspondences include: skulls, bones, cauldrons, pumpkins, gourds, sickles, scythes, representations of your ancestors, cornucopia, root vegetables, dried leaves, acorns, elder flowers, mandrake, wolfsbane, sarsaparilla, allspice, mugwort, divination tools, bats, owls, crows and ravens, water, midnight. There’s a list here and a longer list here and some ideas on correspondences and ways to celebrate here and here.

Some pagans worry about the more fun aspects of Halloween, like eating sweet foods, dressing up, and watching scary movies. The Thought.co Paganism and Wicca (previously about.com) guide puts it like this: Think of Samhain and Halloween like this – one is spiritual, one is secular. There’s no reason they have to be mutually exclusive at all. You can still observe the fun and silliness of Halloween — and pig out on candy, if you like — while maintaining the more somber traditions of honoring the dead at Samhain. The reverse follows; there’s nothing pagan about putting on a costume for fun, and paganism has no exclusivity on honouring ancestors.

Soul Cakes –Discworld readers are familiar with the Soul Cake Duck, and this is the origin of that reference. Soul cakes were traditionally baked as a gift for the spirits of the dead. In many European countries, the idea of “Souling” became an acceptable alternative for Christians. The cakes took many different names and shapes — in some areas, they were simple shortbread, and in others they were baked as fruit-filled tarts. Still other regions made them of rice flour. Generally, a soul cake was made with whatever grain the community had available. That text comes this site which has four recipes if you want to try baking something for the festival.

Selected sources and further reading

Samhain by winter-elf-witch
Wheel of the Year: Samhain
Samhain names and correspondences
correspondences
Original Irish Jack-o-Lanterns were truly terrifying and made of turnips
This page gives ideas and links to ideas for decorations, recipes, and rituals.
Samhain History
Samhain Correspondences
Wheel of the Year: October
Halloween? It’s more than trick or treat
Soul Cake Duck

 

Drabble: The Witch and The Moon

 

witch-moon

The Witch and the Moon

An exact drabble. For the 100-tales prompt “moon”. As always, thanks for reading; comments, concrit, likes/shares are all welcome.

“A witch is always accompanied by the moon,” she said.

He gazed up thoughtfully at the stars twinkling in the midnight blue canopy. “But what about when the moon is new?”

“The moon is always there, even if we cannot see Her. Day or night, full or new. To stand outside beneath a full moon is powerful, spiritual, yes. But we are never far from Her,” she said. “Besides the new moon has its own magic of fresh starts.”

“I see.” He looked at her now, secure and confident in a way he’d never seen her before. It suited her.

 

Ficlet: Harvest Celebration

Inspired by some prompts at One Sentence Only (Table 25b), a summer themed ficlet for Lammas/Lughnasagh/Lunasdagh, as a priestess prepares to lead the ritual for the harvest celebration.


Lammas/Lugnasadh Comments

Magickal Graphics

The heat of the fire was scorching even in the hot summer’s day air, like dragon’s breath against her skin. On the spit nearby the wild boar was cooking nicely. Bread, salad vegetables, cookies sprinkled with sugar, were all arranged on a table ready for the feast.

The boughs of the trees moved in the gentle breeze, carrying the scent of smoke, food, and wine to every house in the small town, beckoning everyone to join the harvest celebration. Most of the inhabitants were already there, having fed their letter with expressions of gratitude and wishes for the future, to the flames. Now they were adding to the offerings of food and drink, gossiping, laughing, playing alongside the excited children, or sitting in what shade could be found to await the ritual.

The village herbalist was one of the latter, sat in the shadow of an old oak, and knitting a blanket as she watched the games with a warm smile. Her teenage son, shirtless, was flirting with young men and women alike, though not with any seriousness. The mood of the day was light and happy.

As priestess, she’d made libation this morning, a mug of bitter tea and one of sweet mead, a cup of wine and one of ale. She’d thanked the gods for their blessings, not least the weather that had brought sun and rain in quantities enough to grow sufficient crops and sustain the livestock. The days were growing shorter already and despite the warmth of the day she knew winter would approach and they must soon prepare for it.

The door to the Elder’s office opened and he moved slowly across the open town square to join her by the fire. She bobbed a respectful greeting to the man who’d been a lawyer in his youth, a professor in his middle years, and was now the leader of their settlement. He was known for both his wisdom and compassion.

He returned her greeting, an open hand over his heart, honouring the woman who spoke with the gods.

“I was writing my letter,” he said. “Forgive my lateness.”

“The sun is not yet at its zenith,” she returned with a grin. “You are right on time.”

He cast the parchment into the flames, closed his eyes as it burned. Then he drew himself to his full height and clapped his hands.

“Gather around,” he called. “The ritual begins shortly.”

Soon all eyes were on her and she took a deep breath. “Welcome all to our harvest celebration on this glorious day. We honour and invite the gods to join our feast day.”

A poem followed, one written long ago for this occasion, the words flowing from her tongue easily for she knew the rites by heart. Then a longer prayer and, finally, the casting of the powder into the fire.

The fire leapt in response, crackling, and sending bright multicoloured sparks and a plume of white smoke into the air. She was no longer startled by the reaction though it never failed to impress her. Everyone applauded.

“Let the feast begin,” she said.

People needed no further encouragement, swarming off to fill their plates and glasses.

The Elder offered her his arm and she took it, moving with him to the table where the innkeeper was serving drinks. The blacksmith, proud of their new hobby, was already setting up the archery targets at the edge of the square, while some people were talking of going to paddle in the river.

It was going to be a lovely afternoon.

 

prompt words: dragon, fire, cooking, smoke, trees, house, poem, sugar, lawyer, shirt, wild, respect, shadow, open, professor, door, hobby, knitting, writing, office, tea, bitter.

Litha: Summer Solstice


Litha: The Summer Solstice

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Litha is also known as the Summer Solstice, Midsummer, Midsummer Night, Midsummer Night’s Eve, Gathering Day, Sun Blessing, Gathering Day, Feill-Sheathain, St. John’s Day. In England, The Day of Cerridwen and Her Cauldron, in Ireland, dedicated to the faery goddess Aine of Knockaine; Day of the Green Man in Northern Europe.
Usually celebrated around June 21, the Summer Solstice marks the time when the sun is at the highest point before beginning its slide into darkness.

In the Southern Hemisphere today  is Yule, the Winter Solstice.

The word Litha has some interesting etymology behind it: “Litha is a modern name for this holiday, possibly based on a Saxon word; Aerra Litha being Saxon for “before Litha”, or June and Aeftera Litha being Saxon for “after Litha”, Litha being the month of July. Its modern use was started by Wiccans but has been adopted by some other Pagan groups as well.” (1)

For me I find it is a bittersweet sabbat, since it marks a ‘going away’ of the light. On the other hand, this is considered by many to be the start of summer and some of the best weather of the year can be expected now – English weather peculiarities aside though we’re currently having a heatwave where we had flash flooding last year.

Like Yule and the equinoxes, Litha is considered a ‘lesser’ sabbat, being primarily of astronomical significance.
In Wiccan and some other neo-pagan traditions the solstices are seen as the Holly and Oak king battling for supremacy (2), with the Holly King being victorious at the summer solstice and the Oak king winning at Yule.

Traditionally, Mother Goddesses, the pregnant Goddess – symbol of the forthcoming harvests – and goddesses of love and beauty are honoured. Sun gods and sun goddesses are celebrated at this time, as well as Father Gods.

This is a time of great power, prime for fertility rites, inspiration and other growth rituals, as well as healing and purification, divination and re-dedicating yourself to your chosen path. It is a good time for handfastings and weddings or for clearing away burdens and establishing a stable base.

Litha celebrations might involve Morris dancing, singing, storytelling, pageantry and feasting, and a bonfire which could provide luck to those brave enough to jump over the flames. Other rituals/celebratory activities include visiting a holy well, burning a cleansing bonfire, recharging your magical tools, leaving out milk/honey for the Fair Folk, and going early berry picking.

Correspondences
Foods and drinks especially suitable for celebrations include lemons, oranges, peppers, strawberries, summer squashes, tomatoes, corn, honey, honey cakes, melted cheese dishes, fresh vegetables, summer fruits, summer squash, pumpernickel bread, ale, mead, fruit juice, carrot juice, red wine, lemon tea.

Trees, Flowers and Herbs: birch, white lilies, roses, St John’s Wort and mugwort, mistletoe, apple, cedar, elder, fir, hawthorn, holly, ivy, lemon, oak, pine, peach, rowan, daisy, iris, honeysuckle, lavender, marigolds, saffron, sunflowers.
Gather vervain and basil to to be used during the winter months.

Traditional colours of Litha: gold, yellow, red, blue, green, orange, white, tan.

Other correspondences: The sun; sun wheel, sun dials, seashells; blades; daisy chains; stone circles, feathers, fire, candles, wands, yellow and green gemstones, especially emerald and jade amber, tiger’s eye, frankincense, myrrh, sandalwood, chamomile, bee, butterfly, caterpillars, sea creatures, wren, robin, horses and cattle, faeries, dragons, blades, percussion instruments.

Sources and further reading:
1 Litha Information Sheet (http://walkingthehedge.net/hedge/litha-info-sheet/)

2 The Legend of the Holly King and the Oak King (http://paganwiccan.about.com/od/yulethelongestnight/p/Holly_KIng_Yule.htm)

The Summer Solstice
All about Litha
The Summer Yule

Spring Festival: Ostara


Ostara Comments

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Ostara is the Spring or Vernal equinox when days and nights are once again equal in length. It is a time of renewal and rebirth. The name Ostara is believed to be derived from Eostre – the Teutonic lunar Goddess (see more on this below). Her chief symbols are the hare, which represents fertility, and the egg, which is a symbol of rebirth.

(In the Southern Hemisphere, it is Mabon that this being celebrated today at the time, with the balance of daylight about to go in the opposite direction, from more daylight to less.)

Ostara is close in symbolism to the Church festival of Easter, but Ostara is fixed at the equinox while Easter is a moveable feast decided by the phases of the moon. The Jewish holiday of Passover also falls during March or April, depending on the moon phases of each year.
Ostara also falls close to St Patrick’s Day amongst other festivals – there’s more detail in this article: Spring Traditions around the World.

Traditionally this day marks the start of Spring, and is a good time for cleaning in the physical, emotional, and spiritual sense.

This year, Ostara falls on the 20 March.

Continue reading Spring Festival: Ostara