Tag Archives: Paganism

Ash Wednesday

moderation, moral courage, self-denial, self-discipline

Ash Wednesday is the beginning of Lent and comes 46 days before Easter.  Since Easter itself is a movable feast, Ash Wednesday can happen on any Wednesday from February 4th to March 10th.  Ash Wednesday is really a Pagan festival, having only been adopted by the Christian Church in 325 AD by Constantine the Great.  (Although almost all Christians will deny it, most, if not all Christian Festivals are built on the back of festivals from other and older religions, civilisations, and cultures.)

sping-goddessLent and Easter is a long festival of Spring ~ in fact the modern English words Lent and Lenten derive from the Old English word Lencten, which means Spring.  As it happens, even the English word Easter derives from the Goddess Oestar / Ostara / Éostre, the Pagan Goddess of Spring, (one of them).

stonehenge1Which begs a couple of questions.  Firstly, when does spring begin?  Conventionally, in the Northern Hemisphere, in England in particular, Spring starts at the vernal equinox, or on the night of March 20th / 21st.  Stonehenge and similar ancient monuments were set up to predict and confirm these astronomical events.  And secondly, what does Lent have to do with Spring?  And I believe the answer to that is in ancient times the end of winter, coming up to Springtime at the vernal equinox, was a time of hunger, starvation, and hard work preparing the land for spring planting.  Ergo, in ancient times people would fast during what is modern Lent, not out of choice, but of absolute necessity.

The deeper one goes into the rituals, superstitions, and deities of these old cultures the more connected to the seasons everything seems to be.  Persephone, the beautiful Greek Goddess of Spring, (Roman Proserpina), was also the Goddess of Death and the Underworld.  That makes perfect sense because the end of winter, when the food was running out and the weather was bad, would be when the old, young, and infirm were  very likely to die.

spring

So, Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, the time leading up to Spring, makes perfect sense when looked at from the point of view of our ancestors.  It’s not really time for a festival, carnival, or feasting ~ it’s more a time of self-denial and self-discipline.

It all makes sense in terms of the Four Noble Truths of the Buddha too.  The end of winter is a time of pain and suffering.  Indulging our wants, desires, and lusts just makes everything worse.  The road to freedom from suffering is through self-discipline in body, mind, and spirit.  The way to get through those hard days at the end of winter would have been through self-discipline in body, mind, and spirit.

So starting today, what am I giving up for the 46 days of Lent?  It’s going to be something difficult.  Starting today I will not take impulsive and negative actions when I have negative thoughts and feelings like; anger, jealousy, insecurity, anxiety, or fears of abandonment ~ all those old symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder.  I know that I will have those negative feelings, I just won’t let them get to me.

Maybe I should have decided to give up chocolate instead ~ I’ve already given up booze.

Maybe I’ll just lock myself in the garret for Lent.

~

wiccan moonjack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

Shrove Tuesday

confession, penance, atonement, amends, forgiveness

pentagramToday, the 28th of February, is Shrove Tuesday ~ a day when the basic tenents of religion, 12 step recovery programmes, and a spiritual lifestyle all come together.  It’s all based on strength, honesty, purity, unselfishness, and love.  It’s sometimes called a moral inventory, and it may involve the God /Goddess of your understanding, your Higher Power, your most trusted friend, or any combination or variation of all three.  Ash Wednesday, and by extension Shrove Tuesday, is really a Pagan Festival anyway ~ the main thing is that today is a good day for me to take the next step on my own spiritual journey.

eightfold pathAll this, the whole point of Shrove Tuesday, may have nothing to do with religion, or recovery from an addiction, or eating special meals, or the carnival celebrations of Mardis Gras ~ but what it should have to do with is acceptance of who we are, who we used to be, and who we wish to become in the future.  Today I will take a long look at who I was and what I did, all the good, the bad and the ugly.  I will try to accept and understand the past.  I will acknowledge the reality of the past, and think about making my amends in the future.  Today I will forgive myself for yesterday’s mistakes, and hope that others do too.  I will think about being a ‘better’ man tomorrow than I was yesterday.  My personal tools for doing this are the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path.

aphroditeI am not a follower of the Buddha ~ in fact my personal ‘higher power’ is the Mother Goddess, in one of her forms, (it’s complicated).  But the Buddha’s Teachings will make sense to me today ~ Shrove Tuesday.  I will be making pancakes today, but the whole idea of Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday, Carnival is not really an English Gentleman’s thing.  Mardi Gras isn’t really a spiritual event, it’s just a street party.

If you want to make a great pancake here are some recipes from; Cooking with a Wallflower, Food Eat Love, Damn Delicious, the BBC, and Jamie Oliver.

Have a Happy Fat Tuesday, a Great Carnival, a Joyous Mardi Gras, and a Calm and Spiritual Shrove Tuesday.

(Maybe one day I’ll look for a cool woman wearing a great mask at Mardi Gras.)

~

mardi-gras-maskjack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

Winter Solstice

Today is the Shortest Day of the Year

In the northern hemisphere December the 21st is the darkest day.  Where I live the sun will rise today at 08:26, and it will set just over seven hours later at 15:39.  As there will be some cloud today I’m not likely to see much sunshine at all.  Today will not be the longest night in all history ~ most respectable scientists think that was December 21st 1912.  The rotation of the earth is generally slowing down over time, but it’s speeded up a little recently due to the melting of the glaciers.

Officially today is the first day of winter.  The coldest months are yet to come, normally it’s much colder in England in late January and early February.

Spiral GalaxyNGC1365If you are a pagan, or a witch, today is a big day for you.  In ancient times December the 21st was called Yule, probably from the Anglo-Saxon word Iul, meaning wheel.  This symbolises the stars and the Earth turning like a wheel, the wheel of the year, and the wheel of life.  Today the Goddess once again becomes the Great Mother and gives birth to the Sun King.  It’s unsurprising that Christians chose around now to be the time of the birth of Christ, even if they did get they day wrong by 4 days.  Although the ancient Persian Mithraists always regarded December 25th as the time of the victory of light over darkness.

Stonehenge England, United Kingdom

Stonehenge, Salisbury, England

If you can get to Salisbury in Wiltshire, perhaps you should be at Stonehenge for dawn and dusk today.  Nobody really knows why Stonehenge was built some 5,000 years ago, but the great stones are aligned in such a way so as to mark the rising and setting of the sun on Midsummer’s day and Midwinter’s day.  A hell of a lot of work to make a clock / calendar.

Personally, I will go down to the sea today and watch the dawn.  For many of us, today is the rebirth of the year and of the world.

Have a happy Yuletide.

~

Dreaming Aphroditejack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

 

Pagan Fire Festival

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August 1st is an important day in the Pagan Calendar ~ Lughnasadh, a fire festival.

Historically, August 1st was an important day across the English-speaking world ~ Lammas, a harvest festival.

Come Lammas-Eve at night shall she {Juliet} be fourteen; that shall she marry…  ~  Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet.

The Christian Church used to celebrate Lammas Day, (Loaf Mass Day), which they then started to call the feast of St. Peter in Chains.  Mostly August 1st isn’t celebrated in the Christian Church as anything any more.

Lammas / Lughnasadh is one of the four fire festivals in the Pagan world.  How you mark today depends on where you are in your own spiritual development, but celebrations usually focus on the grain harvest or the Pagan God Lugh, or both.

gaia__artemis__aphroditeIf I have a Pagan God it is Lugh, the God of craftsmanship and metalworking skills.  Lugh had so many accomplishments he was reputed to be able to do almost anything.  Julius Caesar sometimes called the Roman God Mercury ~ Lugus, the Latin equivalent of Lugh.  Depending on how you look at it, Lugh married the Mother Goddess Nas, (Artemis).  Artemis is said to hate my personal goddess Aphrodite, and after that my grasp of mythology and interpersonal relationships gets complicated.

As for me, at this point in my spiritual life, I associate August 1st with Lugh and the Rowan Tree, the mountain ash.  In my mind there is a debate as to whether the English Sacred World Tree is a true ash, (fraxinus excelsior), or the rowan tree, (sorbus aucuparia).  Of the two, the rowan is the rarer in England, and maybe the rowan is the more magical.

The rowan is the tree of power, causing life and magic to flower.

Dreaming AphroditeThe rowan allows the power within to call forth the elegance and mystery of the logical mind as it is intermingled with intuitive powers.  The rowan calls the spiritual into the path of future planning, and brings dreams to fruition.  When using rowan magic you should trust your intuitive insights.

If you wish, you can try to forecast the future using rowan magic.  Drinking some / a lot of proper absinthe helps here.  Artemisia absinthium (wormwood) is the active ingredient in absinth, other than the booze.  Shakespeare goes on about wormwood in the Lammas-Eve speech.  Which brings us neatly back to the Goddess Artemis and the Pagan God Lugh.

Today I have a piece of rowan wood by the garret’s door to keep witches away.  (Rule #2 Nobody is allowed into the garret, applies especially to witches).  As I don’t drink booze these days, there’s no absinthe around, which is probably just as well.

~

Rowanjackcollier7@taltalk.net

liebster-12

 

The Crone to a Maiden

Every so often I am struck by idiocy, and being up and about in the middle of the night, worrying, is one of my favourite pieces of stupidity.

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As it goes, midnight of February 1st / 2nd, was a perfect time to be up and about, stupidly worrying.

Today, February 2nd, is Candlemas ~ the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, one of the 12 great Christian feast days.  In Britain, Candlemas is also a cross-quarter day, or term day.  This is sometimes used as the starting date for school terms and in Scotland as the day on which rents fall due.

AphroditeAs is usual for Christianity, Candlemas is based on a far, far, older pagan / Roman festival, and falls on a day when one-eighth of the year has passed.

Cross quarter days are part of the wheel of the year, and in paganism Candlemas is called Imbolc, (derived from Imbolg, meaning quickening in the belly).  This marks the first stirrings of Spring, and is when spring cleaning is supposed to start.  This is the time of The White Goddess.

February 2nd; Imbolc, (Imblog, Imbole, Candlemas), is one of the threefold transition points of the Goddess energies from those of the Crone to those of the Maiden.  Traditionally this is a Sabbat of Purification, and a festival of Light and Fertility.  If you wish good fortune, then just after sunset on Imbolc, one should light every lamp in the house ~ and especially light candles in each room.

If you are either poetical or practical you should really pray to the ancient Goddess Brigid.  Especially midwives and metal-smiths wishing good fortune should maybe acknowledge Brighid’s Day / Candlemas (February 1st / 2nd.)

The Americans, who seem to have a talent for forgetting, mark February 2nd as Groundhog Day.  This festival originated among the Pennsylvania Germans, and can be traced back to the wheel of the year and Imbolc.  Imbolc, being the first quickening of Spring, also involved weather prognostication, but the animal in question was a badger.  The Scottish have a poem for it;

If Candlemas be bright and clear

There will be two winters in the year

If Candlemas brings clouds and rain

Winter will not come again

What you really, really want on Groundhog Day / Candlemas / Imbolc is clouds and rain.  And candles, don’t forget the candles.

P1010496~

words and pictures by jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

 

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