giving thanks should not be shut up in a single day
While most Americans sort of believe the picturesque story of a convivial feast between the 51 or so surviving Pilgrims and around 90 Native Americans, perhaps from the Wampanoag Nation, the truth is far more complicated and perhaps a good deal murkier.
The Pilgrims had hardly explored the shores of Cape Cod for four days before they had robbed the graves of my ancestors and stolen their corn and beans. ~ Wamsutta Frank James, Wampanoag activist
Today, especially today, we can understand that within months of the disease ravaged Pilgrims winter 1620 arrival in North America, the native population was decimated by European illnesses. In addition there is strong evidence that the Puritans set the pattern for white settlers in America by seizing Native Lands, killing and enslaving the indigenous populations. Perhaps you could check out the Pequot Massacre of 1637.
As it goes, if there was ever a Thanksgiving Feast at all there is no evidence that the Wampanoags were there, or were even invited.
Being very religious people, it is more likely that the Pilgrims were celebrating a delayed Michaelmas, a harvest festival honouring the archangel Michael, who is a symbol of good triumphing over evil. Back then Michaelmas Day was October 10th. It gets more complex than that because in the protracted switch from the Juilan to Gregorian calendar from 10 to 18 days were removed from the year. That happened in 1752 in the USA. So, only God, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Sarah Josepha Hale, and the Wampanoag peoples know when Thanksgiving happened, if it’s not just a popular myth or a political invention.
Personally I believe that any feast, festival, or religious observance at this time of year is directly related to the autumn equinox, when our ancient ancestors would bemoan / celebrate that the day and night were of exactly equal length. From then on the days would get shorter, the nights longer, the weather colder, and winter would soon come howling in.
At least our English festival at this time of year, Guy Fawkes Night, is based on hard historical fact.
Enjoy your Thanksgiving.
Stonehenge is just a calendar
making a rock stack is a kind of environmental graffiti
those are gigantic, natural ‘rock stacks’
There are those environmentalists who urge people not to build rock stacks because it’s meaningless environmental graffiti, and disturbs the natural world. And there are those other environmentalists who would like us all to reduce our carbon footprint by stopping flying cattle-class to take our two-week annual vacation in the sun, as all the while they take a dozen trips a month on private jets to speak at meaningless green conferences. There are also those beggar-my-neighbour lunatics who would like to have building a little rock stack made illegal.
Man has been making piles of stones since the dawn of time, usually making big heaps of stones called cairns to mark a footpath ~ in the days when losing your way was a deadly mistake. No doubt some Neolithic nutters were against that too. Mind you I think it’s a damn shame that man cut down most of the ancient woodland here in England.
Unless you’re digging up stones with a lot of critters underneath, then the environmental impact of making a rock stack is effectively zilch. Anyone can easily unmake it at any time. But then ‘environmentally friendly’ ‘people are never really live-and let live types.
Some say that people should be banned from all the ‘unspoilt’ places on the planet. And don’t do as I do, do as I say. All I know is that the world would be a better place if most of the ‘environmentally friendly ‘ people packed their bags and left.
probably someone wanted to ban building Stonehenge, that’s a rock stack
The Winter Witch told me that the Full Wolf Moon was when mysterious things happen and wishes can come true.
At 02:24 GMT last night, (the night of 1st / 2nd January) there was a full moon.
The full moon in January is called the Wolf Moon by some, and the Storm Moon by others. Being so close to Midwinter’s Day, (December 21st, the Winter Solstice), the days are short, dark, and cold. This is the time of year when hunger came calling, the old would die, and the wolves would howl at the moon.
Last night it was also a supermoon, meaning the moon was at perigee, (closest to the earth in its elliptical orbit), making it bigger and brighter than normal. The astronomers say that last night’s full moon was 14% larger and 30% brighter than normal. (My camera adjusted for the extreme brightness.)
Some say that a supermoon cannot really be detected by the human eye, and that most people wouldn’t know it was a supermoon if they hadn’t been told. All I know is that from my skylight the moon seemed very big and bright last night.
This is one of the times of year when neolithic druids would gather at that strange and mysterious place now called Stonehenge. Why? Nobody really knows.
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Sadness and fear die in the night of the Winter Witch.
It’s the shortest day of the year, officially the first day of winter. The sun is directly over the Tropic of Capricorn. Here in Northern England sunrise today is at 08:25, and sunset darkens at 15:39 (twenty-one minutes to four in the afternoon). In all we will have 7 hours and 14 minutes of grey daylight today.
It’s the winter solstice, which happens for everyone in the northern hemisphere at exactly 16:28 GMT today. The night will be dark as the new moon was only a few days ago on December the 18th. The next full moon will be on New Years Night, January the 1st 2018. This will be the Full Wolf Moon and it also means a fresh start, a time for reflection, self-awareness, and rebirth. This is the time for all of us to be born anew.
The winter solstice has been celebrated by pagans in England for thousands of years, and many of the traditions now associated with Christmas have their roots in winter solstice celebrations ~ basically Christianity ‘stole’ the winter solstice. (One wonders why Christmas isn’t actually on December the 21st.)
The ancient feast of the winter solstice was called Juul in Scandinavia and by the Germanic Peoples, (now Yule), or Saturnalia in Ancient Rome, Yalda in the Middle East, Tekufat Tevet in the Talmud, Dongzhi n China… Yule is a fire festival, and this is when the Yule Log is brought into the home ~ it should be Ash and it should burn for 12 days before being put out. (Which is where the 12 days of Christmas originate.)
In the Northern Hemisphere, friends gather to celebrate the longest night… a chance to still ourselves inside, to behold the glory of the cosmos, and take a breath with the Sacred. ~ T. Thorn Coyle.
The ancient monument at Stonehenge, Wiltshire, England, was built so that it actually indicates the solstice. Modern druids still go there to celebrate the shortest day of the year and the rebirth of the sun as the days begin to lengthen again. From today our physical, mental, and spiritual energies will begin to increase from the low ebb they have reached as the days have shortened.
This is the night The Goddess becomes The Great Mother and gives birth to the Sun King, (not the Son King). It is a time to eat, drink, and be merry ~ light candles, give gifts, gather greenery… It is a time to connect with the natural world in a way that honours the sacred immanent in all things, and a time to celebrate the interconnectedness of all things.
The Wheel of Life has turned again.
Marmaduke and I
Wish You A Happy Yuletide
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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.)
Lent 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).
Which 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.
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.
Our Scientific Power has Outrun Our Spiritual Power.
Among the things with which I will have nothing to do with whatsoever are; God, Gods, Goddesses, Angels, Cherubs, Seraphs, Spirits, Ghosts, Flying Saucers, the channeling of mystical beings and spirit guides, people who are believed to have peculiar psychic abilities…, and sushi.
However, I do believe in the existence and efficacy of some very strange things indeed.
There are more things in heaven and earth, [Horatio], Than are dreamt of in your philosophy. ~ Shakespeare, Hamlet.
I have no real faith in astrology, despite the fact that I was born on March 23rd and I am a very typical Ares male. Anyone who knows me will agree that I am a crazy mixture of the fearless warrior and undisciplined schoolboy ~assertive, bold, egotistical, extrovert, independent, macho, stubborn, but very in touch with my inner child. Also, if I don’t have real faith in European astrology, why should I believe anything about Chinese astrology? That, even though I am an archetypal Horse male ~ independent, generous, globetrotting, restless, revolutionary, wandering, driven by an irresistible force. Add Ares to Horse to Man, and you get a real maverick ~ I am indeed an iconoclast.
Logically and scientifically, why and how could when you were born have any effect whatsoever on your character, your personality, your life, your luck, your past, present, and your future?
Well, I think when you were conceived, when and where you were developing in the womb, and when you were born does have a major effect on your entire life, and I partly base this on the theory of the interconnectedness of all things. Also I believe the perfectly respectable Jungian philosophy of the collective unconscious, and that other perfectly respectable theory that there is a collective consciousness. Over and above all this psychology, I believe that the seasons of our conception and earliest development have an overriding effect on which human archetype we become.
That begins to explain a lot of European astrology and its monthly cycles, but what about Chinese astrology and it’s 12 year cycle? Our sun operates on just about an 11 year cycle, and everything on this planet and far beyond is influenced, driven, and controlled by our sun. Astronomy is a very ancient science, dating back to at least 35,000 years BC. There is no doubt that our ancient ancestors knew all about the cycles of the moon and sun, and that astronomy and astrology were one in the same thing until as recently as the 17th century in Europe. There is no doubt in my mind that about 5,000 years ago Stonehenge was built as an astronomical / astrological / religious / political clock and calendar.
Why is it then that both European and Chinese Astrology actually has it all wrong? There should be 13 star signs in European astrology to agree with the lunar cycle, and 11 animals in Chinese astrology to agree with the solar cycle. Turns out there are 13 astrological star signs, the 13th being Ophiucus, also turns out that the normally accepted dates for which star sign you were born under are wrong as well. Who knows why the ancient Chinese did anything.
Never underestimate The Power of 12. If man can make something add up to the very symbolic number 12, he is much happier than with, say 13, or 11. Thirteen is an ‘unlucky’ number, and the number 11 symbolises male and female equality, and that was an anathema to our ‘civilised’ ancestors.
Numerology is another very ancient mystical belief. Face it, back in the day when no ordinary person could read, write, or do arithmetic, anyone who could count had to be half way to being a powerful sorcerer or wizard. I believe in both unlucky 13, and even unluckier Friday 13th. Who at NASA thought it was a good idea to have an Apollo 13? (It made a great Tom Hanks movie.)
What scientific or logical basis is there for believing in the power of numbers? How and why does numerology work? Anything to do with numbers and mysticism is almost always laid at the door of Pythagoras, who, if the stories are to be believed was a genuine genius. Most genuine geniuses have weird cults built up around them and Pythagoras was no exception with Pythagoreanism, and that’s close enough to ‘cults’ like Satanism, the Knights Templar, Illuminati, and Freemasonry for me. These guys are all very into the power of geometry, (as am I ~ 3,4,5). And why is the Eye of Providence on the US one dollar bill?
Number rules the universe. ~ Pythagoras.
According to the theories of the collective unconscious and collective consciousness, and the fact that numbers do rule the universe, numerology just has to work, (in one form or another).
Some are deemed to have psychic powers, the capacity to supernaturally see things and do things which is denied to ‘ordinary’ people. Mostly I believe that real psychic abilities do not exist. However, I do believe that some people have greater faculties than most. For example, I know when people are lying. My ability to tell when someone is passing off ‘alternative facts’, or being ‘économique avec la actualité’ or especially ‘not telling the whole truth‘ is not something that I learned on purpose. My ability to be an almost infallible lie detector grew in me by accident, probably from childhood. I can’t ever turn this ability off, although more often than not I choose to ignore it ~ people don’t like it if you point out to them that you know they’re lying.
Something else some people have is ‘inherent omniscience‘ ~ if they want to some people can know everything there is to know about someone they’re with, or have met, and have talked with for a while. It seems very spooky, very mystical, and evidence of real psychic abilities ~ it isn’t.
So how does this work? It turns out that some people allow themselves to see and feel much more than others. Some people have a natural gift for this. If you want to know how to do this for yourself, then I suggest you spend a few years diligently studying Neuro Linguistic Programming. If you are of above average intelligence, quick of mind, and have an excellent memory, eventually you will be able to astound others with your own ‘psychic abilities’.
Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. ~ Arthur C. Clarke
There is more in this universe than mankind knows, or respectable scientists will admit. But I don’t believe any of it is given to us by the Gods, or is sorcery, or magic, or from the spirit realm. I firmly believe that what some see as magic is actually the application of advanced knowledge. In which case almost everyone and anyone can become a witch, sorcerer, psychic… All it takes is the desire, time, intelligence, and a hell of a lot of hard work.
It helps if you have a familiar called Pyewacket.
these thoughts are mine and mine alone
The First Full Moon Of 2017.
January 12th 2017, and the full moon is close to us today. Luna isn’t quite at perigee, (the closest she comes to the Earth), that was two days ago on January 10th, so it isn’t quite a supermoon. However tonight’s full moon will be big and bright, perfect for skywatchers, witches, and sorcerers.
It’s likely that the moon was Mankind’s first reliable calendar, the full moon perhaps measuring the months of the year, although any strictly lunar calendar will see the seasons drift. Some say that Stonehenge is also a tool to manage the lunar calendar. And, that the first powerful priests and sorcerers were really astronomers. All I know is that Stonehenge is a spooky and magical place.
The English word moon derives from the Greek and Latin for ‘measure’. Other English names for the Moon, are Luna the ancient Roman Goddess of the Moon, (from which we get the word lunatic), and Selene the ancient Greek Goddess of the Moon, (and Selene is both a given name and an adjective).
The moon affects everything on the Earth, from the behaviour of animals and birds, to our moods, the tides, even women’s menstrual cycles. In witchcraft, the full moon is the most important time for casting spells ~ magic has more potency under a full moon. This is the time for enlightenment and psychic awareness, so if you have any sixth sense or psychic abilities they will be at their strongest tonight. All witches and those with magical and psychic abilities will be acutely aware of the phases of the moon.
In relationships and love the full moon enhances a woman’s sex drive, but this is also a time for a fresh start, forgiveness, acceptance, commitment, and love. This is the perfect day for a witch to cast a spell and work her love magic . Spiritually the full moon is strong, although it’s effects are both negative and positive. Today a vulnerable man may well be moonstruck with love and desire, but he should know that somewhere out there someone has his best interests at heart.
The first full moon of the year is known as The Wolf Moon. This derives from Native American Mythology in which wolves hold a very special place. This is the time of the werewolf ~ the legend of the werewolf goes at least as far back as the ancient Greeks. Other names for this full moon are the Cold Moon, and the Hunger Moon ~ cold, bright in the darkness, and unforgiving. This is a time for self-care, reflection, and making real and realistic plans for the rest of the year.
The first full moon of 2017 carries with it mixed messages, good and evil, forgiveness and rejection, life and death, man and woman. Everything about this full moon is contradictory and complimentary, the very essence of yin and yang, of darkness and light, of balance. The Wolf Moon is what we make of it. This Full Wolf Moon a time for decision making, planning, of endings and beginnings, of intense emotional energy. A sweet smile and laughter will bring the full moon’s power of joy and happiness into your life. Approach this full moon with a dark spirit, and the rest of your year will be equally dark and gloomy.
This Full Wolf Moon is the Goddess in her Mother aspect. Create a safe space and clear your mind. Invite the true spirit of love and understanding into your life. And, let’s all be careful out there tonight.
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.
If 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.
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.
Sunday, December 21st is the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. Officially, it is also the first day of winter.
I have news for you;
The stag bells, winter snows, summer has gone
Wind high and cold, the sun low, short its course
The sea running high.
Deep red the bracken, its shape is lost;
The wild goose has raised its accustomed cry,
cold has seized the birds’ wings;
season of ice, this is my news.
pictures by jack collier
poem, 9th century Irish