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Posts Tagged ‘Wheel Of The Year’

     How will you celebrate your May Day bank holiday weekend?  You could always get married, jump over a broomstick or get naked and paint yourself red like these folks.

     You can discover the origins and traditions of the Beltane festival by clicking the link below for Lily Wight’s Beginner’s Guide To The Wheel Of The Year.

Beltane Fire Festival

https://lilywight.com/2013/05/01/beltane-the-beginners-guide-to-the-wheel-of-the-year/

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Lily Wight

     Samhain – pronounced “sow – inn” and known presently as Halloween – is celebrated from sunset to sunset on 31st October to 1st November.  It is the most important Fire Festival or Sabbat on the ancient Wheel of The Year calendar.

     “Samhain” has been variously translated as “first frost” or “Summer’s end”:  opposing suggestions with the same meaning.  It is the name for November in ancient and modern Gaelic.

     Samhain lies between The Autumn Equinox and The Winter Solstice.  It marks the death of the year and the end of the annual agricultural cycle.  Many ancient cultures throughout The Western Hemisphere regarded Samhain as their New Year’s Eve.

     Samhain is the third and final harvest on The Wheel of The Year calendar.  After Lughnasadh (grain and cereals) and Modron (fruit and vegetables) herding communities drove livestock back from…

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Lily Wight

     Updated 24/06/2014

     The ancient seasonal calendar – known as The Wheel Of The Year – has reached Litha (meaning “wheel”) also known as The Longest Day, Midsummer and The Summer Solstice.

     Litha marks the height of the sun’s powers at the middle of the year before the inevitable shortening of daylight hours.

     Midsummer has been observed since Neolithic times.  It held special significance to the Scandinavian, Germanic and Anglo-Saxon people and is still celebrated throughout The Northern Hemisphere today.

     Litha was a time to urge the growth of crops in the hope of a plentiful harvest.  A wheel would be set on fire and rolled downhill to “warm” the fields, a practice first recorded two thousand years ago.

     Golden-flowered  Midsummer plants, such as Calendula and St. John’s…

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Lily Wight

     Updated 29/04/2014

     Beltane (meaning “bright fire”) or May Day is one of eight festival days marked upon the ancient seasonal calendar known as The Wheel Of The Year.

     Beltane heralds the beginning of Summer as it lies halfway between The Spring Equinox (Ostara) and The Summer Solstice (Litha).  It is a time when daylight hours are long, trees blossom and herding animals are turned out to pasture.

     Beltane was originally observed by the Gaelic people of Ireland, Scotland and The Isle Of Man who performed protective rituals for their crops and livestock whilst The Celtic Tribes of Western Europe and Britain also celebrated mating rituals and male potency.

     Beltane is named for the Celtic Sun God, Bel (Belenos/Belenus) who is associated with West Cornwall, formerly Belerion.  The Romans dubbed him the “British Apollo” and…

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Lily Wight

     Updated 15/03/2014

     Ostara (Old High German) or Ēostre (Old English) falls upon 20th March.  It is one of eight ancient Wheel Of The Year festivals denoting seasonal shifts.

     Ostara marks The Vernal (meaning “youthful”) Equinox: the height of Spring.

     Daylight and darkness are balanced at The Equinox, prior to the lengthening of days: a period sometimes referred to as Lent.  It is a time to celebrate fecundity and growth.

     Ostara is named for an ancient Germanic goddess and the month that bears her name; Ôstarmânoth, now April.

     Ostara is a dawn goddess associated to the Greek Eos and the Roman Aurora.  She represents the resurrection of light following the death of Winter.

     Ostara’s totem animal is the hare: a symbol of fertility dating…

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Lily Wight

     Updated for 2015

     Imbolc (pronounced i-MOLK meaning “in the belly”) is one of eight seasonal festivals marked on the ancient calendar known as The Wheel Of The Year.  Imbolc is observed on 1st February each year.

     Imbolc heralds the first stirrings of  Spring as it lies halfway between The Winter Solstice (Yule) and The Spring Equinox (Ostara).  It is a time when days lengthen, new buds and shoots appear and the first lambs are born.

     Imbolc was originally observed by the Gaelic (Irish, Scottish and Manx) people as a vital indicator of a new agricultural year.

     The festival was deemed sacred to the Gaelic goddess Brighid (pronounced breed) the midwife of the year and protector of women, children and newborns. 

     Hearthfire celebrations involved the baking of bannocks; the origin…

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     Updated 23/10/2014

     Samhain – pronounced “sow – inn” and known presently as Halloween – is celebrated from sunset to sunset on 31st October to 1st November.  It is the most important Fire Festival or Sabbat on the ancient Wheel of The Year calendar.

     “Samhain” has been variously translated as “first frost” or “Summer’s end”:  opposing suggestions with the same meaning.  It is the name for November in ancient and modern Gaelic.

     Samhain lies between The Autumn Equinox and The Winter Solstice.  It marks the death of the year and the end of the annual agricultural cycle.  Many ancient cultures throughout The Western Hemisphere regarded Samhain as their New Year’s Eve.

     Samhain is the third and final harvest on The Wheel of The Year calendar.  After Lughnasadh (grain and cereals) and Modron (fruit and vegetables) herding communities drove livestock back from Summer pasture to be housed or slaughtered for winter, furthering the festival’s associations with death.  The eighth century scholar, Bede refers to November as the “blood month”.

     According to ancient beliefs the mythic courtship of a god and goddess symbolised the eternal rotation of seasons.  At Samhain the Goddess, in her crone or hag aspect, midwifes the waning or sacrificed God into the Underworld where he will journey until his rebirth at Yule with the promise of Spring. 

     Crone Goddesses, such as Celtic Ceridwen and Greek Hecate, ease transitions and guard borders and crossroads.  They are keepers of arcane wisdom and herbal lore who are associated with broomsticks (for cleansing thresholds) and cauldrons (for brewing natural medicines).  Halloween “witches” are a modern remnant of this frequently misunderstood ancient archetype.

     Sexy Halloween witches owe their style to The Morrígan, the Gaelic Dark Mother or Raven Goddess  who presides over death and battle – akin to the Scandinavian Valkyries.  At Samhain The Morrígan mates with The Dagda (the Gaelic All-Father) to bring creation from chaos.

     Samhain is considered a liminal time; when the veil between the mortal and the preternatural realms – the living and the dead – is at its thinnest.  Ancestors are remembered and honoured with a variety of worldwide customs that continue to this day, such as the Mexican Dia de Los Meurtos or Day of The Dead.

     Costuming for Halloween is an ancient tradition with many possible origins and purposes.  Celebrants may have daubed themselves with ash from ritual bonfires or disguised themselves to confuse, deter or even consort with mischievous otherworldly creatures before parading from house to house to collect donations for the Samhain feast: the likely origin of trick or treating.

     It wouldn’t be Samhain without a pumpkin lantern.  The gourd was the first domesticated plant species and has been used for carving for thousands of years.  Pumpkin lamps were carved with fearsome faces as festival decorations; to light parades and repel unwelcome spirits.  Jack o’ Lantern was another name for will-o’-the-wisp; strange but naturally occurring flares of marsh gas.  Jack o’ Lantern evolved into a folkloric hero who tricks The Devil in a variety of tales.  Barred from the afterlife he roams the world forever, carrying a single ember from the fires of Hell in his pumpkin lamp.

 

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