Archive for the ‘The Sabbats’ Category
Daily Magick posts are on hold for a little bit. Mundane life has gotten quite crazy and I will post what I am doing each day to remain in touch with spirit as I can.
As we approach Lammas, I have begun harvesting and gathering the fruits of my labor this year and it’s pretty life changing for me. Just in time our good friend Pat Olsen sent me an email early this morning with her Sabbat Poem. Usually we share these on our facebook pages only but I thought it would absolutely do wonderfully sharing it with everyone today as we all begin the approach to the first harvest of our year.
Gathering in the Grain
(c) Patricia OlsenThe days are mellow with amber;Straw Flower
The old God of Fire still potent in the sky;
The nights are still and sweet as musk,
With a green corn moon on high.
The grain ripens like silken threads of gold,
Fruit hangs heavy and expectant on the bough;
The season has turned — it’s Lammas Fair,
And time to speed the plough.
As bread we bake and corn dolls we weave,
To honor the spirit of John Barleycorn,
To once again regenerate,
Even though now he must be shorn.
For soon winter’s wraith will envelop the land,
As the wounded fisher-king grows weak and frail;
Our blessed Goddess nourish and sustain us all,
With the fruits of your life-giving grail;
To have bread on the board and wheat in the barn,
And shelter from storm and hail;
And in every cottage and tavern near and far,
Plenty of good brown ale.
So let us reap the bounty of harvest time,
At this season of growth and decay;
And know that what dies will be reborn again,
With the lengthening of the days.
A time of passing, a time of change;
A cycle of life, death and rebirth;
Like the little shorn sheaf of grain, we too must go
The way of all life on this earth.
But we do not grieve as the wheel turns;
Instead we celebrate and make cheer;
And honor the Lord and Lady,
As they bide with us throughout the year.
So come make merry, drink, dance and sing;
Lovers embrace as you did on the Eve of Beltane,
And kindle the fires of love, life and rebirth,
With the gathering in of the grain.
In one of those rare confluences of the natural world, the cusp between December 20th, 2010 and December 21st, 2010 will hold special magickal significance.
Tomorrow, as many of you may well know, is the Winter Solstice. It is the shortest day of the year and its longest night. Traditionally it is a time of celebration, of rebirth; as winter fully begins within the grand circle of life, we honor the transition between the seasons. From time immemorial, man and womankind has commemorated both the astronomical event it represents and the symbolism inherent of the occasion. Life and Death, Spring and Winter: the turning of the clock and the changing of the season are inevitabilities we have charted and attempted to understand. We have built stone clocks and viewing points to witness the transition. Neolithic monuments like Newgrange, Ireland and the infamous Stonehenge; as well as modern viewing points like the Sunstones atop the Lawrence Hall of Science at the University of California, Berkeley display the actual moment of the Solstice as the sun reaches its lowest yearly high in the sky. The parties and festivals to celebrate the Solstice have traditionally lasted much longer than that single moment in time: anywhere from a night of partying to several weeks of merriment. Often several festivals would take place at the same time. In ancient Rome, the Saturnalia, the Festival of Invictus Sol (itself an accumulation of several festivals to many sun deities), and the more ancient Brumalia were celebrated all together. Today the Germanic Yule and the Celtic Midwinter Grianstadh an Gheimhridh still compete alongside the more mainstream Christmas and Hannukah, when really, they too are celebrating that same winter solstice in disguise. At the time of the world’s greatest darkness, we are all working together to celebrate the light.
Beltane is one of my favorite turns of the wheel. It is a time to celebrate the sensual and sexual nature of all beings, and to drink in the passion that swirls around us. Here in the northern hemisphere we are seeing the land awaken after a deep slumber through the cold winter months. We see the blossoms appear on fruit trees, with their gentle fragrance and delicate stamen tempting bees toward them in a seductive dance that ensures a bountiful harvest later in the year. The air is charged with fertile, fiery energy that seems to emanate from every direction and fills us with passion as we look around and celebrate life.
Beltane, just as its counterpart Samhain, is a time when the veil between the worlds is at its thinnest and the two intermingle. It is a time when the faeries awake from their winter slumber and begin to dance and play in the fresh grasses and flowers that herald their coming. In times past, branches of Rowan were set in window sills and flower petals were laid at entryways to serve as protection from the mischievous Faerie folk who were buzzing with energy, much like child awakening from a long nap; ready to play!
It is said that on the eve of Beltane, the Queen of the Faeries rides out on her white steed, tempting those she comes across back to the Land of the Fae. There is a lovely ballad from Scotland, written in the 13th century, called “Thomas the Rhymer”. In it, a young man named Thomas meets a beautiful woman riding a white horse while he rests upon a riverbank. She reveals herself to be the Queen of Faeries (Elfland) and, after sealing him to her with a kiss, takes him on her horse. They ride long and far until he expresses hunger, but she refuses to allow him to eat anything other than what she gives him. While they are stopped, she reveals to him where they are headed. She shows him three distinct paths: one heavy with thorny brambles leading to heaven, one beautiful and inviting which leads to hell, and one that is lush and green which leads directly to her lands. There she tells him not to speak lest he never return to his own land. She then gives him clothing and keeps him there for seven years. To read more about this, do visit the website dedicated to Tam Lin.
Thomas the Rhymer
also known as “True Thomas”
1. True Thomas lay on Huntlie Bank,
A ferlie he spied wi’ his eye
And there he saw a lady bright,
Come riding down by Eildon Tree.
2. Her shirt was o the grass-green silk,
Her mantle o the velvet fyne
At ilka tett of her horse’s mane
Hang fifty siller bells and nine.
3. True Thomas, he pulld aff his cap,
And louted low down to his knee
“All hail, thou mighty Queen of Heaven!
For thy peer on earth I never did see.”
4. “O no, O no, Thomas,” she said,
“That name does not belang to me;
I am but the queen of fair Elfland,
That am hither come to visit thee.”
5. “Harp and carp, Thomas,” she said,
“Harp and carp along wi’ me,
And if ye dare to kiss my lips,
Sure of your bodie I will be.”
6. “Betide me weal, betide me woe,
That weird shall never daunton me;”
Syne he has kissed her rosy lips,
All underneath the Eildon Tree.
7. “Now, ye maun go wi me,” she said,
“True Thomas, ye maun go wi me,
And ye maun serve me seven years,
Thro weal or woe, as may chance to be.”
8. She mounted on her milk-white steed,
She’s taen True Thomas up behind,
And aye wheneer her bridle rung,
The steed flew swifter than the wind.
9. O they rade on, and farther on–
The steed gaed swifter than the wind–
Untill they reached a desart wide,
And living land was left behind.
10. “Light down, light down, now, True Thomas,
And lean your head upon my knee;
Abide and rest a little space,
And I will shew you ferlies three.”
11. “O see ye not that narrow road,
So thick beset with thorns and briers?
That is the path of righteousness,
Tho after it but few enquires.
12. “And see not ye that braid braid road,
That lies across that lily leven?
That is the path to wickedness,
Tho some call it the road to heaven.
13. “And see not ye that bonny road,
That winds about the fernie brae?
That is the road to fair Elfland,
Where thou and I this night maun gae.
14. “But, Thomas, ye maun hold your tongue,
Whatever ye may hear or see,
For, if you speak word in Elflyn land,
Ye’ll neer get back to your ain countrie.”
15. O they rade on, and farther on,
And they waded thro rivers aboon the knee,
And they saw neither sun nor moon,
But they heard the roaring of the sea.
16. It was mirk mirk night, and there was nae stern light,
And they waded thro red blude to the knee;
For a’ the blude that’s shed on earth
Rins thro the springs o that countrie.
17. Syne they came on to a garden green,
And she pu’d an apple frae the tree:
“Take this for thy wages, True Thomas,
It will give the tongue that can never lie.”
18. “My tongue is mine ain,” True Thomas said;
“A gudely gift ye was gie to me!
I neither dought to buy nor sell,
At fair or tryst where I may be.
19. “I dought neither speak to prince or peer,
Nor ask of grace from fair ladye:”
“Now hold thy peace,” the lady said,
“For as I say, so must it be.”
20. He has gotten a coat of the even cloth,
And a pair of shoes of velvet green,
And till seven years were gane and past
True Thomas on earth was never seen.
I wish you a most blessed and beautiful Beltane for our readers in the northern hemisphere and Samhain for our readers in the southern hemisphere!
Ostara happens at the time of the spring equinox, also known as the vernal equinox. Some people get a little confused, especially when just getting started with understanding the Sabbats, as to what and when the equinoxes and solstices are. So here is a really quick, crash course in the Sabbats.
There are eight Sabbats, as most are aware; Samhain, Yule, Imbolc, Ostara, Beltane, Litha, Lughnasadh, and Mabon. The year is broken down into the Greater Sabbats and the Lesser Sabbats. The Sabbats are also broken down into the Quarter and Cross Quarter Days.
The Greater Sabbats
The follow Sabbats are The Greater Sabbats as well as Cross Quarter Days.
The Lesser Sabbats
The following Sabbats are The Lesser Sabbats as well as the Quarter Days.
The Greater Sabbats, which in addition are also sometimes called The Fire Festivals, are the celebrations that were honored in agricultural communities in Europe. They are all connected to the planting and harvesting cycles of the earth and, then as well as now, they are connected to the rhythms of the earth and are part of that connection to the land. The Lesser Sabbats focus more around the age and movement of the sun and its orbit. Because of this these Lesser Sabbats do not have set dates since they fluctuate based on the actual astronomical events going on. The Greater Sabbats, being agricultural, have set dates that remain the same year after year. This also helps to explain where the idea of Quarter and Cross Quarter Days come from. The astronomical events of the solstices and equinoxes that make up the Lesser Sabbats make the seasonal transitions, or quarters, of the year. The Cross Quarter Days mark celebrations that fall between the Quarter days. For example Samhain, as a Cross Quarter Day falls in-between the Quarter Days of Mabon and Yule.
The Greater Sabbats, in the Northern Hemisphere, have the following fixed dates:
- Samhain – Oct 31
- Imbolc – Feb 2
- Beltane Eve/Beltane – April 30/May 1
- Lughnasadh – August 1
The Lesser Sabbats, in the Northern Hemisphere, fall on the dates of the actual solstice or equinox. The dates change based on when the actual astronomical event takes place. The solstice happens twice a year when the axis of the earth is either tilted closer to the sun (which happens at the summer solstice) or tiled as far from the sun as it can go (which takes place during the winter solstice). You can remember this a bit by recognizing the word “sol” in “solstice” which means “sun”. When the equinox happens it’s a time of perfect balance for the earth. This happens twice a year when the earth is completely vertical, neither closer or farther from the Sun. We recognize these days at the spring equinox and the autumn equinox. These are the two dates where we acknowledge that the amount of hours of light and dark and exactly equal. You can keep this in mind by remembering that one of the root words for “equinox” is “aequus” which is Latin for “equal”, and that’s what we get on these two days each year.
When it comes to Ostara, it is a day to take time to celebrate the return of spring and the time of balance between the light and dark halves of the year. While we stand at this point of balance we know that there is a shift about to happen and that we will be on the light half of the year again. Ostara is known by other names such Alban Eilir in the Celtic and Druidic traditions, Lady Day, and Rite of Eostre. Like we’ve seen above, Ostara is one of the Sabbats that falls on a changeable date but typically it happens sometimes around the 20th or 21st of March. The confusion of dates with the Sabbats often seems to come from people starting out on their path reading books that list a single date for each Sabbat without explaining this issue of how these dates relate to the actual cycles of nature in an astronomical sense. By using just about any of the magickal calendars out there, or even most conventional calendars, you’ll usually have these days for the solstices and equinoxes listed.
The name for the Sabbat comes for the Goddess Eostra (pronounced “East-ra”) from the Teutonic (Norse) tradition. Eostra is a Goddess of fertility, spring and the greening of the earth. Her name, from the Germanic roots, means “to shine”. She is said to be a Goddess of the dawn in the Anglo-Saxon tradition and, with “east” being part of her name and being the location where the sun rises, this is usually part of why most Wiccan traditions, when acknowledging her, keep to this solar attribution.
On the flip side of this author Mike Nichols in essay “Lady Day: The Vernal Equinox” make a few important points. In the Teutonic tradition Eostre is a lunar Goddess, not a solar Goddess, and therefore naming a solar holiday that celebrates the return of the light half of the year after her is somewhat inaccurate. It would be more correct to honor her and her attributes at the nearest full moon Esbat to the vernal equinox. There are legends that talk about rabbits being seen prominently during the full moon at this time of year and it is thought that this is Eostre making herself known. Nichols speculates that it’s possible that the reason for this modern Pagan naming of the Sabbat may be that Beltane was also being misnamed with the folk name Lady Day, which was originally one of the names for Ostara. With that folk name attributed to Beltane Ostara/Eostre ended up becoming the name for this Sabbat because, even though she is a lunar Goddess, she was still be honored at this time of year.
Eostre’s animal attribute, as we’ve seen, is the rabbit. As this is fertility celebration, eggs were symbols used to honor this aspect for the rebirth and fertility of the earth. This is where we get two of our popular Easter symbols from, the Easter Egg and Easter Bunny. This also brings us to the often discussed issue of Easter and its Pagan connections.
The church, like with most of its new holidays as it was a new tradition trying to superimpose itself on the old, took the essence of the celebration of the equinox and attributed them their God. There is another holiday, part of the Catholic tradition, called Feast of the Annunciation of the Blessed Birgin Mary, which happens on March 25th. This is when the angel Gabriel announces that Mary is pregnant with the baby Jesus which places his birth in December around the winter solstice. This has some of the symbolisms from the fertility aspects of Ostara. The holiday of Easter goes a bit further though and takes some of the direct aspects of Ostara, especially that of the triumph of light over dark, or in the case of Easter specifically, life over death through the resurrection of Jesus. All of this again helps to take the traditions of the old and mold and mesh them into the new helping to make the transition and conversion to the new religion easier.
Today we focus on the aspects of fertility and renewal, still using the symbols of the green earth, rabbits and eggs to draw on these aspects. Here are correspondences for the Sabbat. Use them to put together your own rituals to honor the day. I’ve also included a few magickal recipes at the end.
Spring flowers, broom, cinquefoil, honeysuckle, iris, jasmine, lavender, lily, peony, rose, sage, violet, willow
Jasmine, rose, frankincense, myrrh, cinnamon, nutmeg, aloe wood, benzoin, African violet, sage, strawberry, lotus
green, yellow, pastel shades of pink and blue
Woven baskets, butterflies, dyed eyes, rabbits, spring flower wreaths.
seeds, leafy greens, egg dishes such as deviled eggs and hard boiled eggs, edible flowers, flower and egg shaped sugar cookies, nuts, honey cakes
Crystals and Stones:
Amethyst, aquamarine, bloodstone, red jasper
Spells for growth, abundance, fertility, communication and bonding with those around you.
Kid Friendly Activity:
This is something that I came up with for a public Ostara ritual I did with one of the public groups I was leading years ago. We would have kids come to our events and this was a way to help them be involved in the spell work process. You can modify this any way you’d like to make it more “grown up” but I think spring time is a great time to get in touch with your inner child.
About a handful of jelly beans
A hallow plastic Easter egg in a color that is appropriate to a desire, wish or goal.
A black permanent marker
Pick out a rune that corresponds to your desire, wish or goal.
Charge your jelly beans with your intent.
Put them inside your plastic egg.
With the marker, draw your chosen rune on the outside of the egg.
Now you’re going to use your egg like a rattle. Visualize your goal and begin to shake the egg. As you do this and as you chant the following chant:
Seed of what I wish to be
Grow and bud and bloom in me.
You’ll naturally begin to increase the speed of your shaking as you build energy. When you begin to shake the egg rattle without rhythm, or very erratically, release the energy while visualizing it flying off from you like a balloon floating free.
When your desire manifests, eat the jelly beans.
An Ostara Oil Recipe (by Laurie Cabot)
1 dram almond oil
1 dram patchouli
1 dram elder oil
1 dram lavender oil
1 dram violet oil
Warm in a non-metallic pan, remove from heat and cool.
Ostara Ritual Incense (by Scott Cunningham)
2 parts Frankincense
1 part Dragon’s Blood
1/2 part Nutmeg
1/2 part Violet flowers (or a few drops Violet oil)
1/2 part Orange peel
1/2 part Rose petals
The Maiden is honored as the Bride at this time, and we celebrate by making Brideo’gas (corn dollies), or bride dolls, out of corn, wheat or straw. Brighid’s Crosses are made out of wheat stalks and given as symbolic gifts of protection, prosperity, and abundance in the coming year. Imbolc candles are lit and placed throughout the home to honor the promise of rebirth and the hope for the coming of the Sun during what are the darkest days and longest nights of the deep, stark, cold winter.
For those of us who celebrate and honor the old ways, we often prepare a feast and light candles in celebration and the hope that Spring is indeed coming. We can feel it and through that deep knowledge we can gather together to celebrate the promise and hope that the coming of Spring brings to us all.
Remember that even though Spring is approaching, winter is still with us. Use that time to your advantage! Now is the time to reaffirm the goals you made for yourself at the turn of the year (January 1) and to clear away barriers that may have emerged so that you will experience no difficulties in manifesting them. Now is the time to take cues from nature and the Goddess. Now is the time to incubate our goals and dreams and prepare ourselves for the inevitable reawakening that hearkens the coming of spring.
May the blessings of Imbolc warm your heart and may the promise of Spring light the sacred flame of hope in your life. Blessed be!