The Lo Scarabeo’s ‘Anima Antiqua’ Tarot Collection

I received two new Anima Antiqua tarot decks today, and here’s the complete collection to date. I guess next year I’ll have to put them on a table to take a shot, they barely fit a bookcase shelf!

#01 – 1491 – Tarocchi Sola Busca – Ferrara, XV Century – Lo Scarabeo, 2017
#02 – ca1660 – Tarocchino Mitelli – Bologna – Lo Scarabeo, 2017
#03 – 1806 – Minchiate Etruria – Florence – Lo Scarabeo, 2018
#04 – ca1875 – Tarots Égyptiens – Lorambert- Lo Scarabeo, 2018
#05 – 1760 – Tarot de Marseille – Nicolas Conver – Lo Scarabeo, 2019
#06 – 1906 – Wiener Secession Tarot – Ditha Moser – Lo Scarabeo, 2019
#07 – 1725 – Tarocchino Montieri – Luigi Montieri – Lo Scarabeo, 2020
#08 – 1835 – Tarocco Sopraffino – Carlo Della Rocca – Lo Scarabeo, 2020
#09 – 1893 – Naibi Di Giovanni Vacchetta – Giovanni Vacchetta – Lo Scarabeo, 2021
#10 – ca1820 – Tarot Steinberger – Frankfurt – Lo Scarabeo, 2021

There is never ‘Too Many’ books about The Morrígan!

The Ancient Irish Goddess of War by W.M. Hennessey (1870)
The Guises of the Morrigan by David Rankine and Sorita D’Este (2005)
Celtic Lore & Spellcraft of the Dark Goddess by Stephanie Woodfield (2011)
Feast of the Morrighan by Christopher Penczak (2012)
By Blood, Bone, and Blade by Nicole Bonvisuto (2014)
Pagan Portals – The Morrigan by Morgan Daimler (2014)
The Book of the Great Queen by Morpheus Ravenna (2015)
Dark Goddess Craft by Stephanie Woodfield (2017)
My Name is the Morrigan by Jessica Johnson (2018)
The Morrigan: Celtic Goddess of Magick and Might by Courtney Weber (2019)
Pagan Portals – Raven Goddess by Morgan Daimler (2020)
Priestess of The Morrigan by Stephanie Woodfield (2021)

Tarot Decks in Marvel Comics

Do any of you here reads comic books? I’m in my 40’s now, and I recently found a new love for comic books and graphic novels! In my youth, I never read comics. I was more into prose books and encyclopedia. I started being interested by the occult, magic, sorcery and tarot at 13 years old, in 1993. I started reading comics after I saw the Doctor Strange movie in 2016, I loved every minutes of it, particularly the quick references to the chakras and the auras, and all the mysticism of what we call magick. So, that movie picked my interest in Doctor Strange comics (and many others), and during the last 5 years, I bought lots of them and saw many iterations of the tarot in the pages of various Marvel comics. Here a few of them:

Marvel Team-Up #76 (Dec 1981)

The cover shows a Marvel-Inspired clone of a RWS tarot deck, but inside the pages, they used actual cards of the RWS. Doctor Strange even does a classic Celtic Cross spread!

spacer.png
spacer.png
spacer.png

In this issue, Doctor Strange uses what he calls the ‘First Tarot Deck’. This one is clearly a RWS clone, using Marvel characters as figures on the cards. Reversed cards seems to be a favorite amongst Marvel writers, they keep popping up all the time!

Secret Defenders #1 (March 1993)

spacer.png
spacer.png
spacer.png

The Marvel Tarot (Aug 2007)

In this one, the sorcerer Ian McNee looks through the First Tarot Deck, divining who appears on each card, and looking into their origins to see why. He discovered several cards are displaying more than one individual at different times, a sign he feels verifies that the world’s magic is broken. This book is amazing! It’s not a comic book, but a special issue with actual information of each cards, with correspondences.

spacer.png
spacer.png
spacer.png

Mystic Arcana – Magik #1 (Aug 2007)

A direct sequel to The Marvel Tarot, in this one. Knowing that the tarot was created around 1442, I know that is very anachronistic! This scene is in 11th Century BCE – Illyana Nikolievna Rasputina (aka Magik) travels back in Ancient Egypt with Mirage and joins Ashake to fight against Heka-Nut. They clearly use tarot deck with a Egyptian theme. Again, being a Marvel story, they can do whatever they want history-wise. Perhaps, in the Marvel universe of Earth-616, tarot cards did originates from the Ancient Egypt…

spacer.png
spacer.png
spacer.png

Mystic Arcana – Sister Grimm #1 (Aug 2007)

This comic is the conclusion of the story started with The Marvel Tarot, which include 4 issues (Magik, Black Knight, Scarlet Witch, Sister Grimm). This issue use a classic RWS.

spacer.png
spacer.png

Avengers/Defenders: Tarot #1-4 (Jan-Mar 2020) 

Last year, the tarot came back in a mini-series! That magical deck glows, and when the bad guy cut the cards in two, and mix them together, the heroes are mixed-up creating interesting variants. 1/2 Doctor Strange mixed with 1/2 Silver Surfer become ‘Doc Surf’, 1/2 Scarlet Witch mixed with 1/2 Doctor Strange become ‘Scarlet Strange’, etc.

spacer.png
spacer.png
spacer.png

Defenders vol. 6 #1 (Aug 2021)

And then, this week, is the release of a new Defenders title, showing a lot of tarot cards, again inspired by the good old RWS! The story start with a classic RWS imagery, but then is magically altered, and the figures and yet again replaced by characters from the Marvel universe. I love that the writer made his research for the meanings of the cards.

spacer.png
spacer.png
spacer.png

That’s all for now! I collects all types of comics, and I’ll probably dig into my other indie books, or the Hellboy series, and see if I can find interesting panels with tarot cards.

Lughnasadh (Lúgnasad)

DateEventOriginAttributeTimeDeities Honored
Jul. 31-Aug. 1Celtic AutumnCelticFeminineEveLugh & Macha

Lughnasadh (“LOO-nah-sah”) is celebrated from sunset of 31st July to sunset of 1st August, halfway between the Summer Solstice and Autumn Equinox. If working by the moon, it is the first full moon when the sun is in Leo. “Lughnasadh” is derived from Lúgnasad, an Irish Gaelic word meaning “Assembly of Lugh”. This Major Sabbat marks the beginning of the Celtic Autumn and of the harvest season. Lughnasadh is the first of the three Harvest Festivals. This is a time for acknowledging the Deities of harvest and the birth of abundance. Lughnasadh is a time of the fullness of Life, and a celebration of the bountiful Earth. In the Lord and the Lady Narrative, the God mystically lose His strength as the sun rises farther in the South each day and the night grow longer. The Goddess watches in sorrow and joy as She realizes that the God is dying, and yet lives on inside Her as Her child. Lughnasadh then has the theme of the sacrificed God of the harvest, but he is sacrificed and transformed, rather than descending into the underworld to become Lord of Death, which comes later.

Lughnasadh itself is a celebration of Lugh’s triumph over the spirits of the Other World who had tried to keep the harvest for themselves. In Irish Mythology, the Lughnasadh festival is said to have been begun by the god Lugh as a funeral feast and athletic competition in commemoration of his foster-mother Tailtiu. She was said to have died of exhaustion after clearing the plains of Ireland for agriculture. The funeral games in her honor were called the Óenach Tailten and were held at Tailtin, a townland in County Meath. The Óenach Tailten included ritual athletic and sporting contests. The event also involved trading, the drawing-up of contracts, and matchmaking. At Tailtin, trial marriages were conducted, whereby young couples joined hands through a hole in a wooden door. The trial marriage lasted a year and a day, at which time the marriage could be made permanent or broken without consequences. The main theme that emerges from the folklore and rituals of Lughnasadh is a struggle for the harvest between two gods. One god – usually called Crom Dubh – guards the grain as his treasure. The other god – Lugh – must seize it for mankind. Sometimes, this was portrayed as a struggle over a woman called Eithne, who represents the grain. Lugh also fights and defeats a figure representing blight. These themes can be seen in earlier Irish mythology, particularly in the tale of Lugh defeating Balor, which seems to represent the overcoming of blight, drought and the scorching summer sun. In surviving folklore, Lugh is usually replaced by Saint Patrick, while Crom Dubh is a pagan chief who owns a granary or a bull and who opposes Patrick, but is overcome and converted. Crom Dubh is likely the same figure as Crom Cruach and shares some traits with the Dagda and Donn. A custom of Lughnasadh was visiting holy wells, some specifically clootie wells. Although bonfires were lit at some of the open-air gatherings in Ireland, they were rare and incidental to the celebrations. Evidence shows that the religious rites included an offering of the first of the corn, a feast of the new food and of bilberries, the sacrifice of a bull and a ritual dance-play. Much of this would have taken place on top of hills and mountains.

Modern Celebration of Lughnasadh

From the 18th century to the mid-20th century, many accounts of Lughnasadh customs and folklore were recorded. In 1962 The Festival of Lughnasa, a study of Lughnasadh by folklorist Máire MacNeill, was published. MacNeill studied surviving Lughnasadh customs and folklore as well as the earlier accounts and medieval writings about the festival. She concluded that the evidence testified to the existence of an ancient festival around 1 August. In Ireland, some of the mountain pilgrimages have survived. By far the most popular is the Reek Sunday pilgrimage at Croagh Patrick, which attracts tens of thousands of pilgrims each year. The Puck Fair is held each year in early August in the town of Killorglin, County Kerry. It has been traced as far back as the 16th century but is believed to be a survival of a Lughnasadh festival. At the beginning of the three-day festival, a wild goat is brought into the town and crowned ‘king’, while a local girl is crowned ‘queen’. The festival includes traditional music and dancing, a parade, arts and crafts workshops, a horse and cattle fair, and a market. It draws a great number of tourists each year. In recent years, other towns in Ireland have begun holding yearly Lughnasa Festivals and Lughnasa Fairs. Like the Puck Fair, these often include traditional music and dancing, arts and crafts workshops, traditional storytelling, and markets. Such festivals have been held in Gweedore, Sligo, Brandon, Rathangan and a number of other places. Craggaunowen, an open-air museum in County Clare, hosts a yearly Lughnasa Festival at which historical re-enactors demonstrate elements of daily life in Gaelic Ireland. It includes displays of replica clothing, artefacts, weapons and jewelry. A similar event has been held each year at Carrickfergus Castle in County Antrim. In the Irish diaspora, survivals of the Lughnasadh festivities are often seen by some families still choosing August as the traditional time for family reunions and parties, though due to modern work schedules these events have sometimes been moved to adjacent secular holidays, such as the Fourth of July in the United States. In the Northeastern United States, this is often the time of the blueberry harvest, while in the Pacific Northwest the blackberries are often the festival fruit. This event being variously named Garland Sunday, Bilberry Sunday, Mountain Sunday and Crom Dubh Sunday. The custom of climbing hills and mountains at Lughnasadh has survived in some areas, although it has been re-cast as a Christian pilgrimage.

Lughnasadh, or similar festivities based on it, is observed by some modern Pagans in general and Celtic Neopagans in particular. Despite their common name, such Lughnasadh celebrations can differ widely. While some attempt to emulate the historic festival as much as possible, others base their celebrations on many sources, the Gaelic festival being only one of them. Neopagans usually celebrate Lughnasadh on 1 August in the Northern Hemisphere and 1 February in the Southern Hemisphere, often beginning their festivities at sunset the evening before. Some Neopagans celebrate it at the astronomical midpoint between the summer solstice and autumn equinox, or the full moon nearest this point. Some Neopagans sees this festival as one of the two most auspicious times for Handfasting, the other being at Beltane. Some Pagans mark the holiday by baking a figure of the “corn god” in bread, and then symbolically sacrificing and eating it. Wiccans use the names “Lughnasadh” or “Lammas” for the first of their autumn harvest festivals. It is one of the eight yearly “Sabbats” of their Wheel of the Year, following Midsummer and preceding Mabon. It is seen as one of the two most auspicious times for handfasting, the other being at Beltane. Some Wiccans mark the holiday by baking a figure of the “corn god” in bread, and then symbolically sacrificing and eating it.

Celtic Reconstructionists who follow Gaelic traditions tend to celebrate Lughnasadh at the time of “first fruits”, or on the full moon nearest this time. In the Northeastern United States, this is often the time of the blueberry harvest, while in the Pacific Northwest the blackberries are often the festival fruit. In Celtic Reconstructionism, Lughnasadh is seen as a time to give thanks to the spirits and deities for the beginning of the harvest season, and to propitiate them with offerings and prayers not to harm the still-ripening crops. The god Lugh is honored by many at this time, and gentle rain on the day of the festival is seen as his presence and his bestowing of blessings. Many Celtic Reconstructionists also honor the goddess Tailtiu at Lughnasadh, and may seek to keep the Cailleachan from damaging the crops, much in the way appeals are made to Lugh.

Lughnasadh Reference Guide

Pronunciation“LOO-nuh-suh”, “LOO-nah-sah”, “LUHG-nahs-ahd” | LAHmahs (Lammas)
OriginCeltic
EventMarks the beginning of the Celtic Autumn and of the harvest season
TimeHalfway between the Summer Solstice and Autumn Equinox
Traditional DateAugust 1 (Northern Hemisphere) | February 1 (Southern Hemisphere)
Astrological TimingSun at 15o of Leo (Northern) | Sun at 15o of Aquarius (Southern)
ConnectionLammas (August 1)
Alternate NamesLammas, Freyfaxi (Ásatrú), August Eve
Cultural NamesIrish Gaelic (Goídelc): Lugnasad (“Assembly of Lugh”) or Brón Trogain (“Sorrow of the Earth”) Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig): Lùnastal Manx Gaelic (Gaelg): Luanistyn / Laa Luanistyn (“Day of Lughnasadh”) Welsh (Cymraeg): Gŵyl/Calan Awst (“Festival/First Day of August”) Proto-Celtic (Common Celtic): *leug- (“blackness”), *lewko-, *lewg- (“to shine”) Irish Reconstructionist: Lúgnasad, Lá Lúnasa, Lughnasa, Lughnasadh
Spiritual FocusGratitude, abundance, blessings, the necessity and inevitability of both life and death, celebration, harvest, reflection, introspection, discernment, sacrifice
Magickal FocusProsperity, gratitude, abundance, strength, growth, protection
Suggested WorkingsHonoring the Ancestors, personal transformation, contact with the dead
Female ArchetypesMother aspects of the Goddess, Earth Goddess, Water Goddess, Pregnant/Exhausted/Selfless Mother, Nurturer, Land Spirit, Established Queen
Male ArchetypesFather God, Earth God, Solar God, Warrior, Protector, Sacrificial God, Dying God, Spirit of Vegetation, Newly Crowned King
Celtic GoddessesDanu (Irish), Macha (Irish), Tailtiu (Irish)
Celtic GodsLugh (Irish)
ColorsYellow, Brown, Gold, Green
HerbsBlackberry, Bilberry, Allspice, Basil, Rosemary, Garlic, Bay, Fennel
TreesApple, Hazel, Holly, Oak
FlowersMarigold, Sunflower, Poppy, Rose, Aster, Cornflower
Incense & Oil ScentsCinnamon, Apple, Blackberry, Marigold, Patchouli
Crystals & StonesCitrine, Topaz, Carnelian, Onyx, Quartz, Diamond, Peridot, Sugilite
MetalsGold, Brass
AnimalsLion, Stag, Eagle, Dog, Squirrel
Tarot KeysStrength, The Sun, 7th and 10th Pentacles, 4th Wands, Justice, Wheel of Fortune
Symbols & ToolsCorn Dolly, Rowan Cross, Cornucopia, Pentacle
FoodApples, Corn, Bread, Squash, Grains, Nuts, Berries, Potatoes
DrinksWine, Mead, Apple Cider
ActivitiesMaking bread, community fairs, reunions, gatherings, feastings, harvesting crops or wild herbs, making offerings to Gods and Ancestors, communicating with the dead, reflection and introspection, abundance magick, protection magick, sacrifice, games, competitions, expressing gratitude, celebrating success
Acts of ServiceSharing food and other necessities with those in need, sprucing up neglected cemeteries, offering your time and energy to help another person ease their burdens or lighten their workload, helping out at a community garden, doing yard work for elderly neighbors, providing social opportunities for those who are lonely or isolated

Rite of Lughnasadh


This seasonal rite is part of the Step 11 of the Druidcraft Ritual order. You’ll need these additional items:

• 2 Candles (Yellow and Orange)

Declare the Statement of Purpose:

I am doing a rite today to celebrate Lughnasadh
The Wheel of the Year turns on and on
Bringing us all to and from each Season
And from and to another
What will be is, What was will be
All time is here and now in this Sacred Space

I now pause to watch the Wheel turn
And cast this Circle on this blessed eve
To celebrate the First Harvest
When the bounties of Nature give of themselves
So that we may survive
I come here now to praise
The bountiful Goddess
And the benevolent God
I wish to give thanks
For the bounty of the fertile Earth
And to feel myself as a part of
The relentlessly turning wheel
Of life, death and rebirth

O Great God of the Ripening Fields
Who has been known as Lugh
Grant me the understanding of sacrifice
As you prepare to deliver yourself
To the lands of Eternal Summer

O Great Goddess of the Corn and Grain
Who has been known as Brighid
Teach me the secrets of rebirth
As the Sun wanes in its strength
And the nights grow cold

Light the yellow and the orange candles, and say:

Blessed be the bounty of the harvest
Fruit of the womb of the Goddess
Blessed be Mother Earth
Today I honor the deities in their aspects
As the Grain God and the Corn Mother

Witch Recipe: Lugh’s Quick Bread

The Sun God, Lugh, as John Barleycorn, is the living Spirit of the corn, or grain. As the corn is cut so John Barleycorn is cut down also. He surrenders his life so that others may be sustained by the grain, so that the life of the community can continue. He is both eaten as the bread and is then reborn as the seed returns to the earth. The first sheaf of corn is supremely important, produces the first (and best) seed and assurance of future harvest. Death and rebirth. Everything dies in its season. Everything is reborn. This is our whisper of immortality. And the wonderful bittersweet of Lughnasadh. The Lughnasadh Sabbat is a time to celebrate the first of three harvest celebrations (Mabon and Samhain being the other two) in the Craft. It marks the start of the harvest cycle and relies on the early crops of ripening grain, and also any fruits and vegetables that are ready to be harvested. It is therefore greatly associated with bread as grain is one of the first crops to be harvested. Pagans give thanks and honor to all Gods and Goddesses of the Harvest, as well as those who represent Death and Resurrection.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings
Total Time: 1 hr. 20 min (Preparation: 20 min. | Cooking Time: 60 min).

Ingredients:

• 3 Cups Self-Rising Flour (If you do not have self-rising flour, make your own. To make 1 cup of self-rising flour, mix 1 cup of all-purpose white or unbleached flour with 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder and ½ teaspoon salt.)
• ½ Cup Sugar
• 12 oz Beer (room temperature)
• 2 Teaspoon Melted Butter

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375o F.
  2. Grease and flour large 9″×4″x4″ loaf pan.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, and salt.
  4. Slowly stir in the beer and mix just until combined.
  5. Mix well the ingredients. The mixture should be sticky.
  6. Pour into the loaf pan and bake for 55-60 minutes.
  7. At the last 3 minutes of baking, remove from oven, brush the top of the loaf with butter and return to oven.

Flavor Variations:

• Dill & Chive – Add 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh dill (or 2 teaspoons dried dill) and 1/4 cup chopped fresh chives to the basic mix.
• Dill & Cheese – Add 2 teaspoons dill, 1 cup finely grated sharp cheddar cheese to the basic mix.
• Garlic & Herb – Add 1 teaspoon dried rosemary, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, 1 teaspoon dried thyme, and 2 minced garlic cloves (or 1 teaspoon garlic flakes) to the basic mix. For fresh herbs, use 1 chopped Tablespoon of each.
• Rosemary & Feta – Add 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary and 3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese (about 4 ounces) to the basic mix.
• Other Additions – Any dried or fresh herbs; 1/2 cup freshly grated asiago (or other hard cheese); 1/2 cup finely chopped onion, 1/2 cup chopped scallions; 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley, 1/2 cup whole wheat flour or 1/2 cup oats in place of 1/2 cup of the all-purpose flour.

Witch Craft: Making a Corn Dolly

In ancient Europe it was customary around Lughnasadh, at harvest time, to leave a small portion of the grain in the field, often twisted or tied into the shape of a man or the symbol of a god or goddess. Sometimes, it was even dressed in men’s or women’s clothes, kept in a cradle, or hung atop a pole. This bundle or effigy (immortalized in Burns’ ballad of John Barleycorn) was believed to contain the essence of the spirit of the grains – a representation of the solar deity who would be burned and ‘reborn’ as the spring grain. Today, corn dollies are seen as emblems of abundance. At the end of the season (at Yule), the bundle would be ritually sacrificed, burnt, or plowed under to ensure the year’s crops.

Supplies:

• 5-10 Dried Corn Husks (makes 1 doll)
• String for Tying the Husks (like Raffia)
• Yarn or other Natural Material for Hair (like Corn Tassels or Shredded Husks)
• Scissors
• Bucket for Soaking Corn Husks

Instructions:

  1. Simply remove the green husks from the dried corn and cut the bottom, wrinkled part off so that they will lay flat. Place them between 2 sheets of paper towels and then place them between the pages of an old book or dictionary. Allow them to dry for about 5 days to 1 week.
  2. Soak the corn husks in water for about 20 minutes to make them pliable.
  3. Take four corn husks, set two aside, and place two flat on a table, one on top of the other.
  4. Place the pieces of yarn or other material that will be the hair down the length of the corn husks with just a bit extending over the narrow ends of the husks. If you plan on painting the hair you can skip this step.
  5. For an optional fancy hat use a dried flower. Face the dried flower toward the wide ends of the husks with just a little bit of stem hanging over the narrow ends, same as the yarn. What you are aiming for is a little length of yarn and stem that you can secure in the husks with twine so that when it comes time to flip the corn husks over the “hair” and “hat” will stay in place.
  6. Now, cover the bottom husks, yarn and dried flower with the two husks that you set aside. The narrow ends of the husks should match up.
  7. Tie the narrow ends of the corn husk, yarn and stem of the dried flower together with a piece of string. I used raffia because the color blended right in with the corn husks. Tie it nice and tight so that everything is secure.
  8. Holding the knot in your hand, with the open end of the husks pointing up, turn the husks down over the knot, like you are peeling a banana. So what you have now is all the husks pointing down and the yarn hair and dried flower hat sitting on top. You may need to adjust the hat a little at this point.
  9. To create a head, tie a piece of string just below where you can feel the knot under the husks.
  10. Make the arms by taking a single husk, rolling it tightly and placing it between the two sets of husks that comprise the skirt, and just under the string that forms the head.
  11. Tie another piece of string under the rolled husk to hold the arms in place and create a waist.
  12. This just leaves the hands. You can make these by tying a piece of string at the end of each arm.
  13. For a finishing touch, snip into the ends of the corn husks at the bottom of the skirt with your scissors. As the husks dry, they will curl giving your corn husk doll a fancy hem line.
  14. To dress your corn husk doll in pants cut the skirt in half with scissors and then tie a little string around each “ankle”

Further Reading: Lughnasadh by Melanie Marquis (2015)

Midsummer (Meán Samhradh)

DateEventOriginAttributeTimeDeities Honored
June 20-21Summer SolsticeNorseMasculineDayManannán & Áine

Midsummer (“MID-summer”) is celebrated on June 20-21, during the Summer Solstice. “Midsummer” is also referred to as “Litha”, a word derived from Liða, an Old Norse word meaning “to go”. The Irish Reconstructionist name of this festival is Meán Samhradh (“Middle of Summer”). This Minor Sabbat marks the middle of the Celtic Summer, but is actually the astronomical beginning of summer manifested by the longest day and shortest night of the year. This is a time for acknowledging the fullness of nature’s bounty and also for making changes in our life. Flowers are in bloom everywhere, ready for pollination, yet once fertilized they die that the seeds and fruits may develop. At the same time, summer fruits appear, for a short but delicious season. This is a time of beauty, love, strength, energy, rejoicing in the warmth of the sun, and the promise of the fruitfulness to come. We celebrate life, and the triumph of light, but acknowledge death, and the power of the Dark Lord which now begins to grow stronger. At this time of year, our physical energy is generally at its peak, and we are active and strong. In the Lord and the Lady Narrative, the Earth is awash in the fertility of the Goddess and God. In the Oak King and the Holly King Narrative, the Oak King is at the height of his strength, while the Holly King is at his weakest. However, the Holly King defeats the Oak King and commences his reign.

The Norse God Baldur is said to have been sacrificed by an arrow made of mistletoe wood at Midsummer, the beginning of Ragnarok, and reborn at Jul (Yule). The hero Sigurd was also said to have been slain by treachery at Midsummer by his blood-brothers Hagen and Gunther. At Midsummer, the Manx people offer bundles of reeds, meadow grasses and yellow flowers to Manannán in a ritual “paying of the rent”, accompanied with prayers for his aid and protection in fishing. Áine, the Irish goddess of summer, wealth and sovereignty, was worshiped at Midsummer, at which time people lit torches of hay upon her hill of Cnoc Áine, carried them around the hill in a counterclockwise direction, and conveyed them home, bearing them aloft through their fields while waving the blessed fire over livestock and crops. Not surprisingly, Áine is also linked with the fertility of the land. Áine was extremely popular in the southern Ireland area of Munster, where she was considered the Queen of the Faeries.

Saint John’s Day was established by the undivided Christian Church in the 4th century AD, in honor of the birth of the Saint John the Baptist, at Midsummer. Jaanipäev (“Jaan’s Day” or “St. John’s Day”) was celebrated long before the arrival of Christianity in Estonia, although the day was given its name by the crusaders. The arrival of Christianity did not end pagan beliefs and fertility rituals surrounding this holiday. In 1578, Balthasar Russow wrote in his Livonian Chronicle about Estonians who placed more importance on the festival than going to church. He complained that instead, they spent their time lighting bonfires, drinking, dancing, singing and following pagan rituals. Midsummer marks a change in the farming year, specifically the break between the completion of spring sowing and the hard work of summer hay-making.

Modern Celebration of Midsummer

The undivided Christian Church designated June 24 as the feast day of the early Christian martyr St John the Baptist, and the observance of St John’s Day begins the evening before, known as St John’s Eve. These are commemorated by many Christian denominations, such as the Roman Catholic Church, Lutheran Churches, and Anglican Communion, as well as by freemasonry. In Sweden, the Midsummer is such an important festivity that there have been proposals to make the Midsummer’s Eve into the National Day of Sweden, instead of June 6. In Latvia, Midsummer’s Jāņi festival is a public holiday. In Denmark and Norway, it may also be referred to as St. Hans Day.

In Ireland, many towns and cities have ‘Midsummer Carnivals’ with fairs, concerts and fireworks either on or on the weekend nearest to Midsummer. In rural spots throughout the west, northwest, southwest and Co. Cork, bonfires are lit on hilltops on St John’s Eve. This tradition harks back to pagan times. The Irish Environmental Protection Agency, after much initial upset in the west of Ireland, has an exemption for the burning of fires outdoors during midsummer night. While the longest day of the year in Ireland falls on June 21, Midsummer is the 24th. The Ballagh, a village in Co Wexford, where the church is dedicated to St John the Baptist, holds its Patron on the first Sunday in July, this Sunday being the closest to the Old Calendar date for St John’s Day.

Midsummer festivals are celebrated throughout Scotland, notably in the Scottish Borders where Peebles holds its Beltane Week. The Eve of St. John has special magical significance and was used by Sir Walter Scott as the title, and theme, for a pseudo-ballad poem. He invented a legend in which the lady of Smailholm Tower, near Kelso, keeps vigil by the midnight fires three nights in a row (see above) and is visited by her lover; but when her husband returns from battle, she learns he slew that lover on the first night, and she has been entertained by a very physical ghost.

In Wales it is called Gŵyl Ifan, or Gŵyl Ifan Ganol Haf (St John’s of Midsummer) to distinguish it from Gŵyl Ifan Ganol Gaeaf (St John’s of Midwinter, the feast of John the Evangelist). Great agricultural fairs used to be held at this time, along with merriment and dancing. A bonfire was also kept this night. With the advent of non-conformist beliefs on the Welsh socio-political culture, this (among so many other similar festivals) suffered greatly, and its observance finally died out in south-east Wales by the end of the 19th century. However, since 1977, a folk-dance revival started in Cardiff, and is held now annually on this feast day

As forms of Neopaganism can be quite different and have very different origins, these representations can vary considerably, despite the shared name. Some celebrate in a manner as close as possible to how they believe ancient pagans observed the summer solstice, while others observe the holiday with rituals culled from numerous other unrelated sources, the Germanic culture being just one of the sources used. In Neo-druidism, the term Alban Hefin is used for the summer solstice. The name was invented by the late 18th century Welsh Romantic author and prolific literary forger Iolo Morganwg. Neopagans often makes a protective solar talisman to put up on their door, nurtures theirs crops, and harvest magickal herbs from their gardens. This is also a special time for honoring and blessing the animals. Neopagans choose that time to bring their pets and familiars into the Circle and gives them special treats and attention, letting them know how much they loves them. Games involving a show of strength, such as tug of war or wrestling are appropriate here, and are often considered a remnant of pagan customs involving the battle between the light and dark Gods. Germanic neopagans call their summer solstice festival Litha, which is part of the reconstructed Germanic calendar used by some Germanic Neopagans and takes its name from Bede’s De temporum ratione that provides Anglo-Saxon names for the months roughly corresponding to June and July as sē ǣrra līþa and sē æfterra līþa (the “early Litha month” and the “later Litha month”) with an intercalary month of līþa appearing after sē æfterra līþa on leap years. In modern times, Litha is celebrated by neopagans who emphasize what they believe to be the reconstruction of Anglo-Saxon Germanic.

Midsummer Reference Guide

Pronunciation“MID-summer”
OriginNorse
EventMarks the middle of the Celtic Summer; Astronomical beginning of Summer
TimeDuring the Summer Solstice, the longest day and shortest night of the year
Traditional DateJune 20-21 (Northern Hemisphere) | December 21-22 (Southern Hemisphere)
Astrological TimingSun at 0o of Cancer (Northern) | Sun at 0o of Capricorn (Southern)
ConnectionSt John’s Day (June 24)
Alternate NamesLitha, Midsummerblot (Ásatrú)
Cultural NamesOld Norse (Icelandic): Liða (“to go”, “pass”, “glide”) Old English (Pagan): Ærra Liþa/Æfterra Liþa (“Before Litha”/”After Litha” Old English (Anglo-Saxon): midsumer, midsumor (“Midsummer”) Proto-Germanic (Common Germanic): *midjaz (“mid-“), *sumaraz (“summer”) Welsh (Cymraeg): Alban Hefin (“Summer Solstice” or “Light of the Shore”) Irish Reconstructionist: Meán Samhradh (“Middle of Summer”), Meán Samhraidh
Spiritual FocusAbundance, cleansing, creativity, divination, fertility, fire, growth, healing, inspiration, love, motherhood, opportunity, power, success, sun, warmth
Magickal FocusAbundance, empowerment, energy, fertility, growth, health, light, love
Suggested WorkingsBidding farewell to the waxing half of the year, celebrating the sun, connecting with the Earth and/or growing things, green magick, harvesting herbs, honoring the pregnant goddess/the god at his peak, working with faeries
Female ArchetypesMother aspects of the Goddess, Earth Mother, The Fairy Queen, Goddess of fertility and pregnant Goddesses, Love Goddesses, Sun Goddesses
Male ArchetypesThe Oak King and the Holly King, the Fairy King, Fire Gods, Leafy Gods such as the Green Man, Sun Gods, Thunder Gods
Celtic GoddessesÁine (Irish), Brighid (Irish), Cerridwen (Welsh), Epona (Gallic), Macha (Irish), Rhiannon (Welsh), Sulis (Brittonic)
Celtic GodsBelenus (Gallic), Beli Mawr (Welsh), Bilé (Irish), Hu Gadarn (Welsh), Llew (Welsh), Lugh (Irish), Manannán (Irish)
ColorsGold, Green, Orange, Red, White, Yellow
HerbsCinnamon, Foxglove, Lavender, Mistletoe, Mugwort, Rosemary, St. John’s Wort, Vervain, Yarrow
TreesElder, Hazel, Oak, Rowan
FlowersChamomile, Daisy, Heather, Marigold, Meadowsweet, Rose, Sunflower
Incense & Oil ScentsCinnamon, Heliotrope, Lavender, Lemon, Grass, Orange, Peppermint, Pine, Rose, Sandalwood, Spearmint
Crystals & StonesCarnelian, Citrine, Diamond, Emerald, Jade, Peridot, Tiger’s Eye, Lapis Lazuli
MetalsCopper, Gold
AnimalsBee, Bull, Butterfly, Cow, Hawk, Eagle, Horse, Swallow, Wren
Tarot KeysThe Empress, The Emperor, The Sun, Strength
Symbols & ToolsBalefire or Bonfire, Cauldron, Faeries, Rosettes and Roses, Sacred Wells, Solar Cross/Sun Wheel, Spinning Wheels, Spirals, Wand
FoodBerries, Cheese, Cinnamon, Grapes, Honey, Lemons, Oranges, Peaches, Pears, Pine Nuts, Pumpernickel Bread, Spinach, Sunflower Seeds, Sun-dried Tomatoes
DrinksAle, Lemonade, Mead, Milk, Mint Tea, Sun Tea, Wine
ActivitiesBonfire, circle dancing, communication with faeries, divination, feasting, gathering herbs, handfasting, staying awake the entire night
Acts of ServiceGive money or time to solar energy project, plant trees

Rite of Midsummer

This seasonal rite is part of the Step 11 of the Druidcraft Ritual order. You’ll need these additional items:

• 1 Yellow Candle (Preferably from Beeswax)

Declare the Statement of Purpose:

I am doing a rite today to celebrate Midsummer
The time of the Sun’s greatness, strength
And the zenith of the year has come
Into this joy-filled moment of warmth
And as we feel the warmth of his rays
He softly kisses the Earth’s skin
With the warm ardor of self-knowledge
She has busied herself in her growing
And fertile strength and now lies before him
In all her mature splendor
Still and secure in the beauty of fulfillment
She offers life grown from her body

And his warmth back to that same life
Which is part of her as he shines golden light
On all who partake of the wealth
I raise my voice with the teeming
Giving and receiving life all around me
And sing back to his kissing rays

Light, oh golden light
I feel your coming and know your going
The time of your great shining is here
And in the fire of my spirit
I nurture your flame, I lie long and rest
Under the kisses of your rays
And know the fulfillment of
Fertility brought to fruition
I recline in joyful bounty and rejoice
To feel your light on my skin as she does
Now to the life of all I offer all the life I have
One to the other given and received
In a constant cycle of the wheel
Whose turning never ceases

Light the yellow candle, and say:

I fill this place with the life-giving rays of the Sun
As this candle burns
All darkness of spirit is banished
The heat of the sun chases it out and away
Welcome to the heat of the Sun!

Witch Recipe: Áine’s Lavender Cookies

Áine is a goddess of summer, wealth, sovereignty, love, growth and cattle. She is a Sun Goddess and the feast of Midsummer Night was held in her honor, for at Midsummer, farmers would walk through their fields and wave their torches, in the hope that Áine and her sacred fire might grant them an abundant harvest. Áine has always been known as an extremely versatile Goddess. She was both a Sun Goddess, and a Moon Goddess, with all the varying characteristics that belong to each. While she may be known by many different titles, Áine will always be thought of, first and foremost, as a Goddess of Love, and even more importantly, as the Faerie Queen who, in mating with her mortal lovers, created a whole new Faerie-Human race. What better Goddess to honor on Midsummer than Áine, The Faery Queen of Munster? And what better way to honor her than with these lavender cookies that bring a sense of peace and calmness not only while baking but while eating them as well? So bake up a batch of cookies to honor the goddess Áine and spend your Midsummer night laying out on a blanket under the stars, perhaps with a bottle of lavender wine. Relax and let the magick around you come to life.

Yield: A large batch of cookies
Total Time: 25 min. (Preparation: 15 min. | Cooking Time: 10 min).

Ingredients:

• 2 Cups Butter
• 5 Cups Sugar
• 8 Eggs
• 2 Teaspoon Vanilla
• ½ Cup Finely Chopped Dried Lavender
• 6 Cups Flour
• 4 Teaspoon Baking Powder
• Lavender Colored Sugar Sprinkles

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350o F.
  2. Cream together butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla.
  3. Add in all dry ingredients except lavender.
  4. Mix well.
  5. Add in the lavender and stir just until mixed well, do not over blend.
  6. Using a teaspoon, drop the cookies onto a cookie sheet about 3 inches apart – they will spread.
  7. Dust cookies with lavender colored sugar sprinkles
  8. Bake 10-12 minutes until edges are lightly browned.
  9. Remove from pan immediately and let cool.
  10. Don’t forget to leave a plate of cookies in your faery garden as an offering to the faeries!

Witch Craft: Making a Lavender Dream Pillow

Midsummer, is the season of the summer solstice, and it’s a great time for herb gardens, because there are buds and blooms everywhere. This is a powerful time to gather herbs, and also to prepare and use them. Any fresh herb can be dried simply by picking it and tying it up in small bundles in a well-ventilated area. Once they are completely dry store them in airtight jars in a dark place. If you have lavender growing, you’re probably blessed with all kinds of purple abundance right now! Lavender is associated with calming and peacefulness, so Midsummer is a perfect time to make yourself a lavender pillow, to help bring about relaxing dreams.

Supplies:

• Fabric in pattern of your choice
• Cotton, polyfill, or other stuffing material
• Dried lavender
• Needle
• Thread
• Scissors

Instructions:

  1. To assemble the pillow, place the fabric with the right sides together.
  2. Cut out the shape you’d like your pillow to be — square, circle, whatever.
  3. Pin the material together, and sew most of the way around the edges.
  4. Be sure to leave a gap where you can stuff the pillow.
  5. Turn the material right side out, and fill with cotton or polyfill.
  6. Add a handful of dried lavender, and stitch the opening closed.
  7. As you sew, you may wish to offer a blessing by chanting:

When at night I go to sleep
Sweet dreams will come to me
Lavender scent bring peaceful rest
As I will so it shall be!

Tips: If you’re making this pillow as a project for a child, you can use felt and cut out shapes of the child’s favorite things. Appliqué them on the pillow. Ask your child what sorts of things he or she would like to dream about, and use these shapes as a guideline.

Further Reading: Midsummer by Deborah Blake (2015)

Beltane (Bealtaine)

DateEventOriginAttributeTimeDeity Honored
Apr. 30-May 1Celtic SummerCelticFeminineEveBilé

Beltane (“BEY-al-TIN-ah”) is celebrated from sunset of 30th April to sunset of 1st May, halfway between the Spring Equinox and the Summer Solstice. If working by the moon, it is the first full moon when the sun is in Taurus. “Beltane” is derived from Lá Bealtaine, an Irish Gaelic term meaning “Day of Beltane/May”. Some derives the word from the God Bel (“bright”) and the Irish Gaelic word tene (“fire”). This Major Sabbat marks the beginning of the Celtic Summer or the lighter half of the year. This is a time for acknowledging the impregnation of nature and for doing fertility rituals connected with the waxing power of the sun. Like Samhain, it is a time when the veil is thin between the worlds, a time to communicate with spirits, particularly at this time nature spirits. In the Lord and the Lady Narrative, Beltane marks the emergence of the young God into manhood. Stirred by the energies at work in nature, He desires the Goddess. They fall in love, lie amongst the grasses and blossoms, and unite. The Goddess becomes pregnant of the God.

The Daoine Sídhe were thought to be especially active at Beltane and the goal of many Beltane rituals was to protect humans from these beings, as well as from witches who may try to cause harm. Gatherings would be accompanied by a feast, and some of the food and drink would be offered to the aos sí. Beltane is a favored time to honor Bel, the Gallic God of the Sun and Cernunnos, the Gallic Horned God associated with fertility and vegetation. On Beltane eve, rituals were performed to protect the cattle, crops and people, and to encourage growth. The Celts would build two large fires, Bel Fires, lit from the nine sacred woods. The Bel Fire is an invocation to Bilé, the Celtic Sun God, to bring His blessings and protection to the tribe. The herds were ritually driven between two needfires (fein cigin), built on a knoll. The people and their cattle would walk around the bonfire, or between two bonfires, and sometimes leap over flames or embers. The herds were driven through to purify, bring luck and protect them as well as to ensure their fertility before they were taken to summer grazing lands. All household fires would be doused and then re-lit from the Beltane bonfire. Doors, windows, byres and the cattle themselves would be decorated with yellow May flowers, because they evoked fire. In parts of Ireland, people would make a May Bush; a thorn bush decorated with flowers, ribbons and bright shells. A Scottish legend tells that between Samhain and Beltane, The Cailleach rules on the world. Her retreat is celebrated by a Beltane cake.

Holy wells were often visited at Beltane, as Beltane dew was thought to bring beauty and maintain youthfulness. Visitors to holy wells would pray for health while walking sunwise around the well. They would then leave offerings; typically coins or clooties. The first water drawn from a well on Beltane was seen as being especially potent. At dawn on Beltane, maidens would roll in the dew or wash their faces with it. It would also be collected in a jar, left in the sunlight, and then filtered. The dew was thought to increase sexual attractiveness, maintain youthfulness, and help with skin ailments.

Modern Celebration of Beltane

From the late 18th century to the mid-20th century, many accounts of Beltane customs were recorded by folklorists and other writers. John Jamieson, in his Etymological Dictionary of the Scottish Language (1808) describes the Beltane customs which persisted in the 18th and early 19th centuries in parts of Scotland, which he noted were beginning to die out. In the 19th century, folklorist Alexander Carmichael (1832–1912), collected the song Am Beannachadh Bealltain in his Carmina Gadelica, which he heard from a crofter in South Uist. As a festival, Beltane had largely died out by the mid-20th century, although some of its customs continued and in some places it has been revived as a cultural event. In Ireland, Beltane fires were common until the mid-20th century, but the custom seems to have lasted to the present day only in County Limerick (especially in Limerick itself) and in Arklow, County Wicklow. However, the custom has been revived in some parts of the country. Some cultural groups have sought to revive the custom at Uisneach and perhaps at the Hill of Tara. The lighting of a community Beltane fire from which each hearth fire is then relit is observed today in some parts of the Gaelic diaspora, though in most of these cases it is a cultural revival rather than an unbroken survival of the ancient tradition. In some areas of Newfoundland, the custom of decorating the May Bush is also still extant. The town of Peebles in the Scottish Borders holds a traditional week-long Beltane Fair every year in June, when a local girl is crowned Beltane Queen on the steps of the parish church. Like other Borders festivals, it incorporates a Common Riding, an equestrian tradition in the Scottish Borders in Scotland. Since 1988, a Beltane Fire Festival has been held every year during the night of 30 April on Calton Hill in Edinburgh, Scotland. While inspired by traditional Beltane, this festival is a modern arts and cultural event which incorporates myth and drama from a variety of world cultures and diverse literary sources. Two central figures of the Bel Fire procession and performance are the May Queen and the Green Man.

Beltane and Beltane-based festivals are held by some Neopagans. As there are many kinds of Neopaganism, their Beltane celebrations can be very different despite the shared name. Some try to emulate the historic festival as much as possible. Other Neopagans base their celebrations on many sources, the Gaelic festival being only one of them. Neopagans usually celebrate Beltane on 30 April – 1 May in the Northern Hemisphere and 31 October – 1 November in the Southern Hemisphere, beginning and ending at sunset. Some Neopagans celebrate it at the astronomical midpoint between the spring equinox and summer solstice (or the full moon nearest this point). In the Northern Hemisphere, this midpoint is when the ecliptic longitude of the Sun reaches 45 degrees. Wiccans use the name Beltane or Beltaine for their May Day celebrations. It is one of the yearly Sabbats of the Wheel of the Year, following Ostara and preceding Midsummer. Unlike Celtic Reconstructionism, Wicca is syncretic and melds practices from many different cultures. In general, the Wiccan Beltane is more akin to the Germanic/English May Day festival, both in its significance (focusing on fertility) and its rituals (such as maypole dancing). Some Wiccans enact a ritual union of the May Lord and May Lady. As Beltane is the Great Wedding of the Goddess and the God, it is a popular time for Handfastings. Bonfires continued to be a key part of the festival in the modern era. All hearth fires and candles would be doused before the bonfire was lit, generally on a mountain or hill. Many observe the traditional bonfire rites, to whatever extent this is feasible where they live.

Celtic Reconstructionists strive to reconstruct the pre-Christian religions of the Celts. Their religious practices are based on research and historical accounts, but may be modified slightly to suit modern life. They avoid modern syncretism and eclecticism (i.e. combining practices from unrelated cultures). Celtic Reconstructionists usually celebrate Lá Bealtaine when the local hawthorn trees are in bloom. Many observe the traditional bonfire rites, to whatever extent this is feasible where they live. This may involve passing themselves and their pets or livestock between two bonfires, and bringing home a candle lit from the bonfire. If they are unable to make a bonfire or attend a bonfire ceremony, torches or candles may be used instead. They may decorate their homes with a May Bush, branches from blooming thorn trees, or equal-armed rowan crosses. Holy wells may be visited and offerings made to the spirits or deities of the wells. Traditional festival foods may also be prepared.

Beltane Reference Guide

PronunciationBEY-al-TIN-ah
OriginCeltic
EventMarks the beginning of the Celtic Summer
TimeHalfway between the Spring Equinox and the Summer Solstice
Traditional DateMay 1 (Northern Hemisphere) | November 1 (Southern Hemisphere)
Astrological TimingSun at 15o of Taurus (Northern) | Sun at 15o of Scorpio (Southern)
ConnectionMay Day (May 1), Walpurgis Night (Germanic), Roodmas (May 3)
Alternate NamesMay Day (Ásatrú), May Eve
Cultural NamesIrish Gaelic (Goídelc): Beltaine / Céad-shamh(ain) (“first (of) summer”) Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig): (Lá) Bealltainn, Bealltuinn Manx Gaelic (Gaelg): (Laa) Boaltinn/Boaldyn Welsh (Cymraeg): Calan Mai/Haf (“Beginning of May/Summer”) Proto-Celtic (Common Celtic): *belo-te(p)niâ (“bright fire”) Irish Reconstructionist: Bealtaine, Belteine
Spiritual FocusAbundance, creation, fertility, growth, love, psychic ability, purification, sexuality, union
Magickal FocusAbundance, cooperation, fertility, growth, love, manifestation, passion, protection, purification, union
Suggested WorkingsBuilding sacred fires, giving offerings, handfastings, protecting plants, animals, people and possessions, visiting sacred wells, walking the boundaries of one’s property, working with faeries
Female ArchetypesMaiden and Mother aspects of the Goddess, Earth Goddess, Goddesses associated with water, plants or animals
Male ArchetypesThe lusty young god getting ready to fertilize the goddess earth with his seed, Dying and resurrecting gods, Gods associated with fire, plants or animals, Green Man, Horned God, Lord of the Wild Wood, Sun gods
Celtic GoddessesDanu (Irish)
Celtic GodsBelenus (Gallic), Beli Mawr (Welsh), Bilé (Irish), Cernunnos (Gallic), Lugh (Irish)
ColorsBrown, Green, Pink, White, Yellow
HerbsLemon, Mint, Mugwort, Woodruff
TreesBirch, Hawthorn, Oak, Pine, Willow
FlowersDaisy, Ivy, Lily of the Valley, Rose, Violet
Incense & Oil ScentsFrankincense, Jasmine, Lemon, Mint, Pine, Rose, Woodruff, Ylang-ylang
Crystals & StonesBloodstone, Emerald, Rose Quartz, Sapphire
MetalsCopper, Gold, Silver
AnimalsBee, Cow, Dove, Frog, Rabbit
Tarot KeysThe Emperor, The Empress, The High Priestess, The Magician
Symbols & ToolsFlowers, Maypole, Priapic wand
FoodHoney, Light cakes
DrinksLemonade, May Wine (White Wine, Lemon Slices, Woodruff Milk)
ActivitiesBringing in the May by collecting foliage the night before and placing it in the home in time for the Beltane sunrise, decorating a May Bush, distributing May baskets, divination, feasting, fertility magick, handfastings and other romantic partnerships, lighting bonfires, making offerings to deities, ancestors and faeries, Maypole dancing, nature walks, purification ceremonies, protection rituals, sacred sex, singing, visiting wells
Acts of ServiceBeautifying a neighbor’s living quarters with fresh flowers and herbs, planting a tree, removing litter from an outdoor area, working on a community garden

Rite of Beltane

This rite can be included in your usual seasonal ritual order.

Additional items:

• 2 Green Candles

Declare the Statement of Purpose:

I am doing a rite today to celebrate Beltane
The holy day of sacred marriage
Between the Goddess and the God
As nature rejoices
In a blaze of color and life

Light the surrounding rituals candles. Then, pick up the chalice filled with wine, hold upwards and say:

Blessed be the sacred union
Which manifests in all creation
Behold the womb of the Mother
The entity from which all life flows
Blessed be the Lady!
The Holy Bride of Heaven and Earth
Come unite with The Lord
In the ancient rite of sacred marriage!

Now pick up the athame, hold upwards and say:

Behold the phallus of the God
Fruitful principle of the universe
Blessed be the Lord!
The Holy Groom of Heaven and Earth
Come unite with Thy Lady Goddess
In the ancient rite of sacred marriage!

Now, symbolically re-create the Great Rite. While slowly dipping the athame into the chalice, say:

Chalice to athame
As Goddess is to God
Father is to Mother
As man is to woman
Behold the sacred union!

Replace the chalice and athame back on the altar and say:

By this act of love, all life comes to be
By this act of faith, I proclaim my place
On the eternal cycle of life!

Now toast to the Lord and Lady by drinking from the chalice.

Witch Recipe: Scottish Beltane Cake

The Beltane Cake was a Scottish custom. It was divided into a number of pieces, and distributed in great form to the company. There was one particular piece which whoever got was called cailleach beal-tine (“the Beltane carline” – a term of great reproach). Upon his being known, part of the company laid hold of him and made a show of putting him into the fire; but the majority interposing, he was rescued. In modern times, the Beltane cake celebrates sexuality and bring out the sex Divine in everyone. It is a rich, intensely flavorful cake loaded with aphrodisiac ingredients.

Yield: 8 to 10 servings
Total Time: 1 h 15 min. (Preparation: 25 min. | Cooking Time: 50 min).

Ingredients:

• 1 ¾ Cups All-Purpose Flour
• ½ Tablespoon Baking Powder
• ¼ Teaspoon Nutmeg
• ½ Teaspoon Ground Cardamom
• ½ Teaspoon Ground Cloves
• ¾ Tablespoon Ground Ginger
• 3 oz. Unsweetened Chocolate
• ½ Cup Milk
• ¼ Cup Brandy
• ½ tsp. Vanilla
• ¾ Cups Butter
• 1 Cup Dark Brown Sugar
• 3 Eggs
• ¾ Cups Amaretto Liqueur
• Confectioner Sugar

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350o F.
  2. Grease a large Bundt pan or spring-form pan
  3. Melt chocolate in a double boiler and set aside.
  4. Mix milk, brandy, and vanilla.
  5. Mix flour, baking powder, nutmeg, cardamom, cloves, and ginger in a separate bowl.
  6. Cream the butter, then add brown sugar and beat until fluffy.
  7. Add eggs, one at a time, into the butter mixture.
  8. Add cooled chocolate to the butter mixture.
  9. Add the flour mixture and milk mixture to the butter mixture a little at a time.
  10. Pour mixture into greased Bundt pan or spring-form pan.
  11. Bake for approximately 50 minutes, or until knife inserted in center of cake comes out clean.
  12. Let cake cool for 20 minutes before removing from pan, then place it into a bowl (flat side up).
  13. Using a skewer, pierce the cake with 10-12 holes, being careful not to go all the way through.
  14. Pour 1/3 of the amaretto over the cake. When that is absorbed, pour another 1/3 amaretto; when absorbed, pour the remainder onto the cake. This will take several hours.
  15. When all of it has been absorbed, gently invert the cake onto a plate (flat side down).
  16. Dust the cake with confectioner’s sugar.
  17. Keep the cake covered until serving. It will get better if you wait 8-24 hours.

Witch Craft: Making a Miniature Maypole

For centuries, Beltane or May Day rituals welcomed the arrival of spring in Germany, England, Sweden and other European countries. Americans have adopted the custom to pay tribute to nature and celebrate the change of seasons. Each May 1, according to tradition, revelers plant a tree trunk or wooden pole in the ground and decorate it with flowers and colorful ribbons. Dancers hold the ends of the ribbons and circle the pole, creating an intricate braided pattern as they go. To bring the spirit of this charming springtime ritual into your home, create a miniature maypole for tabletop display.

Supplies:

• Wooden disk, 12-inch-by-1-inch
• Sharpened pencil
• Dowel, 1/2-inch-by-12-inch
• White craft glue
• Sheet moss
• Satin ribbons in assorted colors, 1/8-inch-by-16-inch
• Dowel cap with 5/8-inch hole, 1-inch diameter
• Small silk flowers in assorted colors

Instructions:

  1. Make a pilot hole through the center of the wooden disk with a drill. Make sure the hole is large enough to hold the dowel snugly.
  2. Apply craft glue to the disk and cover it with pieces of sheet moss, taking care not to cover the hole. Allow the disk to dry completely.
  3. Glue one edge of each ribbon to one end of the dowel, spacing the ribbons evenly. Squeeze a small amount of glue into the dowel-cap hole and place the cap on the ribbon-covered end of the dowel. Apply glue to the other end of the dowel and insert it into the hole in the wooden disk. Let the glue dry.
  4. Glue small flowers to the dowel cap, covering it completely. Glue a few flowers on the top and sides of the moss-covered disk. Let the glue dry.
  5. Twist the ribbons around the pole, creating a woven pattern that covers the top 2 inches of the dowel. Drape the loose ribbons toward the edges of the disk and glue a small flower on the end of each ribbon.

Tips: When displaying the miniature maypole on a table, scatter additional silk flowers around it or place it within a spring wreath. Celebrate the progress of spring by continuing the ribbon pattern down the pole, weaving a small section each day.

Further Reading: Beltane by Melanie Marquis (2015)

Ostara (Meán Earrach)

Sorry for being so late…

DateEventOriginAttributeTimeDeity Honored
March 19-20Spring EquinoxNorseMasculineDayAengus Óg

Ostara (“OH-star-ah”) is celebrated on March 19-20, during the Spring Equinox. “Ostara” is derived from *austrō, a Proto-Germanic word meaning “dawn”, itself a descendant of the Proto-Indo-European root *aus-, meaning “to shine”. The Irish Reconstructionist name of this festival is Meán Earrach (“Middle of Spring”). This Minor Sabbat marks the middle of the Celtic Spring, but is actually the astronomical beginning of spring, manifested by the return of warmth and light of the sun. This is a time for acknowledging the awakening of the seed and also balance, renewal and rebirth in our lives. Light and dark are here in balance, but the light is growing stronger. The days grow lighter and the earth grows warmer. It is a time of birth, and of manifestation. Rites are best performed at dawn or dusk, that time between light and dark. This is the time of spring’s return, the joyful time, the seed time, when life bursts forth from the earth and the chains of winter are broken. It is a time of balance when all the elements within must be brought into new harmony. In the Lord and the Lady Narrative, the Goddess blankets the Earth with fertility, bursting forth from Her sleep, as the God stretches and grows to maturity. He walks the greening fields and delights in the abundance of nature. The Goddess and God impel the wild creatures of the Earth to reproduce. In the Oak King and the Holly King Narrative, the sun begins to wax again and the Holly King slowly regains his strength until he once again defeats the Oak King at Midsummer.

Fertility is a major theme for that festival. Ostara/Ēostre is also the name of the Saxon/Germanic goddess of dawn, rebirth and spring. Her lights are carried by hares and she represents spring fecundity, love and carnal pleasure that lead to fecundity. The egg is also associated with Ostara, as the egg is a symbol of creation and represents the cyclical rebirth of nature, equated with the gods. Reincarnation is represented by the return of the goddess Ēostre awakening from her winter hibernation, signaling the renewal of life. In the old times, eggs were left at the graves of the beloved deceased, as a way of calling for their rebirth and return. During Ostara, the Irish celebrated Aengus Óg, the young god associated with physical love and spring time. During sunrise, the Celtic Druids celebrated the Vernal Equinox on hilltops and centered on growth and the renewal of life. The Gauls feasted during Dius Aratri (“Day of the Plough”).

In Northern Europe, Easter imagery often involves hares and rabbits. The first scholar to make a connection between the goddess Eostre and hares was Adolf Holtzmann in his book Deutsche Mythologie. In his late 19th-century study of the hare in folk custom and mythology, Charles J. Billson cited numerous incidents of folk customs involving hares around the Easter season in Northern Europe. Billson said that “whether there was a goddess named Ēostre, or not, and whatever connection the hare may have had with the ritual of Saxon or British worship, there are good grounds for believing that the sacredness of this animal reaches back into an age still more remote, where it is probably a very important part of the great Spring Festival of the prehistoric inhabitants of this island”.

Modern Celebration of Ostara

The concept of *Ostara as reconstructed by Jacob Grimm and Adolf Holtzmann has had a strong influence on European culture since the 19th century, with many fanciful legends and associations growing up around the figure of the goddess in popular articles based on the speculation of these early folklorists. In some forms of Germanic neopaganism, Ēostre (or Ostara) is venerated as part of the neopagan Wiccan Wheel of the Year. Regarding this veneration, Ēostre is associated with the coming of spring and the dawn, and her festival is celebrated at the spring equinox. Because she brings renewal, rebirth from the death of winter, some Heathens associate Ēostre with Iðunn, keeper of the apples of youth in Scandinavian mythology.

Known as Alban Eilir to modern Druid traditions, this holiday is when light and darkness are again in balance, with light on the rise. It is a time of new beginnings and of life emerging further from the grips of winter. Alban Eilir is at the point of balance between Imbolc and Beltane, is at the point of balance too between day and night, and it is a perfect time to open to the quality of balance in our own lives.

Neopagans observe Ostara by honoring the spring critters, like rabbits, hares, ducks, chickens, sheep and goats. During Ostara, participants do both solitary and communal rituals, including egg races, egg hunts, egg painting, and egg eating. A common tradition is the egg decorating and the egg hunt, popularized in the United States by the president Abraham Lincoln and now strongly associated with the Christian Easter. The egg (and all seeds) contains ‘all potential’, full of promise and new life. It symbolizes the rebirth of nature, the fertility of the Earth and all creation. In many traditions the egg is a symbol for the whole universe. The ‘cosmic’ egg contains a balance of male and female, light and dark, in the egg yolk and egg white. The golden orb of the yolk represents the Sun God enfolded by the White Goddess, perfect balance, so it is particularly appropriate to Ostara and the Spring Equinox when all is in balance for just a moment, although the underlying energy is one of growth and expansion. Pagans celebrate Ostara with various rituals celebrating fertility, nature and new growth. Egg races, egg hunts, egg eating and egg painting are common activities. A man and a woman might be chosen to act out the roles of Spring God and Goddess, playing out courtship and symbolically planting seeds. This is a good time of year to start your seedlings. If you grow an herb garden, start getting the soil ready for late spring plantings. Celebrate the balance of light and dark as the sun begins to tip the scales, and the return of new growth is near.

Many modern Pagans mark Ostara as a time of renewal and rebirth. Take some time to celebrate the new life that surrounds you in nature–walk in a park, lay in the grass, hike through a forest. As you do so, observe all the new things beginning around you–plants, flowers, insects, birds. Meditate upon the ever-moving Wheel of the Year, and celebrate the change of seasons. In modern day living Ostara is also good time to start taking action on the ideas and goals you started thinking about around Yule and Imbolc. What you plant during Ostara will be ready to be harvested during the coming summer months and the sabbats of Beltane, Midsummer and Lughnasadh. Ostara is a time for balance and a good occasion for new beginnings and fresh opportunities. It is a good time to freshen up your home and life. Take time to do some spring cleaning. Cleaning isn’t just limited to your home. Take some time to declutter and clean up areas where you spend a lot of time, like your car, your computer or your work office.

Role plays with a man and a woman as god and goddess of spring show courtship rituals representing planting of seeds. There are also rebirthing rituals and earth meditation to get closer with nature. Other Ostara meals include mint chutney, roasted lamb, deviled eggs, peep ambrosia, spring sprout salad, and surprise lemon bread. Neopagans also celebrate by eating fresh spring foods like sprouts, dandelion greens, and nettles. Some undertake a fast during this period, to clear away the toxins of the winter. Many Wiccans plant an herb garden (for later use in spells) on Ostara. Home altars might feature spring flowers, seeds, jasmine or flowery incense, and the gemstone of jasper.

Ostara Reference Guide

PronunciationOH-star-ah
OriginNorse
EventMarks the middle of the Celtic Spring; Astronomical beginning of Spring
TimeDuring the Spring Equinox
Traditional DateMarch 19-20 (Northern Hemisphere) | September 22-23 (Southern Hemisphere)
Astrological TimingSun at 0o of Aries (Northern) | Sun at 0o of Libra (Southern)
ConnectionEaster (March or April), Lady Day (March 25)
Alternate NamesĒostre, Summer Finding (Ásatrú)
Cultural NamesOld Norse (Icelandic): *Ôstara, Ostarâ / Ôstarmânoth (“Month of April”) Old English (Pagan): Eastermonað/Ēosturmōnaþ (“Month of April”) Old English (Anglo-Saxon): Ēostre/Ēastre/Ēastor, austr (“Rising of Light”) Proto-Germanic (Common Germanic): *Austrō (“to shine”), *austrōn (“Dawn”) Welsh (Cymraeg): Alban Eilir (“Vernal Equinox” or “Light of the Earth”) Irish Reconstructionist: Meán Earrach (“Middle of Spring”), Meán Earraigh
Spiritual FocusBalance, birth, change, fertility, growing in strength, light, new beginnings, rebirth, rejuvenation
Magickal FocusAbundance, balance, change, fertility, growth, lust, new beginnings, new love, passion, prosperity, purification 
Suggested WorkingsBonfires, creating outdoor sacred spaces and altars, divination focused on the coming year, bringing balance to one’s life, planning and creating fairy/flower/vegetable gardens, purifying and protection the home and all who live there including animals
Female ArchetypesMaiden aspect of the Goddess, Goddess of fertility, Mother of the Earth
Male ArchetypesGod in the form of a young and lustful man who will soon become the father, God of the Wild, Green Man
Celtic GoddessesBlodewedd (Welsh), Epona (Gallic), Guinevere (Arthurian)
Celtic GodsAengus Óg (Irish), Cernunnos (Gallic), The Dagda (Irish), Mabon (Welsh)
ColorsGreen, Light Blue, Pink, Silver, Violet, White, Yellow
HerbsReed (Broom), High John the Conqueror, Irish Moss, Lemongrass
TreesAlder, Apple, Hawthorn
FlowersApple Blossom, Columbine, Crocus, Daffodil, Daisy, Honeysuckle, Jasmine, Jonquil, Lilac, Narcissus, Orange Blossom, Primrose, Rose, Tulip, Violet
Incense & Oil ScentsApple Blossom, Columbine, Crocus, Daffodil, Daisy, Honey, Honeysuckle, Jasmine, Jonquil, Lilac, Narcissus, Orange Blossom, Primrose, Rose, Rain
Crystals & StonesAgate, Aquamarine, Bloodstone, Rose Quartz
MetalsSilver
AnimalsBee, Boar, Butterfly, Chick, Hedgehog, Horse, Rabbit, Ram, Robin
Tarot KeysThe Empress, The Fool, The Magician, The Priestess, Strength, Justice, The Star
Symbols & ToolsBaskets, Eggs, Hare, Seeds
FoodAsparagus, Dill, Eggs, Honey, Lamb, Lettuce, Radishes, Seafood, Spring Onions
DrinksMead, Drinks that come in spring colors
ActivitiesBlessing seeds, cascarones, coloring eggs, egg hunts, home blessings, making plans for the year, painting or carving runes, preparing a garden, spring cleaning, start seedlings, starting garden plants indoors
Acts of ServiceAssisting with the homeless, litter pick-up, community gardening or farming

Rite of Ostara

This rite can be included in your usual seasonal ritual order.

Additional items:

• 3 Candles (Green, Yellow and Purple)
• A Bowl of Milk
• A Bowl of Honey or Sugar

Declare the Statement of Purpose:

I am doing a rite today to celebrate Ostara
The Spring Equinox, the time of balance
The time to exhale after the long darkness
I am here to welcome the time of light
I am here to honor Aengus Óg
And the healing energies
That are beginning to flow through
The soil beneath me, in the plants around me
And in the heavens above me

Light the green candle, to symbolize the blossoming earth. Say:

The Wheel of the Year turns once more
And the vernal equinox arrives
Light and dark are equal
The earth awakes from its slumber
And new life springs forth once more

Next, light the yellow candle, representing the sun. Say:

The sun draws ever closer to us
Greeting the earth with its welcoming rays
And the sky fills with light and warmth
The sun warms the land beneath our feet
And gives life to all in its path

Finally, light the purple candle, representing Aengus Óg. Say:

Spring has come! For this, I am thankful!
In the fertile fields waiting to be planted
In the sky above us, and in the earth below us
I thank you, Aengus Óg,
For all you have to offer me
Welcome, light and spring!

Meditate on the three flames and blend the milk and honey together while saying:

I make this offering to the earth
As thanks for the many blessings I have received
And those I shall someday receive

Witch Recipe: Ostara Honey Cake

A wonderful recipe to honor Spring Equinox or Ostara, is the making of Honey Cakes. This wonderful recipe is to honor the great faeries of the land. In the Middle Ages you would make enough of these cakes to eat, but also to share with your faery friends, for if you didn’t they would raise havoc unto you and your family until you share an equal amount of food with them at the Summer Solstice.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings
Total Time: 1h 45 min. (Preparation: 15 min. | Cooking Time: 60-90 min).

Ingredients:

• 1 Cup Pure Honey
• 1 Cup Applesauce
• 3 Eggs
• 1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
• ½ Teaspoon Clove
• ½ Teaspoon Nutmeg
• 2 Cups Flour
• ½ Teaspoon Baking Powder
• 1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
• 1 Cup Strong Brewed Coffee

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 320o F.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the first three ingredients.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, spices and baking soda.
  4. Add the flour mixture to the wet stuff, alternating with the coffee; beat well.
  5. Pour into a greased 9″ × 13″ pan (or, alternatively, three 8″ × 8″ square pans).
  6. Bake at 325o F for 60-90 minutes for the large pan (60 minutes for the three smaller pans)
  7. Just watch for it to be spongy and golden brown. 

Witch Craft: Egg Decorating with Natural Dyes

Ostara is a time of fertility and rebirth, and few things symbolize this as well as the egg. By coloring them with bright pinks, blues and yellows, we’re welcoming the colors of spring back into our lives, and saying farewell to winter. However, a lot of commercially available egg-dying products are made from chemicals. They may not be toxic, but on the other hand, you might not have a clue what the ingredients are. You can try using natural sources to get a variety of shades, and really celebrate the colors of the season.

Supplies:

• Eggs
• A cauldron filled with water
• White vinegar (2 tsp)

Instructions:

  1. Plan on only doing about 3-4 eggs at a time. You’ll need them to have room to bob around in the pan, and not be piled on top of one another. Before starting, poke a small hole with a pin or needle in the end of each egg. This will help keep them from cracking while they boil.
  2. Start your water boiling. Use enough to cover about an inch over the tops of the eggs, but don’t put them in the pan yet. Add 2 tsp of white vinegar, and bring the water to a boil. Once it’s boiling, add 3-4 eggs using a slotted spoon. Next, add your coloring material.
  3. To color your eggs, add one of the following items. You’ll have to experiment a little to see how much to add, but try different amounts to get different shades of each color. Once you’ve added your coloring (see below), allow to simmer for 20 minutes.
  4. After they’ve boiled, carefully remove the eggs from the pot with your slotted spoon and place them on a paper towel to dry. If you’d like them darker, you can allow them to sit overnight in the pot of dye, but the vinegar can weaken the eggs’ shells.
  5. When the eggs have dried completely, dab a little bit of vegetable oil on a paper towel and “polish” the eggs to give them some shine.
  6. Keep your eggs refrigerated until it’s time to hide them, eat them, or show them off to your friends. Never eat eggs that have been sitting at room temperature for more than two hours.

Natural Coloring:

• Red/Pink: Paprika
• Purple: Concentrated grape juice (about half a can)
• Yellow: Skins of a half dozen yellow onions
• Gold: Curry powder or turmeric
• Beige: Coffee grounds
• Light Green: Frozen chopped spinach (1/3 to 1/2 package)
• Blue: Frozen blueberries with juice (1 Cup)

Tips: If your kids are more into the coloring than the eating of Ostara eggs, consider brushing your colored eggs with a thin layer of glue, and then sprinkling some glitter on top. Use a wax crayon to make designs and sigils on the eggs before dying. The waxed area will appear as white once you’ve finished.

Further Reading: Ostara by Kerri Connor (2015)

Witchy Room Tour Update!

It’s been two years since my last Witchy Room Tour, a lot have changed since then. My room has more of a Dark Academia aesthetic! I think the light is better in this one, compared to the last, and I hope you’ll enjoy sneaking in my sacred center!

Altar Cleaning for Imbolc

I still need to find the best way to completely remove wax stains, but it is not too bad, and I like that it doesn’t feel too clean. I decided to change the symbol at the center, under the cauldron. I had the symbol for the Wheel of the Year since 2013, but now that I joined OBOD, I decided to go with Awen instead. Happy Imbolc! /|\

Introductory Gwersi 1-2 (Bardic Grade)

I don’t think I’ll review all the Gwersi, but I might comment on my favorites.

Introductory Gwers 1 (Bardic Grade)
The first Gwers start on a high note! I’m impressed with the short but highly informative historical background on the Ancient Celtic Religion and the birth of Druidism. I’ve read many historical books about the Celts, and this introduction is remarkable! Anybody reading these pages will probably wants to further their research with other books, but these words are so great that they light the spark of the need of discovery and learnings. Well done OBOD!

Introductory Gwers 2 (Bardic Grade)
What a fascinating read, again! This one explain the role of the bards, which I knew almost nothing, apart from movies or TV series (Dandelion from The Witcher is my instant favorite!). They also continue with the history of the druids, and most notably explain the Bardic Schools and teachers. The read was so fascinating that I had to look on Internet and books I own to continue my learnings. In my opinion, a well made Gwers will do just that: teach you about a subject that might have been unknown to you, plant a seed, and will makes you want to look further to explore the subject deeper. This is the last of the introductory Gwersi, and now I move ahead with the first Bardic Gwers!