Wheel of the Year
YULE, DECEMBER 21
Yule is celebrated during the Winter Solstice, usually December 21. As ancient as this holiday is, roughly 4000 years old, it remains a celebration of balance between light and dark. Here's a wonderful spell by Dorothy Morrison found in her book Yule, A Celebration Of Light & Warmth to help you understand and celebrate Yule:
The Druidic celebration of Alban Arthuan occurs today. It's a festival in which gifts and charity are showered upon the poor. Do your part by making a contribution to your favorite charity, or by taking a gift or two down to the local homeless shelter.
Today is also the shortest day of the year, and marks the Winter Solstice or Yule. Rise at dawn and dress in fire colors (yellow, gold, orange, or red), then ring bells to chase away the darkness. Hang sunflower heads on bare tree limbs to encourage the Sun and His feathered friends, and tie them with blue ribbons to honor His Mother, the Sky. When the dark of night falls, honor it with a farewell toast by saying something like:
Farewell, Darkness, you've served us well
You've brought peace and calmness with your spell
You've helped us regroup and regenerate, too
And for those reasons we honor you
The time has come, though, to say goodbye
Farewell, Darkness! Go now! Fly!
Then light the Yule log with a piece of last year's log
Goodbye Old King - hello, New
With this log we honor You
The old reign's gone - the new has begun
We welcome now the newborn Sun
When the flames begin to dance, write wishes on paper and toss them in the fire. Don't forget to kiss under the mistletoe, exchange gifts, and make merry. Above all, remember to save some Yule log ashes to boost your magic in the coming year!
- by Dorothy Morrison, Yule, A Celebration of Light & Warmth
Photography - Matt Cardy
IMBOLC, FEBRUARY 2
February 2 marks the celebration of Imbolc (or Candlemas). An Irish Gaelic word pronounced im’-molk, it is not certain where the word derives from.
"Imbolc is the first fire festival in the dark half of the wheel. This is a festival where we begin to see the light of life returning to earth, as the sun begins noticeably waxing into spring." Temperance Alden, Year of the Witch.
"Many Wiccans and scholars believe it comes from the Irish 'folcaim,' meaning washing, as the elder and spiritual leaders of Celtic times always took a ritual bath to purify themselves for the work ahead in the new season." Silja, The Green Wiccan Year
Prepare yourself for the coming year by doing your own cleansing ritual inspired from Deborah Blake's Everyday Witch A to Z:
"Put a few drops of lavender oil in the tub along with some sea salt, light a few candles, and listen to some soothing music. While you sit in the bath, feel the warm water washing away the stresses and negativity of the winter season, and visualize yourself rising like Venus out of the ocean (or Neptune) — powerful, energized, and ready to face the challenges of the season ahead."
Allow the Sun to shine brighter on your soul this year and bring back warmth and nourishment into your life. Happy Imbolc!
A little something extra from New Moon Books:
Valentine's Day - Dream Pillow To See Your Lover
You Will Need:
Rosemary leaves and/or flowers
Unbleached cotton or muslin bag
A small notebook and pencil
Before going to bed, mix equal amounts of the leaves and flowers in a large ceramic bowl using your fingers, crushing them to release the scents but gently so as not to powder them, all the while thinking about your question.
Place the bowl in the middle of your sacred altar space and light a small pink candle.
Meditate on the flame, chanting or humming for a while until you feel completely calm.
Offer the flower and leaf mixture to Morpheus and invite him to visit your dreams, to tease out the threads of truth, but only to show you the true object of your desires.
Next pack the herbs into the small bag, sew it up tightly, and place it under your pillow. Put the notebook and pencil next to your bed and then go to sleep.
The moment you wake in the morning try to remember your dreams fully and write them down: Morpheus has been known to bring very lucid dreams, but they fade very fast.
Excerpt taken from Sex Spells by Stella Damiana.
OSTARA, MARCH 20
March 20, the Spring Equinox, marks the celebration of Ostara. During the equinox both day and night are 12 hours each, symbolically ushering in balance. Ironically, this balance is a signal to prepare for the change of seasons both around us and in us. Ostara is a celebration of this change. The celebration of the miracle of rebirth.
The following are a couple excerpts from two well written books to help you understand Ostara:
Excerpt from Wicca, A Year And A Day by Timothy Roderick:
Sowing Seeds Rite
What You'll Need:
A small planter/pot
A silver colored coin
A sunflower seed
A 4 x 4 inch square of green paper
A red ink pen
"Using a red ink pen, write on your 4 x 4 inch square of paper a wish that you'd like to see begin sprouting during the spring season. Place it at the bottom of a planter or clay pot. Next, place a silver colored coin on top of the paper. As you place the coin in the bottom of the pot, say:
Silver moon inside this dish
Wax and wane, but grant my wish!
Now, cover the coin and the wish with potting soil. Hold the sunflower seed between the palms of your hands. Close your eyes and imagine your wish coming true. Once you have a strong mental image, begin to exhale thrice upon the seed in your hands. Quickly plant the seed just an inch or so from the top of the soil. Cover it over and water it. Keep the pot in a warm, sunny spot. Tend to the sunflower seed daily so that it can grow. Know that as the seed sprouts and unfolds, so will your wish!"
Photo Courtesy of Engledow Group
Excerpt from Ostara by Edain McCoy:
“The equal-armed cross, in all its many forms, has represented the four major turning points in the solar year since before history and the written word. Pagan and Wiccan practitioners often refer to the equal-armed cross by the term "sun wheel," as it marks the turning points of the sun: summer solstice and winter solstice, autumnal equinox and vernal equinox.
Another equal-armed cross synonymous with Ostara is the crossroad. The Greek Crone Goddess, Hecate, often cited as the model for the secular Halloween witch, was another deity of the crossroad. A goddess of the autumn and winter aspect of the crossroad, she was claimed to have been seen during the new moon walking with her black dogs at the local crossroads. She could level curses or offer blessings to those who passed her by, depending upon that person's karmic situation.
To gain protection, go to each of the four quadrants of the crossroad and, starting at the southeast quadrant and moving counterclockwise, make a large X on each quadrant with your finger or small stick found near the crossroad. Leave a small gift for the spirits of the crossroad, then chant a prayer to Hecate to look after you, such as:
Blessed be the ancient crone,
accept this offering at your throne;
bless me, Hecate, I ask you with love,
protect me always from below and above.
I ask your guidance as I go through each day,
I ask your help to pave my way;
make safe the path without a hitch,
trusting in you, Goddess of the Witch."
BELTANE, MAY 1
The best way to understand Beltane, celebrated May 1, is to compare it with its opposite sabbat, Samhain, October 31. Beltane, derived from the Irish Gaelic word Bealtaine, means the month of May. It is a time to celebrate life, passion, and love as opposed to Samhain, which is death and rebirth.
In Ashleen O’Gaea’s book Celebrating the Seasons of Life: Beltane to Mabon there are a couple points of interest that I have included to help you celebrate this magical holiday:
Mirrors symbolize Beltane too. Why? Well, mirrors have always seemed like portals to other worlds – if no other examples come to mind, think about Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass. At Beltane, the weather is beginning to be lovely: Things are blossoming, sweet frangrances fill the air, the clouds are fluffy, animal families are cavorting, and the world is young and wonderful. A mirror in a field or meadow at Beltane would reflect something very similar to what we imagine the Summerland to look like. If you were able to step through that mirror, you might find yourself in the Land of Youth! So in their portal aspect, mirrors are symbols of Beltane and the Otherworld Beltane reflects.
Take Beltane’s vow before you dance the Maypole…
On the Wheel of the Year now does Summer begin:
The world is beribboned, a gay harlequin.
My heart I will open, delight I’ll empower,
That in all of my steps, (state your wish) shall flower.
I vow to go dancing, I now promise this:
To invoke and release my ancestors’ bliss.
This task I do claim as I mark this Beltane,
And swear’t by the magical and the mundane.
by Ashleen O’Gaea, Celebrating the Seasons of Life: Beltane to Mabon
Photo Courtesy of activearts.org.uk
BELTANE FERTILITY SPELL FOR PROSPERITY, HEALTH, OR LOVE
Fertility is defined by dictionary.com as 'power of reproduction.' Isn't that a great definition? So simple and yet so profound. We all have the power to reproduce on some level; if not physically, then spiritually, mentally, emotionally and, most assuredly, magickally! I'd like to share an interesting spell with you that I created based on my studies in herbal mythology and magick. Don't let its simplicity fool you. It's quite powerful. Use it to simultaneously manifest your goal and to honor the spirit of Beltane. - Lawren Leo
What You'll Need:
Apple (symbol of union between Adam & Eve)
Damiana herbe (The Great Rite/sexual union)
Patchouli herbe (attraction)
Fig oil (yin, feminine or goddess energy)
Cinnamon oil (yang, masculine or god energy)
1 White Taper Candle (represents your goal and purpose)
Mortar & Pestle (to mix all your herbes and oils together)
Begin by defining your goal and purpose.
You are only limited by your imagination.
A few examples are:
Goal of prosperity with the purpose of achieving peace of mind.
Goal of health with the purpose of a better quality of life.
Goal of love with the purpose of sharing your life with someone special.
Once you've decided, write it down. This helps to manifest or ground your wish.
In your mortar and pestle put approximately a half teaspoon of damiana and patchouli, 21 drops of fig oil and 19 drops of cinnamon oil. As you mix the ingredients imagine your goal coming to fruition as clearly as possible in your mind's eye. Feel free to use more of either oil if the mixture is too thick.
Next, get your apple and core it. Turn it upside down on a plate. Cut the apple core in half and use it as a stopper by plugging the hole in the bottom of the apple. Turn the apple right side up. With the bottom of the apple plugged securely, it's now safe to pour the mixture from your mortar in to the cored hole in the top of the apple.
Now, using the apple as a candle holder, take the white taper candle and place it in the hole. Use as much damiana and patchouli herbe as you need to secure it properly.
That's it. Fun and simple. You should now have an apple, that you've just turned into a candle holder, with a white candle in it. Light the candle while contemplating your goal and chant three times:
Earth beneath me, Sun above
I lay peacefully between warmth and love.
All is possible. Illuminate my mind.
Send life to my goal and my way I shall find.
Remember, all magical workings should be done with harm to none and for the greatest good of all. Thank the spirits and release them back to their native habitats. Let the candle burn out naturally.
Promise the God and Goddess that you will actively pursue your goal. When we help ourselves, Spirit always lends a helping hand. Good Luck!
Helpful hints to make your spell more powerful:
• Just before you read the spell, go outside and lay down on the ground on your back and soak in the sun.
• Perform on a Sunday during a waxing moon.
• Perform at 12:00 p.m., when the sun is at its zenith.
• Perform facing south.
• Perform on Beltane.
• Perform on the full moon or new moon.
• Use a bee's wax candle in place of the white taper.
by Lawren Leo, author of Dragonflame and Horse Magick
MIDSUMMER OR LITHA, JUNE 21
In the Northern Hemisphere Midsummer falls on or around June 21 and is the longest day of the year. Symbolically, this day represents solar power and strength and is celebrated when the sun reaches its zenith.
Here are a couple excerpts from Anna Franklin's book Midsummer, Magical Celebrations of the Summer Solstice to help elucidate further:
Midsummer - A Natural Time of Celebration
Every culture has, at some point in its history, marked
the time of Midummer and held it to be enchanted.
The Celts, the Norse, and the Slavs believed that there
were three "spirit nights" in the year when magic abounded
and the Otherworld was near.
The first was Halloween, the second was May Eve,
and the third was Midsummer Eve.
On this night, of all nights, fairies are most active.
As the solstice sun rises on its day of greatest power,
it draws up with it the power of herbs, standing stones,
and crystals. In the shimmering heat-haze on the horizon,
its magical energies are almost visible.
Midsummer is a natural time of celebration.
Midsummer Eve Pillow Divinations
On Midsummer Eve, various herbs and charms placed beneath your pillow are capable of bringing prophetic dreams:
To dream of an absent lover, daisy roots should be placed under the pillow.
Place a piece of mugwort gathered on Midsummer Eve beneath your pillow for prophetic dreams.
Oak flowers on Midsummer Eve and withers before daybreak, it is said. Spread a sheet beneath the tree and catch the blossoms. Place them under your pillow and dream of your future lover.
by Anna Franklin, Midsummer, Magical Celebrations of the Summer Solstice
Painting by Edward Hughes
MIDSUMMER SPELL TO EMPOWER A CRYSTAL BALL
Excerpt from Anna Franklin's book Midsummer, Magical Celebrations of the Summer Solstice:
For a magic potion that will empower your crystal ball, collect a bunch of rue from the garden, and dew from the Midsummer dawn. Crush the rue with a mortar and pestle and add nine drops of dew, saying:
Now sprinkle I the juice of rue,
With nine drops of morning dew
Glistening sun tears captured here
Let past seem present, let far seem near
Reveal what seers and witches see
As I will, so mote it be.
Rub the leaves and dew over the crystal ball and leave for a while to absorb the power of the herbs and the Midsummer sunlight. Then wash the crystal and polish it with a clean, white cloth.
LUGHNASADH OR LAMMAS, AUGUST 1
I have chosen a couple of my favorite authors to explain the celebration of Lammas:
Lughnasadh - The Harvest Festival
Lughnasadh falls between the summer solstice, when the Sun's strength is greatest, and the autumn equinox, when daylight and darkness are of equal length. It celebrates the cereal harvest and its alternative name, Lammas, is thought to come from the Anglo-Saxon Hlaef-mass meaning "loaf mass." The title "Lughnasadh," however, derives from the name of the Irish God Lugh whom contemporary pagans honor as a Sun deity, and this harvest festival marks the gathering in of the grains ripened by his or her rays.
- by Ann-Marie Gallagher, The Wicca Bible
Practice: Harvest Luck and House Protection
One magical Lughnasadh custom was bringing the prized
and highly magical first sheaf of corn across the front door
threshold of one's home. The custom would ensure luck
and protection from illness and poverty for the coming year.
In your practice today, go to the grocery store and select a
produce (or grain) item that has symbolic attributes that
represent a quality you would like to bring into your life.
Bring the produce or grain to your home, but before you bring it inside, light a brown taper candle (a color that represents the earth and harvest) and hold it in your left hand. Stand before the front door of your house, hold the food item above the lit candle flame, and say:
O Holy Lugh, Lord of the Harvest,
Bring [state your desire] into my home,
With this harvested fruit of the land.
Step over the threshold of your front door. Place the food item somewhere near the door through which you just entered and set the candle close by. Allow the candle to burn completely out. After the candle extinguishes, prepare and eat a portion of the food item in silence.
- by Timothy Roderick, Wicca, A Year And A Day
Photo Courtesy of Wiccanspells.info
MABON, SEPTEMBER 23
Here are a couple paragraphs to get you ready for Mabon, a time of harvest:
The beginning of the autumn season officially commences in September with the Autumn Equinox. As the sun enters the astrological sign of Libra, the hours of daylight and darkness are equal to one another, just like the balanced scales of Libra itself. From this point of the year, with each passing day, the daylight hours become noticeably shorter and the weather starts to cool. Autumn is a season of shadows and a time of waning light, but it is also a season of abundance, thanksgiving, and harvest.
- by Ellen Dugan, Autumn Equinox, The Enchantment of Mabon
Here's a neat spell for you to try:
Gather some ears of dried corn, a couple sunflowers,
different candles in tones of golden yellows,
and a picture of the goddess Demeter.
Learn about this particular goddess so that you can
better honor her and work with her energies properly.
Decorate your altar with all the different items you have
collected, making Demeter's picture the center piece.
Light your candle(s) and chant the spell below. Good luck!
Calling on Demeter for Abundance and Prosperity
At this most abundant time of the year,
try calling on Demeter to bring abundance
and prosperity to your life:
Great goddess Demeter, bless me with prosperity,
Send abundance in the best possible way for me.
In this time of thanksgiving and bounty across the earth,
Bless my home and family with health, success, wealth, and mirth.
Close the spell with this line:
I thank Demeter for her time and care,
I close this spell by the powers of earth, water, fire, and air.
Now, in the spirit of Demeter's kindness, give something back. This can be a simple act, not complicated. Here are some everyday suggestions:
Volunteer to chaperone on one of your kid's field trips or donate some spare change to a charity.
- by Ellen Dugan, Autumn Equinox, The Enchantment of Mabon
A brief description of the goddess Demeter as found in Dictionary Of Ancient Deities by Patricia Turner & Charles Russell Coulter:
Demeter (the Roman Ceres), is one of the great Hellenic divinities. She is the Greek goddess of agriculture and vegetation, protector of marriage, and corn goddess. The daughter of Cronus and Rhea, she was swallowed by her father and rescued by Zeus.
- by Patricia Turner & Charles Russell Coulter, Dictionary Of Ancient Deities
Pray to Demeter for protection, abundance and grounding. Use brown, gold, yellow and green candles with Earth Oil or Abundance Oil to help achieve your goal.
SAMHAIN or HALLOWEEN, OCTOBER 31
Isn't Halloween the best? Black cats, chocolate, pumpkins, chocolate, ghosts, cauldrons. And did I mention chocolate! No wonder pagans and witches consider this holiday their New Year. Not only is it the scariest day of the year, but it is paradoxically one of the most spiritual and magical days of the year as well. Here's a fun spell from Silver Ravenwolf's best selling book Halloween Spells, Recipes and Customs (available at New Moon Books):
Love Apple Lights
You can tailor the apple spell for prosperity, protection,
or spiritual prayer - or you can simply use the apple candles
to decorate the table at your next Halloween party.
What You'll Need:
1 fresh apple, as Large and glossy as you can find
An apple corer (sold in local grocery or kitchen supply stores)
1 white taper or chime candle
At fifteen minutes before midnight on Halloween Eve,
hold the apple in your hands and ask Spirit to bless the fruit.
Hum to yourself, thinking of bringing love into your life
(but don't think of a specific person - that's a no-no).
Continue to hum until the apple gets warm in your hands.
Insert the apple corer into the stem of the apple
and take out the core.
Make sure not to make the hole bigger than
the circumference of the candle.
Hold the candle in your hands and hum again, thinking of bringing
love toward you until, like the apple, the candle gets warm in your hands.
Put the candle in the apple, and say:
Great Mother Goddess
Bring love to this heart of mine.
Allow the candle to burn until it goes out, but keep a watchful eye on the apple to be sure no accidents happen.
- by Silver Ravenwolf, HALLOWEEN SPELLS, CUSTOMS, RECIPES
Here's another excerpt from Edain McCoy's book Sabbats, A Witch's Approach To Living The Old Ways to help elucidate Samhain:
"The Sabbat called Samhain (Sow-in, Sah-vin, or Sahm-hayn) has many meanings. Among these, it marks the end of the third and final harvest, it is a day to commune with and remember the dead, and it is a celebration of the eternal cycle of reincarnation.
There are two possible sources for the origin of the Samhain Sabbat's name. One is from the Aryan God of Death, Samana, and the other is from the Irish Gaelic word "samhraidhreadh," which literally means "the summer's end."
Samhain marked the end of summer and the beginning of winter for the Celts, with the day after Samhain being the official date of the Celtic New Year. The reason the Celts chose this point in time as their new year rather than Yule, when the rest of Western pagans celebrate it, was because the sun is at its lowest point on the horizon as measured by the ancient standing stones of Britain and Ireland."
-by Edain McCoy, Sabbats: A Witch's Approach To Living The Old Ways