A very good synopsis of Pagan holidays HolyDays I often find myself explaining these days to those who are curious or have misconceptions regarding what those celebrations are about. Ancient Origins has been quoted by:. By bringing together top experts and authors, this archaeology website explores lost civilizations, examines sacred writings, tours ancient places, investigates ancient discoveries and questions mysterious happenings.
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The Wheel Of The Year - The White Goddess
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The Scottish public is being consulted on a proposed national memorial in Fife for people condemned as witches. Scottish records inform that between the 16th and 18th centuries there were at least 1, The wicker man is purported to be one of the means by which the ancient druids made human sacrifices. According to a number of classical authors, the druids partook in human sacrifice, though these Runes are the characters of the earliest written alphabet used by the Germanic peoples of Europe called Futhark.
The runic alphabet was used within Germanic languages but primarily in Nordic Every culture has its sky deity or old man of the heavens. The ancient Greeks had Zeus.
The Romans had Jupiter. For the Norse , Thor essentially played this role. The Finns are no exception. Why would an ancient, folkloric, but non-Biblical, character such as a mermaid find its way into so many medieval European churches? And can such mermaid imagery and symbology be correlated with the The Flower of Life is a name for a geometrical figure composed of seven or more evenly-spaced, overlapping circles.
This figure, used as a decorative motif since ancient times, forms a flower-like Top New Stories.
The Celtic Year
But humans, at one time or another, have done just about everything in bed. As social media is abuzz with who might be cast in the next Batman movie, with concerns that some of the candidates might not be menacing enough to fill those big black boots, it might be time to Human Origins. Do you dare enter a fairy ring? The mythical mushroom portals of the supernatural. For thousands of years, the sudden appearance of a ring of mushrooms was a sure sign of otherworldly presences.
These rings would seemingly appear overnight, or travel from one location to another, The origins of human beings according to ancient Sumerian texts. Known as a nurse tree, it sheds it twigs, branches and leaves readily, creating a fertile soil for other trees to grow in. Sit with this beautiful energy to find a sense of clarity and restored direction. Say thank you to the tree! The buds will swell and the catkins spill out, bringing a sense of spring on its way!
It is easy to cut into shapes with scissors and drawn or written on with felt tips. What do you wish to make manifest and celebrate this coming year? Choose 3 things - one for yourself, one for your community or family and one for the Earth and decorate your Birch shapes with words or pictures for each. A hole can be made with an awl or large nail and they can be threaded and hung in the window or from your Birch twigs. For lots more ideas about celebrating the Earth Festivals, my newly revised Sacred Earth Celebrations is available from my website.
Samhain is the end and the beginning of the Celtic New Year, a powerful and exciting time if you value the deep transitional alchemy of this part of the cycle. Samhain is an affirmation of rebirth in the midst of death and darkness,the end and death of the old year, bringing opportunity for renewal and new beginnings. In the past Samhain pronounced Sow-ein ,was acknowledged, like Beltain, as a particularly potent time when the veil between the seen world of matter and the unseen world of spirit becomes thin. Traditionally it has always been seen as a time to explore the inner mysteries, a time for divination, omens, portents, for communication with the ancestors and the spirit realms.
It is a time of reflection, resting, drifting, dreaming and connecting to the wisdom within ourselves. Darkness was important to the Celts. To them it was as important as the light. Darkness and death had power which they did not fear. Here at Samhain, as the Earth is plunged into its darkest time of the year, they blessed the seeds whose germination in the dark would once again bring life, when the Sun returned.
Ceremonies were held at the burial mounds, tumuli and long barrows. Womb and tomb were closely linked in the Celtic mind, and this explains why so many tombs of this period and earlier, had tunnel entrances leading to a dark inner chamber. Not only were they places where the important dead were buried, but they are also important centres of Earth energy which were, and can still be, used to enhance inner journeying.
They communicated with their ancestors, believing deceased family members could visit their loved ones at this time of the year. Places were laid at the table during the feast so that the dead could be with their families and friends. Both the word ghost and the word guest have their roots in the German 'geist', originally a spirit of the dead invited to the Samhain feast.
Fear and superstitions replaced the potent power inherent in this celebration. It was thought that others could also slip through the gap in space-time: the faerie, the sidhe, hobgoblins, elves and other mischief makers. This is the root of Halloween's 'mischief night'. Only those in disguise could venture out. The emissaries of the devil were also feared along with evil ghosts and many 'horrors of hell' which were let loose on this night which all good Christian folk were led to fear.
Samhain is one of the four great Fire Festivals of our Celtic past. Bonfires called 'samhnagan' were lit on the hilltops - the tumuli and burial mounds of the communities past. All the other fires in the community were put out and were then rekindled from the samhnagan.
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The Church brought the people away from the burial mounds, but Samhain customs continued to thrive. Each village or household lit their own bonfires. Note the proximity to our bonfire night. In Wales, omens were read from white stones which were thrown into the ashes of the fire and then interpreted the next morning by the marks found there. Halloween apple games grew out of the Celtic belief in the apple as a holy fruit, sacred and magical, a means to immortality, death and rebirth.
In Celtic myth, the apples of the goddess, sometimes called Hels apples, after the Underworld goddess Hellenes signified a sacred marriage and a journey to the land of death and rebirth. Later, Hels apples became the poisoned apples of Christian folklore which the 'wicked witch' used to kill her victims.
Cutting the apple transversely reveals the hidden five pointed star in the core, the magic pentacle, sign of the dark mysteries of the goddess and protection. Apples continue to be used at Samhain for games and divination. Here the Grain Mother becomes the Crone, the wise woman, the death aspect of her trinity, until she is reborn as her virgin aspect with the rebirth of the Sun at the Winter Solstice.
The Sun king is sacrificed back into the land having swelled the seeds which now lie in the dark of the Earth until the Sun's return.
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He too becomes a death god and shaman, able to travel the inner realms. These myths reflect the understanding of the year's cycle. Death and darkness were seen as a period of rest and regeneration before rebirth. Hell was previously a Norse Queen of the Underworld, Hellenes, and 'Hel' a uterine shrine, a sacred cave of rebirth deep within the Earth. The dark regenerative power of the goddess was honoured throughout the Celtic and ancient world. Rhea-Kronia the female counterpart to Cronos devoured time itself, returning to the dark elemental formless chaos before time.
Rhiannon, also known as the Mother of Time, also devoured her own children and rode her horse through the regions of the dark. Cerridwen who kept the Cauldron of Rebirth and Regeneration, was known as the Grandmother of Memory and the Keeper of the ancestral gateway. Cailleach, the Black Mother, made the world. Scotland was once Caledonia, the land given by Cailleach or Cale. To the Scandinavians, she was known as Skadi, personified as an old woman, hag or Veiled One.
Mana and Mara were ancient Roman Goddesses whose ancestral spirits were called Manes, and ruled the Underworld. Maia was the Greek grandmother of Magic, mother of Hermes, the enlightened one, who conducted the souls of the dead to the Underworld.
All About Samhain
Hecate was one of the oldest Goddesses in her crone aspect, found in ancient Greece. She ruled Heaven, Earth, and the Underworld; she ruled magic, omens and prophecy and she was also known as Persephone, ruler of the Underworld of ancient myth. The word 'crone' may have come from Rhea Cronia, Old Mother Time, but may also be linked to 'corone', the carrion crow which was sacred to the death goddesses. Black was the colour she assumed before her re-emergence as her white virgin aspect at the Winter Solstice. Samhain can be seen as a psychic return to the dark womb, a time for regeneration and rest.
Who are the Pagans?
The Underworld and darkness became a place to fear and the Celtic understanding of its regenerative aspect became lost. The Church created hell out of the Celtic Otherworld, and every sadistic cruel fantasy man could invent, was assigned to it. Use this time for rest and renewal. Slip beyond the rational and the logical and go beyond the seen world, listen to your intuition and learn to value this as part of your whole self. Use this time for learning, for collecting, sorting and memorising information, so that when the time for action comes, you will have assimilated new knowledge which can be used when needed.
Fear is one of our greatest teachers.
Turn and look at what you fear and where the roots of this may lie. By being open to your intuition, new insights and realisations may be revealed. Once revealed you can choose to think and live in a different way. Review and assimilate what you have learned in the active phase of the year's cycle.