Archive for the ‘Spiritual’ Category

What a confusing time :) Surrounded by various religions and their Easter celebrations without much interest for its pagan origins. I found a lovely (non offensive) article on Easter as a pagan and the truth in the spring equinox and fertility celebrations… Bearing in mind, this is as per the northern hemisphere. Again, here in the Southern Hemisphere we should only be celebrating Easter in September but you try getting chocolate eggs in August. Whatever your religion and whatever you believe, have a wonderful Easter weekend and remember why you celebrate…

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Easter : History and Traditions

Goddess Ostara
History of Easter Eggs
History of the Easter Bunny
Goddess Ishtar and the First Resurrection

Easter History : Christian and Pagan Traditions Interwoven

The history of Easter reveals rich associations between the Christian faith and the seemingly unrelated practices of the early pagan religions. Easter history and traditions that we practice today evolved from pagan symbols, from the ancient goddess Ishtar to Easter eggs and the Easter bunny.

Easter, perhaps the most important of the Christian holidays, celebrates the Christ’s resurrection from the dead following his death on Good Friday. . . a rebirth that is commemorated around the vernal equinox, historically a time of pagan celebration that coincides with the arrival of spring and symbolizes the arrival of light and the awakening of life around us.

Ostara, Goddess of Spring and the Dawn (Oestre / Eastre)

Easter is named for a Saxon goddess who was known by the names of Oestre or Eastre, and in Germany by the name of Ostara. She is a goddess of the dawn and the spring, and her name derives from words for dawn, the shining light arising from the east. Our words for the “female hormone” estrogen derives from her name.

Ostara was, of course, a fertility goddess. Bringing in the end of winter, with the days brighter and growing longer after the vernal equinox, Ostara had a passion for new life. Her presence was felt in the flowering of plants and the birth of babies, both animal and human. The rabbit (well known for its propensity for rapid reproduction) was her sacred animal.

Easter eggs and the Easter Bunny both featured in the spring festivals of Ostara, which were initially held during the feasts of the goddess Ishtar | Inanna. Eggs are an obvious symbol of fertility, and the newborn chicks an adorable representation of new growth. Brightly colored eggs, chicks, and bunnies were all used at festival time to express appreciation for Ostara’s gift of abundance.

History of Easter Eggs and Easter Candy

The history of Easter Eggs as a symbol of new life should come as no surprise. The notion that the Earth itself was hatched from an egg was once widespread and appears in creation stories ranging from Asian to Ireland.

Eggs, in ancient times in Northern Europe, were a potent symbol of fertility and often used in rituals to guarantee a woman’s ability to bear children. To this day rural “grannywomen” (lay midwives/healers in the Appalachian mountains) still use eggs to predict, with uncanny accuracy, the sex of an unborn child by watching the rotation of an egg as it is suspended by a string over the abdomen of a pregnant woman.

Dyed eggs are given as gifts in many cultures. Decorated eggs bring with them a wish for the prosperity of the abundance during the coming year.

Folklore suggests that Easter egg hunts arose in Europe during “the Burning Times”, when the rise of Christianity led to the shunning (and persecution) of the followers of the “Old Religion”. Instead of giving the eggs as gifts the adults made a game of hiding them, gathering the children together and encouraging them to find the eggs.

Some believe that the authorities seeking to find the “heathens” would follow or bribe the children to reveal where they found the eggs so that the property owner could be brought to justice.

Green Eggs . . .

…. And ham?

The meat that is traditionally associated with Easter is ham. Though some might argue that ham is served at Easter since it is a “Christian” meat, (prohibited for others by the religious laws of Judaism and Islam) the origin probably lies in the early practices of the pagans of Northern Europe.

Having slaughtered and preserved the meat of their agricultural animals during the Blood Moon celebrations the previous autumn so they would have food throughout the winter months, they would celebrate the occasion by using up the last of the remaining cured meats.

In anticipation that the arrival of spring with its emerging plants and wildlife would provide them with fresh food in abundance, it was customary for many pagans to begin fasting at the time of the vernal equinox, clearing the “poisons” (and excess weight) produced by the heavier winter meals that had been stored in their bodies over the winter. Some have suggested that the purpose of this fasting may have been to create a sought-after state of “altered consciousness” in time for the spring festivals. One cannot but wonder if this practice of fasting might have been a forerunner of “giving up” foods during the Lenten season.

Chocolate Easter bunnies and eggs, marshmallow chicks in pastel colors, and candy of all sorts, most of which are given out as personalized gifts during Easter . . . these have pagan origins as well! To understand their association with religion we need to examine the meaning of food as a symbol.

The ancient belief that, by eating something we take on its characteristics formed the basis for the earliest “blessings” before meals (a way to honor the life that had been sacrificed so that we as humans could enjoy life) and, presumably, for the more recent Christian sacrament of communion as well.

Shaping candy Easter eggs and bunnies to celebrate the spring festival was, simply put, a way to celebrate the symbols of the goddess and the season, while laying claim to their strengths (vitality, growth, and fertility) for ourselves.

The Goddess Ostara and the Easter Bunny

Feeling guilty about arriving late one spring, the Goddess Ostara saved the life of a poor bird whose wings had been frozen by the snow. She made him her pet or, as some versions have it, her lover. Filled with compassion for him since he could no longer fly (in some versions, it was because she wished to amuse a group of young children), Ostara turned him into a snow hare and gave him the gift of being able to run with incredible speed so he could protect himself from hunters.

In remembrance of his earlier form as a bird, she also gave him the ability to lay eggs (in all the colors of the rainbow, no less), but only on one day out of each year.

Eventually the hare managed to anger the goddess Ostara, and she cast him into the skies where he would remain as the constellation Lepus (The Hare) forever positioned under the feet of the constellation Orion (the Hunter). He was allowed to return to earth once each year, but only to give away his eggs to the children attending the Ostara festivals that were held each spring. The tradition of the Easter Bunny had begun.

The Hare was sacred in many ancient traditions and was associated with the moon goddesses and the various deities of the hunt. In ancient times eating the Hare was prohibited except at Beltane (Celts) and the festival of Ostara (Anglo-Saxons), when a ritual hare-hunt would take place.

In many cultures rabbits, like eggs, were considered to be potent remedies for fertility problems. The ancient philosopher-physician Pliny the Elder prescribed rabbit meat as a cure for female sterility, and in some cultures the genitals of a hare were carried to avert barrenness.

Medieval Christians considered the hare to bring bad fortune, saying witches changed into rabbits in order to suck the cows dry. It was claimed that a witch could only be killed by a silver crucifix or a bullet when she appeared as a hare.

Given their “mad” leaping and boxing displays during mating season as well as their ability to produce up to 42 offspring each spring, it is understandable that they came to represent lust, sexuality, and excess in general. Medieval Christians considered the hare to be an evil omen, believing that witches changed into rabbits in order to suck the cows dry. It was claimed that a witch could only be killed by a silver crucifix or a bullet when she appeared as a hare.

In later Christian tradition the white Hare, when depicted at the Virgin Mary’s feet, represents triumph over lust or the flesh. The rabbit’s vigilance and speed came to represent the need to flee from sin and temptation and a reminder of the swift passage of life.

And, finally, there is a sweet Christian legend about a young rabbit who, for three days, waited anxiously for his friend, Jesus, to return to the Garden of Gethsemane, not knowing what had become of him. Early on Easter morning, Jesus returned to His favorite garden and was welcomed the little rabbit. That evening when the disciples came into the garden to pray, still unaware of the resurrection, they found a clump of beautiful larkspurs, each blossom bearing the image of a rabbit in its center as a remembrance of the little creature’s hope and faith.

Ishtar, Goddess of Love, and the First Resurrection (also known as Inanna)

Ishtar, goddess of romance, procreation, and war in ancient Babylon, was also worshipped as the Sumerian goddess Inanna. One of the great goddesses, or “mother goddesses”, the stories of her descent to the Underworld and the resurrection that follows are contained in the oldest writings that have ever been discovered. . . the Babylonian creation myth Enuma Elish and the story of Gilgamesh. Scholars believed that they were based on the oral mythology of the region and were recorded about 2,100 B.C.E.

The most famous of the myths of Ishtar tell of her descent into the realm of the dead to rescue her young lover, Tammuz, a Vegetation god forced to live half the year in the Underworld. Ishtar approached the gates of the Underworld, which was ruled by her twin sister Eresh-kigel, the goddess of death and infertility. She was refused admission.

Similar to the Greek myths of Demeter and Persephone that came later, during Ishtar’s absence the earth grew barren since all acts of procreation ceased while she was away. Ishtar screamed and ranted that she would break down the gates and release all of the dead to overwhelm the world and compete with the living for the remaining food unless she was allowed to enter and plead her case with her twin.

Needless to say, she won admission. But the guard, following standard protocol, refused to let her pass through the first gate unless she removed her crown. At the next gate, she had to remove her earrings, then her necklace at the next, removing her garments and proud finery until she stood humbled and naked after passing through the seventh (and last) gate.

In one version, she was held captive and died but was brought back to life when her servant sprinkled her with the “water of life”. In the more widely known version of the myth, Ishtar’s request was granted and she regained all of her attire and possessions as she slowly re-emerged through the gates of darkness.

Upon her return, Tammuz and the earth returned to life. Annual celebrations of this “Day of Joy”, were held each year around the time of the vernal equinox. These celebrations became the forerunners of the Ostara festivals that welcomed Oestre and the arrival of spring.

A section on the Goddess Inanna (the Sumerian version of the Goddess Ishtar), her myths and symbols, is included with the myths of the goddesses at this website.

Easter eggs, the Easter Bunny, the dawn that arrives with resurrection of life, and the celebration of spring all serve to remind us of the cycle of rebirth and the need for renewal in our lives. In the history of Easter, Christian and pagan traditions are gracefully interwoven.

As I walk on by, hear them call my name.
As I walk on by, would you remember my name?

La, la la la la, la la la la…

As an onlooker at one’s own funeral, butterflies in the stomach flutter at the reading of my own eulogy. What will they say? How will I be remembered?

I watch my children take the podium to read the ode’s they’ve written. Girls after my own heart with a penchant for the spoken and written word, I know I did something right. I know that the hours and days of reading and writing encouragement when they were young children has paid off. It cannot be said that I wasn’t a doting mother, filled with love for my children no matter how furious they made me. Would they remember this now over the memory of my lifeless shell in the wooden box beside them? Their own children looking back at them from the audience, my beautiful grandchildren, watching their mothers with pride and love. They married well, not without ups and downs yet they’re better women for it, now that they are both settled and well cared for by their doting partners, I was ready to make my move onward. I cannot help but stare at these glorious women that I brought into thus world, so amazing and yet so different in every way. They are so close, I hope that I’ve done enough that they’d always have each other until the end of their days, that angry words are said and forgotten and they hold hands forever more as they do now. I’m so proud, they are my greatest achievement, what aches the most to leave behind, my beautiful daughters.

It’s impossible to ignore the forlorn bald man to their right, seated behind them, shoulders slumped and head in hands. My best friend, what did I do to you? We never planned for this, my sudden departure from a lifetime we’ve shared. How I will miss his beautiful face in the morning, the way he looked at me and the intensity of his embrace. How will he carry on? Why did I do this to him? Tears well as only that morning I watched him break down before the mirror, contemplating his own future and unsure of where to from here. Our marriage was our most important asset and now I leave him without his friend, his lover, his confidante and his children’s mother. I leave him in the arms of my daughters where I know he will be safe until he is ready to pick up and move on with his life. I would love for him to meet someone who will take care of him as I did, though I know nothing will compare. We were power husband and wife, looked up to by all and admired by many. I’m uncertain of how I will manage without him, I cannot bear to see his pain any longer. We endured so much, we overcame each and every time. How do we overcome this?

So many people came to listen to my lifetime today… Friends, such beautiful friends. Close friends who each have a turn to stand and say a funny story, a motivational moment, an amazing memory. I will miss each and every person sitting there and I have no doubt they will miss me. They’re here to remember me as the supportive friend I was, ever the relationship counsellor. They think now to whose broad shoulders will be strong enough to take the place of mine. They will all be excited by the party I left arranged for them after the memorial, I stocked the bar that they can honor and celebrate my life instead of mourning my death and I look forward to watching that celebration from the sidelines, a first for me. Family, parents and siblings, all here to see me off… Though different, I was always accepted, the best sister or daughter I could be, flaws and all.

Years worth of colleagues join in the back rows, here to listen to my friends and family speak of the person I was in my personal life. I see so many who supported me through good and through bad times in my career, who watched me grow and flourish and who always had my back. There were naysayers who said I couldn’t do it and yet today, the business I opened flourishes and provides for my families and their families, the books I wrote will continue to feed their children’s children and my clothing line is everlasting, me embodied in fabric.

Thinking back on all of this, I missed all but the last line of the eulogy my daughters stand here to read, but that’s ok because I know what they will say. I know that they are proud of who I was and the legacy I left behind, I only wish I didn’t have to leave them along with it.

What was the last line you ask? A song from an all time favorite movie…

As Simple Minds once said, don’t you forget about me.

Daily Prompt: Don’t You Forget About Me
by Krista on February 16, 2014
Imagine yourself at the end of your life. What sort of legacy will you leave? Describe the lasting effect you want to have on the world, after you’re gone.

Photographers, artists, poets: show us LEGACY.
_________

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Once upon a time, the Romans didn’t like ANYBODY, but most of all they didn’t like the Christians. Enter, Saint Valentine whom today we celebrate and commemorate for his romantic and defiant heroics. Though all legend and not much verified, we can believe in the love stories that St. Valentine helped write. He refused to denounce his Christian faith and instead, further aggravated the Romans by marrying couples (soldiers) in the name of God who were not supposed to wed as well as preaching to the masses. He denied all Pagan Gods, was true to his own faith but most of all believed in love.

Whether Saint Valentine was one Saint or many Saints throughout time, these legendary heroes (or hero) are (is) who we have to thank for the chocolates, roses and stuffed animals we receive today (or who we should’ve hung if you’re a singleton frustrated with the celebrations). If you’re a naysayer, don’t worry, the Romans got rid of him for you and on February 14 he was executed, giving us Valentine’s Day. Though not a pagan, St. Valentine understood the energies of stones and wore an amethyst that today is said to attract love, if you are single and looking, get that amethyst out!

While I choose to celebrate Valentine’s a Day with my husband, I do believe that romance and love should not be reserved for one day a year. We should take the time to make sure that everyone around us, partner, children, family and friends, know just how much we love and value them… Plus, chocolates and flowers are cheaper ‘out of season’.

Happy Valentine’s Day
To my husband, I am in love with you. Today and everyday.
To my children, I love you. You are my heart beating outside my chest in two places.
To my family. I love you all. Thank you for being a part of my life.
To my friends. I love each of you. Thank you for being the family not bound by blood.

I hope that each and every one of you has a day filled with love. Love others but most importantly love yourself.
Thanks St. Valentine <3

Shevy

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A few years back, before I was touched by death at all, I wrote a poem about death. It wasn’t an emo poem, a gothic dark poem expressing my self loathing. Not in the slightest. Lady death is a piece of writing on my interpretation of death and who I think she is.
You can refer back to the post here Lady Death

Nowadays I find myself thinking of death more and more as those around me are affected by death… As I get older, I watch friends and family go through such sad and unfortunate times as their family members pass on. It is such a sensitive topic and yet, a natural part of life.

My uncle passed away when I was 12 years old, too young to grieve or understand the nature of his passing… You’d imagine that at the age of 12, one can’t actually be that close to someone to mourn him as I did (and still do). I was close to my uncle Brian and still miss him and think of him all the time, he was the cool uncle. The uncle who wore his hair long and owned Dr Martins, listened to alternative music and had tattoos. His death was the first to affect me… And the last for some time.

2 years ago, his father and my grandfather passed away. It was a terribly rough time for the family. It was so difficult to prepare for his death and even worse to watch my mom, aunt and gran come to terms with how to live without him. At first I wasn’t certain how to handle it, I hadn’t had much experience with death and tried to keep that crushing feeling inside until one day I broke down at home and let all the sadness and grief have its way with me, completely. I had the privilege and honor of speaking at grandad’s funeral and while my nerves got the better of me, I got to read a poem that I wrote for him that was straight from the heart. Grandad RIP

I watched friends and family around my uncle and grandad and how lives came crashing down. I watched hearts breaking, bodies shaking and tears rolling. A mother losing a son, a daughter losing a father, a wife losing a husband. As if Lady Death came sweeping through leaving sadness and destruction in her wake, or so it seems at the time.

Driving to work the other day I had a thought about my own death. A what if. What if I died on the way to work, if a car came crashing into me at record speeds and my body and soul didn’t make it out of the wreckage in one piece? A horrible idea I agree, but a thought provoking one nonetheless. Death is imminent for all of us, the only questions are when, where and how? Sadly, we have little to no control over this. I do not know if I’m living to 35 or 95, I don’t know if I will be buried by my children or be here long enough to bury them, a grim thought but a realistic one. I know these are harsh thoughts but I am a realist and I am a planner, so am I prepared for this? Am I prepared to live today as if it were my last day? When I think of fear and death, I’m not afraid to die. I’m not saying I want to either, please don’t get me wrong. There is no fear for me as I know and believe that there is something more, I believe in rest after death. I do not fear Lady Death herself but that said, I’m not cold and heartless either, what I’m not prepared for is what I would leave behind… The thought of leaving my children without a mother, my husband without a wife, my parents without a daughter and my brothers and sister without a sibling brings heavy tears to my eyes. I may not fear death, but I fear what I’d leave behind and how they would cope with me no longer around. It’s at this point that I can’t think about death anymore, I’m done, it’s too much.

Recently, so many people close to me are experiencing death and the things that come along with it. Some mourning the loss of friends in history passed, commemorating them on the anniversary of their deaths as a reminder of how much they gave in the time we were fortunate enough to have known them. Some mourning a recent death of a colleague, a pillar of strength leaving a legacy behind as his light fades away, an absent light that I notice daily walking pass his desk. Some mourning the recent, untimely passing of friends, gathering to celebrate their lives. Some mourning the recent losses of close family, so fresh and so full of heartache that conversation without tears is far from taking place. Some battling with the idea of death itself and what it would mean for those closest to them… Death is all around us, it is a sad and gut wrenching time and yet we cannot escape, cannot forget, cannot hide from her.

What all of these people have in common is that they left a wake of sadness as they left our world. Though unintentional, many tears followed them as they left and tears will continue to fall while we are left with the memories they leave behind but never to recount. The tears will eventually dry up and we will, if we haven’t already, start remembering their lives and not their deaths. We will be able to toast their achievements instead of picturing their sickness. We will be able to remember their smiling voices instead of hearing their strained cries. I can look up at my wall and smile at the photographs of my uncle and grandfather, knowing they left at the exact time they were meant to.

Our loved ones leave us lessons to learn in their passing. Lessons of love, lessons of loss, lessons of determination. I do not know when my time will come but when it does, I need to know that I’m happy with the person I am and need to live every day happy that this could be my memory, this could be my legacy, this is how I will be remembered. Life is short, too short, criminally short. Too much time is wasted on unnecessary feuds, feuds that should be replaced with friendship instead. Bridges burned need mending and I love you’s can never be said enough. Make time to see or speak to everyone who is important to you. Hug your loved ones every day. Never stop showing love. Be forgiving, let go of the past. Don’t hold on to anything that cannot be said today. Forget fear, live in the present, do everything you’ve ever dreamed of and more. Forget a bucket list, write an immediate list. Eat the foods you love, dance to music that makes you happy, laugh… Laugh all the time. Find hobbies that fill your life, sleep, wake, watch tv, play outside, buy a house, start a book club. Do whatever it is YOU want to do, you only get this life once and only you can live it….

Know that whatever you do, your loved ones who have passed on would want you to be happy, no matter what. To all my friends or family currently experiencing loss caused by the death of a close friend or family, my deepest condolences to you. I’m so sorry that you have to experience this sadness and hate to see you this heart sore… Know that time does heal and when the tears stop, memories live on… They live on in everything we do, all that we are and anything we can aspire to be. Your loved ones would be proud.

Take care of you and yours
Shevy

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Tonight, the questions were pouring. Where does God come from? Who made God? Who made the world? My almost 8 year old daughter who is far wiser than her 95 months on this earth wanted to have the religious discussion, I was only too happy to oblige.

Growing up in a Christian household, you’d think I would be only too happy to re explain the religion I’d known for a lifetime. It becomes a little more difficult when ensuring an open household completely free of any one particular influence and advocating free personal choice. I did grow up believing in one Christian God and attended church sporadically, Friday night youth and the occasional Sunday school. I was non denominational as far as I understood and being a Christian was something that just ‘was’. As I got older, life and personal experience had quite a bearing on my choice of religion and belief system and for a time, I was lost. I don’t think I believed in anything but myself for quite a while until I was drawn to the Pagan way of life and the freedom that Paganism allows for… That said, I would never deny or enforce any specific religion on anyone, let alone my own daughter.

After having Hayley, I made the decision to bring her up with Christian values and understanding, though refused to have her christened. This resulted in much judgement from many. The reason she wasn’t christened is because I chose not to be a hypocrite. I couldn’t promise in a church that I would raise Hayley to be a child of God when I myself was not sure that I even was one. I decided that one day, when she was old enough to decide for herself what life path she would choose to follow, she could make that choice and I’d be alongside her every step of the way. I did not enforce any one religion in my home and believed in the common denominator that is knowing right from wrong.

Hayley has grown up believing in God, Jesus and the bible. I have no problem with that, in fact I encourage any belief she has because at least she has a belief. She has something more than herself that she can turn to and she can build her own set of values based on what she has been taught. Who better to teach, than me :) I say this because I am able to give her as much information as possible in a completely non biased way as her mother, with only good intentions of education. She has been given the freedom to believe in whoever and whatever she wants without judgement or complaint, not something many children get a choice to do growing up. So tonight, when the questions flowed I answered every one of them as best and as neutrally as I could.

The conversation arose out of a discussion on Christmas and how excited she was for presents. I asked her what Christmas was and we quickly moved the conversation away from presents and as simply as we could, explained why Christians celebrate Christmas and about Jesus and the Christmas story. I should’ve known that the questions were coming… Who is God? Well, the best way to describe this was to ask her which came first, the chicken or the egg? You laugh but she understood the concept. Jp had to get a tad mathematical to explain the concept of infinity and that God has always been there and always will be, she was happy with this. So up next was ‘how did God make the world’? This was a little easier but not easy, all laid out in the bible it was purely a question of faith and believing that if God says it is so, that is how it will be. The most interesting question / idea for her was ‘Who is the devil’? I approached this one cautiously because I didn’t want to simplify the idea of evil but I did explain to her about Lucifer being an angel, what most fascinated her was the fact that the devil has a name. It’s a tricky conversation to have without applying too much influence, I kept it as basic as possible. I am not going into too much detail on the conversation because a) it was a very long conversation and b) it was for Hayley’s benefit and no one else’s. I’m no expert but we do the best we can, if my ex Sunday school teaching husband (ex teacher not ex husband) approves, I must’ve done something right. I explained to Hayley that I don’t mind what she believes in but that should she believe in anything at all, she needs to understand what she is believing in and why, that is all that matters to me.

What was really great was that she was asking questions, she wanted to know who in our family believed in God and I was able to give her some history on my grandparents and what a missionary does. We discussed the Ten Commandments and how they relate to our own values and knowledge of right from wrong. We briefly explained to her about other religions and that no one religion is wrong or right, that nothing is black or white. She herself verbalized that guess what, we all believe in something, it’s just what we believe that makes us different. It was a phenomenal conversation, one I thought I’d be having with my 13 year old in 5 years time and not my almost 8 year old tonight. She is still so innocent in her thoughts and yet wise beyond her years! Long gone are the days when talking religion is taboo, in fact, I love it. Why keep silent on the most interesting of topics… One thing that we all have in common? The one question she asked that I truly couldn’t answer? ‘Is Justin Bieber a Christian?’ My answer to that was, who knows babe, who knows.

When she asked me about what I believe in? I answered truthfully but tried to avoid confusion where possible. She was quite keen on the idea of a female Goddess but when Jp pulled out the Roman / Greek Gods, I think we lost her. I’m ok with that as well. She is after all, only 8. I would never want to confuse her or give her reason to doubt her own truths. One day, when her head is big enough to take it all in, I’ll let ex pastor husband (ex pastor not ex husband) and theologian give her all the information and education she needs to make an informed decision. All that matters is that she lives her life upholding the values that she has set for herself.

I’m giving myself a pat on the back tonight as I get into bed. Why? Because as a parent I MUST be doing something right to have created an environment where my children are free to have conversations like this one tonight… I am so proud that my daughter is intelligent enough to ask questions and is not just a follower. I am especially happy about the fact that a modern day family sat on a Sunday evening discussing a topic that in times before ours, was not permitted. I’m just amazed by her in general… She does that sometimes ;)

Shortly before bed she asked me if vampires were real. I had to assure her (sadly may I add) that they were indeed not real along with werewolves and zombies. She ended off the conversation with “Mommy, there is no such thing as Santa”. I guess that’s that.

Blessed be
Shevy

Old hallows eve, or Halloween to the man in the street is celebrated every year on the 31st of October. The night thought to have the thinnest veil between the living and the dead, when spirits come out and energies are among us… Or more recently, the night where kids get dressed up and go begging door to door for sweets.

Why I have a problem with this? Don’t think I dislike Halloween, I most definately do not, but we live in the Southern Hemisphere and this means that tomorrow is not in fact Halloween but rather Beltane or May Day is if is more commonly known by our Northern hemisphere counterparts. Halloween (or Samhain) was celebrated by traditional Pagans in May… Nowhere near October :) What frustrates me is those who mention Halloween is against their religion and therefore won’t dress up, yet I hardly take offense to the holiday being celebrated 6 months after the fact.

To put this simply for the non Pagans among us (I love you all, just by the way), Pagans live by the Wheel of the year… The phases of the moon… The changing of the seasons. Here is the Wheel of the Year for the Southern Hemisphere :

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What we incorrectly celebrate as Halloween on the 31st of October is the night of the dead. It is the acknowledgement of the death of the god and the death of harvest, crops, life. It is a celebration of the end to acknowledge that before there can be a start, there must be a finish. This is Samhain. The end and the beginning of it all. While the premise is correct, the time of year is all wrong and should be celebrated in May (Autumn/Winter).

What we should really be celebrating is Beltane or better known as May Day (October Day for us?). The holiday that falls around Spring / Summer. The celebration of life, fertility, sexuality. It is when the God and Goddess become lovers and the start of true Summer… It is a festival of abundance and of course my favorite holiday! It’s a holiday of love and fire.

May Day

Beltane

That said… It doesn’t mean I don’t love to celebrate and yes, I will be dressing up for ‘Halloween’ tomorrow… Just remember to get your witch hats out again in May, I will need someone to celebrate with then.

For those interested, here are brief descriptions of the Pagan holidays :)

Neopagans usually celebrate Samhain on 31 October – 1 November in the Northern Hemisphere and 30 April – 1 May in the Southern Hemisphere, beginning and ending at sundown.[57][58][59][60] Some Neopagans celebrate it at the astronomical midpoint between the autumn equinox and winter solstice (or the full moon nearest this point). In the Northern Hemisphere, this midpoint is when the ecliptic longitude of the Sun reaches 225 degrees.[61] In 2013, this is on 7 November.[62]

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.[32][33][34][35][36] 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.[37] In 2013, this is on 5 May.[38]

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Samhain
April 30/May 1

Northern Hemisphere Date: October 31st
Also known as All Hallow’s Eve, Halloween.
The Pagan year begins (and ends) with Samhain. It is a time of reflection, of looking back over the last year. This is the time when the boundary is thinnest between the worlds of living and dead; the powers of divination, the Sight, and supernatural communication are strengthened on Samhain night, and it is considered a powerful but dangerous time to communicate with lost loved ones. Pagans celebrate Samhain as an acknowledgment that without death, there can be no rebirth. At Samhain, the darkness increases and the Goddess reigns in her powerful aspect of the Crone. The God passes into the underworld to become reborn of the Goddess again at Yule. It is a time to honour those who have gone before us and it is a poignant co-incidence that Australia and New Zealand’s day of Remembrance for their fallen in war, ANZAC Day on April 25, should be so close to the southern Samhain.

Find out more about Samhain from Wikipedia and All Hallow’s Eve.

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Yule (Winter Solstice)
June 20-23

Northern Hemisphere Date: December (20-23)
Winter solstice or Yule is the shortest day, and also the longest night of the year. It marks the return of the Sun’s warmth and light, and the promise once again of a productive Earth. Pagans celebrate these aspects with candles, fire, greenery and feasting. At this time, Yule logs are burned. The Yule log must traditionally be the root of a hardwood tree, and in Australia mallee roots are ideal for this purpose, as are Tasmanian oaks and all types of Eucalyptus. The Yule log is burned down until nothing but a small piece remains, which is saved and kept to be used as a lighter for the following year’s Yule fire. A Yule tree is placed within the traditional Wiccan home, with a pentagram (five pointed star) at the top, symbolizing the five elements. Presents are exchanged and many Witches stay up all night to welcome the sun. This is symbolic of the Goddess giving birth to the God and then resting after her ordeal.

Find out more about Yule from Wikipedia and Midwinter’s Eve: Yule.

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Imbolc
July 31/August 1

Northern Hemisphere Date: February 2nd
Also known as Imbolg, Candlemas, Feast of Torches, Oimelc, Lupercalia and Brigid’s Day.
Imbolc is the time of the beginning of beginnings, the time to consider carefully what you will do with the year stretching before you. Imbolc brings the awakening of the life force when the first green shoots of bulbs appear. Life is stirring again and this marks the Goddess recovering after giving birth while the newborn God is depicted as a small child nursing from his mother. The God is growing, spreading sunshine all around causing things to grow. It is a time to honour the feminine and get ready for spring. At lmbolc, the Australian forests are bright with the colour yellow, the Acacia trees coming into full flower. Until fairly recently, the 1st of August was “Wattle day” in Australia (it has now been moved to the 1st of September).

Find out more about Imbolc from Wikipedia and Candlemas: The Light Returns.

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Ostara (Spring/Vernal Equinox)
Sept 20-23

Northern Hemisphere Date: March (20-23)
Also known as Eostre.
The Equinoxes are the balancing points in the cycle of the seasons, when the day and night are of equal length, reminding us of the harmony of the whole. Buds of flowers and leaf, all manner of eggs and just-born life are celebrated in decorations and imagery as Pagans rejoice in the Earth’s reawakening. The urge of spring is to do, create and bring in the new. Here light overcomes darkness with lengthening days bringing the magic of new growth. Ostara is associated with childhood and new life, and the God and Goddess are perceived as children, personifying youth and innocence before their entry into adulthood. The Goddess, as the Maiden, covers the earth with flowers and love while the God grows to maturity. This is a time to honour the masculine and to celebrate everything that is great about being alive.

Find out more about Ostara from Wikipedia and Lady Day: The Vernal Equinox.

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Beltane
Oct 31

Northern Hemisphere Date: May 1st
Also known as Bealtaine, Walpurgisnacht, May Day, (Northern Hemisphere) & Novey Eve (in Southern Hemisphere).
Beltane, the beginning of the summer months is at the November cross-quarter. This is the festival of the Great Rite – of sexual union between Goddess and God. Beltane is the spring fertility festival and there is feasting and celebration – a great festival for lovers! Beltane is the most popular time for Witches to be handfasted. This is the time when the brilliant red flowers of the Flame Trees highlight Australian forests and gardens. Our famous horse race, the Melbourne Cup, is happily coincident with southern Beltane, being run on the first Tuesday in November and taken as an unofficial holiday across Australia.

Find out more about Beltane from Wikipedia and A Celebration of May Day.

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Litha (Summer Solstice)
Dec 20-23

Northern Hemisphere Date: June (20-23)
Also known as Midsummer.
This is the longest day of the year, and a time of joy and strength for the light. It is a time when the powers of nature are at their fullest. In the past this was often marked with bonfires and celebrants staying awake through the short night. To leap over the bonfire was to assure a good crop; some said the grain would grow as tall as the leapers could jump. Due to fire restrictions in Australia throughout summer, celebrations for this Sabbat tend to be quite different from those throughout the rest of the year. No candles can be lit, no cauldrons burned, and no open flames are allowed outside throughout much of the country. Litha falls in the dry stifling heat of summer in the southern part of our land, but in the north, Litha falls in the hot, wet season, and represents fruitfulness. In Australia the Sturt Desert Pea is a sacred flower of this time. This is a time of ascendancy of the God, at his most powerful now, while the burgeoning Goddess brings forth the bounty of the Earth.

Find out more about Litha from Wikipedia and A Midsummer’s Celebration.

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Lammas
Feb 2

Northern Hemisphere Date: August 1st
Also known as Lughnasadh or Lunasa.
Lammas is the “cross-quarter” day marking the first harvest of early grain, where the first loaf of the bread from the harvest is broken and shared in the name of the Goddess. All crops associated with grain and of the season are sacred to this time. Much festivity is coincident with Lammas in Australia, with Australia Day being marked on January 26. It is a time to reflect on the successes of the year and to reward yourself for jobs well done. Lammas magic can be magic of facing up to change. The God gives his energy to the crops to ensure life while the Goddess, as Mother, prepares to transform into her aspect as the Crone. The God loses his strength as the days grow shorter.

Find out more about Lammas from Wikipedia.
Find out more about Lughnasadh from Wikipedia, and about both from Lammas: The First Harvest

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Mabon (Autumn Equinox)
March 20-23

Northern Hemisphere Date: September (20-23)
Also known as Madron.
Mabon is a balancing point in the light and dark of the year, the day when the sun has equal hours in and out of the sky. It is also the second harvest. At this time food is prepared for storage, jams and pickles are made, and fruits are candied and preserved for the coming winter. Pagans celebrate this as a rite of Thanksgiving, a celebration of harvest abundance, an appreciation of hearth, home, and family. It is a time to reflect on what it means to be a Witch and re-affirm your commitment to the Craft. This is the time when the Goddess is mourning the God even though she carries him within her, to be born again at Yule.