Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Father Time



Well, the year 2009 is almost past and the year 2010 is about to begin. What does the new year have for us?
     The popular figure that is usually use to represent the old year is a figure called Father Time. He is usually represent as an old man with a long white beard, dressed in a long robe, carrying a scythe or a sickle and sometimes also holding a hour glass. Where did this figure come from?
     He can be traced back to the god Chronos, not to be confused with the Titan Cronus. He is said to be the representation of time itself. In some Greco-Roman mosaices, he is pictured as turning the Zodiac Wheel and is often named Aeon meaning Eternal Time. In some traditions he is also called the Father of the Horae ( Hours ). He was the second primordial god to be created He controls the past, present and future of everything. Without Chronos the other Greek gods would not have ever been made. Chronos is sometimes picture as an old wise man with a long beard. His name in modern Greek also means "year".
     Another figure that Father Time origins can be traced back to is the Roman deity of time, Saturn. He was also an ancient Italian corn god known as the Sower. His favorite weapon of choice was the scythe or sickle. He was honored by the Romans at Midwinter festival called Saturnalia.
     Saturn's flint sickle represents the harvest of the crops; last year's crops getting the fields ready for the following year's crops. Time can be seen as a harvester of the 'crops' either of days of the past or for the days of the future.  Time can be a teacher of many lessons that we have experienced in the past days or years. We can take the time to reflect on the purpose of these lessons and see how they affected our life. This is how we learn and grow therefore time can be the harvester of our 'crops' and prepare us (the fields) for next year's crops.
     Sometimes Father Time is seen with a hour glass which can be seen to symbolize the flow of time as both a destructive and constructive effect. His decrepit body and long, white beard can be considered  a reminder that time itself is a devourer of all things. Nothing can escape time, but the gift of time is the serenity and the wisdom that are harvested only though the experience living of a long life. The downward flow of the sand in the hour glass is balanced by the upward flow of the spirit. The loss of the body's vitality is balanced by the increasing wisdom of the spirit and the mind.
     Some see time as something that is dreaded but it is also something that we can look forward to. Think of all the lessons that we have learned in the past year, 2009, and the ones that we are going to learn in the next year, 2010, that will make us stronger and wiser.
     Yesterday is the past. It's gone. Can never be regain and not to be regetted. Tomorrow is not promised but it is something to look forward to with a song in your spirit and a lift in your step. Today is a gift and that's why it's called the present. Unwrap it and enjoy it!
     Father Time can be considerd a teacher for us.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Christmas Tree


The tradition of bringing in a fir or evergreen tree inside the home to decorate it for Christmas is a Christian tradition, but the folklore and traditions of the evergreen associated with the Winter Solstice or Yule is truly pagan.
     The pagans honored a many variations of trees through their myths, lores and traditions. During the Winter months, the evergreen was held in high honor for when everything else was brittle, bare and dark, the evergreen was still green. It represented the eternal life even in the darkest times; that life continued on. Most pagans didn't like cutting down the tree. Some considered it taboo to even cut one down, but they did bring into their homes the sprigs and branches of the evergreen to decorate their homes.
     During the Roman celebration of the feast of Saturnalia, the Romans decorated their homes with the clippings of the evergreen shrubs. They would also decorate the living trees with pieces of metal and images of their god. The Romans are said to be the ones that started the tradition of decorating their homes with the evergreen. They did this in honor of their god Adonia.
     Even the Egyptians decorated their homes during the Winter Solstice not with evergreens but with the palm tree which to them represented eternal life and resurrection.
     The ancient Germanic people would tie fruit and attach candles to the evergreen branches in honor of their god Odin or Woden. The candles would also represent the coming of the sun and also would be light in the promise of the Sun King returning again. Apples and other fruits were hung on the tree to represent the plentiful food to come. The trees were also decorated with roses and colored paper.
     Now the idea of bringing the tree indoors and decorating it for Christmas is credited to Martin Luther. Around the 1500, he went for an early morning walk on Christmas Eve. As he was walking he noticed a group of evergreens glistening in the moon light because of the snow that was on the branches. He was awe stuck at the beauty. When he got home, he set up a fir tree indoors so he could share the story with his children. He then decorated it with candles, which he said represented the Christ child and the light that he brought into the world. The candles were also said to represent the stars in the night sky over Bethlehem with the tree topper star as the Star of Bethlehem.
     The idea of the Christmas tree was said to been brought to England by Queen Victoria's husband, Prince Albert who was from Germany.
     The tradition of the Christmas tree that was started by Martin Luther was probably brought over to America during the Revolutionary War with the Hessian troops and also with the German immigrants to Pennsylvania and Ohio.
     During the beginnings of the United States, the English Puritans was against Christmas and anything connected to the holiday because of the pagan connections that it had.
     In 1851, Pastor Henry Schwan of Cleveland, OH decorated the first Christmas tree in an American church. He was condemned and even his life was threatened because of this.
     Through lots of my research I found a lot of Christian traditions to the origin of the Christmas tree. I do decorate a tree for Christmas or should I say Yule, but I decorate it with dragons, fairies, animals, pine cones and my tree topper is a wizard. I try to re-claim the tradition after all no matter what they say.... we, the Pagans started it.

The Norse connection


We all know of the famous jolly figure that roams our night sky at Christmas Eve this time of the year. Many of us know of the connection that he has to St. Nicholas, but can you recall....... the Norse connection. I almost broke into song just then. LOL
    Anyhow, our Santa Claus has it's begins with the folklore and traditions of the pagans of the North, the Norse. Some stories are quite interesting.
     Santa Claus was known as Father Christmas and became a part of the greater European folklore around the 1950s, but earlier than that, he was quite different. His origins steeped in Viking and Norse lore.  Britain was largely a Saxon stronghold. Christianity was having it's own troubles at the time. A lot of people think that Christianity took hold of Britain very swift, but it different. It took many years to take root. It was still unknown and isolated from Europe's mainstream. After the Norman invasion in 1066, the oaths that were taken were commonly sworn as "By God and by Odin." King Frost, Father Time or King Winter were known and welcomed by the Saxons. Someone would represented him by wearing a fine hat or crown and then would go from house to house.  He would then be brought to the fireside, tell stories and share in the meals. The Saxons believed that by welcoming the figure the element Winter would be less frighten and harsh for them.
     The Vikings came along and brought with them their god Odin. Odin was considered the Father of the Gods.  December was known as Yalka or Jul. Odin's month was known as Jultid, this is where we get Yuletide or Yule. At Yule or Winter Solstice, the Vikings believed Odin would come to earth riding his eight legged horse, Sleipner. He was thought or shown to be dressed in a long blue,  hooded cloak and he carried a satchel of bread and a staff in his hand. He had two companions with him, two ravens, Huginn and Munin, who would inform him on what was going on.
     Sleipner with his 8 legs represented the number of transformation. The two ravens, Huginn and Munin, represented Thought and Memory. The spear that he carried never missed it's target. It was named, Gungner which represented Clear and Focus Tent. Yes, there is a 'lesson' here. LOL
     When Odin came to earth he was suppose to join groups who were huddled around their fires and hearths. He would sit in the background, listening to all that was going on and to see who was 'good' and who was 'bad'. He was also listening to see who was content and who wasn't. Occasionally he would leave a gift of bread at the poor homesteads.
     Also at Yule, it was thought that Odin lead a great hunting party through the sky with other gods and honored warriors who had came to Valhalla. Children were place their boots near the fireplace or chimney for Oden's flying horse. They would put inside the boots things  like carrots, straw or sugar for Sleipner to eat. Odin would then reward their kindness by replacing Sleipner's food with gifts of candy and toys.
     Another Norse god that could have something to do with the beginnings of Santa Claus was Thor. He was the God of Thunder. He was thought to have a long white beard and wore red, representing his element fire. He rode in a chariot being pulled by 2 white goats known as Cracker and Gnasher. His palace was located in the 'northland' or north pole. He was friendly and cheerful. He had the utmost respect among the common folk for it was them that he loved and carried for. Many Norse traditions taught that he would come down the chimney into the fire to visit the household.
     Jultomten or the Tomte/Nisse was another figure who could have loan his characteristics to the legend of Santa Claus. Again this is a Norse figure of Viking lore. He was gnome who lived on the farms. In his beginnings he was known as the Tomte.  In ancient times, he was known as the 'soul' of the first inhabiter of the farm. He was usually described as a short man under 4 feet tall, wearing a red cap with a tassel. He wore the hunters' or farmers' winter clothes; a brown jacket and brown trousers. He would take care of the farmers' home and children. He would protect them, including the livestock, while they slept. There are many stories concerning the Tomte finishing the work on a barn or house when the workers would take a lunch break. People would still hammering and banging through-out the nights and they would say that the Tomte was still working. He was kind to the livestock and took well care of them. You could tell which horse he would favor because it would be more healthier than the rest. Even though he was real small, he had immense strength and was a big help around the farmstead.
     Although he was considered kind to the farmer's family and livestock, he was very easily to offend. If the farmer treated his family wrong or didn't take care of the livestock or was lazy on the work that needed to be done around the farm, he would get very angry. He would run around box your ears, kick you, turning over mail pails or teasing the livestock by maybe tying the cows' tails in knots. The family would leave him a bowl of porridge on Christmas night with a pad of butter on top. That's the way he likes it. If he doesn't get it, he throws a fit. One story told of a man who placed the butter under the porridge. The Tomte was very upset and went around ruining the farmer.
     Through-out time stories were re-written or re-told and he became known as the jultomte, who would bring gifts in a sleigh driven by the 2 goats of Thor. He then wore a red suit and a cap, carrying a bulging sack on his back. He would bring the good kids gifts and he would punish the bad kids.
     So we owe the Norse for our famous hero at this time of the year, Santa Claus. There are many more traditions and figures who attributed to the sleigh riding figure such as St. Nicholas, but I figured I would concentrate on his pagan beginnings and I found it interesting and learned a lot. I hope you did as well.

 

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Joy to the World - Wiccan version

Burning the Yule Log


Today this symbol of an ancient tradition has become a term meaning  a cake that's baked around this time of the year in the shape of a log with maybe holly or poinsettia on top, but I'm not talking about a cake.
     The tradition of having and burning a real Yule log is an ancient tradition dating back to the Druids.  Different areas of England, Germany, France, and the Netherlands have their own traditions to the Yule log. In the North East of England it was commonly called a Yule clog. In the Midlands and the West Country the term was Yule Block
     The Yule log has been associated having its origins in Germanic paganism. It was a large wooden log which is burned in a hearth, either in the community or privately in the household.   It was an entire whole trunk of a tree which was cut on Candlemas ( Feb 2 ) and dried all year long. It was brought in a household by a group of males who, for the task, would get free beer from the farmer's wife. The log was of the Oak tree. The fire that was used to burn the Yule log was started from a piece of the log that had been burned the previous year. The log's role was to bring prosperity and protection from evil.
    Druids would pray that the oak would flame, like the sun forever. After the burning, it's ashes were thought to bring good luck and protection into the household. It was considered bad luck if the fire went out before New Years.
     In Southern France, people put the log on the fire for the first time on Christmas Eve and then continued to burn it a-little bit each day until the twelfth night (Jan. 5th).

     If the ashes or any part of the burned Yule log was kept under the bed, it will protect the house from fire and thunder. It would also prevent those who live there from getting chilblains on their heels in the winter. The unburned remains are also believed to cure cattle diseases and to help cows deliver calves. If you scatter the ashes over the fields it will save the wheat from mildew.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Note from Grannulus

I appreciate all those that have visited and viewed my blog. I really do enjoy the writing and sharing.  If you like what you see on here and wish to leave a comment please do so. You can send me an email, Grannulus1@yahoo.com under the subject line of: Blog Comment. I will not share your email address. I will be sure to post and share it here on my blog.
  I know that under each article is a comment link but some people has told me that it won't allow them to leave a comment, that's why I'm offering another way for my visitors to leave a comment..
  So please do so if you wish. Also if you have any ideas on how I can improve my blog, then please by all means email me.
  Blessings As Always,
    Grannulus

Silent Night ( a Pagan's perspective)

Mistletoe



Among the many decorations that we use during these holidays, the Mistletoe is the most popular. Many home owners will hang the mistletoe somewhere in their doorways hoping to catch some unsuspected victim.
     The Mistletoe is a semi-parasitic plant which means it does grow attached to and within the branches of a tree or shrub, but it can live on it's own. The word 'mistletoe' can be related to the German word mist meaning dung and tang for branch, since the Mistletoe is known to be spread in the feces of birds moving from tree to tree.
     The most popular usage for the Mistletoe is when two people are caught underneath a branch or sprig of Mistletoe, hanging from above, has to kiss. This custom can be traced back to a Scandinavian origin.
     In Norse mythology, Balder was a god of vegetation . His mother, who was Frigga, had a dream of the death of her son. Worried about her son, she made every plant, animal and inanimate object promise not to ever harm Balder. Frigga accidentally overlooked the small Mistletoe plant. The mischievous god Loki who knew of this mistake took advantage of this for he didn't like Balder. He tricked the blind god, Hoor, into killing Balder with a spear which was made from the Mistletoe. Of course Balder died and then the world went into the season of winter until the gods restored him to life.
     Frigga declared the Mistletoe sacred, ordering that from now on it should bring love rather than death into the world.

     The Mistletoe growing in an Oak tree was considered sacred and powerful to the Druids. On the 6th night of the moon, dressed in white, Druids would meet underneath an oak which had the Mistletoe growing within it's branches. Somewould stand at the bottom of the tree holding a white cloth, while another would climb the tree, then cut the Mistletoe with a gold sickle. The ones holding the white cloth would catch the Mistletoe, preventing it from touching the ground. The Mistletoe wasn't allowed to touch the ground for it may loose it's power and enchantment.  Two white bulls then would be sacrificed while prayers were being said. Then the Mistletoe was broken and handed out to different recipients, spreading the blessings to their homes or used in incantations, herbal remedies or rituals.
     Many uses of the Mistletoe by the Druids were lost because the Druids did not believe their teachings should be written down. Then the Romans came along and kill a lot of the Druids therefore a lot of sacred knowledge was lost with their deaths.  The Mistletoe is a poisonous plant especially the berries. The Druids were considered a  pro when it came to handling the Mistletoe. The white berries some say were the seamen of the Gods.  It was considered to bestow life and fertility, a protection against poison and an aphrodisiac.  When Balder died it was said that when Frigga cried her tears landed on the mistletoe creating the white berries.
     Mistletoe was regarded as a sexual symbol and the soul of the oak tree. It was gathered both midsummer and winter solstices. The use of decorating homes at Christmas is a tradition that was a survival of the Druids and other pre-Christian traditions.
     During the Middle Ages, branches of Mistletoe were hung from ceilings to ward off evil spirits. Around Europe, they were hanged over doorways, windows and in the stables to prevent the entrance of evil. It was also believed that the Mistletoe from an oak tree could extinguish fire.
     It was a tradition that if enemies were feuding or battling and they met underneath a tree with Mistletoe in it, they were required to lay down their weapons and declare a truce until the following day.
     In Rome, the Mistletoe played an important role in the Saturnalia festivals which were held during the Yule season to celebrate the birth of Saturn.
     Of course the Christians had to get their hands in the action. An old Christian tradition said that the Mistletoe was once a tree that furnished the wood from the cross that Jesus was hung on. After the Crucifixion, the tree shriveled and became a dwarfed parasitic plant. The Mistletoe was ashamed.  Imagine that!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

and the battle is on... The Holly King vs The Oak King



In pagan mythology, these two were twins of a whole. One couldn't exist without the other. Some think this folklore or belief was probably constructed by the Druids since they honored both trees; the Holly and the Oak.
     The Holly King and the Oak King battles twice a year; once at Midsummer when the Holly King wins and then again at Midwinter or Yule, when the Oak King wins. They both fight for the favor of the Goddess. When one looses, he goes to Caer Arianrhod to lick his wounds for six months and then returns to battle again; exchanging places with the other. They are dual aspects of the Horned God.
     Gods that is associated with the Holly King would be: Saturn, a Roman god of agriculture, Cronus, Father Ice or Grandfather Frost, Odin/Wotan, The Tomte, which is a Norse land spirit known for giving gifts to children at this time of the year & Thor.
     Through time the Holly King became represented by the famous Christmas figure; Santa Claus or Father Christmas because he is depicted wearing red, a sprig of holly in his hair and is sometimes driving a team of eight stags, which could be a representative of the eight sabbats celebrated by the ancient pagans. He was also in some areas of Europe considered to be a powerful giant covered in Holly leaves and branches wielding a Holly bush as a club. In the Arthurian Legends, the Holly King could be seen as the Green Knight.
     The Oak King is depicted as the Green Man all dresses in green appearing out from a foliage of green leaves. You can pretty much see him hanging over castle and church walls, starring down at you.
     The Holly leaves are hung in honor of the Holly King and the mistletoe is hung in honor of the Oak King, because you can find mistletoe hanging far up in the branches of the Oak tree.
     This time of the the year, the Holly King represents withdrawal, lessons, life and rest.
     Take time this time of the year, while it's cold outside, go over the lessons of the year and see where to apply them to you life. Take the time to withdrawal and mediate on these lessons.
     The two must battle for they are the cycle of the Sacred Wheel. The time of the Holly King is about over and the reign of the Oak King is upon us.
    

The Holly Tree



As we celebrate the holidays rather we call it Christmas or Yule, most of our decorations consist of Holly. The Holly was used back in the ol' country during these holidays, as well. What was so special about the Holly?
     The Holly was known by different names. In Norfolk it was called Hulver. Devon, Holme and in Dartmoor, it was called Holme Chase. It was also known by Christ's Thorn, Hulver bush, Bat's Wings, Tinne and Holy Tree. There are over 400 species of the holly tree.
     The early Romans would send boughs of Holly along with other gifts to their friends and family when they celebrated the holiday of Saturnalia. It was the Roman festival of Saturn held around the 17th of Dec.
     Through the advice of the ancient druids, our Eastern European ancestors would bring Holly into the homes not only to protect the home from malevolent spirits but also to give the faeries of the home a place to be sheltered so there wouldn't be friction between them and the humans., but please make sure you remove all Holly out of the house before the eve of Imbolc because one leaf left in the home could cause misfortune. Also, whichever of the prickly-leaved or smooth leaved Holly was brought into the house first, dictated whether the husband or the wife respectively were to rule the household for the coming year.
     The Holly tree deities were: Lugh, Tannus, Taranis, Thor, Tailiu, Habondea and Tina Etruscan. The planetary ruler of the Holly is Mars. The Holly was thought to be a male plant and also associated with the element fire. The charcoal from burning the wood of the Holly was favored by the smiths. The charcoal would burn strong and for a long time. Charcoal from the Holly was used mostly for forging the swords, knives and tools that were necessary for survival and protection.
     Like many other beliefs, the Druids also favored the Holly tree. There were strong taboos about cutting down a whole tree. Even the Duke of Argyll had a road rerouted to avoid cutting down a distinctive old Holly  in 1861.
     The Holly tree was known for many ritualistic purposes and symbolic meanings: life, death, re-birth, holiness, consecration, material gain, physical revenge, beauty, immortality, peace, goodwill and health. The tree was thought to be very magickal since during the winter months when most of the trees had lost their leaves and looked so bare, the Holly tree kept it's greenery and it's red berries were very noticeable against the snow covered ground.
     Druids would take Holly water ( not holy water, but I'm sure there is a connection somewhere.. lol ) and sprinkle it on newborn babies to protect them. Sounds familiar.... hmmmmm  something else stolen by the Christian religion from our pagan ancestors.
      If anyone had a problem with coping with depression and loss of sleep, the Holly was used to help the victim. The Holly could be used to enhance dreams. If Holly was gathered on a Friday after midnight, wrapped in a clean cloth then tied up using 9 knots and then placed under a pillow, then the dream would come true. The juice from fresh Holly leaves could be sniffed to stop a runny nose. Soaking some Holly in vinegar and left for a day and a night was used for corns. Now some folks would carry a piece of Holly in their pockets to promote good luck, especially a man.
      In the Black Forest area, the leaves of the Holly tree were sometimes used as a substitute for tea, but I wouldn't suggest it. Any parts of the Holly tree esp. the berries can be deadly.... the berries are poisonous to us humans. If you're think of using any remedies like this, I would suggest seek out the advise of a Herbalist who knows what they are doing.
      Animals could eat the berries and nothing would happen to them. Folklore suggested that the wood had a power to tame animals. Horse carts or coaches were made from the wood of the Holly tree. Sometimes when the food for the cattle was running low during the winter, people would gather up young stems of the Holly tree and use it as cattle feed.
     Looms in the 1800s used Holly for the spinning rod because Holly wood is dense and can be sanded down real smooth. The threads wouldn't get snagged on the spinning rod. The white chess pieces were also made out of wood for the Holly tree.
     As I said, the Druids consider the Holly tree to be sacred. In the Celtic tree calendar the Holly represents the 8th month of the year ( July 8t through Aug. 4th) which includes the Celtic festival of Lughnassadh or Lammas. In Celtic mythology, the Holly King was said to rule over the half of the year from Summer to Winter Solstice then him and his brother, the Oak King, would battle. The Oak King would win and rule until the Summer Solstice.
     Pliny the Elder thought the Holly was a good plant for protection. He suggested that it should be revered and planted near homes or farms. He advised that it was good for protection against poison and defend from lightning and witchcraft. He also suggested that it's flowers could cause water to freeze and if you threw a Holly twig towards an animal, even without touching, it had the power to compel the animals to return and lie down. I bet the prisoners in the arenas wish they had some Holly. LOL
     So when you use the Holly, rather it be real or plastic, for decorations this holiday season, you will have a great conversation piece for when you and your family have that moment of awkwardness. LOL

Monday, November 30, 2009

Winter, a time of sharing and looking within

     The Winter months are upon us once again. The days are shorter and the nights are longer.
     Our ancient ancestors saw this as a season of death and decay. Our families today are not as close as they were in the past or I should say our survival today isn't relied on family closeness. Back in the days of our ancients the families lived mostly in one house; brothers, sisters, cousins, grandparents, parents and etc and most of the time along with the livestock. So in order to survive they had to been a closeness.
     Out in the world of nature, our ancestors saw the death and decay that the winter months brought on. Nights were darker, cold and silent. Not as many animals that we used for survival were around. The birds migrated to warmer climates. The bears went into hibernation. The deer or stags migrated as well with most of the predator animals following.
     Most of the trees lost their leaves, which has fallen down to the earth covering her as a blanket. The forest looking as a graveyard of skeletons. So our ancient ancestors had their reasons to see this as a season of death and decay.
     With the temperatures dropping and the nights getting longer, most of the families stayed inside around their fires.
     This would be the time that ancient stories of heroes and heroines would be told. Stories passed down from generation to generation or from clan to clan. Grandparents would share and passed down traditions to their children, the same with mothers and fathers. The men would take this time in preparing and repairing tools for hunting or gardening. I'm sure they would also spin their tales of hunting and the one that got away. The women along with their daughters talking and teaching about herbs. The art of sewing and making clothes for the following spring.
    While the world outside the homes seem to be in a state of death, the family on the inside was in a state of living, sharing and being close. It was a time of reflection and preparing for the following year. It was a time in preparing for the sun to come again. This was a time of the elders.
     The elders of the clans or the family teaching and sharing with their children the art of surviving and living on.
     In today's time, we don't have to have the closeness as our ancient ancestors did. We don't have a fire that we huddle around to keep warm.  We don't have to go out and hunt for food or store for the winter months. We don't see the winter months as the season of death and decay as our ancestors did. We have lost something. Our families have lost a lot of the closeness that we need.
     Just as our ancestors did, we still have the 'holidays' when we get together and share. That's probably why celebrating the holidays are just as important as back in the ol' days. The meanings of these celebrations may have change through time, but they are still just as important.
     Take this time when you are inside, sheltered from the cold outside, to not only get close to those you love, but also get close to yourself.  Take this time to reflect upon yourself. Take a look within.  Remember those things that you learned in the past year. Prepare yourself for the coming year. Learn and teach yourself how to apply these new lessons to make your life better.
     Now only is this a time when Mother Earth or Mother Goddess mourns for the lost of her lover and awaits for him to return, but she also takes the time to prepare for the coming year. She is looking within her and preparing for her lover to return from the Otherworld. Also while he is there in the Otherworld, he is as well, taking a look within himself preparing to return and bring back the warmth. They both are taking the time to be alone to their selves, learning, preparing and growing from within.
     You too should take this time to look within your own Well of Wisdom and look at all that you have learned in this past year. Take the time to go to your Elders and learn from them before they are gone through the Veil. Take a dip in their Well of Wisdom. You'll be amazed at what you can learn. Also go to the younger generation of your family and friends and share with them the things that you learned.
     As Christmas suppose to be, truly celebrate this season with the gift of giving. Giving not as in gifts or monetary wise, but sharing apart of yourself. Don't forget to treat yourself as well.
     Blessings As Always,
       Grannulus

Sunday, November 29, 2009

December Dates

Dec. 1 - Romania Union Day
           - World AIDS Day
Dec. 5 - Sinterklaas in the Netherlands
           - Father's Day (King's B'day) in Thailand
           - Aleister Crowley's death, 1947
Dec. 6 - Independence Day in Finland
           - Constitution Day in Spain
           - Saint Nicholas Day in Greece
           - Jacob Sprenger's death, 1495. He was the co-author of the Maleus Maleficarum.
Dec. 7 - Pearl Harbor Day in the United States.
           - An ABC of Witchcraft by Doreen Valiente published in 1973
Dec. 8 - Constitution Day in Romania
Dec. 9 - Egil Skallagrimsson's Day, in the Asatru Religion. A day of remembrance for the Viking hero.
           - Birthday of Margaret Hamilton, 1902, who played the Wicked Witch of the West in the Wizard of
               Oz
Dec. 10 - Human Rights Day in the United States.
             - The 1st Garderian Coven formed in America in 1963.
Dec. 12 - Independence Day ( Jamhuri Day ) in Kenya
Dec. 15 - Bill of Rights Day in the United States
Dec. 20 to Dec. 22 - Solstice: Winter Solstice in the N. Hemisphere. Summer Solstice in the S. Hemisphere.                                                        
Dec. 23 - The Emperor's Birthday, a national holiday in Japan.
Dec. 24 - Christmas Eve.
Dec. 25 - Christmas Day.
              - Feast of Frau Holle, a Germanic weather goddess.
Dec. 26 to Jan. 1 - Kwanza
Dec. 27 - Birthday of Gernia Dunwich, a Wiccan author.
Dec. 28 - Janet & Stewart Farrar began their first coven together in 1970.
Dec. 31 - New Years Eve.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thanksgiving


Lots of people knows of the story of the thanksgiving day that the pilgrims had with the Wampanoag Indians at the Plymouth Plantation in 1621. They had a rough start with their new adventure in the New World, but with the help of the Wampanoag Indians they survived. So they decided to have a day of thanks giving together with their saviours. To bad their saviours didn't know what laid ahead for them in the future years. I believe things would have been different.
     The date and location of the first Thanksgiving is a topic of much debate. The most accepted is mentioned in the above paragraph but there are many other claims of different dates and different locations.
    - One claim is on Sept 8th, 1565, in Saint Augustine, Florida. Spanish explorer Pedro Menediz de Aviles invited ( how nice of him ) the Timucua Indians to a meals of thanks.
    - Another one is Dec. 4, 1619, a group of English settlers arrived at Berkeley Plantation on James River now known as Charles City, Virginia.
    - The year of 1513, the landing of Juan Ponce De Leon in Florida.
    - Francisco Vasquez de Coronado's service of thanksgiving in the Texas Panhandle in 1541.
    - 2 other claims in Jamestown, Virginia in 1607 & 1610.
    - A Canadian claim was Martin Frobishner in 1576 on Baffin Island.
      Abraham Lincoln declared the last Thrusday of November, Thanksgiving Day in 1863. Now during Franklin Roosevelt's presidency, Thanksgiving wasn't still a fixed holiday. In 1933, the month of November had five weeks, so Franklin Roosevelt celebrated Thanksgiving on November the 30th because the country was suffering The Great Depression. The business leaders of that time pushed Mr. Roosevelt to moved it one week earlier, but Roosevelt wouldn't be moved not until 1939.  Money talks!!!  That's when Franklin Roosevelt declared that Thansgiving Day would official be the 23rd day of November.
     Well still not everybody was happy about that!  Imagine that! Many people were upset that Roosevelt would change a long standing tradition. Schools had to reschedule their vacations because they already had the schedules planned out. Football games had already been planned.  Smaller business were upset because they were afraid that the bigger businesses would grap the upper hand at the holiday shopping. So during that year some people had two Thanksgivings.  Mr. Roosevelt should understand you can't make everyone happy.
     After two years of public outrage Congress finally passed a law on Dec. 26,  1941, ensuring that all Americans to celebrate a unified Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday of November.
     Thanksgiving probably did start off as a religious holiday, but now has become a secular holiday which is mostly celebrated in Canada and the United States.  It is celebrated on the 2nd Monday of Oct. in Canada and on the 4th Thurdayd of November in the United States.

     I'm sure that the early English, Dutch and Spanish settlers of America had a lot to be thankful for, but let's not forget about the Native Americans.  What did they have to be thankful for?  stolen lands, diseases and deaths.  I try not to celebrate this day as a  holiday as it is protrayed in today's society.  I don't decorate my home with the usual Thanksgiving decorations, the little statues of pilgrims and Indians side by side in harmony becaue that's not the way it was. I do decorate my home with the theme of a harvest as it originally was celebrated, in my opinion. I do spend the day being thankful for all the things that the Goddess and God has given me; my job(s), my home, my family and friends and etc. Yes, I go and eat a big dinner with my small family and be thankful that I have them.  I also take the day, light a candle in memory of the millions of Native Americans that has died and suffered because of the first day when the first European settlers came to America.
     I think the last picture says it all. LOL    

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The most popular bird of the month: Turkey


Before we sit at the table for our Thanksgiving dinner or supper with our family and passing around the turkey, I thought I would write a blog about the ol' bird.
     Ben Franklin thought that the turkey was the best bird to respresent our nation instead of the bald eagle. He thought that the turkey a more respectable bird than the eagle, which he thought was a bad moral character. Wild turkeys back then were different that our turkeys today. The turkeys of his time were brightly plumed and a cunning bird of flight. You could see wild turkeys flying in the sky in flocks. Domesticated turkeys of today can't fly.
     Turkeys have lived in North America for almost ten million years.
     Now the Apache Indians thought that the turkeys were cowards, so cowardly that they would not eat them or wear their feathers. They thought that if they did they would contract their coward spirit. The Aztec Indians domesticated wild turkeys for food. When the Spanish explorers came over and saw the turkeys they took a few back with them to Europe. Through time these types of domesticated turkeys made their way back to North America. The English colonists brought them with them to the New World and used them for food.
     The turkey could have gotten it's name for many different reasons. One could be from the call that it makes when it's afraid, "turk, turk, turk."  Turkeys can literally be scared to death. The Air Force was doing some test runs trying to break the sound barrier. In a field near by, a flock of turkeys died because of the sound of the test runs. Now everyone has heard that the turkey will look up in the sky when it rains. This has not been seen nor investigated. For right now, that's a rumour.
     Another way the turkey could have gotten it's name was when Christopher Columbus 'discovered' the wild turkey, he thought it was part of the peacock family. So he name them "tuka" which in the language of India meant peacock.
     The Native Ameican Indians name for turkey was "firkee."
     Only the adult male makes the gobble, gobble call. The adult male is called the tom turkey while the female turkeys are called a hen. They make a gentle clucking or clicking sound. The chicks are called poults.
     The wild turkey has excellent visions. They can see in a field of vision up to 270 degrees. That's why it's hard for hunters to sneak upon one. Turkeys don't have external ears. They can also see in color but they do have a poor sense of smell.
     When we have an image of the turkey in our heads, we usually see a bird that is puffed out and struting the woods or some barnyard. That's not the turkey's usual stance. It doesn't last long and it's a mating strut to attract the hens. Normall the male turkey looks as simple as the female turkey.
    
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How The Turkey Got His Beard
After the Turtle won the race from the Rabbit all the animals was wondering and talking about it a lot among themselves, because they had always thought the Turtle was slow. But the Turkey was not satisfied and told the others there must be some trick about it. Said he, "I know the Turtle can't run--he can hardly crawl-I'm going to try him."
So one day the Turkey met the Turtle coming home from a war with a fresh scalp hanging from around his neck and it was dragging on the ground while he traveled. The Turkey laughed when he saw it and said:, "That scalp doesn't look right on you. Your neck is too short to wear it that way here let me show you."
The Turtle agreed and gave the scalp to the Turkey. The Turkey then put it around his neck. "Now," said the Turkey, "I'll walk a little while then you can see how it looks." So he walked ahead a short distance and then turned and asked the Turtle how he liked it. The Turtle said, "It looks very nice; it becomes you."
"Now I'll fix it in a different way then let you see how it looks," said the Turkey. So he gave the string another pull and again walked around. "O, that looks very nice," said the Turtle. But the Turkey kept on walking, and when the Turtle called out to him to bring back the scalp, the Turkey only walked faster and then ran away.  Then the Turtle got out his bow and by his magic shot a number of cane splints into the Turkey's leg to cripple him so that he could not run. This is why the Turkey have that many small bones in the their leg. The Turtle never caught the Turkey, who still today wears the scalp from his neck



Why The Turkey Gobbles
The Grouse had a fine voice and a good halloo in the ballplay. All the animals and birds used to play ball in those days. The Turkey didn't have a good voice, he asked the Grouse if he would teach him how to have a fine voice.  The Grouse agreed to teach him, but the Turkey had to pay for the lessons, and the Turkey promised to give him some feathers to make himself a collar. That is how the Grouse got his collar of turkey feathers. The Turkey learned very fast. The one day the Grouse asked the Turkey to try his voice. "Now," said the Grouse, "I'll stand on this hollow log, then when I give the signal by tapping on it, you must halloo as loudly as you can." So he got upon the log ready to tap on it, as a Grouse does, but when he gave the signal the Turkey was so eager and excited that he could not raise his voice for a shout, but only gobble. Now ever since then he gobbles whenever he hears a noise.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Fleetwood Mac: Rhiannon

The Goddess Rhiannon

Rhiannon is the beautiful Welsh underworld goddess who travels though out this earthly plane on a speedy horse. She is always accompanied by magical birds that would make the dead wake up and the living fall into a seven year blissful sleep.
     She also was the Welsh horse goddess, the same as the Gaelic goddess Epona and the Irish goddess, Macha. She could also be equivalent to the Roman-Celtic goddess Rigantona, the Great Goddess. Rhiannon could be interpeted to mean the "Divine Queen" of the fairies. The moon was also considered her sign.
     She was the daughter of Hereydd the Old. When it was time for her to get married, she had many suitors. Two of those were Pwyll, a chieftain of Dyfed and Gwawl, the son of Clud. She went against her family's wishes and married Pwyll. Now Gwawl being a sore looser, along with his father, laid a curse upon Pwyll. Rhiannon couldn't have any children for many years and Pwyll blammed her so he mistreated her.
     She finally gave birth to a son name Pryderi meaning "Worry." As a baby, Pryderi was abducted. Rhiannon was found with blood smeared on her mouth and checks. So it was thought that she killed and ate the child. Her punishment for the crime was she had to be Pwyll's gatekeeper. When she meet visitors at the gate, she would tell them her woes and bear them on her back to the door for seven years therefore she became symbolically transformed into a horse.
     Later it was found out that she was falsely accused by her maids, when their son was found. The maids, who was watching the baby, found Pryderi was missing. They were afraid of being punished so they took blood from a puppy and smeared it on Rhiannon's mouth and checks while she was asleep. Then they accused her of killing and eating her own son.
     After Pwyll died she went to live with her son. Pryderi went to fight in a war between Britian and Ireland. In the war, Bran the king of Britain had died and Pryderi brought back his head to Britian. Pryderi was one of seven survivors of the war. When he got home he made his mother, Rhiannon married Manawyddan, the brother of Bran.
     Again trouble follow Rhiannon, her and her son was cursed by Llywd, the son of Kil Coed and friend of Gwawl. He was still a sore looser. Llywd turned her into an ass and her son into a gate-hammer. Manawyddan came to their rescue. Through his cunning and cleverness, they were released of the curse.
 
This photo is the work of  The Ink Witch.
Blessings,
Grannulus

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Story of Rhiannon

     Pwyll met Rhiannon when she appeared as a beautiful woman dressed in gold, riding a white horse. Pwyll sent his horsemen after her, but she was too fast. In fact, she was riding no faster than Pwyll and his knights; her horse's swiftness was a mirage she created for Pwyll's and her benefit because she wanted to be married to Pwyll.  He finally chased her himself. Asking her to stop, Rhiannon told him she would rather marry him than the man who was being forced upon her, Gwawl. After a year from that day, he won her from Gwawl by following Rhiannon's advice to trick Gwawl into climbing into a magic bag that Rhiannon had given to   Pwyll, striking an agreement to free him in exchange for Rhiannon.
     Rhiannon gave birth to a son after three years of their rule. On the night of the birth, the child disappeared while in the care of six of Rhiannon's ladies-in-waiting. They feared that they would be put to death, and to avoid any blame, they smeared blood from a puppy on the sleeping Rhiannon, and lay its bones around her bed. Pwyll's counselors imposed a sentence on Rhiannon for her crime. She had to remain in the court of Arberth for seven years, and to sit every day outside the gate telling her story to all that passed. In addition, she was to carry any visitors to the court on her back.
The child appeared outside a stable of Teyrnon. Teyrnon found the child outside the stable. He and his wife adopted him. The child grew to adulthood in only seven years and was given a foal.  Teyrnon realized who the child was and returned him to Pwyll and Rhiannon, who named him Pryderi.
Pryderi married Cigfa and became Prince of Dyfed after his father died. He then invited his stepfather, Manawydan to live with him in Dyfed. Dyfed turned into a barren wasteland. Only Rhiannon, Pryderi, Cigfa and Manawydan survived. While out hunting one day, Manawydan and Pryderi saw a white boar, they followed. Pryderi and Rhiannon touched a golden bowl that the boar led them to and became enchanted. Manawydan and Cigfa were unable to help them until they captured a mouse which was actually the wife of Llwyd, Rhiannon's enemy who was seeking revenge for her treatment of Gwaw. The the spell was lifted

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Unlucky Friday the 13th.

     Why is a Friday that is the 13th of any month so unlucky? I went and did my homework and found out a lot.
     Anyone who seriously suffers from the fear of Friday the 13th is suffering from paraskevidekatriaphobia. I'm glad that I wasn't asked to spell the word in any spelling bee. LOL It's a combination of three Greek words: Paraskevi meaning Friday, dekatreis  meaning thirteen and phobia meaning fear. There are approximately 80 million people who suffers from this. They refuse to go to work, drive or do anything on this day.  Some buildings, hotels or offices, whose floors goes past this number will skip this floor. There is no 13th floor. A lot of hospitals skips numbering a 13th room.
     Where did this fear come from?  It's not really as old as you would think.
    To many of the pre-Christian cultures the number 13 was lucky. The ancient Egyptians believed that life is part of a individual's spiritual ascension in 12 stages and the 13th stage being 'death'. They saw death as a glorious transformation for the individual not an ending of life.
     As with everything else that had to do with the ol' religion, Christianity tried to degraded the number 13 and Friday itself.
     One of many lies that they spread was one about Frigga or Freya, a Norse Goddess who was a free spirited love goddess. A goddess of love, marriage and destiny. The wife to Oden. When the Germanic tribes converted to Christianity, Frigga was banished in shame to a mountain top and then labeled as a witch. Imagine that!  It was there that her and eleven more witches, plus the Devil would meet and plotted ill deeds of fate against mankind especially the Christians. Therefore we had the number of people in one gathering being 13. Since the last supper of Jesus Christ and his diciples had 13 members at one table and the 13th guest was Judas who betrayed Jesus then the number 13 was unlucky and evil. Friday being named after Frigga / Freya, a witch then Friday had to be unholy itself.
     The connection between the superstition of Friday the 13th and the Knights Templars is a more recent popular belief due to the book and movie, The Da Vinci Code written by Dan Brown. The Knight Templars was knights who protected pilgrims on their way to the Holy Land. These knights became very wealthy over time. In-fact some say they invented the banking system. Anyhow, King Phillip became jealous and envious of their wealth and power decided they were worshippers of Baphomet ( a Christian version of the Devil ) and had them excecuted on Friday, October 13, 1307.
     The Battle of Hastings has a connection to the superstition as well. Friday, 13th of October 1066, King Harold II decided to go to battle on Saturday the 14th. His soldiers were very tired, weary and worn because they had traveled from a battle near York, three weeks earlier. King Harold would not let them rest before they battled again, therefore the English lost and King Harold II was killed.
     To many pagans and heathens Friday was a holy day, a sabbath day. It was a day of worship and rest. Well, the Christians decided since Sunday was their sabbath and Friday was the sabbath of the heathens, then the day had no place for the Christians, so they announced it to be the Witches' Sabbath.
     Here is a list of ways they degraded the day.
     - The Crucifixion of Jesus took place on a Friday.
     - It was a Friday that Eve tempted Adam with the forbidden fruit which ended up with them getting banished from the Garden of Eden.
     - The Great Flood began on a Friday.
     - The confusion at the Tower of Babel was on a Friday.
     - The Temple of Solomn was destroyed on a Friday.

     Here is another list of superstitions in connection with Friday and the number 13.
     - If 13 people all sit down at a table together at once, they will all die within the year.
     - Don't name your children with names that have 13 letters.
     - The British Navy named a ship Friday the 13th. It left the dock on a Friday 13th and never was seen again.
     - A baker dozen consist of 13 loaves. The 13th loaf was for the devil as an offering so he wouldn't spoil the other 12 loaves.
     - President Franklin D. Roosevelt would not travel on the 13th day of any month nor would he have 13 guests at any one meal.
     - Apollo 13 launched at 13:13 CST on 4/11/70. The numerology adds up to 13. The explosion happened on April 13th.
     - The first person to die in a car accident was killed in New York City on September 13, 1897.

     So there you go a little history on the date of Friday the 13th. To some it's a very unlucky day and to some it's a lucky day. I know that when anything bad happens on this date when we realize the date, most of us says,"Oh! It's Friday the 13th."  I didn't even know what day it was until late this evening. So have a......



A boycott against Bath and Body Works

Dear Readers,
  There is a boycott being held against Bath & Body Works because a manager was fired for being Wiccan and she was called a "devil worshiper." Click on the link below for further information.

A boycott against Bath and Body Works

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A Connecticut Witch: Alse Young

In 1647, Alse Young was the first woman to be accused and executed of witchcraft in the thirteen American colonies. Very little is known about her. She had married a carpenter, John Young from Windsor, Connecticut. John had brought himself a small parcel of land in Windsor in 1641 and then sold it in 1649 after the execution of his wife, then he disappeared. Like similar cases of witchcraft cases, Alse Young was a woman without a son when the accusations was made, which meant that she would be eligible to receive through inheritance her husband's estate.
     She had a daughter, Alice Young Beamon who was also accused of witchcraft in nearby Springfield, Massachusetts, 30 years later.
     Alse was hanged at the Meeting House Square in Hartford, Connecticut on what is now the site of the Old State House.
     Let's remember Alse Young and her daughter, Alice Young Beamon. May their spirits find rest.
     Remember the Burning Times!

The Old Hag, Gwillion

     In the folk lore of Wales there is a name for a hag-like fairy called Gwillion or Gwyllion.  In some stories she's called the Old Woman of the Mountains. She is sometimes described wearing a cooking pot on her head in ash covered clothes and an apron thrown over her shoulders. She roams the mountains herding and caring for her goats, which has long beards. Wednesday is known for being the Sabbath of the Welsh fairies, it is then she combs their beards. She is also known for taking the form of a goat herself.
     She is part of a race of fairies that have a great dislike for humans known as the Gwithin. They love causing travellers in the mountains to become lost. Many people have found themselves following an old woman ahead of them. She always stays ahead. She never turns her face back so no one has ever seen her face. After some time the follower will find him/herself lost then she disappears with a cackle. Many times the Gwillion or Gwyllion will just bother or frighten someone by sitting on the side of a path or road, just staring at them, her eyes following them as they make their way down the winding path. There are traditions that states she also crys out "Wwb!" ( "wow-up!") or "Wwbwb!" pronounced Wooboob. It's a Welsh cry of distress. Sometimes you would hear her right next to you and the next moment across the valley over to the next mountain.
      One time the Gwithin had the power of flying but lost it. The reason isn't known. Maybe it had something to do with humans. They are seen walking the roads of the mountain during stormy nights but the Gwillion do not like stormy weather and will find shelter in a lonely, single house. In the community of Aberystwyth it is said the inhabitants being terrified of the curse of the Gwithin, allows the Gwillion to find shelter in their homes on stormy nights. The Gwillion are also afraid of anything iron or steel. If you ever corner one with an object, say a knife, made out of iron or steel then you will have a wish granted. Afterwards though the entire race will hate you and you will find trouble traveling in the mountains. In the Lanhyddel Mountains of Monmouthsire, she is said to haunt.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Sacred Yew Tree


The Yew was a very sacred tree to our European ancestors throughout the ages. The tree is associated with immortality, renewal, regeneration, everlasting life, rebirth, transformation and access to the Otherworld and our ancestors.
     It is a very slow growing tree with tough and resilent wood. It was used for spears, spikes, staves, hunting bow especially the longbows of the Middle Ages. Everyone knows the story of Robin Hood and his merry men. Robin Hood used a longbow to rob the rich. Many believe that his longbow was made out of the Yew tree. In-fact, Little John's longbow was thought to be found and was made out of Yew. It is now in the hands of a private collector. That's interesting. 
     Some arrow points were tipped with poision made from the Yew. The entire tree is very poisionous. It is one of the reasons why it was called The Death Tree. It was fatal to cattle if they ate any of it. Birds won't eat any of the berries, which covers the tree at Midwinter. The sap from the Yew is also red as blood. A bleeding Yew was considered a Holy Tree. During the depth of Winter the tree is still green. If you observe a the tree, you can see limbs and faces in the trunk. The tree knows nothing of old age or death and it doesn't lose it's strength. They can become hollow early in their life. They have the ability to send an internal shoot down into the hollow cavity which re-roots. This shoot becomes another trunk within the hollow. This brings the idea of an eternal tree.

     Many churchyards of Europe have Yew trees somewhere. Most of the ancient Yew trees that you find in churchyards are at least 1000 years old and some maybe 3 or 4000 years old. Dating a Yew is very hard since they grow incredibly slow. A lot of these ancient Yew trees in the churchyards were there before the churchs were built. Many times throughout our ancestors history, Christianity would build over prevous pagan sites. Imagine that! Many Druids' groves contained Oak and Yew trees.
     The Yew was believed to contain the spirits of our ancestors. The tree would be planted on sacred mounds of the dead so that the Yew would be their vehicle by which they would travel to the Otherworld.
     The tree has been part of funerary and burial customs. Sprigs of Yew were thrown under or on top of the bodies while being put into the grave. It was sacred to the goddess Hecate, guardian of the Underworld. It was considered most protective against evil, means of connection to your ancestors, bringer of dreams and otherworld journeys. It was a symbol of the old magick. Celtic shamans would inhaled a resinous vapour which the tree gave off during hot weather, to receive visions.
     In the north, the Yew was used for dowsing to find lost property because it would enlist the help of the ancestors. In Scotland, it was believed that if a person grasp a Yew in the left hand may speak to anyone he pleases without that person being able to hear, even though everyone present could. This way you could insult anyone without them hearing you.  The Yew was also sacred to the Fraser Clan of Scotland. The Highlanders believed it brought them good luck and kept evil spirits away.
     Many of the ancestors would actually go up to a Yew and speak to it, believing that the dead could hear them within the tree.
     If was considered unlucky if Yew were brought into the house with the Christmas Eve decorations, it was a sure sign that someone in the family would die before the year was over.
 

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Irish God; Donn


In Irish mythology, Donn was known as the Dark One, Lord of the Dead. He was also known as the father of Diarmuid Da Duibne, who he gave Aengus Og to be nurtured. He was though of as the father of the Irish race.
     He was known as the chief of the Sons of Mil ( the Milesians), a mythological race who invaded Ireland, driving out the Tuatha De' Danann.
     According to myth, when he stepped on Ireland he was greeted by the lovely goddess Eriu. She asked him if he would honor her by naming the island that he was planning on conquering, in her name. Donn dismissed her and her request. He also scorned her. This was a bad mistake. Eriu prophesied that he would not step foot on Ireland again. The god of the sea, Manannan Mac Lir, caused a storm to engulf Donn and the Milesians and drowned Don of the coast of Ireland. This area became his final resting place and it is where Tech Duinn ( House of Donn ) is said to exist. Another version says that Eriu forbaded him to step onto the shores of Ireland therefore he lived on the rocky islet at the end of the Beare Peninsula.
     This became the place where the dead went before they crossed over to the Underworld. Therefore he became the Lord of the Dead.
     In Knockfierna, County Limerick was also Donn Firinne's residence. Cnoc Firinne ( the Hill of Truth ) takes it's name from Donn, who is said to forewarn the local people of bad weather by gathering up rain clouds around him on the hill. Here he is also known as the fairy king Donn of Knockfierna. There is a large earthern fort on his hill and a number of dolmens known as the 'Giants Graves' stand there today.
     Sometimes he is seen riding on a white horse on stormy nights, when people would exclaim, "Donn is galloping in the clouds tonight!"

Monday, October 26, 2009

Jack-O-Lantern


     There are many legends and traditions about the Jack-o-lantern. It wasn't until 1866 that carving the pumpkin at Halloween became a specific tradition. Before the Irish immigrants came to America, they would carve turnips at Samhain and place them in there doorways or windows.
     One legend goes that there was lazy and shrewd farmer named Stingy Jack who was being chased by some villagers that he had stolen from. While he was running away from the mob he met the Devil. The Devil told Jack that it was time for him to die. Jack being a very clever and shrewd man, got the Devil to agreed to change himself into a coin, with which he would pay the villagers for the stolen goods then the Devil could change back and chase the Christian villagers or they would fight amongst each other thinking one of them stole the coin.  The Devil liked the idea very much and done just that. So as the coin the Devil jumped into Jack's wallet. While in Jack's wallet the Devil noticed he was next to a cross which Jack had also stolen from the village. Jack closed his wallet and then the cross stripped the Devil of his powers, so the Devil was trapped.
     Jack only let the Devil out if he agreed not to take his soul, which the Devil did.
     Life went on as it does for everyone then one day Jack finally died.
     Since Jack lived a life of sin by stealing, being shrewd and wicked he wasn't alllowed to go to heaven. Jack went to hell and the devil wouldn't let him in hell because the Devil did promise not to take Jack's soul. Jack had no where to go. He wandered the Earth in darkness.  So Jack asked for some light, the devil gave Jack an ember from the flames of hell, which would never go out. Jack carved out a turnip and placed the ember in it. Jack now roams the Earth until he finds a resting place.
     There are many versions to this legend.
     In one story, Jack was a black smith who loved his drinking. He was in a pub one night when the devil showed up to take his soul.  Jack convinced the Devil to turn into a coin so he could pay for the drink. Again, the Devil agreed to do so. Again, the Devil was stripped of his powers because Jack had a cross in his pocket.
     Jack finally let the Devil go if he promises not to take his soul for 10 years.
    Well 10 years came about and the Devil came calling to Jack again for his soul. This time Jack convinced the devil to climb an apple tree, which the Devil did. When the Devil got into the tree, Jack placed crosses around the base of the tree ( or he carved crosses at the base of the tree ) and the devil couldn't get down. Jack promised to let the Devil down if he promise to not take his soul. Of course, the Devil  promised not to take his soul.
     In this story as well as the other ones, Jack finally dies and he is refused into heaven and into hell. He travels the Earth with an ember from hell in a turnip.
     Some versions says that God help Jack trick the Devil and even gave Jack a turnip to carry his ember.
     In another version, the Grim Reaper agrees to give Jack eternal life if Jack gives him his head to carry back to hell with him. The Grim Reaper agrees and takes Jack's head then places a carved pumpkin in place of his missing head.
     So this Halloween/Samhain, when you gather the children and adults together to crave pumpkins tell them the story of the Jack-O-Lantern.