Monday, September 28, 2009

Those Famous Shooting Stars

The other night while I was walking along the river, I looked up into the Eastern night sky and witnessed a shooting star going across the horizon. Living down here on the river with no street lights or city lights, I get a great view of the night sky. This time of the year I see a lot of shooting stars on many of my nightly walks. So I thought I would write a blog about the folklore of these awe inspiring flash of lights in the night sky.

Of course, we know that the term shooting star or falling star really isn't a star at all. It's a small piece of interplanetary debris that falls towards the earth. A meteor is the debris that we see burning up as it enters the earth's atmosphere. The debris that doesn't totally burn up but gets through the atmosphere and lands on earth is called a meteorite. Our ancient ancestors didn't have the science to explain these phenomenons, so they came up with their own myths and folklores.
Many meteorites that fell to earth contained rron and that's where some of our ancient ancestors got their iron to smelt for their weapons, armor and trinkets.

Many ancient cultures thought that their gods that controlled the lightning and thunder also controlled the meteorites. They thought that when they saw the meteors shooting across the night sky, the gods were at war and the meteorites were pieces of their hammers, sheilds or other tools of weaponary that they were using in their heavenly war that would hit the earth.

The ancient Egyptians called these meteorites the "stones from heaven." The Sumerian word for iron meant sky and fire. One of the first cultures to use weapons that were smelted from the heavenly sent iron and called the metal fire from heaven were the Hitties. The Assyrians called it fragment from heaven.

Most of the time when we see the meteors hit our atmosphere, we see the long tail behind it. In Meditteranean cultures and the Chinese they were dragons or messengers sent from heaven. In Siberia, the sky was a dome of sewn hides which the gods would peek through, exposing the radiance beyond. Some ancients thought that the meteorites were gifts that were cast down from Angels while others thought the gods were displaying their anger towards us.

In many legends of Asia, meteors were fire serpents that crossed the sky. Sometimes these serpents brought problems and sometimes they brought treasures and riches.

Many of the Native American tribes had their own folklore and myths about these lights across the sky. Many thought meteors were fragments of the moon so therefore called them children of the moon.
The Blackfeet of Montana believed a meteor was a sure sign that sickness would come to the tribe in the coming winter or that a great chief had died.

The Cahuilla thought that they were the spirit of their first shaman, Takwich, who was disliked by his own people. Takwich was doomed to wander the night skies looking for people far from their tribe. When someone was found, he then stole their spirit and sometimes, even the person, took them back to his home and ate them.

The Shawnee believed that the meteors were beings "fleeing from the wraith of some adversary, or from some anticipated danger."

Many meteorites have been found in many Native American graves in the United States, especially at the Hopwell Mounds.
Many Greek and Roman temples actually enshrined rocks that, according to myth, had fallen from the heaven. Emperor Elagabalus was a keeper of a black stone that was thought to come from the heavens in Rome 218 AD. he insisted that the stone should be an object of public worship.

In the UK, it was customary to say that a child had been born each time a meteor was seen, but in other parts of the UK, it was believed it was because someone had died. That's the folklore that was believed and shared to me by my grandparents.

Also it was believed that a dragon was born. Again, in other parts of the ancient world, it was the opposite, a dragon had died.

In Switzerland, a meteor was considered to possess the power of God. Chile, one must pick up a stone when seeing a meteor streak across the sky.The Phillipines, one must tie a knot in a handkerchief before the light goes out.

Even though we have the scientific explanations of these wonderous light shows in the night sky, they still spark a sense of awe just as they did many years ago with our ancient ancestors.


Friday, September 25, 2009

The Witches of Belvoir

In the 17th century, a servant name Joan Flower along with her two daughtes, Margaret and Philippa, worked part-time for the Earl of Rutland's family at Belvoir Castle. Margaret was fired for being a thief after she became a live-in-servant.

Afterwards the Earl's family became very sick. The Earl and his wife suffered terrible convulsions before their ordeal ended. Now their son, Lord Ross, didn't recover. He went from a very healthy boy, then sick and later died.

In an angry arugment with the family, Joan Flower said some harsh words. The three woman had a large reputation for being ungodly and very wicked, plus the odd looks didn't help either. All this together help accuse the three woman for witchcraft against the noble family.

Christmas 1618, they and some friends were arrested. The two daughters and friends were 'tested' ( we know what that means ) into confession for putting curses upon the Rutlands. Now Joan Flower would not confess. She was waiting to be transported to London's jail for trail and, of course her death. She had asked for some bread and cheese. Before she began to eat, she said that God should strike her down if she was guilty. After taking her first bite, she died. Not some said that was the intervention of God himself but there are other people who believe she poisoned herself so she would not suffer the terrible ordeals that laid ahead of her at London's jail.

Her daughters were both hanged at Lincoln jail on March 11, 1619.

When Joan's two daughters confessed, they told of the devilish things that they did. They had stoled Lord Ross' gloves, gave them to their mother, who dipped them in boiling water, stroked it along her familiar's back while chanting some incantations.

Now Joan Flower had a familiar, named Rutterkin, a large black cat. Of course, let's not forget about the cat.

They also took some feathers from the Rutland's bed and another pair of gloves. Boiled these items in water, along with some blood and they casted some spells to prevent the Earl's wife from having anymore children.

They tried to cast spells on the Lady Katherine, the Earl's daughter but they failed because the familiar, Rutterkin had no power over her.

During the 'examination', the daughters revealed the names of other woman who helped them. Ann Baker of Bottesford, Joan Willimot of Goodby and Ellen Greene of Stathorne. There's no use in going down alone.

All three woman admitted that they had visions of devils and had familiar spirits, as well.
Willimot had a familiar named Pretty, which had been a fairy, given to her by her former master. Pretty later became a woman who asked Willimot to give up her soul. Willimot said that she only used her familiar to enquire about the health of individuals that she was trying to heal.

Greene admitted that her and Willimot had gone into the woods, where Willimot conjured up two spirits, a kitten and a mole. Greene sent these familiars to kill a man and a woman. They had an argument and then they both died a fortnight.

Baker confessed of having a white dog for a familiar.

The Earl and Countess was so convinced that witchcraft had killed thier son that they had it inscribed on their monument at Bottesford Church, The Witch's Tomb.




The Sacred Owl

On a full moon night, you're taking a walk maybe with your friend or taking some time to yourself, off in the distance you hear the Owl making it's familiar call. It's one of the most recognizable sounds of the night. I don't know about you, but when I hear it, it brings a smile to my face and a spark in my spirit. I love to sit out on my deck in the swing and listen to them off in the distance. We had a family of Owls in the neighbor last spring. She had three chicks. I got to watch them grow up and take flight. The chicks would hop from tree to tree expanding their territory, exploring their new surroundings and getting adjusted to their wings. You could hear them screech all around. Sometimes they would swoop off the limb and onto the ground. I thought it was awesome.
The owls were held in awe and wonder to our ancestors, either in the Ol' country or to the Native Americans. Their are so many different stories, superstitions, folklores and myths regarding out night time friend. Some cultures held the owl as an animal to be honored and sacred. Some held the owl to be feared and to be a prophet of doom. I'll try to do the owl some justice with this blog and touch base with just a fraction of the myths and superstitions of the owl.
In Chinese mythology, the owl was a dancer, who danced on one foot and had a human face. Yu, the Emperor of China, one day forced the owl to dance a dance of submission because the owl opposed the Emperor. At one time according to the myths, the owl was once a drum and to this present date the owl is not afraid of thundering and lightning because it was the dance that created the two elements. In some parts of China, the owl were thought of being evil and ate their own mothers.
In Japan, the Eagle Owl was trusted, because it warned people of evil that was approaching. These owls were kept in cages and honored. Also they were sacrificed to the gods because they could take the messages of the people and priest to the gods.
Greece, held the owl to be very sacred because their Goddess Athene, the Goddess of Wisdom, made the bird her favorite among all feathered creatures. In the famous, Acropolis, a huge number of owls inhabited the marble columns and they were protected. The owl was a protector of the Greek armies and also accompanied them to battle. If an owl flew over the soldiers before the battle began, it was taken that victory laid ahead. The Greek trade and commerce had respect for the owl, his image appeared on different Greek coins.
In ancient Rome, if an owl was believed to have caused some evil, then the accused owl would be killed and then nailed to the door of the household to advert the evil that it had caused. We know of the death of Julius Caesar, well according to folklore, it was said that an owl's call was heard before he was killed. According to Roman superstitions, if an owl's call is heard then it meant immient death. An owl also predicted Augustus and Agrippa. Another rumour was that witches would transformed into owls and then suck the blood from babies.
In some cultures to dream of an owl meant a traveller would be either shipwrecked or robbed. The call of an owl while flying past the window of a sick person meant certain death for the individual. If an owl was found nesting in an abandoned house it meant the house was haunted because the owls love to hang out with the spirits of the dead. Imagine that!
The English, thought that the screeching Barn Owl could predict cold weather or a storm was on the horizon. Now if the owl screeched during a storm then the weather would change. In the 19th century it was still believed that nailing a owl to a barn door would ward off evil and lightning. Get this, in the remedies of English folk medicine, alcoholism could be cured with an egg of an owl. What is it with alcoholism and England? If a child would eat a raw egg of the owl, then he/she would be protected against drunkness. Another owl egg remedy is if you cooked an owl's egg until it turned to ashes it would improve eyesight. Also if your child was suffering from the whooping cough, then broth made from owls was given to them to ease their suffering.
In Brittany is was a very good sign if you see an owl on the way to the harvest, it meant that the harvest was going to good.
In Ireland, if an owl flew into the house it must be killed before it flew out, because it would take all the luck of the household with it.
If you saw an owl during the day in Scotland was considered bad luck. It was also considered misfortune if you see an owl flying across the moon. It was so serious, that in order to protect yourself you had to change your name and move to another town. The screech owl was thought to warn against any danger, but the horned owl was a carrier of ill fate.
In the Shetland Isles, if a cow was scared by an owl then it would give bloody milk.
To the ancient Celts, the owl was a sign of the Underworld. The owl was sacred to the Goddess Blodeuwedd, a Welsh Goddess who was made from flowers. Her name meant 'flower face'. Her destined was to be turned into an owl as a punishment for her betrayal and death of her husband. She was made from 9 flowers by Gwdion and Math, considered to be two magicians. She was to be the bride of Llew, but she wanted to be married to another, named Goronwyn. Blodeuwedd had Goronwyn to spear Llew, but he was saved by Gywdion, who turned Llew into an Eagle. Gywdion turn Blodeuwedd into an owl as her punishment.
Also in Wales, if an owl was heard among the homes then an unmarried girl lost her viginity and if a woman who was pregnant heard an owl then the child would be blessed.

The Native Americans held high esteem for the owl. If you were Apache and dreamed about an owl then death was approaching.
The Eastern Screech Owl was considered a consultant from the spirit world to the Cherokees. If someone answered the call by calling a similiar sound and don't get a response back then the individual would die.
The brave warriors of the Dakota Hidatsa saw the Borrowing Owl as their protector.
The Borrowing Owl became the totem of death and all underground things to the Hopis. The owl's name was Ko'Ko', watcher of the dark.
The Iniuts believed that the Short Eared Owl use to have a long beak until it was frightened and flew into the side of a house which flattened it's face and beak.
Among the Cree people, the presence of an owl would make speaking very difficult. A stutterer could attract owls. If an owl was believed to be causing the village supernatural mischief, then someone would go out into the forest and purposely start to stutter. This would summon the owl, who could be confronted with the problem and made to resolve the situation.
Some believed that the owl was bad to their children. In Malaya, it was thought that the owls ate new born babies. In Arabia, owls were evil spirits that would carried children off.
A lot of hunters in different cultures held the owls with honor. In Russia, the hunters would carry the claws of the owl because when they die their souls would climb to heaven.
An owl was thought to save the life of Genghis Khan.
The owl was thought to be a very sacred bird, honored and feared in many ancient cultures for centuries. The list of superstitions, myths and folklore goes on and on. So it's obvious it's a very special creation of the Goddess and God. So now when you hear that call from somewhere deep in the country and it gives you the chills, now you know why. It's in your blood.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Mabon: A Time of Thanks

The Autumn season is fast approaching this year. Tomorrow, the 22nd of Sept., is the Fall Equinox, the end of Summer and the beginning of Autumn. It's the day what most pagans, call Mabon.
It's called by many different names; Feast of Avalon, Harvest Home, Winter Finding, Alban Elved, the Second Harvest, Harvest of First Fruits, Wine Harvest and Festival of Dionysus.
It's the second harvest, with Lughnsasadh being the first. Mabon was known as the end of the grain harvest, while Lughnsasadh was known as the end of the corn harvest. Mabon was named after the god with the same name, Mabon ( may-bon, MAY-bun, MAY-bone, MAH-boon, MAH-bawn ). To the followers of Strega it was called Equinozio di Autunno. The druids called it Mea'n Fo'mhain, who honored the Green Man this time of year. He was the god of the forest. The druids would leave offerings at the base of their sacred trees and groves in honor of them and the Green Man.
The Fall Equinox, is when the day and night are equal. It's the time when the moon/night begins to take over the days, which becomes shorter. This is the time of the year, when the god of light is defeated by his twin brother ( who is also his alter-ego ), the god of darkness.
This is also when the full moon at this time of year is known by the farmers as the Harvest Moon. Our ancestors in the ol' country, would harvest the last bit of crops at night with the help of the light of the full moon. Also the full moon was known as the Wine Moon, because of the grapes that was harvested, as well at this time of year.
In some cultures of the ol' country, the last sheaf of grain, that was to be harvested was saved until next spring. Sometimes this last sheaf was molded into a shape of a person, mostly a female figure. This 'doll' became known as a Barley Mother, The Old Woman, The Maiden. The 'doll' would be honored in the home and taken care off. In the Spring of the following year it would be either plowed back into the fields or burned, then the ashes would be spread across the newly plowed fields.
Mabon ( Fall Equinox ) is also the time when the deer mating season begins, therefore the hunting season begins and this I know living in Alabama.. lol
In Britain folklore, this is when it was thought that Herne the Hunter would lead a wild phantom chase through the forest. Mabon was also considered the Night of the Hunter. This was when the weak livestock would be slain because they wouldn't make it through the winter months. In some cultures, to honor the dead, apples would be left on burial cairns or tombstones, as a symbol of rebirth and thanks.
As I said, Mabon is the name of a god. In Welsh, Mabon meant, "great son" referring to the Son of the Great Mother, The Divine Son of Light.
When Mabon was born, three nights later he disappeared or was kidnapped. Some traditions claims that it was three years. No one knew where he was. Where ever he was at, some interpret the story as he was in the womb of Mother Earth waiting to be reborn again. He was accompanied by ancient and wise animals; stag, raven, owl, eagle and salmon. According to the Arthurian stories, Mabon was found by one of King Arthur's knights with the help of the animals. There are many versions of this story since over time the original story has been re-told, re-written and christianized.... need to say more.
A lot of the interpretations of the story is that Mabon, being the Divine Child of Light is the Sun. This time of the year is when the sun is slowly loosing it's grip as the ruler and is slowly slipping into the underworld, thus the mysterious disappearance of Mabon. In the spring he will return again. While he is there he is gaining his strength and wisdom ( from the animals ) while awaiting his return. We as the 'Knights of the Round table', per say, are always looking forward to his return. By the end of the reign of the winter months, we can't wait til he returns.

We can take the life cycle of Mabon as:
  • Yule- He is born as the God of the Sun.
  • Imbolc - He grows into a toddler with the forest being his playground.
  • Ostara - He is growing up into youth as a young hunter & warrior.
  • Beltaine - He has grown into a matured adult male with his new bride.
  • Litha- He is a man in the prime of his life.
  • Lughnsasadh - He has become a leader, provider and a teacher to his people.
  • Mabon - He is a man with a spirit in a weaken body, awaiting his Underworld journey.
Now, least we forget about Mabon's mother, who is our Mother Earth. At this time of the year, she also celebrates the harvest along with her Mother, the kindly old grandmother Crone. Who watches and shares with us her wisdom. Mother Earth helps us grow and she is filled with child, while she takes up in her arms her dying lover before he takes his trip into the Underworld, now that he has been defeated by his twin, his alter-ego, the god of darkness.
This is a time of the year that we, Children of Mother Earth, can look back over the year and be thankful for the blessings that the Goddess has bestowed upon us. I know I could.
We can also look at the losses that we have suffered through and consider these as blessings, as well. Take this time of year clean out your house. Open up the doors and windows, letting the crisp air flow through your home. Take long walks in the forest or where I live, in the woods. Look around you, pick up some pine cones, leaves, sticks and think about the changes around you. Be thankful for the blessings and smile, be proud because you are now stronger and wiser. Even though 'death' is all around you, it's not the end of life, but the beginning of something new and exciting.
As Pagans, this is our Thanksgiving; giving thanks.
Have a Blessed Mabon,
Grannulus





Sunday, September 20, 2009

Circle Round at My Space

Mabon Pagan Pride Day Special 09!!!


Circle Round TV is a new internet television show! We hope to provide not only educational experiences but also some entertainment as well. Although to begin with, we will explore primarily Wiccan concepts, we hope to expose our viewers to all walks of Pagan paths.

Mission Statement: Circle Round is dedicated to providing an informative, entertaining, and educational video experience for open-minded pagans and metaphysical communities.

http://www.myspace.com/circleroundtv

Friday, September 18, 2009

Those little Acorns

I have two big water oaks outside my house, in the backyard. When the wind blows or it rains, I can hear the acorns hit the roof and then tumble down the roof hitting the ground. It's a sound that reminds me that fall is coming.
The Druids consider the oak tree a very sacred tree, therefore the acorns were considered sacred.
Acorns became a sumbol of immortality, strength, and power. The Druids would eat acorns thinking it would give them these great gifts. The acorn was also a great talisman acting as a protector from evil spirits. The ancient men of mysteries as well as the Romans would wear a necklace of acorns around their necks. The Goddess Diana was known to be adorned with these necklaces.
Thor, one time, sat underneath a Oak tree during a great storm to protect himself from the lightning. Oak tree is probably the only tree that is safe from lightning during a storm probably due to it's height. Anyway because of this, people put acorns on their window sills during thunderstorms to protect their home from a lightning strike. In some Nordic tribes, the fruit of the oak was the life giving acorn which was one of the main food sources.
Some people would carried acorns in their pockets to prevent aging. Also carrying an acorn in your pocket some thought would increase fertility, strength, and sexual potency. I still have the acorn that my grandfather brought with him from Ireland. I use to carry it in my pocket a lot. It's much larger than those around here in the south.
If you are down on luck in the money department, try to plant an acorn in the dark of the moon. People in ancient times would do this to ensure receiving money in the near future.
In 17th century Britain, acorn juice was given to alcoholics as a cure or to stop them from taking the next drink. Acorns may be used as a powerful antiseptic.
Native Americans venerated the acorn as well. They would collect enough acorns to store for two years. They would dry the acorns in the sun to prevent mold and germination. Afterwards the woman would take the acorns to their villages and store them in hollow trees or structures on poles, to keep them safe from mice or squirrels. They found a way to remove much of the bitter taste and the tannins, that are contained in the acorn, to make a type of acorn meal for breads and flour. They also used the acorns to predict a hard or mild winter. An abundance of acorns meant a harsh winter.
Mountain folklore claims that if you put an acorn between the mattress and the box springs of a lover's bed would keep him/her faithful.
In Ancient Japan, acorns were harvested, peeled and soaked in natural or artificial ponds for several days to remove the tannins, then made them into acorn cakes.
In Korea, a edible jelly was made from acorns, called Dotorimuk.
Now when hear those little jewels of the oak trees fall and hit a tin roof or when you step on them in your yard, you know a little history of the acorns.
-written by Grannulus

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Cornucopia



We are about to come into the harvest months, with Mabon on our heals, then Samhain and afterwards the modern holiday, Thanksgiving. This is the season the we see the woven basket that holds fruits or flowers on someone's table as a centerpiece or when we walk into the deco stores.
A lot of people knows them as the Horn of Plenty or Cornucopia.
The word Cornucopia comes from two Latin words. The first being Cornu meaning horn and the 2nd, copia meaning plenty.
There are 2 myths in explaining the origin of the Cornucopa. They are both from Greek Mythology.
The first, Amalthea was a goat who helped raising Zeus while he was being kept in a cave because his mother Rhea was afraid that his father, Kronos, would eat Zeus as he did the rest of Zeus' brothers and sisters. Zeus was making a lot of noise so Rhea got the goat nypmh to keep him quiet by feeding him some of her breast milk.
Amalthea and Zeus was playing one day, when Zeus accidentally broke off one of her horns. This changed Amalthea into a unicorn. The horn then had supernatural powers which would give anyone in possession of it whatever they would like.
Before today's modern version of the Cornucopia being a woven basket filled with fruit and flowers, in the ancient times it was depicted as a goat's horn intstead.
The second myth is about a feud between Hercules and the river god Achelous. Achelous was the biggest river in all of Greece at the time. The two men had their eyes for a young beautiful maiden and daughter of the King Oeneus of Calydin, whose name was Dejanira.
The two powerful men got into a huge wrestling match one day. Hercules, being the son of Zeus, kept getting the upperhand in the match. Achelous, who could change into anything that he wanted, kept changing into different animal forms to gain the upperhand. At first he changed into a snake, then he changed into a bull. During the time he was a bull, Hercules tore off one of his horns. According to the myth this diverted the river, Achelous.
The water nymphs of Achelous, Naiads got the horn and treated it as a sacred object. They filled it with flowers and then named it The Horn of Plenty.
The deities that were associated with the Cornucopia were Tyche ( Greek ), Fortuna ( Rome ), which were goddesses of riches and abundance, Dionysus ( Bacchus ) and Demeter ( Ceres ).
Now during these coming harvest festivals and holidays, when the family gathers together to celebrate, you have something to talk about. The little woven basket on the table as a centerpiece now can become the centerpiece for a conversation.
-written by Grannulus

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

True power comes not from what you can do, but knowing what you can do and choosing not to do it.
-Grannulus

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Tree Lore: The Rowan Tree

How can we walk through the grove and not learn about the trees?
The rowan tree, in ancient times, was considered a very sacred tree. It was known by many names; the quicken tree, quickbeam, or mountain ash even though it's not related to the ash family. Quickbeam means "living wood" in archaic Modern English. To the Celtic, the tree was also known as "The Druid's Tree," because they held it so sacred.
They used the rowan tree a lot in their everyday life. The druids planted the tree along with the Oak and the Ash in their sacred groves. They would interweave the rowan into boughs and then spread them over the hides of bulls that have been sacrificed. The reason they did this was they would lay down on the hides to travel to the spirit world. Some traditions claims that the druids, before a battle, would kindle fires of rowan wood, then they would speak magickal incantations over the fire to invite the sidhe to participate in the battle. Walking sticks and magicians' staves were made out of rowan, especially the druids' staff. Also the druids would used the berries to dye their garments black, which they would use during their Lunar ceremonies. The bark of the tree was used to tan hides, as well.
The gods and goddesses that are associated with the rowan tree were connected to very powerful deities. Since the tree was considered to be connected to the sun and it's solar power, it had connections to a lot of solar deities.
In Ireland, the goddess Brigid and in Britain, Briganta, an ancient deity of the 'land,' were considered to be connected to the rowan. Both of these goddesses had arrows made from the sacred rowan tree, which could catch on fire when it was called for.
Other deities that was considered to have a link to this sacred tree was the Celtic god and goddess, Lugh and Leanan. Lugh was a Celtic god who was considered as a many skilled magician and the king of the gods as well as a chief warrior ( God of the Spear ). He was also responsible for bringing the harvest. Leanan Sidhe was an otherwordly female who inspired poets and musicians.
The Tuatha De Danann were said to be the ones responsible for bringing the rowan from Tir Tairngire, The Land Of Promise.
The traditions of the Norse, who honored the rowan, claimed that the sacred tree had saved the god Thor from a furious river. Thor was about to be swept away and drowned when the rowan reached down with it's branches and pulled him out of the waters.
In Greek myths, Zeus sent an Eagle to recover the Cup of the Gods, which was stolen by some demons. During the battle and out of the blood and the feathers of the sacred Eagle spranged the rowan tree. This was believed because of the feather shape of the leaves and the juice of the berries.
In Scandinavian mythology, the first woman was created from the rowan while the first man came from the Ash tree.
The physical appearance of the tree and it's red berries contributed to it's strong protective power. The berries were not only considered to be very sacred for the many uses but also because the fact that they have a tiny five pointed star or pentagram on each berry. The red fruits were thought to be able to restore youth to the aged.
The red berries were also associated with both life and death and was believed to represent the blood of the gods. Dye wasn't the only thing made from the clusters of berries, but a strong and delicious drink was made from their juice or added to mead.
The leaves and berries were often added to incense for divination and scrying.
The rowan got it's name from the Norse word Runa, meaning charm. The branches were also used as dowsing rods and magic wands. The tree was such a powerful protector against evil spirits, charms, and witchcraft that farmers would make every sort-of domestic and farming tools from it; plows, handles for shovel, rakes, pitchforks and etc. They would also bind twigs from the rowan with red thread and hang them over their doorways, stables, under milk pans and even tied them to the tail of their cows.
In Wales, there wasn't a church yard that didn't have a rowan tree planted somewhere, sometimes on the graves themselves, which was believed to keep the dead from haunting. The rowan wasn't just very popular in the churchyards but also found growing very close to homes to keep the presence of evil away.
In England, it was said that the Devil himself hanged his own mother from the tree. I thought my family couldn't get along.
The rowan wasn't only sacred to the druids and church goers but also to the sea-faring folk. The rowan was carried onto vessels and ships to avoid storms. Some people kept branches in their homes to protect them from lightning.
There was a certain 'type' of rowan that was considered even more special, called a 'flying rowan.' This type of rowan tree would grow from a larger tree or out of the side of rock cliffs. This act of nature was caused when birds would eat the berries, then the seeds in their droppings would fall between rocks, in a hole or a fork of a large tree. This special rowan was thought to be even more powerful against witches and their magic. It was very sought for by all especially the druids.
Another resource the rowan tree offered was the ability to predict the weather and the volume of food sources. In Newfoundland, if there were a heavy crop of berries meant a hard or difficult winter was ahead.The number of berries, in Finland and Sweden, predicted the amount of snow cover during the winter months. In Maalahti, Finland if there were a large amount of rowan flowers then the harvest of Rye would be plentiful. Also if the tree flowered twice a year there would be many potatoes and many weddings that autumn. In some lands, winter would begin when the birds had eaten the last of the berries.
In Sweden, if the rowan grew pale and lost it's color, the fall and winter would bring much illness and suffering. The druids believed that if the rowan tree was healthy and well cared for then the land would be the same.
Living here in the south, I haven't seen any rowan trees around but when I do see one, I will have the uptmost respect for it as did my Celtic ancestors and I hope you will too.
written by Grannulus

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Those Magickal Fairy Rings

As the seasons begin to change from Summer to Fall, the nights beginning to get longer and the days are getting shorter with a chill in the air. I have noticed a lot of dark rings, soon afterwards a ring of mushrooms, appearing in the lawns around my community.
Today with the help of science, we know and understand the workings of these dark rings, before the influence of the scientific world, many of our ancestors
from the ol' world had they're own explanations and beliefs surrounding these mysterious rings and the mushrooms that they produced.
Folklore about the fairy rings, as they became known around Eastern Europe, extended from Egypt to South America, from Ireland to the Phillipines.
According to some ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics, dating 4600 years, mushrooms were the food of immortality and only the pharoahs were allowed to eat the fungi. Many ancients believe that mushrooms had the properties of super-human strength, help in finding lost objects and also could lead the souls up to the realm of the gods.
In New England folklore, a fungus called 'death baby' growing in the yard is a warning of death in a family.
In Norland, Sweden there is a tradition of throwing toadstools into bonfires on Midsummer's Eve ( June 23rd ) to ward off evil spirits.
The Fly Agaric mushroom, with it's red and white spotted cap, has a very powerful psychotropic compound. It was thought to be one of the ingredients of a witch's flying ointment. It was also thought to be used to give visions and out-of-body experiences. It can be poisonous particularly if you don't know the correct amount to take.
Note here: In this blog, I'm not condoning the idea of going and picking mushrooms to consume. If you don't know what you are doing, it can be fatal. So I would suggest that you don't.
Santa Claus has a link to the world of the mushrooms. His red and white outfit were said to symbolize the Fly Agaric. Siberian shamans were know to consume the mushroom. Santa using the chimney to visit homes on Christmas Ever is similar to a shaman's custom of leaving a dwelling by riding it's smoke through the hole in the roof. Also Santa Claus was considered himself, a fairy folk.
Today we know that when we see those dark rings in the grass of our lawns means a fungi below is about to spring up in a day or so.
Fairy Ring n:) - a natural occuring ground circle caused by fungi or other biological agents; figuratively a fanciful ring or circle of mystical or unusual behavior or action. Spots or circles in the pastures or lawns, due to the outwardly spreading growth of fungi - Webster's Dictionary.
Folklore in England, stated they were places where fairies came to dance. People living in rural England claimed to have seen fairies dancing in fairy rings as recently as the 20th century. The mushrooms were thought to be used as stools for the fairies to sit upon during their evening celebrations. Traditions in Scandinavia holds that fairy rings were the results of elves and fairies dancing in a circle.
Some authors wrote that the brightness of the grass of the fairy rings did not come from the dancing itself, but from Puck, who refreshes the grass because the fairies damaged the area of grass while dancing.
In some parts of South America, children's fairytales claims that the mushrooms were used as umbrellas carried by woodland spirits to shelter them from the rain.
A 20th century Irish author claims that fairies enjoy dancing around the hawthorn tree and that explains the rings forming aound the fairy tree.
In Devon, England stories says that a black hen and chickens sometimes appears at dusk in a large fairy ring on the edge of Dartmoor, England.
The oldest fairy ring on record is over one kilometter wide and over 700 years old. Stonehenge even has a fairy ring over 100 meters wide and said to be over 300 years old.
In some folklores, fairies dancing weren't the only cause for the rings themselves. In Germany, fairy rings were called Witch's rings where according to traditions were thought to be the site where witch's danced on Walpurgis Night.
A Tyrolean legend states that the rings were burned into the ground by the fiery tail of a dragon. In Holland, they were said to be marks where the devil rest his milk churn. What was the devil doing with a milk churn? I don't know.
In some parts of Europe, the belief that they were the work of evil spirits or witches carried on into the 19th century.
The fairy rings of the Phillipines were associated with dominating spirits of the region.
In some ol' folklores, fairy rings were thought to be formed by a variety of dark and evil forces such as shooting stars, lightning strikes created by witches.
France has a lot of folklore and traditions when dealing with the fairy rings. Under Louis XVI, France was the leader in the formal cultivation of mushrooms which were grown in special caves in Paris. In fact, some say Louis XVI was the first mushroom grower.
French traditions claims that fairy rings were guarded by giant bug-eyed toads that cursed anyone who violated the circles. Around France, fairy rings were also known as Sorcess' Rings.
Within all the traditions and folklores dealing with fairies and their mystical rings, there where a lot of warnings.
One common theme, belief that dire consequences awaited anyone entering a fairy ring. Some say that any foolish trespassers were to be struck blind, or become lame, or maybe even disappear to become slaves in the fairy's underground world for a hundred years.
In some parts of Europe, you could even loose a eye if you stepped into a ring.
Entering a fairy ring on May Eve or Samhain was very dangerous. When stepping into a fairy ring you would become invisible to the mortals outside and you would find it close to impossible to leave. Often fairies would force a mortal to dance to the point of exhaustion, death or madness. If children stepped into a fair ring by mistake, some traditions claims that the child would die or spend the rest of their life in bad luck. If you were a murderer, a fairy ring isn't safe. There was a fairy ring called a "galley trap", if a murderer stepped into a ring he/she would be magically hanged. How convenient.
Freedom from a fairy ring requires outside intervention. One could cast wild Marjiran and Thyme into the circle to confuse the fairies. Another rescue attempt is to touch the victim with iron or a stick from a Rowan Tree which can be used to break the curse of the ring. Only after a year and a day after the victim has entered the ring can the rescuer help, but the enchantment of being in the ring is still affective.
The time period in a fairy ring can seem like a day, but in the mortal world it could be weeks or years.
The person who is rescued from the ring's enchantments have no memory of their time in the ring.
In most traditions the saved trespasser still faced a grim fate. Some could crumble to dust as they stepped out or moulds away when they eat their first bite of food or simply disappear when they touch any iron.
Celtic legends states that under a full moon is the best time to investigate a fairy ring. One must travel around the ring in the direction of the sun nine times, then you can hear the fairies dancing and frolicking. Never walk around a fairy ring in a counter-clockwise motion for this allows the fairies to place you under their spell and never circle the ring a 10th time for this is foolharded and very dangerous. Another way to prevent from being pulled into a fairy ring is to wear a hat or your clothes backwards for this confuses the fairies.
There were also warnings about building homes in connection with the sacred fairy rings. Fairy rings were said to bring good luck to houses built in the fields where they occurred, but not on the rings themselves nor build your home or barn in the path of a fairy trail leading to the rings.
In Wales, it was asking for doom if you built on top of a fairy ring or even allowed your animals to gaze within it, for their milk would become putrify or rotted.
In an Irish legend, a farmer builds a barn on a fairy ring despite the warnings from his neighbors. He is struck senseless one night then a 'fairy doctor' is called and breaks the curse. The farmer then destroys the barn.
So please if you follow the ways of ol' and the belief of the fae, be aware of the rings and the local traditions in dealing with the wee-folk and their mystical rings.
- written by Grannulus

First Time Blogger

I've visit many blogs of different subjects and always wondered how they do it. Well, last week I found the resources to do it.
I love to share information about things pertaining to the worlds that interest me; Paganism, Celtic, Wiccan, Paranormal, Strange & Unusual and the list goes on.
I also love to write and express my thoughts.
I'm going to find this a fun, exciting and a learning experience. I hope those who visits my blog, Grannulus' Grove, will enjoy the information and adventure; most importantly learn, as well.
So please be patient with me if there are any mistakes.
Also I would like your comments and advice. They're always appreciated.
Blessings to You & Yours,
Grannulus