Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Peridot / Birthstone of August

Peridot pronounced pear-uh-dot is the official modern birthstone of the month of August. The current assignment of specific gems to respective months was standardized by the American National Association of Jewelers in 1912, has since been accepted. 
     Peridot is found in varying shades of pale green lime and olive green. Though out times and history the gem has been confused with the emerald. The peridot has more of a hint of yellow or gold tint to it than the emerald. It is widely believed the name comes from a Arabic word, 'faridat', meaning gem. Another thought of origin comes from the French word 'peritot'; meaning unclear because the color of the gem is supposed to be unclear. A third theory is that the word originated from a Greek word 'peridona', which means richness. The Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC., houses the largest cut peridot which is a 310 carat gem.
     The peridot can be found near Egypt and the Red Sea. For over 3000 years, it has been mined from St. John's Island and also in Myanmar in Burma, Australia, China, Brazil and Arizona. The finest quality of peridot is found in Pakistan.
Traces of the 'evening emerald' or 'emerald of the evening' which is was known by the Romans, can be found in Egypt. In those time it was also known as the 'Gem of the Sun'. As I sad before the peridot was confused much with the emerald. Some believe the emeralds worn by Cleopatra herself were actually peridots. Peridot was mined in Ancient Egypt on an island called Zeberget, today known as St. John's Island.  Legends stated that it could not be easily seen durning the day, so it was mined at night. The island was infested with serpents until a pharaoh came along and finally had them driven into the sea. Ancient Egyptian priests used cups made of peridot so that they could be closer to the goddess of nature because in ancient times the force of nature was thought to be present in the peridot. It was thought to be a gift from Mother Nature to celebrate the annual creation of a new world.
     Due to the Crusades, many churches throughout Europe counted the peridot among their vast treasures. Napoleon, himself, used the peridot gem to assure the empress Josephine of his love and admiration.
     Peridot is also mentioned in the Bible under the Hebrew name, 'pitdah' which was used in the fabled breastplates of the Jewish High Priest.
     In Hawaii, the gem which are formed through volcanic activity ,symbolizes the tears of the goddess Pele. Transparent green grains of peridots are found on the beaches of Hawaii, but they are to tiny to cut.
     The Peridot is one of the few gemstones which come in one color only. It is called as Chrysolite, a variety of olivine. It also one of the most difficult gemstones to polish. As we see, though-out history, the peridot was thought to have great mystical powers. It was associated with good luck, good health, peace, enhances prosperity, growth, strength, faithfulness, truth, fame, dignity and love. It was also believed to have the powers that help to repel evil spirits and overcome nightmares.
     National leaders of former times who wore the gemstone in public was thought to be gentle, fair and wise. It was believed that whoever wore the peridot would bring the wearer power,  protect them from evil spirits and to bestow upon them the power to ward off anxiety, enhance speech articulation, inspire happiness, strengthen and regenerate the body and mind. The power of the peridot was enhanced even more if it was set in gold , had to be pierced and worn on the left arm.
     I didn't find much on the remedies of the peridot except for two. If you hold a peridot under the tongue was suppose to lessen the thirst of a person suffering from fever. Ground peridot if taken internally was once used as a treatment for asthma. Providing this information, I am not recommending it. LOL

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Video Tribute to Isaac Bonewits

Re: The video tribute to Mr. Isaac. you may use it thanks for the wonderful words

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Isaac Bonewits 1949 - 2010

Breaking News: Isaac Bonewits 1949-2010

A Friend of Witch School, and Friend and Honorary Elder of our Tradition Isaac Bonewits has passed away this morning. 

A Discussion/Tribute: http://www.witchsch topics/breaking- news-isaac- bonewits

A video Tribute: http://www.witchsch isaac-bonewits- tribute

Here is the official Announcement; 

Philip Emmons Isaac Bonewits, founder and Archdruid Emeritus of of Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship, one of North America's leading experts on ancient and modern Druidism, Witchcraft, magic and the occult, and the rapidly growing Earth Religions movement, died today after a short struggle with cancer.

Mr. Bonewits first came into the public eye when he graduated from the University of California at Berkeley with a Bachelor of Arts in Magic and Thaumaturgy (1970). During his tenure there, Mr. Bonewits worked with many renowned professors including Nobel Prize Laureate Owen Chamberlain. The work he did for that degree became his first book, Real Magic: An Introductory Treatise on the Basic Principles of Yellow Magic (1971).

In 1983, he founded and became the first Archdruid of Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship (ADF) an international fellowship devoted to creating a public tradition of Neopagan Druidry. In 1995, he retired from a leadership role due to complications from eosinophilia- myalgia syndrome. ADF has grown to become the best-known Neopagan Druid group based in North America. At his death, Mr. Bonewits held the title of ArchDruid Emeritus.

During his forty years as a Neopagan priest, scholar, teacher, bard, and polytheologian, Isaac Bonewits coined much of the vocabulary and articulated many of the issues that have shaped the rapidly growing Neopagan movement in the United States and Canada.

Mr. Bonewits was internationally known as a speaker who educated, enlightened and entertained two generations of modern Goddess worshippers, nature mystics, and followers of other minority belief systems, as well as explained these movements to journalists, law enforcement officers, college students, and academic researchers.

His personal papers will become part of the American Religions Collection at the Library of University of California at Santa Barbara.

One of his most influential contributions was the Advanced Bonewits Cult Danger Evaluation Frame (the "ABCDEF"), developed in 1979 as a response to the Jim Jones People's Temple tragedy. It has been translated into many languages and used around the world to evaluate how dangerous or harmless an organization might be. It was the first such scale to use theories of mental health and personal growth to judge rather than theological or ideological standards.

His other books include Authentic Thaumaturgy (1979, 1998), The Pagan Man (2005), Bonewits's Essential Guide to Witchcraft and Wicca (2006), Bonewits's Essential Guide to Druidism (2006), Neopagan Rites (2007), and Real Energy (2007), which was co-authored with his wife, Phaedra, as well as numerous articles, reviews and essays. As a singer-songwriter, he released two albums, Be Pagan Once Again (1988), and Avalon is Rising (1992). 

He is survived by his wife, Phaedra, his son from a previous marriage, Arthur Lipp-Bonewits of Bardonia NY, his mother Jeannette, his brothers Michael and Richard, and sisters Simone Arris and Melissa Banbury.

The Green Corn Festival / Ceremony

Through out the months of August, September and October, many different beliefs and cultures celebrate some type of harvest festivals. Even though many of my posts in the Grove deals with the European continent, I would like to talk about a Native American harvest festival known as The Green Corn Festival.
     Many tribes of the Native Americans depended a lot on the corn crop and many attribute even their origins with the corn.
     The Green Corn Festival was celebrated by many Indian tribes in one form or another. Many tribes held several festivals through out the year to say their prayers and thanks to their deities. This particular festival could last up to 3 days. The opening day of the festival varies differently across the Americas, depending on when the corn was ripe. The time of the festival is called for by the Keepers of the Faith or the Elders, who also instructed the members of the tribe when they could eat green corn, which refers to the ripe sweet corn. Mostly the corn was not to be eaten until the Great Spirits were given proper thanks. The act of thanksgiving was very sacred to the Native Americans. Many of the prayers of thanks was given in respect to the corn (of course), rain, sun and a good harvest.
     The Green Corn Festival, which was also known as the Green Corn Dance or Ceremony, was held in late summer of early fall. During the festival, many tribes held many dances such as the Creek, Cherokee, Seminole, Yuchi and Iroquois.
     This festival was held also a religious renewal. Members of the tribes would clean out their homes, throw out ashes, buy or make new clothes. The tribal towns and homes would be cleaned of all the trash and broken items, would be put into a heap and then burned. Some tribes partake of a drink that would cleanse the body, as well. This drink was known as the Black Drink. This drink would cause the individual to vomit. You would probably ask, "Why would anyone cause themselves to vomit?" Well, this was considered to purify the participants from minor 'sins' and then they would be in a state of perfect innocence.
     During the Green Corn Festival, many youth who had come of age and babies were given their names. Many sporting events were played during this time as well especially a ball game which were at different times and had different rules depending on the tribe.
     At the end of the day, the members of the tribal towns would gather and feast. After the Green Corn Festival, some corn was left on the stalks to ripen even more. Dried corn and corn meal made from it was very important as staple food to the tribes during the months of winter.
     The Cherokee celebrated the Green Corn Ceremony by honoring Selu, the Corn Mother. It would last up to 4 days. Their festival had many sacred dances which were performed within a sacred circle. This festival began by all members of the tribal town going to a running body of water and cleaning themselves. A deep pit would be dug inside the sacred circle. A branch of wood that came from a tree that had been hit by lightning would be lit and used to bless the grounds for the ceremony. The coals from the thunderwood, the name for the wood that had been struck by lightning, would be used to start the fire in the pit.
     Many of the dances would last anywhere from 2 to 4 hours long. The War Dance would be perform by the men. There would be several other dances performed which would symbolize the planting and harvesting of the corn. Inside the sacred circle, the leader of the dance and shaman or priest would make offerings to the Thunder Beings and the ancestral spirits, thanking them for a plentiful harvest.
     The final dance would be the running dance. The entire assembly of people would enter the circle, forming a sinuous line circling the fire, like a snake. Dancers would use rattles make from gourds which was filled with small rocks and a stick of wood from the lightning struck tree. Only the war dance and running dance was accompanied by a drum.
All clan matrons would take coals from the sacred fire in the circle to their home fires. In some tribes, all would bring out their furniture and destroy them and then they would make new furniture.
     So you see the idgenious people of North American were no different in their harvest festivals as the European ancestors. People lived closed to Mother Earth and depended on this closeness. The seasons determined our way of life.  Just as then, we are ALL part of the Sacred Circle of Life.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Lammas / Lughnasadh video


Lughnasadh pronounce Loo-na-sa,  marked the beginning of the harvest season. The harvest of the first fruits of the land.  A festival celebrated on August 1st, some celebrated July 31st. It's one of the longest celebrations in the Sacred Wheel. In some countries and traditions it could last the whole month of August. Farmers would reaped the first ears of wheat, oats and barley. Lambs would be weaned from their mothers so that they could mate and conceive new off springs that would be born the following year at Imbolc. Lughnasadh was in honor of Lugh, the Shinning One and the warrior of the Tuatha De' Danann. He was also known as the Master of All Skills. He was a sun and agriculture deity. In Wales, he is known as Lleu.  Many of the festival gatherings were held outdoors with a masculine type of atmosphere with horse racing, settling legal matters, story telling, feats of magic, commerce and trading. Their were competitions of skills in archery, weapons and etc.
      Some say that Lughnasadh  was originally started by Lugh in honor of his foster mother, Tailtiu, the last queen of the Fir Bolg. He name came from the Old Celtic word, Talantiu, "The Great One of the Earth."
     The story goes that she had cleared a great forest so the people could farm. The area according to legends puts the place as the whole county of Meath in Ireland. It is well known that this is the richest farmland in Ireland. Tailtiu collapsed from exhaustion and as she laid dying she asked her son Lugh to hold funereal games every August in her honor. So the most famous Lughnasadh festival is held at Teltown, which is said to be the burial place of Lugh's foster mom. The residence of the area believe that as long as these festivals were held, then Tailtiu would make sure that every household would have plenty of corn and mild and there would be peace. She also promised that the weather would be fair for every festival.
     At this gathering, there was a special kind of trial marriage which was called a Tailtean or Teltown marriage. This kind of marriage only took place as this gathering. A couple who were seriously in love would take their vows to each other by holding hands through a hole in a standing stone. This marriage would last for a year and a day. At the next year's Lughnasadh, the marriage, if they wanted to, could be dissolved by both parties ritually walking apart from each other. One going north and the other going south. There were other marriages as well some lasting one day and one night while others lasting a week. This was in honor of the tradition that a plentiful harvest could not be won without the goddess' help. Before a new king could be inaugurated, he had to undergo a ritual marriage with the goddess of the land. Only she could give him the right to rule the land and the people; the king ( the people ) and his queen ( the goddess, the land).
     In the Christian era, the festival became known as Lammas. The name was derived from hlaf-maesse ( loaf-mass). This was when a loaf was made from the first ripe grain and then taken to the church to be consencrated  upon the altar. The modern day church took up a ritual of blessing the fields before the harvesting.
      Lughnasadh has an older name, Bro'n Trogain, which refers to the fertile earth. In Roman Gaul, it was changed to become known as the Feast of Augustus.
     The first part of the word Lugh -nasadh, was in honor of Lugh, the nasadh is a word meaning remembrance. The part of the festivals that had a mourning theme. Lughnasadh was also a remembrance of the passing of the old king, god or year which was idealized by Lugh.  There were procession and celebrations of the arrival of the new king, new god or new year or the rebirth of the sun. There's a tradition of a funeral procession in the Lancashire Wakes area of England called the Lyke Wakes Walk which crossed the Yorkshire moors, groups of usually young men carries a empty coffin for 40 miles. Traditional ceremonies may have been literally funerals for sacrificial victims both human and animals, effigies and symbolic representations of the dead. These were carried in processions and led to be burial in the appointed burial grounds. Many paid tribute to the dead by casting offerings into pools or down in deep burial shafts of warriors and heroes.
     Other traditions consist of bonfires into the night with drinking and dancing, with wrestling matches, activities testing the skills of the men, trading and selling the first fruits of the land, hand fasting rituals. Farmers would give their workers white gloves as presents but this served another purpose of not getting dirt into the flour.  Many farmers would take the first grain and make what we call today corn dollies also another name is Kern baby or corn maidens. They would save them and then plant them in the ground for the next planting.
    Today many pagans and Wiccan celebrate Lughnasadh by remembering the Sun god Lugh and his union with the Goddess, Earth. The union bringing fruits of the land. Also celebrating and showing thanks to the deities for their sacrifice.  Many make bread in shape of a human, then ritually eating it. This is a time to thank the Gods and Goddesses for the harvest of not only food but also the lesson that we learned, new friends, family members and the success of achieving goals that we have set in our lives.