Sunday, December 4, 2011

Jack Frost, the artist of Winter

There isn't much written or known about the character that has became known to us as Jack Frost.
     In English folklore he was known as a sprite or fairy of winter. He is a great artist who takes pride in his artwork. The design of the ice crystals on your windows during the winter months is credited to Jack Frost's talent. They say there is no snowflake alike. Even though I haven't fount any information crediting Jack Frost to the designing of snow flakes, I feel that he is their creator or when you get up in the morning and you see frost all over the ground making the scene look like a winter wonderland.
     Jack Frost has roots in Viking lore which was adopted by the English being that the Vikings invaded England and the stories were passed down from generation to generation. In the Scandinavian lore he is known as Jokul or Iokul meaning 'icicle' and Frosti meaning 'frost'.  Jack can be considered a variant of Old Man Winter.
     He is sometimes shown with a paintbrush and merrily creating his wintry masterpieces. He can appear in different forms, sometimes as a child, a 'snow man', or as an old man. Jack Frost is not only held responsible for creating those crystal designs on your windows but also for nipping your nose and toes and the foliage in the autumn months.
     In some traditions, Jack Frost is thought to be a child of Mother Earth and in some the child of the wind possible the North or West wind or maybe a son of the Norse god of the wind Kari.
     In Scandinavian lore, Jokul was a citzen of Jotunheim within the Nine realms of Asgard. The realm of the frost giants. Jokul was considered a prince but not with a cold heart as the rest of the Frost Giants but with a merrily heart and spirit who liked playing tricks during those cold winter months and running around the country side showing off his artwork.
     The only trace that I found of his transition from Jokul or Iokul to Jack Frost is thought to be credited to the Grimm Brothers who wrote their famous fairy tales.

Friday, December 2, 2011

La Befana, The Christmas Witch of Italy

     During the Christmas season or Yule, whichever you tend to celebrate, the jolly fellow that is best known is Santa Claus but in Italy he's not alone.  A lot of little children since about World War II have been finding gifts in their stockings by an old lady known as La Befana.
     On the night of January 5, Befana is believed to go from house to house leaving gifts of baked goods, toys, chestnuts and fruit in the stockings of good little boys and girls. If you've been bad you would get left a black 'coal', onions or garlic.
     Children would leave their stockings hanging over the fireplace or on their bed post and sometimes they would leave their shoes in anticipation of Befana leaving her gifts as she comes down their chimneys to visit them.  Who is this La Befana?
     Her name comes from the Greek word for the night of Epiphany which is the celebration of the Magi finding the baby Jesus.
     She was an old witch women who delivers gifts to children throughout Italy on Epiphany Eve, the night of January 5. She may have originated in central Italy and then spread by popularity throughout Italy.  Befana was depicted as an old witch lady with a big red nose, slightly hunch back, wearing a black shawl, dressed in a jacket of colorful patches, covered in chimney shoot, wearing broken shoes and flying through the air riding a broomstick. She is also carrying a bag filled with children toys and gifts.
     There are many Christian legends about her. One goes that Befana was approach by the 3 biblical Magi who were following the star and searching for the holy child Jesus. They stopped at her home and asked for directions to where Jesus was. I guess following the star wasn't good enough. Befana informed them that she didn't know and haven't heard of a holy child being born. She offered them shelter for the night and the 3 wise men took her upon her offer seeing how clean and pleasant her house was. She was known in her little village of being a great housekeeper. After a night's rest, the Magi invited her to joined them on their quest but she refused by saying she was too busy with her housework and that she did have time.  Later on, La Befana changed her mind and decided to find the 2 wise men and the baby. She couldn't find them and so to this day she keeps searching leaving every child with gifts and toys.
     Another Christian version  was that she was an ordinary woman with a child who she loved very much. Well, her child died and the grief drove her mad. She then heard about the birth of the holy child Jesus so she went in search of him. She eventually found him and brought him gifts. This made the baby very happy and in turn he gifted her stating that she would be the mother of every child of Italy.
     A third version tells that Befana was a great housekeeper and spent her days always cleaning and sweeping her house. One day the 3 Magi came to her door looking for the infant. Befana being busy turned them away. That night she saw the bright light in the sky so she followed it and found Jesus herself. In anticipation she had brought baked goods and gifts for the baby in a bag. She also brought her broom in hopes that she would help the new mother, surely she would be busy with the new baby, clean her house. She searched and searched but she never found the them and she continues searching to this day.
     La Befana home was thought to be somewhere in Urbania, Italy where every year there is a big festival celebrating the night of Epiphany. About 30,000 to 50,000 people attend this festival ever year. People usually dress up like La Befana and parade the town. Some even attempt to swing from a tower imitating her flying through the sky. The Befanas juggles and dances entertaining the children.
     As I stated before the children expect to find gifts and fruits in their stockings or shoes but bad children would usually get a lump of 'coal'. Today's children would get a rock candy made black with caramel coloring which represents a lump of coal. Almost every child will receive this candy because all children aren't perfect. When she would leave the household, back up the chimney that she came down she would sweep the house with her broom. The parents of the household would also leave her a small glass of wine and a plate of goodies to eat.
     In the modern time the belief of the La Befana is becoming less popular due to the invasion of the belief of the jolly old man dressed in red and riding in a sleigh. Some children has adopted Santa Claus into the belief of La Befana. Some say that she is Santa's wife and she lives in the South Pole while her husband lives in the North pole. Also after Christmas, she helps Santa with his job. The children of the modern day Italy has even figured out what she does if you don't have a chimney. She comes through the keyhole.
     The mention of the Christmas witch, La Befana was first recorded historically in a poem by Agnolo
Firenzuola in 1549.
     The tradition of La Befana is a Christian tradition but she does have a pagan origin. Some historians believe that she comes from the tale of an 'old lady' ( wicker doll or a type of scarecrow figurine ) which was burned ( of course ) in the squares of many Italian villages to celebrate the end of the year. It was a ritual that symbolizes the end and birth of a year. A symbol of time cycles which is always ending and beginning. She also has a connection to the traditions of the Celtic people who were once living in the whole Pianura Podana and parts of the Alps. Here the Celtic people would burn wicker puppets in honor of the ancient gods. Through time the witch, shaman woman or priestess knew the secrets of nature became the image of La Befana. Her symbols of today's time had pagan roots as well. The 'coal' that she would leave was a symbol of fertility because it was connected to the sacred bonfires that the villages would have this time of the year to represent the turning of the wheel. The broom had connection to the trees and the nature rituals of the Celts. Also with the broom and her sweeping has another strong pagan connection to getting the house cleaned and ready for the next year; sweeping out the old and getting ready for the new.
     In some European folklore the 12 days between Christmas and the Epiphany was thought to be a space of time that witches was very strong especially on the 12th night, the night of the Epiphany. It was considered the  most magical night of the year. This was when forecasts and predictions of the future would be made. People would sit around the fireplaces spending the evening telling and spinning tales of magic and fantasy.
     In the Romagna region, Epiphant was a pagan festival when the ancestors would come and visit the living. They would bring with them good omens predicting an abundance to the living. The Befanotti which represents the Befana would go from house to house singing the "pasquella'.
     Just as writing letters to Santa Claus, children would leave notes of their wishes tucked up the chimney in hope that La Befana would find them. That night of her visit many people would throw parties and go from house to house visiting with friends and family members.
     Many traditions and beliefs of the La Befana is very similar to what we hold to the stories of Santa Claus. As I said the La Befana is loosing ground in these modern times to the belief of Santa Claus. I have a gut feeling that she also had a lot to do with the legends and stories of how Santa Claus came to be what he is today. Behind every strong man is usually a strong woman. So Mote It Be!

Friday, November 18, 2011


Money Spell part 2

This is my attempt at a 3rd video. This video is about a 'money' spell that I came across years ago. I don't perform spells that much, hardly at all.  I performed this one years ago and it work. I shared it with friends as well with the same results. There is a WARNING though. I would not advise doing this spell if you haven't tried everything to bring money into your life. This spell should be last resort and I'm not suggesting breaking the law to bring money into your life. For ex... if you know of a job that you could make money with but you won't take the job because it's beneath you because of its amount of hourly wage. Then you perform this spell either it won't work OR it will and then eventually karma will come around because you 'lied' to yourself & the spirits. I've seen it work that way.
When it does work, no... money will fall out of the sky and it will not be enough to make you rich. It will be enough to help you & your family. The blessings may not take the form of money when it appears. It could be some food, some clothes, a friend helping... blessings aren't tied only to money.. thank the gods!
Please be patient with the blurring. It's my camera trying to focus while I move around. I can't be still when I talk. A camcorder is on this year's list. 

Blessings As Always,
Grannulus

Thursday, November 17, 2011


This is my attempt at a 3rd video. This video is about a 'money' spell that I came across years ago. I don't perform spells that much, hardly at all.  I performed this one years ago and it work. I shared it with friends as well with the same results. There is a WARNING though. I would not advise doing this spell if you haven't tried everything to bring money into your life. This spell should be last resort and I'm not suggesting breaking the law to bring money into your life. For ex... if you know of a job that you could make money with but you won't take the job because it's beneath you because of its amount of hourly wage. Then you perform this spell either it won't work OR it will and then eventually karma will come around because you 'lied' to yourself & the spirits. I've seen it work that way.
When it does work, no... money will fall out of the sky and it will not be enough to make you rich. It will be enough to help you & your family. The blessings may not take the form of money when it appears. It could be some food, some clothes, a friend helping... blessings aren't tied only to money.. thank the gods!
Please be patient with the blurring. It's my camera trying to focus while I move around. I can't be still when I talk. A camcorder is on this year's list. 
Part 2 will be posted soon. I promise...
Blessings As Always,
Grannulus

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Epona

Not much is written on the goddess Epona. All that researchers and archaeologist has learned about her is from the 343 inscriptions that have been found through-out the Celtic lands and especially in Rome.
 She was worshiped through-out Rome and especially by the Roman Calvary who adopted her into their beliefs. The Roman Calvary consisted of men from Gaul who were great horsemen and some think were already paying homage to the goddess. They brought the goddess to Rome with them.
     Archaeologist has found many stables in the Roman empire with shrines dedicated to Epona. The shrines were simple niches cut into the wall with a small statue of the goddess with garlands of roses around her. Epona also had a shrine in the barracks of the Imperial Bodyguard. German legions made plaques depicting her in human form with a foal or feeding foals.
     She was considered the goddess or protector of horses, donkeys, mules, animals, riders and stables.  A lot of the statues and figurines of Epona shows her riding on a horse, with foals, dogs or birds following her.  She was also known as the Mistress of animals. Some believe she had a role with the Underworld because she was shown holding keys which may be the keys to the Underworld. The birds that accompanied her were often thought of as symbols of a happy other world.
     In some traditions she was thought of as a fertility goddess because with some figurines she is shown with a horn of plenty, the cornucopia or a basket filled with fruits, corn and apples. Some think that she once was a fertility goddess but through time she was 'reduced' to a horse goddess.
     The Romans held an annual festival in her honor on Dec. 18th as a day of feasting. She was worshiped as Epona Augusta or Epona Regina, which was invoking her on the behalf of the emperor at the time.
     Other symbols and signs of Epona was the horse whip and harnesses.
     During the time that the Romans were in Britain, they brought with them the goddess Epona but the goddesses Rhiannon and Macha was already a part of a horse cult before Epona appeared.

     According to the Greek writer, Agesilaos she was born of a mare and a man named Phoulonios Stellos. There are some evidence that could link her to the idea of sovereignty and to the land. In some kingship rituals the king had to first mate with a mare ( I don't know who that was bad for.) and then the mare was sacrificed. In some cases it had been found that the king then would sit in a bath of broth made from the sacrificed mare.



Monday, July 25, 2011

Rose of Jericho / The Resurrection Plant

     Also known at Mary's flower, Stone flower, Spike moss, Rosa Mariae, Rose of the Virgin, Dinosaur Plant, Holy Night Rose and Palestinian tumbleweed. This plant grows in the Negev and Sahara Desert, North Africa, Egypt, Israel, Iraq, Jordan, Pakistan, Iran and even in some areas of South and North America. It's commonly known as the Resurrection Plant.
     This plant has been known through-out many centuries especially in the desert areas of the world. Living in the desert and dealing with long droughts this plant has adapted well. When there is no water around, it curls it's stems into a tight ball and seems dead. This method defends the seed and does not allow them from being broken up prematurely. The seeds are extremely hardy and are capable to be dormant for a long period time. When there is water or it rains, the ball uncurls and turns green again. It has cells that causes rejuvenation and it turns green again, producing tiny white-colored blooms.
     According to legends it is said that the Virgin Mary blessed the eternal plant during her and Joseph's flight to Egypt. In Spain, it is traditionally connected to the Holy Trinity.
     There is two species that is considered a resurrection plant, which basically means any plant that can rejuvenate itself. Anastatica hierochuntica is known as the true Rose of Jericho and the Selaginella Lepidophylla which is known as the false Rose of Jericho. The false Rose of Jericho is the one that is widely known and used in many magickal workings and spells.
     The Rose of Jericho rather it be the true or false one it is said to erase negative influences, bring peace, harmony and abundance.. It represents new beginnings, hope, re-birth, bringing a resurgence in energy, happiness and prosperity in one's life.
     The true Rose of Jericho is sought for in the Holy Land by pilgrims as a holy relic. Some are kept in the family and is traditionally passed on to the next generations as an important part of one's inheritance and it is brought out at Christmas time along with other decorations.
     The Jericho Rose / Resurrection Plant is considered a rare magical commodity and is sought after for use in Voodoo and Cuban Santeria love and money spells. In Voodoo spells in can also be used to conjuring spirits, sometimes causing possessions and then curing one of a possession.
     In Santeria and other Yoruba, the plant is said to be sacred to the Orisha Shango, the spirit of lightening.  It is placed on the altar dedicated to Orisha and it is used as an ingredient in powders, incense, oils and baths.
     The Resurrection plant can serve as a living symbol of one's faith and confidence in the nature's power to resurrect and bring life to that seems dead and lifeless. If a piece of it is carried on a person it is thought to absorb negative energy. Also thought if you wore it as an amulet it will promote a long and healthy life.
     If the plant or a piece of it is kept in the home in a bowl of water, it is said that you will have all the blessings that life can bring. Most people who uses the resurrection plant by placing it in a bowl of water. A person usually purchases the plant in it's dry state. To see it's magic at work, place the plant in a bowl of water and within a couple of hours the plant comes back to life. 
     Over the years I have seen a lot of my pagan friends who have the resurrection plant submerged in a large bowl of water but upon doing the research for this post I have found out that you're not suppose to submerge it because after a week the plant starts getting mold and eventually the plant will be destroyed permanently. I'm not saying that you shouldn't submerge it for that's not my point. Who am I to tell you how to use a magical item? Just sharing the information that I found.
     According to my research you are only to submerge the roots in the water. Now another idea that I found out was that since the plant itself suppose to take in the negativity around itself and then into the water, it isn't wise to use the water in any spells.  I have found out that in some traditions that the water is used in blessing doorways and windows in homes, anointing candles or ritual tools. Some traditions state that you can take the water and pour in on your steps to keep negativity from entering your home. In some cultures especially in Voodoo traditions, you can take the water and wash gravestones to receive messages from the spirits by divination and dreams.
     When you place the resurrection plant in a bowl of water, after a week the plant should be allowed to dry up again and then re-used when you need it.
     Another usage for it, which was given to me by a pagan friend while I was doing my research, was to place anything small that you wish to bless, for example stone or cystal in the middle of the plant before it closes during the drying process. Therefore the stems will close around the object blessing it or cleansing it. I thought that was an awesome idea.
     If you purchase a resurrection plant it should be treated with respect and honor in your home because according to some traditions especially in the Iraq and Iran area, the plant contains a desert spirit which if not respected could cause harm to the owner. If the plant is respected then the spirit will bless the home and be helpful to the owner.
     Honestly I didn't except all of this information on this plant. The many times that I visited my pagan friends and family they would have one in their homes and I've always wanted one. I recently purchase one and have enjoyed it's magic.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Busy As A Bee

Now that spring is upon us and the flowers are blooming which makes the bees buzzing so I thought I would do some research on our little friend. Without the hard work of our friend where would we bee? LOL
     Doing the research, it was hard to not find information on the bee without him being connected to the production of honey. I didn't want to focus on the honey aspect or even the mead so I think I found enough to make an interesting posting.
     Many ancient cultures respected the bee very much and they have many legends about the insect. There are cave paintings that have been found in Spain dating from 7,000 BC which are the earliest records of bee keeping. Men have been collecting honey from the honey bee for at least 9,000 years. In some ancient cultures the bee were symbolic of sexuality, chasity, fertility, purity and care. They are also considered to be an image of a human soul due to their natural ability to find their way home from great distances.
     In the Greek / Roman cultures it was thought that Aristaios was worshipped by the peasants as the guardian of beekeepers. In Greece, it was thought that good souls came back as bees. Zeus and Dionysus was feed by bees when they were babies. It was said that Dionysus to have made the first hives and taught the people how to gather honey. There is a legend that Melissa ( which means bee ) cared for the infant Zeus while he was hidden from his father, Chronos, the king of all the gods. Melissa fed Zeus a diet of honey that she stole from the hives. When she was discovered, she was turned into a lowly form of an insect. Zeus knew she kept him alive so he turned her into a bee. Bees were considered a higher form of an insect. Pan and Priapus protected and kept bees. Mellonia was the Roman goddess of the bees.
     The priestesses that worshipped Artemis and Demeter were called 'bees'. The Delphic priestess is often referred to as a bee.
     The Greeks believed that a baby whose lips were touched by a bee would become a great poet or speaker.
     In the Roman legends it was Jupiter that was fed and protected by bees when he was hidden in a grotto by his mother Rea, on Ida Mountain. The Romans believed that a swarm of bees was bad luck and that they were a divine creature which originated directly from the gods.
     The Egyptian culture paid their respects to the bee as well. The bee was the hieroglyphic symbol of the kingdom of Lower Egypt. Bees were thought to be created by the tears of Ra along with the humans. Sometimes the Bees were called the Tears of the Sun. They represented birth, death and resurrection. The Egyptians used the bee venom, in the form of a cream, as an ancient remedy for arthritis and rheumatism. The pharaohs used the honeybee as the royal symbol during the period between 3000 b.c.e. and 350 b.c.e.
     The Chinese word for bee is feng. In many Chinese fairy tales the bees help young men to find the right bride.  They saw the bee as a fickle insect since it flew from flower to flower.
     Vishnu and Krishna, the Hindu gods, are called the Mahhava, the 'nectar born ones' in the Rig Veda. Vishnu was normally depicted as a blue bee sitting on a lotus flower, while Krishna has a blue bee on his forehead. Karma, the Hindu god is portrayed as a bee on a lotus as well. Shiva is shown in scripts as a bee above a triangle. The love god of the Hindu path, Kamadeva, had a bowstring made from honeybees.
     The San people of the Kalahari Desert tells of a bee that carried a mantis across a river. The exhausted bee left the mantis on a floating flower but planted a seed on the dying mantis' body. The see grew to be the first human.
     To the Mayans and Aztecs the bee was well known and respected. In the Mayan calendar, in the month of Mol ( starting Dec 3rd ) the beekeepers held a festival so that gods might provide flowers for the bees. Also in the month of Tzec ( starting Oct 4th ) the Mayans made offerings to the four chac ( rain ) gods. They put beeswax candles on four separate plates. The plates had a border of figures or glyphs that represented honey. These offerings was to bring abundance of flowers, which was the whole purpose of the ceremony. The festival ended with wine made from honey that the hive owners provided for everyone to drink. Ah Muzencab was the Mayan bee god. They were shown on the tops and bottoms of stone columns at Chichen Itza. There were respresented by aged men with long beards, upraised arms and wearing loins cloth.
     The Aztecs had a bee god as well. The honey was their main source of sugar and the honeycombs supplied bee's wax for candle making.
     In the Norse Finnish Kalevala it tells how Lemminkainen was restored to life by magic honey from Mehilainen, the bee.
     In Ireland and Wales, the bee were thought to come from heaven and brought secrets of wisdom with them. In Celtic mythology the bee is a messenger between our world and the spirit realm. Bees were thought to be the conductors of the soul from this world. In Wales, a bee that was buzzing around a sleeping child meant that the child will have a happy life and a virgin was thought could always walk safely through a swarm of bees.
     European settlers introduced the honeybees to North America during the 1600s. Native Americans called the bees the 'white man's flies'. In some areas of New England and the Appalachian Mountains, it was believed that once someone died it was important for the family to 'go tell the bees' of the death. Whoever kept the bees for the family would make sure the bees got the news so that they could spread it around.
     Their are many other superstitions in dealing with the bee. If a bee flies into your house it means that someone is coming to visit. If you kill the bee it will bring you bad news.  Another one, if a bee lands on your hand it means money is coming your way. Bees were thought to hate the odor of cattle and horses. Bees were also thought to be attracted to the sounds of clanging metal and thus bees were associated with the love of music.
     The bee has been a busy worker throughout the world, history and time. Just as our ancient ancestors did let's show them a little respect. I know it's hard to do when we are so scared of them stinging us but consider without them we wouldn't bee here.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Yarrow

Yarrow maybe a familiar plant to everyone at least it was for me and never knew it. Now I catch myself looking everywhere for it. I don't have to look real hard. It grows everywhere; in the grass, the meadows, pastures and by the roadside.
     Yarrow is a mingle of the Anglo-Saxon name for the plant, gearwe and the Dutch yerw. It's botanical name is Achillea millefdium. One legend says that Achilles learned how to use the plant from Chiron, his centaur teacher. Achilles would use yarrow to stanched the bleeding of  the wounds of his soldiers. It was thought that the Ancients called the herb, Herba Militias, 'the military herb.' The Highlanders still make an ointment from it for applying to wounds.
     The herb flowers from June to Sept. The flowers are white or pale lilac and look like minute daisies. The stem is angular and rough. The whole plant is more or less hairy with white, silky appeased hairs. The leaves alternate 3 to 4 inches long and 1 inch broad, clasping the stem at the base. The segments are very finely cut which gives the leaves a feathery appearance.
     Yarrow was known by many many names: Milfoil, Old Man's Pepper, Soldiers' Woundwort, Knights' Milfoil, Thousand Weed, Nose Bleed, Carpenters' Weed, Bloodwort, Staunchweed, Devil's Nettle, Devil's Plaything, Yarroway.
     In the Orkneys a tea was made from it it where it is called Milfoil. It is used for dispelling melancholy. Another tea is also made from yarrow for severe colds.
     Of all of the many herbs that we know, yarrow was dedicated to the Evil One and was used for divination in spells therefore becoming known as the Devil's Nettle and Devil's Plaything.
     It gain it's name for Nose Bleed because it was used to stop bleeding of the nose but on the other side of the fence if the leaves are rolled up and applied to the nose it could cause the nose to bleed to relieve headaches. In some eastern countries it is called Yarroway where it is used as a divination tool with it's leaf. The inside of the nose would be tickled while the following lines are spoken.
          "Yarroway, Yarroway bear a white blow"
           If my love love me, my nose will bleed now"

     If someone wanted a vision of their future husband or wife then they could take an ounce of yarrow, sew it up in a flannel and place it under the pillow before going to bed then they would dream about their future spouse.
     It was also used as snuff because of it's foliage and strong smell thus given the herb another name, Old Man's Pepper.
     Yarrow was and is mostly known for it's healing properties for wounds. It was a favorite herb of the Anglo-Saxons. They used it to heal burns and the bites of poisonous snakes and insects.
     Fresh yarrow leaves were chewed to relieve toothaches.

     In the Americas, the Native Americans used it as a medicinal plant as well.
     The Delaware and Algonquin tribes made a tea from yarrow and used it for treating liver and kidney disorders.
     The Lenape Indians pounded yarrow roots with a stone and the boiled them with water to make a remedy for excessive menstrual flow.
     The Ute had a name for it which meant 'wound medicine.'
     The Piate made a yarrow tea to cure a variety of stomach disorders.

     The Pennsylvania Dutch called yarrow Schoof Ribba. They would prepare a 'sweating tonic' from the whole plant to reduce fever and a tea made with the leaves to have a beneficial effect on the liver and gall bladder.
     Horses would be feed yarrow to cure them of any intestinal worms.

     Just as much as there are medicinal uses for the yarrow there are magic uses for the herb as well.  The plant was used to give protection against the same spells that it was used as an ingredient of.
     Yarrow was strewn across the threshold of a house to keep out evil influences. It was worn to guard someone against evil spells. Country people would tied sprigs to a baby's cradle to protect the infant from witches who might want to steal away the baby's soul.
     To ease childbirth, the yarrow was given to a woman in labor. She would hold it pressed to her right side but the herb had to be taken away as soon as the child was born. To be used in this way, the herb had to be collected on Midsummer Eve ( June 21st ).
     Yarrow was also used in exorcism rituals. An Anglo-Saxon charm for a person possessed by the devil in which 13 specific herbs was needed; one being the yarrow. The herbs were made into a drink which would cause the 'victim' to vomit out the evil. Seven masses were sung over it then garlic and holy water was added. Then the drink was to be drunk out of a church bell. I bet that was a chore in itself.  Through-out the term of the possession, the mixture would be added to everything that he/she would eat or drink.
     Even traditional weddings included the herb. Yarrow was frequently placed into wedding bouquets and garlands. It was said yarrow guarantee true love between the couple for seven years.
     The herb even had a beauty secret. If the juice was rubbed in the hair it made the hair curly.
     If the person who gathered yarrow dreamed of it that night then they would soon hear of good news.
     Take a yarrow leaf and hold against the eye would give someone the 'second sight.'

     The Chinese saw the yarrow for it's many uses as well. They used it for improving respiration, skin and for muscle tone. They believed if yarrow was taken for a long time it would increase intelligence. In Chinese the yarrow is called shih. Yarrow was said to grow in exceptional amounts at the grave of Confucius. Chinese legend says that 100 yarrow stalks grew from a single root but when the plant grew to 1000 years old then 300 stalks would grow from the root. Wolves, tigers and poisonous plants was thought to never be found near yarrow.

    I have many times saw that white flower on side of the road and just thought is was an ordinary weed. Through this research I have learned a lot about that small white daisy looking plant. I enjoyed doing the research for this posting.
    
   

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Puck

I think we all are familiar with the mythological figure known as Puck because of his debut appearance in the famous play Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare. I did some digging on the character and in general Puck could refer to any fairy, sprite, pixie or hobgoblin that is considered mischievous, a trickster or prankster.
     In English folklore, Puck is mythological fairy or mischievous nature spirte.  Puck could come from the Old English term 'puca'.  It's not really clear where the origin of the word came from but the word can be traced back to Old Norse puki, Old Swedish  puke, Icelandic puki. In the Celtic world ( Welsh pwca, Irish puca).
     He is seen as a half-tamed woodland spirte who leads folk astray with echoes and lights at night in the woodlands. In some tales he is known to come into the farmsteads and sours the milk while in the churn.
     In Middle English the word Puck simply meant 'demon'. The term also known as Pouk was used as a typical term for the devil and Hell was once called 'Pouk's Pinfold'. In Elizabethan lore he was a mischievous brownie like fairy who was also called Robin Goodfellow or a Hobgoblin.
     In the Welsh mythology he was called Pwca, which was a queer little figure, long and grotesque, looking something like a chicken half out of it's shell. He would lead travels with a lantern into the night. When he lead them to a cliff side he would then blow out his lantern and they would fall to their death.
     In Irish mythology he was called a Phouka who sometimes appeared as a horse. People would be tricked to jump on him then he would lead them on a wild ride eventually ending with him dumping them into the water. Phouka was sometimes pictured as frightening creature with the head of an ass.
     Puck was known as a shape shifter as well. He had many appearances. Sometimes he disguised himself as a horse, eagle, an ass, a rough, hairy creature and in one Irish story he was an old man.
     To be mislead by a Puck was known as being 'puck-ledden.'

Friday, April 15, 2011

Jack in the Green

Jack in the Green also known by Jack i' the Green, Jack o' the Green through-out Europe has become a participant of traditional English May Day parades and other May celebrations.  He usually leads the parade through the villages around the square. He is seen wearing a large, leaf or foliage covered garland over or a framework covering his body from head to toe.
     Jack, through time became associated with fertility rites, May Day celebrations and traditional Beltainne ceremonies.  Because of the greenery and foliage that covers his body and face, he has became also associated with the Green Man. The Green Man represented the natural fertility, a spirit of primitive greenwood and also a trickster.  Jack had connections with Puck, Robin Good fellow, Robin Hood and the Green Knight.
     In the 16th & 17th centuries in England, people would make garlands of flowers and leaves for the May Day celebrations. The traditon of making the garlands became a source of competitions between different Work Guilds. The garlands became increasingly elaborate, covering the entire man which became known as Jack-in-the-Green. As I stated the Work Guilds would try to out do each other. The milkmaids in London would carry garlands on their heads with silver objects on them. The Chimney Sweepers took it to another level by covering the entire man with the garlands.
    During the turn of the 19th century, the tradition of the Jack-in-the-Green started to disappear and became unpopular. The Victorians disapprove of the loud noises, partying and the bawdy atmosphere. The Lord and the Lady of the May was replaced by just a beautiful May Queen who was elected to be the centerpiece of the celebrations. The Jack-in-the-Green figure disappeared altogether.
     In 1976, the figure of Jack-in-the-Green was brought back in Whitstable, Kent.  He leads an annual procession of Morris Dancers through-out the town on the May Bank Holiday.
     In Llfracombe, North Devon has had a Jack in their May Day procession and celebrations since 2000.
     In Hastings, Jack is accompanied by attendants who are known as Bogies. Bogies are completely covered in green rags, vegetation and green face paint. The attendants play their music, dance and sing as they guide Jack through the streets, celebrating the coming of Summer.
     As I did my research on this historical figure of our Pagan world,  I found that many places in Europe and even North America is bringing back the tradition of having a Jack in their celebrations and parades. You know as well as I do. You can't keep a good thing down.
   

Apologize

I want to apologize to the followers and readers of Grannulus' Grove. I haven't post or wrote anything in quite awhile because my life has been sort-of crazy around here; from my job closing and transferring me to another location, car problems and etc.  These things have taken up a lot of my time and energy.
 I appreciate all the comments and compliments that I have received here lately from numerous readers of this blog.
 Now that things have semi-quiet down, I can get back to doing what I love doing and that is researching and writing.
 Thanks for hanging in there with me.
  Blessings to you & yours,
   Grannulus

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Cupid

Cupid is from the Roman Mythology from the Latin word, Cupido which means 'desire'. He was the god of desire, affection and erotic love. His parents were the goddess and god, Venus and Mars. In Greek mythology he was known as Eros who was also seen as one of the prim ordeal gods.
     Cupid was depicted has having wings, sometimes wearing a helmet, carrying a buckler, a bow and a quiver of arrows that some say were gold tipped.
     He was a very mischievous deity, who a lot of times got into trouble especially through the guidance of his mother. In a lot of art he is shown amusing himself just as a child would. Sometimes he is shown driving a hoop, throwing darts, catching a butterfly or flirting with nymphs.
     In one story, Venus became very jealous of the princess Psyche. She was loved by many men and her subjects. So much that they forgot to worship Venus, of course this made Venus angry. She ordered Cupid to make Psyche to fall in love with the most evilest thing world. As Cupid was sneaking into her room, he accidentally scratches himself with one of his arrows thus causing him to fall in love with Psyche.
     Cupid began to visit Psyche each night while she would be sleeping. He would speak with her as long as she didn't look at him. Eventually Psyche was informed by her two sisters that Cupid was a monster.  One night during Cupid's visit, she tried to look at him which in turn angered Cupid and he left never to return. Psyche looked all over the world for him. Her search lead her to seek out Jupiter. Jupiter took pity upon Psyche and gave her the gift of immortality so that she could be with Cupid.  Cupid and Psyche had a daughter name Voluptas or Hedone which means pleasure. Through time, Psyche became a goddess. Her name meaning soul.

Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day as we know it today had it's beginning from ancient Christian and Roman traditions. Legends state that is had originated from an ancient Roman festival call Lupercalis or Lupercalia. It was a fertility celebration that was observed annually on February 15th. Through time just the same as many pagan traditions were, Lupercalis was 'adopted' into the Christian beliefs to convert the Pagans.
     Pope Gelasius is credited with the conversion of Lupercalia into a Christian festival day in 496 AD and set it's date from February 15th to one day earlier the 14th. Of course, he had to have a Christian deity to replace the Pagan one, so he choose that the day of feasting would be in honor of St.Valentine who was a Roman martyr that had lived in the 3rd century.
     Who was St. Valentine?  According to the pages of recorded history, we find that there were at least 3 saints by the name of Valentine. One was a priest in Rome, who lived around 270 AD and was very dis-favored by the Roman Emperor Claudius II. Another was a bishop of Interamna ( modern Terni ) in 197 AD. He was martyred during the rule of Emperor Aurilian. He was / is buried on the Via Flaminia. At the Basilica of Saint Valentine are relics of this particular saint.
     The third, not much is known about him except that he died in Africa.
     The first Valentine is the one that most people give credit to, St. Valentine of Rome.
     Around 270 AD Rome was in turmoil with their government falling apart from the inside out, the border of their once mighty kingdom was being bombarded by Huns, Turks, Gauls, Slavs and the Mongolians so Claudius needed more men to fill his armies. As the necessity of young men began to grow, Claudius felt that for them to be more focus on their duty as a soldier, they were not to be married. He passed a law forbidding the act of marriage for any of the young soldiers.
     St. Valentine didn't agree with the law and thought it was unfair. During time, when a lot of the young men thought about marrying someone they would go to St. Valentine. He would then marry them in secret. Valentine became the 'friend of lovers' and of course word got out and eventual fell upon Claudius' ears. Claudius had St. Valentine arrested.
     As many saints do, Valentine was thought to have healing abilities. While he was in jail, his jailer, Asterius asked him to please heal his daughter who was blind. Valentine fulfilled the request.
     When Claudius II met Valentine he was very impressed by him. The two got into a conversation about the ban on marriage in which Valentine still held to his faith. During this conversation, Claudius tried to convert Valentine to the Roman Gods. Valentine still refused and in return tried to convert Claudius to the Christian path. This angered Claudius very much, so much that he had Valentine executed.
      According to legend, during his time in the Roman jail, Valentine fell in love with a jailer's daughter. Some legends says that is was the blind daughter of Asterius. Before his execution, Valentine asked for a pen and paper so he could write a farewell to her. Part of the farewell was "from your Valentine" and it has stuck ever sense.  It is believed he was executed on February 14th, 270 AD which became a day for all lovers. The Romans began to annually give hand written greetings to their lovers and called them Valentines.
     During the Middle Ages, St. Valentine became one of the most popular saints in England and France which pushed the celebration of February the 14th as the day of love and romance even further.
     In the 14th Century, Chaucer and his friends which became known as Chaucer's Circle, started sending each other poems of love. The first Valentine card?  Chaucer would use images of birds to represent lovers in his poems.
     The Victorian age came around and gave St. Valentine's Day another push. People started using ribbons, lace and images of love such as hearts on their cards of greetings.
      In the 18th Century, gift giving and exchanging homemade cards became common in England and when the early American colonist came to Americas, the tradition came with them.
     One of the earliest known Valentine was sent in 1415 by Charles, Duke of Orleans. It was to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London. The card is now in the British Museum.
     Eventually the Saint was dropped from the Lover's Day to what we know it as today, Valentine's Day.
  

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Potato / Money Spell

This is a spell that was given to me when I was very little by my grandfather. This spell is a money spell and trust me it does work, but there is a warning tag that goes along with it. DO NOT USE THIS SPELL IF YOU HAVE TRIED EVERY & ANY WAY POSSIBLE TO ATTAIN MONEY. THIS SPELL IS ONLY FOR LAST RESORT.  I have given this spell to a number of people along with the warning.
    I had a friend who was trying to get her disability check and it wasn't coming quick enough for her. So I went over to her house and showed her how to do it. In my opinion she really didn't need the disability check for I didn't see any disability except for being lazy. She very well could have worked a job. I warned her and she didn't listen. I continued to instruct her on how to do the spell and of course she did it.  About a week later, she got her check in the mail.  Several months went by and somehow the government found out that she could / can work and her checks was cut and she had to pay back all the money that the government had given her. I warned her. So please heed the warning.
  
     For the spell you will need the following items:
          1 large potato
          9 toothpicks
              and any 3 of the following items: pine straw, any type of seeds, acorns, flour, cornmeal, rice, a coin.

     Take the potato hold it in your power hand, the hand that you use the most. While holding it add some of your energy to the potato empowering it to grow. Think about how the potato has feed lots of people. Think about how the potato is from the Mother Earth herself and how with just a little piece of it, you can grow some food to feed a family.
     Then cut the potato in half, vertically. Take a spoon and dig out the meat or the inside of each half of the potato while thinking about what I suggested in the last paragraph. This spell is all about empowerment as most spells.  While scooping out the meat try not to break the outer skin of the potato because you are going to place items inside the potato.
     Then choose any three of the items that I mentioned above: pine straw, any type of seeds, an acorn, flour, cornmeal, rice or a coin.  These items represent growth, being feed and not being hungry, fertility and richness; not by today's standard but by the standards of the ancients. These are things that you can find in your cabinets or out in your yard. If you choose anything from the outside and off the land leave some type of offering.
     After you have chosen 3 of the items that you wish to use or could find, then hold each one in your power hand and empower it. Think about what that item means, for example if you choose rice, think about how it grows from the water, how it feeds large populations and etc. Also give thanks for this item.
     After you have blessed or empowered each item that you have chosen to use, place them inside the halves of the potato that you have scooped out. Remember only choose 3.
     This is where the 9 toothpicks come into place. Place the two halves back together with the 3 items that you have chosen inside. Take the 9 toothpicks and 'sew' the potato back together, holding the two halves together. Go all around the cut that you made when you cut the potato in half. Space out the toothpicks so that you use all of them and that they go around the whole of the potato. Don't use any less than 9 or any more than 9. You are literally sewing the potato back together. If you have any questions about this part them please email me at Grannulus1@yahoo.com with subject line Potato Spell and I will try to answer them.
     After you have done this, then hold the whole potato with hands and again empowering it.
     Take the potato outside and bury it deep; deep enough that nothing will dig it up.  As you are 'planting' the potato say a prayer to Mother Earth. Something like this:
      " Dear Blessed Mother Earth. Take my offering and my prayer. I need this for ______________. I thank you for all that you have done for me and given me.  I need your help in my desperate hour. "
      This will give you an idea on what you could say.
     I have buried the potato at different times of the day and it still has worked, but the most powerful time that I found to do this is at night under a full moon.
     After you have buried it, forget about it.
     I had one friend who did this spell and later the potato started growing out of the ground, which of course it would normally do if you were planting a garden. The spell worked twice for her.  We thought that was real special.  She had forgotten about it until she notice the plant coming out of the ground.
     The reason for 3 items and 9 toothpicks is because the ancient Celtics considered the numbers 3, 6 and 9 to be special and sacred, particularly the number nine because it was 3 multiplied 3 times.  Three repesented and was sacred to the Triple Goddess; Maiden, Mother & Crone.
      I hope this spell helps you in many ways. Please remember though, DON'T USE IT UNLESS YOU DESPERATELY NEED IT AND HAVE TRIED EVERYTHING THAT YOU MORALLY AND POSSIBLY COULD TRY. If you don't heed this warning it will come back on you. I have seen it happen so many times.
    
    
   

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Groundhog Day

On February 2nd, people through-out North America waits upon the groundhog to predict if winter is going to last longer or if spring is coming sooner. Where did this custom start?
     In the ancient times in the European countries our ancestors look to many different types of animals to make weather predictions. Groundhog day has it's origins tied in with the Christian celebration of Candlemas which in turn has it's tie with the Pagan celebration of Imbolc; the celebration of the first stirring of Spring. Instead of a groundhog making the weather forecast it was usually a badge or a bear. Many customs taught that between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox was the best time to make weather predictions.
     Some legends state that the Romans actually used or watched the groundhog during the first days of February which was the best to make weather forecast for the future. According to traditions Groundhog day was started in Germany by blending the Christian and Roman customs and then German immigrants brought the customs to Pennsylvania. In Germany, the badger was used instead of the groundhog. The Germans believed that the badger had the power to predict the coming of Spring. They would watch the activity of the badger which then would tell them when to start planting.
     A similar custom is practiced in Serbia on Feb. 15th, among Orthodox Christians. They would join in the feast of Sretenje or the Meeting of the Lord. They believed on this day a bear will awake from it's long winter nap. If the bear sees it's shadow then it would be scared back into it's den and sleep for another 40 days and winter would be prolonged.
     The largest Groundhog Day celebration is held in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania with a crowd of 40,000 people and has been celebrated since 1887. A group of groundhog hunters from Punxsutawney gave themselves the name of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club and their furry oracle was named Punxsutawney Phil. According to their folklore, Phil has lived a very long life, over 100 years because he partakes of the 'elixir of life' which is served to him every summer at the annual Groundhog Picnic and they don't allow any pictures of this event. Hmmmm...
     Another similar custom is also celebrated in Portugal on February the 2nd. It is called The Candelaria Day which refers to Jesus at the Temple. If it's a sunny day, winter is still to come. If it's raining, then winter is out.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Imbolc

Spring is almost upon us and many people are looking for it especially those in the Northern United States. I know that I can wait.
     To our ancient European ancestors this was a time of purification and getting the farmstead ready for Spring. This was a time that the Celtic people called Imbolc, Oimelc or Oimealg which is Gaelic for 'ewe's milk'. This was a time when the ewes or the sheep was having their babies and their milk was flowing which to the ancients herald the return of the life giving forces of spring.
     In Old Scotland, the month of Feb. fell in the middle of a period which was known as Faoilleach, the Wolf-month also known as a' marbh mhio's, the Dead month. They couldn't wait for the promise of the Sun lord to come out and warm the flesh of Mother Earth. They celebrated with many festivals of dancing, food and bonfires. The Old Woman of Winter, the Cailleach, is returning as the Bride, the Young Maiden of Spring. She would be dressed in white and then she would breath life into the mouth of the dead winter
     In Ireland, the farmers started preparing the land for ploughing with the calves being born. The fishermen, preparing their boats while they wait for the winter storms to cease so that they could launch their boats.
     There were/are many traditions that came with the celebration of Imbolc, many which are familiar such as the young girls would make Bride dolls out of wheat and placing in a bed decorated with white flowers and such. Then these beds would be passed from door to door, spreading her blessings upon the households.
     Imbolc was also a time of blessing the seeds before placing in the furrows usually this was done by the Druids or the Celtic Shamans. Today though because of the Catholic Church stealing or putting it nicely, 'adopting', the holiday into their religion as St. Bridget's Day, a Catholic priest anoints the seeds.
     Through-out many of our ancient European countries, Imbolc included lighting of candles, gathering of stones, decorating the ploughs, feasting and bonfires.
     One tradition that I founds was the decoration of ploughs. A decorated plough with ribbons and flowers would be dragged from door to door while costumed children would follow asking for food, drinks or money. Sounds like Samhain, doesn't it? If they are refused then they would plough up the front yard or garden.  Some villagers after the plough was decorated would pour whiskey onto to it. The whiskey was also known as the 'water of life', of course. Then pieces of cheese and bread was left beside the plough and then they were placed in the newly turned furrows as offerings to the natural spirits.
     Not just our Celtic ancestors had celebrations this time of the year.
     The Romans celebrated Lupercalea. It was a purification ritual in which a goat was sacrificed and a scrouge was made out of it's hide.  Men dressed in thongs would then go around the villages whacking people with the hide. The people that was struck was considered lucky and fortunate. I figure there was a lot of citizens standing out in the roads and squares waiting to be whack. This celebration didn't have anything to do with any deities or temples but the celebration of the founding of Rome, by twins, Romulas and Remus. They were raised by a she-wolf in a cave known as the 'lupercale'.
     In ancient Egypt, there was a celebration known as the Feast of Nut, whose birthday fell on Feb. the 2nd. Nut was considered as the mother of the sun god Ra, who at sunrise was known as Khepera and took the form of the Scarab beetle.
     The celebration of Imbolc went by many names. In Caledonni it was called Imbogc Brigantia, the Teutonic version was called Disting and celebrated on Feb. the 14th and in the Strega belief is was called Lupercus.
     In this post I haven't mentioned anything about Bridget, the Goddess of Imbolc which I will in another posting. I just wanted to concentrate on the celebration of Imbolc itself.
     Have a Blessed Imbolc!