Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Meadowsweet is so sweet!

I was doing some research on another upcoming post which mentions meadow sweet.
     Meadowsweet is one of the nine blossoms that the magicians Math and Gwydion created Blodeuwedd with. You have to wait on the other post to find out who she is if you don't know yet.
     Meadowsweet goes by other names such as Queen of the Meadow, bridewort, meadwort, dropwort and spirea.  The plant was named meadwort because it was use or can be use to flavor mead, giving it a unique almond flavor. If you want to 'spice' up a glass of wine you can just add a leaf or add fresh leaves to flavor sorbets and fruit salads.
     It's a native of Europe and can be found in meadows that are close to water or that sustains water for a period of time. It is a perennial  plant and related to the rose family that can grow up to five feet. It has yellow, white and sometimes pink flowers giving off a pleasant wintergreen and sweet almond scent. It blooms from June until August. Both the leaves and the flowers are used which are gathered during the summer months when the petals have opened.
     In the beginning of the aspirin business it was a key ingredient. During the colonial period it was used as an anti-inflammatory to reduce the symptoms of arthritis and rheumatism.  It is also gentle on the stomach and was very favorable to 'cure' upset stomachs, diarrhea and heartburn. It was also used to help treat feverish colds.
     Queen Elizabeth I loved using the plant for making stews and also placing it on the floors of the castle(s). Many of our European ancestors used it by placing in on the floors of their homes, in their cabinets and clothing chests because of the sweet fragrance that it gives off. It was also useful to deter rodents.
     At many weddings it was strewed on the floor and also used in the bouquet of the bride giving it's name, bridewort.
     Many cooks used it to flavor beers, mead, wines and added to soups for the almond flavor.
     Two English herbalist, John Gerard ( 16th Century ) and Nicholas Culpeper ( 17th century ), listed and believed the flowers with distilled water was good for relieving the eyes of burning and itching sensations and also to clear your eye sight.
     Those that would make cosmetic would soak it in rain water and use it as an astringent and skin conditioner.
     In Nottingham shire it was known as "Old Man's Pepper" because the flowers was dried and then smoked.
     The druids held the plant in high favor as it was one of their three most sacred herbs. Flower remains has been found in burial mounds or cairns of cremated remains which dated from the Bronze Age in Fan Fael, of Carmarthenshire in West Wales and in beakers in Fife, Scotland.
     It was told that it was given to the Irish hero Cuchulainn which he would drink to calm himself during his fits of rage. The moon goddess Aine was thought to have given the plant it's sweet fragrance.  In the county of Galway it was believed that if a person had fallen under the magic of the fairies and was wasting away, the plant could be placed under the bed to cure the victim by morning. The Celts used the roots to create a black dye and the leaves to make a blue pigment.
    The plant was favored mostly because of it's medicinal purposes. There's not many references to any magical uses.  It was thought that you can use a fresh plant on your altar as decoration for any love magic. The dried herbs can be used in love potions because of it's connection to the Goddess Bloduewedd. It was also used in magic to discover any thieves in your life.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

2000 Lunar Eclipse: We Stand As One

I wrote this in 2000 as I was watching a Lunar Eclipse.

As I sit here waiting, watching for the Lunar Eclipse with my white candle lite. White for the Goddess and the moonlight being shed upon everything around me. I think about years gone by that my ancestors waited for this same moment.

Somewhere through time. Somewhere in some ancient Celtic land. I can see them sitting around on hilltops where the winds chilled them to the bone. Shivering, waiting for the moment when the moon, the Goddess, for an hour or so, the Goddess leaves the night sky.

Families hurdled together for warmth and protection. Storytellers telling the stories of ancient times gone by. Stories of heroes, heroines, myths, and monsters.

I sit here in the present thinking about my ancestors looking up at the night sky, seeing the misty halo around the Lunar Goddess, wondering what's going to happen. Are the stories true as the storytellers say?
Wondering what's going through their minds. The minds of the Elders. The thoughts of the warriors, the women, least we not forget the minds of the children.

2000 is here and now. Rumours of world destruction has gone and past without any truth. Was this the same as what my ancestors were thinking? Did they cry because the Lunar Goddess would be gone? Did they cry because of what the bad omens of this strange supernatural event meant to the Sages and the storytellers?

Now I can hear the Sages, the Shamans and the Druids, foretelling their prophecy for their people.
The wind blows through the trees, the dogs start to bark and howl. I can see my ancient ancestors faces show expressions of beliefs and fears of the unknown.

Who was causing this? Why was this happening? Many, so many questions going through their heads. The hair stands on the back of their necks, their skin tingles with excitement, or is it fear or the cold wind. Possibly could be all three feelings wrapped into one.

Did they, my ancestors, see the stars gathered around the Lunar Goddess, as if they were protecting the Goddess. Trying to stop this strange event? Are the stars, her children mourning their Goddess?

I am so blessed to be able to sit here among my ancestors and watch this event.

I can hear them, my ancestors, as they whisper among themselves. "Are they true?" "Do they speak the truth?"

The large crowd has gotten a little smaller, as some leaves, because of fear or perhaps of the cold. Maybe they didn't want to know the truth, for surely they had to believe. The beginning of this strange event has surely convinced them of the truth. Whose truth? Maybe they pondered that.

Now I hear the Sages, telling the warriors to light the fires to drive away the shadow that is creeping upon the Lunar Goddess. The warriors stand bold and strong as if they are preparing for a battle. They gather their torches and boldly walk to the piles of oak limbs and branches. Upon the Sage's command, they ignite the huge bonfires, together, in union across the hills of my ancient ancestors' lands, then without notice and warning the on-lookers shriek with cries, as they look up toward the darkening sky.

To their amazement the halo has gotten a reddish tint to it. Could their fire be penetrating the shadow? The Sage's magic must be working? Could it be the shadow has gotten angry towards them, for the rescue attempt? The red halo is gone. The shadow continues to devour the Lunar Goddess. Their magic has failed!

Now I hear the Sages commanding the drum to began playing. The drummers all across the hills of the land starts to beat their drums. The sound echoing throughout the villages and the low lands.

The atmosphere is now a sad mood across the people. The shadow has halfway consumed the Lunar Goddess. Will the magic work?

It has before, the stories tells.

The land gets darker. The dogs are quiet as if in reverence of the passing of the Lunar Goddess.
All you hear is the drumming, beating, to the anticipating heart beats of my ancestors.
The shadows grows longer,  moving cross the hills and mountains of the lands. The bonfires grows brighter by the minute.

It must be true what the story tells.

Thoughts goes through my ancient ancestors heads. Memories of days gone past. Wives loving their husbands. Warriors remembering battles. Children staring in wonderment.

Now chanting begins, beating with the drums. Chanting to bring back the Lunar Goddess. The battle isn't over, yet. Long as there is still light, there is hope.

Now only a small slice of the Goddess is left. Warriors holds up their swords high above them, crying out their war cries, echoing throughout the ancient mountains and valleys. Mothers huddle their children close to themselves. Warriors beating their weapons on their shields. The scene must have been exciting. The warriors with war cries and beating their swords on their battered shields, the drums beating, the people chanting and the fires blazing throughout the land.

She is almost gone, our Lunar Goddess!

What will happen to us? Will she be back? Is the shadow world going to be the ruler of the world now?

Now the Lunar Goddess is gone!

The cries, the drums are louder now. My ancestors scream out with all of their energy.  Mothers huddles their children even closer now. What could be lurking about? Demons? Goblins? Children of the shadow world?
The wind is dead now. Is it  mourning the absence of the Goddess?

They can see her, hanging there in the dark. Fighting the shadow for her children. The crowd of people gather closer around the fires as the Sage assures of the return of their beloved Goddess. People wonder if they speak the truth. They must for this unnatural event has taken place as they said. She must return!

There is a hush over the crowds. There is a hush over the lands of my ancestors. The drums has stopped, as well as the war cries. The warriors has dropped their shields and weapons. All they do is stare up at the night sky.

The silence is foreboding across the mountains and valleys. The shadow across the Lunar Goddess has turned red. Whispering throughout the people spreads. What does that mean? Why is she red? Blood of a warrior on the battleground? Is she fighting back? Whose blood? Hers or the shadow's? My ancient ancestors waits in anticipation, staring at the dark sky, while billows of mist flows from their agape mouths.

Warriors piercing eyes, patrolling the surroundings, waiting to battle that which lurks in the shadows.

All is quiet except for the wonderment pondering in their minds. Will this end?

More has left, back to their homes, where they feel safe or preparing for the worse.

How the shadow gets darker. The Goddess is getting weaker. Is she loosing the fight?

Once more the warriors stand up and yell their war cries, shaking their weapons towards the night sky, towards the Lunar Goddess. Yelling all their energy to aide in the rescue of their Lunar Goddess.

Once more the drums beat, but this time with a stronger sound, echoing throughout the mountains of my ancestors. The Sage feeling the excitement and the heart beating of Mother Earth, stands up and begin their chanting of forgotten words. Their hands held up high along with the warriors singing their words towards the dark sky.

Will it work? It must work!

All gathered around the bonfires, which dances in the dark mountains.

The women stand up begin chanting their own words of power, while their children shaking, holding onto their mother's legs or by the hems of their dress. Their little eyes filled with amazement and fear at the same time.

My ancestors, one voice, one mind and one spirit working towards something . Something, a cause, that they hold dear. A cause that they embrace with their lives.

Seeing the scene, through time, makes me wonder. Would I stand for something that I hold so dear in my life? No matter how simple or strange it seems to other people. I would like to think I would, since this ancient ancestors' blood runs through my veins. Blood of the warriors, the Sage, the women, and the children. Would my voice be among them? I catch myself as I cried out towards the night sky. Realizing that I was still in the present, I look around to see if anyone notice me.

It was then that I noticed that I am no longer in the past sitting with my ancestors on the hills observing the Lunar Eclipse. I was back on my deck.

I looked up and watched as the shadow slowly but surely creeps over the moon. I watched as the moon began coming back slice by slice, shinning in the dark sky. Even though I couldn't see the scene of my ancestors anymore, I swear I could hear their cries of welcome and celebration as the Lunar Goddess gradually overcame the shadow. Although I couldn't see them, I could feel them in my heart. I could feel the beating of the drums. I could hear the chanting of the Sages, the Druids, and the Shamans.

When the Eclipse was over, I left the white candle burning and went in the house. That night when I went to bed, I dreamed about the celebration that they must have had that night when their Lunar Goddess came back, but that's another story.

written and actually witnessed by Grannulus

Sunday, April 22, 2012

We are all important!

I went to the river one night. I had a lot on my mind so usually I would go down and sit on the guard rail across from the cemetery. I sit there over looking the river, which I can see on all three sides of me. It's a great view on cloudless nights with the wind blowing on the water. You can see a blanket of stars covering up the sky.

So one night was that special night. As I was gazing over the water feeling the wind. I saw the moon glimmering on the water, the lights of the houses on the other banks, way across from me and the stars shinning in the sky. I saw the whole entire Milky Way. Something accrued to me. What a vast world and universe it is. How beautiful it all is. I noticed each and every house that I could see with their lights on and the family or person in each house. I thought to myself, "What were they doing?" "What problems do they have?" "Do they get along?" "Are they happy or sad?" etc, etc. Then I  noticed how each house that I saw with their streetlights or lights within their homes made the whole scene around me beautiful, adding their glimmer on the water and looking, all together, as a garland of Christmas lights, or a pearl or a diamond necklace.

I looked up and saw the stars above me, how bright they were shinning that particular night. The Milky Way did look like a trail of milk across the dark sky. Maybe a god or goddess left a trail of milk or maybe some milk maid was carrying milk in her pail and didn't know it had a hole.

The I began thinking those stars are suns or planets in another galaxy from far away. There were people there as well. "What are they doing?" "What problems do they have?" " Are they happy or sad?", etc, etc. Same questions as above ran through my head. Again I saw how these tiny lights that I'm seeing, all together made the scene around me beautiful.

Then it dawned on me.

All these people, these living beings had their problems, their "issues", bad days and good days. Some are great people, some are not, but they make the whole scene beautiful. Their lights are shinning making my sight beautiful. If one of those lights were not there or one of those stars were not there, then the scene and the atmosphere that I was admiring, enjoying would be less spectacular. Each one of those lights, those people, no matter what, were needed that night. They would be missed the next time that I came down. They were important and be missed.

Then I thought that I am a light. I am a pebble on a shore or a grain of sand on a beach, a star in the sky, or a light on a distant shore making some one's night across the river or galaxy enjoyable. Then the beach would be less full or the night would be less bright if I wasn't there.

I started understanding how important those people are, those lights, those stars above me to all of the universe, to all that's around me. I understand how important I was to all of creation.

I understand how we all are connected and needed, no matter the problems or "issues", the bad and the good. No matter if we were happy or sad, no matter if we are a good person or not. We are all connected and it would be less if these lights around me and above me and inside me were not there.

I thanked the spirits for showing me the knowledge and as I finished my prayer. I ask if they heard me and if they give me strength, courage to face life everyday, and the wisdom to know what to do. A few minutes later a star shot across the sky and I knew they heard me.

Blessings As Always,

Saturday, April 21, 2012

To gain control we must lose control

We, humans, spend most of out time and energy trying to control our future rather it be tomorrow, next year, or during our elder years. We have a problem; control.

For the past five years I have realized some things about myself that I never thought was there. I was shown that I had some very deep issues about myself, my connection to others around me; control issues mostly.

I had a special friend that taught me so much that I will always be eternally grateful.

When he first started or should I say when we first started hanging out together all I heard was THE WAY.

I can say that then I really didn't know what he meant, but now I understand. He shown me to THE WAY. I can't give him all the credit for he had help or should I say he helped.

Do I say he is perfect? No, far from it. Even though he, as myself, knows of THE WAY, he has a rough time traversing it himself as we all do..... that's THE WAY.

What is THE WAY? Its not really a spiritual path, but it starts in your spirit. It's not just a way of thinking, It's not just a way of living. It's all things. It's all connected. It's all elements aligned & balanced.

I think the first step is to realize how you as an individual realize that at the same time we aren't individuals. We are all connected. We aren't really alone. Even though you may sit in a big house with all this space, you (we) aren't alone. We are connected to the very air we breathe. We are connected to the very space we live in.

The same energy that's inside a beautiful flower or the most beautiful day that we have ever experienced is the same energy that created you; that is a part of you.

You are perfect! We are beautiful creatures. I know this sounds mushy, but in all reality it's true.

For everything you do there is a purpose. For every way you look there is a purpose. That's THE WAY. Even the "bad" people, there is a purpose for the better good.

There are so many religions out there and there are so many people following all these paths, but there is one truth behind it all. I and these people has one common goal to find that connection with the higher source. Whatever we call it; be it God, Jesus, Buddha, Muhammad, Allah, Creator, or Goddess.

In all reality we already know or have that connection. The Higher Source is within each of us. We are a part of the whole. We are a fracture of the Higher Conscious.

Higher Conscious, now that could sum it all. We spend our lives following a path or different paths (which is mostly the case) through our life. These paths are lead by different people or different circumstances. We follow these paths to not find that connection, but to become ourselves of a Higher Conscious. To become enlightened to that Higher Conscious. Jesus said, "The Kingdom of Heaven is already here. The Kingdom is within you." That Higher Conscious is within us, we just need to find that connection, whether it be Christianity, Wicca, Buddhism and Hinduism. We follow that path hoping to reach or to find that connection.

Look at the story of  the Tower of Babel in the Bible. All those people working together, built that tower to reach heaven, then (according to the King James version) God confused the people and they stopped building. They started speaking in different languages and couldn't work together so the building project stop.

Just like those people we are trying to build that connection to "God", by trial & error. Sometimes we think we are just about there and "God" throws in something else to stop the work.

It's not the building itself that connects us, but it's the building process. We get thrown a  lot of curves during this process, but we have to remember upon these curves we build a stronger foundation, a stronger building and a stronger connection with that Higher Conscious. Just as there are different methods of building; different elements into the building of a project, we have within ourselves those same elements.

If I haven't had to go through what I went through then I wouldn't be as wise as I am now. I wouldn't be who I am today. I'm better that I was yesterday, for I have learned different things, and now I'm a better person for that and tomorrow has more promises for more growth.

For so many years I have went through the thought of helping people and that's what I've been doing and thoroughly enjoying it, but in the last five years I have discovered that I had more work to do on me than I had ever known.

No, I'm not saying I thought I was perfect, but I was helping people out and thought I didn't have the same issues.

One of my biggest issues was control.

I felt more safe if I controlled everything around me, but after these five years I have learned that I'm not in control of anything, but only myself and my actions.

That's THE WAY it is.

I tried to control situations to where I wouldn't get hurt. No one likes to get hurt. I tried to control to where I wouldn't be alone. I controlled things because in all reality I was afraid. I controlled things so bad that I hurt the ones that I truly love. When you love someone, whether it be family, friends or that someone special you don't control them or situations. You love them just as they are by letting them be who they are rather you like it or not.

Control is one of man's worst habit. On the path to THE WAY you have to loose control to gain control.

Controlling others and situations is a fear of the unknown, fear of the next minute and fear of the possibilities. Control can be also the outcome of distrust. Distrust (no faith) in the ones that love you, no faith in the Creator and most importantly no trust or faith in yourself.

Yes we all have trusted people, trusted ourselves and gotten hurt, but that's THE WAY to build our tower to that Higher Consciousness which is within ourselves.That is THE WAY we lay down good, solid foundations.

With these hurtful situations we learn something about ourselves, our strengths, our importance and our weaknesses. We learn why we got hurt or should I say we learn why we hurt ourselves. We learn not to allow ourselves to hurt ourselves again. We learn to build stronger blocks. We become greater masons.

In order to gain control, you must lose control.

Blessings As Always,

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Imp

Me and a close friend of mine were talking about the imp one night so I decided to divulge into it's world and see what I can find and learn.
     The word imp is a very old term and derived from the term ympe which is used to denote a young grafted tree. The imp is also known as emp, himpe, hympe or Ymple. The imp and the tales originated from the world of the German fairy tales where he is known as a small lesser demon who is often portrayed as a mischievous being. The imp was considered very mischievous but not harmful or evil until later in history.
     The imp was thought to be small and not very attractive at all who was wild and was very uncontrollable. Some cultures held the belief that they were the same as the fairies because of their nature and tendencies of playing pranks and tricks. Later in history the two classes became separated with the imp thought of a being of the evil nature and the fairies being good.
     Some of their pranks would be misleading travelers astray also switching babies; true attributes of the fairy race. These little creatures were thought to do this because they yearned for human attention even though the imp were seen as a lonely little creatures because only the strong and patient humans could deal with their trickster character.
     The imp was described as a creature with very small wings, a tail, horns and cloven feet. Sounds familiar? They are very fond of music and have the ability to shape shift at will. This is just my opinion and not based on facts but my thought is that the above description is due to the influence of the church. During the witch craze that took over Europe by leap and bounds, the imps were thought to be familiars of witches and wizards by shape shifting as black cats, lizards, toads and bats. These familiars were thought as spies and informant agents to the devil as well as his children.
     Some cultures held the belief that they could be damaged or harmed by certain magical weapons and enchantments. They could be caught or held in certain magical objects like swords, crystals and stones. When they were needed then they would be summoned by their captures. Just like the genie some would or could grant their master's wishes. The alchemist Paracelsus ( 1493 - 1541 ) was thought to have an imp in the crystal pommel of his sword.
     Some historians believe that the imp had a connection to the Greek god Pan which was very unlikely because their origin is Germanic.
     Some classes of  imps from different cultures were the following:
          Tentirujo - In Cantabria in Northern Spain was a malicious imp with pointed ears that tries to change the behavior of young lonely girls. Under the cover of invisibility, he would stroke the maids with a mandrake until the girls became passionate and joyful. Some legends held that he was an agent of Masabakes, a female demon of lust, who indicates in which house the Tentirujo should act.
          Argiduna - From the Basque folklore was an imp that is light like and appears at night. It was thought as a leprechaun who could manifest the night as light.
          Patuek - was an imp which was used by man to reach their aim or do some special tasks.
          Trenti - also known as El Trent was an imp of moss, typical of Cantabria. He was also known as 'musgoso' or 'simiot'. He is very difficult to see because he is said to be covered by moss, mushrooms, leaves and ferns. You can only see or distinguish his green eyes and back face. He dwells in the poor areas of the forest that are rarely disturbed by humans. In the summer he sleeps under the trees but in the winter months he prefers a shelter such as caves, crevices or hollow trees. He loves to ambush walkers by frighten them but one of his favorite stunts was pulling on maids' skirts.
     What lead me and my friend to a discussion of this mysterious creature of folklore and legends was because we were discussing about someone who could be considered an imp. In-fact through the research for this post I found that to described someone who showed the characteristics of an imp was known as being 'impish'.
      I believe we all have a little imp in all of us.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

April Fools Day

Going through the day, I was reminded of what today was. I couldn't believe that I had forgot April Fools Day.  I loved this day when I was a teenager living at home with my parents. The pranks that I pulled on them all day and they did on me as well. It was a fun day around the house.
     I began to think to myself, " Where did this day come from? "  " What is the history of April Fools Day?"
     The origin of the day is a mystery but there are stories of it origin. Some are believed to be true but the facts are scattered on the true origin of this prankster's holy day.
     The Romans and the Hindus celebrated their New Years Day on April 1st. The Romans celebrated it with a whole week beginning with March 25th and ending with April 1st. The cause is thought to be because it's so closed to the vernal equinox being March 20th or 21st and what a great time to celebrate a new year with the beginning of spring when the earth is bursting forth with life.
     In 1582, Pope Gregory VII ordered that the Gregorian calendar to be followed thus replacing the Julian calendar which moved the New Years Day from April 1st to the first of January. France adopted the reformed calendar but of course they would. It was ordered by the Pope himself.
     Back then communication wasn't as easy as it is in today's time so not many people knew there was an adoption of a new calendar so many still followed the old one. Some people knew but still refused to follow it. They continued to celebrate New Years Day on April the 1st.  These people became known as 'fools'. The 'fools' started to be tricked and prank. Some would be sent on foolish errands while others would be lead to believe something foolish.
     Eventually it spread through out Europe.  Now some people believe this story has some flaws in it because the Gregorian calendar wasn't adopted in England until 1752 and April's Food Day was already established. Still this story of origin is mostly accepted.
     Another explanation was given by a college history professor name Joseph Boskin. He stated that Constantine allowed a court jester of his to rule the empire for one day. He had over heard a group of jesters jokingly saying that they could do a better job at running the empire so Constantine made a jester name Kugel the king for the day. During his short reign Kugel passed a ruling that absurdity was allowed on that particular day and the custom became an annual event.  The Associated Press picked up Joseph's explanation and printed it in the paper in 1983 but this was a practical joke played by the college professor.
     Back to the first story of origin. People believe that the idea of April Fools Day spread and traveled to England and Scotland in the 18th century.
     Scotland celebrated the idea with two days instead of one. The first day was called Hunt-the-Gowk day. The word Gowk is Scottish for a cuckoo or a foolish person. A person was sent out with a message in a sealed envelope. He or she had to run it to someone else then inside the envelope was a message and instructions on sending it further along. Kind-of like a chain letter. The 2nd day was known as Taily Day. This day dealt with pranks and jokes by kicking or hitting someone in the butt. This is where the origin of taping a sign which read "Kick Me" on some one's back. 
     In France they would place a sign on your back but it wouldn't be a "Kick Me" sign. It was a sign of a fish and the day was known as April Fish Day.
     Mexico's April Fools Day was observed on December the 28th. Originally it was a very sad day with sad traditions because this is when they would commemorate the slaughter of the innocence by King Herod. So in celebration the people started playing tricks and pranks as a child would then the day transformed into a day of childish play and laughter.
     Iranians celebrate a type of April Fools Day on the 13th day of the Persian new year, Norouz and it fell on April 1st or 2nd. It was celebrate as far back as 536 BC. It was called Sizdah Bedar. Today it is thought to be the oldest prank day tradition. It was a day of playing, picnics, games and innocent fun. At the end of the festivals they would take all green vegetables and throw them away for they represented any potential illnesses and bad luck for the new year.
     Even Korea got in on the day. Under the dynasty of the Joseon, the royal family and courtiers were allowed to lie and fool each other.  It was only allowed on the first day of snow of the year. When you were tricked the victim would receive a bowl full of snow.
     In India the Huli Festival is celebrated on March 31st. This was a day that people would play jokes on one another celebrating the arrival of spring.
     In England jokes were only played in the morning. The fools were known as 'gobs' or being 'gobby' and the victims of the jokes and pranks were known as 'noodle'.  If a joke or prank was played after noon is was considered bad luck.
     Roman Laughing Day was a festival of Hilaria, celebrating the resurrection of the god Attis, on March 25th and yes it was known as Roman Laughing Day.
     Another April Fools Day type of tradition consist of throwing flour at each other was celebrated in Portugal. Their April Fools Day was celebrated on the Sunday and Monday before lent. 
     No matter the culture or the country everyone loves a good joke. That would make sense because there was a trickster in every ancient tradition and mythology.  Sometimes the trickster taught us many lessons that we need to learn and the most important one is... laughter is the best medicine.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Selkie

If you lived around the coasts of Northern Ireland and Scotland especially the Orkney and Shetland Islands of Scotland and the coast of County Donegal in Ireland you would probably hear the tales of the Selkies or Roanes in Ireland.
     The Selkies were an ancient race of people disguised as seals that could come ashore and shed their skins to take the form of a human. The were also known as Water Kelpies, the seal people or selchies.  They were more gentle creatures than Mermaids or Merrow. The Irish race known as Roane were even a more gentle race than the Selkies.
     A female selkie was said to come out of the sea then shed her seal skin to dance in the moonlight, run in the sand and sing her songs.  If a man comes along and sees her beauty for tales says that she is so beautiful that no man can resist her. She would have an unearthly beauty with dark hair and eyes. Today many Irish and Scottish families that has a child born with black hair and black eyes are usually credited being with Selkie blood in them. Some families are famously known as having Selkie in their bloodline.
     When the man sees the captivating female selkie then if he can find her seal skin and hides it she will be under his power until she finds her seal skin. In most tales she becomes his wife and a female selkie was known to make a fine wife being faithful, loyal, loving, dedicated and being a great mother to her children.
     When a male selkie comes ashore it's not to dance or sing but to find a woman who is 'unsatisfied' and becomes her lover. Just as the females, the males are dark haired with black eyes. They are said to have a magical power over human women.  After they have their fill they return to the sea. While in the sea, the male selkies can be vengeful and make strong storms at sea tormenting the seal poachers. If a human woman wants a selkie then all she had to do was go to the sea and shed seven tears into the sea at high tide. When a human woman was missing at sea it was said that her selkie lover came and got her to take her to his underwater home.
     Another physical feature that they have during their human form is that they have webbing between their fingers and toes.
     The female selkies in their human form and a captive of a love sick fisherman usually will be noticeably quiet and found many times standing somewhere on a cliff over looking the sea and singing their beautiful songs. Some tales are told that when a fisherman is thought to be lost at sea his selkie wife will go to the sea cliff and sing her song to bring him back home.  I wonder if it was because of love or because he was the only one that knew where her seal skin was.
     When a selkie female finds her seal skin either by tricking the husband or getting her children to look for it, she returns to the sea but she never forgets her husband and children. In her seal form she watches over them from far away.
     It is thought that selkies could take the form of a human only at certain times of the year. One tradition says only at Midsummer's Eve and another says every ninth night of the year.
     There are many stories about their origin.
     One belief is that were fallen angels who had fell into the seas became seals while the fallen angels who fell on the earth became known as the fairies. I wonder who started this version.
     Another one is that they were human beings at one time. They did something so horrible that they were doomed to live as seals in the sea.
     Some say that they are souls which were drowned at sea and on one night each year these lost souls were allowed to come ashore in their original human form.
     When Christianity invaded Ireland, selkies or roanes came to stand in for humans in purgatory being caught between two worlds and they were allowed to come to shore once a year. I guess as a reward for their sacrifice.
     When I went to Ireland I walked along a rocky beach and saw seals lying on the rocks out in the bay. It was awesome. I can see where they could have been thought to have that human soul and kindness. Their eyes is what caught me first. They are so deep and mysteriously dark.
     If you are interested in the myths of the Selkies or Roanes then there is a must see movie called The Secret of Roan Inish.  I have seen it and highly recommend it. It's a great movie based on the islands off of Ireland and it was filmed there as well.
     Click here for the movie. You can rent it from Netflix.  The Secret of Roan Inish 

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Dogwood Tree

Step outside and you will see Spring is well on it's way with the Dogwoods blooming. My grandmother, who is a great fisherman, says when you see the Dogwood blooming the fish are biting. Living down here in the south you see all the wisteria bloom, hanging everywhere. The dandelions and buttercups are covering the fields and yards. You see among the deep and green woods that the dogwood tree are taking the stage. So I thought I would look up and see how other cultures saw the dogwood tree.
     The name dogwood is thought to come from two different ideas. One is because a wash was thought to be made from the dogwood bark for dogs to cure them of the mange. An European cultivator boiled the bark and found it effect against the mange.
     Another idea is that the tree was once called dagwood from the Celtic word dag or dagga. The Celts would use the hard wood to make daggers thus how the tree got it's name.Through time the word changed to dogwood.
     As I was doing my research I found tons of websites and articles referring to the Legend of the Dogwood Tree and it's association with the cross that the Jesus was nailed on. I must say here that the dogwood grew in North America, Europe and eastern Asia only; not Jerusalem, not Bethlehem and not Israel . Enough said on that.
     I found much information on how the Native Americans respected and used the Dogwood Tree but not much of the European countries. The Gypsies did use it for basket weaving. They would take the twigs and burned them and then the ash was boiled into a thick mixture which is mixed with the Gypsy's blood.  Then the mixture would be smeared onto 'promise paper', which was made from birch bark. On the 'promise paper' a wish was written and surely the wish would come true.
     The Native Americans had deep respect and many legends about the dogwood tree esp. the Cherokees. They believed that a tiny race of people lived in the forest and watched over them. They were known as the Dogwood People. They taught the Native Americans how to live in harmony with the land and watch over the elderly and the infants. The Dogwood People believed in treating people with respect and to do good deeds for others just for kindness and not personal gain.
     Another legend tells of a Cherokee princess. Now I must stop here and explain something that I learned while I was walking the Red Road. There is NO SUCH THING AS A CHEROKEE PRINCESS and never was. Princess is a white man's word and way of thinking. Usually when you hear of a Cherokee princess it mostly means a daughter of a chief. Now back to the story. There was a jealous warrior who ended the life of the Cherokee maiden because she refused him as a suitor. As she laid dying the maiden used a dogwood blossom in attempting to stop the bleeding. Today the Cherokee believes the white flowering dogwood species known as the Cherokee Princess produces red petal tips in honor of the slain beautiful Cherokee maiden.
     A third Cherokee legend tells of a powerful chief who demanded ' rich ' gifts from suitors for his four daughters. The gods / spirits were angry at how selfish and greedy the chief was so they turned him into a small tree with low branches and promised that he would never grow tall. His four daughters are still with him in the four petals of the flower.
     The Native Americans used the bark to treat malaria because of alkaloid which is a nitrogen compound found in the bark. They also developed a scarlet dye from the bark which was used to color eagle feathers and porcupine quills. Just as the Celts used the wood to make their daggers, the Native Americans used it for their arrow shafts and daggers. When the dogwood tree started blooming it was a sign to start planting their corn.
     The Arikaras, a Native American tribe would mix bear berry with the dry inner bark of the red dogwood to make a sacred tobacco which they would smoke. More on the Arikaras tribe
     The pioneers used dogwood bark steeped in whiskey to help treat the 'the shakes'. You can use the twigs as a tooth brush. Native Americans and slaves would take the twigs of a dogwood tree and chew on them until the ends would turn into a 'brush'. There is one precaution though, using the 'brush' too much causes a receding gum line.
     Early settlers and pioneers found the wood useful as well for any type of handles especially for outside tools. Early makers of watches and clocks loved using 'toothpicks' made out of the dogwood tree. They were perfect for cleaning and repairing watches and clocks for they' wouldn't splint. 
     Some of our founding fathers fell in love with the Dogwood Tree. George Washington planted the dogwood at his hone in Mt. Vernon as well as Thomas Jefferson at Monticello. The white dogwood tree is a native tree here in North America and it was cultivated in 1731.
     I tried to find any magical usage for the dogwood tree. The only thing that I found was that the tree represents charm and finesse. If you want to enhance you social abilities and increase you personality then used the dogwood tree. I didn't find how but I would think of making incense out of the bark. Maybe make some dogwood water or oil.
     I must say I learned a lot. Went on a boat ride today and saw all the dogwood trees blooming along the shore, up through the forest and up the mountains. I saw more than just a tree.


Friday, March 23, 2012

The Rabbit & the Hare

Ostara has passed us and the Christian Easter is on it's way. This is the season of the Rabbit & the Hare. Through-out many cultures, traditions & myths both has been held sacred in so many ways. From an animal that could teach us so much in wisdom to a trickster and master at pranks in other beliefs.  I wanted to learn about this fluffy, long eared and cute mammal that we have come to love.
     As I said before there are many myths, folklore and traditions concerning the rabbit / hare.  In many myths they are a symbol of femininity, cleverness, foolishness, cowardice, courage, sexuality and the virginal purity. In their association with femininity they became connected to the moon.
     I have a friend that when we would sit on her deck late at night talking about different things we would look up at the moon. I commented about the man-in-the-moon. She said that she didn't see a man but she saw a rabbit. I always thought that was unique and special so even back then I researched to see if there was an association.
     Along with many of the stories and myths of the moon there was always a association with the hare / rabbit. They were thought as a messenger of the Great Goddess, moving by moonlight between the human world and the realm of the gods. Since the mammal digs and burrows into the ground the Celts believed that the rabbit / hare would carry messages from the world of the living to the dead and also from humans to the fairies. They thought rabbits / hares while in the ground could commune with the Spirit World.
     Celtics treated the animal with respect and honor. During Eostre, Celtic version of Ostara the goddess was connected with the moon and it's cycles and death, redemption and resurrection during the transition from Winter to Spring. Sounds familiar? It should.  The goddess would take shape of a hare at each full moon. The hares was considered very sacred to her and acted as her messengers.
     Eating rabbit or hare meat was a taboo to the Celtics because of this relation with the goddess. In the land of Ireland they were so revered that it is said that eating a hare was like eating one's own grandmother. Experts believe that this was mostly because the Celtics also believe that ' wise women ' could turn into hares by moonlight. Grandmothers in the Celtic society were considered ' wise women '.  Their shamans or priests / priestess would use the hares in their rites of divination by watching their patterns of tracks, their ritualistic mating dance and also in their entrails.
     The British moon goddess, Andraste held the hare / rabbit sacred . Cerridwen, the Celtic goddess was also associated with the hare.
     The warrior queen Boudicca was said to released a hare before each battle to serve as a good omen before battle. The hare's movement would determine the outcome of the battle. She took a hare with her to every battle to ensure victory. She would kept the hare underneath her cloak. It was said that people could hear it's scream from her cloak striking fear in her enemies and those who supported her.
     In China, the hare was shown with a mortar and pestle mixing the elixir of immortality and was again associated with the moon. He is the messenger of the female moon deity and the guardian of all wild animals. They thought that the hare could conceive just by the touch of the full moon's light, by crossing water by moonlight and even by licking the moonlight from a males fur.  They observed the hare's great talent of reproduction. LOL.
     There are stories about Buddha's association with hares / rabbits. One time he summoned the animals to him before he left earth.  Only 12 answered his request. To reward the 12, he named a year after each one. The hare was the fourth animal to show up.  The animal that ruled the year that someone was born would hide in the heart of the person in which this would cast a strong influence on the personality, spirit and fate of the person. The ones born under the year of the Rabbit are said to be intelligent, intuitive, gracious, kind, loyal, sensitive to beauty, prone to moodiness and periods of melancholy.
     Another story tells of Lord Buddha was a hare in one of his early incarnations. As a hare he would travel with an ape and a fox. One day the god Indra wanted to test the three so he turned himself into a hungry beggar. He wanted to test their hospitality.  Each animal decided to go and search for some food to feed the hungry beggar. After some time, the hare was the only one who returned without any food. The hare being determined to pass this test decided to build a fire and then he jumped into it and offered the god Indra his own flesh. The god was touched and rewarded the hare by transforming into the hare-in-the-moon.
     To the Egyptians the hare was also associated with the cycles of the moon. During the waxing of the moon the hare was a male and during the waning it was considered to be female. In Dendera, there is a Egyptian temple with  pictures on the wall depicting a hare-head god and goddess. The female goddess was believed to be the goddess Unut or Wenet. The male representation most likely was the god Osiris also called Wepuat or Un-nefer, who was sacrificed to the Nile river in a form of a hare.
    In the Grecodemi-god who went around shooting arrows into people to cause them to fall in love had a hare companion. In the Greco-Roman world when someone wanted to give a gift of affection they would give a rabbit. In Roman, giving a gift of a rabbit would help a barren wife to conceive.
     In the Teutonic or Norse myths, Holda the earth and sky goddess and leader of the Wild Hunt was followed by hares who would bear torches. Freya, the goddess of love, sensuality and women's mysteries had hare attendants. When she rode her chariot which was drawn by cats, Freya would travel with a sacred hare and boar.
     The rabbit / hare's magic even reach the people of western Siberia. Kaltes was a moon goddess who would shape shift into a hare and roam the hills. When she was in human form she was depicted with wearing a headdress with ears of a hare.
      Ostara a Anglo-Saxon goddess of the moon, fertility and spring was shown with the ears or head of a hare with a white hare standing in attendance. This white hare would go around during the spring laying brightly colored eggs for the kids to find. Sounds familiar?  It should. 
     Again the hare and at the rabbit was held in much awe and respect. During the Christian invasion upon the world the idea of the rabbit was changed. They were thought to be evil and seen as a witch's familiar. Or course...everything is evil to the Christians. Many superstitions started to be created. Sailors considered the hares so unlucky that they could not be mentioned at all while at sea.
     If you were a pregnant women and a hare crossed your path then you would have a miscarriage or give birth to a child with a hare's lip. In order to prevent this from happening the women would have a lucky hare's foot on her. I use to have a rabbit's foot and yes I carried it around with me. It was a gift from my grandfather. A hare's foot was said to avert rheumatism and cramps. They would also help actors perform better. If you burn the fat of a hare in a lamp then all in it's presence or in the room would become merry. Another remedy consist of the brain in some wine before bed to prevent oversleeping. I'm sure that worked. I know it would have for me.
     If you were in the Cambridge shire, England and you saw a hare running through the streets then that would be a sign that a fire was about to break out somewhere in the city.
     In the Cornish superstitions any young girl who was abandoned by her lover would turn into a white hare in order to pursue her faithless lover.
     Hares would hide in cornfields during the reaping season. The farmers called the last sheaf  " the hare " and the action of cutting it was called " killing the hare ".  In some places the farmers or reapers would stand around and throw their sickles at the hare.
    Today the rabbit or hare is considered a pet to many families especially those with little girls but in the ancient times the rabbit and hares was respected, honored, sacred and was considered very magical. Through out time and many cultures the rabbit has remained connected to the celebration of Ostara and Easter. At Easter he is shown as laying beautiful eggs around for children to find.
     During this season of  Easter or Ostara, the Spring Equinox, then please remember the sacredness of this little timid animal.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Aenghus: The Celtic God of Love

Aenghus was considered the god of love, youth, poetic inspiration and health. He was also known as Aenghus mac Og, " Son of Youth" in the Irish tongue. Mabon ap Modron, " Youth, Son of the Mother" in the Welsh tongue. Other names that he was known as was O'engus ( old Irish ), A'engus ( Middle Irish ) and Aengus / Aonghus ( Modern Irish ).

Aenghus was conceived when the Dagda, the good god, fell in love with Eithne which was also called Boann, the goddess of the Boyne River in Ireland. She was a river goddess. Boann was the wife of Elcmar of the Brug. During Boann's pregnancy, the Dagda sent Elcmar on an errand. Meanwhile Dagda used his magic to make one day last 9 months by halting the sun. At the end of the 9 months, Aenghus was born. Some say that he was born out of time. The Dagda brought Aenghus to Midir to be fostered and raised as his own son for 9 years. When Aenghus was playing with a Fir Bolg boy he was insulted or teased about not having any parents. Aenghus went to Midir and asked him about his parentage and this is when he learns that he was the son of the Dagda. When Aenghus became of age he went to his father and demanded a home and some land. The Dagda being cleaver tricks Elcmar out of his home the Brug or the Boyne River Valley. Some legends have it that Aenghus was raised by the Celtic Sea god Manannan mac Lir.  Aenghus became the ruler over the Neolithic tomb at Newgrange which was viewed as sacred and viewed by the Irish as the home of the god and an entrance to the Otherworld.

Another version of the story it was Aenghus who tricked his father, the Dagda, out of the Boyne River valley. The Dagda had already divided out his lands to his children when Aenghus arrived so he asked his father could he stay at his home in the valley for a day and a night in which Dagda agreed. To the Irish " a day and a night " covered all time, so Aenghus took possession of the valley permanently.

The love god was the harpist of the Tuatha De Danann. He had a harp that played irresistible music and his kisses would turn into birds which flew around his head that carried messages of love.  His sisters were Brigit and Aine and his brothers were Aed and Cermait.

He was considered a god of the Otherworld because his underground palace was considered on the banks on the Boyne River which could be entered by the tomb of Newgrange.

Aenghus had a dream of a beautiful young maiden which tormented him every night. He fell in love with this mysterious maiden. His mother, being worried about her son, searched the whole island of Ireland for the maiden for a year but didn't find her. His father, the Dagda, also looked for the maiden for a year and again she couldn't be found. Finally Dagda asked his aide, Bov the Red, to look for her as well. After a year of looking and searching the emerald island he found her. He took Aenghus to a loch known as the Lake of the Dragon's Mouth and there he saw 150 maidens all chained together in pairs in gold chains. Immediately Aenghus saw and recognized her. Her name was Caer, the daughter of Ethae and Anubal, a prince of the Dananns of Connact. Every November the 1st, her and all the maidens were transformed into swans for a year. Aenghus made a deal, if he could identify Caer while she was a swan he could marry her.

On the first of November, Aenghus went out to the lake called to his love. When he found her he turned himself into a swan and joined her. They flew off together singing a beautiful song and all who heard them would fall into a sleep for 3 days and nights.

Aenghus had a son called ' Diarmuid of the Love Spot '. One night while Diarmuid was hunting he met a maiden who place a magical love spot on his forehead. Whenever any woman look upon him she couldn't resist falling in love with him. Diarmuid meet Grainne and they both fell in love. Aenghus helped the fugitive lovers escape Fionn MaCumhal's vengeful wrath. He pleaded their case with Fionn and secured their freedom from his pursuit.

Aenghus is also known for abducting the unhappy Edain, the wife of Midhir from her imprisonment in the fairyland.

You can call upon Aenghus for music magic, any aid in romantic love, seek protection for lovers, any dream work and creative inspiration. Sacred objects connected to Aenghus is bowls, sapphires, cinnamon, clay, red roses, copper and rose quartz.


Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Imbolc (old posting from Feb. 2, 2011

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!