Pagan festivals originating from an ancient Celtic Spiritual Traditions.
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Samhain is a pagan religious festival originating from an ancient Celtic spiritual tradition. In modern times, Samhain (a Gaelic word pronounced “SAH-win”) is usually celebrated from October 31 to November 1 to welcome in the harvest and usher in “the dark half of the year.” Celebrants believe that the barriers between the physical world and the spirit world break down during Samhain, allowing more interaction between humans
Ancient Celts marked Samhain as the most significant of the four quarterly fire festivals, taking place at the midpoint between the fall equinox and the winter solstice. During this time of year, hearth fires in family homes were left to burn out while the harvest was gathered.
After the harvest work was complete, celebrants joined with Druid priests to light a community fire using a wheel that would cause friction and spark flames. The wheel was considered a representation of the sun and used along with prayers. Cattle were sacrificed, and participants took a flame from the communal bonfire back to their home to relight the hearth.
Early texts present Samhain as a mandatory celebration lasting three days and three nights where the community was required to show themselves to local kings or chieftains. Failure to participate was believed to result in punishment from the gods, usually illness or death.
The Celts believed that the barrier between worlds was breachable during Samhain, they prepared offerings that were left outside villages and fields for fairies, or Sidhs.
It was expected that ancestors might cross over during this time as well, and Celts would dress as animals and monsters so that fairies were not tempted to kidnap them.
Some specific monsters were associated with the mythology surrounding Samhain, including a shape-shifting creature called a Pukah that receives harvest offerings from the field. The Lady Gwyn is a headless woman dressed in white who chases night wanderers and was accompanied by a black pig.
The Dullahan sometimes appeared as impish creatures, sometimes headless men on horses who carried their heads. Riding flame-eyed horses, their appearance was a death omen to anyone who encountered them.
A group of hunters known as the Faery Host might also haunt Samhain and kidnap people. Similar are the Sluagh, who would come from the west to enter houses and steal souls.
The rituals celebrated during Samhain were mostly of a celebratory nature, but the priests used it as a time to supercharge their magic. Samhain was the Ancient Celts time to celebrate the summer harvest, and slaughter the weaker animals in their herds.
Grounding is a great Samhain/Halloween ritual!
Grounding, sometimes referred to as “Earthing”, has recently been shown to have numerous health benefits.
The Earth has a mild negative charge to it. Our bodies build up too much positive charge over time.
This has been shown to reduce inflammation and chronic pain. Grounding has also been shown to improve sleep quality, protect the body from EMFs, and increase energy!
From a spiritual perspective – nature calms and reenergizes us. It brings us back to balance and harmony. Grounding, or walking barefoot on the Earth helps us release our excess emotions, thoughts, and technological noise that are being ran through our bodies.
Keeping with the theme of energetic release, Samhain & Halloween is a perfect time to do a yoga release flow.
A great way to release all that is no longer serving you, especially anger, is by doing Hip Opening Stretches.
There are several You Tube tutorial's on this very subject, which will leave you feeling much less stressed and ready to take on the World.
You can release these unwanted feelings and pain by doing very relaxing hip opening stretches on Samhain.
Bonfires were and are still a huge part of any Samhain festivity. They were lit to cook a giant feast on and then danced around in gratitude and celebration!
If you can’t make a giant bonfire to dance around in your backyard (although this sounds super fun!), you can light a fire or candle in your home.
For best results use a black protection candle...
This is the night when the gateway between
our world and the spirit world is thinnest.
Tonight is a night to call out those who came before.
Tonight I honor my ancestors.
Spirits of my fathers and mothers, I call to you,
and welcome you to join me for this night.
You watch over me always,
protecting and guiding me,
and tonight I thank you.
Your blood runs in my veins,
your spirit is in my heart,
your memories are in my soul.
With the gift of remembrance.
I remember all of you.
You are dead but never forgotten,
and you live on within me,
and within those who are yet to come.
Samhain is here, cold is the earth,
as we celebrate the cycle of death and rebirth.
Tonight we speak to those through the veil,
the lines between worlds are thin and frail.
Ghosts and spirits in the night,
magical beings rising in flight,
owls hooting up in a moonlit tree,
I don't fear you and you don't fear me.
As the sun goes down, far to the west,
my ancestors watch over me as I rest.
They keep me safe and without fear,
on the night of Samhain, the Witches' New Year.
Blessed Be! oh Guardians
Blessed Be! loved ones and friends.
Another year's upon us
As the wheel has turned again
We invite the ancestors one by one
To join us at our meal
We raise our cups in honor
And share memories with zeal
We share a harvest's bounty
And know deep in our hearts
The past must be cleansed away
For the future to start
The veil is at it's thinnest
We walk between the worlds
Diviners bring their instruments
And mysteries become unfurled
And now the witching hour is upon us once again
We share a blessed circle with our loved ones and our friends
Blessed Be to Guardians, To deities and more still
Blessed Be To You,
Let The Harvest Your Heart Fill
So Mote It Be!
Yule is the pagan holiday that celebrates the return of longer days. Many cultures — from ancient Germanic peoples to Celtic Druids — celebrated Yule. This turning of the wheel of the year also has traditions that may seem familiar to those who celebrate Christmas today.
Yule is the time to celebrate the rebirth of the light after the very darkest part of the year. In neopagan traditions, Yule (also known as Jól) is when the god, who sacrificed himself at Samhain, has journeyed through the underworld and, in the embrace of the goddess, becomes the child of light. Yule or the winter solstice is also the stage of the Wheel of the Year when the god transforms from the Oak King into the Holly King. He’ll shift back to the Oak King at the summer solstice.
The time between Samhain and Yule is one of purging what does not serve you and reflecting on the upcoming year with fresh eyes and hope for new beginnings. Yule is the moment where the energy of the new year rises up. It is a wonderful time to look within and set intentions for the following year.
Yule takes place on the winter solstice. The winter solstice marks the shortest day and longest night of the year. It isn’t the same day every year, but falls near the end of December in the Northern Hemisphere. In 2020, Yule is on Monday, December 21. In 2021, it falls on Tuesday, December 21.
In old almanacs Yule was represented by the symbol of a wheel, conveying the idea of the year turning like a wheel, The Great Wheel of the Zodiac, The Wheel of Life. The spokes of the wheel, were the old festivals of the year, the solstices and equinoxes. The winter solstice, the rebirth of the Sun, is an important turning point, as it marks the shortest day, when the hours of daylight are at their least. It also the start of the increase in the hours of daylight, until the Summer Solstice, when darkness becomes ascendant once more.
Yule is deeply rooted in the cycle of the year, it is the seed time of year, the longest night and the shortest day, where the Goddess once again becomes the Great Mother and gives birth to the new Sun King. In a poetic sense it is on this the longest night of the winter, 'the dark night of our souls', that there springs the new spark of hope, the Sacred Fire, the Light of the World, the Coel Coeth.
Yule and Christmas are not the same, though some use Yule to refer to the whole Christmas season. However, many of the traditions associated with Christmas come from older pagan traditions associated with fertility, protection, and abundance.
Some of these Christmas traditions that have pagan roots include: Decorating the Christmas tree Adorning your home with candles, evergreen branches, holly, and mistletoe Indulging in sweets and drinks with friends Santa The Celts burned a Yule Log as well, though they believed that the sun stood still for 12 days and began moving again on the winter solstice.
Ancient Romans also held a multi-day winter festival known as Saturnalia. It honored Saturn the god of agriculture (and rules), but emphasized revelry and the upending of the usual order. You know, holiday revelry! The Vikings used to decorate a tree with runes and other protective symbols. They’d later bring it into the house and burn it in their hearth for 12 days.
During these 12 days, they’d also be partying pretty hard with their friends and family. During this Jol festival, children would fill their boots with straw and leave them out for the Norse god Odin. As bearded Odin rode by on his eight-legged horse Sleipnir, he would slip down their chimneys and leave gifts behind for them near the hearth.
Gradually over time, various winter solstice traditions became part of Christian celebrations as people converted to the new religion but were reluctant to give up their customs.
The Yule Log played an important role in the celebrations of the winter solstice and later Christmas, a large oak log was ceremoniously brought into the house and kindled at dusk, using a brand from the previous years Yule Log. It was deemed essential that the log, once lit, should burn until it was deliberately extinguished. The length of time, varied from region to region, from 12 hours to several days and it was considered ill-omened if the fire burnt itself out. It was never allowed to burn away completely, as some would be needed for the following year.
In England, it was considered unlucky for the Yule log to be bought, and had to be acquired using other means, as long as no money changed hands. Often it was given as a gift by landowners, and sometimes decorated with evergreens.
In Cornwall a figure of a man was sometimes chalked on the surface of the log, mock or block. In Provence, where it was called the tréfoire, carols were sung invoking blessings upon the women that they might bear children and upon the crops, herds and flocks that they might also increase.
The ashes from the Yule log were often used to make protective, healing or fertilising charms, or scattered over the fields. In Brittany, the ashes were thrown into wells to purify the water, and in Italy as charms against hailstones
In some parts of the Scottish Highlands, a variation of the Yule log was observed, here a figure of and old woman, the Cailleach Nollaich, was carved from a withered tree stump.
At dusk, the figure was brought into the house and laid upon the burning peat of the house fire.
The family would gather round the hearth and watch the figure consumed into ashes, the rest of the evening was spent in games and merriment. The figure, represented, not fertility and life but of the evils of winter and death, the figure had to be totally consumed if misfortune and death were to be averted in the coming year.
This was an ornamental candle of great size, once widely used at Yule throughout Britain, Ireland and Scandinavia. See how traditions havent changed much, not even the colours, as they were often coloured red, green or blue and decorated with sprigs of holly or some other evergreen. The candle was lit either on Christmas Eve, its light shedding on the festival supper and left to burn throughout the night or early Christmas morning, to burn throughout the day. It was rekindled on each successive night of the twelve day festival, and finally extinguished on the Twelfth Night. Here’s the tradition of the 12days. Its all pagan you know!! While the candle burns, it is believed to shed a blessing on the household, it was considered a sign of ill omen or misfortune for the candle to go out or blown out.
Actually in ALL witchcraft it is bad form to blow out candles. Better to snuff them out. It was also considered unlucky to move it. In some households only the head of the family could perform this task, it being considered unlucky for anyone else to touch it whilst alight.
Wassail, is derived from the Anglo-Saxon wes hál, meaning 'be whole', or 'be of good health', or Old Norse ves heill, and was a salutation use at Yule, when the wassail bowl was passed around with toasts and singing. Wassail carols would be sung as people would travel from house to house in the village bringing good wishes in return for a small gratuity.
The Apple Tree Wassail, sung in hopes of a good crop of cider the following year, other such as the Gower Wassail carol still survive today.
Recipe for Yule Wassail
3 red apples
3 oz brown sugar
2 pints brown ale,
apple cider, or hard cider
1/2 pint dry sherry or dry white wine
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger strips or lemon peel
Core and heat apples with brown sugar and some of the ale or cider in an oven for 30 minutes. Put in large pan and add rest of spices and lemon peel, simmer on stove top of 5 minutes. Add most of the alcohol at the last minute so it heats up but does not evaporate. Burgundy and brandy can be substituted to the ale and sherry. White sugar and halved oranges may also be added to taste. Makes enough for eight. Wassail!
Invocation to the Old Woman of Winter
Ancient mother of Midwinter watcher over life and death,
the one who rebirths the world,
be with us on this longest night!
See us through the dark hours
and stand with us as dawn births the promise of new life.
So mote it be!
Invocation to Father Yule
Heroic father, giver of life,
one who stands with sword in hand
to fight against the dangers of the wild,
bring that sword into our circle
and stand with us against this night’s darkness.
For the night is long, and you will keep us safe.
Imbolc is a pagan holiday celebrated from February 1 through sundown February 2. Based on a Celtic tradition, Imbolc was meant to mark the halfway point between winter solstice and the spring equinox in Neolithic Ireland and Scotland. The holiday is celebrated by Wiccans and other practitioners of neopagan or pagan-influenced religions.
Imbolc is just one of several pre-Christian holidays highlighting some aspect of winter and sunlight, and heralding the change of seasons. Origins of Imbolc The celebration of Imbolc dates back to the pre-Christian era in the British Isles.
The earliest mentions of Imbolc in Irish literature date back to the 10th century. Poetry from that time relates the holiday to ewe’s milk, with the implication of purification. It’s been speculated that this stems from the breeding cycle of sheep and the beginning of lactation. The holiday was traditionally aligned with the first day of spring and the idea of rebirth.
Imbolc celebrations took the form of a festival in honor of the pagan goddess Brigid, who was evoked in fertility rites and oversaw poetry, crafts and prophecy.
Brigid was worshipped by the Filid, a class of poets and historians among the Celts of ancient Ireland and Britain. Brigid was considered one of the most powerful Celtic gods, the daughter of the Dagda, the oldest god in the Celtic pantheon Tuatha du Danann. She had two sisters also named Brigid (though it’s speculated that these sisters are meant to symbolize different aspects of the same goddess.)
Brigid appears in the saga Cath Maige Tuired and the Lebor Gabála Érenn, a purported history of Ireland collected from various poems and texts in the 10th century.
Myths about Brigid’s birth say she was born with a flame in her head and drank the milk of a mystical cow from the spirit world. Brigid is credited with the very first keening, a traditional wailing for the dead practiced at funerals by Irish and Scottish women.
Brigid Becomes St. Brigid Over the centuries, Brigid was adopted into Christianity as St. Brigid. One of Ireland’s three patron saints, the Catholic Church claims St. Brigid was a historical person, with accounts of her life written by monks dating back to the 8th century. Brigid (or Bridget) is the patron saint of Irish nuns, newborns, midwives, dairy maids and cattle.
Blessing Blessings on you and your family are great during Imbolc because you’ve made it through the winter and a fresh, new year is ahead of you during the spring, summer and fall.
Cleansing Keeping with the “spring cleaning” theme, cleanse your home and cleanse yourself with ritual spell work designed to put the past down and focus on the present moment.
Protection Sabbats are always a great time to work protection magic. Build protection energy and even enchant your Brigid’s Cross to use as a protection talisman.
Wishing It’s the time to sow seeds, and that also means wishing for the desires of your heart. Candle magic with white candles works well for this!
We handmade the wreath from wicker and reeds, dried fruits and herbs from last years harvest were added as offerings.
While the offering was inflamed with scorching fire we called to Brigid through chants and song to give protection for the coming year and to scorn those who caused harm.