Happy Mabon 2019!

By Isabella @TheWandCarver

Instagram:  @thewandcarver

mabon_2019

picture from hearthshome.com

Tomorrow marks the beginning of Mabon.  It is, of course, the next to last harvesting season of the year and it is the Autumnal Equinox.  For centuries, Mabon, much like Lughnasadh, has been a time of much celebration for Pagans and other religions.  Mind, they may be celebrated much differently than one another, still, it is a time of much happiness [if the crops turned out well] and thankfulness for a good store of grain and other necessities to get through another winter. Other changes begin as the 21st will mark the time when  both the day and night is of equal length. The nights will become longer and the days shorter hereafter.  Depending upon where you live, it may be dark as early as 4 pm of an afternoon [UK] but most places are probably not dark so early. It gets made up for by staying light in summer til 9:30 – 10 pm though!

The Neo-Pagan goes by the Wheel of the Year, attributed to British Paganism and adopted by Wicca, which is appropriate enough as it clearly defines the eight-parted cycle of what the Ancient Ones just knew by the observed changes in Nature… they didn’t need a “wheel” to define what season or sabbat it was.  They could read the signs Nature gave them in the skies, the air, the trees, animals, and Earth itself. And, the shortening of days was a very good clue to them and all. I’m sure that most of us, unless we’re living in a bubble, are acclimated well enough with seasonal changes to tell when the changes are nigh. But the Ancient Ones were very precise… they had to be.  Not planting at the right time could spell disaster for their crops.  Nowadays, we have almanacs to help us understand when and what to plant, if we should be so inclined.  Whilst almanacs are very much based upon what the Ancients knew; obviously they never wrote these details down. However, they still managed to pass down this information to every generation and in time there were people who learned how to read and write and the modern almanac as we know it today came into being.  When you give thanks this Mabon, spare a word of thanks to the Ancients for passing down this invaluable knowledge.

For the Pagan, both then and now, the sabbats also proved the cycle of human life.  It was a given that we all were born, lived and changed, then died… and a lot of speculation upon what happened afterward. The Norsemen believed in a Heaven-like state called Valhalla and a Hell-like state called Hel. They also believed that in Valhalla Odin would have a great war each day where they would all fight and die again… and again… and again… well… for a Norseman this was their idea of “Heaven”, fighting and dying with honour. But many of the Ancient Pagans cottoned on to the fact that not only did plants, trees, and the like were “born” from the planted seed but would then grow well and live, then in some cases, wither and die in the latter months but come to life again in the Spring. In farming the plants did not wither and die because they were ready to but because farmers needed food for the Winter months and therefore harvested everything they planted.  New seeds would be planted in Spring or Summer as prescribed and the cycle would begin and end the same as always. The leaves on trees would turn beautiful colours in Autumn but fall to the ground in death before Winter.  Still, the tree would produce new little buds of life in the Spring.  Our Ancient ancestors began to realise that we are much the same and that our energy never expired.  We would be reborn at some point in time.  Reincarnation was believed upon for ages prior to its rise in popularity in India around 1000-600 BC.

The Greek philosopher and mathematician Pythagoras, born around the year 580 BC, stated that the soul was immortal, and after the death of the body, could own another body, sometimes an animal. Also, not to be confused with reincarnation, the Greek word metempsychosis, meaning transmigration, coined in the 5th century before Christ, when Plato, a Greek philosopher, born around the year 427 BC, taught that the soul is born many times, even for 10 thousand years, and then it parts to Heavenly bliss.  It is quite obvious to most of us now that Christians did not have the first hold on the idea of Heaven. Even the Pagans of long ago believed in a Heaven of sorts and very much understood the circle of life.

thewheeloftheyear-1

wheel of the year by Ask-Angels.com

So, why not a wheel to represent all seasons and sabbats?  Pretty ingenious idea, really.  One of the many ways we try to celebrate the sabbats is to craft things which represent the individual sabbats in our home is to create something which speaks to that particular sabbat. One of my favourites was our wheel of the year my daughters and I created many years ago from a grapevine wreath, attaching wheat to the portion representing Lughnasadh.  We had intended to add a new piece relating to the next sabbat and so on as each arrived.  Mind, we never could leave anything unfinished and ended up filling the entire wheel by the time Yule arrived.  But it was ever so pretty hung just over the opening of the fireplace!  I would love to add a picture of it for this blog but it is packed away in my lockup as there is really no more room on the walls of our “new” home that we moved to the year after.  You and your family may wish to take up this idea and do the same this year…and who knows? Maybe you won’t be so impatient as we three to the point of needing to finish it before time… or maybe you will 😊  Either way, it’s a nice Mabon project and we wish you the happiest of Mabons. Many warm blessings to all whom this way wander x

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A Beginner’s Understanding of Ogham Divination, Part Twenty

By Isabella @TheWandCarver

Instagram:  @thewandcarver

Ogham Ioho

Ogham Ioho or Idad ~ photo by i.macy

Very fitting that the last Ogham tree in the series is Yew, for it is most associated with beginnings and endings, rebirth and reincarnation.  It is the Ogham called Ioho, Idad, or Iodho and if you want to know more about Yew, you can read my previous blog, The Magick of Yew. I will tell you that the Ogham Ioho is not a birth tree Ogham, but it is the Ogham for the Winter Solstice.  The Yew is the the tree most associated with the Crone aspect of the Triple Goddess… her time is near but as the Yew dies on the outside to bring in new life from the inside, so the Crone will die but become new again in her regeneration or reincarnation.  And, the cycle goes on and on…

Representations:  Ancestry,  Change, Communication [with the dead], Death, Divinity, Flexibility, Immortality, Longevity, Rebirth, and Strength

Ogham Letter:  I

Number:  20

Colour:  Dark Green, Very White

Tarot:  See Below

Animals:  Deer, Eagle, Hummingbird

Plant:  Juniper

Divination Meaning:  When drawing a single Ioho / Idad stave you must ask yourself, “How does my past make me whom I am today?  How do I understand my past to decide whom I become?”  It is a call to explore not only your recent past [as in this life’s past] but can also mean it is time to look into your past lives. It can also mean it is time to speak with your family elders; it can also mean for you to speak with those whom have passed on to the Otherworld.  I say “speak to” when I really mean to seek them out.  For you to appropriately answer the questions above you must listen to those from the past.  There is so much wisdom you can gather from this that it would be rude not to.

How to Mend the Problem:  Changes are coming to you. Let go and experience the changes knowing they are not an enemy to you.  Accepting that nothing lasts forever can ease your mind if you allow it to.  You, nor I, are special enough to prevent endings.  Everyone experiences these. And we must understand that endings are not always bad things.  Like the Yew, we peel away the outside to allow the inside to flourish.

With the chthonic current we see the bond between generations. Oral traditions, folk lore, the study of lore – these are most important at this time. Transmission of tradition and the sharing of lore manifests with this current.  If other influences support the reading, there may be reference to past lives or reincarnation.  The celestial current speaks of memory and history and the things these give us. This current can refer to the ancestors generally; perhaps even specific ancestors. But always in reference to ancestors in the Otherworld, not those Elders whom are still living.  This Ogham challenges us to look at our past[s] and to determine our future. You must go about this as best you can by knowing yourself now and in past-lives, should it come to this. Speaking with those in the Otherworld is a course you must try to take as well.  Some may wish to access their Akashic records. Meditation upon your own life is a way forward as well. Your ultimate goal will be to lay foundations of wisdom for generations to come after you.  It is a very serious task.

reincarnation-06656

A card from the Tarot of Reincarnation 

Apart from the Death card, which has been paired with Ur [Heather], I do not have a single tarot card recommendation, however, something that may assist you in accessing your past lives is a special tarot deck called Tarot of Reincarnation [English and Spanish Edition] by Lo Scarabeo. This concludes our foray into the world of Ogham divination.  I hope you have enjoyed it and have learned much. Do always keep in mind that there are other interpretations out there in the world and this is only mine based on things I have studied.  As your “graduation present”, I have listed more *sources that may benefit [or confuse!] you.  You can adhere to one way or another… you can borrow from one and borrow from another to combine your way.  Just do keep in mind that it is your intuition which will best serve you as it will help you choose the right meaning for your reading or a reading for someone else.

You can catch up the first nineteen blogs, Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five, Part Six, Part Seven, Part Eight, Part Nine, Part Ten, Part Eleven, Part Twelve, Part Thirteen, Part Fourteen, Part Fifteen, Part Sixteen, Part Seventeen, Part Eighteen, and Part Nineteen by clicking on these respectively.  Feel free to print them out for your BOS or just to have on hand for help.

Many thanks for reading my blog.  If you have enjoyed it or have learned from it, please share via the social media buttons below.  I love comments also and respond as promptly as I can.  And, I very much enjoy a like for my efforts!  Warmest blessings to those whom wander this way x

Sources

*Ogam, The Celtic Oracle of the Trees, by Paul Rhys Mountfort

*Ogam, Weaving Word Wisdom, by Erynn Rowan Laurie

The Celtic Tree Oracle, by Liz and Colin Murray

What’s Your Birth Tree is the New What’s Your Star Sign, by Isabella

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A Beginner’s Understanding of Ogham Divination, Part Nineteen

By Isabella @TheWandCarver

Instagram:  @thewandcarver

Ogham Eadha

Ogham Eadha ~ Photo by i.macy

Eadha or Edad is the Ogham of enlightenment.  The Aspen or White Poplar tree is the wood it represents in the Ogham alphabet.  It is also associated with divination, dreaming, and the altered states of consciousness in which communication with the spirits and ancestors occurs.  It is very much a useful Ogham for the hedge witch to be used as a seal during a hedge ride.  The Aspen tree is not a birth tree Ogham wood, nor is Eadha a birth tree Ogham.  It is, however, the Ogham for the Autumn Equinox, which we shall be entering soon.  Rather fitting, isn’t it?

Representations:  Ancestry, Astral Projection, Communication, Courage, Discernment, Divination, Dreams, Enlightenment, Relationships [with Spirit], Vision Seeking

Ogham Letter:  E

Number:  19

Colour:  Red Speckled

Tarot:  The Hermit

Animals:  Swan

Plant:  Yew tree

Divination Meaning:  You must ask of yourself:  How do I see the world? What gifts do my insights bring?  I suppose if ever there was a time to question your intuitiveness it would be now. In divination, Eadha asks you to examine the tools you use to access Otherworldly wisdom.  The Ancient Ones often used mind-altering herbs and plants for trips to the other side.  They learnt through trial and error how much was enough and not too much.  Not to say anyone uses mind-alteration via herbs and plants but I think the question is more to the point of “Am I using the correct tools in my practise to reach Divinity, ancestry, and any other Otherworldly Ones?” And, of course, those tools could include mind-altering herbs and plants.

How to Mend the Problem:  Careful discrimination between illusion and reality is suggested.  It can also refer to the tools of your divination work, or the “vehicles” used in your journeying work and whether they are physical, psychological, or spiritual… or all of the above and this is the meaning of the chthonic current… the oceanic current cautions about the dangers of visionary work:  addiction, illusion, and intoxication. Celestial current suggests the possibility of enlightenment through the applied practise of vision seeking and dream incubation.  In a nutshell, you must – through your intuitiveness and careful work with Divinity, find your answer to the questions above and judge whether you are risking too much and find a way to balance in all things.

The Hermit

Shadowscapes The Hermit  ~ photo by i.macy

The Hermit is the major arcana tarot card which best explains Eadha’s meaning.  The Hermit is a card of soul-searching, introspection, being alone, and inner guidance.  The Hermit carries a lantern or some type of light source in any type of deck.  It shows that you are taking a break from everyday life to draw your energy and attention inward and find the answers you seek, deep within your soul. You realise that your most profound sense of truth and knowledge is within yourself and not in the distractions of the outside world. You leave behind the mundane to set off on a journey of self-discovery, led only by your inner wisdom and guiding light. If you have the time, it is a perfect time to go on a pilgrimage of sorts alone.  When you allow yourself to tune in to your inner, guiding light, you will hear the answers you need and grow wise beyond your years. Find your light, shine it on your soul and create your unique path. You will see what lies ahead of you; from there, take one step at a time.

You can catch up the first eighteen blogs, Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five, Part Six, Part Seven, Part Eight, Part Nine, Part Ten, Part Eleven, Part Twelve, Part Thirteen, Part Fourteen, Part Fifteen, Part Sixteen, Part Seventeen, and Part Eighteen by clicking on these respectively.

Many thanks for reading my blog.  If you have enjoyed it or have learned from it, please share via the social media buttons below.  I love comments also and respond as promptly as I can.  And, I very much enjoy a like for my efforts!  Warmest blessings to those whom wander this way x

Sources

The Celtic Tree Oracle, by Liz and Colin Murray

What’s Your Birth Tree is the New What’s Your Star Sign, by Isabella

 

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A Beginner’s Understanding of Ogham Divination, Part Eighteen

By Isabella @TheWandCarver

Instagram:  @thewandcarver

Ogham Ur

Ogham Ur ~ photo by i.macy

Although Ur [or Ura], the Ogham alphabet for Heather does not come at the end of our series, it is still the Ogham of death and finality.  One might think that would be the Ogham for Yew, but it is not.  It is the third vowel of the Ogham and it is not a birth tree.  It is, however, the Ogham for Summer Solstice which recently came round in June.  You can find out more about the magickal uses for Heather in my past blogs, The Magick of Heather or From the Wortcunners Cabinet – Heather.  Keep in mind the uses and representations for the actual plant may be quite different from what the Ogham itself represents.

As I say, this Ogham deals with death and finality and grieving, but it also deals with “deaths” which are metaphorical and the passing away of circumstances or situations in life.  In other words, when you draw the Ur stave it does not necessarily mean a physical death.  And always remember that when you do a three-stave draw you must consider the other two Ogham staves and what they mean.  In drawing the single stave, which is what most people do as a daily reading, then you must look deeply into the meaning of this single stave for what you need to know.  More often than not, the metaphorical meaning will be what will be your answer in this case.  Still, know this – something must end.

Representations:  Changes/Transitions, Dying, Death, Finality, Grieving

Ogham Letter:  U

Number:  18

Colour:  White, Amber

Tarot:  Death

Animals:  Bees, Red Grouse, Lark

Plant:  Mistletoe

Divination Meaning:  When drawing this Ogham stave in a single reading, you must ask yourself, “What in my life is passing away?  What must I leave behind?”  Of course, you must take the time to really look within when you draw Ur… there may be situations or people from which or whom you know you must withdraw yet it is so easy to feel comfortable enough with these situations or people and you never really want to think of how badly they may be affecting you or your well-being.  Now is the time to address this, no questions asked.  You may already know of what or whom you must leave behind so that you may grow.  Now is the time to act upon this knowledge.  No forest can grow without periodic pruning back of what no longer serves it.

How to Mend the Problem:  Of the cthonic current, Ur literally means graves, burials, and earth. Land spirits are part of this current. This current means to let go of what has passed and to move forward. Remember that physical death is not the only kind… relationships, businesses, hopes, and  ideals all die.  In the oceanic current, Ur brings about ghosts/spirits of the dead… you may be in need of doing a bit of ancestry and necromancing.  I’m of the belief that our ancestors live within us and speak to us… are we listening? Maybe it is time you do.  The celestial current is one of inevitability.  Your passed on loved one[s] may be weighing heavily on your mind. Perhaps it is time to honour them in some way.

And, perhaps the drawing of Ur simply means you must get rid of something which drags you down so that you can move forward without the weight of something which no longer serves you.  It could be a toxic relationship. It could be a few extra pounds you have been wanting to shed. It might be articles of clothing or things you have hoarded which only depress you now.  “Articles” of any kind can harbour bad energies.  Maybe you just need to do a good clear out!  Only you can, with your intuition and through meditation, understand best what Ur will mean for you.

Death card

The Death Card ~ photo by i.macy

The Death card in tarot is the perfect fit for Ur.  A card of endings, change, transformation, and transition [upright].  Like Ur, the Death card has always had a bad rap when it came to being drawn for many feared they were about to be lying by the wall soon!  Not often, I would assure you, does either mean so.  The Death card symbolises the end of a major phase or aspect of your life that you realise is no longer serving you, opening the possibility of something far more valuable and essential. You must close one door to open another. You need to put the past behind you and part ways, ready to embrace new opportunities and possibilities. It may be difficult to let go of the past, but you will soon see its importance and the promise of renewal and transformation. If you resist these necessary endings, you may experience pain, both emotionally and physically, but if you exercise your imagination and visualise a new possibility, you allow more constructive patterns to emerge.

You can catch up the first seventeen blogs, Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five, Part Six, Part Seven, Part Eight, Part Nine, Part Ten, Part Eleven, Part Twelve, Part Thirteen, Part Fourteen, Part Fifteen, Part Sixteen, and Part Seventeen by clicking on these respectively.

Many thanks for reading my blog.  If you have enjoyed it or have learned from it, please share via the social media buttons below.  I love comments also and respond as promptly as I can.  And, I very much enjoy a like for my efforts!  Warmest blessings to those whom wander this way x

Sources

The Celtic Tree Oracle, by Liz and Colin Murray

What’s Your Birth Tree is the New What’s Your Star Sign, by Isabella

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A Beginner’s Understanding of Ogham Divination, Part Seventeen

By Isabella @TheWandCarver

Instagram:  @thewandcarver

Ogham Ohn

Ogham Ohn ~ photo by i.macy

Ohn is the Ogham mark for the needle-bearing, non-conifer tree, Gorse, or Furze, from old Celtic dialect.  Truthfully, Gorse is considered more of a hedge plant than a tree, although they can grow to about 15 feet in height if not pruned back.  Ohn is also the Ogham for the Spring Equinox sabbat of Beltane.  It is not a Celtic Birth Tree Ogham.  Folklore has it that Ohn/Gorse is effective against faerie mischief.

Representations:  Fertility, Hope, Prosperity, and Protection

Ogham Letter:  O

Number:  17

Colour:  Gold, Yellow

Tarot: The Chariot

Animals:  Bees, Cormorant, Hare, Harrier Hawk

Plant:  Heather

Divination Meaning:  When you pull the Ohn Ogham, the question you must ask yourself is, “Where is my journey taking me? How shall I follow my path?”  A hint:  First look at the part of your life you’re in.  Are you young? Middle-aged? Older? When Ohn appears in your reading, it can indicate that you need to examine the direction of your life… maybe you’re about to take a trip; it can indicate emotional journeys such as changes of mind or heart. And, Ohn can also indicate if you need to make a spiritual journey such as meeting with ancestors in the Otherworld or finally meeting your Spirit Guardian.  Use your intuition to know where your journey lies. If you are to embark on a physical journey, Ohn is a magick amulet for you as physical protection; it is also well to have on hand for spiritual and emotional journeys.

How to Mend the Problem:  If you find physical travel is ahead for you, tend to mending any faults with your personal vehicle if you plan to use it.  Plan your trip to the best of your ability to minimise delays at airports and reduce travel times by taking the most direct but safest routes.  If you are called to go on a spiritual journey, it is always wise to first meet and form a relationship with your Spirit Guardian and animal if you have not done already.  Again, you must prepare for the journey.  And, if your journey is an emotional one, prepare yourself by committing yourself to being courageous… use talismans to this effect, if you feel necessary, and know that you will be deeply affected, however, it is a necessary journey to lay to rest the thing[s] which trouble your heart most.

the Chariot

Shadowscapes The Chariot ~ photo by i.macy

The tarot card I find is most relatable is The Chariot.  Notice, no matter which deck you use, the Warrior is upright, brave, and victorious.  He/she holds no reins… he is in control through the strength of his will and mind.  Although her beasts are pulling in different directions [in my case, a pair of Unicorns lead the way in my Shadowscapes deck], the charioteer uses her willpower and sheer resolve to steer the chariot forward in the direction she wants.  This is exactly what you wish to do in your journey as well.

You can catch up the first sixteen blogs, Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five, Part Six, Part Seven, Part Eight, Part Nine, Part Ten, Part Eleven, Part Twelve, Part Thirteen, Part Fourteen, Part Fifteen, and Part Sixteen by clicking on these respectively.

Many thanks for reading my blog.  If you have enjoyed it or have learned from it, please share via the social media buttons below.  I love comments also and respond as promptly as I can.  And, I very much enjoy a like for my efforts!  Warmest blessings to those whom wander this way x

Sources

The Celtic Tree Oracle, by Liz and Colin Murray

What’s Your Birth Tree is the New What’s Your Star Sign, by Isabella

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Condolences to El Paso and Dayton

By Isabella @TheWandCarver

Instagram:  @thewandcarver

white candles

white candles image from ecosia.org

My empathic heart cries for you… the victims, of course, but moreover the ones left behind who will have to carry on without their loved ones and friends.  I do know how hard that is because in our own family we had a “senseless shooting” in the early 60’s which involved the loss of my uncle.  It was not in a “mass shooting”, however, all shootings are senseless in my mind.  There are no more words I can give you.  There are never “the right words” in these cases.  “Thoughts and prayers”, the most useless of so-called sympathies, fall upon deaf ears for we know, the victim’s families, that it is just lip-service to hopefully make us feel cared for.  It doesn’t even touch the sides.

When the news reports came onto the BBC, I couldn’t help but burst into tears.  I don’t know you personally but that doesn’t matter.  My heart broke a little more, as it always does when I hear of these things.  And then, I get angry because I know beyond a shadow of a doubt how well good, secure gun laws works; look at Japan for a shining example.  In 2015, the entirety of that year, resulted in twenty-three [23] gun deaths in Japan.  Yes, you read that correctly.  In the US for the same year, there were over 37,000 gun deaths and many mass shootings.  In fact, 2015 has been called the year of mass shootings.  The difference is that Japan has amongst the stiffest gun laws in the world.  You may only own a rifle, no handguns, and certainly NO military-grade weaponry.  Not only does the person seeking a permit endure many background checks and a two-year waiting period, but so does his or her immediate family as well as strict psychological testing for all.  In the US, from what I have read [and gun laws vary significantly from state to state] in many cases you can pitch up to a gun shop, buy a gun, wait three days, come back and pick it up.  That is insane.  I have a feeling many of you in the US are feeling that as well by now.

When the recent mosque shootings in New Zealand happened, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern shut down any glorification of the shooter by not speaking his name and then said the gun laws would be changed post haste and they were.  But when the people of the US try to get anything changed, their NRA – beloved by all whom have arsenals of weapons of all kinds – try to gaslight the victim’s families into thinking it is their faults that this happened.  And, of course, they love to throw more guns at the situation.  Lots of school shootings? Let the kids and the teachers carry.  Shootings in the workplace? Carry.  And so on.  Is it any wonder people think of the wild west? But from what I gather, the numbers/percentages of those in favour of guns has changed in the last four years.  Around 2015 there were more in favour of guns and now, only a bit half-way through 2019, the tides are changing and depending on the day, there are about 50-50 in favour and on a good day there are more than 50% whom disfavour guns.  And, the NRA have been going through a lot of trouble of late, effectively on the brink of bankruptcy and lawsuits.  America, it is time to stick the boot in and get the laws changed.  You can do it.  And, no, I would not advocate taking away every gun… there are people who do still hunt for food.  I’m not a fan of pistols [oh Hell, I despise guns full stop but I’m not an idiot, I do know people hunt and stuff] but the British aren’t coming anymore and you can also not worry about a zombie apocalypse because you’ve got worse things to worry about and none of those require guns.  All that is needed are very strict background and mental health checks, first.  And then ban all assault/military-grade weaponry. Will this completely stop gun violence? No.  Will it stop mass-shootings? Yes.  Will the yearly death-by-gun numbers drop significantly? Yes, Yes, Yes. My ultimate idea means re-writing your 2nd amendment to clarify how gun ownership is not a God-given right but a practical privilege which should be upheld with honour and respect for human and animal life.

Perhaps I have no right to weigh in on such a hot-button subject.  But as I have a very high regard for the sanctity of life, and I feel connected to everyone, and I foresee a future of us all working together for the common and greater good of all species, yes, I feel I do have a right.  I’m sure I’m not the only one, either.  El Paso and Dayton [and the myriad of other cities which have had mass-shootings over the years], this is all I have to give – my ideas and my heart.  It seems the only practical thing to give as I’m not there to give you hugs and flowers and hold your hands.  I can only keep you, like the others, in my heart.  It will be hard for you, but I wish it didn’t have to be.  You will grieve and feel alone, but you’re not.  You have a world full of people mourning with you.  We care.  We can only hope you feel the energies of love we send.  Warmest blessings to everyone x

Sources

http://www.gunpolicy.org/firearms/region/japan

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Happy Lughnasadh 2019

By Isabella @TheWandCarver

Instagram:  @thewandcarver

spirit of lughnasadh 2

Lughnasadh ~ image from ecosia.org

Unless you are a brand-new fledgling witchy, I am sure most of you know what Lughnasadh, or Lammas, is all about.  Obviously, it is the first harvest of the year and that in and of itself has always been reason for much merriment amongst the Pagan farming communities… but it is also a time of joy for every farming community, whether Pagan or Christian or otherwise.  That is, if the harvest was good and not ruined by too much rain or not enough rain.  We shall operate based on a good harvest for our purposes.

Most of us probably aren’t farmers apart from perhaps our wee herb gardens or flowers.  Some of us may have been reared in a farming family or had friends whose parents/grandparents were farmers.  I would say a good deal of us at the very least understand the importance of having an excellent harvest each year as this provides our sustenance.  In the early days of planting crops, our ancestors knew how to keep the land from “running out” of nutrients in the soil and how best to keep their lands fit for purpose by rotating crops and allowing the earth to rest between growing seasons.  Only in more recent history have farmers forgotten this important thing and have overworked their lands and we are all paying the price.  But did you know that the ancestors also had other ways of ensuring a good harvest each year?  You could indeed call it a kind of magick!

For instance, in the Shetland Islands, farmers believed that grain harvesting should only take place during a waning moon. They also believed this about the fall potato crop, and the cutting of peat.

At Lughnasadh, calves are weaned, and the first fruits are ripe, such as apples and grapes. In some Irish counties, it was believed farmers had to wait until Lughnasadh to start picking these fruits, or bad luck would befall the community.

In England, “John Barleycorn” represents the suffering of indignities, attacks and death that corresponds to the various stages of barley cultivation, such as reaping and malting. And any of you of an age will remember no less, the 1970 album by Traffic call John Barleycorn Must Die.  Then of course, many of us have studied the 1782 poem by Robert Burns in school, perhaps.  But Mr Barleycorn did not just come to life in 1782, for there was a Scottish manuscript from the 16th century mentioning the famous sacrificial grain.  For let us not forget, without Mr Barleycorn’s demise could we live. Nor could we make beer and whiskey 😊 This is a good time to raise a glass to Mr Barleycorn!

Essex Terret Corndolly

Essex Terret by Renata Edge 

This is also the time for corn dollies! Where the corn dolly began is anybody’s guess, but the most prolific and intricately made ones have come from the farms of Great Britain for many, many years.  They were also known as “corn mothers”.  The pagans believed the “spirit of the corn” resided in their wheat fields – note here that the word “corn” did not refer to actual corn or “maize” as it is known in North America, but corn referred to the wheat grain in the British Isles. Hence, when you mention corn dollies to an American, they will visualise the kind made with the husks of corn/maize, rather than the braided shafts of wheat and straw as are custom in the UK.  Back to the story though, when the wheat was harvested, the early pagans believed the Spirit of the Corn was made homeless, therefore they would fashion a kind of “doll” out of the last sheaf of wheat and leave it in the field for the corn spirit to inhabit until winter was over and replanting began. And, every area of the UK has its own particular design.  If you are an older person in the UK and have been active in wheat farming, you may be able to recognise the corn dolly from one county to the next on sight.  Each one is special, and the design is handed down from generations in most cases.  I find they are wonderful to add to my Lughnasadh altar and if you are interested in having one for your altar, you can either learn to make one or you can purchase one.

Lughnasadh is a fabulous time to celebrate with friends and to make new ones. If you live near the eastern part of the UK, here is a celebration you may be interested in at Kallima Wellbeing Centre, Basildon, the Lammas/Lughnasadh Moot 2019.

If you don’t have a celebration in your area [although it would be hard to imagine!] you can celebrate at home quite well.  However, you choose to celebrate, I hope you have a very Happy Lughnasadh/Lammas and warmest blessings to you and yours. x

Sources

Wikipedia.org

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