It’s not quite 50F and raining gently, but steadily. There’s a drip from the porch roof but almost no wind. The alder stands out now against the deep blue-green of the spruce behind it, with grey bark and reddening tips to the branches, and splotches of white and grey-green from the witchmoss and other fungi that are beginning to drape the branches as it ages.
Yesterday I spent pretty much the whole day, at least what was left of it after getting started so late, on catching up on mail and blogs and doing research. I was still working on medieval foods and Roman Empire, as well. I’m still going through Apicius and running across odd reference to foods that were ok in certain religious contexts and taboo in others. Odd…..
I got some time out there to sort things in the kitchen and discovered stuff that had been washed, set out to put away, forgotten and dumped that needed to be re-washed.
Tempus got home in the early evening, but long after dark. He made us great salads for supper and we got to sit and talk for a little before he went to other chores and I got back to some of my research.
We’re taking our time getting moving this morning, although chores are happening including trash and recycling and the guys have spent some time sorting things from the fridge….too many people with no one knowing whose is what… <sigh>
Something to remember for those who are grieving at the holidays. ….because we do.
Today’s Plant is Skunk Cabbage, Lysichitum americanum. This is one of the signs of spring here on the coast, where every drainage ditch or marshy field has it’s glow of brilliant yellow and bright, deep green. It is a famine food with a spicy or peppery taste, but contains calcium oxalate, which can upset the insides and even cause death if you get too much. Bears eat it after hibernation to get their intestines working again. It is used to cure sores and swellings, particularly after winter, when starvation conditions make these things immensely worse. However the typical use of the local peoples of this herb was to line baskets with the huge leaves to keep things from bruising or dropping through and to wrap around foods when baked under a fire, where it imparts a distinctive taste to the crust. Cunningham’s Encyclopedia references Eastern Skunk Cabbage, which is a different plant with a red flower, but the magicks are the same,Symplocarpus foetidus – Feminine, Saturn, Water – Carry when you have legal troubles, or keep in the drawer with the filed papers. Wrap in a bay leaf on a Sunday to draw good fortune. More here:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lysichitum_americanum and on Eastern Skunk Cabbage here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Symplocarpus_foetidus
“Io, Saturnalia” is a cry that would have been heard around the Roman Empire at this time. The days wrapped around the Winter Solstice were a time for feasting and fun, gambling and flipping societal roles on their heads, masters and servants changing places just to be silly. The custom of cookies, oranges, nuts, sweets and small toys hung on evergreen branches (called strenae) was part of this, too. More here: http://wildhunt.org/2012/12/io-saturnalia-2.html and here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saturnalia Btw, “Io!” is pronounced like the modern “Yo!” “Gangsta” culture’s been around that long? <grin>
The shop is closed on Tuesday/Wednesday although we’ll be open next week on the 23rd and 24th! Fall hours are 11am-6pm Thursday through Monday, although the time that we’re there is drifting earlier with the shorter days. Need something off hours? Give us a call at 541-563-7154 or Facebook or email at email@example.com If we’re supposed to be closed, but it looks like we’re there, try the door. If it’s open, the shop’s open! In case of bad weather, check here at the blog for updates, on our Facebook as Ancient Light, or call the shop.
Love & Light,
Waning Moon Magick – From the Full Moon to the New is a time for study, meditation, and magic designed to banish harmful energies and habits, for ridding oneself of addictions, illness or negativity. Remember: what goes up must come down. Phase ends on 12/20 at 5:36pm. Hecate’s Brooch – 3-5 days before New Moon – Best time for Releasing Rituals. It’s the last few days before the new moon, the time of Hecate’s Brooch. This is the time that if you’re going to throw something out, or sweep the floors, or take stuff to Good Will, do it! Rid yourself of negativity and work on the letting go process. Release the old, removing unwanted negative energies, addictions, or illness. Do physical and psychic cleansings. Good for wisdom & psychic ability. Goddess Aspect: Crone Associated God/desses: Callieach, Banshee, Hecate, Baba Yaga, Ereshkigal, Thoth. Phase ends on 12/20 at 5:36am.
Having trouble spotting Saturn in the dawn? On Thursday morning the 18th the waning Moon points down to the spot.
Mars (magnitude +1.0, in Capricornus) still glows in the southwest during and after twilight. And it still sets around 8 p.m. local time.
Goddess Month of Astrea runs from 11/28 – 12/25
Celtic Tree Month of Ruis/Elder, Nov 25 – Dec 22
Secret of the Unhewn Stone, Dec 23
Runic half-month of Jera/ Jara 12/13-12/27 – Jara signifies the completion of natural cycles, such as fruition, and has a more transcendent meaning of mystic marriage of Earth and Cosmos. *Ø* Wilson’s Almanac free daily ezine | Book of Days | December 13
©2014 M. Bartlett, Some parts separately copyright
Ruis/Elder – Nov 25 – Dec 22 – Ruis – (RWEESH), elder – Celtic tree month of Ruis (Elder) commences (Nov 25 – Dec 22) – Like other Iron Age Europeans, the Celts were a polytheistic people prior to their conversion to (Celtic) Christianity. The Celts divided the year into 13 lunar cycles (months or moons). These were linked to specific sacred trees which gave each moon its name. Today commences the Celtic tree month of Elder.
Elder or Elderberry (Sambucus) is a genus of fast-growing shrubs or small trees in the family Caprifoliaceae. They bear bunches of small white or cream coloured flowers in the Spring, that are followed by bunches of small red, bluish or black berries. The berries are a very valuable food resource for many birds.
Common North American species include American Elder, Sambucus canadensis, in the east, and Blueberry Elder, Sambucus glauca, in the west; both have blue-black berries.
The common European species is the Common or Black Elder, Sambucus nigra, with black berries.
The common elder (Sambucus nigra L.) is a shrub growing to 10 m (33 feet) in damp clearings, along the edge of woods, and especially near habitations. Elders are grown for their blackish berries, which are used for preserves and wine. The leaf scars have the shape of a crescent moon. Elder branches have a broad spongy pith in their centers, much like the marrow of long bones, and an elder branch stripped of its bark is very bone-like. The red elder (S. racemosa L.) is a similar plant at higher elevations; it grows to 5 m (15 feet). Red elder extends its native range to northern North America, and it is cultivated along with other native species, but common elders are seldom seen in cultivation. Elders are in the Honeysuckle family (Caprifoliaceae).
Ruis – Elder Ogam letter correspondences
Month: Makeup days of the thirteenth Moon
Meaning: End of a cycle or problem.
to study this month Straif – Blackthorn Ogam letter correspondences
Letter: SS, Z, ST
Meaning: Resentment; Confusion; Refusing to see the truth
Tides for Alsea Bay
Day High Tide Height Sunrise Moon Time % Moon
~ /Low Time Feet Sunset Visible
W 17 Low 1:56 AM 2.8 7:47 AM Rise 2:58 AM 28
~ 17 High 8:20 AM 7.7 4:38 PM Set 1:53 PM
~ 17 Low 3:26 PM 1.2
~ 17 High 9:32 PM 5.7
Affirmation/Thought for the Day – Anything preying on my mind would starve to death.
~ Books alone are liberal and free: they give to all who ask; they emancipate all who serve them faithfully. – LA Main Library motto
~ Alexander Hamilton started the U.S. Treasury with nothing, and that was the closest our country has ever been to being even. – Will Rogers (1879-1935) US actor, humorist
~ An onion can make people cry but there’s never been a vegetable that can make people laugh. – Will Rogers (1879-1935) US actor, humorist
~ Success is nothing more than a few simple disciplines, practiced every day. – Jim Rohn
The daughter is too bold
to be anything but
a cuckoo in the nest.
Good girls sit home
and sew in the dark.
They don’t go seeking fire
in the witch’s woods. – Bone Mother by Holly Black
You thought the person in the red outfit giving out treats to children on Christmas Eve was a jolly, overweight elf with a white beard and a team of reindeer leading the way. Nah. That’s just what Santa’s spin doctors want the world to believe.
Want to know who really decides who’s naughty or nice? Try Holda, the Teutonic goddess of winter. She’s the beautiful blonde wearing a shimmering gown and red or white goosedown cape who flies through the night sky on December 24 bringing gifts and spreading joy.
In Pagan religions, goddesses are an important part of our celebrations because they help tie us to ancient traditions and the seasons of the year. Holda is one of my favorites. Stories about her are found in old folktales of Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Holland, Denmark, Norway, and other parts of Europe. Her name means ” kind” and “merciful.”
I first discovered Holda many years ago while researching the Pagan origins of Santa Claus. In addition to learning that the Teutonic Gods Odin and Thor were part of Santa’s mix, I found that in some parts of old Europe, it was Holda–not Santa–who brought gifts to children and determined who was “naughty or nice.” I also encountered lore depicting her as dressed in red and going down chimneys to bring gifts to children. An old Germanic tradition included leaving an offering of food and milk for Holda on December 24, known as Mother Night.
I decided to learn more about Holda, and connecting with her and her lore has been part of my Winter Solstice celebrations ever since. I invoke her in rituals, and keep a picture of her on my household altar. She is even among the Yuletide characters that appear in the public Winter Solstice pageant that I direct each year in Madison, Wisconsin.
As with many ancient goddesses, Holda is complex. Also called Hulde and Frau Holle, she goes by a variety of names and takes different forms, depending on locale and culture. In her form as a beneficent and noble White Lady, Holda is beautiful and stately, with long, flowing golden hair, which shines with sunlight as she combs it. She wears a white gown covered with a magical white goose down cape. At Yuletide, she travels the world in a carriage and bestows good health, good fortune, and other gifts to humans that honor her. She not only is connected with Winter Solstice itself, but also with the holiday season that continues many of its customs, the 12 days of Christmas–from December 25 through January 6
In some tales, Holda is a weather goddess. Snow flies as Holda shakes her cape or the comforter on her bed. It is said that fog comes from her fires and rain from her washing day. In other accounts, Holda is a goddess of prosperity and generosity. Gold coins fall from her cape as she furls it. In one tale, after a villager worked all night to fashion a new wooden shaft to replace the one that had broken on her carriage, he found she had thanked him by turning the wood shavings from his work into gold. It was only then that he discovered the woman he had helped was actually the Goddess Holda.
In other early lore, Holda was a sky goddess riding on the wind. She is thought to be an older form of Frigg, wife of the Father God Odin; in some tales, Holda and Odin ride the sky together. Holda also has been honored as a goddess of the moon, and sometimes her name has been used as a term for a lunar priestess. Another of her forms is that of a night-riding witch leading a spirit host in a fierce ride, known as the Wild Hunt, through the sky and across the land.
During persecution times in Europe, some of those suspected of witchcraft were said to “ride with Holda.” Her Pagan origins are evident in folk tales in which she is described as accompanied by a grand and furious procession of souls of the dead, mostly unchristened babies and children. It was said that as Holda and her entourage passed through the fields, they blessed the land with abundance and caused a double harvest in the growing season that followed.
In many places, Holda is closely associated with Perchta (Berchta), her tatters-clad shadow twin sister, also identified with the Wild Hunt and Yuletide. On Perchta’s Day, January 6, ancient Europeans left offerings of cakes and milk on house roofs to bring good luck for the coming year. Holda and Perchta probably emerged as local variants of the same goddess-turned-folk character, since both sometimes appear in tales as hunched-backed crones and bogey figures, punishing or blessing adults as well as children for bad or good behaviors, at Yuletide and at other times of the year. As crone goddesses, they also preside over destiny and the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth.
Geese are sacred to Holda, and some say she is the source of the storybook character Mother Goose. As the Lady of Beasts, Holda has many creatures associated with her, including hounds, wolves, pigs, horses, goats, bears, and birds of prey. In some tales, she lives in the woods and is the ancient half-tree, half-woman who gave birth to humankind. Apples and flax are among the plants sacred to her.
Holda also is associated with lakes, streams, and wells. In the Grimm’s fairy tale, “Mother Holle,” she is visited by two half-sisters at her home at the bottom of a well, where she rewards the industrious one with gold but covers the lazy one with pitch. Holda as goddess of hearth and home presided over spinning and domestic arts. She also symbolized virtue, wisdom, and womanhood.
Today, across the United States, Europe, and other parts of the world, Holda is remembered, not only by folklorists, but by Pagans of many paths, who invoke her, give her offerings, and share her stories and traditions in Winter Solstice rituals and celebrations. As Holda takes her Yuletide ride this year, may she bring the world her blessings of peace, prosperity, and well-being.
For further reading:
Bates, James Allan, Doris Duncan, & Countess Von Staufer. History of Santa. Fullerton, California: Duncan Royale, 1987.
Farrar, Janet & Stewart. The Witches’ Goddess. Custer, Washington: Phoenix Publishing, 1987. p. 230, 260.
Fox, Selena. “Frau Holda: Yuletide Goddess” in CIRCLE Magazine, Winter 2000, issue 78, p. 19.
Guiley, Rosemary Ellen. “Holda” in The Encyclopedia of Witches & Witchcraft, second edition. New York: Checkmark Books, Facts on File. p. 160-161.
Hilton, Edward. “Winter Goddess” http://des.users.netlink.co.uk/winter.htm, summary of “The Winter Goddess: Percht, Holda, and Related Figures” in Folklore Vol. 95: 11, 1984.
Karas, Sheryl Ann. The Solstice Evergreen. Fairfield, Connecticut, 1998. p. 51-53.
Leach, Maria & Jerome Fried, editors. Standard Dictionary of Folklore, Mythology, and Legend. New York: Funk & Wagnalls, 1972. p. 500.
Monaghan, Patricia. The New Book of Goddesses & Heroines. St. Paul, Minnesota:Llewellyn Publications, 1997. p. 127, 252.
Thorn, Thorskegga. “Holda” at http://www.thorshof.org/holda.htm.