It’s raining steadily, but gently, even if we’ve gotten over 1/2 an inch since midnight. 49F, wind at 5mph, AQI 64? Wow…. There are several layers of clouds up there, each dumping into the next. We’re supposed to get a mostly dry day tomorrow and then more dripping on us on Tuesday.
Yesterday started with the Herbs Workshop. We got a lot done, mostly packing, talking about the poisonous herbs and why they’re poisonous and how to handle them. We went on with the variations on ferns (Sword, Deer Tongue, Maidenhair and Bracken) that we have around here and finished up packing frankincense and holly berries. Yes, we now have frankincense packets, $5 for an ounce. The new trees are starting to produce, so the price is coming down.
We had burgers for supper, delicious, as always. I spent the evening alternately embroidering and reading and trying to check in more stock. There are more books on the used shelf and we have stone cages again! $3 each on a short cord.
Today’s Plant is Cittim Bark (Cascara), Rhamnus purshiana. It is a potent laxative and has been used for that for centuries. –Masculine, Saturn, Earth – Sprinkle an infusion of this around the home before legal proceedings, to help you win your case. It is used in money spells and worn in a brown cloth amulet will protect again evil influences and hexes. It can be sewn into a poppet to attract those influences away from you, but place this outside at night, especially.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cascara_Sagrada
In the time of the collapse of the Roman Empire, Rome itself was taken over by the Ostrogoths, one of the many sacks of the city that happened. On this day in 536, Belisarius, a brilliant general recaptured the city. He managed to depose the Pope during all this….. He also fought the Vandals earlier and helped keep the invasion of the Kutrigurs from taking over the Eastern Empire later in his career. More here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belisarius
The shop opens at 11am. Winter hours are 11am-5pm Thursday through Monday. Open Circle for Yule 12/21, 7pm. Holiday Hours – Open Late on 12/22 & 24 (Christmas Eve), Closed Christmas Day 12/25, Closed Saturday 12/29, Closing Early for New Year’s on 12/31 (probably by 4pm), And then we’ll be closed again on New Year’s Day! Need something off hours? Give us a call at 541-563-7154 or Facebook or email at firstname.lastname@example.org 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,
Today’s Astro & Calendar
Waxing Moon Magick – The waxing moon is for constructive magick, such as love, wealth, success, courage, friendship, luck or healthy, protection, divination. Any working that needs extra power, such as help finding a new job or healings for serious conditions, can be done now. Also, love, knowledge, legal undertakings, money and dreams. Phase ends at the Tide Change on 12/22 at 9:49pm. Diana’s Bow – On the 3rd day after the new moon you can (weather permitting) see the tiny crescent in the sky, the New Moon holding the Old Moon in her arms. Begin on your goals for the next month. A good time for job interviews or starting a project. Take a concrete step! God/dess aspect: Daughter/Son/Innocence – Associated God/dess: Vesta, Horus. Phase ends on 12/11 at 11:20am.
Now the crescent Moon is easy in twilight. If it were a bow, it would be aiming an arrow down at Saturn, as shown above.
Head outside in early evening this week and you can see the Big Dipper scraping the northern horizon. For latitudes north of about 40°, this conspicuous asterism never sets (“circumpolar” in astronomical parlance), though December evenings find it at its lowest ebb. This means that the constellation on the opposite side of the North Celestial Pole, the familiar W-shaped Cassiopeia, currently rides highest in the sky.
Mercury is beginning its best dawn apparition of 2018. Look for it low above the southeast horizon, 24° lower left of Venus, about 60 to 45 minutes before sunrise. Mercury brightens from magnitude 0.0 to –0.4 this week. By the morning of Friday Dec. 14, can you pick up Jupiter emerging 7° below or lower left of Mercury? Binoculars help!
Old Farmer’s Almanac Sky Map for December click here
Goddess Month of Astrea runs from 11/28 – 12/25
Celtic Tree Month of Ruis Elder Nov 25 – Dec 22 – (RWEESH)
Runic half-month of Isa/ Is November 28-12 Literally, ‘ice’: a static period. The time of waiting before birth. Nigel Pennick, The Pagan Book of Days, Destiny Books, Rochester, Vermont, USA, 1992 Runic half month of Naudhiz/ Nyd – November 13- 27 – Need-fire – Time to prepare for winter. Consciousness is the Necessity. “That which does not destroy me makes me stronger.” – Nietzsche
©2018 M. Bartlett, Some parts separately copyright
Celtic tree month of Ruis/Elder, Nov 25 – Dec 22 – Ruis – (RWEESH) – 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.
Day High Tide Height Sunrise Moon Time % Moon
~ /Low Time Feet Sunset Visible
Su 9 High 2:03 AM 7.0 7:41 AM Rise 9:39 AM 2
~ 9 Low 7:21 AM 3.3 4:37 PM Set 6:55 PM
~ 9 High 1:01 PM 8.3
~ 9 Low 8:05 PM -0.5
Affirmation/Thought for the Day – Mastery, you are my friend. You are with me always.
~ Creatures whose mainspring is curiosity enjoy the accumulating of facts far more than the pausing at times to reflect on those facts. – Clarence Shepherd Day, Jr; attributed
~ I am, in point of fact, a particularly haughty and exclusive person, of pre-Adamite ancestral descent. You will understand this when I tell you that I can trace my ancestry back to a protoplasmal primordial atomic globule. Consequently, my family pride is something inconceivable. I can’t help it. I was born sneering. – WS Gilbert, British dramatist and librettist born on November 18, 1836; from The Mikado
~ If your parents didn’t have any children, there’s a good chance that you won’t have any. – Clarence Shepherd Day, Jr; attributed
~ Christopher Columbus is a symbol, not of a man, but of imperialism. … Imperialism and colonialism are not something that happened decades ago or generations ago, but they are still happening now with the exploitation of people. … The kind of thing that took place long ago in which people were dispossessed from their land and forced out of subsistence economies and into market economies – those processes are still happening today. – John Mohawk, Seneca, 1992; Columbus stepped ashore at Puerto Rico on November 19, 1493
The hills look gaunt in russet garb:
Against the sky the leafless woods
Are dark, and in their solitudes
The chill wind pierces like a barb. – Clinton Scollard (1860–1932)
Yule Magick – The Hidden History of Christmas Carols – for Celtic Guide December 2013 by Carolyn Emerick USA – https://www.academia.edu/5121941/The_Hidden_History_of_Christmas_Carols_-_by_Carolyn_Emerick_-_for_Celtic_Guide_December_2013
EDITOR’S NOTE: Short of the celebration of the dawning of a new year, Christmas is the last big holiday at the end of each year for many thousands of people around the world. We would be remiss in not presenting an interesting story on this perhaps most famous of holidays, and so our Celtic Guide Facebook guru, Carolyn Emerick, hereby presents a deeply researched report as a gift to our readers to help celebrate the end of 2013.
A note to the reader: Never has it been so evident that history can sometimes be murky and difficult to wade through than during my quest to discover the roots of Christmas caroling! Different sources give different information, conflicting dates, and varying histories. Ordinarily I would not open with a disclaimer. But, under the circumstances, if the reader were to look up this information on their own, they might find answers different than what I’ve written here. So, I will endeavor to weed through it all and give my own assessment of the material. And, I will try to be clear about where my information came from by citing all sources. – Carolyn
The story of Christmas caroling is full of unexpected surprises. The practice itself has gone through many changes over the centuries, and our perception of caroling today is based only on very recent history. We think of Christmas caroling as a wholesome, and even religious, activity. Caroling seems to speak of the beauty, innocence, and magic of the Christmas season. However, in researching this practice, I have discovered that caroling was not as innocent as we might think. In fact, the act of caroling was actively combatted by the Church for hundreds of years. Uncovering the origins of caroling has proven difficult. Some sources give the 14th or 15th centuries as the earliest known date of the practice. I believe the reason for this is because this is the period when caroling began to be adopted by the church, and therefore this is when carols first began to be written down. However, there is much evidence that caroling was around long before that. We don’t have written carols from the early periods, but what we do have are edicts from the Church and recorded sermons which make reference to caroling. In his book, The Book of Christmas Folklore, Tristram P. Cofn says that “For seven centuries a formidable series of denunciations and prohibitions was red forth by Catholic authorities, warning Everyman to ‘ee wicked and lecherous songs, dancings, and leapings’” (p98).
Apparently early carols could be quite lewd, and they were originally associated with dance as well as song. The caroling dancers often went around town in costume, and it is related to the custom of mumming.
Cofn mentions that this revelry was considered so offensive to the Church that they referred to caroling as “sinful traffic” and issued decrees against it in 1209 A.D. and 1435 A.D.
It must have been a ‘good time’, for clerics and priests who found themselves caught up in the fun received a stern scolding. In one document from 1338 A.D. they are accused of neglecting their clerical duties “while indulging in dances and masques; for prowling the city ‘streets and lanes’ ‘day and night’; as well as leading a riotous existence” (p99).
The Church viewed these activities as “very remnant of pagan custom” (p99). But, more than that, the street revelry could get out of control.
Alcohol was usually flowing during caroling festivities, and drunken singers could get rowdy and even violent. “When a fellow named Gilbert de Foxlee tried to break up the dancing, he was stabbed in the back with a dagger, cut in the right arm with a sword, and slashed on the left leg with an axe. He died after eight weeks of infection and pain” (Cofn, p 99). Evidently carolers were well armed!
Sandra M. Salla is a contributor to a fantastic resource called Medieval Folklore, an encyclopedia of folkloric terms. In her entry for “Carols,” Salla says that “between 600 and 1500 C.E. the Church formally banned the dancing of carols on church grounds” and that numerous informal “decrees, sermons, and exempla were written condemning the activity” (Salla, p61).
While some authors attribute caroling to purely Christian origins, and begin the history of caroling with those written down in a Christian context, this is contradicted by the evidence. We can see that the Church long considered it a pagan practice, as evidenced by the wording in the edicts condemning caroling. Also, that Salla mentions the edicts against caroling begin in the 6th century is telling. The 6th and 7th centuries were the period of conversion for the Anglo-Saxons in England. The fact that edicts against caroling begin to appear in the record at the same time as the conversion period is circumstantial evidence hinting that caroling had pagan roots and was in existence long before conversion. But, those records do not explain why caroling was considered to have pagan connotations.
Jacqueline Simpson, a scholar who specializes in medieval English and Scandinavian history, explores this in her wonderful book, European Mythology. Simpson explains that it can sometimes be difficult to determine which customs actually stem from pagan tradition because Church clerics were quick to condemn almost anything as pagan. She explains that customs involving drunkenness, cross dressing(usually in play acting and carnival type festivities), or elements that expressed sexuality were described as “devilish” even if there was no devil involved (Simpson, p118).
One example of a song and dance tradition similar to caroling that has an overt connection to paganism is in Romanian Căluş dance which has survived into modern times. Participants dress in costume, like modern mummers and early carolers, and go around the village singing and dancing. The Căluşari, members of the all-male dance troupe, were once a secret society which appears to have been openly associated with paganism, and their members were exempt from partaking in mass. This group of dancers had another purpose other than entertainment. They were said to possess secret charms of healing, and were known for banishing evil spirits. The Căluşari went door to door during mid-Winter offering their services and expected to be welcomed and generously compensated. I fa home refused them entry, a curse would befall the homeowner (Simpson, pp121-126).
If this reminds you of Halloween, there’s a good reason for that! The mid-Winter holiday we now call Christmas, but which was known as Yule in pre-Christian England and various other names in different cultures, was known to be a period of high spiritual activity – just as old Samhain was. This notion has faded away in our modern perception of Christmas, but it lingered on in Halloween. European folklore is full of references to spiritual activity during Yule-tide. In fact, it was regarded as a spiritually dangerous time in both Celtic and Germanic cultures.
So, it is not that far of a stretch to wonder if the Romanian Căluşari tradition (which lasted well into the 19th century and perhaps later)gives us a glimpse of the earlier mumming and caroling traditions and we may speculate on the long lost spiritual connotations.
Further, just as the Căluşari expect a reward or threaten a curse (literally trick or treat) early caroling traditions are almost always associated with demanding to be rewarded with food and drink or risk some kind of retribution.
Contemporary carolers still sing “Here we go a-wassailing” wherein there is a line requesting “now bring us some figgy pudding” and carolers threaten “we won’t go until we get some.” A survey of medieval carols will demonstrate that the request for food and drink is not unique to this song. Wassailing, a medieval synonym for caroling, is itself a reference to the alcoholic beverage wassail. The word derives from the Old English term “waes-heal” meaning “good health,” a greeting or toast (Baker, p83). Wassail is a medieval mulled wine (heated with spices)which was commonly served to carolers.
Another connection between trick-or-treat, caroling and Father Christmas is that caroling was done throughout the year, not simply at Christmas. This is mentioned in numerous sources, and there are accounts of caroling at other holidays in early folklore journals. One article of particular interest is The Celebration of Candlemas in Wales , by Trefor M. Owen. In this scholarly article about the Candlemas holiday the word “carol” is mentioned seventy-two times, emphasizing the overwhelming evidence of caroling during a holiday other than Christmas. Candlemas is another holiday with known pagan origins, being the Christianized version of the old Celtic pagan Imbolc. Owen shares one account of Welsh Candlemas caroling wherein the revelers go around town and sing outside of homes. This sounds innocent enough… at first. What ensues is the carolers sing bawdy songs about the Virgin Mary (no wonder the Church considering caroling sacrilegious!)and hurl insults at the home-owners! The home-owners are then obliged to return the insults to the carolers. Whichever group out-wits the other in verse would be declared the winner. If the revelers won, they must be allowed inside and given food and beverage (Owen pp242-243).
And, interestingly, Owen mentions that wassailing was done at Halloween as well as Christmas and Candlemas and other holidays (p247).So, we have a caroling tradition that involves costumes and demanding reward in the form of food or a risk threat. And, we also discover that caroling was done on Halloween in Britain. Could modern trick-or-treating and Christmas caroling have evolved from the same root practice many hundreds of years ago? The practice of caroling went through a transformation between the High Middle Ages(12th and 13th centuries) and the Renaissance period. As explained, the Church categorically rejected the practice due to the “close relationship between ‘heathen dancing’ and witchcraft” (Cofn, p99). Eventually, church leaders adopted an “if you can’t beat ‘em, join‘em” approach. St. Francis of Assisi was one of the major proponents of replacing the old “riotous carols with ones more appropriate” in Italy, which then spread through Europe (Cofn,pp99-100). Eventually, this led to a “great age of carol writing” between the years 1400 to 1650 (Baker, p81). But, during the same period caroling was actively suppressed by the Puritans (insert joke about Puritans always ruining all the fun here).A little known fact about the history of witch trials is that caroling came up in trial testimony.
Salla says “in witchcraft trials of the sixteenth century and later, accused witches often confessed to caroling” (p62). Interestingly, just as witches were accused of inverting Christian practices like the mass and Sabbath rituals, there was apparently some notion of a witch’s carol, which inverted the carol song and dance commonly practiced by the rest of the peasantry (Salla, p62).