Rain is steadily beating down. The road hisses when a car goes by. The weather map is completely green. 48F, wind at 1-5 mph, AQI36, UV1. The rain should start to taper off mid-afternoon and then tomorrow is likely to be dry, with the rain coming back late Tuesday afternoon and then showers from then on.
We had a good Herbs Workshop yesterday morning. We started with a mini version of Infusions, Decoctions and Tinctures, then went on to rough storing a number of herbs that have been drying for awhile: bamboo leaves, monkey puzzle, bay, basil, cedar and some others.
Today is House Capuchin’s Project Day. The shop opens at 11am and Tempus is supposed to go out to do laundry. I just finished setting up a pot of lentils for a hot meal this evening, and now I need to get back to the writing that I’ve been doing since 5am.
Today’s Plant is Nodding Onion, Allium cernuum. This is sometimes called Lady’s Leek. It’s an edible plant in the Allium family, but not particularly choice. (Yeah, personal experience…) It’s called “Nodding” because the inflorescences, the “flower”, tend to droop, unlike a lot of the alliums that end up with a ball on a stick. Most of the plants in this family are edible, but be careful! There are a few that are either disgusting or at least mildly poisonous and there are bulbs that *are* poisonous that are easy to mistake. Onions have been very important as a food/nutrition source for a long while and have even been worshiped at times. These are grown as ornamentals, mostly, but are found wild here on the coast. – Masculine, Mars, Fire, Isis – Cut and dry the flowers and add to a grapevine or rosemary wreath for a house protection spell. These are great for house blessings. Grown in pots indoors or in the garden they protect against evil and particularly against poisonous snakes. When you harvest in the fall, make a decorative braid of onions and hang over bedroom doors to prevent infections. Nodding onions are great for this purpose because, not being particularly great as food, you won’t mind replanting them in the spring as they start to sprout! Purify swords and athames after particularly heavy magicks, by rubbing the blade with a cut bulb, then wash with clear water and oil with rosemary-infused almond oil. Place the dried flowers in a vase at the head of the bed, or pack into a pillow sachet to help clarify prophetic dreams. More here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allium_cernuum and on Alliums here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allium
Today’s feast is the day of Thomas a Becket. He was Archbishop of Canterbury when he was assassinated in the cathedral. It was a deed that shocked even the violent medieval world. There is some of the history here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Becket
Senista heather, Erica genistopha, is the plant associated with this Saint.
The shop opens at 11am today. Holiday hours – closed 1/2 and 1/7-15. Winter hours are 11am-5pm Thursday through Monday. 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,
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 1/10 at 11:12am. 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 12/30 at 9:13am.
<<< Sirius, the Dog Star, sparkles low in the east-southeast after dinnertime. Procyon, the Little Dog Star, shines to Sirius’s left, by about two fist-widths at arm’s length. If you live around latitude 30° (Tijuana, New Orleans, Jacksonville), the two canine stars will be at the same height above your horizon soon
after they rise. If you’re north of that latitude, Procyon will be higher. If you’re south of there, Sirius will be the higher one. And whenever Sirius, the “Winter Star,” twinkles low in the southeast, Vega, >>>> the “Summer Star,” twinkles low in the northwest. If you live near 40° north latitude they’re equally low (7°) around 8 p.m. now, depending on where you live in your time zone.
The final week of the year offers an exceptional chance to spot the 10th-largest member of the asteroid belt, a collection of at least several hundred thousand objects that lies between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. Asteroid 15 Eunomia is sliding through the conspicuous Water Jar asterism in the constellation Aquarius. This group of 4th- and 5th-magnitude stars, which comprises Gamma (γ), Pi (π), Zeta (ζ), and Eta (η) Aquarii, lies nearly 20° southwest of the southwestern corner of the Great Square of Pegasus. Eunomia currently glows at 10th magnitude, so you’ll need a small telescope to pick it up.
Uranus (magnitude 5.7, in southern Aries) and Neptune (magnitude 7.9, in eastern Aquarius) right after dark stand high in the south-southeast and lower in the south-southwest, respectively. Use our finder charts for Uranus and Neptune.
Old Farmer’s Almanac Sky map for December – https://www.almanac.com/sky-map-december-2019
Goddess Month of Hestia runs from 12/26 – 1/22
Celtic Tree Month of Beth Birch Dec 24 – Jan 20
Runic half-month of Eihwaz/Eoh 12/28-1/11 Represents the dead, and the yew tree, sacred to Winter shamanism. Nigel Pennick, The Pagan Book of Days, Destiny Books
©2019 M. Bartlett, Some parts separately copyright
Celtic Tree Month of Beth/Birch, Dec 24 – Jan 20, Beith – (BEH), birch – The silver birch (Betula pendula Roth) is the most common tree birch in much of Europe. It grows up to 30 m (100 feet) high, but is more often found in spreading clumps on sandy soils. It is one of the first trees to colonize an area after a mature forest is cut; this is probably a large part of its symbolic connection with new beginnings. It is cultivated in North America, often under the name of weeping birch. The three trees in my front yard form root sprouts that would take over the bed where they are planted if I didn’t cut them back. The common birch (B. pubescens Ehrh.) is almost as widespread as the silver birch, but grows primarily on acid or peaty soils. It can reach 20 m (65 feet) in height. Birches are members of the Birch family (Betulaceae). Curtis Clark
Day High Tide Height Sunrise Moon Time % Moon
~ /Low Time Feet Sunset Visible
Su 29 High 2:57 AM 7.1 7:52 AM Rise 10:32 AM 6
~ 29 Low 8:19 AM 3.4 4:45 PM Set 8:24 PM
~ 29 High 1:55 PM 8.0
~ 29 Low 8:57 PM -0.3
Affirmation/Thought for the Day – The fruits of your spirits; what are they and how can you grow more of what you need?
~ A wet man does not fear the rain. – Russian Proverb
~ Fight your foes in the field, nor be burnt in your house. – Volsunga Saga, c.21
~ Think of a window: it’s a hole in a wall but through it the whole room fills with light. Similarly, when the mind is open and free from his own thoughts, life unfolds effortlessly, and the world is filled with light. – Chuang Tzu
~ It is at the edge of a petal that love waits. – William Carlos Williams (1883-1963) US poet
The short holiday day of talking by the fire,
floating on snowshoes among
ancient self-pollarded maples,
visiting, being visited, giving
a rain gauge, receiving red socks,
watching snow buntings nearly over
their heads in snow stab at spirtled bits
of sunflower seeds the chickadees
hold with their feet to a bough
and hack apart, scattering debris
like sloppy butchers, is over. – –Galway Kinnell (1927–2014)
My feet’s cauld, my shoon’s thin,
Gie ‘s my cakes, and let me rin! – Traditional Scottish children’s soliciting rhyme
If New Year’s Eve night and wind blow south,
It betokeneth warmth and growth;
If west, much fish in the sea;
If north, much cold and storms there will be.
If east, the trees will bear much fruit;
If north-east, flee it, man and brute. – Traditional Scottish weather prediction rhyme
Of all sounds of all bells, most solemn and touching is the peal which rings out the old year. I never hear it without a gathering up of my mind to a concentration of all the images that have been diffused over the past twelvemonth; all that I have done or suffered , performed or neglected, in that regretted time. – Charles Lamb, English poet
Ring out the old shapes of foul disease;
Ring out the narrowing lusts of gold;
Ring out the thousand wars of old;
Ring in the thousand years of peace. – Alfred, Lord Tennyson, English poet
Play a thin tune
on a paper horn.
Old is dying.
New is born.
over the floor.
Sweep an old year
Out the door.
Blow up a wish
in a bright balloon.
To a midnight moon.
Play a loud tune
on a paper horn.
Old is dying.
New is born. – Myra Cohn Livingston
New Year’s Eve
In many parts of the world the New Year is greeted with a lot of noise, sometimes made by church bells. Originally this was to frighten away evil spirits which might try to sneak into the New Year and try to spoil it. People in the Northern Hemisphere sometimes lit bonfires for the same reason.
New Year is celebrated at different times according to various calendars, eg Jewish, Chinese, Muslim, Buddhist and Hindu.
In Denmark the New Year is brought in with even more noise than in most countries. Young people go around pounding on their friends’ front doors. To raise the New Year spirit even more, they throw shards of pottery, collected throughout the previous year, against the sides of houses. And we thought we had it loud!
On New Year’s Eve [St Basil’s Eve] children sing kalanda, from door to door; traditionally, they carry an apple, an orange,a paper ship, a paper star and a green rod cut from a cornel-tree. They tap the family members on the back with the rod for luck. The householders give them treats. On New Year’s day this continues, sometimes with customary acts such as stoking the fire and sprinkling wheat in the yard.
New Year’s Resolutions
We have records from 4,000 years ago in Babylon of resolutions, as part of their New Year festivities. Often these were made publicly. To make good any outstanding debts and return anything borrowed were the most common.
Today to lose weight and give up smoking are the most common, followed by – making good any outstanding debts and returning borrowed goods.
The ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans all had the tradition of parading the first babies born in the year. In the 14th century the custom of showing a baby with a banner of the New Year around it began, in Germany.
School for the Seasons – December 31 New Year’s Eve
If New Year’s eve night wind blows South,
It betokeneth warmth and growth;
If West, much milk and fish in the sea,
If North, much cold and storms there will be;
If East, the trees will bear much fruit;
If North-east, flee it, man and brute.
Out with the old and in with the new. Before midnight, sweep and clean your house and take out all the trash because you don’t want to sweep tomorrow (you will sweep the good luck away) or take anything out of the house (you only want to bring new things in to insure abundance during the coming year). Be sure you finish any work you have in hand for a task carried over will never prosper.
Everything you do on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day is freighted with significance. The American custom of spending the night with the one you love and kissing them at midnight insures that the relationship will flourish during the coming year. In Vienna, the pig is the symbol of good luck. Pigs are let loose in restaurants and everyone tries to touch it as it runs by for luck. In private homes, a marzipan pig, with a gold piece in its mouth, is suspended from a ribbon and touched instead. In Sarasota Springs, New York, it’s a peppermint pig that brings good luck and good health for the coming year. The pig is cracked with a hammer after a holiday meal and shared among the guests.
In Italy, I’ve been told, you have to watch out for falling objects on New Year’s Eve, as people shove their old sofas, chairs and even refrigerators out of the windows of their apartments on New Year’s Eve. In Greece, it’s customary to throw a pomegranate wrapped in silver foil on the threshold, to spread the seeds of good luck for an abundant year.
The first person to cross your threshold after midnight brings luck into the house. In medieval Britain, the best possible first-footer was a tall dark-haired handsome man, who brought gifts of whisky, bread, a piece of coal or firewood and a silver coin. He entered in silence and no one spoke to him until he put the coal on the fire, poured a glass for the head of the house and wished everyone a Happy New Year. If this concept doesn’t work for you, figure out what would and make sure it happens.
One popular method of divination, used to determine your future in the new year, is to prick a newly-laid egg at the smaller end with a pin, and let three drops of the egg white fall into a bowl of water. Interpret the designs it makes to get a glimpse of what will happen to you in the new year. Another traditional method of divination is to open a Bible at midnight and interpret the passage beneath your finger.
Kightly, Charles, The Perpetual Almanack of Folklore, Thames & Hudson 1987
Spicer, Dorothy Gladys, The Book of Festivals, The Womans Press 1937
Storace, Patricia, Dinner with Persephone, Pantheon 1996
December 31 St Silvester’s Eve
Austrians consider this a rauchnacht or smoke-night when all rooms and animals must be purified with the smoke of incense and holy water, a purification ritual.
In The Winter Solstice, Matthews describes another Austrian custom, involving a masked figure called the Sylvester (from the Latin sylvan, meaning “from the woods”), a sort of Green Man who hides in the corner at inns throughout Austria and leaps out when a young man or woman passes to give them a kiss. The Sylvester wears a wreath of mistletoe, perhaps an emblem of fertility which he bestows with the kisses. When midnight comes, he is driven out of the room as a representative of the old year. – Matthews, John, The Winter Solstice, Quest 1998
December 31 Réveillon/Yemaya
Yemaya-Olokun, the Mother of the Sea, is honored on New Year’s Eve in Brazil. Cariocas (natives of Rio de Janeiro) go down to the beaches to celebrate. The biggest show occurs at Copacabana Beach where over 1.5 million people crammed into two miles of beach to dance to Brazilian superstars and watch 60 tons of fireworks explode at the end of 2001.
According to McCabe, the color of underwear you wear on the first day of the new year establishes your fortune for the year. Pink brings love, yellow, prosperity; and white, peace and happiness. Tucking a fresh bay leaf in your wallet guarantees a miracle. And at midnight, people either eat 12 grapes, one for each month of the year, while making 12 wishes, or jump seven waves.
The color for outer clothing is white. Everyone goes to the ocean, where they carry out various rituals, for instance, throwing flowers (preferably gladioli and roses) into the waves, launching little wooden boats, releasing white doves, and arranging little altars in the sand in honor of Yemaya, who likes candles, fruit, fish, rice and items associated with personal adornment: mirrors, combs, perfumes and powder.
Alma Guillermoprieto, the author of Samba, asked an older woman how she should pray and the woman suggested she say something like this:
Yemanja, our Mother, please make [this year] a better year than [last year]. Not that [last year] was a bad year; don’t get me wrong; I received many benefits, many good things happened to me and I’m not complaining. But now, thinking over everything that’s happened, I would like to ask you for something from the bottom of my heart: please bring me twice the amount of good things and take away half the number of bad. [p. 123]
Luisah Teish provides suggestions for a beautiful Yemaya ritual in her book Carnival of the Spirit, along with good ideas for a New Year’s ritual.
Guillermoprieto, Alma, Samba, Vintage 1990
McCabe, Connie, “Rhythm of the Night,” Gourmet, December 2002
Teish, Luisah, Carnival of the Spirit: Seasonal Celebrations and Rites of Passage, Harper San Francisco 1994
December 31 Vesta
This day is set aside for honoring the Roman goddess of the hearth (see Hertha, December 21). As Hestia, the Greek goddess of the hearth, she was credited with the art of building houses (since every home was built around the sacred central fire).
Robert Graves speculates that the archaic white aniconic image of the Great Goddess found throughout the Eastern Mediterranean represents a heap of glowing charcoal, kept alive by a covering of white ash. It was tended by the woman of the house and was the center of family life and clan gatherings. He also mentions the Pythoness who induced trance by burning hemp, laurel and barley over an oil lamp in an enclosed space, and suggests that burning the same herbs over hot ashes would be just as effective for producing visions because of their narcotic fumes. – Graves, Robert, The Greek Myths, Penguin 1955
John Wesley introduced the December 31 service among the Methodists; other denominations took it up.
All over the world, people love to make a noise on the last midnight of the year. Church bells ring out in England (fitted with muffles until midnight, then allowed their full voice), and in Thailand the temple bells peal at midnight as people call out Kwam Suk Pee Mai (Happy New Year!).
An old Icelandic custom has it that if the pantry window is left open on New Year’s Eve, the pantry drift (a frost which is fine-grained and sweet to the taste), will come in and, when gathered and saved in a pot marked with a cross, will bring prosperity to the home. Icelanders used to believe that elves moved house on this night, and could be coerced into giving treasure to those who intercepted them at crossroads.
The People of Nigeria allowed their Ndok ceremony, held biennially in December, to merge with Western New Year customs, as Ndok was a rite of renewal. Only the men engage in Ndok, which sees, as everywhere on New Year’s Eve, much noisy, rowdy behaviour and, as in Iceland, people meeting at crossroads which are believed to be places of assembly for spirits.
In Russia, Grandfather Frost (D’yed Moroz), who looks suspiciously like Santa Claus, and his assistant the Snow Maiden (Snegourka), will pay a New Year’s visit to children, bringing with them gifts. In Greece, however, children will have left out sweets, cakes and drink for St Basil, another Santa-like character, for it is his feast day. They’ll even put a log in the fireplace so he can step easily down the chimney. In Armenia on December 31, goodies are lowered down the chimney on a rope.
New Year’s revelling, however, has been most shaped by the otherwise generally sensible Scots, who really know how to kick up their heels to say “good riddance!” to the Old year and “welcome!” to the new. The singing of Auld Lang Syne, is, of course as Scotch as whisky, and was recorded from the oral tradition by the Scottish national poet, Robbie Burns. Now, all over the world, people mouth the words like football players pretending the national anthem before a game. Despite its difficult words, it is one of the world’s best known songs.
The Scots call this season the “daft days” or Hogmanay, a word which might derive from practically anything if you listen to the experts, such as the Greek for ‘holy month’ and the French for ‘man is born’.
While some New Year’s customs go back to ancient Europe and even the Middle East – we know, for example, that 4,000 years ago the Babylonians made New Year’s resolutions – the Scots put their stamp on it, for they always thought it was a bigger deal than Christmas. They have yet to convince the rest of the world, however, to indulge in the Hogmanay sport of ‘first-footing’, in which it is thought to be good luck if the first person over one’s threshold in the New Year comes in the front door, is male, without eye trouble, not splay- or flat-footed, fair haired, carrying a lump of coal and a bottle of Scotch, and leaves by the back door. (In 1966, 19-year-old first-footer Alex Cleghorn was walking on Govan Rd, Glasgow with his two brothers, when suddenly he disappeared and was not seen again. Daft days indeed!) According to one source, “It was traditional for men to dress in animal skins ,wear horns or antlers, and smoke sticks called Hogmanays to ward off evil spirits.” Over on the Greek island of Carpathos it is a white dog they have to rush inside at the stroke of midnight.
Australians, with their keen sense of culture and modernity, tend not to bother with the lumps of coal, white dogs, elves and crossroads, tending instead to get blithering drunk (like the wassailers of old England, the door-to-door drinkers whose name came from the cry Wass hael!, which approximates to Cheers!) and to pretend to have an ab-fab time. A few, however, will see the New Year in at Watch Night services in churches, a custom started by the abstemious John Wesley.
Silliness – Snow Riddles – Q: What does a Snowman eat for Breakfast? A: Snow Flakes.