Category: Pagan History

  • Harvest: Bringing In Those Sheaves

    Harvest: Bringing In Those Sheaves

    For those of us who follow the CUSP (Climbing Up the Spiral Pathway) spiritual tradition, Harvest is a time of reward and celebration when all of our hard work through the year pays off. During this time, the “crops” are tall and strong in the field, heavy with the fruit of the first harvest. Far from a time to rest at the end of the cycle, harvest is when we work harder than we have at any other time of the year. The next twelve weeks of harvest between now and its ends on October 31st will be challenging to say the least. We harvest until we feel as though our backs will break and our legs will give out on us…then we harvest some more. Few of us are agricultural farmers beyond a small, backyard production and it is rare that ability to survive the winter rests on the success of the harvest as it did in more ancient times. Instead, we harvest positive life goals that we planned through the winter and planted in the spring. (more…)

  • Midsummer: Purge, Protect, & Burn Stuff

    Midsummer: Purge, Protect, & Burn Stuff

    Of all of the holidays, it can be argued that most cultures at some time or another celebrated Midsummer. The Sun reigns at its full power and dominates the sky for the longest day of the year on Litha. It is commonly believed that the Faeries are most active during this time and that idea was perpetuated by William Shakespeare’s famous play, A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The power of herbs and plants is said to be strongest at this time, so many of the summer herbs are harvested on this day. (more…)

  • Beltane Then and Now

    Beltane Then and Now

    The word “Beltane” comes from the Irish Gaelic word “Bealtaine” and in the Common Celtic language means “bright fire.” “Bel,” the root word, comes from “bale” which means “white” or “shining.” “Tene” means “fire.” The traditional astrological date for Beltane is the midpoint of the Sun’s movement between Ostara/Spring Equinox and Litha/Summer Solstice. This generally occurs between May 5 – May 7; however, the common celebration time is May 1. In Celtic mythology, Beltane marked the beginning of summer and of the light half of the year, which is why the Summer Solstice is referred to as “Midsummer.” Great bonfires (balefires), lit for purification and transitioning the year from dark to light, were the centerpieces of celebrations. Villagers drove herds of cattle between the fires to purify them for the year and ensure their safety and fertility. Ashes from the balefires joined the ashes of the Yule log and were spread through the fields to bless the coming harvest. In Wales, it was customary to place a bit of the balefire ashes in one’s shoe for good luck. The hearth fire, which has burned through the winter, was extinguished at this time, officially welcoming summer. Beltane is the counterpart to Samhain and together they mark the beginning of summer and winter respectively according to the old Celtic calendar. For some ancient Europeans who were involved with animal husbandry as well as agriculture, this festival heralded in the pastoral growing season. (more…)

  • Ostara, Then and Now

    Ostara, Then and Now

    Pagans are big on history and gleaning the ancient origins and practices of our holidays is akin to sifting through piles of sand to find the handful of diamond flecks that might be scattered within. Much of our “history” actually comes from inferences derived from literature and the smattering of observational accounts that managed to survive thousands of years of war and the overt pissiness of nations. It becomes the odious task of modern day readers and scholars to sort out what happened from what we think happened or what we hoped happened during these celebrations of old. So here we go… (more…)