Sunday, September 19, 2010

Chapter 1---to Everything there is a Season----The witches' Wheel of the Year


The Wheel of the Year

One of the first things that many people forget is the old adage that “To Everything there is a Season.”

Many wiccans/witches say that the Christian church stole the holidays from the pagans or country dwellers to help make Christianity more palatable. I would be the first to acknowledge this.

But what many practioners of Wicca do not realize is that their practices are variations of the lost Eluisan mysteries which is older than any ancient Egyptian or Sumerian practices.

But because of the vow of secrecy revolving around those ancient practices and how the priestesses were scattered to the four corners of the earth by the early Christian church, we can only infer what they may have been.

One thing is known is that it acknowledges by the use of a theatrical presentation, the story of Demeter and Persephone (aka Kore), or the Seasons of Light and Dark, of Growth and Harvest, of Summer and Winter, of Life and Death. In short “The Wheel of the Year.

Getting back to the Christian worship, if you read in the Bible it says that Shepard’s were out in the field tending their flocks, now if this was to happen on or about Dec 25, it would be impossible because most flocks would be in barns or shelters and Sheppard’s would not be out in the fields because it’s winter. Which confirms that Jesus was born in the spring time or lambing season. (one falsehood corrected)

So it would be impossible to have both the death and resurrection and the birth of Jesus at the same time of year, it throws the balance of the cycle off.

BUT on or about Dec 21 is the shortest day of the year, then soon after the days start getting longer, until it reaches it’s peak at Mid Summer or June 21/22 the longest day of the year, so to have Jesus’ birth right at the time when the world is getting darker and is at it’s darkest point is perfect for that is bringing “The Light into the World” aka “the word made flesh”.

The time of Jesus’ death and ‘resurrection’ is historically correct and is right at the time of what Wiccan’s call Osatra which later became Easter. The celebration of Osatra is at the Spring Equinox the lambing time or when many creatures aka farm animals gives birth, and it is the time when the Earth starts to become green again, the promise of re-birth.

For pagan’s Ostra is pretty much a fixed time because on or about that time the constellation of Orion the Hunter pretty much disappears from the evening night sky, but for Christians Easter is a movable feast; how does one determine Easter in the Christian church? Easter Sunday occurs on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the Spring Equinox---it was the church’s way of trying to divorce itself from the pagan origins.

The Christian period of Lent which is 40 days and nights is also determined by when the Christian Easter Sunday is held. But this can vary between various Christian faiths from 44 days to as long at 55 days. See wikipedia’s listing on Lent and its observations, but for many people the idea of Lent is to celebrate the 40 days Jesus was in the desert to fast and pray and was tempted by the Devil which he turned away and then was ministered by the angels for his strength of purpose.

During these 40 days Christians need to build their own strength of purpose this way through Prayer which is Justice towards God, fasting which is Justice towards yourself and almsgiving or financial donation which is Justice towards one’s neighbor, for many people it is also giving up a special food or treat that they enjoy, working to stop a vice such as smoking, over eating or drinking alcohol and giving of one’s time doing a charitable service or fund raising.

During this time some people would go to extremes and give up eating healthy, for others it would be full abstinence from meat of all kinds including fish and trying to stay on vegetarian meals, but in truth the body needs, meat, fish, dairy products, vegetables and fruits of the season to stay healthy, and drinking water to keep hydrated. So fasting must be done with carefulness in mind.

The Islamic feast of Ramadan observes a period of extreme fasting for one month or from moon to moon which is 28/29 days, this is suppose to be in observance of suffering.

But part of the problem with that is that it does not observe the natural 365 days of a proper seasonal year, in a sense because it is only a 12 month lunar year of only 354 days, it throws off the balance of life, so that one can have the fasting during the hottest months and longest days which is very unhealthy for a body. Being a purely 12 month lunar calendar year it is off by a drift of 11 or 12 days each year which throws it out of synchronization with the seasons. If the Islamic calendar followed 13 lunar months it would be in correct balance, but the problem is that it takes 32 ½ years for it to come right with the seasonal year or the witches 13 month lunar year.

Because of that lack of synchronization with the natural seasons, because they observe the Islamic year based on Muslim holy days, I have had some muslims say to me that they always felt out of balance. When I explained to them about the seasonal year did they begin to understand why they felt their bodies were out of balance. Even though their faith in Allah had never weakened it wasn’t until they saw the imbalance with the seasons did they begin to understand something as simple as that, getting the mind and the body in sync with the earth did they understand that by doing that with the Divine Presence did they begin to feel insync.

But the reason for fasting in the natural 365 day calendar year is in fact far more mundane----many animals don’t give birth until about spring time, so the period before can mean low food supplies, chickens can slow down laying eggs, there is no fresh meat, dried foods are getting used up so to make the winter food supplies last longer, it would not be unusual to fast one day a week perhaps two days or eliminate one meal or eat a reduced amount of food, so fasting during this time would not have been unusual. It simply became incorporated into religious worship.

So the witch or follower of the craft, needs to look at a period of time for fasting to observe justice to the higher power, justice to oneself and justice to those in need.

I as a witch would do this, strict observation of fasting from Candelmas or Feb 2 to the Spring Equinox and then Friday fasting from Sunrise to Sunset from the Spring Equinox or the Christian Ash Wednesday to the Christian Easter. During those times it is important to get one’s own house in order to bring in the Freshness and rebirth of the Earth, both before the Spring Equinox and the 40 days to the Christian Easter.

It also happens to be the time, according to the secular calendar year, to do one’s income tax and payment of property tax, so this also helps to get one’s house in order.

In the jewish observance of Passover, they go through great lengths of cleaning everything, much of which has become our secular Spring Cleaning traditions

So what are the other Holidays that are in the Witch’s calendar and the Christians Calendar?

The witches new year always starts on Halloween October 31, All Hallow’s Eve. For Witches this is a time of remembrance of those who have died that year and from times before, one way of doing this is the “Dumb Feast” in which a place serving is set for those who have died, food and drink is put on this plate and cup, then when the feasting is over, the food for the dead is taking out either to one’s back yard or some quiet place and buried and poured (if it’s liquid)

The Mexican people how they celebrate the three days of the Dead starting with Oct 31 is as close to the correct way to celebrate this time, with Oct 31 being for children who have died, Nov 1 for those who were saints who died for their beliefs, and Nov 2 for those who were family, friends and even those you don’t know like the people who died on September 11. There is ritual revolving around this which will be explained in its own separate chapter.

Between All Hallows/Halloween and Yule/Christmas, there is a secular holiday celebrated in the United States and that is Thanksgiving.

The fact that it falls in November is good, because it is a perfect lead into the Yule/Christmas season. My Granny used it as a time to remember those that are with us and to give Thanks for those blessings we have received as well as the life lessons that we are suppose to endure---it is also a time to celebrate Family and the Living.

I’ve already mentioned the Yule/Christmas season as the spiritual aspect of one’s believes and the awakening of those spiritual aspects.

Other days fall in between Yule and Candlemas/Lent the secular New Years Eve, and the Feast of the Epiphany.

Feb 2 is Candlemas followed by Feb 14 Valentine’s day, then we have the Spring Equinox, followed by the Christian Lent and Easter, Then May 1 or May Day, then Midsummer or St. Johns day the longest day of the year, followed by the secular 4th of July, followed by Lammas on August First, the year then concludes with the Fall Equinox on Sept 21 approx.

I will deal with each of the Feast Days or Sabbaths in each of their own chapters and how, what and why each one is celebrated. Since we are at the end and the beginning of the Craft year, it would be good to deal with it as each holiday approaches and how to incorporate each of the Craft/Christian and Secular holidays into our ritual celebrations.

There is also the celebration or ritual working with the Moon in it Full and New aspect, this is referred to as an esabbath or little ritual, it is also time for magical workings as well. That will be dealt with in separate chapters, along with the Moon phases for each working.

In the next few chapters I will talk about the ancient beginnings of the Craft from sympathetic magick to ritual.

As well as symbology and color correspondences and many other things. Please remember this will take time.

The next Chapter before we go onto the Holidays will be about the first step you will need to take to protect yourself from negative energies as you begin to start on your Journey.

But before we do that, here is your first assignment---

Buy a calendar, a large calendar, and on it make sure it notes the full and new moons. Make sure it has space to write things on each day.

I will eventually give you web sites that you can check to see each phase of the moon, those will be important as you do your energy work as you need to do them.

One place that you can go to is Llewellyn publishing They offer calendars especially Astrological calendars, which you will find helpful later on, but please be aware that they also crowd their calendars with other things as well, So a simple calendar with full and new moons and space to write is really best.

Put this calendar where you can see it and check it as needed. List on it the various holiday dates that you will be given as we go through the Witch’s year.

Your second assignment is to get a note book, a cheap note book, in it I want you to make observations of how the weather changes, the seasons change, those wild animals and yes there are wild animals in a city, that appear and then disappear, what blooms and dies, what ripens to be harvested. The various local festivals that your town or city sponsors, the dates that they have them. This will be important later on. Be sure to note the dates that you make your observations.

The reasoning behind this is that in each different local area, the weather changes differently, whether your East or West Coast, north or south, or Midwest, it is important to note these changes and local celebrations.

Your third assignment is to get a three ring binder, you may need to get several of them after a while, also get those page size subject dividers. Label each subject divider this way: History, Wheel of the year, spells, rituals, colors, incense, oils, divination etc. this is just for starters---eventually you will break it down further, such as separating the types of spells for love, prosperity, protection etc to the point where you will be creating different books to cover each subject.

But for now let us start with one binder with dividers, eventually you will see how it will grow.

The next part will be about how did we get religion and are what we doing religious or not.

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