Dropping Pennies on the Summer Solstice

The Summer Solstice has passed and as I edit this blog post, it is almost New Years Eve.  I have spent the last several days cleaning my house and baking.  You see this year for the Summer Solstice I had several magical realisations, several penning dropping moments.  I have spent these liminal days between Christmas and New Years quietly thinking about this new understanding while also cleaning my house, and Baking.  Today it is Ginger Gake.. but I digress, sort of.

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These magical realisation and or breakthrough moments generally happen over a period of time.  Sometimes it is several days and sometimes it is several months, it can in some cases even take years.    I like to think of these moments as series of puzzle pieces, of related things that I have flagged as important and to take note of.  I have over the years become much better at spotting when they happen.  Sometimes water just wet.. but other times water is a magical puzzle piece, and learning to tell the difference can be a bit trial and error when you first start out.

This time the puzzle pieces came in the form of, a Tarot orientated blog, which in an of its self is unusual for me, two podcasts, a Tarot documentary and an episode of Librarians.  The galvanising and linking  of these magical puzzle pieces where helped along with some liberal applications of Sarah Lawless‘s Sabbat, and Mandrake Ointment and cups of tea with a good friend

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This galvanising and linking was both magical and psychological and also not.  Magic and psychology are so intertwined and also vastly separate, that it can be very difficult to put into words, let alone figure out which is, which.   Some Modern Pagan and Magical practices and traditions come from a occult magic foundation, and others come from magic is  psychosocial  foundation.  For me the magical work that I do now comes from a more magical foundation and this in turn facilitates? the psychological bits.

It has not always been this way for me, I stared my magical path and journey reading predominantly Goddess and Feminist Books as that was what was available and it was when it was common to understand magic as a psychological phenomenon.. rather than an occult magical phenomenon. But the deeper you go down the rabbit hole the more the magic is real and both separate but intertwined with the psychological.  I suspect it is different for everyone, as to my mind. it depends on how your world view is wired.  But I digress somewhat.

Did I mention that I have been cleaning my home and baking in that liminal space between Christmas and New Year’s.   And with a magical realisation, I have found is always followed by much work, but before that work can take place there needs to be a period of time to let the dust settle so to speak, which for me this year has been about baking and cleaning.

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The practice of magic, I believe should not just be in your head, or reading many wonderful books, it should also be about doing and about practice.  Preforming, and practicing those things that you have read about while also refining those practices that you have been reading about so that they have more meaning and connection for you.  Doing this adds a more and a very personal understanding the magic that you are doing and in turn can facilitate more magical realisations.  Kinda spirally really.

Let me put it another way.  You can read the recipe for the World’s Best Banana Cake however if you have not baked and/or eaten it you only have half the story and none of the experience, so your understanding of it will be lacking.  There are some very important things that you lean when you actually physically bake the World’s Best Banana Cake.  And sometimes these things are not written in the recipe.      Just as there are realisations when baking and eating the World’s best Banana cake,  so to  are there realisation when you are practicing your magic, which as I mentioned before so often looks nothing like what you have read about in magical books.  Your experience should and will be different from that of the person who has written the book.  Besides maybe you might not like banana cakes.   Instead, for you the World’s Best Banana Cake might be a Ginger one?

This comes with a warning however.  It can be all too easy to use the practice of magic to hide the fact that you are not actually doing anything, rather you are hiding from yourself.   This is both magical and the psychological work that goes hand in hand with magic and magical belief.   Too often we can hide in the obsession, with the next new book or the technical workings of the next Sabbat ritual or somebody who is wrong on the internet.  so we don’t actually do anything, or we get so caught up in preforming the ritual correctly that our focus is in the wrong place.  We do not open ourselves up to the possibilities of growth and change that comes with these revelations.

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For me this is where discernment and paying attention becomes key.  Many years ago when I was studying at University a professor called me into his office to discuss an essay I had written on Modern Pagan rituals that are now considered Christian rituals.  He happily gave me an A, but that A came with some of the best advice I have ever gotten when it comes to information and study.  Two questions he said are the best way to learn.  How can this be wrong, and how can this be right?  This took me from being a first year student who was all ‘Information is Amazing and Awsome” to a second year student who gained the ability to look further, question, discern, and gain deeper understanding about the subject that I was studying.

So for New Years I am going to leave you with a some excellent recommended reading, listening and watching.

Podcasts, Blogs, Documentaries and Librarians

Aidan Watcher Talismanic Jeweller and his blog 

Camelia Elias’ Taroflexions  

Podcast Rune Soup Podcast Gordon White Interviews Sarah Lawless

Podcast Being Boss with Carolyne Elliott

website with  good articles and insight. Carolyne and Camelias website.

The Librarians Season Two Episode Nine, which is not to difficult to find on line.

 

Bone Collecting

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Bone Collecting, so much nicer that saying I like dead things, sometimes without their skin.   but I digress a little.. Of late I have started to look at my wee bone collection and realise that I am a little bit of a bone collector, amongst all of the other things I do, like sewing modern tapestries of Ancient Gods and Magical Doorways.  It a Witch thing I am sure of it.  Samhain has just past here in New Zealand, so I figured that Bone collecting would be topical.  And it is time for me to begin awakening the newest bones to my collection, Albert the boar skull.

A few years back I obtained two English Leicester sheep skulls, from a friend who used to look after a flock of sheep for several months a year here in Wellington.  The woman who owned the flock was a spinner who grew her own sheep, and as happens on occasion some of the flock grown old or get sick and die.  There was a place in a small copse of pine trees where the bodies were left to return to the earth.  (Basically rot away)  My friend used to look after these sheep and knew where to find the good skulls and bones.

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Mrs Lester, the larger of the two skulls, was found with a very large and very scary bush spider in one of her eye sockets.  Luckily I have excellent hearing and could hear spider calling over that persistent squealing. .. … that might have been me.   *shudders* I might work with Grandmother Spider but I am not so fond of large scary looking bush spiders..

After carefully and politely thanking the spider for showing me which one, which involved quickly stepping away as she scuttled into the forest.. and then asked my friend who is less spider averse if she had gone yet.. Witchcraft not always as glamorous as you want it to be *coughs*

This was the beginning of my conscious bone collecting and learning of how you honour the spirit that once inhabited the skull and how you prepare it for a new spirit, entity energy, depending on what you are going to be doing with your new skull or bone.

I now have a growing collection of bones, skulls and animal skins that I have gotten to know and work with.  After Mrs Lester was taken to a Samhain ritual some years back she became the matriarch of my little bone tribe.  Lester junior was recently gifted to a fellow Witch to begin her bone collection.  And now it is time to start working on Albert the Boar skull I was given some years back by a fellow witch.

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Albert will become a part of my growing bone collection and a sacred housing for the spirit of Boar and all he brings with him.  For me personally it will begin a new understanding and insight of myself and where my path is leading.  He will be cleaned, scrubbed and painted with magical symbols to create a guide who will guide me into and through the spirit world, and other magical  places  And maybe he will be a mascot, a magical focal point, so to speak, as I take this next step with my art and turn it towards making a living.

But how did I come to this conclusion, and understanding? What is it that makes this skull an important part of my spiritual path and learning?  How do I know that it is not just a skull of a long dead pig?

Several things have led me to this understanding and they are difficult to explain and pinpoint.  I have read up on the spiritual and magical meaning of Bore’s via several books and card sets that I have.  I have used divination to ask questions about this skull and its meaning or path direction.  I have meditated and communed, and the biggest sign if will, is that it feels right, and that feeling of rignness  in regards to your spiritual work and path is impossible to feel.. but you know when you do.

Now as it is edging past the season of Samhain, we are well into the season of the dead.  Albert is languishing in a tub of water to soften the last remaining flesh that is still clung to the skull and hopefully near the winter solstice I will be able to remove the rest of it and he can degrease over the last of the winter.  And while this is happening I will also be working on the energy and magic of crafting him into a bone tribe member.  Like most things I have learnt with magic, oft times it is a long process and that process is just as important as the finished bit.

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According to the druid animal oracle Boar stands for warrior, leadership and direction which now that I am reading about it makes some strong sense.  As the seasons of autumn turns more fully into the winter, here in New Zealand, the ancestors are honoured and themes of introspection are becoming more prominent, I will be working with the energy and spirit of the boar.

I will put into action what I have learnt and hunker down to create and work on my art and business so that come this July after the winter solstice my exhibition will be and roaring success.

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The Autumnal Equinox

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The first of the winter storms

The Autumnal equinox is just around the corner  for us in the Southern Hemisphere.  It is the mid harvest festival on the Pagan seasonal wheel and this year for me, it is about Foundations. For I am starting a new business, one that I hope will grow into a strong creative path and living, but for that to happen I need to create strong foundations, both magically and physically and find the balanced between both.

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The Equinoxes are about Balance, but as I have learnt, it is not so much a static balance but more like fluidity of finding your balance.  Like the tilting and balancing of a tightrope walker when they cross from one side to the other. Summer here in the southern hemisphere is well over and we are now heading into the cold dark winter.  But before that can happen we must make preparations to store the things we have begun to harvest, if you will, so that we will survive the long winter.

For me the busy equinox energy as brought with it influx of creativity, that has been difficult to keep up with.  At first I wondered if it was spring fever, given that the energy was very busy and chaotic like.  And I have had two Lughnasadh’s in the last year, one in Canada at Kaleidoscope Gathering, and then one in New Zealand this past February. But as I began to create my new business, I realised that this was more of a foundational building energy rather than rising sap energy.  I have been designing and making fabric wall hangings, tapestries and banners for several years now and I have made a little bit of name for myself, but it was disjointed, and spread across several different social media sites under several different names.  So I have made plans to consolidate the various web sites and social media sites, which I have, to create a unified front, under one name.

Polly Lind artist and witch no boarder

This is a time of high energy which is similar to that of the spring, except the spring symbolism is about planting seeds, whereas the autumn symbolism is about gathering up the new seeds and storing them for the winter.  In modern terms this is a time when we find ourselves very busy laying the groundwork for the coming winter and winter projects. Sales are about and food is brought, and plans made for those long winter nights.

Here in New Zealand it is tax season, which can add whole new dimension to the energy of the season, a bit of chaos and a bit of stress, as businesses take stock of their financial year and plan for the next.  This can be a good thing if you are stocking up as many businesses will be having stock taking sales.  However if we are not careful at this time of year, the busy chaotic energy can be quite overwhelming, and more so if you are setting up a new business.  So I am being careful not to get carried away on the chaotic energy.    Instead I have a plan in place to launch everything in July with an exhibition opening which will coincide with the coming of spring.

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Soon I will be welcoming back the Cailleach, she who brings the winter, and all of that busy chaotic energy will die away, as the season turns from harvest to death.  And hopefully I have built strong enough foundations and laid away enough for the coming winter.

This post was cross posed to Pagansquare hooray

Lughnasadh Rituals

Its Lughnasadh here in New Zealand, the year is slowing turning from high summer to the beginnings of the autumnal season, and its raining.  The rain is a good thing as it has been a hot and dry summer, one of those summers where fires have been caused by idiots throwing their cigarette buts out the car window as they drive by, which while Lughnasadh is a ‘fire’ festival cigarette but fires are not really what it is about, but I digress..

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A Bank of Orange Autumn flowers growing wild near by where live

This year once again I am on the hunt for a new job as my fixed term contracted job has come to an end.  At the same time I am looking at expanding my business Urban Witchery,  and launch my new label Hang It All NZ, which if all going to plan, will be in six months.  So this means that while I am hunting for new work I will also be building my stock up, (read as doing a ton of designing and sewing)  so that I have a bunch of Wall Hangings ready to sell and a Bunch of New Zealand Themed Tapestries for Hang It All NZ as  I am hoping to have an exhibition in the middle of the year, as a part of launching that lable.   I might even get a few more blog posts written and posted about the place. Things are indeed very busy, not to dissimilar to harvesting, so aptly right for the season.

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Wall Hangings by Urban Witchery, a Stags head, Mr and Mrs Wednesday and a Boar

My Lughnasadh rituals this year involved physically cleaning and organising my fabric and studio (also my lounge) and cleansing my house.  As this was being done I was also setting the energy for the next few months, not sowing seeds as such, but more clearing away the chaff and removing a few of the overgrown weeds, so that I can use the last of the summer energy to bring bounty and blessiings into my house and home.  As I sorted out my various Wall Hanging designs, I made plans for the coming months.  As I tidied and folded my fabrics, I re-organised my days so that I could achieve balance, between looking for work, creating works of art from fabric and a little bit of time off.    As I removed the unusable fabric scraps, and rubbish from the corners, I also girdled my loins, as job hunting is difficult in these times and I know that it is easy to lose heart. As I burnt frankincense I set the intention of what type of job I was looking for, and the life I intended to make, and finally as I vacuumed, I sent this collected energy and intent out to the places that it needed to be. And you thought I was a Hedgewitch.. *winks*

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My Morning Walk

And lastly I enjoyed the company of some old friends, where Mead, Tea and the most excellent Peanut butter cookies was had.

I am tentatively looking forward to the coming months to see how it all unfolds.  I have set some strong foundations, made some excellent plans, and sorted out the dreck from the corners of my house, so that  the energy and magic continues to move and flow in the direction that I wish,  rather than growing weedy or stagnant.  I have blessed, planned, sorted and created intent. And sent that intent out to where it will help bring in the Autumn Harvest, so to speak.

So how did you spend your Lughnasadh or Brigid (Imbolc) for those of you in the northern hemisphere?

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Heart Hex Sigil Banner, by Urban Witchery

 

 

FireDragons for Samhuinn

This year my Samhuinn celebration and ritual was an adventure held in Auckland, which is about an hour’s flight from Wellington.  about six weeks or so ago my Friend Nicola suggested that we take advantage of the cheap Air New Zealand flights and go to Auckland for the next Sabbat, which as you may of guessed was Samhuinn.  There were a couple of reasons for this: 1/ to see our Friend Nanny Ogg aka Caroline,  whom we love to pieces, and 2/ to experience how other groups around NZ actually do and participate in their own rituals, Namely Fire Dragon Grove.   Also ‘adventures’

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So we intrepid travelling druid and witch, got on a late but cheap flight to Auckland.  Nanny Ogg was there to meet us at the Airport and whisk us off to her house somewhere in the wilds of Auckland not far from Conwell Park, which I will one of these days visit proper.  Cornwell Park is a huge wonderful green area with sheep and cows, and trees and a hill called One Tree Hill. . . that no longer has a tree because it was cut down by the an activist, who was incidentally the same activist who had a go at turning the Americas Cup into the New Zealand Plate. .. .  But that my dears is a topic for a different blog.  *coughs*

Anyway Nicola and I were whisked away to a nice house near this park, where we stayed up until the wee hours catching up over cups of tea and tiny digestive biscuits.  On Saturday morning I woke early, cause I have a tendency to do that when I am travelling.   I made cup of tea and then wandered outside.  The birds sounds that morning were not familiar to me, in Auckland they have doves, and minor birds which we don’t have in Wellington.  What was missing was the frockling sounds of about 25 Kaka Parrots, the Twitterings of Fantails and the song of the Tui, but then in Wellington my house is about 10 minutes or so from our local wild life reserve.

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After waking Nanny Ogg with the making a second cup of tea or was it the third?, I might be a bit of a tea-soak first thing in the morning :))  anyhoo,  the rest of the morning was spent planning on what we would be doing for the afternoon.  One of the things I wanted to do was to go and visit Aucklands witches Shop Cauldron Craft http://www.cauldroncraft.co.nz/

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which is found in Devonport.  Luckily they had a sale on. as the story is closing down in June 2013 *sad face* but given that I live in Wellington it is difficult to get up there and spend my money.  However I here that it is going to be an online store.. *rubs hands together*

Anyway the three of us went wild.. I purchased many herbs and resins, plus a obsidian plate? Made with local Obsidian whoot.. Samhuinn ritual, and Nicola found things made of crystal and metal, otherwise known as shiny, of course you should buy the shiny.

Nanny Ogg brought a box of locally made candles, and incense for the evenings ritual. Devonport is a bit of an artsy place so we stayed and had lunch, cause we were hungry witches and druids…

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Then it was home again to prepare for the evenings invasion of Druids, but given that Fire Dragon Grove is a Druid Grove it is not surprising that the Druids were invading.  *grins*

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And yes the ritual was different from that of the Summer Stars Grove, for one there were less and different people, and for two in a small intimate group it is way easier for the main rite to be a lot more intense and personal, which it was for this Samhuinn ritual.  the quarters were called, the peace sent, awens sung and ancestors invited, things that we had forgotten to organise were brought by the other grove members, starting with the crumble, then seawater from spirits bay, the place it is said where the spirit so the dead in New Zealand travel to get to the underworlds.. then the oak leaves arrived with the blacksmith.. who had the same ideas about what to do with them as we three had discussed at lunch, must be magic.   The group was very much like a well magical oiled machine, everyone had something to offer and everyone had something to do.  After the main rite of a meditation it was the turn of the Cailleach to arrive, as really, this is her season.  The oak leaves were burned with the intention of what the druids were taking with them.  Then the Cailleach mixed in some oil with ash from the fire, and each participant was anointed.  ‘What you carry with you will transform and strengthen you’ was whispered in each participant’s ear and sealed with a kiss

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After the circle was uncast, the feast and eisteddfod was had, eisteddfod is a time where grove members tell stories or recite poems, some related to the season and others not.  I believe that in England this is held during the ritual, but here in New Zealand we have  a tendency to combine it will the feasting, it just works better for us.

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There was also a supper place with a little bit of everything that was put out for the ancestors as a way of honouring them further.  Stories were told and great food eaten, and our night finished just nearing midnight the witching hour, with many hugs from new friends and magical people, for they were magical and the evening magic filled.  

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Dancing the Sacred Wheel, By Frances Billinghurst

Dancing the Sacred Seasons 013Dancing the Sacred Wheel: A Journey through the Southern Sabbats
By Frances Billinghurst
TDM Publications, 2012
300 Pages

There is a certain style of writing about the various topics of witchcraft and magic that I look for when reading books about, well, Witchcraft and Magic, which is difficult to pinpoint exactly but I can tell you that several of the books I have been reading lately have it. It is something to do with how they make you think about the topic at hand, and how they provide you with further things to think about, or as I like to call it food for thought.  It is important for not just books but podcasts as well.. .. but I digress.

I am very pleased to say that Dancing the Sacred Wheel by Frances Billinghurst also has this quality that I enjoy in good pagan themed books.  Which is most excellent as it can always be tricky to review a book of someone that you kinda know.  I met Frances way back in 2003 at a Pagan festival here in New Zealand, and needless to say we got on like a house on fire, in the pavilion of judgement, and at the table of dissension.  *coughs*.  There is now a seat of sarcasm, but that is a different story from a different Festival.

Dancing the Sacred Wheel is a book about the Pagan Seasonal Wheel as it is celebrated in South Australia, along with information about Aboriginal seasons for the different temperate climates of Australia.  This should be interesting to anybody who practices in a country that is not England.  I do not mean this to insult people from England, but instead to encourage those who have been asking ‘why do the seasons in the country where I live not fit the Pagan Seasonal Wheel I read about in all of these books?’, even if you live in a Northern Hemisphere country.  This is because this book will give you a new perspective with which to perceive the seasons in the reader’s own country.  Hell, I live in New Zealand, just to the east of Australia also in the Southern Hemisphere where we cast our circles anti-clockwise and have Christmas in the summer, just like Australia, and I gained a deeper understanding of how to honour the seasons where I live.

Frances is also careful about including both Southern Hemisphere and Northern Hemisphere dates for the Sabbats.  In some ways it is a little ‘compare and contrast’ with an excellent explanation as to why we here in the southern hemisphere cast our circles starting in the east then north then west then south.  It follows the path of the sun, as our sun rises in the east, like everywhere in the world, but then tracks north, not south.

What I like about Frances’ book is the combination of historical, mythological and traditional information about each season. It is well researched and referenced, which is engaging and interesting. It encourages the reader to celebrate and practice their craft, not just read about it.  I also enjoyed the excellent referencing, so that if the reader is interested in any aspect of what Frances is writing about, finding further reading material can be done with a quick Google search, or by searching their library or online bookstore and from the bibliography at the back of the book. This is not something that you find very often in modern Pagan books…  just saying.

As well as history, each Sabbat chapter has a section on mythology and traditions. There are examples of how Frances and her coven honour the season, and an example of what they do.  This is not in the form of the infamous ‘Ritual Script’ as in other books, but done in a reflective style that the reader can gain inspiration from.  Again this encourages the reader to actually do something rather than just read.  Perhaps the subtitle for this book should be ‘The book that gets you to read and practice.’?

Intertwined in each chapter as you follow the season are several traditional myths, such as the Oak King and the Holly King, and the descent of the goddess. These lead into the section about inner work for each Sabbat and season, again encouraging the reader to actually do things.  At the end of each chapter are correspondences for the relevant season which include colours, candles, scents, and items that are traditional to have on your altar for that season — a most helpful reference for the beginner and adept alike.

All of this combined in an excellent book becomes not just about the seasons as Frances and her coven celebrate them, but more about helping the reader to figure out the season where they live and the land they live in and how to honour and celebrate them.

I give this book Five cups of tea English Breakfast tea! and very worth the read no matter which hemisphere you are from.

You can purchase you copy from Frances’s website here

Edit: Alternatively you can Email Frances Directly frances@templedarkmoon.com for details of this account if you reside in New Zealand and would like to purchase a copy of my book. hooray

 

The Samhain Gate

The Samhain Gate

Its Samhain here in New Zealand and I celebrated over the weekend at the Woolshed, a place here in Wellington where Pagans of all varieties come together to celebrate the seasons.  For Samhain this year the circle space was set up in the second lounge down stairs, with the Samhain gate facing North, other times the gate has been set up in the North West, which if you are using the southern hemisphere Sabbat calendar wheel is actually the Lughnasadh gate, which in some ways can be a very odd place to have the Samhain gate.  The Samhain gate is  that place where the ancestors and those that have died recently enter the circle.  And for the longest time it bugged the hell out of me, that at the woolshed it was place in the North West because it just felt wrong. But this year the gate was North, and for some weird reason this felt much better, which as usual got me to thinking about pagan cosmology and how it is shaped.

Traditionally the Southern hemisphere Seasonal Wheel  goes in a counter clock wise direction, (Sun Wise) starting with the Spring in the East, then Beltane  – North East,  Summer Solstice – North Lughnasadh, North West, Autumn Equinox – West, Samhain – South East and finally Winter Solstice in the south.

Which if you follow the logic through and use the same points from the Seasonal Wheel for your circle casting, it would mean that the Samhain gate would be in the South West, however, given that when casting a circle I teach that pretty much any element can be called from any direction because  it is important to practice magic in the place you live, it would also follow that the Samhain Gate doesn’t have to be in the South West, any more than that the element of air has to be in the east.  But it still bugged me.    I will say however that when it comes to group rituals, it is good to have everybody calling the same element from the one direction. But that is not what this post is about.. *coughdigressioncough*..

So why did having the Samhain Gate in the North feel better this year, than previous years when it has been in the North West?  Well there could be several reason.. first given that for most New Zealanders their ancestors come from Europe, which is North from here, it would make sense that if you are inviting your ancestors to come and join you in your circle, to do it from a Northerly direction.

The Samhain Gate
With Offerings of Salt, Honey and Bread

Secondly here in New Zealand as a part of the Maori believe,  spirits of the dead travel to the tip of the North Island,  where the entrance of the underworld is, guided by a Ruru owl, and once there, they travel down to the underworld where they are meet by Hine-nui-te-pō who then guides them on to Hawaiki, so again that would point to the idea that the spirits of the dead come from the North, and not the South.

Now this is all well and good and make pretty good sense.. but I have an idea that it was something more, than just the ancestors in the North and Hine-nui-te-po, that made this years gate feel right.  And I realised what it was when I went back down after to the ritual was over to see the French doors open.  It was the door, during the ritual we had opened the Samhain gate by opening the French doors.  The fact that these doors faced North fit in with the ritual, but I suspect that It was not the main reason as to why it felt right so to speak.  This door opened to the outside,  and it is a clear indication  when inviting someone in your house to open the door.    Doorways have always been considered magical places in myth and folklore.  They are liminal, whether you are entering or exiting, they are a place of magic where the energy flows inwards and outwards.    I can remember seeing pennies concreted into the doorway of the family’s holiday batch, put there by my grandfather, to encourage wealth.    It was a tradition that he carried with him from England where he was born.   Doorways are often gateways to other places, and in this case it was a gateway into the otherworld’s, to where the ancestors and recently departed stood waiting to be invited in.

So it all comes back to that practicing in the place where you live.  I have heard that the traditional correspondences of cardinal direction to elements originated in Greece, where their prevailing wind, the wind that brings the weather comes from the East, thus East became air.  Here in Wellington the prevailing wind comes not from the howling winter southerlies but the Westerlies, which would follow that air, should be in the east.  And when it comes to the seasonal wheel this to should be practiced in the place you live, which can take some figuring out so some contemplating of how the cosmos is created in your area.  So it makes sense to invite the ancestors from the north, and through a physical door, although I do wonder as to what happens if the physical door is in a different direction and if that would work?

So here in new Zealand our magical cosmos is on where the ancestors and the dead hail from the North, not from the South west as the  southern seasonal wheel would dictate nor from the North West as has been practiced before but from the North, a time of midsummers, the traditional element of fire.  Those crazy Southern Pagans.. *grins*

Samhain Crown made from a New Zealand sea bird whos name escapes me currently but died due to an oil leak from a container ship here.

Seasons in the Southern Hemisphere

Hawthorn Berries that were used in today’s Autumnal Equinox Ritual

Here in New Zealand it is currently autumn heading towards winter, I have just celebrated the Autumnal Equinox, with a bunch of local pagans up at The Woolshed, a local pagan place where the Sabbats are generally held.  The next Sabbat will be Samhain, which is at the end April beginning of May.  The southern hemisphere wheel has turned to the dark side of the year where the nights are longer than the days.  In the northern hemisphere they have just celebrated the Vernal Equinox, spring is Spruning and their wheel has turned towards the light half of the year where the days are longer than the nights.  Do you get where I am going here?  In essences our seasons are in reverse of the seasons in the northern hemisphere.

It seems simple enough to transpose the dates of the Pagan seasonal Calendar, which was cobbled together in England, six months and hey presto you have a southern hemisphere sabbatical calendar.   All good right?   Right?   Well actually no.  There are a few other things to take into account when living in a country where the original seasonal calendar did not originate, and more so when it is in a different hemisphere, Not only are the seasons reversed here in the southern hemisphere, so too is the direction of how we cast our circles, which here in the New Zealand is anti-clockwise.  Our sun rises in the east as it does all over the world, but tracks north in the sky and sets in the west, rather than tracking south as it does in the northern hemispheres. And as a point of interest, if you happen to live near the equator, you will find that the sun tracks both north and south, depending on the time of the year.  It is that squiggly line you sometimes see around globes, the path of the sun.  However here in the southern hemisphere the fact the sun tracks north,  also means the ‘traditional’ correspondences for north and south are also reversed, with northing being fire, and south being earth.  But that is a topic for another post, this post is about seasons.

These Sabbats that were cobbled together by Gerald Gardner and Ross Nicolas while hanging about sans clothes at Five acres Nudist club, in England, where made for English Witches who lived in England.  These where not necessarily put together with other countries in mind, so to speak.  Sure here in New Zealand we have4 distinct seasons, however we are further away from the South Pole than England is from the North. There is a variation between the ‘traditional’ seasonal correspondents that if often found in Pagan books and what is actually happening on the ground here in New Zealand.  There is also quite an interesting variation of seasonal growth and temperatures from one end of the country to the other, and I presume that this is the same for England, however my point here is that your seasonal wheel should be something more than just transposing the dates by six months, it should be shaped to the seasonal norms for the land you are living.

Now this is all very good and well but here in New Zealand the British Settlers did not alter their various British traditions such as Christmas, New Years and Easter to the reversed seasons of New Zealand, and recently Halloween has become a thing in New Zealand, but itis celebrated at the end of October rather than the more seasonally appropriate end of May.  So this causes some interesting conundrums for Pagans and Witches here. What this means is that while the rest of New Zealand is gearing up for Easter, a spring themed celebration, as it currently is the Kiwi Pagans are celebrating the Autumnal Equinox.  As I mentioned in my first post I have found this to be quite difficult to consolidate in my head and something that I am constantly working on? With? Hm.   I can remember when I was a small child communing with the Christmas Tree, which was a pine tree my uncles had gotten, with its lights and shiny decorations, it was one of the first magical experiences that I can remember.  However I have had difficult over the years consolidating the distinct winterness of Christmas decorations and trimmings, with the fact that here in New Zealand it is the summer solstice.  Not however midsummers, as the Summer Solstice marks the beginning of summer here and not the middle.  Our hottest times of the year or what I would consider mid summers is generally January and February.  The duality of mainstream celebrating new life, and the season turning towards harvest and the end of life makes for some very interesting contemplation.  Maybe this year I will make Easter eggs with skulls on them and try to get past the disgruntled feeling I get when the mainstream is celebrating the wrong thing in the wrong season.

The other interesting thing about seasonal Sabats here in New Zealand is that while on the one hand we have four distinguishable seasons, they are not quite the same as in Britain, where they originated.   As I mentioned above Britain is closer to the north pole that we are to the south pole.  This means that we have in relation quite a temperate climate.  Here in Wellington it does not often fall below zero degrees, during the winter and we only have snow in very small quantities in the city every bazillion years or so.  Actually we had snow last year.  And during the summer it does not often get above 30 degrees

But then to my mind celebrating and honouring a Pagan seasonal calendar not just about the dates and their ascribed meaning, but also about celebrating seasonally in the land you live, which will often deviate from the prescribed description found in books.  This also means that your seasonal celebrations and times may differ from year to year.

After spending a year gardening for other people I became a lot more observant about my environment around me.  I paid more attention to plants and trees and have come to rely on them to tell me what the seasons are doing.

Actually this year I felt the death of summer in quite distinctly in early March as I mentioned in previous post.  Also I have noticed as mentioned above the prescribed seasonal Sabbat dates, for the southern hemisphere  more mark the beginning of any given season rather than the middle, and that the cross quarters Samhane, Beltane, Lughnasadh and Brigid are more fluid than the equinoxes and solstices which mark the passage of the sun

Luckily on 1995 updated and re-released in 2005, Juliet Batten wrote one of New Zealand’s only Pagan books, Celebrating the Southern Seasons, which is an excellent guide on New Zealand seasons and the various customs and suggestions on how to celebrate season here in New Zealand  It is a book that I have found myself going back to again and again as my understanding of the cyclic year deepens, something Juliet wrote I agree with and other things I don’t but I always find things of interest.



So for those of you who are interested here are the Southern Season Sabbat Dates starting from the current one

Autumnal Equinox             March 20-23rd

Samhane                  April 31st – May 1st

Winter Solstice                   June 20-23rd

Brigid                                   August 2nd

Vernal Equinox           September 20-23rd

Beltane                       Oct 31st – Nov 1st

Summer Solstice         December 20-23rd

Lughnasadh                    February 2nd

Todays colourful Sunset