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..

Flowers of Autumn
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/

Caludron Craft

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

 

Blue Moon

Blue Moon in August or September??

The world is actually round, and as you may or may not know, when it is Friday here in New Zealand it is actually Thursday in America, England and Canada etc. etc.  New Zealand is pretty much in future time.

So why am I bringing this up? That’s easy; it is to explain that in August in New Zealand there was not a Blue Moon.  That is using the modern theory of Blue Moons, which is when two full moons fall in one month. Generally this happens at the beginning and the end of the month, given that the moon’s cycle is about 28-29days.  Right…still with me? Good.

So, in the northern hemisphere America, Canada and England etc. etc. in August there was a Blue Moon, on the 31st.

Now, the moon is one object in the sky that merrily makes its way around the earth with nary a thought to any international date lines. It just orbits the earth affecting the tides, large bodies of water and people who sometimes become odd.   So when it is full it is full all around the world at the same time, and I am not talking about Saturday at 2am, I’m talking about a specific point in time, err maybe it is called universal time?  Essentially that means that the moon will be full in Ottawa, Canada on Friday 31st August at 10am, which is 16 hours behind New Zealand. So that means in New Zealand it is 2am on Saturday morning the 1st of September, and the Moon is full.     Head exploded yet?  Wait there is more…

So, because there is this time difference, the second full moon in a month, a Blue Moon will happen in New Zealand on September 30th at 4pm.  Hmm… wrap you head around that folks… it’s not too difficult but can be a bit bendy around the edges.

Now wait a minute, I keep saying second full moon in a month, Blue Moon, right? Which might indicate that there is a different type of blue moon…and given that the idea of a Blue Moon is quite an old one, as in probably came about before our current calendar, it is probably accurate that there is a second way of measuring a Blue Moon.  You know because having a Blue Moon every year, given that there are 12 months and 13 moon cycles in a year or thereabouts, does not really fit with the saying “Once in a Blue Moon”.  And you would be correct in your assumption.  According to trusty Wikipedia, the origins of the Blue Moon comes from way back and relates to a seasonal harvest type calendar, and the Blue Moon was when you got 4 full Moons in one season.  So according to Wikipedia the next seasonally based Blue Moon will be May 21st 2016.

And why am I posting this? Mostly it is to remind you lot in the Northern hemisphere that there is a Southern hemisphere, and that our seasons are 6 months ahead of yours. We are now heading into Spring and we live in future time and are therefore more all-knowing… *coughs*… right then any questions?

PS WordPress is being all very odd, like they have upgraded something but crashed the page where you post from.  it is all very weird and fustraiting.. just so you know.  arrgghhhh…