Sunday, November 23, 2008

Pagan Parenting

I came across a great page in the latest issue of Circle Magazine that I wanted to share with you.
It's about raising a child Pagan and I found it very enlightening and I hope you do as well.
To Raise a child Pagan is... teach the ways of the past through ritual. build confidence slowly and surely. reveal the sacred through out the day. expand the notion of extended family. allow wisdom to be gained through failure. be assured infinite opportunities to talk and teach, listen and learn. embrace the power of youth. lead by example. invite exuberant imagination. foster self-love. gain knowledge through fresh young eyes. have the help and guidance of a tribe. embrace the full range of emotion and show how to channel it. instill a feeling of being connected to a whole. behold the human potential realized. run barefoot and wild, surrounded by laughter. create a world of possibility and wonder. encourage personal responsibility. demonstrate respect for nature. wish you were raised pagan yourself.
...a gift to the universe and an incredible honor.
By Peggy Burke
Madison, Wisconsin

As a Pagan parent there is always the search for quality and substantive materials and organizations that will contribute to your children's intellectual and spiritual growth.
The internet now provides an easier access to sites on Pagan Family practice, activities, and networking.
Here are some sites I am sure you will enjoy visiting.

Here are some pagan oriented books:

"Family Wicca" by Ashleen O'Gaea
"Raising Witches, Teaching the Wiccan Faith to Children" by Ashleen O'Gaea
"Celebrating the Great Mother: A handbook of Earth Honoring activities for parents and children" by Cait Johnson and Maura D. Shaw
"My First Little Book of Wicca" by Rev. Velvet Rieth
"Raising Pagans, When daddy is catholic and Mommy is a Witch: What's a couple to teach their children?" by Kathleen Richard

Enjoy all!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

"Twas the Night Before Yule..."

'Twas that night before Yule, when all 'cross the heath,
Not a being was stirring; Pagan, Faerie, nor Beast,
Wassail was left out and the altar adorned,
To rejoice that the Sun King would soon be reborn.
The children lay sleeping by the warmth of the hearth,
Their dreams filled with visions of beloved Mother Earth,
M'lady and I beneath blankets piled deep, had just settled
down to our Solstice sleep.
Then a noise in the night that would leave us no peace,
Awakened us both to the honking of geese.
Eager to see such a boisterous flock,
When we raced to the window, our mouths dropped in shock!
On the West Wind flew a gaggle of geese, white and gray,
With Frau Holda behind them in Her gift-laiden dray.
The figure on Her broomstick to the North sky made it clear,
La Befana was approaching to bestow Yuletide cheer.
From the South came a comet more bright than the Moon,
And we knew Lucia would be with us soon.
As these Spirits sailed Earthward o'er hilltops and trees,
Frau Holda serenaded Her feathery steeds:
"Fly Isolde! Fly Tristan! Fly Odin and Freya! Fly Morgaine!
Fly Merlin! Fly Uranus and Gaea!
May the God and Goddess inside you soar,
From the clouds in the heavens to your cottage door."
As soft and silent as snowflakes they fell;
Their arrival announced by a faint chiming bell.
They landed like angels, their bodies aglow,
Their feet left no marks in the new fallen snow,
Before we could ponder what next lay in store,
There came a slow creeking from our threshold door.
We crept from our bedroom and were spellbound to see...
There in our parlor stood the Yule Trinity!
Lucia the Maiden, with Her head wreathed in flame,
Shown with the radiance for which she She was named,
The Lightbringers eyes held the joy of a child,
And she spoke with a voice that was gentle, yet wild:
"May the warmth of this household ne'er fade away."
Then she lit our Yule log which still burns to this day.
Frau Holda in Her down cloak stood regal and tall,
The Matron of Solstice, the Mother of all,
Under Her gaze we felt safe and secure.
Her voice was commanding, yet almost demure:
"May the love in this family enrich young and old."
And from the folds of Her cloak showered coins of pure gold,
LaBefana wore a kerchief on Her silvery hair;
The veil of the Crone who has secrets to share,
In Her eyes gleamed a wisdom only gained by spent youth.
Her voice was whisper, but Her words rung the truth:
"May health, glad tidings, and peace fill these rooms."
And she banished misfortune with a sweep of Her broom,
They then left a gift by each sleeping childs head,
Took a drink of our wassail, and away they all sped.
While we watched them fly off through the night sky we laughed,
At the wonderous magick we had found in the Craft.
As they departed, the Spirits decreed...

"Merry Yule To You All, And May All Blessed Be!"

Yule Legends, chants, stories and family crafts.

According to legend, the snowflake was formed from the tears that Demeter cried after Persephone’s descent into the Underworld. The microscopic flakes have six sides, and since six is the numerological digit associated with affection, the snowflake was used by Pagans as a winter symbol of love
Christmas Trees and Plants
The tree was an important symbol to every Pagan culture. The oak in particular was venerated by the Druids. Evergreens, which in ancient Rome were thought to have special powers and were used for decoration, symbolized the promised return of life in the spring and came to symbolize eternal life for Christians. The Vikings hung fir and ash trees with war trophies for good luck.
Holly, ivy, and mistletoe were all important plants to the Druids. It was believed that good spirits lived in the branches of holly. Christians believed that the berries had been white before they were turned red by Christ's blood when he was made to wear the crown of thorns. Ivy was associated with the Roman god Bacchus and was not allowed by the Church as decoration until later in the middle ages, when a superstition that it could help recognize witches and protect against plague arose.

Yule Log Hike

Materials: Warm Clothes, Sense of Adventure.

This is an activity that can be done the weekend before Yule. On a bright crisp morning, dress the family warmly and head for the park, mountains, or beach. As you hike along, looking for that special Yule log to place in your hearth, also be looking for decorations to make it personalized by each member of the family. Select a proportionally sized log that will fit easily into your fire place. Ash, oak, or cedar make great Yule logs. Try to find one that has already fallen and is on the ground. On the beach, driftwood can be found and obtained for your log. As you are looking, or on your way back home look for natural decorations to adorn your Yule log with. Traditional adornments are, pine cones, leaves, holly sprigs, mistletoe sprigs, rosebuds, winter flowers, wheat stalks, and corn husks. If you must cut anything from a living plant, remember to ask and thank the plant for its gift. If you don't have a fire place, select a smaller log, slightly flat on one side so that it doesn't roll. Adorning the logs will appear farther along in the activities. (Explain how the Yule log was set ablaze on Solstice night to help vanquish the dark and add strength to the returning sun.)

Welcome Sunshine Bells

Thin Cardboard, Pencil and Scissors, One Light yellow and One Bright Yellow Felt Square (10"x10"), 7 Small Jingle Bells, 12" Gold String or Cord, White Glue, Buttons, Glitter, Sequins.

Help child to draw a circle 7" in diameter, and another circle 7" in diameter with eight 1" triangle rays on the cardboard. Cut out for patterns. Place circle on the light yellow felt square, trace and cut out. Do the same with the "rayed" circle on the bright yellow felt. Using a drinking glass as a guide, trace a circle in the center, on the back side of both felt cut-outs. Carefully fold each circle in half, and make a cut from one side of center circle to the other. Repeat 3 times for a total of 4 cuts per piece. This is how you will get the decoration over the doorknob. Next, line up the circles and the cuts so that the rays extend 1" from behind the light yellow felt circle. Glue together. Allow the child to draw designs on the front of the ornament with glue. Sprinkle with glitter and glue on some sequins and buttons. Cut gold string or cord into three 4" strands. Tie jingle bells (spaced) onto the gold string or cord. Glue string/cord to the bottom of the Sun decoration on the back side. Allow to dry. Place on a doorknob that the bells will jingle as the door is opened and closed. ( Tell children that more than just the sun brightens our lives everyday. Explain the way to welcome the Yule sun back into their lives is to keep the brightness in their hearts all year long. Jingle bells make a warm and inviting sound, and therefore should jingle each time someone enters or leaves a room.)

Cup O' Sunshine

Terra-Cotta Pot, Paints and Paintbrushes, Styrofoam Block, String, Scissors, 1 yd 2" wide Green Ribbon, Yellow, Red, and Orange Lollipops and Sugar Sticks, Jelly Beans.

Clean terra-cotta pot if necessary. Allow to dry. Paint outside and down to first lip of inside with a bright solid color. After this base coat dries, decorate with other colors. When completely dry, place a block of styrofoam in the bottom of the pot. Cut green leaves out of the ribbon and tie to lollipops with string. Push the lollipop sticks into the styrofoam block to anchor them. Add the sugar sticks and fill rest of pot with loose jellybeans. (Explain to children that during the dark part of the year, sometimes we need to make our own sunshine. Let them know that bright colored gardens and flowers will be back in the spring, and this little pot of sunshine will cheer up a sick friend or relative.)

Adorning the Yule Log

Holly, Mistletoe, Rosebuds, Pine Cones, Evergreen Sprigs, Gold String/Cord, Gold Bows, Apple Cider, Flour.

After cleaning off the Yule log, let the children decorate it how ever they chose. Glue, wire, or small holes in the log will help to adhere the decorations. Once the log is decorated, "wassail" (toast and douse) it with a libation of apple cider. Finally, dust the log with white flour, set in grate in fireplace, and (parents only) set ablaze. (Explain to children how Yule logs used to smolder for 12 days before there was another ceremony to put the log out. Then apart of the log was strapped to the plow the next spring to spread the blessings over the land, and another piece was saved to light the next Yule's log, the next year.)

Yule Chant Solstice Blessing
Brightly burns the Yule log tonight
Magic dances in firelight
Hold my hand and join the song
Raise the Sun King bright and strong
Dark is giving way to light
As brightly burns the Yule log tonight!

Twas the night before Yuletide and all through the glen
Not a creature was stirring, not a fox, not a hen.
A mantle of snow shone brightly that night
As it lay on the ground, reflecting moonlight.

The faeries were nestled all snug in their trees,
Unmindful of flurries and a chilly north breeze.
The elves and the gnomes were down in their burrows,
Sleeping like babes in their soft earthen furrows.

When low! the earth moved with a thunderous quake,
Causing chairs to fall over and dishes to break.
The Little Folk scrambled to get on their feet
Then raced to the river where they usually meet.

“What happened?” they wondered, they questioned, they probed,
As they shivered in night clothes, some bare-armed, some robed.
“What caused the earth's shudder? What caused her to shiver?”
They all spoke at once as they stood by the river.

Then what to their wondering eyes should appear
But a shining gold light in the shape of a sphere.
It blinked and it twinkled, it winked like an eye,
Then it flew straight up and was lost in the sky.

Before they could murmur, before they could bustle,
There emerged from the crowd, with a swish and a rustle,
A stately old crone with her hand on a cane,
Resplendent in green with a flowing white mane.

As she passed by them the old crone's perfume,
Smelling of meadows and flowers abloom,
Made each of the fey folk think of the spring
When the earth wakes from slumber and the birds start to sing.

“My name is Gaia,” the old crone proclaimed
in a voice that at once was both wild and tamed,
“I've come to remind you, for you seem to forget,
that Yule is the time of re-birth, and yet…”
“I see no hearth fires, hear no music, no bells,
The air isn't filled with fragrant smells
Of baking and roasting, and simmering stews,
Of cider that's mulled or other hot brews.”

“There aren't any children at play in the snow,
Or houses lit up by candles’ glow.
Have you forgotten, my children, the fun
Of celebrating the rebirth of the sun?”

She looked at the fey folk, her eyes going round,
As they shuffled their feet and stared at the ground.
Then she smiled the smile that brings light to the day,
“Come, my children,” she said, “Let's play.”

They gathered the mistletoe, gathered the holly,
Threw off the drab and drew on the jolly.
They lit a big bonfire, and they danced and they sang.
They brought out the bells and clapped when they rang.

They strung lights on the trees, and bows, oh so merry,
In colors of cranberry, bayberry, cherry.
They built giant snowmen and adorned them with hats,
Then surrounded them with snow birds, and snow cats and bats.

Then just before dawn, at the end of their fest,
Before they went homeward to seek out their rest,
The fey folk they gathered ‘round their favorite oak tree
And welcomed the sun ‘neath the tree's finery.

They were just reaching home when suddenly it came,
The gold light returned like an arrow-shot flame.
It lit on the tree top where they could see from afar
The golden-like sphere turned into a star.

The old crone just smiled at the beautiful sight,
"Happy Yuletide, my children," she whispered. "Good night."

Sunday, November 2, 2008


As we begin the Pagan New Year I thought I would write some blogs on Yule. The lore and mythology behind it as well as adding some recipes and spellcrafting ideas for you all.
Yule is a time of the Goddess of the Cold Darkness and the birth of the Divine Child, the reborn Sun God. It is a time of renewal and rebirth during Winter, and the turning of the Earth force tides. A time when the waxing Sun overcomes the waning Sun. In some traditions, this is symbolized by the struggle between the Oak King and the Holly King.
The Holly King, represents the Death aspect of the God at this time of year; and the Oak King, represents the opposite aspect of Rebirth (these roles are reversed at Midsummer).
The myth of the Holly King/Oak King probably originated from the Druids to whom these two trees were highly sacred. The Oak King (God of the Waxing Year) kills the Holly King (God of the Waning Year) at Yule (the Winter Solstice). The Oak King then reigns supreme until Litha (the Summer Solstice) when the two battle again, this time with the Holly King victorious.
Examples of the Holly King's image can be seen in our modern Santa Claus. He dons a sprig of holly in his hat, wears red clothing, and drives a team of eight (total number of Solar Sabbats) reindeer, an animal sacred to the Celtic Gods (deer). Mistletoe and holly came into modern Christmas celebrations through the memorializing of this battle. The holly with berries are hung in honor of the Holly King and mistletoe in honor of the Oak King. Although the Holly King and Oak King are mortal enemies at the two Solstices - Yule and Litha - it should be remembered that they are actually two sides of one whole, and neither would exist without the other.
Deities to honor at this time of year include all Newborn Gods and Sun Gods, and all Mother Goddesses and Triple Goddesses. Appropriate Yule Gods include Apollo (Greek), Ra, Osiris, Horus, (all three are Egyptian), Lugh (Irish-Celtic), Odin (Norse), Father Sun (Native American), and Jesus (Christian-Gnostic), to name a few. Goddesses might include the Morrigan, Brigit (both Celtic), Isis (Egyptian), Demeter, Gaea, Pandora, Selene, and Artemis (all five are Greek), Juno and Diana (both Roman), Astarte (Middle Eastern), Spinning Woman (Native American) and the Virgin Mary (Christian-Gnostic).

Spellwork for balance, beauty, peace, and harmony are great to perform at this time of the Pagan year. Love spells and spells to increase happiness are also appropriate. Key actions to remember for Yule are introspection and meditation.

The most common colors used at this Sabbat are red and green, but gold and white are also quite appropriate.
Stones to be used at this celebration include bloodstones, rubies, and garnets. Animals associated with the Yule Sabbat are stags, squirrels, wrens and robins. Mythical creatures associated with Yule are the Phoenix, and trolls.
Herbs and plants that can be used include holly, mistletoe, evergreens, poinsettias, bay, pine, ginger, valerian, and myrrh.

Yule Incense
Recipe by Scott Cunningham

2 parts Frankincense
2 parts Pine needles or resin
1 part Cedar
1 part Juniper berries

Mix and smolder at Wiccan rites on Yule (on or around December 21st), or during the winter months to cleanse the home and to attune with the forces of nature amid the cold days and nights.
(The above recipe for "Yule Incense" is directly quoted from Scott Cunningham's book: "The Complete Book of Incense, Oils & Brews", page 100, Llewellyn Publications, 1992.)

Winter Solstice Ritual Potpourri
Recipe by Gerina Dunwich

20 drops musk oil
25 drops pine oil
1 cup oak moss
2 cups dried mistletoe
1 cup dried poinsettia flowers
1 cup dried bayberries
1/2 cup dried rosemary
1/2 cup dried holly leaves and berries
3 crushed pinecones

Mix the musk and pine oils with the oak moss, and then add the remaining ingredients. Stir the potpourri well and store in a tightly covered ceramic or glass container.

(The above recipe for "Winter Solstice Ritual Potpourri" is quoted directly from Gerina Dunwich's book "The Wicca Spellbook: A Witch's Collection of Wiccan Spells, Potions and Recipes", page 164, A Citadel Press Book, Carol Publishing Group, 1994/1995)

Invoking the Holly King
by Ginger Strivelli

Today we do bid Hail to our beloved Holly King
With these ancient carols, we do again sing
He who is called Father Christmas is returning yet again
As the Solstice's longest night has finally begun
We await you, Santa Claus, Lord of Winter
To honor you on this day that you always were
Saint Nicholas, patron of children on Gaia's sphere
This invocation, we pray you do hear
Come bless us, upon this season of the Yuletide
Great Holly King as you fly upon your sleigh ride
Whether your gifts to us be physical or spiritual
We know that they will always be most magical
Grateful, because we know your blessings' great worth
We offer a blessing of our own --- Peace on Earth!


Oak was revered widely. The oak groves were home of the Druid's God and represented power. The oak also stood for Diana and her successive lovers.

The use of bay descends from the Roman's use of this plant and its association with the Roman Sun God Apollo. Bay was adopted by the Celts for use in blessings of strength and health in the New Year.

The oak and holly are sacred to the druids. They represent the myth of the battle of the Oak and Holly Kings. The Oak King, representing rebirth, fights with the Holly King, representing death, and defeats him. The sun begins to get stronger. The Oak Kings rules till the Summer Solstice when the fight begins again, this time the Holly King wins. The sun gets weaker. We may find remnants of the Holly King in the character of Santa Clause. The sprig of holly in his cap and his red clothes are a dead giveaway.

The evergreen nature and red berries of holly are a symbol of enduring life. The red berries also are a symbol of the blood of the Goddess. In spells and rituals holly is used for attaining magickal goals, divination, spells for boosting male sexual prowess. Holly is cut in mid summer and is considered especially strong if found growing on the sacred oak.

Both holly and ivy are considered symbols of eternal life.

Mistletoe is the golden bough of classic legend. It is Viscum album of Europe, with leaves in pairs like wings and white berries. Because of their color, these berries were associated with the semen of the gods and so the plant was given phallic associations. It was (and is) sacred to the Druids. Mostly cut in mid summer for the summer Solstice, it was also used for the Winter Solstice. A golden sickle did the deed, symbolizing for the Druids castration of the god.(The reason for castrating the god was not found during this research.) A white cloth was used to catch the mistletoe before it hit the ground.

The tradition of kissing under the mistletoe is said to derive from the ancient idea that all legal matters were to be settled once and for all under a bough of mistletoe. Kissing under the mistletoe was also considered important for hand fasting. It was an announcement of future intentions, and was repeated after the ceremony.

As mistletoe ages and whithers it turns a golden color. This may connect it to the golden bough legends. This plants was also thought to have the ability to find buried treasure because of an association with the underworld.

In Norse legend mistletoe is a symbol of death and resurrection. The God Baldur was slain with spear made of mistletoe by the blind god Hodur. All things on earth and in heaven had sworn not to harm Baldur because of the petitioning of his mother. It is told that mistletoe had been forgotten by Odhinn in her petitions. All the gods were having fun throwing things at Baldur and watching the projectiles swerving to miss him. Loki grabbed a stick of mistletoe and helped the blind Hodur throw it at Baldur, killing him. Another version says mistletoe was forgotten because it roots in trees not in the ground, being between and not part of the earth or the heavens.

Because of its many, strong, pagan associations mistletoe was banned from the churches.

Candles and fire were used as sympathetic magick to lure the sun back. Candles were left burning on Christmas Eve to guide the Christ child through the darkness. They were lit by the oldest member or head of the house, who would also extinguish them in the morning. It was a bad omen if one was accidentally blown out, and unlucky to touch one after lighting.

Christmas tree
This tradition comes straight from pagan worship of trees and the spirits they contain. Common stories tell of christmas trees being unknown in English speaking countries till the German Prince Albert brought the traditions with him when he married Queen Victoria in 1840. The German name used for these trees is tannenbaum, said to be related to tinne or glastin, the sacred trees of the ancient Celts.

European priests, dendrophori, traveled to a sacred grove and selected a pine tree. They brought the tree back to the town, set it up and decorated it. One type of decoration was an effigy of the gods. This may be the origin of the gingerbread men hung on trees to this day.

According to Christian legend, the German Protestant leader Martin Luther was walking in the woods. He came upon a tree with ice covered branches. The beauty of the sun shining through the branches inspired him. Luther brought the tree back and lit candles behind the tree to show others the beauty.

Trees, Evergreens
Evergreens were considered a manifestation of diety and so, sacred. They remained green did not die each year. A representation of the goddess, the Druids decorated trees each Yule with images of wishes for next year. Fruits were used to symbolize harvest, nuts for fertility, candles, and love charms.

In ancient Greece the fir tree was considered sacred to Artemis, the moon goddess who presided over childbirth.

Being the symbol of renewed life and the return of crops and harvest, evergreen decorations were to be removed by the 12th night after the Solstice. If they were taken away too soon it would mean the loss of prosperity in the coming year, but had to be taken down by Candalmas. Depending on tradition, the greens were either left to whither or were burnt in ceremony. To burn while still green, however, would put household protection in jeopardy.

Yule log
To the Celts, the Yule log was a phallic symbol. The log representing the god, three holes representing the goddess were drilled on top. Three candles, one red, one white, one black, symbolizing the impregnation of the goddess were placed in these holes. To symbolize the intertwining of goddess and god, holly and mistletoe were added. Different contries had different traditions, for example, the Slavs used one candle in orange or gold, colors of the god.

Men and boys, followed by the women, would enter their orchards at dusk on the 12th night. With them they brought trays, pans, kettles and cider. One tree was chosen to represent the orchard. Everyone drank a toast to the chosen tree and poured cider on its roots. Toasted bread soaked in cider was left in a fork of it's branches. Sometimes a branch was pulled down and dipped in a kettle of cider. Some of the men may have bowed down as if carrying heavy sacks of fruit. Women and children danced and shouted. All this to ensure a plentiful crop the next year.

Virgin birth
The original meaning of virgin has been almost lost. It has nothing to do with a breaking of the hymen of a woman. The word was first used to describe priestesses in Mediterranean temples in Roman Pagan times. It meant an independent woman not bound by local law. She had no husband and took as many lovers as she wanted.
In creation myth, the Virgin Goddess gives birth to her son on the Winter Solstice. The Virgin Mary, gives birth to her son, but being virgin in a very different way.

Wreaths use the symbolism of the circle, no beginning and no end. The circle has been used as such a symbol for 4,000 years or more. Scandinavian peasants used wreaths as decoration for Yule, using pine cones and fruits.

Other symbols
Symbols representing Yule include an eight-spoked wheel and bells from the Norse which were used to celebrate dawn after longest night and to frighten powers of darkness highest this night. Other symbols are bayberry, holly, mistletoe, Yule Trees or a small potted tree. Sun or God symbols, such as acorns, pine cones etc.

To insure growth and prosperity, burn a pair of bayberry candles.
If you see the sun shining through the branches of an apple tree on Christmas day, next season's crop will be good.

Gold, White, Green, Red

Mistletoe, Balsam, Fir, Pine cones and needles, Chamomile, Comfrey, Sunflower, Apple, and any dried summer herbs.

Clear quartz, citrine

It is a good time for goal setting magick, new ideas and projects.
Thank you for stopping by Magickal Enchantments Blog, I hope you enjoyed your Yule Reading.
Brightest Blessings,
The Celtic Witch