Chapter 13; Holidays and The Wheel of the Year

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Here is an area where my own little religion becomes either diverse or sloppy depending on how you feel about my decision to embrace several traditions which encompass The West.

Some Norse, a few roman, and even a Greek holiday, all stapled onto the skeletal outline of the Celtic Wheel of the Year. The Wheel aligns nicely with the major equinoxes and solstices. Some of the holidays on the Wheel are well established from our history, some are likely cobbled together from good intentions and guesswork.

I will try to flesh each one out and touch upon their major components and the reasons behind them. To each holiday I also attached a type of incense that I burn in my Green man holder. (I told you there was a lot of hopping around). I think at the end of the day that my, my holiday patterns are so expansive in order to give my kids a large range inside which they can roam around. Holidays are happy times so why try to restrict them?

Imbolc             It is a Gaelic seasonal holiday, lengthening days, start of spring, lambing, home and hearth blessing/cleaning out, invite Bridget in and clean house, the incense is sage.

Bridget’s cross, candles to light the darkness of winter, Hag weather – meaning this; much like the story of Punxsutawney Phil and his shadow, the winter Hag is either seen picking up sticks or not. Picking up sticks equals more winter as she is obviously having to gather more fuel for her fire.

Lupercalia      Observed in Rome from the 13th to the 15th of February to avert evil spirits and purify the city, releasing health and fertility. We retell of Romulus & Remus and the founding of Rome.

Cleansing ritual, out with evil, in with health, the incense is still sage.

Ostara           Germanic Goddess of the Dawn, return of the light, symbols of  hares and eggs, fecundity of the land. The incense is Jasmine.

Candles for the light, Irminsul for the Germanic nature of the holiday,  painting eggs as a family.

Walpursignacht          Germanic Witches’ Night, barrier is thin between the worlds. A time to communicate with the spirit world and the fae . Bonfires are traditionally lit to keep away malevolent spirits or those who might do us mischief.

Speak out loud to your relatives. Walk outside at night. Sandalwood is the incense.

Beltane            Gaelic May Day festival. Most commonly it is held on 1 May, or about halfway between the spring equinox and the summer solstice.

Bonfires, May Poles, fertility rites, blessing of the land and the womb, waxing power of sun, taboos suspended, lemongrass is the incense.

Litha                Midsummer, this holiday is held on the Solstice. A drinking, feasting time.

Light in it various sources, the Green Man, the incense is lavender.

Panathena        Athena’s birthday, torch race, meat meal, House Gods should be honored.

Lughnasadh    Gaelic festival marking beginning of harvest, matchmaking, sacrificial eating.

blueberries, apples, because for me they are in season and everywhere. The incense is lilac.

Mabon             Autumnal equinox, ritual meal of thanksgiving and blessing. I treat it like Thanksgiving. Clove is the incense.

Samhain         Gaelic seasonal festival, end of harvest beginning of winter, ancestor worship, The Day Between Years, lifting of the veils between worlds. Halloween.

I take time to address an object I hold for each of my relatives that have passed that I knew in life. Cinnamon is the incense.

Yule               Germanic midwinter festival, drinking/toasting. We usually do a Skoal type toast every holiday. 3 rounds of toasts. Gift giving, tree decorating, frankincense is the incense.

Saturnalia        Roman festival for Saturn, overturning social norms, carnival like atmosphere, myrrh is the incense, taboos ignored. There are no modern day slaves, so we let the children tell us when to go to bed and act like they are the parents for one night.

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