Celebrating Litha/ Summer Solstice 2017

Nature is Sacred

Happy Summer Solstice everyone. It is the Summer Solstice or Midsummers Day in the Northern Hemisphere. The word Solstice comes from the Latin “Sol” meaning sun and “Sistere” meaning to stand still. It is the longest day of the year with 15 hours of sunshine. The sun is at its most powerful today. Celebrated by almost all cultures historically, it is an important time of the year for Pagans and Pantheists as one of the major festivals. Also known as Litha after the Anglo Saxon name for the summer months or Alban Heruin (light of the shore) in revival Druidry traditions, it is a great time to celebrate by having a BBQ and bonfire on the beach.

Crops have all been planted and are growing strongly, the earth is alive with blooming flowers, green trees and insects busy collecting pollen and making honey. It is a time to rest, to have…

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Celebrating Beltane/ May Day 2017

Merry Beltaine / Walpurgisnacht!

The days are warmer, the flowers are blooming, the tree buds have appeared, the fields are plowed, the birds are in merry spirits, the light has returned and magic is in the air!

Nature is Sacred

Happy Beltane/ May Day everyone. Beltane, meaning “bright fire” is one of the four great fire festivals of the ancient Celtic cultures. In ancient Irish culture it was the time when both the Tuatha De Danaan and the Milesians came to Ireland and was originally celebrated when the Hawthorns began to blossom. Half way between the Spring Equinox and the Summer Solstice, it marks the start of the light half of the year and heralds the beginning of summer. According to historian Ronald Hutton, “the ritual of Beltane was found in all Celtic areas of the British Isles, but also in pastoral regions of Germanic and Scandinavian Europe.” The historical evidence for the celebration of this festival is much better than for others. The earliest references to it are from 900AD which state “lucky fire i.e two fires Druids used to make with great incantations, and they used to bring…

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Winternights

Winternights (Vetrnætr) is one of the three major festivals celebrated in pre-Christian Scandinavia, the others being midwinter (Yule, Jól/Jólablót, Hökunótt) and the beginning of the summer raiding season (Sigrblót “Victory Blot” or Sumarmál). Snorri Sturluson wrote of these festivals in the Ynglinga saga of the Heimskringla: “There should be a sacrifice at the beginning of winter for a good year, and in the middle of winter for a good crop, the third in summer day, that was the sacrifice for victory.”

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Sacred Wonders of Britain

Sacred Wonders of Britain (BBC, 2013)

Archeologist Neil Oliver sets off on a journey to reveal the sacred face of Britain, an ancient landscape of belief and ritual that lies hidden just below the surface of the modern world. From Britain’s remotest islands to the heart of its cities, Neil searches for clues that tell us how these wonders came to be. What was it about Britain’s rich and varied landscape that inspired people to express their beliefs by reshaping the world around them? What did they see that led them to deem some places more sacred than others? And why are we still drawn back to those places today? (Knowledge)

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Pagan Origins of Christmas

Christmas as we know it today has developed from a variety of origins, including pagan ones!  Things like the evergreen tree, mistletoe, gift giving, and even the birth date of Jesus have come from pagan sources.

Yule
The Winter Solstice is celebrated around December 20-23 (northern hemisphere), the shortest day of the year.  Yule celebrates the return of the light as it is the point from which the days grow longer until the Summer Solstice (Midsummer/Litha).

Midwinter

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Pagan in the City

Many pagans live in bustling cities and manicured suburbs, far away from untamed nature and rural farming communities.  This is either by choice or because of other constraints, such as their job or family.  But just because one doesn’t live in a dense forest surrounded by native plants and wild animals, or live on a homestead that grows and raises its own food, it doesn’t mean that one cannot be pagan.  The city holds a variety of opportunities to tune into the natural world around us, as long as we take the time to seek them out and listen.  Some ideas to connect with nature and the natural world are listed here.  Try to find additional ones in your neighbourhood!

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The Underworld

The Underworld, also known as the Otherworld or Netherworld, is featured in most mythologies around the world.  It is a realm of the dead, where the souls of the recently departed go in their afterlife.  Many versions of the Underworld are seen as places of abundance and joy, and reward for good work during their mortal life.

World mythologies call the Underworld by several names:

Celtic – Annwn, Mag Mell, Tír na nÓg, Hy-Brasil, Ablach, Sídhe mounds
Norse – Hel, Niflheim, Valhalla, Gimlé, Vingólf
Greek – Hades, Elysium, Tartarus, Asphodel
Roman – Inferno, Avernus, Orcus/Hades, Pluto
Egyptian – Aaru, Duat, Neter-khertet, Amenti
Christian – Heaven, Hell

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