The Wheel of the Year, the Circle of the Season, Esbats and Sabbats, High Holy Days - an inevitable part of becoming a Pagan and/or Witch - lead to the addition of many more holidays (in the traditional sense of holy-days) into your life! As a new practitioner, this can be confusing. Many new witches, especially if they do not have a mentor or a coven, go to the internet for answers to these questions: What do I celebrate and when? Why is this particular celebration “holy” to me now? What does this day mean for my new spirituality and magickal practices?
More than any other substance, gold has captured the imagination, and desire, of people the world over for hundreds of years. The sheer value we have placed upon gold, the ends we've gone to attain it, and the romanticism that grew up around it, are enough to lend gold a lot of power in the universal unconscious energy. As witches and all practitioners of magick know, we are all connected. Linking our magickal energies into the universal unconscious flow of the human spirit can be a powerful action.
In Norse mythology, there are two tribes of gods: the Vanir and the Aesir. The Vanir tribe are fertility gods, while the Aesir are warrior gods. During the Viking Age, the people of Scandinavia relied heavily on farming for their survival, so the Vanir gods played a crucial role in their worship. As the son of Skadi, a frost giantess, and Njord, the god of the sea, Freyr is a sun god who is a member of the Vanir, associated with fertility and peace. His twin sister, Frejya, is also well known for her cunning and beauty throughout Norse mythology.
As the sun reaches its zenith, Midsummer celebrations abound across the globe. People celebrate the balance of the dark and light while paying homage to sun deities in a variety of different ways. Litha is the Midsummer Sabbat as the wheel of the year turns. There are many customs, traditions, and folklore surrounding Litha.
Growing your coven membership can be difficult in a practice that does not proselytize or actively recruit. Plus, with paganism being a new religion that is often misunderstood by the general public, many practitioners don't blatantly display their faith, so others might not even know they are a practitioner. But if pagans and Wiccans don't recruit, how can they find new members? The majority of people learn about paganism and Wicca through books, online, or from close friends.
The moon is a sacred symbol to Wiccans and Pagans as it is imbued with feminine energy and plays a central role in honoring the goddess. The moon is a physical representation of the goddess, her energy, and the divine feminine. While there are many beautiful and powerful rituals within Wiccan and Pagan practices, drawing down the moon is one of the most sacred and magnificent rituals for practitioners. While Sabbats celebrate the wheel of the year turning and Esbats pay tribute to the phases of the moon, drawing down the moon is a ritual in which the practitioner melds with the divine allowing them to talk and interact with the goddess herself.
Kitchen witches are all about magick in the kitchen. Kitchens are often the central hub of a house with people gathering to talk, drink, and get small samples of what delicious food soon lies ahead. With fresh aromas wafting out and the bustle of preparing dishes, kitchens are the perfect place for creating magick. Kitchen witches predominantly rely on things that grow which is why many of them practice herbalism. Some kitchen witches even have their own garden from which to create herbal concoctions or use for culinary dishes. These practitioners are most often down to earth and focus their intent on healing, whether that is others, themselves, their community, or mother earth.
What are ethics?Ethics are a standard of right and wrong. They provide directions on what a human ought to do in terms of basic rights, obligations, and fairness. The core of ethical behavior focuses on something or someone other than ourselves as it looks at the benefits to society or the larger group. It requires that we put our own self interest and desires to the side to determine the best course of action. When someone is thinking or acting ethically, they look at the broader picture beyond their own self.
The Sunflower At the height of summer, fields and roads are lined with rows of sunflowers blooming. Their radiant yellows and oranges burst through the landscape bringing cheer and brightness into our hearts. These amazing flowers reach two to eight feet in height as their rays, another word for their petals, stretch towards the sun.
Harkening back to the ancient crone deities that maintain the thread of mortal life, weaving and braiding have been important aspects within magickal craft and ritual. Often overlooked in favor of herbs, crystals, or candle work, adding braiding or weaving to one’s spellbook can diversify one’s magickal knowledge. Both the creation and use of braids can be for ritual or spell work, from the moment one starts braiding to the braid’s use in a separate spell. From Penelope with her meditative weaving and destruction of Laertes’ burial shroud as she waited for Odyssius, to the modern practitioner braiding a basket to hold items on their altar, braids are a central piece of magickal work. The repetitive motion works best at an even pace and lends itself well to rituals and spell work. The modern practitioner is not just limited to yarns for their projects as many different materials can be used. If it is flexible enough that it can be bent quite a bit without breaking, then it can be used for magickal weaving and braiding
In February, the wheel of the year turns once again to Imbolc. Imbolc is a celebration taken from the roots of the ancient Celtic fire festivals and marking the return of the maiden for Wiccans. This Sabbat for Wiccans is time to give thanks for the ever-increasing daylight. The goddess is in her form as the maiden, and the god is coming into his strength and power through puberty. The heat and warmth of the sun from the growing light germinates seeds deep within the earth’s soil, awakening them to sprout forth shoots of new life. In many places, the Crocus flowers have sprung forth and broken through the frozen ground. New life is stirring just underneath the surface of the cold and dark winter. Nature’s rhythms pulse once again from the light of the sun ready to emerge in the coming months.
Since ancient times, humans have watched the earth revolve around the sun. Since the dawn of time, we have traversed this path and watched in awe as the sun has ebbed and flowed throughout the seasons. The longest night of the year is the winter solstice — the pivotal day when the sun shifts and begins to journey back towards the earth. Ancient and modern people honor the sun’s return at the midwinter by celebrating and rejoicing in its return. Warmer days are ahead, and the earth will soon begin to awake as the animals come out of hibernation, and tiny seedlings sprout once again. As the warmth increases, animals will become abundant and lush plant life will cover the ground.
You may think that bylaws are reserved just for not-for-profits and corporations, but covens can benefit from creating their own bylaws. A bylaw is a rule or law established by a group to regulate itself. It provides structure and a deeper understanding of how the group interacts not only with one another but with the community as a whole. Developing coven bylaws ensures that every witch currently in your coven or potential candidates understand how the group operates.
Within the Wiccan religion and witchcraft there are many pieces of literature that have become sacred teachings to the followers of both Wicca and witchcraft. One of these is now known as The Wiccan Rede. The Wiccan Rede was first published in the Ostara edition of a magazine called The Green Egg by a self-claimed hereditary witch who went by the pseudonym of Lady Gwen Thompson. It was published in 1975 and with its publication, there was much controversy around where this piece of poetry, that was so rich in Witchcraft law and ritualistic secrets, came from. Whether or not Lady Gwen Thompson borrowed the final words, ‘eight words the Wiccan rede fulfill, an ye harm none, do what ye will’ from Doreen Valiente, we will never know, but she is quoted saying those words in a public speech a few years earlier.
During the peak of winter lies the Imbolc. As the wheel turns and the fierceness of winter is upon us, we celebrate the fire that keeps us warm and the fertility that keeps us alive. Imbolc is a holiday that marks the halfway point of the dark season with the concept of renewal and rebirth. As the spring is on its way, so is new life both through physical birth and the figurative birth of new ideas and projects. Imbolc is a time to celebrate the hearth and home. And what better way to celebrate home, than with the members of your spiritual home. A great way to celebrate Imbolc is with your coven mates as you come together at the height of the darkness to bring forth the light of Imbolc.