When sacred, spiritual, and mystical places are discussed in Wicca and Paganism, the focus tends to be on sites in Europe. Stonehenge, Greek temples, and other historical sites are often brought up as places Wiccans and Pagans should make pilgrimages to. Though the United States is young, the land is old, and sacred spaces exist here just as in other, older countries. Some are naturally occurring spaces with strong mystical and spiritual energies, while others are human-made and of great significance to the cultures that built them. For the created sites, even if you don’t share the religion of the builders, you can recognize and respect the power of the place, and a visit to pay respects is a balm for your spirit.
In Lammas, the first of the three harvest festivals, grain plays a big role. Perhaps that’s no surprise, as Lammas means “loaf mass.” It is also Lughnasadh, celebrating the god Lugh, who was a craftsman. Taking the time to create decoration and food that incorporates grain for this Sabbat honors both the importance of the harvest as well as the god for whom it is named. So how do you bring wheat and oat into your celebrations?
Lavender petals in a sachet for the bath or shower or sleep and calm. Rose petals on the altar for a love spell. Chamomile in tea. Jasmine incense. You’ve probably not thought about the many ways flowers are used in the Craft throughout the year. Flower magick is potent and connected to nature in ways other magicks aren’t. With summer flowers at their brightest, Litha is the perfect time to learn some ways flowers can be used in and for magick, as well as how to preserve them for use throughout the year.
Whether you are new to Wicca or have been practicing for a while, it is always a good time to brush up on your knowledge of those aspects of the Craft that are invoked frequently. In many altar setups, spells, and rituals, the four elements are called upon or used. Though Air is the least tangible and visible of the elements, we still frequently incorporate it into our practice.
Fans of 90s music no doubt know the name Lilith. Lilith Fair was a music tour that featured only solo female acts or female-fronted bands. If you know the music festival, you likely already associate the name Lilith with feminism a bit. But do you know why Sarah McLachlan chose the name Lilith to begin with? Because of her history as Adam’s first wife, who was created as an equal and refused to be subservient to him. Lilith has a rich history that isn’t just tied to the myth from Judaism that saw her cast out from Eden.
Air and Water might be necessary for life, but Earth is life itself. It is the Mother Goddess, her womb full. As Witches, we are dedicated to the Earth element, protecting, respecting, and honoring all of nature. The Craft pulls on the natural magick of all the elements, but Earth provides the basis of so much of our practice.
Many of us love to bring the spirit of the season into our everyday lives by decorating our homes inside and out with festive symbols. Though many of these items can be store-bought, when you craft something to represent the season and bring its energies into your home, you can bless and imbue them with more power as you make them. As our New Year and most sacred sabbat, decorating for Samhain with handmade crafts brings a little extra power into your celebration.
It is a common enough phrase these days and used to describe all kinds of situations. Maybe it is the time in the afternoon that your toddler melts down each day without fail. Maybe it is when you see the most animal activity in your yard. It is even used to describe the last hour of stock trading on Wall Street. Whatever the situation, many people use the term “Witching Hour” to describe a wide range of things, from the peculiar to the outright dreadful. But the Witching Hour is real for Wiccans; it is a good thing, and it has real power. Like most things with Wicca, there’s the history, what others think, and where we are today. So, let’s look at when the Witching Hour is, why it holds power, how you can use that power, and why the Witching Hour at Samhain is particularly powerful.
A time for new beginnings, Mabon is a great time to look to the future. When we look to the future we may be looking to know of successes, obstacles, troubles, or gifts. Different sabbats hold strengths over different types of divinations. Weather predictions and love divinations have roots in Mabon festivities and have more strength at this sabbat.
The second of the harvest festivals on the Wheel of the Year, Mabon is a time for celebration. There are a great many gods and goddesses of grain and other harvest staples who should be acknowledged during this time. But there is also a key ingredient to many celebrations and ceremonies that should be honored during harvest. The grapes that make our wine.
Root vegetables play a key role in harvest festivals because they store so well for use throughout the winter. Lasting for several months when stored in a root cellar, root vegetables provide important nutrition in months when harvesting isn’t possible due to cold temperatures. Like most things in nature, root vegetables also have inherent magickal properties that make them perfect for kitchen witchery.
In spellwork and ritual, Witches don’t just call upon the Goddess and God but also the elements. To make your invocations and spellwork more potent, having an understanding of the elements you are working with is important. The element of Water is essential to all life, animal and plant alike. Water is necessary for birth and regeneration. But its power can also be dangerous and damaging. Tossing seas, floods from storms, drowning – if Water isn’t respected the results could be disastrous.
So much of the lives of our ancestors revolved around the harvests and seasons, which is why so many of our deities are patrons of the harvest. Though most of us no longer have a crop or livestock we need help protecting and looking over, there are still ancient deities we can honor who have a direct impact on our day-to-day. These are gods and goddesses of health, healing, and medicine. Health was important to our ancestors as well - one could not perform vital daily duties if one wasn’t in good health. In fact, it is believed that many of the accused witches of the witch trials were healers using herbal and spiritual remedies from pagan worship.
The Fae have a reputation for being sneaky and tricky. Like the Djinn, if you aren’t careful with your words when dealing with Fae, you’ll find yourself dealing with more than you bargained for. The veil between our world and the Fae world is thin at Beltane, allowing them to visit. If you want to show faeries, the most well-known of the Fae, that they are welcome without risking a debt you can’t pay, making a Faerie Garden is a great Beltane activity. A welcoming area just for them also keeps them from wandering about your home causing mischief and pocketing shiny things.
The Spring Equinox has long been celebrated around the world. Occurring in late March in the Northern Hemisphere and late September in the Southern Hemisphere, the Vernal Equinox is the 1st time in the calendar year that lightness and darkness happen in equal measure in the day. It marks the beginning of the lengthening of daylight as Summer quickly approaches. Celebrated as the first day of Spring the world over, modern Wiccans celebrate this sabbat as Ostara, after a German goddess of the season.
Across cultures and time, the Halloween season has been associated with remembering, honoring, and reflecting on our loved ones and ancestors that have passed on. Samhain is a time for remembering the dead for Wiccans as well. It is our New Year, our last harvest festival, a time when the lines between realms are weak and open. It is a time for celebration, for looking forward to the new year, but it is also a time for reflection. Death is part of the wheel of the year, part of the balance of nature, and Samhain is a time to honor its place in the circle of life.We honor the dead at Samhain because it is the time of death in the wheel of the year. Summer is ending and winter is beginning. Winter is the time the earth is seen as dead. Life and nature are dormant, waiting for new life to be born in Spring. We honor death at this time because we need to respect its place in the wheel of the year. Without death, there is no life. Death is inevitable and transformational. It is not to be feared because it comes for us all. It is due respect and honor, so Samhain is a time to respect and honor death itself.
As a Harvest Sabbat, Mabon is a time to honor the goddesses and gods that are the patrons of agriculture. Some bless agriculture as a whole, some are specific to the harvest, and others have particular focuses such as grain or wine grapes. Pomona, a goddess of the Roman pantheon, is the goddess of fruits and orchards. Unlike most deities of the Roman pantheon, Pomona has no Greek counterpart. She is often associated with Demeter, but while there are similarities, they are not the same. Pomona is not a harvest deity but one of cultivation. She oversees and blesses the growing of orchards, protecting them and helping them flourish. She and her husband Vertumnus had a join festival held around August 13th each year.
Mention witch trials and most people think of Salem, Massachusetts, and Puritans. America wasn’t the only place witches were being hunted and executed, however. One of the most famous – and most deadly – witch trials happened in England in 1612. The Witches of Pendle Forest, as they have come to be called, were ten women and two men who were accused of witchcraft and tried. Also at the trials of 1612 were eight others, the Samlesbury Witches. The aspects of the trial were documented and published, allowing us to have insight into what occurred. The Wonderfull Discoverie of Witches in the Countie of Lancaster, by the clerk of the court Thomas Potts, provides detail that would otherwise be lost to legend and myth
Just as there is no one way to do rituals and spells, there is no set deity in Wicca. Every Witch makes the practice their own, and as such, different Wiccans worship and honor different goddesses and gods. Some Witches honor only the Triple Goddess, in her three forms as Maiden, Mother, and Crone. Some Witches worship both the Goddess and the God, containing multiple aspects that ancient Pagans worshipped as separate deities. Of those, some worship them. Equally, some believe the Goddess holds more power, others the God. Then some Witches worship a pantheon of Goddesses and Gods, taken from early European Pagan worship as well as the religions of ancient Greece, Rome, and Egypt and modern Hindu practice. The God and Goddess are often still a part of that worship, usually as the heads of the pantheon. In Wicca and paganism, choices in divinity are very much for the individual to determine.
One of the most important gods of the Egyptian pantheon, Thoth is the god of writing, magick, wisdom, and the moon. His origin as a god is told two ways. In the lesser told version, he was born of the seed of Horus from the forehead of Set. Horus, the god of Order, and Set, the goddess of Chaos, created a son of equal parts, making Thoth, the god of equilibrium and balance. The more common belief of his origin is that he was self-created. He appeared, an ibis, and laid the egg that hatched Ra which led to all of creation. Some believe he was created through the power of language.