The Goddesses of Death

Death and dying are morbid subjects, but, as we know, summer is drawing to a close and Autumn heralds the coming of Winter in the  Northern Hemisphere. (On the other hand, it is greening-up in the Southern Hemisphere, so now is the time to head to Australia.) The days grow shorter and colder.  The grass begins to die. The leaves begin to turn. The last of the harvest is gathered before it rots in the fields, and seasonal decorations remind us that Halloween (Samhain, see previous post), and the Day of the Dead, and the High Holy Days are coming. (I will get to these last two later.) We’re all… Read More

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The Old Gods and the New

As Warner Bros. did for Classical Music, and Tolkien and Marvel Comics did for Norse mythology, so George R.R. Martin did for Greek, Irish and Celtic mythology by providing us with a sort-of primer of the Old Gods and the New as described in the HBO series “Game of Thrones.”  The Old Gods: The “Old Gods” were the spirits of untamed nature: trees, fire, the sun, the night, the sea, ice and snow, life and death, etc., etc., etc. In Greek mythology, they were similar to the pre-Olympic Titans, Titanesses, river-gods, mountain gods, and nymphs. In Celtic and Irish mythology, they were similar to the “Fomoire,” or Fomorians.  The Old… Read More

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The Pagan’s Guide to Samhain, Part Two

The Pagan’s Guide to Samhain, Part Two Theoretically, in the Afterlife, Time has no meaning, and the beings who dwell there are thought to be in touch with the past, the present and the future. And since the Veil is very thin at the time of the year when Death transitions into Life (Beltane) and Life transitions into Death (Samhain), the Dead are thought to be able to use that time to communicate with the Living and tell us the future. Therefore, divination (communication with those who reside in the Afterlife) plays a prominent role at Samhain, and most of that divining has to do with good luck, bad luck,… Read More

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The Pagan’s Guide to Samhain, Part One

The Pagan’s Guide to Samhain, Part One Samhain, which looks like it should be pronounced “Sam Hane” but is pronounced “Sow-hen,” means the “End of Summer.” It takes place six weeks after the Autumn Equinox (Mabon) and six weeks before the Winter Solstice (Yule.) Essentially, it is the same thing as Halloween, which is the smooched-up name for “All Hallow’s Eve.” The ancient Celts thought of it as the end of the Old Year and the beginning of the New Year, or “that place between Life and Death. “Historically, Samhain was observed by the ancient Irish, the ancient Scots, the ancient Manx (people of the Isle of Man), the Welsh,… Read More

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The Pagan’s Guide to Mabon

Mabon is the second autumn harvest holiday in the Wheel of the Year. It takes place at the Autumnal Equinox, when the days and nights are of equal length, around September 21st, which, to the Muggles, is considered the First Day of Autumn. HISTORY OF MABON:Even though people around the world have celebrated the equinoxes for probably tens of thousands of years, the term “Mabon” has only been used in connection with the Autumnal Equinox since 1970 when Aidan Kelly wrote about Mabon ap (“the son of”) Modron, who were two characters from Welsh mythology and part of the Arthurian legend. Mabon means “the Great Son” and his mother Modron… Read More

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The Pagan’s Guide to Lammas

The Pagan’s Guide to Lammas You remember I said that Lughnasadh was celebrated by the Irish, the Scots, the Manx, the Celts, the Gaels, the Neopagans and the Wiccans but not the English? That’s because instead, the English celebrated Lammas, which is also on August 1, (and is pronounced “Lamb Ass” not “Lame Ass.”) But, even though both Lughnasadh and Lammas are celebrated on the same day and both celebrate the first harvest, they’re not exactly the same thing. The festival of Lughnasadh, as you may recall, means “Lugh’s Assembly.” Lugh was the studly Irish craft-god of the Tuatha de Danann and Lughnasadh started off as a funeral game to… Read More

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The Pagan’s Guide to Lughnasadh

The Pagan’s Guide to Lughnasadh The harvest holiday of Lughnasadh (pronounced “leh-nassa”) is celebrated on or around August I (which is a Wednesday this year) in the Northern Hemisphere, and around February 2nd in the Southern Hemisphere. It is halfway between the Summer Solstice (Litha) and the Autumnal Equinox (Mabon.) It was or is still celebrated by the Irish, Scots, Manx (the people of the Isle of Man, not the Manx cat because cats really don’t give a shit about the holidays), Celts, Gaels, Neopagans and Wiccans (but not the English) as a time of feasting, county fairs, competitions, contracts, making laws, and hand-fasting, which is a ritual binding two… Read More

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The Pagan’s Guide to Litha

The Summer Solstice, called “Litha” by Wiccans and Neopagans, is on June 21st this year. In the Northern Hemisphere, it is the longest day and the shortest night of the year. (Conversely, in the Southern Hemisphere, June 21st has the longest night and the shortest day of the year.) It is one of the four days of the year that have been celebrated ever since people started noticing that one day was very short (the Winter Solstice), one day the light and darkness were of equal length (the Spring Equinox), one day was very long (the Summer Solstice), and that the light and night darkness were again of equal length… Read More

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The Pagan’s Guide to a Lithan Barbecue

This year, Litha (the Summer Solstice) falls on Thursday, June 21, which does not lend itself well to celebrations or revelry since most people have to work on Friday. But if you are planning to have a Lithan Barbecue, you might want to have one on June 17th, the weekend before the Summer Solstice, to link it to Father’s Day (particularly useful if you have men around), or wait until the weekend after the Summer Solstice, on June 23-24th. Either way, you’ll still have lost only a few seconds of daylight, and you’ll still have a very long day to work with, because Litha is the longest day of the… Read More

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The Pagan’s Guide to Non-Pagan Holidays: Memorial Day

Memorial Day is the day that the federal government has decided that we should honor the people who died in service to our country, whether they did so in the Revolutionary War, the many Indian Wars, the War of 1812, the Mexican-American War, the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, the Philippine-American War, the First World War, the Second World War, the Korean War, the War in Vietnam, the Gulf War, the War in Bosnia, the War in Kosovo, the War in Iraq, the War in Afghanistan, the War in Somalia, the War in Yemen, and the many other military operations where we have played a part. That’s why so many… Read More

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