Clans were gathering now, in the bright, long days which made travel easy
and left little to do but wait upon Nature to produce the harvest. So the
clanmoot was a feature of the Summer, often scheduled to include Midsummer,
the longest day. At this time justice was done, marriages performed, property
realotted, warriors exhibited feats of skill and strength, and families
caught up with one another's births and milestones, as the whole Clan shared
the winter's news.
to the Summer Quarter
Summer's bounty is bursting forth, and the land is
rich with abundant life. Now the Lord and Lady revel in the fields of flowers
and grain, and the earth is warm and rich . The alignments of the season
are south and southwest, and the correspondences are fire of fire ( the
sun's heat and brightness), fire of air (the rich scent of growing things),
fire of earth ( the ripe gold of wheat, red and orange of tomatoes and
peppers and flowers), and water of fire ( warm rains and thunderstorms).
Colours of the season are all rich primary colours, especially reds and
golds and bright greens. Our bodies are energized and vigorous, yet we
crave fruits and salads and other foods full of moisture to replace that
which we lose to the heat. Citrus fruits are ripe and juicy, as are melons
and berries and peaches, all fruits which used only to be available in
the summer and are still special in that season. And for honor of the Corn
God, corn on the cob is a big favourite in the United States, as are the
barbecued meats which used, before the time of cultivated food animals,
to be roasted oxen and sheep, or deer, slaughtered to feed multitudes gathered
together in memory of the sacrifice of the God.
The God is a man now, flush with power, reveling in the beauty of the Lady
and working with strength and vigor to tend the Land. At the peak of Summer,
He voluntarily gives his Sovereignty to Her, so that He may reign as Sacred
King and ensure the fertility of the Land and the bounty of the Harvest.
urban Witch shares in the revelry begun so many centuries ago, when vacations
are planned and family reunions are held. Tending the garden becomes a
pleasure as things are growing lustily, needing little care but weed and
bug control. Camping and hiking are popular pastimes, affording oppportunities
to gather herbs, stones, sacred woods and other natural objects for the
year's magical workings. This is the season of Fire, and workings aligned
to the South are likely to be successful at this time. Seek a relationship,
embark on creative activities such as sculpture, writing, music making,
leatherworking. Do spellwork requiring strength of Will and courage.This
is the season to seek out a magical knife ( athame) and bless it under
the Full Moon of Oak or the Midsummer Sun. It is a good time to settle
tasks and situations left undone, where the application of the Will can
bring a successful outcome.
MOON - UATH
Traditionally, the hawthorne is called the Mayblossom, and
the Hawthorne Moon usually falls in the month of May, always before the
Summer Solstice. The tree's blossoms carry a scent of female sexuality,
which, combined with the long and vicious thorns, gives the tree the mythic
significance of the "maiden in the bower", and represents the contrasting
energies of restraint and allure. Traditionally, marriages were not celebrated
in May, and it was considered unlucky to have sexual intercourse...like
so many other folk beliefs, this one is based on practical concerns, namely
the need for energy reserved for the work of planting time, and the reimposition
of societal order after the license permitted at Bealteine. Children conceived
in this season would be born in midwinter and have little chance to live,
so the restraint had another practical function.
Magically, the hawthorne represents the energies of self-restraint, voluntary
cleansing, purification. The Tarot Card of the Hanged Man has a similar
energy...a time of preparation, waiting for things to develop. Magical
actions during this moon include lucid dreaming, self-blessing, "cutting"
rituals from bad habits or useless situations, perhaps unsavory associations.
Also a good time for making charms of protection, such as witch-bottles.
Moonwater made at this time will be very powerful for scrying, especially
in concerns involving relationships.
The letter "h" which begins the word "huath" in Irish is an indicator,
not a phoneme...its purpose is to indicate a change in the pronunciation
of the letters which surround it. Likewise the hawthorne's magickal energy
is that of an indicator of change..a warning or caution to look closely
and not rush into things, keeping oneself apart to process, or perhaps
to separate oneself from a situation and focus on it from afar.
of the Summer Solstice
heather is another 'station', a tree which represents a day, not a month.
It is the tree of the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year. The
sweet purple or pink blossoms of a field of heather can scent the air for
several miles, giving off a heady aroma which actually has the ability
to soothe the nerves and cure migraine headaches and nervous complaints.
Bees are said to find their routes from the hive to the heather plant by
using the angle of the sun, and are associated both with the heather and
the Summer Solstice because of the magical change they make in the nectar
of the plant, producing honey.
Sun King at solstice is in the height of his power, but changes magickally,
giving his strength to nurture the land. Indeed, the White Heather is a
symbol of the God's protection against acts of passion, which references
back to the maiden restraint and purity of the preceding Hawthorne Moon.
Therefore the Heather plant is sacred to the Goddess of Love, whose symbol
for the Celts was a honeybee. The letter is "Ura". which is the word for
heather and also the representation of 'U', the central vowel in the Irish
alphabet...just as Solstice is the center of the year. The colour of the
tree is "Usghda" or "resin-coloured"...the colour of honey. So the energy
of the day is "inner sweetness"..as the nectar is hidden at the center
of theblossom, and the honey at the center of the comb, and the blooming
of sunmmer at the center of the year, so does the energy of the Heather
invoke the inner sweetness of the self and the inner magickal life.
is the festival of Midsummer, when the King of the Land gives his power
willingly over to the Lady, relinquishing His sovereignty that the Sun
may begin to wane and the harvest ripen. Traditional lore speaks of the
Oak King and the Holly King, rulers respectively of the Light and Dark
halves of the year, and of their struggle for supremacy in a never-ending
round where one repeatedly gives way to the other.The Sun moves from Gemini,
whose duality represents the Two-faced God of the waxing and waning year,
to Cancer, the Lady's sign, sign of Water, representative of the cooling
and wetter weather which must occur for the harvest to be rich.The length
of the day had been increasing since Spring Equinox, until now, in the
northernmost provinces, the light was only gone from the Earth for five
or six hours.
the Celtic World, the cattle and sheep were fat with good grain, and the
fields were rich with barley and oats to grind into flour.The people rested
and feasted around the Midsummer bonfires, knowing the remainder of the
growing season was in the hands of the Lady and the Lord.
today, the Summer Solstice is the traditional time for gathering the folk
together. Covens and groves which have hived return to the Mother Coven
at Midsummer, to see old friends and teachers and to celebrate the ongoing
family ties which bind them. The practice of family reunions is another
ancient folk custom which has transmuted itself into modern practice.
alignment of the season is South and Southwest, and the directional correspondences
are fire, fire of water ( warm rains and heavy, moist air ), fire of earth
(ripe berries. vegetables and fruits), and earth of fire ( ripe grain).
urban Witch does many of the same activities the ancestors did at this
season...outdoor living, tending ripening crops in the garden, visiting
relatives, remodeling and home repair to take advantage of the good weather.
Magickally, we work in alignment with the Oak King, who voluntarily relinquishes
His throne, becoming
thereby more able to understand the inner realities which structure His
life. Magick at this season is about the other half of the witche's blade,
the soul searching which is a necessary part of developing use of the Will
which is in line with the Rede. Dreamwork, inner trance meditations, relinquishment
of ideas, habits or associates which hinder growth, are all magical acts
which are in tune with the season, one of change of focus, of realignment,
Man by firesilk
MOON - DUIR
word "Duir" which is the Irish Gaelic for the month of the Oak, is the
same word which is the root of the English word "door." And this month
is a gateway, a doorway to the second half of the year as well as an avatar
of changes in mundane reality. Mythically, the Oak King, the Lord of the
Waxing Year, relinquishes his domain to the Tanist, the Holly King, Lord
of the Waning Year. The sun's path begins to decline in the Northern Hemisphere,
making the days shorter and cooling temperatures so that the growing crops
will ripen gently, not scorch and burn. The energy of the month is not
only "change", but often "reversal", reminding us that a door opens both
ways. The "door" of Duir, for a Witch, is the "doorway to the mysteries",
the place where the oldest wisdom is to be obtained.
physical characteristics of the Oak lend themselves to symbolic interpretation;
the acorn from which the oak grows is a tiny seed which slowly and over
many years produces one of the largest trees in the forest, which is a
metaphor for the growth of wisdom; the wood of the Oak is among the strongest
and most enduring of all woods, resisting corruption for centuries, as
does truth; and the leaves, bark, acorns and ground sawdust of the oak
may be used medicinally to cure various ailments, reinforcing the magickal
idea of protection and wisdom.
deity most closely associated with the Oak for the Celts was the Daghda,
the "good God" who was the Father of the other Gods and whose legends bespeak
great strength, sexual prowess, and the provision of never-ending bounty.
It is interesting that the Old Irish spelling of his name, as above, is
pronounced "Dada" like the child's word for "Father"...and in America and
some other Western countries, Father's Day falls in the Oak month.
Witch's journey in the Oak month is about "Strength and Protection", like
the feeling we have when we are safely behind a solid oaken door. Magic
to strengthen psychic defenses, erect wards around people or places, and
search the inner mysteries under the protection of the Oak King, the Father
God, are all successful during this month. Making of amulets and shields,
or blessing one's own physical space against intruders, theft or other
ill doings are also magics for this time.
MOON - TINNE
The Holly Moon is the mirror-image of the Oak Moon,
following it and representing the second face of the Two-Faced God. Where
the Oak Lord is protecting, wise, sheltering, like a "door", the Holly
King is a "battle-waging spear," the fiery male force which brings direct
action, conflict at its fiercest. The tree which was originally the symbol
of this month was the Holly-Oak, or Holme-Oak, "the evergreen twin of the
ordinary oak". ( Robert Graves) It
was the symbolic tree of the Tanist, the heir-apparent to the King of the
Land, whose symbol was the Oak, and the blood-red dye produced by the flowers
of the holly-oak represents the custom that the heir was also the executioner
of the Sacral King.
The energy of this moon is "Direct Action", like the straight shafts of
the holly bush, which were strong enough for the Celts to use them as spears.
The letter "t" in old Irish script is the shape of a spear, and the Tanist
carried the spear with which he took the life of the Year King as a willing
sacrifice. And during the Holly month, we celebrate the Sabbat of Lughnasadh,
which is the wake of Lugh, the Sun King, who dies for the land at harvest
In alignment with the energy of the moon, the urban witch realigns things
during this moon, performing the sacrifice and regeneration of the God
within hir own mundane and spiritual life. As the door opened upon the
mysteries during the preceding month. so the Holly Moon brings actual suggestion
of direct action needed to attain spiritual goals. Workings of cleansing,
making of magickal defenses or weapons, dealing with confrontation and
loss, tend to hapen during this month. As well, there is work of harvesting,
cutting away old growth in the garden, mulching, and other mundane activities
which reinforce the symbol of loss that will ultimately produce gain.
the sign of Leo, lion of summer's heat, gives way to Virgo, the woman who
harvests the grain, as the God gives his life to the Goddess. The directional
alignment of the season turns from South to southwest, and the correspondences
are water of fire, for the thunderstorms which often follow the harvest,
earth, for the harvested crops, and earth of fire, for the stubble and
dry land which is left in the wake of the harvest. The Witch begins to
"harvest" the results of earlier magicks, assessing the year and finding
the last things to finish before the year draws to a close at Samhain.
The festival of Lughnasadh is both a celebration and a valediction, and
we find ourselves remembering things which commenced in the spring, sometimes
with joy at their success, and sometimes with sorrow as we let them go.
Photo by Elizabeth Stevens, KS
The God, Lugh the Sun King, has willingly given his
life to the Goddess to preserve the land. Lughnasadh, also called Lammas
( loaf mass) is the first Harvest Festival, the celebration of the reaping
of the grain, which is the body of the God. The ancient Celts made huge
bonfires ( "bone fires") on the hills in honor of the death of the God
and the waning of the year. During the festival of reaping, men and boys
tried feats of strength with one another, including daring contests with
swinging scythes, whose losing competitor might also find himself short
an ear or finger.
In modern society, Lammas season is also the time of the county or State
Fair, the time when the fruits, vegetables, grains and animals raised throughout
the year are exhibited, and the cooking and baking which is created from
these ingredients vies for prizes. The Teltown Games in Ireland were the
first such fair, named after the mythic mother of Lugh, the Goddess Taltiu.
During the games races, contests of strength and skill, and the baking
and cooking contests we know in American fairs, all take place to commemorate
Lugh, who was called the Many-Skilled ( Samildanach) and was good at everything.
"Teltown marriages" which last a year and a day, to be dissolved by mutual
consent at the same place they were solemnized, are another reminder of
the constant flux of the cycle of the year.
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