Calling Down the Sun*

May 3rd is World Sun Day. (First designated as Sun Day by Jimmy Carter in 1978.) We all know The Sun is the center of our Universe, but in reality it is much, much more.

The Sun gives Life to all living things here on Earth. Without it nothing would survive. Not only does it keep our planet from becoming one big iceberg, it provides LIGHT – something plants and other organisms require in order to covert light energy into fuel for their metabolism (a process called photosynthesis). Not only does this “fuel” provide necessary nutrients to animals who consume plants, the nutritional benefits are also passed along to animals that eat the herbivores – including we humans.

After I brought Ramses home I found a small patch of ringworm on his chest. It was easily treated and caused no further problems for either of us, but in researching this fungus I discovered that sunlight kills it. Outbreaks of ringworm can be quite common in shelter cats – a consequence of stress and lack of sunlight. Being the highly intelligent creatures they are cats instinctively know that bathing in sunlight not only feels good, it’s good for them, too!

The Sun’s radiant energy is beneficial to people, as well. Such as:

  1. Better Sleep Cycle. Studies show that getting out in the sun could connect your body to its natural circadian rhythm.
  2. Increased Vitamin D. Vitamin D is a major component of building a strong immune system and spending at least 15-30 minutes in the sun a day can give you all the Vitamin D that you need.
  3. Increased Mood. Groups that were more exposed to the sun had more energy, increased mood, and a more positive outlook on life.
  4. Lower Blood Pressure. The sun helps release nitric oxide into the blood which aids in lowering blood pressure and increased heart health.
  5. It just plain feels good!

When thinking of flowers one’s mind naturally turns to the Sunflower (Helianthus). Did you know that young sunflower heads track the sun’s movement? Before blooming, they tilt during the day to face the Sun in order to gain more sunlight for photosynthesis. This is thought to help attract pollinators, as many are more attracted to warm flowers.

Magickally, use the properties of the Sun to help lend energy to the following intents: Eenlightenment, generosity, spirituality, health, vitality, joy, positivity, creativity, and friendship. Metaphysically, its color is yellow and its stone is the sunstone, which is a stone of ABUNDANCE.

Sunstone creates an inner fire that vanquishes any unwanted power others hold over you.
It is a stone of self-love and confidence.

Goddesses associated with the Sun: Brigid (Celtic), Hathor (Egyptian), Medusa (Greek), Sekhmet (Egyptian), Sól/Sunna (Nordic), and Bast (Egyptian).

Tarot of Vampyres

Lord of the Fire of the World
Planetary Trump of the Sun; ruled by Leo
Father Archetype
Vitality, Joy, Creativity, Spirituality, Pride, Self-confidence, Personal power, Abundance

Resources:
Amazing Facts About the Sun
Daily Tarot::The Sun
Health Benefits of Being in the Sun
Helianthus
Midsummer Ritual: Calling Down the Sun
Sun Goddesses
4.20.2022: The Sun is Vibrating!
What on Earth is a Sunstone?
Wikipedia

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*A ritual celebrated on June 21st (Litha on the Wiccan Wheel of the Year).

Baguette Magique

Witches have a built-in wand: their pointer finger. Most times that’s all I use. However, when I was up in Northern California I took advantage of the abundance of oak trees around the property and fashioned a wand out of an oak branch. Looks kinda like a long, bony finger, doesn’t it?

I sanded it down until it was smooth and added some black leather cord for decoration. In the future, I may inscribe it with something or add a crystal, but right now I like its simplicity. Earlier that morning, Diego had, quite by accident, sliced my arm with a rear paw, so I annointed the wand by depositing a bit of my blood in this small crevice (the reddish color has since faded away).

Even though the blood was mine, I feel Diego’s energy in the wand as well as my own.

There grows a gigantic oak tree in Gragnano, Italy which, legend has it, was a meeting place for witches who “danced and celebrated their rites on its top” – allowing for the tree’s odd, flattened shape: Quercia delle streghe (“Oak of the Witches”).

Oak trees were sacred to the Druids and are metaphysically connected to the planet Mars. Oak is one of the triad of Celtic magickal trees and the Irish maintain the oak is one of the Five Magic Trees of Ireland.

A Magickal Wand possesses masculine energy and is associated with the element of Fire. It can be used to cast circles, channel energy, in ritual invocations, or to “draw down the moon”. (See Accoutrements)

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Magick.

What does the word Magick conjure up for you?

A Sorcerer summoning a demon?

Morgan la Fay weaving an enchanted robe with which to kill her half-brother, King Arthur?

Native American shamanism?

Invoking the sea gods?

A voodoo doll?

Hermione practicing her craft at Hogwarts?

But there’s more to Magick than just the supernatural stuff. Magick can be a perfect souffle or book that captures your imagination. There’s the magick of childhood – the wonder of experiencing everything for the very first time.

Magic is moments that define so much
you feel that you have no words to express the feelings.

– Shruti Ghosh

Magick is music that gives you goosebumps…

Relationships can be magickal. Sitting down to write a poem, letter, or post and having the words flow effortlessly – that’s Magick! Chrismastime, running into a childhood friend, Practical Magic AND Bell, Book and Candle (OK, both movies are about witchcraft but that doesn’t make them any less MAGICKAL.), a warm Summer night, kinetic energy created by a storm, the smell of the air after it’s rained, NATURE

For some, a forest can be a magickal place.

Others find enchantment beneath the ocean

or in a sunset.

There’s Magick in the air when the first crocuses appear

and in the transformation of caterpillar to butterfly.

The Magick of nature is all around us. In every living thing. The Magick of LIFE never ceases to amaze and humble me all at the same time.

A tomato plant growing out of a sidewalk crack.

A tiny begonia Magickally appearing out of nowhere.

Steve.

Magick is believing that anything is possible.


This Post started with one at Apartment Therapy: “Instead of a Resolution, Consider Adopting a Word of the Year.” I had several in mind but MAGICK was the word I awoke with this morning…

I grounded myself and gave thanks for all that I have and all the MAGICK in the world around me – and inside me. I asked that I embrace it, nurture it, and grow it. Now, let’s go back to the Tarot card seen at the beginning of this Post.

Before I do a read I cleanse my deck in incense smoke. Today I used Dragon’s Blood. I noticed that the card at the bottom was The Priestess. This happens from time to time, but not often, and I normally ignore it. I didn’t have any question to ask so I shuffled and cut the cards thrice like normal; however, before I had a chance to perform that third cut one card stuck up from the deck. When this occurs it’s a sign to pull that card – which is what I did. That card was The Priestess.

The Priestess is the Planetary Trump of the Moon and is the Number 2 card in the Major Arcana. Major Arcana (Trump cards) represent life lessons, karmic influences, and archetypal energies that are affecting you right now. The Number 2 symbolizes duality, balance, and wisdom; and in Numerology it represents a supremely feminine force with the strongest intuition.

The Vampyre Priestess wears a silver headpiece adorned with the sign of the Triple Goddess: the three phases of the Moon. The quiver of arrows at her back links her to the Roman Goddess Diana, patroness of hunters, crossroads, the underworld, and the Moon. Diana is also considered an aspect of the Triple Goddess. At the Vampyress’ neck is a black lace choker studded with one black stone. Her pale dress is patterned with images of NATURE: Birds, snakes, flowers, and butterflies. Except for her blood-red lips, she is void of color. Black is her hair, eyes, fingernails, the ribbon embellishing her gown, and the coiled serpent armpiece. A lit black candle rests beside her while a black book (dripping with blood) levitates before her, its pages waiting to be filled.

Divine Feminine. Occult talents. Seduction and mystery. Arcane knowledge. Independence. Shamanistic journeys. Psychic power. Dreams and the unconscious.

The Priestess (feminine) balances The Magician (male). Together they represent Yin-Yang: The seemingly opposite forces that are complementary, interconnected, and interdependent in the natural world, and how they give rise to each other as they interrelate to one another. She is both physically and mentally in tune with the natural world as well as the spiritual world, and is the conduit between the mundane and the sacred.

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Grianstad an Gheimhridh

Yule. The Winter Solstice. In Irish, Grianstad an Gheimhridh. In the Northern Hemisphere it’s the longest night of the year and will occur in the U.S.A. on December 21, 2021 at 7:56am PST.

The 12 days of Yule – which begin on December 21st and last through January 1st – is a time of symbolic rebirth and renewal. Everything about this holiday honors life, light, and hope. The Celts believed the sun stood still during the Winter Solstice. During this time they burned a whole tree in the hearth – the Yule log – which they believed encouraged the sun to move, thus making the days longer. The first 12 days after the Winter Solstice are symbolically associated with the 12 months of the year. Celebrating the return of the light can be done in many ways. It is all about clearing the old and acknowledging a rebirth of awakening energy.

This is a simple ritual that anyone can do at any time, but is especially effective on the longest night of the year.

Burning ceremony
Write down the things you want to let go of on pieces of paper (hurt feelings, lingering grudges, a toxic relationship, or anything else that has been holding you back). Burn each strip one by one, focusing your intention on setting yourself free from these emotional anchors. The “death” of these papers makes way for the “birth” of a more positive future.

Those who have a close connection with nature believe that on the day of the Winter Solstice fate can be changed. Nature herself can assist with this by reviving and starting a new cycle, fulfilling many desires, and enlisting the support of higher powers for the coming year. This is the time when you can radically alter your destiny. The energy of the Winter Solstice supports Magick related to turning points, changes, new beginnings, home and hearth, family relationships, world peace, and personal renewal.

3 of Skulls (Pentacles)
Preparation, self-confidence, teamwork, self-realization, mastering new challenges

Arianrhod was the Celtic Goddess of fertility, rebirth and the weaving of cosmic time and fate. Every living thing in the Universe was a point on her web and was connected on the spiritual plane. Touch any point on the web and all other points were affected. This is similar to the Butterfly Effect: The butterfly effect concept has been used as a broad term for any situation where a small change is supposed to be the cause of larger consequences.

“The card foretells the manifestation of a desire, project, or situation though putting in hard work now, leading to abundant rewards. At this time a harmonic and coherent structure is forming on our behalf – the investment of labor in an external or physical direction will soon be rewarded and our goals will be reached.” [1]


Celebrate Yule by roasting chestnuts while sipping this:

Holiday Nog

Wet the rim of a glass and dip it in cocoa powder
Fill 1/3 full with your favorite red wine
Fill the rest of the glass with good quality eggnog (My favorite brand is Strauss.)
Cheers!

Adapted from this recipe.


Yule Fires

In ancient days the folk of old
When chilled with fright by the winter’s cold,
Did kindle up a great Yule fire
With leaping flames in its’ great pyre
So to entice the waning sun
To rise again and wider run;
Its’ fiery course across the sky
To warm them so they would not die

So we, whose minds now sense a chill
of anger at the evil will
The human conflict, hate and strife
Which holds a menace over the life,
Would kindle up a flame of love
That we within our hearts many move
In Yuletide joy with love embrace
And thus abide in peace and grace

– John G. Mackinnon

Finally, revisit my Post of last December 21st for it contains an important message at the very end.

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[1] Daniels, Ian (2010). Phantasmagoria. Llewellyn Publications. p. 270.

The 13 Esbats

While the eight Sabbats on the Wiccan Wheel of the Year mark the Sun’s path through the seasons, The Moon is the focus of Esbats – where the Triple Goddess is honored.

Waxing phase = Maiden
Full phase = Mother
Waning phase = Crone

There are 13 lunar cycles in a calendar year, peaking at each Full Moon: Wolf Moon (January), Snow Moon (February), Hare Moon (March), Seed Moon (April), Flower Moon (May), Mead Moon (June), Herb Moon (July), Barley Moon (August), Harvest Moon (September), Hunter’s Moon (October), Mourning Moon (November), Oak Moon (December), and a Blue Moon. Blue Moons occur when there are two Full Moons within a solar month, which happens about every 32 months.

Although the Celtic Tree Calendar corresponds to Full Moons, Esbats can be celebrated at any phase of the Moon; although since Esbats honor the Moon festivities should be conducted during nighttime hours. The Celtic Tree Calendar is based on the ogham alphabet and its association with trees, for the Celts believed different kinds of trees served different mystical purposes that helped them through their lives.

Birch (Beth) Moon
Dec 24 – Jan 20
Able to grow where many trees cannot, Birch is often found in groves. It was used to make May Poles and to start the fires at Beltane (May 1st). Birch is associated with purification and protection and brooms were often made from birch twigs.
Rowan (Luis) Moon
Jan 21 – Feb 17
“The Lady of the Mountain” belongs to the rose family. Druids considered it to be one of the most sacred of trees, and the Vikings made runes out of rowan which they would then wear around their necks for protection against sorcery and the evil eye. For similar reasons, rowan trees were often planted near gates and doorways, above doorways, and in barns. Symbolizing new beginnings, it was one of the nine sacred trees burned in Beltan fires.

According to Irish mythology, the first woman was created from the rowan tree.

Ash (Nion) Moon
Feb 18 – Mar 17
Prized for its strength and healing properties, the ash tree belongs to the olive family.

In Ireland the ash is considered one of the “trilogy of sacred trees” (along with oak and hawthorn). Irish mythology showed it had power over water and was often planted near sacred springs (‘cloothe wells’). St. Patrick used a stick made from ash to drive the snakes from Ireland.

Alder (Fearn) Moon
Mar 18 – Apr 14
Alder is a member of the birch family and metaphysically represents a balance between male and female energies. The Druids not only associated it with courage, but also linked it to death and resurrection.

In parts of Ireland it was considered a crime to cut down an alder tree, possibly because its wood turns from white to blood-red (due to the color of its sap) when felled. Irish mythology holds that the first human was created from the alder tree.

Willow (Saille) Moon
Apr 15 – May 12
Willow is sacred to the Celts, as well as the ancient Greeks. In Greek mythology it is associated with the Goddesses of the Underworld: Hekate, Circe, Persephone, and Hera. In Celtic mythology willow is connected to the death goddesses: Badb, Cailleach Bheur, Morrigan, and Rhiannon. Placing willow inside and outside a dwelling protects against the evil eye, and wearing willow leaves will protect one from jealousy.

I use White Willow Bark as a natural pain and inflammation reliever. It contains salicin which converts into salicylic acid (aspirin) when oxidized in the body.

Hawthorne (Huathe) Moon
May 13 – Jun 9
Hawthorne is known in Ireland as the “fairy tree”. Even today, it is considered extremely bad luck to cut one down, remove branches, or (except at Beltane) even hang things upon it.
Oak (Duir) Moon
Jun 10 – Jul 7
The “King of the Forest” is another tree sacred to the Druids. It is revered for its strength and longevity. Even when struck by lightening oak will continue to thrive. It is connected to the movements of the planet Mars.

An oak was thought to be one of the Five Magic Trees of Ireland.

Holly (Tinne) Moon
Jul 8 – Aug 4
Celtic mythology holds that holly was the evergreen twin of the oak – while the oak governed the light half of the year holly controlled the dark, wintry months. Like the oak it is lightening-resistant. The Druids believed holly possessed protective qualities which could guard against evil spirits and witchcraft. Although cuttings were permitted, it is unlucky to chop down a holly tree.

Except to birds (where they serve as a winter food source), the berries are poisonous.

Hazel (Coll) Moon
Aug 5 – Sep 1
Hazel is the tree found at the center of the Underworld (World’s End). In Celtic mythology nine magical hazel trees hung over the sacred Well of Wisdom, dropping their nuts into the well. The water of the Well flows into streams where the (now magical) nuts are eaten by the Salmon of Wisdom. Therefore, those who consume either the (magical) nuts or the fish are said to gain prophetic abilities.

In Ireland, the hazel tree is guarded by Bile Ratha.

Vine (Muin) Moon
Sep 2 – Sep 29
Vine is one of the sacred woods used in Beltane fires and represented joy and happiness, which is why it’s known as “The Tree of Joy”. Both the bramble vine (which is native to Northern Europe) and the grape vine represent the Vine on the Celtic Tree Calendar.

Grape vines reached the shores of Ireland about 2000 years ago when the Romans introduced wine and Viking traders would bring the drink to the Emerald Isle. It was the monasteries who began cultivating grapes vines in both Ireland and the British Isles.

Ivy (Gort) Moon
Sep 30 – Oct 27
The Druids believed ivy to be quite powerful – and sinister. It is a symbol of strength and determination.

In old Ireland ivy was thought to provide protection from evil when growing on or near a dwelling. However, if it should die or fall down misfortune would fall upon those that dwelt within.

Reed (Ngetal)
Oct 28 – Nov 23
Reed gained its reputation as a protective tree from its use as a thatch for rooftops. For this reason, it’s been made into talismans and charms to protect the wearer from evil. Druids also used it to craft writing implements and paper. In Celtic mythology, the reed is associated with Brigid and St. Brigid’s crosses are still traditionally woven from reed.
Elder (Ruis) Moon
Nov 24 – Dec 22
Elderflower wine is consumed at Beltane celebrations, while elderberry wine is drunk at Samhain (to promote divination. (I love Elderflower liqueur.) During the spread of Christianity elder became associated with witches.

A sacred tree in Ireland, it was forbidden to cut an elder tree down.

December 23rd is an extra day, signifying the “Day of Creation”, and is not ruled by any tree.

What Witches Do: The Esbats
The Sacred Tree Calendar of the Celtic People
What does your Celtic Tree Astrology say about you?

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