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Marking Midwinter’s day, Pagan beliefs – Gods the Goddess of the winter solstice

Midwinters day 2016 Nigel Borrington

Midwinters day 2016
Nigel Borrington

Today is Mid winters day or the Winter Solstice.

History and cultural significance

The solstice itself may have been a special moment of the annual cycle of the year even during neolithic times. Astronomical events, which during ancient times controlled the mating of animals, sowing of crops and metering of winter reserves between harvests, show how various cultural mythologies and traditions have arisen. This is attested by physical remains in the layouts of late Neolithic and Bronze Age archaeological sites, such as Stonehenge in Britain and Newgrange in Ireland. The primary axes of both of these monuments seem to have been carefully aligned on a sight-line pointing to the winter solstice sunrise (Newgrange) and the winter solstice sunset (Stonehenge). Significant in respect of Stonehenge is the fact that the Great Trilithon was erected outwards from the centre of the monument, i.e., its smooth flat face was turned towards the midwinter Sun.

2016-novembers-last-sunset-kilkenny-ireland-nigel-borrington

The winter solstice may have been immensely important because communities were not certain of living through the winter, and had to be prepared during the previous nine months. Starvation was common during the first months of the winter, January to April (northern hemisphere) or July to October (southern hemisphere), also known as “the famine months”. In temperate climates, the midwinter festival was the last feast celebration, before deep winter began. Most cattle were slaughtered so they would not have to be fed during the winter, so it was almost the only time of year when a supply of fresh meat was available. The majority of wine and beer made during the year was finally fermented and ready for drinking at this time. The concentration of the observances were not always on the day commencing at midnight or at dawn, but the beginning of the pre-Romanized day, which falls on the previous eve.

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Since the event is seen as the reversal of the Sun’s ebbing presence in the sky, concepts of the birth or rebirth of sun gods have been common and, in cultures using winter solstice based cyclic calendars, the year as reborn has been celebrated with regard to life-death-rebirth deities or new beginnings such as Hogmanay’s redding, a New Year cleaning tradition. Also reversal is yet another usual theme as in Saturnalia’s slave and master reversals.

Midwinters day 2013 CAILLEACH BHEUR

CAILLEACH BHEUR : The Celtic Goddess of winter

CAILLEACH BHEUR : Scottish, Irish, Manx, Great Goddess in her Destroyer aspect; called “Veiled One”. Another name is Scota, from which Scotland comes. In parts of Britain she is the Goddess of Winter. She was an ancient Goddess of the pre-Celtic peoples of Ireland. She controlled the seasons and the weather; and was the goddess of earth and sky, moon and sun.

Other Gods

Saturn (Roman): Every December, the Romans threw a week-long celebration of debauchery and fun, called Saturnalia in honor of their agricultural god, Saturn. Roles were reversed, and slaves became the masters, at least temporarily. This is where the tradition of the Lord of Misrule originated

Alcyone (Greek): Alcyone is the Kingfisher goddess. She nests every winter for two weeks, and while she does, the wild seas become calm and peaceful.

Ameratasu (Japan): In feudal Japan, worshipers celebrated the return of Ameratasu, the sun goddess, who slept in a cold, remote cave. When the other gods woke her with a loud celebration, she looked out of the cave and saw an image of herself in a mirror. The other gods convinced her to emerge from her seclusion and return sunlight to the universe.

Baldur (Norse): Baldur is associated with the legend of the mistletoe. His mother, Frigga, honored Baldur and asked all of nature to promise not to harm him. Unfortunately, in her haste, Frigga overlooked the mistletoe plant, so Loki – the resident trickster – took advantage of the opportunity and fooled Baldur’s blind twin, Hodr, into killing him with a spear made of mistletoe. Baldur was later restored to life.

Bona Dea (Roman): This fertility goddess was worshiped in a secret temple on the Aventine hill in Rome, and only women were permitted to attend her rites. Her annual festival was held early in December.

Demeter (Greek): Through her daughter, Persephone, Demeter is linked strongly to the changing of the seasons and is often connected to the image of the Dark Mother in winter. When Persephone was abducted by Hades, Demeter’s grief caused the earth to die for six months, until her daughter’s return.

Dionysus (Greek): A festival called Brumalia was held every December in honor of Dionysus and his fermented grape wine. The event proved so popular that the Romans adopted it as well in their celebrations of Bacchus.

Holly King (British/Celtic): The Holly King is a figure found in British tales and folklore. He is similar to the Green Man, the archetype of the forest. In modern Pagan religion, the Holly King battles the Oak King for supremacy throughout the year. At the winter solstice, the Holly King is defeated.

Horus (Egyptian): Horus was one of the solar deities of the ancient Egyptians. He rose and set every day, and is often associated with Nut, the sky god. Horus later became connected with another sun god, Ra.

La Befana (Italian): This character from Italian folklore is similar to St. Nicholas, in that she flies around delivering candy to well-behaved children in early January. She is depicted as an old woman on a broomstick, wearing a black shawl.

Lord of Misrule (British): The custom of appointing a Lord of Misrule to preside over winter holiday festivities actually has its roots in antiquity, during the Roman week of Saturnalia.

Mithras (Roman): Mithras was celebrated as part of a mystery religion in ancient Rome. He was a god of the sun, who was born around the time of the winter solstice and then experienced a resurrection around the spring equinox.

Odin (Norse): In some legends, Odin bestowed gifts at Yuletide upon his people, riding a magical flying horse across the sky. This legend may have combined with that of St. Nicholas to create the modern Santa Claus.


The Light Bringer , a Poem by : Jude Kyrie

Irish landscape photography Nigel Borrington

Irish Landscape
Nigel Borrington

The darkness of forever
a mantle that shrouds the earth
timeless stars cascade the bejeweled heavens

The silent stillness of all time
pervades the night sky

The light bringer in his infinite vigil
stands alone a silent sentry
lighting his planets one by one

Two lovers sleep in the blessed stillness
in cushions of clouds below the moon,
His starlight falls upon them
like a sweet gentle rain

Bestowing upon them
the gifts of his purest light
from the farthest
reaches of his universe.

On the earth below
lovers woo and maidens dream
as they have always been
bathing in its magical mist

Bringer of Light

The light bringer watches them
he sees the lovers share a kiss
believing they would capture each fleeting moment
preserve it forever in their memories

But their time was as a grain of sand
the deserts of time belong to him


Water – a life giving element

Water the flow of life

Water, giver of life

Water, is a great necessity, without it nothing can live. Only earth and water can bring forth a living soul. Such is the greatness of water that spiritual regeneration cannot be done without it.

Thales of Miletus concluded that water was the beginning of all things and the first of all elements and most potent because of its mastery over the rest. Pliny said “Water swallow up the earth, extinguishes the flame, ascends on high, and by stretching forth as clouds challenges the heavens for their own, and the same falling down, becomes the cause of all things that grow in the earth.

Water is a cleansing, healing, psychic, and loving element. It is the feeling of friendship and love that pours over us when we are with our family, friends and loved ones. When we swim it is water that supports us, when we are thirsty, it is water the quenches our thirst, another manifestation of this element is the rainstorms that drench us, or the dew formed on plants after the sun has set.

The power of the energy of Water, can be felt by tasting pure spring water, moving you hand through a stream, lake, pool, or bowl full of water. You can feel its cool liquidity; it’s soft and loving touch, this motion and fluidity is the quality of Air within Water. This Water energy is also contained within ourselves, our bodies being mostly composed of Water.

As well as being vital for life, within the energy of this element is contained the essence of love. Love is the underlying reason for all magic. Water is love.

Water is a feminine element, it also the element of emotion and subconscious, of purification, intuition, mysteries of the self, compassion and family. It is psychic ability; water can be used as a means of scrying or as an object for meditation. Water is important in spells and rituals of friendship, marriage, happiness, fertility, healing, pleasure, psychic abilities and spells involving mirrors.

Water the giver of life

The Element Water and its Natural Qualities

The Element of Water is a heavy, passive element and is contrary to Fire. It is associated with the qualities of darkness, thickness and motion.


Gods our Sun and its Autonomy, a Poem.

Autonomy of the Sun  Landscape Photography : Nigel Borrington

Autonomy of the Sun
Landscape Photography : Nigel Borrington

Last Night I sat down and wrote my first Poem for a while, I was sorting through some Landscape Images and found a collection that I took earlier in the year.

These images are all taken Directly into the Sun, I love to play with the effects that the sun can create in a lens.

The subject of the sun in images I also find very inspiring, its our very life force and has fascinated mankind through out our long history, in both art and all the many religions we have followed.

Sometimes I feel that to use your eyes and clear your mind and just look at the landscape in front of you, on a clear day to just look up and the sun is freedom itself ! . In these moments there is no confusion of religion or even Science, Just yourself standing and looking at the world around you !!

black and white challenge 6

Gods our Sun and it’s Autonomy

As a single cloud floats by and winds coerce,
I desire alone the Sun to have such might and force.

When Gods Command the ageless trees,
a boundless cosmos is all I ask for to see.

Not simply the power of a signal God alone,
But infinite forgiving universal love,
contained forever within time and space.

A completely cosmic power,
open to all and with in the grasp of my simple mind,
open and without fear of a hidden world.

As the Stars stride through horizons and winds twist forests trees,
I only plead to be just as free.

Black and white challenge 1


The Elements : Water.

The elements , Water Landscape Photography : Nigel Borrington

The elements , Water
Landscape Photography : Nigel Borrington

The Pagan element of Water and the pagan Irish Goddess : Boann and the Irish God : Nechtan

Water, is of a great necessity, without it nothing can live. Only earth and water can bring forth a living soul. Such is the greatness of water that spiritual regeneration cannot be done without it.

Thales of Miletus concluded that water was the beginning of all things and the first of all elements and most potent because of its mastery over the rest. Pliny said “Water swallow up the earth, extinguishes the flame, ascends on high, and by stretching forth as clouds challenges the heavens for their own, and the same falling down, becomes the cause of all things that grow in the earth.

Water is a cleansing, healing, psychic, and loving element. It is the feeling of friendship and love that pours over us when we are with our family, friends and loved ones. When we swim it is water that supports us, when we are thirsty, it is water the quenches our thirst, another manifestation of this element is the rainstorms that drench us, or the dew formed on plants after the sun has set.

The power of the energy of Water, can be felt by tasting pure spring water, moving you hand through a stream, lake, pool, or bowl full of water. You can feel its cool liquidity; it’s soft and loving touch, this motion and fluidity is the quality of Air within Water. This Water energy is also contained within ourselves, our bodies being mostly composed of Water.

As well as being vital for life, within the energy of this element is contained the essence of love. Love is the underlying reason for all magic. Water is love.

Water is a feminine element, it also the element of emotion and subconscious, of purification, intuition, mysteries of the self, compassion and family. It is psychic ability; water can be used as a means of scrying or as an object for meditation. Water is important in spells and rituals of friendship, marriage, happiness, fertility, healing, pleasure, psychic abilities and spells involving mirrors.

Ref : Pagan elements of Water

The Elements Water 2.

Irish Goddess : Boann, Irish God : Nechtan

Celtic (Irish) Goddess of the River Boyne and mother of Angus Mac Og by the Dagda. She was the wife of Nechtan, a god of the water. Likewise, Boann was herself a water-goddess, and one of her myths concerns the water. According to legend, there was a sacred well (Sidhe Nechtan) that contained the source of knowledge. All were forbidden to approach this well, with the exception of the god Nechtan (as was noted, Boann’s husband) and his servants. Boann ignored the warnings, and strode up to the sacred well, thus violating the sanctity of the area. For this act, she was punished, and the waters of the defiled well swelled and were transformed into a raging river, a river that pursued her. In some versions, she was drowned; while in others, she managed to outrun the currents. In either case, this water became the river that was known henceforth as the Boyne, and Boann thereafter became the presiding deity.

Another aspect of the myth of Boann is that she bore Angus. She and the All father of the Tuatha De Danaan, the Dagda, engaged in an illicit affair that resulted in the birth of this god of love. However, since both Boann and the Dagdha wished to keep their rendezvous a secret, they used their divine powers to cause the nine month gestation period to last but a single day – or so it seemed, for the sun was frozen in the sky for those nine months, never setting and never rising. On this magical day, Angus emerged into the world. She held the powers of healing. Variants: Boannan, Boyne.

The Elements Water 3


The Elements : Air

Pagan Elements : Air Landscape Photography : Nigel Borrington

Pagan Elements : Air
Landscape Photography : Nigel Borrington

The pagan elements :

Air

The element of Air is vital to human survival, without it we would all perish, its aspects are Thinness, Motion and Darkness and its quality is Active. Air is the manifestation of movement, freshness, communication and of the intelligence. Sound is another manifestation of this element. As an element, it is invisible, but its reality can be felt in the air that we breathe in every day.

To connect with the power of this element, find a place with clean air and breathe deeply, touch a feather or inhale the fragrance of a heavily scented flower. Let yourself experience the energy of this element, and reflect that we also possess Air energy within ourselves.

In magical terms, Air is the power of the mind, the force of intellect, inspiration, imagination. It is ideas, knowledge, dreams and wishes. Air is the element of new life and new possibilities and is essential to spells and rituals of travel, instruction, finding lost items, some types of divination, and freedom. Air aids us in visualization, a vital technique in magic.

Air is a masculine element and governs the magick of the four winds. It is the vital spirit passing through all things, giving life to all things, moving and filling all things. Thus Hebrew doctors ascribe it not as an element but as a medium or glue that binds all things together.

Air

The first element of the alchemical tradition.
Air is the essence of intuition and learning, the element of the nature of the mind.
Astrological Signs: Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius.
Represented by: Feathers, Birds, incense, fans, flags, flowing garments and sheer material.
Season: Winter
Color: White
Chakra: Crown

Celtic air god and goddess:

Arianrhod

“The Silver Wheel”, “High Fruitful Mother”. Celtic Goddess, the sister of Gwydion and wife of Donn. Deity of element of Air, reincarnation, full moons, time, karma, retribution. The palace of this sky Goddess was Caer Arianrhold (Aurora Borealis). Keeper of the Silver Wheel of Stars, a symbol of time and karma. Her ship, Oar Wheel, carried dead warriors to Emania (Moon-land).

Arianrhod (Welsh pronunciation: [arˈjanr̥ɔd]) is a figure in Welsh mythology who plays her most important role in the Fourth Branch of the Mabinogi. She is the daughter of Dôn and the sister of Gwydion and Gilfaethwy; the Welsh Triads give her father as Beli Mawr.[1] In the Mabinogi her uncle Math ap Mathonwy is the King of Gwynedd, and during the course of the story she gives birth to two sons, Dylan Ail Don and Lleu Llaw Gyffes, through magical means.

Ref:

GODDESSES: Aradia, Cardea, Nuit, Urania.
GODS: Enlil, Kheohera, Mercurym, Shu, Thoth.


The Oak tree in Pagan life, Poems and Oak tree stories.

The Oak tree

Mighty Oak Tree

By : Russell Sivey

The mighty oak tree sits near
Orange and red leaves
Looking like it is on fire
They clog up the eaves
Beautiful to see Sight
unlike any around In awe completely

The Oak tree in Pagan Mythology

An oak is a tree or shrub in the genus Quercus, of the beech family Fagaceae, having approximately 600 extant species.

The Pagan world gave the Oak tree the following properties :

Planet: Jupiter and Mars
Element: Water
Symbolism: Sovereignty, rulership, power,
Strength & Endurance, Generosity & Protection, Justice & Nobility, Honesty & Bravery
Stone: Diamond, Aventuring
Metal: Gold
Birds: Oriole, Wren
Color: Gold
Deity: The Dagda, The Green Man, Janus, Diana, Cybele, Hecate, Pan
Sabbat: Summer Solstice (Litha)
Folk Names: Jove’s Nuts, Juglans

Medicinal properties:

The medicinal park of the Oak is its bark, because of the strong astringent properties. Internally as a tea it helps fight diarrhea and dysentery. Externally it can be used to treat hemorrhoids, inflamed gums, wounds, and eczema. The tannin found in oak can help reduce minor blistering by boiling a piece of the bark in a small amount of water until a strong solution is reached, and applying to the affected area. To cure frostbite, American folk medicine called for collecting oak leaves that had remained on the tree all through the winter. These leaves were boiled to obtain a solution in which the frostbitten extremities would soak for an hour each day for a week.

Magickal properties:

Dreaming of resting under an oak tree means you will have a long life and wealth. Climbing the tree in your dream means a relative will have a hard time of it in the near future. Dreaming of a fallen oak means the loss of love. If you catch a falling oak leaf you shall have no colds all winter. If someone does get sick, warm the house with an oakwood fire to shoo away the illness. Carry an acorn against illnesses and pains, for immortality and youthfulness, and to increase fertility and sexual potency.

Carrying any piece of the oak draws good luck to you (remember to ask permission and show gratitude.)

Oak twigs bound together with red thread into a solar cross or a pentagram will make a mighty protective talisman for the home, car, or in your desk or locker at work.

“Oaken twigs and strings of red Deflect all harm, gossip and dread.”

Celtic Moon sign – Oak Moon

The oak tree endures what others cannot. It remains strong through challenges, and is known for being almost immortal, as is often attested to by its long life and ability to survive fire, lightning strikes, and devastation. If you were born under this sign, you have the strength of character and purpose to endure, too – no matter what your challenges. Direct your energies wisely, make sure your your risks are well-calculated, and you’ll overcome whatever seemingly “impossible” quests are sent to you.
Written by Kim Rogers-Gallagher, and Llewellyn’s Witches’ Datebook 2000

The Oak moon falls during a time when the trees are beginning to reach their full blooming stages. The mighty Oak is strong, powerful, and typically towering over all of its neighbors. The Oak King rules over the summer months, and this tree was sacred to the Druids. The Celts called this month Duir, which some scholars believe to mean “door”, the root word of “Druid”. The Oak is connected with spells for protection and strength, fertility, money and success, and good fortune. Carry an acorn in your pocket when you go to an interview or business meeting; it will be bring you good luck. If you catch a falling Oak leaf before it hits the ground, you’ll stay healthy the following year.

Growth and fertility spells work best at this time of the year. Focus on building and consolidation your wisdom, endurance and security.

Lesson of the Oak

from The Wisdom of Trees

by Jane Gifford

The oak represents courage and endurance and the protective power of faith. The tree’s noble presence and nurturing habit reassured ancient peoples that, with the good will of their gods, their leader, and their warriors, they could prevail against all odds. As the Tree of the Dagda, the oak offers protection and hospitality without question, although its true rewards are only apparent to the honest and brave. The ancient Celts deplored lies and cowardice.

To be judged mean spirited could result in exclusion from the clan, which was one of the most shameful and most feared of all possible punishments. Like the oak, we would do well to receive without prejudice all those who seek our help, sharing what we have without resentment or reservation. The oak reminds us all that the strength to prevail, come what may, lies in an open mind and a generous spirit. Inflexibility, however, is the oak’s one weakness and the tree is prone to lose limbs in storms.

The oak therefore carries the warning that stubborn strength that resists will not endure and may break under strain.

The Oak Fairy

by Teresa Moorey

Oak is one of the most sacred trees, traditionally prized by the Celts and Druids. The oak fairy is very powerful, and imparts strength and endurance to any who stay within its aura.

Each oak tree is a very metropolis of fairies, and each acorn has its own sprite. Bringing one into the house is a way to enhance contact with the fairy realm. Oak beams are often used to make doors, but the tree itself is a great portal to the other realms.

The oak is associated with many gods all over the world, notably Zeus and Thor. In sacred groves of oak, the Goddess was believed to impart her wisdom through oracles. The oak has sheltered many a king and hero, in myth and real life. The oak spirit is distinct from fairies, and may become very angry if trees are felled or wildlife harmed.

The oak fairy brings courage and a stout heart, necessary to brave the challenges in this world and to journey in the Otherworld. Bearing strength from the heart of the earth, oak fairy can bring steadiness and a deep joy that endures through all.

Oak Tree.

By : Bernard Shaw

I took an acorn and put it in a pot.
I then covered it with earth, not a lot.
Great pleasure was mine watching it grow.
The first budding green came ever so slow.

I watered my plant twice a week
I knew I would transplant it down by the creek.
One day it will be a giant oak,
To shield me from the sun a sheltering cloak.
Lovers will carve their initials in the bark,
An arrow through a heart they will leave their mark.

It will shelter those caught in a fine summers rain,
Under its leafy bows joy will be again.
Creatures of the wilds will claim it for their own,
Squirrels will reside here in their own home.

Birds will build nests and raise their young,
They will sing melodies a chorus well sung.
Under it’s branches grass will grow,
Here and there a wild flower it’s head will show.

My oak tree for hundreds of years will live.
Perhaps the most important thing I had to give.