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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.

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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.


A weekend Celebrating the Spring Equinox 2016 at Newgrange, Boyne Valley, County Meath, Ireland.

Sunrise_Newgrange_02

Happy Spring Equinox 2016 to everyone …..

Yesterday Marked the start of spring time, so over the weekend I spent sometime visiting both Newgrange and the Hill of Tara. Both perfect locations to gain a little understanding as to how our European pagan ancestors both recorded and celebrated the movement of the sun and universe they lived in.

It was exactly, one quarter of a year that had passed since the shortest day of the year, the day when at Newgrange the rising sun can be seen to travel all the way into the passage tomb at the centre of the monument.

The Spring equinox 2016 celebrating

Yesterday marked the arrival of spring, the date of the vernal equinox, or spring equinox as it is known in the northern hemisphere. Spring equinox. During an equinox, the Earth’s North and South poles are not tilted toward or away from the sun. (Ref :Wikipedia)

This means the sun will rise exactly in the east and travel through the sky for 12 hours before setting in the exactly west.An equinox happens twice a year around March 20 and September 22 when the Earth’s equator passes through the centre of the sun.

For those in the southern hemisphere, this time is the autumnal equinox that is taking people into their winter.

Druids and Pagans like to gather at Stonehenge early in the morning to mark the Spring Equinox, to see the sunrise above the stones.

The Pagans consider this is the time of the ancient Saxon goddess, Eostre, who stands for new beginnings and fertility. This is why she is symbolized by eggs (new life) and rabbits/hares (fertility). Her name is also where we get the female hormone, oestrogen.

From Eostre also come the names “Easter” and “Esther” the Queen of the Jews, heroine of the annual celebration of Purim which was held on March 15. At Easter, Christians rejoice over the resurrection of Jesus after his death, mimicking the rebirth of nature in spring after the long death of winter.

It is also a time to cleanse your immune system with natural remedies. In Wiltshire and other parts of rural Britain it used to be tradition to drink dandelion and burdock cordials as the herbs help to cleanse the blood and are a good tonic for the body after a harsh winter.

Newgrange a Gallery

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Happy 1st of May to everyone, it is Beltane in the Pagan and Celtic calendar ….

1st of May and its Beltane Irish Landscape Photography : Nigel Borrington

1st of May and its Beltane
Kilkenny Landscape Photography : Nigel Borrington

Beltane or Beltain

(/ˈbɛl.teɪn/)is the Gaelic May Day festival. Most commonly it is held on 1 May, or about halfway between the spring equinox and the summer solstice. Historically, it was widely observed throughout Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man. In Irish it is Bealtaine ([ˈbʲal̪ˠt̪ˠənʲə]), in Scottish Gaelic Bealltainn ([ˈpjaul̪ˠt̪ˠɪɲ]) and in Manx Gaelic Boaltinn or Boaldyn. It is one of the four Gaelic seasonal festivals—along with Samhain, Imbolc and Lughnasadh—and is similar to the Welsh Calan Mai.

Morning Star 2

Beltane is mentioned in some of the earliest Irish literature and it is associated with important events in Irish mythology. It marked the beginning of summer and was when cattle were driven out to the summer pastures. Rituals were performed to protect the cattle, crops and people, and to encourage growth. Special bonfires were kindled, and their flames, smoke and ashes were deemed to have protective powers. The people and their cattle would walk around the bonfire, or between two bonfires, and sometimes leap over the flames or embers. All household fires would be doused and then re-lit from the Beltane bonfire. These gatherings would be accompanied by a feast, and some of the food and drink would be offered to the aos sí. Doors, windows, byres and the cattle themselves would be decorated with yellow May flowers, perhaps because they evoked fire. In parts of Ireland, people would make a May Bush; a thorn bush decorated with flowers, ribbons and bright shells. Holy wells were also visited, while Beltane dew was thought to bring beauty and maintain youthfulness. Many of these customs were part of May Day or Midsummer festivals in other parts of Great Britain and Europe.

Historic Beltane customs

Beltane was one of four Gaelic seasonal festivals: Samhain (~1 November), Imbolc (~1 February), Beltane (~1 May) and Lughnasadh (~1 August). Beltane marked the beginning of the pastoral summer season, when livestock were driven out to the summer pastures. Rituals were held at that time to protect them from harm, both natural and supernatural, and this mainly involved the “symbolic use of fire”. There were also rituals to protect crops, dairy products and people, and to encourage growth. The aos sí (often referred to as spirits or fairies) were thought to be especially active at Beltane (as at Samhain) and the goal of many Beltane rituals was to appease them. Most scholars see the aos sí as remnants of the pagan gods and nature spirits. Beltaine was a “spring time festival of optimism” during which “fertility ritual again was important, perhaps connecting with the waxing power of the sun”.

More …..


Celebrating Mid summers day 2014

Mid summers sunset over Slievenamon, county tipperary, Landscape photography : Nigel Borrington

Mid summers sunset over Slievenamon, county tipperary,
Landscape photography : Nigel Borrington

Mid summers day 2014

Happy Mid summers day !!!

This mornings sunrise over slievenamon county Tipperary was at 04:57am and by the time it sets again on the other side to the west the time will be 21:57 , thats seventeen hours of sun light and the most anyone can witness during the suns movement across the sky during any one year.

Today is also called the Summer Solstice

Solstice, or Litha means a stopping or standing still of the sun. It is the longest day of the year and the time when the sun is at its maximum elevation.

Wiccan blessing for Summer

As the sun spirals its longest dance,
Cleanse us
As nature shows bounty and fertility
Bless us
Let all things live with loving intent
And to fulfill their truest destiny

This date has had spiritual significance for thousands of years as humans have been amazed by the great power of the sun. The Celts celebrated with bonfires that would add to the sun’s energy, Christians placed the feast of St John the Baptist towards the end of June and it is also the festival of Li, the Chinese Goddess of light.

Pagans are in awe of the incredible strength of the sun and the divine powers that create life. For Pagans this spoke in the Wheel of the Year is a significant point. The Goddess took over the earth from the horned God at the beginning of spring and she is now at the height of her power and fertility. For some Pagans the Summer Solstice marks the marriage of the God and Goddess and see their union as the force that creates the harvest’s fruits.

This is a time to celebrate growth and life but for Pagans, who see balance in the world and are deeply aware of the ongoing shifting of the seasons it is also time to acknowledge that the sun will now begin to decline once more towards winter.

Lugh (Celtic) god of the summer soltice

Similar to the Roman god Mercury, Lugh was known as a god of both skill and the distribution of talent. He is associated with midsummer because of his role as a harvest god, and during the summer solstice the crops are flourishing, waiting to be plucked from the ground at Lughnasadh.

Mid summers day 2014


Spring equinox 2014 and Pagan traditions

Spring equinox 1
Spring equinox sun sun 2014
Landscape photography : Nigel Borrington

The Spring equinox 2014

Today marks the arrival of spring, the date of the vernal equinox, or spring equinox as it is known in the northern hemisphere. Spring equinox. During an equinox, the Earth’s North and South poles are not tilted toward or away from the sun. (Ref :Wikipedia)

The oldest footprints in the world 2

This means the sun will rise exactly in the east and travel through the sky for 12 hours before setting in the exactly west.An equinox happens twice a year around March 20 and September 22 when the Earth’s equator passes through the centre of the sun.

For those in the southern hemisphere, this time is the autumnal equinox that is taking people into their winter.

In English there is open access to Stonehenge tomorrow. Access will be from 05:45am until 08:30am.

Druids and Pagans like to gather at Stonehenge early in the morning to mark the Spring Equinox, to see the sunrise above the stones.

Knockroe pasage tomb 4

The Pagans consider this is the time of the ancient Saxon goddess, Eostre, who stands for new beginnings and fertility. This is why she is symbolized by eggs (new life) and rabbits/hares (fertility). Her name is also where we get the female hormone, oestrogen.

From Eostre also come the names “Easter” and “Esther” the Queen of the Jews, heroine of the annual celebration of Purim which was held on March 15. At Easter, Christians rejoice over the resurrection of Jesus after his death, mimicking the rebirth of nature in spring after the long death of winter.

It is also a time to cleanse your immune system with natural remedies. In Wiltshire and other parts of rural Britain it used to be tradition to drink dandelion and burdock cordials as the herbs help to cleanse the blood and are a good tonic for the body after a harsh winter.

The Equinox of the sun : Gallery

Yesterdays Sun 1

That sun on Midwinters day 2013

Sigma SD15 Kilkenny sunset 1

Slievenamon 13 11 2013


Autumnal Equinox – Sunday

Sunday evening 22nd Sept 2013
Autumnal Equinox sunset.
Irish landscape photography by Nigel Borrington

Sunday and today marks the autumnal equinox, the time when the day light and dark of the night are exactly equal.

Why is it called an Equinox?

On the equinox, night and day are nearly exactly the same length – 12 hours – all over the world. This is the reason it’s called an “equinox”, derived from Latin, meaning “equal night”/

The September equinox occurs the moment the sun crosses the celestial equator – the imaginary line in the sky above the Earth’s equator – from north to south.

This happens either on September 22, 23, or 24 every year. On any other day of the year, the Earth’s axis tilts a little away from or towards the Sun. But on the two equinoxes, the Earth’s axis tilts neither away from nor towards the Sun.

So a happy Equinox to everyone !


The Pagan Moon

St Marys and the moon

Esbats and Moon Phases
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The Esbats are the Wiccan Full Moon Celebrations.

There are 12 – 13 Full Moons yearly, or one every 28.1/4 days.
The Moon is symbolic of the Goddess, as well as a source of energy.
Each Moon has a traditional name.

Each Full Moon has a different meaning and magickal purpose. Because of this, it is a good idea to plan your Full Moon Rituals to work with the meaning and purpose of the Moon. The Full Moon is also a traditional time for divinations of all kinds, as the power of the Moon aids in such work.

January – Wolf Moon Plan a ritual of protection around your home and family.
February – Storm Moon Plan a ritual to ask the Old Ones for help in planning your future.
March – Chaste Moon Plan a ritual to help fulfill your wishes is appropriate.
April – Seed Moon Plan a ritual to physically plant your seeds of desire in Mother Earth.
May – Hare Moon Plan a ritual to reaffirm your goals.
June – Dyad (pair) Moon Plan a ritual to balance your spiritual and physical desires.
July – Mead Moon Plan a ritual to decide what you will do once your goals have been met.
August – Wyrt (green plant) Moon Plan a ritual to preserve what you already have.
September – Barley Moon Plan a ritual of Thanksgiving for all the Old Ones have given you.
October – Blood Moon Plan a ritual to remember those who have passed from this world, and be sure to make an offering to them.
November – Snow Moon Plan for a ritual to work on ridding yourself of negative thoughts and vibrations.
December – Oak Moon Plan for a ritual to help you remain steadfast in your convictions.

A Blue Moon is variable and occurs when the Moon with it’s 28 day cycle
appears twice within the same calendar month, due to that month’s 31 day duration.

New Moon – Sometimes the moon phases are broken down further, where the new moon represents enchantments and temptations. These properties are also present at any other times during a lunar phase when the moon is unseen or clouded over.

Waxing Moon – New beginnings, protection, positive magick for growth, magick to bring things to you.

Full Moon – Any magick can be done during the full moon because magickal energies have reached their peek. This is the ideal time to do any magick.

Waning Moon – Banishments, bindings, removing yourself from negative influences, negative magick ONLY to protect yourself.

Irish Moon Gods

Elatha
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In Irish mythology, Elatha or Elathan (modern spelling: Ealadha) was a prince of the Fomorians and the father of Bres by Eri of the Tuatha Dé Danann. The imagery surrounding him (he visits Ériu at night by sea on a silver boat) suggests he may once have been a moon god.

Elatha is quoted as being the “The beautiful Miltonic prince of darkness with golden hair”. He was the son of Dalbaech and a king of the Fomor, he was father of Bres by Eri, a woman of the Tuatha de Danann. He came to her over the sea in a vessel of silver, himself having the appearance of a young man with yellow hair, wearing clothes of gold and five gold torcs. He was one of the Fomor who took part in the Second Battle of Magh Tuireadh.

During the Second Battle of Magh Tuireadh, Elatha, son of Dalbaech, watched over Dagda’s magic harp, Uaithne, sometimes called Dur-da-Bla, the Oak of Two Blossoms, and sometimes Coir-cethar-chuin, the Four-Angled Music. He is said to have a sense of humor and a sense of nobility.

Though considered to be the Fomorian father of Eochu Bres, Elatha (Elada) was also the father of the Dagda, Ogma, a son named Delbaeth, and Elloth (the father of Manannan mac Lir) according to the Lebor Gabala Erinn. The mother of these “Tuatha De Danann” chiefs may have been Ethne, the mother of Lug, based on Ogma’s often cited matronymic “mac Ethliu.” Since Ethne was Fomorian, this means they are all Fomorians. This is rather confusing, but may betray the battle between the two groups as actually being about the new generation of gods displacing the older generation.

Elatha and Bres

She told him that his father was Elatha, one of the Kings of the Fomorians; that he had come to her one time over a level sea in a great vessel that seemed to be of silver; that he himself had the appearance of a young man with yellow hair, his clothes decked with gold and five rings of gold around his neck. She had refused the love of all the young men of her own people, had given him her love and cried when he had left her.

Before he left he had given her a ring from his own hand and had bade her give it only to the man whose finger it would fit. Eri brought out the ring and put it on the finger of Bres and it fit him well. She and Bres and some of their followers then set out of the land of the Fomorians. At long last they came to that faraway land. Elatha the local King saw the ring on Bres’s hand and asked him the whole story and said that Bres was his own son. Elatha then asked Bres what it was that drove him out of his own country and his own kingship. Bres answered truthfully: “Nothing drove me out but my own injustice and my own hardness; I took away their treasures from the people and their jewels and their food itself. And there were never taxes put on them before I was their King. And still I am come to look for fighting men that I may take Ireland by force”. Elatha listened and then bade him go to the chief King of the Fomorians, Balar of the Evil Eye.

Names

These are the names that Elatha has gone by and where that name stems from.

Elatha – Rolleston (author): Myths and Legends of Celtic Race
Elathan – Squire (author): Mythology of the Celtic People
Elathan – Lady Gregory (author): Gods and Fighting Men

Elathan represents an incorrect usage by Squire and Lady Gregory as Elathan is the genitive case of Elatha and means ‘of Elatha’.