Working with and Honoring the Sun at the Solstice

The Druid's Garden

Sacred rays of the sun Sacred rays of the sun

The sun’s rays come over the horizon, on the solstice, the most sacred of days. The solstice goes my many names, the day of high light, midsummer, Alban Hefin. Across the globe and through time, it has been celebrated since before recorded history. In the light of the sun, we have strength, warmth, growth, energy, abundance, healing, and wisdom. The sun has been shining down upon our beautiful planet has been shining for at least four billion years and we can expect it to remain unchanged for another five billion years. The sun is also enormous–it accounts for 99.86% of the mass of our solar system.  It is such an incredible thing that it’s hard to image in the scope of the sun as it compares to of human lives or human history.  You might say that the sun is one of the most…

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A MID-SUMMER CELEBRATION

Good Witches Homestead

The young maid stole through the cottage door,
And blushed as she sought the Plant of pow’r; —
“Thou silver glow-worm, O lend me thy light,
I must gather the mystic St. John’s wort tonight,
The wonderful herb, whose leaf will decide
If the coming year shall make me a bride.”

In addition to the four great festivals of the Pagan Celtic year, there are four lesser holidays as well: the two solstices and the two equinoxes. In folklore, these are referred to as the four “quarter days” of the year, and modern Witches call them the four “Lesser Sabbats”, or the four “Low Holidays”. The summer solstice is one of them.

Technically, a solstice is an astronomical point and, due to the calendar creep of the leap-year cycle, the date may vary by a few days depending on the year. The summer solstice occurs when the sun reaches the…

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Embracing Ancestral Fires and Fire-starting at Beltane

The Druid's Garden

An awen-shaped sacred fire, created from my flint and steel An awen-shaped sacred fire, created from my flint and steel

The tiny sparks from my flint and steel shower down on my char cloth.  This flint and steel set was a gift from a fellow druid from almost a decade ago, a gift that has long offered me a connection with my ancestors.  It takes me a few moments to remember the technique he taught me, striking the steel against the flint in a particular way with a particulary angle to my body.  Starting a fire in an ancestral way isn’t just a mental act; its an emboded one.  I breathe deeply and remember, and the tiny sparks fly from my tools to the char cloth. After a few more attempts, a single spark lands on the cloth and starts to glow orange. I carefully pick up the char cloth and blow on it to increase the ember size, then…

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Sacred Tree Profile: Birch’s Medicine, Magic, Mythology, and Meaning

The Druid's Garden

When I was growing up in the Allegheny mountains of Western PA, and I was still a very small child, my father and I would seek out the sweet birch saplings.  A good sapling was tall and lithe, but bent easily.  Dad would bend a sapling down, and hold me on the end of it, letting me bounce up and down like a ride.  A few days later, when we walked back through those same woods, the sapling was back upright and growing tall.  It was no trouble for a birch to bend to give a small child a ride and then bounce right back up!

When I was 14, the a forest behind my house that I loved dearly was logged.  For many years, my sorrow kept me out of that forest–I didn’t want to see it cut, I didn’t want to see my many tree friends gone.  And…

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Plant Spirit Communication Part IV: Medicine for the Body and the Soul

The Druid's Garden

In the last few weeks, we’ve considered various ways in which we might communicate with plant spirits, work with them, and engage in spirit journeys with them. In this post, I am beginning to make the transition to talk about plant medicine and herbalism for a few weeks–both medicine of the body and medicine of the soul. I think that herbal medicine is something incredibly powerful to add to any earth-based spiritual based practice, both to keep you in good health and to create inter-dependency between you and the living earth. In order to do that, I wanted to talk today about plant spirits and the connection between medicine for the body and medicine for the soul. To do this, we’ll delve into animism and an animistic worldview as well as consider deepening plant relationships.

Amazing reishi! Amazing reishi!

Medicine of the Body

Plants have physical bodies and various…

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Say NO to Witch School

There were many times in my youth I thought about ‘witch school’ with people who were supposedly reputable, but something always stopped me. Sometime later it would come out that they weren’t so reputable after all. Maferefun to my ancestors for their protection.

The Witch & Walnut

say no! to witch schoolI hope you all have had a wonderful long weekend Holiday.

I recently received an email from someone asking if they should attend Witch classes. I do hope you see this post, I attempted to email you a response but continued to get a failure message regarding the email address.

So here I am answering your question as it is a rather common question. My standard response to this is No.

I urge you to ask yourself a few questions before depositing your money and time into a Witch class.

  1. Why do you want to take the class/program/course/whatever?
  2. Do you think it will make you a Witch?
  3. What can they teach you, that you cannot learn for yourself?
  4. What are your expectations of this course?
  5. What do you want to achieve from this course?
  6. What qualifies this person/people to teach this course?

There is sooooo much information out there and…

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Building Deep Plant Relationships at Lughnassadh

The Druid's Garden

Nicotiana Rustica Botanical Drawing Nicotiana Rustica Botanical Drawing

Last weekend, some druid friends came over for a retreat with a focus on land healing. As part of the ritual we collaboratively developed, we wanted to make an offering to the spirits of the land. I went to my sacred tobacco patch and carefully gathered leaves drying at the bottoms of the plant and flowers for use in this offering, humming a song that the tobacco had taught me and making sure that none of the leaves hit the ground in the process. The ritual went beautifully well and the offering was well received by the spirits.  After the weekend, it struck me how long my relationship with these particular tobacco plants was–more than a decade at this point from seed to leaf to flower to seed.  And how I had something to share about cultivating this relationship over time.

So I thought I’d take…

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A Druid’s Guide to Connecting with Nature, Part I: A Framework

A Druid’s guide to connecting with Nature – Part I:  A Framework

The Druid's Garden

A lot of people find druidry because they want to “connect” with nature.  They want to attune to nature, feel part of it, gain knowledge and wisdom about it. But what does “connecting” to nature look like in practice?  Going out in the woods and feeling good?  Knowing the name of trees?  Walking with sacred intent in a natural place?  Spending time in nature?  All above the above? And so, over the next few posts, I want to spend more time with the concept of “connecting to nature” and share some strategies for what people can do to connect with nature in a multitude of ways.

As I’ve written about earlier, part of what I see as the core of druidry as a spiritual tradition is the work of “connection.” In that post, I talked about connecting to nature, connecting to the spirit, and connecting to the creative practices as…

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Holly Wood

Elder Mountain Dreaming

Trees are magical, there is no doubt and those of us who love and respect them are far and few between. The Wood of the Holly is hard, compact and close-grained and its color is of beautiful white ivory that can be buffed to a very high polish.  When freshly cut the holly wood has a slightly greenish hue but soon becomes perfectly white, and its hardness makes it superior to any other white wood. However the wood of Holly is very retentive of its sap and as a consequence can warp if not well dried and seasoned before use. Old, fancy walking sticks were made from Holly, as were the stocks of light riding whips.  Today it is used in delicate instruments such as weather-gauges and barometers.

Holly is commonly used all over the world as a winter season decoration in many traditions, a custom derived from the earliest Romans who…

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~ Ostara ~ Spring Equinox ~ Ye Olde Dark Arts

By Dark Witch

Source: ~ Ostara – Spring Equinox ~ – Ye Olde Dark Arts

 ostara

Vernal or Spring Equinox, the Rites of Spring, Lady Day, Alban Eiber and Bacchanalia.The Spring Equinox occurs between March 19th and 22 in the Northern Hemisphere and between September 19 and the 22 in the Southern Hemisphere. Ostara marks the day when night and day are equal and balanced.

Altar decorations: Colored eggs, seeds, earth, flowers and herbs appropriate

Animal: Hares, Lambs, Rabbits, Snakes

Colors: All pastels, yellow, pink, green, blue

Drinks: wines, dandelion, lindon teas, hyssop

Flowers And Herbs: all spring flowers. Irish moss, crocus flowers, daffodils, Easter lilies, honeysuckle, iris, jasmine, roses, strawberry, tansy and violets. Acorn, Celandine, Cinquefoil, Dandelion, Dogwood, Honeysuckle, Iris, Jasmine, Rose, Tansy, Violet

Foods: Eggs, honey, bread, seeds, sprouts and green leafy vegetables

Incense: Jasmine, African violet, rose, sage, strawberry, violet flowers, orange peel, rose petals, lotus, magnolia, ginger

Oils: Magnolia, ginger, lotus

Spells: Healing, purification, psychic awareness, fertility and Air Magic

Stones: Amethyst,  aquamarine, jasper, moonstone and rose quartz.

Traditions:  Decorating Eggs,  getting rid of old and unwanted items that are no longer used, planning and preparing land for herbal, floral and vegetable gardens.

Copyright © 2002 – Present Ye Olde Dark Arts