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Lughnasadh – August 1st

August 1st marks the Celtic holiday of Lughnasadh (pronounced loo-na-sa), also known as Lammas, which is the beginning of the grain harvest.

In days past, candidates for king would go to the Fayre of Tailtiu. Tailtiu was the queen of the Fir Bolg (an ancient celtic race) , the daughter of Mag Mor and the foster mother of Lugh. She died of exhaustion after the labor of clearing the lands of Ireland for cultivation, and in commemoration, Lugh held a festival for her. Two weeks prior to festival day, it was customary to climb a hill and survey the land before harvest. The festival then commenced, and lasted for four weeks � two weeks past the actual day.

The last chaff of wheat or grain to be cut was kept and crafted into a corn doll, symbolizing Lugh. At Lughnasadh, she is called the Corn Mother. In the spring, she becomes Corn Bride, the Maiden Goddess Bride.

It was Lugh who invented draughts (checkers), ballplay and horsemanship and these sacred games were important in the celebration of the festival, as they were used to show off strength and skill. In addition, this festival was used to gather news, settle arguments and arrange marriages and alliances. Mighty feasting and drinking were the underlying theme of this wonderful festival.

It is prophesied that, as long as the custom shall be maintained, there will be corn and milk in every house, peace and fine weather for the feast.

This is the season when everything seems at its richest = trees crops and long warm days. These are called the “dog days” of Summer, because Sirius (The Dog Star) rises and sets with the sun between mid-July and September.

The word “Lammas” comes from “loaf mass” which celebrates the bread made from the first grain to be harvested. It is in honor of the Corn Mother that we now eat fresh bread and cakes.




Yule – December 21st

Winter Solstice, the return of the sun, was truly a cause for celebration among our ancestors. Yule begins on Mother Night. At the Yule the Goddess shows her Life-in-Death aspect. In this season she is the White Lady Queen of the cold darkness yet this is her moment of giving birth to the child of promise who brings back light and warmth to her kingdom.

 

 

Most Christmas traditions are rooted deep in ancient Yule rituals, many coming from the Vikings. During the Winter Solstice the Vikings honored their Asa Gods with religious rituals and feasting. A wild boar was sacrificed to Frey, the God of fertility and farming, to assure a good growing season in the coming year. They then feasted on the boar and this is the origin of today’s Christmas ham. During the twelve day festival a giant Sun wheel was set on fire and rolled down a hill to entice the sun to return. This could possibly be the source of the Christmas wreath.

Another ancient tradition is the Yule log, a large oak log decorated with sprigs of fir, holly or yew. This was carved with runes asking the Gods to protect them from misfortune. To make your own Yule log use a piece of apple, birch or oak. Begin by drilling holes for the three candles of the Triple Goddess; red to symbolize the bloodshed of birth, white for the innocence of new life and green symbolizing the growth process. Be sure to trim the bottom of the log to steady it. Decorate with greens, wild rose hips and winter berries. To insure good fortune and prosperity anoint with a sprinkle of apple cider and dust with corn meal before lighting the candles. Be sure to return the wood chips and sawdust to the sleeping earth. A piece of the log should be saved to protect the home during the coming year and to light next year’s fire.


The Yule tree was often adorned with symbols representing the sun, moon and stars. These, along with pieces of food, small statues of the Gods and carved runes were used to entice the tree spirits to come back in the spring. Gifts were also hung on the tree as offerings to the Gods.

Our pagan ancestors would dress someone to represent Old Man Winter, wrapped in a hooded fur coat with a long white beard. It is believed that he represented Odin and he traveled on Sleiphir, Odin’s great white horse. Old Man Winter was welcomed into homes and invited to join the festivities. When the Vikings conquered Britain in the 8th and 9th centuries, he was introduced there and became Father Christmas.

Ancient myths surround the mistletoe. It was believed to resurrect the dead. This was based on the legend about the resurrection of Balder, God of Light and Goodness, who was killed by a mistletoe arrow but resurrected when the tears of his mother Frigga turned the red mistletoe berries white. Mistletoe was considered magical and thought to have great healing powers.

The Yule Goat is one of the oldest Christmas symbols. Its origin is the legend of the protective, good natured Thunder God Thor who rode in the sky in a wagon pulled by two magical goats. They would visit the homes and bring happiness and protection at this very special time of the year. An old custom was for young people to dress up in goat skins and go from house to house to sing and perform simple plays. They were rewarded with food and drink.
What Yule celebration would be complete without a steaming cup Wassail to warm the chill of night while encircling the bonfires? ‘Waes Hale’, good health! This spicy holiday drink is more of an event than mere refreshment. An important ritual for the benefit of the apple harvest as well as the health of the local economy this tradition is still practiced in many areas. Gathering in the apple orchard on the ‘twelfth night’ townsfolk would drink large amounts of wassail with great mirth, merriment and dancing around the bonfires in order to honor the orchard and ensure good yields.

Here is one recipe for wassail:

Heat a large container of ale or beer, about 3 or 4 pints. Add:
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup mixed spice (cinnamon sticks and whole cloves are also excellent)
2 or 3 small sweet apples, cut up
1 1/4 cup pineapple juice
1 1/4 cup orange juice
the juice of 2 lemons
Place over a slow flame; then, before it begins to boil, take off the heat and whip up some cream. Let this float on top of the brew like foam.
Put in a suitably large bowl (the more ornate the better)

Now go out to a tree or trees with a few friends (these don’t have to be apple trees, since all can benefit from a well-intentioned blessing, but it is traditional to wassail fruit-bearing trees). Wet the roots liberally with the brew. Pass the rest around and when everyone is thoroughly warmed up sing a wassailing song, for example:

Here’s to thee, old apple tree.
Whence thou may’st bud and whence thou may’st blow,
And whence thou may’st bear apples now.
Hats full, caps full, bushel, bushel sacks full, and my pockets full too!

Lift your glasses to the tree and shout “Wassail!” as loud as you can.

Magical associations
apples – love, health, peace
pineapple – healing, money, protection & love lemons – love, happiness & purification
cinnamon – love, psychic awareness & money
sugar – love

A simple Wiccan ritual:
The celebration begins before dawn to culminate into the sun’s birth with a toast of apple juice or wine made to the holly king

Winter day of longest night
Step aside now for the light
Thank you for the things you’ve brought
That only darkness could have wrought

Then name the gifts of darkness such as regeneration, peace, dreams, organization, quietude, etc.
Use a white altar cloth and decorate with evergreens, poinsettias, rosemary, holly, mistletoe and ivy. To insure good luck and prosperity anoint a bayberry candle with oil and roll it in dried chamomile. Burn Yule incense (a mixture of chamomile, ginger, pine and sage). Meditate in the darkness and then welcome the birth of the sun by lighting the candle and singing chants and carols.
End the ritual at dawn with a toast of orange juice or mimosa to the sun!

O Newborn Sun of love and light
Rise quickly now, rise high and bright
Gain power in the sky above
I grant to you my support and love

This is an especially magical time when divination of the events of the coming year is also a prominent feature. Rune or Tarot readings can be especially significant at this time as can dreams or visions seen in meditation. Winter Solstice is also an excellent time for banishing rituals to eliminate disease, bad habits and addictions.

While we all enjoy exchanging gifts and feasting with our friends and family at this time of year perhaps we should extend this beautiful custom to include the other living creatures who share this earth with us. Put up bird feeders and keep them stocked with seed. You can make decorative wild bird treats by rolling pinecones in peanut butter and bird seed. This is also a wonderful time to donate funds, time or items to environmental organizations. Meditate for world peace.

Yule Recipes

By Patrick McCleary

Gingerbread Stars

One of the most traditional dishes at this time of the year is gingerbread. My kids and I absolutely love the rich taste of the ginger and molasses. So this past weekend we decided to make some gingerbread.

We had originally planned on making a gingerbread house, but we have had to many failures at that project. So we settled on making shapes instead. Following is the recipe that we used. Hope that you all enjoy as much as we have.

Ingredients

3 cups flour
1 1/1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup molasses
1 egg

Instructions
Sift the dry ingredients together in medium mixing bowl
Beat butter and sugar together in large bowl with electric mixer
Add molasses and egg and beat well
Gradually beat in flour mixture
Press dough into thick flat disk and wrap in plastic wrap
Refrigerate for four hours or overnight
Roll dough to 1/4 thickness on lightly floured surface
Cut into shapes
Bake for 8 to 10 minutes at 300 degrees
Cool on baking sheet for 1 to 2 minutes
Remove wire racks and cool completely





Yule Ham with a bit of Rum

Ham is the most traditional dish for this holiday season. And while a ham is easy to cook, the glaze for it is sometimes tougher to make. Here is a recipe that I have used on several occasions to fantastic reviews.

1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup honey
2 Tbsp mustard
2 to 3 Tbsp Dark Rum

In a medium size saucepan whisk together and heat to just before boiling these ingredients. Pour over a fully cooked ham and bake for ten to fifteen minutes more. Now don’t worry about the alcoholic content the cooking should cook out the alcohol. If you are still antsy then you can let the glaze simmer for about five minutes.

Yule Duck on the Grill
This brings me to the other animal that I choose to cook at this season. The duck. While tasty it is very greasy. You can boil it the same way as the ham to get rid of the grease, just be sure not to use the water from boiling the ham.

The last duck I cooked was on the BBQ grill. I arranged coals around a drip pan in the center of the grill. And after dipping the duck in boiling water, I dried it off and placed in on the grill on a low heat and let it slowly cook. I didn’t add anything else to the duck, but I enjoy the taste of the duck alone without any additions.

But you can make an orange glaze for the duck. Here is a recipe from recipecircus.com.
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup orange marmalade
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 Tbsp brandy

Combine orange juice, marmalade, honey, sugar and brandy in small saucepan and simmer over low heat for 5 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Spoon glaze over ducks and return to oven for 10 to 15 minutes longer.
Watch to prevent scorching. Remove duck to platter and let rest for 15 minutes before carving.

Choosing a Pagan Tradition

In the sense we mean it here, a Tradition is a group or organization that initiates and instructs individuals in some kind of magical or spiritual path. Use the links on the left to find out more about a particular tradition. Do you know of a tradition that we need to include that is not here? Please let us know by sending email to editor@pagannews.com. Please include as much information as you can so we can research as thoroughly as possible!

The purpose of this section is to provide you with information on the different traditions that exist within the Wiccan and Pagan communities.

A tradition is a term that may or may not be used to describe a set of beliefs and practices that a group of people may or may not adhere to. That is about as concise as one can get when describing the term ‘tradition’ within the pagan community, since the term means many different things to different people!

Some believe that a tradition is only a tradition if it is Wicca based and can trace its lineage down from Gerald Gardner. Others believe that a tradition is whatever you want it to be. Not all pagan traditions are Wicca, and not all Wicca traditions are pagan.

Some traditions have many covens, groups and/or individuals that adhere to their belief structure, others may have only one. Some pay homage to deities from one pantheon (celtic, for example), others combine deities from different sources.

There are so many different traditions, and we cannot hope to include them all in this section, but if you know of one that should be included, or if you know the information that we have gathered is clearly inaccurate, please let us know – we’ll be happy to make any corrections and add any new entries!

You may find the chart below useful in determining which tradition most closely suits your needs. Do you want more structured teaching and ritual, or more freedom to develop your own style? Are you looking for a tradition that keeps itself to itself, or one that is more open and sociable? Locate yourself on the chart below, and then use the menu on the left to look up information on the tradition that is closest to you. For example, if you think you are some what sociable, and somewhat eclectic, perhaps one of the celtic traditions may suit you. If you feel you need a lot of structure and seclusion, perhaps the Gardnerians would make a good home for you!

To learn more about a specific tradition, select from the list below:

The Runes of Odin and their Uses

Runes (Proto-Norse: ᚱᚢᚾᛟ (runo), Old Norse: rún) are the letters in a set of related alphabets known as runic alphabets, which were used to write various Germanic languages before the adoption of the Latin alphabet and for specialized purposes thereafter. The Scandinavian variants are also known as futhark or fuþark (derived from their first six letters of the alphabet: F, U, Þ, A, R, and K); the Anglo-Saxon variant is futhorc or fuþorc (due to sound changes undergone in Old English by the names of those six letters).

Legend has it that Odin, hung from the world tree for nine days in order to gain the wisdom of the Runes, and he lost an eye in the process. Odin’s sacrifice and the knowledge of the runes was passed down in the poem Hávamál:

“I know that I hung on a windy tree
nine long nights,
wounded with a spear, dedicated to Odin,
myself to myself,
on that tree of which no man knows
from where its roots run.”

No bread did they give me nor a drink from a horn,
downwards I peered;
I took up the runes, screaming I took them,
then I fell back from there

The original poem is much longer, and has been interpreted and edited by several people. Here is a selection if you wish to purchase a copy:


It is a relatively easy process to make a set of Runes for oneself, simply by scoring small lumps of roughly oval clay or some other crafting material and then painting them to suit.

You can also use crystals , glass or metal and paint the runes on to them, however if possible try and etch the symbols in first with either an special acid or vinegar depending on the medium you are working with.

To learn more about the meaning of the individual runes, select from the list below:

Metals and their uses

Like crystals, metals have vibrations, energies and other properties that can be useful in ritual workings. In this section we have provided information on the most common metals – those used in alchemy and spellcraft for centuries, in the hope that it will assist you in finding the right balance and the most effective energy patterns for your own rites.

Gold
Gold is heavy – almost twice as heavy as lead. With a hardness of less than 3, it is quite soft. Since it can be hammered into thin sheets or drawn out into thin wires, gold is sought after for a wide range of applications, including jewelry and electronics. “Gold leaf” is gold that has been beaten into a sheet less than one tenth of a millimeter thick. The latin name for gold is Aurum, which is why the symbol for gold is Au.

"Gold-crystals" by Alchemist-hp (talk) www.pse-mendelejew.de - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 de via Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Gold-crystals.jpg#/media/File:Gold-crystals.jpg
“Gold-crystals” by Alchemist-hp (talk) www.pse-mendelejew.de – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 de via Commons

The process of turning Lead into Gold is the aspiration of the alchemist. It is seen by some as a physical transformation, and by others as a spiritual metaphor for cleansing and purifying the soul.
Gold adds energy to a ritual. It aids in developing courage, confidence and will power. It promotes wisdom, and attracts wealth and success.

Mercury (Quicksilver)
Mercury is the only common metal that is liquid at ordinary temperatures. Mercury rarely occurs free in nature and is mostly found in Cinnabar ore in Spain and Italy. A heavy, silvery-white liquid metal, Mercury (or Quicksilver as it is sometimes called) is a rather poor conductor of heat. It alloys easily with many metals, such as gold, silver, and tin. These alloys are called amalgams.

"Pouring liquid mercury bionerd" by Own work - Own work. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Commons.
Pouring liquid mercury bionerd” by Own work – Own work. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Commons.

Its ease in amalgamating with gold is made use of in the recovery of gold from its ores. The symbol for Mercury is Hg, which comes from Mercury’s Latin name Hydrargyrum, which in turn comes from the Greek word “hydrargyros” (“hydor” for water and “argyros” for silver). Mercury can therefore be seen as an agent of change, and a catalyst. Sometimes associated with luck, it was used in older time as a scrying mirror and for protective charms. Note! Do not use – Mercury is poisonous by touch, ingestion or aspiration.

Copper
The word copper comes from the Latin word “cuprum”, which means “ore of Cyprus”. Copper is the only naturally occurring metal other than gold that has a distinct color. Copper’s color is a slightly reflective brown red. As it oxidizes, Copper turns to a Teal Green which is (why the Statue of Liberty is green). Also like gold, copper is an excellent conductor of heat and electricity.

"NatCopper" by Native_Copper_Macro_Digon3.jpg: “Jonathan Zander (Digon3)"derivative work: Materialscientist (talk) - Native_Copper_Macro_Digon3.jpg. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons.
NatCopper” by Native_Copper_Macro_Digon3.jpg: “Jonathan Zander (Digon3)”derivative work: Materialscientist (talk) – Native_Copper_Macro_Digon3.jpg. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons.

Copper is a very versatile and useful metal, and Its earliest known use dates back to 4000 BC where it was used in ornaments and vessels. Today it is used for wiring and industrial applications but it remains highly popular for ornamental use. The seventies saw a resurgence of its use for medicinal purposes, including treatment for arthritis, headaches and motion sickness. In addition, Copper can be used to attract love, bring luck, to draw prosperity. It’s electro-magnetic properties make it useful aligning auric energies, and adds power to spells.

Silver
Silver’s latin name is Argentum (hence the Ag abbreviation). Silver is an extremely useful metal and is used in decoration, industry and photography. It is the believed to be the best conductor of electricity and heat. Because of its value and durability, it has for a long time been used to make coins and bullion. It’s sensitivity to light has lead to its use in photography.

"Silver crystal" by Alchemist-hp (talk) (www.pse-mendelejew.de) - Own work (additional processed by Waugsberg). Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons.
Silver crystal” by Alchemist-hp (talk) (www.pse-mendelejew.de) – Own work (additional processed by Waugsberg). Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons.

Like Copper, silver has a very ancient history and has been found in sites dating back to nearly 3000 BC. Silver is used today in dentistry and surgical implants. Silver is believed to act as a conductor for spiritual energy, and as a conduit to channel energy from stones and minerals into the body. This is why gemstones are usually hung on silver necklaces. Silver is also used in healing to correct chemical and hormonal imbalances, and to improve the transmission of nerve impulses, all of which can affect one’s mental state. It is also associated with improving communications, reducing conflicts, increasing popularity, and cleansing/balancing emotions.
Iron
The symbol for Iron (Fe) comes from it’s latin name ferrum. This hard, abundant metal has been used for thousands of years for making weapons and tools. It can be combined with Carbon to make steel, the key resource of the industrial revolution. It is essential to the human body which uses it to make hemoglobin, yet too much of it is poisonous. The core of the planet Earth is solid Iron.

"Iron electrolytic and 1cm3 cube" by Alchemist-hp (talk) (www.pse-mendelejew.de) - Own work. Licensed under FAL via Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Iron_electrolytic_and_1cm3_cube.jpg#/media/File:Iron_electrolytic_and_1cm3_cube.jpg
“Iron electrolytic and 1cm3 cube” by Alchemist-hp (talk) (www.pse-mendelejew.de) – Own work. Licensed under FAL via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Iron_electrolytic_and_1cm3_cube.jpg#/media/File:Iron_electrolytic_and_1cm3_cube.jpg

Like Steel, Iron is highly magnetic, and so it has become extensively used in navigation, electricity production, the entertainment industry (video and cassette tapes) and computing. Iron is a very good grounding metal, as it stops the flow of psychic and emotional energy. It is used defensively as a protection from negative energy in all forms, and also represents physical strength.
Tin
The symbol for Tin (Sn) comes from the latin name Stannum. It is found in a variety of locations and has been used at least since about 3500 BC in Western Iran. Primarily today tin comes from Malaysia, Boliva, Indonesia, Zaire, Thailand, and Nigeria. Since tin is expensive and not very strong, it is primarily used to coat other metals to prevent corrosion –

"Sn-Alpha-Beta" by Alchemist-hp (talk) (www.pse-mendelejew.de) - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 de via Commons.
Sn-Alpha-Beta” by Alchemist-hp (talk) (www.pse-mendelejew.de) – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 de via Commons.

Tin plate over steel is used to make cans for food. Tin is non-toxic and easily mixes with the majority of other metals, it is this quality together with the low melting point which makes it an essential ingredient of most solders. Tin encourages Inspiration and creativity. It promotes enthusiasm, tolerance and trust. Assist in healing in the central nervous system, respiratory tract and liver function. Tin can also be used to assist in cleansing areas of the body that have become infected or diseased. Some believe it is another “luck metal” and can bring prosperity.
Lead
The Latin name for this cheap, relatively abundant metal is plumbum, and gives rise to the symbol Pb. Lead is a bluish-white lustrous metal. It is a poor conductor of electricity, and quite heavy. Lead is unique amongst common metals, in that it has little mechanical strength, virtually no elasticity and is extremely soft. It is an easy metal to work, but cannot support any weight, so its structural uses are limited. It is also highly toxic, which is why it is being phased out of gasoline.

"Lead electrolytic and 1cm3 cube" by Alchemist-hp (talk) (www.pse-mendelejew.de) - Own work. Licensed under FAL via Commons.
Lead electrolytic and 1cm3 cube” by Alchemist-hp (talk) (www.pse-mendelejew.de) – Own work. Licensed under FAL via Commons.

It has been used by humanity for a long time, because it is very resistant to corrosion. Lead pipes from the baths the days of the Roman Empire are still in service. Alchemically speaking, Lead is the basest of metals, and represents the impurity of man that must be stripped from the soul if one is to progress and ascend. Lead is used for Protection, both physically (from radiation) and spiritually (from negative energies).

Remember that some metals, particularly lead and mercury, can be toxic when handled, and certainly when digested in large enough quantities. Always take appropriate precautions when incorporating these metals into your rituals!

The Seven Archetypes of the Gods

At some point on your exploration of Pagan and Wiccan traditions, you are sure to come across the Seven Archetypes, or Seven Great Powers. Three of these are commonly referred to as Maiden, Mother, Crone – the triple aspects of the Goddess. In addition to being aspects of the Goddess, they also represent the life of a woman, from her impassioned youth to her wise old age.

The Maiden

This aspect represents the youth, vitality, innocence and passion of young womanhood. Unfettered by the caution that comes with age, the Maiden is eternally hopeful and charged with a desire to do great things, and to change the world for the better.

The Mother

The Mother represents the nurturing nature of motherhood. It is fertility. Knowledge and experience combine to bring youthful passions under control, and to encourage more planning and forethought in one’s actions.

The Crone

Freed from the drive to reproduce or to change the world, The Crone represents wisdom, completion, rebirth and the occult. The Crone can look back on her life and see her deeds. She can watch her children and grandchildren become their own people and see that without her they would not have existed. In this realization she understands that she has indeed accomplished great things, even if they were not the works her passionate youth had anticipated.

Everyone completes these periods of life at different times, based on their environment and personal attitude, but as a rule of thumb you can use thirty-year segments and not be too wide of the mark.

The Male also traverses these three ages, however his aspects are often ignored in the more Goddess-centric traditions. Those that do incorporate the male aspects refer to them in differing terms. You may see the Male described as Hero, Lover, King or Son, Father, Sage or some other variation. Whatever they are called however, they do represent the three stages of man:

The Hero

Full of the impetuosity and arrogance of youth, this one seeks to strike out upon their path and nothing will stand in their way. They are unstoppable. Life will open up before them and bow down in their wake. They are the soldiers of destiny that will hold the previous generations accountable for their misdeeds.

The Father

With middle age come responsibility and with responsibility comes duty. Now the man understands many things the youth did not. He still desires to change it for the better, but will work from his own house, his own family – making things better for the ones he loves and cares for.

The Sage

The wisdom and understanding that is garnered from a lifetime of experience helps him understand that things always change. Sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. Life is a cycle, and what he has changed for the better will remain but a short while. Likewise the mistakes he has made will be swallowed up by the past. The youthful exuberance which may frustrate the father, encourages the Sage, for in seeing this arrogance and passion in the young, he knows that the wheel continues to turn as it should. Life, death and renewal.

The final aspect is referred to either as the Source, or the Sorcerer, the Mage or the Godhead. It is neither male nor female, but is also both. It is only after physical death that we can completely connect with this aspect.

In each of the major pantheons, you will find these archetypes represented in some way. Use the Deity reference tool here to help you: Gods & Goddesses

It is important to bear in mind, when using these correspondences, that the deities themselves may have specific colors, planets, days or elements that they are associated with in addition to those listed above. You can however use these in conjunction with or instead of their specific correspondences if you are unable to locate them.

Gods & Goddesses

Choosing the right deity or deities can make or break a ritual. Many people choose to work more than one – typically a god and goddess, to help balance the energies and increase the power of their magical workings.

If your ritual does have more than one deity involved, make sure they are complementary and not at odds with one another! Also, be clear about your purpose, pay attention to ritual construction, and make sure the environment is one that would please the deities you choose.

In addition to choosing deities, you should take the time to read these sections also, to ensure your ritual achieves the purpose you intend:

Remember these different aspects of deity represent different strengths within yourself, so be sure you are honest with yourself about the intent of your working.

To select a deity, use the selector below to see which deities hold influence over what areas. Note that the Greek/Roman deities are grouped together as Olympians, since many Roman deities were simply renamed from the Greeks. In addition to pantheon and sphere of influence, you can select by weekday, planet, element, gender and name.

Astrology 101

Basic Astrology

By Rev. Catweasel
Basic Astrology

Astrology is the study of stars and planets and how their relationships to one another can affect the human psyche. Frankly, we do not know how old astrology is. We can trace it back to the dawn of recorded history in Babylonia, five thousand years ago, but clearly it would have been understood and used long before that. In this article, we’re going to take a look at some of the basic elements of astrology to get a better understanding of how it relates to our personality. If you would like to get your own free chart to take a look at as we go through this, I recommend Star Mate.

There are four main sections to Astrology:

– The Planets
– The Zodiac Signs
– The Houses
– The Aspects

The Zodiac is a ring around the sky that is split into twelve sections, each of 30 degrees. The Planets move through the Zodiac, and on their journey create aspects to one another that generates an energetic effect that Astrology attempts to interpret.

All things in the universe affect all other things in the universe. This is what quantum mechanics tells us. The degree to which that affect is felt can depend in large part on the distance and size of the objects involved. Planets are pretty big. Some, like the moon, are pretty close and affect our tides. Others, like Pluto, are farther out and affect us in more subtle ways.

In modern Astrology, there are 10 planets that we are primarily concerned with. Some of them, like the Sun, are not really planets strictly speaking, but are referred to as such in Astrology. There are also other aspects that have varying degrees of importance, such as:

The Ascendant: The first impression we make on others, our bodily appearance and health. Ruled by the 1st House (Aries)
The Descendant: The type of partner we tend to seek. Ruled by the 7th House (Libra)
Midheaven: Aspirations and public standing. 10th House cusp (Capricorn)

North Node: Our Spiritual growth, kharma and fortune to be realized
South Node: Patterns of behavior or natural qualities.

Planets represent WHAT energy is expressed or understood.
Signs represent HOW that energy manifests (as Psychological drives or personality).
Houses represent WHERE that energy manifests – as situations, events –  what areas of life tend to be affected.

Each of the houses correspond to one of the zodiac signs. The houses are determined based on your time of birth, which is why this is important. Generally in a chart you will find that people have planets clumped together in groups, rather than spread out evenly through their chart. Many say that is because these are the areas of our lives where our lessons lie, or where we have chosen to most perceive Love, Joy and Gratitude.

Aspects represent how the planets align in relation to one another in real time, and in relation to your birth chart. There are aspects that are considered good or ‘soft’ and aspects that are considered bad or ‘hard’. But really there is no good or bad – just opportunities for Joy or growth.

Now all these different elements together create a lot of different possibilities… add to that the degree to which a planet is in a sign and the affect that can have, and you can see that astrology is incredibly complex and can take a long time to master.

However a basic understanding of the signs and planets can help you learn a lot about yourself and other people, so it’s these things we are going to focus on this evening, starting with the Planets.

Now we won’t have time to cover the outer planets and the asteroids – they tend to have a more generational effect anyway.

There are two important configurations that we should look at though, which will help give you a basic understanding of how this stuff all fits together.

The first is the relationship of the Sun, the Moon and Mercury.

The Sun is your ego, your life force… it’s where you primarily gain your power from. It is the quintessential you. It is the way you act in the world around you.

The Moon is like the inside of your home in many ways. It’s how you feel. I don’t mean “I feel happy” or “I feel sad” – I mean the process of feeling. What moves you… How you express your feelings, how you adapt to the changes that happen in your life.  The moon is important, because it is the place where you go when you are feeling down.

Mercury how you express ideas and how you reason. It’s how you communicate – Imagine it as your mailbox, your phone, Internet access – and your computer – all rolled into one.

So these four together represent the main essence of ‘you’ as a person. The Positions these planets occupy in the sky can tell you a lot about your essential nature.

The second important configuration is Venus and Mars, because they represent how you are in your relationships with other people. Particularly romantically and sexually.

Venus represents your values and ideals, and sexual and romantic attraction.

Mars represents your will, your sexuality – and your temper.

Venus represents what you seek to attract… Mars represents how you go after it….

Now let’s look at the signs themselves, and how they interact with the planets and each other:


Aries – The Ram

Aries is the planet of self – it says “I AM”

It is aggressive, straightforward, impulsive, active and adventurous…

Those with the Sun in Aries tend to be outspoken, and lead with their head. You can usually spot an Aries… they will be the ones charging in where angels fear to tread…talking back to the traffic cop or giving a waitress a hard time if she is fresh and the food isn’t!

An Aries Moon can you make you emotionally quick to respond…. you may get excited about new relationships or new experiences, then get over them just as quickly.

Mercury in Aries will make you a fast talker – sometimes talking faster than your poor brain can handle, especially if you have the Sun in Pisces… It’s useful to remember that Mercury can only be within three signs in your chart – Your sun sign, and the signs immediately either side of it…

Venus in Aries is all about new new new…. New experiences, new anything… Since Venus represents what we seek to attract, Venus in Aries wishes to attract excitement, adventure and really wild things!

Mars in Aries may give rise to a hot temper. Aries is the home of Mars, and so it will shine more brightly there than in any other sign.

Taurus – The Bull

Taurus is the sign of possession – it says “I Have”

It can be possessive, stable, determined, practical, materialistic and sensual

Those with the Sun in Taurus can be extremely stubborn, and will refuse to accept a reality that they have not created. This can be a good thing, because Taureans are great at following through on projects. They also tend to have a love of beautiful things and may have a tendency to accumulate ‘stuff’, although this can sometimes translate into real estate purchases – Taureans make good land owners….

Those who have the Moon in Taurus are generally very romantic. Their affections are strong, deep, and unwavering. They are sentimental and warm. Since Taurus is a practical earth sign, the placement of the Moon in this sign suggests an ability to protect themselves and their own interests. They will rarely make a move without first determining that it is safe and that there’s something in it for them.

Mercury in Taurus – The thought processes here are cautious and deliberate. Everything word that comes out of a Mercury Taurus has meaning, and they always mean what they say!

Venus in Taurus – are affectionate, loyal and faithful; but like all taurus types there is a tendency to possess, and this can be hard to overcome.

Mars in Taurus – Once these people set a direction, they will get there regardless of how long it takes. They are firm believers in the old adage that ‘slow and steady wins the race’.

Gemini – The Twins

Gemini is the sign of Curiosity and Communication – it says “I Think”

Gemini is versatile, flexible, sociable, dualistic, curious and inquisitive.

Those with a Gemini Sun are extremely curious about the world around them. They are also extremely adaptable to changing circumstances. This can be a wonderful thing, but unfortunately because of their social nature they can often lose themselves in the needs of those around them. They have a unique ability to understand what others are thinking, and have a natural talent for mimicry. In this way they can maneuver themselves into many favorable positions. They can also lose sight of their own talents and ideas by being too willing and able to adopt the traits and immerse themselves in the personal situations of others. They tend to say what others want to hear instead of saying what they really think, or what they know to be the truth.

Moon in Gemini: Quick to start new activities, enthusiasm wanes after a short period of time.  Gemini Moons tend to scatter their emotional energy in different directions. Communication is very important to the emotional help of these people.

Mercury in Gemini – Because Gemini’s are so curious, they know a little about everything… Ask a Mercury in Gemini a question on any subject… if they don’t give the answer to you immediately, their curiosity will bug them until they figure it out!

Venus in Gemini – These people love their freedom, and have a hard time being married – it’s not their favorite pastime – there is so much in the world to do and see – and so many social relationships to explore!

Mars in Gemini – These people assert themselves with spontaneity and resourcefulness – energy is channeled into intellectual pursuits and they are great debaters, although not fond of criticism. They have a fun attitude to sex, and can be very experimental. They require mental stimulation and variety.

Cancer – The Crab

Cancer is the sign of hearth and home, nurturing and emotions. Cancer says “I Feel”

Cancer is Sensitive, nurturing, emotional and fertile! They also have the capacity to be moody and evasive, but are extremely sensitive to others.

Sun in Cancer is all about nurturing, and provide a safe loving environment. This is the first sign that by default puts others first. They enjoy feeding others, and family tends to be important to them. With the sign of the Crab as their astrological symbol, they tend to take an unusual, sideways approach to achieving their goals, yet they achieve them nonetheless, often in quite remarkable and (to other people) unexpected ways!

Moon in Cancer: The moon is at home in Cancer, so a cancerian moon will shine brightly in your chart. Feelings run deep in this sign, and natives are typically very empathic, and may appear psychic to those who have less emotional intuition.

Mercury in Cancer – These people communicate with a feeling and thoughtful nature to the people they interact with. When a Mercury in Cancer speaks to you they always seek to make you feel better about yourself. Mercury in Cancers have a great memory, but a lot of it is tied into remembrance of how they ‘felt’ about a certain thing. Their feelings are a large part of their thought processes.

Venus in Cancer – Cancerian Venusians seek a stable, loving home environment, and like their partner be affectionate and devoted to them.

Mars in Cancer – Here, a lot of energy is channelled into establishing a secure home and a loving family. Lovemaking is sensitive, emotional and very much tied to affection.

Leo – The Lion

Leo is sign of Leadership, power and creativity. Leo says “I Will”

The Sun Rules Leo, so it shines brightly in this position. The world resolves around the sun. It is the largest object we encounter every day. Leo can be warm and inviting, but can also burn if you get too close… They love to be the center of attention. Like Taureans, they can be somewhat stubborn in their approaches and once they decide they are right, it can be hard to shift them off their position. Leo is the Lion – the King of the Jungle. This can give them an air of nobility, and their dignity is very important to them. Despite being a Fire sign, they are a lot slower to anger than Aries – but also slower to forgive an insult. Leos are incredibly creative, and as well as great artistic talent, they can come up with a surprising solutions to all kinds of problems.

Mercury in Leo: Those with Mercury in Leo tend to see the big picture – they are not detail oriented. They can have incredible grandiose ideas but require others to carry out the grunt work. Fortunately, Leos frequently find themselves in positions of power because of their charismatic personality. Mercurian Leos make wonderful story tellers… however in their thought processes they may have a hard time seperating their ego from their position.

Moon in Leo: Emotional security is gained through self-confidence and pride, and have a desire to be center-stage. Your youthful exuberance allows you to be more confident and creative.

Venus in Leo – Those with Venus in Leo are incredibly warm hearted and romantic. They will tend to marry for love regardless of social position or financial security. They tend to have great social popularity, but may at times be overly dramatic and clown around in order to get attention.

Mars in Leo – tends to have a full, rewarding and colourful sex-life. Martian Leos are romantic, yet somewhat egocentric – they will work hard to satisfy their partner, but expect the appropriate gratitude to be satisfied themselves.

Virgo – The Virgin

Virgo is about Service and analysis. It says “I analyze”

Virgo is discriminating, critical, methodical and analytical. It is the sign of Service and of detail work.

Those with the Sun in Virgo will always find a way to be of service and make themselves useful in the world. Virgo is the sign of the virgin, and by nature tend to be shy – they are careful about giving themselves up to world. They are very eager to help others improve their lot, but may sometimes push a little too hard in that regard. Virgos are not fond of the spotlight, but can be great salespeople when the attention is focused not on them, but the product, service or person they are championing.

Mercury in Virgo. Mercury rules Virgo, and so analysis and communication are very important here. They are great at paying attention to the details and are very concerned that things are done in an orderly fashion.

Moon in Virgo: You may prefer to analyze your emotions than actually feel them. You have a tendency to work behind the scenes, and helping others brings positive reinforcement to your own self-esteem. 

Venus in Virgo: Through critical analysis, those with Venus in Virgo will find a partner that is intellectually stimulating and socially acceptable. These people have very high standards in a mate and marriage may be postponed indefinitely in the search for the ‘ideal mate’

Mars in Virgo:  Precise and disciplined in their assertiveness, these individuals are exactly clear on what they want. They spend a lot of time putting their own house in order, particularly in areas of health and work matters generally. Passion and love are not high on your priority list, However, in the right place at the right time you can be quite sensuous.

Libra – The Scales

Libra is about Balance, relationships, partnerships. Libra says “I balance”

Libra seeks harmony, companionship, romance and balance. Libra negotiates.

Those with the Sun in Libra seek balance between the individual and society. Between passion and the intellect. As another air sign, like Gemini, they have an intellectual orientation to their thought process. But since Libra is ruled by Venus, they get emotional, physical and psychological pleasure from beauty in all forms. Books, music, flowers, and perfume are typical delights. If you find an upset Libran, take a look around – frequently their environment can play a large part in their happiness.

Mercury in Libra. Those with Mercury in Libra tend to make great diplomats they have a natural desire for peace and harmony in communication and it is rare you will hear a mercurial Libran get into a shouting match – it simply isn’t their favorite communication choice. If they have some other planets winding them up, their diplomacy can turn to sarcasm and rapier wit…but generally the strive for fairness in exchanges. They make good accounts because of their need to for things to balance.

Moon in Libra: Fairness and harmony are very important to you, and you seek for your home environment to be beautiful and romantic.

Venus in Libra:  Since Venus is the ruling planet of Libra, this shines brightly in any natal chart. These people will have many opportunities for marriage. Meaningful social and romantic relationships are very important to them. They are affectionate and sociable, but need a meaningful intellectual connection for marriage.

Mars in Libra: Libra martians enter the world through social interaction and relationships. They tend to avoid conflict and seek to co-operate wherever possible. Love making is founded on the romantic ideal rather than base desires.

Scorpio – The Scorpion

Scorpio represents destruction and regeneration. It says “I create”

Scorpio is resourceful, secretive, passionate and intense, and prone to quite incredible transformations.

Those with the Sun in Scorpio have incredible reserves on energy and can keep going long after many other signs have faltered. Sometimes they keep going on sheer bloody-mindedness alone…Another water sign, their emotions are the strongest driving force in their behavior, however you may never know it because Scorpios tend to play their emotional cards pretty close to the chest, unless pushed. And pushing or bullying a Scorpio is about as healthy as dancing on a minefield.

Mercury in Scorpio. Very strong debaters, and excellent instinctual thinkers. They have a strong desire to come out on top. Intensly loyal, they will staunchly defend anyone they care about to their last breath – or usually their opponent’s last breath…

Moon in Scorpio: These people have a strong and secretive mystique about them which many find attractive. Full of passion on the inside, they seek to keep it hidden beneath a calm veneer on the outside.

Venus in Scorpio. Bunny Boilers…. This is Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction… They attract the opposite sex with ease, but anyone they get involved with had better be incredibly loyal or they may find themselves short of an appendage or two…

Mars in Scorpio.  Mars rules Scorpio as well as Aries, so this is a strong position. Incredibly energetic, resourceful and uncompromising, Martian Scorpions have a very powerful sex drive that demands to be satisfied. Lovemaking is very passionate and consuming.

Sagittarius – the Archer

Sagittarius represents mental exploration and travel – it says “I Perceive”

Sagittarius is freedom-loving, optimistic and fore-sighted. It aspires to greatness and loves to travel.

Those with the Sun in Sagittarius have an intense intellectual curiosity that rivals even Gemini. They are not fond of structure and routine, preferring instead to get out and explore the world around them…when they encounter situations or people that don’t interest them they will find a way to escape – either in their head or by actually leaving on some adventure. Those born under the Archer are usually very ‘sporty’ in appearance, and enjoy physical activities.

Mercury in Sagittarius. These people are free thinkers, and very optimistic in their thought processes. They are full of grand schemes and very forward thinking in their approach to things. They have so much information on so many subjects that talking with them is always interesting. However they may lead cluttered lives, full of half completed projects and ideas that they haven’t had time to complete because the next thing has grabbed their attention.

Moon in Sagittarius: These people feel complete when their inner self is allowed to search for adventure. They can be optimistic and idealistic with their emotions.

Venus in Sagittarius. They are emotionally warm, outgoing and idealistic in their romantic dealings. They tend not to rush into romantic entanglements, preferring instead to explore friendships first… Sex and Love have a time and place in their lives, but it is not the be all and end all for them.

Mars in Sagittarius. They can spend so much time wrapped up in sports, idealistic causes, travel, adventures and intellectual exercises, that sex can frequently take a back seat – but when it happens it is idealistic and full of joy.

Capricorn – the Goat

Capricorn represents career and public standing – it says “I Use”

Capricorn is Ambitious, conscientious, prudent, efficient, reliable and patient.

Those with the sun in Capricorn seek to control by virtue of authority. They are great at anything that involves the law, rules and regs etc. They may on occasion, not follow their own rules, since they use their rules to bind others, not themselves…Capricorns are great at getting things done. They are driven to succeed, like the goat climbing up the mountainside, they accept the peril and difficulty of the journey with ease.

Mercury in Capricorn : These people appreciate structure and order. They frequently speak in a slow and methodical manner, and often have the air of authority about them. They have a tendency at time to be somewhat judgemental of others, and can be very skeptical of what they hear.

Moon in Capricorn:  Moon Goats find emotional security through hard work and dedication. Sometimes their is a tendency to take everything too seriously, however these people are great achievers if allowed to control their environment.

Venus in Capricorn: They have a somewhat reserved approach to love, finding financial security and social standing more important than love & marriage. Once they choose a partner however, they are loyal, dependable and devoted.

Mars in Capricorn: Like Sagittarius, much of their energy is channelled into other pursuits rather than love and sex. The Martian Goat can be appear somewhat materialistic at times, yet this comes from self-control, discipline and a desire for order and security.

Aquarius – The Water Bearer

Aquarius represents Friends, hopes and dreams – it says “I know”

Aquarius is altruistic, intellectual, rebellious, independent and unconventional

Sun in Aquarius loves to organize. Projects, parties and people. They are highly socially oriented, loyal and their sense of fairness and objectivety means they attract many friends in their life. They enjoy friends and relationships more than material acquisition, and love challenges. They can be quite unconventional in their relationships. They are highly intellectual, fast thinkers, and can be somewhat impatient.

Mercury in Aquarius: These people love breaking the rules… they love conversation and intellectual debates are their bread and butter. They may sometimes come across as intellectually superior, which can make people a little intimidated, but they can also make delightful company, since they usually have something interesting to say.

Moon in Aquarius: The moon is our emotion, and Aquarius loves people, so healthy social interaction keeps these Lunar aquarians happy and healthy. Their trademark is friendship and they desire to solve the great problems of the human equation.

Venus in Aquarius:  Aquarius is unconventional and independent. So in the planet of the heart, romantic interests are likely to also be unconventional. The independent streak means these people are like to want to try several different relationships before succumbing – if ever – to marriage.

Mars in Aquarius: Aquarian martians assert themselves in unconventional manners. Freedom of self to think and act in their own way outweighs all other considerations. These people have an experimental attitude to sex and enjoy it immensely.

Pisces – The Fishes

Pisces represents secrets and sorrows and fears.

Pisces is Sensitive, intuitive, emotional and imaginative. it says “I believe”

Sun in Pisces: Pisceans readily adapt to change. Like the fish, they are comfortable in a fluid environment. They are compassionate and humane, and have no hesitation in breaking unbreakable rules in the interests of compassion. Incredibly sensitive by nature, they react out of emotions first, before acting, before thinking. They have an idealized image of what humanity should be, and have difficulty dealing with those who do not live up to that image.

Mercury in Pisces: These people communicate gently, and have a soft touch that is pleasant and warming. They may be almost poetic in their speech, but sometimes may be withdrawn and almost moody. Emotions guide their communications and their thought processes.

Moon in Pisces:  Highly creative, but also may be overly sensitive – the planet of emotion in an emotional sign. They have a tendency to take everything personally, but also an uncanny ability to know what others think and feel before they do.

Venus in Pisces: Romantic, gentle and compassionate, sensitive and idealistic. Emotion in the sign of romance, these people will always marry for love!

Mars in Pisces: These people assert themselves in an emotional, caring, compassionate manner. Well suited to spiritual endeavors, these people always do well in company, but need frequent periods of quiet and solitude to recharge.


These then, are some of the basic aspects of Astrology. If you are interested in learning more, buy a good astrology book (anything by Linda Goodman or The Only Astrology Book you’ll ever need  by Joanna martine Woolfolk), invest in a decent astrology program ( Star Mate is available for Android and iPhone ) or find an astrology group in your area to compare notes with!


Wyrd

Original meaning: Fate
The rune of destiny. Outcome is unknown.

What will be, will be – you must have faith. Accept responsibility for your actions.

Wyrd is a concept – a blank rune, and its inclusion in the rune set is a contemporary invention.

To learn more about other runes, select from the list below: