Saturday, February 16, 2013

Transform your Yard into a Sanctuary for Wildlife this Winter

Winter can be a particularly trying time for wildlife.  There are plenty of wild animals out there trying to survive, with only their fur or feathers to shield them from the cold.  Food becomes scarcer, and normally reliable water sources freeze over.  Every day, more and more wildlife habitat is lost to the spread of development.  But you can help wild animals in urban and suburban areas by offering them sanctuary within your own backyard (or front yard, roof-top garden, or deck), no matter how meager. 

Here are some ways you can make this winter season a little more bearable for your wild neighbors.  

Leave things Natural
From a wild animal's point of view, our annual autumn rituals of raking leaves and cleaning up yards and gardens are a major blow.  Just when the going gets tough, we're removing prime sources of food and shelter.  So do the animals – and yourself – a favor and skip the raking, bagging, trimming, and other yard chores this fall.  It may just help your neighborhood wildlife survive the coming cold weather.

Fallen leaves make excellent mulch for your yard and garden.  Leave them where they fall, or better yet, shred and spread them in your garden.  This easy (and totally free) mulch will help conserve water and improve soil fertility.  (For best results, make your mulch layer about two to three inches deep.)  You can also add leaves to your compost pile.  All of this saves them from contributing more unnecessary organic waste to landfills.

Leave those dead stalks, leaves, and seed heads in your garden to help feed overwintering birds.  Hold off on nipping and tucking your garden beds or patio container plantings until springtime – those dead stalks, leaves, and seed heads provide food and protection to wildlife.  Critters will especially go wild for large flowers like Black-eyed Susans, sedums, purple coneflowers, joe-pyeweed, and sunflowers, as well as zinnias, marigolds, cosmos, phlox, and dianthus.  The same goes for hardy ferns, which often remain green well into winter.

Build a brush pile
An easy way to clear your yard of stray branches and twigs s to build a brush pile to provide a safe spot for ground-nesting birds, chipmunks, rabbits, and hibernating reptiles, amphibians, and insects.  Put it in an out-of-the-way corner of your property, preferably close to food sources and away from buildings.  Start with a layer of larger limbs and stack branches loosely, adding grasses and leaves to create nooks and crannies.

Your firewood pile can also make a good shelter for wildlife, even if you'll be disturbing it occasionally throughout the winter.  Pile your logs crisscross fashion in order to create internal spaces that offer small animals a little relief from the cold.

You can keep birds happy with plants like bayberries, junipers, and cotoneasters that produce berries all year.  Animals will also forage the seeds of dead grasses, and next spring, birds will use old stalks and foliage for nest-building material.

If you have trees in your yard that are beginning to die, leave them standing (unless they present a safety risk, of course).  Their cavities can supply food and shelter for animals large and small.

Provide a Water Source which will not Freeze
As reliable watering holes dry up or ice over, water is one of the most important elements you can provide for wildlife.  When water suddenly disappears, animals expend valuable energy and risk dangerous exposure searching for other sources – which might mean the difference between life and death in the coldest season.

For birds, water is essential for drinking as well as for bathing – a year-round necessity to keep feathers in top flying and insulating shape.  While animals will eat ice and snow, they benefit greatly from a reliable source of water.

In cold weather, a heated bird bath can be a bird's best friend.  The easiest, most reliable way to keep water ice-free is to use a heat source.  You can find birdbaths with built-in heating elements (generally set to 40–50 degrees Fahrenheit) at home and garden specialty stores.  You can also purchase water-heating units designed to float on the surface of ponds or to rest on the bottom of birdbaths.  These heaters usually cost little to run and safely shut off automatically when pulled out of the water.

If you live in an area that does not get many days of freezing weather, try regularly replenishing your birdbaths with hot (not boiling!) water to melt any ice.

You can also use solar energy to your advantage.  Put water sources on the south or southwestern side of your property, preferably sheltered from the wind.  To capture even more heat, apply black latex paint or secure black rubber pond liners to the interiors of water containers.  NEVER add anti-freeze chemicals to the water, as they can poison wildlife.

However you decide to provide water, remember that sanitation is important year-round. Locating water sources close to your house makes cleaning and maintenance much easier –and you won't have to carry buckets of water far.  Be sure the containers are regularly cleaned and replenished with fresh water – more often as more animals use them – to prevent the spread of disease.

Rinse your birdbath daily before refilling it, and clean it once a week using a solution of one part chlorine bleach to nine parts water and with a scrub brush loosen debris.  Rinse again thoroughly before refilling with fresh water.

Once you start feeding the birds, please try to keep your feeders full all winter long.  If you leave home for vacation, ask a friend or neighbor to fill your feeders, especially when extended cold temperatures and snow cover are expected.

Foods to offer

Winter suggestions

            Black-oil sunflower seed: high in fat so it provides good energy; seeds are small and thin-shelled enough for small birds to crack open.
            White Proso Millet is high in protein content. 
      Suet cakes: commercially made suet cakes fit the standard-size suet feeder (you can even find vegetarian options).
           Peanuts: offer in tube-shaped metal mesh feeders designed for peanuts; use a feeder with smaller openings for peanut hearts.
           Peanut butter mixed with cornmeal, pressed into cracks of bark or spread on a pinecone and rolled in seeds
           Pumpkin seeds (washed and dried in the sun or oven)
            Pumpkin Rind cut in pieces
           Cracked corn: choose medium-sized cracked corn, as fine will quickly turn to mush and coarse is too large for small-beaked birds.
            Unsalted popcorn and cranberries, threaded onto cotton string and draped on trees
     Nyjer seed: use a tube feeder with tiny holes to keep the seeds from spilling out.

     Suggestions for other seasons'

Birds and squirrels will store seeds from a feeder in the bark of trees for later use when food is not as plentiful.

Spring feeding:  Offer fruit, baked and crushed eggshells, and nesting materials, such as human hair, pet fur, bits of string or yarn, and small strips of cloth to help nesting birds
Summer feeding:  Limit to nectar for hummingbirds and nyjer seed for goldfinches
Autumn feeding:  Offer millet, peanuts, peanut butter, and suet cakes.

Birds should not be offered many of the foods humans eat.  Chocolate, for example, is toxic to birds, just as it is to dogs and cats (it contains theobromine); Never offer birds any foods containing chocolate.

Here are some you can offer

Bread: throw out your scraps of old bread; moldy bread can harm birds.
Thrushes, blackbirds and squirrels will especially enjoy your Fruit and veggie cuttings.  Scatter scraps of lettuce stalks, peels and cores from apples, raisins and song-bird mixes on the ground for them.

Should you feed birds year-round?
Bird feeding is most helpful at times of when birds need the most energy, such as during temperature extremes, migration, and in late winter or early spring, when natural seed sources are depleted.  Most birds don't need your help in the summer. When they are nesting and rearing their young, many birds focus on eating insects, so feeding is less necessary at those times.  It is also important for young birds to learn how to find naturally occurring foods, so take a break from filling feeders in summer.
During warmer months, when natural food is available, it’s usually best to reduce the amount of feed you make available or put off feeding altogether.

If you do provide feed for backyard wildlife, remember that it is also important to maintain safe, clean feeders to prevent the spread of disease.

Choosing a Birdfeeder

           Plastic, steel, or glass feeders are easier to clean than are feeders with porous surfaces, such as wood or clay.
           Smaller feeders empty quickly, leaving less time for seeds to get wet or spoiled.  

    Choose feeders with no sharp edges or points; the design should allow birds to perch away from the food to prevent it becoming soiled.

     Set up more than one feeder and allow ample space between them to avoid crowding. 
     Choose a feeder with drainage holes, and add a plastic dome to keep seed dry.
      Where to Place Birdfeeders
Birds are most likely to eat where they feel safe from predators, including free-roaming cats. Place feeders twelve feet from a brush pile, evergreen tree, or bush.  Birds can quickly fly twelve feet to reach the safe cover, yet predators cannot use it to hide within striking range of the feeder.  As further protection, you can place wire mesh around ground-level feeders.

Many birds will feed at more than one level, but some species have specific preferences.

     Mourning doves, sparrows, towhees, and juncos will benefit from ground level feeding.

           Titmice, goldfinches, and chickadees prefer hanging feeders.  

     At table level, cardinals, finches and jays.  

     Tree trunks are the preferred location for woodpeckers, wrens and squirrels. 

       Looking after Other Creatures

     Check bonfires before they are lit for sheltering and hibernating animals, such as hedgehogs, toads and frogs.
     Be careful when you turn compost heaps.  As these are often warm, they can be the winter resort of frogs, toads and other animals.
     Provide a shallow dish or container of water at ground level. This will benefit other garden wildlife that needs to drink.
     In late winter, clean out bird boxes so they are ready for new nests in spring.

By implementing a handful of these tips into practice this winter, you'll enjoy a steady stream of wildlife to observe in your backyard sanctuary.

© 2013  Rosalind Scarlett

Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Pagan Origins of Valentine's Day

Is it not somewhat ironic that Valentine’s Day was originally a Christian holiday named for a saint?  Especially when you consider the fact that Christianity has never been strongly associated with promoting romance or even love, for that matter.  All the more ironic when you learn that the true origins of Valentine's Day has nothing to do with a Christian saint, but everything to do with kinky Pagan sex rituals!

There remains much debate and disagreement among scholars on the origins of Valentine’s Day.  They may never be able to disentangle all of the cultural and religious threads in order to reconstruct a complete and coherent story, but it is clear that the Pagan connections to the date are much stronger than the Christian ones.

Lupercalia – A Pagan Festival in February

While some believe that Valentine's Day is celebrated in the middle of February to commemorate the anniversary of said Saint’s death or burial, (which likely occurred A.D. 269) others claim that the Christian church may have intentionally placed St. Valentine's feast day in the middle of February in an effort to Christianize the Pagan celebration of Lupercalia – a practice which of course has been known to be common with most other Christian holidays.  

In ancient Rome, Lupercalia was a Roman fertility and purification festival that occurred each year in mid-February.  It was dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture, as well as a celebration of the founders of Rome, Romulus and Remus – two brothers who were said to have been raised by wolves – and of the she-wolf, or lupa, who raised them.

No one knows for certain exactly when the festival of Lupercalia first began, but most believe it was named after the God Lupercus, who was the protector of flocks against wolves.  Records indicate that the festival was held each year on February 15th where members of the Luperci – an order of Roman priests – priests would gather in a cave near the fig tree where the lupa had suckled Romulus and Remus.  Vestal Virgins brought sacred cakes made from the first ears of last year's grain harvest to the fig tree.

It was there that two naked young men of noble birth would assist the Vestal Virgins, in sacrificing a dog and a goat – which represented strength, purification, and fertility.  The blood was smeared on the foreheads of the young men and then wiped away with wool dipped in milk.  Feasting with meat and wine then followed.  

The young men donned loincloths made from the skin of the slain goat and led groups of priests around the sacred boundary of the ancient city and around the base of the hills of Rome.  Considered a happy and festive occasion, the young men would run about the city, lightly striking women they passed along the way with strips of the goat hide, called februa.   (And it is from these implements of purification that the month of February gets its name!)  This act supposedly provided purification from curses and bad luck, and more importantly, promoted fertility. 

The 14th of February – a holiday devoted to Juno, Queen of the Gods, and patroness of marriage – was the day specially set aside for love lotteries in Pagan Rome.  According to legend, after those festivities, all the young women in the city would place their names in a big urn.  The eligible bachelors would each choose a name of the woman for the year who was to be his lover for the year.  These arbitrary pairings often ended in lasting relationships and marriage.  Later, in an effort to subvert the lusty Pagan practice, the Catholic Church substituted the names of dead saints for the young men to draw in place of flesh-and-blood females.

Archaeological evidence suggests that the Lupercalia, far from being restricted to Rome, was practiced in other cities in Italy and Gaul.  When the Roman armies invaded France and Britain, they brought the festival of Lupercalia and all its customs along with them.

Though Lupercalia survived the initial rise of Christianity, it was outlawed – as it was deemed “un-Christian” – at the end of the 5th century, when Pope Gelasius declared February 14th St. Valentine's Day.  It was not until much later, however, that the day became once again definitively associated with love.  During the Middle Ages, it was commonly believed in France and England that February 14th was the beginning of birds' mating season, encouraging the idea that day should be deemed a day for romance.

So then, who was  Saint Valentine?

Dating from remotest antiquity, Lupercalia was celebrated until as late as the reign of Anastasius I in 491-518 CE.  It was towards the end of the 5th century in 498 CE that Pope Gelasius decided to dedicate the Eve of Lupercalia to the long-dead priest.  The lottery system was banned as being un-Christian and the Pope did his best to make people forget about other un-Christian ideas such as fertility.

According to one story, Roman emperor Claudius II imposed a ban on marriages because too many young men were dodging the draft by getting married.  A Christian priest named Valentinus was caught performing secret marriages and sentenced to death.  While awaiting execution, young lovers visited him with notes about how much better love is than war — the first “valentines.”  His execution occurred in 269 CE on February 14th.

There was another Valentinus who was a priest jailed for helping Christians.  During his stay he fell in love with the jailer’s daughter and sent her notes signed “from your Valentine.”  He too, was eventually beheaded and buried on the Via Flaminia.  Reportedly Pope Julius I built a basilica over his grave.  

And then, there was yet a third, and final Valentinius!  He was the bishop of Terni and he was also martyred, with his relics being taken back to Terni.

Pope Gregory the 1st said, "Converting heathens is easier if they are allowed to retain the outward forms of their traditional Pagan practices and traditions, while recasting those traditions spiritually towards the one true God instead of to their Pagan devils."  Thus, like the Church would do with Yule, Ostara, and other Pagan celebrations, it changed Lupercalia to St. Valentine's Day.

In 469 AD, emperor Gelasius declared February 14th a holy day in honor of Valentinus instead of the pagan god Lupercus.  This allowed Christianity to take over some of the celebrations of love and fertility which had previously occurred in the context of paganism.  Pagan celebrations were reworked to fit the martyr theme – Christianity did not approve of rituals that encouraged sexuality.   

In 496 AD, Pope Gelasius did away with the festival of Lupercalia, citing that it was Pagan and immoral.

As with so many other holidays that have pagan roots, divination came to play an important role in the development of modern Valentine’s Day.  People looked to all sorts of things, primarily in nature, in order to find some sign about who might become their One True Love.  There were also, of course, things which later came to be used to induce love or lust.

During the medieval period, the Valentine lottery returned as a means of coupling singles and was extremely popular.  The names of maidens and bachelors were put into a box and drawn out in pairs on February 14th.  But, this time, the lottery had a more chivalrous and romantic twist. The couple exchanged gifts, and the girl became the man's Valentine for a year; thus, the beginning of the symbolic gestures still seen today.  The man wore his maiden’s name on his sleeve, and it was his duty to attend to and protect her.

Still, it was not until the Renaissance of 14th century that customs returned to celebrations of love and life rather than faith and death.  People began to break free of some of the bonds imposed upon them by the Church and move towards a humanistic view of nature, society, and the individual.  Moving towards more sensual art and literature, there was no shortage of poets and authors connecting the dawning of Spring with love, sexuality, and procreation.

After having been dropped from the Catholic calendar in 1969, Valentine’s Day now is no longer part of the official liturgical calendar of any Christian church.  Millions of people all over the world celebrate Valentine’s Day in one fashion or another, but it’s unlikely that even one of them celebrates it in an even remotely religious manner.  Sadly, as with Christmas and Halloween, the past century has seen an intense commercialization of yet another Pagan holiday in Valentine’s Day, with hundreds of millions of dollars spent by those obligated to express their love. 

So as an estimated one billion cards* are exchanged this Valentine's Day, spare a thought for the ancient Pagan custom that the Catholic Church has tried to hide from you: for Saint Valentine's Day is the Eve of Lupercalia, the Pagan Roman festival of fertility.

Happy Lupercalia!  Happy Valentine's Day! 

The following sources provided information:

* Figures according to the Greetings Card Association
Austin Cline, Guide
Dr Leo Ruickbie, Director of WICA.

© 2013  Rosalind Scarlett

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Imbolc Blessings to All!

“As the light lengthens, so the cold strengthens”

   Around the beginning of February, many Wiccans will celebrate Imbolc, a midwinter festival halfway between the beginning of winter (the Winter Solstice) and the beginning of spring (the Spring Equinox) in March.  It marks the literal center point of the dark half of the year.  

   The actual date of Imbolc varies amongst the many sects of Wicca, falling as early as January 29th and as late as February 3rd.  But as with all proper Wiccan holidays, it begins the moment the sun sets and ends just before sunset on the following day.

   Imbolc, (pronounced "IM-bulk" or "EM-bowlk"), also called Oimealg, ("IM-mol'g), by the Druids, comes from an Irish word that was originally thought to mean 'in the belly' although many people translate it as 'ewe's milk' (oi-melc).  It is derived from the Gaelic word "oimelc" which means "ewes milk".  

   Imbolc was one of the cornerstones of the Celtic calendar.  For the Celts, the success of the new farming season was of great importance.  As winter stores of food were getting low Imbolc rituals were performed to harness divine energy that would ensure a steady supply of food until the harvest six months later.  It is the time of Blessing of the seeds and consecration of agricultural tools.  

   It was the festival of the lactating sheep when herd animals have either given birth to the first offspring of the year or their wombs are swollen and the milk of life is flowing into their teats and udders.  

   It is also the festival of the Maiden, for from this day to March 21st, it is her season to prepare for growth and renewal.  Brighid's snake emerges from the womb of the Earth Mother to test the weather, (paradoxically, the origin of ‘Ground Hog Day’).

   Akin to most Celtic festivals, the Imbolc celebrations centered around the lighting of fires. Fire was perhaps more important for this festival than others as it was also the holy day of Brighid (also known as Bride, Brigit, Brid) – the Goddess of fire, healing and fertility.  The lighting of fires celebrated the increasing power of the Sun over the coming months.  

   For the Christian calendar, this holiday was reformed and renamed 'Candlemass' when candles are lit to remember the purification of the Virgin Mary.  Various other names for this Greater Sabbat are Imbolgc Brigantia (Caledonni), Imbolic (Celtic), Disting (Teutonic, Feb 14th), Lupercus (Strega), St. Bridget's Day (Christian), Candlemas, Candlelaria (Mexican), The Snowdrop Festival, The Festival of Lights, or The Feast of the Virgin.  The ancient Romans, Celts, Greeks, Chinese, and Native Americans all have had corresponding holidays at this time of the year.

      On this Sabbat, the Maiden is honored, as the waiting Bride of the returning sun God.   Before the Nordic influence, it was also the Sabbat in which the Celts saw the sun as being born anew.  In Ireland it was, and still is, a special day to honor the Goddess Brid in her guise of bride.  The modern Irish know this as St. Briget's Day, St. Briget being a vaguely disguised and Christianized version of the Pagan Goddess.

   Celts would often create Straw Brideo'gas (corn dollies) from dried oat or wheat straw from the previous harvest, and placed in baskets with white flower bedding, as representations as brides, and set them in a place of honor within their homes.  They were usually placed in cradles called Bride's Beds, and nuts, symbols of male fertility, were tossed in with them.  Young girls then carry the Brideo'gas door to door, and gifts are bestowed upon the image from each household.  

   Later at the traditional feast, the older women make special acorn wands for the dollies to hold, and in the morning the ashes in the hearth are examined to see if the magic wands left marks as a good omen.  Brighid's Crosses are fashioned from wheat stalks and exchanged as symbols of protection and prosperity in the coming year.  

   Home hearth fires are put out and re-lit, and a besom is placed by the front door to symbolize sweeping out the old and welcoming the new.  Candles – symbolic of the heat and light – are lit in profusion, and placed in each room of the house to honor the re-birth of the Sun, and often within a wreath, another symbol of the Wheel of the Year in this Sabbat.

   Another traditional symbol of Imbolc is the plough.  In some areas, this is the first day of ploughing in preparation of the first planting of crops.  A decorated plough is dragged from door to door, with costumed children following asking for food, drinks, or money.  Should they be refused, the household is paid back by having its front garden ploughed up.  In other areas, the plough is decorated and then Whiskey – the ‘water of life’ – poured over it.  Pieces of cheese and bread are left by the plough and in the newly turned furrows as offerings to the nature spirits.  It is considered taboo to cut or pick plants during this time.

   Imbolc is still a special time for Pagans and Wiccans today.  As people who are deeply aware of what is going on in the natural world, they recognize that there is strength in cold, as well as heat; death as well as life.  The Horned God reigns over the Autumn and Winter and although the light and warmth of the world may be weak, he is still in his power.

   For Wiccans, the holiday is a break from the gloom of winter.  It is the day when spring begins to appear like the light at the end of a long tunnel, not really perceptible at first, but affecting the earth nonetheless.  Though we can't see it through the cover of white, at Imbolc we know the spring bulbs have sent runners into the earth, that the ice on our lakes and rivers have begun to thin and move, and that the first of the young animals due in spring have been born.  

   Most feel that human actions are best when they reflect the actions of nature, so as the world slowly springs back into action, it is time for the small tasks that are neglected through the busy year.  

   Many Wiccans celebrate this holiday as a group by standing in a dark room, with one small candle flame lighting their way, each Wiccan then lights their candle from that flame, until everyone in the room is bathed in the great light of their community's bounty.  Prayers are said for a gentle spring, and that stores of food and money, greatly depleted by the festivities of the winter solstice, last long enough to be supplemented by the first crops.

   All Virgin and Maiden Goddesses are honored at this time and serve as the deities of Imbolc.  These would include:  Brighid, Aradia, Athena, Inanna, Gaia, and Februa, and Gods of Love and Fertility, Aengus Og, Eros, and Februus.  During Imbolc the deities are still youthful and not yet joined as one through sacred marriage.  They are innocent and fun-loving, and are waiting just as anxiously for spring as are we!

   Symbols of Imbolc include Brideo'gas, Besoms, Brides, White Flowers, Candle Wheels, Brighid's Crosses, Priapic Wands (acorn-tipped), Ploughs, Grain Dollies, burrowing animals, and Ewes.

   During Imbolc, some herbs which may be burned are Angelica, Basil, Bay Lauren, Benzoin, Blackberry, Celandine, Colts foot, Myrrh, and Tansy.  Some may choose to burn incenses such as Basil, Bay, Cinnamon,  Myrrh, Violet,  Vanilla, and Wisteria.

   Heather, Iris, Violets, and all yellow and white flowers may be used as altar decorations.

   Traditional Foods of Imbolc include Pumpkin seeds, Sunflower seeds, Poppy seed cakes, muffins, scones, and breads, all dairy products, Peppers, Onions, Garlic, Raisins, Spiced Wines and Herbal Teas.

   The colors representing Imbolc are White, Silver, Pink, Red, Yellow, Light Green, and Brown.

Stones which represent Imbolc  are Amethyst, Blood Stone, Garnet, Ruby, Onyx, and Turquoise.

        Rituals and activities celebrating Imbolc might include the making of candles, candle lighting, reading poetry and telling stories, gathering stone, snow hiking and searching for signs of spring, planting spring flowers, making of Brideo'gas and Bride's Beds, making Priapic Wands, decorating ploughs, feasting, and bonfires may be lit.

Here are a few suggestions for Imbolc activities, some of which can be incorporated into the Sabbat celebration or simply as something to make the  day more special, especially for children. 

       Burn the Yule greens to send winter on its way.

       Make the Bride's Bed using the Corn or Wheat Doll made the previous Lughnassadh.  Dress the doll in white or blue with a necklace that represents the seasons.  Lay it in a long basket adorned with ribbons; light white candles on either side of the basket, and say:
"Welcome the bride both maiden and mother;
rest and prepare for the time of the seed;
cleansed and refreshed from labors behind her;
with the promise of spring she lays before me."

        Next morning, remove the dress and scatter the wheat outdoors (or if you use corn, hang it up in a tree for the squirrels and birds). This can be seen in    terms of the Lady's recovery from the birthing bed and readiness to begin the turning of the seasons anew.
        The Imbolc Corn Doll represents the mother nurturing her son, who will grow and become her husband. This is the earth and the sun, which is still weak but gaining in strength. 

        On Imbolc Eve, leave buttered bread in a bowl indoors for the faeries who travel with the Lady of Greenwood. Next day, dispose of it as the "essence" will have been removed. 

        Place three ears of corn on the door as a symbol of the Triple Goddess and leave until Ostara.

        Light a white candle and burn sandalwood incense.

        Cleanse the altar and equipment, do a self-purification rite with the elemental tools representing earth (salt) for body, air (incense) for thoughts; fire (candle flame) for will; and water (water) for emotions.

        Make dream pillows for everyone in the family.

        Create a Solar Cross from palm fronds, make enough to place one in each room of the house. Place a red pillar-style candle center to the front door; with palm crosses in hand, light the candle and open the door and say:

"We welcome in the Goddess and seek the turning
of the wheel away from winter and into spring."

Close the door, take up the candle and go to each room of the house and say:

"Great Lady enter with the sun and watch over this room!"

      Leave a Solar Cross in the room and proceed thusly throughout your house. This is great for the kids as you can divide up the tasks for each to do - one can hold the palms, another can open doors, another can carry the candle, and so forth. The last room should be the kitchen and here you say:

"Mother of the earth and sun,
Keep us safe and keep us warm,
As over our home you extend your blessings."


Blessed Be!

  Some of the information in this post originated from the following books and websites:

     "Celtic Myth and Magick" - Edain McCoy 

     Activities from "Green Witchcraft" - Anne Moura (Aoumiel)

       Beliefnet. com

© 2013  Rosalind Scarlett