Tag Archive | celtic

Sunday Homily: Who is Santa Claus – A History

Happy Holiday Howling!

Happy Holiday Howling!

The Origins Of The Winter Gift Giver
By SpringWolf, D.D., Ph.D.

It twas a blustery night as the snow fell heavily through the wintry barren trees. The land lay quiet, the fields are still from harvest and inside the hearth blazed warm with the burning yule log. But overhead in the storm laden clouds, a clash of hooves and metal thunder in the night. For Odin and his great horse Sleipnir are celebrating the Wild Hunt on this solstice eve with spear in hand and brethren by his side. Their windswept ride is long and filled with madness that shall not end till the twelfth night of Yule. But during their ride, in the fields below, there lies grain of plenty and piles of straw fit for the hordes of Odin’s steeds. His eight legged horse Sleipnir rests upon the ground and feasts on the meal left for the mounts of the Gods. And in return for this gift, Odin the All-Father leaves presents of gold. Quietly he fills the winter boots resting outside the door of the humble homes that lay quiet in the cold winter night. Continue reading

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The History Of Samhain And Evolution of Halloween

 Photograph by Mukul Soman

Photograph by Mukul Soman
National Geographic

Samhain – The Celtic New Year
Whether you use the Gaelic pronunciation “Sow-en”, “Sow-ween”, “Sah-ween” or the Americanized version “Sam-hain” (yes that is an acceptable pronunciation), it’s still the biggest holiday on the Pagan Calendar.

It’s the start of the Celtic New Year and honors the year that has passed. It is the time when the veil of forgetfulness is lifted between the physical world and the spiritual world. Where the dead are honored and communication with spirit can take place more than any other time of the year.

For pagans it’s a time of celebration, but it’s also a time of reverence and deep spiritual reflection for the past and the future year to come.

An article by the Library of Congress states: Pagans divided the year by four major holidays. According to their calendar, the year began on a day corresponding to November 1st on our present calendar. The date marked the beginning of winter. Since they were pastoral people, it was a time when cattle and sheep had to be moved to closer pastures and all livestock had to be secured for the winter months. Crops were harvested and stored. The date marked both an ending and a beginning in an eternal cycle.

Pagans follow a Lunar calendar and the day would begin at sunset. Celebrations for holidays therefore would also begin when the sun set and the moon rose. This is why we start our Samhain celebrations at sunset on October 31st and continue them through the day on November 1st.

Where many will say Happy Halloween, the proper salutation for pagans would be Merry Samhain. Continue reading

History Of Lughnasadh

The Fire Festival Of The Summer Sun
By Springwolf, D.D., Ph.D.  🐾

Arctic Wolf Fire

“Arctic Wolf Fire”
© Tom-in-Silence

This is the first of the Pagan Harvest Festivals. This is a time where we celebrate the Sun God Lugh, honor the rain and thank the magikal folk of the Tuatha Dé Danann for their help in our own gardens.

As local clans migrated, they took with them their religious and spiritual traditions. Many people believe that during these migrations, names of holidays also changed and Lughnasadh became Lammas. That’s not quite accurate however.

Lammas comes from the Old English word hlafmæsse, which  literally means “loaf mass,”. It was first used in the 15th and 17th centuries by the early Catholic Churches to celebrate the grain provided by the first harvest. In other words, it was another attempt by the early church to co-opt a pagan holiday, make it their own, in order to convert pagans.

Many Anglo-Saxon pagan clans, adopted the name, but still observed the original celebrations of Lugh and the original intent of the holiday. Must pagan purests prefer to ignore the Christianized version of the festival and stick with the early Celtic name of Lughnasadh. As with most things in the world of spirituality, your preferred name should ring true with you. It’s your festival to honor the Sun, the warmth of the summer and their blessings upon the fields. Call it what you feel most connected to, Lughnasadh or Lammas.
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Celebrating the Summer Solstice

The Mid-Summer Festival
By Springwolf, D.D., Ph.D.  🐾

The Summer Solstice is a pre-Christian holiday and has been celebrated throughout Europe and many parts of the world for eons. The solstice itself has remained a special moment of the annual cycle of the year since Neolithic times.

In Anglo-Saxon form, the holiday is known as Litha. A Germanic word for June and meaning mid-summer. In Irish form Meitheam. (From Old Irish mithem (“midsummer, June”), from Proto-Celtic *medjo-samīno- (compare Welsh Mehefin)).

Today Solstice celebrations center around the astronomical timing of the summer solstice. But many pagans still hold to traditional lunar calendar celebrations holding the rite at sunset on June 20th, the 21st or June 24, the day of the solstice in Roman times.

Like most pagan holidays, the early Christian Church assimilated the holiday into their calendar and original Celtic celebrations slowly faded. The “new” holiday is associated with the nativity of John the Baptist, which is observed on, June 24. Knowing that pagans followed a lunar calendar and began their celebrations at sunset on the eve before the Gregorian calendar date, the early church established St John’s Eve on the evening of June 23. This is the eve of celebration before the Feast Day of St John the Baptist. Continue reading

Beltaine: The Fire Festival May 1st/May 6th

The Festival of Bel’s Fire
By Springwolf, D.D., Ph.D.  🐾

Arctic Wolf Fire

“Arctic Wolf Fire”
By Tom-in-Silence

Tonight at Sunset marks the beginning of a Pagan Metaphysical Sabbat (holiday) called Beltaine. By the Solar Calendar, the holiday is celebrated on May 1st. But by the Lunar Calendar it’s honored on May 6th. Many modern pagans prefer celebrating the holiday by the lunar calendar as this was probably more accurate to the original festivals of the ancient pagans. In some circles, the Sabbat is honored through out the week beginning on May 1st and ending at sunset on May 7th.

The Sabbat was practiced throughout the Celtic lands. Bel is well known from Italy (Cis-Alpine Gaul), Gaul,  Britain, Ireland and into northern Spain. Gaul was a region of Western Europe during the Iron Age and Roman era, encompassing present day France, Luxembourg and Belgium, most of Switzerland, the western part of Northern Italy, as well as the parts of the Netherlands and Germany on the left bank of the Rhine. The Gauls were the speakers of the Gaulish language (an early variety of Celtic) native to Gaul. Continue reading

The History of Friday The 13th – A Good Day For Pagans

Friday the 13th“Black Friday” or “Black Cat Day”

Fear of Friday the 13th is known as triskaidekaphobes.

When fear of the day started is up for debate. Some suggest little can be found about the day being negative or filled with bad luck prior to the late 1800s. But others link the phobia to older historical events and occurrences which symbolize the link between the number thirteen and Friday to disastrous events.

One thing many seem to agree to is that both the number thirteen and the sixth day of the week (Friday) have been associated with negative connotations from patriarchal societies and most definitely western cultures. Where as matriarchal societies associate both these objects with positive aspects and connotations.

Pagans Honor The 13th
We should begin with a short explanation for the layman about who and what are Pagans.

By academic definition, Pagans are any religion or spiritual path that does not follow Abrahamic doctrine. It’s a category of religions that would include Buddhism, Hinduism, Shamanism and Pagan Metaphysics (Witchcraft). It’s these last two that are largely associated with modern Paganism. Continue reading

What Is Paganism?

A Basic Description of Paganism & Pagan Metaphysics

PaganismWhat is Paganism? What does Pagan mean? How is Pagan Metaphysics different from Witchcraft? With the growing popularity in Paganism, many people who have never heard the word before, or people who don’t know what it is are looking for some basic understanding and knowledge about the beliefs and practices. Many wonder if it’s a religion or something else. Is it evil or bad? What’s real and what’s made up in Hollywood?

Of course anyone could write an entire book on these subjects. Well, actually I have with Pagan Metaphysics 101, the first book in a series to explain these questions in more detail. But for those who are looking for a short general version for their own understanding, I offer the following brief explanation.

The Word ‘Pagan’
Many beginners confuse the translation of the word pagan with its meaning. Pagan translates to “country dweller”, but that’s not the definition of the word. It’s just the translation. In the old days a country dweller was someone who lived off the land and depended on nature to survive. They were typically practitioners of some form of nature or earth based religion.
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