Mermaid Tree

Exploring the complex, celebrating the simple

A Midsummer Night’s Meditation June 20, 2012

Midsummer is upon us!  Blessed Litha and Merry Solstice to all who are celebrating!  This Summer Solstice is especially important as it is exactly six months out from the 2012 Winter Solstice.  The upcoming months will bring a lot of change for the world as well as the individual–be on the lookout and keep your connection to the Earth’s energetic grid strong as the wheel of the year turns toward the energetic shift in December.

Summer solstice celebrations date back to ancient times, where agrarian societies would gather to celebrate the coming prosperity of the harvest as well as fertility.  People would gather various herbs believed to be associated with healing, as this was considered to be an auspicious time to do so.  Among these herbs were calendula, good for soothing irritated skin, and St. John’s Wort, which has many uses but may be most popular as a holistic treatment for depression  (use carefully, as St. John’s Wort interferes with the effectiveness of birth control pills).  These celebrations usually involved a large bonfire to keep away “evil” or mischievous spirits and sometimes dragons.  Often individuals or couples would jump over a bonfire as a prosperity ritual.  It was believed that as you jumped across, your troubles “burned up” in the fire.  The day is also associated with love, as Shakespeare touched on in his work A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  There were several rituals open to young women who wished to see or dream of the man they would marry.  As Christianity was introduced to these cultures, the Midsummer traditions were kept, but the day was said to celebrate St. John the Baptist instead and was called St. John’s Eve.

In contemporary times, many cultures around the world still celebrate the summer solstice, especially in Europe.  Neo-pagans also observe this day as a holiday.  If you would like to participate in the celebration of Summer, here are a few easy ways…

  • Place a candle on the ground (preferable outside, not around anything flamable) and–carefully–take turns jumping across it.  Just BE CAREFUL for any clothing on your person or anything around the candle that may catch fire.  When doing fire rituals, always have lots of fire ready just in case.
  • Eat a meal of fresh fruits and vegetables–share with friends and family!
  • Meditate on the fact that this is the longest day of the year, and what that means in the Wheel of the Year
  • Enjoy some beautiful weather by doing an outside activity (see previous post)
  • Make herb sachets involving calendula or St. John’s Wort

Want more ways to celebrate?  Follow us on Twitter @themermaidtree or visit our Facebook page.  Is there something special that you are doing in honor of the solstice?  Please share with us below!

 

Beltane: A Revisit May 1, 2012

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While speaking with a family member recently, I casually mentioned the beginnings of Beltane/May Day and the spiritual symbolism of the maypole, dressing in white, etc. I was taken aback by her fascination with the information. In college, younger versions of Tree and Mermaid taught the origins of all the holidays. I have recounted the story so many times that I forgot how many more times I should keep telling it. Eventually, it began to feel like common knowledge amongst my core social circle. It managed to slip my mind just how many people out there do not know these things…and how many of them would find them interesting.

Instead of retelling my run-down of the historic and spiritual origins of this fire festival, I found a really good article on BBC’s website. Click HERE to go to the online article in their Religions section to find out about the beginnings of Beltane as well as how modern Pagans generally celebrate.

Even if you do not generally follow an earth-based spiritual path, I suggest finding a maypole to dance around or a grassy field in which to frolic today. Light a candle and ponder the true abundance around you.  Give thanks to the Universe for all of the love, in its many forms, that exists in your life.

Doing something fun today?  Share with us below or by following us on Twitter @themermaidtree using the hash tag #beltanemayday

 

Winter Solstice 2009. Blessed Yule! December 21, 2009

 

Yule Pentacle

 

The Winter Solstice, or Yule, is one of the major Sabbats in the Wheel of the Year.  Yule is the first Sabbat after Samhain.  If you’ll remember, we talked about how Samhain is a time of endings and beginnings…almost Void-like in quality. We can reflect on aspects of our lives that need to be released in order for there to be rebirth.  It is the season of “death” that is needed in order to make way for new life.  This new life is celebrated during the sabbat of Yule!

The Winter Solstice marks the shortest day of the year.  On this day the god (the Solar force) is reborn and his arrival brings the gradual lengthening of daylight.  Many cultures and religions have belief systems that recognize the birth of a god during this time of year.  

When Christianity gained a foothold, many of the various pagan Solstice traditions were incorporated by the Church.  This explains the many overlapping traditions and symbols that are used during Christmas such as the Christmas Tree and Mistletoe.  In many cases, these traditional Christmas symbols stem from the stories of pre-Christian gods.  (Please check back soon for another post discussing these gods and symbols).  This by no means negates the validity of any one religious path; rather it enhances the significance of this time of year – a time of joyous rebirth.  

As light returns to the world, so to does it return to our lives.  We have passed through the Sabbats that deal with endings.  Now the focus is on using the spark of rebirth to bring new vitality and accomplishments into our lives.  Yule is when you meditate and consult with your Higher Self about what your focus should be for the upcoming year.  Set goals for yourself and know that this is the perfect time to expect miraculous beginnings.  

Yule is such a joyous time of year – celebrate!  Gather with your friends and family to sing and eat together.  During one memorable Yule celebration, Mermaid, myself and several of our friends did a candle ceremony and then kept the festive energy going by singing “Walking in a Wiccan Wonderland!”  I have no idea who wrote the lyrics, but it was so much fun to take a popular winter song and use it in our Yule celebration.  

This is a time when blessings increase – open yourself up to receiving them.  Love and Joy to you on this wonderful day.

Blessed Be.

 

November Full Moon, Samhain and Dia de los Muertos November 2, 2009

"Full Moon" by Michael Roppert

"Full Moon" by Michael Roppert

Blessed Esbat!  I hope everyone enjoys the Full Moon energy tonight (and the next two nights, which will also be permeated with Full Moon magick).  I love that the November Full Moon falls so close to Samhain (the Witches New Year! aka Halloween) this year.  Today is also the second day of Dia de los Muertos.  So it has been a very powerful and significant couple of days.  It is a time of simultaneous endings and beginnings.  I view this part of the yearly cycle as the time of the Void.  With Mabon we saw the culmination of the years events and gave thanks for all that we have harvested in our lives.  During Samhain and Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) the veils between the worlds are at their thinnist.  We honor, connect with, and remember the dead.  We also acknowledge, honor and release what has died in our own lives.  Samhain marks the New Year, and reminds us that in order for anything new to be birthed, we must first allow some things to die away.  It is necessary.  Without endings we would accumulate too much clutter and stagnate.  Experiencing endings in any part of our life is not always easy; but would you rather cling to something that isn’t working for you just because it is familiar?  Or will you harness your personal power and summon your faith in order to take a leap into the unknown?  Who knows what treasure lies waiting to be discovered…both within yourself and without you in the earthly world.   It is a celebration of endings and beginnings: life and death celebrated at the same time.It will come as no surprise therefore, to learn that in Neo-Pagan traditions the November Full Moon is called the Mourning Moon.  This full moon is giving an extra charge of energy to the New Year, so make sure you take advantage of it!  I found the above picture online and thought it was absolutely perfect for this post.  It shows that this Full Moon, in conjunction with Samhain and Dia de los Muertos, is a perfect time to reflect on what has passed and then take a leap of faith into the unknown.  Allow the old to pass away, and let the New Year bring you blessings, beauty and bounty!!!!!The following poem struck me completely with its haunting beauty.  Perfect for the month of the Mourning Moon.  Blessed Be.

To The Moon

moon_tree

Moon Tree (Photographer unknown)

Oh gracious moon, now as the year turns,
I remember how, heavy with sorrow,

 

I climbed this hill to gaze on you,

And then as now you hung above those trees

Illuminating all.  But to my eyes

Your face seemed clouded, tremulous

From the tears that rose beneath my lids,

So painful was my life: and is, my

Dearest moon; its tenor does not change.

And yet, memory and numbering the epochs

Of my grief is pleasing to me.  How welcome

In that youthful time – when hope’s span is long,

And memory short – is the remembrance even of

Past sad things whose pain endures.

by Giacomo Leopardi

What endings and beginnings are you experiencing?  How are you celebrating Samhain/Dia de los Muertos/the Mourning Moon?

 

Mabon 2009 (The Autumnal Equinox) September 18, 2009

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Ahhh, autumn is upon us and it’s time to celebrate the progression of the seasons!  Tuesday, September 22, 2009 is Mabon, also known as the Autumnal Equinox.

Mabon is a Sabbat, a day when we celebrate Nature’s cycle of progression.  There are eight Sabbats which make up the Wheel of the Year.

Our ties to the cycles of Earth can be roughly placed into four categories: Planting, Growing, Harvesting, and Planning.  The Sabbats represent the start of these phases, and their midway points throughout the year.

Wheel of the Year

Mabon is a Sabbat of the harvest time.  The last of the harvest is traditionally completed during this period, making Mabon a day to reflect on all that you have achieved, or harvested, in your life.  Be sure to give thanks for all that you have been blessed with.

Mabon is when day and night are of equal length.  (Mabon’s counterpoint is Ostara, or the Spring Equinox – the only other day of the year when day and night are equal).  The Earth reaches a perfect balancing point of experiencing Light and Dark.  This is a powerful time to achieve balance in your own life.  Take time to give thanks and then reflect on the things you need to bring into balance.

One of the things I most look forward to during the year is watching the sun set on Mabon.  On this Sabbat the sun sets directly in the west!  (Because of the Earths rotation during the course of the year, the sun doesn’t actually set directly in the West like it will on Mabon!)

Seeing the day actually shift into night, and knowing that it is equal, creates a profound sense of balance and connectedness.

I absolutely love gathering with my friends and preparing to watch the sunset together.  It’s even better if you have autumn season foods to snack on – apples, apple pies, corn bread, anything with cinnamon (yummy!) and so on.  Use appropriate Mabon colors to decorate with such as brown, orange and red.    Even if you are not doing a big ceremony, it’s still fun to decorate, eat and be with your friends on a Sabbat!

A small ritual you can do together (or on your own!) is to pour a drink such as apple juice, wine, or even water into a single cup (a chalice if you have one).  Take turns passing the cup around and as it gets to each person, say one thing you are abundantly grateful to have harvested into your life.  In this way you are blessing the liquid with your gratitude.  When everyone has given their thanks, pour the liquid onto the Earth so she can absorb your thanks for all she has given you.

Another ritual you can do on Mabon is a Self Balancing ritual.  I like to use two candles – one white and one black – in order to represent the equal day and night.  You can write down a list of things you need to bring into balance, and then burn the paper in the candle flames (be careful and have water nearby!).  Or you can just stare at the flames and let them help bring you into a meditation where you journey inward to achieve balance.  Whatever you feel moved to do!  It can be as simple as writing in your journal!

Mabon is the final Sabbat of the Wheel of the year, a time of culmination.  In October we celebrate Samhain (Halloween).  Samhain is a time of simultaneous beginnings and endings, when the veils between the worlds are thinnest.  Samhain is called the Witches New Year, and I see it almost as the Void before the birth of the God at Yule.  It is when Yule comes around that rebirth really starts to happen.

But we will talk more about Samhain in October.  For now…Blessed Mabon!!!

What are your Mabon plans?