Category Archives: Column: Ancient Calendar & Pagan Holidays

Pagan Holidays of past and present, these are daily posts concerning the holiday, ritual, and daily celebrations that our Ancient Ancestors (and present Pagans) celebrate (ed). Posts include civilizations such as Ancient Rome, Greece, Norse, Egypt, Babylon, etc.

Ancient Calendar & Pagan Holidays: September 12th: The Last to Leave the World of Men

Today in Ancient Greece, there was an observance for Astraea. Now, this Goddess was known for being much more than the daughter of Themis and Zeus. She was honored because of her grand exit, one could say, or for being so selfless. Astraea happened to be the very last of her kind that left the world of Men to take her place with the other Greek Pantheon in Heaven.

Ancient Calendar & Pagan Holidays: September 8th: When the Present Echoes the Past

There is a place which can still be found on the map and it’s called, Baviaria.  In this beautiful spot located in the southern regions of Germany, a tradition continues that has it’s roots stretched from a long past. The festival is called, Almabtrieb. (Also known as Viehsheid.)

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Almabtrieb marks the end of a season when the the cattle return from the mountain. They spent approximately 100 days grazing there in what is known as, the Alpine Meadows.

Now while this is a tradition that still goes on today, it touches on a fertility rite from more ancient times. In centuries past, cattle were dressed in colorful ribbons, if the season had been a good one, and even in bells—which were said to drive away demons and the evils the most superstitious folk, fear.

Fertility Rites were a very important part of our Ancient History because not only did we want to further our own bloodlines, but we needed our animals to do the same. The Rites were a way to tap into the productive powers of the earth, of water, of all important life-giving things. We need and needed good and abundant harvests and we needed the world to renew itself within the Seasons and for those Seasons to close only to be reborn again. 

In a way, when biblical writers said, “We are made in the imagine of God,” this was correct in all things even in Paganism, which the sentence also mimics.

We mirror nature and nature mirrors us. There is a connection. And together, we mirror the myths, beliefs and legends of the Gods and Goddesses.

As the God goes into the earth for his sacrificial death, so do we when we die. So does the Seasons when they come to an end. But just as the Great Mother gives renewed life to the God come spring and he is reborn, so are the Seasons – as so reflects the proof that we can be in one form or another (depending on your belief).

These Rites survived even when more dominant Religions swept across the land attempting to drive out the Old Ways and Ways of the Goddess. Yes, even Christians and Muslims had and have prayers and blessings done by those who were and are ordained by their Faith, hoping to invoke their God’s blessing over the fields and seasons.

Whether it be Religion, Seasons, Life, Deity, Spirit… it seems nothing ever really dies or disappears forever. It changes. It is renamed. Maybe it’s rejected but sure enough, an echo of it lives in something, somewhere.

May every single one of you have a blessed day, whether you celebrate Almabtrieb or something or nothing else. Be thankful for all you have gained or have even lost from the previous Season as we are able to witness a new one unfold.

Ancient Calendar & Pagan Holidays: September 7th: A Priestess of Weaving & Warfare

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Most believe all things began with Ra in Egyptian Lore. Not so. Long before Ra and the many familiar names thereafter, was an earlier, more Ancient line of divinity beginning with that of Neith.

Neith was the mother of Ra and on this day in Egyptian myth, she was said to go forth to Atum. Atum, being the father of the very first lineage of gods, a creator, who rose forth out of the nothingness of the world.

If nothing else, Neith serves as an example that women are both nurturing and destructive – depending on what the situation calls for. In later mythology and current Religions, a woman was painted as something that should be weak and nearly mute. She should see to the needs of her husband, keeping to the home and hearth and the children she bore. She was even removed from Religion, unless serving that of god and man. In the beginning, though, this was not always so…as far as a woman is concerned.

Neith was a spirit of the water and while she was known for the more gentler habits of women, she also stood for warfare.

Ancient Calendar & Pagan Holidays: September 6 : The Horned Dance & Goddess Mala

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A formal reckoning of, Abbots Bromley Horned Dance, can be traced back to 1226. Even further back, it favors the memory of fertility rites lost to many present day Pagans.

Still, on or about this day – even now – twelve dancers in mideval fashion, six in antlers, a motley fool, a rider, an archor and a Maid Marion, would and will dance a ten mile landscape across twelve distinct destinations.

Once upon a time, this celebration announced the launching of a Hunting Season of sorts, or the rights to hunt in a place called Needwood Forest.

The Goddess Month of Mala begins today.

Ancient Calendar & Pagan Holidays: August 28th: An Icelandic Festival

Freyr would be honored with a great festival that would include horse races among other things.  Freyr was a god living in Icelandic culture. His festival was called, Freyfaxi, which was actually the name of a horse belonging to Chieftain Hrafnkell Freysgodi.

This was Chieftain Hrafnkell Freysgodi’s way of honoring the God Freyr, who presided over the land and it’s fertility.

Ancient Calendar & Pagan Holidays: August 27th: A Big Day In Ancient Egypt

Happy Birthday Isis! Ancient Egyptians would have made this her day of birth or at least, had a celebration honoring the day she was born.

Isis was a very important part of Egyptians culture and to date, is one of the oldest Goddesses known to survive Culture, Age and Time. Her name is still invoked and honored today by the many labels living under Paganism.

Also in Ancient Egypt, Bastet had her Procession marked in their Calendar on this day. Bastet protected women who were expecting and also, like her father Ra, was a deity of the Sun. She was untamed with a full and loving heart but while she was known for her willingness to do good and give, she was also known for being very capable of striking down evil and punishing them. She loves Cats and was drawn with a cat-head.  In fact, in Ancient Egypt, if you brought harm to a Cat, you could be killed for it… and you wouldn’t want to tick off Bastet, would you?

Ancient Calendar & Pagan Holidays: August 26th: Finnish Creator of the Universe, Burner of Years, Day of Jubilation

In Ancient Egypt, today is a “Day of Jubilation in the Heart of Ra. “ Ra was a very important part of Egyptian Culture. He battled the unknown during the hours of darkness protecting the world of light. He symbolized the Sun.

The Finnish is a culture we hear very little about. They would have had a Festival in honor of their Goddess IImatar today. She was the one who created the universe. 

Now, over in Yorkshire of West Witton, Pagans were known to do a ritual either on this day or somewhere about that involved making a straw figure. They called the effigy Owd Bartle and proudly showed it off throughout town in a sort of celebration. After stopping at all the Pubs, they would take the straw figure to a place called Grassgill Lane. In a ritual, they would stabbed and then set Owd Bartle aflame on a huge bonfire.

What did this symbolize? Something beautiful, actually. A fresh start. Renewal. When they burned the deity, it represented the burning of the years, wiping the slate completely clean. Putting the past in the past or putting to bed the previous seasons. It’s something we could all use a little or a lot of….yes?