Category Archives: History

Everything written on something Historical.

Women, Healing & Lore: Holly

Holly

Since today’s Ancient Calendar marks the season of the Holly King, (Read Here), I thought, what could be a better opportunity than right here and now to delve deeper into the folk medicine and lore of something we are all somewhat familiar with.

Holly actually has quite a few nicknames. For the Celtic Tree Month, we know it by Tinne, but it is also called, Christ’s Thorn, Bat’s Wings, Holm Chaste, Hulver Bush, Aquifolius and Hulm. It’s proper name would be quite the tongue twister, Ilex aquifolium or I. Opaca.

Here in the mountains, we know it as Holly and it’s something that stretches as far as landscaping to the table and wreaths inside our homes. And while today, most of us are oblivious to it’s true history or purpose, not so long ago, those dead and gone from these mountains, knew it all quite well.

While present day Pagans might plant Holly by the front door for protection, it wasn’t much different in times of old. Not only did people believe that Holy warded off evil spirits but they also believed it kept them safe from lightning, dark sorcery and poison.

People used to make something called, Holly Water. Was this the origins of “Holy Water”? They would make Holly Water by infusing water with Holly. This was used to protect babies, especially when they were first born, by sprinkling a few drops of the water upon their heads, much like baptism.

Holly was deemed so powerful, when thrown at wild animals, people believed it made them lie down and grow silent.

It was carried by people for luck – especially by men– and hung around the home at Yule for an extra dose of something special.

According to, Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Herbs, there was even a special ritual surrounding Holly. It had to be done on a Friday after Midnight, but if someone gathered nine Holly Leaves (from a smooth plant) and wrapped them in a white cloth created nine knots, then they could sleep with it under their pillow– making their dreams come true.

Medically, the leaves, berries and bark is used. The berries are actually harmful to people. Animals, however, love the Holly Bush. Deer eat them during winter. Birds feast on the berries and for those who keep rabbits, a stick placed in a rabbit hut, will give them something to gnaw in order to restore their appetites. A tonic, if you will.

In olden times, Holly was used to treat smallpox, pleurisy, fevers, rheumatism, and catarrh. It’s leaves were used in tea and because of it’s tannins, it is known as a good blood purifier, diuretic and was also, highly revered as a diaphoetic (which made it good for fevers and such).

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Ancient Calendar & Pagan Holidays: July 7: A Slave Saves Rome & a Farewell to Duir

Roman-women-bathing

 

Once Upon a Time, very, very long ago, Rome was defeated by Gauls. Just like all wars coming to an end, those who win have demands. Gaul demanded that all the women of Rome be given over to them. All Noble Women, that is. You can just imagine what Gaul would have done with them.

Having no other choice, Rome was about to hand their women over, until a Roman slave named, Tutula, also known as, Philotis, offered a better and most clever solution. Instead of sending the noble ladies of Rome off into the mercy of Rome’s enemies, why not send slave girls? Tutula, with all her wisdom, suggested that Rome dress up the slave girls to look like Noble women. This would give Rome time to forge further plots and plans against Gaul….

Once inside the camp of Rome’s enemy, the slave women worked their charms by making the soldiers very happy and very, very drunk. The Gaul men passed out and as they did, Tutula gave the signal to the Roman soldiers hiding ever-so-patiently within the surrounding darkness.

Because of the wisdom and skills of a slave named, Tutula, Rome was able to flip the tables on a war thought to have been lost.

Because of that night and what Tutula did, today would have been known as Nonæ Caprotinæ–the second of two festivals. While Rome would celebrate the very event Tutula helped shape, Noble Women and Slaves were free to eat, make merry and celebrate together.

Tonight’s festival would also honor the Goddess Juno. Romans would also have another festival on this day that was also important to the Harvests, called Consulia, honoring the god of the earth, Consus.

Interestingly enough, Consus’s alter, which stood at the, Circus Maximus, was kept covered with earth all year long except for three days. After uncovering it today, they would have had chariot races, a Roman festival of Handmaids, or otherwise known as, the maid’s day out, and many other celebrations to make the people of Rome very happy and to honor a God, which Rome depended on for food, etc.

Also in Roman calendar, today would have been the Nones of July.

On another Ancient note, the Celtic tree month of Duir ends today. To read more about this month, check out: Ancient Calendar & Pagan Holidays: June 14th: Physical & Symbolic Doors to New Things and Other Dimensions, New Runic Half-Month, A Son of Odin and an Epic Song of Muses

Ancient Calendar & Pagan Holidays: July 6th: A Tale of Two Religions

 

 

Rome offers up a very historical remembrance for the Emperor Flavius Claudius Julianus. He was born in the year of 331 and died in 363 BCE.

Now interesting thing about Flavius….

We all know how Constantine basically sold the soul of Rome when converting the empire over to Christianity, yes? Before then, Rome had a Freedom of Religion type deal. Their modo—everyone believe in their own Gods and Goddesses, and well, just get along. And we all know what Freedom of Religion is….we supposedly have it now. Only now a days, most people scream they want it, but are only tolerant if YOU freely believe in THEIR religion lol. Somewhere in history, I think we lost the point.

Anyway, before Constantine died,  Roman General Flavius raised his legions and refused to obey Constantine’s dictates, nor convert to anything that wasn’t Pagan. Flavius’ stand was so backed by the people, that he was made the new Emperor, and Rome would have been faced with an ugly Civil War IF Constantine had not died.

His rejection of Christianity in favour of Neoplatonic paganism caused him to be called Julian the Apostate–Source Wikipedia

Flavius’ rule may have been brief but it was certainly an interesting one. Although rumors could be just gossip, they filled his short reign with colorful tongues.

Some sources claim that he believed himself to be the reincarnation of Alexander the Great, while other sources claim that he sprinkled blood on all the food so that Christians would not eat it—hoping to starve them all to death.

One fact remains, though….and that’s proved by the way he died. He certainly had no fear. When he passed, it was during a battle with Persia, and history claims that the man was so confident and convinced of his own victory, that he refused to wear any armor.

SO on this day in Roman history, and now today thanks to the Ancient Calendar, we remember Flavius Claudius Julianus of Rome.  Thank you Flavius, for attempting to bring back what we lost…and are still struggling to hold onto.

 

 

Ancient Calendar & Pagan Holidays: July 1: Crone’s Day, Rest in Peace

First, let’s get down to what Present Day Pagans maybe celebrating on this day….

Crone Day! This is a time to honor Father Time and Old Mother Nature.

In Roman Calendar, today marks the Kalends of July.

Nostradamus predicted his own death. In 1566, Michel de Nostradamus, said he would die and, well, he did. Nostradamus was a noted mathematician, astronomer, and physician. In fact, during the black plague, he created a pill made from roses which turned out to be Vitamin C.

If anyone has been catching the TV Show, Reign, then you may recall Nostradamus having a part in the first season. Historically speaking,the show spoke some truth. Nostradmus was a personal Councilor and Physician of none other, Catherine de Medici. The Queen of France was a wide of Henry II. Being by Catherine’s side protected Nostradamus from heresy and being accused of being possessed– which is what people would have said because of his predictions.

Because they are open to interpretation, Nostradamus’s predictions astound and mystify the world….even today.