Tag Archives: Celtic

Ancient Calendar & Pagan Holidays: June 1: A link between Celtic and Greek Dieties, Rome’s One and not the Other, Ancient World Vampires, Norse Syn and Ancient Egypt

Time to reflect on Celtic lore, for our Ancient Calendar reveals the Celts would have honored what they called, the Hamadryads. The Hamadryads were spirits that lived within the sacred Oak trees .

The name actually came from Greece, but in that culture, had a somewhat different meaning.

In Greek lore, the Hamadryads were not Celtic spirits but, Nymphs. The connection between these two cultures may live within the whole “tree” thing, for it is said that Nymphs were individually born with an attachment to a certain tree.

According to the Greeks, if the tree died, so did the Nymph.

Also, to harm a tree connected to a Nymph was a great crime against Greek Gods.

In fact, their Gods were said to punish anyone who maliciously set out to harm either.


Over in Rome, on June 1st, a festival for two Goddesses named Carna and Cardea would be happening. These two ladies and their purposes intertwined. Goddess Carna overlooked doors and locks, while Cardea overlooked the hinges. Also, Carna protected the larger organs of the body as Cardea protected the innocent while they slept…but from what?

The Strig.

Who were the Strig? A type of Vampire/Demon, who sucked the blood of their victims while they slept.


Today is also the Kalends of June in Ancient Roman Calendars.


 

Now, let us go to the land and culture of the Norse, as they were honoring one of my favorite Goddesses named, Syn. Syn not only aided Fridd, but was also valued as a protector. In order to be granted the protection of Syn, all one had to do was invoke her.

Later, she became known as a protector of those in need of justice and those on trial.


In Ancient Egypt, they are celebrating Maat and Ra, as this is the day they go forth in secret.

Imbolc

Brighid's Flower

Imbolc is a time of new beginnings. For us Celts the new year begins at Samhain … and at Imbolc. Both. And/and not either/or. It rather like Schrödinger’s Cat, being alive and dead at the same time, or like light being both waves and particles.

The Celtic tradition can seem as confusing as the sound of one hand clapping … and for the same reasons. We work very happily in duality, as and/and.

The story-lore, the grammarye, tells us that at Samhain the crone, Ceridwen, opens her eyes and takes hold of her transmuting power. She becomes the guardian of the well of kenning, of nouse, and holds the cup for us to drink from over the season of Midwinter.

Then comes the snowdrops, the flowers of the spring, pushing their heads up through the frozen soil, holding the White Cup of Fostering upside-down so that all its goodness pours down onto, into, the soil, making it rich for the coming spring.

This is the way of it in the northlands, where the snowdrop flourishes along with the flourishing snow. This story is of the northlands. In the south, the Lady of Spring shows us things differently but always she comes forth with the life-energy of fostering at this time.

Imbolc fostering comes through the sheep’s’ milk for us here in the north. As the new lambs birth so the white milk comes, the new goodness.

Ogham: Luis – Rowan

The Rowan Moon is 21 Jan – 17 Feb

Rowan is the tree of quickening and of divination.

Rowan is a small deciduous tree, found high up in the mountains, sometimes called “The Lady of the Mountain”. The Rowan tree, also known as “quicken” and Mountain Ash in the Welsh Marches where I live, is a well-known magical tree. Quickbeam  is the its name in the countryside, it’s called the Quicken Tree, the Quickbeam (meaning ‘living wood’) the Witch Tree. Remember Quickbeam, the Ent, in LOTR ?

Rowan flowers

A member of the Rose family, Rowan is related to Rose, Apple, Hawthorn, Blackthorn, and Cherry, and grows no higher than 30-40 feet. It can live up to two hundred years. The leaves grow in pairs and are long and slender. In May, Rowan blossoms into clusters of little creamy white flowers. The tree berries in autumn with a bright red fruit beloved by birds.

The Rowan berry is bitter, but when mixed with sugar or other sweet fruits, is excellent in pies, jelly or jam. Rowan berries are also made into juice and wine. The berries provide vitamins A and C, carotene, pectin and essential oil, and stimulate the immune system. Medicinally, Rowan berries are a laxative, and can also be used for sore throats, inflamed tonsils, hoarseness, even diarrhoea. A decoction from the bark is used as an astringent.

Rowan berries

The berries were commonly used to flavour ale in an old Welsh recipe and were used as a coffee substitute. This fruit can also be fed to wild birds, to flavour liqueurs and cordials and can be made into jam.

It’s possible the word “Rowan” comes from the Norse word rune, meaning charm or secret. The Sanskrit word runa means magician, but it may also be from the Gaelic rudha-an, meaning “the red one”. Rune staves were often cut from the rowan tree which gives a leaning towards the Norse … but most likely all three explanations are valid. Its Celtic name is “Luis”, (pronounced ‘loosh’).

Divination

Rowan is a gateway tree.

The Celtic shaman’s Silver Branch, calling Spirit, opening the gates between worlds to enable divination, is often made from rowan.

It is burnt for to invoke spirits for divination, bringing inspiration. Rowan is one of the nine sacred woods burnt in the  Beltane fire as it is the tree of dragons, guarded by dragons. Walking sticks made of rowan will guide you through the Wild Wood and the Enchanted Forest.

Rowan is one of the trees associated with the goddess Brighid, Smith/Healer/Poet. She is also the spinner and weaver of the Threads, the Wyrd of the World. Spindles and spinning wheels were traditionally made of Rowan. It’s also called the Wicken Tree and used for divining – one of Brighid’s skills through her Thread-weaving and kenning of the Wyrd.

In Scotland, Rowan trees were sometimes planted near stone circles and said to be especially powerful. The Faer hold their celebrations in stone circles guarded by Rowan trees. Rowan twigs placed above doorways and barns protect against bad luck and the tree is used for protection.

Rowan is a part of the fuel for burning the dead, symbolising death and rebirth. In Celtic lands red food is food of the dead. As a quickening tree rowan works in both directions, opens the gateway between Thisworld and Otherworld for both death and birth … death to Thisworld is birth into Otherworld and vice versa. It also opens the gateway for the shaman to journey between the worlds to bring back the kenning that their folk need.

In traditional Celtic divination ritual its round wattles, spread with bull’s hides, were used to call difficult spirits to answer, hence the Irish saying to “go on the wattles of knowledge” meaning to do your utmost to find the answer, get information. Thickets of rowan are often found in places used for oracular work, e.g. the Baltic Amber Isles.

Working with Rowan

Divination is a charismatic word, full of glamour, seductive … how many of us can truthfully put our hands up and say we’ve never been for a reading? Mostly we want difficult questions answered. Such answers mean we can shift responsibility for the outcomes from ourselves by saying we were following the reading … “only following orders” – now where have I heard that before?

Divination is often associated with clairvoyance. The word comes from the French, meaning clear vision. Many ancient Celtic wells and springs offered clearing the sight, while this can well mean clearing cataracts it likely refers to seeing across worlds, to divination, to clairvoyance. Water was fundamental to the Celtic tradition, the lifeblood of the Mother, the silver threads of life-energy that run throughout the body of the Earth carrying the knowing, kenning, of Life as well as the stuff without which we cannot live.

Rowan will help you.

In order to be clairvoyant, to divine, one must know oneself, be true and honest to and about oneself, this is not easy! Rowan can hold the gateway for you to see yourself as others see you and to know yourself as you truly are. Often these are not the same, nor should they be. All of us wear another skin – as in the bull-dreaming divination – but it is vital for each of us to know when we are wearing the bull’s skin and when our own. It is this confusion combined with the wish to look good in the eyes of others that disables clear-seeing, clairvoyance. While we are inveigled by our needs to look good nothing will appear as it truly is.

Spend time sitting with these words …

  • Clear Distinct Sharp
  • Vision Idea Revelation Concept Foresight Prediction Sight Ability to see
  • Divine Discover Guess Presume Discern Perceive
  • Thread Fibre Gist Storyline Theme Plot Idea

You’ll find working with these words, ideas, will draw out your own concepts, take your ideas out of the box. Coming out of the box is going through a gate, crossing, walking between worlds … this is the beginning of seeing clearly.

Be assured that this journey will be difficult. We are all accustomed to the sway things are and wish to assume that they will be this way always … of course, they won’t. but take rowan, and take courage, walk into the darkness to find the light.

Elen Sentier

behind every gifted woman there’s usually a rather talented cat …

Wye’s Women Elen’s Books Rainbow Warriors

My profiles: FacebookWordPressYouTubeAmazonTwitter

Ogham: B – Beith/Birch

Birch’s day is the first day of the new year, the beginnings of new things, the beginning of a new cycle.

Shining One

The word birch means bright and/or shining in many languages including a Sanskrit root “Bhräjate” “it shines” and “bhurja” for birch. Indo-European and proto-Indo-European tree names are (*bherH-ģ-o ) as meaning  “shining”, “bright”, “gleaming”. It’s also known as finnbheann na coille “the bright lady of the woods”.

Shining … sun-bright … giving off light. The glimmering white trunk of the tree in northern woods is stunning and gives the truth to the naming.

The thesaurus gives us the following for bright and shining …

Bright … Vivid Intense Dazzling Light Clear

Shining … Unblemished Immaculate Glowing Radiating Virgin Original Primeval

That last word, primeval, is significant here. The birch is one of the primeval trees, one of the first trees in the world and one of the first trees to help reclaim old building sites, to bring them back to nature. It and the Scots Pine work and live together.

Sit-with these words, see what gifts of insight they offer you at the beginning of the year.

Birch Tree

New Beginnings

In Scandinavia the farmers use it’s leafing to time the planting of wheat. In many countries Birch is the earliest tree to put on leaves, and one of the trees that begins to make new land along with the Scots pine.

You have just worked with the first vowel tree, Ailm, the Scots pine. Both trees work with newness and ask you to always be open to all possibilities, but without being so gullible that otherworld is able to send you off for a tin of striped paint … LOL. This is the sort of paradox-line you continually walk as a shaman, always having to discern what is both true and pertinent to the moment. You must learn to know when you are being tested. It will be to see if you are really awake or just bumbling along on auto-pilot J.

Birch is the tree of inception. What does this mean? Here are some words for you to sit-with and ponder on to help open up your mind and intuition to what Birch and inception is about, what Birch does, what its job is.

Inception begin, set up, start, set in motion, commence, inauguration, open, origin, foundation, launch, establishment, creation, activate, initiate.

Sit-with these words. What pictures come into your mind from them? Take them into your journey as foci, guiding and directing you towards finding the spirit of the wood.

Kenning

In the medieval kennings, the verses associated with Beith are:

  • Féocos foltchaín: “Withered foot with fine hair” (Word Ogham of Morann mic Moín)
  • Glaisem cnis: “Greyest of skin” (Word Ogham of Mac ind Óc)
  • Maise malach: “Beauty of the eyebrow” (Word Ogham of Culainn)

Kennings are knowings … not knowledge! To ken something is about having an acquaintance with it, a cognisance of it, and understanding of it, an awareness of it. To have any or all of these things of another ensures you have a new beginning of your relationship with it … be it animal, vegetable, mineral or human. The birch is a tree of kennings.

Broomstick

The birch twigs make the flying tail for the witch’s broomstick … so the birch is about flying too. The French broomstick’s handle is traditionally of hazel – the tree of Elen of the Ways, so giving the broomstick its ability to find its way across the worlds. In Britain it is often given a handle of Ash, Gwydion’s tree, the shapeshifter’s tree that helps with the flying between worlds. The birch twigs are tied to the stem with fine willow strippings, bringing in the goddess Brighid = she of the Bright Fiery Arrow. The birch gives the broom the shining, glimmering light of otherworld to light the ways which it will travel.

Birch Tea Benefits, particularly their anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties, have been highly regarded for centuries.

The broomstick is used in many traditions as a method of cleansing or purifying a space. In some cultures, the rite of jumping the broom is considered an important part of a marriage ceremony, signifying new beginnings and a clearing away of the past for a new future. This ritual has seen some resurgence in popularity as more and more Pagan couples celebrate handfastings.

Take all of this into your meditations for the beginning of the year.

Elen Sentier

behind every gifted woman there’s usually a rather talented cat …

 

Wye’s Women Elen’s Books Rainbow Warriors

My profiles: FacebookWordPressYouTubeAmazonTwitter