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The Summer Solstice: Lore and Tradition
This is the second time in the year when the sun appears to "stand still" on its journey across the horizon upon rising and setting. Here, the sun rises at its furthest north-easterly point, and sets in its most north-westerly. It reaches its highest nadir in the sky, and here in the UK that means that the days are exceptionally long, and we may not even see full darkness before the light of dawn begins to permeate the skies. This phenomenon of the sun rising and setting in the same place lasts for three days, just as at the winter solstice. The Summer Solstice is known as Alban Hefin (Welsh) meaning "the light of summer", Medios-saminos (Old Celtic) and Meitheamh (Irish), both meaning "midsummer". Welsh tradition places the summer solstice as one of "three spirit-nights" or tair ysbrydnos, times when the veils between the world were thin, the others being Calan Mai and Calan Gaeaf(Beltane and Samhain). This is the longest day, before we begin our descent back into the darkness of the coming winter. It is considered the peak of the power of light, yet a reminder that everything changes.

Our Neolithic ancestors built monuments to track the sunrise and sunset of the winter solstice, and equally each monument would also work in reverse six months later for the summer solstice. Many monuments, such as the Callanish stone circle, also include the equinoxes, and so act as a giant calendar, marking out the time and the season. Four rows or avenues of ancient processional stones meet in the circle at a central stone, much like a Celtic cross. Stonehenge's processional way from the River Avon was marked by the sun's path during the solstices, and the Ring of Brodgar on Orkey is also aligned to the solstices and equinoxes.

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Druid Magic - How to Craft Your Own Spells

Magic has been worked in the Druid tradition since ancient times. As it is a growing tradition, with new knowledge and techniques influencing it all the time, you can certainly feel free to write up your own spells, using whatever tools you desire, whatever components and whatever technique you feel best suits your practice. Here are some guidelines as to how to go about writing and performing a spell.

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Living in the Way, Part 2: The Terrestrial Way

 

The Terrestrial Way

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Pilgrimage: Earth

Oxford Dictionaries defines "Pilgrimage" as a pilgrim's journey, or a religious journey or religious expedition. I have gone of several pilgrimages myself, self-described, most likely, but pilgrimages nonetheless. I ventured to Brittany in France and visited Carnac, with its row and rows of standing stones. I visited a number of off-the-beaten tracks places like "Merlin's Grave" (I am pretty sure he wasn't buried there), the Val-sans-retour, the Fountain of Barenton, the Forest of Broceliande, the odd Celto-Christian Church at Trehuerentec. All of these places were known to others, all of them had some history, a few of them had some authenticity.

Last year, at the OBOD Summer Gathering, I made the trip up Glastonbury Tor, indeed an effort and a pilgrimage all in one. To do ritual in a holy places makes the religious journey or religious expedition even more powerful, all the more memorable. The journeys are all the more memorable because they require a journey of distance, of effort, and of time.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs

 

In the Northern Hemisphere, the period around the 1st of May is observed by many pagans as Beltane, based on the Gaelic celebration that traditionally marked the beginning of summer. As a celebration of life, which is bursting forth in abundance at the peak of spring, it is easy to see why this holy day is so popular with pagans of so many paths, including Druids.

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Beltane Rites and Lore

Beltane is the start of summer, at the opposite end of the Wheel of the Year to Samhain, Summer's End. Cattle would be brought to the higher ground and summer pastures, tended by the women and children while the men would work the farms. In Irish Gaelic it is Beltaine, in Welsh it is Calan Mai, and in Scottish Gaelic Bealtainn. It is the other time when the veils between the worlds are thin, and the Fair Folk can be seen wandering the land in abundance. By the calendar, Beltane begins at dusk on the 30th April and runs to dusk on the 1 May. If celebrating by the local flora, it is when the hawthorn, or May is out in flower. In the UK, the first weekend in May is still celebrated with a bank holiday, perhaps as a remnant of this very important Celtic Festival.

Fire is an important part of this festival, for Beltane is often translated as "the fires of Bel", who was a sun deity. All household fires were extinguished on the eve of Beltane, and then fires were lit on hilltops at dawn, similar to but in reverse at Samhain, where fires were lit at sunset.[1] It was important to not give away any fire from your household at Beltane, for your luck would soon run out. In Ireland, the focus on fire and hilltops shifted from Tlachtga and Tara to Uisnech.  It is said that the first Beltane fire was lit at Uisnech by the Druid, Mide, whose name means "the centre". Beltane is a hinge for the world to open and change, as at Samhain. [2] In Scotland and Wales, the Beltane bonfires were made from nine woods collected and put together by nine men, and called "needfires". [3] Cattle were driven between two bonfires on this day before heading out to their summer pastures. They were said to pass close enough to the fires so that their hair might be singed. The heat and smoke of the bonfires might have been enough to cause any parasites to fall off the animals that may have taken up residence in the winter quarters. Fire is also an important part of the Beltane ceremonies today, as at Edinburgh with the Beltane Fire Society putting on a spectacular event every year, as previously mentioned.

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For millennia, people have used a wide variety of methods designed to foretell future events or to gain advice from the spirit realm. In many cultures, the ability to divine the future was a highly valued skill, and the word of augurs and professional soothsayers could influence important political or strategic decisions, such as whether or not an army should head into battle, or if planting or harvesting should commence. The ability to decipher meaning from the chaos of everyday life helped to establish a sense of order in the cosmos.

Divination remains popular in today’s society, even if the status of most professional readers and astrologers may not be quite as illustrious as in the past. Some of the more familiar forms of divination, such as tarot cards, are relatively recent inventions, while others—such as throwing bones or scrying for patterns in a crystal ball or flames are quite ancient. What all these forms of divination hold in common is a desire to try to provide answers for an oftentimes uncertain world.

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