Category Archives: Folklore

May Day

beltane
Between the Realms

On Beltane Eve, the Queen of the Faery rides out of the mist to entice you away to the Otherworld…

“Beltane, like Samhain, is a time of ‘no time’ when the veils between the two worlds are at their thinnest. No time is when the two worlds intermingle and unite and the magic abounds! It is the time when the Faeries return from their winter respite, carefree and full of faery mischief and faery delight. On the night before Beltane, in times past, folks would place rowan branches at their windows and doors for protection, many otherworldly occurrences could transpire during this time of ‘no time’.

Traditionally on the Isle of Man, the youngest member of the family gathers primroses on the eve before Beltane and throws the flowers at the door of the home for protection. In Ireland it is believed that food left over from May Eve must not be eaten, but rather buried or left as an offering to the faery instead. Much like the tradition of leaving of whatever is not harvested from the fields on Samhain, food on the time of no time is treated with great care.

When the veils are so thin it is an extremely magical time, it is said that the Queen of the Faeries rides out on her white horse. Roving about on Beltane eve, She will try to entice people away to the Faeryland. Legend has it that if you sit beneath a tree on Beltane night, you may see the Faery Queen or hear the sound of Her horse’s bells as She rides through the night. Legend says if you hide your face, She will pass you by but if you look at Her, She may choose you.

There is a Scottish ballad called Thomas the Rhymer, in which Thomas chooses to go the Faeryland with the Queen and has not been seen since. Beltane has been an auspicious time throughout Celtic lore, it is said that the Tuatha de Danaan landed in north-west Connacht on Beltane. The Tuatha de Danaan, it is said, came from the North through the air in a mist to Ireland. After the invasion by the Milesians, the Tuatha faded into the Otherworld, the Sidhe, Tir na nOg.”
-Christina Aubin

Mara

Goddess Mara (Morena) Artwork by Margo Kai https://www.instagram.com/margo_kai/

Modern artist’s conception of the Slavic Goddess Mara (Morena) – the Goddess of Winter, Death, and Rebirth.

Some modern Slavic pagans celebrate her on or around November 1, which they call Day of Mara. Another old name for that time of the year is Dedi (Dzyadi) – meaning, Grandparents or Forebearers. On that day the veil between the worlds of spirits and men, the living and the dead grows thin and both worlds can easily mix.

Mara covers the earth with white snow so that Nature can sleep and rest and gather strength to get ready for the new cycle of life in Spring. She is called the Goddess of Life Eternal and Resurrection.

Saint Martha and the Tarasque

According to the Golden Legend “There was, at that time, on the banks of the Rhône, in a marsh between Arles and Avignon, a dragon, half animal, half fish, thicker than an ox, longer than an horse, with teeth like swords and big as horns, he hid in the river where he took the life of all passers-by and submerged vessels.”
The Tarasque was said to have come from Galatia, which was the home of the legendary Onachus, a scaly, bison-like beast which burned everything it touched (this creature is similar to the Bonnacon)

The sea monster constantly threaded the population. Holding a cross in her hand, Martha sprinkled the beast with holy water. Placing her sash around its neck, she led the tamed dragon through the village.

(sources: “Sainte Marthe”. L’Abbaye Sainte Benoit;””St. Martha”, Sisters of St. Martha of Antigonish” )

image: Charles Lepec – La Tarasque, 1874

Hecate

Hecate.Goddess at Pompeii
Villa of P. Fannius Synistor at Boscoreale. Cubiculum M, second panel from south end of west wall. According to Barnabei, this wall painting depicts a golden statue of Diana Hecate bearing torches.


“She was the goddess who scattered her benefits on the end of life on those who protected it. She welcomed them, in peace underground, among the ranks of the blessed in the happiness of Elysium.
In the painting she has a gold crown with serpents’ heads and necks on the top. Her chest was crossed by a white band to which was attached the quiver, visible behind the right shoulder. She is within a sacred portal wrapped in yellow ribbons. From the portal hangs a bearded mask of an old Silenus above which a lintel is supported on the wings of two swans. On top of the lintel are two silver urns and between them is a round gold shield. At the base is a small red walled area with an altar with offering on top and two vases on benches. Either side are red columns painted with flowers and climbers.”

See Barnabei F., 1901. La villa pompeiana di P. Fannio Sinistore.
Roma: Accademia dei Lincei. p.74, Fig. 17.
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“Hecate: The Virgin Mother Goddess
The Greek Magical Papyri repeatedly refer to her as the Great Mother, using the epithets of Geneteira and Pammetor. An example comes from the Spell to the Waning Moon: “Mother of all who bore love.”

The judeochristian depiction of a virgin woman who brought to life the son of God, displayed in a metaphorical way the connection between the Acausal and the physical realm.

This is one of the hidden aspects of Hecate, the one who holds the keys between the Acausal and the Causal.

Reviewing the existing literature about Hekate reveals that her three-formed nature is reflected in her maternal roles. She can be considered Mother of the Gods, Mother of All Things and a mother to individuals.

In addition, her long history portrays her as the Mother of Witches. Contemporary Hekate is often seen as The Dark Mother, which reflects NAOS’ interpretation of her.

Hekate is a complex goddess that presents herself in different forms throughout the ages and to those seeking her, as reflected in her various maternal roles.

(1) Hecate has even been linked to the Virgin Mary through Mary’s indirect link to Lilith (as the second Eve) and through the association of both with the holy day of August 15. This is the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin when Mary is petitioned to avert storms so that the fields can ripen. A festival for Hecate was held on August 13. She too was invoked for help in preventing storms so that the harvest could be gathered.

(2) She was at one time the goddess of all aspects of the moon but eventually this dominion was split into three with Persephone/Artemis as the virgin/new moon and Demeter/Hera/Selene as the mother/full moon.

She was connected to all three of the life stages. She was there at the time of fertilization and birth. She could open the womb of all living creatures. As the mistress of gates, doors and the abyss she was the symbol of the feminine womb. She was the guardian of women in child birth. She was a nurse of the young. She had associations to growing and the harvest through her relationship to the phases of the moon and her suppression of storms. She was the goddess of healing and magic. And at the end of time she was the Queen of Night, Mistress of the Lower Way, Opener of the Way to Death.

As the Queen of Death, she ruled the powers of regeneration as represented by her association with the serpent.

Haire Aghia Hecata!
Haire Nyktairodyteira Despoina!”

From N A O S at http://www.Noeton.org

The enduring traditions of St. Brigid’s Day

Imbolc, also known as the Feast of Brigid, celebrates the arrival of longer, warmer days and the early signs of spring on February 1. It is one of the four major ‘fire’ festivals (quarter days, referred to in Irish mythology from medieval Irish texts. The other three festivals on the old Irish calendar are Beltane…

Source: The enduring traditions of St. Brigid’s Day

Happy St. Patrick’s Day

grsnake

Bring back the snakes (i.e. the ancient Celtic religions) to Ireland. Let today be a celebration of the snakes returning 🙂

From Niall O’Riordan:
“I believe St Patrick driving the snakes out of Ireland is an allegory. In many cultures the snake is a symbol of wisdom. Therefore, this could be interpreted as him driving out the ancient wisdom of the Celts. And you know where that got us…
Ireland is a holy land, it has a rich heritage, wisdom and magic waiting to be reclaimed. My beautiful country is slowly recovering from the abuse, oppression and superstition the Roman Catholic church has inflicted for hundreds of years.
So, today I will be celebrating all that is good about Ireland and dedicating my magical work towards Ireland rediscovering those snakes!
May she awaken!
Have a great Paddy’s Day!”

Fairy tree

ftree

 

Fairy Tree, Dingle, Co Kerry. Usually a lone Hawthorn, treated with great respect. People leave gifts in the hope of good fortune, receiving healing, or for prayers to be answered. Fairy trees were often seen as doorways to another realm, and offerings were a form of appeasement. With later Christianization, trees often became dedicated to the local saint and offerings continued.

Miyazaki’s Shinto spirits

totoro02

Excellent article on one of my favorite filmmakers.

The Gods and Spirits (and Totoros) of Miyazaki’s Fantasy Worlds

“There’s a moment in Hayao Miyazaki’s film My Neighbor Totoro that’s stuck with me since I first watched it a decade ago. Satsuki Kusakabe is searching for her missing sister, Mei. Looking for help, she sprints towards the huge camphor tree where the magical creature Totoro lives. She pauses for a moment at the entrance to a Shinto shrine that houses Totoro’s tree, as if considering praying there for Totoro’s help. But then she runs back to her house and finds her way to Totoro’s abode through the tunnel of bushes where Mei first encountered him. Totoro summons the Catbus, which whisks Satsuki away to where Mei is sitting, beside a lonely country road lined with small statues of Jizo, the patron bodhisattva of children.

It’s Satsuki’s hesitation in front of the shrine’s entrance that sticks with me, and what it says about the nature of spirits and religion in the film. We don’t really think of the movies of Hayao Miyazaki as religious or even spiritual, despite their abundant magic, but some of his most famous works are full of Shinto and Buddhist iconography—like those Jizo statues, or the sacred Shimenawa ropes shown tied around Totoro’s tree and marking off the river god’s bath in Spirited Away. Miyazaki is no evangelist: the gods and spirits in his movies don’t follow or abide by the rituals of religion. But the relationship between humans and gods remains paramount.”

Miyazaki’s gods and spirits aren’t explicitly based on any recognizable Japanese “kami” (a word that designates a range of supernatural beings, from the sun goddess Amaterasu to the minor spirits of sacred rocks and trees). In fact, whether Totoro is a Shinto spirit or not is a mystery. He lives in a sacred tree on the grounds of a Shinto shrine. The girls’ father even takes them there to thank Totoro for watching over Mei early in the film. But Satsuki calls Totoro an “obake,” a word usually translated as “ghost” or “monster.” Miyazaki himself has insisted that Totoro is a woodland creature who eats acorns. Is he a Shinto spirit? A monster? An animal? A figment of the girls’ imaginations? The film—delightfully—not only doesn’t answer the question, it doesn’t particularly care to even ask it.”

totoro01

 

“… Miyazaki’s films don’t invite us to any particular faith or even belief in the supernatural, but they do invite us to see the unexpected, and to respect the spirits of trees and woods, rivers and seas. Like Totoro and Gran Mamare, their true nature and reasoning are beyond our comprehension. Call them kami, or gods, or spirits, or woodland creatures, or Mother Nature, or the environment. They are there if we know where to look, and their gifts for us are ready if we know how to ask. We have only to approach them as a child would—like Satsuki, Mei, Chihiro, and Sosuke—with open eyes and open hearts.”