Celticsprite’s Blog

Suggested Albums : Mary Black – ‘Stories From The Steeples’ (2011)
November 30, 2011, 4:44 pm
Filed under: Suggested Albums

Divinations for the Spiral Moon (11-25-11 to 12-23-11)
November 30, 2011, 3:07 pm
Filed under: Lunar Calendar, Meditation and Healing
This is time for regeneration.
This Moon brings an opportunity to appreciate the power of regeneration as the old season is shed and we begin the slow change, contemplation and preparation for the return of a new season of growth.

This Moon will host the Winter Equinox, celebrated as Yule.

In pagan traditions Yule represents the birth and return of the light of the world. This is evidenced as the longest night of the year, the Winter Solstice, passes, ushering in a gradual increase in daylight hours.

Literally… Light withstands Darkness, and in so doing, puts to rest our primeval fears of eternal unbroken darkness with the promise of a return to the longer daylight hours that are so very necessary to the cycle of life and growth.

Whether you know this as The Wolf Moon, The Cold Moon, The Snow Moon, The Elder Moon, The Spiral Moon, or The Hunting Moon, you will see this moon as a transition of rulership from the Cailleach (The Veiled Woman) an aspect of the old goddess to, ultimately, become the Spring Maiden in the aspect of Persephone or Kore, or any of the other goddesses of Spring.

To be sure, this is not a swift transition. The deep slumber of Winter is still very much upon the land and the sleeping Winter Crone will not complete her regenerative trasformation to wake as the fertile Spring Maiden until the time of the Vernal Equinox, but…. the return of the light is the first step in the successful completion of this transformation.

Gradual or not, the world over this transformation is good cause for celebration.

Winter’s Crone governs the time of letting go manifested by the seed falling from the mother plant. And as the seed falls… the transition to the birth of many solar saviors from dying gods celebrated at the end of December is completed.

These saviors include Osiris, Adonis, Helios, Mithras, Jesus, Balder, Frey, and Baal and this birth confers upon these deities similar titles such as “The Light of the World”, “The Sun of Righteousness”, and “The Undefeated Sun”.

The festival of Christmas is but one wonderful example of the amalgam of many religious traditions both ancient and modern and reflects the influences of Pagan, Christian, Mithriac, Jewish, and Zoroastrian beliefs.

The general consensus is pretty much that all the work of buttoning things down for winter is done and that makes this “Miller Time”… well… cosmically speaking I guess it would be more like “Mead Time”… but… you get the Idea, doncha?

So here’s what I want you to do… deck the halls, hang the holly, and fire up the phonograph.

This should pretty much set the stage for a spirited celebration of all things Solstice

Related Source:
(all rights reserved by the author and reposted under her kind permission)

Lunar Calendar: The Spiral Moon (November 25th to December 23rd)
November 29, 2011, 4:10 pm
Filed under: Lunar Calendar, Meditation and Healing

This is a time for Renewal.

In the calendar system we have provided as an example, the first new moon following October 31st is often known as the Spiral Moon to reflect the spiral path known to all spiritual journeyers. This moon will contain the Winter Solstice and will convey the energy of slow change, contemplative meditation and preparation for the re-birth of light as the days begin to lengthen after the Solstice.

In many other belief systems there are already time-honored traditions for the establishment of a calendar. We have encluded a few examples here for you to consider.

In the Celtic Tree Calendar the moon containing the winter solstice is Ruis (Elder) which runs from November 25th to December 23rd.

The Runic Calendar of Nordic traditions, (which is governed by half months rather than full months), divides this moon of the year by Jara (Year) from December 13th through December 27th, and Eoh (Yew Tree) from December 28th through January 12th.

The Goddess Calendar names this moon of the year after Astraea and runs from November 28th through December 25th.

This is a time for renewal, reaffirmation, and re-dedication. The moon of the winter solstice brings an opportunity to appreciate the return of light to the winter darkened world, and with it the slow change of contemplation and preparation for the re-birth of spring.

This Moon will also bring the Winter Equinox, celebrated as Yule. In pagan traditions Yule represents the birth and return of the light of the world as from the longest night of the Winter Solstice there comes a gradual lengthening of the days and shortening of the darkness.

Whether you know this as The Wolf Moon, The Snow Moon, The Elder Moon, or The Spiral Moon, you will see the transition of rulership from the Cailleach (The Veiled Woman) an aspect of the old goddess. She governs the time of letting go manifested by the seed falling from the mother plant.

As the seed falls the transition to the birth of many solar saviors and dying gods celebrated at the end of December is completed. These saviors include Osiris, Adonis, Helios, Mithras, Jesus, Balder, Frey, and Baal and this birth confers upon these deities similar titles such as The Light of the World, The Sun of Righteousness, and The Undefeated Sun. The festival of Christmas is a wonderful example of the amalgam of many religious traditions both ancient and modern and reflects the influences of Pagan, Christian, Mithriac, Jewish, and Zoroastrian beliefs.

So, with all that information to guide you, think of this moon as the purist visionary beginning of your own personal year and observe it with things that reflect the renewal inherent new beginnings.

Related Source:
(all rights reserved by the author and reposted under her kind permission)

Faerie Lore: The Fairy Changeling
November 23, 2011, 7:51 pm
Filed under: Faerie Lore

ONE evening, a man was coming home late, and he passed a house where two women stood by a window, talking.

“I have left the dead child, in the cradle as you bid me,” said one woman, “and behold here is the other child, take it and let me go;” and she laid down an infant on a sheet by the window, who seemed in a secret sleep, and it was draped all in white.

“Wait,” said the other, “till you have had some food, and then take it to the fairy queen, as I promised, in place of the dead child that we have laid in the cradle by the nurse. ‘Wait also till the moon rises, and then you shall have the payment which I promised.”

They then both turned from the window. Now the man saw that there was some devil’s magic in it all. And when the women turned away he crept up close to the open window and put his hand in and seized the sleeping child and drew it out quietly without ever a sound. Then he made off as fast as he could to his own home, before the women could know anything about it, and handed the child to his mother’s care. Now the mother was angry at first, but when he told her the story, she believed him, and put the baby to sleep–a lovely, beautiful boy with a face like an angel.

Next morning there was a great commotion in the village, for the news spread that the first-born son of the great lord of the place, a lovely, healthy child, died suddenly in the night, without ever having had a sign of sickness. When they looked at him in the morning, there he laid dead in his cradle, and he was shrunk and wizened like a little old man, and no beauty was seen on him any more. So great lamentation was heard on all sides, and the whole country gathered to the wake. Amongst them came the young man who had carried off the child, and when he looked on the little wizened thing in the cradle he laughed. Now the parents were angry at his laughter, and wanted to turn him out.

But he said, “Wait put down a good fire,” and they did so.

Then he went over to the cradle and said to the hideous little creature, in a loud voice before all the people–

“If you don’t rise up this minute and leave the place, I will burn you on the fire; for I know might well who you are, and where you came from.”

At once the child sat up and began to grin at him; and made a rush to the door to get away; but the man caught hold of it and threw it on the fire. And the moment it felt the heat it turned into a black kitten, and flew up the chimney and was seen no more.

Then the man sent word to his mother to bring the other child, who was found to be the true heir, the lord’s own son. So there was great rejoicing, and the child grew up to be a great lord him-self, and when his time came, he ruled well over the estate; and his descendants are living to this day, for all things prospered with him after he was saved from the fairies.

Related Source:

“Ancient Legends, Mystic Charms, and Superstitions of Ireland” by Lady Francesca Speranza Wilde [1887]

Samhain Goddesses: Nicneven and the Cailleach
November 21, 2011, 6:06 pm
Filed under: Celtic Celebrations, Celtic Symbolism, Thomas The Rhymer
The night of Samhain, in Irish, Oíche Samhna and Scots Gaelic, Oidhche Samhna, is one of the of the most important festivals of the Celtic calendar, and falls on October 31, symbolizing  the final harvest… time to take stock of the herds and grain supplies to survive the winter.
Due to it’s meaning of endless birth, life, death, and rebirth, the time of the solstice is often associated with deity and other legendary figures. 
The Cailleach
In Irish and Scottish mythology, the Cailleach (Irish pronunciation: [ˈkalʲəx], Irish plural cailleacha [ˈkalʲəxə], Scottish Gaelic plural cailleachan /kaʎəxən/), also known as the Cailleach Bheur, is a divine hag, a creatrix, and possibly an ancestral deity or deified ancestor. The word simply means ‘old woman’ in modern Scottish Gaelic,[2] and has been applied to numerous mythological figures in Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man
In Scotland where she is also known as “Queen of Winter”, she is credited with making numerous mountains and large hills, which are said to have been formed when she was striding across the land and accidentally dropped rocks from her apron. In other cases she is said to have built the mountains intentionally, to serve as her stepping stones. She carries a hammer for shaping the hills and valleys, and is said to be the mother of all the goddesses and gods.
The Cailleach displays several traits befitting the personification of Winter: she herds deer,  she fights Spring, and her staff freezes the ground.
In partnership with the Tripple Goddess Brigit or Brighid (exalted one) , the Cailleach is seen as a seasonal deity or spirit, ruling the winter months between the Celtic Festivals of Samhain and Beltaine …  while Brighid rules the summer months between Beltaine and Samhain. 
It is interesting to quote that Brighid also retains “creative” qualities : She is the goddess of all things perceived to be of relatively high dimensions such as high-rising flames, highlands, hill-forts and upland areas; and of activities and states conceived as psychologically lofty and elevated, such as wisdom, excellence, perfection, high intelligence, poetic eloquence, craftsmanship (especially blacksmithing), healing ability, druidic knowledge and skill in warfare.
Some interpretations have the Cailleach and Brighid  as two faces of the same goddess, while others describe the Cailleach as turning to stone on Beltaine and reverting back to humanoid form on Samhain in time to rule over the winter months.
Depending on local climate, the transfer of power between the winter goddess and the summer goddess is celebrated any time between Là Fhèill Brìghde (February 1) at the earliest, Latha na Cailliche (March 25), or Bealltainn (May 1) at the latest, and the local festivals marking the arrival of the first signs of spring may be named after either the Cailleach or Brìghde.
Là Fhèill Brìghde is also the day the Cailleach gathers her firewood for the rest of the winter. Legend has it that if she intends to make the winter last a good while longer, she will make sure the weather on February 1 is bright and sunny, so she can gather plenty of firewood to keep herself warm in the coming months. As a result, people are generally relieved if February 1 is a day of foul weather, as it means the Cailleach is asleep, will soon run out of firewood, and therefore winter is almost over.
On the Isle of Man, where She is known as Caillagh ny Groamagh, the Cailleach is said to have been seen on St. Bride’s day in the form of a gigantic bird, carrying sticks in her beak.
In Scotland, the Cailleachan (lit. ‘old women’) were also known as The Storm Hags, and seen as personifications of the elemental powers of nature, especially in a destructive aspect. They were said to be particularly active in raising the windstorms of spring, during the period known as A’ Chailleach.
Nicnevin or Nicneven Scottish Samhain Goddess(whose name is from a Scottish Gaelic surname meaning “daughter of the little saint”)
In the Borders the name for this archetype was Gyre-Carling whose name had variants such as Gyre-Carlin, Gy-Carling, Gay-Carlin amongst others. Gyre is possibly a cognate of the Norse word geri and thus having the meaning of “greedy” or it may be from the Norse gýgr meaning “ogress”; carling or carline is a Scots and Northern English word meaning “old woman” which is from, or related to, the Norse word kerling (of the same meaning).

Even so, the elder Nicneven or Gyre-Carling retained the habit of night riding with an “eldritch” entourage mounted on unlikely and supernatural steeds. In Fife, the Gyre-Carling was associated with spinning and knitting, like Habetrot; here it was believed to be unlucky to leave a piece of knitting unfinished at the New Year, lest the Gyre-Carling should steal it.

Ben Nevis is sacred to both Nicneven and the Cailleach. The tale of Nicevenn riding out with her host on Samhain is reminiscent of the tale of the Cailleach riding out from Ben Nevis with eight sister hags at Summer’s End to hammer the frost into the ground. While Nicevenn lives on in folklore, only a shred of her mythology has survived.

When the lore of Gaelic Scotland comingled with the the Norse, Danish and Anglo-Saxon lore of Lowland Scotland, Northern England and the Orkneys, Nicevenn became known as the Elfin Queen of Elphame, the subterranean Scottish fairyland, or Otherworld. She also appears in Christian confessions and several traditional supernatural ballads, including Thomas the Rhymer and Tam Lin, in which she is variously depicted as attractive and demonic. She is so pristine to Rhymer’s eyes, the bard mistakes her for the Virgin Mary.

Other Christian confessions depict Nicevenn as the darker, more threatening Scottish fairy queen Nicneven, “daughter of the little saint,” a reference that may be based on women who were put to death for being witches before they were given to the Queen of Fairy.  In the ballad of Tam Lin, the Elphen Queen is also a much darker figure, who captures mortal men and entertains them in her fairy mound, then uses them to pay a “teind to Hell.”

In the Borders of Scotland, Nicneven is referred to as the Gyre-Carling, which may mean “old female ogress” in Scots Gaelic and Norse. 

In later folkloric tales, Nicnevenn is cunning in charms and joins ranks with European witches in her ability to sail the seas in a sieve.

An old tale still told by the Galloway Scots preserves Nicevenn’s prowess as an ancient Celtic goddess. One Samhain, during night ride at the head of the hunt, the ocean highcaps snare some of her fey company’s low-flying mounts. Furious, the Huntress strikes out with her slachdan and magically transforms the local geography. 

The Galloway story reminds us of the connection between Nicevenn the Huntress and the Cailleach, Hag of Winter. Both goddesses are elemental powers who grow stronger as the days grow shorter; and they both ride forth from Ben Nevis on Samhain eve, carrying a slachdan, a wand of power with which they can shape the land at will.

Related Sources:
Donald MacKenzie, Scottish Folk Lore and Folk Life. (Blackie, London, 1935)
Images: http://wiccancountess08.deviantart.com

Celtic and Vedic Places of Worship: Their deep rooted affinities
November 15, 2011, 5:47 pm
Filed under: Celtic Culture, Celtic Symbolism, Druidry

Let’s plunge once again into the world of Celtic and Vedic parallelisms, on a previous post I shared the deep roots regarding Gods and Goddesses, but how about Places of Worship?

Some of the most auspicious places of worship for the Celtic and Vedic peoples were rivers.

As already mentioned the Celtic Goddess Danu is particularly associated with rivers, she was the “divine waters” falling from heaven. From these waters the great Celtic river, once known as Danuvius, presently known as the Danube, was created. Many rivers in Europe still owe their current name to their associations with the Goddess Danu, such as the Rhone. In both Celtic and Vedic cultures offerings were often placed in rivers and those of the Celts were especially elaborate. The Celts would often offer much of their riches and treasures, sometimes approximately 25% of a tribe’s economy would be given to the Gods at any one time.

In the falling of the Danu river we find a parallel to Ganga,  Goddess of one of  the most holy of rivers in India today, the Ganges. In Puranic mythology the Goddess Ganga’s fall to earth was broken by the matted locks of Shiva (known as Rudra in the Vedas), who then released her to fall on the earth. The river which is venerated in the Rig Veda is that of the Sarasvati. Like Danu and Ganga, Sarasvati is the name of a Goddess, as well as a river. However the Sarasvati river is thought to have dried up and it is from that time the Ganges has fulfilled her river role. The name Saraswati came from “saras” (meaning “flow”) and “wati” (meaning “a woman”). So, Saraswati is symbol of knowledge; its flow (or growth) is like a river and knowledge is supremely alluring, like a beautiful woman.

Some astounding ancient structures to be found in the Eurpoean lands of the Celts and in India are those of Dolmens. A dolmen is a shallow chamber that is composed of tall vertical upright stones, forming the walls, and a horizontal stone resting across the top to form a roof. Similar to what is found at Stonehenge, though on a much smaller scale. A feature found in some dolmens in both Europe and India is a small single hole in the back of these stone chambers. What the purpose of these small holes is remains unknown, as does the purpose of the dolmens. Though most interpretations link these holes either with birth or death. Most Celtic researchers seem to agree that these structures were created by a Megalithic people prior to Celtic culture, about whom little is known for certainty. Is it possible that these Megalithic people had contact with Indian culture long before the Celts and is this why these constructions are to be found in both eastern and western lands?

Another of the sacred dwellings was that of specific areas of woods and groves. According to Tacitus the “Woods and groves are the sacred depositories; and the spot being consecrated to those pious uses, they give to that sacred recess the name of the divinity that fills the place, which is never profaned by the steps of man. The gloom fills every mind with awe;
revered at a distance and never seen but with the eye of contemplation.” Similarly there are many Indian tales of Brahmans and holy men who lived in forests of which some were
especially sacred spaces (see inf. on the Sleshmantaka Forest in”The Horned God in India and Europe” article). A selection of Vedic texts written after the four main Samhitas (the Rig, Sama, Yajur and Artharva Vedas) are the Aranyakas, meaning ‘forest treatise’. Indicating that these were composed in the reclusive depths of the forests.

Related Sources

Britain’s Landscape Symbols and Mysteries:
November 14, 2011, 5:11 pm
Filed under: Celtic Symbolism, Standing Stones