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THE ANCIENT PAGAN FESTIVAL CHRISTIAN FUNDAMENTALISTS LOVE TO HATE
Thanks to the misleading efforts of old-time (and contemporary) Christian Fundamentalist agitators, Halloween remains the most misunderstood native Pre-Christian feast day in existence. This brief expose’ of Fundamentalist inspired 'Witch Hunt Hysteria’ will hopefully help to prevent further chaos needlessly occurring in future.
In the months leading up to Halloween, we always see an increase in the amount of 'Hate-Propaganda' aimed at religious minorities. Witches, Druids, Odinists and all other Pagan denominations become targets for vilification, by a small vocally active group of bigots who believe that ALL OTHER FAITHS APART FROM THEIR OWN ARE SATANICALLY INSPIRED. The actual festival of Halloween was originally called 'SAMHAIN,' which comes from the Gaelic/Celtic meaning for ‘November’ and ‘Summer’s end’.
The first Celtic settlers arrived here in around 600 BC, fetching with them their own 'Nature Based' polytheistic form of spiritual belief systems. SAMHAIN marked the beginning of the long cold winter, a time when the cattle had to be herded into sheltered quarters as a protective measure against expected harsh snow-fall, frost, and blizzard. It was also a sad period for many Celts, as the winters chill could always prove to much for the numerous elderly, sick, or loved ones badly injured in battle. SAMHAIN, because of its association with the 'DARK HALF' of the year, was then regarded as the "Festival of the Dead," and a time when the barrier betwixt the living and their beloved ancestors was at its thinnest. Today's Halloween party games i.e.: Trick or treat, Apple-bobbing etc. all stem from ancient Celtic customs/traditions. SAMHAIN, although often a very serious affair to the Elders, was in addition a last opportunity for the younger hearts in the tribe to ‘let off steam’ before the cold mantle of winter settled in. For many years Christianity and Paganism coexisted quite well. Then’ in the year 601 AD, 'POPE GREGORY' instructed his missionary St Augustine to: ‘Destroy all Pagan Idols and cleanse the native temples’ in order to convert the indigenous peoples to Christianity).
The Iron-fist of 'MONOTHEISTIC - ABSOLUTISM' was to open up the floodgates of Cultural Spiritual Terrorism for the unsuspecting Pagan folk of these Isles. Many Pre-Christian festivals had by this time been hijacked by the new faith from the East. However, SAMHAIN with its mysterious blend of reflection, sadness, magic and joy proved the hardest nut for the fanatical missionaries to crack. The Celtic 'HORNED-GOD’ Cernnunos, Herne, or Belatucadros (to mention but a few of his titles), is a deity representing the masculine fertilising aspects inherent in nature. The Greek PAN and Roman Faunus also fill similar 'Horned God' roles. The Celts did not believe in the Christian concept of evil (SATAN), however in order to defame the old native religions the Christian Church invented the myth that indigenous horned Deities like the above were all different faces of the 'DEVIL'.
Intolerant absolutist moralisers are still using this ridiculous Christian lie, mischievously linking our rich Pagan heritage with theocratically perceived evil. The recent 'SATANIC ABUSE' fiascos of ROCHDALE, ORKNEY, NOTTS etc. were all inspired by the warped biblical thinking of 'EVANGELICAL' activists, who couldn't find any Satanic adversaries to uphold their 'Revelations' based, End-of-Time style theocracy. Just as in the U.S.A., where the Satanic Myth originated, SATANIC SEMINARS were held in this country by activists to instruct Police, Social Workers, Children's Charities to spot signs of so-called Satanic child abuse. Signs such as: BED-WETTING, AGGRESSIVE BEHAVIOUR, PREOCCUPATION with FAECES/URINE et al, were all given as firm evidence by so-called 'EXPERTS' on Satanic involvement. This would be funny if it were not so bloody sad, the result of this avoidable hoax: MILLIONS of pounds worth of taxpayers money needlessly squandered by authorities chasing satanic spectres. Numerous innocent families subjected to 'NAZI-STYLE' dawn raids and terrified children psychologically traumatised following cruel interrogation by fanatical social workers.
Has our society learned from its shameful avoidable actions? The Government commissioned report on the subject of Satanic Abuse, by Professor Jean La Fontaine studied 84 cases of abuse and findings proved that without doubt the whole myth had been engineered and inspired by EVANGELICAL CHRISTIANS and radical SOCIAL WORKERS. This would seem good news for all 'SANE' individuals everywhere and it is. The only trouble is that the populace has a very short memory and the Evangelical groups/ individuals that started the Satanic fuss have now licked their wounds and are once again (as we write), due to hold MORE SATANIC SEMINARS. Can anyone in their tiny little mind be so utterly daft as these half-wits?
Can society really once again turn a blind eye to these WOLVES IN SHEEP’S CLOTHING? Unfortunately the answer is probably YES! MORE DAWN RAIDS, MORE PERSECUTION of INNOCENT WITCHES, DRUIDS and other PAGANS, MORE DAMAGED CHILDREN/FAMILIES, and MORE VALUABLE SOCIAL FUNDS WASTED on an avoidable HOAX created by an intolerant EVANGELICAL MINORITY who see SATANIC ABUSE around every corner.
The greatest shame remains that while society was hoodwinked into chasing SATANIC ABUSERS, Clerical Abuse was (and still is) a documented reality.
Please remember this Halloween when Christian Fundamentalists again start shouting about OCCULT DANGERS to CHILDREN that; OVER THREE NEW CASES of CLERGY ABUSE occur 'EACH WEEK'.
PAN asks: "WHY are the AUTHORITIES turning a blind EYE to this terrible FACT?" WHY is the real truth about ROGUE PRIESTS being hidden from the public domain? This degree of CHILD ABUSE is HIGHER than in any other area of society, and needs to be urgently addressed by the GOVERNMENT 'NOW'.
SAFF expose the Church of England's Anti-Pagan Axis and reveal how hard-line Puritans have hi-jacked those very nice Anglican people.
YULETIDE AND THE WINTER SOLSTICE
The contemporary Christian feast-day of Christmas originates from the vast storehouse of our ancient Pagan past. The actual date of Jesus Christ's birthday is unknown. Even the gospels fail to specify the exact time of his commencement. In fact the Church only set up the official date of Christ's birth in AD 273.
The early Church, eager to win converts from the natural old earth-orientated faiths, saw an immense theocratical advantage to be gained by adopting this native midwinter festival. This crafty spiritual stratagem was applied with equal vigour to ALL our indigenous Pagan feast-days.
The whole Christian year is clandestinely grafted onto a much older Pagan agricultural calendar, which links intimately with the solar orb/seasonal cycles.
Thousands of years before the ‘Christian Cult’ was first instigated, our Pagan forefathers were celebrating the happy feast of the Midwinter Solstice. Everywhere people honoured the birth of the 'SUN-GOD' under his numerous titles and epithets. Midwinter marked the period when the sun was at its lowest point in the sky. This truth was acknowledged and vitalised by the Ancients as the time of 'NEW-BIRTH.' From now onward the days would grow lighter as the solar power of the great ‘Life-Giver’ increased. Christianity merely took the name 'SUN' and converted it into 'SON' so as to give the new intolerant faith from the East a more acceptable countenance for our Pagan ancestors. This clever ruse ensured that the indigenous peoples would still retain their old festival dates whilst jettisoning their original rich spirituality for the new ‘man-made’ monotheistic doctrine.
Most Christmas tradition and customs are transparently based on the old Roman feast of the 'Saturnalia,' which was enjoyed for seven days toward the end of December. During the celebration of the God ‘Saturn’ all schools, courts, businesses etc would remain closed. Slaves and masters would reverse roles with masters serving their subordinates at table etc. Incidentally, this custom still remains within our native consciousness even today. The charity aspect of the Solstice is common to everyone. Army officers still serve their minions at Xmas dinner; employers worldwide still give large parties for their workers and folk exchange loving presents. A small cap known as a 'Pileus' was the Roman sign of a ‘Freeman.’ During the Saturnalia Slaves were allowed to wear this head covering at the banquet. This is a fact worth remembering when people next enter into the party spirit and don silly hats at their Xmas Feast.
The word "Yule" stems from the old Viking word 'Iul' meaning Wheel - Yule being the lowest ebb in the sun's travel through the wheel of the year. The Yule log was traditionally cut from an oak-tree. This wood was sacred to the Thunder God ‘Thor,’ who is also known as 'Thunor'. Incidentally, this deity gives his name to Thursday (Thor’s-day). The Yule log, after being charred by fire, was believed to protect a dwelling from lightening strike. Mistletoe was seen as an all-healing plant and sacred to the Norse deity Balder. This plant was used by Druidic priests and native Healers to promote fertility. It is still used today in a *magickal sense, i.e. the tradition kissing under the Mistletoe! Holly is of course a customary part of Yuletide and like the mistletoe it has traditional connections. It is sacred to ‘Saturn,’ God of the Dying Year and was hung outside houses by the Romans to avert psychic attack, lightening and perceived evils of any kind. Today's Father Christmas image is based upon the Holly-King figure of Odin, the Norse Father - God who rode through the night's sky not on a reindeer but a fast white charger. The aspect of his red and white costume (and flying through the sky) is possibly linked to the use of the brightly coloured hallucinogenic mushroom, Fly Agaric by Norse Shamans and warriors before battle. Xmas Trees originate from ancient rites of the great, Phrygian, mother Goddess ‘Cybele.’ Her worship was brought to Rome in 204BC. A Pine tree was felled and placed within her sacred temple then decorated with lavish adornments of beautiful flowers and coloured wools etc. It is quite likely that the tree custom travelled with the Legions into Germanic localities and amalgamated with native tradition there at some later date. We should possibly give credit for the tree's modern day usage in celebration to ‘Drusus the Elder’ who embarked upon a military campaign for Roman domination against the Germanic and Raetian tribes in 15BC.
Any seriously unbiased investigation into the historical side of Christmas clearly reveals that Christianity has no right whatsoever to claim sole monopoly of the SUN/RESURRECTION GOD situation. The Christian re-born ‘Sun-God Myth’ is but the latest in a long line of ‘deity modifications.’
So why did the Xtian Church hijack original Pagan midwinter solstice celebrations and replace them with Xmas?
Why the 25th December?
Innumerable crucified sun gods have their customary birthday on December 25th. This is because the ancients acknowledged that the sun makes a yearly descent southward in anticipation of December 21st or 22nd, the winter solstice, when it stops moving southerly for three days and next starts to move northward again. During this period our wise ancient forbears affirmed that ‘God's sun’ had ‘died’ for three days and was ‘born again’ on December 25th. The ancients realised that they needed the sun to come back every day and that they would be in immense difficulty if the sun continued to move southward and did not stop and repeal its direction. Therefore, countless diverse cultures celebrated their ‘Sun of God’s’ anniversary on December 25th. Fundamentalists within the early Xtian Church merely adopted the heathen, earth-orientated midwinter celebrations to equate with their newly fashioned adaptation of the sun god, Jesus Christ known as the ‘Son of God!’
The following are prominent qualities of the ubiquitous ‘Sun God’ mythos which can be related to contemporary Xtian revision of older Pagan mythology.
* The sun dies for three days on December 22nd, the winter solstice, when it stops in travels southward, to be born again (resurrected) on December 25th, when it continues its progress north.
* In various areas, the calendar originally began in the constellation of Virgo and the sun would consequently be perceived as being born of a ‘virgin’.
* The sun is of course the ‘Light of the World.’
* The sun ‘cometh on clouds and every eye shall see him.’
* The sun rising in the morning is the ‘Saviour of mankind.’
* The sun wears a corona, crown of thorns or ‘circle of light’ (halo).
* The sun is seen to ‘walk on water.’
* The sun's follower’s helpers (disciples) are the 12 months and the 12 signs of the zodiac or constellations, through which the sun has to pass.
* The sun at 12 noon is in the house/temple of the ‘Most High,’ consequently ‘he’ begins ‘his Father's work’ at the age of 12.
* The sun enters each sign of the zodiac at 30°; hence, the ‘Sun of God’ begins his ministry at the age of 30.
* The sun is hung on a cross (crucified) which represents its passing through the equinoxes, the spring/vernal equinox being Easter, at which time it is then reborn.
The early Church made light work of presenting its newly formed Christ god to the Pagan masses and quite easily substituted a wholesome solar/agricultural calendar for a new man made one based of its theocratical, monotheistic agenda.
There is nothing new under the sun!
Attis, Adonis, Sol, Mithras, these Gods and numerous others were celebrated during seasonal solar cycles long before the ‘Jesus story’ was ever created by sectarian monotheistic interest groups with an axe to ground against the social structure of the day! I wonder WHO will contest the title next?
We would do well to recall the old maxim: "History repeats itself." Yuletide/Midwinter Solstice is an indispensable element of our indigenous, Pagan spiritual heritage. It conjoins us with the wondrous seasonal energies of this planet of which we are all an integral part. We should always celebrate and enjoy it to the full!
And so what of the term ‘Xmas’ – is it a shortening of the word ‘Christmas’?
December, under the earlier Roman calendar, used to be, the 10th month of the year: the 1st month (March) being given to the god Mars. The Roman numeral for 10 is of course ‘X’, thus Xmas rather than being an abbreviation of a modern Christian festival can be seen as being the Pagan ‘Mass of the 10th month’; A happy time when the Saturnalia was celebrated with great merriment.
February is often a cold bleak month when little seems to stir in the natural world. This chilly month gains its name from the Etruscan God of the underworld and purifications, Februus. This deity is often equated with the Greek God Pluto/Hades and also the Gallic God of riches, Dis who further links with the Roman Orcus. On the 17th or 21st day of February Februus was venerated during a feast known as the Feralia. During this event marriages were not allowed, all other shrines and temples of other Gods were closed and gifts were taken to the last resting places of deceased relatives/friends.
The Manes (souls of the departed) were believed by the Romans to hover around the monuments and graves of the dead, thus the presents served as a token of respect and propitiation for these spirits. The Manes held much power in the underworld and because of this the Romans realised that only a fool would fail to give them the reverence they so rightly deserved. Contemporary man can learn a lot about his/her subconscious fears of death and dying by relating intimately to this ancient festival. The number three was considered sacred to the Manes and because of this they were always invoked three times by adherents. Could the old maxim of three being "unlucky/lucky for some" have a connection here? Gravestones were frequently inscribed with the prefix D.M. meaning Di Manes (or Di-Manibus) which is Latin for the "Good Gods." The celebration of the Feralia was also called the Februa. The great powerful Goddess Juno was however frequently invoked under this title. Her patronage like that of the Gallic Dis also extended over riches. The purification aspect of this festival still remains with us today. We still feel the urge with the dawning of the lighter nights to get stuck in and have an energetic bout of spring-cleaning.
The difference is that the Romans also did their spring cleaning on the spiritual level. Modern man would probably feel a lot more at one with himself and his environment too if he took a page from the wisdom of the Feralia! Moving to the 23rd of this month we discover a feast called the Terminalia that, as its name suggests, was sacred to Terminus, God of limits and boundaries. Numa, the legendary second King of Rome introduced the feast of the Terminalia to the people. A simple marker stone originally depicted Terminus. Later he was portrayed as a human head without arms and legs to show that like limit marks, he never moved his position. Incidentally, it is interesting to note here that Jupiter (the all-powerful King of the Gods) was often called Terminalus and he also presided over boundaries long before Terminus did.
It is quite possible then that this surname of Jupiter later evolved into the current God-form that is now Terminus. Offerings of wine, oil, flowers and milk were given to the deity at this feast. So holy was the head of Terminus that should another man foolishly attempt to steal or even move it he rendered himself open to possible public execution. This instance proves how extremely important property was to the pragmatic Roman mind. To get a "head" start by robbing a neighbour's land could lead to actually losing one's "head" in the most devastating fashion possible as Terminus had no time for infringements of his law. His wrath was swift and very effective. Today's Pagans view early pre-spring equinox feasts such as the Terminalia as a time to synchronise with the growing natural cosmic energies of which we are all an intrinsic part. It is a time to plan carefully for the future with increasing optimism.
The spiritual level of existence is just as important as the material and vice versa, so to neglect one aspect jeopardizes the rest. The first gentle stirrings of light, the rich colour of the Crocus and the bursting buds of the Horse chestnut give hope for the warm, lengthening, summer days to come. The old Terminalia is (like all ancient pre-Christian feasts) a vestige of our wondrous Pagan heritage, waiting so patiently as does the first snowdrop to be reborn again anew. Soon the glorious solar orb will bring forth life and new growth. Every plant, tree and animal will be ready to greet this time-honoured event. Contemporary man must shake off his self-inflicted, materialistic slumber and synchronise himself to the seasonal psychic forces of nature, just as his ancient forefathers did long ago. Failure to do so will result in a loss of essential atonement (at-one-ment) and vitality with this marvellous home, which we affectionately know as "Mother Earth." Like the swelling buds on the trees, we too must now wake up to the annual universal energies impinging upon our being!
Our Pagan ancestors didn't worship nature as is so often claimed by monotheistic troublemakers. No, our wise forebears actually venerated the pivotal life-creating or destroying forces behind nature's numerous moods and eventually personified them for greater understanding. Today's Pagans strive to continue this evolutionary process for the future benefit of our incredible species.
March & Easter
March is named after the Roman God of growing energies and war "MARS." This month was vital to the ancient peoples as it was once deemed the first month of the new season. January and February were originally believed to be rather static months with little importance being allotted to them.
On the 14th day of the month a celebration called the EQUIRIA was held. This festival was sacred to Mars and great horse races were run in the Campus-Martius. The March Equiria was in fact the second festival of this name, the first having been held on February 27th. The legendary Romulus, (brother of Remus, son of Mars), first instituted these two events. During the Equiria all manner of articles relating to the cavalry units were lustrated and spiritually purified. The Horse was one of the animals held sacred to Mars, the others being the Wolf, Vulture, Magpie and the Dog. The horse is associated with this deity not only because of its connection with combat, but also from its earlier origins as a beast of burden in agricultural circles. Today, it would be quite interesting to note how many punters preparing to make or break on the Grand National, ever pondered on the ancient spiritual link to their sport herein.
On the 19th day of the month, the ‘Sacred Shield,’ (Anci'le or Ancy'le) received great attention and devotion. The Ancile fell from the heavens during the reign of King Numa. He informed the Romans that the very safety/fate of their Empire depended on the shield. Numa had eleven copies of the shield made to thwart any attempts of insurrection by enemies or criminals. Special warrior priests called 'Salii' were instituted in the ‘Temple of Vesta’ to guard the Ancile. These priests of Mars all came from noble families, and their feasts were considerably lavish affairs. They adorned themselves in bright red tunics fastened with a purple belt and carried a rod and a shield.
The Salii were twelve in number (one for each shield,) which incidentally seems to be a figure later adopted by eager Bible compilers for the Apostles. This would suggest that ‘12’ is a sacred number of protection, long since passed down from one antediluvian culture to the next. There is a vast plethora of Pagan wisdom such as this small psychic truth, just awaiting re-discovery by today's liberated freethinker.
Early Christianity, like every other monotheistic religion, has suppressed then hijacked traditions, festivals and rites from much older native Pagan faiths. This is not conjecture, it is historically proven fact!
Scarlet/Red is the colour of the ‘Warrior God’, and as such belongs to the realm of death and destruction.
Mars never was a deity to "turn the other cheek!" Such simpering platitudes ‘supposedly’ held by later all-conquering monotheistic faith systems have proved to be for centuries the philosophy of the hypocrite and coward. Is it wise to turn the other cheek to a murderer or crass thief that wishes to destroy, without compunction, our loved ones? Surely if such a ridiculous philosophy were ever to have been ‘seriously’ taken on board by the masses then humanity would have ceased to exist centuries ago! Common sense dictates to every living creature that self-preservation (via self-defence) is the HIGHEST LAW – to fly against such natural wisdom belongs to the realm of the self-righteous idiot!
Red is also the colour of life-blood, which gives us vitality and new energy. It is the colour of the rose of Venus and the purity marked by the rising sun. With life there is also death and vice versa, we cannot have one without the other. Our ancient predecessors knew these simple truths well. The classical splendour of the colourful leaping, dancing Salii displayed this psychic, earth - orientated wisdom magnificently.
Contemporary Pagan adherents continue to spiritually synchronise with the same timeless, universal growing energies that perpetually surround us. These natural green forces impinge on our very being in the promising month of new growth - the sacred time-period that links us to the great God of essential creative/destructive life force, Mars!
Now is the time to sow the fresh March seeds (on all levels of existence) for summer's first bounty to come.
So what of Easter, Good Friday etc and the history behind the institution of Easter as a chief festival within the Church?
Xtians celebrating the Easter/resurrection feast at this time of year are merely recreating the ancient Pagan festivities associated with beloved earlier gods of 'natural' rebirth such as Attis, Adonis etc who were lamented and glorified by millions of adherents throughout many countries, long before the Christ myth was first thought up by ecclesiastical activists intent of theocratical world domination via evangelical/missionary means.
The Christians hi-jacked Easter from the Pagans and built their myths around it in order to firstly conjoin with Pagan festivities and then, when they had usurped power from the Pagan priests, outlaw and outcast them. Direct comparison remains with deities such as Dionysius being nailed to a post and blooded so his vital fluid would sodden the ground to bring forth new life for all.
The Judeo-Christian Passover became merged with heathen fertility veneration to generate a new festival celebrating the resurrection of Christ. This of course was also a hammer to convert the native Pagan populace away from their indigenous spring fertility festivities. This was observed at a different time from the Passover. Known as the Quartodeciman controversy, the dispute over when this celebration concerning Christ should be observed reverberated across the empire through the second, third and fourth centuries. Eventually it was established by the Council of Nicea in A.D. 325 and reinforced at the Synod of Antioch in A.D. 341.
With its iron-fist theological stranglehold on the masses the Synod called for the excommunication of anyone who dared to resist the new-fangled, man-made Easter observance. Those who opposed it were forced to move outside the reach of the empire. Emperor Constantine was a driving force behind this action. This man, amongst numerous other atrocities, murdered his son and wife; the bishops gladly accepted Constantine as an authority on 'godly' Christian matters and he reputedly said:
"It seemed to every one a most unworthy thing that we should follow the custom of the Jews in the celebration of this most holy solemnity, who polluted wretches! Having stained their hands with a nefarious crime, are justly blinded in their minds. It is fit, therefore, that, rejecting the practice of this people, we should perpetuate to all future ages the celebration of this rite, in a more legitimate order, which we have kept from the first day of our Lord's passion even to the present times. Let us have nothing in common with the most hostile rabble of the Jews. We have received another method from the Saviour"
Thus the Xtian celebration of Easter (which is incidentally named after a Saxon goddess of spring) obviously stems from incredibly intolerant origins. It is nothing but a clandestine gala of theocratical lies, deceit, subversion and suppression of other smaller faiths.
Easter stands as a shining example of Christian fundamentalist totalitarianism in action.
The month of April gains its name for the Roman word 'Aprilis' that comes from the word 'Aperire' meaning, "to open." This is because April is the time when birds hatch their chicks, animals join in the eternal mating cycles, buds swell into young leaves and new life opens-up on all natural fronts.
The first day of the month is of course well known as April Fool's Day. In France a gullible person caught by a prankster's trick was called un poisson d' Avril (an April Fish.) It is interesting to note here that the ancients held this day (the Veneralia) sacred to Venus great Goddess of love. During her feast adherents would completely wash the statue of the Goddess and hang beautiful flowers about it.
Tricks were also played on the unwary in veneration of the Goddess. Venus was originally a patron of seeds, flowers and spring. Her later association with love occurred around 217BC when she was equated with the Greek Aphrodite. As water is necessary to make the seeds become flowers Venus held the fish as a holy symbol. Modern Pagans smile when they see a Christian owned vehicle displaying the old fish sign as is now the popular fashion. The Christian taboo of not eating fish on a Friday is also adopted from much older Pagan traditions sacred to Venus. The Northern equivalent of Venus is Frejya/Freya, who gives her name to Friday. This was of course the day for abstaining from devouring the sacred food of Venus.
History testifies that the early Christian church subverted then adopted virtually every Pagan tradition, custom and holy-day to make them its own. The sacred traditions of the great Goddess are no exception to this sad rule! On Saint George's Day we see another adoption of Pagan tradition, blatantly inserted with the intention of winning converts for the new monotheistic religion.
There is a slight gap in the calendar between them but St. George's Day (on the 23rd April) lands at the same period as the Parilia (21st April.) The Parilia (or Palilia) was sacred to Pales, the Goddess of shepherds and herders. During the feast farmers would drive their flocks and herds between blazing fires and subject them to fumes of rosemary, laurel and sulphur in a rite of purification to ensure strong future offspring. The participants would also leap over small fires of straw and dance around fires throughout the night, making merry all the while. Offerings to Pales consisted of milk and millet wafers were given in the hope of keeping dangerous wolves away from the flocks and the avert disease.
The ancient Pagan tradition of fire-festivals, involving blazing beacons is still deeply rooted in human consciousness. This fact is clear when we remember the recent nationwide hill-fires, prior to the countryside march protest against MP Michael Foster's anti-hunt bill. The new fire of spring light which will give us summer's growth, is something primordial yet essential. Man, from the earliest times in our pre-history, has always sought to link up with the awesome, natural, psychic energies present here, for the benefit of all on a deeply spiritual level. The actual day which marks the Palilia is also the day when Romulus (the legendary, son of Mars,) first built his great city of Rome.
It is interesting to note here that Romulus observed Tuscany to discover what sort of ceremonies he should use for his new city. Thus Romulus gained vital ritual knowledge from the older peoples of that place which they had in turn received from Janus, the great God of new beginnings. The first wine of the new season was always offered to Janus. Venus shared a feast on two separate days with Jupiter called the Vinalia. Her day occurred on the same date originally as the later St. George's Day, Jupiter's took place in August. During these events wine was freely distributed to the local people from the temple of the deities in question. Prior to this rite a wine libation was given to the earth in honour of Venus. Contemporary Pagans/Witches still give sincere veneration to the God and Goddess by remembering this ancient libation first to the Old-Gods during their celebrations.
The Goddess Venus was also offered expensive gifts of roses, myrtle and sweet scented incense at the Vinalia. This Goddess was perceived as travelling in an ivory chariot drawn by swans. Swans are often associated with love-deities such as in Angus the Celtic God of love who once turned into a this proud creature. The gentle dove too is another sacred symbol of the great Goddess that has since been insidiously adopted the early church and made into its own. The beautiful April festivals of the love-Goddess give us a rare insight into the depth of spiritual wisdom held by our antediluvian Pagan Forefathers.
Each celebration whether Norse, Saxon, Roman, Celtic or otherwise always parallels with the wholesome destructive and creative seasonal forces of nature that impinge upon our being.
MAY DAY THE FLORALIA AND BELTANE
This lovely month gains its name from the Roman/Greek fertility Goddess ‘MAIA’, mother of the God Mercury. She was equated with FAUNA, CYBELE and OPS - Goddesses who were greatly loved and respected by the masses.
Fauna's feast day was held on the first night of May. It was a sacred occasion exclusive to women, as the men honoured Fauna's masculine consort FAUNUS instead. During Fauna's celebration wine and music blended with magickal ritual forming a strange yet joyous medley of sound and veneration for the deity.
From the 28th April to the 3rd of May a festival called the Floralia occurred in honour of the Sabine FLORA, patron Goddess of flowering gardens. Virgil claimed that young folk would venture out at Floralia to pick summer flowers from field, wood and meadow. Much singing and dancing took place and this natural Pagan love of life has come down to us today in the form of contemporary Maypole/day celebrations. May Queen and King parades can easily be traced back to ancient Rome and beyond. Roman children happily adorned little clay statues of the Goddess with beautiful wild blossoms as a token of love and respect. The early church eager to crush Pagan religion cleverly usurped Flora and swapped her image for one of the Virgin Mary thereby gaining spiritual monopoly over the unsuspecting, censored population.
Flora was frequently depicted as a young maiden dressed in a floral crown. She held two major temples at Rome so it is clear that her devotion from the Pagan masses was regarded as a threat to the intolerant church fathers, hence their devious attention, ultimately resulting in Christian subversion of Flora's sacred feast day. Flora's worship is however not to be crushed so easily, as her beauty will forever remain in the hearts of lovers whilst there are still wild May flowers in the field.
The Celtic Mayday is known as Beltane/Beltaine (meaning fire of Bel/Bile). Bel has associations with the Roman PLUTO and DIS-PATER lord of the underworld/death. Numerous legends claim he arrived from ‘Spain’ (which is actually a misleading euphemism for the Celtic Hades.) This is plain evidence of early missionary interference with Pagan myth, deviously inserted to deprive Bile of his traditionally divine nature.
On May eve all household fires would be extinguished then later rekindled from a great druidic hilltop blaze outdoors. The Druids, being the Pagan priests of the Celts, believed that it was sacrilegious to worship the Gods in dwellings made by mortal man.
Beltane was the start of the Celtic summer and the blaze spiritually connected with the increasing solar power needed to sustain life. It was brought joyously to each homestead as a vital magickal token of new life, which every grateful occupant accepted with glad heart. The mysterious green life energy was flowing in nature and it couldn't be ignored.
Today, the very same power of summer's growing light that our ancestors celebrated so well is upon us again this Beltane. Man made religions have come and gone in their multitude, yet spring still slowly turns into summer just as it always has. Our forbears didn't need to have faith in anything but the natural divinity residing deep behind natures many moods, which they connected with every single day of their lives.
This Mayday we too must remember the Pagan wisdom of the ‘Old Ones’ and re-connect with the healing power stemming from nature, linking us intimately with the magickal cosmic cycles of earth and the vast uncharted universe beyond.
Of all archetypal symbols making a powerful impact on the Human spirit, probably none remains more deeply ingrained in our subconscious realms than the circle or the wheel. The circle is an emblematic sign of the continuity of existence, it is a sign of the Lunar/Solar principles and it is a symbol of infinity because it has no beginning and no end.
As a representation of the Sun it is at its most potent during the Midsummer Solstice, a time when the solar orb is at its highest point in the Heavens. Now all natural growth is at the zenith of it's potential. The wheel of the year from this day on can only roll downhill towards autumn and the bleak death of winter. Whether we like it or not we are all an essential part of the organic universal plan of things. We do however possess free will and the ability to delay or enhance our destinies according to our own reckless or wise actions. The ancients knew this fact well, and yet they also realised that without fair chance or good luck, life could be poor, intolerable or ultimately fatal.
Image of 'Tyche,' the Greek version of Fortuna - Goddess of Fate. From a coin dated 140 BCE.
The Roman Goddess of Fate and Luck was known as FORTUNA, hence the other name for chance i.e. fortune. This deity is often depicted with a ship's rudder, sphere, cornucopia or wheel. FORTUNA humbles even the most regal members in society; great Emperors would often display images of her in their private chambers to remind them of her power over destiny. For without luck they too would be nothing. So great a homage did FORTUNA receive that the Romans built eight separate Temples to honour her in their city. FORTUNA’S Temple at ANTIUM in LATIUM was so popular with the Italians, that numerous quantities of gifts, presents and offerings were sent in from all over the country by worshippers in the hope of attracting the Goddess's favour. FORTUNA had a feast day shortly after the Midsummer Solstice in June when slaves too would be welcomed into the celebrations for the Goddess could even smile kindly on the most downtrodden folk in the melting pot of the class system. Who does not even now in modern times, protest or rejoice over one's good luck or misfortune in life?
The wheel of FORTUNA is still evident today on the tenth card of the Major Arcana in the Tarot pack. Anxious gamblers still watch with bated breath as the casino roulette wheel spins for or against them and people who randomly open books to seek answers to their questions owe much to FORTUNA.
An individual called NUMERIUS SUFFICIUS who was native of LATIUM was troubled by a recurring dream that led him to a rock where he discovered wooden lots. These small pieces of Oak wood had ancient characters inscribed on them to formulate predictions from the Goddess, the answers for these were then considered divinely inspired. The final act of trusting one's destiny to the Goddess by 'drawing lots' is a custom that's survived through thousands of years to the present day. The wheel / circle and it's association with Midsummer Pagan Fire Festivals is very ancient indeed. Long before Christianity invaded our shores, the Neolithic Peoples worshipped their Gods and buried their dead at many sites of stone circles.
The day of the 'Longest Sun' was a sacred time- a time to propitiate the Old Gods to ensure a successful harvest and future growth. Midsummer Eve Fires would be lit high on hills and other prominences. The connection with solar continuity is of course self-explanatory. It is no coincidence that the early Christian Church decided to hold the feast day of St. John the Baptist at Midsummer. Our ancient forefathers needed rain as well as Sun to achieve satisfactory crops and many old customs give us a strong clue to this fact. One old tradition involved a large straw bound wheel being ignited then rolled down a hillside into a river. This event was magically symbolic of the Sun's energy intermingling with the element of water to produce good growth in vegetation etc.
The Christian Church, ever eager to manipulate old native traditions for its own ends, naturally saw this indigenous Pagan festival as an excellent event to convert into one of its own - hence the 'water' associations with a 'Baptising' Saint.
Much of our ancient Pagan heritage has been insidiously hijacked in this fashion by the iron fist of Christian theocracy. However, more and more people are now rediscovering the 'OLD TRUTHS' once again.
THINK FOR YOURSELF!
Resist the thrall of common HERD MENTALITY or be prepared to sacrifice your own PERSONAL LIBERTY at the suppressive altar of FACELESS RELIGIOUS CONFORMITY!
Lughnasadh (Lugh's Commemoration)
We may learn much about where we are going today by studying our ancient spiritual heritage. The following gives us one small example.
So, how many curious individuals in contemporary society have ever pondered over the spiritual legacy left behind for us by our pre-Christian ancestors; who once dwelt in the fair green isles of Britain, etc?
Vital clues to this mysterious quest can be found in the craggy landscape and also in dusty works of mythological expression. The answers are here for us to rediscover, yet they are not always perceptible on purely logical, everyday, or mundane levels of thought process.
Lughnasadh (meaning commemoration of Lugh,) was one of the four great Celtic annual festivals, the other ones being: Imbolg (February 2nd,) Bealtaine/Beltane (30th April,) and Samhain (31st October).
In Gaelic mythology Lugh is portrayed as 'Battle Leader' of the ‘Tuatha De Danann’ (Tribe of the Goddess Danu). This deity was seen as having many talents. His athletic prowess and commanding skills earned him amongst other titles: Samildanach, 'God of All Arts', and Lugh Lamhfhada, 'Lugh the Long Handed', or 'Far-shooter'. This subsequent epithet relates to Lugh's expertise with his rod sling, with which he was to later defeat the gargantuan Fomorian Giant 'Balor'.
Incidentally, it is interesting to note that such poetic analogies of light overcoming dark (good versus evil) were evident in our indigenous Pagan culture long before Christianity first missionised these rugged shores.
Lugh was well venerated by all the Celtic peoples that inhabited this country, long before monotheistic absolutism first sought to gain spiritual monopoly of the native populace. The Welsh tribes knew him as Llew Llaw Gyffes, which marks Lugh as an exact counterpart to his Gaelic/Irish namesake. The Celts of the continent called him Lugus and this Gaulish equivalent leaves his mark in localities such as: Lugdunum, (now Lyons,) 'the town of Lugus,' Laon, and also Leyden among others. At various stages in time Lugh has been depicted as a deity of fire, corn, marriage or the Sun which has lead to some confusion as to his true identity and mythological status. The worship of Lugh first arrived in this land with the Goidelic (Gaelic) Celts (progenitors of the Irish people) around 600 BCE. This invasion was followed two hundred years later by the Brythonic (Cornish/Welsh) Celts.
Lugh (Lleu or Llew as the Brythons called him) was very much a hero god of the 'Hercules' type pedigree to the Celts; Llew or Lleu means Lion/Light respectively. Great tales of his brave adventures would be told on cold nights around the comforting warmth of the hearth, giving hope to the tribe in the hard lonely periods of winter's chill. This god was particularly venerated by the Celts at harvest time. His powerful energy exists resplendent in the golden fields of summer. Lugh's perceived force altered somewhat with the arrival of the Roman Legions under Caesar. The Latin conquerors eventually amalgamated their own deities with those of the Celtic peoples. Lugh was no exception; his divinity was cleverly blended with the Roman/Greek Apollo, a well beloved god who exhibited solar qualities. Lugh impressed the Romans so much that his feast-day was later re-dedicated to Augustus. The lovely month of rich harvest that Celtic people held sacred to their Corn god eventually became known as August. Like Apollo, the question arises to whether or not Lugh was actually a Sun god proper. I personally believe that originally he was not, yet with later and greater development of agriculture (dependent upon the Sun) Lugh manifested into a deity of increasing Solar-Force.
History testifies to the fact that all deities go through cycles of transmogrification with changing development in the social structure. Such is the force of divine evolutionary progress. Modern man would do well to remember that he/she is a vital component in this ongoing natural (earth-orientated) advancement too.
The personification of Lugh as a god of the ripening corn fields in August, gives us plain substantiation of our antediluvian progenitors deeply subconscious desire to (spiritually) link up with the beautiful cosmic energies inherent in nature.
Lughnasadh with its rich native Pagan heritage has now been transparently Christianised under the name, 'Lammas-day'. This title is gained from the old Anglo-Saxon word 'Hl f-mass', (Loaf- Mass) which relates to the older 'Lughomass', (Lugh's-Mass.) Lugh, like other Celtic deities was taken by later Christian Norman romancers and given a new role in mythology. Lugh's heroic Pagan deeds were skillfully intermingled and emphasised into the legendary figure of Sir Lancelot.
Incidentally, it should be noted here that some scholars have linked the mysterious Lancelot to the Gaelic cultural hero figure, 'Cuchulainn' who was the result of a divine impregnation by Lugh with a maiden called Dechtir.
Christianity has always managed to infiltrate native faiths by using such tactics as this. Old gods and goddesses of the indigenous people have been subtly converted into heroes, saints or very often demons. This sad fact stands as a monument to the intolerance of man and the danger of monotheistic terrorism.
In the dying corn of August Lugh takes on the role of: 'God of Death and Resurrection.' A common theme throughout history, recently of course adopted by Christianity in order to correlate Christ's human aspect to the indigenous Pagan feast days that flow naturally through the year.
This ancient Celtic celebration of 'First fruits,' with its delightful folklore and customs, gives us a critical clue to the ecstasy and reverence in nature felt so deeply by our pre-Christian forefathers.
Today, numerous contemporary UK Pagans, of which there are well over 250,000 (source: Occult Census, Sorcerer's Apprentice bookshop, Leeds, http://www.sorcerers-apprentice.co.uk/ ) are rediscovering anew, the spiritual wisdom that has slept quietly under a green cloak for incalculable eons. This discovery links all human spiritual/psychic experience to this planet earth, which we all know as our true home.
SEPTEMBER AND THE GREATER ELEUSINIAN MYSTERIES
During the month of September there existed an exotic festival which was celebrated in Athens amongst other places. It was observed every forth year generally, yet every fifth at Eleusis. This nine-day occasion (The Greater Eleusinian Mysteries) was sacred to the Corn-Goddess Demeter and her daughter Persephone.
The actual rites involved were intimately based on the Myth of Demeter's loss and reunion with her beloved child. One day whilst out gathering flowers, Persephone was abducted at the Fountain of Cyane by the God of the underworld-Pluto. Demeter, in a heartbroken state, searched for her far and wide to no avail. Eventually the Nymph Arethusa informed the distraught mother to the whereabouts of Persephone. With this news, Demeter urged the mighty Jupiter to bring back the youthful Goddess to her rightful place. He agreed to restore Persephone fully to Demeter on the condition that the Corn-maiden had not eaten anything whilst in Pluto's realm. Unfortunately, herein Persephone had devoured the grains of a Pomegranate. However, after observing Demeter's deep lament, Jupiter ruled that the Young Goddess could spend six months with her mother and the rest with Pluto.
This ancient Pagan legend is undoubtedly a seasonal metaphor, time-locked into the changing cycles of nature's rich harvest bounty. The beautiful flowers of the earth, the ripening young cornfields wisely personified in Persephone. Demeter becomes the golden, mature inheritance of the earlier spring sowing. She is the great Earth Mother who turns the green meadows into gold and thus knows all things under the life-giving sun.
The mysteries were celebrated with much solemnity involving massive processions, veneration and spiritual initiation. The Romans adopted the feast of the Eleusinia at the period of Hadrian and aspects of it may have filtered through into Britain with the localised worship of Ceres (the Roman equivalent of Demeter.) Incidentally, Ceres gives her name to cereal - the food grains of the corn crop.
September grants us a last chance to savour the fading light of summer. Soon, the equinox is upon us with the first promise of autumnal frost. Hot, halcyon days drift into nostalgia as familiar russet and copper hues again take precedence, painting the woodlands with their eternal glory. Light and dark are now in balance, like the harmonised mythological structure of Persephone's shared time with Demeter and Pluto.
We benefit from seeking to understand the lessons from the storehouse of antediluvian, Pagan knowledge. This timeless wisdom speaks more to the intuitive/psychic levels of man than the worldly mundane. Without balance on all levels, chaos reigns supreme! Our Pre-Christian forebears knew this old truth well and thus captivated such realisation for us in all the ancient mysteries.
The beneficent Corn Goddess speaks volumes to us if we only have ‘ears’ to listen. Her awesome multi-functional divinity penetrates all things and this is especially so in the golden month of September.