Astrology and Tarot, Holidays

How to celebrate Lammas and the Sturgeon Moon

The themes of the Sabbat and the full moon are really speaking to me this year. This weekend marks the beginning of the harvest season, and my garden is just about ready to burst forth with all sorts of veggies. I haven’t picked anything but herbs and lettuce yet, and now it’s time! My first tomato is turning red. My peppers re just big enough to pick. My turnips grew so fast, dewy purple bulbs are pushing up from the soil. The first green beans are as pretty plump. I’m planning a Sabbat dinner with some of these home grown goodies. For some top notch vegan recipes, sign up for the Arrow tarot newsletter here! I include seasonal recipes that I’m really digging.

Lammas and Lughnassadh Sabbat- August 1st

Lughnassadh is an ancient Gaelic festival to celebrate the beginning of harvest season. It falls on August 1st, and its a time to feast to break bread,and to grateful for the abundance of the earth. Some Pagan and Wiccan traditions celebrate Lammas, a very similar adaptation of the festival that falls on the same day. Sabbats fall at the half way point between solstices. It’s the height of summer, the heart of the season. celebrations honor the Son God, during his most sacred month. August is considered an auspicious month for handfasting and weddings.

The harvest is depicted as the Grain Mother.Like the vegetables in the garden that are ripe with seeds and abundance, the fullness of the mother holds at her very heart, the seed of all future harvests. The mother is pregnant not only with her daughter within her, but also her daughter’s ovaries, which contain all of the seed for all future generations. As the harvest is gathered, there is food to keep the community alive through winter.

The Full Sturgeon Moon – August 3rd

The names of moons were created by different Native American tribes, and are deeply tied to nature and the cycles of the year. The full moon in August (this Monday, the 3rd) is called the Sturgeon Moon because it was the time of year that it was easiest to catch these big, fresh water dwelling fish. They were abundant, a key resource for survival in the summer. Now, Sturgeons are extremely rare to find due to over fishing and habitat pollution. Some tribes call the August moon the green corn moon, the fruit moon, or the barley moon.

Ways to Celebrate

This weekend and into Monday, you can celebrate the spirit of the season in many different ways. You can find or make yourself a corn dolly, or a grain mother doll. They are made out of stalks of wheat, oats, barley, corn husks, whatever is available. Here’s a video on how to mak corn dollies. The doll is usually kept until Imbolc festivities. Made during Lammas, the corn dolly are believed to hold the spirit of the corn, and were burned or buried at Imbolc, to symbolize the retern of the corn spirit to the earth, thus ensuring fertility for the year ahead.

You can decorate with colorful Indian corn, wheat, red and orange flowers, like sunflowers and marigolds. This is a good time to set protective spells around your home. Create and bury near the entry way to your home: a witch’s bottle full of broken, sharp, pointy things, and a bit of urine (I know crazy – but a powerful protection spell!).

Have yourself a nice dinner on the night of Lammas or the full moon. It is traditional to have cornbread and seasonal vegetables like peppers, tomatoes, cabbage, cucumbers. You can make a dessert out of blackberries which are growing ripe and wild this time of year. Or perhapes have some blackberry wine, mead or beer.

This is a traitionl song that would be chanted at Sabbat dinner:

The Earth Mother grants the grain;

The horned God goes to His domain.

By giving life into Her grain;

the God dies, then is born again.

For this month, I invite you to work with Red Jasper, which resonated with the root chakrah. Red Jasper has been used for protection for thousands of years. It is believed to create and help balance aggressive, dynamic energy. A good yoga pose to embody these elements of the season is warrior three (Virabhadrasana III). One leg is extended back, long while the other roots down straight in support. Here’s a video of how to strike this pose. It stretches, the chest, shoulder, neck, belly and groin, complementing your work with red jasper. It clears energy from the crown to the tail. While holding the pose, I invite you try on the affirmation, “My strength is my foundation; my mind is limitless.”

I hope that you are growing full with the season and enjoying the warmth and bounty of the year. I know it hasn’t been an easy one for many of us. If you want to explore your own abundance, and capture the power of your spiritual harvest, I am here to create space and provide insight with tarot and coaching.

Holidays

A Beltane Spell

Happy Beltane to you, blessed be!

Beltane is a springtime festival, traditionally celebrated with fire. The word Beltane originates from the Celtic God “Bel” meaning “the bright one,” the Sun God Belenus. Beltane is the half way point between the spring equinox and the summer solstice. It honors life and birth.

Historically observed throughout Ireland and Scotland, it marks the time of year when cattle were driven out to pastures. Rituals were performed to protect the cattle and the crops for the summer. Special bonfires were lit, and it was believed that the smoke had healing powers. People would jump through the flames for protection, and they would even drive their cattle through the bonfires.

Hearths in each home would be put it out, and then re-lit, with the communal Beltane fire. People would decorate their floors and windows with May flowers. The would decorate branches with ribbons, feathers, and shells, and bring them inside for display. Dinner would be a feast, with lots of mead and cakes. Offerings are left out on the doorstep to appease the fairies. It also became customary to decorate a may bush in the community, burn it at the end of the festival, and dance around it.

The morning after the feast and the fires, it as believed that the first water drawn from the wells had special protective powers. Maidens would roll in the morning dew and rub the dew on their faces for beauty and youth. People would collect the ashes from the sacred fires, and bless themselves by dabbing their faces with the ashes. They would sprinkle the ashes on their cattle and livestock.

3 Ways to celebrate Beltane today

  1. Start your garden! The best way to honor Beltane is by making things grow, whether its a planter on your window, a vegetable garden, or some beautiful landscaping.

2. Make an altar. Pick a small space in your home, and set down a cloth. Decorate your altar with flowers (even dandelions), a candle, and symbols of fertility such as seeds, horns, or blossoms. You can add a mother goddess symbol, or draw a sigil on a piece of paper. Check out my Pinterest board on sigil magic here.

3. Have a fire. If you have a fire pit outside, have a fire under the night sky. You can even just bring a candle outside. Sit by the flame/s and mediate on mother earth and the coming of summer. Put your toes in the grass. What are you going to grow in this season? What are you going to prune out of your garden to make room for your expansion?

Let me know how you are celebrating Beltane. Until then, merry meet, merry part, and merry meet again!

Holidays

3 Ways to celebrate Lupercalia (and Valentine’s Day)

What is the difference between Lupricalia and Valentine’s Day?

Lupricalia was an ancient Roman Pagan Festival of love and lust, celebrated on February 15th and dating back as far as the 6th century B.C. King Amulius’s sister broke her vow of celibacy, and as retribution, he ordered her sons Romulus and Remus to be drowned in a river. A servant saved their lives by placing them in a basket and sending them down the river, where they were caught in a fig tree on the bank.

Legend says they were saved by a wolf mother, who they named Luperca. They were later adopted by a shepherd and his wife, who raised them. As men, they killed their uncle Amulius, and they celebrated Lupercalia in February, to honor the she-wolf, and please the Roman fertility god, Lupercus. 

The celebration began with animal sacrifice, and then two priests would smear the sacrificial blood on their foreheads. The blood would be wiped clean with a piece of wool dipped in milk, and the priests were required to laugh while doing so. This represented new life and procreation. The two priests would then run through the village and whip women who got close enough, with pieces of hide from the slain animals. Women usually welcomed the lashes for good luck with fertility. Couples were paired up by pulling names from a vessel or a jar. The celebration ended in feasting and love making!

Source: Catholic.org

Saint Valentine came along much later, in the 3rd century A.D. He was sentenced to death for performing marriage ceremonies with Christian couples in love, during a time when Christianity was persecuted. One story says that while in jail, Valentine tutored the blind daughter of one of the guards, and they fell in love. The night before he was executed, he wrote her a love note and signed it “from your Valentine.”

About 200 years later, the Pope, in an effort to ban the pagan holiday of Lupercalia, declared February 14th as the day to celebrate Saint Valentine. Little did he know that the spirit of both holidays would collide. The color red, which now represents hearts and love, originally represented the blood of the animal sacrifice. Valentine’s Day is more about cards and chocolates, romantic love, and sex, than about Saint Valentine himself.

Both holidays have been overly simplified and romanticized over the centuries, but here are some less extreme ways that you can celebrate Lupercalia this weekend.

Three ways to celebrate Lupercalia on February 15th

1. Have a rose water bath

Source: pixabay

The day after Valentine’s day, the price of roses drops dramatically. Grab a simple bouquet and draw yourself a bath. Add a touch of your favorite body wash, a few tablespoons of epsom salt, and a few drops of essential oil like lavender or rose of course! Pull the petals from your roses and sprinkle them on top of the bath. Light some candles (those are probably on sale too). Turn on a good self love meditation track and sink in. Here is a quick 6 minute session by Michelle Chalfant on Youtube. Maybe grab a box of chocolates at 50% off and go wild!

2. Make a self love altar

All you need is a small shelf or table in your home, in a room that is peaceful, where it won’t be disturbed. Decorate the altar with meaningful items that make you feel loved. Maybe a piece of lace as the table cloth, a pink or red candle, a white feather. You could include a picture of a wolf or a little wolf statue to honor Lupercal. Add some evergreens or fresh rosemary to represent long lasting, unconditional self love. A piece of rose quartz would help you raise the love and beauty vibes. Face your altar during meditation, or just admire it each morning for awhile.

3. Read your cards

You can also do this with a regular deck of playing cards: the old hearts, clubs, spades and diamonds. Here is a list of the suits and their meanings.

First, decide on a spread, maybe a simple three card spread. The first card you draw will represent you, in regards to your love life. The second card will represent the other person (whether you’ve met that person or maybe s/he is on the way). The third card will represent what you should be mindful of in this relationship, or what purpose the relationship is serving in your life. Or the first card is your past, the second is your future, and the third is how you can love yourself more in the present.

Shuffle the deck as you ponder your three questions and ask your spirit guides to help you. Spread the cards out on a table, it can be as messy as you want. Wave your hands over the pile of cards and feel for warmth or vibrations. Pick up three cards that speak to you. Look up their meanings online, and try to be open to the messages that are coming though. 

Need a little help? Contact me for a reading! I’m available for readings via email, phone, or in person. You can also host a Galentine’s Day party with your friends and play with the cards together. You can book me for a party; it’s really fun to get tarot readings as a group. You can book an appointment right through my Facebook page.

May your Lupercalia/Valentine’s Day weekend be full of light, love and self-confidence!

Sources:

Ancient History Encyclopedia: Romulus and Remus

Catholic.org: Saint Valentine

History.com: Lupercalia

Michelle Chalfant: 5 minute self-love meditation

Exemplar: List of playing card tarot meanings