Today we welcome the month of May and with it Beltane or May Day as it is often called. Beltane is one of the Great Sabbats and fire festivals standing between Spring Equinox and Summer Solstice on the Great Wheel of the Year. In the earliest Wica teachings, as well as what Sybil Leek herself taught early on, there were four Great Sabbats that had to be kept and Beltane was one of them. It has a long and rich history with it’s varied customs and ways of celebrating this time always deeply tied to the fertility and vitality of the Land, livestock and even people. We see at this time Spring at it’s zenith as we move forward into Summer as the Wheel turns. At this time nature is alive with growth and renewal and it is this which we celebrate now more so than the older customs our ancestors may have kept at this time to ensure the health and well being of livestock and crops, we also do not place the emphasis on human fertility and sexuality that was also a part of some older rites focused on the coming together of the May Queen and Forest Lord. There were many customs that touched upon this aspect of sexuality and fertility but time moves forward even as the Great Wheel turns and with that comes nuances of understanding about how we celebrate and resonate with these old festivals in more modern times. We still however honor and keep the enduring symbols of this sacred time and balefires are still lit in some areas to honor this Great Sabbat, even as candles are lit upon the altar or fires in the hearth to harken back to the older practices. We may no longer drive livestock and cattle between two great balefires to purify them and help ward off illness but we do kindle flames upon our altars to honor that quickening of life and vitality that this seasonal tide carries so deeply within in. We may no longer go “maying” in the forest to ensure fertility to the village or tribe but we do still dance around the maypole and honor the early and much deeper symbolism that carries with it, that too is still a part of the Catta May Day celebrations as passed down to us by Shawnus and Lady Alsace. Beltane is a joyous time of year as Spring reigns triumphant, and however we each keep this Great Sabbat in our own ways and to our own traditions hopefully it will be a Blessed one for All. BB, Aren
We arrive today at the Spring Equinox, when the first stirrings and promise of Spring that we saw at Candlemas come into fruition. All around us buds and blossoms are emerging as bees are making busy with their work. In the Catta we celebrate the mythos of Persephone, stirring at Imbolc/Candlemas and fully awakening at Spring, manifest in Her young and bright Maiden aspect, so on this date we welcome and celebrate the Goddess and the returning warmth and promise of all that spring brings; longer and warmer days and the beauty of nature all around us as it fully casts off the vestiges of Winter and warmer days return. This year we have only just seen the rising of the Crow Moon, the last full Moon of the Winter season, and in this too we celebrated the end of Winter and the arrival of a new and brighter season. Today nature stands in balance between the Light and the Dark but tipping towards the Light as we move towards the time of the Sun and Light’s apex at Summer Solstice. At this time and in the coming days we seek to attune ourselves to and to mirror the energy of this season, this time of vibrancy and growth both in our inner and outer lives. This is a time of life, joy, and renewal, so no matter how we celebrate it each of us in our own ways and to our own traditions hopefully this will be a Blessed and Bright time for all. BB Aren
This Candlemas or Imbolc as it is also called arrives on the heels of a Winter storm that has been especially harsh in some areas, yet despite strong winds and freezing temperatures there are still signs that the seasons are shifting as we move more fully into the Light half of the year. As days have gradually gotten longer and nightfall creeping back in increments the first stirrings and signs of Springs approach are appearing, indeed some flowering plants have already begun to bud and in some cases come into full flower despite the lingering cold. Those signs of the Spring that is to come as the wheel turns a bit further are at the heart of this celebration; we see the hope and promise of what is to be as the Goddess in her Youthful aspect awakens the stirring of life within the earth and nature and makes way to bring it into fruition. At this time we seek to put behind us the darkness of Winter and move forward refreshed and renewed into the new year. In the Catta we do not have any specific mythos or rituals dedicated to the Goddess Brigit per se, with the preparation of the Bride’s bed placed by the door with lit candles to welcome the Goddess and to bless the home and hearth for the coming year as is still done in some places, but we do welcome in the Sun of Candlemas day and work to encourage its rising tide, as well as welcome the return of the Maiden of Spring. Over all this is a celebration of the hope of what is soon to be and the first beginnings of a return to brighter and warmer days. The moon has just passed through it’s dark phase and we see a new moon in the night sky which also is symbolic of fresh beginnings and the tide of life rising and growing. However it’s celebrated hopefully this new and fresh beginning of things to come will carry over into the new year we have just embarked on. Wishing a Blessed and Bright Candlemas to all. BB , Aren
The turning year has brought us to the Winter Solstice also called by some Alban Arthan. On this shortest day we see the arrival of the height of the Dark half of the year with the longest night before us. In much of the northern hemisphere this is a time when cold and snow covers the land. The shorter days symbolizing the dying light of the year that is to be reborn after this longest night, after which the Sun will be seen to grow in strength moving us towards the end of the Dark half of the year at the Spring Equinox and out of Winters embrace. On this Winter’s longest night the darkness will be somewhat lessened by the still bright light of the full Cold Moon that rose to it’s zenith only a couple of days ago, the universal symbol of the Great Mother shining in the skies brightening the long night and this sacred time when the Divine Horned Child will be reborn. Even as these colder, darker times with shorter days has lent itself to introspection and a drawing within this was always a time of celebration and joy to focus on and encourage the Lights return and with it the hope of longer warmer days. As the sun rises tomorrow we will see the shift towards gradually longer days and the land making its readiness waiting for the first promise of Springs return we see at Lady day or Candlemas.
Many of us still maintain the customs of our childhood with the brightly decorated tree and festive decorations that meant so much to us then and still does now. The Christmas Tree has older connotations with the Yule Log so there is no conflict in this and indeed the custom of the Yule log especially is one of the more enduring and meaningful of this time as well as one of the most beautiful. The lighting of the log on the darkest, longest night to encourage the rekindling of light and warmth. The log also has many magical associations as well, with the ashes being kept for use in protective charms and even some added to the seeds to be planted when Spring arrives being among them. This is a sacred time of year to so many both Pagan and Christian alike as we all honor the return and re-birth of the Light though we may see this thorough differing eyes and lenses. Tonight we light candles on our altars and Yule logs in our hearths just as our ancestors once lit fires to encourage and symbolize the lights return and a shift to brighter longer days ahead. As I have written before this was a much loved celebration of Shawnus’ and how in it he saw the interconnections of the Divine in many different paths and this Holiday exemplifies that with it’s close associations with the cycles of birth , death and re-birth which is held sacred in many cultures and religions. However we celebrate on this longest night to kindle hope and a joyful return of the Light may it be a Blessed time for all. BB, Aren
The cool crisp days of Autumn have brought us to Samhain ,also called Samhuinn, Summers End and All Hallows as it is called in the Catta. Samhain has a rich and many layered history being the last of the years harvest festival’s and there are many customs associated with this celebration before Winter takes hold. One of Samhains more well known aspects being that this is considered by many to be the time of the Thin Veil when the Mighty as well as our Beloved dead can more easy visit with us. This liminal aspect when the spirit word draws nearer to our own is also mirrored by Beltane which is now being celebrated in the Southern Hemisphere. In keeping with the many layered aspects of this celebration there have also been many dates on which it has been celebrated over different times and by different peoples. To many October 31 , Halloween or all Hallows eve, has become synonymous with Samhain and many do indeed hold their celebrations on this night. However there is also the actual cross quarter day when Samhain astrologically falls on November 7th , the old associations with Martinmas in some areas also mark that time as being called by some Old Halloween and finally perhaps the oldest of the dates when the 7 sisters or Pleiades rise to their height at midnight around November 21st. So it seems just as there are many aspects to Samhain there are many dates or liminal times in which it has been celebrated. The answer most likely lies in that Samhain is not a single night but a tide stretching over many days as we move further into the dark half of the year and towards winter. Personally I prefer to celebrate on the 31 with the catta rituals as we were taught and again on the 7th cross quarter with a more personal rite. There is a special magic about this time of year and Samhain is in some ways like a finely blended incense with various notes that come though. There can be a bitter sweet note as we recall and honor those who have passed yet there also is a soothing note as well being as especially at this time those we have know and loved who have gone beyond can more easily walk the ways between the worlds to visit with us and help us recall those special memories we had with them. This dual aspect, somber as we remember and honor those who have passed and the brighter sweeter echoes of past childhood Halloween memories when carved pumpkins and piles of freshly raked golden leaves brought us so much enjoyment and mystery is one of the things Shawnus most loved about it. On this Samhain night we honor our Beloved Dead as well as those of our lineage , mundane family and craft families both. We honor and remember Sybil Leek, Dr Frederick Lamotte Santee, Lady Phoebe, Lord Shawnus, Lady Alsace and all those who came before. There are many ways to keep and honor this most magical night but however, or when ever, we hold our celebrations hopefully they will be Blessed ones. Wishing a Merry All Hallows to All. BB, Aren
The official start to the Fall season has begun on this first day of Autumn as we stand in balance between the light and the dark with equal hours of both day and night. This year the equinox also falls within the range of a Full Harvest Moon so is especially meaningful. As we move forward the hours of daylight will wane as the hours of night wax with us moving ever closer to Winter. All around us we see this echoed as the tides shift and nature readies itself for longer colder nights and shorter days with twilight falling sooner. As nature begins its march towards Winter so too is this a time to begin our plans and preparations as well. This was and is also a time for harvest and gathering of both things we have planted in the soil as well as spiritual things we have set into motion and is known as the second harvest of the year. This is also a time of celebration for the bounties that the earth and nature has provided while we still enjoy the warmer days even though they are on the wane and have been so since the sun reached it’s height of power at Summer Solstice. On this day though and for this night we stand in a place of balance and give thanks for the blessings we have have received and for the beauty that Nature gives us in this special time of year as winds grow crisper and the colors of nature change around us ; as fire places are tended to and wood prepared making ready for the years waning warmth and light even as candles and fragrant incense is kindled on our altars and scared places honoring both this time and season and the Goddess and Her Consort as they too prepare for the shifting of the Mantle. As the Dark half of the year rises to it’s fore we will ask the Lady’s Consort to keep watch over us till warmer times arrive. In the Catta this is a doubly special time of year as it falls so close to the birth of our covens founding HP Dr Frederick LaMotte Santee on September 17th in 1906 and who in 1967 was initiated by Sybil Leek, afterward founding the Coven of the Catta. So on this Sabbat he as well as all the other past Elders are honored. This celebration has had many names and titles over the years and differing cultures but by whatever names we use and in whatever ways we may honor it each according to our Tradition and leanings hopefully this harvest season will be a bountiful and Blessed one for all. BB, Aren
August has arrived and with it the first of the great Harvest Festivals, Lammas. This celebration of the beginning of the harvest season has also been called Lughnasa in honor of the God Lugh and hlaef-mas among other names. This is a celebration of Life and abundance, always remembering that as we draw bounty and sustenance from the Earth so too must we give back. This is a joyous festival with very old roots across various cultures and with a myriad of customs. One of the more enduring aspects of this festival is that even as we celebrate this time of abundance we are even still moving towards the time of Autumn and cooler crisper days. Indeed this has also been called the time of the Fiery Wheel of the Descending Year, as though this is a fire festival marking and honoring the beginning of the Harvest season we have already seen the Sun rise to it’s Zenith at Summer Solstice and now we are moving gradually towards the darker half of the year as the Suns strength was traditionally seen as beginning to wane as we move forward into Autumn and Winter. In the Catta a loaf of freshly baked bread is placed on the altar along with fruit and sheaves of wheat to symbolize and honor the various customs associated with this festival and to give thanks to the Gods for those Blessings we have been given as well as for receiving the fruits of our labors, both physical and spiritual, that we have worked for. As with all of the Great Festivals of the Year there are many ways in which this time can be honored and kept depending on your Tradition and Path. However we keep this special time hopefully it will be a joyful one for all. Wishing everyone a Blessed and Bright Lammas , BB Aren.
Today in the Northern Hemisphere we celebrate the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year and the time when the powers of the Sun and all it represents are at their height. The promise of Beltane has been fulfilled and true Summer has arrived. Today there has been little sign of the sun here as clouds and rain have lasted through the day but no matter the weather the overt and inner meaning of this day and time shines through reminding us of all the many traditions and practices; historic, cultural and folkloric, that are kept and celebrated at this time of the years turning and the rise of the Light shining at its strongest before the eventual ebbing tide of Lammas. In the Southern Hemisphere the Winter Solstice dawns and that also has at its heart the celebration of Light and the Sun, so these two celebrations do mirror one another to a degree just as Beltane and Samhain do reminding us of the interconnections of all in the great web of Life. However we keep and celebrate this special day it is a time of merriment and joy, a celebration of life in all its many forms as the Sun shines down on us all. Wishing a Happy and Blessed Summer Solstice to all. BB Aren
Today we arrive at Beltane, also called May Day, Bealtaine, Walpurgisnacht and Boaldyn. Though the astrological date for this sabbat falls on the 4th this year the traditional date is that of May Eve or May 1st. This celebration is a much beloved one and is steeped in tradition and symbolism both overt and subtle. There is without a doubt a very strong echo of older fertility based practices still celebrated in token if no longer in totalis, we see this most strongly in the tradition of the maypole and the dance preformed around it by female and male participants weaving together colored ribbons. This simple dance with its echoes of older more heavily fertility based practices horrified early puritans and was one of the main reasons given for the condemnation and actions taken against the small coastal settlement of Merry Mount in 1628 where a 80 foot tall Maypole was said to have been erected and was the centerpiece for a celebration that lasted for several days with drinking and general merriment. This tale made its way to Plymouth and was seen as blasphemous which planted the seed that led to the eventual actions taken against those seen as flouting the Puritan way of life and the arrest and eventual imprisonment of the towns leader; the settlement itself coming to be known as Mount Dagon instead of Merry Mount. So we see that even here in America the history and keeping of the older May Day celebrations have been long with us. Though now many of us see this fertility based aspect as being a part but not the whole of the celebration, we do honor the coming together of the Horned God and Goddess and from that union Blessings cast down upon all, also seeing this as a time to strengthen our link with the natural world as we shift tides and move into Summer. This shift and its importance is apparent in the mirrored celebrations of Beltane in the Northern hemisphere and Samhain in the Southern, two sides of essentially the same coin, as both celebrations have strong links with the other world and spirit world. In this way both celebrations have long been seen as times to honor the spirits both of nature and the Mighty Dead. At its heart Beltane is a celebration of life and the eternal spark that enlivens all of nature and though Summer has not yet arrived we see its presence slowly making itself known as we move further into the year.
The pandemic has changed and led us to change the way we celebrate and keep the old festivals and celebrations, but there are many ways this special time can be kept and honored even if we cannot meet in groups at present. This night like its twin being now celebrated in the southern hemisphere is one deep in magic and tradition and honored in many different ways by different peoples. However it is kept, by home hearths or in circles, alone or in group, this is a most magical night and time of year. Wishing a Happy and Blessed Beltane to all. BB, Aren
The Wheel has turned and Winter is now behind us as we stand in balance at the Spring Equinox, also called the Vernal Equinox, Ostara and Alban Eilir,where the hours of day and night are equal but tipping towards the light with days growing longer and warmer. Life all around us has begun to manifest and emerge from its winters sleep. Here the Azaleas and grapefruit trees are flowering and the smell on the breeze is sweet and fresh. This is a time of renewal and growth both in nature and in our inner and magical lives as well, now that the Dark half of the year is behind us this rising tide of greater Light is an excellent time to renew ourselves as we move forward into this new year and season. The themes of life returning to the land and the Suns power waxing moving towards its zenith at Midsummer are ancient ones, but just as important now as they were to our ancestors. By attuning ourselves to the tides of the seasons and the land we create that oneness which is the nexus of true magic and connection with life and nature.
On our altars we have flowers and greens to celebrate this time of waxing light, warmth, and natures blossoming as we honor the Great Goddess and God each in our own way and with our own rites both formal and informal. This season has a plethora of folk practices and beliefs interwoven into it, one tradition that has been a fascination of mine for years is that of the Ukrainian Pysanky eggs and their own unique folklore and magic. The lore and history of the Pysanky eggs is a rich and varied one, on the surface they remind us of brightly colored Easter eggs but there is a deeper and older magic the eggs signify and this is an excellent time to research that and perhaps add this old practice to our celebration of this bright time whether as charms to bring good fortune and luck to our households, or those of friends, as well as charms of warding and protection for the coming year. This is also a good time to search for herbs and plants which are coming into potency and renewed life, and enjoy this special time of year outdoors as much as possible. Wishing a Blessed Spring to all. BB Aren