A Blessed Winter Solstice to All from the Coven of the Catta and Lady Ember Willow Hawk 3rd*

On this shortest day and longest night we arrive at the Winter Solstice. This is a magical time of year and liminal in it’s way sharing some qualities with Samhain, in that ghost stories and interactions with Spirits often were at play in the old legends and tales of Yule. This years Solstice is especially magical as on this longest night the full cold moon shines above us. This seems especially fitting as one of the underlying themes of this time of year and celebration is that of Light. Tonight we celebrate the return and triumph of the Light. Also on this night hope is a key aspect of our celebrations as in the lights return we see the hope of seasons shifting and warmer, brighter times ahead. This is a time of year when we look within, thinking of the seeds we will plant both mundanely and spiritually when Candlemas’s promise of warmer times comes to fruition at Spring. I see often around this time of year the arguments that arise about the origins of Yule and who borrowed what from whom and from where. Shawnus always taught us to look not at what separated us, but at the common threads woven between all true spiritual paths linking us together and that is very evident in this celebration, especially so I think, as both Pagan and Christian see at this time of year the Light being reborn to the world and the promise of hope. So at this time of year and on this night despite differences in perception, Tradition and even religion, we can all I think focus on that which we share and the hope that this time of year inspires. Given the universality of this what does it matter who borrowed what from where and when. Wishing a Bright and Blessed Yule to all. BB, Aren


A Blessed All Hallows Eve to All from the Coven of the Catta and Lady Ember Willow Hawk 3rd*

The Wheel has turned, seasonal tides are shifting, as we prepare to move into the Darker half of the year. We now stand at Samhain or All Hallows as we in the Catta coven have always called it, the last and final harvest of the year. This is a time steeped in lore and tradition from a variety of cultures and though there are a myriad of differences in the ways this sacred time is honored there are some threads that seem to be universal and shared by many of us that walk the Pagan paths. Samhain in our tradition, as in many others, is a time when the mantle shifts from The Lady to Her Consort and we honor the Mighty Dead.
At this time candles are lit to honor the spirits as the bell is solemnly rung forty times to welcome them to join us in feast, celebration and remembrance. This is a time to remember and honor both the Mighty Dead and the Beloved Dead; our witch ancestors who came before us as well as those who we have known and loved who have passed before us, so that they know they have not been forgotten. Unseen about the circle they gather and we again gain comfort and joy from feeling the presence of those lost to us by time. This is one of the special Blessings of this time of year , where we again are renewed in the knowledge that Death is not an end but a cycle and as we depart so too do we return. That there is no true and complete ending. So on this night at Summers end as ghosts and goblins wander about seeking tricks or treats, reveling in the special magic of this night so too do we in our way as Witches have our revels on this night of remembrance and magic. We now stand at one of the sacred in-between times, midway between the Autumn Equinox and Winter Solstice, the veil has grown thin and we light our candles and ring the bell for those we ask to join us. On this night we also in the Catta honor the ancestors and founders of our coven and lineage: Sybil Leek, Dr Frederick Lamotte Santee, Lady Phoebe, and Lord Shawnus Merlin Belarion, who taught all of us in the coven the Mysteries of the Craft and shared so freely that which he knew and loved. We remember and honor them as there is no true end, especially not when Samhian night draws near. Wishing a Blessed Samhain  to all. BB, Aren

Wishing a Blessed Autumn to All from the Coven of the Catta and Lady Ember Willow Hawk 3rd*

Though the heat of Sumner is still with most of us here in the States today we arrive at the Autumnal Equinox. We again stand in balance with the hours of day and night being equal. Summer though is over and light now wanes as we move toward Samhain and the Winter Solstice , just as the hours of daylight grow shorter and the hours of night grow longer. This is the second Harvest Festival of the year and in the Catta we have always simply referred to this time as the Autumn Equinox , though it has many names also having been called among others Harvest Home , and Alban Elfed meaning Light of Autumn. In two days time we will also see the rising of the Harvest Moon, so as we keep Sabbat tonight we will be able to feel the rising lunar tide as well as the seasonal one making for a very special celebration indeed. At this time and on this day in many Traditions we see the God passing through the Gates of Youth , while others celebrate the mysteries of the Harvest King. In the Catta we see and celebrate the Descent of Persephone as added to our BoS many years ago by Lord Shawnus. This is a time of celebration even though Summer is officially now behind us and we begin moving towards Winter. On our altars we have the Scythe , acorns , dried flowers , corn and squash to honor both to this season as well as the deeper symbolism that each contains tied to this time of year. There are many and varied ways to celebrate this start to Autumn, but however you celebrate it or by whatever name you call it , we wish you a happy and blessed start to the season. BB , Aren

A Blessed Lammas to All from the Coven of the Catta and Lady Ember Willow Hawk 3rd*

Though Summers hold is still being intensely felt by all here in the Northern Hemisphere the Wheel of the Year has again tuned and we find ourselves at Lammas , also called Lughnasadh and Lughnasa , the first great harvest festival of the year. This is a time to harvest and give thanks for those things both earthly and spiritual that we have planted and nurtured. In the Catta rites we do not have the mythos of the Oak and Holly kings as is found in some traditions, but do have upon the altar bowls of fruit , sheaves of wheat and the traditional loaf of bread which has a history inexorably tied to this time of year and season. Lord Shawnus was fond of saying Lammas was a bit like an early thanksgiving and the bounty of the earth and season was often displayed on the altar to reflect this, as we call upon Hertha to be kind and fruitful and to give thanks for that abundance. As we give honor to the Great Goddess this is also a time to honor the God as His mysteries are deeply tied to this time of year as we celebrate the harvest and mysteries of the grain and scythe. It is now that we also look to and begin preparations for when Summer will no longer hold sway, as we have passed the height of Summer and the dark half of the year begins to rise. This Summer has been a harsh one for many accompanied by droughts and fire in many areas around the world and our hearts go out to those effected by this and still feeling it’s effects. Wishing a Blessed first harvest and Lammas to all ! BB, Aren

A Blessed Summer Solstice to All from the Coven of the Catta and Lady Ember Willow Hawk 3rd*

The Wheel has turned and we stand at Midsummer. On this longest day the Sun has reached it’s Zenith in the heavens and the warmth and promise of life that Spring heralded has been fulfilled. On this Midsummer day we celebrate this time of Greatest Light and the bounty of the earth, yet also after this longest day and shortest night do we see the year begin to move towards it’s darker half as we in reality are only three months away from Autumn. In this way do we see the eternal cycle of Nature , the rise and fall to rise again , as the path of the Seasons and Sun cycle ever onward. This cycle is echoed in seeds and plants blossoming and carrying within the promise of the cycle moving forward, and also within ourselves , for at this time we also see and honor the cycle of the Goddess’s Consort. In honoring His path through the Wheel of the Year we also see that great cycle echoed both in nature and ourselves ,  birth , life , death and rebirth by the Lady’s Grace. On this day historically we celebrate the light as it stands in it’s height and grace and ask for the God’s blessing, and afterward as the days begin to grow shorter and nights longer we make our preparations for the years darker and colder half. Both Midsummers Eve and Midsummer Day are rich in history and symbolism and seen as very magical times. So however you celebrate this time of Light and Bounty may it be magical and bright. Wishing a Blessed Midsummer to all. BB , Aren


A Blessed Beltane to All from the Coven of the Catta and Lady Ember Willow Hawk 3rd*

The wheel has turned and we find ourselves at Beltane. There is some variance as to when Beltane is celebrated , some will hold their rituals today and some will wait until the 5th on the correct astrological date for this cross quarter, and arguments can be made for both. On the actual cross quarter day you are working with the exact seasonal time and energies and on the the traditional day of the 1st following Walpurgis night you are working with the theme of moving beyond the dark night of Walpurgis ,which has some similarities with Samhain , and the Dark Half of the year to emerge fully on the 1st into the years Light Half. In either case Beltane is a liminal celebration and has close ties with the spirit realm at it’s inner mysteries. Also at this time the tide of light is rising towards the Summer Solstice when the light will reach it’s zenith, but on this day and at this time we are celebrating the rites of Beltane , May Day , La’ Bealtaine or Rudemas as it has many names in various cultures and across many Traditions. We see and celebrate the fertility of the land and the coming together and union of the Goddess and the God kindling renewed life in the natural world and in ourselves. Historically in some parts of the British Isles this was also a time to bless cattle and crops and while few of us now have cattle or crops to tend and care for we can still see and celebrate a resonance of this by blessing our seeds and gardens and renewing our ties with the land at this time when it is rich with renewed life. Wishing a Blessed and Bright Beltane to all. BB, Aren

A Blessed Spring Equinox to All from the Coven of the Catta and Lady Ember Willow Hawk 3rd*

The Wheel has turned and Spring has finally come bringing with it a time and focus on rebirth and renewal both in nature and in life itself. Here the azaleas are in full bloom and the evening air is sweet with the fragrance of the citrus buds just beginning to flower. Looking around us nature seems to be in celebration , buds unfurling and colors becoming more vibrant with life. At this Sabbat and celebration we stand once more poised between the Dark and Light halves of the year in balance, but as we bid farewell to Winters hold and look forward to the warmer days ahead the Light grows stronger bringing with it the hope of renewed life and abundance both terrestrially and spiritually. On this Sabbat we in the Catta coven place green candles in the quarters of the circle to symbolize the renewal and strength of the earth as we place silver candles upon the altar to symbolize the Goddess rising in strength and beauty to lead us in this brighter half of the year. We ask blessings that the newly emerging life will prosper and we all of us each in our own ways embrace this time of celebration and promise. Wishing a bright and vibrant Spring to all. BB, Aren

A Blessed Candlemas to All from the Coven of the Catta and Lady Ember Willow Hawk 3rd*

The sun now rises on Imbolc, also called Oimelc and Gwyl Forwyn in Gaelic and Welsh traditions. In our coven it is known as Candlemas and is a time when we see the first promise of Winters end and warmer days that will later come to fruition at the Spring Equinox , at this time in addition to seeing the first signs of Winter giving way we also see the first signs of new life beginning to stir in nature. This is very much a Sabbat celebrating the Goddess as she once again rises and is honored as the Maiden. I have written about a practice Shawnus always enacted in this rite beginning with the Goddess figure on the altar covered with a white cloth which is removed symbolizing Persephone’s awakening and return and when done with proper intent and visualization it does resonate deeply. This is a time , though still cold and harsh in some areas , of waning darkness and rising light and is also a time to cast behind us the ills and effects of Winter. In our coven we have a practice of banishing the shades of Winter which is enacted at this Sabbat to help us move more easily from last vestiges of the dark half of the year and look forward to warmer more pleasant days ahead. Candlemas does share in part some of the energies of Yule as it is a time to focus on hope and renewal in both nature and in ourselves. Wishing Brighter and Warmer days ahead for all. BB, Aren

A Blessed Winter Solstice to All from the Coven of the Catta and Lady Ember Willow Hawk 3rd*

We have arrived at Yule , The Winter Solstice and counterpoint to Midsummer. The longest night of the year is before us, yet in spite of this shortest day and long cold night this is a solar festival and a time of hope and promise. We come together to celebrate the Great Mother giving birth to the Divine Child and to embrace the hope of that rebirth being echoed in nature in the months to come, even though snow still lies heavy on the ground. The Oak and Holly Kings are not part of the mysteries in our coven but we do often have those elements present for the midwinter rites in the form of the Yule log , made of oak and decorated with fir and holly, as their significance to this time of year is enduring and resonates on a deep level. At this time we also see the hope of the ending of the Dark Half of the year and the coming of warmth and light that makes this such a special and important celebration in the yearly cycle. In times past fires were lit on this night to symbolize the sun , urging it to return in strength and bring warmth to the frozen ground. In the present fires are still lit on this night symbolizing the movement of the year from it’s darker cycle into warmer ,brighter times and also symbolizing what this time of year has meant to so many cultures and differing faiths and traditions : Rebirth , Renewal and Hope. These are such powerful and enduring concepts and forces and on this night we embrace their gifts and let their promise burn in our hearts even as other fires burn in our hearths or upon our altars. Wishing a Joyous and Blessed Yule to all ! BB, Aren

A Blessed All Hallows to All from the Coven of the Catta and Lady Ember Willow Hawk 3rd*

The Great Wheel of the Year has turned and Summers warmth finally seems to have lost it’s hold. We are now in the Dark Half of the Year and have arrived at Samhain , or as we in the Catta coven simply call it All Hallows. To many of us this time of year brings back fond memories of carving jack-o-lanterns with glinting eyes and seeing fall leaves rustling in the wind seeming to dance all on their own. There was , and is , a sense of wonder and magic about this time of year and rightfully so as on this day ,and in some traditions for a week to come leading up the the actual cross quarter on November 7th,  the veil between the world of the living and the spirit realm draws thin. At Samhain we of the Wica , as well as many other pagans practicing in different belief systems, honor the spirits of the Mighty Dead and the passing of the mantle from the Great Lady to Her Consort to watch over us through the Winter days and long nights to come. This is a time to embrace the feeling of wonder and magic and remember all those we have loved and known who have passed into the Summerlands, and on this night perhaps light a candle in honor and remembrance of them , to let them know they are not forgotten and perhaps we will receive a sign in return letting us know that we ourselves have not been forgotten by those who have preceded us into the lands of Youth. In our coven it is also a time to remember and honor those of our Linage who have passed beyond the Veil : Sybil Leek , Doctor Santee , lady Phoebe , and Lord Shawnus Merlin Belarion who was my teacher and dear friend, as he was to many of us, as well as being Elder High Priest of our coven for the last 30 years of his life. Shawnus loved this time of year and took great joy in the mix of wonder and magic that comes to us when we think back to Hallows evenings long past and the deeper spiritual elements that make this one of the Great Sabbats and Festivals of the Year. So tonight we light the candles of remembrance on our altars as beacons to those who may visit on this Hallows night as well as the candles in the merrily carved jack-o-lanters we place about to honor Samhains past and the memories we have of this most magical night.  Wishing a Merry and Blessed All Hallows to all ! BB, Aren