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Festivals...?


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#1 Aria

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Posted 01 March 2016 - 11:10 AM

Do you celebrate 'festivals' regularly, and if yes, what do you celebrate? 
Do you refer to a tradition that you follow, to local customs, to the standard 'wheel of the year', to you guts? 

 

I am asking this question because of a discussion that I had with some fellow Italian witches. 
Especially the 'reconstructionist' among them, tend to have an approach that totally ditches both the 'standard' wheel of the year and local custom for historical sources. In fact, in many of the documentary evidence we have (coming mainly from Ginzburg), witches would meet four times a year, following the catholic 'tempora' nights. These people are very touchy about it, and seem to favor a literal interpretation of historical documents which sounds very evangelical to me. 

I find it weird to strictly follow the catholic liturgical calendar (which is also super-difficult, as the days change every year), and a bit anachronistic for a tradition that claims to be 100% 'authentic'. It's also weird, because they end up celebrating the spring tempora day when most of Italy is still cold and in winter. 

 

Personally, I go along with the customs of the place where I was born, and where my main spiritual 'help' comes from (although this is changing a bit, which I didn't expect). 

 

It got me curious about how you go through all this, and what approach you follow, if you do at all. 

 

 


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#2 bluelily

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Posted 01 March 2016 - 05:59 PM

I really enjoy acknowledging and celebrating the wheel of the year. It helps me feel connected to my spiritual path. I don't always celebrate each Sabbat/Esbat, but when I feel drawn to, I do, and fully enjoy it! 

 

I also celebrate custom celebrations with my family.


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#3 RapunzelGnome

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Posted 01 March 2016 - 09:13 PM

In my career life, my year is ordered to the wheel of the Church Liturgical year and has been for several years, so that rhythm is already set for me.

The funny thing is, of course, that pagan holidays do not follow the church calendar, but the other way around. Nearly every major date on the Christian calendar (including the feast of Saints) was set over an existing pagan local festival and the symbolism often followed with the conversion. With the exception of Holy Week, Easter and Pentecost which are set off of the Jewish calendar because of their association in the New Testament with Passover.

My personal practices follow the rhythm of the natural seasonal calendar...I would struggle to live anywhere that didn't have four seasons. I honor the moon phases (and since beginning that, my menstrual cycle decided to realign itself with the moon as well) and the solstices, and I'm building traditions as I go...some family and ancestral traditions, some personal, and some local. There are many similarities between seasonal celebrations throughout various cultures though the calendar days might be different. I don't think the details are terribly important as long as you are connected to the natural world through your practice.

I'd love to celebrate with other witches someday, but I'm still a loner in the broom closet until my job situation works out.

Edited by RapunzelGnome, 01 March 2016 - 09:18 PM.

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#4 Caps

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Posted 01 March 2016 - 11:07 PM

Realistically I hardly have any festivals I celebrate, I typically associate them with tradition or religion.

 

I do like to celebrate the American Independence Day.

 

It was a time in history, although not the first time, when men decided to turn away from their king and claim their own freedom.  American colonists, mostly farmers and frontiersmen, decided to withdraw from the most powerful empire of its time and won their freedom through bloody conflict.  Today in western culture we live in a society that is supposed to represent religious tolerance and freedom and a lot of it was due to the influence of the founding of the USA.  I owe my entire belief system and spiritual journey to the fact that I am not forced to follow a religion under penalty of law.  That's why I celebrate Independence Day.


Edited by Caps, 01 March 2016 - 11:15 PM.

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#5 aefre

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Posted 02 March 2016 - 12:07 PM

In my career life, my year is ordered to the wheel of the Church Liturgical year and has been for several years, so that rhythm is already set for me.

The funny thing is, of course, that pagan holidays do not follow the church calendar, but the other way around. Nearly every major date on the Christian calendar (including the feast of Saints) was set over an existing pagan local festival and the symbolism often followed with the conversion. With the exception of Holy Week, Easter and Pentecost which are set off of the Jewish calendar because of their association in the New Testament with Passover.

My personal practices follow the rhythm of the natural seasonal calendar...I would struggle to live anywhere that didn't have four seasons. I honor the moon phases (and since beginning that, my menstrual cycle decided to realign itself with the moon as well) and the solstices, and I'm building traditions as I go...some family and ancestral traditions, some personal, and some local. There are many similarities between seasonal celebrations throughout various cultures though the calendar days might be different. I don't think the details are terribly important as long as you are connected to the natural world through your practice.

I'd love to celebrate with other witches someday, but I'm still a loner in the broom closet until my job situation works out.

I too celebrate the Wheel Of The Year, nature's cycles, and can relate to the fact that you live in a place where there are four distinct seasons.  I agree, the whole point of the Northern European Wheel was to encourage crops to grow, to be reaped, and again to be sown.  These things ensured the basic survival of the people at the time.  Then the Christians came, but hats off to their cunning, realised that people were not about to change their beliefs/practises overnight, so 'adjusted' their system to incorporate the native beliefs.

 

I, personally, incorporate 'their beliefs' into my practises.  Ostara is approaching, and if people want to celebrate Easter, that's OK.  I will personally be celebrating the Spring Equinox.  Both include symbols of eggs, spring flowers and new life.  The only thing that's new is the addition of chocolate??!!  But, hey, I can work with that!

 

I also honour the moon cycles religiously (excuse the pun).  How do you honour them?

 

Please don't feel alone,  I know I'll be lighting a candle and popping the name RapunzelGnome into the family fire pit, for a bright new year, growth (and excellent job prospects!!!). 


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#6 RapunzelGnome

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Posted 02 March 2016 - 02:49 PM

Thank you, aefre! I need all the help I can get with my situation, that's for sure.

I schedule my spellwork by the moon and astrological conditions (though sometimes you can't wait for the right conditions and you just gotta do it). I'm not sure if it's a legitimate practice or not since most of what I read about the moon's energy is Wiccan literature, but it works for me. Mostly because of my own cycle and the energies that go along with that.

New Moon-
On the new moon, I do ritual purification and try to honor the darkness side of me with my meditations (and try to make sure to sleep in complete darkness when possible). I look at where I stand in life and how my spellwork has manifested since the last new moon. I look at astrological conditions and decide my schedule for spellwork and there's a tarot spread that do each new moon. I make a list of things I want to accomplish in the coming month and hide it on my altar. Then I take the ashes that I've collected from incense and spellwork since the last full moon and make an offering to my favorite oak tree, releasing them with gratitude for spells that have worked or are working.

Full moon-
On the night of the full moon, I again take my collected ashes out to my sentinel oak tree, and I also "toast the moon." I take a wine glass of water or white wine out with me and let the light of the moon dance across the surface of the liquid while I meditate. Sometimes I can scry in the reflections, but most of the time, it just gives me a bit of euphoria drinking it in. I reflect on how my spells have been doing since the new moon, and decide if I need to change course on anything. I usually end up doing the "biggest" spells on this day, knowing that my personal energy will likely be high. I pretty much indulge myself in magick at this point...no ritual is too elaborate when the moon is full. Lol

Between the full moon and the new moon, I set my focus on releasing things, cleansing, resting so my energy is renewed during the waxing phases. Lots of inner work during the waning time.

I suppose this is pretty Wiccan looking, but the rhythm works well for me right now. It's been a good way to chart my progress in life and spells and to hold myself accountable to my goals, and to be a good steward of my own body's energy. Nothing goes to waste when energy is high, and I give myself plenty of rest while my body is "resetting itself". Surprised me how quickly my body matched my menstrual cycle to align with the moon phases when i started doing this schedule....like I was recalibrating to the default setting or something. I had not been expecting that!

Edited by RapunzelGnome, 02 March 2016 - 02:52 PM.

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#7 Aina

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Posted 02 March 2016 - 03:14 PM

I don't pay much attention to the wheel of the year. The esbats and sabbats never appealed to me. Most of the spirits I work with are African, so I tend to follow the days associated with them. The only local holidays I celebrate are Ancestor Day (Samhain) and Xmas (I like exchanging gifts).


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#8 westofthemoon

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Posted 02 March 2016 - 04:57 PM

I do things on the Equinoxes & Solstices (& Hallows Eve/All Saints). I don't celebrate May Day or the harvest unless my kids want to. The Equinoxes especially because that's when things shift the hardest up here between seasons.
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#9 Aria

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Posted 03 March 2016 - 11:08 AM

In my career life, my year is ordered to the wheel of the Church Liturgical year and has been for several years, so that rhythm is already set for me.

The funny thing is, of course, that pagan holidays do not follow the church calendar, but the other way around. Nearly every major date on the Christian calendar (including the feast of Saints) was set over an existing pagan local festival and the symbolism often followed with the conversion. With the exception of Holy Week, Easter and Pentecost which are set off of the Jewish calendar because of their association in the New Testament with Passover.

 

 

I, personally, incorporate 'their beliefs' into my practises.  Ostara is approaching, and if people want to celebrate Easter, that's OK.  I will personally be celebrating the Spring Equinox.  Both include symbols of eggs, spring flowers and new life.  The only thing that's new is the addition of chocolate??!!  But, hey, I can work with that!

 

 

 

I see what you guys men, and I do a similar thing to a certain extent. My criticism in the OP was about the tempora days. These are symbolic days, the date of which changes every year, that are not aligned on any pagan festivity, they just mark the beginning of the four different liturgical seasons of the church. To me, it is a plain evidence of the adoption of church customs into pagan habits, as the tempora do not play any role in folk-culture or beliefs (which is untrue for some of the 'wheel of the year' days). 

 

 

Realistically I hardly have any festivals I celebrate, I typically associate them with tradition or religion.

 

I do like to celebrate the American Independence Day.

 

It was a time in history, although not the first time, when men decided to turn away from their king and claim their own freedom.  American colonists, mostly farmers and frontiersmen, decided to withdraw from the most powerful empire of its time and won their freedom through bloody conflict.  Today in western culture we live in a society that is supposed to represent religious tolerance and freedom and a lot of it was due to the influence of the founding of the USA.  I owe my entire belief system and spiritual journey to the fact that I am not forced to follow a religion under penalty of law.  That's why I celebrate Independence Day.

I understand what you mean, Caps. For the same reason, I always celebrate the 25th of April, the days Italy was freed from fascism. It also comes in the middle of spring, which helps. 


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#10 RapunzelGnome

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Posted 03 March 2016 - 04:31 PM

Ah yes the ember days. Sorry, I didn't make the connection when I first read the post.

That is a little strange. Perhaps it goes back to a time when the lives of everyone in Italy revolved around the church year due to the fact that the entire government and calendar was set upon the shoulders of the Vatican. I don't know enough about Italian folk lore, but if this is an old tradition, it may have started as a matter of convenience back the day when the church was not a sub culture, but the ruling order.

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#11 Mountain Witch

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Posted 03 March 2016 - 06:53 PM

I don't celebrate a specific festival or holiday. The calendar is an invention of Man and it's changed over the centuries. (The one we follow now didn't come into being until 1582.) The solar holidays are based on what's happening at the equator - and I don't live there. I watch what's happening in my little corner of the world & celebrate when I see my wheel turning.


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#12 Aria

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Posted 04 March 2016 - 07:26 AM

Ah yes the ember days. Sorry, I didn't make the connection when I first read the post.

That is a little strange. Perhaps it goes back to a time when the lives of everyone in Italy revolved around the church year due to the fact that the entire government and calendar was set upon the shoulders of the Vatican. I don't know enough about Italian folk lore, but if this is an old tradition, it may have started as a matter of convenience back the day when the church was not a sub culture, but the ruling order.

 

If you ask me, that's exactly what happened. One of the main things in the countryside with the spread of Christianity was the introduction of the liturgical year, and the church monopoly on the organization of time.


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#13 Ozman

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Posted 29 June 2018 - 10:44 AM

Honestly,  I'm not a holiday person, I've never been a holiday person, so I really don't pay much attention to the wheel of the year, the moon cycle is more prevalent because I see that every night so on the Dark Moon I may do something but usually I'll just gaze up and admire it. And don't even get me started on birthdays lol I barely remember my own lol.


Edited by Ozman, 29 June 2018 - 10:45 AM.

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#14 Phaedra

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Posted 29 June 2018 - 12:07 PM

To me, festivals ought to be communal events, so I join in on whichever few my family members also enjoy...mostly Christmas, Easter, and Thanksgiving. Earlier on down my path when I was feeling around for what I liked, I took a shot at the wheel of the year observances, but it felt a bit lame and disingenuous for me. I enjoy the changes that come with seasonal transitions, but I don't formally celebrate them. Christmas, though... there is nothing about that time of the year that I don't like.


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#15 Zombee

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Posted 29 June 2018 - 05:40 PM

I'd tried out the 8-day wheel of the year & found it didn't fit the weather patterns where i live as we still have frost in mid-May. That made me feel out of sinc which cancelled out the thrill of holiday observance. I'd noticed that my body feels the rush of the solstices and easy-breathing equinoxes by 3-5 days after the calendar date which fluctuates anyhow. To check myself i began marking the Summer Sun's shadow on an east-facing wall over a period of a few years & found I'm far enough north that the sunrise shadow is straight 3 days later then the calendar date, just like my body was telling me. The expressway made a good false horizon. A neighbor's chimney marks due-east. Since the solstices get my attention the winter and summer night skies make my calendar when the chem-trail shenanigans (&@#%!) let me have clear viewing. The Big Dipper faithfully rotates in accord to the seasons. Cassiopeia watches in spring-summer. Orion boldly stands vigil in autumn. Solstices plus full Moon's stir my lethargic blood & actually get me to hobble outside to DO something. It doesn't have to be much.

Edited by Zombee, 29 June 2018 - 05:55 PM.

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#16 PapaGheny

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Posted 02 July 2018 - 05:44 PM

Well Zombee as I mentioned on another topic I think our seasonal shifts sound pretty close. You could say I follow the 8 points of the wheel but the meaning or date could be off a bit from the typical. Mostly the dates are based on the astronomical event or the reconstruction of my predecessor(our family's last Witch) old notes rather than the calender. A few of these days have become family holidays others I just observe or have ritual work to do.

Zombee if your interest in looking at how we think it should be or how others have done it I seem to remember a topic on changing the wheel to fit the weather.

 

So more specific to the topic. When I was younger I worked neo-pagan events doing maintenance, set up and the like. It was really just a job, but often a good time.

 

I often look in on family holidays and local festivities. Mostly just long enough to show support and approval anymore. In the family its mostly the Christians putting something on for their holidays, but now and then I try and get someone to start a tradition if I see a need to be filled.

The local festivals are mostly based on nature or agricultural. We have festivals for berries, flowers, trees, corn, the changing of the leaves and so on. Not to mention the Groundhog not far off. These are often a bit public for me. However, now and then it seems to matter to some folk so I may show my face, just to let them know I like what their up to.


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#17 Zombee

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Posted 03 July 2018 - 08:17 PM

@PapaGheny ... I think I may have read that topic (or one like it?) you referenced on changing the calendar to more reflect the locations' weather, back in my browsing days in the the forum, & used it to give myself permission to make other changes: like moving from stomping my circles inside under the eaves, to outdoors under the stars in my back yard, leading to more changes and so on, & on. I'd started out with all the ridged enthusiasm of a BrassnewB and felt like I was constantly bumping my nose on what it was supposed-to-be but I was finding it to be different. Now I'm trusting me.

Edited by Zombee, 03 July 2018 - 08:45 PM.

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#18 PapaGheny

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Posted 04 July 2018 - 06:32 PM

“Now I'm trusting me. “ Zombee, you said a mouth full there.

 

    I also think I see what your saying there. I don't work circles typically. Though, I've found points in the year that seem they line up, but it just doesn't feel right or it was more appropriate before I meddled with it. I drop them right off.

 

    Mostly for me its getting away from the calender and its standardized dates. For instance nothing wrong with celebrating Samhain or Halloween at the 31st most of mine do, but I end up adjusting my ritual work and our ancestor's feast to one of a few days later. This is a slight alteration on my great grandmother's changes, but it calculating better to the lunar solar events we are drawing on and has proven better results for the works I do there. The down side is collecting the astronomical data and writing a new calender for every year. Then superimposing it on the slandered calender for the family that observe it. But, I find between Midwinter and Groundhog day is a good time for that kind of work.


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