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culture never died. It changed, was
hidden, became hushed -- but never died.
We can look around and see that many of the Old ways are still part of
everyday life. Here's a few
examples. What others can you see in
your own surroundings?
personal favorite is the candle-magic ritual we do once a year, celebrating
one's incarnation with the chant "Happy Birthday to you." A wish is made, the candles blown out and
gifts given. This custom dates back to
worship of Artemis, Greek Goddess of the Moon.
On Her day, cakes were baked in the shape of a crescent moon and
decorated with candles. If worshippers
could blow out the candles in a single breath, the Goddess would look upon them
with favor. Whether ancient Greek myth,
or a modern-day spell, the way we celebrate our birthday is truly magic!
"AH-CHOO!!!" Bless you.
(If you lived during the time of Tiberius Caesar, you may need it.) Ancient
the richest remnant of Pagan culture still survives in the wedding
ceremony! Terms like "giving your
hand in marriage" and "tying the knot" certainly refer to
handfasting. It doesn't take a Celtic
scholar to recognize the word "Bride" as an Old name for the Goddess. And Groom?
In matriarchal life, the man came to work in the wife's family's home. A groom is a term used to describe a laborer
who cares for the horses. The term
husband, meaning "bound to the house" or house-bound, also dates back
to such customs. The word matrimony
refers to the custom of inheritances being passed down through maternal blood
lines. "Matri" means mother;
"mony" or monium, means money.
But, in ancient
wedding cake was baked by the couple, as a symbol of the ingredients of their
lives coming together as one. A form of
sympathetic magic? And the kiss at the
altar? In times of Old, the union was
consummated right there in front of witnesses.
Even today, a marriage can often be considered legally void if never
consummated. The term honeymoon refers
to the lunar cycle immediately following the wedding. For the full lunar cycle, the couple ate
honey each day, believing it to be a sweet aphrodisiac! (Some couples still use honey in their
bedroom revelry, but in a different way...)
June weddings are still a fashion, perhaps dating back to the days where
a festive Beltane celebration (late April/early May) resulted in conception! (June weddings are rooted in Spring
fever.) Brides, not grooms, were also
showered with wheat, so that they could bear children like wheat brings bread.
wedding ring placed on the third finger was believed to be a direct connection
to the heart. This was even called the
Medical Finger, which doctors used to stir medicines. If poison were present, the doctor's heart
would skip a beat! But of all places to
wear wedding jewelry, the ring is likely related to handfasting. Why not a wedding necklace, brooch or
tiara? Also, the action of the finger penetrating
the circular ring is not all that different from other Pagan symbols of
union. Likewise, wearing and throwing
the "garter" seems not so distant.
flowers to a loved one? Flowers are
brightly colored, heavily scented reproductive organs! An agricultural society might see this. So might our deeply rooted animal instincts
which relate color and scent to the courting rituals of nearly every species,
on wood? This probably dates back to the
Druids. Opening an umbrella
indoors? Umbrella comes from the Latin
word for shade. The device was used as a
parasol ("stop the sun") before it was used as protection from rain. Not opening it indoors showed respect for the
realm of the solar deities. Tie a string
on your finger to remember something?
(Sounds like cord magic to me.)
I wonder why sailors put so much skill into the knots they tied over the
centuries? Fishermen and fisherwomen,
even today, have special words they say when throwing their lines into the water.
things seems rich in magic. Look at the
names of farms, race horses, and even pets.
Notice that boats are referred to as She, probably linked back to She of
the Sea. (Probably no accident when they
named the greatest ship "The Queen Mary.") Even the Greek and Latin languages that
descended from Pagan Europe assign gender to every person, place, or
thing. Perhaps all things were linked to
a God or a Goddess. Days of the week,
months of the year -- some are still named after the Old Ones. Friday the 13th? (Can you get more linked to Goddess worship
than that?) Perhaps it was fairly new
beliefs, from cultures who did not worship the Goddess or note her lunar cycles,
which gave Friday the 13th an unlucky connotation.
can go over hundreds of holiday customs which date back to Pagan roots. We can find Pagan traces in many practices of
the newer religions. But more
importantly, we can make our own new traditions every day. We are catalysts of the future, not mere
conduits to the past! We are the
Ancestors of tomorrow. See the magic in
everyday events, like knotting your neck tie, leashing your pet, or even
fastening your seat belt. Feel the
sacred union when you share any event with a loved one, whether sharing a
hamper or sharing a bath. Feel the
sudden release of stored up energy as you uncork that special old bottle of
wine, or open that priceless photo album.
See all cycles as magic; use the monthly rent payment as a blessing for
so is the difference between a culture which has never died -- and a culture
which is truly brought to life!