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The Magic of the Moon

The moon has always played an important part the world and has long been considered the counterpart of the sun. Long ago, ancient people believed that the moon chased the sun; and each night, the sun descended into the Underworld as the moon reigned high in the night sky.

Moon mythology includes many lunar deities such as Roman gods like Luna, Diana, the Thracian Bendis, Greek Selene and even Thoth from African mythology.

But for many Pagans, the cycles of the moon were more important to magical workings than to pleasing the dieties. It was believed in many traditions that the waxing moon, the full moon, the waning moon and the new moon all had special, magical properties. The full moon has long held an aura of mystery and magic. It is tied to the ebbs and flows of the tide, and was linked to the ever-changing cycle of women’s bodies. Moon was considered to be connected to our wisdom and intuition, and many pagans chose to celebrate the full moon with a monthly ritual.

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The period during and immediately following a new moon was often considered a time of new beginnings and re-evaluation.

During the waxing moon, as the moon is working its way towards the full stage, many people liked to do magic that involving bringing things towards them.

The full moon is typically seen as a period of intuition and wisdom. In many magical traditions, the three days before or after the full moon are still considered “full.” Some people believed that any reading done during a full moon was going to have a lot more intuitive power added to it, simply because the moon is full and our intuitive abilities are peaking during this time.

Finally, during the waning moon, this is the period – as with many magical activities – for getting rid of stuff through magic.

Pagan Solstice

Winter Solstice

The Winter Solstice is the shortest day of the year. The sun is at its lowest and weakest. This usually happens around the 21st of December.

In early pagan Scandinavia, this was the time of “Yule”—their winter festival. They celebrated by burning the hearth fires of the magically significant Yule log. In Celtic druid culture, the Winter Solstice was celebrated by hanging sacred mistletoe over a doorway or in a room to offer goodwill to all those who visited. Germanic tribes decorated a fir tree with candles and tokens. The Inca, however, held midwinter ceremonies at temples that served as astronomical observatories like Machu Picchu.

Many of these traditions have continued for thousands of years despite efforts to eliminate them. Our modern Christmas is a mix of all of these—and the Roman festivals, too.

Spring Equinox

Now known as St. Patrick’s Day, but known as Spring or Vernal Equinox to the ancients—this holiday occurred in the middle of March and marks the very beginning of Spring. This is a time when days and nights are of equal length on Earth.

Ancient influences from the worship of the goddess Eostre have persisted in the form of what we would now call Easter eggs. To the ancients, these were fertility symbols. The rabbit, or hare, is also a leftover from early celebrations. The egg and rabbit, or hare, stand for rebirth, spring and fertility.

shutterstock_98892308Summer Solstice

To mark Midsummer and the longest day of the year, the ancients would hold a celebration around June 21st. The only full moon in June is called the Honey Moon. Tradition stated that this would be the best time to harvest honey from hives, and this happened to be a popular time for marriage to take place—because of the events association with fertility gods and goddesses. Slav and Celt tribes would celebrate this time with massive bonfires and people would jump over the embers for luck. In Scandinavia, women would bathe in rivers.

The ancients believed that celebrating Summer Solstice would recognize and strengthen the connection of humans and nature.

Fall Equinox

The Autumnal Equinox takes place around September 23rd or 24th. This time has also been known as Mabon, Harvest Home and Michaelmas.

The Romans celebrated the fall by worshipping Pomona, the goddess of fruits and growing things. They would hold a feast with a large goose which had been fed on the fields after the harvest.

In ancient England, the last sheaf of corn harvested was made into a doll that would represent the “spirit of the field.” This doll would then be covered with water and burned to represent the importance of “rain” and to represent the death of the grain spirit. The Polish would celebrate this time by bringing food for blessing by a priest. They would then use that blessed fruit as medicine or keep it until the following year’s harvest.

The Ferryman Trailer

Hi all,

The Ferryman trailer is now available for viewing – hope you like it!

Don’t forget that The Ferryman, book two in the first Guardians Series, is available to pre-order from amazon and due for release early next year.

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The Holiday of Saturnalia

Do you celebrate the holiday of Saturnalia? You don’t know what that is? It’s a weeklong period of lawlessness celebrated between December 17th and 24th. It originated in Roman times and holds a lot of similarity with our present day Christmas.

All over the Roman Empire, courts were closed, and the law dictated that no punishment could be brought against those who damaged property, injured others or stole from others during the weeklong celebration. The festivities would include choosing an “enemy of the Roman people” to represent the “lord of misrule.” Each Roman community would select a victim who they then forced to indulge in endless food and pleasures throughout the week. Then, once the celebration came to an end, they would brutally kill the supposed “Lord of Misrule.”

A contemporary source described the festival as “as a time of widespread intoxication with many Romans going from house to house—singing naked. Rape was widespread, and Romans would eat human shaped biscuits… these are known today as gingerbread men.
As the Roman empire embraced Christianity, the Saturnalia festival was turned into Christmas. However, there was nothing particularly Christian about Saturnalia, so Christian leaders named the day after Saturnalia to be Jesus’ birthday.

shutterstock_89230576Christians had little—or no—success when it came to refining the long held practice of Saturnalia. The earliest Christmas holidays still contained drinking, sexual conquest, singing naked in the streets and all manner of hedonism.

Even as late as 1466, there were still those who celebrated the customs of the Saturnalia carnival. Pope Paul II, for the amusement of Rome’s citizens, forced Jews to race naked through the streets of the city. Before the race, they were fed as much as possible so their run was more difficult, and thus more amusing. This continued through the 18th and 19th centuries. Rabbis of the ghetto in Rome were forced to wear clownish outfits and to march through the city streets to the jeers of a crowd who took joy in pelting the poor rabbis with any missiles they could find.

This continued almost to the modern day. What started as a pagan festival in Rome may now have become a gentle holiday—but it took many, many centuries.

Egyptian Gods

shutterstock_115004584The world was a mystery for the ancients. Much of what happened around them was frightening and unknown, so the gods—especially those in Ancient Egypt—represented aspects of the world that were unknown to the people.

Most Egyptian gods represented one aspect of the world. For example, Nut was the goddess of the sky. Ra was the sun god. Most of the gods were generally friendly, but this friendliness could not be counted on. The most changeable god was Seth, who murdered his brother; and Osiris who was the embodiment of the malevolent aspects of the world.

The god’s physical forms were usually a mixture of animal and human. Animals were also used to express the mood of a God; for example, when a god was angry, it could be seen as a lioness or when content or feeling gentle, it could be seen as a cat or dog.

Some gods were shown as only being human and these are known as the “Cosmic” gods. Geb of the earth, Shu of the air, Min—the god of fertility. There are a series of minor gods who took on forms that could be described as grotesque—Taurt who had the physical form of a crocodile mixed with a hippopotamus, for example.

On the other side, there were demons who were certainly more powerful than humans but nothing like as powerful as Gods. They were immortal, could be in many places at once and could change the world using supernatural powers. There were limits to their powers, though, and the biggest demon was called Ammut who was the Devourer of the Dead. She was depicted as being part lioness, part hippopotamus and part crocodile. In depictions known to us, she is shown near scales on which she would weigh the hearts of the dead against the feature of Truth. She would devour those who had performed such wicked deeds in life that they were unable, or unfit, to enter the afterlife.

Cyber Monday

Cyber Monday BannerCyber Monday – 30 November

Black Friday deals traditionally continue into the following Monday, nicknamed Cyber Monday because of the number of online purchases that are completed.

You will be pleased to know that Mercy is staying at the $2.99 / £1.99 price for one more day! After Cyber Monday, the price returns to normal.

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