Tag Archives: Customs

Beautiful Crystals – the Mermaid’s Aquamarine

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Aquamarine, the gem of the sea, is named with the Greek word for sea water.  Aqua sparkles like the sea and its color is pale to medium blue, sometimes with a slight hint of green. Aquamarine is a member of the Beryl family (which includes emeralds). Its blue / blue-green color comes from ferrous iron – a double refraction of light from different angles within the stone causes it to reflect the two different colors.

Aquamarine is the birthstone for March and legends say that it is the treasure of mermaids coming from their tears; with the power to keep sailors safe at sea. Aquamarine is said to be a particularly strong charm when immersed in water – which is a good thing, since that is when its power is most needed! Aquamarine was also said to have a soothing influence on land, also on married couples. Its power is supposed to help husbands and wives work out their differences and ensure a long and happy marriage, which makes it a good anniversary gift. Traditionally, it has been held as the gem for the nineteenth wedding anniversary. Aquamarine is said also to protect  against the wiles of the devil.

Aquamarine, March’s birthstone, is the universal symbol of hope, health and youth. A traditional protection for travelers, it was said to prevent seasickness, quicken the intellect and enhance courage.Wearing this stone is to enhance one’s personal power and help to project an aura of strength.

Long used by royalty, Egyptian amulets of the XII Dynasty (circa 2000 BC) included Aquamarines carved into the forms of animals. 

Aquamarine is found in Brazil, Zambia, Mozambique, Angola, Nigeria, and other countries. However the majority of Aquamarine comes from Brazil, even though the finest Aquamarine is mined in Africa.

Beautiful Thought – Tatanka Beat

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Thunder
Thunder
Little Brother
Do you hear them
Drumming deeply
They are coming
Little Brother
To reclaim
Their holy land
Thunder
Thunder
Little Brother
Ancient herds
Are drumming deeply
And your gentle
Feathered Brother
Leads them onward
Take my hand
You can follow
Little Brother
Herd and tribe
Are one again
Thunder
Thunder
Little Brother
Heart of beast
And soul of man

Beautiful Trees – The Wonderful Willow

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There around 400 forms of Salix – deciduous trees and shrubs found on  moist soils in cold and temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere.  The leaves and bark of the willow tree have been mentioned in ancient texts from Assyria, Sumer and Egypt as a remedy for aches and fever, and the Ancient Greek physician Hippocrates wrote about its medicinal properties in the 5th century BC.  Native Americans across the American continent relied on it as a staple of their medical treatments. This is because Willows contain salicylic acid, the precursor to aspirin.  Willows all have abundant watery sap; bark which is heavily charged with the salicylic acid; soft, usually pliant, tough wood; slender branches; and large, fibrous roots.

Willow wood is also used in the manufacture of all kinds of things – boxes, brooms and particularly cricket bats!  But, it is also used for wands – Willow is one of the nine sacred trees mentioned in Wicca and witchcraft, with several magical uses. In the Wiccan Rede, it is described as growing by water and guiding the dead into the “Summerland”, a commonly used term in Wicca to refer to the afterlife.

Willow has many uses in agriculture and has an emerging role in ecology.  But its the Willow’s role in religion, in  folklore and in fiction, including Shakespeare, that is fascinating! It is one of the “Four Species” used in a ceremony on the Jewish holiday of Sukkot.    Hans Christian Andersen wrote a story called Under the Willow Tree (1853) in which children ask questions of a tree they call willow-father, paired with another entity called elder-mother. Green Willow is a Japanese ghost story in which a young samurai falls in love with a woman called Green Willow who has a close spiritual connection with a willow tree. And as we all know from Harry Potter, there is an old tree on the school grounds of Hogwarts called the “Whomping Willow”. It was planted in order to conceal a secret passageway that Professor Remus Lupin roamed through every full moon when he began his transformation into a werewolf.

Here’s to the wonderful Willow!

Beautiful Trees – The Rowan Tree

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The European rowan (S. aucuparia) has a long tradition in European mythology and folklore. It was thought to be a magical tree and protection against malevolent beings.

The name “rowan” is derived from the Old Norse name for the tree, raun. Linguists believe that the Norse name is ultimately derived from a proto-Germanic word *raudnian meaning “getting red” and which referred to the red foliage and red berries in the autumn. Rowan is one of the most familiar wild trees in the British Isles, and has acquired numerous English folk names, for example, Mountain ash, Quickbane, Whispering tree, Witch wood and Witchbane,   Many of these can be easily linked to the mythology and folklore surrounding the tree. In Gaelic, it is caoran, or Rudha-an (red one, pronounced quite similarly to English “rowan”).

The density of the rowan wood makes it very usable for walking sticks and magician’s staves. This is why druid staffs are said, for example, traditionally, to have  been made out of rowan wood, and its branches were often used in dowsing rods and magic wands.  Rowan was carried on vessels to avoid storms, kept in houses to guard against lightning, and even planted on graves to keep the deceased from haunting. It was also used to protect one from witches.

Often birds’ droppings contain rowan seeds, and if such droppings land in a fork or hole where old leaves have accumulated on a larger tree, such as an oak or a maple, they may result in a rowan growing as an epiphyte on the larger tree. Such a rowan is called a “flying rowan” and was thought of as especially potent against witches and their magic, and as a counter-charm.

In Finland and Sweden, the number of berries on the trees was used as a predictor of the snow cover during winter.

This tree carries a heavy load of folklore but above all it is a truly beautiful tree.

Beautiful Legends – White Buffalo Woman

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For the Lakota (Sioux) nation a sacred woman of supernatural origin  is treated as a prophet or a messiah and is central to their religion. Oral traditions relate how she brought the extended Lakota nation of the Teton Sioux their seven sacred ceremonies.

The Creator sent the sacred White Buffalo Calf Woman to teach the People how to pray with the Pipe. With that Pipe, seven sacred ceremonies were given for the people to abide in order to ensure a future with harmony, peace, and balance.

The story goes back two thousand years.  She appeared to two warriors at that time. These two warriors were out hunting buffalo, hunting for food in the sacred Black Hills of South Dakota, and they saw a big body coming toward them. And they saw that it was a white buffalo calf. As it came closer to them, it turned into a beautiful young Indian girl.

That time one of the warriors had bad thoughts about her so the young girl told him to step forward. And when he did step forward, a black cloud came over his body, and when the black cloud disappeared, the warrior who had bad thoughts was left with no flesh or blood on his bones. The other warrior kneeled and began to pray.

And when he prayed, the white buffalo calf who was now an Indian girl told him to go back to his people and warn them that in four days she was going to bring a sacred bundle.

So the warrior did as he was told. He went back to his people and he gathered all the elders and all the leaders and all the people in a circle and told them what she had instructed him to do. And sure enough, just as she said she would, on the fourth day she came.

They say a cloud came down from the sky, and off of the cloud stepped the white buffalo calf. As it rolled onto the earth, the calf stood up and became this beautiful young woman who was carrying the sacred bundle in her hand.

As she entered into the circle of the nation, she sang a sacred song and took the sacred bundle to the people who were there. She spent four days among the people and taught them about the sacred bundle, the meaning of it.

She taught them seven sacred ceremonies.

One of them was the sweat lodge, or the purification ceremony. One of them was the naming ceremony, child naming. The third was the healing ceremony. The fourth one was the making of relatives or the adoption ceremony. The fifth one was the marriage ceremony. The sixth was the vision quest. And the seventh was the sundance ceremony, the people’s ceremony for all of the nation.

She brought seven sacred ceremonies and taught the people the songs and the traditional ways. And she instructed the people that as long as they performed these ceremonies they would always remain caretakers and guardians of sacred land. She told them that as long as they took care of it and respected it that their people would never die and would always live.

When she was done teaching the people, she left the way she came. She went out of the circle, and as she was leaving she turned and told the people that she would return one day for the sacred bundle. And she left the sacred bundle, which they have to this very day.

From: White Buffalo Teachings by Chief Arvol Looking Horse

May Facts, Customs and Traditions

Gemstone: Emerald
Flower: Lilly of the Valley

May is named after the Greek goddess, Maia. The month is a time of great celebrations in the northern hemisphere. It is the time when flowers emerge and crops begin to sprout.

The Anglo-Saxon name for May was Tri-Milchi, in recognition of the fact that with the lush new grass cows could be milked three times a day. It was first called May in about 1430. Before then it was called Maius, Mayes, or Mai.

May Day (Garland Day)

In Britain, as in most parts of Western Europe, May day marked the end of the harsh winter months, welcomed the beginning of Summer, and optimistically looked forward to the bright and productive months. For our ancestors, largely in rural areas, it was a major annual festival and was celebrated through out the country, especially on the first of May with music, dancing and games.

Traditional May Day celebrations included dancing around maypoles and the appearance of ‘hobby horses’ and characters such as ‘Robin Hood’ and ‘Jack in Green’.

Find out more about May Day in England

In some parts of Britain, May 1st is called Garland Day.

The first of May is Garland Day
So please remember the garland.
We don’t come here but once a year,
So please remember the garland.

Greenery was collected by primary school children to make garlands. In many English villages children would parade with garlands of flowers, sometimes fastened to sticks or in the shape of a cross, or fixed to hoops. This was done in the hope of collecting money. Sometimes this was known as May Dolling because often placed in the centre of the garland was a small doll.

There are still garland ceremonies today.

At Charlton-on-Otmore, Oxfordshire, a large wooden cross covered with yew and box leaves stands above the rood screen in the church. On May Day this is taken down and redecorated with fresh greenery and flowers and the children carry small decorated crosses around the village and bring them to a special service. Also in Oxfordshire at Brampton, the Spring Bank Holiday marks the beginning of the traditional Morris Dance Season. In the morning children bring out a selection of garlands which are judged in a competition at lunch time. May dolls are sometimes used in these.

May Day Superstition

First thing in the morning on May 1st, young girls used to rush out into the garden to wash their faces in the May dew.

Why?
There is an old tale that says that May dew has magic properties and that anyone who has washed their face in it will have a beautiful complexion all through the year. This dew was supposed to be able to remove freckles and also spots and pimples.

Other Superstition for May

The month of may was considered an unlucky month particularly for getting married.

‘Marry in May and you’ll rue the day’

Being born in May was thought to produce a sickly child.

Never buy a broom in May or wash blankets.

Wash a blanket in May.
Wash a dear one away.

Cats born this month will not be good rodent catchers and even worse, will bring snakes into the home.

Unlucky days are 3rd, 6th, 7th, 13th, 15th and 20th.

Weather-lore, beliefs and sayings

“A wet May makes a big load of hay. A cold May is kindly and fills the barn finely. “

“A swarm of bees in May
Is worth a load of hay.”

“Mist in May, Heat in June
Makes harvest come right soon”

“If you wash a blanket in May;
You will wash one of the family away.”

“Those who bathe in May
Will soon be laid in clay”

Oak Apple Day

This is the day that traditionally people wear oak apples or oak leaves pinned to them to remember that on May 29th King Charles ll returned triumphantly to London after the restoration of the monarchy in 1660.

The reason for the wearing of oak apples or oak leaves was to celebrate the King’s narrow escape from capture by Cromwell’s soldiers by hiding in an oak tree.

Until well into the twentieth century, anyone caught not wearing an oak leaf or oak apple on May 29th could be pinched, kicked, or otherwise abused. Whipping with nettles was a favourite punishment, hence the name ‘Nettle Day‘ in some areas.

Arbor Tree Day

Arbor Day, on the last Sunday in May, is the Sunday nearest to Oakapple Day.

In Aston-on-Clun in Shropshire, a large tree standing in the centre of the village is decorated with flags on the last Sunday in May. The flags stay on the tree until the following May. Aston-on-Clun is the only place in the UK that still marks this ancient tradition.

People say that in 1786 the local landowner John Marston married on May 29th and, when passing through the village, saw the villagers celebrating Arbor Day. The bride thought that the tree looked so beautiful covered in flags, that she gave money to the village to allow the custom to continue.
Find out more about this interesting custom…..

Unusual Customs

Anniversaries

1st May -Labour Day

1st May- May Day.

5th May – 1930 Amy Johnson was the first woman to fly solo from England to Australia.

6th May- 1840 The world’s first postage stamp, the ‘Penny Black’ stamp, became valid for use in the UK.
6th May – 1954 Roger Bannister ran a mile in less than four minutes.

8th May – 1945 VE (Victory in Europe) Day.

9th May Captain Blood attempted to steal the crown jewels in 1671

10th May- 1994 Nelson Mandela became the President of South Africa.

12th May- 1820 Florence Nightingale was born.

15th May The Romans believed this was the birthday of Mercury, the messenger and son of Zeus who could travel with the speed of thought.

18th May – 1955 The first Wimpy Bar opened in London. Have a treat and visit your local Wimpy, or have a burger night.
18th May – 1991 Helen Sharman became the first British woman in space.

21st May – 1946 Bread rationing introduced in the UK.

28th May – 1908 Ian Fleming, author of the James Bond books, was born.

29th May – 1953 Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay reached the summit of Everest.

29th May Oak Apple Day.

30th May 1431 Joan of Arc was burned at the stake.
30th May Death of King Arthur in 542