Wednesday, 10 May 2017

The Mother's Moon

The full moon of May is often known as the Flower Moon or Mother's Moon. It is the month where the Earth flourishes. Plants, animals and insects all come into their prime as summer approaches, and the Earth changes from her Maiden form to her Mother form.
The beginning of May is marked by the festival of Beltane or May Day, which celebrates the great marriage between the Earth and her lover to allow this life to flourish.
A lot of plants come into flower this month, hence the moon's other common name. This is explained by another county saying:
April showers bring forth May flowers.

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Beating the Bounds

Rogation Sunday, around 25th April, is a little marked date today. It stems from the Latin rogare, meaning 'to move' or 'to ask for.' It involved circulating the parish bounds and asking for a bountiful year. Crosses were carried, along with green boughs to symbolise fertility, and prayers were said at various points, often under an oak tree. Place names with the element Gospel Oak indicate such sites. Crosses were placed at parish corners to physically and spiritually mark the bounds. 
Rogation Day was introduced in the 8th century and was a Christian adaptation of the Roman robigalia, a procession through the cornfields to pray for their preservation. The bounds were beaten to symbolically drive out the devil, presumably into the neighbouring parish.  
It was marked into medieval times and then suppressed for its pagan connotations, but the beating of the bounds ceremony survived into the 19th century. This was a more prosaic adaptation to ensure no boundary stones had been moved or unauthorised buildings erected. The bounds were still beaten, as were boys at strategic points, apparently to ensure they would remember their parish boundaries in years to come. 

Thursday, 13 April 2017

The Easter Bunny

People often wonder what the rabbit has to do with Easter. 
The answer is actually nothing; it is in fact a relic of a far older spring festival which Easter has replaced. This is associated with the spring equinox marked in many cultures worldwide. In Europe the spring Goddess was called Ostara or Eostre, from which Easter is derived.

The Easter bunny is actually a hare and not a rabbit. As many people cannot tell the difference between the two, they are often confused in folklore and myth. The hare is one of the totems of the ancient Mother Goddess whose flourishing on Earth is celebrated in spring. This is why witches were popularly believed to turn themselves into hares to cause mischief.

Easter is timed by the moon: it falls on the Sunday after the full moon after the spring equinox. This is strongly associated with the hare. Hares are very active around this time of year. Everyone knows the saying "mad as a March hare." The full moon in April is named the Hare Moon. In the Warwickshire village of Coleshill until the 20th century the young men would traditionally try to hunt a hare on Easter Sunday. If they were successful  they took it to the vicar who was bound to give them a breakfast of a calf's head and a hundred eggs.

The spring equinox was originally a festival of birth: the Goddess becomes a mother and the Earth flourishes with all kinds of life, hence the fluffy chicks and Easter eggs. The story of Jesus also links to this same deeper story. It is the day when he rises from the dead into a new life, just as life on Earth has always done and will always do. Out of death, new life is born.
Happy Spring everyone !


Saturday, 1 April 2017

April Fool's Day

How many of you were caught out this morning? Well, if you were, take consolation in the fact that you're just one in a series spanning hundreds of years.
The first reference to April Fool's Day is in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales in 1392. It is a custom which has come to span much of Europe and other English speaking countries. In France it is the custom to stick a paper fish on the back of your chosen victim, and inScotland  andIreland the victim was asked to deliver a letter to someone asking for help. They would read it- often actually  saying 'send the fool further' or such like- and tell the messenger they'd better ask someone else instead. The victim could spend hours on a wild goose chase.
One of the best pranks was the announcement that Polo mints could no longer be sold without a hole due to new EU regulations, and 'hole fillers' were to be sold with existing packs to comply with the law.
Nobody knows how it originated. Some link it to the old New Year's Day, 25th March, for which celebrations could last a week.
However it came about, we love this day. And if you were caught out, you have a year to work out how to get them back.

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Mother's Day

The modern institution of Mother's Day is an American invention of the early 1900s, but the older custom of Mothering Sunday, on which it is based, was a custom originating in the Easter tradition.
Mothering Sunday is the fourth Sunday in Lent, falling shortly before Easter. All dutiful children would take a present for their mother on this day, as they do today, and share a meal which included frumenty: sweetened and spiced wheat boiled in milk, along with Simnell cake.
Servant girls were often given the day off to go back home, and they would take one of these cakes with them. The traditional fasting of Lent was lifted for this day.
Happy Mother's Day.

Sunday, 12 March 2017

The Seed Moon

The full moon of March is often called the Seed Moon. The days are lengthening, the soil is warming up, and the Earth and everything on it is thinking of the new season.

Farmers and gardeners get ready to plant their seeds, and those sown wild are beginning to germinate.

It influences our everyday lives as well - we think of 'spring-cleaning': a literal and metaphorical clearing out of the old and preparing for a fresh start.

March is very much a month of promise.

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

The Ice Moon

The moon of February is known as the Ice Moon or the Chaste Moon. February is the coldest month in the northern hemisphere, as sea temperatures fall and frost and snow prevail.
In February falls the festival of Imbolc, now Christianised to Candlemas. Imbolc is associated with Brigid, the maiden or 'chaste' aspect of the Triple Goddess who became Saint Bridget, whose feast day is celebrated on February 1st.

In February, the earth is in its maiden or purest state, bare earth or virgin snow which will soon harbour myriad life forms as spring arrives.



And even in this coldest month, the earth is already becoming a mother.