Hekate Devotion: Winter Solstice

Winter Solstice also known as Yule is the day with the shortest amount of daylight and the longest amount of night. Symbolically it marks the death and rebirth of the sun and it falls between Samhain and the Spring Equinox and due to this manifests as the darkest period of the year yet is also a turning point where the days become longer.  It symbolises the darkest time of year and marks the returning of the light due to its time of seasonal transition.  The winter solstice marks the sun as its lowest elevation in the sky and the reason it contains the longest night of the year.  This year in the Southern Hemisphere calendar it falls on Monday the 21st of June at 1.32pm. Gods such as Hekate, Persephone, Demeter, Dionysus, Helios, Poseidon, Zeus, Hera, Hathor, Sekhmet, Osiris, Horus, Neith, Nephthys, Spider Woman, Ameratasu, Saturn, Odin, Bona Dea, Mithras, Holy King, Hod, Frigga, Frau Holle, Cailleach and Baldurcan all be honoured during this time of year.

I have celebrated Yule with groups of people in a magickal setting such as a working lodge, coven and magickal order.  The one thing which I found which linked them all together was the coming together to celebrate the light and the darkness whilst sharing food and gifts.

One of the fondest memories I have during this time of year is celebrating the winter solstice through creating handmade gifts.  I spend considerable time planning on what to make and then following through by crafting gifts which are unique and special.  The first thing I ever recall making was for my first coven where I sculpted and fired a set of runes and hand sewed an accompanying bag to contain them in.  This took a significant amount of energy and effort and was placed in a sack of gifts to be randomly selected by one coven member in the middle of our coven’s winter solstice ritual.  Imagine my surprise when one of my coven members whom I was closest to (and who has become a lifelong friend) chose it at random and had been wanting a set of runes which turned out to feature her favourite colour (they were coloured green and purple).

I personally like to hand make gifts during this time of year usually involving items which feature divination, light, purification, seeds, woods and herbs harvested and collected.  I also love to cook, bake and prepare food which is consumed, shared or given to loved ones including the following: citrus preserves such as salt preserved lemons and Cointreau marmalade,  soup (lentil/beans/barley and root vegetable, Greek chicken soup), stew (barley, beans, lentil, cholent andcoq au vin), bread (Greek sweetbread, olive loaf and garlic and feta loaf), gingerbread (especially witches houses/cottages), shortbread (various Greek ones), lamb or beef roast, dumplings and baked spiced rice stuffed into vegetables.

Since this time tends to fall on my personal anniversary (we got together on the winter solstice) for me it also involves going out for an intimate meal with my partner and exchanging thoughtful gifts.  

I feel that Hekate resonates with this time of the year for various reasons. One being that this is a liminal time where she has dominion between the darkness and the light.  In this time  she encourages and enables us to turn our attention to the presence of the promise of new things to come.  As the time of growth and movement is before us Hekate beckons us to straddle the in-between time and to use this time for the power it contains.

I personally like to honour Hekate during this time and make offerings of apples, pomegranates, garlic, onions, mead, beer, wine, bread, barley, nuts, lilies, pine, mistletoe, juniper, holly, frankincense, myrrh, cedar, bay, chamomile and roots from dandelions.

I also like to make items for Hekate which resonate with the season mostly wands collected from wood during the summer, candle anointing oil blends, herb pouches for dreaming, health and wealth, candles which illuminate, soap which cleanses, incense using dried herbs from the summer, book and journal covers with locally sourced materials or upcycled materials, various art pieces with paints, ink, photography and/or several thread types (in recent years its been all about the land, sea and sky) and beaded jewellery such as ethically sourced crystal necklaces which can also be used as meditation or manifestation beads.

In the garden now is the time to plant:

Vegetables such as artichoke, asparagus, beans, beetroot, broad beans, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, capsicum, carrot, cauliflower, celery, chillies, corn, cucumber, endive, kale, leek, lettuce, melons, okra, onion, parsnip, peas, pumpkins, radish, rhubarb, shallots, silver beet, snow peas, spinach, tomatoes, turnip and zucchinis

Herbs such as garlic, basil, chives, cress, curry, dill, mint, parsley, sage and thyme.

Flowers such as aquilegia, calendula, cineraria, cyclamen, delphinium, foxglove, nemesia, pansy, primula, polyanthus poppy and viola. 

Some things you can do to honour and mark the winter solstice in your personal practice (or with a group of likeminded individuals) can be:

  1. Hold a ritual signifying the balance of darkness and light and/or liminality.
  2. Work spells and magick which involve igniting a flame, balance or brining the light into a situation, .
  3. Create and light a bonfire or light a special candle carved with symbols which signify the time of year.
  4. Inscribe and light a Yule log in a firepit or fireplace.
  5. Take a walk at dusk holding a lantern.
  6. Bake a seasonal pie, cook a roast and make mulled wine or any other food or drink which to you symbolises the winter solstice .
  7. In the evening go out star gazing and seek out your local constellations.
  8. Honour the Gods which signify this time of year by creating a shrine or altar in their name or tending to an existing one and make offerings to them.
  9. Create an ice wreath in the freezer filled with flowers and herbs of the season (use a bunt cake tin) and once set place a candle in the middle of the wreath and light it to signify the winter moving out and the spring coming in.
  10. Use this time to cleanse your magickal tools and spaces such as shrines and altars.
  11. Rituals and spells involving transitions and movement.
  12. Reflect on your inner world and take some time to just be with yourself and listen to your inner self such as meditation, yoga, going for a walk in nature or just sitting in a space which is sacred to you and just being present.
  13. Use this time to recharge yourself through honouring yourself and do what you need to, to enable that reset.
  14. Host a feast with family or friends which can include music and dancing.
  15. Light black and white candles to signify the diminishing darkness and the increasing light.
  16. Decorate a tree (such as a xmas tree) with decorations which signify the winter solstice.
  17. Exchange gifts with loved ones.
  18. Donate to charities involving the displaced such as the homeless and refugees.
  19. Do something kind for someone who is alone, in pain or suffering.
  20. Volunteer for a charity which assists the natural world or the less fortunate.
  21. Divination such as rune, tarot, dice, candle wax, crystal, magick mirror or ink scrying.  

So work your magick this midwinter, honour the light and the darkness within you and all around you and contemplate and manifest balance in your life.


(c) T. Georgitsis 2021

Summer Solstice Celebration – Silver Birch Grove (ADF)

Last month I attended the Australian ADF’s local Summer Solstice celebration run by the Silver Birch Grove (https://www.adf.org/core/index.html).   It was my second druidic ritual run by Shazbeth and her grove and I was yet again impressed and inspired.

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The connections I make during the rites have refreshed my love of the land, earth magick and the attendees are warm and genuinely nice people.  Whilst I appreciate and respect this path which isn’t my own, it’s nevertheless filled with a majestic reverence which manifests as beautiful magick – externally and internally.   It’s also wonderful to attend a free public ritual (where I am not hosting it) where the facilitators are extremely organised, timely, informative, caring and show a genuine love, duty of care and devotion to the tradition and attendees.

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The day was a muggy yet wet one.  We gathered in the cleared circle beneath the natural canopy of native trees which protected us from the rain.  All fell silent and the rain ceased as Shaz commenced the ritual.  Shaz had written it and once more I was inspired by the exquisite use of words and gestures of it along with the other main Druids participation and enactments (Ang and Callum).  I felt the pulsing magick come up through the earth as well as flow down upon me from the sky as the rite progressed.  Once more I could sense my ancestors watching a short distance away as well as Hekate just outside the boundary in the NW.

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The rite itself consisted of praise to the Kindreds, Ancestors, Spirits of Place and of course Deity (Manannan mac Lir, Brighid, Dagda).  The ritual included establishing and closing the sacred grove, offerings upon the altar, fire/hearth and earth, songs sung, hymns recited, the gates between the worlds opened and closed, meditations and divinations completed and the partaking of libations.

I had made a soy lavender candle I had brought as an offering and Shaz placed it in the centre of the alar and it was lit during the ritual.  I absolutely adored that during the rite the poem “My Country” by Dorothy Mackellar was read out and this resonated with me very strongly.  I feel it was a great tribute to Australia and the land we live in during the ritual as its often forgotten about when most of our paths are of a northern origin. Also something I noted which I found amusing was as soon as ritual had ended it started to rain, yet it had stayed away whilst the rest of the time.  That just emphasizes once again how magickal working with spirit outdoors with the land is and how magick does work.

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The way the ritual is run, is that we have feasting afterwards.  This time we brought some ham and bread rolls with several dips and some choc biscuits.  Everyone shares and it’s so lovely to be able to sit and have a picnic underneath the shade of wattle and gum trees, whilst listening to the rustle of the stream and native wildlife surrounding you.

Thank you Silver Birch Grove!

 

Beltaine Celebration – Silver Birch Grove (ADF)

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This past Sunday I attended the Australian ADF’s local Beltaine celebration run by the Silver Birch Grove (https://www.adf.org/core/index.html).   It was my first druidic ritual run by Shazbeth and her grove and I was so impressed.  The attendees were friendly as were the facilitators who were organised, open and explained the ritual with handouts provided, which made me feel safe and welcome.

The sounds of the local wildlife and the natural landscape provided a beautiful backdrop score as we gathered in reverence within a liminal place, underneath a natural canopy of native trees and flanked by a stream.

Shazbeith had written the rite and her eloquent words, songs and actions along with some other members of the grove, connected me to the energies of the natural flow of the festival, as well as the environmental surroundings.

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The rite itself consisted of honour and veneration to the to the Gods/Goddesses (Manannan mac Lir & Danu), Ancestors and Spirits of Place as well as libations, singing of prayers/chants/hymns, divination, offerings and partaking of the oblation.

I felt and saw the devas of the land surrounding me and I experienced the power raised as it resonated through the sacred space.  I sensed some of my own ancestors watching from just beyond the clearing in the north west as well as one of my own patrons (Hekate).

Throughout the celebratory rite it felt familiar – true there were similarities with the way the prayers and libations were performed with my personal Hellenic practise but it was something more than that…it was the reverence and connection to nature whilst also acknowledging those who came before us and the gods who are ever watchful and present in our lives.

After the rite, we all enjoyed a picnic where we shared what we had brought with one another surrounded by wild herbs, flowers, grasses and trees which was uniquely Australian and picturesque.

Thank you Shaz and members of the Silver Birch Grove!

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Vortexes and Earth Devas

I first became enamored with vortexes when I was a child and would assist my father in dowsing for underground water.  On our expeditions, I would stray from honing in on the veins of underground water as I was constantly being pulled towards what I perceived to be power spots instead.  That is when I was told earth spirits resided in these areas and it was not appropriate to disturb the place as it was their home and was sacred.  With childlike reverence I would leave offerings of flowers, twigs and rocks before I sat or played on these power spots as they brought me comfort and joy.  I could feel the downward spirals into the very heart of the earth itself, which would make me feel connected to something larger and very content.

Fast forward to years later when as a young initiate and I was circling with my sisters during one particular Spring Equinox.  As I was feeling the universal ecstasy, I looked up in breathless awe at the vortex which significantly showed itself in the pattern of the spiraling clouds directly above us.

Those two memories stayed with me over the years as I had remembered the feel of the two very different types of energies and yearned to learn more about them.  Therefore when the opportunity presented itself I completed a workshop on Divining the Deva Spirit.  This workshop in turn unlocked my infatuation to learn and work with Vortexes and Earth Devas which I took on as a personal quest.

What is a Vortex?

Vortexes manifest as alternating polarities in rings until you reach the eye of the vortex in the centre which consists of neutral energy.  Vortexes consisting of 7 or 8 rings are quite powerful and are ideal to use for meditation.  The rings in vortexes can spiral upwards or downwards.  If the vortex spirals upwards its perfect for magickal workings, whilst vortexes which spiral downwards are perfect for power towers (towers set up to channel the energy downwards into the earth to assist in the growth of plants and trees).

How to find a Vortex?

The most simple way to find a vortex is using a dowsing tool such as dowsing rods, pendulums, your hands and fingers if you are naturally inclined as well as clairvoyant abilities.  I would recommend any guided writings from Tom Graves if you are unsure about dowsing.

What is an Earth Deva?

An Earth Deva is a nature spirit which lives on a different plane of existence.  Earth Deva’s (nature spirits) tend to dwell in some vortexes.  They don’t like being walked upon as they deserve respect; therefore please ensure you get permission to work within a vortex if you feel/see a Deva within.

How to find an Earth Deva?

Like dowsing to find a vortex you can similarly dowse to find an Earth Deva.  You can also use meditation or guided visualization.  Utilizing crystals also work such as smokey quartz or a phantom crystal which allows you to open up your mind’s eye and perceive the Earth Deva in their own plane of existence, making them much easier to perceive in the physical world.

Why connect to a Vortex or Earth Deva?

In this modern day more and more people are disconnecting from the earth energies.  Considering we can find all that we need in nature to be cantered and healthy a re-connection to these earth energies could open up the endless potential of healing and balance.  Start by connecting to the Vortexes and Earth Devas in your own garden and unlock the limitless potential that these natural energies can bring into your life.

(C) T. Georgitsis, 2011 (this article first appeared in Goddess Guru 2012, Issue 6)

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