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The High Days

Discussion in 'Neopagan or Revival Religions' started by The Hammer, Jun 8, 2021.

  1. The Hammer

    The Hammer Well-Known Member
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    The Eight High Days, one Druid's perspective:

    The November Feast: Samhain is the New Year and a Feast of the Dead, celebrated on or near November 1st. It is the final of the four Gaelic fire festivals, as well as the last harvest of the season. In the Germanic traditions this was called Winternights, and it's focus was on the worship of Ancestors, particularly the Disir, honored female Ancestor spirits. Some traditions include sitting on a burial mound or grave of an Ancestor on this night to receive wisdom or guidance. Deities honored on this day included Freyr, or Hel. Freyr for his rulership of Alfheim, and Hel for her dominion over the Underworld/Helheim.
    A time to focus on hearth and home, and give thanks for stored abundances, as Winter begins and darkness reigns. To celebrate kinship and friendship of our living and extant forebears.

    The Winter Feast: Which falls on December 21st, and also known as Yule, is the longest night of the year. It is also thought to be related to Odin's Wild hunt, in the Northern Europe, as Jolnir is one of Odin's alternate names, with Jol being etymologically similar to Yule. A few deities associated with this High Day are Odin, Baldur, or Heimdall.
    During this day we have reached the darkest and deepest time of year, with the Sun only making a short appearance in the northern latitudes. This darkness representing the silence and pause that occurs in every death-rebirth cycle. With the closing of this day the Sun's power begins to strengthen and grow with soon to be lengthening days. Like Saturnalia this day was traditionally celebrated with a large feast and an exchange of gifts. Another tradition is the burning of a Yule log to represent the returning light, and a feast of succulent pig or boar.

    The February Feast: Imbolc or Feast of the Goddess Brigid, is celebrated around February 2nd. This is one of the four Gaelic seasonal festivals of Ireland. In the Germanic traditions this day is called Charming of the Plow, and agricultural tools and tools of the trade were blessed for the upcoming planting season. Some of the Germanic deities of the season venerated could include Freya for her representations as a deity of fertility and motherhood. As well as Nerthus and the Land-wights. Cakes and milk were offered to the land and deities often in furrows cut in the earth. This was also seen as a good time for divination. It is the earliest beginnings of
    Spring, and the lengthening warm rays of the sun have just started to arrive. The ground is beginning to soften and thaw from winter, and will soon be moist and green with fertility. A time to be thankful, and also hopeful of the coming Spring season.

    The Spring Feast: Spring or Vernal Equinox is the Feast of Planting, celebrated on or near March 20th. This day is also known as Eostre or Ostara in the Germanic traditions after the Goddess of Spring and Dawn. Popular deities honored for the occasion are Eostre/Ostara or the Norse Idunna, with Freya also being appropriate. Traditions include the painting and dying of eggs, as well as planting and tending of seeds. Some symbols utilized during this festival are the hare and the egg. With the egg representing rebirth and potential of creation, and the hare fertility and procreation.
    Day and night are of equal balance, and the natural world is coming alive with energy and vigor. Masculine and Feminine energy have united culminating in the earliest spring flowers beginning to make their appearance in parks and yards, such as daffodils, and cherry blossoms.

    The May Feast: Beltane is the beginning of Summer, and the second of four Gaelic fire festivals, which is celebrated on or near April 30th/May 1st and is a Feast celebrating Nature Spirits, and Magic. Cattle were driven between bonfires, and rituals to encourage community growth and health performed. In the Germanic traditions this day is known as Walpurgisnacht, or May Day. Traditions included the lighting of bonfires at night to ward off evil spirits, as well as dancing, such as around a Maypole, singing and music. Deities of the occasion could include Freya, Freyr, or Thor, with their aspects of fertility, virility and protection.
    Like Samhain, on the other half of the year, this is another day in which the veil between worlds is at its thinnest, and spirits can interact with the living. But alternately the sun, Sol, is gaining in power enlivening all.

    The Summer Feast: Midsummer or Summer Solstice is the height of summer, and the Feast of Labor, celebrated on or near June 20. Midsummer in the Germanic and Norse traditions is one of the most important High days, along with Yule. Oft celebrated with the lighting of large bonfires, and celebration of the Sun, Sol, in all her glory. Lovers, yearners of love, and seekers of good fortune would jump over the dying flames of these summer bonfires to ritualize their desires. Herbal magic played in important part in the days festivities and the gathering of herbs. This was known as "a day of healing." Deities of the occasion could include Sol, Baldur, or Thor; for their aspects as Sun incarnate, shining perfection, and protection of community.
    As the longest day of the year, the fires of creation are at their most potent. A time to celebrate the triumph and victory of light over darkness.

    The August Feast: Lughnasadh or Feast of the God Lugh, celebrated on or near August 1st. This is the third of the Gaelic fire festivals of Ireland. It is the first harvest, or first fruits, and halfway between the solstice and fall equinox. The Germanic traditions often name this day Freyfaxi or Loaf-fest, as the first grains of the season are harvested and bread made. Traditionally this day was also marked by equestrian games and horse activities. A time of family gathering, and of honor and laws, the Thing gathered in Iceland, and matters of dispute in the community would be resolved. The deity of the occasion was often Freyr, but Tyr would also be appropriate. Freyr because of his association with community, prosperity and kinship. Tyr for is aspects as God of Peace, and upholder of Law.

    The Fall Feast: Mabon or Autumn Equinox is the second harvest festival, and is celebrated around September 22. Also known as Fallfeast or Haustblót in Germanic traditions. It was a time to come together and celebrate the fruits of the community's labors, and a letting go of summer. Traditions would include the lighting of bonfires, and divination with animal bones. Deities of the occasion could include Thor and his wife Sif, for their connection with agriculture and the harvest. Nerthus could also be honored here for it is she sustaining us all. The Land-Wights also deserve mention and care this day.
    A time in which we reap what we sow, literally, figuratively and spiritually. Though the day and night are of equal balance, the daylight will be diminishing from here onward, and night's power waxes.
     
    #1 The Hammer, Jun 8, 2021
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2021
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  2. Wild Fox

    Wild Fox Well-Known Member

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    Just want to thank you and @JustGeorge for your input. After a lifetime of individual practice I have decided to start a druid path with the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids. It would seem that most of what I already practiced is in harmony of what I read recently and I have overcome the negative view that I developed after reading Ronald Hutton's books (he is ok but left a negative impression on druid revival on me). It might be nice to have more direct communication with similar views. That is of course why I joined this forum and appreciate you both.
     
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  3. The Hammer

    The Hammer Well-Known Member
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    I am glad that you found a path for yourself to walk, I've heard good things about OBOD from another member here. I've never read Ronald Huttons work, sorry to hear it left a bad taste in your mouth.
     
  4. Wild Fox

    Wild Fox Well-Known Member

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    Thanks. Ronald Hutton has been a long practicing pagan in England who is also a historian. I think he got burned at one time when depicting persisting pagan practices in the academic would and took a real strong stance about accuracy of what is known. By the time I had finished with his book Stations of the Sun and Blood and Mistletoe I felt there was nothing you could attribute to any pre-christian practices. He then basically states that Wiccan and Druid religions are completely new inventions. There is much truth in what he writes but I later realized it was not as correct as he presented since all of the writings preserving information about the past were written by Christian writers with a goal - eliminate the past. Thankfully the Norse beliefs were preserved better which is why I find so much connection with the Norse and Germanic deities.
     
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  5. The Hammer

    The Hammer Well-Known Member
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    Just because it's new, doesn't mean it isn't without merit, IMO. Even an amalgamation of pagan practices not relegated to any one tradition. The Druid revival has been making stead since the late 1800s.
     
    #5 The Hammer, Jun 8, 2021
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2021
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