Tag Archives: Sun

A Ritual of the Resurrection

Asphodel by Niko Leonardos 2013

Property of The Curio Cabinet and J.A. Doyle, the Wizard of Grand 2013. The public is free to copy, use and distribute as long as it is not reproduced for commercial gain, either privately or within a business. The Curio Cabinet and the Wizard of Grand are not responsible for any effects of this ceremony, real or imagined. To perform this rite is to acknowledge your personal responsibility.

This ritual is intended to connect us to the energy of the Vernal Equinox. A time of equilibrium, just before the scales tip in favor of the Light, we can internalize this energy of balance and shift. We often view the seasons as being separate from us, that the ground thaws and the tree buds outside of our selves. In truth, we change as the seasons change, we rotate along with the great Wheel of the Year, we join in the Resurrection of the Sun and the Earth in Spring. If we are going to change, anyway, it can only empower us further to acknowledge this transformation and embrace it. A wonderful way to embrace change is by marking it with a ritual or ceremony, to greet these powers of transformation in a sacred space. It can be performed by one person, or with a little editing, by a group.

Time: Good times for this ritual are March 20th (Equinox), March 25th (Lady Day), March 27th (Full Moon), and March 31st (Easter) in 2013.

Place: Anywhere peaceful, sacred space can be made indoors or, weather permitting, outdoors.

Garments: Preferably clean and fresh white, green, or soft, spring colors. Flowing robes are not prerequisites to performing ceremony and street-clothes will do just fine. Wear what you are comfortable in. Some people choose to perform in the nude, called “skyclad.”

Altar: The Altar should be set up in the East, to align with the direction of the rising sun. Cover the altar’s surface with a cloth. Gather symbols relevant to the ritual. Refer to the previous article, “Celebrations of the Vernal Equinox” for inspiration. My altar is decorated with a Crucifix from an aunt, an Orthodox icon of Christ raising the Dead, a statue of the figure Baphomet for balance, and a statue of the Hellenistic Goddess Kore-Persephone in honor of her ascent from the Underworld. Other than decorations, some specific objects are required, such as, a candle, a bowl of water, incense, an egg, and snake sheds (consider using a rope, necklace, twine or similar).

Preparation: Allow yourself at least 1 hour where you will not be disturbed. It is quite jarring to be in the middle of ceremony only to hear the phone ringing in the other room. You want to create an environment where the “supra-natural” can occur. Take a shower or a bath. Allow yourself to relax in the water. As you scrub your body, imagine that the troubles, worries, responsibilities, and other psychic rubbish clinging to your aura is washed away. After you feel clean, exit the shower, pat yourself dry and put on fresh clothes. Wherever you have decided to perform the ritual should also be clean and fresh, free of clutter. Kindle the incense if you have it and take a moment to be silent. Focus on why you are doing this ritual, how you would like to connect to the balance of the Vernal Equinox, what you desire to happen in celebrating the Resurrection.

The Wizard of Grand's Vernal Equinox Altar 2013

The Wizard of Grand’s Vernal Equinox Altar 2013

The Ritual

You approach the Altar and light the candle upon its surface. Holding your arms out in exaltation, you say, “Blessed be, O Illuminating Flame! Impart the powers of Aries the Ram and the Vigor of the Emergence of Spring to this Ritual of the Resurrection.”

You approach the Altar and take up the water bowl with both hands, holding it aloft. You say, “Blessed be, O Lustral Waters! Impart the powers of purification and consecration as I mark this space as sacred.”

Holding the bowl in one hand and dipping your fingers into the water with the other, you walk in a clock-wise fashion around the room while sprinkling the blessed water. Stop at the cardinal directions of East, South, West, and North. Returning to the Altar, you replace the water and take up the incense. You say, “Blessed be, O Holy Fume! Impart the powers of protection and consecration as I mark this space as sacred.”

Holding the incense in your hand, you walk clock-wise around the room while wafting the smoke throughout. Stop at the cardinal directions to honor and welcome them with the smoke of the incense. Returning to the Altar, waft the incense over your body and over the Altar, paying close attention to any icons or statues you have. Replace the incense. Take a moment to imagine the circle around you glowing with light brought by your ritual acts to purify and protect the space.

Hold out your arms slightly and proclaim: “I, (state your name), have created this sacred space for the purposes of celebrating the Vernal Equinox and to take my place in the Resurrection as the Light of the Sun increases and the Green Kingdom of the Earth reemerges. I have assembled the sacred symbols, the Egg and the Serpent.”

You first take up the egg, focusing on the symbol. Within one egg is the potential to begin new life. Within an egg are the nutrients needed to support a life. What life comes from inside the egg must eventually break free of the shell, on its own, to breathe and grow. What in you seeks to break free of its shell to breathe and grow? Hold the egg in your hands, press it to your chest at heart-level (not too hard, though!). As you feel your heart-beat through the egg, turn your attention to the heart-beat of all life on this planet and in the Universe. Your heart-beat is not so different than the pulse of a far-away star.

Now, setting the egg down, you take a moment to focus on the symbol of the serpent. Tune into the serpent energy. Shifting, slithering, shedding, transforming, above and below the ground. Move your body like a serpent. Take deep breaths and let them out in long, drawn-out hisses. Evoke the serpent energy within you. Imaging colors of greens, golds, bronzes, and reds shifting throughout your aura. As you dance and hiss like a serpent, shed the aetheric forms of yourself that you no longer need, the forms of yourself that restrict your growth. The snake must shed its form to grow bigger and more powerful.

At this point, you take the serpentine symbol and the egg together. You begin winding the serpentine symbol around the egg, loosely so the egg does not crack. When you have finished, place it back on the Altar. This is the Cosmic egg of Orpheus from which all of Creation, and most importantly, Phanes, the god of Light, emerges.

Ophis et Ovum

You refresh the incense, breathing in the perfumed air. You center yourself again, closing your eyes for a moment to visualize the Cosmic Egg in your mind. The Serpent coiling about the Egg squeezes tighter and tighter in the darkness of Chaos. Eventually, the coils put too much pressure on the Egg and it cracks. From the cracks come a burning whiteness, filling Chaos more and more with every beat of your heart. The darkness within your mind turns to brilliant light. The light floods out from your mind into your aura and permeates your being. This is not physical light, but the mental and spiritual light that fuels us. Feel this light purify you with its burning whiteness. Offer up anything to the light that does not serve you, allow your Self room to grow.

You open your eyes, still holding the visualization of the light in your mind, focusing on the flame of the candle. You stand back and reach out your arms in exaltation. You say, “I, (state your name), have gathered the sacred symbols and performed the sacred rites. I have resided within the Egg of Life, I have danced with the Serpent of Wisdom, I was present when the Light of Creation emerged from the Cosmic Egg. My heart-beat is the pulse of a star. I rise with the light of the Sun, my emergence is as the rebirth of the Green Earth.  I have gathered the sacred symbols and performed the sacred rites. I am resurrected in Body and Spirit. So Mote it Be. Amen.”

And now, you take as much time as you need to rest in this state. When you are ready, walk counter-clockwise around your sacred space and pause for a moment in each cardinal direction, thanking those who reside there. Stand straight and imagine the excess energy built up in the ritual leaving your body though the soles of your feet on the ground or your palms to the sky, dispersing into the air. Snuff the burning candle and use it again during a meditation when you wish to reconnect to this ritual. If you divine for yourself, either through tarot cards or another method, now is a good time to do a reading. Many ceremonies are also followed with a feast or meal to help ground the participants in “mundane reality” following the trip into the realm of the sacred. Think about preparing the egg used in ritual as an act of communion by either frying it up with some toast or incorporating it into food another way. Otherwise, dispose of the egg by burring it in your yard. You can also try to test your luck and balance the egg on its end.

When you perform this ritual, please feel free to share your experiences with us in the comments section! Thank you and Blessed Vernal Equinox!

Celebrations of the Vernal Equinox

By J.A. Doyle, the Wizard of Grand

In 2013, the Vernal Equinox will take place on March 20th

The word “Equinox” comes from the Latin words meaning “equal-night.” On two days a year, in the Spring and in the Autumn, we experience near-equal times of day and night. The Spring Equinox is the astrological New Year, when the Sun enters the sign of Ares. In astrology, the sign of Aries the Ram is ruled by the Red Planet, called Mars by the Romans and Ares by the Greeks. The month of March was named so by the Romans in honor of Mars, and they held great festivals for Mars during this time. In Ancient Mesopotamia, the Babylonians celebrated their New Year at the New Moon after the Spring Equinox in celebration of the Epic of Creation and the triumph of the God Marduk over the Dragon-Goddess Tiamat. The Israelites adopted the Babylonian calender and also celebrated the Spring Equinox as their New Year, eventually holding “Pesach,” or Passover, in honor of the Exodus of the Jews from Egyptian slavery.

Tiamat and Marduk

The Germanic Eostre, Goddess of Dawn and Spring

During the 2nd-Century, the early Christian Church rendered “Pesach” into the Greek “Pascha” and celebrated the Resurrection of Christ during this time. As Christianity spread into Northern Europe, they found the Germanic Pagans celebrating the “Eostarmonath”, first attested to by the 8th-Century monk, Bede the Venerable. Bede claims that the Pagans had honored the Spring and dawn goddess Eostar during this month, and that this practice had died out by his lifetime but the people still call the “Paschal season” by the old name. So, we see now how “Passover” became “Easter.”

The festival of Easter retained many older Pagan symbols and traditions. Legends of Slain and Resurrected Gods or Heroes were widespread in Antiquity, and many of their rituals were celebrated around the Spring Equinox. Even today, Easter is determined by a Lunar reckoning, being observed at the Sunday after the Full Moon that falls after the Spring Equinox. The March Hare, or “Easter Bunny,” was associated with copious fertility and the Spring Equinox in Antiquity, also thought to be a hermaphrodite by some ancient writers. Easter ceremonies also often include great fires (the zodiacal sign of Ares is elementally associated with Fire), and scapegoating rituals meant to cleanse the community of sin. Sometimes the two are combined, such as in the burning of an effigy of Judas Iscariot, practiced by many Mediterranean and South American communities. 

Netherlanders watching the Eostar-fire

Passover Meal

Eggs, in particular, have been associated with the Spring Equinox throughout history. Eggs are a symbol of new life, fertility, and the cycle of life. The Seder plate of Passover includes an egg and Early Christians would have had knowledge of, if not participation in, this. Also, because of the food-restrictions during Lent in the Middle Ages, Easter-tide was when eggs could be reintroduced to the diet. Mesopotamian and Mediterranean Christians dyed eggs red to symbolize the blood shed from Christ, and developed an egg-cracking ritual wherein the participants tap eggs together and whoever had an egg that remains intact at the end receives good luck. A popular folk tradition, particularly in North America, is the balancing of an egg on it’s tip. While may claim it can only be done on the two Equinox days, I must admit I have seen it done at other times. I prefer to think that to balance an egg on the Equinox is to only invite good luck and balance into one’s life, or at least a sense of accomplishment.

Naturally Dyed Easter Eggs

St. Patrick

A few days before the Equinox, the Feast of Saint Patrick is celebrated on March 17th. Commonly associated with the color green, shamrocks, and great feasting, St. Patrick’s Day has become a modern expression of an ancient desire to celebrate the Spring (as well as a brief break from Lenten restrictions). According to legend, St. Patrick was sent by Rome to Ireland to spread Christianity. He allegedly used the shamrock with its three-leaves to explain the nature of the Holy Trinity to the Irish Pagans. The legend of St. Patrick chasing serpents from the Emerald Isle is an allegory of his conversion of Druidic peoples. Through this association with serpents St. Patrick was, through syncretism, identified the Vodun creator spirit and father of the loa, Damballah Wedo, the white serpent. His feast is celebrated in Haiti and New Orleans on March 17th. Damballah is also said to hold the Cosmic Egg that contains all of Creation in his mouth. Serpents, in general, are also symbols of resurrection and rebirth because of their shedding. Interestingly enough, the earliest celebration of the Spring Equinox by the Babylonians focused on the slaying of a serpent-like Goddess and the creation of the World from her corpse. The connection of serpents and the arrival of Spring is an ancient conception.

Damballah Wedo’s Veve

What we see throughout history is a celebration of resurrection, new life, and fertility. Observances to mark these celebrations are made by the position of the Sun, Moon, and stars, as well as by the warming of the air and the return of green to the Earth. Humans have performed rituals throughout history in honor of the Slain and Resurrected, parallel to the increasing sunlight of early Spring. Fires are made heaping up to the skies, images representing what we wish to cast off are immolated with the promise of new growth. In celebrating the Spring Equinox, with symbols of eggs, hares, serpents, and divine figures victorious over Death, we align with the powers that these symbols hold, and reaffirm our connection to the cycles of Nature and the omnipresence of God. It is a time to allow ourselves, like Nature, to rise up towards the Light of the Sun and begin to grow anew. It is time to celebrate the Re-Creation of the World.

Convocation 2013

The Wizard of Grand will be traveling across the state of Michigan to the Detroit area tomorrow morning to spend 4 days with Pagans, Witches, and Occultists in a swanky hotel. That’s right, I’m attending Convocation– the Mid-West’s biggest Pagan convention. Convocation uses a different card of the Major Arcana as the theme for each year. I attended the Death and the Devil years, and this year is the Sun. It seems like I will finally get to experience a year that isn’t super heavy.

It is a great pleasure for me to attend this year because  the man I regard as my best friend, mentor in the Art, and spiritual brother, Matthew Venus of Spiritus Arcanum, will be traveling with me and my partner to Convocation. Matthew will be teaching 3 workshops, all of which I am greatly looking forward to. Matthew grew up in the Detroit area, successfully ran a coven there, and has taught at Convocation every year he has attended. Now, Matthew lives in Salem, MA with his partner working on Spiritus Arcanum. But enough about Matthew.

I am really looking forward to seeing old acquaintances, favorite authors, and meeting new potential friends. As a cerebral trivia-sponge, I will more than enjoy myself attending workshops and getting a glimpse of other people’s theories and practices. I hope there is a night when a group of us get together with some wine and have a philosophical symposium of the Occult into the wee hours. Ah…. Heaven.

The Magical Calendar

“…you will need to know about the times and seasons of the witches’ year. These are the correct times when you will be able to recharge your magical batteries and draw down to yourself the new currents of elemental power to work your spells.” –Paul Huson, Mastering Witchcraft, Ch. 1 ‘Magical Times and Seasons’

Heliocentric Zodiac

The Magical Calendar is one that follows the natural progression of seasons, as influenced by the Sun, Moon, myriad Stars and the weather. It began as the obsessive observation of the Heavens by our Ancestors. There was something unique in our consciousness that caused us to wonder up at the ceaselessly rotating firmament. After observing celestial events for so long, early civilizations began to realize correlations between the Heavens and the Earth. It was this ancestral practice that led to sciences such as astronomy and meteorology, study of the stars and the weather. Even today, many “rational” people believe in or at least take interest in their zodiac sign. Even if you do or do not believe in or agree with Astrolatry, it is impossible to deny the historical influence celestial observation has had in the creating of calendars.

The modern Magical Calendar that many Neo-Pagans are familiar with are 8 holy days arranged around a wheel, commonly called the “Wheel of the Year”. This model is generally accepted to be the best guide to seasonal progression. The 8 days of the Wheel follow the life of the Sun and the fertility of the Land. However, if the land you live in is not similar to that of Northern Europe, this model might not be so useful. In fact, many of the holidays on the Wheel were never celebrated by the ancient pagans in the same way that they are observed today. The Church of the Middle Ages absorbed many different traditional European pagan festivals from several different native cultures. Through this absorption and later reclamation of the pagan symbolism of the Christian Liturgical year by the Occult Revival at the turn of the last century, the modern Neo-Pagan community has a standard calender many can agree upon.

General Neo-Pagan Wheel of the Year

 The Moon has also been used as a timepiece perhaps longer than the Solar calendar. The Lady’s face changes shape every day and She visits nearly each zodiac sign every month. In fact, the English words “month” and “moon” are etymologically related. Modern Witches and Pagans are familiar with tracking the phases of the Moon, most likely holding celebrations on the Full and Dark Moons. There are also the 28 Mansions of the Moon, an art originating in Near East that has been seemingly vacant from Neo-Pagan teaching, until recently.

Lunar Mansions

We see the same cosmic truth in the cyclical pattern of the Lunar “Moonth” and the Solar Year. Ascent, Zenith, Descent, Nadir. Waxing, Full, Waning, Dark. Dawn, Midday, Dusk, Midnight. Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter. Sowing, Growing, Ripening, Reaping. Sex, Youth, Age, Death. The Wheel of the Year, the Magical Calendar, the festivals of Witches, Magicians and Pagans abound are the observation and celebration of the Sun and Moon and their interplay with the Earth and Her fertility and sterility. As above, so below, no?

We heretic folk also take into account the passing of the Planets passing through the constellations of the Zodiac: Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, and Pisces. Some of us take into account 10 Planets or more (always including the luminaries, the Sun and Moon), but there are those of us who only look to the sacred 7: Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Sol, Venus, Mercury, and Luna. They rove around the firmament free from the invisible grip the other stars are seemingly held captive by, and we can see them with our naked, but trained, eye. These are the same lights that fascinated our ancient ancestors, descending from the trees and ascending from the caves. So great was their awe of these free-traveling  stars that they called them gods.

Weekday Calendar

The Chaldean Order, that is the 7 planets arranged by the speed at which they travel through our visual sky, from fastest to slowest are the Moon, Mercury, Venus, the Sun, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. Arranged in the pattern of the Heptagram, the 7 planets flesh out the pattern of the days of the week. So, not only does the complete Magical Calendar form the Solar Year and Lunar Month, as ruled by the relationship of the luminaries with the Earth and their passage through the zodiac, it also encompasses the 7 days of the week overseen by the 7 classical planets. Even the 24 hours of each day are divided and ruled by the planets.

Generally, the accepted calculation of the Planetary hours runs thus: at Dawn of the Day in Question, the first hour is ruled by the Planet of that Day in Question and follows the Chaldean Order after that. So on Friday, the Day of Venus, at Dawn is the Hour of Venus and is followed by the Hour of Mercury. These hours are not equal hours like we have on our clocks. Only at the Equinoxes are the Planetary Hours equal.

From the first stirrings of astrology in the Near East, to the development of the Mysteries in the Mediterranean, to the observations of the Celts and Germanic tribes, and the Holy Days of the Church, rediscovered by the Occult revival,, the reclaiming of our ancestral celebrations, these are the sacred moments that the Western Mysteries  have given us.

Now what should you do with them if you are interested? Study the meanings, the symbols, the stories, the myths. Study the science, the pattern, the ebb and flow. Spend time in the midst of the change of seasons, experience the transformation in your environment and within yourself. Build annual rituals to help tie yourself to the cycles that can be based upon pre-existing calendars or that which is sent from one’s own Genius. When one listens to the rhythm of Nature, one can begin dancing with Her.