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The History Of Witchcraft 

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 Part 7





History of Witchcraft (part 6)

As we can see, even though the pagan community has been trod 
upon, it was never destroyed. The date of Christmas was 
purposely fixed on December 25 to push into the background the 
great festival of the sun god, and the Epiphany on January 5 to 
supplant an Egyptian festival of the same day and the Easter 
ceremonies were set to rival the pagan spring festival. 

Let's take a look at a few of the holidays and compare.

Easter
On Easter Sunday, everywhere, the children hunt the many colored 
Easter eggs, brought by the Easter rabbit. This is the vestige 
of a fertility rite, the eggs and the rabbit both symbolizing 
fertility. The rabbit was the escort of the Germanic goddess 
Ostara who gave her name to the festival by way of the German 
Ostern. 

The first day of Spring holds much in the way of folklore. It is 
also known as the Spring Equinox, Ostara, Eostre's Day, Alban 
Eilir, the Vernal Equinox, or Festival of the Trees. It takes 
place between March 19 and 22. It marks the first day of true 
spring (verses the balmy weather that may procede it.)

The day and night is equal on this day, thus the name of Equinox. 
There is a story in one culture that says that the sun has begun 
to win it's race with the night and that the days get longer as 
the sun pulls ahead. (Followed by the fact that the sun begins to 
lose the race at Mid-Summer, and loses the race at Mid-Winter 
just to start the race again the next day.)

It is a time of beginnings, of action, of planting seeds for 
future grains, and of tending gardens. On the first Sunday after 
the first full moon following Eostre's Day (the name from which 
the Easter was derived), the Christian religion celebrates it's 
Easter Day.

Spring is a time of the Earth's renewal, a rousing of nature 
after the cold sleep of winter. As such, it is an ideal time to 
clean your home to welcome the new season.

Spring cleaning is more than physical work. Some cultures see it 
as a concentrated effort on their part to rid themselves of 
problems and negativity of the past months and tho prepare 
themselves for the coming spring and summer. 

To do this, they approach the task of cleaning their homes with 
positive thoughts. They believe that this frees the homes of the 
hard feelings brought about by a harsh winter. Even then, they 
have guidlines that they follow such as any scrubbing of stains 
or hand rubbing the floors should be done in a "clockwise" 
motion. It is their belief that this aids in filling the home 
with good energy for growth.

To the Druidic faith, this is a sacred day occuring in the month 
of Fearn (meaning, "I am the shining tear of the Sun"). Part of 
thier practices are to clean and rededicate outdoor shrines, 
beliving that in doing so they honor the spring maiden. This is 
a time of fertility of both crops and families. In promoting 
crops, they believe that the use of fire and water (the sun and 
rain) will reanimate all life on Earth. They decorate hard- 
boiled eggs, the symbol of rebirth, to eat during their rites, 
and such foods as honey cakes and milk punch can also be found. 
The mothers and daughters give dinners for each other and give 
cards and gifts as a way of merging with the natural flow of life 
and with each other. (The Druids consider this also as Mother's 
Day.)

In Greek mythology, spring was the time when Persephone returned 
from the underworld (where the seed was planted in the barren 
winter months) and thus represents the seedlings of the spring. 
Demeter, Persephone's mother represents the fertile earth and the 
ripend grain of harvest since it is alleged that she is the one 
that created the need to harvest crops when her daughter was 
kidnapped and taken to the underworld. It was through an 
arrangement that her daughter could return for 1/2 the year that 
Demeter allowed the crops to spring forth for that time until she 
again went into mourning for her daughter in the fall.

In some cultures, even today, the ones that continue to celebrate 
the rites of spring rise on Easter morning to watch the sun 
"Dance" as it rises.

The Christian festival commenmorating the resurrection of Christ, 
synchronized with the Jewish Pesach, and blended since the 
earliest days of Christianity with pagan European rites for the 
renewed season. In all countries Easter falls on the Sunday 
after the first full moon on or following March 21. It is 
preceded by a period of riotous vegetation rites and by a period 
of abstinence, Lent (in Spain Cuaresma, Germany Lenz, central 
Italy, Quaresima) and by special rites of Holy Week.

Everywhere Easter Sunday is welcomed with rejoicing, singing, 
candle processionals, flowers in abundance, and ringing of church 
bells. Many pagan customs survive, such as the lighting of new 
fires at dawn, among the Maya as well as in Europe, for cure, 
renewed life, and protection of the crops. 

May Day
The first day of May: observed as a spring festival everywhere in 
Europe, the United States, and Canada, and as a labor festival in 
certain European countries. 

Rites such as the ever famous May Pole occur in the town squares 
or in the family's front yard. The gathering of green branches 
and flowers on May Eve is the symbolic act of bringing home the 
May, i.e. bringing new life, the spring, into the village.

The May Queen (and often King) is choosen from among the young 
people, and they go singing from door to door throughout the town 
carrying flowers or the May tree, soliciting donations for a 
merrymaking in return for the "blessing of May". This is 
symbolic of bestowing and sharing of the new creative power that 
is stirring in the world. As the kids go from door to door, the 
May Bride often sings to the effect that those who give will get 
of nature's bounty through the year.

In parts of France, some jilted youth will lie in a field on May 
Day and pretend to sleep. If any village girl is willing to 
marry him, she goes and wakes him with a kiss; the pair then go 
to the village inn together and lead the dance which announces 
their engagement. The boy is called "the betrothed of May."

This festival is also known as Beltane, the Celtic May Day. It 
officially begins at moonrise on May Day Eve, and marks the 
beginning of the third quarter or second half of the ancient 
Celtic year. It is celebrated as an early pastoral festival 
accompanying the first turning of the herds out to wild pasture. 
The rituals were held to promote fertility. The cattle were 
driven between the Belfires to protect them from ills. Contact 
with the fire was interpreted as symbolic contact with the sun. 

The rowan branch is hung over the house fire on May Day to 
preserve the fire itself from bewitchment (the house fire being 
symbolic of the luck of the house. 

In early Celtic times, the druids kindled the Beltane fires with 
specific incantations. Later the Christian church took over the 
Beltane observances, a service was held in the church, followed 
by a procession to the fields or hills, where the priest kindled 
the fire.

In some rituals, a King and Queen May symbolize the male and female 
principles of productivity. 

We have looked briefly at the similarities of the philosophies 
and vocabularies, but is that all that they had in common? Let's 
look at symbologies.








 

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