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The celebration of the Summer solstice is a very ancient practice, dating back to pre-Christian times. Midsummer was originally a fertility festival with many customs and rituals associated with nature and with the hope for a good harvest the coming fall/autumn.
In Sweden, where the festival is called "Midsommar", houses are decorated inside and out with wreaths and flower garlands. Swedes then dance around the decorated midsummer pole while listening to traditional folk songs known to all. In Sweden, as in many other countries, the magic of Midsummer includes bonfires (which reminds of Swedish Walpurgis Night traditions), and divining the future, especially one's future spouse!
Tall midsummer poles are erected on Midsummer Eve, similar to the maypoles raised in the continental Europe and Britain.
The pole is decorated with green leaves, garlands, wreaths and flowers before…
In Irish mythology, the beginning of the summer season for the Tuatha Dé Danann and the Milesians started at Beltain. Great bonfires would mark a time of purification and transition, heralding in the season in the hope of a good harvest later in the year, and were accompanied with ritual acts to protect the people from any harm by Otherworldly spirits, such as those of the Sídhe.
Like the festival of Samhuin, opposite Beltuin on Oct. 31, Beltuin was a time when the Otherworld was seen as particularly close at hand. Early Gaelic sources from around the 10th century state that the druids of the community would create a need-fire on top of a hill on this day and drive the village's cattle through the fires to purify them and bring luck "Eadar dà theine Bhealltuinn" in Scottish Gaelic, 'Between two fires of Beltuin'. In Scotland, boughs of Juniper were sometimes thrown on the fires to add an additional element of purification…
Equinox means "equal night" and this happens because the sun is positioned above the equator and at this time of the year day and night are about equal in length all over the world. The Spring Equinox is sometimes referred to as the Vernal Equinox – vernal means spring .
In the pre-Catholic times the celebration of the Vernal Equinox was about new life and hope, the planting of seeds and the activation of the fertility cycle.
In Ireland, the spring equinox was celebrated long before the arrival of the Celtic tribes. The best known of the ancient Irish equinox temples is Knowth, which is near to Newgrange (Brú na Boinne). Knowth has a 100-foot long passage that accepts the Sun on the morning of the Spring and Autumn Equinox.
A second and…
Lupercalia is a Roman ritual of purification and fertility dating from such an ancient time that even the Romans of the first century BCE had forgotten its origin and to which Gods it was dedicated and even the meaning of some of its symbolism. (Contrary to Z Budapest's statements, it was not known whether it was to Faunus and in fact I think it may have been sacred to the more ancient founding Goddess, Rumina, the She-Wolf of Rome.)
Central to the ritual is the lustration (light flogging) with a goat skin scourge (see, Gardner didn't invent it). This was often accompanied by much rowdiness and horse-play. The purpose was the purification of the people from curses, bad luck and infertility.
The ritual is performed on February 15. The name of the month comes from the februa, anything used in purifying including wool (used for cleaning), brooms, pine boughs…Continue