Thank you for sharing about Ohio! Celebrate the 3 Pagans volunteering in prisons!

Some of you made my month by sharing the information about how incarcerated Pagans in Ohio cannot receive any of the books specifically for incarcerated Pagans OR receive books from Amazon, which means that they are dependant on the Athens Books To Prisoners volunteer organization. Although no one went to the Athens Books To Prisoners website, at least you spread awareness of the situation.

I have been depressed and filled with dread when I get letters from prisoners asking how to find Pagan volunteers, pen pals, free information for their bigoted Chaplain, discounted or free Pagan resources, or legal help to be able to practice their religion. What can I say besides “Sorry, you don’t matter to other Pagans”? Honestly, I really don’t know what else to say. Sometimes I ask them who they helped when they were on the outside, and write that whatever excuses they had for not being involved are the same ones as Pagans on the outside have. There’s no difference.

I just am so disappointed in the Pagans who blog about activism, social justice and changing society, especially if they’ve complained about how there’s so little for incarcerated Pagans. How did I become point person for everything? Pagan Prison Ministries come and go, without exploring more cost effective and less time consuming ways to serve as teachers.

I applaud the three people who are still serving as Pagan Prison Ministries: CrowMoon who visits about 6 South Carolina prisons, which means she’s driving hours, paying for gas, preparing Wiccan lessons and rituals while staying active in her local Pagan community and writing a 1 sheet newsletter for each Sabbat that is sent for free to prisoners in North Carolina. Shoot, I may have mixed up my Carolinas, but she doesn’t even have a website for donations. Also there’s Alexandria Temple of Universal Metaphysics, one man in Colorado to whom I believe I donated about 75 books about 9 years ago. If that’s him, he’s really shown endurance! And Mother Earth Ministries-ATC, who have consistently been focused on the Pagans in one Tuscan prison. That’s smart: doing what is manageable. Too much activists don’t have sustainable, achievable goals and so they burn out. The more likely that you will have success, the more likely you will enjoy it. It also brings enthusiastic support, because as my long time activist Mom taught me, “Go where the energy is.” (The fastest way for a young organization to crash is by focusing on getting a physical building. Stay manageable and you stay successful.)

These three people deserve a lot of support on all levels. They make me feel less alone and are probably the folks who could give you advice on volunteering. Steel Bars, Sacred Waters: Celtic Paganism for Prisoners has a few pages for potential volunteers which I can share. Dixie Deerman has a rather adversarial, vague Pagan Prisoner Advocate’s Guide that may unnecessarily scare you and heavily promotes her book, but is still a free reference to download at smashwords and more than anyone has provided!

I notice that people seem to feel like there’s nothing they can do to “change the world” but forget that it’s not all on their shoulders. It’s easy to do one action that improves life for your greater community, however you define that, than to despair or call people Hitler on social media. You don’t know what all the other people may be doing, but trust me, there’s lots of us doing. It adds up. Even if it didn’t, it still feels much better to just be creative and find ways to live your values than it does to be angry, afraid or depressed. You’re responsible for what you have contributed and that’s very empowering. In a time of so many feeling helpless, whenever you make a difference, you take back power. It may not be the aspect of oppression you want to transform, but bloom where you are planted. We often don’t know how the deities, ancestors or land spirits need our experiences and skills to be their hands and voices here and now, so please stay open to the call. You’re needed and valued.

I still wish that all the people hanging out at Occupy rallies (a tactic that is outdated) had planted a tree. There are some things you need to consider when choosing what action you will do. First, what’s your goal? Second, what ways can you actually meet that goal? I can’t attend an important governmental meeting about an issue that affects my health because I have severe Mast Cell Activation Syndrome. It would benefit both this cause and further education about the hidden people with disabilities of someone put a poster board torso and head in a seat with my name on it and why I cannot participate in democracy. So that’s what I’m asking the organizers to do, because I don’t want to stay invisible. You can find creative tactics to change the world. Working with allies who share common goals is one important way.

Peace and power,

Heather

 

January Pagan Holy Days Resource

Onje Keon Pierce Gullveig Press logo
Gullveig Press logo design by Onje Keon Pierce

Gullveig Press sends an 18 page detailed polytheist calendar with dates of new (NOT dark) and full moons, Mercury Retrograde and lots of information about other Pagan cultures’ division of the year, month and week to incarcerated prisons for $2.25. But if you are pen pals with a Pagan in prison, you can copy each month’s calendar from this blog, print and mail! It’s usually posted on the 23rd so you have a time to send it.

Make sure that you included the Introduction to the Calendar so they can understand the Athens calendar, the Julian calendar and have the dates for the new and full moon. As the mail is slower this time of year, try to send it at least a week in advance. Thank you for doing this work for your pen pal!!

Gullveig Press Pagan Festival Calendar by Heather Awen, author of “Steel Bars, Sacred Waters: Celtic Paganism for Prisoners” Gullveig Press, PO Box 126, St Johnsbury, VT 05819, 556 pages, $12 includes shipping.

January is named for Roman God Janus, who rules over beginnings and the transitional space of doorways. He’s depicted with a face of both sides of His head. January became the 1st month of the year later in Roman history. Originally it was March.
January 1 is Janus Agonalia, when Romans gave sweets like jars of honey, dates and figs to Janus and their loved ones so their year would be sweet. Ovid instructs: “Now must good words be spoken…. banish mad disputes straightaway!” They believed that you must only say positive, kind words when beginning anything.
Vediovus, a Roman God of the manes (the dead), was active in the barren month of January. He’s depicted as a young man carrying arrows with a goat.
During the 1st two weeks of January Greek healing deities Aesculapius, His mother Coronis and His daughter Salus (Hygeia is her Greek name) received offerings in the Roman Empire. Aesculapius had a staff with a snake coiled around it, still the symbol for doctors today.
January 3 is the Roman Festival of Pax, Goddess of peace. Her symbols are an olive branch, cornucopia and scepter.
Crossroads are places of transition that attract spirits. The Roman countryside held the Compitalia from January 3 to 5 to please the crossroad spirits. By hanging a head of garlic for every household member, their real bodies and minds would stay safe. In towns, families on the same block brought honey cakes to a festival.
The 8th is sacred to the tough Haitian lwa of the Revolution, abandoned children and lesbians, Erzuli Dantor.
The Carmentalia is January 11 or 13 (or full moon), when the nymph Carmentis was invoked as Postvorta and Antevorta, names that refer to Her power of looking into the past and the future. The festival was mostly held by women. No leather or blood sacrifices are allowed in a grove or temple of Carmentis. Instead of wine, She wants milk as a libation (drink).
The 17th is dedicated to Ogun in New Orleans Voodoo, focusing on work opportunities and protection.
During the waning moon of January rural Romans celebrated the Sementivae and Paganalia. While sowing of seeds, sacrifices of baked goods were made to Tellus (Mother Earth) on one day and Ceres (grain Goddess; similar to Greek Demeter) on another. The community prayed for a good harvest, peace and prosperity.
2 days before the dark moon of the lunar cycle of December-January, Hera, Greek Goddess of marriage, was honored with Her husband and the leader of the deities, bright sky father Zeus, at the Gamelia.
The day after the new moon was sighted in the lunar month of January-February began the Anthesterion (Older Dionysia) in Athens. Focus was on the flowers of spring. (The climate was similar to Southern California.) After sunset clay jars of wine were broken as a libation for Dionysus, God of wine. The next day featured drinking competitions as the dead wandered amongst the living, receiving water and wheat flour mixed with honey. The day ended by banishing the dead, yelling, “Get out, Keres (spirits that work harm), the Anthesteria is over!” The next day people ate pottage (boiled grains with honey) and offered it to Hermes in His role as psychopomp (guide to the dead).
The 27th Romans celebrated the birth of Castor and Pollox, horse riding sons of Zeus. Gauls also worshiped Them.

If we’ve missed a traditional Pagan festival please let us know! Include information about the festival and the source of the information. 

The Cailleach Yule Protection Magick

Carn_na_h-Easgainn_from_Beinn_nan_Cailleach_-_geograph.org.uk_-_1132864
Sarah McGuire / Carn na h-Easgainn from Beinn nan Cailleach / CC BY-SA 2.0

There’s a Scottish Yule tradition that combines Gaelic myth and Norse Heathenry with Magick. As the well-known legand of the Cailleach Bheur (pronounced KAL-lyukh VYEYR) says She came from Norway, dropping boulders carried in Her apron, we get a glimpse of the Norse influence from the Norwegian nobles fleeing the newly united Norway for Scotland. In the Irish Story of Mongan the Cailleach Dubh only She has the red-eared white cow (Otherworld colors) who is needed to save the King of Lochlann (Scandinavia). There is a legendary old witch with a name similar to the Cailleach known in Norway and Sweden.

The Cailleach is firmly rooted and thriving in Gaelic myth, legend and place names. The Cailleach is a title given to many Goddesses in Scotland, the Isle of Man and Ireland who are land-shapers, shapeshifters, giantesses, guardians of animals (especially deer and magical cattle), and associated with winter, storms, and wells that could overflow and destroy the world. Aside from Cailleach Bheur, Her other northern Scottish names are Gyre Carling (“biting old woman”) who is the Queen of the Fairies, Nicneven (“daughter of Nevis”) with Her water nymphs (Ben Nevis the tallest mountain in Scotland and the Cailleach Bheur’s home) and “Gentle Annie” which is a name used by sailors to placate Her when sailing by the dangerous Corryvreckan Whirlpool (“Cauldron of Plaid”) where She washes her clothing. The Cailleach Beinn Na Bric (“of the Speckled Mountain”) and the Cailleach Mhor Nam Fiadh (“Great Cailleach of the Deer”) tell hunters when to hunt and how many to kill. Those who do not listen meet terrible fates. In the Lowlands She is often called Carlin and many stones are named for her. On the land traditionally controlled by my ancestors, the infamous cattle raider clan Tweedie, there’s a rock called “the Carlin’s Tooth.”

Her blue skin is like dark storm clouds, Her white hair is like leafless trees in the snow, and Her one eye is like the glaring winter sun. In the spring She renews Her youth by bathing in a pool at dawn, before a dog can bark.

The Isle of Man has the famous prophetess Cailleach ny Gueshag (“of the Spells”) and the Caillag ny Gyoamagh, “Lady of Gloominess,” with a mood like storm clouds and rain. Her husband is the Sea God Manannan Beg Mac y Leirr, and She is sometimes seen as a heron gathering sticks. (The Scottish Cailleach of Loch a-na-Cailleach rides a heron in the moonlight.)

In Ireland the Cailleach Bearra is famous for a boulder throwing contest with another Cailleach that shaped the land around Poll Mountain. The Cailleach in County Kerry (southeast Munster) lives in a cave under a rock and is said to have lived there since the time of the Fir Bolg. Corca Duidhna is the Cailleach of the Dingle Peninsula, also in southeast Munster. In County Mayo (northern Connaught), the Cailleach Bhearthach lives at Neifinn Mountain. Two live near the Cliffs of Moher in Western Ireland: the Cailleach Bronach (“the Cailleach of Sorrow”) and Cailleach Mal at Hag’s Head. In western Connaught the Cailleach Bearra’s great age is the focus. A Christian Priest asks Her how many years She’s lived and She replies that there is a bone in her attic for each one. The Priest keeps trying to count the bones, but never can.

The Cailleach is associated with many Neolithic passage tombs similar to Newgrange, but smaller. Loughcrew is home to many, including the large stone Sliabh na Caillíghe which faces north known as the “Chair of the Hag”. The over 25 tombs were built on three hilltops now called “the Old Woman’s Mountains”. Many of the passage tombs are aligned with sunrise on the equinoxes, where a beam of sunlight illuminates the patterned spiral, lozenge and circle decorated back walls, above a stone bowl that would have held ashes from cremations. Over half of Ireland’s counties can be viewed from the hills, and the tombs, covered in white quartz stones, would have glistened from far away. What makes these pre-Celtic tombs relevant to Celtic Paganism is that La Tene style art on pieces of bone and Celtic glass beads, bronze rings and bone pins were discovered in one. The tomb was still considered a sacred site 3,000 years after its construction, receiving offerings usually associated with women.

The tomb’s link to the equinoxes is intriguing. In what is probably a rather modern tale, the Cailleach Bheur holds prisoner the Goddess of Summer (Brid, the Scottish Bridget, pronounced “breedj”) until either just after the spring equinox (March 25th, Lady’s Day) or Beltane. Sometimes She has a son Angus Ever-Young (much like the Irish Aengus Mac Og) who stays at the Emerald Isle of the West (Ireland) during winter. He falls in love with Brid and fights His mother all spring, causing the erratic weather patterns. Other times Brid frees Herself, using her wand to bring the land back to life.

The Cailleach is a title meaning “veiled one”, which is thought refer to nuns. Historically, many older noble widows often became nuns. Their time bearing and raising children over, they were politically obsolete for their families. For many, the peaceful company of nuns and monks, time spent spinning wool, baking bread for the poor, tending medicinal herb gardens and teaching children to read and write would have been a good “retirement”. Today Cailleach‘s used as an insult similar to “hag.” (The Irish fella I’ve been with for 4 years was a housemate when we were teenagers in Galway and still lives in Ireland. When I was writing Steel Bars, Sacred Waters: Celtic Paganism for Prisoners, he thought that Cailleach was a very odd name for a Goddess, since he himself even uses Cailleach to describe a mean, bitter, rude older woman.)

The Ritual

In some parts of northern Scotland the Cailleach is blamed for the illnesses and deaths that happen during winter. The Norse tradition of the Yule log was part of the Christmas season, but with a different meaning. A Norse Yule log should be so large and long that several men are needed to carry it into the long house, for it must burn for 12 nights and days.

The regional change to the Norse Yule log is to find a gnarled, twisted log that is considered ugly as the winter death-dealing Cailleach. The log is officially named the Cailleach, with all the diseases and injuries She brings. Set on fire, Her destructive power is destroyed in the purifying flames.

There are ways for those of us who don’t or can’t have access to fire can use this spell. All ritual items in Steel Bars, Sacred Waters had to be things Pagans could make with only paper, pencil and tap water. That’s really the only reason it’s for prisoners – Remove that and people say it’s the pan-Celtic Reconstruction based book they’ve always wanted. It’s honestly the book I always wanted. A prisoner wrote thanking me for going beyond the “standard manufactured Celtic deities” and asked why other Pagan books don’t offer new information so both beginner and intermediate Pagans can continue to grow. A free world Pagan Group in Alaska asked me the same thing: Where’s the resources for the intermediate Pagans? How can we grow in soil of 101 books? Since no one else even mentions the incredibly important Iberian Celtic deities and cultures, I’m very pleased that I have made those deities accessible after 1600 years without worship. And we actually DO have a lot of information about Celtic rituals; it’s just not the same from Ireland to the Ukraine.

If you have a fireplace, you can find your own smaller version of the Cailleach log. If you have a candle, you can write all the deadly problems that come with winter on a piece of paper twisted into a log and burned in the candle flame. I suggest doing all fire magic in a sink. Keep a bowl of water in case the Cailleach needs to be drowned to prevent a dangerous fire.

The ritual for prisoners and people like me who physically are made ill by any flame uses paper. Draw a gnarled, twisted log while focusing on the life-threatening aspects of the Cailleach. With all versions of the Cailleach log, your ability to focus on the Cailleach or visualize Her dangers and will the log to become what you think is the most important part. Know that it is the winter Cailleach who would bring illness, injury and death to your door.

Next draw flames over the Cailleach log. Concentrate on the log burning, being consumed by the life-giving, protective fire. If you have a deep Gaelic cosmology, you may want to think of the fire as the Goddess Brid. The flames drawn over the Cailleach log should be drawn faster and faster, messier and messier, as your passion builds to eradicate Her. Drone hum or shake little rattles or bells tied to your clothing. You can chant a rhyme that states the goal as having happened such as “The Cailleach is gone/ and with Her all that’s wrong!” or “Alive I am, healthy I stay/ For the Cailleach has been burned away!” (These insular Celtic additions from ancient ceremony and folk Magick can of course be used if you have fire.)

When the Cailleach log is totally covered with lines and can no longer be seen (or the paper has turned to ashes), the rite is done. Focus on releasing the last built up energy into the paper or ashes with your palms and breath, careful not to scatter the ashes. “By the forces of land, sea and sky, so it is done.” Toss the totally cool ashes out the back door if you have one or scatter by a cemetery with which you have a good relationship. (Picking up trash, making offerings to the first woman and first man buried there, and practicing good psychic hygiene like the ancient Greeks after they were exposed to miasma by bathing and/or burning sulfur immediately after leaving – these are some ways to safely earn the respect of the cemetery and its guardian spirits. Sulfur smells like rotten eggs.) If you cannot go outside, forcefully tear or crumble up the paper and put in the trash.

 

Steel Bars, Sacred Water is available directly from Gullveig Press at a lower price than at Amazon. All proceeds go to sending free copies to incarcerated Pagans. We have special bulk order and prison clergy/ volunteer prices and Australian discounts, as Amazon Australia does not carry the book. We will happily buy a prisoner a copy if you donate $12 U.S.! And remember to donate used paperbacks on almost any topic to your nearest books-to-prisoners organization. Many prisoners are functionally illiterate and prisoners share books, so your donation will improve on average seven prisoners’ ability to read per book!

 

Bibliography

Bane, Teresa, Encyclopedia of Fairies in World Folklore and Mythology. McFarland & Company, Inc (2013)

Cunliffe, Barry, The Ancient Celts. Oxford University Press (1997)

Daimler, Morgan, Pagan Portals: Irish Paganism: Reconstructing Irish Polytheism. Moon Books (2015)

Dashu, Max, The Cailleach in Irish Megalithic Traditions, http://www.sourcememory.net/veleda/?p=792

d’Este, Sorita & David Rankine, VISIONS OF THE CAILLEACH: Exploring the Myths, Folklore and Legends of the pre-eminent Celtic Hag Goddess, Avalonia (2009)

Filan, Kenaz, The Haitian Vodou Handbook: Protocols for Riding with the Lwa. Destiny Books

Henderson, George, The Norse Influence on Celtic Scotland. AlbaCraft Publishers (1910, 2013)

Hutton, Ronald, The Stations of the Sun: A History of the Ritual Year in Britain. Oxford University Press (1996)

McCaffrey, Carmel & Eaton, Leo, In Search of Ancient Ireland. New Amsterdam Books (2002)

McNeill, Florence Marian, The Silver Bough Vol 1: Scottish Folklore & Folk Belief. William Maclellan (1957)

Mierzwick, Tony, Hellenismos: Practicing Greek Polytheism Today. Llewellyn (2018)

Nicholson, Francine, Deities, Natural Forces, and Ancestors, Land, Sea and Sky, http://homepage.eircom.net/~shae/chapter12.htm

Nicholson, Francine, Religious Ritual among the Celts, Land, Sea and Sky, http://homepage.eircom.net/~shae/chapter13.html

December Pagan Holy Days Resource

Onje Keon Pierce Gullveig Press logo
Gullveig Press logo design by Onje Keon Pierce

Gullveig Press sends an 18 page detailed polytheist calendar with dates of new (NOT dark) and full moons, Mercury Retrograde and lots of information about other Pagan cultures’ division of the year, month and week to incarcerated prisons for $2.25. But if you are pen pals with a Pagan in prison, you can copy each month’s calendar from this blog, print and mail! Make sure that you included the Introduction to the Calendar so they can understand the Athens calendar, the Julian calendar and have the dates for the new and full moon. Thank you for doing this work for your pen pal!!

Gullveig Press Pagan Festival Calendar by Heather Awen, author of “Steel Bars, Sacred Waters: Celtic Paganism for Prisoners” Gullveig Press, PO Box 126, St Johnsbury, VT 05819, 556 pages, $12 includes shipping.

The Anglo-Saxons called December and January Yule.
In one Yoruban region of Nigeria, Ogun, the Orisha who literally is iron, traditionally had an annual December Festival.
The Romans held a ritual for Neptune on December 1.
On the 3rd Roman women held a private rite for Bona Dea (“Good Goddess”), the earth fertility Goddess. Her priestess was called Damiatrix. There was a play, music, wine called “mother’s milk” and an offering of a pig. In this Mystery rite, sacred objects were shown to women only.
The 4th is dedicated to the Orisha of thunder, justice and courage Chango who repels all enemies and negativity.
Rural Romans asked Faunus, God of wilderness, on December 5 to bless the countryside and farmland. Worshipers built altars of sod where incense burned, made wine and other sacrifices and then joyfully danced in the fields. The Hymn to Faunus: “Guarantee me a fertile and bountiful year, and I will not fail in pouring a libation of wine to you… The valley resonates with the beat of music and dancing feet in your honor.”
On December 8th the Geledé Iyamí Oxorongá & Eshu Agbo festival is held in Brazil. An ancient mask ritual from the Yoruba people of Nigeria, it celebrates the power of sexuality. The Iyamí are the female Orishas and mothers, often called birds, while phallic Eshu represents male sexuality. Later under the influence of Christianity, the Iyamí became associated with evil witchcraft.
During the waning moon of the November-December lunar month was the Haloa, a fertility celebration of Demeter, Kore (a young Goddess similar to Persephone) and Dionysos in Athens. The new wine was tasted and a vegetarian feast (with fish) was served. Women brought models of female and male genitals and had raunchy, erotic discussions.
The lunar cycle of December-January was a very popular time for weddings in Greece.
On December 13 (or full moon) the Roman Senate honored the earth Goddess Tellus. Ceres, Goddess of grains, also received a banquet.
The 15th (or full moon) was dedicated to Roman God of the storage bin of harvested grain, Consus. His sacred animal the mule had races, while other mules, horses and donkeys rested with garlands around their necks.
On the 17th the Orisha Babalu-Aye is honored, for He grants healing especially of skin conditions, looks over those with smallpox and HIV/AIDS and brings us the abundance of the earth.
Rome’s Saturnalia, held from December 17 to 23, reminded people of the Golden Age of Saturn, a time of peace and prosperity. The statue of Saturn in His temple normally was bound, but He was freed now. After sacrifices held at Saturn’s temple, Romans changed into comfortable clothing for the banquet. For the next week official business stopped and stores closed, while parties and feasting took their place. As a misrule festival that allowed the oppressed some release, role reversals occurred: masters waited on children and slaves, while children and slaves led the rituals and attended the festivities. Pine boughs and wreaths hung over doorways and windows, with ornaments of stars, sun symbols and the 2 faces of Janus. Gifts were given, especially on Sigillaria, the last day of the Saturnalia. Saturn’s wife Ops (“plenty”) was honored on the 19th.
A couple days before the December-January full moon and continuing for 4 to 9 days was the Greek Lenaia (“feast of vats”). Statues of Dionysus Leneus were dressed in ivy and He received sacrifices. Attending the theatre was a large part of the holiday.
Roman festival for Epona was honored by the military horsemen on December 18. Epona is a Gaulish horse Goddess whose image was kept in stables and barns. Not only the protector of horses, She led people to the Afterlife.
December 21 is the Roman Angeronalia, a day of sacrifices to Angerona, Goddess of disease angina. Angerona also causes and stops anguish and anxiety. Her mouth is bound, because Jupiter covered it when Angerona told Juno of His infidelity. Jupiter ordered Mercury to take Angerona to Hades. Mercury seduced Angerona, and in the Underworld She gave birth to the Lares (household protectors). The Divalia was the secret rite of Angerona.
On the 23rd funeral rites were performed before the tomb of Roman Goddess Larentina, who may be connected with the Lares (household protectors). Offerings to Di Manes (the dead) were made by Priests.
The same day Dea Tacita (“silent Goddess”), an earth Goddess, received offerings in Her grove.
Yule is a Norse 12 day celebration of returning sunlight that starts on the night of the Winter Solstice or the evening of December 24. In Germany Frau Holle demands that all spinning be put away for the 12 days of Yule. Some Heathens interpret this to mean that there should be no work done during Yule. It probably has to do with the weaving of the new year’s fate by the Norns in this transitional time. The Yule log was as big as a tree, decorated with garlands of greenery and carried to the house in a happy procession. (Some Scandinavians lived in “long houses” which held a couple dozen people or more.) The log burned for 12 days. Pork, Frey‘s sacred animal, is eaten, with the belief that wishes said over it will be carried to the Gods.
The Anglo-Saxons called December 24 “Mothers Night.” Some Pagans speculate that it was to honor the Disir, the female ancestors; others think that it continues the worship of the popular Celtic-German Matres (“Mothers”), and others connect them with the three Norns, the Norse Goddesses of destiny. Each family is said to have their own Norns, who may be the Disir.
On December 25th ancient Romans celebrated Bruma, the winter solstice. In 273 CE it became the sacred day of Sol Invictus (“Unconquered Sun”), patron of soldiers. Emperor Constantine decreed Sunday a day of rest: “On the venerable day of the Sun let the magistrates and people residing in cities rest, and let all workshops be closed.” Sol Invictus probably was imported from Syria. He is associated with the popular military God imported from Persia Mithras and the date may have become His birthday.
December 31st is commonly the Festival of the Yoruban Orixa Yemaya in Brazil. As the sun sets, people release little boats to the Pacific Ocean. The boats hold flowers, pastries, jewellery, white candles and other gifts to Yemaya.

 

If we’ve missed a traditional Pagan festival please let us know! Include information about the festival and the source of the information.

November Pagan Holy Days Resources

Onje Keon Pierce Gullveig Press logo
Gullveig Press logo design by Onje Keon Pierce

Gullveig Press sends an 18 page detailed polytheist calendar with dates of new (NOT dark) and full moons, Mercury Retrograde and lots of information about other Pagan cultures’ division of the year, month and week to incarcerated prisons for $2.25. But if you are pen pals with a Pagan in prison, you can copy each month’s calendar from this blog, print and mail! It’s usually posted on the 23rd.

Make sure that you included the Introduction to the Calendar so they can understand the Athens calendar, the Julian calendar and have the dates for the new and full moon. Thank you for doing this work for your pen pal!!

Gullveig Press Pagan Festival Calendar by Heather Awen, author of “Steel Bars, Sacred Waters: Celtic Paganism for Prisoners” Gullveig Press, PO Box 126, St Johnsbury, VT 05819, 556 pages, $12 includes shipping.

The Anglo-Saxons called November “blot month.” Blot means “blood” particularly sacrifices, given the deities to thank Them for the harvest season. All of the livestock that would not survive winter were slaughtered and their meat preserved. (In Indo-European cultures, as in West and Central Africa, most deities usually desire the blood “life force” of animals and share the meat with humans in a communal meal.)
The last 10 days of the October-November lunar month, as the moon waned smaller, the region of Greece named Attica held the Pompaia. A procession honored Zeus Meilichios (“Zeus the Kindly”) with a sheep sacrifice. The sheep’s fleece became the Sheepskin of Zeus, highly valued in Magickal purification rites.
The 1st is sacred to the lwas of the Ghede (the dead) and the graveyard: Baron Samedi and Manman Brigitte.
The Fet Ghede (Feast of the Dead) is a Vodou celebration of the ancestors on the 2nd. The Ghede (the dead) are lewd, funny, healing male lwaa. When they possess someone, they rub themselves with burning hot peppers, smoke cigars and wear sunglasses with one lens missing.
On the 11th the Orisha Ellegua is honored in New Orleans Voodoo, especially by business owners and gamblers.
November 13 (or the full moon) is the day of offerings to the central Italian Goddess of freed slaves, Feronia, who also had a temple in Rome. “The Goddess of Freedom” was originally an agricultural Goddess.
That same day Romans worshiped Pietas, Goddess of duty to the deities, Rome and one’s parents. Depicted as a young woman, Pietas was accompanied by a stork.
On November 15 the last powerful Heathen Anglo-Saxon King, Penda, died in battle. Although he worshiped the old deities, Penda believed in the freedom of religion and allowed Christianity in his kingdom.
In Rome on November 15 (or the full moon) was a ritual to Jupiter followed by a banquet.
In Germany when the first snows arrive it is said to be Frau Holle shaking her featherbed.
In New Orleans Voodoo the 22nd is dedicated to the Orisha Oshun, especially Her relationship with musicians.
There may be a connection between the ancient Norse hunting and oath God UllR and Saint Hulbert, whose feast day is November 22.
The 30th is the feast date for the Haitian watersnake lwa Simbi, a powerful but shy magician and herbalist.

 

If we’ve missed a traditional Pagan festival please let us know! Include information about the festival and the source of the information.

October Pagan Holy Days Resource

Onje Keon Pierce Gullveig Press logo
Gullveig Press logo design by Onje Keon Pierce

Gullveig Press sends an 18 page detailed polytheist calendar with dates of new (NOT dark) and full moons, Mercury Retrograde and lots of information about other Pagan cultures’ division of the year, month and week to incarcerated prisons for $2.25. But if you are pen pals with a Pagan in prison, you can copy each month’s calendar from this blog, print and mail! It’s usually posted on the 23rd so it arrives in time sent by snail mail.

Make sure that you included the Introduction to the Calendar so they can understand the Athens calendar, the Julian calendar and have the dates for the new and full moon. Thank you for doing this work for your pen pal!!

Gullveig Press Pagan Festival Calendar by Heather Awen, author of “Steel Bars, Sacred Waters: Celtic Paganism for Prisoners” Gullveig Press, PO Box 126, St Johnsbury, VT 05819, 556 pages, $12 includes shipping.

The Anglo-Saxon name for October translates into “Winter Nights.”
October comes from octo-, meaning 8. When the Roman year started in March, October was the 8th month. This also explains September (7), November (9) and December (10).
Roman Goddess Fides (“Good Faith”) was honored on October 1st (or the new moon). Fides was concerned with faithful relationships between deities and mortals.
The 1st is dedicated to the Orisha Oya in New Orleans Voodoo.
The dark moon of the September-October lunar cycle was the Chalkeia in Athens. Artisans offered baskets of grain to Greek smith God Hephaestus and the patroness of artisans Athene Ergane (“workwoman”). Weaving Athene’s robe for next year’s Panathenaia began.
October 4 is a day of fasting in honor of Roman grain Goddess Ceres. The next day the Pit of Ceres was opened for the second time of the year. The manes (the dead) could leave the Underworld. Businesses closed and weddings and battles were forbidden.
On the 7th Jupiter Fulgur (“Jupiter of daytime lightning”) and Juno Curitis were honored by Romans.
October 9th is the birthday of the Heathen Queen Sigrid the Proud. She refused to convert to Christianity to marry a powerful king, saying others may choose Christianity, but she would continue the religion of her ancestors. He called her a Heathen bitch and tried to kidnap and rape her, but her soldiers defeated him. She swore revenge. She married another king who later would be involved with her former suitor’s death. Heathens honor her commitment to her religion; women honor her for not changing just to get married. She may have been Polish royalty.
The Meditrinalia (“to heal”) on October 11 celebrates the end of Roman grape harvests. The God receiving offerings was probably Jupiter. Ill people made a libation of new and old wine, hoping that tasting it would cure them.
The 15th is dedicated to the Orisha Oya in New Orleans Voodoo.
On October 15 two-horse chariot races were held to honor Mars.
Winter Nights was an important holiday in Iceland, held in October, perhaps on a Thursday near the full moon after the autumn equinox. A blot was held for the Disir (female ancestors and perhaps Valkyries and Goddesses).
Rome held the Armilustrium on October 19 as the war campaign season ended. Mars was honored and the soldiers and their weapons, polluted by having killed other humans, were purified.
In 1st century CE Rome, initiation into the Mystery Religion of Isis took place during October 28-November 3. A beautiful procession was lead by initiates in fancy clothing. A female chorus in white spread flowers on the path. Next came the people carrying torches, then musicians, followed by a youth choir dressed in white. “Make way for the goddess,” Priests and Priestesses yelled. More people already initiated came next, wearing white linen. Men were shaved bald and women wore white silk veils. They rattled a sistrum (a ritual instrument kind of like a metal tambourine). The rituals of the Isia were secret. The devotees probably reenacted Isis’s grief as She searched for Her murdered husband, the green Underworld God of barley Osiris, and then Her joy when She recovered His severed body. With Her Magick Isis put Osiris back together and had sex, conceiving the important God Horus. Like the other Mystery Religions, it guaranteed a deity’s help and a great Afterlife. At an older time Romans prepared a model ship for Isis, Goddess of the life-giving Nile River. Devotees purified the boat with flame, egg, sulfur and chanting. After the boat was filled with gifts, people poured libations of milk and grain into the water. Finally the little ship was put in the water, sailing its gifts to Isis.
Samhain is the Old Irish name for the the New Year, celebrated at the first frost or the evening of October 31 and day of November 1 with much feasting and divination. Samhain may come from the word “assembly” or “summer’s end.” Cattle and their young male protectors returned. Animals that could not be kept over winter were slaughtered and preserved. The dark half of the year began. Remains discovered at ancient British Celtic temples show that animals were sacrificed around Samhain and Beltain. The Gauls acknowledged this time as the new year, too. Called Trinoxtion Samoni (“three nights of Samhain”), it probably became involved with the rebirth festival of Isis of the Roman Empire. Samhain is a transitional time when communication with the spirits is easiest.

 

If we’ve missed a traditional Pagan festival please let us know! Include information about the festival and the source of the information.

Mercury Retrograde (Prisoner Resource)

Onje Keon Pierce Gullveig Press logo
Gullveig Press logo design by Onje Keon Pierce

Gullveig Press sends an 18 page detailed polytheist calendar with dates of new (NOT dark) and full moons, Mercury Retrograde and lots of information about other Pagan cultures’ division of the year, month and week to incarcerated prisons for $2.25. But if you are pen pals with a Pagan in prison, you can copy each month’s calendar from this blog, print and mail! It’s posted around the 23rd because snail mail often takes a week.

This is our Mercury Retrograde section. Print it, mail it and work with it! Your pen pal will probably be especially grateful for this information.

Make sure that you included the Introduction to the Calendar so they can understand the Athens calendar, the Julian calendar and have the dates for the new and full moon. Thank you for doing this work for your pen pal!!

Gullveig Press Pagan Festival Calendar by Heather Awen, author of “Steel Bars, Sacred Waters: Celtic Paganism for Prisoners” Gullveig Press, PO Box 126, St Johnsbury, VT 05819, 556 pages, $12 includes shipping.

What is Mercury Retrograde? From our perspective, 3 times a year it looks like the planet Mercury stops its orbit, moves backwards, stops again and then retraces its orbit to where it was before it appeared to stop at the beginning. Then Mercury resumes its normal orbit until the next Mercury Retrograde.

How does it affect the world? Mercury rules travel, communication, technology, commerce and Magick. During Mercury Retrograde these things become delayed, break or are misunderstood. Phones and computers may not work, mail and paperwork could be lost, money transfers delayed, people misunderstand each other, traffic is worse, flights possibly cancelled, things bought may break or are not as advertised, business slows down and it is generally harder to move forward. Mercury is a fast planet that stays close to the sun. Our society tends to image time as a straight line, always progressing, without any breaks to review or reconnect with the past. But in a society that based on seasonal cycles, Mercury Retrograde can be a blessing.

Tie up loose ends. Review your past decisions and learn from them. Brush up on skills you already have. Meditate without judgement on your psychological and behavioral patterns and their origin. Prepare to prevent possible relapses. Expect delays. Don’t make any major purchases or sign important contracts unless you have already researched them. Don’t expect people to understand you. Ask them repeat what you said back to you. Repeat back to others what you think they said to make sure that you are on the same page. Reread important information. Practice deep breathing with long exhales. Don’t hold your breath. Reconnect with old friends and clients. Organize your paperwork but don’t throw out any until Mercury Retrograde is over. Reschedule meetings about the future if possible. Practice divination about the past. Be mindful of your limits when exercising. Pay attention to dreams and subconscious issues coming out in your behavior or thoughts. Enjoy old hobbies and interests. Practice patience and a sense of humor.

When does it start and end? The dates below cover the official Mercury Retrograde, but there is a “pre-shadow” before and “post-shadow” after. About week before Mercury Retrograde the conditions for that Mercury Retrograde move into place. During the week after, it’s often easier to learn from what happened during Mercury Retrograde.

Dates: October 31 to November 20 2019 * February 2nd to March 30th 2020 * June 18th to July 26th 2020 * September 23rd to November 20th 2020

September Pagan Holy Days Resource

Onje Keon Pierce Gullveig Press logo
Gullveig Press logo design by Onje Keon Pierce

Gullveig Press sends an 18 page detailed polytheist calendar with dates of new (NOT dark) and full moons, Mercury Retrograde and lots of information about other Pagan cultures’ division of the year, month and week to incarcerated prisons for $2.25. But if you are pen pals with a Pagan in prison, you can copy each month’s calendar from this blog, print and mail! It’s usually posted on the 23rd so you have a week for sending by snail mail.

Make sure that you included the Introduction to the Calendar so they can understand the Athens calendar, the Julian calendar and have the dates for the new and full moon.

Thank you for doing this work for your pen pal! Gullveig Press is pretty swamped with projects – we just found an inmate with perfect spelling and grammar who has never used a computer to be our copy editor! While he’s in training and snail mail carries our work back and forth, it’s great that other individuals and groups are helping those in prison who can neither find nor afford decent Pagan resources. You rock!

The Anglo-Saxon name for September translates into “holy month,” possibly due to the many harvests.
The full moon started the very popular Greek Great Mysteries of Eleusis, a secretive initiation of rebirth that guaranteed a good Afterlife. It was based on Greek grain Goddess Demeter’s search for Her daughter Persephone.
On the 7th the Orisha Yemaya is celebrated for easing of sorrow, fertility, nurturing and protection of the home.
During September 6th to the 19th, Jupiter Optimus Maximus was celebrated with the Ludi Romani, the famous games of Rome. On the 13th (or full moon) a sacrifice was made to Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva, whose statues were dressed for the occasion. Tables of food were set before Them. The event was attended by every Senator.
A couple days before the dark moon, one neighborhood of Athens made sacrifices to Gaia, Greek Earth Mother, Hermes, and the nymphs (female nature spirits who are the daughters of Gaia or Zeus).
The 8th is sacred to Orisha Oshun as Our Lady of Charity.
Around the 6th day of the September-October lunar month, Athens may have offered some of the last year’s grain to Demeter before ploughing and sowing again.
Also around this time was a race held for Dionysos, Greek God of grapes and wine.
The 15th is sacred to Haitian lwa of romance and beauty Erzuli Freda.
On the 1st quarter moon of the September-October lunar cycle in Eleusis, Apollon was given sheep, male goat meat and other foods. A new eiresione (a sacred fertility symbol) was made and kept by the front door. An eiresione is an olive branch wound with wool yarn with hanging models of figs, cakes and jars of honey.
The next day Athens made offerings to the legendary Amazons.
After the September rye harvest, Lithuanian women would braid some grain tufts and lay the braid over an offering of bread and salt, saying, “Davei manei, Žemele, duodame ir tau.” (You gave for us, Mother Earth, we are giving for you, too.)

During the days before the full moon in the September-October lunar cycle, Greeks honored Demeter at the Thesmophoria, one of the rare times women could leave home without a male escort. Piglets, pine boughs and bread shaped like snakes and phalluses were offered on the first day. The next day women fasted, then feasted on the third and last day, drinking pomegranate juice. Goddess of a beautiful birth, Kalligeneia, was also worshiped.
Thesmophoria was celebrated throughout the Mediterranean for a long time. In Sicily its Priestesses were older, respectable women from noble families. A month before the rite they offered pigs to Ceres. On the first day of Thesmophoria a procession of women walked to the ritual huts where they stayed during the ritual. A Priestess had gathered the rotting remains of the pigs, which were put on the altar. The women mourned for Persephone. Reenacting Ceres searching for Persephone, the next night they wandered with torches, calling out at crossroads. On the last day they danced and sang and had feast which included phallic-shaped cakes, but forbid pomegranates.
On September 25th the Orisha Obatala of wisdom and purity is often honored in Lucumi.
According to Roman records, a Germanic tribe held a ritual on September 29 dedicated to a Goddess named Zisa in gratitude for victory. Popular theory thinks Zisa is wife of Tyr, who then was the sky father of the Germanic deities.
On the 29th the lwa Damballa Wedo is honored by those involved with Spiritualist Voodoo.
From September 29 to November 10, Latvian dead called Veļi were invited home for a feast. A male elder called the names of all the ancestors who had lived in the house that the living remembered. The spirits were scolded for not having helped the household enough and asked to do better this coming year. Together, the living and dead shared a meal. The dead were then rushed out, the house cleaned and, to protect the living, dirt was thrown in water.

If we’ve missed a traditional Pagan festival please let us know! Include information about the festival and the source of the information.

Pagan Holy Days Calendar (Prisoner Resource)

Onje Keon Pierce Gullveig Press logo
Gullveig Press logo design by Onje Keon Pierce

Hi! Gullveig Press sends an 18 page polytheist calendar to incarcerated Pagans for $2.25. However, if you have a Pagan pen pal in prison, we’d love for you to copy each month’s holidays and send them to your friend! Just tell them it’s from Heather Awen at Gullveig Press, please, and mention Steel Bars, Sacred Waters. (I even put that information at the beginning of the Introduction!) Each month’s calendar will be posted at least a week before the month begins. Snail mail can really sometimes be very slow.

Who needs an introduction to a calendar? Pagans! We’re working with lunar months, the Julian calendar and lots of stuff that doesn’t fit into our Gregorian calendar easily. Someone working with this calendar will need the new and full moon dates, which are at the end of this post.

I got the idea for this large project when someone in prison asked me about some very made-up holidays of Mabinogi deities. Evidently a group of Pagans were sending out a free calendar zine but not explaining that they invented it. It’s great to see other Pagans looking out for our incarcerated members of our community! But I hear the same complaints: Why can’t we get researched, high quality Pagan information? When you send information to people in prison tell them if it’s just your personal way or something your tradition does. If you researched using academic peer -reviewed papers, well-regarded modern polytheists’ blogs and books and history books from several decades, please tell them that the information is subject to change or it’s one theory. Help them understand that scholars constantly find new information and interpret old information in new ways.

The education system utterly failed many of these people which is why donating fiction and graphic novels along with non-fiction serious reading materials gives them a chance. Many are functionally illiterate which means that they can’t get a job that requires filling out an application or read well enough to be promoted to supervisors and other better paying positions.

(Dictionaries are the most requested books in prison. If your pen pal has some trouble writing and reading, consider buying them the inexpensive, new paperback Merriam-Webster Dictionary from Amazon. If mailing to Ohio state prisons, check from where prisoners can receive books since Amazon was banned recently. For all facilities it’s best to check anyway! Prisoners don’t have spell check or Wikipedia so a dictionary is helpful in general.)

If you send books and essays, discuss them in letters. Encourage their opinions and show your critical thinking skills. Ask them questions and show interest in their answers. Most have been convinced that they’re stupid when they just haven’t had anyone pay attention to how they learn and teach more about how to learn.

Introduction

Gullveig Press Pagan Festival Calendar by Heather Awen, author of “Steel Bars, Sacred Waters: Celtic Paganism for Prisoners” Gullveig Press, PO Box 126, St Johnsbury, VT 05819, 556 pages, $12 includes shipping.

There is a Pagan zine listing holy days for deities based on nothing historical. Frankly, the days are made up. The truth is that most ancient Pagan cultures used a lunar calendar AND a solar one. This means that the dates won’t match our calendar.

Ever notice that Jewish and Muslim holy times start on different solar days each year? They still follow traditional lunar calenders. Hinduism does the same. So does Easter. Our ancient Pagan calendars also had lunar festivals that happened at different times each solar year. Plus, each tribe, city or kingdom had their own variations and regional deities. Not all German tribes worshipped Hariasa, but we know She defended the city of Cologne. Each city in Egypt and Greece had their own mythology from before the cities were unified into Empires. In the huge Roman Empire, people often honored the deities of where they were born, the deities of where they had moved and the Imperial deities that everyone celebrated. Multicultural diversity in polytheism is normal.

The lunar year and solar cycle don’t match. It takes about 29 and 1/2 days for the moon to circle the Earth. It takes the Earth about 364 and 1/4 days to circle the Sun. A year of 12 lunar months leaves many days of the solar year not included in a calendar. This was solved kind of like how we fix the difference between our solar calendar and the real amount of time it takes for the Earth to circle the sun: we add an extra day to February each Leap Year. Ancients had their own versions of “Leap Year” usually by adding an extra month. Celtic Gauls in modern France had a five solar year calendar with 29 and 30 day long months. Periodically, an extra month was added so the lunar and solar calendars matched. The only complete Greek calendar we have is from the city-state Athens, which includes an extra month every 3rd, 6th and 8th year.

As in Islam, the Pagan month usually started at the first sighting of the new moon. New moons aren’t dark moons. The new moon is a slight crescent in the sky. The dark moon is the day before that when the moon never appears. Most astrological sources for the new moon actually are dates of the dark moon. The first Roman calendar was lunar and months began at the first sighting of the crescent moon. The first day of the Roman month is sacred to Juno, the Queen Goddess married to Jupiter. Roman holy days originally occurred from the new moon to full moon, never during the waning moon.

This calendar developed into a solar year a lot like the one we currently use. Today’s it’s called the Julian calendar. Juno’s new moon rites were moved to the first day of each solar month. Full moon sacred days were held on the 13th or 15th. Waxing moon rites were held on the 5th or 7th. We know the dates for many Roman festivals on the Julian calendar from the 1st to 3rd centuries CE.

But the Julian calendar was still not a perfect match with the actual solar year. By the late medieval era European nations were off by around 11 days. So, the modern Gregorian calendar with its Leap Year was created. The 2 calendars were 11 days apart. Different places began using the Gregorian calender at different times, causing a bit of chaos. Today we still use the Gregorian calender.

For modern Pagans seeking to worship on the same days as our spiritual ancestors, it can be tricky. Irish manuscripts stating Beltain is May 1st were written by Christian monks using the old, Julian calendar. On our Gregorian calendar Beltain is May 12th. The Anglo-Saxons first used a lunar calendar, but when they converted to Christianity they changed to the Julian calendar. The Germanic names of the Pagan months tell us what cultural events happened when in the year, but the Anglo-Saxon months also don’t exactly match with the months of our calendar.

As if this wasn’t confusing enough, until recently few Europeans other than Christian clergy were able to read. Rural people often relied on natural signs to guide them in timing rituals. The climate is different in different parts of Britain and Ireland, so agricultural events like Beltain probably happened at different times, like when the first hawthrown bush flowered. Other places looked to the stars. In Egypt when Sirius rose, people knew that the life-giving Nile River ruled by Isis would flood. Farmers in Iceland started sowing seeds when the Pleiades rose.

During a solstice the sun appears to stop moving for 3 days. This probably made people very anxious. Solstices were usually celebrated when people actually saw the sun began moving again. On December 25 and June 24 we can see that the sun’s journey has resumed. Evenings of December 24 and June 23 began many solstice celebrations.

Ancient Pagan religions were mostly communal and based on ancient traditions that almost no one questioned. Festivals in rural societies often included political and legal events. Instead of focusing on the individual, originally rites were more concerned with what kept people alive: the community and ecosystem. If Ares blessed His Greek city-state Sparta and you lived in Sparta, you were also blessed. Religion was woven into culture. Removing religion from culture unravels the ancient ways. Due to this, there’s no real way to reenact truly authentic cultural rites.

Many uprooted people in the highly mobile Roman Empire faced the same problem. One popular solution was to be initiated in secretive Mystery Religions. Replacing the old tribal community were the other initiated “brothers and sisters.” Likewise, modern people have created new initiation-based religions like Wicca and Lucumi. Others research and worship old deities, alone and sometimes in rather rare groups. Ancient rites are adapted for today’s culture. Keeping the traditional parts that work for our situation, we continue ancient religions in new variations.

What follows is a calendar based on “around when” ceremonies were held with brief explanations. Even in prison you can usually find ways to participate. Religion, for all its focus on tradition, has always been ever-changing. To stay relevant, religion must adapt to changing cultural norms, ecosystems, governments, trade partners, scientific discoveries, etc, while maintaining its cosmology (worldview).

It’s normal for polytheists to adopt deities from other cultures. The multicultural Roman Empire spread across Europe, the Mediterranean, the Near East and North Africa. Celts, Syrians, Egyptians, German mercenaries, Greeks and other peoples celebrated many Roman festivals and Romans flocked to many imported religions from other lands.

In the 1980s translation began on a 4th century CE Greek collection of Magick from the Greek-Egyptian city of Alexandria. It shocked scholars. Names of Jewish angels, secret titles for Jesus, Greek and Egyptian sacred words, symbols and deities plus parts of the Mystery Religions popular were combined in the spells. Magicians were obviously trading information, creating something new. Today Chaos Magick is similar.

As long as someone fulfills their vows to one religion, they are free to practice another. Ethnicity does not matter! The deities choose us. (New Orleans has a white Jewish vegan Voodoo Queen initiated in Haiti also trained in Western Ceremonial Magick.) Unless a rite is just for the initiated or for only men or women, worship Whomever calls you on the calendar.

The exception is the traditional religions of Native Americans. If you are invited to participate by a respected member of a tribe, that’s fine, but these ancient cultures have been raped and plundered for the benefit of white people for hundreds of years. To take more from people still literally struggling to stay alive and unassimilated into European -American culture is incredibly offensive. Cultural misappropriation pretends to value a culture while ignoring the struggles and values of the culture to make a commodity for money. Other examples include the predominantly white music industry’s treatment of African American artists, yoga classes taught as mere physical exercise without Hindu religious context and books on fictions like “Celtic Shamanism.” People in the dominant culture exploit other cultures for money without even providing financial and other practical support to those whom they’ve ripped off. Don’t be a culture vulture. If you have a traditional healing session or divination consultation with a trained African, Caribbean or Native American, pay the expected fee or what you pay a doctor.

(Today, the issue of men’s and women’s mysteries is being challenged by people born intersex (having or developing male and female genitals) or who identify as non-binary (neither male nor female). Gender was understood differently in other cultures. The Kongo Kingdoms had people Portuguese slavers called male but who demanded they were women. They had been clergy involved with funeral rites. Dahomey sold slaves who the Portuguese considered men who also insisted that they were women and wore women’s clothing. On the southern shores of the Baltic Sea 1st century CE Germanic Priests dressed in women’s clothes. Priests of the Near Eastern Goddess Cybele, in a devotional frenzy, cut off their testicles and penises as a sacrifice to their Goddess and then were dressed as women. The incredibly popular Greek God Apollon has many mythological lovers male and female. Images of people with both breasts and penises are found in Central European Celtic art. Greeks, Celts and other warrior cultures openly celebrated their gay lovers. A Roman Emperor even started a cult for his young, dead male lover that continues to have followers today. The participation of the LGBTQIA community is firmly established in ancient Paganism. However you gender or sexually identify, you’re welcomed by the majority of Pagans on the outside.)

The dates dedicated to the Orishas/ Orixas and lwas may differ from house to house. The dates honor Catholic Saints with whom West African spirits were secretly associated, but not everyone used the same Saints.

2019-2020 New & Full Moons The Dark Moon is the day before the New Moon. Remember that the new moon was determined by when it was first sighted. The new moon dates here obviously have not yet been seen by anyone because they are in the future. However, they should be a good prediction of when a Priest would see the first crescent moon if the sky was clear. During the full moon police and hospitals report more crime and accidents.

New Sat August 3 2019, Full August 15
New Sun September 1 2019, Full September 14
New Mon September 30 2019, Full October 13
New Wed October 30 2019, Full November 12
New Thu November 28 2019, Full December 12
New Sat December 28 2019, Full Jan 10 2020
New January 25 2020, Full February 9 2020
New February 24, Full March 9 2020
New March 25, Full April 8 2020
New April 24, Full May 7 2020
New May 23, Full June 5 2020
New June 22, Full July 5 2020
New July 21, Full August 3 2020
New August 20, Full September 2 2020
New September 18, Full October 1 2020
New October 17, Full October 31 2020
New November 16, Full November 30 2020
New December 15, Full December 30 2020

Lockdown & Shakedown: What This Means for Pen Pals

Toin Adams
by Toin Adams “I am Looking for the Face I had before the World was Made.” Used with permission.

If you haven’t heard from your pen pal in a while, you can call the warden’s office and ask if their building is on lockdown. (The phone number will be available online if you search for the facility.)

Lockdown means that inmates cannot leave their cells except for the group showers. Your pen pal is unable to go to the Commissary to buy paper, envelopes or stamps. This leaves your pen pal with whatever they have in their cell for writing you until lockdown is over. If your pen pal trades art, cleaning other inmates’ cells, girlie pix, tattooing, etc for stamps, etc, they can’t continue work until the lockdown is over and other inmates have been able to shop at the Commissary. People hoard more and trade less in lockdown.

Food is usually brought in a paper bag, like 2 peanut butter sandwiches, with the peanut butter often diluted 50% with deadly hi-fructose corn syrup. This is made worse because they cannot buy snacks. Also, all activities are cancelled, including going outside or making telephone calls. (Medical appointments usually still happen, however.)

Lockdown and shakedown are performed regularly to check for contraband like drugs and cell phones. If there was a murder or other violence, lockdown is often immediate while the situation is investigated. The contraband being sought is often weapons.

During lockdown your pen pal can receive mail and, if they have the means, they may send mail. However, remember that they cannot buy anything including stamps and paper. Because lockdown is so boring, it’s often a good time to send a book, printed blog posts or photocopied magazine articles.

Lockdown is a common occurrence and it can last for weeks. During lockdown, C.O.s (correctional officers) will search every cell. This is the shakedown. Sometimes the inmates can stand aside as their belongings are thrown on the floor, often damaging the few family photos or letters they have. Mattresses are flipped over and items in lockers swept to the ground. It’s a serious process, as C.O.s have a lot of places to search for contraband. After just one shakedown, things can become broken like inmate-bought radios and fans.

The process can be even slower if a prisoner becomes upset with seeing their valuables harmed. It’s a normal response; after all, how would you react to someone going through all you own like it’s worthless? Pepper spray may be used on the upset prisoner, which tends to travel into other cells. My pen pal had tear gas in his cell 4 times in one week due to C.O.s using it on others.

Other times shakedowns involve having inmates choose what they can carry out of their cells. What they can’t carry, like expensive text books or work boots, is thrown away by the C.O.s searching the cells for contraband. Obviously prisoners with disabilities are at a real disadvantage if they can’t carry much. Once the prisoner is out of the cell, they often wait in a line with other prisoners with what they carried. The C.O.s will go through their belongings. It’s often rushed and rough, so again photos are torn, fans damaged and your letters could be scattered around the floor with the belongings of other inmates. It’s not uncommon for things to be lost.

Pagans often lose their shrine and altar goods. The homemade prayer beads or a tiny pebble are confiscated. Altar cloths are stepped on and origami broken. These can be irreplaceable and leave your pen pal without any visual or tactile reminders of their religion.

Just like when transferred, during shakedown expect your pen pal to have lost important belongings like a drawing board, fan, all toiletries, books and your past letters. It’s NOT a scam and it doesn’t mean that your gift of a magazine subscription or a beautiful drawing was not incredibly precious to them just because they have lost them. They didn’t have much choice. Artwork they’ve been working on will be crumpled and snacks crushed under boots. It’s a time of stress because it usually comes with loss. Deciding what to take out of the cell is very difficult and frustrating.

Afterwards, your pen pal probably has to wait in line for the Commissary. Many items might be sold out. What little money they have probably must go to replacing their fan in 110° heat, or buying soap, lotion, shampoo and toothpaste, or stocking up on snacks. They’ll be depressed about what was lost and may not tell you or know how to tell you if it was a gift. You may have sent them the greatest Wiccan book they’ve ever read and it’s the nicest thing anyone has done for them in years. Still,  it’s often difficult to tell you that it’s gone. Pen pals tend to try to be “upbeat” especially in the beginning because they don’t want to scare you off with their real emotions. Also there’s a lot of pressure in prison to not be “soft” and complain.

Your pen pal might be anxious that you’re angry they have not written and not know what to say. A lot of prisoners don’t like to discuss prison because, frankly, it sucks. Having to explain shakedown can feel risky, like you’ll realize that they are in prison or bore you and you will leave. Or they can’t figure out a way to explain a shakedown without sounding upset and ruining their laidback cheerful facade. And because it happens so often, they may be tired of thinking about it and write you to get away from the stress of prison.

If it was a murder or other violent crime that caused the lockdown, you may want to help your pen pal process their feelings. You may be upset that a kid with a 10 year sentence for drug possession is dead, angrily saying “It was not supposed to be a death sentence!” You might worry about if your pen pal is in danger.

Unfortunately, your pen pal usually cannot mention anything more about the death or violence. As you know, all your mail is read. In times like this, it’s read more closely. Just expressing fear, anger or grief in a letter could lead to your pen pal being interrogated by the prison staff who are seeking suspects. After returning from interrogation, other prisoners who were involved may not trust your pen pal. Your pen pal is now at risk from both the staff and other inmates.

Often your pen pal will suspect that a lockdown is coming soon. That’s why they’re scrambling to stock up on necessities. They’re telling you that you may not hear from them for a while. You can and should keep writing – this is a really boring time. Tell them in advance that you are sorry if anything is lost or damaged in the shakedown. It’s easier if you bring things up and set the tone sometimes. They tend to follow the emotional rules of the person who has the most power, which is you.

 

Gullveig Press does not support whatever WordPress is selling. Please ignore the ads and take a breath, center yourself and listen to what your body needs right now.