Dec 24, 2012

Pine, the fresh and powerful cleanser

Pine is  the term referring to group of plant species, always trees  ( sometimes shrubs   ) , with evergreen , metamorphosed leaves,   or "needles" ( aciculae ) . Now in essence Pines, have four type of foliage,  but the two are impermanent , and  last  two are not photosynthetic,  hence, for a magickal practitioner, herbalist, it’s more than enough to be familiar with needles only. We say  Pines are evergreen, which would translate to – keep their foliage during the winter,  and do not ever reject their foliage. While techincaly, this is correct, Pines do reject and and renew their foliage,  but they do it constantly, hence they always have equal amount of photosynthetic foliage.

They grow fairly tall, they can grow up to 50 meters, Siberian pine and few other species even more.  They are monoecinous ( Individual, in this case plant has both reproductive units, male and female  )  , mostly with thick, hard bark . They are coniferous, meaning the seeds are contained in cones, couple of seeds in each scale of the cone, scales spirally arranged around a base in cone. This, well - known cone is however female cone, one that can take 2 or 3 years to mature, whereas male cones are smaller, and less permanent. To a laymen they may not appear as cones at all, they are  most often located as single formations on the  top of the branch, and they contain pollen. After the pollination they   fall  off,  and  hardly ever endure more than one year, in fact  they mostly remain for few months. Female cones are used prominently in magick, unlike the male ones, and also in cuisine, where the seeds are used. 

Pines are cosmopolites, they are spread all over the world, although predominantly on Northern hemisphere, they are resistant, often xeromorphic,  or adapted to the cold climate.  They prefer more acidous soil, as opposed to most of the deciduous trees. They make a significant part of  desert, Mediterranean, and mountain flora.  Pines ( gen. Pinus )  are part of  subfamily Pinoideae in family Pinaceae. In New Zeland and Australia,  typical species of the  Pinaceae family, do not occur,  there are several species speculated to be native in Australia, but this is highly debatable. Most of them are  allochtonous, or simply  part of decorative dendrofolora (  woody plants, trees or shrubs ), or are industrially grown.

Where I am ( Eastern Europe, Mediterranean area )  common species include: Pingus nigra , Pinus Mugo (  Mountain Pine ) , Pinus silvestris ( so called Scots pine ), Pinus peuce ( with five needles in one group ), Pinus halepensis, Pinus Pinaster ( “marine” Pine ) and few other species. Others  species  that are present are not indigenous. If You are anywhere on the Northern hemisphere, You should have some of theose as part of Your country’s flora, and You should   have no troubles in attaining  the needles at all.  Just don’t confuse them with other in the  class Pinidae, which  also have needles , such as Spruce or Fir, for  in magick , while they may share  few properties here and there, they are certainly not used interchangeably. Pine needles are used in healing ( amazing for inhalation and treating all sort of respiratory diseases , mostly used in form of essential oil  ) and the wood makes great material for making wooden structures, furniture and so on. The hospitals that specialize in treating respiratory tract  conditions are often set in Pine forest,  as the pine essential oil has showed strong antibacterial and possible antiviral   properties, and is fungicide as well. Pines  also make a secondary source for camphor.

Magickal use of Pine

Pine needles, cones, bark and even sawdust are prominently used in magick. Pine has cleansing, protective, healing , exorcism, money drawing properties, and is sometimes,  due to  it’s cones and fact that is evergreen, associated with fertility and longevity.  

It’s use in Hoodoo might have been imported either from the Indian ( Native American ) prominent use of pine as spiritual cleanser, or from European Herbalism. 

Pine cone was  the symbol originally present  on top of  Hermes’ caduceus  , and the large Pine cone  is can be seen in Vatican , in Cortille Belvedere [1] Pine cones also symbolize fertility, abundance and protection. According to old European lore, eating one pine seed per day, from Pine  cone collected at Midsummer would ensure  immunity to fire weapons,  immortality or at least longevity.   If You wish to dispose of some old cone used in magick, You can burn it, and plant the seeds J

Branches of pine were used to clean the house and doorsteps, physically and spiritually the same time.  Crosses were sometimes fashioned out of these and hung  around the house for protection.  They were hung  above   beds  of s the ick, or placed bellow  them, to speed up the healing process ,  or contain epidemics.

In Japan, branches are hung above the entrance doors “to ensure the continual joy within” [2]  

In Hoodoo, Pine is often burned  to exorcise, and cleanse the dwellings, mixed with Camphor when extremely strong work is required, or in Cast off Evil formulas.  A respected Hoodoo author  suggests  this amazing substitution for Chinese wash, If You happen to lack it, which is made from Pine scented detergent to which some Van Van condition oil has been added [3] I’d  add some salt  too, perhaps.  Pine scent is believed to  be money drawing in Hoodoo, and baths and headwashes made with Pine leafs heal mental troubles and affections.

Here are few ways to employ the pine needles in magick:

Incense for exorcism  of negative energy and spirits
      ·         Pine sawdust  or/and resin
      ·         Very small amount of Camphor
      ·         Frankincense tears

Burn to disturbed places to exorcise them of evil.    

Also  here is a wonderful  “Charm for eternal youth”[4]  written by Valerie Worth,  presented  here for Your convenience ,

For more of beautiful spells like this , get the her book “Crone’s book of Charms & Spells”

 Mental affliction healing bath

Simple, but powerful  bath, that can be used as headwash as well, in order to  magickaly heal mental afflictions, disorder s, confusion and bring clarity:

·         Pine needles
      ·         Sage leafs
      ·         Bay Laurel leaf ( just a few shall suffice )
      ·         Rosemary  twig
      ·         Some Lavender flowers
      ·         Some Blessed Salt mixed with Crushed Laundry Bluing
      ·         A spoon of Holy water or Florida water

Make infusion from the Pine needles, Sage leafs,  Bay Laurel, Rosemary and Lavender , add salt with some Laundry Bluing,  and Holy water, or  Florida  water ,  and use to bathe and wash head.
Enjoy the upcoming New Year and may it bring all the best to You , and If You wish to  prepare Yourself spiritually, as well as  take use of the holiday energy in the best way  You may want to   read my posts on "New year supertitions and belifs" and   about "New  year spells and  rituals"
Thank You for reading G'd bless You   !
a small token of gratitude for all that kind enough to read my rumblings :
To find out more about 72 names of G'd ( Shem-ha-mephorash  ) and what is this particular name used for ( it has lot to do with the holiday spirit ) You can go here :

NOTES: This article was written and composed by myself , should You desire to use any part of it elswhere  online, add credits, Shadow of Shadow's magick place,, or a direct link to the post
[2] According to Cunningham, Scott, stated in “Cunningham’s encyclopedia of magickal plants”  , 205th pag
[3] Yronwode, Catherine  as stated in her work: “Hoodoo Herb and Root magick, a material magica of African American Conjure”
[4] Worth, Valerie, “Crone’s book of  Charms  & Spells”, 92nd, and 93rd page , 2008 Llewellyn publications,  used  for educational  and illustrative purpose , without   any ill will of whatsoever
IMAGE CREDITS: Images used in the "Charm for eternal youth" by Valeerie Worth  are from and  Wikipedia and are edited by myself. The botanical illsutration of the Pine is from used here for explanatory purposes  without any ill will. Kabbalistic name of G'd ( 12th )  is from used without any ill will,   for blessings and benefit of   all that wish to use  it

Dec 14, 2012

Working with St Nicholas of Myra

Icon, showing St Nicholas, and Lord Jesus and Theotokos
alluding to Divine Intervention , that was said to
had allowed St. Nicholas to take participation in
Council of Nice. Note how he holds the Bible, another
common motive in St. Nicholas iconography
The Archbishop of Myra, the Wonderworker, as alternatively   reffered, St Nicholas, is a widely venerated and worshiped Saint.  Both by Catholics, Orthodox, as well as some other Christian groups . We can say with certainty he was a 4th century spiritual figure, but the exact date of his birth and exact year  of his death cannot be claimed with certainty .   The name Nicholas ( form Greek “nike” and “loas”) could be translated as “victory of the people” [1] or more accurate “victorious for the people” . A benefactor and protector of the meek and needy, Saint Nicholas earned  worldwide fame and served as inspiration of the mythical figure of Santa Claus.

However,  actual, factual information about the life of St Nicholas  are little and scattered.  The most commemorated event among Christian folk is his death ( 6th or 19th December depending on the Calendar  ) but  at least two more dates are dedicated to St. Nicholas , May 9th the day when his relic were transferred, and  July 29th which is the day that commemorates it’s  date of birth [2]


Saint Nicholas was born in Province Lycia,  Asia Minor, in the city of Patara, form wealthy and pious parents  ,  whose names  differ  depending on source . In Orthodox Christianity, they were most known as Teophanus and Nonna.  Even as a young man, he was expressing great gifts or sympathy and empathy, and was egger towards  Christian spiritual tradition, he was pious and kind .  He went with pilgrims  to Egypt, and was subsequently consecrated as Archbishop , near the end of the IV  centur y . He was first taught Christianity by his namesake uncle and they got to seminary school  together,  all that occurring before him becoming and archbishop of course.

 St Methodius, Patriarch of Constantinople   had written  a hagiography   of Saint Nicholas, somewhere  in middleage , but readily admitted  that due to lack of sources, many of St Nicholas related information, may  simply be part  of  body of legend/s   related to this Saint.   The legend  of St Nicholas, giving away some of his inheritance for the dowry of three unfortunate daughters, is the most historically supported one.

He was imprisoned during the persecutions of Diocletian and released by Constantine after his ascension to emperor. Nicholas was noted for his defense of Orthodoxy against the Arian s . [3]   But even while being imprisoned St Nicholas was said to had  taught  and spread the word of Lord voraciously.  Upon liberation he of course continued to do the same, and was even for life considered a Saint, by many pious people, that prayed to him while he was alive! [4] Furthermore, according to Christian legends and lore,  he was able to  hear   and  head all the prayers  directed  to him even while alive!

Many sources place St Nicholas on Council of Nice, as participant , even though he  is not listed  in official documents of this council. It is speculated that it was so due  his act of slapping the Arian, an heretic, which he did out of the passion with which  he defended the true teachings of Christianity.  Nevertheless he can historically be placed in Nice, at the time Council was held.

Legends and Lore

The host of legends  is surrounding St Nicholas’s life and miracles, but probably the most famous, and one historically supported is one regarding poor man from Patara, and his three daughters.  The old mad had no ways of procuring dowry  for them, and back  than it pretty much meant they would   not be able to  get  married. Taking in consideration that they were poor, the most likely fate  that was expecting these girls  would be becoming  prostitutes. Some version of the legend even say their dad was getting ready to sell them into slavery.  St Nicholas upon hearing of this,   gave girls three bags of golden coins ( according to some version three larger lumps of gold )  and he did it secretly, wanting to remain anonymous in his benefaction. In any case, girls were saved from  the unfortunate  future, threatening to become  their doom. Many version of the legend speak of St Nicholas throwing  gold down the chimney ( sounds familiar ? lol ) and doing so for three consecutive nights. According to some versions of the legend the third girl    , had hung    her socks  insided of the chimney to dry them, and the gold feel in  one of them, and when the girl took of the sock, and found the gold, she was thrilled . This had more than likely lot to do with the modern day custom of   hanging the socks up by the fireplace on Christmas eve.

Artistic depiction of legend according to which St. Nicholas
had ressurected  the three unfortunate  boys
Another legend speaks of certain island being struck by famine,  and  an evil butcher,  who lured some children ( according to other versions three Young men, or three clerks )  into his home ( in some versions Clerks or youngmen asked to spend the night at his house ) where he slaughtered them , tore their bodies apart, and intended to sell them off as ham.  Saint Nicholas was said to be visiting the region to care for the hungry, as he was known  be doing,   and seeing the butcher   came to know his horrible crime.  Hence, he resurrected the children/young men/clerks, who were according to one  version of the legend about to end up in meat pies :S

`St Nicholas was, and is associated with sailors and sailing and is therefore a patron of such. While he was  alive, he was known to travel a lot from one place to  other quite often, and a common mean of transpiration for him was ship.   Many legends speak of him delivering sailors and ships from storms and sinking.

After his liberation by emperor Constantine, St Nicholas  decided to itinerate the holy places and monasteries and  during his traveling to mount   Athos, he saved a ship from sinking via means of prayer. Once, traveling to Lycia, St Nicholas hired a men to take him with his prow ( ship ) there, and paid him as much as the men asked.   The men was scrupulous and ordered sailors not  go to Lycia afterall, while of course, keeping the money. At the points  powerful  winds rose and turned the   ship in  direction of Lycia. No matter how hard the sailors tried to get their initial course back, the wind would overpower them easily, so in the end the ship made it to Lycia, and St Nicholas disembarked   safely and promptly. [5]

Another legend  speaks  of   some pirates, whose ship got caught in the storm,  on their way back from Egypt. Deperate, they’ve fallen to their knees praying to St. Nicholas, begging  him to save them from what had  undoubtedly  awaited them,  death in the sea.  St. Nicholas miraculously appeared, taken the rudder,  drove the ship on safety, and disappeared. When they arrived to the land,  they saw their savior and started thanking  him, but St. Nicholas replied that they should thank the Good Lord, for he ( saint Nicholas   )  is merely sinner and human, like all the rest. He then proceeded  to teach  them  that there are better “lifestyles” than being pirates. [6]

He  is also known to  have saved  up to three innocent man from execution, on at least two occasions.

Another legend speaks of miraculous multiplication of the wealth ( symbolic of wealth ) that had occurred ,  because St. Nicholas promised it will. The story speaks of famine in Myra (311-312 ) and ship   that happened to be at port, at the moment,  which was supposed to deliver wheat to emperor in Constantinople.  Saint Nicholas asked for some wheat for the  starving people,  and sailors finaly gave in, though reluctantly in fear of the emperor’s reaction. They were calmed by the promise of St. Nicholas that they will be fine, and shall not suffer any kind of loss for their consideration,   and they’ve later discovered that all the wheat ( extremely large amounts )  they donated was miraculously restored.

Patronage and folk Cult

Relics of St Nicholas are preserved in Italy, in Bari, where two churches ( one Catholic , one Orthodox ) are erected In his favor.  Part of the relics, can be found in Venice ( Lido ) as well.

Miraculous  relics were know in Myra to  exude a clear watery fluid, that smells like Rosewater and is called “manna” ( sometimes also Myrrh ), and they are continue doing  so in Bari.  This liquid is collected each 6th of December , for the Saint’s  sarcophagus,  by clergy of  the Basilica, and can be purchased in nearby shop . Religious folk widely believe it has wondrous  healing, and blessing  properties.

In Italy,  Russia  as well as Balkan Peninsula, Saint Nicholas  is  piously venerated Saint, and  an “every day/thing go-to Saint” , that  religious folk confide in. In Albania, Catholic Albanians even swear in St Nicholas name, although I personally find swearing using Saint or G’d name being tad disrespectful.  People who do it, don’t see it that way though.  In Russia , nearly every Church and/or Temple/ Monastery  have a  section dedicated to Saint Nicholas.  In Balkan Peninsula ( mainly Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia, and  possibly some parts of Bosnia, as well as Diaspora people all over the peninsula ) he is  a Saint  worshiped as feast Saint ( a patron saint , celebrated as such on his feast days by specific families )  and a namesake Saint of many individual s, although all  Orthodox Christians are very keen on addressing to Saint Nicholas in times of need for healing, deliverance from trouble, injustice, poverty and so on.

In modern world Saint Nicholas got to be associated  with Santa Claus,  as he was well-known to be very generous, especially to  the children. 

His, secular title of “Santa Claus” might  have originated from  immigrants of Germanic and Nordic lands who  settled in the United States, and  the image of St. Nicholas, or "Sinterklaas," as he is known among the Dutch, slowly changed to that of "Santa Claus" with little tie to the spirituality of Christianity. [7]

 Saint Nicholas is considered to be patron Saint of sailors, children, student and poor people, single women, brewers and distillers, unwed mothers, merchants.

 Working with Saint Nicholas

Saint Nicholas is said  to  be very promptly in answering to those in need, and with  reasonable , heartfelt prayers. Russian people  often have home altars dedicated to St. Nicholas, so  when the problem/s arise/s  , they light a candle  in front  of his image and pray to him.  Some among the most creative ways to work with this Saint, in form of spellwork or folk rituals, or simple prayers are done on his Feast day 6th/19th December.

·         For example, as a kid I was taught the simple folk ritual, pretty well known here. The ritual says that on St Nicholas feast day You have to do three good deeds, than just before midnight write three wishes on a piece of paper  and place them nearby St Nicholas’s image or  beneath a candle dedicated to him.

·         Another custom, similar in methodology calls for three oranges , that are symbolic of  gold pieces St Nicholas secretly gifted girls from legend with, to be given to three people , sometimes alongside socks, or slippers, which are also considered to be ideal gift for people on St Nicholas’ feast day or Christmas.  It is believed that people on St. Nicholas should get some  new clothing item to entice the luck , and socks , slippers and shoes were for some reason believed to be ideal choice.

·         To increase Your money, particularly If You are really in need try  this simple jar spell : In a glass jar place some  coins,  preferably from various currencies ( let’s say Dollars, Pennies, Euros  ) , add 3 smaller Orange or tangerine peels and a handful of wheat.  Throw in finally a parchment with Your request where You have  written why You need money, and If You wish a prayer to St. Nicholas. If You have, add some Pyrite chips or dust as well, smallest  pinch will suffice.  Pray over the jar. Then close the lid, place a candle atop of the jar, dedicate it to Saint Nicholas ,and  affix image of St. Nicholas  on the outside  of the jar. Light the candles and once again say You prayers. When the candle burns all the way down , place candle somewhere elevated , yet secluded place near where You spend  most time.

A prayer that could be used in working with petitioning Saint Nicholas may be as follows:

Glorious Nicholas, my own protector! from that bright throne where thou dost enjoy the vision of thy God, in pity turn thine eyes upon me; ask for me from God those graces and helps most seasonable in my present necessities, whether spiritual or temporal, and especially the grace of . . . . . . if such be expedient for my eternal welfare. Forget not, glorious and holy bishop, our Sovereign Pontiff, the holy Church, and this pious city. Bring back to the right way of salvation those who live steeped in sin, or buried in the darkness of ignorance, error, and heresy. Comfort the sorrowing, provide for the needy, strengthen the weak-hearted, defend the oppressed, help the sick; let all know the effects of thy powerful patronage with Him Who is the supreme giver of all good. Amen

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be to the Father.

V. Pray for us, blessed Nicholas.
R. That we may made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray:

God, Who has honored, and ceasest not daily to honor, Thy high-priest and glorious confessor, blessed Nicholas, with innumerable miracles: grant, we beseech Thee, that, by his merits and prayers, we may be delivered from the fires of hell and from all other dangers. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Devotional oil for St Nicholas

Considering the hagiography of St. Nicholas, I’d make oil devoted to him in this manner:

·         Rinds or three Oranges ( does not have  from whole Oranges though )
      ·         Half a teaspoon of the Wheat (  seeds  )
      ·         OPTIONAL: Pyrite  chips  or Gold scrapings
      ·         All in base of Olive oil ( let’s say 20-30ml or around 1 fl oz )

Place the oil on the Bible, and let it sit for at least three days. If You are to  make the oil by warming it in double boiler, You are to place oil  on Bible when finished. You can scent it with Orange essential oil, and You can add Vitamin E capsule, or some Benzoin  to preserve the oil.

Giving thanks

I could not  find any concrete info on spiritual work with St. Nicholas, other than  mentioned folk rituals and beliefs and various   Christmas  customs and traditions in modern age. Above given are my suggestions on how to work with the Saint, and so are the following suggestions for giving thanks :

As we have seen, in the folk rituals included above St Nicholas likes charity and gift giving,  and the Orange fruits are traditionally associated with him. Hence, You can place some oranges or wheat on his altar, and donate money to charity, or people in need, anonymously, or bye some poor kid a toy, visit  some orphanage and play with kids  there, and give the small presents ( like oranges ) and maybe also light a candle for the Saint, after Your petitions have been fulfilled. You can donate  churches and temples  dedicated to him.  

Check also how to work with St.Barbara the Protomartyr, as another of "december's Saints"
Many Blessings , Shade :)

This article was written and composed by myself, therefore should You decide to use any part of it elsewhere, feel free, but do add credits; Shadow of shadows magick place, or a direct link to this post

[1] Translation as given on Wikipedia’s page on St Nicholas, here :
[2] according to :
[3] quoted from same source as under [2]
[4] according to teaching of Russian and Serbian   Eastern Orthodox Church
[5]   Translated , edited and adopted from “Kalendar z a Srecne Dane” ( lit. Calendar  for happy days ) by Jasna Jojic Pavlovski,   famous Serbian anthropologist and folklorist
[6] As under [5]
[7]  According to on Orthodox wiki’s page on St Nicholas,
[8] Prayer is from : used for educational purposes  without any ill  will

 First image from:, other is from :

both used for illustrative and explanatory purposes merely, without any ill will


Dec 9, 2012

Sol Invictus, Yule and magick

This post I dedicate to my dear, supportive friend Pagan Star :)
Many Blessings my dear
The period between Samhain and Yule  was often referred by Pagans as “death period” or “dead time”.  Not an unjustified statement If You ask me, considering people had seen Samhain as “the end of the year” even   prior to Pagan religions, and also  they had been observing Winter Solstice  as the start of the New Year. Period in between was undefined, dark, often ( weather related ) cruel , with no  celebrations or festivities.  In occultism, that would make it an ideal time for learning from mistakes, cleansing of sin, and all the bad emotion n s, confronting our “inner demons”. Not an easy task, at all, but a needed one, for cleansed , be it “with fire”, through this period, would left human  relatively pure, and thus properly prepared for the Solstice and the period  when the Sun was believed to be “reborn” .

Cleansed like that,  repented and renewed, human being would be ready  to “take on some new resolutions”  , which  being  a mundane “ritual” taken too lightly and superficially sometimes.   And the Winter Solstice, Yule , Sol Invictus part of Saturnalia, call it whatever, is certainly, from an occult perspective best time for resolutions, amendment and gift giving and receiving .   Catholic Christians and Orthodox Christians that follow younger ( Julian ) Calendar also commemorate this day  , as the day when the our Lord Christ, savior of all human had been born. For Christians, Christmas and Easter  are the most  joyful holidays of all.

Time when the Sun regains dominion and the time of madness in Rome

Roman festivity of Saturnalia evolved from a single to few  days lasing  celebrations , to almost a week session   of celebration.  The 17th of December , had  however been reserved  to  be the main,  public merriment,   that  served to release Roman people of all their inhibitions, laws and constraints,  and allow situations and events that otherwise would never take place in Ancien t Rome, of If they would have, they’d been severely punished.  All the stigmas , taboos,  could be discarded on that day, and people could do what they  felt like. Even gamble! 

See playing what we nowadays popularly  known as “crap-games”  or  “dicing” ,   were extremely tabooed or at very least seen  as reason for social excommunication , of those that would  have take n participation in such.  Stakes could have been anything from nuts and coins, to vows and promises . On Saturnalia even the slaves could play!  And that is not all slaves could do on such day. They were permitted to talk back, disobey the masters,    and in some cases slaves would have also assume  the role of the master!  They were allowed to sit at the table with their masters, and enjoy the rare privilege of feasting with them. What more they were often  served by  slave owners  themselves, albeit the food would have still been  cooked by slaves. These, home-held festivities, could have been “prolonged” and would be done on 18th and 19th  ( latter also known as Opalia, devoted to Saturn’s consort Opa )   of December   ,  which were  days for domestic celebrations of Saturnalia.

After the central religious celebrations  of Saturnalia ( such as Ritus  Graecu s ) public celebrations would occur. Mostly in form of public banquets , the so called “convivum publicum”. Anyone could have attended, more so because Saturnalia was free labor day, no one  had to work.  Not even in courts justice had been administrated, and no war declaration/s could have been made on Saturnalia.  Public merriment included lots of food, drink, music , dancing, sometimes  costuming and pranks. The king of Saturnalia  had also been appointed, so called   Saturnalis Princeps,  who would rule on guided  by silly ideas , whims  , and  making people do  simple or stupid and ridiculous tasks.   Being chosen, and “crowned” by mass, it’s safe to assume that it had been some popular person in  question, and  suffices to illustrate with the example that ( at that point  ) future King Nero “held the title” on one occasion . People would go following King on streets, yelling : “Io Saturnalia”  a traditional greeting of the holiday , would dance, drink,  and according to few historians (  those considered “not so politically correct  ) orgies and promiscuous behavior were a common sight.  Even among same gender people. These were held traditionally after 3rd day of Saturnalia , and were associated with Bacchus ( Dionisian cult )  and modeled after their bacchanalias.

Three Wise Men , following star that lead the to
the birthplace of the Lord Christ
As we can see, all these “customs” have   been adopted even nowadays ( even the promiscuous behavior part lol ) , most of them more than likely being adopted from Ancient Greeks,  anyhow.  Which means, Christians did not “stole” any  part of Pagan tradition ( note that most people claiming this are New-Age oriented Pagan and Wiccans , with minor exceptions ) for these are part of “mundane” not religious or spiritual celebration of Equinox. Another thing Pagans of any kind certainly did not “invent” Equinox and Solstices celebrations, for those predate  vastly all known Pagan religions, and were commemorated in some form   along with the appearance of animism and totemism, If not sooner, in primordial human society.  The messeage I tried to send with those is simple, New Agers , try not to give a bad name to proper Pagans. I know quite a few, they are great friends of mine, and I am a Christian. I enjoy their mythos and  lore, and we do not fight over “copyrights” on spiritual practice. Now    that my little rant us done  proceeding with,  Siggilaria,  and Sol Invictus or the very Winter Equinox celebration in  ancient Rome:

Siggilaria,  day for sharing and gifts

Siggilaria  was a  ancient Roman,  holiday befalling on  23rd of the December and  it’s one of the models for New Age ( among people of Catholic folk also Christmas  )  tradition of gift  exchange.   High value ( priced, expensive ) gifts were acceptable, but the best gifts were considered to be pottery or wax figurines called Siggilaria, that were inexpensive, but depicted well the spirit of  mentioned traditions.  Pieces of clothes, spoons, knives, forks, knucklebones ( for making dices, as these  were considered lucky, much like in Hoodoo, today )  and other alike items were good examples of gifts. Bosses would  help,  with money their  “less ( well ) situated” workers and  customers. Another tradition that continues today,  or at least it   should.  

Although traditionally set on Sigillaria, gift giving and exchange tradition, was sometimes, moved to aftermath of the feast slaves could participate in ( feast meal for slaves, mentioned prior in text ) , and sometimes handing the gifts was followed by recitation of the poem, or the poem would  be written and attached to the  gift in some  appropriate way. This could have  been somewhat a precursor      for gift card tradition, nowadays also a comercionalist’s   favorite  custom ;) 

Sol  Invictus  and Yule

Sol invictus  , was in most  parts of the Roman empire celebrated on 25th of December,   what was considered to be Winter Solstice , and was thus a holiday dedicated to Sun , and it’s light.  Also a date sacred to Roman deity Saturn , all of his aspects (  Benevolent and malevolent  ) , and his consort/s such as Opa, Lua and his associates such as Dis Pater ( Roman version of Pluto, Underworld ruler ) and so on. Mithraists   thought it’s a holiday associated with “freeing of souls into immortality”, the belif probably being influenced   by Porphyry’s  ( Neoplationian philosopher )  writings

Sol invictus was associated with Sun, and idea of Sun being monotheistic in a way ( so called solar “monotheism” ) , universal  in most , if not all pagan religions, not officially recognized as deity on itself,  but in  a way worshiped nevertheless. On this day, Sun was starting to “grow once again, bringing victory over dark, cruel and cold part of the year, period of  darkness and death. Hence why the candles were / are often lit on this day, to help Sun become stronger again , beacon the Sun or Simply  greet it.  Mythraic mysteries  saw it as the Dies Natalis Solis Invicti  which would freely translate “Birthday of the invincible Sun” , and   that  according to some scholars and  common people speculations,   influenced Christian’s Christmas tradition. Once again, I respectfully disagree, because   most of the celebrations adopted are not part of Christian teachings, despite the fact Christians people may adopt and practice them.  The fact that Christmas or Nativity falls on the 25th December is indeed  an intentional act of Christian Church,  which serves to prevent Christian  folk from “overdoing” with what were Pagan customs, however that does not have anything to do with Non Christian population.  Furthermore according to that very same logic,  Pagans stole and corrupted original Equinox  commemorations which  have been  very spiritual yet atheistic originally. With which I would disagree, personally, as I believe that nature oriented  occurrences, such as  Solstices and Equinoxes, are if anything  spiritually universal and predating any sort of organized religion, than theistic.

Furthermore, according to Talmund, it was Adam ( among the humans ) to first notice  the shortening of the days, prior to the Winter Solstice.  And being afriad that is might be punishment for his sins, he  sat  and feasted 8 days prior to the  Solstice, and when after the Solstice day  started lengthening , he  would celebrate for another 8 days. This would make the first period an “atonement period”   and the latter “celebration period”, and would illustrate brilliantly  the concept I spoke of  at the beginning of this post. To properly greet the New Yearn, Nativity, Christmas, Saturnalia, Yule or simply Winter Solstice , we are to purge  ourselves of sins and sorrows , prior to it, face our inner demons and hence cleanse. This is  one of the reasons why Christians fast  40 prior to the Nativity. 

Yule , is sacred to chief Pagan male deity, being the Solar  deity, pagan god, who was believed to be reborn on this very day, prior to which the Sun would  hang on Eastern Cross , or ladders from sky, for three days. Yule is day for resolution, celebration and worship of their sun god, born form the womb of their goddess.  It’s a holiday associated with  greeting the Sun ,  making and lighting the candles , once waxen today bayberry  being more popular material.  Some  aspects of the holiday may differ  in different parts of the world. So in Italy, despite being a solar god related holiday, a mythological figure of good witch called “Befanna” plays important role, carrying gifts to good  kiddies just like St Nicholas, or  Father Christmas ( Santa Claus, Babo Natale in Italian )  does. Universally Yule is associated with new begging/s , mysteries,    all sort of resolutions, mysteries, new life , Inner renewal and  alike. Northern people ( Northern Europe ) have a legend according to which this is the time, when Oak ( summer king ) and Holly ( winter king  ) fight for the dominion over nature. A time when “green men” becomes stronger. Candles are light, amendments made, payers are offered for the world’s peace.  Misteltoe branches are hung, and people kiss beneath such ( another popular custom ),  and  of course the apple wassail which  is akin to modern day caroling, only that participants may  visit orchards rather than actual houses, performing rites  associate with gratitude and abundance,  while singing   specific, traditional,  verses and poems.  Lyrics  would differ from specific region to  region, for example the following one:

Stand fast root, bear well top
Pray the God send us a howling good crop.
Every twig, apples big.
Every bough, apples now.

I personally   liked, is a XIX  century  rhyme from Sussex [1]   The rhyme mentions “howling” ,  which is another ( rarely used ) name for the  given tradition.

This particular ritual illustrates finely  the concept of abundance, associated with the period, which may encompass,     and If so , also transcend  wealth and profusion  in simple material sense. It’s about providing, creation, production that arrives with the rising Sun, rather than simple  greed inspired  desires of   the ego.

Bonfires mostly build from Oak trees were made on these days to empower and beacon the Sun, and torches were hung from trees, while  homes were decorated with evergreen plants and branches, all to entice the Sun and Nature to  return [2]  And like in the aforementioned Hebrew  tale about Adam, this was done out  of the  fear that one would experience seeing the day getting shorter, lesser amount of insolation, as well as plants seemingly withering and animals resorting to  their caves and secluded lair s. Traditional colors associated with the season were White, Dark red, Light green and Gold, and such associations   were transferred to candles    which were lit on Yule.

There, we have discussed various traditions and how they’ve come to affect modern day celebrations associated with Yule, Christmas and New  Year.  I shall try and post in Jaunuary on folk magick and traditions associated with Christmas in January,  for as an  ( Eastern ) Orthodox Christian , we  celebrate the Christmas   on 7th    of January. And now, on the more practical suggestions and tips, for as I  state occasionaly,  this blog is about practical magick


Strictly technically speaking, 25th of December is not a day for spellwork for traditionalists, but for ecclectic and all those willing  to use spiritual energies of the day, here are few  tips:

Blessing ritual for the home

To be performed on 21st of December . I imagined this as an eclectic rituals, devoted to natural principles everyone can tap in.  Considering the aim and power source/s , this ritual may be brilliant for Candlemass  ( Imboloc )  as well and  Osthara ( Spring Equinox ).

You will need:

·         A white, yellow or gold candle

·         Sunstone ( or in lack of thereof , Citrine, or Quartz  crystal, or any associated planetary to the Sun )

·         A jar with spring water

As the sun rises on the East , light the candle and holding lit candle in one, and Sun stone in other hand, facing the east say: 

“Rise Sun, Rise, and hurry my way,
Bring me light and blessing on this day,
Bring thy light, bring thy warmth,  defeat the cold,
Cleanse the iniquity,  restore tranquility,
I greet You, I salute You and take joy in Your  empowerment
Sun bring us health, and abundance,
Joy, luck and intelligence.
Were You rays dwell, no evil may remain.
This is my will
So mote it be! “

 Carry the candle and the stone throughout every room, as You speak positive affirmations or simply visualize rooms being  infused and bathed by light of Sun , Your family happy and home filled with wealth. 

Now place the Sunstone along in the jar with the Spring water and leave it exposed to Sun light  for until the Midday has passed. Then use the water to sprinkle some throughout Your house, and water Your plants. To even  further enhance the ritual effect You can use Rosemary  twig as an aspergent,  and saying some soothing  words of power.

 Yule Incenses

Combine the following ingredients:

·         Bay Laurel  leaf, dry   
      ·         Rosemary
      ·         Cedar wood chips or powder
      ·         Pine needles
      ·         Rue  , dry  grinded
      ·         Cinnamon, powder
      ·         OPTIONAL: Pinch of  Saffron

Can also be burned for exorcism and spirit work. 

Also try this formula:

·         Acacia resin
      ·         Frankincense  tears
      ·         OPTIONAL: Benzoin resin

You can use the this one to cleanse or bless any object, as devotion style ( Winter Solstice  ) incense,  to   fumigate the house. Add Bay Laurel  and/or Allspice  to make it a very  good Success incense,  or add Bay Laurel, and Rosemary to accent more the uncrossing and exorcism note of the incense.

 Candle dedication ritual

As simple as:

Write and/or  state Your petitions regarding Blessings ( for others as well, whole world population ) , Peace and Wellbeing. If You have written those down on a piece of paper fold thrice  to ( towards oneself )  and place under the white candle and light it.

Write and/or sate Your petitions regarding health , well being, strength and love. If You have written those down on a piece of paper fold thrice  to ( towards oneself )  and place under the  dark red candle and light it.

Write and/or state Your petitions for  abundance, fertility, growth and economical stability. If You have written those down on a piece of paper fold thrice  to ( towards oneself )  and place under the  light green candle and light it.

Write and/or state Your petitions for success ( in business , school etc or simply in general )  , wisdom,  defeating diseases, luck   and steady  income. . If You have written those down on a piece of paper fold thrice  to ( towards oneself )  and place under the  light  yellow of gold candle and light it.

Let the candles burn all the way down , and collect the remaining wax, paper, and bury them in Your own yard or in pot with some long living plant.
NOTES: This article was written and composed by myself, therfore should You desire to  use any part of it elswhere feel free but add credits  Shadow of shadows magick place, or a direct link to this post.
[2] paraphrased from  “Encyclopedia of Ancient magic and wisdom” by Cassandra Eason
References:  “Golden Bough” Sir James A. Frazer
                     “Life, myth and art in Ancient Rome” Tony Allan
             IMAGE CREDITS: Both images   used here  are  for illustrative and explanatory purposes only without any ill will, and are from sources :