Jul 25, 2010

Cherokee Calendar

A little background first:
The Cherokee Tribe was basically an southeastern group, the Carolinas, Tennessee, and Georgia.
In the 19th century, white settlers in the United States called the Cherokees one of the "Five Civilized Tribes", because they had assimilated numerous cultural and technological practices of European-American settlers.

According to the 2000 U.S. Census, the Cherokee Nation has more than 300,000 members, the largest of the 563 federally recognized Native American tribes in the United States.
On the Native American thread on Etsy, we're learning to speak Cherokee or at least write the words phonetically.
*that was just a side comment*
I've always loved Native American culture

The Cherokee Moons Ceremonies were the ancient seasonal round of ceremonies practiced
during ancient times by the Ah-ni-yv-wi-ya or Cherokee People.
Although a modern calendar year comprises 12 months, there are actually 13 cycles or phases of the moon each year.

The seasonal round of ceremonies was based on 13 moons, and was considered a necessary spiritual element for growth and encouraged social gatherings among the Cherokee Clans.
They believed the number 13 was significant. Not only did this number correspond to the lunar cycles of the year, but by a startling coincidence, all species of turtles living in the ancient homeland (in fact, all species turtles in the world) always
had 13 scales on the back of their shells. As a result, Cherokee culture associated the spaces on the back of the turtle with the 13 yearly phases of the moon.

These phases have shifted over time and do not fall within the 12 month year calendar year, precisely every year...

Here's a quick overview of the months:

JANUARY: Cold Moon Unolvtani
A mid-Winter or "Cold Moon Dance" is usually held in the community as well, marking the
passing or ending of one cycle of seasons and welcoming the beginning of the new cycle.
Hearth fires are put out and new ones made.

FEBRUARY: Bony Moon Kagali
Traditional time of personal-family feast for the ones who had departed this world.A family meal is prepared with place(s) set for the departed. This is also a time of
fasting and ritual observance.

MARCH: Windy Moon Anuyi
Traditional start of the new cycle of planting seasons or Moons.New town council fires are made.

APRIL: Flower Moon Kawoni
First plants of the season come out at this time. New births are customary within this
time frame. The first new medicine and herb plants that taught mankind how to defend against sickness and conjury come out now.
A dance customary at this season was the "Knee Deep Dance" of the Spring or Water Frog.

MAY: Planting Moon Anisguti
Families traditionally prepare the fields and sow them with the stored seeds from last

JUNE: Green Corn Moon Tihaluhiyi
First signs of the "corn in tassel", and the emerging of the various plants of the fields. People traditionally begin preparations for the upcoming festivals of the ensuing growing season.

JULY: Ripe Corn Moon Guyegwoni
First foods or the new planting and the roasting ears of corn are ready. Towns begin the cycle festivals. A common reference of this moon is the "first roasting of ears" (of corn)...sweet corn-moon.

AUGUST: Fruit Moon Galoni
Foods of the trees and bushes are gathered at this time.

SEPTEMBER: Nut Moon Duliidsdi
All the fruits and nuts of the bushes and trees of the forest were gathered as this time. Hunting traditionally began in earnest at this time.

OCTOBER: Harvest Moon Duninudi
The time of traditional "Harvest Festival"

NOVEMBER: Trading Moon Nudadaequa
Traditionally a time of trading and barter among different towns and tribes for
manufactured goods, produce and goods from hunting. This was a time also when the needy among the towns were given whatever they needed to help them through the impending lean winter season.

DECEMBER: Snow Moon Usgiyi
Families traditionally were busy putting up and storing goods for the next cycle of season.
Elders enjoyed teaching and retelling ancient stories of the people to the young.

This next part is from my Llewellyn's date book...

First Sweet Corn, then dent corn ripen for the harvest. As a staple food and sacred
material, corn attracts much attention throughout it's life cycle.
To the Choctaw, this is the Crane Moon, recognizing the big wading birds. The Sioux call
it the Moon of the Middle Summer.

July brings a bunch of new foods, corn and tomatoes are ripening, along with squash and
cucumbers. Visit your local farmers' markets to enjoy the fresh seasonal produce.
Watch birds and other animals raising their young. But be careful and respect the sun's
Rituals in July celebrate the staple crops. Rituals to honour the Sun, light, fire, and so forth are also appropriate. Magically tap into the power of the Sun to full spells for success and prosperity.
The Cherokee call corn Selu and it's one of their Goddesses...

This represent the Corn Goddess and the Trail of Tears and not forgetting
So ends tonight's lecture....

Kicking Bear is the one who's graciously teaching us Tsalagi (Cherokee)
Wado KB!

Celtic Tree Month Chat-WackWall

To the Celts and many other people of the Old World, certain trees held special significance - as a fuel for heat, cooking, building materials and weaponry. In addition to this however, many woods also provided a powerful spiritual presence.
The specific trees varied between different cultures and geographic locations, but those believed to be "sacred" shared certain traits.
The Celts beleived that many trees where inhabited by spirits or had spirits of their own.
This idea most notably applied to any tree with a strong aura around it.
They also believed that certain trees had a healing influence on humans.
From this ancient respect for the power of trees came the expressions 'touch wood' and 'knock on wood'.

Oak, ash, and thorn were called the faery triad of trees. Where they grow together,it is still said that faeries live.
The ancient Celts had a kinship with trees which is shown in the magical Ogham alphabet and in their tree calendar.
Further proof of their respect for trees is in the old Celtic word for oak (Duir); the word Derwydd or Duirwydd (oak-seer)was probably the origin of the word Druid.

Some may feel that the moon names, Birch, Rowan, Ash, Alder, etc., are just alternative names for the secular months of our modern-day Gregorian calendar.
The Lunar Tree Calendar, as practiced by the Faerie Faith, is more than simply a system of alternative names for the 12-13 cycles of the moon that occur in a solar year of 364 days.

Each of the 13 moons in the calendar is named after a tree.

The calendar begins within a few days after the Winter Solstice,and always ends on the Winter Solstice, never going past that date.

After this day, usually on December 21 or 22, the days will begin getting longer, and we enter a new solar cycle.
December 23 is not ruled by any tree for it is the traditional day of the proverbial "Year and a Day" in the earliest courts of law.
That's a bit of background...
Now onto the Month of Holly.
July 8 - August 4: Although the Oak ruled in the previous month, its counterpart, the Holly, takes over in July.
This evergreen plant reminds us all year long about the immortality of nature.

The Holly moon was called Tinne, pronounced chihnn-uh, by the Celts, who knew the potent Holly was a symbol of masculine energy
The ancients used the wood of the Holly in the construction of weapons, but also in protective magic.
A beautiful white wood with an almost invisible grain, it looks very much like ivory.
Holly is associated with the death and rebirth symbolism of winter in both Pagan and Christian lore and is important to the Winter Solstice.

Holly may be used in spells having to do with sleep or rest, and to ease the passage of death.

A bag of leaves and berries carried by a man is said to increase his ability to attract women.
As a symbol of good luck and good fortune, the Holly was the evergreen twin of the Oak in Celtic mythology and was often referred to by the name "Kerm-Oak."

As the Oak ruled the light part of the year, thus did the Holly rule the dark.
The Holly was particularly sacred to the Druids who instructed folk to take it into their homes during Winter in order to provide shelter for the Elves and Faeries during cold weather.

By tradition, a Holly branch should never be cut from the tree but instead, must be pulled off.

It is considered unlucky to cut or burn Holly, but it is thought to be lucky to hang a small branch remaining from the Yule celebrations outside the house. This is said to protect against lightning and ensure good fortune.

To the Druids, the Holly was regarded as a strong and protective herb, guarding against evil spirits, short-tempered Elementals, poisons, thunder and lightning.

According to lore, if a young girl gathered nine leaves from the "she-holly" at midnight on a Friday and then tied them into a a three-cornered handkerchief using nine knots, she might dream of her future husband by placing the handkerchief beneath her pillow.

A variation of this spell dictated that the leaves had to be collected in silence and bound in a white cloth...again using nine knots. This, when placed under the pillow, was said to make dreams come true.

It was once thought that if the smooth leaves of the "she-holly" were brought into the house first during Yule, then the wife would rule the house. If it was He-Holly, the opposite held true.

Only the female tree produces berries which, although lovely to look at, are poisonous.
Its white, star-shaped flowers bloom in the Spring and it bears shiny red berries in Autumn which last throughout the Winter.
The Holly represented immortality and was one of the Nine Sacred Woods used in Need-Fires (the others being Oak, Pine, Hazel, Juniper, Cedar, Poplar, Apple and Ash).

In ancient Irish lore, it was also listed as one of the Noble Trees of the Grove (along with Birch, Alder, Willow, Oak, Hazel and Apple).

Hang a sprig of Holly in your house to ensure good luck and safety to your family.

Wear as a charm, or make Holly Water by soaking leaves overnight in spring water under a full moon -- then use the water as a blessing to sprinkle on people or around the house for protection and cleansing.

This last bit is from my Llewellyn's Witches' Date Book for 2010.
"You have built up strength during the Oak Month, and now you may test your steel and valour.
Holly corresponds with the Ogham letter "tinne" speaking of the strength gained by a challenge.
Holly was hardened in flames and used as spears-it was said that when heated, Holly would become as strong as iron.
If you wish to grow stronger from everyday challenges and overcome them, enlist the help of the Holly spirit.
As you gaze into the candle's flame, feel it filling you. It blesses you with the ability to face any challenge in your path with insight and strength.
You can overcome anything, and you'll come away stronger than before.
Gather a few Holly leaves (or another symbol of holly) and a green candle. Carve the "tinne"/holly Ogham symbol on the candle and light it, saying,
"I salute the blessed holly tree, In justice's name I do decree,
As every challenge comes my way, The flame will temper my swordplay."

This was written by Mickie Mueller, who's an artist and has also illustrated a couple of decks.

Celtic Chat from Ning

Most of what we know about Celtic life comes from Ireland—the largest and most extensive of the Celtic populations, the Gauls in central and western Europe, we only know about through Roman sources—and these sources are decidedly unfriendly to the Gauls.

We know that the early Celtic societies were organized around warfare—this structure would commonly characterize cultures in the process of migration: the Celts, the Huns, and later the Germans. Although classical Greek and Roman writers considered the Celts to be violently insane, warfare was not an organized process of territorial conquest. Among the Celts, warfare seems to have mainly been a sport, focusing on raids and hunting. The stealing of another group's cattle was often the proving point of a group of young warriors; the greatest surviving Irish myth, the Táin Bó Cualingne, or "The Cattle Raid of Cooley," centers around one such mythically-enhanced cattle-raid.

The Celtic method of warfare was to stand in front of the opposing army and scream and beat their spears and swords against their shields. They would then run headlong into the opposing army and screamed the entire way—this often had the effect of scaring the opposing soldiers who then broke into a run; fighting a fleeing army is relatively easy work. If the opposing army did not break ranks, the Celts would stop short of the army, return to their original position, and start the process over again.

Celtic society was hierarchical and class-based. Tribes were led by kings but political organizations were remarkably plastic. According to both Roman and Irish sources, Celtic society was divided into three groups: a warrior aristocracy, an intellectual class that included druids, poets, and jurists, and everyone else.

One's ethnic identity was largely derived from the larger tribal group, called the tuath ("too-awth") in Irish (meaning "people") but ultimately based on the smallest kinship organizational unit, the clan, called the cenedl (ke-na-dl), or "kindred," in Irish. The clan provided identity and protection—disputes between individuals were always disputes between clans. Since it was the duty of the clan to protect individuals, crimes against an individual would be prosecuted against an entire clan. One of the prominent institutions among the Celts was the blood-feud in which murder or insults against an individual would require the entire clan to violently exact retribution.

The position of women was fairly high in Celtic society. In the earliest periods, women participated both in warfare and in kingship. While the later Celts would adopt a strict patriarchal model, they still have a memory of women leaders and warriors.

Celtic economy was probably based on the economic principle of most tribal economies: reciprocity. In a reciprocal economy, goods and other services are not exchanged for other goods, but they are given by individuals to individuals based on mutual kinship relationships and obligations. (A family economy is typical of a reciprocal economy—parents and children give each other material goods and services not in trade but because they are part of a family).

Celtic ritual life centered on a special class, called the druides or "druids" by the Romans, presumably from a Gaulish word. Although much has been written about druids and Celtic ritual practice, we know next to nothing about either. Here's what we can gather. As a special group, the druids performed many of the functions that we would consider "priestly" functions, including ritual and sacrifice, but they also included functions that we would place under "education" and "law." These rituals and practices were probably kept secret—a tradition common among early Indo-European peoples—which helps to explain why the classical world knows nothing about them. The only thing that the classical sources attest is that the druids performed "barbaric" or "horrid" rituals at lakes and groves; there was a fair amount of consensus among the Greeks and Romans that these rituals involved human sacrifice. This may or may not be true; there is some evidence of human sacrifice among the Celts, but it does not seem to have been a prevalent practice.

According to Julius Caesar, who gives the longest account of druids, the center of Celtic belief was the passing of souls from one body to another. From an archaeological perspective, it is clear that the Celts believed in an after-life, for material goods are buried with the dead.

There were two major migrations of peoples from the Indo-Aryan region who were the original Celts.
The first group left their mark during the Hallstatt period( 8-6 century BC) of the Early Bronze Age. They were found from Ardennes in the West, to Vienna in the East, and Bohemia in the North.
Trade was spread into Iberia and the British Isles, most likely in the Celtic language.
Southern European people of Indo-Aryan origin who traveled West in search of the home of the sun.
Lowland Kelts-Danube River area -àSwitzerland, Ireland, Danube Valley Metals: gold, tin and bronze. Agricultural, herdsmen, tillers, burned dead rather than buried. Peacefully blended with the megalithic people and contributed to their religion, art and customs. Matriarchal

The second group of the La Tene period, 450 BC- the 1st century AD) is what everyone thinks are the TRUE celts.
They started out in the Carpathians and the Balkans, trading with the Greeks for tin, amber, furs, and wool. Their elaborate burials show how widespread their trading actually was. They spread out into Iberia, Southern Germany, The Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary, Italy and Asia Minor.
They made hill forts and towns and had elaborate rituals some of which included decapitation. They were also responsible for the lake dwellings at Glastonbury Tor (hill fort) and other places in Ireland.
They were a Military Aristocracy and loved fighting for the sake of it and hired out as mercenaries to the great armies of the day. Responsible for sack of Rome.-àconquered much of Europe and British Isles.

They were Chivalrous, and brave, and courageous, but also greatly sensitive to music, poetry and philosophy. Buried their dead and held elaborate rites to the Sun god Lugh.

They were described as tall, powerfully built with blue eyes, reddish-blonde hair; light skin and oval faces. Their colouring was more of a “reddish” kind than the ashy blonde of the Germanic/Anglo Saxon tribes and they had freckles.

These Celts had a distinctive Class System as described above.

The British did not appear in history until Julius Caesar crosses the English Channel from northern Gaul and began his failed conquest of Britain. The Romans returned in 43 AD and began a systematic conquest of the island until they reached the Pictish tribes in the Scottish highlands. Rome would abandon northern England, however, in 117 AD

In the process of emigrating to the England, the Celts pushed the native populations north—these refugee tribal groups would become the cultural ancestors of the Picts, a mysterious culture that dominated Scotland until the Irish invasions.

The Romans were beset by rebellions by some Celtic tribes and depredations by the northern Picts—throughout the fourth century, as the Roman empire was strained in every quarter, the Romans slowly lost control of Britain. The official break came in 446 when the Romans in response to a British plea for help against the Picts and the Scots, declared Britain independent. The Celts in the north and in Wales fiercely resisted Roman culture, and the Romans never even set foot in Ireland. On the whole, the Romans more greatly respected and tolerated Celtic institutions and religions in Britain, so there was considerably less assimilation than in Gaul(France).

Britain fell prey to the same Germanic emigrations and invasions that spread across Gaul, Spain, and Italy. The Saxon emigration began in eastern England until they spread entirely across lowland England. The mountainous areas to the west (Wales) and the north (Scotland), however, remained Celtic, as did Ireland. By the end of the fifth century AD, only Wales, Scotland, and Ireland remained of the great Celtic tribal kingdoms that had dominated the face of Europe.

The Irish also represent the last great migration of Celtic peoples. In the fourth and fifth centuries, the Irish crossed over into Scotland and systematically invaded that territory until they politically dominated the Picts who lived there. The settling of Scotland in the fifth century was the very last wave of Celtic migration.

Much of what we call modern "paganism" which points to Celtic sources actually originates in eastern, mystery religions that had been imported into Celtic culture.
The ancient Celts revered nature and the elements, and worshipped the sun, moon, the stars and the Earth Mother, with a wide range of goddesses and gods. They celebrated their deities, ancestors, life, the natural world and its creatures, and the changing of the seasons through their music, poetry, story telling and art. Their poets and musicians, the Bards, and their wise holy men, the Druids, were very high up in the social hierarchy of the tribe, training for many years in their orally learnt crafts, as nothing was written down.

Celtic culture had become restricted to the British Isles (Insular Celtic), and the Continental Celtic languages ceased to be widely used by the sixth century. "Celtic Europe" today refers to the lands surrounding the Irish Sea, as well as Cornwall and Brittany on either side of the English Channel. Galicia (NW Spain), Northern and Central Portugal (together with Galicia, part of ancient Gallacea) and Asturias (Northern Spain) are also clearly seen as Celtic lands, but without a surviving Celtic language. Some see the Basques as one of the original Celtic settlers.

The Celts had an polytheistic religion and culture. Celtic shrines were situated in remote areas such as hilltops, groves, and lakes.
Celtic religious patterns were regionally variable; however, some patterns of deity forms, and ways of worshiping these deities, appear over a wide geographical and temporal range. The Celts worshipped both gods and goddesses. In general, the gods were deities of particular skills, such as the many-skilled Lugh and Dagda, and the goddesses were associated with natural features, particularly rivers (such as Boann, goddess of the River Boyne). This was not universal, however, as goddesses such as Brighid and The Morrígan were associated with both natural features (holy wells and the River Unius) and skills such as blacksmithing(Goivnhiu) and healing(Diancecht).

A number of Celtic deities were seen as threefold. The Three Mothers was a group of goddesses worshiped by many Celtic tribes (with regional variations) that exhibited this trait, such as Ana, Babh and Macha who became the Morrigan.
The Celts had literally hundreds of deities, some unknown outside of a single family or tribe, while others were popular enough to have a following that crossed boundaries of language and culture. For instance, the Irish god Lugh, associated with storms, lightning, and culture, is seen in similar forms as Lugos in Gaul and Lleu in Wales. Similar patterns are also seen with the continental Celtic horse goddess Epona, and what may well be her Irish and Welsh counterparts, Macha and Rhiannon, respectively.

Roman reports of the druids mention ceremonies being held in sacred groves. La Tène Celts built temples of varying size and shape, though they also maintained shrines at sacred trees and votive pools.

This next part is part shows how the Celtic mythology absorbed the other cultures they came in contact with.
The coming of Partholan:
They supposedly came from the West, where the Irish fairyland was said to be. It was also called The Land of the Happy Dead.
The island was already inhabited by the Formorians, an evil, and misshapen race. Partholan fought the Formorians for the land and drove them out towards the northern seas. The Partholanians were wiped out by a plague.

The Fomorians were said to have come from Africa or Asia because they were described as having dark skin and hair. They were also reputed to have great magical powers and lived underwater. Fomor in Gaelic is faoi-mhuir meaning “Beneath the Sea”.
According to the ancient accounts in the Lebor Gabala Erenn the tribes of the Nemedians, Fir-Bolg, and Tuatha Dé Danaan all spoke the same tongue and were supposed to be descended from the same family, the Fomorians were a completely separate race, with separate language and customs. Now we can see where they were going with this…the newcomers shoved the indigenous folks off to the side and considering them chattel or below themselves…

Partholan and his bunch is said to have come from Greece by way of Sicily. Dealgnat, their 3 sons and 1000 followers sailed into Donegal bay on the north-west coast of
His wife cheated on him with one of her attendants and he killed her dog in revenge…AND allegedly he had killed his parents to inherit the kingdom, good reason to have left Sicily and he was sent a plague which took out him and his descendants in Eastern Ireland.9,000 of them in a week!

Next up is the Nemedians:
Their fleet of ships sailed from Scythia on the shores of the Black sea, through the Bosporus and up the western coasts of Europe. Not all of Nemeds fleet survived the harsh journey with only one ship with 30 people on it actually reaching Ireland. Nemed fought the Fomorians again and the Fomorians were finally victorious, leaving only 30 Nemedians who fled the country. Some went to Scotland, some went to Greece and became slaves…200 years later, they came back and were called:

Firbolgs( bag people):
They were named that because of the leather bags that they carried when they arrived back on their previous homeland.
Five sons got together at Tara and divvied the island up into 5 pieces. And things were going swimmingly until the Tuatha de Danaan showed up. The Firbolgs were defeated after a 4 day battle in which Nuada lost his hand. Because the Firbolgs put up such a great fight that they gave them one quarter of their island back. They got stuck with the Aran Island chain.

Tuatha de Danaan arrived finally.
These are the people that everyone thinks of when they think of Ireland and the Fae. Sometimes referred to as Gods, but weren’t immortals in the Irish legends. Druids thought they were deities of science. The common folk thought they were fertility spirits.
“Tuatha de Danaan” means Children(or People) of Danu, the Goddess of Wisdom and Fertility.
The Fomorians came back again and gave them trouble too! The Tuatha won the whole island finally.
Under their two greatest heroes, Lugh of the Long Arm and Nuada of the Silver Hand, they had a great period of prosperity until the Milesians came by.
As they were a “magical” people they decided to go underground into another dimension of space and time the entrances to which are at many sites around Ireland; one of the most famous being Brugh na Boinne (Newgrange).
It was reputed that only iron weapons could injure them. They became like gods to the later Celtic people and were worshipped as such. They became known as the people of the Sidhe (mounds) and there are many Faery Mounds in existence in Ireland today.
It is said that the Tuatha came from the Danube River area of Europe. And that they were descendents of the Nemedians who came before them…

They were said to have arrived on Ireland on May 1st which is STILL a Celtic holiday.
Another holiday named after a Tuatha is Lughnasadh for Lugh

The Tuatha also brought 4 Treasures with them from their founding cities:
LiaFail. the Stone of Destiny where the Kings of Ireland were crowned kept in Tara.
Sword of Lugh of the Long Arm No one ever escaped from it once it was drawn from its sheath, and no one could resist it.
Magic Spear of Nuada No battle was ever sustained against it, or against the man who held it.
Cauldron of the Dagda No company ever went away from it unsatisfied.

Do THESE things sound familiar?

The last invaders of Ireland were the Milesians who were said to have come from Spain, Scythia or the Mediterranean…
These are the people who still live there today. Milesian is a word meaning Son of Spain and that’s one of the place there were said to have come from.
These guys finally sent the Tuatha de Danaan to their hidey-holes forever. It was probably safer that way anyways…
They left it up to Manannan Mac Lir (son of the Sea God)who knew all sorts of enchantments to find them a place where they could be undisturbed. So he chose out the most beautiful of the hills and valleys of Ireland for them to settle in; and he put hidden walls about them, that no man could see through, but they themselves could see through them and pass through them.
And he made the Feast of Age for them, and what they drank at it was the ale of Goibniu the Smith, that kept whoever tasted it from age and from sickness and from death. And for food at the feast he gave them his own swine, that though they were killed and eaten one day, would be alive and fit for eating again the next day, and that would go on in that way for ever.

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