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Author Topic: Books on solitary seasonal rituals/celebrations?  (Read 6368 times)
Waldfrau
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« Topic Start: April 20, 2008, 11:46:58 am »

Are there any books about how a solitary newbie could celebrate the wheel of the year?

I'm open to various paths which celebrate the common 8 festivals (Beltane, Samhain etc.) in any definition. (I know there are Pagan religions which have different festivals).

I'd like to know
- how to do a solitary seasonal ritual
- how to atune to the season in everyday life (what kinds of themes are good to work on)
- ideas how to decorate your home
- lore associated with every season and how it was historically celebrated in Europe


Recommendations anyone?
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« Reply #1: April 20, 2008, 03:12:09 pm »


I've found Year Of Ritual: Sabbats & Esbats for Solitaries & Covens by Sandra Kynes to be pretty useful.  It has rituals for each of the 8 sabbats and full moons throughout the year, for both group and solitaries.  I never do the rituals as is from the book, but use it for ideas and inspiration. 
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« Reply #2: April 20, 2008, 05:27:18 pm »

Are there any books about how a solitary newbie could celebrate the wheel of the year?

Yes!

You might want to qualify: based on some of your other comments, I assume that Wiccan-influenced/based material is fine, and you can work with it, but if you're open to other paths/suggestions, other people might have ideas.

First thing: Europe is a big area: different parts of it have different traditions. You'll probably have the most luck if you narrow it down to a specific area, and start looking from there.

The first thing I'd try to track down is Pauline Campanelli's _Ancient Ways: Reclaiming Pagan Traditions_. Double check the history before relying on it (it's an older book, and may well be out of print), but it's got a lot of fabulous folk tradition things in it, divided by Sabbat, and many of them are very small, practical, and don't take many materials. (Or will give you ideas for local alternatives, like looking at what plants are blooming near you in a given season.)

If you're interested in British Isles traditions, see if you can find a copy of Ronald Hutton's _Stations of the Sun_ (which is out of print), at least to read through: he breaks down the stuff that actually has a significant history, and the stuff that has only been around for a few centuries. Again, lots of interesting ideas. (This one is scholarly, rather than practical.)

For home based stuff, I actually rather like _The Magical Household_ by Scott Cunningham and David Harrington - it's got a lot of little, fun, friendly things to do (though there are places in which it's a little dated: for example, these days, with most people having home computers and other electronics, it'd be nice to figure out ways to include that.) There's also a chapter with seasonal suggestions.

One thing I'm working on is food-based seasonal changes - for example, one person I know makes sure she doesn't eat a pomegranate in the fall until her Samhain ritual: the first taste of it she has is in ritual. Likewise, I'm planning on a 'first day of Farmer's Market's' food feast for next weekend, when the local markets open, partly with an eye to shopping for seasonal foods for Beltane. These can be a little tricky (for example, because work feeds me lunch, I can't go as far with this easily as I'd like to) but it's also pretty adaptable: one meal where you're especially focusing on/conscious of seasonal foods is better than none.

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Waldfrau
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« Reply #3: April 21, 2008, 03:14:08 am »

You might want to qualify: based on some of your other comments, I assume that Wiccan-influenced/based material is fine, and you can work with it, but if you're open to other paths/suggestions, other people might have ideas.

First thing: Europe is a big area: different parts of it have different traditions. You'll probably have the most luck if you narrow it down to a specific area, and start looking from there.
This was on purpose, because I wanted a variety of responses to explore several paths which are celebrating the wheel of the year. I like the Wiccan stuff, but I still need to get an overview what different paths are out there. Smiley
 
Quote
The first thing I'd try to track down is Pauline Campanelli's _Ancient Ways: Reclaiming Pagan Traditions_. Double check the history before relying on it (it's an older book, and may well be out of print), but it's got a lot of fabulous folk tradition things in it, divided by Sabbat, and many of them are very small, practical, and don't take many materials. (Or will give you ideas for local alternatives, like looking at what plants are blooming near you in a given season.)

If you're interested in British Isles traditions, see if you can find a copy of Ronald Hutton's _Stations of the Sun_ (which is out of print), at least to read through: he breaks down the stuff that actually has a significant history, and the stuff that has only been around for a few centuries. Again, lots of interesting ideas. (This one is scholarly, rather than practical.)

For home based stuff, I actually rather like _The Magical Household_ by Scott Cunningham and David Harrington - it's got a lot of little, fun, friendly things to do (though there are places in which it's a little dated: for example, these days, with most people having home computers and other electronics, it'd be nice to figure out ways to include that.) There's also a chapter with seasonal suggestions.
I ordered Cunningham for a start, because I liked the title and for the practical reason that some out of print books are way over top with the price here in Germany. Maybe I'll try to get a credit card so I can order them directly from amazon.com or -uk.

From Hutton I still have Triumph of the Moon sitting in my shelf waiting to be read, but I have enough of history at the moment with final exams. Will come back to this later as I normally enjoy history books.

Quote
One thing I'm working on is food-based seasonal changes - for example, one person I know makes sure she doesn't eat a pomegranate in the fall until her Samhain ritual: the first taste of it she has is in ritual. Likewise, I'm planning on a 'first day of Farmer's Market's' food feast for next weekend, when the local markets open, partly with an eye to shopping for seasonal foods for Beltane. These can be a little tricky (for example, because work feeds me lunch, I can't go as far with this easily as I'd like to) but it's also pretty adaptable: one meal where you're especially focusing on/conscious of seasonal foods is better than none.
Hehe, that kind of info is really easy to get in Germany with all the anthroposophs running around. A particulary nice idea from one of them (Storl) is to collect seasonal wild herbs and veggies for your cooking. He also provided recipes and lore in his books, it just involves a lot of time (and places where to find wild herbs and veggies if you don't have a big unkempt garden).
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Waldfrau
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« Reply #4: April 21, 2008, 03:23:06 am »

I've found Year Of Ritual: Sabbats & Esbats for Solitaries & Covens by Sandra Kynes to be pretty useful.  It has rituals for each of the 8 sabbats and full moons throughout the year, for both group and solitaries.  I never do the rituals as is from the book, but use it for ideas and inspiration. 
Thanks, maybe I'll try this at some point. Another Llwellyn book easy to get here. For some reason those are the only ones where the used copies are actually cheaper than the original price.

This is quite an interesting question: What's better: Buying for the same money 5 Llwellyn books or one old classic?

(Not saying all Llwellyn books are bad or the classics aren't worth the money, but I have some limits here.)
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« Reply #5: April 21, 2008, 07:53:48 am »

Hehe, that kind of info is really easy to get in Germany with all the anthroposophs running around. A particulary nice idea from one of them (Storl) is to collect seasonal wild herbs and veggies for your cooking. He also provided recipes and lore in his books, it just involves a lot of time (and places where to find wild herbs and veggies if you don't have a big unkempt garden).

Oh, the info is easy enough to get here, with only a little looking - but because work feeds me lunch, it's hard for me, to, say, spend a Sabbat day *only* eating seasonally available foods, unless I'm not at work, since I don't have any control over what's made, or even know all the ingredients without bugging someone for info. (And school culture and some other important things - like talking with faculty over lunch - mean that bringing your own food is tricky.)

I'd ideally like to move to something like described over here (http://www.cauldronfarm.com/asphodel/articles/feast_and_fast.html) for at least a few days/a week before each Sabbat, but that's obviously tricky with the current set-up.
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« Reply #6: April 21, 2008, 03:14:23 pm »

Are there any books about how a solitary newbie could celebrate the wheel of the year?

I'm open to various paths which celebrate the common 8 festivals (Beltane, Samhain etc.) in any definition. (I know there are Pagan religions which have different festivals).

I'd like to know
- how to do a solitary seasonal ritual
- how to atune to the season in everyday life (what kinds of themes are good to work on)
- ideas how to decorate your home
- lore associated with every season and how it was historically celebrated in Europe


Recommendations anyone?

There are some great things online, particularly if you are interested in building your own ritual. I like to look at what groups/covens are posting for their rituals, and adapt it for solitary ritual. It's also good to see what other folks are doing. If you have been reading the same things over and over, you feel less than inspired and less than satisfied with your experiences,
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« Reply #7: April 21, 2008, 09:53:53 pm »

Are there any books about how a solitary newbie could celebrate the wheel of the year?

I'm open to various paths which celebrate the common 8 festivals (Beltane, Samhain etc.) in any definition. (I know there are Pagan religions which have different festivals).

I'd like to know
- how to do a solitary seasonal ritual
- how to atune to the season in everyday life (what kinds of themes are good to work on)
- ideas how to decorate your home
- lore associated with every season and how it was historically celebrated in Europe


Recommendations anyone?

Kate West.

Her 'The Real Witches' Handbook' is a great overview, but probably not detailed enough for you. Therefore I would definitely recommend 'The Real Witches' Year', which has ideas for rituals/herb lore/decoration/meditation/activites etc etc. for every single day of the year. It's great to get ideas from!

Her 'The Real Witches' Kitchen' is also a great book: not only recipes for food, but also how to make your own incense, candles and herb sachets. And as far as the magical side of things, she not only teaches you how to make such stuff but also how to do a ritual to empower it and yourself in order for it to work better.

The best thing about 'The Real Witches' Kitchen' in my opinion, though, is the fact that she gives you different ideas depending on what time of the year it is. For instance, the recipes depend on what food is in season, and the colours of the candles depend on what time of the year it is. For me, that's great, since I've always loved celebrating a seasonal cycle.
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« Reply #8: April 27, 2008, 07:08:05 am »


- how to atune to the season in everyday life (what kinds of themes are good to work on)


I try to eat seasonally (at least when I'm cooking properly - the lazy pizza days still happen :p ) and I'm lucky enough to have the space I grow my own veggies which help with this. I also use seasonal flowers/plants to decorate the house.

As for books, like Juniper, I've found The Real Witches' Kitchen to be useful, which surprised me. I was a bit snobbish about it at first but bought it for 50p in a charity shop thinking there'd be at least one good recipe, and I've found it a fun read. Stations of the Sun I'd also second for the historical information.
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« Reply #9: April 27, 2008, 01:53:25 pm »

Recommendations anyone?

I don't really know of anything to recommend, other than the one I am getting...

"A Witches' Sabbats" by Mike Nichols.
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« Reply #10: April 28, 2008, 04:39:55 am »

Oh, the info is easy enough to get here, with only a little looking - but because work feeds me lunch, it's hard for me, to, say, spend a Sabbat day *only* eating seasonally available foods, unless I'm not at work, since I don't have any control over what's made, or even know all the ingredients without bugging someone for info. (And school culture and some other important things - like talking with faculty over lunch - mean that bringing your own food is tricky.)

I'd ideally like to move to something like described over here (http://www.cauldronfarm.com/asphodel/articles/feast_and_fast.html) for at least a few days/a week before each Sabbat, but that's obviously tricky with the current set-up.
That's a good article, I'm not fully through yet, but a few thoughts:

There's a food-coop in my city with organic and fresh regional food. It still has things like citrons or the occassional tomato from a greenhouse, but they wouldn't order apples from Australia. So it was always a good place to attune to the seasons without looking into a food chart, because the fresh regional food corner of the room showed what food was naturally available at the moment. You still get a greenhouse tomato if you want one, but it's much more visible. In winter you'd find very little fresh vegetables and fruit. Things that can be stored up like apples, cabbage, onions and a few greenhouse tomatos. It's really a rather sad corner in winter. While if you come into it in harvesting season you see a much more filled fresh food corner with a bigger variety of food. It's much more visible because the food-coop won't have everything at every time, also due to limited space and fresh keeping options.

Also if you take one of the food ordering duties, you'll get a lot of insight into which food is available and how. (I never had time for this kind of bother I always did 'shop' opening duties or cleaning because you can do several in one week when you have the time and then don't bother for the next few months.)

I don't make it to go there at the moment, because of my schedule, they have only open a few hours every day. But when I was there it helped to try to get as much food from the fresh corner and as little from the supermarket. I'm a bit too chaotic to look at a food chart and plan meals, normally I just go shopping and look what's there and what raises my appetite.

For holidays I'm planning though. Think I'll cook aspargus for Beltane. That's the traditional may food here. Smiley

Do you have food-coops or something similar in the US?
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« Reply #11: April 28, 2008, 07:44:58 am »

Do you have food-coops or something similar in the US?

I'm lucky to live in a part of the country with tons of options - at least two of the things I'm listing below are not reliably available in many places. But locally, I have:

1) Farmer's Markets. There are two large ones (St. Paul and Minneapolis) and about 2 dozen smaller ones, throughout the metro area every week. (They're just starting up again: I was at the St. Paul one on Saturday, though it was snowing, and very small - mostly the meat/egg/honey producers and a few greenhouse vegetables.) The markets have different restrictions - one reason I shop the St. Paul one is that they've got tighter restrictions on where the food comes from, so all of it's local (most of it within about a 50 mile radius of the Cities, some a little further out like some of the bison producers.)

2) Local co-ops. There are 3 co-op markets within a 15 minute drive of me right now, all of whom have a heavy focus on locally grown foods where possible. (They also all include *non* local stuff, but it's all labelled.)

3) Community Supported Agriculture (or CSA, as it's usually referred to.) These are fascinating. You pay your money in the early spring, and buy a share of the farm's crops through the summer as they're harvested. This is the first year I've done this (with some help from friends: I'm splitting off part of their share, because the boxes are designed to feed a family of four most of their vegetables: as a single woman living alone, there's a limit to what I can eat on my own.)

My plan for the summer is farmer's market until the CSA kicks in, and then the farmer's market for cheese/eggs/a few other things. I also shop pretty extensively at Trader Joe's (a US chain known for somewhat quirky stuff: they carry limited stuff, but usually really good quality) for staples. For example, their organic milk is still running nearly $1.50 under the organic milk at my mainstream grocery store.

But, Boston, where I grew up? There are farmer's markets, but they're much harder to get to, and some of the easier local/organic food sources are through a chain, which notoriously has high prices. Teachers I work with were visiting their son in the Boston area last summer, and found themselves really frustrated because the easy range of options they're used to here were a lot more work there.

A friend taught me how to make cream of asparagus soup yesterday (surprisingly easy and fast, and applicable to tons of spring vegetables), so I foresee that in my near future. And such a lovely green!
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« Reply #12: April 28, 2008, 08:27:24 am »

This sounds great and the whole conversation makes me want to go to the co-op and get the first spring stuff. At the moment while taking final exams I'm mostly living of pizza, but there'll come a better time for cooking soon.

Not to mention that one of my dreams would be an own garden...
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« Reply #13: April 28, 2008, 10:57:49 am »

3) Community Supported Agriculture (or CSA, as it's usually referred to.) These are fascinating. You pay your money in the early spring, and buy a share of the farm's crops through the summer as they're harvested. This is the first year I've done this (with some help from friends: I'm splitting off part of their share, because the boxes are designed to feed a family of four most of their vegetables: as a single woman living alone, there's a limit to what I can eat on my own.)

We're doing the CSA thing for the first time this year, too.  Ours offers an "egg share"--for a little extra you can get a half or full dozen eggs each week along with your produce.  (And related products; word is that we'll probably also get things like honey and cider from the orchard that runs the local CSA.)  We get our first basket of stuff next Wednesday.  I'm really looking forward to it; it should be an adventure.  It was a kind of expensive initial outlay, but it should be well worth it.
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« Reply #14: April 28, 2008, 12:35:19 pm »

We're doing the CSA thing for the first time this year, too.  Ours offers an "egg share"--for a little extra you can get a half or full dozen eggs each week along with your produce.  (And related products; word is that we'll probably also get things like honey and cider from the orchard that runs the local CSA.)

Cool! (The one we're going through is opening up a farm kitchen this year, too - stuff like homemade pizza dough from someone who used to work in an artisan pizza place)

My sister's in a canning CSA in Madison which I think is a fabulous idea: you pay your share, they grow stuff, and then they process and can it for you (tomato sauce, pickles, canned fruit, etc.) My local friends prefer to process their own, but it's a great idea for my sister (who's a professor, and often travelling/doing research over a chunk of the summer, or *very* busy in later August/early Sept. when you might otherwise be canning.)
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