Well … it’s coming into Summer, so what better time to mention Christmas, eh? Not that I’m actually going to write about Christmas but rather those seasonal celebrations that mark the different stages of the Old Craft year – either as minor or major Sabbats, depending on your Tradition. In Coven of the Scales we mark the turning of the year at the Vernal Equinox (spring); Summer Solstice (summer); Autumnal Equinox (autumn) and the Mid-Winter Solstice (winter) as important fire-festivals.

The Vernal Equinox, whether the opposition likes to admit it or not, controls the dating of Easter each year … and Easter as we know was named for a pagan goddess! In 325 the Council of Nicaea decreed that Easter should be observed on the first Sunday following the first full moon after the spring equinox (March 21). Easter, therefore, can fall on any Sunday between March 22 and April 25. It must have been a pretty riotous bash because the bishops rewrote the Bible for propaganda purposes. The feast day of John the Baptist (24th June), was established by the Church to honour of the birth of the saint, which the Bible records as being six-months before that of Jesus. Conveniently, this coincided with the major celebration of the Mid-Summer Festival, or Summer Solstice on or around the 21st June which allowed it to correspond with the official birth day of Jesus that would henceforth be celebrated on the 25th December (the Winter Solstice).

The Summer Solstice heralds in Mid-Summer’s revelries and I’ve just submitted Sumer Is Icumen In: How to Survive (and Enjoy) the Mid-Summer Festival to Moon Books for consideration. When it comes down to research, it’s amazing just how much of the authentic Mid-Summer celebrations have been suppressed – having been fiddled around with to coincide with the Church calendar’s St John’s Day. The Swedes are the only ones who appear to thoroughly enjoy their midsummer celebrations and so we suggest we take a leaf out of their flower wreaths and bind them in our hair …

Fortunately, the Autumnal Equinox still retains most of its pagan heritage intact and Song of Harvest Home is currently in preparation. The Winter Solstice , of course, has already been dealt with in Have a Cool Yule, while Now ‘Tis Spring … brings us full circle with all the old festivals reclaimed for pagan celebration.

That severe bout of conference fever that inflicted the delegates at Nicea turned the whole (of the Christian) world upside down. The Emperor, Constantine brought together bishops from all over Christendom in order to resolve some divisive issues and ensure the continued unity of the church – and they must have thought they’d never be found out. Today, those Nicea chickens have come home to roost and there’s a pagan fox in the hen house!

Still on an avian subject, the second book in the Ignotus-Arcanum series, Talking to Crows is now in publication, following Sacrifice To the Gods and Hag Stones is currently in production. Several interesting titles are in the various stages of preparation and these handy little how-to books will build into a useful and unique library for traditional British Old Craft … and they don’t take very long to write, either.

Have A Cool Yule: How-To Survive (and Enjoy) the Mid-Winter Festival by Melusine Draco is published by Moon Books in their Pagan Portals series. ISBN 978 1 78535 711 4 : 82 pages : Price UK£6.99/US$10.95 ; Available in paperback and e-book format

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