July begins with a solar eclipse today visible in some hemispheres; heralds the unofficial start to the Summer season in the Northern regions, and is the end of an astrological downturn that has enveloped us all for the past two years!
Although there are no Pagan holidays to enjoy, those of us in the U.S. can easily adapt Independence Day as a fabulous celebration in the Wiccan way!
July kicks off the season with the return of long days, warm nights and Nature’s own sparklers, which are my all-time personal favorites – fireflies!
What is July 4th without family, friends, food, and for adults, some appropriate alcoholic beverages? As Wiccans, we love to celebrate the glories of Nature, and summer provides so many outdoor opportunities to do just that.
If you’ve never celebrated an Esbats' ritual outdoors, July provides the nighttime warmth to comfortably dance and celebrate the Goddess under the stars. Adults of any gender or sexual orientation may even decide to worship the Goddess outside in the wild abandon of a primal sexual union.
Is it any wonder then, that Dionysus (or Bacchus) is often honored at this time of year?
Dionysus (Bacchus), the God of Wine and Ecstasy
Bacchus – whom the Greeks knew as Dionysus – was a latecomer to the Olympic Pantheon and is most often said to be the son of Zeus by the mortal woman Semele.
Semele appealed to Zeus to reveal himself to her in his true form, and she was literally consumed in fire by the glory of his thunder and lightning. In the mythology, Zeus took the unborn child into his own body, later giving birth to him through his thigh.
This is a later account, however, for Dionysus was the name of the old, wild agricultural God of Thrace and Phrygia. Semele is also associated with the Phrygian Earth Goddess Zemelo.
Though he is credited with discovering grapes and the art of wine-making, Dionysus (Bacchus) was the god of more than wine. He is also referred to as the god of the wilds – not the wilds of visible nature where Artemis reigns, but the wilds that extend so far and so deep within the secret regions of the human personality.
Within the heart of the worship of Dionysus (Bacchus) lies the recognition of our need for an occasional release from the bonds of custom and even respectability. He represents a permanent human force. It is a force that every era and culture seeks, if not to suppress, to channel and contain. This urge to “let oneself go” is not a bad thing, provided we are aware of it and ensure that we do nothing to harm another, or ourselves. To resist and deny Dionysus (Bacchus) and the so-called “wild” side of our inner selves, is to reject a measure of deep, honest joy that is every person’s birthright.
A beautiful romance involves the tale of Dionysus and Ariadne. Ariadne, who was a beautiful Cretan Princess, had abandoned her homeland to run away with the Greek hero, Theseus.
However, Theseus tired of her and soon abandoned her on the island of Naxos. In despair, she flung herself into the sea but was rescued by Dionysus (Bacchus). They fell in love and he made her his Priestess. When she finally died, he hurled the crown he had given her into the heavens where it remains as the constellation Corona. This tale formed part the “Dionysian Mysteries” that were performed in the Roman town of Pompeii.
The rites of Dionysus were introduced into Athens by Peisistratus in the Mid-6th Century BCE. His temple was built at the Acropolis and his priests and priestesses were accompanied by masked performers of the god's stories, who were called tragodoi (literally "goat singers"). These performances became the basis of the Greek Tragedy, which was the origin of theatre in the west.
Dionysian masks were often used as antefixes on the walls of temples.
Important July Dates
— July 1, 3:54 a.m. – New Moon, 3:38 a.m., Solar Eclipse
At 9 degrees Cancer, the New Moon solar eclipse on July 1 is the last of the Capricorn-Cancer eclipse series, and represents a wrap-up or resolution of a difficult situation that began in mid-2009.
You may have another couple of weeks of "cleanup" to do – until the Full Moon on July 15. But overall, the challenge you've faced for the past two years will fade away in the rearview mirror, and not a moment too soon! Everyone is exhausted and ready for a break.
Most of us have had a harrowing two years, complicated by the eclipses in cardinal Capricorn and Cancer. And while the last one forms a tense grand cross with Saturn, Uranus and Pluto, it's going to be a relief for us, and that the tears we shed will include tears of gratitude that we're still here and still standing.
The chart for this eclipse is intimidating, dominated by a bright red grand cross. However, there are two very clear "outs" – paths where blocked energy can flow and be put to positive use.
The first is a trine between Pluto and Jupiter. This easy aspect supports transformation and positive change. Finding solutions to problems requires expanding the mind. We can do that now. Both planets are in earth signs and suggest tangible, material results.
The second flows between Saturn and Mars, the planet of action. In Gemini, it's speedy action, too, although there's a risk that there may be more talk than action. Still, with Saturn recently returned direct and Mars in an air sign, we can put on our thinking caps, come up with realistic plans, and do the hard work necessary to get the results we want. And it will be hard work. The inconjunct between Mars and Pluto suggests that acting without thinking things through could end up a total waste of energy.
The real difficulty here is the square from the Sun and Moon to Saturn. For many of us, moving in a new direction required leaving something or someone behind. Even though we may feel confident that we made the right decision, loss is sad and painful. Cancer is the sentimental sign of the zodiac, so we could be very emotional for a day or two on either side of the eclipse.
— July 4, U.S. Independence Day
We the People
They say "we the people" started this nation that endures
The beautiful land that is mine, the same land that is yours
Founding fathers knew eternity is a right smart piece of time
As they pledged allegiance to the source of their rhythm and rhyme
Must "we" became "they" at the end of the day,
or does every generation have something to say?
"O say can you see, by the dawn's early light,"
was it "we" or "they" that gives us the right?
~ Michael D Nalley
— July 15, 1:40 a.m., Full Moon
Moon of 1,001 Obeisances
The Capricorn Full moon is the time to consider the polarities of leadership and service. One who wishes to lead must first learn to serve. Capricorn is the sign of mastery, and of service, performing thankless tasks willingly for the greater good. Bees and ants understand how service roles support the group.
Rituals are performed through the orderly fulfillment of roles and tasks, often using ritual tools. Undertaking humble tasks with a willing heart creates a unified spirit of sacredness.
A Solitary Practitioner may emphasize each task in the circle-casting and ritual procedure. Slowly move through the ritual, mentally assuming the role of acolyte, cup-bearer, circle-caster, and finally, invoker of a deity. Bow at each direction and bow to the representation of the chosen deity.
In a group, these roles are assigned to each coven member, plus censer-holder, athame-wielder, paten-holder, etc. Each member concentrates on performing their task humbly and quietly, without ego. Honor the gods through bowing, kneeling, gifts and service. It is no coincidence that leaders are often those who gave the greatest service to the group and the gods.
~ Elizabeth Hazel in Llewellyn's 2011 Witches' Datebook
Stone of the Month: Fire Agate
Fire agate is a stone of courage, protection, and strength. Mystical lore says that it relieves fears, halts gossip and even reflects any threat of harm back to the source.
Fire agate can help with spiritual advancement and progression. It promotes and enhances energy, including meditation, ritual, and spiritual healing energies. It also balances masculine (active) and feminine (receptive) energies.
It is also said that it can take the edge off the emotional charge of problems. Fire agate is often used in spells to increase skills in communication in writing and speaking. It can also heighten creative visualization. It can be used for amplifying psychic talents. It has been used by shamans for stimulating clairvoyance and in order to evoke images and memories of other lives.
In healing, it is considered to increase the natural talents and abilities of healing. Metaphysical healing lore professes that fire agate assists with healing of the circulatory system, lymph system, and intestines.
Fire agate is associated primarily with the sacral, and root chakras.
Rune of the Month: Hagalaz
Hagalaz (H: Hail.) represents the wrath of nature, destructive, uncontrolled forces, especially the weather, or within the unconscious; tempering, testing, and trial. It can be used to control crisis, leading to completion, inner harmony.
Thus, Hagalaz Merkstave (Hagalaz cannot be reversed, but may lie in opposition) represents natural disaster, catastrophe; stagnation; loss of power; pain, loss, suffering, hardship, sickness, and crisis.
Tarot Card of the Month: 10 of Pentacles
The Ten of Pentacles heralds great accomplishment and success, suggesting that you have reached the pinnacle of your career or goal. This is also a card of stability and certainty, highlighting that you have established a solid foundation for your future career path.
Correspondence of the Month: Time of Day
Sunrise – Purification, business, success, study, travel, employment, breaking habits, guilt, jealousy, healing disease, and conscious mind.
Noon – Magickal energy, physical energy, strength, protection, money, courage.
Sunset – Breaking addictions, weight loss, banishing, misery, pain, anguish, negative habits.
Night – Beauty, dreams, psychic dreams, awareness, sex, spirituality, purification, love, friendship, peace, releasing stress.
Herb of the Month: Aloe Vera
Gender – Feminine
Parts Used – Entire plant
Magickal Properties – Protection, attracting luck
Uses – Hang at front door, in the kitchen, in doorways and hallways to attract luck, and protect the inhabitants.
Spell of the Month: Rain Cumulus
For the Solitary Practitioner – Simply select a bowl that feels good to you and fill it with cool water. Cast a Magickal Circle, after placing the bowl within its confines. After the casting is complete, sit directly in front of the bowl and repeat the following chant over it:
"Water Nymphs strike the clouds so rain will fall freely to the ground."
While chanting, visualize the area that needs rain, then see the clouds gathering overhead. See the cumulus clouds darken and gradually increase their moisture until they are laden and bursting with water. Next, see these glorious clouds release a fresh rain storm over the area that you have visualized needs the rain.
— Danu’s Daughter