Wednesday, December 26, 2012

ADF High Days

ADF High Days
Short essays on each of the eight ADF High Days including a discussion of the meaning of each feast. (125 words min. each)

Samhain is the time of year when the leaves are falling from the trees and the threat of snow hides behind every cloud and in every gust of wind.  The world begins to get cooler and darker as we near even closer to the longest night.  In the modern age Halloween has become the time of year when people feel free to do things that are otherwise considered “taboo.”  For example, we tell our children to both talk to and take candy from strangers.  It is impossible to walk through any store and not know this High day is approaching.  Jack-o-lanterns and pumpkins seem to take over every porch.  However, in Neopagan tradition Halloween isn’t about monsters and dressing up.  It’s a time to honor the ancestors.  It’s also supposed to be the time when the veil between our realm and the realm of the dead is thinnest, making it the easiest time to contact that Kindred. For me, it’s a time to share stories of my family with my son.  It’s when I try to remember the ancestors and the lives they lived and celebrate the harvest before the world fades into the darkness of winter. (198 words)

For the scientific world, Yule is the winter solstice where we encounter the longest night of the year.  For some Neopagans this time of year is observed by honoring Hecate for her aid in guiding us through the darkness and Helios for his return to the world.  For me it is a time of celebration.  It’s a time of family and togetherness, when we are celebrating the start of the coldest part of the year with Yule Logs, decorated trees, and family. It is also learning that hand-in-hand you will walk through the darkness and emerge into the light.  Gifts have become an incredibly prevalent focus for this High Day.  While I do partake in the exchange of gifts, I try to establish the focus on the love behind any gift and the importance of that as opposed to the monetary value.   (142 words)

Imbolc is the time of year where I begin to prepare for the return of spring and the rebirth of the natural world.  For many members of the Neopagan community it is the festival of Brigid.  My first Imbolc on after joining ADF brought the meaning clearly into focus. I was eight months pregnant with my first child, a son, so while the world was preparing to return to life and welcome the sun, I was preparing to bring life into the world and welcome my son.  I have never experienced this type of connection to a high day so it was intensely emotional and one of the most amazing feelings I have ever had during a ritual.  I hope, in the future, to be able to share this newfound love for life with my son and to help him to appreciate the natural world as much as I do.  (151 words)

Ostara is the spring equinox.  It’s one of the times of year where night and day are equal and in balance.  The sun is slowly making its return to power.  After the equinox, the light finally overtakes the darkness again and begins its rule.  It’s a time of fertility and growth, which is becoming even more present in the natural world.  The plants begin to come to life, sprouting from the cool grey world and the cold wet snow begins to melt away and become, once again, just a distant memory.   The Earth is again reborn and we begin to see new animals brought into the world.  The presence of life is ever increasing.  The spring equinox is often known as “Ostara” which is a Germanic goddess of fertility.  To me, that is a very clear and understandable association with what is happening in the world around us during this time of year.  For me it is when the weather begins to warm and I spend more time outside.  I start to explore and appreciate the natural world again and begin to prepare for the hot summer sun.   (186 words)

Beltane is a festival to celebrate the fire of life and fertility.  Bonfires and Maypoles often represent these two aspects of the high day during modern celebrations.  The fires are meant to help warm the world and encourage the sun to return.  The maypole is meant to represent fertility and encourages the fun and playful aspects of spring.  It’s a time the world begins to turn green again and flowers are starting to sprout.  It’s a beautiful time of year.  For me, it’s a time that I spend more time with my family, as they are all incredible gardeners so the plants and flowers are beginning to be planted and become more present.  It is definitely my favorite time of year.  I love spending time outdoors enjoying the natural world and watching the world change. (135 words)

Midsummer is a celebration of the longest day of the year.   It’s the time that the sun is at its highest power.  For me, the summer solstice was one I have always approached with mixed feelings.  I love the warmth of the sun and the bright world around me, but I also realize that the days will begin to grow shorter from that point on.  It’s a day that represents the power of light and how incredibly blessed we are to have that, but it also shows how important the darkness of night is for our well-being.  In Greek mythos it is now that Demeter’s joy at having her daughter home reaches its peak and will soon begin to retreat as she realizes her daughter must once again return to the Underworld.  As a child I loved this time of year.  I lived in a very small town where my curfew was “dark” so it meant even more time for me to run, play, and explore the world around.   (169 words)

This high day is observed as the first harvest festival of the year.  It’s a time when many early grains, apples, and other harvests are reaching the point that they are ready to be picked while other crops are still growing and developing.  It is a time for both being thankful for the harvests already occurring and hoping for continued profitable harvests throughout the rest of the season.  For some tradtions, it is the day where we celebrate Lugh with bonfires and dancing, and bread made from the freshly harvested grains. In the modern world, this is day generally signifies the end of summer for children.  School is right around the corner, so we begin to prepare ourselves for learning and developing, fostering the growth in our minds to be as fruitful as the crops we hope to produce.(139 words)

Autumn Equinox
The autumn equinox is the time of year when day and night are once again equal, signifying that the world will once again begin to grow colder and darker.  From this point forward the domination of the night becomes more obvious.  It is also a time of harvest and family, as well as an incredible time for magick.  I look forward to this high day because I love the fall season as well as the feelings in the air, the energy of the world, and the way everything changes as the weather begins to cool.  In my region the weather is usually still warm enough that you have to look at the calendar to realize that fall has started.  Often it isn’t until nearly Samhain when the weather cools and leaves begin to change colors.   (135 words)

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