November Festivities

thanksgiving-card-2009
Thanksgiving Day is a national holiday celebrated in Canada and the United States. It was originally celebrated as a day of giving thanks for the blessing of the harvest and of the preceding year. Thanksgiving is celebrated on the second Monday of October in Canada and on the fourth Thursday of November in the United States. Several other places around the world observe similar celebrations. Although Thanksgiving has historical roots in religious and cultural traditions, it has long been celebrated in a secular manner as well.

This is the perfect time of year for everyone around the world to be thankful for what they’ve been given.

  • Sit quietly for a few minutes in complete silence. It’s best if you’re alone, and you close your eyes. Remove all problems from your thoughts for a moment. Push everything aside.

Then… think about what you DO have:

  • Are you breathing? Yes, you are. Be thankful that you’ve been given LIFE…the biggest miracle of all.
  • Do you have loved ones? Be thankful that they are in your life.
  • Do you have a roof over your head – even if it’s hard to pay for? Be thankful for that… many people don’t.
  • Are you starving? No? Be thankful that you have food to eat. There are millions starving around the world that would love to have some food from your cupboard.

Think for a moment how lucky you are to be alive… even if it’s not always easy.

390034_10150389840631962_696038239_n1Themes: Creativity; Energy; Communication; Balance; Harmony; Change
Symbols: Bow and Arrow; White Items; Milk; Seawater
Presiding Goddess: Leucothea

About Leucothea:

In Greek tradition, this woman gave birth to the centaurs and was a wet nurse to Dionysus. Her name translates as “milk-white goddess,” alluding to a strong maternal nature. In later times she became a sea goddess, bearing the visage of a mermaid. Through this transformation we see the mingling of the spiritual nature (water) with that of the earth (half-human appearance) to create Sagittarius’s customary energies.

To Do Today (November 23):

In astrology, Sagittarius is the centurion archer who represents a harmonious mingling of physical and spiritual living. Those born under this sign tend toward idealism, upbeat outlooks, and confidence. Like Leucothea, Sagitrarians seem to have a strong drive for justice, especially for those people under their care.

To consume a bit of Leucothea’s maternal nature or invoke her spiritual balance in your life, make sure to include milk or milk products in your diet today. Or, wear something white to figuratively don her power.

For help with personal transformations, especially those that encourage personal comfort and tranquility, soak in a nice long saltwater or milk bath today. As you do, ask Leucothea to show you the right steps to take next.

From: 365 Goddess

Eriskegal, great black mother of the House of Dust,
you who wait at the end of every life,
cast your dim black gaze upon the just
and, blinking once, give them rebirth.

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While November is the eleventh month on modern calendars, it was once the ninth, as evidenced by the Latin number novem. In the United States, November contains one of the oldest national holidays – Thanksgiving.

Actually, festivals of gratitude combine with late harvest festivals in many parts of the world; at this time people pray for divine providence and give thanks for the earth’s bounty. Other predominant festivals during early winter months include commemorative rites for the dead and rituals that protect individuals or whole communities from evil influences.

For people living in four-season climates, the snows begin to accumulate and winter winds decorate the windows with frosty reminders of the outside chill. Because of this, magic for continued health is fitting during November, as are spells and charms for protection.

Wintery months also seem to be a time for introspection – to us divination tools for foresight and preparation, to seek guidance within, and to ask the Goddess for a special spiritual vision to carry us through the last months of the year.

Source: 365 Goddess 
Image from: 2008 Witches 
Calendar

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Stir-up Sunday is an informal term in Anglican churches for the last Sunday before the season of Advent. It gets its name from the beginning of the collect for the day in the Book of Common Prayer, which begins with the words, “Stir up, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people”. But it has become associated with the custom of making the Christmas puddings on that day.

Why not blend the best of both worlds? Invoke the Goddess Hestia’s blessing in your kitchen and make some pudding for the whole family (or a gathering of friends). Traditionally, families gather together in the kitchen of their homes to mix and steam Christmas pudding on Stir-up Sunday. Parents taught their children how to mix ingredients for the pudding. Everyone took a turn to stir the pudding mix for each person involved is able to make a special wish for the year ahead. Practically, stirring the mixture is hard work, therefore as many as possible are involved.

By tradition the pudding mixture is stirred from East to West in honor of the three wise men who visited the baby Jesus.Have each person present stir the pudding clockwise for a few minutes as they focus on a wish. By next year at this time, the wish should manifest.

It was common practice to include small silver coins in the pudding mixture, which could be kept by the person whose serving included them. The usual choice was a silver threepence or a sixpence. The coin was believed to bring wealth in the coming year. Other tokens are also known to have been included, such as a tiny wishbone (to bring good luck), a silver thimble (for thrift), or an anchor (to symbolise safe harbour).

On a historical note:

The Christmas pudding is one of the essential British Christmas traditions and is said to have been introduced to Britain by Prince Albert, husband of Queen Victoria (the reality is that the meat-less version was introduced from Germany by George I in 1714.). Most recipes for Christmas pudding require it to be cooked well in advance of Christmas and then reheated on Christmas day, so the collect of the day served as a useful reminder.

About Hestia:

The Greek goddess of household affairs, Hestia watches over our cookery today to help manifest family unity and ensure tasty outcomes. As a hearth goddess, she provides the spiritual energy necessary to keep our faith sure and the inner fires burning bright. Greek art did not try to portray this goddess, because she was considered the beginning – the source from which all else was ignited and set in motion.

Light a candle this morning to welcome Hestia’s unity and energy into your home. Or, carry matches in your pocket so the spark of this goddess can ignite in any situation where it’s needed. Throughout the day, when you need more commitment to your beliefs, just light one match to invoke Hestia’s aid.

Collected from various sources

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What follows is a list (in alphabetical order) of the names given to the November moon. Also listed is the tradition and/or origin of that moon name:

  • All Gathered Moon ~San Juan, Native American
  • Beaver Moon, ~Algonquin, Native American, Colonial
  • Corn Harvest Moon ~Taos
  • Dark Moon ~other
  • Dead Moon ~Janic (dark)
  • Deer Antler Shedding Moon ~other
  • Deer Rutting Moon ~Cheyenne
  • Falling Leaves Moon ~Sioux
  • Fog Moon ~other
  • Fledgling Raptor Moon ~Hopi
  • Freezing River Moon ~Arapaho
  • Frosty Moon ~Algonquin, Native American, Colonial
  • Geese Going Moon ~Kiowa
  • Itartoryuk Moon ~Inuit
  • Mad Moon ~other
  • Mourning Moon ~Janic (full)
  • Oak Moon ~other
  • Poverty Moon ~Mohawk
  • Snow Moon ~Mediaeval English
  • Snowy Morning Mountains Moon ~Wishram
  • Storm Moon ~other
  • Trading Moon ~Cherokee
  • Tree Moon ~Neo Pagan

Source: Everything Under The Moon

Fireball in Leonid meteor shower. Image taken from Anza-Borrego desert, CA. Nov 17, 1998. Meteors, or shooting stars, are particles of dust that enter the Earth's atmosphere at speeds of 35-95 kilometers per second. The Leonid meteor shower occurs every y

The Leonids is an average shower, producing up to 15 meteors per hour at its peak. This shower is unique in that it has a cyclonic peak about every 33 years where hundreds of meteors per hour can be seen. That last of these occurred in 2001. The Leonids is produced by dust grains left behind by comet Tempel-Tuttle, which was discovered in 1865. The shower runs annually from November 6-30. Best viewing will be from a dark location after midnight. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Leo, but can appear anywhere in the sky.

Source: SeaSky

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The Taurids is a long-running minor meteor shower producing only about 5-10 meteors per hour. It is unusual in that it consists of two separate streams. The first is produced by dust grains left behind by Asteroid 2004 TG10. The second stream is produced by debris left behind by Comet 2P Encke. The shower runs annually from September 7 to December 10. Best viewing will be just after midnight from a dark location far away from city lights. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Taurus, but can appear anywhere in the sky.

Source: SeaSky

 

day-of-the-dead-dia-de-muertos-1944-xx-museo-de-arte-moderno-mexico-city

Although it’s customary in many traditions to spend time at the grave site, cleaning, caring, and sometimes bringing offerings of food and drink, particularly during Day of the Dead celebrations, (or any of other days specifically set aside to honor the dead), a more direct method was used in ancient Greece.

Create a blend of olive oil, honey, and spring water. This may be poured directly onto the grave, or poured through a tube into the grave. Meanwhile the living should picnic nearby while sharing remembrances of the deceased.

The Day of the Dead (El Día de los Muertos in Spanish) is a Mexican and Mexican-American celebration of deceased ancestors which occurs on November 1 and November 2, coinciding with the similar Roman Catholic celebrations of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day.

While it is primarily viewed as a Mexican holiday, it is also celebrated in communities in the United States with large populations of Mexican-Americans, and to a lesser extent elsewhere in Latin America.

Despite the morbid subject matter, this holiday is celebrated joyfully, and though it occurs at the same time as Halloween, All Saints’ Day, and All Souls’ Day, the mood of The Day of the Dead is much lighter, with the emphasis on celebrating and honoring the lives of the deceased, rather than fearing evil or malevolent spirits.

HISTORY OF DAY OF THE DEAD

The origins of the celebration of The Day of the Dead in Mexico can be traced back to the indigenous peoples of Latin America, such as the Aztecs, Mayans Purepecha, Nahua and Totonac.

Rituals celebrating the lives of dead ancestors had been performed by these Mesoamerican civilizations for at least 3,000 years. It was common practice to keep skulls as trophies and display them during rituals to symbolize death and rebirth.

The festival which was to become El Día de los Muertos fell on the ninth month of the Aztec Solar Calendar, near the start of August, and was celebrated for the entire month. Festivities were presided over by the goddess Mictecacihuatl, known as the “Lady of the Dead”. The festivities were dedicated to the celebration of children and the lives of dead relatives.

When the Spanish Conquistadors arrived in Central America in the 15th century they were appalled at the indigenous pagan practices, and in an attempt to convert the locals to Catholicism moved the popular festival to the beginning of November to coincide with the Catholic All Saints and All Souls days. All Saints’ Day is the day after Halloween, which was in turn based on the earlier pagan ritual of Samhain, the Celtic day and feast of the dead. The Spanish combined their custom of Halloween with the similar Mesoamerican festival, creating The Day of the Dead.

DAY OF THE DEAD TRIVIA

The souls of children are believed to return first on November 1, with adult spirits following on November 2.

Plans for the festival are made throughout the year, including gathering the goods that will be offered to the dead. During the period of October 31 and November 2 families usually clean and decorate the graves. Some wealthier families build altars in their homes, but most simply visit the cemeteries where their loved ones are buried and decorate their graves with ofrendas, or offerings. These include:

  • wreaths of marigold, which are thought to attract the souls of the dead toward the offerings
  • toys brought for dead children (los angelitos, or little angels)
  • bottles of tequila, mezcal, pulque or atole for adults.

Ofrendas are also put in homes, usually with foods and beverages dedicated to the deceased, some people believe the spirits of the deceased eat the spirit of the food, so after the festivity, they eat the food from the ofrendas, but think it lacks nutritional value.

In some parts of Mexico, like Mixquic, people spend all night beside the graves of their relatives.

Those gifted, like to write “calaveras”, these are little poems that mock epitaphs of friends. Newspapers dedicate “Calaveras” to public figures, with cartoons of skeletons. Theatrical presentations of “Don Juan Tenorio” by José Zorrilla (1817-1893) are also traditional on this day.

A common symbol of the holiday is the skull, which celebrants represent in masks called calacas. Sugar skulls, inscribed with the names of the deceased on the forehead, are often eaten by a relative or friend. Other special foods for El Día de los Muertos includes Pan de Muertos (bread of the dead), a sweet egg bread made in many shapes, from plain rounds to skulls and rabbits.

Source: Wikipedia

ofrendasHonoring the dead occurs in ancient cultures all over the world, and even in modern times it plays an important role in religions. It is founded on the belief that the dead live on and are able to influence the lives of later generations. These ancestors can assert their powers by blessing or cursing, and their worship is inspired by both respect and fear. Rituals consist of praying, presenting gifts, and making offerings. In some cultures, people try to get their ancestors’ advice through oracles before making important decisions.

The dead are believed by the peasantry of many Catholic countries to return to their former homes on All Souls’ Night and partake of the food of the living. In Tyrol, cakes are left for them on the table and the room kept warm for their comfort. In Brittany, people flock to the cemeteries at nightfall to kneel, bareheaded, at the graves of their loved ones, and to anoint the hollow of the tombstone with holy water or to pour libations of milk on it. At bedtime, the supper is left on the table for the souls. In Bolivia, many people believe that the dead eat the food that is left out for them. Some claim that the food is gone or partially consumed in the morning.

The Day of the Dead celebrations in Mexico and other countries can be traced back to the indigenous peoples such as the Olmec, Zapotec, Mixtec, Mexican, Aztec, Maya, P’urhépecha, and Totonac. Rituals celebrating the deaths of ancestors have been observed by these civilizations perhaps for as long as 2500–3000 years. In the pre-Hispanic era, it was common to keep skulls as trophies and display them during the rituals to symbolize death and rebirth.

day of the dead

The festival that became the modern Day of the Dead fell in the ninth month of the Aztec calendar, about the beginning of August, and was celebrated for an entire month. The festivities were dedicated to the goddess Mictecacihuatl, known as the “Lady of the Dead,” corresponding to the modern Catrina.

In most regions of Mexico, November 1st honors deceased children and infants where as deceased adults are honored on November 2nd. This is indicated by generally referring to November 1st mainly as “Día de los Inocentes” (Day of the Innocents) but also as “Día de los Angelitos” (Day of the Little Angels) and November 2nd as “Día de los Muertos” or “Día de los Difuntos” (Day of the Dead).

Many people believe that during the Day of the Dead, it is easier for the souls of the departed to visit the living. People will go to cemeteries to communicate with the souls of the departed, and will build private altars, containing the favorite foods and beverages, and photos and memorabilia, of the departed. The intent is to encourage visits by the souls, so that the souls will hear the prayers and the comments of the living directed to them. Celebrations can take a humorous tone, as celebrants remember funny events and anecdotes about the departed.

Plans for the festival are made throughout the year, including gathering the goods to be offered to the dead. During the period of November 1 and November 2, families usually clean and decorate graves; most visit the cemeteries where their loved ones are buried and decorate their graves with ofrendas, or offerings, which often include orange marigolds called “cempasúchitl.” In modern Mexico this name is often replaced with the term “Flor de Muerto” (“Flower of the Dead”). These flowers are thought to attract souls of the dead to the offerings.

Toys are brought for dead children (los angelitos, or little angels), and bottles of tequila, mezcal, pulque or atole for adults. Families will also offer trinkets or the deceased’s favorite candies on the grave. Ofrendas are also put in homes, usually with foods such as candied pumpkin, pan de muerto (“bread of the dead”) or sugar skulls and beverages such as atole. The ofrendas are left out in the homes as a welcoming gesture for the deceased. Some people believe the spirits of the dead eat the “spiritual essence” of the ofrenda food, so even though the celebrators eat the food after the festivities, they believe it lacks nutritional value. Pillows and blankets are left out so that the deceased can rest after their long journey. In some parts of Mexico, such as the towns of Mixquic, Pátzcuaro and Janitzio, people spend all night beside the graves of their relatives.

Some families build altars or small shrines in their homes. These altars usually have the Christian cross, statues or pictures of the Blessed Virgin Mary, pictures of deceased relatives and other persons, and scores of candles. Traditionally, families spend some time around the altar praying and telling anecdotes about the deceased. In some locations, celebrants wear shells on their clothing so when they dance the dead will wake up because of the noise. Some will dress up as the deceased.

Public schools at all levels build altars with offerings, usually omitting the religious symbols. Government offices usually have at least a small altar, as this holiday is seen as important to the Mexican heritage.

Those with writing talent sometimes create short poems, called “calaveras” (“skulls”), mocking epitaphs of friends, sometimes describing interesting habits and attitudes or some funny anecdotes. This custom originated in the 18th-19th century, after a newspaper published a poem narrating a dream of a cemetery in the future, “and all of us were dead”, proceeding to “read” the tombstones. Newspapers dedicate calaveras to public figures, with cartoons of skeletons in the style of José Guadalupe Posada, a Mexican illustrator. Theatrical presentations of Don Juan Tenorio by José Zorrilla (1817–1893) are also traditional on this day.

Island Pacanda, Lake Patzcuaro Mexico – Dia de los MuertosA common symbol of the holiday is the skull (colloquially called calavera), which celebrants represent in masks, called calacas (colloquial term for “skeleton”), and foods such as sugar skulls, which are inscribed with the name of the recipient on the forehead. Sugar skulls are gifts that can be given to both the living and the dead. Other holiday foods include pan de muerto, a sweet egg bread made in various shapes, from plain rounds to skulls and rabbits often decorated with white frosting to look like twisted bones.

José Guadalupe Posada created a famous print of a figure that he called “La Calavera de la Catrina” (“calavera of the female dandy”), as a parody of a Mexican upper class female. Posada’s striking image of a costumed female with a skeleton face has become associated with the Day of the Dead, and Catrina figures often are a prominent part of modern Day of the Dead observances.

The traditions and activities that take place in celebration of the Day of the Dead are not universal and often vary from town to town. For example, in the town of Pátzcuaro on the Lago de Pátzcuaro in Michoacán the tradition is very different if the deceased is a child rather than an adult. On November 1 of the year after a child’s death, the godparents set a table in the parents’ home with sweets, fruits, pan de muerto, a cross, a Rosary (used to ask the Virgin Mary to pray for them) and candles. This is meant to celebrate the child’s life, in respect and appreciation for the parents. There is also dancing with colorful costumes, often with skull-shaped masks and devil masks in the plaza or garden of the town. At midnight on November 2, the people light candles and ride winged boats called mariposas (Spanish for “butterfly”) to Janitzio, an island in the middle of the lake where there is a cemetery, to honor and celebrate the lives of the dead there.

In contrast, the town of Ocotepec, north of Cuernavaca in the State of Morelos opens its doors to visitors in exchange for ‘veladoras‘ (small wax candles) to show respect for the recently dead. In return, the visitors receive tamales and ‘atole‘. This is only done by the owners of the house where somebody in the household has died in the previous year. Many people of the surrounding areas arrive early to eat for free and enjoy the elaborate altars set up to receive the visitors from ‘Mictlán‘.

In some parts of the country, children in costumes roam the streets, asking passersby for a calaverita, a small gift of money; they don’t knock on people’s doors.

Some people believe that possessing “dia de los muertos” items can bring good luck. Many people get tattoos or have dolls of the dead to carry with them. They also clean their houses and prepare the favorite dishes of their deceased loved ones to place upon an altar.

Collected from various sources.

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