Monthly Archives: August 2017
The seventh lunar month in the traditional Chinese calendar is called Ghost Month. These dates vary from year to year, in 2017, Ghost Month runs from August 28 to September 19, and the Ghost Festival is on Sept 5.
On the first day of the month, the Gates of Hell are sprung open to allow ghosts and spirits access to the world of the living. The spirits spend the month visiting their families, feasting and and looking for victims.
There are three important days during Ghost Month. On the first day of the month, ancestors are honored with offerings of food, incense, and ghost money – paper money which is burned so the spirits can use it. These offerings are done at makeshift altars set up on sidewalks outside the house.
Almost as important as honoring your ancestors, offerings to ghosts without families must be made, so that they will not cause you any harm. Ghost month is the most dangerous time of the year, and malevolent spirits are on the look out to capture souls.
This makes ghost month a bad time to do activities such as evening strolls, traveling, moving house, or starting a new business. Many people avoid swimming during ghost month, since there are many spirits in the water which can try to drown you.
The 15th day of the month is Ghost Festival, sometimes called Hungry Ghost Festival. The Mandarin name of this festival is zhōng yuán jié (中元節 / 中元节). This is the day when the spirits are in high gear. It’s important to give them a sumptuous feast, to please them and to bring luck to the family. Taoists and Buddhists perform ceremonies on this day to ease the sufferings of the deceased.
The last day of the month is when the Gates of Hell are closed up again. The chants of Taoist priests inform the spirits that it’s time to return, and as they are confined once again to the underworld, they let out an unearthly wail of lament.
The idea of a feast for the ghosts comes from a story of Buddhism. Moggallana was one of Buddha Shakyamuni’s best students. He had various supernormal powers and owned the divine eyes. One day, he saw his deceased mother had been born among hungry ghosts.
He went down the Hell, filled a bowl with food to provide for his mother. Before reaching his mother’s month, the food turned into burning coals which couldn’t be eaten. Moggallana cried sorrowfully and asked for help from Buddha.
Buddha said the sins of his mother were deep and firmly rooted, and couldn’t be forgiven just using the divine power. It would require the combined power of thousand monks to get rid of her sins. Buddha told Moggallana:
“the 15th day of the 7th lunar month is the Pavarana Day for the assembled monks of all directions. You should prepare an offering of clean basins full of hundreds of flavors and the five fruits, and other offerings of incense, oil, lamp, candle… to the greatly virtuous assembled monks. Your present parents and parents of seven generations will escape from sufferings.”
Following Buddha’s instructions, Moggallana’s mother obtained liberation from sufferings as a hungry ghost by receiving the power of the merit and virtue form the awesome spiritual power of assembled monks on 15th day of the 7th lunar month.
Today, similar rituals are held in the Buddhism temples on this day for the deliverance of all suffering spirits.
Found at: Mandarin.About.Com and other sources
Formerly known as Woman Suffrage Day, August 26 marks the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (1920), granting women the right to vote. Ratification came in Tennessee, where suffragist (Anitia) Lili Pollitzer, age 25, persuaded Tennessee state legislator Harry T. Burn, age 24, to cast the deciding vote.
“I know that a mother’s advice is always safest for a boy to follow,” he said, “and my mother wanted me to vote for ratification.”
The country’s 26 million voting-age women were enfranchised by this change in the Constitution. Longtime suffragist Carrie Chapman Catt summed up her experiences in the battle this way: “Never in the history of politics has there been such a nefarious lobby as labored to block the ratification.”
Upon ratification, Catt founded the League of Women Voters, an organization now dedicated to providing impartial, in-depth information about candidates, platforms, and ballot issues.
The 23rd of August marks the Ancient Greek holiday of Nemesia, – the festival of the Goddess Nemesis – the Goddess of Fate, Revenge, and Divine Retribution. Blood sacrifices were traditional on this day.
- Note: According to some sources the Nemesia fell on August 21.
This purpose of this festival was to ‘avert the nemesis of the dead’ in order that they could steer away the suffering or punishment of the living.
The goddess Nemesia, very basically, is the Spirit of Retribution against one’s own arrogance before the gods. Because she had this dual-nature, being both fortune and retribution, the Cults would celebrate in her honor to make sure they did not face her fury and could indeed have the gifts of fortune bestowed upon them. In many cases, she was worshiped by generals and gladiators who would pray for strength in combat. But surely this was not all.
She was invoked against those whose hubris and arrogance got the better of them, and served as a force of divine reckoning. She also appears in both Greek and later Roman mythology as an avenging force protecting those who have been violently wronged by their lovers. During the Imperial period of Rome, Nemesis was adopted as a patroness of victorious generals, and of gladiators entering the arena.
The Cult of Nemesia was later associated with Fortuna in Imperial Rome, the cult of Nemesis-Fortuna, which honored Nemesis as the deliberate balance to the random chance of Fortuna’s selections.The all-powerful Nemesia-Fortuna was worshiped by the Freemen of Hadrian and was considered to have a dual-nature about her.
This dual-nature in Nemesia is something which seems to me symbolic of our human nature. We have this spirit of fortune but also this spirit of retribution within us. At least I do.
On August 17, Cat Nights Begin, harking back to a rather obscure Irish legend concerning witches; this bit of folklore also led to the idea that a cat has nine lives.
The term Cat Nights refers to a rather obscure old Irish legend concerning witches and the belief that a witch could turn herself into a cat eight times, but on the ninth time (August 17), she couldn’t regain her human form, thus remaining a cat forever.
This bit of folklore also gives us the saying, “A cat has nine lives.”
Because August is a yowly time for cats, this may have prompted the speculation about witches on the prowl in the first place.
Here’s a poem in honor of Cat Nights:
By old Irish lore
on the 17th of August
more cats are among us
than ever before.
It is said that witches
can turn into a cat.
But no more than eight switches
as a matter of fact.
On the ninth switch
they cannot regain
their life as a witch.
A cat they must remain.
So if in mid August
you should hear the cats yowl
amongst sounds of the locust
when cats are on the prowl
Then you will know
as lore was told over time
that cats will show
lives as many as nine.
By V. Neumann
Found at: The Old Farmer’s Almanac
According to Japanese Buddhist belief, every summer at this time spirits of the dead return to visit their families. O-Bon is a Buddhist ceremony for welcoming back and appeasing the souls of our ancestors.
During the course of this festival, the souls of the dead are guided home, feted for several days, and then sent back to the spirit world.
The formal name of this festival is Ura-Bon, and generally falls on Aug 13 thru Aug 15. Depending on the region, however, the Bon Festival may be held one month earlier, or July 13th-15th.
The word O-Bon has its roots in the Sanskrit word ullambana, which means ‘deliverance from suffering’. The festival combines early Buddhist rituals designed to rescue the souls of the dead from hell, with native Japanese agricultural rites and the Shinto tradition of welcoming back the souls of ancestors in late summer.
Traditionally, the bones of the deceased are placed in individual urns and kept with their ancestors in a family tomb (ohaka). For several consecutive evenings during the week of O-Bon, paper lanterns painted with the family crest are hung to guide the ancestral spirits to the ohaka.
Alternatively, small welcoming fires (mukaebi) may be lit at the entrance to the home, or in front of the gate early on the evening of the 13th to receive the souls of the ancestors.
It is also customary at this time to clean the family grave and present fresh flowers and incense. Those who are unable to travel to their family burial place may instead spruce up the domestic altar. Houses are cleaned and decorated and a place is sometimes set at the family table for the recently departed.
Although many Japanese also hold Shinto beliefs, it is Buddhism that is associated with rituals concerned with death. Therefore it is the Buddhist household altar — the butsudan — that remains the focus of attention during O-Bon.
Offering stands and a small tray with tiny dishes for the symbolic meals offered to the ancestors are brought out, and a special shelf (Shoryodana or ‘Shelf of Souls’) is set up in front of the altar; it is here that, for the duration of O-Bon, the spirits are believed to dwell.
At the end of three days (on the 16th), the lanterns are again set out to guide the spirits back, and an okuribi (farewell) fire is lit to see off the souls of the ancestors.
Collected from various sources including Mythic Maps
In Italy, August 13 is the Day of Hekate. Hekate is an exceptionally powerful spirit. She holds dominion over life, death, regeneration, and magic. She rules wisdom, choices, expiation, victory, vengeance, and travel. Hekate guards the frontier between life and death. She is an intermediary between the spirit world and that of humans. She is the witness to all crimes, especially those against women and children.
Here’s a Hekate Ritual from “Moon Magick” by D.J. Conway. While this ritual can be done on any day dedicated to this Queen of the Night, the Spirit World, and Witchcraft, I thought this might be something interesting for today:
You will need:
- a ritual dagger
- small cauldron
- a wand
- an apple
- a piece of black cloth
- a small bit of salt
- other ritual items you might choose to use.
Put the apple in the cauldron and cover the cauldron with the black cloth. Cast your circle. With the wand tap the cauldron five times and say:
Hekate, Wise one, I ask your blessings.
Lift the Veil for me that I may greet my spirit helpers,
Long-ago friends from other lives, and those who are new.
Let only those who wish me well enter within this sacred place.
Uncover the cauldron. Take out the apple, raise it in offering, and lay it on the altar.
Hekate, your Magick cauldron is the well of death and rebirth
An experience each of us under goes again and again.
Let there be no fear in me, for I know your gentleness,
Here is your secret symbol of life in death.
Cut the apple crosswise with the dagger. Contemplate the revealed pentagram in the core. Put the two halves of the apple back into the cauldron and cover them again with the black cloth.
Only the initiated may know your hidden Mysteries.
Only the true seekers may find the spiral way.
Only those who know your many secret faces
May find the Light that leads to the Inner Way.
Put a pinch of salt on your tongue:
I am mortal, yet immortal.
There is no end to life, only new beginnings.
I walk beside the Goddess in her many forms.
Therefore, I have nothing to fear.
Open my mind and heart and soul
To the Deep Mysteries of the Cauldron, O Hekate.
Do a meditation on seeking the Dark Moon goddess. Listen to her messages. Be aware of any new guides and teacher who may come through to help you.
The phrase “Dog Days” refers to the hottest days of summer. The Old Farmer’s Almanac lists the traditional timing of the Dog Days: the 40 days beginning July 3 and ending August 11, coinciding with the heliacal (at sunrise) rising of the Dog Star, Sirius.
The rising of Sirius does not actually affect the weather (some of our hottest and most humid days occur after August 11), but for the ancient Egyptians, Sirius appeared just before the season of the Nile’s flooding so they used the star as a “watchdog” for that event. Since its rising also coincided with a time of extreme heat, the connection with hot, sultry weather was made for all time.
More about the Dog Days can be found here: Dog Days of Summer
What is a meteor shower?
A meteor shower is a spike in the number of meteors or “shooting stars” that streak through the night sky.
Most meteor showers are spawned by comets. As a comet orbits the Sun it sheds an icy, dusty debris stream along its orbit. If Earth travels through this stream, we will see a meteor shower. Although the meteors can appear anywhere in the sky, if you trace their paths, the meteors in each shower appear to “rain” into the sky from the same region.
Meteor showers are named for the constellation that coincides with this region in the sky, a spot known as the radiant. For instance, the radiant for the Leonid meteor shower is in the constellation Leo. The Perseid meteor shower is so named because meteors appear to fall from a point in the constellation Perseus.
Visit our Almanac Page to find out which meteor showers may be visible each month and when they will be at their best, or follow this tag Meteor Shower, to see posts on all the meteor showers visible from earth.
What are shooting stars?
“Shooting stars” and “falling stars” are both names that describe meteors — streaks of light across the night sky caused by small bits of interplanetary rock and debris called meteoroids vaporizing high in Earth’s upper atmosphere. Traveling at tens of thousands of miles an hour, meteoroids quickly ignite from the searing friction with the atmosphere, 30 to 80 miles above the ground. Almost all are destroyed in this process; the rare few that survive and hit the ground are known as meteorites.
When a meteor appears, it seems to “shoot” quickly across the sky, and its small size and intense brightness might make you think it is a star. If you’re lucky enough to spot a meteorite (a meteor that makes it all the way to the ground), and see where it hits, it’s easy to think you just saw a star “fall.”
How can I best view a meteor shower?
Get away from the glow of city lights and toward the constellation from which the meteors will appear to radiate.
For example, drive north to view the Leonids. Driving south may lead you to darker skies, but the glow will dominate the northern horizon, where Leo rises. Perseid meteors will appear to “rain” into the atmosphere from the constellation Perseus, which rises in the northeast around 11 p.m. in mid-August.
After you’ve escaped the city glow, find a dark, secluded spot where oncoming car headlights will not periodically ruin your sensitive night vision. Look for state or city parks or other safe, dark sites.
Once you have settled at your observing spot, lie back or position yourself so the horizon appears at the edge of your peripheral vision, with the stars and sky filling your field of view. Meteors will instantly grab your attention as they streak by.
How do I know the sky is dark enough to see meteors?
If you can see each star of the Little Dipper, your eyes have “dark adapted,” and your chosen site is probably dark enough. Under these conditions, you will see plenty of meteors.
What should I pack for meteor watching?
Treat meteor watching like you would the 4th of July fireworks. Pack comfortable chairs, bug spray, food and drinks, blankets, plus a red-filtered flashlight for reading maps and charts without ruining your night vision. Binoculars are not necessary. Your eyes will do just fine.
In August, we celebrate the beginning of the Corn Moon. This moon phase is also known as the Barley Moon, and carries on the associations of grain and rebirth that we saw back at Lammastide. August was originally known as Sextilis by the ancient Romans, but was later renamed for Augustus (Octavian) Caesar. Some Native American tribes knew that the sturgeon of the Great Lakes and Lake Champlain were most readily caught during this full Moon, for them it was the Full Sturgeon Moon. Others called it the Green Corn Moon or the Grain Moon.
- Element: Fire
- Colors: Yellow, red, orange, gold
- Gemstones: Tigers eye, carnelian, garnet, red agate, fire agate, jasper,
- Trees: Cedarm alder, hazel
- Gods: Vulcan, Mars, Nemesis, Hecate, Hathor, Thoth, Ganesha, Diana
- Nature Spirits: dryads
- Herbs: Rosemary, basil, rue, chamomile, St Johns wort, bay, angelica, fennel, rue, orange
- Flowers: Sunflower, marigold
- Scents: Frankincense, heliotrope
- Animals: lion, phoenix, sphinx and the dragon
- Birds: crane, falcon, eagle
As the summer begins winding down, we’ve made it through the first harvest of Lammas/Lughnasadh, and now it’s time to think about bringing in the next phase of crops. Grain is ready to be threshed and baked into bread. If you have a garden, pick your herbs and veggies, so you can preserve or dry them before the cooler days set in. Gather your herbs and hang them in a dark place to dry, so you can use them all winter, either for magical needs or culinary ones.
Energies should be put into harvesting, gathering vitality and health, also friendships. Harness some of the Corn Moon’s fiery energy for your ritual and spell work. This is a good time to focus on your spiritual and physical health. It’s the time to harvest what you can now to put aside for later use. What sacrifices can you make today that will benefit you further down the road?
Collected from various sources including: PaganWiccan
What follows is a list (in alphabetical order) of the names given to the August moon. Also listed is the tradition and/or origin of that moon name:
Acorns Ripen Moon ~Maidu
Autumn Moon ~Taos
Barley Moon ~other
Berry Moon ~Anishnaabe
Big Harvest Moon ~Creek
Big Ripening Moon ~Creek
Blackberry Moon ~Wishram
Black Cherries Moon ~Sioux, Assiniboine
Corn Moon ~Medieval English
Corn Silk Moon ~Ponca
Cutter Moon ~Abernaki
Dispute Moon ~Celtic, Janic (full)
Dog Days Moon ~Yuchi, Colonial American, Algonquin
Drying Moon ~Cherokee
Edible Corn Moon ~Agonquin
Feather Shedding Moon ~Passamaquoddy
First Acorns ~Pomo
Freshness Moon ~Mohawk
Fruit Moon ~Cherokee
Geese Shedding Feathers Moon ~Arapaho
Grain Moon ~Cherokee
Green Corn Moon ~Algonquin
Harvest Moon ~Chinese, Janic (dark)
Heat Moon ~Creek
Joyful Moon ~Hopi
Last Fruit Moon ~Cherokee
Lightning Moon ~Neo Pagan
Middle Moon ~Potawatomi
Mulberries Moon ~Natchez
Red Moon ~Algonquin
Ripen Moon ~Dakota
Sturgeon Moon ~Algonquin
Yellow Flower Moon ~Osage
Yellow Leaves Moon ~Kiowa
Young Ducks Fly Moon ~Cree
Wheat Cut Moon ~San Juan
Women’s Moon ~Choctaw
Wood Cutter’s Moon ~Algonquin
Wort Moon ~Medieval English
Wyrt Moon ~other