The Inti Raymi (Quechua for “sun festival”) is a religious ceremony of the Inca Empire in honor of the god Inti (Quechua for “sun”), one of the most venerated deities in Inca religion. It was the celebration of the winter solstice – the shortest day of the year in terms of the time between sunrise and sunset and the Inca New Year.
In territories south of the equator the gregorian months of June and July are winter months. It is held on June 24.
During the Inca Empire, the Inti Raymi was the most important of four ceremonies celebrated in Cusco. The celebration took place in the Haukaypata or the main plaza in the city.
According to chronicler Garcilaso de la Vega, Sapa Inca Pachacuti created the Inti Raymi to celebrate the new year in the Andes of the Southern Hemisphere. The ceremony was also said to indicate the mythical origin of the Incas. It lasted for nine days and was filled with colorful dances and processions, as well as animal sacrifices to thank Pachamama and to ensure a good cropping season.
The first Inti Raymi was in 1412. The last Inti Raymi with the Inca Emperor’s presence was carried out in 1535, after which the Spanish and the Catholic priests banned it.
In 1944, a historical reconstruction of the Inti Raymi was directed by Faustino Espinoza Navarro and indigenous actors. The first reconstruction was largely based on the chronicles of Garcilaso de la Vega and only referred to the religious ceremony. Since 1944, a theatrical representation of the Inti Raymi has been taking place at Saksaywaman, two kilometers from its original celebration in central Cusco on June 24 of each year, attracting thousands of tourists and local visitors.
In many parts of the Andes though, this celebration has been connected to the western festivals of Saint John the Baptist, which falls on the day after the northern solstice (June 21).
Although Midsummer Day occurs at the summer solstice, or what we think of as the beginning of summer, to the farmer it is the midpoint of the growing season, halfway between planting and harvesting, and an occasion for celebration.
The most common other names for this holiday are the Summer Solstice or Midsummer, and it celebrates the arrival of Summer, when the hours of daylight are longest. The Sun is now at the highest point before beginning its slide into darkness.
Celebrating Midsummer Day
Although it’s also the feast day of St. John the Baptist, it features pagan traditions such as bonfires, fire walking, and a carnival atmosphere, all of which took place on Midsummer Eve. Certainly, it’s a night of magic and soothsaying as well, for as Washington Irving said, this is a time “when it is well known all kinds of ghosts, goblins, and fairies become visible and walk abroad.” After Midsummer Day, the days shorten.
In Sweden and Norway at the Solstice, people made wheels of fortune. Some of the wheels were wrapped in straw, set on fire, and rolled down hill. Other wheels were decorated and kept. These were used in two ways: One, the wheel was rolled away from a person to take away misfortunes; two, it was rolled toward a person to bring all kinds of good fortune.
Variations on the Midsummer celebrations:
People around the world have observed spiritual and religious seasonal days of celebration during the month of June. Most have been religious holy days which are linked in some way to the summer solstice.
- Scottish Pecti-Witans celebrate Feill-Sheathain on July 5th.
- In the Italian tradition of Aridian Strega, this Sabbat (Strega Witches call them Treguendas rather than Sabbats) is known as Summer Fest – La Festa dell’Estate.
- Scandinavians celebrate this holiday at a later date and call it Thing-Tide.
- In England, June 21st is “The Day of Cerridwen and Her Cauldron”.
- In Ireland, this day is dedicated to the faery goddess Aine of Knockaine.
- June 21st is “The Day of the Green Man” in Northern Europe.
In Lithuanian tradition, the dew on Midsummer Day was said to make young girls beautiful and old people look younger. It was also thought that walking barefoot in the dew would keep one’s skin from getting chapped.
It was customary to honor all men named John on this day by fixing wreaths of oak leaves around their doors. This is usually done in secret, and John must guess who did it or catch the person in the act, in which case he must give the person a treat.
Midsummer Celebrations in Ancient Times:
The solstice itself has remained a special moment of the annual cycle of the year since Neolithic times. The concentration of the observance is not on the day as we reckon it, commencing at midnight or at dawn, but the pre-Christian beginning of the day, which falls on the previous eve. Other names for this time in the Wheel of the Year include:
- Alban Heruin (Caledonii or the Druids)
- Alban Hefin (Anglo-Saxon Tradition)
- Sun Blessing, Gathering Day (Welsh)
- Whit Sunday, Whitsuntide (Old English)
- Vestalia (Ancient Roman)
- Feast of Epona (Ancient Gaulish)
- All-Couple’s Day (Greek)
Ancient Celts: Druids, the priestly/professional/diplomatic corps in Celtic countries, celebrated Alban Heruin (“Light of the Shore”). It was midway between the spring Equinox (Alban Eiler; “Light of the Earth”) and the fall Equinox (Alban Elfed; “Light of the Water”). “This midsummer festival celebrates the apex of Light, sometimes symbolized in the crowning of the Oak King, God of the waxing year. At his crowning, the Oak King falls to his darker aspect, the Holly King, God of the waning year…” The days following Alban Heruin form the waning part of the year because the days become shorter.
Ancient China: Their summer solstice ceremony celebrated the earth, the feminine, and the yin forces. It complemented the winter solstice which celebrated the heavens, masculinity and yang forces.
Ancient Egypt:In Ancient Egypt, summer solstice was the most important day of the year. The sun was at its highest and the Nile River was beginning to rise. Special ceremonies were held to honor the Goddess Isis. Egyptians believed that Isis was mourning for her dead husband, Osiris, and that her tears made the Nile rise and well over. Accurately predicting the floods was of such vital importance that the appearance of Sirius, which occurs around the time of the summer solstice, was recognized as the beginning of the Egyptian New Year.
Ancient Gaul: The Midsummer celebration was called Feast of Epona, named after a mare goddess who personified fertility, sovereignty and agriculture. She was portrayed as a woman riding a mare.
Ancient Germanic, Slav and Celtic tribes in Europe: Ancient Pagans celebrated Midsummer with bonfires. “It was the night of fire festivals and of love magic, of love oracles and divination. It had to do with lovers and predictions, when pairs of lovers would jump through the luck-bringing flames…” It was believed that the crops would grow as high as the couples were able to jump. Through the fire’s power, “…maidens would find out about their future husband, and spirits and demons were banished.” Another function of bonfires was to generate sympathetic magic: giving a boost to the sun’s energy so that it would remain potent throughout the rest of the growing season and guarantee a plentiful harvest.
Ancient Rome: The festival of Vestalia lasted from June 7 to June 15. It was held in honor of the Roman Goddess of the hearth, Vesta. Married women were able to enter the shrine of Vesta during the festival. At other times of the year, only the vestal virgins were permitted inside.
Ancient Sweden: A Midsummer tree was set up and decorated in each town. The villagers danced around it. Women and girls would customarily bathe in the local river. This was a magical ritual, intended to bring rain for the crops.
Information collected from various sources
- Color of the day: Green
- Incense of the day: Clove
June 11 is the Festival of Mater Matuta, an old Italian goddess of the dawn who was the goddess of the dawn and the protector of growing crops and growing children. Today a free woman in the first year of her marriage would make offerings of toasted cakes to the goddess, and ask for blessings on her nieces and nephews. The Romans eventually made equivalent to the dawn goddess Aurora, and the Greek goddess Eos.
Aurora, known among the Greeks as Eos, is honored on this day. It is she who opens the gates of heaven each day so that Helios may ride his chariot across the skies. Her tears create the morning dew. Try greeting Aurora today as she opens the gates of heaven. Walk barefoot through the grass, feeling her tears upon your skin. Connect with her eternally youthful soul.
Then, as Helios begins his journey across the sky, settle yourself in a quiet place outdoors and let the light bathe your face for a short time as you meditate on the beauty you bring into your world each day. Once you finish your meditations, pay tribute to Aurora for her task of opening the gates for each new day to bring light in the world. Take with you her beauty and grace as you go about your day and tasks.
By Winter Wren
According to some pagan calendars, May 14 is listed as the Birthday of Apollo. However, according to the mythology, Apollo was born on the seventh day of the month Thargelion. Wikipedia goes on to say that this was according to Delian tradition, and that according to Delphian tradition, it was the seventh day of the month of Bysios. The seventh and twentieth, the days of the new and full moon, were also held sacred to him.
If the exact date is important you you, I’d suggest you take a look at the Wikipedia article on the Attic Calendar which gives the names of the months and their approximate times in the year. For the purposes of simplicity, I would suggest that the 7th day following either the New or Full Moon in May (May 17 in 2017) would fit the criteria and make for a fine day to celebrate the birth of the God of Light Apollo.
Who is Apollo? Here’s a brief profile:
Apollo is the son of Zeus and Leto. His twin sister is Artemis. He is the god of music, playing a golden lyre. The Archer, far shooting with a silver bow. The god of healing who taught man medicine. The god of light. The god of truth, who can not speak a lie.
One of Apollo’s more important daily tasks is to harness his chariot with four horses an drive the Sun across the sky. He is famous for his oracle at Delphi. People traveled to it from all over the Greek world to divine the future. His tree was the laurel. The crow his bird. The dolphin his animal.
Throughout the year, the sun waxes and wanes. At the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year, the sun is only visible for a few short hours. Days become longer and at the Spring or Vernal Equinox, day and night are equal. At the Summer Solstice, the sun is visible for the longest period of time (the longest day of the year). Days start to become shorter and at the Autumnal Equinox, day and night are equal again. Finally, as the sun wanes, we are at the Winter Solstice again.
During a solar eclipse, we experience what might be called a “micro year”. The sun is whole, then partially or completely hidden, and then visible again. Within just a few minutes, an energy similar to a complete cycle of solstices and equinoxes can be felt.
In addition to this somewhat seasonal energy, we are aware of the Moon’s presence. Her shadow falls across the Earth as she appears between the Earth and the Sun. This adds the unification of solar and lunar energy, reinforcing the sense of wholeness, completion and cycles of a solar eclipse.
Consider this fact about solar eclipses: A solar eclipse can only occur during the day, on a new moon. This means that you are working with new moon energy (great for getting rid of things and letting go).
A solar eclipse does not have to be visible for you to work magic. You won’t be able to see every eclipse unless you can travel all over the world easily! Simply look at charts and almanacs to find the exact time of the eclipse, and work your magic then.
Solar eclipses are perfect for some specific types of magick. Consider the solar eclipse of June 10/11, 2002. Because this eclipse was close to the Solstice, the energy of the Solstice dominated the beginning of the eclipse.
In the Northern Hemisphere of the world, the sun is waxing as we near the Summer Solstice (In the Southern Hemisphere, the sun is waning and the Winter Solstice is approaching.)
When an equinox occurs at the time of the waning year (from the Summer Solstice to Yule) it is a good time to rid yourself of unwanted energies, bad habits, unhealthy patterns of thinking and acting, negativity, and other baneful things in your life. You can work with both the new moon energy, and the waning year energy, in addition to the energy of the eclipse.
Here’s an example:
Your ex-lover caused you a lot of pain. Whenever your new love gets close to you, you push away to prevent getting hurt again. You realize that you cannot fully love this new person until you let your guard down. About a half hour before the eclipse begins, you work to let go of the old pattern of pushing away. As the eclipse begins, you feel the pattern dissolving. As the eclipse is ending, you reinforce the growth between you and your new love, and the growing trust within you. This waning/waxing type of magic works well with eclipses.
Consider the time of year the solar eclipse will occur during. Is the sun waxing or waning? Next, consider the lunar influence, the moon is new and will be waxing in a day or two. Finally, consider the waning/waxing energy of the solar eclipse. Use this information to develop your own, tailor-made spells, rituals and rites.
A Solar Eclipse occurs in nature as a phenomenon when the Moon enters between the Sun and the Earth therefore blocking (or better thinking as filtrating) the light of the Sun. In astrology a Solar Eclipse is a very powerful New Moon, while every month has a new Moon, a solar eclipse occurs approximately every six months.
A Solar Eclipse can be seen as a very powerful New Moon where important beginnings or endings occur, it is the perfect time to work magic in your life especially related with previous thoughts and ideas that were holding you back.
You can imagine how a solar eclipse works by imagining the following narrative:
Imagine yourself as a caterpillar that has willingly entered in its cocoon of contemplation. You remember your old self, the thoughts you made and the actions that these thoughts have led you to take. You have all the ideas about yourself who you want to be and what you want to do with your future. All these ideas and thoughts-the past, present and future- coexist during this stage.
The solar eclipse will give you the power when you are ready to break this cocoon and will give you the boost to completely transform into a new form, the butterfly. Hence, the Solar Eclipse is the perfect timing for a Metamorphosis, transcendence to a new state of being. Cutting down all the restraints that were bounding you to the ground and give you the breeze to flip your wings and fly and explore the world with a new set of wise eyes.
A Solar eclipse is often described in alchemic and occult texts as the Alchemical Wedding where the Sun marries the Moon, a perfect balance.
The solar eclipse is the symbol of the Dark Lord, also called the Lord of Shadows, the Leader of the Wild Hunt, Hades, Pluto and the death and resurrection aspects of Cernunnos, Dionysus — and, on a cosmic level, Shiva, among others. The Christian comparison is the portion of the crucifixion of Jesus when he descends into hell then resurrects. As such, the solar eclipse (the Bible story of the crucifixion states the sun darkened at 9.00 am) is a time for ritual observances that link the practitioner with the death passage portion of the cycle of life.
This is an opportunity to connect with the Shadowlands or the Underworld and to face one’s own fears and uncertainties about death. By confronting death through meditation, the face of Death is unmasked. The face one sees may initially be grotesque and horrible, but once the beholder accepts that this is also the face of the giver of life’s energy, that face changes and is beautiful to behold. This is the significance of focusing on the passage. By facing our fears, we gain insight and freedom — death is no longer to be feared.
Once a person is no longer fearful of death or the Underworld, the solar eclipse becomes a good time to honor ancestors, visit with the spirits of the departed, charge Craft tools of dark power magics and honor the Dark Powers.
The eclipse does not last long, so lengthy ceremonies would not be in order unless you create one that begins prior to the eclipse and encompasses the eclipse. Instead, if you are feeling connected, you may simply want to light some incense and a candle and invite some departed to visit with you for just a little while so you can ask for guidance, tell the person you love him/her, offer forgiveness or ask for it as the case may be, or use the time to celebrate your union with the Crone and the Dark Lord. It is also a good time to end anger and hostility, so that when the Sun reappears the Light will shine within you as well upon the Earth.