United States

July 24,  Pioneer Day commemorates the day in 1847 when Brigham Young led his “pioneer band” of Mormons into the Salt Lake valley to establish a settlement–their new Zion. The Mormons had been driven from New York, Ohio, Missouri, and Illinois and had spent four difficult months traveling 1,073 miles overland to reach the Great Basin, chosen by Young because of its remoteness.

It was the most organized and disciplined westward migration in American history, and unlike most emigrants intent on their destination, the Mormon pioneers were equally concerned with improving the trail for those who would follow.

Pioneer Day is celebrated as the second most important date in the Mormon calendar, behind April 6, the day Joseph Smith established the church. Parades, fireworks, rodeos, and other festivities help commemorate the event.

From: Almanac.com

A great recipe to celebrate Independence Day in the United States:

  • ¾ cup sour cream
  • 1/4 tsp. coarse black pepper
  • 1 tsp. white sugar
  • 1 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp. fresh chopped dill
  • 1/8 tsp. fresh grated lemon peel
  • 1/4 tsp. finely grated red onion
  • salt
  • 1 cucumber
  • 3 garden fresh red tomatoes
  • 10 borage flowers

Combine all the ingredients except for the tomatoes and flowers. Slice tomatoes and arrange them, overlapping, around the edge of a serving platter. Mound the cucumber mixture in the center of the platter, just covering the inner edge of the tomatoes. Chill well, and place the borage flowers decoratively on the salad just before serving.

Serves 4 to 6

Recipe by Di-Di Hoffman

Emancipation Day, also called Juneteenth, celebrates the end of slavery and freedom on June 19, 1865 in eastern Texas and portions of the surrounding states. On that day, General Gordon Granger landed with Federal troops in Galveston, Texas, with the intention of enforcing President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation of January 1, 1863.

The end of slavery was a gradual process, occurring as news of the proclamation reached outlying towns and states. Juneteenth was probably a shortened version of June 19th. A proclamation from the president stated that all slaves were now free, and the relationship between master and slave was now employer and employee:

“The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.”

Beginning the year following this Texas event, 1866, large celebrations to rival the Fourth of July began, including prayer services, inspirational speakers, reading of the Emancipation Proclamation, storytelling by former slaves, and traditional food and games. Soon neighboring states such as Louisiana, Arkansas, and Oklahoma were adding celebrations. Throughout Texas, ex-slaves purchased land for their Juneteenth gatherings.

June 19 was declared a legal holiday in Texas in 1980.

Whatever your ethnicity, it is always good to recognize that you have freedom – or if not, Juneteenth reminds you to work hard at obtaining it. If there are bonds tying you down, such as debt, addictions, or unwanted relationships, create a list that marks out a strategy that leads toward freedom.

Celebrating the Day:

  • Wear white on Juneteenth – it is the color of spiritual strength.
  • Fire is important.
  • For dinner have a barbecue featuring your favorite foods.
  • Be sure to include some tasty roasted tubers and root veggies like sweet potato and sweet onion.
  • Have an extravagant soft drink. It is the tradition to have strawberry soda, but sparkling cranberry juice or berry flavored mineral water will do as well.

As the coals of the fire turn white with heat and the sun settles in the west it is time to turn to ritual. It is appropriate to purge things holding you down. Burn old unnecessary papers. Set yourself free from the past by clearing clutter. You’d be surprised how much this improves your mental health!

Sources: Almanac.com and Four Seasons of Mojo

What we know fondly as the “Stars and Stripes” was adopted by the Continental Congress as the official American flag on June 14, 1777, in the midst of the Revolutionary War.

Colonial troops fought under many different flags with various symbols and slogans–rattlesnakes, pine trees, and eagles; “Don’t Tread on Me,” “Liberty or Death,” and “Conquer or Die,” to name a few. The first flag had 13 stars on a blue field and 13 alternating red and white stripes for the 13 original colonies. Now there are 50 stars, one for each state in the Union, but the 13 stripes remain.

Although many people believe that Betsy Ross designed and sewed the first flag, there is no proof of that. Flag Day was first celebrated in 1877, on the flag’s 100th birthday.

From: Almanac.com

00628.Kamehameha-Statue

Hawaii is the only American state that was once a kingdom with its own monarchy. One of the greatest kings was King Kamehameha I, also called, appropriately, Kamehameha the Great. His name means “the very lonely one” or “the one set apart.” A statue of him can be found in the National Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C.

King Kamehameha I probably was born some time around 1758, the year when Halley’s comet became visible over Hawaii. A courageous warrior, the king conquered and united the entire Hawaiian islands into one kingdom. During his reign, which lasted from 1782 to 1819, Hawaii became an important center in the fur and sandalwood trades.

The last king in the Kamehameha dynasty was King Kamehameha V, who ruled from 1863 to 1872. During this time, the king proclaimed June 11 as a day to honor his grandfather, King Kamehameha I.

The most important ritual of the celebration dates back to 1901 after the Territory of Hawaii was established. It is the afternoon draping ceremony in which the Kamehameha Statue in front of Aliʻiolani Hale and ʻIolani Palace on King Street in downtown Honolulu is draped in long strands of lei. The same is done at the Kamehameha Statue on the former monarch’s home island, the Big Island of Hawaii. Outside of the state, a similar draping ceremony is held at the United States Capitol where the Kamehameha Statue there is also draped in lei in the company of federal officials.

Late 19th century celebrations of Kamehameha Day featured carnivals and fairs, foot races, horse races and velocipede races. Today, Kamehameha Day is treated with elaborate events harkening back to ancient Hawaii, respecting the cultural traditions that Kamehameha defended as his society was slowly shifting towards European trends.

The King Kamehameha Hula Competition attracts hula groups from all over the world to the Neil S. Blaisdell Center for the two-day event. Prizes are awarded on the second night.

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A floral parade is held annually at various locations throughout the state of Hawaii. On the island of Oahu, the parade runs from ʻIolani Palace in downtown Honolulu past Honolulu Harbor and the Prince Kūhiō Federal Building through Kakaʻako, Ala Moana and Waikīkī, ending at Kapiʻolani Park.

June 11 is also the anniversary of the dedication of Kapiʻolani Park. The floral parade features local marching bands—including the Royal Hawaiian Band (the oldest municipal band in the United States)—and artistically designed floats using native flowers and plants. Many local companies enter floats for their employees.

A favorite floral parade feature is the traditional royal paʻu riders. They represent a royal court led by a queen on horseback, followed by princesses representing the eight major islands of Hawaii and Molokini. Each princess is attended by paʻu ladies in waiting. Paʻu women are dressed in colorful and elegant 19th century riding gowns accented with lei and other floral arrangements.

After the parade, the state celebrates a Hoʻolauleʻa, literally celebration, or block party with food and music. Cultural exhibitions are also scattered throughout Kapiʻolani Park—arts and crafts, games, sports, and other events planned by the Bishop Museum, the premier Hawaiian cultural institution.

On the Island of Hawaii, there are three floral parades held. One between the towns of Hawi and Kapaʻau and one in the town of Hilo. There is a King Kamehameha Day Celebration Parade and Ho`olaule`a in Kailua Kona on Ali`i Drive each year. There is also a lei draping ceremony in Kapaau at the statue of King Kamehameha there.

Sources: Almanac.com and Wikipedia

Memorial Day is a federal holiday in the United States for remembering the people who died while serving in the country’s armed forces. The holiday, which is currently observed every year on the last Monday of May, originated as Decoration Day after the American Civil War in 1868, when the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of Union veterans founded in Decatur, Illinois, established it as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the Union war dead with flowers.

By the 20th century, competing Union and Confederate holiday traditions, celebrated on different days, had merged, and Memorial Day eventually extended to honor all Americans who died while in the military service. It marks the start of the unofficial summer vacation season, while Labor Day marks its end.

Many people visit cemeteries and memorials, particularly to honor those who have died in military service. Many volunteers place an American flag on each grave in national cemeteries.

Annual Decoration Days for particular cemeteries are held on a Sunday in late spring or early summer in some rural areas of the American South, notably in the mountain areas. In cases involving a family graveyard where remote ancestors as well as those who were deceased more recently are buried, this may take on the character of an extended family reunion to which some people travel hundreds of miles.

People gather on the designated day and put flowers on graves and renew contacts with relatives and others. There often is a religious service and a picnic-like “dinner on the grounds,” the traditional term for a potluck meal at a church. It is believed that this practice began before the American Civil War and thus may reflect the real origin of the “memorial day” idea.

Memorial Day is not to be confused with Veterans Day. Memorial Day is a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving, while Veterans Day celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans.

A magickal ritual from The Pagan Book of Hours might be appropriate for today. Here is is:

Feast of the Fallen Warriors

  • Color: Red
  • Element: Fire
  • Altar: On a red cloth place a helmet over a skull. Set out four red candles and two crossed swords.
  • Offerings: Candles. Written names of fallen warriors of the past, especially in one’s family.
  • Daily Meal: Simple, plain food.

Invocation to the Fallen Warriors

Your blood lies spilled
Across all the lands of the world.
You stood and faced the enemy,
Whoever they were,
And perhaps you saw yourself
In his face,
And perhaps you did not.
Perhaps you fought
To save your kin and clan,
Perhaps for greed,
Perhaps for money,
Perhaps out of loyalty
To those you followed.
Whatever the reason,
You acquitted yourselves bravely
And did what you had to do
When it seemed right.
May your spirits rest peacefully,
And know we do not forget your glory.

(Chant in wordless harmonies as the swords are unsheathed, crossed in an arch over the altar, and resheathed again. All bow to the altar and extinguish the candles.)

Sources: Pagan Book of Hours and Wikipedia

Brunet_JAppleseed

Celebrating John Chapman, legendary American pioneer and folk hero who planted apple trees across the American Frontier. Chapman was born in Massachusetts, September 26, 1774, but Johnny Appleseed Day is celebrated on March 11th.

Chapman earned his nickname because he planted small orchards and individual apple trees during his travels as he walked across 100,000 square miles of Midwestern wilderness and prairie. He was a genuine and dedicated professional nurseryman, known for his generous nature, his love of the wilderness, his devotion to the Bible, his knowledge of medicinal herbs, his harmony with the Indians, and his eccentric nature, too.

Celebrate this holiday by doing something with apples. Decorate with images of apples, apple trees, and Johnny Appleseed himself. You might visit an orchard to pick apples, hold a pot luck feast with apple smoked pork and apple pie. You might even want to plant an apple tree in your yard.

Here is a blessing you can use:

Apples are sacred
As everyone must know.
We remember Johnny
Wherever apples grow.
So we say a blessing
Wherever they may be
Blessing on the apples
And Blessing on each tree.

~Elizabeth Barrette

About Johnny Appleseed

While the legend depicts Johnny Appleseed as a barefoot vagrant, cooking pot on his head, and roaming the landscape strewing apple seeds randomly, it is far more likely that he was more of an eccentric but skilled professional, establishing nurseries of apple trees, and selling his services progressively westward to landowners interested in planning orchards. He’d teach his clients how to establish an orchard, how to keep deer and livestock at bay, and once the nursery was thriving, he’d move on to the next person interested in planting orchards.

If he had to stay in one place for any length of time, he’d erect a teepee like structure and live humbly on the bare ground. It is said that his only possessions were the clothes on his back, a bowl and a spoon, and a cooking pot for his gruel.

He was a follower of Swedenborg and devoutly believed that the more he endured in this world the less he would have to suffer and the greater would be his happiness hereafter—he submitted to every privation with cheerfulness and content, believing that in so doing he was securing snug quarters hereafter.

In the most inclement weather he might be seen barefooted and almost naked except when he chanced to pick up articles of old clothing. Notwithstanding the privations and exposure he endured, he lived to an extreme old age, not less than 80 years at the time of his death—though no person would have judged from his appearance that he was 60. He always carried with him some work on the doctrines of Swedenborg with which he was perfectly familiar, and would readily converse and argue on his tenets, using much shrewdness and penetration.

Next time you bite into an apple, think of “Johnny Appleseed.”

From Almanac.com

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.

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 
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