Strangers’ Gate Coven (SGC) was established in 2001 and
is jointly led by Elders Ruthann, Athena, and Nanci.
Blessings of Floralia’s colorful abundance to all! May you flourish in the growing sunshine, blooming joyfully as we turn the Wheel of the Year.
Blessed Spring Equinox!
Spring is a time to celebrate new beginnings, fresh growth, and positive change. Rituals may be include planting seeds, both physically and spiritually, to foster growth as the Wheel of the Year turns. You could consider incorporating flowers, eggs, and seasonal fruit, too.
In 2022 we’ll have a Full Moon just after midnight EST on March 18th, followed by the Spring Equinox on March 20th, so you could celebrate both events in a single rite if you wish. Blessed Be!
Our hearts go out to all who are suffering in Ukraine. If you wish to support the Ukrainian people, here are some ways to help: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/russia-ukraine-refugees-donations-charity/?fbclid=IwAR0P952hmSGGqQeefPDyVwBW5E2mEYhlqDugsB7oLuZI_WZXri7bbF5jIzE
Imbolc (also called Oimelc, meaning “in the milk” for the lactating sheep of the season), is the holy day of the Celtic Goddess and Saint Brigid. She is the Patroness of Healers, Bards, and Smiths; the fires of inspiration; the light of the burgeoning Spring; the sacred midwife; Mother of the Gaels as part of Ireland’s trinity of patron saints with Columba and Patrick; peace keeper; and so much more. There are wells dedicated to her throughout Ireland, but her home is in Kildare (cill dara = church/grove of the oak). The photo below includes an image of Brigid’s Wayside Well which is located near the National Stud and the Japanese gardens of Kildare, plus several Brigid’s crosses woven of pipe cleaners and cocktail straws as it’s difficult to find the traditional reeds in NYC. The middle document is a song sheet used in previous open rituals that has images of Brigid’s eternal flame which stands in the center of Kildare; the holy well that’s adjacent to a statue of St. Brigid and the stations of the cross for Catholic worshipers, plus a clootie tree where folks tie bits of cloth asking for healing aid and blessings; and drawings of sheep, snowdrops, and a hoop, all of which are sacred to Her. The gorgeous illustration on the right is Helena Nelson-Reed’s “The Flaming Arrow” which includes several symbols related to Brigid.
You can celebrate Brigid by lighting a candle, writing a poem/song/story/etc., and/or weaving a Brigid’s cross. For more information as well as instructions on how to weave a Brigid’s cross, check out this 2020 video featuring SGC Elders Nanci, Athena, and Ruthann: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QsHc7vJCmyo Blessed Be!
Blessed Winter Solstice/Yule/Saturnalia!
May the growing Sun bring you joyful abundance. Here’s a poem written for this festive season when we were able to gather safely with others. Please get vaccinated and boosted so that you and your loved ones are less likely to get or suffer the worst effects of COVID. Let us all work together to weaken the hold of this global pandemic by staying in our cozy homes as much as possible for this in-gathering of winter, wearing masks whenever we’re around other people, quarantining when necessary, and encouraging others to do all of these things as well. Here’s hoping we’ll be able to celebrate in person next year without worrying about health risks! So Mote It Be!
Samhain (usually pronounced “SOW-in”) is a cross-quarter holiday on the Celtic Wheel of the Year, falling exactly opposite Beltane (5/1) and associated with several traditions.
Honor Ancestors: The veil between the worlds is thinnest at this time, when spirits of dead ancestors as well as other spirits (sprites, pixies, elves, the Sidhe/fey/faerie/Shining Ones) can come closer, and dance in celebration and companionship – and maybe mischief! – or have their memories honored. Some customs involve setting a place at the table for them, leaving food out for them, and/or placing lights in windows to help them find their way or as wards/protections for the home. We respectfully acknowledge death and those who have passed on, but remember that spirits can be ambivalent about humans. (NOTE: We do not call back or summon the dead, but instead we set up a situation for them to effectively participate in the festivities while they remain on the other side of the Veil). One way to honor Ancestors is by participating in a dumb supper/feast – either have a silent remembrance feast with the ancestors’ favorite foods, or put food in a cemetery for those who’ve passed on.
Samhain is also considered the Celtic New Year by many Wiccans/Pagans, seen as the beginning and end of the year simultaneously (endless cycle) – this day belongs to neither year. We recognize death as the beginning of a rebirth into a new life, the darkness before the light. This is a good time for divination or projection magic due to the thinner veil when the spirit world is closer, where past/present/future blur.
Some folks celebrate it as a fire festival by extinguishing all the fires in a household (or a community) except for the hearth (or need) fire, then lighting a taper or torch from the main bonfire and using it to relight all of the other lamps/fires.
However you choose to honor this day, we wish you bountiful blessings at this sacred time. Blessed Be!
Blessed Autumn Equinox! Wishing you a bountiful Second Harvest and peaceful balance.
Many Pagans call this sabbat Mabon named after Mabon ap Modron (this translates as “son of the mother”) who may be equated with the Roman god Maponus. There’s little information about Mabon aside from the Welsh tale which I’ll summarize here: Mabon was kidnapped when he was only 3 days old, yet he’s also considered the oldest of Humankind. The hero Kilhwch had to consult with 5 successively ancient creatures — Ousel, Stag, Owl, Eagle, and Salmon — before the Salmon said he knew where Mabon was, and swam up the river with Kilhwch on his back to the place where Mabon was imprisoned. Kilhwch contacted King Arthur who came with his knights to release Mabon.
The story may be old, but the idea of calling this sabbat Mabon is relatively new. Pagan writer Aiden Kelly in the 1970s was creating a calendar and decided Mabon was much easier to say and write than Autumn Equinox, and the name stuck. Here’s Sorita d’Este’s article with the details: https://www.patheos.com/blogs/adamantinemuse/2019/09/did-mabon-steal-the-autumn-equinox/
Happy Lughnasadh/Lunasa/Lammas/First Harvest!
The time around August 1st in the Northern Hemisphere is celebrated by the Celts as Lughnasadh, named after the multitalented Lugh Lamfada. Here’s a photo of Tara, the ancient Irish seat of power where Lugh traveled in hopes of becoming a member of King Nuada’s court (we recommend reading about the Second Battle of Magh Tuired, aka Moytura, which is a tale including many of the Celtic deities). The gatekeeper asks him “What art do you practice? For no one without an art enters Tara”. Lugh replies “Question me, I am a builder”, and the gatekeeper answers they already have a builder and gives a name. Each time Lugh states another of his arts — smith, champion, harper, warrior, poet, historian, sorcerer, and more — the gatekeeper shares the name of someone who fills the post already. Finally, Lugh declares “Ask the king whether he has a man who possesses all these arts; if he has then I will not be able to enter Tara”. The gatekeeper does so, and Lugh is welcomed into Tara.
Blessed Summer Solstice/Midsummer/Litha!
I wrote this poem several years ago and am happy to share it here: SOLSTICE BLESSINGS (by Nanci, 2013) Longest day and shortest night Celebrate Midsummer's might Litha and Summer Solstice, too -- Pick the name that best suits you Let the sunlight fill your soul The energy will make you whole Fairies dancing through the veil Shimmering o'er hill and dale Hug the world, share smiles for free Let joy be boundless, and Blessed Be! Here's a photo taken at Socrates Sculpture Park, Astoria, NY, after a Midsummer Ritual in 2016:
Happy Pride Month!
SGC supports equal rights/rites for all LGBTQIA+ folx and hopes we may all live in rainbow harmony. We recognize that the Stonewall Riot was a violent catalyst for change, and now we seek to establish social and cultural justice and equanimity via more peaceful methods as the fight continues.
Blessed Beltane! Many Pagans and Wiccans dance the maypole for this May 1st holiday, representing the union of the Goddess (the fertile Earth that embraces the pole) and the God (the phallic pole and sperm-like ribbons). Folks find ribbons that are the color(s) related to what they’d like to manifest in their lives — e.g. red for passion, green for money and growth, pink for good health, blue for calmness, etc. — and weave those intentions to connect them to the deities and make the magic happen.
Floralia is also celebrated at this time of the year, honoring the colorful bounty of verdant Flora, the Roman goddess of flowers. Floral garlands can be crafted to wear or decorate your altar.
May 1st is also World Labyrinth Day, and there will be several virtual and real-world labyrinth walks around the globe. Athena of SGC will facilitating some festivities during this marvelous event — get the details at https://www.worldlabyrinthday.org/
Full Moon Blessings!
Tonight (Monday, April 26, 2021) at 11:31 EST there will be a Full Pink Super Moon in Scorpio.
Consider doing some transformational Work, and/or charge your magical tools/stones/water in the wonderful moonlight.
(This image is from the Museum of the Moon exhibit of 2018 with artwork by UK artist Luke Jerram, compiling photos of the moon)
Check back often for information on our future workshops, classes, and public rituals. Blessed Be!
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