Author Archives: Evan M. Martin

Samhain

 

Probably the most recognizable of the Wiccan Sabbats, or Sabbaths, Samhain, (pronounced “sow-win”) is considered the most important Sabbats of the Wiccan Wheel of the year. It is one of the two spirit nights each year, the other being Beltane. At Samhain, the laws of time and space are suspended and the veil between the world of the living and the world of the dead is lifted. It is at Samhain that we communicate with ancestors and departed loved ones as it is the easiest time to do so. At this time of the year, the recently departed make their journey to the Summerlands to meet old family and friends while waiting to be joined by those they left behind.

It is a time to reflect on the past and consider the future. To put away the old and prepare to welcome the new. Most commonly celebrated around October 31st, to coincide with the end of the harvest, in the Southern Hemisphere it is commonly celebrated around May 31st, to coincide with the end of the harvest there.

Most modern people recognize Samhain as Halloween. Known more formally as all Hallows eve, Halloween absorbed the practice of honoring the dead from Samhain and then evolved it into a remembrance of those Saints canonized in the past year.

Samhain is celebrated with many different rituals, some of which provide unique challenges for those not living in or near rural areas. The most common is pumpkin carving, but many today would be surprised to learn that originally turnips were carved and lighted in celebration. The next most common is the bonfire or even two bonfires. This is to awaken the spirits and to attract them. It is customary for Wiccans to leap over the fire to help with the attraction.

Samhain is also a time for Fairies or Elementals. This is when they play pranks on the unsuspecting. In order to distract them from these pranks, they were offered treats. Sound familiar? Think “Trick or Treat.”

A great Treat Recipe are Fairy Cakes

While intended to be left in your garden for the elementals, they are also a great treat for your little ones, and even big ones, as well.

½ cup wine, red or white depending on your taste

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 egg

2/3 cup of flour1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

Pinch of salt

½ cup honey

Mix egg and wine in a bowl. In a separate bowl, mix flour cinnamon, brown sugar, and salt. Then stir this mix into the egg and wine mix. Let this stand for about 30 minutes. While waiting, mix the honey and nutmeg in another bowl, until well blended. Set this aside for later.

Heat about ½ inch of cooking oil, I use vegetable but whatever type you like to use will work, in a frying pan. Make sure it is hot, about 325 – 350 degrees (a good trick is to put a single popcorn kernel in the oil and then cover the pan. When the kernel pops, the oil is at the right temperature) Drop your cake batter, one large spoonful at a time, into the batter and fry until golden on one side. Turn over and fry until golden. Remove the cakes and place on a paper towel to drain. Then, just dip them into the honey mix and enjoy. 

Mabon, the Fall Festival of the Harvest and the Approach of Winter

 

 

Mabon, the Autumn Equinox, is fast approaching. Usually occurring around September 21st, it is a day where both light and dark are of equal length. It tells us winter is almost here. It is a time when the Goddess descends into the underworld, from which she will be reborn at Yule.

This is also the time we celebrate the farewell of the Harvest Lord, slain on Lugnasadh in celebration of the first harvest in August. The Harvest Lord is often represented as a strawman, whose body is burned in sacrifice and then scattered over the earth. The Harvest Queen is made from the very last sheaf of harvested wheat, made into a wheat woman, and then dressed in a frock with colored ribbons indicating Spring. In some places, the last sheaf of wheat is called The Maiden and is traditionally cut down by the youngest female participating in the ceremony. The Maiden, or Harvest Queen, is then placed on the top of the pole from which hang many ribbons, much like a May Pole.

Mabon is the middle of the Harvest period, and as such, it is a time to reflect on the past as well as the future—to plan the future based upon what is learned from the past.

A historical connection to Mabon is the First Thanksgiving in America. This is believed to be the festival brought over by the Pilgrims and celebrated in the New World. It is also believed, by some, to be the time when Jesus celebrated the Feast of Kyriat. This is when he fed thousands with five loaves of bread and two fishes. Early Christian Priests, in attempting to assist in the conversion of Pagans to Christianity, tied these two festivals together.

Traditional Mabon meals align well with modern tastes. A simple roast with vegetables is a great meal to enjoy when celebrating the event. I have a favorite crock pot or slow cooker recipe that I use.

Mabon Crock Pot Roast

Ingredients

4 pound pot roast 1 package of Onion Soup Mix 1/2 cup flour 1 can whole mushrooms (or two cups of fresh sliced mushrooms) 1 can Cream of Mushroom soup 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce 3 tablespoons olive oil

Mix all of the ingredients, except the oil, in a bowl ensuring they are mixed well.

Using a heavy duty pan, large enough to hold the roast, get it smoking hot on the stove top. Roll the roast in flour, covering all sides lightly. Brown the roast on all sides in 3 tablespoons oil. Place in crock pot along with the other ingredients. Put the lid on the crock pot and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours.

You can add your favorite vegetables, such as carrots, potatoes, turnips, etc., before placing the roast inside. Make sure the vegetables are cut into serving size pieces before you put them in the crock pot. Serves four.

LUGHNASADH

 

Sabbats, or Sabbaths, are as important to Wiccans as they are to any faith. Each of the eight Wiccan Sabbats have a special meaning based upon the time of year.

Lughnasadh is the celebration of the first harvest of the year. Traditionally, it happens at the end of July, or the first part of August. It is a time to give thanks for the fruits, grains, corn and vegetables that have become ripe for harvesting and for who have begun to drop their seeds for future crops.   In ancient times, all grain was called corn whether it was wheat, barley or any other grain. It also starts the celebration of the coming end of summer and the transitioning of the Sun God, Litha, into old age.

Another part of Lughasadh refers to the Celtic God, Lugh. Sometimes referred to as the Wicker Man, the Green Man, or even the Corn man, Lugh is sacrificed each year through the harvesting of grain for the good of all the people.

Lughnasadh happens, in the modern calendar on July 31 and August 1. However, in the agrarian calendar, it happens whenever the grains in the fields become ready for harvesting. Because of the great importance of this harvest for surviving the winter months, the celebration of this became a celebration of life defeating death.

As Christianity began to take hold, the celebration was renamed Lammas, or Loaf Mass. It’s purpose has not changed; the celebration of the first harvest and the triumph of continuing life over death. Of course, the sacrifices of Lugh or a symbolic Lugh are no longer a part of the public ceremony. Yet the Wicker Man is often sacrificed symbolically by those still practicing the Old Religion.

Traditional foods used to celebrate Lughnasadh are apples, grains, bread, berries and similar foods. An appropriate meal for this Sabbat, the 5th of the Wiccan year, would be anything made from one of the traditional foods. A good example is Beef Barley Soup, one of my favorite dishes. Recipe:

BEEF BARLEY SOUP

2 Quarts of water

Beef Soup bone with meat still on

½ cup of celery tops, chopped

1 TBSP of salt

½ Tsp of fresh cracked pepper

½ cup of uncooked barley

3 cups coarsely chopped cabbage

1 cup sliced celery (no more than ¼ inch thick)

2 cups sliced parsnips (no more than ¼ inch thick)

2 cups thinly sliced onions

1 12oz can plain tomato paste

 

Directions:

Place water, soup bone and celery tops in a large pot (at least 4 quarts).

Bring to a boil and cover, leaving a gap between the cover and the pot for steam to escape.

Reduce to simmer for about 2 hours.

Remove the bone and cut up the meat into small pieces.

Return meat to the pot and stir in the barley. Cook for 30 minutes uncovered.

Add the remaining ingredients and simmer for another 30 minutes or until all of the vegetables are tender.

 

Serve with fresh baked hard, crusty bread

SORCERESS REVEALED – A Preview

SorceressRevealed5x8 final Cover 2

Sorceress Revealed copyright © 2015 by Evan Michael Martin.

Copyright © 2015 by Boru Publishing.

This book is a work of fiction. All names, characters, places and events

are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and

any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or to actual places or

businesses, is entirely coincidental.

All rights reserved. In accordance with the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no

part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any

form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without

prior written permission of the publisher, Boru Publishing, Wisconsin.

Editing: Written Dreams/Brittiany Koren

Cover design by Eddie Vincent

Cover Illustration © Timothy Lantz

Cover art symbol © Shutterstock.com

Printed in the United States.

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Prologue

Clio Boru hummed an ancient tune as she dusted the shelves in her shop on the corner of Lake Melts Street and Everest Avenue. Her small shop, Esbats, sold art supplies, crafts, candles, herbs; things that many described as occult tools. From the outside, it appeared to be a knickknack or bric-a-brac store. The sun catchers and wind chimes decorating the outside gave it a whimsical appearance that made it acceptable to the Cowens, the non-believers, but if one looked closely, the symbols and designs clearly stated it was a store of the craft of oils, herbs and tokens. It was a place where students could learn and participate in art instruction and crafts in a small classroom atmosphere.

As Clio moved from shelf to shelf in her jeans and white button-down shirt, she enjoyed the simple focus of the task and the time in the store allowed her a bit of whimsy in her work, which was interrupted by the chimes over the front door. Walking across the room, she saw it was John Slocum, her now long-time friend.

“Merry met John,” Clio said. Her smile at both the interruption and the person interrupting, evident in her voice.

“Hello Clio,” replied John Slocum, a local Johnson County sheriff’s deputy. He wore his tan police uniform. “I saw this story from out in California in the America Today newspaper. Roger must have his hands full.”

“Oh dear,” replied Clio, putting down the item she held in her hand on a shelf. “Is he all right? What is happening, John?”

“There was a fire that killed thirteen students. The story didn’t say how, but it is in a town called Redding, where Roger told me he was going, and I have a feeling that somehow this concerns him. Here, read what it says…”

Thirteen Killed in Deadly Fire

                                                                         Redding, CA 

Law enforcement officials continue to investigate Sunday’s deadly fire near Keswick Reservoir in Redding, California that killed thirteen. Preliminary investigations indicate the students were locked inside an unused storage building at the reservoir. The dead, all but one identified, were found when Park Rangers noticed smoke. Fearing a forest fire in the usually dry forested area, fire fighters were summoned. It was then when the burned shed and the bodies were discovered. Rumors of activity, to include suspicions of a satanic cult have been widespread in Redding for several months. Local officials believe this incident is unrelated to any rumors and presently do not suspect foul play.

“Oh my,” Clio said, handing the paper back to John and placing her hand on her chest as if to steady her heart. “Those poor people…”

******

Roger Marquette had come to Redding over eighteen months ago amid claims of a satanic cult. Fresh from an incident in Eastern Wisconsin where he and others had successfully rid the small community of Lake Melts of a terrible and ancient evil, Roger was again embarking on an investigation and understanding of mankind’s darkest secrets.

He stood in the dark shadows of the school auditorium, and stared intently at the thirteen caskets resting side-byside. The mood inside the school was somber and unlike anything the space was intended for. The exterior doors were all blocked open, allowing a soft breeze to enter the auditorium to help cool the masses of people attending the memorial service. Even then, small hand fans and programs

were being used to cool those sitting inside. The auditorium, or more appropriately a multi-use gymnasium, was the only place in town large enough to hold the funeral for the twelve students and one unknown female who had died in the fire.

The way the bodies were discovered in a ritualistic fashion had convinced Roger that a satanic cult, or satanic copycat cult, was operating here.

The sheriff of Redding, however, was not convinced. He agreed a serial killer was in place, but he would not accept that Satanism or any other “kookyism’s” had anything to do with the deaths. He and Roger had argued, and at one point he threatened to arrest Roger for interfering with an investigation.

But what Roger knew of the victims was little; all the kids were disconnected until just a few weeks ago, coupled with other facts he’d learned, caused him to believe Satanism had raised its ugly head in Redding.

The fire at the old state storage building outside of Redding had taken thirteen lives. The building, on the south end of Keswick Reservoir, had been locked and vacant for years. Now it was a pile of ash and rubble. Many questions still existed about how the incident had happened, and why. The chained and padlocked door of the shed remained suspicious, but as of yet no one knew if the kids had gotten into the shed another way, or if they had been locked inside.

Time stood still in Redding. The tragedy itself had numbed the community, and adding to it some of the rumors about how the bodies were found, people were understandably upset and scared. Roger empathized with them.

Principal Charles Dean of Redding Municipal High School walked to the podium and looked out into the crowd. Taking a visible deep breath, he began to recite from a page on the podium in front of him. “Thank you for coming today in respect for those we have lost…Jack Schwerbel, Danny Myers, Linda Faris, Brenda Mason…”

Roger, not really focusing on the eulogy, examined as many faces in the auditorium as he could. He wanted to see if he could find the one person he most suspected of the crime. “…they lost their lives together. Together, we mourn them today…” Principal Dean continued.

In the large auditorium students, teachers, and parents— the entire community almost—mourned together. The Public Address system for the school stadium broadcasted Principal Dean’s eulogy to those seated as well as those gathered outside who weren’t able to fit inside the auditorium. Roger watched and listened, hoping to find the culprit.

******

Another figure stood alone in the back of the auditorium. Hidden in the shadows of the bleachers, he observed the masses of people in the room. A tall thin man, he witnessed the ceremony and felt the deep emotions of the crowd. Gene Van der Hochster was a teacher here at the school. Being so, he was affected by this tragedy. Two weeks from today, the final day of the school year, was his last day in Redding. Even before the tragedy had occurred he had decided to move on and the tragedy itself had confirmed

his desire to do that. The loss was too overwhelming and he needed something else, something new to do with his life. Moving back east was where he wanted to be. A small town in Wisconsin, similar to Redding, awaited him. A new teaching position and a fresh, new start was exactly what he needed. And despite today’s events, he was excited about the prospects.

 

Chapter 1 

Three months later…

Lake Melts, Wisconsin, a small town resting on the southern end of Lake Nicollet, is a typical Midwestern University Town of about 30,000. Known as much for the local college, Joliet University, as for the outboard motor factory headquartered on the west side of town, it is also well known for its residents penchant for winning large BIGball Lottery drawings. As a result, it has more than its fair share of new local millionaires.

While typical of small upper Midwestern college towns, Lake Melts was not a typical Wisconsin town. Almost two years ago, the community had been torn by a series of murders and vicious attacks from an unknown creature. Much of the town had been divided, with one entire section of town claiming they had seen the murderer. Others scoffed, calling it pure nonsense. The naysayers insisted it was nothing more than wild imaginations created by too much fantasy on TV and the movies. But if anything, those who considered themselves the practical people of Lake Melts were not shy about criticizing those they disagreed with on the happenings.

But Gene didn’t care about that.

On a large new campus some ten miles north of town, was Lake Nicollet High School. It was an experimental school, built out of concern that the local separate economies couldn’t support their own high quality high school. As a result, Johnson and Nicollet Counties had combined their schools. The school with a huge, sprawling, modern campus had over 4000 students, grades 9 through 12 and had become the pride of the area.

Nestled in the center of the campus was the regional Performing Arts Center, and a meandering yet well maintained walking, jogging, and bicycle path that many in the community used. The school itself, located in what was becoming known as the academic region of Lake Melts, offered some of the most current high school level classes in all of Wisconsin. For a region of smaller communities, Lake Nicollet was fast becoming one of the best high schools in the state.

And that’s where Gene came in, as the new history and sociology teacher, he was one of the prize additions to the faculty. Gene Van der Hochster was already becoming well known in the community. His eccentric dress, sometimes with an ascot, floppy safari hat, and of course suede safari boots, coupled with his unusual manner of speech, had many in the town warming to him. His tales of youthful travel throughout Africa, where he claimed to be a big game hunter, and his more exotic stories of business dealings with assorted Middle Eastern sheiks, made him welcome company in many circles with hunting being one of the town’s favorite past times.

His hair was almost completely white, full, and combed back. He was tall, thin, and physically in good shape. He wore round, black-framed eyeglasses that he called spectacles and possessed an ability to embellish and regale stories, making it an animated tale to all who listened. This gave him a charm and charisma that made him disarming and pleasant. Some viewed him as if he were a bit nuts, the more polite referring to Gene as “eccentric.” Still, his stories and background drew many close to him.

In the several months he had been in Lake Melts, he had made a large number friends and had begun working with a school group that focused on troubled teens. The young people in this group had already begun to follow him and hang onto his every word. Others in town felt he was “too familiar” with the young people, especially the students. Yet a trusting, innocent Midwestern community was still present in Lake Melts and whispers about over-familiarity with young people was generally made in private.

 

Chapter 2 

Deputy Sheriff John Slocum walked out to his patrol car and prepared himself for his late night shift. John had been on the Johnson County sheriff’s department for over eight years. He knew the routine inside and out. He had just turned forty-one years old, still had most of his reddish brown hair with a slight hint of grey, and stood six feet tall. Though, as his on-line dating profile had once said, he had a few extra pounds around the waist. Most people in Lake Melts would have said John was average. People who knew him would say he was amicable, easy to talk to, and strangers were friends he hadn’t met yet.

John had been divorced for over seven years and was finally getting used to it. That meant he missed his kids who lived with their mother in a small farming community west of town, near the men’s prison. But working the night shift gave him the time for their school events and ball games. He was at last enjoying the solitude that came from being single again, but would privately confess he missed the company of a lady in his life.

For about a year and a half now he had a lady in his life. John and Clio Boru had become very close since the incident with Jack Gevaudan. Hushed whispers still followed them around, mostly because Clio was Wiccan. Some in town simply called her a witch, but most didn’t mean anything by it.

The entire issue with Jack Gavaudan had changed John and everything he thought he knew. When he discovered his now girlfriend, Clio Boru, was a skilled practitioner of Wicca and had powers that enabled her to control the environment around her, it had made a significant change in how John saw things. He was skeptical about many things but he had become quicker to accept those things that in the past would have been dismissed as unreal or simply the product of someone’s wild imagination. All of the events surrounding the Gavaudan incident, coupled with the many stories his friend, Roger Marquette, had shared, convinced John that his safe view of the world was in serious need of some open mindedness.

He drove out of the sheriff’s department parking lot, heading south on Main Street toward his patrol area on the east side of the county. His short trip to the highway provided him a quick drive near Clio’s house and he always glanced down the street, thinking of her and making certain all was well at the Boru household. He turned onto Highway 24, past the old Sugar Shack, now closed. A little past that was one of John’s favorite roads in the county. It’s quiet, heavily-shaded tree-lined path was one of those beauties of the county that John thought made living here nice. County J was a short, winding spur of a road that took him past the women’s prison. He always thought the neighbors here and the irony of it, interesting.

Many of the sisters who had taught John, and his friend, Karl, in school still lived in the nunnery on County J. How he and Karl had teased the nuns with their practical jokes was a fond memory.

As he passed the school, he began to see the dark images of the older homes. Their massive front porches along the road made John think about how pleasant it would be to live along the Ledge, a prominent geographical feature on the east side of Lake Melts.

Clio had two large Irish Wolfhounds. Cullan, who was almost four, and Conan, now approaching two. She had had another, but it was now gone to the Summerlands, that place where all Wiccans go when they die—at least that’s what Clio had told him. Conal, that was the wolfhound’s name, was waiting to be reborn. He knew Clio had never forgot Conal and the great loyalty the hound had shown her. He rested now on the Ledge.

The heavily tree-lined and curving road was only rated a 35 MPH zone, and even that could sometimes be too fast, especially in the winter when the road, not well plowed, would be slippery with ice and snow.

John knew from personal experience as he had slid into the ditch there a few times but was fortunate enough to get out without any difficulty.

As he made the sharp turn to the left, he glanced over his right shoulder and could see the lights and border fences of the women’s prison. As usual, nothing exciting there. Nothing exciting now.

But that was not the case two years ago when he had seen the eyes. Those two burning red eyes along the Pine Barrens just down the road from the curve. Seeing those eyes had started everything.

Continuing on, he drove past the prison and back out onto Highway 161. Heading north, he continued his drive into the countryside and past the many farms and homes scattered along the eastern shore of Lake Nicollet. Tonight his route was routine, and as normal, nothing exciting was happening. John thought back on that night—the night he had first seen the beast and remembered all that it had led to.

Towards dawn, John was back on the path driving down County J where it met Highway 47 toward Eden. It was a pretty drive in the early morning. It was also very quiet. Quiet, until a call came over John’s radio.

“John, this is dispatch,” the voice said.

Reaching for the microphone and grasping it in his right hand, John pushed the button and said, “Go ahead, dispatch.”

“We have a report of a dead body alongside Highway 161, just north of the intersection at County Highway GH.”

“Is it a human body?” John asked as he turned his car around and headed onto Highway 47 toward Highway 161. Too many times John had been called for reported bodies that were everything from deer to discarded store mannequins. He wanted to make certain how fast he had to drive to the scene.

“That’s what the report says,” came the reply.

“I’m on my way,” John replied, dropping the microphone onto the seat beside him.

Turning on his blue flashing lights, John picked up speed and headed toward the reported scene. As he left Highway 47 and entered Highway 161, he was able to speed up and raced to the scene.

Approaching the traffic light-controlled intersection of County GH and Highway 161, John saw nothing to indicate where this body may be. No cars were along the road and the intersection itself was deserted. Even the nearby gas station and restaurant were closed, their parking lot lit but empty, the insides of the building dark and quiet to observers.

He continued north on Highway 161 for almost a half a mile when on the right shoulder he saw a small pickup truck and a Sport Utility Vehicle. The SUV had its bright yellow flashers on.

John pulled his patrol car up behind the SUV. Leaving his flashing blue lights on, he exited the car and walked toward it. He put his hand on his weapon when he noticed the passenger door of the SUV was open and that someone was sitting inside smoking a cigarette. Legs were dangling out the side of the car and the smoke from the cigarette drifted around.

“You…in the vehicle,” John said loudly.

The figure sat up and leaned forward.

John unsnapped his holster and gripped his weapon more firmly. “Ease out slowly please, and keep your hands visible.”

The figure, obviously male, kept leaning out. Arms and hands extended in front of him.

John then said, “Johnson County Sheriff’s Department, keep on coming out.”

The man stepped out and then stood straight up. “Put your hands on your head,” John commanded, “interlocking your fingers together. Turn away from me and lower yourself to your knees, crossing your feet behind you at the ankles.”

The vehicle occupant complied as John walked up behind him. He placed his hands on top of the man’s hands and said, “I’m going to pat you down now, please do not move.”

A quick search, then John holstered his weapon. “Okay, you can stand up, but do so slowly.”

The man stood and slowly turned around. John didn’t recognize the man. “I received a call about a body; do you know anything about that?”

Staring at John with somewhat tired eyes, the man said, “It’s over there in the weeds,” as he pointed with his head.

John glanced in that direction, seeing only what appeared to be stained white cloth. Turning back toward the man, he asked, “What exactly happened here?”

“Charlie and I stopped off on our way to work in Chilton to check on the corn at our stand,” he started.

“Charlie?” John asked.

“Yes, Charlie Rogers, my buddy,” the man said.

“Where is Charlie now?” John glanced around, still keeping a firm eye on the man.

“He went out to the stand,” he replied. “Anyway, as we stepped into the ditch we saw it. It was a black box that had no lid. Inside was a body. Well, we didn’t know it was a body right off and then. Charlie shined his flashlight down into it and we saw clothes and human hands.”

“Then what?” John asked.

“Well, I called 9-1-1 on my cell and Charlie went on to the stand.”

“Stay here.” John walked over toward the spot where the man had told him the body was. Lying on its side in the ditch, the open portion facing the road, was a long, black, wooden box. It took a moment before John realized it was a coffin. Not a new one, either. No, this coffin was real old. Lying slightly askew from the coffin was the body. More appropriately—the remains—mummified in some parts, but bones in the rest. Clothing still clung to the body. From where John stood, it appeared to be a gown of some kind.

Reaching for his radio, John pushed the button on the microphone. “Dispatch, this is Slocum.”

“Go ahead, John,” the dispatcher’s voice responded.

“I am at the scene where the body was reported. Send the coroner and photographer,” he said. Then, pushing the button again he added, “This is not a fresh body…it has been dead a long time.”

“Okay, John,” the dispatcher responded.

“I mean a real long time,” he added. “It’s a skeleton.”

“Roger,” Dispatch replied.

John replaced the microphone and walked back toward the body. As he got closer, a rustling in the weeds nearby startled him.

Jumping back, John instinctively placed his hand on his weapon. The noise continued and he could see the weeds part toward the woods.

“Rabbit,” John breathed out in relief. Then, he turned and walked back toward the SUV to wait for the coroner and photographer to arrive.

IMBOLC – The Coming of Spring

 

There are 8 Sabbat’s, or Sabbaths, in the Wiccan Year. Imbolc, pronounced “Im-Bolk” is the 3rd of the year.

Imbolc occurs around February 2nd and is essentially the half way mark between the Winter Solstice (Yule) and the Spring Equinox (Ostara). It celebrates the transition of the Crone of Winter into the Maiden of Spring. This holiday has been celebrated not only throughout antiquity by many different cultures, but also today in many different forms. In Wiccan custom iut celebrates the Celtic Goddess, Brigid, of fire, fertility, midwifery and the young. ‘Imbolc’ literally means “in the belly” in the old Irish language. “In the belly” is a reference to birth with Spring symbolizing the rebirth of the land and all of nature. Brigid is often refered to as the Goddess of fertility and as such is closely connected with Imbolc.

When Christianity was expanding in Ireland in the 5th Century CE, attempts to convert the Celts and other tribes to Christianity often faced conflict with these ancient traditions. Through a process called syncretism the Church simply combined the ancient beliefs and traditions with another Irish Saint, Saint Brigid of Kildare. This allowed both rituals to be observed without conflict. Many Christian Churches now celebrate Saint Brigid’s day on February 1st. It is customary at this time of year to make a Saint Brigid’s cross out of straw or reeds. The display of these symbols is very common in Ireland today.

saint_brigids_cross

Imbolc is an observation of the ending of winter. Wiccans use fire and other means of light to extend the day. There is also the use of seeds and buds of trees and flowers to suggest the development of new life and birth. Food is an important part of the festival with seeds or other foods that are nearing the end of their storage life being used in the creation of foods. A simple but tasty recipe for scones would be appropriate on this day.  It would be very easy to picture Clio baking these in her kitchen as John and Roger waited hungrily nearby.

IMBOLC SCONES

1 cup raw potato’s, peeled and diced

2 cups flour

1 tbsp yeast

¼ tsp of salt & pepper each

1 tbsp of flax seed (or other seed such as sunflower)

3 tbsp softened but not melted butter

3 tbsp milk Boil and mash the potato’s then set aside to cool. Add salt and pepper, seed and yeast with the flour. Then blend in the butter. Add the potato’s and the milk, 1 tbsp at a time, until a soft and manageable dough is formed. Put the dough on a floured surface and roll out until about ½ inch thick. Using a biscuit cutter or a floured glass, cut into circles of about 3 inches. Place of a parchment paper lined baking sheet and bake in a 400 degree oven for 20-23 minutes. Serve warm with butter.

In modern times Imbolc is most closely associated with Groundhog’s Day. The intent is the same, celebrate the beginning of the end of winter and look forward to the warm fertile months of Spring.

Dire Wolve’s

Dire wold skeleton

 

The Dire Wolf plays an important role in SORCERESS RISING and is an ancient wolf species that ranged throughout North America. While long extinct there are groups actively involved in “rebreeding” and as a result, reintroducing, the Dire Wolf back into our population. SORCERESS RISING takes place in Lake Melts Wisconsin which is located in the East Central part of the state. The ancient remains of Dire Wolves have been found near there.

 

The Physical description of the Dire Wolf is quite impressive, some may say even intimidating. These are not the German Shepherd sized Grey Wolf or Timber Wolf that you are familiar with. While in some instance they were larger than these wolves, historic mythology has described them as the size of small horses. Whichever description you choose to believe they were and remain the largest of the wolf species.

 

These were fierce and powerful animals. They hunted not by speed but in packs and their primary food source was larger animals. Dire Wolf remains have been found all over the United States. The Dire Wolf Project is working diligently to return these magnificent animals. Starting with a crossbreed between an German Shepherd and a Alaskan malamute. Over time this breed has earned its own identity and is now officially known as the American Alsation. Their temperament is far from wolf like as they are primarily family companion dogs, less than 3 feet tall and weighing up to 120 pounds. They have a very wolf like appearance and I suspect confusion at the Dog Park could be interesting.

While the picture below is of a modern American Alsation, it is very easy to imagine a ferocity based upon its wolf like appearance.

 

Modern Dire Wolf