- Le Chaudron de Morrigann /
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It's only recently that the sabbat corresponding to the autumn equinox was given the name of Mabon, son of Modron, who is a god belonging to Welsh mythology. Presented as the oldest man in the world, he is among other things the god of eternal youth and is associated with the sun gods known in other Celtic traditions.
According to the legend told in the Mabinogion, he is kidnapped from his mother Modron (who is an incarnation of the Mother Goddess) when he is only three nights old. Taken to a place nobody knows about, no one knows anything about his abduction, not even whether he is dead or alive. In the tale telling the story of Culhwch's quest to win his beloved Olwen, Culhwch engages in a series of trials. Each one of them enables him to succeed in the next one. One of these trials consists in finding Mabon. Culhwch has to release him from his prison but before he can do that, he first has to find information that will reveal to him where Mabon is held captive. In this quest, King Arthur offers his help to Culhwch and takes his knights with him. Culhwch and his companions investigate by questioning several animals, but none of them knows where Mabon is nor whether he is dead or alive. Each creature directs them to an animal that is older than them and who might have heard something that could help them. As a matter of fact, Mabon is the oldest man on earth for he was there before anybody else. As the story goes on, the only animal who may know what happened to him is the Salmon of Llyn Llyw, who happens to be the oldest animal on earth. The companions find him and he leads them to the prison where Mabon is held, which is identified as Gloucester. At the foot of the prison, Culhwch and his fellows hear lamentations. When they ask who is crying so hard, Mabon names himself. The companions engage a fight and release him.
Symbolically, Mabon was born twice: the first time from his mother Modron, and the second time with his release by Culhwch. Though he is a god, he helps the humans with whom he has peaceful relationships. He thus belongs to both worlds (divine and human), which reflects what happens at the autumn equinox for which he recently became a symbol. Representing light, Mabon is indeed kidnapped and held captive in a prison underground, that is to say in the darkness. Here as well as at the equinox, darkness is victorious over light.
During his long detention, Mabon is held in a prison underground and thus in the dark, in which he is forced to live and which he has to accept. This introspective spread was designed especially for the autumn equinox and invites the Querent to explore his own part of darkness so as to release himself from the prison built by his fear of it.
After shuffling and cutting the deck, draw eleven cards and lay them out as follows:
Reading and interpretation
Card 1 represents the Querent in his prison and the way he deals with his own darkness. This card alludes to Mabon as he is imprisoned in Gloucester and to the obscurity that surrounds him during his long captivity.
Cards 2, 3 and 4 are the top of the tower that holds Mabon prisoner. They show what prevents the Querent from finding a balance between light and darkness and the reasons why he is afraid of his dark side.
Cards 5 and 6 are the first wall of the tower. They enlighten the difficulties that will be encountered by the Querent during his introspection.
Cards 7 and 8 build the second wall. They picture what will help the Querent in his introspection and the personal resources in which he will find what it takes to accept his dark side and be at peace with it.
Cards 9, 10 and 11 are the prison's floor. They show how the Querent can be at peace with his own darkness and balance shadow and light within himself. They describe what he will gain from his introspection. Card 9 gives some advice about how the Querent can achieve this. Card 10 is what grounds him in both his bright and dark sides. The card shows what he can hold on to in order to preserve this fragile balance. Card 11 takes card 10 further by picturing what he will gain in this and insists on the strengths which will develop inside of him as a consequence. It is a kind of opening and can be a synthesis.
This spread is shaped as a crenelated tower to refer to the prison in which Mabon is held in captivity. In terms of structure, it is important to note that the Querent has a central position, between the walls of the tower in order to show what makes him feel prisoner of his dark side, which he has not "tamed" yet. The roof is what prevents him from seeing the daylight, but also what triggers his introspection since being deprived of light, he has no other choice that to face it. The two walls are on the one hand what holds him back and on the other hand what releases him. The ground depicts quite logically what makes it possible for the Querent to find a balance by finding a sort of milestone that will help him grounding.
The main elements of the legend and the symbolism behind it are used in order to insist on the perfect balance between light and darkness which the Querent can achieve within himself in the same way as day and night are the same length at the autumn equinox. By searching for peace with his dark side at this time of the year, the Querent is reenacting a myth on a personal level, in accordance with the cycles of Nature.
Which decks for this spread?
This spread can be done with any tarot or oracle deck. However, considering the nature of the inspiration here, the most interesting decks to use are those with a Celtic orientation. Those who want to remain very close to Welsh mythology in general and to the Mabinogion in particular will be delighted with Anna-Marie Ferguson's, Llewellyn Tarot, for this gorgeous deck explores those legends in a very interesting way. The Arthurian legend, which includes the Mabinogion, is also remarkably illustrated in another amazing tarot deck by Anna-Marie Ferguson called Legend: the Arthurian Tarot.
Those recommendations are, of course, no barriers. They are here only to help you take all the benefits you can from this spread as well as of the sabbat by using Tools that fit the moment in a very accurate way. This spread can be done with any deck as long as the Querent likes it. However, try as much as possible to use decks which favor introspection and self-exploration.
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Despite its many treasures, Mabon remains for many a not very well known festival. With this spread, my wish is to draw attention on one very often left aside aspect of this sabbat though it is one of the most interesting of this festival. Mabon is the autumn equinox and marks the beginning of the dark half of the year, which endures until Ostara. At the equinox, day and night are equal and nature is getting ready to face the domination of darkness over light since from this day on nights get longer than days. This time of the year is thus favorable to meditation and introspection: as we explore our hidden aspects, we honor the darkness. We thus choose to go deep within and become fully aware of the part pf darkness we all have inside. This can be frightening for some, because the idea of being face to face with our darkest part is never easy. However, this is a very enlightening exercise which leads to a better understanding of who we are.
This tradition is used in different kinds of mythologies. The probably most famous legend about this belongs to Greek mythology and tells the tale of Persephone, daughter of earth goddess Demeter is abducted by Hades and taken to his realm underground to become his queen. Being a very beautiful Young maid, Persephone is coveted by Hades, king of hell. While she is picking up daffodils, he takes the opportunity and abducts her, taking her by force to his realm underground, planning to make her his wife. Devastated by sorrow, Demeter refuses to make the earth fertile again, which leads to a lack of fruit. Worried about the harvests to come, Zeus decides to send Hermes to Hades to propose a bargain aiming at freeing Persephone. However, since the Young maid has eaten pomegranate seeds during her stay, she now belongs in the underworld. Hades nonetheless accepts the bargain but allows his wife to go back to the surface (and thus to the light) only for six months. At the end of this period, she has to go down to him again. The bargain agreed, Persephone accepts her role as queen of Hades. Each year at the autumn equinox she goes underground to be with her husband and comes back to the surface again at each spring equinox. That is how the main two seasons of the year are created: from the spring equinox to the autumn equinox, days are longer than nights (summer), while from the autumn equinox to the spring equinox the nights are longer than the days (winter).
This special spread is inspired from Persephone's journey underground and aims at helping the Querent to deal with his own darkness and to accept it as a full part of himself. The main events of the legend are represented and their symbolic meaning corresponds to the positions of the cards in the layout.
How to proceed
After shuffling and cutting your deck, take thirteen cards which and spread them as follows:
Reading and interpretation
Cards 1, 2 and 3 represent Persephone and the narcissuses she is innocently picking up, unaware of the fact that she is on the verge of being abducted by Hades. They show what the Querent refuses to see and what makes him carefree. Card 1 shows the Querent as he is when he decides to use this spread, with everything he is, including every part of himself he does not want to be confronted with, consciously or not. On the left, card 2 indicates why he is afraid to look at this aspect of his own personality. On the right, card 3 reveals the kind of difficulties he is confronted with when trying to deal with the obscurity he holds inside.
Cards 4 and 5 refer to Persephone's descending in Hades' subterranean realm. They reflect what triggers the Querent's introspection and what draws him to his own darkness. Card 4 is the reason why he decides to go deep in his deeper dark self and card 5 is what he expects to find during this journey. This card can express what he worries about in this process, what motivates him or what he would like to find.
Cards 6 and 7 depict Persephone's stay in the underworld. They are the heart of the Querent's introspection and show what he will find deep within himself. These two cards are to be read together for they show the most prominent aspect of his dark side and the energies in presence at the time of the reading. Card 6 thus reveals what the Querent finds at the heart of his own darkness and card 7 opens his eyes on the consequences of not learning to deal with it and refusing to accept it as a full part of himself.
Cards 8 and 9 show Persephone's ascension as she is on her way to the surface. They depict the solutions that can be found by the Querent and the possibilities offered to him to help him deal with his darkness and restore peace and confidence in his relationship with this aspect of himself. Each card presents the Querent with precious advice and shows him the way.
Cards 10, 11 and 12 represent Persephone, who is now queen of darkness, reaching the surface of the earth. They put into light what the Querent has "gained" thanks to his introspection as well as how he will assimilate his dark side by following the advice provided throughout the spread. These three cards show how the light comes back again at the end of the winter, that is to say at the spring equinox also known as Ostara. While cards 1, 2 and 3 depicted the Querent at Mabon, these present him the way he will be at Ostara when winter ends. They are a summary of what the dark season will bring for the Querent. Card 10 is thus the Querent as he will be at the end of his journey within himself. On the left, card 11 reveals what the Querent will have gained, the way he will have managed to "tame" the dark aspects of himself put into light during the analysis of the spread. On the right, card 12 is an opening on something the Querent will still have to be working on in order to find the right balance between his bright and dark sides. It can also be a warning which he will have to keep in mind if he wants to achieve his goal.
Card 13 symbolizes the pomegranate seeds eaten by Persephone during her stay in Hades' realm. It thus shows what the Querent takes and keeps with him from his inner journey. It shows in what way the Querent's dark side is necessarily connected with his identity and is a full part of it that cannot be ignored. This card reflects how he is continually connected with his own darkness. It shows the way to follow and is a conclusion to the spread.
This spread has been designed especially for Mabon and is to be done at this time. However, those who want to remain faithful to the legend of Persephone can do it at the full moon that is the closest to the autumn equinox, for it is at this time that Demeter's daughter is said to have been abducted by Hades.
The way the cards are spread pictures Persephone's descent and her stay in the underworld. Cards 1, 2 and 3, as well as cards 10, 11 and 12 stand on the surface and show the Querent respectively before and after his journey within himself. Cards 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 are the evolution of the Querent in his own darkness. They reflect his introspection. Card 13 stands in between. Being at the same time part of the world of light and part of the world of darkness, it belongs to both worlds and connects them. It is thus a synthesis showing how the Querent finally finds his own balance by managing to handle both his bright and his dark sides.
Considering the duration of Persephone's stay in Hades' realm, this layout spreads over a period of six months, from one equinox to the other. It enables the Querent to see his own journey throughout the dark half of the year and to get a hint of how the domination of night over day will help him accept his own darkness.
Which decks for this spread?
Any tarot or oracle deck can be used with this spread. While the "classics" will of course do a great job here, one may want to use a deck especially designed for self-exploration and introspection for it will bring a very interesting point of view, which will be particularly accurate for Mabon. For instance, "Madame Endora's Fortune Cards", "Chrysalis Tarot", "Oracle of the Shapeshifters", "Oracle of Shadows and Light", "The Fairy Tale Tarot" (Lisa Hunt), "Psycards" and many more will be perfect!
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The witch is definitely a part of the Halloween folklore. That's why it seemed quite logical and natural to me to dedicate a special spread to this emblematic figure. The following layout is the first of a series specifically designed for Samhain.
Traditionally, witches ride their brooms on the night of a sabbat and fly towards the place where the celebrations take place. By doing so, they go from one state to another insofar as the sabbat is connected to a rite of passage since it marks an important step on the Wheel of the Year. This is all the more true about Samhain, for this festival is the door to the new year.
The spread – broom-shaped! – is called "The Witch's Flight" and explores the notion of passing from one state to another and of evolution. It is perfect for the new year in order to have an overview (past and present) and foresee what lies ahead. It allows close examination of a situation in which the querent is emotionally or spiritually involved so that the implications and consequences of the decisions that are made or the changes that are taking place around the querent can be fully measured. This spread can thus be used with or without a question.
How to proceed
After the deck has been shuffled and cut, draw ten cards and lay them as follows:
Visually, this spread is divided into two main parts: cards 1 to 6 are the straw of the broom while cards 7 to 10 are its stick.
This structure can be divided again into several smaller parts, which are distinct but complementary and based on the three-card spread.
Cards 1 to 3 show what we leave behind, what we are going away from, what we turn our back on.
Cards 4 to 6 show what pushes the querent forward, their deep motivations.
As the connection between the straw and the stick of the broom, card 7 is the convergence of what we leave behind, what pushes us forward and what lies ahead (which is indicated by the last three cards). This card puts into light the way these three axes are connected.
Cards 8 to 10 represent what lies ahead for the querent, where they are headed, strong of their past experiences and of what has already been revealed in the spread.
Each of the three axes is composed of three cards. Individually, the cards have no particular meaning defined according to their respective positions. The different groups are rather read as full entities and the cards they contain are deciphered as if they were telling a story for they describe a logical sequence of events or states of mind that the querent has been through.
Which decks to use?
This spread fits any tarot or oracle deck. However, considering the special event it is related to, some decks will be more attuned to the season and to the kind of explorations allowed by this spread than others.
Among tarot decks, you may of course use the classical Marseille, Rider-Waite Smith or Crowley, but you may also like the “Halloween Tarot” (no kidding!) or Joseph Vargo's "Gothic Tarot", or any deck close to this kind of atmosphere.
Concerning oracle decks, “Oracle of the Shapeshifters” is just perfect since just like this spread, it explores changes and transformations. “Oracle of Shadows & Light” and "Wild Wisdom of the Faery Oracle" are very pleasant too, as well as “Madame Endora's Fortune Cards”.
Article rédigé par mes soins. Reproduction interdite.
Lammas/Lughnasadh est enfin là ! Ce 1er août est le jour de Lammas/Lughnasadh. Ce sabbat marque le temps de la Première Récolte, où les fruits sont mûrs, gorgés de soleil et où les blés sont blonds et prêts à être coupés.
Ce sabbat est tantôt appelé Lammas, tantôt Lughnasadh. « Lammas » est un nom dérivé de l'anglo-saxon hlaef-mass, qui peut se traduire aujourd'hui par loaf-mass. Cette expression fait référence à l'imposante miche de pain que l'on confectionne et que l'on partage à cette occasion, en hommage aux diverses récoltes (fruits, céréales) que l'on s'apprête à faire.
« Lughnasadh » est quant à lui un terme gaélique dans lequel on reconnaît le nom du dieu Lugh, reconnu à tort par certains comme l'une des divinités de la lumière. En effet, plusieurs chercheurs ont souligné l'erreur étymologique qui a longtemps consisté à établir un parallèle entre lugh et lux (lumière, en latin) . Pourtant, bien que certains aient voulu faire de Lugh un dieu du soleil , il n'en est rien puisqu'il est en réalité une divinité lumineuse et solaire, ce qui ne signifie pas qu'il incarne la lumière ou le soleil mais qu'il en concentre certaines propriétés en son être. À ce titre, Robert-Jacques Thibaud le présente comme « une divinité lumineuse (non le soleil) » .
À travers le nom qui lui a été donné, c'est ce dernier aspect de Lugh que fait ressortir cette fête. Le dieu y incarne l'idée de la lumière et de la chaleur du soleil qui vont commencer à diminuer sous peu. On célèbre alors le déclin imminent de l'astre solaire, anticipant ainsi les récoltes suivantes et l'enfoncement progressif dans la période hivernale qui se dessine. Ceci est assez logique puisque les récoltes permettent justement de préparer l'hiver car emmagasiner des victuailles et des ressources est indispensable si l'on veut pouvoir se nourrir convenablement durant cette longue période sombre.
Dans le cycle de la Roue de l'Année, Lammas/Lughnasadh est aussi parfois connu sous le sobriquet du « festival oublié » (the forgotten festival). Il est en effet l'un des sabbats les plus méconnus, bien qu'il soit tout aussi intéressant que les autres. Ceci est sans doute dû au fait qu'il tombe au beau milieu de l'été, lors d'une période pendant laquelle on pense le moins au prochain retour de l'hiver qui semble alors bien lointain, du moins aux yeux de notre société contemporaine.
L'image qui domine Lammas/Lughnasadh est celle de la récolte, première du calendrier wiccan. L'heure est à la récolte des fruits, du blé et d'autres céréales, et il n'y a pas grand effort à faire pour que l'esprit à l'imagination fertile voie tous ces éléments réunis dans une corne d'abondance. Par extension, Lammas/Lughnasadh est la période où l'on récolte le fruit de ce que l'on a semé, que ce soit sur le plan spirituel, humain ou matériel. En quelque sorte, le temps est venu en cette première récolte de faire un premier bilan et de compter ses acquis. Ceci fait bien sûr écho au sabbat suivant – Mabon, le Thanksgiving des sorcières – et le préfigure.
Les traditions qui animent Lammas/Lughnasadh sont déjà présentes en filigrane dans les deux principaux noms de cette fête. Pour rendre hommage aux récoltes de fruits et de céréales, il est courant de dresser d'énormes paniers de fruits ainsi que d'énormes miches de pain que l'on partage avec ceux que l'on aime. On confectionne également des figures avec les épis de blé et les feuilles de maïs que l'on appelle corn dollies (poupées de grain). Le soleil peut également être mis à l'honneur à travers des jeux de miroirs comme par exemple en suspendant des pampilles derrière une fenêtre afin de refléter la lumière solaire (sun catchers).
Nombreuses sont les coutumes et traditions qui entourent le sabbat de la Première Récolte. La plupart sont tournées vers la magie culinaire et domestique, la guérison et les bienfaits prodigués par le soleil, etc. Rien n'empêche de se montrer inventif, du moment que l'on reste dans l'esprit de cette fête !
Je signale au passage un très bon ouvrage sur Lammas/Lughnasadh, dont la couverture illustre le présent article. Celui-ci offre un panorama très complet sur les origines, les coutumes, la magie, les jeux, etc. en rapport avec ce sabbat. Voici la référence complète :
Anna FRANKLIN, Paul MASON. Lammas: Celebrating the Fruits of the First Harvest. St Paul, MN: Llewellyn Publications, 2001
 Voir à ce propos : Robert-Jacques THIBAUD, Dictionnaire de mythologie et de symbolique celte, Paris : Dervy, 1995, p. 245, s.v. « Lug (ou Lugh) »; James McKILLOP, Oxford Dictionary of Celtic Mythology, Oxford: OUP, 2004 , p. 305, s.v. "Lug Lámfhota".
 T.W. ROLLESTON, Celtic Myths and Legends, New York: Dover Publications, 1990 [Myths & Legends of the Celtic Race, 2nd and rev. ed., London: G.G. Harrap, 1917], p. 109.
 Robert-Jacques THIBAUD, Dictionnaire de mythologie et de symbolique celte, op. cit., p. 245.
(© Morrigann Moonshadow, le 1er août 2012. Reproduction partielle ou totale strictement interdite.)
Article rédigé par mes soins. Reproduction interdite.
Cette période de l'année est celle qui se prête le mieux à la divination, en raison de l'ouverture de la Porte (ou l'affinement du Voile) entre les mondes. Traditionnellement, on cherche à contacter les morts afin qu'ils nous apportent des messages, et afin d'honorer nos défunts.
L'une des traditions de la saison consiste à allumer des lanternes creusées dans des citrouilles et autres navets derrière les fenêtres afin d'éloigner les mauvais esprits qui errent dehors dans l'obscurité et pourraient être tentés d'entrer dans les maisons pour jouer de vilains tours aux mortels. C'est pourquoi on a conservé la tradition de graver des cucurbitacées en leur donnant des visages effrayants. Ils sont censés protéger les habitations et leurs occupants. D'ailleurs, on dit que durant la nuit d'Halloween/Samhain, il vaut mieux éviter de regarder par la fenêtre, de peur de voir des processions d'esprits et autres créatures de la nuit. En revanche, laisser une bougie seule allumée derrière une fenêtre est un signe pour les défunts que l'on attend leur visite et que l'on est prêt à les accueillir. La lumière agit pour eux comme une sorte de phare qui les guide.
Ainsi, si on leur dit qu'ils sont les bienvenus et qu'on leur adresse quelques mots avant d'aller dormir en les autorisant à nous faire signe, il est possible qu'ils se servent de nos rêves pour nous rendre visite cette nuit-là. À moins que les messages ne viennent d'autres esprits, fées, gobelins ou autres créatures qui se pencheront sur nous durant notre sommeil. Ceci peut résulter en rêves prophétiques ou prémonitoires, où l'on peut voir nos défunts venir vers nous, nous parler, nous emmener quelque part. À moins que ce ne soient des révélations sur des aspects de notre vie, qu'ils appartiennent au futur ou au passé (ils donnent dans ce dernier cas des éclaircissements sur des situations embrouillées).
Mis à part les cartes et les runes, qui sont très utiles en cette période, il existe une multitude de rituels de divination dont on peut se servir. L'un d'eux consiste à prendre un miroir et une bougie. On s'installe dans une pièce om l'on allume la bougie et éteint la lumière, puis on regarde dans le miroir, en lui demandant de nous montrer le visage de celui que l'on aimera.
La saison de Samhain/Halloween est par excellence celle qui révèle les choses cachées et qui peut donner connaissance de choses habituellement inaccessibles, grâce à la rencontre entre les mondes. Par conséquent, les activités divinatoires sont privilégiées le temps de l'ouverture de la Porte (/de l'affinement du Voile).
(© Morrigann Moonshadow, le 28 octobre 2009. Reproduction partielle ou totale strictement interdite.)
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