Summer Solstice/Litha/Midsummer

The summer solstice in the Northern Hemisphere, also known as Litha or midsummer, comes around about the 20th or 21st of June. It’s the longest day and the shortest night of the year because the sun rises as high as it can go, so we get more daylight. From here on in, the days will be getting shorter and the nights longer until the winter solstice/Yule, when things turn around again. This is a joyful festival to celebrate growth and abundance, energy, and blessings of the sun.

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Beltane/May Day

Beltane or May Day is on May 1 in the Northern Hemisphere and on November 1 in the Southern Hemisphere. It’s traditionally the end of winter and the beginning of summer, about midway between Ostara or the spring equinox and summer solstice in June. This is a joyful time, a time for fun and celebrating the promise of abundance. However, the harvest is still months away. Just as we still have a lot of work to do in our gardens, there’s still work to do on our goals.

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Ostara

Ostara, which falls around March 20 in the Northern Hemisphere and September 22 in the Southern Hemisphere, is the spring equinox. Day and night are about equal. From this point on, the days will begin to grow slightly longer. It’s the beginning of spring, although we may not feel that everywhere. Symbolically, Ostara is a time for renewal, fertility, and balance. It’s also a good time to clarify your desires.

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Imbolc

Imbolc, sometimes called Brighid’s Day or Feast of Brighid, falls on February 2 in the Northern Hemisphere (August 1 in the Southern Hemisphere). Since the Winter Solstice/Yule, the days have been getting gradually longer, though there are still weeks of winter to go. Hidden in the earth, however, is the potential for spring, and Imbolc is the chance to celebrate that.

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Yule/Winter Solstice

The winter solstice, also known as Yule, is the longest night and the shortest day. The previous Neo-Pagan festival, Halloween/Samhain, was a celebration of death in the sense of the old dying out. Yule celebrates the coming (though not yet arrival) of the light. In assessing the past year without judgment, you can let go of what you no longer need to worry about and prepare for what you still need to achieve.

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Samhain/Halloween

The festival known as Samhain, or more commonly Halloween, is coming up. For many Neo-Pagans, this is the end of one yearly cycle and the beginning of a new one. This links closely to the harvest when the last of the abundant crops are picked and a winter mindset begins setting in. It’s a time to bring closure to the year, honoring the process of death and rebirth, and to play around with some new possibilities, at least for a while.

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Autumn Equinox/Mabon

This is the time of the autumn equinox. From an astronomical point of view, equinoxes are times when day and night are about equal. Symbolically, we can see this as a balance between light and dark. Light is life and darkness is death, so the autumn equinox is a time to appreciate both sides of our experience but to recognize that we’re headed into the darkness with the coming of winter. We can feel this on a physical, personal, and spiritual level.

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Lughnasadh/Lammas

August 1 is Lughnasadh or Lammas in the Northern Hemisphere (February 1 in the Southern Hemisphere). This is known as the first harvest (the other two being the autumn equinox and Samhain). That means we’re starting to see results from the labor of previous months, but there’s still lots of work to do. This is an important time for being thankful and praying for abundance. It’s a time to celebrate the cycle of life. It’s also a good time to reflect on where we are and where we want to go for the remainder of the year.

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Mother’s Day When Your Mother Is Abusive

May 10 is Mother’s Day in the United States. But what happens when your mother is abusive? As long as there are kind, loving mothers out there, and as long as there are mothers who are abuse survivors who refuse to become abusers themselves, Mother’s Day is worth celebrating.

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Dream: Overcoming Rules from the Past

Abused children grow up with a lot of restrictions that don’t make sense. Sometimes they’re in the form of outright rules, as in “you’re not allowed to bring friends home” or “you can’t go out trick-or-treating on Halloween.” But many of the restrictions that are placed on us are more subtle. When we want to do something, we get disapproval, ridicule, lectures, and so forth. These rules work themselves into our brains and are tough to let go of, even when, as adults, we can see they don’t make sense.

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Lunar Month Reflections: December 2014

I’ve been tracking the lunar months for a while now. Nick Fiorenza is an astrologer who generously offers a free lunar calendar at his site Lunar Planner every lunar month. He does a little write-up of the month’s theme, which he’s titled “Metamophosis” for this month. There are two things in this month’s theme that really resonate with me right now: moving from “lower-order” concerns to “higher-order” concerns and taking deliberate action for positive change.

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Memories of Holidays with My Family

When I think of the holidays with my family, I get a mixture of nostalgia and horror. There were certainly good times, but there was also torture of a special kind. In general, I hated family holidays and am happy not to have to endure them anymore. During the holidays, you’d think people were more relaxed, but in abusive families, holidays are often a time of greater stress.

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