Tag Archives: Native American

August and Harvest Rituals

Life is lived in cycles; the cycles of life are made evident as we approach the season of reaping what has been sewn. As crops ripen, and burgeon forth with abundance people around the world prepare for the harvest. August is a month full of harvest celebrations and superstitions all over the world that have been handed down for centuries.

August 1
On this day, the Lammas Sabbat is celebrated by Wiccans and Witches throughout the world. Lammas (which is also known as Lughnasadh, August Eve, and the First Festival of Harvest) marks the start of the harvest season and is a time when the fertility aspect of the sacred union of the Goddess and Horned God is honored. The making of corn dollies (small figures fashioned from braided straw) is a centuries-old Pagan custom which is carried on by many modern Witches as part of the Lammas Sabbat rite. The corn dollies are placed on the Sabbat altar to represent the Mother Goddess who presides over the harvest. It is customary on each Lammas to make or buy a new corn dolly and then burn the old one from the past year for good luck.

On this day in the country of Macedonia, Neo-Pagans celebrate the Day of the Dryads, an annual nature festival dedicated to the maiden spirits who inhabit and rule over forests and trees.

August 2
On this day, the Feast of Anahita is celebrated in honor of the ancient Persian goddess Anahita, a deity associated with love and lunar powers.

Lady Godiva Day is celebrated annually on this date in the village of Coventry, England, with a medieval-style parade led by a nude woman on horseback.

August 3
The harvest season begins on this date in Japan with an annual festival called the Aomori Nebuta. Bamboo effigies with grotesquely painted faces are paraded through the streets in order to drive away the spirits of sleep.

August 4
Each year on this date, it was believed that the waters of Scotland’s Loch-mo-Naire became charged with miraculous magical powers to heal all who drank it or bathed in it. For many years it was a custom for those who visited Loch-mo-Naire to toss in a coin of silver as an offering to the benevolent spirits that dwelled within the lake.

August 5
Many folks still believe in this ancient superstition: if you make a secret wish wile looking up at the new moon (which normally begins on or near this date in August), your wish will be granted before the year is through.

August 6
On this date in the year 1817, a huge creature described as a sea-serpent was spotted in the ocean near Gloucester harbor in Massachusetts. Coincidentally, on this same date in the year 1948, a similar creature was seen by the crew of the British naval frigate Daedalus.

This day is sacred to the Cherokee Earth-Goddess Elihino and her sister Igaehindvo, the sacred goddess of the Sun.

August 7
In ancient Egypt, the cow-headed goddess Hathor was honored on this day by an annual festival known as Breaking the Nile. The festival, which was also dedicated to all water and river goddesses, celebrated the rising of the fertile waters of the mystical River Nile.

In ancient Greece, the annual mourning ceremony called the Adonia was held on this date in honor of the dying hero-god Adonis.

August 8
According to the Christian Church calendar, the Virgin Mary was born on this day.
The Eve of the Festival of Venus was celebrated annually on this date by the ancient Romans. On this night, the goddess of love and beauty was honored and invoked with prayers, love songs, libations, and passionate lovemaking. It was also a time when sorceresses performed all forms of love magic and marriage-mate divinations.

August 9
On this date, many Wiccans from around the world celebrate the annual Feast of the Fire Spirits. Dried mandrake root or yarrow herb is cast into fires as offerings to the Salamanders.

August 10
A centuries-old festival called Ghanta Karna Day is celebrated annually around this time of August in the Himalayan kingdom of Nepal. The event celebrates the death of Ghanta Karna, a blood thirsty Hindu demon who haunts crossroads and is the sworn enemy of the god Vishnu.

August 11
On this day, an Irish fertility festival known as the Puck Fair begins. The medieval-style festival, which pays homage to the mischievous sprite Robin Goodfellow, continues for three consecutive days.

Oddudua, the “Mother of all Gods”, is honored on this day by followers of the Santeria religion in Africa and South America.

August 12
The goddess Isis and her search for Osiris (her brother and consort) is commemorated on this day by the Lychnapsia (Festival of the Lights of Isis). Dried rose petals and vervain are burned in small cauldron pots or incense burners as offerings to Isis, and green candles are lit in her honor.

August 13
On this date, the major Pagan festival of Hecate is traditionally held at moonrise. Hecate, the mysterious goddess of darkness and protectress of all Witches, is a personification of the Moon and the dark side of the female principle.

August 14
Every year on this date, a “burryman” (a man wearing a costume of thistle burrs, and representing an ancient fertility god) walks through the streets in many of the fishing villages along the coast of Scotland, collecting donations from the villagers. The origin of the burryman remains a mystery.

August 15
Festival of Vesta. The ancient Roman goddess of the hearth was honored annually on this date in ancient times. Many modern Witches light six red candles and cast herbs into hearth fires on this day to honor Vesta and to receive her blessings for family and home.

August 16
Salem Heritage Day in Massachusetts~ On this date in the year 1987, the first Harmonic Convergence as observed worldwide during the Grand Trine (the alignment of all nine planets in our solar system). The event, which lasted for two consecutive days, was believed to be the beginning of five years of peace and spiritual purification. Thousands of New Age enthusiasts gathered at various sacred sites to dance, chant, meditate, and tune into the positive energies of the Earth and the universe.

August 17
Festival of Diana. Every year on this date, the goddess of chastity, hunting, and the moon was honored by the ancient Romans. This is a special day of feasting, mirth, and magic-making for many Dianic Wiccans, since Diana is the most sacred goddess of their tradition.

On this date in the year 1950, Oglala Sioux mystic and medicine man Nicholas Black Elk died in Manderson, South Dakota. He was known for his great powers of prophecy and healing, and was an adherent of the Ghost Dance, a short-lived Native American religious movement which ended in a tragic massacre at Wounded Knee, South Dakota, in 1890.

August 18
On this date, the annual Festival of Hungry Ghosts is celebrated throughout China with burnt offerings to the spirits of the dead.

On this date in the year 1634, a parish priest named Father Urbain Grandier was found guilty of bewitching a group of nuns at a convent in Loudun, France, and causing them to be possessed by demons. He was condemned to be tortured and then burned alive in the public square of Saint Croix.

August 19
In ancient Rome, a wine-harvest celebration known as the Vinalia Rustica was held each year on this date. It was dedicated to the goddess Venus of the Grape Vine and also to Minerva.

On this date in the year 1692, the Reverend George Burroughs and John Willard were put to death on Salem’s infamous Gallows Hill as punishment for the crime of Witchcraft.

August 20
On this date in the year 1612, ten women and men known as the Lancashire Witches were executed on the gallows in one of England’s most famous Witch trials of the seventeenth century. Ironically, the nine-year-old girl who had supplied the court with incriminating evidence against the Witches was herself found guilty of Witchcraft twenty-two years later and executed in the second great Witch trial of Lancashire.

August 21
The Consualia, a harvest festival celebrating the storing of the new crop, was held annually on this date by the ancient Romans. Also celebrated on this date was the muscular deity Hercules, who was honored with a sacrifice at one of his shrines in the city of Rome. His annual festival was called the Heraclia.

August 22
On this date in the year 1623, the Order of the Rosy Cross (a secret sect associated with alchemy and reincarnation) was established in Paris, France. The mysterious Rosicrucian brotherhood was condemned by officials of the Church as worshipers of Satan.

This day is sacred to Nu Kwa, an ancient Chinese goddess identified with the healing goddess Kuan Yin.

August 23
The Volcanalia festival was celebrated annually on this date in ancient Rome. It was dedicated to Vulcan, the god of volcanic eruptions, and celebrated by frying fish alive to ward off accidental fires.
Each year on this date in Athens, the ancient Greeks celebrated a festival dedicated to Nemesis, the goddess who presided over the fate of all men and women.

August 24
On this date (approximately), the Sun enters the astrological sign of Virgo. Persons born under the sign of the Virgin are said to be analytical, organized, meticulous, and often prone to being perfectionists. Virgo is an earth sign and is ruled by the planet Mercury.

August 25
An annual harvest festival called the Opiconsiva was celebrated on this date in ancient Rome in honor of the fertility and success goddess Ops (Rhea). Later in the year, she was honored again at the Opalia festival on December 19 (the third day of the Saturnalia).

August 26
The periodic rebirth of the Hindu god Krishna (eighth and principal avatar of Vishnu) is celebrated by his faithful worshipers at midnight services on this date.
In the country of Finland, this is the annual Feast Day of Ilmatar (or Luonnotar), known as the Water Mother. According to mythology, she created the Earth out of chaos.

August 27
Consus, the god of the grain-store, was celebrated annually on this date by the ancient Romans. Sacrifices were made in his honor, and all beasts of burden were embellished with wreaths of flowers and given a day of rest.

The Festival of Krishna is celebrated annually on this day in the country of India. It is also a sacred day dedicated to Devaki, the Mother-Goddess.

August 28
In the country of Norway, a Pagan festival celebrating the harvest is held on this date each year.

August 29
Ancient Egyptian New Year
On this date in Nigeria, the Yoruba people celebrate the Gelede, an annual ritual of dancing and wearing of masks to drive away evil sorceresses.

In pre-Christian times, a festival called the Pardon of the Sea was celebrated annually in Britanny. It was originally dedicated to Athes, a Pagan goddess of the sea, and was later Christianized into the Feast of Saint Anne.

August 30
In Bengal, India, gruesome human sacrifices to the Indian earth-goddess Tari Pennu were made annually on this date as late as the mid-nineteenth century. After the sacrifice, a shaman would eat a bit of the victim’s flesh, and then the rest of the remains would be dismembered, burned, and scattered over a plowed field to ensure the fertility of future crops.

August 31
To purify the family spirits, Eyos (masqueraders wearing demon costumes concealed by white robes) walk through the streets of Lagos every year on this date. The Ritual Walk of the Eyos is a religious custom that dates back to ancient times.

On this date in the year 1934, Wiccan author Raymond Buckland was born in London, England. He founded the Seax-Wica tradition of Witchcraft, helped to introduce modern Wicca into the United States, and opened the first American Museum of Witchcraft and Magic.

In India, a women’s festival of purification is held each year on this day. It is called the Anant Chaturdasi, and is dedicated to the ancient serpent-goddess Ananta, who symbolizes the female life force.

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Interview With Deborah J Ledford, Author of Snare and Staccato

Hi, Deborah. Could you provide us with a little bio?

I am first and foremost a suspense thriller author. My latest novel, SNARE, is The Hillerman Sky Award Finalist. STACCATO is book one of the Deputy Hawk/Inola Walela thriller series and both novels are published by Second Wind Publishing. I’m also a three-time nominee for the Pushcart Prize. My award-winning short stories appear in numerous print publications, as well as literary and mystery anthologies.

What is your training and experience?

Before my writing career I was a professional scenic artist for movies, theatre and industrial films. Then I started writing screenplays. I see writing as an extension of the visual form, and due to my experience writing scripts my novels are quite visual and heavily dialogue driven. I also have my own independent film production company and will be writing the screenplay for SNARE.

Could you tell us about SNARE?

The tagline is: Revenge with a beat. It’s the journey of popular rock star Katina Salvo who is about to embark on her first personal appearance. She’s just learned she’s been receiving death threats and unbeknownst to her, her father has recently been released from prison for killing her mother 15 years earlier. Her six day journey, along with Deputy Steven Hawk who is assigned to protect Katina, takes her on a path of murder, revenge, retribution and discovery.

What was the path to publication for SNARE?

SNARE began as a screenplay, then I went on to novelize the piece much later. It’s been through so many evolutions since day one. I began to get serious about what was to become the printed version of novel before my debut novel STACCATO was published in 2009. SNARE was released 12.21.10.

What sort of research did you do for this book?

I’m part Eastern Band Cherokee and knew that I wanted the Native American element to be instrumental for SNARE. Once I decided on the Tribe to focus on I came into contact with the communications director on the Taos Pueblo in New Mexico. Floyd “Mountain Walking Cane” Gomez read every word of the manuscript as I composed each draft. He either approved scenes, characters and elements, or told me flat out “No, you cannot use this.” (he told me this quite often!) Elements Floyd wasn’t sure about were cleared by elders and the Taos Pueblo Tribal Council.

Why are the settings in your novels so important to you?

I decided if I was going to write an ongoing series the location would be every bit as important as the characters. I spent my summers growing up in western North Carolina, in the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains. Since this locale is rarely featured in print, and I know it so well, this is where I decided to set the overall main location. The characters, their motivation and journey are sparked from the areas featured in both books. For the other location in SNARE, I fell in love with the Taos Pueblo, New Mexico reservation and its people after researching for the Native American tribe I wished to highlight in the book.

Could you share one of your favorite paragraphs in SNARE?

Sure. The paragraph below indicates the spiritual connection Deputy Steven Hawk shares with the female lead, Native American Katina Salvo. The scene appears in Chapter 48 when Hawk and Steven are on the Taos Pueblo Indian Reservation:

Hawk took in a deep breath and let it out slowly. “Well, I felt something. Kind of like when I think my dad’s visiting me. He died almost seven years ago, but sometimes I swear he’s in the room when I’m alone. I’ve got a wind chime hanging on the back porch. It’s just a little copper bell, but sometimes, when it’s real quiet, and not a leaf is stirring, that bell strikes a single ting.”

Where do your ideas come from?

Some come to me in quite vivid dreams, but most ideas for my novels and short stories are prompted by real-life events. I love the CNN news crawl—short headline-type info that more often than not you never hear anything else about. A lot of subplots have been prompted by news related events. Also, I’m a people watcher and I try my best to implement characteristics, ticks and sometimes dialogue from actual people I’ve witnessed.

How can we find out more about you?

Free downloads of the first chapters to SNARE and STACCATO, as well as a few of my previously published short stories can be found on my website. I’m also on Twitter, have a Personal Page on Facebook as well as a Facebook Book Page, and the great book site Goodreads.

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What’s Up?

  I’m getting ready to make a few personal appearances to promote the release of my latest thriller novel SNARE, released by Second Wind Publishing. To date, SNARE has received four extremely favorable reviews and I couldn’t be more proud of the reception readers are giving the work. I’ve nearly run out of the first box of books from the publisher and am awaiting more for me to have available at the Left Coast Crime 2011 Convention in Santa Fe later this month.

I’m having a bit of trouble making contact with bookstores that will be represented at the conference—only one vendor seems to want to commit to handling books before the conference so it looks like I’ll be lugging a lot of copies with me.

A bookstore owner in Taos wants to meet with me while I’m in New Mexico, so that’s exciting. I sent a preview copy of SNARE and hopefully they will want me to make a personal appearance there this summer as well.

I also need to get to Winston-Salem and make an appearance at Barnhill’s Bookstore and say hello to the folks there. Since they’re affiliated with Second Wind and my books’ locations are set in North Carolina I hope there will be a warm reception and that we can sell a lot of SNARE and STACCATO.

Several fan letters have even come my way. I love to receive these–and to know that readers are enjoying the continuation of Steven Hawk’s journey, even though SNARE does feature a completely different theme and female lead.

Unfortunately due to working hard on promotion, I haven’t had the opportunity to actually write much of anything the past few months. I did finish the first draft of a short story for the upcoming Desert Sleuths Chapter Sisters in Crime anthology, but haven’t had the opportunity to work on my traditional mystery . . . which looks to be turning out to be more of a YA novel.

Deborah J Ledford’s latest novel SNARE is a nominee for The Hillerman Sky Award at Left Coast Crime 2011. STACCATO is book one of her Deputy Hawk/Inola Walela thriller series. Both novels are published by Second Wind Publishing. To find out more about Deborah, receive a Free Download of the first chapters of her novels, and to read a few previously published short stories, she invites you to visit her website.

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SNARE – New Release Appearances

Well, it’s official. SNARE did indeed receive the nomination for The Hillerman Sky Award. I’ll know its fate at the Left Coast Crime Convention in Santa Fe, NM March 24-27.

I received my box of books from the publisher last week, therefore that makes everything real for me. So now the urgency to spread the word about SNARE has become my number one priority. Here’s where I am with promotion so far:

Due to the dedicated and hard working staff at Second Wind, SNARE is now available on Amazon, for the Kindle, and other e-reader formats via Smashwords.

Personally, I was successful in getting Book Two of the Deputy Hawk/Inola Walela thriller series into the Poisoned Pen which is the finest mystery bookstore in the Phoenix area. The Well Red Coyote Bookstore in Sedona, AZ will also carry the book.

I’m featured in the Suspense Magazine article “Femme Fatales of Phoenix” along with Leslie Kohler and Robin Cain. Pretty wild to go to their website and see my name on the cover of an international print magazine. A review of SNARE also appears in this February issue. I’m still anxiously awaiting my copy but the article’s writer, Mark Sadler, assures me the review is glowing.

The most beautiful North Carolina print magazine Our State has requested a copy of SNARE to review. I spent my summers growing up in NC and one of the main locations of this novel takes place in the Great Smoky Mountains. The other main location is New Mexico’s Taos Pueblo Indian reservation so I’ve been hitting NM publications as well. I’ve had requests from the Albuquerque Journal newspaper and Taos News, and am awaiting approval to send review copies to other pubs in NM.

February 26th I’ll be appearing with Eric Beetner, another Second Wind author, at The Well Red Coyote where we will present what is sure to be the very cool workshop “The criminally complex relationship of Editor and Writer—an insider’s look at the editing process.”

A guest appearance is scheduled for the Romancing-the-Book blog Q&A (also Feb. 26th—that’ll be a very busy day), and I’ve promised an article to the great mystery writers site Murder By 4 Blog.

March will be even busier. 12-13 I’ll be at the Sisters in Crime Chapter Desert Sleuths booth at the Tucson Festival of Books. I’ve never attended this event so don’t know what to expect, but it’s touted to be the fourth largest book fair in the nation.

Then comes the Left Coast Crime 2011 convention in Santa Fe, March 24-27. I’ve been anxiously waiting for this ever since the location was announced. I’ll be appearing on the panel “Writing Diversity” with the fabulous Gar Anthony Haywood and a few other big time authors who write multi-cultural characters.

The past couple of weeks have been a wild ride—surreal, exciting and quite unbelievable at times. I’m holding on and enjoying every minute.

Do you readers out there attend personal signings and authors’ events? And for the writers, do you make a push to schedule appearances and other promotion for your new releases?

Deborah J Ledford’s latest novel SNARE is a nominee for The Hillerman Sky Award at Left Coast Crime 2011. STACCATO is book one of her Deputy Hawk/Inola Walela thriller series. Both novels are published by Second Wind Publishing. To find out more about her and to read a few previously published short stories, she invites you to visit: www.DeborahJLedford.com.

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