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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 Donna Small, Author of “A Ripple in the Water”

A Ripple in the WaterWhat is your book about?

A Ripple in the Water tells the story of Katharine Penner, a widow and single mom, who finds a second chance at love with Riley Morgan, a man thirteen years her junior and the son of one of her best friends. What makes this story more than just your typical “cougar” love story is that while Kate is the older woman, it is the young man who pursues the “older” woman. Throw into the mix an overprotective mother who can’t bear to see her son date, let alone date a woman she considers a friend and you’ve got yourself a bit of conflict.

What inspired you to write this particular story?

The inspiration was a bit of gossip actually. I was swimming with a few friends at our local pool and one of them made a comment about the two swim coaches and whether or not they were dating. Another remarked that the mother of the young man “wouldn’t like that at all.” I found it interesting since the young woman in question was an intelligent, and well-behaved young lady. I wondered why this young man’s mother might find this particular woman not good enough for her son. Then I realized that for some women, no woman is good enough for their son. Thus, the beginnings of a story began to work their way into my mind.

Who is your most unusual/most likeable character?

That’s easy. Riley. But not because he’s unusual; because he’s so hot! In the first chapter, Kate spends all morning staring at his physique without realizing who he is. I have to admit, I really enjoyed creating this character and putting myself into Kate’s mind while she was utterly distracted when looking at him. In addition to his good looks, Riley is smart and knows what he wants out of life. He also knows that he wants Kate and pursues with a vengeance I think any woman would find very flattering.

How long did it take you to write your book?

It generally takes me about a year to write a novel. I have an idea for a story and start to think about the characters…get to know them in my mind, if you will. I tend to write sort of splotchy – a scene here, a conversation there – and then spend a lot of time editing in order to get the story to move smoothly until its conclusion.

Did you do any research for the book? If so, how did you do it? (searching Internet, magazines, other books, etc.)

When writing this book, I really wanted to get a feel for what a mother might feel like if her son were to date someone she didn’t approve of, particularly someone she considered a close friend. I presented this scenario to women I was close to and who had sons who were about ten or so years younger than me. I would ask these women their thoughts on someone like myself dating their son. Though they tried to hide their horror at the question, it was clear to me that I was asking a very uncomfortable question. They couldn’t explain why they felt as such, only that it made them shudder. Once I saw that reaction, I knew I had to write about it.

What is your goal for the book, ie: what do you want people to take with them after they finish reading the story?

I would love for readers to fall in love with Riley and Kate’s story. They have to overcome so many obstacles in order to be together that hopefully, the reader begins to really pull for them. There is a sequel in the works for this novel and I hope my readers will stay with me until I can finish it and get it out there for them to devour!

What’s your writing schedule like? Do you strive for a certain amount of words each day?

Schedule? What’s a schedule? Seriously, though, I don’t really have a schedule. I work full-time and have two daughters to raise. I write whenever I get five minutes to myself. I try to piece together these little snippets of time and hope that at the end of the day, I’ve got a paragraph completed.

Do you have any rituals that you follow before sitting down to write?

Each day, I begin my writing session by editing what I’ve written the day before. Not only does this give me a chance to make some corrections, but it also puts me in the right frame of mind and the right place in my story to begin. Of course, before I can do this, I check email, facebook, twitter and then see if there is anything of interest on Ebay. Only then can I begin to write.

Do you prefer to write at a particular time of day?

There isn’t any particular time of day that words better for me. It’s more about what is going on at the time I choose to write. I’m one of those writers that needs quiet in order to complete a sentence so I can’t be watching TV while I’m trying to write a scene. Because I have children who simply cannot be quiet, I will sometimes jot down ideas for a chapter and then go back to it later once I have some quiet time.

What are you working on right now?

Right now, I’m working on a story about a woman who, after the death of her husband, discovers that not only had he been having an affair, but he fathered a child with his mistress. The child has special needs and my protagonist must determine exactly what sort of relationship she can have with this woman and her child.

What do you like to read? What is your favorite genre?

I’ll read pretty much anything. I do tend to stick to women’s literature and will only stray if referred to it by a recommendation. I’m also a bit of a book hoarder in that I have a very vast collection of “to be read” books in a spare bedroom of my house. It’s gotten too large, in fact, that it takes me several minutes to determine the next book I’m going to read! I’ll whip out several books and read the first few sentences and the book that pulls me in the most becomes the winner!

If your book was made into a TV series or Movie, what actors would you like to see playing your characters?

Oooh, I love this question. James Cameron should feel free to contact me at any time so that we can begin working on the screenplay. I would love to see Sandra Bullock play Kate Penner. Not only would she be great in the role but I truly feel that if we were to meet, we’d be the best of friends! For Riley, the actor I’d choose would be Alex Pettyfer, if only to see him wearing the tiny swim suit Riley spends much of his time in throughout the book.

Where can we learn more about your books?

From my author page at Second Wind Publishing: http://www.secondwindpublishing.com/index.php?manufacturers_id=62

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