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Article ID: 14788

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Age Group: Adult

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Do You Have the Time?

Author: Bran Cinnaedh
Posted: December 18th. 2011
Times Viewed: 2,059

Paganism and Catholicism seem to be at complete odds. Pagans always (sometimes militantly) decry the bastardization of their “ancient and moste goode” holy days into the Church calendar, while Catholics will deny any validity of the argument (no offense to either side of the dispute is meant) .

The bigger mistake made by both parties, I believe, is the denial that they mutually inform one another on some level. I do believe that the Church based many of their holidays on a preexisting set of holy days that their new converts still revered. But I also believe that the Sabbats of the modern Witch are ultimately only reconstructions of the same ancient holidays, prone to conjecture and fancy. Neither of these is inherently wrong, but I do believe that we can use traditions within both to perhaps enhance our personal practice.

The first part of my argument centers on the canonical hours of the Catholic Church. The canonical hours, for those unfamiliar with the terminology, divide the day according to the prayers of the daily round. Traditionally, there are eight divisions, beginning in the early morning (around midnight) and then ending at or around sundown: Matins, Lauds, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers and Compline. This system, according to some research, was originally based on the Judaic practice (a practice one may still see among devout Muslims, with their daily prayer cycle) . I would posit that such practice might have been a holdover from the habits of pre-Judaic cultures that has persisted through the centuries and far-reaching effects of various diasporas throughout the world.

As Witches, we understand the cycle of the year to be marked by the passage of our eight Sabbats, each of which tell a portion of the story of the Goddess and God from birth to rebirth. While there may be some debate over which Sabbat might be considered the “New Year” for Witches, the generally agreed upon progression is: Yule, Imbolc, Ostara, Beltane, Litha, Lammas, Mabon and Samhain (names and/or spellings may vary) . As far as I am aware, tradition holds that these Sabbats be celebrated at night, or at least under the cover of darkness (if you prefer the more poetic phrasing) .

So, eight canonical hours, and eight Sabbats…I’m sensing something of a correlation coming on.

If we understand the Hermetic Principle of Correlation, often rendered “As above, so below; as below, so above, ” we can also understand the correlation between a day and a year as measurements of the passage of time. A day measures time from sunrise to sunset; a year measures from the waking of the Earth to when She enters slumber.

So what would happen if the parallels between the canonical hours and the Wheel of the Year were honored and utilized? Would there be a greater flow of energy, a more (for lack of a better word) ‘divine’ experience? While I think the results would ultimately depend upon the individual, I do think that there would be a ‘deepening’ of the ritual experience, whether it’s because we are barely awake for the celebration at 3am, or because our daily routine is interrupted by ritual at mid-afternoon.

Many (or most) of us, however, have daytime obligations, ranging from our jobs or school to kids and chores, and so, more often than not, the only free time we might have left would be the hours after the sun has set. I also understand the historical context for performing rituals under the cover of night, as it harks back to the need for safety during the Burning Times. And in some places, such safety measures are still well advised, so please conduct your rituals in the way that feels safest to you.

I personally feel that one of the most important things a Witch can do is shake up their daily routine. The “daily grind, ” as so many of us refer to it can become monotonous, blinding even. The language we use to describe our daily actions further accentuates this: we are “in a rut, ” we “have blinders on, ” even having “the eye on the prize” is ultimately limiting, as it underscores the fact that we have a tendency to miss, or ignore, any extraneous details.

So how exactly do we shake up our daily routine? The reality is that it doesn't necessarily take much. For some, switching to decaf coffee can provide the necessary shake-up. Others might try working out in the morning before going to work (if that is not a habit) . There's a meditation I like called The Laughing Buddha, which I think can also work to great effect. After waking up, stretch like a cat, and then spend 5 to 10 minutes just laughing. It has an effect on the rest of your day.

So imagine celebrating a ritual at 3am, raising the energies and feasting the Goddess and God as the rest of the world wakes up. Even after grounding the energies, think of how vitalized you will feel as you go about your day. Interactions will be more positive, more meaningful.
Now, I realize that some may be looking at this going, "But I was up at 3 in the morning; I didn't get enough sleep!" Just do what works for you, though I know that I personally am going to give this correlation a try, at least once. The canonical hours are attested to as far back as the early Jewish tradition, so it is entirely within reason that it goes back even further. And I personally find it difficult to dismiss the parallels between the day and year… sort of the solar counterpart to our already well-developed lunar rhythm.

The real world may stake a claim on our time from 9 to 5 (approximately) , but as Witches, we are nothing if not resourceful. Adaptation has allowed us to pull through times of harsh persecution and even (on some level) , allowed for the modern interpretation of the Craft. If nothing else, this may bring the focus back inward, not in a selfish way (as I feel our society is prone to) but rather in the spirit of being mindful and aware.


Bran Cinnaedh

Location: Dallas, Texas


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