In my personal practice, I often find myself drawn to Rome for inspiration and it does not fail to suprise. The long pagan history of Rome and it’s wide adoption of traditions from conquered lands provide us with a wealth of European holidays that are no longer celebrated, but seem to resonate in modern times. Lucaria, the festival of the grove, is one such tradition.
Lucaria was celebrated in the Nones of Quintilis, which for us is July 19 and 21. Lucaria is mentioned as far back as the 2nd century BCE, when it was an ancient half-remembered festival even then.
Lucaria comes to us as a simple but forgotten celebration, burned from history, like many traditions, by Christians. It was noted by several Roman historians and annotated to in several calendrical fragments which have been preserved. Interestingly, one element of the tradition that we have is the phrase “Si deus si dea” which means “Whether god or goddess”, the phrase is a benediction of a place to it’s gods, forgotten as they may be.
It’s always important to remember the magick around us. If you’re American, like me, the modern world seems pretty sterilized by our age, with it’s magick drained away or lost to us. My guess is that no matter what era you lived in, there was always someone complaining about that, whether a medieval French peasant or an Uppsala jarl about “How modern everything is getting.” My instincts say that human misanthropy is a universal trait, and that no matter when or where you are, there was always some grumpy old guy complaining about the “golden years.”
Never forget that parks have always been sacred. The first parks, in the first cities, were sacred groves to the old gods, even in Babylon, Mohenjo-Daro, and Cahokia. Our tradition of building parks within cities is descended from that. Parks meet our primal need to be around nature, but in order to build a magical world, we must always remember that parks are our remnant of the old sacred groves of our ancestors. No matter how forgotten those gods are.
For this Lucaria, take some time to explore your local grove, even if it is just a local park. Connect with the spirit of the place by finding a corner to meditate in or even go the chaos magick route, like I do often, and turn a park’s map into a sigil. Read about it, learn when it was built, and by whom. Think about how it’s space is laid out, as many modern parks have a bit of design in them. Most importantly, find out what was there before. Though recorded history goes back millenia in many places, and centuries in others, there was always something before. We’re still new here. Don’t forget that.
Si deus si dea, friends.
- Lumo Arcanorum of Silfren Circle
In my opinion, the most important thing about is magic is its accessibility. Magic and knowledge that is gated behind subscriptions or that requires an unreasonable amount of purchase of gold chalices isn’t really any sort of magic I’m interested in.
People have been doing magic for a long time, and like our ancestors, our workings shouldn’t really require more than chalk and a pack of cards. Yes, frankincense and water from the Nile is really nice to have to give a spell or ritual some wham, but real magic is all around us.
Jars and candles are a time honored tool in all folk crafts, from Delhi to Denver. Remember, not too long ago, glass was a rare and precious thing and fire is always sacred.
If you’re an American like me, you’re never more than a short trek away from a dollar store, and you would be surprised what an enterprising witch can find there.
One of the sacred things that I feel is missing in modern life is the magic of the market. From fairy market to soukh of wonders, magical trinkets from far lands can be obtained for a kiss or a favorite joke, but like the witch-markets of legend, we must always remember, that those things came at a price. That kiss might have been the last one you were to give before the Fates cut your cord, or that joke may have also been interwoven with the memory of a lost loved one, never to be recalled again.
We are not without our wonders about us, we’ve just forgotten how to see them, or lost them in the hazy of cynicism. Those candles on the shelf, with tired “Summer Breeze” or “Autumn Vanilla” are as blue and white as the candles that have honored the altars of Poseidon and halls of old Babylon.
Our time is already sold, woven into the dollars in our pockets and the ethereal digits of our bank accounts, hard-fought with our tears and the breaths of hourly-wages.
If you’re like me, a candle manufactured in a place as far away as China, that has made it’s way over sea and land to a Dollar General in Pasco County, Florida, can be as magical as anything in the Vatican. It also cost a lot less, which was pretty cool when you’re struggling just to keep the lights on.
I always stock my altar with a candle of every color, all of which are easily found in an American dollar store, or a Euro shoppe, if you’re a Continental cousin. Can’t find what you need? Try another location! There is a magic in the doing the shopping to stock your altar, so make it into a journey.
Make a list and bring a friend. In making a list, you will have to fully think through why and what you need, which will give you a deeper sense of what symbols are important to your craft. A friend (or accomplice) gives you someone to chat and banter with. Tell them why you need that pink candle, or that tin can for gravedirt.
In the end, our true work in this weird age, is bringing magic back to now and here. Remember that any working, no matter how old or new, was at one time just a bunch of weird shit the village witch did. Never forget magic should be something you do, in a way that makes sense for you and your world, not how other people define it.
In the past year, I’ve felt a call to return to the druidry of my ancestors, with a strong instinct that most of what passes as modern “druidry” is simply rebranded Gardnerian Wicca.
Nothing wrong with that, but it’s not a system I personally like working with. More power to you if it is. Blessed be, and whatnot.
So this past spring, I made a pilgrimage of sorts back to the land of my grandmother, and her mother’s before her. It was not my first time in the country, but the first pilgrimage I’ve taken there. From Newgrange to Croagh Patrick, from Dun Eochla to Ard Nemedh, I traveled. From Dun Aenghosa to old Teamhail, I rode those old rails. I even left a bit of food out for the faeries at night, by a cracked window, even though superstition would call that inadvisable. .
I slept in the home of my grandmother, where she lived until she emigrated to America. It’s a long road from that old house at the end of the road in Kerry; from Killarney to Cork, from there by steam-train to Cobh, and off to the America. I slept in the room she would have, and I like to think that she, and her ancestors before her, would smile, if worriedly, at my little bit of draiocht I brought with me from “Back over”, as they referred to it.
The ritual is of my own design, drawn from my own observations, divinations, and dreams, but I feel is true to the darker spirit of Irish magic. In it, you will call out to Baelor, forgotten king of the Fomor, and onetime foe of the Tuatha, who came later. His domain, and the domain of those called is one of magic and vengeance, and old vengeance at that.
For this ritual, you will need a red candle, a lighter, the name of an enemy who has wronged you written on a small sheet of paper, a plate for burnt offerings, and this printout. You will need about 5-10 minutes to perform the rite, and it is recommended you print out this simplified rite, or read through the full rite here. No time for this is particularly more auspicious than another, but I do recommend assuring yourself an uninterrupted space for about half an hour.
Author: Lumo Arcanorum of Silfren Circle