Why do fireflies glow?

Fireflies, also known a lightning bugs, have been captivating humans for centuries with their enchanting lights on summer nights. Insects have a vivid history within folklore and mythology. Butterflies, bees, scarabs and other bugs have become symbolic markers of rebirth, purity, life and death, and the firefly is no exception. In ancient Amazonian mythology, their light came from the gods and provided hope and guidance while, in Japanese legend, two species of firefly, the Genji-hotaru and the Heike-hotaru, are associated with the ghosts of the Minamoto warriors and the Taira…

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The Folklore of Bees

In the middle of spring, outside, in addition to the greening of the earth, we notice a change in the local wildlife. Suddenly, squirrels are everywhere, birds are twittering away madly in the trees, worms are popping in the soil and, everywhere you look, life has returned. Among others, you’ll see bees buzzing around your garden, partaking of the rich pollen in your flowers. The plants are in full bloom at this time of the spring, and the bees take advantage, buzzing back and forth, carrying pollen from one blossom…

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May’s Full Flower Moon: Full Moon and Bonfire

As we already know, the full Moon names come from a number of places, including Native American, Colonial American, and European sources. May’s Flower Moon name should be no surprise, because flowers spring forth in abundance this month. Its name has been attributed to Algonquin peoples, but also May’s Moon other names tend to speak to the arrival of spring and all that it entails. The Cree names “Budding Moon” and “Leaf Budding Moon” celebrate the awakening of local flora, which really begin to leaf out now in many areas…

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Hanami: the way Japanese enjoy the transient beauty of flowers

When cherry blossoms bloom in Japan, people of every age and occupation gather under the trees for hanami: a time to admire, ponder, and celebrate. Hanami (花見, literally “flower viewing”) is the Japanese traditional custom of enjoying the transient beauty of flowers. Flowers (hana) in this case almost always refer to those of the cherry (sakura) or, less frequently, plum (ume) trees. From the end of March to early May, cherry trees bloom all over Japan, and around the first of February on the island of Okinawa. The blossom forecast…

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History and lore of Beltane, the ancient Celtic festival of May Day

Traditionally, Beltane honours life, and represents the peak of Spring and the beginning of Summer. This spring celebration is all about new life, fire, passion, and rebirth, in a time when the earth is lush and green, as new grass and trees return to life after a winter of dormancy, and flowers are abundant everywhere. The Beltane holiday is the time when, in some traditions, the male energy of the god is at its most potent. He is often portrayed with a large and erect phallus, and other symbols of…

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Floralia: the festival in ancient Rome in honor of the goddess Flora

The Floralia was a festival in ancient Rome in honor of the goddess Flora, held April 27 during the Republican era, or April 28 in the Julian calendar. The festival included Ludi Florae, the “Games of Flora” which lasted for six days under the empire. The festival had a licentious, pleasure-seeking atmosphere and, in contrast to many festivals which had a patrician character, the games of Flora were plebeian in nature. The holiday for Flora (as officially determined by Julius Caesar when he fixed the Roman calendar) ran from April…

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Pleiades: mythology of the Seven Sisters

In Rome and in Greece, in this period, the Pleiades were remembered, and predictions were made on the illnesses of the season. In short, the Pleiades were the seven sisters who, at the time of their death, were transformed into stars from Zeus. After the spring equinox, the ancients were careful not to expose themselves to the unstable climate of the period to avoid the seasonal ills. Since the ascent of the Pleiades coincided with this period, it was common opinion that the constellation was somehow linked to the climate.…

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Paschal Full Moon: the curious and complicated link between Easter, Equinox and moon.

Easter is the most important feast day in the Christian calendar. Regularly observed from the earliest days of the Church, it celebrates Christ’s resurrection from the dead, following crucifixion. It marks the end of Holy Week, the end of Lent, and the last day of the Easter Triduum (starting from the evening of Maundy Thursday, through Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday), as well as the beginning of the Easter season of the liturgical year. The resurrection represents the triumph of good over evil, sin, death, and the physical…

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Worm Moon: March full moon

As we already know, the full Moon names come from a number of places, including Native American, Colonial American, but also European sources. Traditionally, each full Moon name was applied to the entire lunar month in which it occurred, and not only to the full Moon. As the Northern hemisphere begins to warm and the soil begins to stir, so rises the Worm Moon, this year on March 28, 2021. Also called Crow Moon, Crust Moon, Sap Moon, Sugar Moon, Seed Moon, Chaste Moon, or Lenten Moon, this is traditionally…

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Hilaria: the roman festival that commemorated the worship of the Phrygian goddess Cybele and her devotee Attis

In the last several centuries before the fall of the Roman Empire (476 A.D.), Roman devotees of the goddess Cybele celebrated a festival of laughter and rejoicing on this day, March 25. Known as Hilaria, it was considered the day of the resurrection of the god Attis, who had died three days earlier. As the god of vegetation and beloved son and lover of the goddess Cybele, he represented the god-sacrifice who, after dying, rises again (by the hand of the Goddess) as the spirit of spring. Scholars believe that…

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March 17 | Liberalia: an ancient rite of passage

On March 17 the Romans celebrated Liberalia with sacrifices, processions, ribald and gauche songs, and masks which were hung on trees. After the abolition of the Bacchanalia, from the following year these celebrations were established, wild parties (but much less than the previous ones) in honor of the God Libero and his consort Libera, deities linked to wine, to the joy of living and crowned with ivy, such as Bacchus (the Roman version of the Greek god Dionysus). It was not uncommon for a deity to be split into masculine…

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Bacchanalia: the festivals of Bacchus, Roman God of Wine and Fertility

Bacchus was a Roman agricultural god who was associated with the harvest, particularly that of grapevines. The son of Jupiter by a human woman, Semele, he was raised by nymphs after her mother burned to ashes, overwhelmed by the splendor of Jupiter in his true form. Once he grew up, Bacchus wandered the earth learning about the culture of the vine and the mysteries of winemaking. He studied the religious rites of the goddess Rhea, and began sharing the good news far and wide. When Bacchus returned home from his…

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The Ides of March and the celebration of roman goddess Anna Perenna

Julius Caesar was warned by a seer that harm would befall him before the end of the Ides of March, on March the 15th. The seer was right, as he was assassinated on that day. His assassination on 15th of March 44 BC, was a turning point in Roman history. Centuries later, the expression “Beware the Ides of March” was found in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar in 1601 in the soothsayer’s message to Julius Caesar, warning of his death. Since then, the Ides of March became notorious as being associated with…

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March 14: Mamuralia

In ancient Roman religion, the Mamuralia or Sacrum Mamurio (“Rite for Mamurius”) was a festival held on this day, March 14 or 15, named only in a couple of sources from late antiquity. Apparently an old man wearing animal skins was beaten ritually with sticks. The name is connected to Mamurius Veturius who, according to tradition, was the craftsman who made the ritual shields (ancilia) that hung in the temple of Mars. Because the Roman calendar originally began in March, the Sacrum Mamurio is usually regarded as a ritual marking…

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Ancient celebrations of March 1st

March, spring month par excellence, marked the beginning of the Roman year, which did not end in winter, like ours. Nothing gives the idea of a new beginning better than the blooming of the first flowers, used to adorn the altars of Juno Lucina, the goddess who protected childbirth and brought light and fertility. March is named after the god Mars: according to the legend, Romulus chose to call the first month of the year this way in order to honor his divine father. The first day of March in…

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The beautiful old shipwrecks visible from sky above to crystal clear water of Lake Michigan

In these days of quarantine, in which nature seems to be reborn thanks to the forced interruption of human activities, many photographs circulating on the web of clear waters, or animals that reclaim spaces previously occupied by man. The images of wrecks that stand out distinctly on the bottom of Lake Michigan, in the United States, could seem to be taken these days, due to the extraordinary transparency of the water. Instead, each spring on this lake, if you’re lucky, you’ll be able to see shipwrecks due to the incredibly…

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Why do we have Easter bunny and Easter eggs?

All the fun things about Easter have pagan roots, and It is not a coincidence if the most widely-practiced customs on Easter Sunday are associated to the rabbit (“Easter bunny”) and the egg. Bunnies are a leftover from the pagan festival of Eostre, a great northern goddess whose symbol was a rabbit or hare, while exchange of eggs is an ancient custom, celebrated by many cultures. As we already know, a hare was a symbol associated with great northern goddess Eostre, (goddess of Spring, otherwise known as Ostara, Austra, or…

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The ancient pagan origins of Easter

Easter: a secular culture celebrates the spring equinox, whilst religious culture celebrates the resurrection. In religious (and obvious) terms, Easter is a holiday celebrated by millions of people around the world, with more or less curious traditions, who honor the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, described in the New Testament and occurred three days after his crucifixion at Calvary. But it is also, in different cultures, the day that children wait for the Easter bunny to arrive and a day to eat more or less delicious chocolate eggs. The…

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Costumes, dancing, and food: Malanka is Ukraine’s biggest party

In Ukraine, Malanka is much more than a party: it’s one of the oldest, happiest, most vibrant days of the year in local culture. It is a folk holiday celebrated on January 13th, which is New Year’s Eve in accordance with the Julian calendar, caps off the festivities of the Christmas holidays, and is often the last opportunity for partying before the solemn period of Lent which precedes Easter. By nightfall people, dressed in elaborate homemade costumes depicting bears, gypsies, goats, and nurses, will parade from house to house singing…

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The White Spring: a dark Victorian well house now plays host to mystical waters and pagan shrines.

We are in England. It is one of the greatest mysteries of Avalon, the legendary island featured in the Arthurian legend, that two different healing springs, one touched red with iron, the other white with calcite, should rise within a few feet of each other from the caverns beneath Glastonbury Tor, and both have healing in their flow. The quaint sculpted gardens of the Chalice Well surround Glastonbury’s most famous natural water source, the Red Spring, so called for the iron oxide it deposits in its basin. But just opposite…

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