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Fairies in various human-like and animal-like forms feast in a forest together

Ancestor Feasts in an Interfaith Family

New Moon nights are ancestor nights for me. This tradition is primarily based on the Grimms’ folktale “The Moon,” in which four travelers purchase the moon from a distant kingdom and bring it back to light their own, only to ultimately take a quarter with each of them to their graves. This causes the moon…
Ancestors and spirits of the dead return to the graveyard as a rooster calls at dawn. This is a painting by Arthur Rackham.

Bad Ancestors: Folklore, Ritual, and Responsibility

Ancestors. It’s a powerful word, but a difficult one for so many people, especially in these times when it is nearly impossible to avoid looking critically at the people who have made us. We see their flaws, their pain, the pain they caused others. Many of us turn away from them: through casual disinterest in…

The Feast of the Midwinter Witch

Frau Holle is to me what many neopagans would call a patron deity. Goddess of witchcraft and nocturnal flights, wild animals, winter, and mountains as well as childbirth, housekeeping, and fabric arts — Frau Holle oversees so many aspects of life that are important to me. Like Baba Yaga, she looks (and can be) fearsome;…

Magical Animals in European Lore: Horses

I turned Stumbling in the fever of a dream, down towards The dark woods, from the kindling tops, And came to the horses. There, still they stood, But now steaming and glistening under the flow of light, Their draped stone manes, their tilted hind-hooves Stirring under a thaw while all around them The frost showed…