When you create a whole new way of thinking and living which is what I have tried to do, and you look at every aspect of life in a new world, you feel it is important to try and represent as much of life as possible. In the woodland realm, many things paint a picture of the life they all live, and so I thought it was important to also include the spiritual belief system of the woodland peoples.
Mason Knox clings very much to the beliefs and ways of modern life today, and so to me it was obvious that he would be a Christian, which is still the majority religion in our diverse country today. Although I have to admit, for Mason it is convenience, he needs the church to crown him with some legitimacy. Robbie, and Rune and their followers have grown up in the resurgence of a new way of life. Considering that Rune is of the line of the creator and is herself the human embodiment of Mother Earth it would have been very easy to bring in the beliefs of the Wicca faith.
Taking into consideration the Red Death, it makes sense that a great deal of daily things would continue with the survivors. The calendar would not change neither would time, and with that would come celebrations such as Easter and Christmas. Not to mention New Years day. There is the sensitivity about how the world of the Pagan faiths is still seen in today's world. I must admit that considering the many faiths that currently exist in this country, I find it odd that in many cases Pagan belief is still frowned upon and misunderstood.
Considering the strong Celtic theme of this book, which was Pagan I made the decision to recreate a new faith based on the worldwide beliefs that have, and do exist at the root of many of the worlds religions. Thus, I have created a strong environmentally based belief system I named Earth Faith. I have used the pagan calendar for two reasons. One it was convenient and secondly I could give it a feeling of reality to hopefully match in with all the other aspects of the book. I have added and blurred the lines to create an original looking faith.
White circle, Green circle, White lines, brings together spirituality, environment and knowledge. And these are the bases for the faith of the earth. If we throw in Hearne the creator (Pagan) and Eve the bringer of life (Christian) and mix with a heady mix of Native American and Celtic beliefs we get the following calendar of the Earth Faith year.
R.J. Morgan 2007
October 31 - November 5th Samhain. (Halloween, All Saints)
Translated from Scottish Gaelic, this literally means ‘Summer’s end.’ This marks the end of the season as all the last jobs in the fields are done to bring an end to the growing year. It is the end of a woodland year and the start of a new one.
Crops are gathered, hay is stored and the sheep are brought down from the high ground into the lowland protection ahead of the bad weather. Animals are slaughtered and the meat is salted for storage over the winter. Not everyone has the benefits of wind power and solar plates to keep their freezer running after twenty-six years of living without electric.
It is a natural time of feasting as everyone takes their fill with the abundance of food available before the long cold days of the winter. The daylight hours are drawing closer, and this marks the time of long dark mornings and nights. Celts and Native Americans would light big fires to celebrate the lessening of the sun and therefore bring more light to the world. This is a tradition you will still find today in Scotland.
Earth Faith follows these ancient traditions and the community gather to say thanks to the earth and look to the darkness of winter. Praise is given to the creator (The Sun) and fires are lit in celebration to banish the darkness for a little longer. Ashes are then sprinkled on the fields to provide protection from evil spirits and also to add important nutrients for the following growing year. Apples are abundant at this time of year, which is by Celtic traditions a sacred fruit. Christianity produces the apple as the fruit of knowledge. It was once believed that the apple had magical properties for which the wise men of the tribes would travel across the water to Avalon to bring back great wisdom. The earth celebration of Apple bobbing, which is where the fruit is placed in a barrel of water and plucked out with the teeth is a representation of this old belief. It is also great fun with your friends.
Native Americans and Celts believed that their spirit worlds came close on Samhain, and it is at this time the links to the past and our ancestors is celebrated. This provides Earth Faith with a chance to reflect and feel close to those they have lost. Hallows Eve is very much based on this old belief.
December 22nd Yule. (Winter Solstice)
This night is in fact the longest night of winter. Yule means ‘Wheel,’ which is a good explanation of the circulation of the sun. The Sun reaches its lowest ebb and then regenerates as each day becomes longer and lighter. The earth can now begin to be warmed and nourished ready for spring. Druids believe that mistletoe and holly have great power of protection and regeneration, it helps that they are evergreen and so are abundant and symbolise life in the darkness of winter. Fires are built up in the houses and a traditional log is placed on the fire (The Yule Log,), which should burn until Jan 6th (twelfth Night).
The Earth Faith, celebrate by decorating their houses with evergreens (Green Circle) and lighting candles to encourage the light of the reborn sun. They burn the Yule log, and encourage friends and family round and give gifts and share food. (Christmas, and present giving, although the Christian festival is three days later on the calendar.)
February 2nd Imbolc (Candlemass, festival of St Bridget)
Imbolc refers to the lactation of ewes. What better sign of spring can there be than the birth of lambs, the flowing of milk is a great symbol of life flowing back into the land. There is an old Irish belief that Bride with her white wand ( Birch, the tree of spring) breathed life back into the dead of the winter. It was celebrated with a big festival and soon was overtaken by the Christian church and became the Celebration of St Bridget. For my purposes Bridget Violet is the first Queen of the Fae and so a celebration of her time in the woodland world is perfect for my use. Bridget was known as the bringer of light and so the lighting of candles and fires is well placed. The Christian faith celebrates Candlemass by lighting candles, in many cases it has become a celebration of Mary the mother of Jesus. (Eve/Life).
For the Earth Faith This is a time to welcome light and prepare for the growing year as well as paying homage to Bridget of the line of Fae. (White circle) It is time to purify and clean to ensure for a healthy crop. Greenhouses and barns are cleaned out and sterilized, light is welcomed with the burning of candles, and Bridget Violet who brings the spirits of all plants back to the earth mother (Runestone) from their long winter sleep, is offered tokens of encouragement. Food especially dairy products are placed out to welcome her.
March 21st Spring Equinox (First day of spring/Easter)
On this day, the day and night are equal in length. From this day, forth the daylight hours are longer. This is the time of the creation of life; all over the world, there are still many celebrations in all of the religions that represent the creator (Man/ sun) and the life (Woman/Moon). Christians celebrate Easter, represented these days with Easter Bunnies, well known for their ability to breed.
In Earth Faith, it is celebrated with the sowing of seed and it is a time for reaffirming your love to your partner. (Similar to today's Valentines) Robbie and Rune will share a candle lit meal having spent the day with Jess sowing the seeds of the crops to come. They will reaffirm their love and commitment to each other privately. It is a day when John works in the farm fields; and it appears his barn has many coupled visitors. (If that barn could talk, most of Loxley would be in trouble.)
30th April (May Eve)
1st May Beltane (May Day/the rites of spring)
The true meaning has been confused over the years, but it is generally believed to mean ‘Lucky Fire.’ ‘Maying’ is an old English word referring to the sneaking off, of young couples to do their own bit of fertility celebrations. It was an old custom of the Celts, to light a fire and celebrate the rising of the sun. After which they would jump over the dying embers of the fire to bring luck and prosperity to the life and the crops of the coming year.
Earth Faith sees this time as the time of life. (Green Circle) This is a large celebration in the woodland realm. A May Queen (Life/ Eve) is chosen and processed on a cart driven by a man in green (Creator/Hearne) round the village. The seeds have been sown and two months of hard work are celebrated in a day’s holiday for the community. Now is the time to look to the future, couples pair up and celebrate their love, there are many marriages at this time. The community meets to celebrate with fires, and food and wine. It is a time of dancing and merrymaking. The signs of life are displayed on houses as sprigs of flowering Hawthorn and Cherry blossom dress the doors. As with all Pagan festivals, it is also seen as a time when those we have lost are close to us. Food is placed out to share with passers by and the passing spirits.
21st June Summer Solstice
This is traditionally a celebration of the sun. Druids still hold a vigil all night and celebrate the rising of the sun at dawn. This is the time when the sun is at the height of its powers and benefits all plants. It is known in horticultural circles as the time of catch up. Most plants will relish the long warm days and thrive. This time also marks the halfway point of the growing year. Now is the time to relax as you prepare for the harvest.
In the Earth Faith, groups will sit up in an all night vigil around a fire and discus the plans for the future. It is a rest period before the harvest and everyone will greet the sun on its highest day, and light a candle from the fire and carry it home at dawn. Bringing the light of the sun into their homes and their lives. It is a day of holiday and celebration; most families will gather and go into the community and relax or dance with friends.
July 31st Lughnasadh (Lammas/loaf mass)
Harvest the cutting of the crop. Lugh was a Celtic corn deity who at one time was worshipped throughout the old land. In many places today, the corn dance is still performed and corn dolly’s are woven and hung up as decoration. It is a traditional time where nature is seen to provide for humankind and is a time of praise.
In Earth Faith this is time of sharing of food, the community will gather and eat as one, everyone benefits from the food of the land. Families will sit in circles together (Life) and share a meal of home baked bread, woven wheels of corn and wheat are placed on doors and hung in the windows as the symbols of the circle of life for which all of them as a community are dependent upon.
September 21-23rd Autumn Equinox (Mabon)
Now is a time of rest as the last of the harvest has been gathered and the mind looks to the end of the woodland season and year. It is traditionally a time of repair and preparation for the winter. On this day the community leaders plan the festivities for Samhain and looks at what jobs will need urgent attention around the community.
The wheel of the year has turned full circle and life begins again. For members of the Earth Faith these are significant dates. They are the regular reminder of the world and cycle that they are dependant upon. These celebrations keep alive the delicate balance of their lives and as a result, it breeds a respect for the natural world in which they live and depend upon (something we seem to have forgotten today). The Earth Faith also has its private and personal beliefs and there is a fundamental belief which although is not enforced it is upheld by all.
The way of the Earth Faith is one of personal responsibility. Each member of the community is responsible for their own life and their own behaviour. All members of the Earth Faith are allowed to live as they wish, under the understanding that they harm no other and pool their resources to the help and support of all around them. If you are true to yourself, you will be to others.
As a community, they share one mind and act as one. It is the belief of the Earth Faith, that whatever one does will be returned to them in the life that they live (Karma). Love is the highest prize and it is celebrated with respect and reverence. Marriage is not enforced and yet the commitment to another is often celebrated with Marriage. To show the love you feel is natural and encouraged in the physical and the spiritual, regardless of Gender.
Death is celebrated because in the belief of the Earth Faith it is seen as the rebirth into another realm or state of being. Your love will travel with you, and you will take it into the other realm, and be reunited with those loved ones of the past. You will have the choice to return into another life.
Respect is the underlying principle of Earth Faith. The environment, each other, and also the beliefs and life style of others. In book one this is clearly demonstrated by Steph, who feels it would be wrong to blow up the Cathedral. Sister Mary the old Christian Nun preaches tolerance of other faiths in book two. Book four sees Rune clearly shows her respect towards other faiths.
With understanding of the earth comes Knowledge (White line). Participation in praise brings awareness of life. (Green circle) The wheel of life replicates our lives and the passing into other realms. (White circle). This is the way of the Earth Faith.
Earth Faith is the fictional religious belief, based on a wide range of principles from all religions. It is part of the fictional story series Heirs to the Kingdom and copyrighted to Robin John Morgan © 2007
The Woodsman's Prayer.