On the Calendar
*Also known as: knight’s star
The amaryllis is popular for its trumpet-shaped flowers that grow six to ten inches on stalks one to two feet tall. There are over seventy species of amaryllis and hundreds of hybrids and cultivars. Although these plants are not a true amaryllis, this name has been used for them for so long that there’s no turning back.
The genus name Hippeastrum is Latin, meaning “horse star.” 5 This is in reference to the large, unopened flower that resembles a horse’s head especially when two of the plant’s flat leaves stick up behind it like ears. The amaryllis has also been called knight’s star because the shape of the fully opened flower resembles the brooch of certain orders of knighthood.
Once you have planted the amaryllis bulb, place it on your altar and say:
As this year begins anew, and my dedication I renew. May the months ahead
bring abundance and health; and everyone enjoy much peace and wealth.
Leave the amaryllis on your altar for three days and then move it to a warm, sunny location. Although the flowers will not bloom in time for Imbolc, the phallic flower stalks make a good symbol of fertility for that sabbat’s altar.
Amaryllis is associated with the element earth.
January 6: Twelfth Night or Epiphany
Twelfth Night was originally a Pagan festival until the fourth century CE, when, like many Pagan celebrations, it was usurped into the Christian calendar. Traditionally, this day marked the end of the winter solstice revels. Also known as Epiphany, and usually associated with Christianity, the word actually has Pagan origins. Drawn from the Greek word epiphaneia, meaning “appearance,” or “manifestation,” in the Greco-Roman world it signified a deity visiting devotees in a sacred place as well as revealing him or herself in order to aid humans.6
Wassailing was traditionally done on this day to mark the end of the solstice revels. The term comes from the Old English wæs hæl, meaning “be healthy” or “be whole.” 7 It was first used as a greeting, then a toast, and then for holiday door-to-door singing. Folklore has exploded with stories of singing, dancing, and a lot of drinking associated with wassailing. With as many wassail recipes as there are descriptions of old practices, what’s a twenty-first century Pagan to do? Keep it simple and heartfelt, and take it back to the early custom of wishing a Happy New Year to the dryads who may inhabit your trees.
Cut or tear a couple of slices of bread into pieces and soak them in cider or apple juice. The amount of bread will depend on how many trees you have. When the bread is ready, go outside and place pieces on several branches or on the ground at the roots as you wish the tree and its spirit good health by saying:
Wassail, dear tree and dryad. May this year ahead bring you much good health
MASTERWORT AND ANGELICA
Masterwort (Imperatoria ostruthium syn. Peucedanum ostruthium)
Angelica (Angelica archangelica)
Masterwort’s genus name Imperatoria is Latin and means “ruler” or “master,” and the plant was so named because of its healing properties.8 The word master was once used as a title for physicians. In the Middle Ages, masterwort was cultivated in Europe and the root was widely used as a medicinal herb. Nowadays it is used mainly to flavor some drinks and as an ornamental plant. Associated with strength, courage, and protection, it was a custom in the Tirol region of Austria to ritually purify the house on this day by burning dried masterwort root.
Because masterwort is difficult to find and can be hazardous to handle, angelica makes a good substitute. In fact, masterwort is one of the common names occasionally applied to angelica. Angelica is also a good substitute because it comes from the same botanical family, Apiaceae, and even resembles masterwort. Both plants have strong protective qualities and are excellent for purifying and clearing negative energy. Refer to the entry in “December” for more information about angelica.
To purify your home, you will need a few small pieces of dried root. Place them in an incense burner or other heat-resistant container. As the root burns, walk through your house and waft a little bit of smoke everywhere. This will also freshen the rooms.
If you made a wish at Yule, write it down and burn it with some angelica root to seal your desire. Also, since this is the day of Epiphany, burn a little angelica to honor your chosen deity.
Angelica is associated with the element fire and the goddess Venus. Its astrological influence comes from the sun. Masterwort is associated with fire, and its astrological influence is Mars.