Head for the hills, hide in a cave, the traditions are coming! As I write this from my lair, a trickle of large snowflakes and other non- denominational seasonal emblems are being hoisted over intersections in outlying regions, while others don’t even have up their Halloween decorations yet.
Bless their little hearts, though, these tokens of the season; they mean well. Or rather, they mean exactly what they mean to you, while they mean something different to others. In a multi-cultural society, we all navigate a whirlwind of emblems, marking off special moments for, well, someone, though they may not have any resonance for you.
The central story which overlays this entire holiday extravaganza is, of course, the birth of the Christ child. Yes, I know, the Pagan is discussing the coming of Baby Jesus. Trust me on this one; it’s a study in comparative religion. While the New Testament Gospel of Luke covers the particulars in the greatest detail, there is no mention of the date of this blessed event in any of the Gospels. The entire event was later assumed to coincide with the birth date of Sol Invictus, the Unconquered Sun, December 25th, Jesus being considered the Light of the World as well (though some scholars disagree, saying this was merely coincidence).
The peculiar circumstances of his birth (whenever it may have been), is not as interesting as the guest list.
In the Gospel of Luke, angels announce the birth to a group of shepherds, who come to pay homage; how egalitarian. In the Gospel of Matthew, however, no shepherds present themselves. Rather Wise Men, or in the Greek Magoi, do. They had followed a star marking this important event (which is never mentioned anywhere else, nor could it be seen by anyone else), pay a courtesy call on King Herod, then head straight to the manger, where they offered up their three gifts of Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh, and the sage advice to high-tail it out of there before Herod arrived.
Now, the number of Magi present is not mentioned, but as three gifts were given, it was later assumed in many denominations that there were three in number, who were then given the names of Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar, from youngest to oldest. In Greece, the Magi were considered to be the teachers of magical and purification rites, and so, we derive the words magic, magician, and so on.
In Western spell work, the three Wise men may be invoked for protection; one may bless a piece of chalk, which you then use to write their initials, separated by crosses on doors and window frames. The same may be written on a piece of parchment and carried on one’s person. Three King’s oil has an equally protective effect; it is compounded with equal parts of Frankincense, Myrrh, Sandalwood oils. You may also add a bit of Juniper and/or Spruce oils for added efficacy.
Two of their gifts are among the most important incense ingredients, certainly.
Frankincense, generally from the Somalia Coast, may be utilized as an offering to Apollo and all other Solar Deities, as well as Demeter and Selene in. In older texts when incense of no particular type is mentioned, you can assume that Frankincense is needed. Olibanum, a variety, has more of an evergreen scent, and so would be a bit more appropriate when making offerings to the local powers in the countryside.
Myrrh is the Yin to Frankincense’s Yang, can be used in rituals dealing with the Great Mother, Hekate, and Demeter. It may also be used in drawing rituals and for love, alone or mixed with Musk or Patchouli. It can also be combined with other ingredients to add subtlety to the unfolding of a spell. Myrrh products were extensively used in Egypt for mummification.
So, all of these make a lovely gift for those near and dear to us, as they did so long ago. As for the gold, I suppose you may figure out who best should receive it. May the light out of the darkness comfort you and yours in the coming year.
Leon Calafiore is a lifelong Wiccan and teacher of occult arts.He can be reached at www.BigBookOfMagic-OutOfTheBroomcloset.blogspot.com.