Wednesday 17th February is Ash Wednesday; generally said to have been named after the tradition of burning away old issues in preparation for Lent. The days leading up to and into Lent were Collop Monday, Shrove Tuesday, Ash Wednesday, Fritter Thursday and Kissing Friday (source: Lia Leendertz's 2020 Almanac).
The date of Lent - which takes place in either February or March but always seven weeks before Easter - varies from year to year according to the lunar calendar which determines when Easter falls. The fact that Lent, and indeed Easter, are determined by the lunar calendar tends to suggest that they were superimposed over Pagan celebrations.
Similarly, Ash Wednesday, although observed as a Christian Festival probably originated as a Pagan Festival and could have obtained its name from an apparent tradition of placing a stick of Ash down one's sock for good luck!
Ouch, I can't see that being popular, but then maybe choice of a suitable stick is paramount.
Ash Wednesday certainly isn't mentioned in the Bible, although in Biblical times, sprinkling oneself with dust and ashes was part of a Indian Vedic tradition as a mark of repentance, and repentance rituals were generally often accompanied with fasting. Furthermore, the German Pagans had a tradition of putting ashes over their brows to secure protection of the Norse God Odin (one of Odin's names in Norse is Ygg, which also means ash). Wednesday was Odin's day (our weekday name is directly derived from 'Odinsday'), making the naming of Ash Wednesday particularly pertinent.
Ash Wednesday was also only accepted into Catholic Church beliefs at the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD when the council also approved a 40-day fast duration to celebrate Lent. This was the time period during which Constantine was striving for a harmonious union between the Christians and Pagans within the Roman Empire.
The start date of Lent was still under debate even after the Council of Nicaea. Pope Gregory, in 601, moved the commencement of Lent to Ash Wednesday (from the fourth Sunday of the year); this being 46 days before Easter. This allowed for 40 days of fasting with the six Sundays counting as feast days, making a total of 46 days for Lent. The tradition of using ashes to create the shape of a cross on parishioners foreheads was also instigated by Pope Gregory.
By partaking in Ash Wednesday and living a modest life throughout the period of Lent, Christian's believed that it would enhance their harmony and wellbeing.
Aligning ourselves with other members of the community through mutual celebration is very therapeutic and is excellent for bringing harmony and wellbeing into our lives.
Harmony Healing activities are aimed at bringing harmony and wellbeing into your life. Harmony Healing activities are aimed at bringing harmony and wellbeing into your life. We have a new series of Reyad Sekh Em (RSE) Level 1 Egyptian Alchemy healing courses starting this week with Violet Flame yesterday evening (late starts accepted until next Tuesday) and Khemitology on Thursday evening.
If you are looking for regular spiritually enlightening activities during lockdown, which help to connect you with the lunar cycle, we have the next monthly virtual healing circle on Friday 26th February, at 7.30-9.30pm (UK time = GMT), and costs £10 (+ £1 Paypal fee). During this session, we connect with other like-minded people and together we work through a mindful chakra balancing process using colours and etheric crystals, with the aim that all participants will experience a degree of unity consciousness. This activity serves as a good taster of my work in general and the virtual format of our Zoom based programme.
If you would like to experience one of our spiritual offerings (meditation, reading, 1:1 healing, a Forest Bathing+ session or a full mentoring course), why not ask for a Harmony Healing gift voucher for a birthday or other celebratory occasion?
A number of virtual courses are now ready, details on Harmony Healing Virtual Events. Currently, due to Coronavirus, most events will be virtual hence distant readings and healings are proving popular. We don't recommend giving a reading or healing to another person, without first checking whether it would be welcomed.
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