This weekend marks the feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. Why should a Witch care? Why should a Pagan care? Why have I gotten funny looks when I've told people I'm celebrating this feast? I mean besides the fact that thousands show up on Giglio Sunday.
Here is the link to last year's musings.
Our Lady. You might call Her Mary, I might call Her Ceres, others, Demeter. The fact remains that the Mother of Grain, sewer, harvester, and protector of the crop, is celebrated at this time of year. We often hear of Demeter in relation to Her daughter and the Mystery of death and rebirth. This celebration, while related, has a different focus, an earthly one. No food? No life. Beyond that basic fact, This Goddess is the Mother of civilization. Until humans learned/figured out/were taught to farm (by Demeter as per the Eleusinian Mysteries), they were nomads, moving from place to place to follow the food source. With the advent of grain cultivation, cities sprung up. Whether or not that was a good thing is up for debate, but if if hadn't happened I wouldn't have typed this and you wouldn't be reading it. This weekend we are celebrating the start of civilization.
This feast ties in with the concept of family Patrons. There are as many versions of Mary as there are Goddesses: Our Lady of; Perpetual Help, Mount Carmel, Lourdes, Victory, Good Help, Peace, Miracles, Sorrows, Mercy, Angels, Snows, Mountains, Roses, Elms, Consolation, and Our Lady of the Lake, just to name a few.
Depending on where a family is from and/or the family business, that would be the patron. In pre-christian days, that would be a deity: Farming? Ceres (and pre-Roman Mars), Wine making? Dionysus. These patrons changed guises as the dominant religions changed, but in the wine making areas of Italy, you will still find Carnevale celebrated with all of the pomp and circumstance of Pagan times. In farming communities you will find them still doing the dance of the Lily, aka the Giglio.