The Sunday preceding Easter is Palm Sunday, the Christian portable feast. Its name comes from the palm branches that the multitude waved in greeting and adoration of Jesus. Each of the four canonical Gospels mentions Christ’s triumphant arrival into Jerusalem, which the feast honors. Because Passion Sunday can also refer to the fifth Sunday of Lent, the day is also known as “Passion Sunday” because the Gospel account of Jesus’ Passion is read during its liturgical commemoration. Palm Sunday, the first day of Holy Week, the sorrowful season of Lent’s final week that precedes Eastertide, is observed by Western Christians as the beginning of Holy Week.
The blessing and distribution of palm branches (or the branches of other local trees) in most Christian celebrations of Palm Sunday serve as a symbolic representation of the palm branches that the crowd threw in front of Christ as he rode into Jerusalem. Crosses can sometimes be made out of these palms. Because getting palms in unfavorable conditions was challenging, branches from local trees, like box, olive, willow, and yew, were substituted. As in Yew Sunday or simply Branch Sunday, the Sunday was frequently named after these replacement trees. It is commonly referred to as Oshana Sunday or Hosanna Sunday in Syriac Christianity because of the biblical words that the crowd shouted when Jesus entered Jerusalem.
During Palm Sunday services, many Orthodox, Catholic, Lutheran, Methodist, Anglican, and Reformed churches give out palm branches to their parishioners. Many Christians bring these palms, which are frequently blessed by clergy, inside their homes and hang them next to Christian artwork (particularly crosses and crucifixes) or store them in their Bibles and daily devotional books. Churches frequently place a basket in their narthex to collect these palms during the Shrovetide season that precedes the following year’s Lent. These palms are then ceremonially burned on Shrove Tuesday to create the ashes that will be used on Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, the following day.
The Gospels claim that when Jesus Christ arrived in Jerusalem on a donkey, the city’s revelers put down their cloaks and tiny tree branches in front of him while singing a portion Pof Psalm 118:25–26, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.” From the Lord’s house, we give you our blessing.
The Eastern tradition that views the donkey as an animal of peace as opposed to the horse, which is the animal of war, may be referenced in the symbolism of the donkey. A king would have mounted a horse when he was determined to wage war and a donkey when he wanted to usher in peace. Hence, Christ’s entrance into Jerusalem would have represented his entry as the Prince of Peace rather than as a ruler who waged war. As a result, there have been two distinct meanings (or higher levels of biblical hermeneutics): a historical significance that occurred as reported in the Gospels and a secondary meaning found in the symbols.
One of the Twelve Major Feasts of the Liturgical Year is Palm Sunday, also known as the Entrance of the Lord into Jerusalem in Orthodox Churches. Christians frequently arrange palm fronds by knotting them into crosses on Lazarus Saturday, the day before Palm Sunday, in preparation for the procession on Sunday. The church’s hangings and vestments are changed to a festive hue, most frequently green.
The practice of using pussy willow and other twigs, such as box trees, instead of palm fronds developed among the Russian Orthodox Church, Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Ukrainian Catholic Church, Polish, Bavarian, and Austrian Roman Catholics, as well as various other Eastern European peoples. This is because the latter is not easily accessible that far north. Some Orthodox believers choose to utilize olive branches because there is no canonical restriction on the type of branches that must be used.
Regardless of the type, these branches are blessed and distributed with candles either on the Eve of the Feast (Saturday night) during the All-Night Vigil or on Sunday morning before the Divine Liturgy.
I recently had the privilege of being the special guest on the Lucky Mojo Hoodoo Rootwork Hour radio show, where we discussed fertility magic, so I thought I’d follow up with a blog post about the topic. You can hear the full episode of the show here.
When I perform fertility magic for clients, I approach it as a type of attraction magic – something we bring to us. As a holistic healer, I first tell people to start by getting rid of all the toxins in their life, such as unnatural products and the food they eat. As a magical worker, I might take the same approach by removing any energetic barriers my client faces. So, this is trying to reach a state of purification – both of the body and the home.
But fertility magic isn’t limited to human birth. When Spring comes around, we begin to think of planting seeds, flowers, and vegetable gardens. It is not unheard of for farmers to participate in rituals to get their crops growing and their animals breeding. Growing up in the country on a farm, while we had many animals, we mainly had pigs. While he didn’t consider it “magic,” my Grandfather was very ritualistic when it came time to choosing which pigs he wanted to breed together. He created a lean-to hut to place the male and female pig he’d chosen and surround the lean-to with cedar branches. This was his way of blessing the space. Looking back, while she may not have let him know the importance, I’m pretty sure his mother, my great-grandmother, knew the mystical connection to fertility and cedar.
Fertility magic has been around a long time. Throughout the ages, it has been used to help couples conceive. People around the world have used a variety of charms and spells to bring about the desired results – from ancient Egyptian potions to medieval European rituals. In this blog post, we will explore some of the various forms of fertility magic – and how they continue to be used today.
In ancient Egypt, fertility magic took many forms. There were spells designed to aid with conception, as well as exorcisms intended to ward off any evil spirits that may be blocking a couple’s path to pregnancy. Women would often wear amulets or carry special objects such as a scarab beetle in order to ensure they could bear children. Meanwhile, invocations were recited by priests or magicians to call upon gods and goddesses for assistance in aiding conception.
In the Middle Ages, fertility magic was still popular among those hoping for offspring. Women would make pilgrimages to churches dedicated to patron saints of fertility, such as St Catherine of Siena or St Margaret of Antioch; attempting at times during these pilgrimages that their stomachs touched sacred altars or images which held special powers over conception.
Saint Catherine of Siena – The patron saint of those battling fire, disease, and miscarriages is St. Catherine of Siena. St. Catherine of Siena is a fantastic saint to pray to if you are experiencing a miscarriage or need protection from one.
Saint Margaret of Antioch – The patron saint of childbirth is St. Margaret of Antioch, often known as Saint Marina, the Great Martyr. She is so known as the patron saint of pregnant mothers, especially those who are having a difficult time giving birth. Some Christians claim that Satan appeared to Margaret in the form of a dragon and swallowed her whole. Yet the devil was obliged to spit her out unhurt because of the crucifix she was bearing.
Fertility rituals are still practiced today – and are commonly sought out by couples struggling with infertility issues who are looking for more natural means of conceiving, either through traditional methods such as prayer, visualization, and massage – or through modern day practices such as homeopathic remedies or hypnosis therapy.
For those who want a more conservative approach when it comes to tipping the odds in terms of fertility – there is always acupuncture; a holistic health practice designed specifically for boosting reproductive health by harmonizing energy pathways within the body and restoring balance within both mind and spirit. And while there may be no definitive proof that this form of Chinese medicine helps increase chances for pregnancy – it certainly can’t hurt!
No matter what form you choose when exploring fertility treatments – whether it is one derived from centuries-old practice or one based on modern technology – remember that all paths ultimately lead towards one common goal: To create life where previously none existed.
Fertility Ritual bath:
Create an Herb mixture of each ingredient, using approximately 1/2 teaspoon of each. Brew a strong tea of the herbs and pour it into your bath water (not for consumption, bathing only.)
Light two white candles and put them on each end of the tub. Walk between the candles to enter the tub. Cleanse yourself with the herb water. Step out between the white candles. Don’t dry off. Blow out the candles. Take a bowl of your bath water, and throw it to the East at sunrise to prepare yourself to receive.
-Take a Birds nest or moss to make a bed
-Line the nest with moss
-Sprinkle raspberry leaves in the nest
-Take one fresh egg, preferably one that’s never been refrigerated
-Write your petition or prayer on the egg with a soft marker, and/or use fertility symbols (such as the downward facing triangle), draw a cross inside the triangle
-Place it in the nest under your bed
-only leave for a week and then replace it. You can bury the old one by your front door
-Optional: you can also place a shiva lingam stone in the nest or under your mattress
John of God, a Portuguese soldier who became a health care provider in Spain, inspired his followers to found the Brothers Hospitallers of Saint John of God, a global Catholic religious order devoted to caring for the needy, the ill, and those with mental illnesses. Nothing in John’s early years suggested that he would become holy. He was born João Duarte Cidade, and is the patron saint of bookshops, printers, heart patients, hospitals, nurses, the ill, and firefighters. When he was just eight years old, he ran away from his Portuguese home and lived in Spain, tending sheep and cattle before joining the military to fight the French and then the Turks.
On Saint Sebastian’s Day, Cidade had a profound religious awakening while listening to a sermon by John of vila, a well-known preacher of the time who would later become his spiritual director and support him in his mission to better the lives of the underprivileged. He experienced what was thought to be an extreme mental collapse when he was 42 years old. He was moved by the message, and he soon started beating himself in public while begging for forgiveness and wildly trying to make up for his old ways. He was locked up in the part of the Royal Hospital for people with mental illnesses. He was treated like everyone else at the time, which meant that he was chained, beaten, and starved. John of Avila came to Cidade and counseled him to be more actively involved in meeting the needs of others rather than tolerating his own suffering. After finding comfort, John soon left the hospital to work with the underprivileged.
Upon his return to Granada, he pursued his dream of establishing a hospital. By begging, he was able to rent a building, furnish it, and begin his search for the sick. He worked hard to take care of them by begging for food, getting priests to listen to their confessions, and nursing them back to health. In the years that followed, John spread his mission of mercy to the poor, the widowed, the orphaned, the unemployed, the prostitutes, and anyone else in need. Gradually, John’s efforts motivated others so much that they joined him. Twenty-two years after John’s death, the pope would approve this group of men as a new religious order. The most amazing of the supposed miracles was when John went into a hospital that was on fire to save people without getting burned.
Behind John’s actions of total care and love for Christ’s sick and poor people, there was a deep prayer life, which showed in his humble spirit. Because of these things, people who wanted to help joined together 20 years after John’s death to form the Brothers Hospitallers, which is now a worldwide religious order.
After ten years of service, John became sick but tried to hide it. He started to get the administrative work in the hospital in order and chose a leader for his helpers. Lady Ana Ossorio, a spiritual friend and follower, took care of him until he died.
I do want to mention that he shouldn’t be confused with the modern-day Brazilian healer and inventor of the John the God crystal bed, Joao Teixeira de Faria, who referred to himself as ‘John of God’.
To work with the Saint John of God, blue candles are a good choice because they symbolize healing. If you want to offer him flowers on your altar, lavender is considered to be the ‘unofficial ‘ national flower of Portugal. John of God is patron saint of booksellers, printers, heart patients, hospitals, nurses, the sick, and firefighters. Work with him when you want to give up the things that are holding you back from creating a better life.
Saint Homobonus is the patron saint of Cremona, Italy, as well as businesspeople, tailors, shoemakers, and clothworkers.
Upon the urgent desire of the Cremonese people, he was canonized in 1199. He passed away on November 13, 1197, while attending Mass at St. Giles Church in Cremona. November 13 is observed as his feast day.
His last name is a translation of the Latin homo plus (“good man”). He was a trader from northern Italy’s Cremona. He was a married layman named Omobono Tucenghi who felt that God had given him a job to support those living in poverty.
The secret to St. Homobonus’ success as a missionary was his ability to seamlessly combine an ordinary existence as a layman and married man with an outstanding witness of service to others. He was a cloth merchant who had a small inheritance from his father, but he always put in a lot of effort in his line of work. St. Homobonus efficiently distributed a sizeable portion of his profits to the poor.
Homobonus attended church regularly and regularly took part in the Eucharist. On November 13, 1197, Homobonus passed away while kneeling in the shape of a cross and attending mass. Homobonus was declared a saint by Pope Innocent III fourteen months later. Pope Innocent III referred to Homobonus as “father of the poor.” He is honored in the Sant’Omobono church in Rome.
Saint Homobonus could also be considered the saint of entrepreneurs. To work with him, use green or yellow candles. Green represents money, while yellow is a stand-in color for “gold.” Use any type of money drawing or better business oil to anoint your candles. Work with him when you are beginning new business ventures or want to increase your money through hard work. Be sure to give to or support charities in some way to stay on his good side so that he will continue to work with you and increase your wealth.
Folk Catholicism is an example of Syncretism – when one religion or belief system is combined with another that is not Christian or Catholic. Several forms of folk Catholic customs are founded on syncretism. In the Caribbean and Brazil, syncretisms between Catholicism and West African religions, such as Haitian Vodou, Cuban Santeria, and Brazilian Candomblé, are examples of how some of these folk Catholic forms have evolved into their own distinct religions. This is also the case with some of the syncretisms between Catholicism and indigenous religions in Brazil.
Similar syncretisms between Catholic practice and indigenous or Native American belief systems, such as are common in Maya communities of Guatemala and Quechua communities of Peru, to give just two examples, are typically not named as separate religions; their practitioners generally regard themselves as good Catholics even while worshiping non-Christian gods. For example, in Maya communities of Guatemala and Quechua communities of Peru, it is common for Catholic practice to be combined with indigenous belief systems.
Some folk Catholic practices are local elaborations of Catholic custom that do not contradict Catholic doctrine or practice. These traditions are not considered to be heretical. Some examples include the veneration of local saints and pilgrimages in both medieval and modern Europe. Gaelic Scotland, the Philippines, Ireland, Ireland, Spain, Portugal, France, Italy, Poland, and southern India are some of the places where people have made folk accommodations between Catholicism and their local beliefs.
The Simbang Gabi novena Christmas celebration, which originated in the rural community and consists of a nine-day devotional gesture of masses in anticipation of Christmas, is one of the most significant celebrations of popular Catholicism in the Philippines. The most significant service, known in Spanish as Misa de Gallo, is celebrated on the last day of Simbang Gabi, which falls on Christmas Eve (“Mass of the Rooster”).
The nine masses used to be held very early in the morning because most people in the country were farmers who had to leave for work before dawn to avoid working in the fields during the hottest parts of the day. This is an ancient tradition that has been celebrated since 1669 and was brought to the Philippines by Spanish missionaries.
Although if evening novenas were more popular in the rest of the Hispanic world, the Philippine people finally developed this Christmas tradition into a distinctive aspect of their culture and a representation of widespread participation in popular religion.
In both Mexican Neopaganism and folk Catholicism, Santa Muerte is a female divinity, folk saint, and object of cult worship. Her followers see her as a personification of death who can heal, protect, and make sure people have a safe journey to the afterlife. Despite being condemned by Catholic Church, her fan base has grown significantly since the turn of the twenty-first century. In Mexico, sections of Central America, the United States, and Canada, there are now between 10 and 20 million followers of Santa Muerte, an increase over the previous ten to twenty years.
Santa Muerte is represented by a skeleton of a woman wearing a long robe and holding one or more objects, usually a scythe and a globe. Although more exact depictions of the figure vary greatly from devotee to devotee, and depending on the ritual being done or the request being made, her robes can be any color. She is known by many names including: the bony lady, the Godmother, white lady, white sister, and lady of shadows.
Scales, an hourglass, an owl, and an oil lamp are also things that people associate with Santa Muerte. The scales symbolize fairness, justice, and even-handedness, as well as the will of God. People believe that death is not the end because the hourglass can be turned upside down to start over. The hourglass serves as a visual representation of Santa Muerte’s relationship with time and the worlds above and below. It’s also a sign of being patient. An owl is a sign of her wisdom and ability to find her way in the dark. The owl is also said to be a messenger. A lamp is a symbol of intelligence and spirit. It shines a light into the darkness of ignorance and doubt to show the way.
Between the 16th and 19th centuries, Haiti experienced the development of Haitian Vodou, an African diaspora religion. It developed due to a process of syncretism between several West and Central African traditional faiths and Roman Catholicism. A single body does not govern the religion, and its adherents, often referred to as Vodouists, Vodouisants, or Serviteurs, are very diverse.
Vodou is centered on spirits called lwa. They are compared to Roman Catholic saints because they frequently take their names and characteristics from traditional West and Central African divinities. This results from the syncretism that took place when French conquerors forcibly converted West African slaves in the colonies of the West Indies to Christianity. The African slaves did not fully convert to Christianity; rather, they disguised their loa as Catholic saints.
In order to get a lwa to take possession of one of their members and allow them to interact with them, practitioners perform a primary ritual that includes drumming, singing, and dancing. A significant part is also played by healing rituals and the creation of talismans and herbal cures. Fruit, liquor, and sacrificed animals are all offerings to the lwa. Moreover, offerings are made to the spirits of the deceased. It takes a variety of divination techniques to decipher the lwa’s messages.
In the 16th to 19th centuries, the Atlantic slave trade led to the development of vodou among Afro-Haitian populations. Its structure resulted from mixing the traditional religions of the West and Central enslaved Africans who had been transported to the island of Hispaniola, including the Yoruba, Fon, and Kongo. There, it acquired elements of the culture of the French colonists who ruled the colony of Saint-Domingue, especially Freemasonry and Roman Catholicism. The two faiths share several customs; for instance, it is not unusual for Vodou burial rites to be performed before a Roman Catholic service officiated by a priest. Together with traditional Vodou festivities, many Haitians also observe Christian holidays. It is a complicated relationship overall where some believe the theologies are incompatible while others do believe they are compatible.
After the Atlantic slave trade, which took place from the 16th to the 19th centuries, Afro-Cubans began to practice Santeria. It came about when the traditional religions of West African slaves, most of whom were Yoruba, and Roman Catholicism, which was the only religion the Spanish colonial government allowed on the island, were mixed together. In West Cuba’s cities, these traditions and Spiritist ideas came together in the late 19th century.
Santeria has many gods and is based on gods called orishas. They are like Roman Catholic saints because their names and characteristics come from traditional Yoruba gods. People believe that each person has a personal connection to a certain orisha who shapes their personality. There are many myths about these orisha, who are thought to serve Olodumare, an all-powerful creator deity.
Santeria is a flexible and eclectic tradition, and there are many different ways to follow it. There is no strict orthodoxy, no central holy text, and no one person in charge of the whole religion. It has taken on parts of the cultures it has met, like the culture of the Chinese people who moved to Cuba in the 19th century. In North America, it has also taken on parts of Central American and Mexican religions, as well as New Age and modern Pagan practices. Cubans often mix ideas from different religions in their own way, and many people who practice Santeria say they belong to more than one religion. People who follow Santeria often think of themselves as Roman Catholics. In fact, some Santeria priests and priestesses won’t initiate anyone who isn’t a baptized Roman Catholic.
People almost always think of Vodou in New Orleans or Haiti when they hear the word “conjure.” Conjure is a way of communicating, often with spirits, that uses signs and symbolic events to explain, understand, and change the physical and spiritual worlds. But the word “conjure” is not just used by people who believe in one religion or follow one path. Instead, conjure has been known to include everything from Vodou to Spiritual Churches, as well as small, everyday things people do to control and change their surroundings.
No matter where a particular tradition comes from, conjure as a cultural phenomenon is a way of communicating with the spiritual world that is constantly changing and not limited to a single method. It is also a tool used with other religious beliefs, not just to hide them but also to make them stronger or more effective. However, I must add that, historically, the African American community should be contributed to the initial melding of their beliefs with Catholicism, mainly as an act of self-preservation. Over time, many cultures added their unique spiritual practices into Catholic beliefs, branching off to become individual spiritual paths.
I’m referring to this when I say that I perform ‘Catholic Conjure.’ I was baptized as a Catholic, so when I do magic, I ask saints, angels, and the medicine of my Native American ancestors to help me. As a native Tennessean, I also incorporate the folkloric and mystical mountain traditions I grew up with. This mixture of my ancestors’ folk practices, their magic, and folk medicine into the structure of the Catholic religion transforms it into something else. It is no longer just the doctrines of the Catholic church. It becomes what is known as Folk Catholicism.
Saints Perpetua and Felicity, martyrs of the early church at Carthage, are honored on March 7. These two women remained firm in their religion despite pressure from the government and family members.We are lucky to have the genuine account of Perpetua and Felicity’s bravery written by Perpetua herself, her teacher Saturus, and other people who knew them because information about the lives of many early martyrs are murky and frequently dependent on legend. In the early years, this story—known as “The Passion of St. Perpetua, St. Felicitas, and their Companions”—became so well-known that liturgies included readings from it.
Who are Saints Perpetua and Felicity?
Perpetua and Felicity were third-century Christian martyrs (Latin: Perpetua et Felicitas). In the year 203, Vibia Perpetua was a newlywed, well-educated, 22-year-old noblewoman who was breastfeeding her young son at the time of her death, according to historical accounts. Felicity, an enslaved woman who was imprisoned with her and who was pregnant at the time, was sacrificed alongside her. Together with others, they were executed in Carthage in the African region of the Roman province of Africa (now known as Tunisia)
The women had been studying the Bible and preparing for baptism before their arrest. They were baptized in prison by their instructor, who was also incarcerated. Their religion so moved their prison warden that he converted. Perpetua and Felicity were sentenced to death as punishment for confessing the name of Christ. But, with God’s peace in their hearts, they faced their fate with composure.
The story of Perpetua begins with a disagreement between her and her father over his desire for her to change her mind about converting to Christianity. Although Perpetua objects, she is baptized just before being taken to prison. In the days before Perpetua’s martyrdom, she was imprisoned at Carthage. She wrote about these days and her struggles in her diary, recounting the physical and mental anguish she endured in prison. The intense heat, brutal prison guards, and the end of her regular nursing all contributed to Perpetua’s physical suffering. Perpetua also talked about how the prison conditions improved once she bribed the guards and the other martyrs transported to a different area of the prison. She was also permitted to breastfeed her child, relieving some of her physical sufferings. The most frequently mentioned bodily condition in Perpetua’s narrative—a cycle of anguish and relief—was the discomfort she experienced in her breasts. Perpetua asks for and experiences a vision in which she climbs a hazardous ladder with numerous weapons connected, encouraged by her brother. A serpent is at the bottom of the ladder, and Saturus and Perpetua face it in turn. The serpent does not hurt her, and she ascends to a garden. Perpetua’s dream ends with the realization that the martyrs will endure pain. Perpetua has a vision of herself defeating a wild Egyptian the day before she is martyred. She takes this to signify that she will have to fight not just wild animals but also the Devil.
In her diary, Perpetua describes the conversation with her father when he came to her, begging that she recant:
While we were still under arrest, my father out of love for me was trying to persuade me and shake my resolution.
“Father,” said I, “do you see this vase here, for example?”
“Yes, I do,” said he.
And I told him: “Could it be called by any other name than what it is?”
And he said: “No.”
“Well, so too I cannot be called anything other than what I am, a Christian.”
Imprisoned with St. Perpetua, St. Felicity was a pregnant slave girl. Because St. Felicity did not keep a life journal like Perpetua did, little is known about her life. Felicity was also sentenced to die at the games after being imprisoned and tortured. Felicity gave birth to a daughter just a few days before she was put to death, and the child was secretly carried away and placed in the care of some of the Faithful.
Saints Felicitas and Perpetua are two of the martyrs named by name in the Roman Canon of the Mass. An old inscription with the names Perpetua and Felicitas was found in the Basilica Maiorum in Carthage. This church was built on top of the tomb of two martyrs. Perpetua and Felicity were placed in an arena with wild beasts but were not harmed by them. Sadly, Emperor Severus then ordered that they be executed with the sword.
The day of Saints Perpetua and Felicitas, March 7, was observed as a feast day across the Roman Empire and was noted in the Philocalian Calendar, a calendar of martyrs from the fourth century that was widely observed in Rome. When Saint Thomas Aquinas’ feast was added to the Roman calendar and celebrated on the same day, these two African saints became, sadly, overlooked by those who had never heard their story.
How to Work with Saints Perpetua and Felicity
In the stories of these two saints, we are shown the dedication of a mother to her child, and also their dedication to their faith. Compared to the Five of Swords tarot card, what circumstance in your life is calling you to stand your ground, and win at all costs? You can call on the spirit of Saints Perpetua and Felicitas during those times when you must do whatever is necessary to protect your child, to stand firm in your fight for justice when you know you are correct and everyone around you is asking you to give concede.
To work with Saints Perpetua or Felicitas, use an orange candle to show your determination. Anoint the candle with a strength or Personal Power oil. Write out your petition, or prayer, to the Saint asking for their strength and guidance in your battle. Place the petition under the candle while it burns. While the candle is burning, allow their strength to enter your spirit and body. Assist the process by showing your confidence, walk with your head up and make eye contact, allow your energy to fill the space, and stand confidently with your back straight and your chest out.