St Lucia

Lucia was born in 283 to a noble family in the city of Siracusa, Sicily. Her father was a Roman, but he died when she was 5 years old. Her mother, Eutychia was of Greek origin. When Lucia’s mother became ill, she went on a pilgrimage with her mother, in 300, to Catania, to St. Agatha’s tomb to seek a cure for her.
Her mother was cured, and when Lucia saw this, she became a Christian, and took a vow of virginity, vowed her life to Christ, and gave away her dowry to the poor. Her mother, not aware of Lucy’s vow, offered her hand in marriage to a pagan young man. The groom became offended when Lucia turned him down, and took his case to Paschasius, the Governor of Siracusa, claiming Lucia was a witch. Paschasius tried to convince her to marry her groom, but she refused. Then he ordered her to be carried to a brothel, but she became so heavy that even oxen could not move her. Later she was tarred, put on the stake to be burned to death, her eyes were removed by the executioner, and she was stabbed with a dagger, yet she did not die. When the priest was called, she finally took her last breath. (Another legend says she plucked out her own eyes because a suitor admired them.)

Other than that, not much is known about her life. She believed in God and she died for her beliefs. In the 6th century, she was declared a saint, patroness of the blind and those with eye trouble.

Her name comes of the Latin word lux, which means light; therefore she is also remembered as a “bearer of light”. That is why her feast day was placed on December 13th, which at the time was the shortest day of the year. (With the change of calendars from the Julian to the Gregorian in 1582, several days were added, so that the solstice now occurs on December 21st or 22nd). Lucy the Lightbringer rules that longest night. It is considered an optimum time for magic spells, divination and spiritual activity. In Austria, Lucy’s Light is a folk name for second sight—psychic ability.

Was Lucy a martyr or a witch? We remember her as both, but in some folklore she is considered mostly a witch.

Her feast day is important during Advent but also popularly appears amongst several different folkloric accounts involving werewolves and witches. In Sweden the Santa Lucia’s night originated in an older tradition of Lussinata, the beginning of a 12 day period ending on Yule whose nights were haunted by the Lussi, a nocturnal demon or witch who would punish and snatch ill behaved children or disappear anyone caught outside on her nights. Likewise she was joined on these nights by the Lussiferda, a host of trolls, goblins and restless spirits who wandered about with her.

Her feast is one of the Ember days of the liturgical calendar, which according again to Honorius (or the anonymous author of the magical manual of attributed to this pope) makes her feast an apt time for the conjuring and binding of demons. In Christendom the Ember days are weeks set for fasting and prayer occurring seasonally. Given the prerequisite of devout prayer, confession, and fasting prior to conjuration that is called for in many of the grimoires there is little reason to wonder why these particular weeks would be chosen for the timing of such magical workings. The ritual tasks of the necromancer would not appear suspicious or out of place, given the context of the liturgical calendar and popular observances.

The other Ember days include one in the spring, typically beginning the first Sunday of Lent, one in the Summer after Pentecost, one after the Exaltation of the Cross in September and finally after St. Lucia’s feast. Another interesting appearance of the Ember days appears in the confession of the 17th century Livonian werewolf, Thiess of Kaltenbrun. Thiess, an octogenarian at the time of his confession and trials claimed that on three nights a year: Saint’s Lucy’s, Pentecost, and Saint John’s, that he and others he called the “Hounds of God” would become werewolves and descend into Hell to return with grain and livestock stolen by the Devil and his witches. When their battles were won the werewolves would ensure a bountiful harvest, but on the years where they suffered losses, it assured famine. Thiess’ account, along with the account of the Benandanti of Friuli (see Night Battles by Carlo Ginzburg) is believed to show a rare glimpse into an ancient agrarian cult that at on point was possibly common across central Europe, and preserved by a few in their observances on these now Christian holy days. For more on the connection between werewolves and witches in popular, and historical record, see the works of Claude Lecouteux, particularly Witches, Werewolves and Fairies: Shapeshifters and Astral Doubles in the Middle Ages.

Her patronage over sight and the eyes makes her an excellent saint to call upon in to aid in the ability to see the unseen, as well as the ability to heal diseases and afflictions of the eye, including that of the Evil Eye. Here we close with a novena to this blessed saint. Beginning on the night of December 4th on a clean space draped in white, ideally with a cross and icon of Saint Lucia, offer a white seven-day candle and frankincense alongside the orison we have included below along with the recipe for a psychic vision oil. This is a time to ask for her intercession and protection as well as to make magica materia, such as the Holy Vision oil, to be consecrated and blessed by the devotion of these nine nights of vigil held in her honor and by the power of her spirit descending upon it by the grace of the Holy Trinity and Queen of All-Saints, the Blessed Virgin. On the 8th night prepare a dough for a traditional sweet bread made for her night, to be baked and offered on the 9th and final night of her novena.

May the Lord and all his saints keep you in health and high spirits, and in this time of year when night predominates, may the fire your eyes burn bright and all the shades and horrors of winter be dispelled by the light and majesty of Saint Lucy!

Salve! Sancta virgo et martyr beatissimus, ora pro nobis.


Saint Lucia’s Holy Vision Oil

You will need:

  • Frankincense resin
  • Myrrh resin
  • Eyebright
  • Star Anise
  • Mugwort
  • Wormwood
  • 2 blue Evil Eye charms
  • Olive oil

Crush and macerate the Frankincense, Myrrh, and Eyebright in some olive oil. Place this in a glass container and pour in more oil, enough to cover the crushed mixture. Let this sit for the duration of the novena on the altar of Saint Lucia.

In a new container place a few pieces of Mugwort, Wormwood, Star Anise, Frankincense, Eyebright, Myrrh and two blue Evil Eye charms. Strain the oil from the first container into the new one with the whole herbs and resins. The result should be rich-colored oil with a fragrant scent with a few pieces of resin, root, and herb.

The Orison of St. Lucia

Oh Saint Lucia thou preferred to have thy eyes gouged and torn than deny thy faith.

Oh Saint Lucia the pain of having thy eyes torn was not greater than the one of denying Christ. And as an extraordinary miracle He gave thee new eyes, healthy and perfect, to reward thee for thy virtue and faith.

Protector from illnesses of the eyes I plead to thee to bless this oil, to grant the second sight and to protect from the Evil Eye, so as thou may protect my sight and heal the illness of my eyes.

Oh Saint Lucia protect the light of my eyes, so I may see the beauty of creation, the light of the Sun, the color of the flowers, the smiling of children. Protect also the eyes of my soul, of my faith, through which I can see my God and learn His teachings so as I may learn with thee and always refer to thee.

Saint Lucia protect my eyes and preserve my faith.

Saint Lucia protect my eyes and preserve my faith.

Saint Lucia give me light and discernment.

Saint Lucia give me light and discernment.

Saint Lucia pray for us.

Amen.

Here is a recipe for a traditional holiday bread for St Lucy’s Night:

St Lucia Saffron Buns

St Lucia by AzK // Shandi

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