SUBSCRIBE

Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times

April 1st, 2016

Beltaine

Bright Blessings!

We just celebrated out Ostara last night, and I admit, I am dog tired today. We had TOO much fun, and I am reminded of how the film Excalibur portrayed Merlin as going into a deep sleep after becoming tired after doing magic! I actually slept in until about 2 P.M. today!

But more than that, I am worried. I am having difficulty reserving the group campsite we have been reserving for years for our Beltaine. You may remember my article from 2014 that lamented we were too ill to camp- wellk this year WE WANT TO CAMP!

Unfortunately, there is confusion about booking at the site EVERY year. Don’t ask me why, but this year, we were told they no longer even allow reservations. I called the main office to find out what the heck was going on and ask if they can pretty please allow us to reserve the site- and I was told they do , indeed, still take reservations, but I was transferred to somebody who had a really bad attitude. Not only was his tone of voice rude, but he said he would take my name and number, but did not care what I was calling about and did not want to know. I told him I will just call back tomorrow. I don’t trust that guy to relay my message.

I really should not feel sorry for myself. I mean, in the grand scheme of things, I have heard much worse. One year, a Pagan Pride was booked at a site and the reservation was paid for months in advance. The event coordinator was later told that nobody at the office saved any information from the booking, the employee who had booked the thing was long gone, the event would not be allowed there, and there would be no refund. AAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!! I am not the one who had to deal with this, but it makes me cringe just to think about it!

My struggle with this campsite is very minute compared to what some other facilitators have endured, but I am still pulling my hair out, and I will tell you why. It is because of three things that begin with the letter C. Cost, convenience, and most importantly, consecration.

Costwise, most of the campsites nearby my home cost hundreds of dollars. I wanted to offer a free camping event once a year in my hometown people could attend. This site costs only $48 to rent for 24 hours. Nothing would cost less unless somebody hosted it at their home, but that is not the best idea either. Sometimes, we like to invite new people along who would be more comfortable meeting in public than at a stranger’s house! So this is the least expensive way to do this.

This site is the most convenient one we found for lots of reasons. First, it is only ten miles away. Everyplace else is much much farther. Think ninety miles away! Next, it is private, and we can have all the fires we want. We do two fires that are blessed, and the people walk between the blessed fires. While we could get a metropark space that was nearby and allowed fires, they are much more expensive, and everybody has to clear out of there by 10 P.M., so no camping. WAAAAHHHH!!!!

Most importantly, we have had multiple Beltaines at this site. Beltaine is the event my Priest and I do best together. People really look forward to it, and I admit, I don’t think anybody looks forward to it more than I do.

As mentioned in previous articles, we have done raffles, workshops, and other groups have joined with us some years as well. The main attraction is the Maypole ritual and blessing we do.

Our tradition has a May King and May Queen to represent the forces of fertility that create new life.

We begin by the Priestess taking all the females to a spot, and the Priest taking all the males to a spot. The ladies select who they think best embodies the goddess in the form of the Maiden in all of her splendor. She is beautiful like the blooming flowers. She is strong, and fertile, a perfect vessel for life to bloom in. And once the ladies decide who will be May Queen, she is crowned with a crown made of real flowers and vines the people have created. I always have the children in attendance help create those crowns!

My Priest is a stickler for tradition. The flowers have to be fresh and real. He’s also thrifty, so he has us go find the flowers and vines in our yards and neighborhoods so as not to spend cash.

While the ladies are crowning the May Queen, the gentlemen are crowning the May King. He is to be the embodiment of the the father god in his prime. Sexy, lusty, powerful, and charismatic. He is full of energy and focused on….well…rutting.

Before I go any further, let me mention that our tradition does not do the Great Rite by having people actually engage in sexual intercourse- although some traditions do. I will never forget one year when I got a concerned e-mail from somebody who was planning to attend. He wanted to know if we were having an orgy. Of course not! But I have heard that some people absolutely do.

We instead, present the May Queen to the May King, and they do a little dance around the Maypole, and then everybody else joins in.

Some traditions may have set dances they do. Ours has my Priest choosing funny rock music with sexual undertones. Since my Priest is what we call an aging hippie and I was a child in the 1980’s, the glam rockers, and hair bands provide lots of material for us. Music like Queen’s Fat Bottomed Girls, Meatloaf’s Paradise by the Dashboard Light, probably anything from The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Unskinny Bop by Motley Crue, Whitesnake’s Slide It In, and even some pop songs like George Michael’s I Want Your Sex.

Here is a link to a really hilarious article that lists some great 1980’s songs about sex.

http://ultimateclassicrock.com/sex-songs

Obviously, if you want kids to attend your Maypole ritual, you can just keep it cleaner and do a nice, polite chant like the popular goddess chant, or even nice love songs. Of course, it won’t be as funny if you are playing nice, clean love songs, but I understand that not every group is the same!

The Priest and Priestess do not get to vote for who is May King and May Queen. They just lead the people in the coronation and show the “royal couple” how to become the goddess and god for the ritual. One year, the ladies all voted for a sixteen year old girl to be May Queen, and I about died. I asked the young lady’s mother if this was okay, and mom said okay! I was hysterically terrified the kid would wind up pregnant in the next few months- magic is funny like that. But the kid did not- and she was one damn good May Queen, too!

One year, our May Queen was actually the sister of a best friend of mine. Everybody sure liked her, and she was perhaps the oldest lady eligible to be May Queen. The gentleman who was voted May King that year pantomimed chasing after the May Queen, and the gal who was May Queen pantomimed “Come here, now get away!” She lead him on a merry chase. All the while, the hair band hard rock sex anthems were blaring on the boom box, and inbetween fits of giggling, we all danced along. I think that was the year I fell flat on my butt, was laughing so hard, I could not get up, and so two of the guys hauled me back up on my feet.

After the dancing and merriment is all done, the Maypole is danced. I use the same consecrated Maypole every year. I do not know if that is traditional, or if you are “supposed” to do it this way, but it just feels right to me. I suppose the Maypole might have a traditional amount of ribbons that belong on there, but I have never taken the time to find out. Our Maypole was a branch my Priest had seen years ago that he thought was calling him, and he went through nests of spiders to bet to it. Afterwards, it sat in his basement, forgotten for quite some time. Then, the year we decided to do our own Maypole, he gave it to me. I took it to a friend’s house, and with ribbons she had and that I bought, we used nails, tacks, and gorilla glue to create the most gorgeous Maypole on earth. It is short. A lot of groups have ten foot tall poles. Ours is about six foot tall. Every year, we have my husband bury it in the ground so it stays still, and it has never come loose of fallen during ritual. We have about 22 ribbons on it. One year we had less people who wanted to dance- many were tired after the hard rock music dancing, and some people took two ribbons in the dance.

And it was fun. Maypole dancing emulates the divine joining of the goddess- the earth- with the father sky god, represented by the pole being plunged into her. The people dancing the dance, weaving the ribbon represents us blending our magic with the magic of the goddess and the god, and it is also a form of adoration as well!

I share this one video from Glastonbury a lot. I love it. It shows the weaving technique used for the dance. OVER, UNDER, OVER, UNDER. And by the time the ribbon is all used up, it has created an absolutely gorgeous plaiting around the pole. Here, you can see what this group did!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FxcIqMmlVOs

[embedyt] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FxcIqMmlVOs[/embedyt]

After all that, the May King and May Queen have done their job and done it very well! Next, in our tradition, the Priest and Priestess bless each person. We bless cakes and drink- usually cookies and juice, and have each person approach for their own blessing. First, the person gets a cookie and are told “May you never hunger.” Then they get a sip of juice and are told “May you never thirst.” As our particular tradition is all about balance, if the person is male, they then get a personal blessing from the Priestess. If they are female, they get one from the Priest.

Not all traditions are this specific, and I admit, a couple people got very insulted by this. One was transgendered and said she did not appreciate being asked to join males based on being born with a penis. She identified as a woman trapped in a man’s body and said she did not feel the least bit male. Another person who complained stated they are gay and therefore do not understand a ritual that emulates joining of male and female to create life.

I told them our tradition does this because in the plant and animal kingdom, you need both male and female parts to create offspring. I also said I would never ask anybody to participate in a ritual that they were upset about or that did not serve them. But our tradition of Wicca really is appropriately referred to as a “fertility cult.” Maybe that is why Beltaine is so big for us!

The Maypole ritual and May Day as we personally celebrate it include things emulating the sex that everything has that makes babies. We use sympathetic magic to send energy out to the powers that be to ask them to make those things happen. We are not just gathering to ask to get pregnant. We want baby plants and animals made, too, for our foods! But also, we ask for the energy of birth and growth in what we need in our lives.

Maybe somebody wants to go back to college and wants the gods to help them make it happen. Maybe somebody has been ill and wants a new body and new life in the form of healing.

Our particular tradition focuses on the magic the god and goddess create together for this and all our Sabbats and workings, but I accept that not everybody finds that focus meaningful. I think each person has to celebrate the Sabbats in a way that is meaningful for them, and not worry aboutm other people’s traditions.

Having said all of these things, I realize that I usually discuss history first and then provide suggested working. I did it backwards this time. So here is some Beltaine history!

What is Beltaine?

It’s based on ancient Pagan practices. It was the beginning of the summer for the folks who raise livestock back in Pre-Christian times. They brought the animals from winter grounds to summer fields, and a purification ritual involving bonfires that were blessed was used. The people and animals were paraded between two blessed fires and it was believed this ritually purified them. I read recently that sometimes, a dough was made and cooked over the blessed fire into a bread and everybody was fed the blessed bread as part of the processions.

Can you imagine how happy the animals must have been to get out of those barns and into the summer grazing grounds? And the animals who were young who had never seen those fields must have been so excited- and relieved to pass by the warm fires and see, for the first time, all the land they had to run free in! How excited, too, the people were. Songs, dances, and feasting were part of it all, as well as thanks to the gods for making it through ANOTHER winter season.

The work on the foodcrops was at hand, and while I am sure the backbreaking labor was not exactly relished, the fact it was time to start production of such good things was eagerly anticipated.

Talk with any gardener, whether they grow flowers or food, and they will be bursting at the seams come Beltaine time. Here in Central Ohio, May Day is about the time when danger of last frost is past and EVERYTHING can be planted out of doors without worry.

Today, while I took a short break from writing this article, I made my timetable for what seeds I will plant when. It is March 21 today, and while a few things can be put in the ground earlier, I still have about five weeks before I can put it all out!

For us, we can just run to the grocery for fresh fruit and veggies- but our ancestors could not. They preserved foods and had something to eat, but preserved foods are not the same as fresh. I can only imagine how excited the ancient people were when planting season was in full tilt.

I also read the Maypole comes to us from the Germanics. I learned it was outlawed in the 1500’s when King Edward the VI came to power and was reinstated under Queen Mary when she took over the throne. Support and opposition of the practice changed with whoever was holding office, and it varied by region. The Presbyterians who ran Scotland were against it, and today, of course, it’s just used as a Springtime celebration because it’s fun and festive all over the world.

I will say, though, that we THINK the Germanics used it in connection with fertility rites, but we are not entirely certain. It might have represented the Yggdrasil, or the World Tree. In Sweden, Maypoles are used at Midsummer, not May Day.

Technically, in Germanic and Scandinavian places, it’s Walpurgisnacht- or the day Witches supposedly used to gather in the Brocken, or the highest peak in the Hartz mountain. What witches supposedly did while communing with their gods, I do not know. Perhaps the association with “witches” after Christianization is due to the fact that this region was once a sacred site for veneration of the Allfather, Odin.

The weather at The Brocken is extreme to say the least. It gets no warmer than about 60 degrees Fahrenheit in the Summer, and it gets more precipitation than anyplace else in Northern central Europe. Many months, the land is completely covered in snow. Being somebody who dislikes cold, myself, I have to wonder why ancient Saxons chose such a frigid place to hold sacred rites to Odin. But perhaps the very fact it was so extreme made it seem all the more sacred to them.

Today, some European towns have Walpurgis Night festivals still. They celebrate the feast day of the Saint Walpurga instead of honoring their ancestral gods. Some have music festivals and some do things more like what you see in Fourth of July celebrations where mom and dad bring the kids and the local auxiliary clubs put on concerts. I imagine back in Saxon days, the revelers behaved just as the people in this video I share did.

We sometimes imagine ancient Pagans as being somehow more wild and barbaric, but I seriously doubt they were. They were just ordinary people leading ordinary lives. Religion was an ordinary part of everyday life. While the bonfires might look big, what they did, even when there was human or animal sacrifice was not lewd, wild, exciting, or romantic.

It was just normal.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fs9wn9W2t60

People all over Western Europe still light bonfires around the last week of April or first week of May because cultures and practices may have changed, but basic human nature has not. There is some small part of us that still needs the sympathetic magic of the bonfires to emulate the lifegiving heat and power of the indestructible sun.

Seeing as people now celebrate this Saint Walpurga, let’s explore who she is a bit more.

She was born in either 710 in England, the daughter of St. Richard the Pilgrim, who was the brother –in-law to Saint Boniface. Saint Boniface was the first one to establish organized Christianity in the German lands, and recruited woman as well. He sent Walpurga to Germany as well.

Walpurga’s early portrayals show her as holding sheaths of grain and it is speculated veneration of her replaced worship of a grain goddess. Due to belief she prayed while on a voyage, which calmed a storm, she is the patron saint of fear of water, called on for protection from storms, and a matron of sailors.

In Antwerp, Belgium, a church was built and named after Walpurga. The church was confiscated and used as a warehouse by the French in 1798, then by the Dutch, who destroyed it shortly after. Little was salvaged from the church which stood as a sanctuary for about 700 years!

What little survived, including one of the painter Ruben’s masterpieces and a small piece of the original altar was taken to The Cathedral of Our Lady in Antwerp. Ruben’s painting can be seen here at this link to the Wikipedia article about it.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Elevation_of_the_Cross_(Rubens)

Whether the old gods, or a missionary to the Xtian god are being celebrated, one thing is for sure- all over the world, May Day is a big deal. People are so happy the days are warmer and the growing season is begun that they have to sing and dance and make merry well into the night.

However you celebrate, may your gods bless you, and may this season of new life bring many new things and joys into your life.

Blessed Beltaine!

Blessed Be!

Belenus – Celtic God of Beltane

In Celtic mythology the Sun God Belenus worshipped in Britannia, Gaul, Italy, Northern Spain and Austria. Belenus has had shrines erected in his behalf from Aquileia (on the Adriatic) to England (Kirkby Lonsdale). Associated with healing and heat, the meaning of his name is Henbane God or the Shinning one.

It has been said the Belenus may be in fact the same deity as the God Belatu- Cadros from the Roman Empire period and thusly identified with Apollo. His companion is Belisama. Belenus’s name has appeared on inscriptions, concentrated primarily in Cisalpine Gaul and Aquileia, however, these inscriptions have also been found in Noricum and Gallia Narbonensis as well as other distant lands.

Beltane/May Day

Over the years Beltane has been known by many names, in contemporary Irish it is known as Lá Bealtaine, in Scots Gaelic it is known as Bealtiunn, the Welsh know it as the Calends of May (Galan-Mai) and on the Isle of Man (Manx) as Laa Boaldyn, Laán Tourey (Day of Summer) or Shenn da Boaddyn. Beltane is the start of the Summer Half of the Celtic year but what ever the name it is a festival of absolute joy.

A Large number of mythological Celtic events are associated with this day, balancing out it is opposite Samhain. The first people and co-creators of Ireland first landed on the island on Beltane. 300 years to the day later the inhabitants returned to their Other Worldly plane. It was on Beltane that the Tuatha De Danann invaded Ireland. On May Eve Pwyll and Rhiannon’s (the rulers of the Welsh Otherworld) son Pryderi was lost and later found by Teirnyon Twryf Vliant on another May’s Eve after which he was later returned to Pwyll and Rhiannon. The majority of these events concern the forces of darkness being defeated by light

Modern Day Beltane Festivals

One of the major sabbats today is the primeval Celtic fire festival. The Celtic fire festival is the time to observe the unification of the Sun God and the young Goddess, the time when winters darkness copiously retreats and life once more returns to the earth. Like Samhain, during Beltane the shroud between this world and other worldly realms is at its thinnest, in times of yore this was viewed as a time of impending mischief or danger from seditious spirits. Thusly, during Beltane it was a time to mollify these spirits and to begin preparing for the soil in hopes of a good harvest later in the year.

The May Pole

the May Pole represents the impregnation of the Earth Goddess by the Sun God, in the traditional May Pole dance, weaving the ribbons, joins two elements to form the third which represents life at its creation. The fire of Beltane lit in a pit or cauldron represents passions fire. Traditionally, one will jump over the fire for luck or fertility in the upcoming growing season. It is said that a woman will be exceedingly blessed if she becomes pregnant on Beltane. Men wear circlets of green while the women don blossom of circlets.

Excerpt from A Tree Song

Oh, do not tell the Priest our plight, or he would call it a sin;

But we have been out in the woods all night, A-conjuring Summer in!

~ Rudyard Kipling

Bibliography and Works Cited

Kipling, R. (A. D. 1200). A Tree Song. Retrieved March 21, 2009, from http://www.poetryloverspage.com/poets/kipling/kipling_ind.html

Memories of Beltaine 2000

For Beltaine 2000, I invited my students and their significant others to participate in ritual on my family’s land. Everyone was asked to bring a potluck dish and 5 yards of 1 inch ribbon in a color that represented a wish. In making preparations I also had everyone sign a ‘hold harmless’ document, required by my family.

The morning of ritual we met at my home. The ladies were dressed up, some with floral wreaths, flowers or ribbons in their hair and the men dressed casually in jeans or shorts. We busied ourselves with packing the large cast-iron cauldron, kindling, flowers, food; the ribbons for the Maypole and the Maypole it’s self. I have a 9 foot free standing Maypole that my ex-husband made. It’s all wood and comes apart in 4 sections (the base and 3 sections for the pole done in a post and sleeve construction). I have to say, he did a very nice job and it’s withstood many dances.

The day was warming up quickly as it does here in California at this time of year. Old growth oaks stretched over the one lane road dappling us in faery light as we drove to the ritual site. Upon crossing the bridge, the trees give way on the left to an open expanse of property. We had arrived. We parked along the road and began unloading everything.

There is a lovely round plateau (about 50 feet in diameter) for performing ritual that is about 75 yards in from the main road; it is also quite visible to the main road. To get there we had to walk down an uneven path and cross a running creek. For me it was a case of hiking up my skirts and walking through about six inches of icy water. For the rest it was more about balancing on the rocks to not get their feet wet. Once on the other side, it was up a steep incline to the plateau.

Blankets and ice chests were laid out in the shade under the trees. The men and some of the women were busy getting the Maypole assembled and decorated. A fire was built in the cauldron. Soon the soft sound of Celtic music was drifting in the air around the Maypole.

Before ritual began, I called to our family Land Guardian (by name) and announced our intentions for the afternoon. She graciously gave her blessing. Having her blessing we could now begin our ritual. We opened ritual and acknowledge those things in accordance with the tradition I teach.

We had a rousing dance around the Maypole with lots of laughter and shouts. Cars on the road would slow down or stop to watch and we would wave and continue our dance. The varying colors of ribbon creating a beautiful woven tapestry down the pole. Once we could go no further, we all fell to the ground laughing.

Now it was time to make wishes and jump the Bel-fire. Some of the couples jumped together and the few who couldn’t jump circled the fire making their wishes. It soon became a competition of who could jump the highest over the flames.

Food and drink was much welcomed after all of the activity. We ate, told stories and lounged around. Some of the couples took this time to wander into the woods. It is Beltaine after all.

We closed our ritual, but before leaving we left offerings of fruit and honey in a hollow at the base of an oak for the Land Guardian.

Hope everyone has a wonderful and memorable Beltaine!

Blessings on your Hearth & Home

Sneaky Parenting and a Wedding Day!

Hi my lovelies….and Beltane blessings to all of you guys out there!

Now, as you can imagine, the process of me writing this column doesn’t happen on the 1st of each month, the day of Pagan Pages publication. It’s just as well too as I am, especially the moment, swamped with 100 things on my list to do and very few crossed off. So it is lovely this month to be able to take a few moments out to have a natter with you amidst the chaos that is permeating every corner of my home and life. Today’s date is the 17th April as I am writing, and I am sure as you are reading this on the 1st May my time in between the two dates will be filled with stress, worry and above all extreme tiredness!!!

My daughter is getting married!

Oh yes lovelies, I am the mother of the bride, who knew that the role would involve so many, many duties? It has been a seemingly endless round of months in which so many decisions have had to be made. You know the kind of thing, colour scheme (I was never aware just how many shades of green there are out there), seating plans (who gets to sit where is a political minefield), favour bags (wow, really?) everything down to the shade of lipstick of the bride and the buttercream filling for the cakes (Ummmm, ask me on the 30th April how well THEY turned out) has been discussed and pondered and fretted about. Weddings it seems today have taken on a new, almost spooky life of their own, demanding that jobs on the list be ticked off as quickly as the money flies out of my purse! I am sure my own wedding was never this organised, and mine was a healthy size of 50 people, this one is a small do for 20! So why, you ask, am I rambling on about this wedding in my Pagan Pages column? Because, my lovelies…

  1. If I don’t talk to someone I may just be dragged away by men in white coats, kicking and screaming about apple green and ivory lace.

  2. It has taken over my entire existence including every room in my home.

  3. It is a Beltane Wedding!!!

My frustratingly difficult, but incredibly beautiful eldest daughter has decided to get married on May 1st. She said that it was the perfect day for the wedding, being Beltane. She has chosen to wear a wedding dress that is called ‘the Fairy’ and her theme is natural and white, like a spring day. Her bouquet is loosely tied just as though the flowers have just been picked from the hedgerow. Her make-up will be natural as will her hair,

That is to be bedecked with a sprinkling of tiny pearls and blossom.

Of course all old traditions are being observed, something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue.

Throughout this whole wedding process I have sat back and watched this now all grown child of mine as she has made her choices and I have listened avidly as to why she has made them. Along with being extremely proud and have also become extremely aware that I have been the ultimate ninja of sneaky parenting. Over the years I have subtly explained the traditions and ways of the path we walk to both of my girls, over and over again at every opportunity. I have always been keen for them to make their own decisions on what path the follow, in fact I believe that we don’t actually come to our path until we are really ready to embrace it. I hope that throughout their growing up period I have never forced my beliefs onto my girls, but instead tried to explain the festivals and their links to the old ways in gentle relevant conversation. During the traditional holidays of Easter and Christmas (noooo, not the C word lol), I have thrown myself into the middle of it all, as we do with our kids, but have also passed along pieces of information about the wheel of the year and the celebrations that accompany each turning point. As a parent you are never entirely convinced that anything you have said will actually go in one ear and stick inside that head of theirs, the chances are that your words will instead go flying all the way through to the other ear and out the other side into the dimension known as ‘I am not interested!’ But we parents are nothing if not persistent! Year after year we witter on about the olde times as year after year the eye rolling gets more exaggerated and the ears get deafer. And then suddenly, one day you are treated to the most wonderful reward for all your efforts! As one would drip feed a small plant and watch it flourish I am now being blessed by all the subtle honouring and recognition of our past traditions that I have ‘dropped’ into their lives through my daughter and her decisions.

May day, the time of the union of the Goddess and her young suitor, the day of traditional handfasting, the ultimate day of the maiden and her beauty being rivalled by no other is THE perfect wedding day for my English rose baby girl. The reception will be lit by candles, representing the Beltane fires of old, where cattle were driven through the smoke as blessings and chants filled the air on their way to the summer pastures and good sweet grass. Spring flowers bedecking both the bride and the tables honour the time of the year in Mother Nature, turning the wedding feast into an enchanting altar. Although all of these wonderful things can be seen to be ‘normal’ wedding adornments their meaning to us on our spiritual path is so much more magical. And the most magical thing of all for this old hedgewitch is that she GETS it, she understands and has actively planned and designed her wedding with the magical meanings in mind. The ceremony is a registry office service and the venue is a local hotel, so although no one is being handfasted per se, it is a symbolic union of the maiden and her lord, the day of making a commitment to another.

My sneaky parenting technic seems to have resulted in a wedding that is so much more than just a marriage, it is a magical life event that I am so blessed to be part of.

So although I am overrun with lace and green ribbon and my wrinkles are getting deeper by the day, Goddess help me, I am immersed in the glow of the magic of my path, and have a feeling of immense pride in the young woman my daughter has become. Now I wonder what daughter 2 will pull out of the bag to surprise me, Kids eh? They never cease to amaze me!

Well, my lovelies, I will get off and get back to these favour bags, thank you guys so much for listening to me witter on, my sanity is somewhat restored!

I hope you have a blessed Beltane

*And to Alexandra and her consort Anthony*

May your life together be filled with abundant blessings, love and grace.

May you walk together as one through any trials that come your way

And may you always have magic in your hearts

Love you too too much

Mum xxx

Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times

Midsummer 2015

 

Ladies and Gentlemen, I have done something completely out of character as Midsummer approaches.

I have come to the conclusion it is not important to be right.

Not always.

Like many of you, I have opinions. Strong ones. Opinions I always said you were all entitled to.

Before you tell me opinions are like toes, we all have them, and mine don’t make me special, let me assure you that I have always worked very hard to ensure my opinions are the best possible ones! You see, I am an educated person. I back up my opinions with facts and research, and I can prove my point to almost everybody. And if I am proven wrong, I just say I have learned something, and change my opinion. So I am always right!

That is very important, right?

But with my fortieth birthday looming just ahead, I have changed my mind about that.

After years of facilitating discussions in person and online, I have seen relationships crumble because people just HAVE to be right. Including me.

One of the big contention points is, not surprisingly, religion.

For Pagans, being part of a minority religion, if we are out of the broom closet, we are bound to get some grief from family or co-workers at one time or another. If you are like I have always been, you are not going to stand for that. You might also get upset just by the fact they express a religious opinion or belief that goes against yours, even if it is not directed to you.

Some family from mom’s side was always very vocal about being anti-gay. Mom was very vocal about being anti-anything-besides-Catholic. My father’s side of the family is conservative Southern Christian and I always say some of them believe separation of church and state is wrong and that the USA needs to be an Xtian theocracy.

I don’t handle listening to such sentiments very well. I can’t just not say anything in response to what I consider wrong. I can’t not try to get people to agree with me that god is too big to fit into one religion. I can’t not try to get people to agree with me that their way of life is not necessarily the right way for everybody. I can’t not call people on what I feel is total BS.

I just can’t. Can I?

Sure I can. We all can.

Nearing forty, I realize I am becoming more set in my ways. So is everybody else. I have had the chance to really think about what I believe. So has everybody else. I know what works for me and what makes sense to me. So does everybody else.

Some of my family is SO conservative, and while I am not 100% Liberal, compared to some of them, I am a total anarchist.

Many heated debates happened amongst us. In private, family members who agreed with me told me so. When I asked why they did not speak up, they all said the same thing…that it was not worth it to argue. I did not see it that way. All I could see was that I thought somebody was wrong, and I had to make sure they knew what I felt was right.

It got to the point some of us decided we were no longer speaking. Sometimes I initiated it, sometimes they did. You could absolutely tell whose child I was because I acted just like them. I did not care. I felt I was justified and that I had family who were intolerant, and that I did not need that in my life.

Then, eight months ago, my life changed. Completely. The changes meant I couldn’t work, and I spent a lot of time at home. Alone.

I also got a lot of visits.

Some were from people who did not share my political or religious views, but people who I love and have known a long time, nonetheless.

I also made a new friend, who came to see me every week, and some weeks, it was the only visit I got. She did not share my religion or my political beliefs.

I learned that none of it mattered.

I reconnected with some family as well. It took me three days to work up the courage to tell one family member I thought it was important to have a relationship, differing beliefs aside. She agreed.

I cried for the rest of the night after that because I was so happy.

Sometimes it takes being alone for a short time to realize how important it really is to have people in your life. Agreeing to disagree for the sake of getting along is not as difficult as I always told myself it was. Truthfully, when people wrote me off because they disapproved of my beliefs, it made me even less sympathetic to their beliefs. I wrote some people off too. I know that their reaction was the same as mine had been in the same situation.

We spent a lot of time creating hard feelings when we could have been discussing other things and enjoying life together instead. I realize it is not possible to have a relationship with EVERYBODY. But it IS possible to have more relationships if one is open to relationships with people who are different than them.

It is a good shift of mindset to have nearing Midsummer.

Midsummer is the longest day and shortest night of the year. Historically, it was celebrated with bonfires. We find the theme of chasing off disease, malevolent spirits, and misfortune with bonfires at many pre-Christian celebrations our Sabbats are based on.

Now, in parts of Europe, the Pagan Misdummer celebrations have changed focus, but some traditions are close to the same.

Instead of lighting fires and leaping over them in honor of the old gods, the festivities are oft done in honor of St. John the Baptist instead.

Midsummer, as celebrated in the Celtic lands, the Slavic Nations, and the Germanic ones are the places many of us who are Neo-Pagans and Heathens draw our traditions from.

In The Gardnerian Book of Shadows, which can be found free on sacred-texts.com, is a ritual for Midsummer. Flowers are arranged around a cauldron filled with water, referred to as the waters of life. The ritual focus is on an invocation of the sun, on its longest day to bless both earth, and people.

In ancient Ireland, the bonfires were built, and it was customary to see who could leap highest over the flames. It was believed the height of the highest jump was how high the crops would get. The animals were lead around the fires, oft clockwise, to bless them.

Stonehenge, in Wiltshire, England, is technically a group of things including wooded posts, buried antlers and animal bones and teeth, cremations, ditches, and small holes, as well as the large stones it is famous for , and initial materials has been dated to as early as 8,000 BC. The site was used over a long period of time, and even today, the site hosts rituals and educational tours. So technically, including today’s use, that gives a window of 10,000 years from evidence of first use of the site to today’s use of the site. Pretty cool!

The Midsummer sun rises in alignment with a large sandstone rock that is called the Heelstone. An avenue a couple of miles away was built that aligns with the Midsummer sunset. Evidence of large fires between the two suggests they were perhaps connected.

If this is true, they had at least an all day celebration and ritual and possibly a procession from where the sun rose to where it set.

In Denmark, healing wells were visited in pre Christian times, and bonfires, which are still part of today’s traditions were built. In mediaval times, it was the time for harvesting medicinal herbs.

In Sweden, Maypoles are used as opposed to for Beltaine. This is due to climate. Flowers cannot be found in abundance naturally as early as Beltaine. The Divine Feminine and Masculine are united in the dance, that significance being forgotten due to Christianization, but superstitions are not lost. Single people put flowers under their pillows in hopes of dreaming about future mates. Winter leaves are also burned in fires, perhaps to drive away winter…or in more mundane terms, “danger of last frost”!

After Midsummer, of course, days will shorten again, and nights lengthen. So this is a celebration of the sun at it’s greatest strength, and magically, an attempt to focus that power into strength for an abundant harvest to come. The strength is focuses on the crops, livestock, and the people.

For your own celebrations, may I suggest a prayer and simple personal working to add in there somewhere?

I know I am not the only opinionated Pagan whose family members or loved ones disagree with.

Would you consider changing your role in those conversations? Would you consider being the one to first say. “Let’s agree to disagree!” and then change the subject. Would you consider being the one to reach out to a loved one who will not change, one who would allow the relationship to be compromised, and simply tell them they are more important to you than how you disagree on beliefs?

I realize not everybody will be receptive to you when you do this, but here is a prayer and working for the purpose if you would like to do so.

First, you have to be ready to do this. Really ready. Because I guarantee, your loved one will not change their views. I guarantee that you won’t either.

There will be millions of opportunities to get into an argument with them forever and ever.

They might even TRY to get you to.

But, it takes two to fight. So, you can be the one to decide that arguing or fighting stops.

Even if you aren’t specifically a witch, your will for peace is a powerful spell indeed!

Here goes.

Set up your altar or ritual space as usual for a working.

Get an image of your loved one or loved ones who you want to have more peaceful communications with.

Get a candle which will provide the only light for your working. Use more than one candle if it helps you to see better.

Get a mirror to look into.

Get a few pieces of paper and a writing implement.

Get a small cauldron or other fireproof container because you will be burning some paper.

Get a gift or offering for your loved one. This can be discarded after ritual or actually given to them sometime in the near future.

Get a small gift or offering for yourself, also. Make sure it is something you like and that you will enjoy.

If you are like me, and you cry easily, get tissues.

And last of all, get a hot or cold drink of choice.

I say get something to drink, because of something my mom always did. When I was a kid and I had cried, she would get me a tall, cold glass of tea or something else yummy. She said crying dehydrates you. I do not know if this is true, but the drink always made me feel better!

I am assuming you have already had discussions with your loved one and have been unable to settle differences of opinion. If I am wrong, please put this article aside, and go talk to your loved one asap. Magic is useless if you have not first done the mundane work communicating your feelings and trying to patch things up.

If you are ready to do the working, light the candle to start.

Cast circle and invoke your gods and or guides or not, however you prefer.

Then, write a letter to your loved one. In it, communicate your feelings. Communicate also that you feel your relationship is more important than arguing over who is right, and that you have decided to stop arguing. Say whatever you want to in the letter. It can be as long or as short as you like. While you are writing, put the energy from all these feelings you have, as well as your hopes for better communications into this paper.

Once you have finished this, set that next to the image of said loved one, and put the gift, which is an offering for your loved one there with it.

Next, get another piece of paper, and write a letter to yourself. In it, validate your own feelings of hurt, or upset over things your loved one has said or done. Also acknowledge your own role in continuing whatever issues you have had with one another. Pledge in this letter to work on better communications. Be prepared that you may be the one called to reach out to the loved one, especially if you are estranged from one another. Be prepared you may have to be the one to agree to disagree and put your own opinions aside in order to keep the peace. Put the energy from these feelings into your letter as you write it.

Place this letter next to the mirror and place your gift to yourself there.

On another piece of paper, write how badly communications have gone in the past, and the hurt feelings you both have experienced because of it. You can list the various arguments, or scenarios of misunderstandings if you want. Write as much as you need to, focus putting the energy and hurt feelings into this paper, all of it.

Go back to the letter to your loved one. Read it aloud directly to the image of your loved one. Then read your letter to yourself, while looking in the mirror. Next, place the image of your loved one beside the mirror, and read aloud the third letter to the representation of them, and the mirror to yourself. When you have finished, fold the third letter in half with the side of the paper that has the writing on it inside. Slide this into a blank piece of paper to conceal the writing if needs be. As you fold this paper over or conceal the writing into another piece of paper, will that those hurt feelings and strained communications are becoming a thing of the past and replacing them will be good communications and better times.

Put the letters in a stack any way you wish. Then still yourself for a moment and when you are ready to let go of the hurt, resentment, grudges, reluctance to make up, or whatever upset you might feel, burn those papers. Know in your heart that you are letting go and destroying those bad feelings and all that will be left is the love and desire for a good relationship from now on.

Once the papers are burned, bury the ashes, laying to rest the bad times, or release them to the wind, completely letting them go .

Extinguish your candle or candles, close circle and banish as usual, and either discard the offering to your loved one, or give it to them sometime in the future. Keep the offering you gave to yourself and enjoy it.

Congratulations. You decided to be a peacemaker. You decided your relationships are more important than being right or arguing over opinions or beliefs. You decided we all have different beliefs and we can love each other and have good times and happy lives together despite those differences. You have good priorities and your loved ones are truly blessed to have you.

I think Midsummer is a good time to do this for two reasons. One, in Summertime, we have a lot of gatherings. The weather is nice and often, we see more of each other then. You might “run into” them, and before you do, a working to ensure better relations is an excellent idea. Which leads us to number two. Rather than dreading seeing somebody, use the powerful energy at this turn of the wheel, which is strong for creating life. The Sun is at its strongest and generations of people have used the power of this time for blessings, strength, and growth.

Over the past eight months, I learned that materially, you can lose everything, but if you have loved ones, they will get you through your worst times. There will come a day when you are doing well, and they are not, and it will be your turn to help them.

When all else is lost, as long as we have one another, there is reason for hope, and where there is hope, there really is life.

May you and your loved ones have a long, happy life together.

Blessed Midsummer, and Blessed Be.

 

Also known as: May Day, Bealtaine, Beltane, Bhealtainn, Bealtinne, Festival of Tana (Strega), Giamonios, Rudemass, and Walburga (Teutonic), Cetsamhain (opposite Samhain),Fairy Day ,Sacred Thorn Day, Rood Day, Roodmas (the Christian term for Rood Day, Old Beltane, Beltain, Baltane, Walpurgis Night, Floriala (Roman feast of flowers from April 29 to May 1), Walpurgisnacht (Germanic-feast of St. Walpurga), Thrimilce (Anglo-saxon), Bloumaand (Old Dutch)

Date: May 1

Animals: Swallow, dove, swan, Cats, lynx, leopard

Deities: Flower Goddesses, Divine Couples, Deities of the Hunt, Aphrodite,

artemis, Bast, Diana, Faunus, Flora, Maia, Pan, the Horned God, Venus, and all Gods and Goddesses who preside over fertility.Tools: broom, May Pole, cauldronStones/Gems: emerald, malachite, amber, orange carnelian, sapphire, rose quartzColors: green, soft pink, blue, yellow, red, brown

Herbs and Flowers: almond tree/shrub, ash, broom, cinquefoil, clover, Dittany of Crete, elder, foxglove, frankincense, honeysuckle, rowan, sorrel, hawthorn, ivy, lily of the valley, marigold, meadowsweet, mint, mugwort, thyme, woodruff may be burned; angelica, bluebells, daisy, hawthorn, ivy, lilac, primrose, and rose may be decorations, st. john’s wort, yarrow, basically all flowers.

Incense: frankincense, lilac, rose.

Symbols and Decorations: maypole, strings of beads or flowers, ribbons, spring flowers, fires, fertility, growing things, ploughs, cauldrons of flowers, butterchurn, baskets, eggs

Food: dairy, bread, cereals, oatmeal cakes, cherries, strawberries, wine, green salads.

Activities and Rituals: fertilize, nurture and boost existing goals, games, activities of pleasure, leaping bonfires, making garlands, May Pole dance, planting seeds, walking one’s property, feasting

Wiccan mythology: sexual union and/or marriage of the Goddess and God

It’s association with fire also makes Beltaine a holiday of purification.

Wiccan weddings are frequently held on or around Beltaine

Trackback URI | Comments RSS

Leave a Reply