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beltane

Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times

May, 2019

May 2019 for Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times

Bright
Blessings

I
write this with a sore back from beginning the garden. I have planted
seeds for snow peas, radishes, milkweed, and sunflowers so far, and a
few packs of annuals as well. I nabbed more seeds, ordered three more
seed catalogs, and got a couple of hot pink pots!

Not
bad for the first week of gardening.

This
year, I am doing the unthinkable! I am killing a mint plant!

I’m
doing it so I can pull a shrub behind it and use the space for more,
well…PLANTS! The roots of the mint would take over the space the
second the shrub is pulled, so the mint goes first!

I
planted it, against proper advice in the ground, instead of in a pot,
way back in 2006! It’s a 13 year old plant, and it’s not happy
with me, as I pour pan full after pan full of boiling water on it. I
am determined to do this with no chemicals, and with my bad back,
digging is not an option.

I
also got a start on my fork plantings. You read that right. Forks. I
have a schnauzer mix, and a little cat who like to LAY right on top
of my plants, but they can’t if I have forks in the garden around
the plants, can they? Although the seeds have yet to sprout, I placed
48 brand new, shiny white plastic forks in the radish bed today. I’ll
gather more later this week and finish.

Then,
I have more soil to buy, more pots, and some soil to lay around a
shady area where I will put more seeds.

A
garden witch never stops gardening!

Beltane

In
years past, I have written about historical observances not only in
Ireland, but also Wales. I’ve written about doing group, and
solitary ritual.

What
I have not written about, however, is to do a smaller-scale group
ritual for it utilizing some traditional practices, but not all of
them.

Much
focus in groups is on the May Queen and King, and the Maypole Dance.

This
time, I’ll write the ritual I am going to use when my small group
of friends arrives.

Beltane
is a lot of things to a lot of different people. For me, it’s a
very big deal, and sometimes, the only Sabbat I actually prepare for.

Here is an article from past years outlining a more complex ritual we used, and some more historical information as well.

This year, instead of focusing on historic meaning, I will talk about the things Spring does to our bodies that makes us feel good

Feel
So Good

What
is it about warmer days, and growing things that make us feel so much
better, and that make us look forward to it anyhow? Why do we feel
more energy, get sick less often, get out and do more, and just
overall, feel happier in warmer days?

Science!

Before
I list all of this, I will note I know people who have Seasonal
Affective Disorder in the warm months. Their bodies do not handle the
heat or strong sun well, and they crave Winter. I validate their
struggles, and understand they have these issues. This is called
Reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder.

This article breaks it down nicely, and explains it well.

What
my friends who have Reverse SAD have told me is they cannot
physically endure heat, strong light, and humidity in the humid
regions. Some have issues with insects eating them alive, and others
just can’t sleep when it is warm or hot. Allergies from growing
plants can also absolutely destroy people.

For
the people who do not have issues with warmer days, and the things
that come along, several things happen that make us feel better!

  1. More birdsong- It somehow promotes well-being. Further reinforcing the interconnectedness of all life us Witches and Pagans have known all about all along. Hearing that when you first wake up is amazing.
  2. Longer days- Especially folk who struggle with vitamin D deficiency, these days are most welcome. Many of us get enough Vitamin D from food or supplements, but in warmer seasons, the sun gives us even more. Some have issues absorbing vitamins from food, and LIVE for days when they can soak up some sun. According to an awesome article, fair skinned folk can catch a few minutes of sun in the afternoon. People who are a darker tan, 15-20 minutes, and people who are dark need up to six times more sun exposure than fair skinned people. Here is the article I found that information in if you want to read more about the sun and its help with Vitamin D.
  3. We get out and about more- Even though we have paved streets and walks, going out when the weather is yucky is just something we don’t do as much of because it’s a pain in the butt. There are nice events to attend, including festivals, outdoor concerts, and parties. Sabbats are held outdoors more often in warmer months, and a lot of people enjoy life more when they are going more places, and participating in more things.
  4. Flowers and animals abound- Now, some of us love the look of nature no matter what the season, but you have to admit, unless pollen or allergies are killing you, getting out with flowers, trees, and seeing the animals out and about too creates a sense of well-being. The earth is teeming with life and activity, and as Pagans and Witches, we are sensitive to the life-forces of other beings, and it strengthens us. We are all connected.
  5. Cold triggers pain- If you have injuries, joint issues, arthritis, back problems, etc, cold flares up that pain oftentimes, and warmer weather is easier on your body. Some of you know this all too well, and I wish complete healing, and no more pain for you!
  6. Less illness- Being closed in to avoid cold keeps us in more close quarters with one another, and contagious viruses and bacteria enjoy jumping from person to person. As we are less cooped up when it starts getting warmer, we share less germs.

Basically,
for many of us, nature is easier on our bodies come Springtime than
it was in Winter, and thus we feel better, can do more things, and
enjoy ourselves more.

That’s
a big reason to celebrate!

Before
I share my simple Beltane rite, I would like to share an interview I
was fortunate enough to have with a distinguished Pagan, and review
of an amazing Pagan ran establishment.

International
Pagan Radio and Onyx

International
Pagan Radio

International
Pagan Radio, or IPR is something I’d heard about because one of my
elders, Lady Brigid, has her own show, called Ask A Witch, on the
Radio. I knew it was a great organization, but I don’t listen to
radio shows, because of my hearing loss.

Here is the online link to find IPR.

I did go and listen to it to review it, and the show I caught was our beloved Raven Grimassi and his loved one talking to listeners not too long before he crossed the veil. They were sharing their love and appreciation for all the support they have gotten from the community. It’s like they knew he was about to cross over.

If
that is not enough to make you want to go listen right now, I can
tell you they have good music as well. Today is April 9, 2019, and
the agenda for today is Druidcast, The Magick Jukebox, and The Rift
and others. The available song is Black Swan Blues by SJ Tucker.
Honestly, this is something that every Pagan ought to know about, and
listen to. They have not only educational broadcasts, and music, but
messages from Pagans to Pagans. All for us by us! The best part is
the sound was crisp and clear, and I had no trouble hearing almost
everything, which is very good for me. You must go check out IPR
right away, and tell everybody about it!

Onyx

The
way I did this interview, as I do all my interviews is online. I send
questions, and the people either e-mail, or text me back. It’s
worked out well, as I am hard of hearing, and they can send me
answers when they have time. Sometimes, we do a whole interview in an
hour or less, and sometimes, we send messages back and forth over a
course of days. I also get 100% accuracy, as I am not worried about
mishearing what they say! I can be lazy, and copy and paste as
opposed to typing it all out when it is time to submit the interview
to my editor also!

Some
people, most especially film makers, have flat out refused to do
e-mail or text interviewing, and I have found people who write are so
used to writing, that an online interview is right up their alley!
Onyx granted the online interview, and instead of answering one
question at a time, wrote a beautiful statement I am proud to share
with you here. It speaks for itself!

“I
was working as the station manager for another Pagan network that
operated on Blog Talk Radio in 2015. I was approached by a guy to
manage a streaming station as well. This streaming station was to be
launched under my supervision and management as International Pagan
Radio. I agreed to take the job if I could also bring along William
Brigley. William and I had met at another network, and we had been
working together for some time. We had also become very good friends.

The
agreement was that I would manage the station with total autonomy and
our benefactor would pay the bills. William and I set out to create a
website and build the station. The station originally operated with
only donated music. We would approach artists and ask them if they
would allow us to play their music without royalties. The benefactor
wanted us to keep the cost minimal.

About
six months after launch, our benefactor informed us that he could no
longer afford the station. William and I proposed that we take over
ownership to keep the station online. Our benefactor agreed to
release all rights to the station to us.

William
and I changed a few things about the station. We decided that it was
not fair to the artists to only play donated music. We created an
account with Sound Exchange for them to manage the distribution of
royalties. We pay them for this service, and they ensure that the
royalties are distributed properly.

I
am the station manager for IPR. My responsibilities include managing
the Sound Exchange account, the bank account, station schedule,
shows, and any advertisers we may encounter. I also manage the back
end of the website and domain. We do not actively seek advertisers
but do have a rate card available if asked.

William
is the media manager. His responsibilities include more of the
technical aspects, such as website design and implementation,
ensuring that all the songs have the correct metadata embedded so the
reporting system will pick them up properly (for royalty reporting to
Sound Exchange), contacting and maintaining relationships with
artists, image design, and training videos for hosts and artists.

William
and I are co-owners of the station and share the financial
responsibility for all expenses. We pay for the streaming service,
the domain, the website, and all royalties out of pocket. We have
entertained soliciting advertisers, but have not actively done so.

International
Pagan Radio reaches out to all parts of the world, and anyone with an
internet connection can listen to us. Most of the artists whose music
we play are from the United States. However, we have artists from the
United Kingdom, Italy, Germany, Australia, and Spain as well. In
addition to streaming music we also have several shows that can be
heard as well. Our shows are assigned a day of the week and are
streamed three times during that day to help ensure that fans in
differing time zones can catch the shows.

In
addition to our website, we also maintain a large Facebook presence.
We have both a public group and a page. In addition to our public
Facebook entities, we maintain private groups as well. We have one
group that is dedicated to the artists so they can interact with us
and each other. There is also a private group for the IPR team that
consists of the staff and the show hosts.

Neo-paganism
found me over three decades ago. I was raised primarily Southern
Baptist, but could never really internalize the teachings and
doctrine. When I encountered Neo-paganism it was like coming home
(yes, so cliché’).

In
the past, I have been among the High Priesthood of a few different
traditions. I have established and ran several temples and covens
over the years. I have trained, initiated and elevated many others
along the way as well. Have officiated handfastings, legal marriages,
funerals, memorials, birthing, and naming ceremonies, and coming of
age rituals.

Currently,
I consider myself more of an Omniest than a Pagan. As an “Omniest”
I feel that wisdom is not limited to one religious form. I find
wisdom in all forms of religious expression. I tell folks that I am
an Omniest that chooses to express his spirituality through Neo-pagan
traditions and ritual.

I
am the father to three (two daughters and a son) and the grandfather
to one (a baby boy). I have lived in the Winston Salem, North
Carolina, area for just over ten years. Most of my childhood was
spent in the upstate area of South Carolina. The first twelve years
of my adult life was spent serving in the United States Army. Since
leaving the Army, I have worn many hats. I owned a metaphysical shop
for a few years until it was destroyed by fire. I have worked in big
box retail management, and also in executive sales.

I
hold both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in psychology with a
specialization in conflict resolution. I am enrolled in a doctoral
course. However, I am currently taking a break from school work.
Hopefully, I will return to school shortly and complete the Doctor of
Psychology degree.

I
am not actively involved in the local Pagan community, so the station
is my ministry. I very much like the fact that we have listeners all
over the world and have heard from many of them. Many tell me that
this station is nearly their only contact with the Pagan community.”

Many thanks to Onyx for sharing his beautiful story with us, and for all his good work for IPR!

The
Working

As
promised, I am sharing the working I will use when my soul kin come
to gather with me for our Beltane. I will have a team effort to bless
food and drink, and ask the powers that be for some good magic,
healing, and goodness all around at this time of life, beginnings,
and great strength.

Here
is the working.

Have
two volunteers stand at either side of the entryway of where you have
your rite. For me, it will be my front door. You can do male and
female to keep with Wiccan practice, representing Mother Goddess and
Father God, but for me, it is going to depend on who is there and who
wants to volunteer.

These
two people will each hold something to bless with. It could be a
stick of incense for one person, and a candle held by the other.
Instead of having a Priest and Priestess bless these things, we will
all join hands and say a prayer, each of us, for the blessings we
wish for one another. Saying something as simple as “Blessed Be”
as people pass through the fires, or something more like a chant or
song you like can also be used, but as the people have blessed the
things, no words have to be said unless you want to.

After
this, people will form a line and pass between the two people with
their blessed things, emulating the scared practice of passing
between the blessed fires ancient British Pagans used to use.

Once
everybody has passed between the blessing fires, everybody will go to
two others, whoever has volunteered. This will be a blessing of
“cakes and ale”. Again, we will all take turns saying the prayer,
over them, blessing them. I am probably not going to have wine or
soda or sweets for this. Let’s face it, none of us is getting
younger. There are people coming with dietary restrictions,
allergies, and digestive issues. Plus, we don’t need to be drinking
after each other- germs, you know! As we are potlucking it, we will
take food to make a plate from the offerings, maybe even a variety,
so people can hand pick the food THEY choose to eat. Instead of a
communal cup for us all to drink from, individual tiny cups filled
with probably water, will be used. It really does not matter WHAT the
food and liquid is- it’s the blessings we will take into us.

Once
all is blessed, each person will approach who is giving the blessed
food, and the person doing this will say “May you never hunger,”
and each person in turn will take their blessed bite of food and eat
it. I’ve seen people use whole apples for ritual blessing, and I
don’t recommend it, as that takes forever. Also, cut the food up
into small pieces, so people can take just a tiny bite. They will
then go to the person who has the water, who will give them a water,
and say “May you never thirst.” Again, this should be a tiny bit
of water, enough for one sip. This is not the meal, but just a sip
and a nibble.

A
third blessing can also be given if so desired, by an individual or
individuals. Play it by ear, and see how your soul kin feel. This can
be perhaps the moving party of the rite, most especially when beloved
Priest and Priestess do the blessings. A simple way would be for
everybody to hug one another. You can also break off in twos and go
bless each other for a few minutes, walking away from the group, and
returning to a spot when everybody is finished.

After
each person has passed between the blessed fires, had their blessed
food and drink, and been further blessed if it is wished, the rite is
ended, and the feasting and fellowship begins.

This
rite can be customized as you see fit, as it is simple, and you can
tweak it any way that is meaningful for you. I have had to change how
I do ritual in the past few years. The biggest change is my condo
association has made it clear no fires are allowed on patios. There
went our blessed firepit! I also do rituals at the house as opposed
to at the campgrounds we used to use, so we moved into a smaller
space than before. We manage. Ritual can be meaningful even if you
have to make accommodations and substitute something like two candles
for two bonfires.

May
you and yours have a very Blessed Beltaine.

Blessed
Be!

***

About
the Author:

Saoirse is
a recovered Catholic.  I was called to the Old Ways at age 11,
but I thought I was just fascinated with folklore. At age 19, I was
called again, but I thought I was just a history buff, and could not
explain the soul yearnings I got when I saw images of the Standing
Stones in the Motherland. At age 29, I crossed over into New Age
studies, and finally Wicca a couple years later. My name is Saoirse,
pronounced like (Sare) and (Shah) Gaelic for freedom. The gods I
serve are Odin and Nerthus. I speak with Freyja , Norder, and Thunor
as well. The Bawon has been with me since I was a small child, and
Rangda has been with me since the days I was still Catholic. I
received my 0 and 1 Degree in an Eclectic Wiccan tradition, and my
Elder is Lord Shadow. We practice in Columbus, Ohio. I am currently
focusing more on my personal growth, and working towards a Second and
Third Degree with Shadow. I received a writing degree from Otterbein
University back in 2000. I have written arts columns for the s
Council in Westerville. I give private tarot readings and can be
reached through my Facebook page Tarot
with Saoirse
. You can, also, join me on my Youtube
Channel
.

Wreathing the Wheel

May, 2019

Beltane, the Maypole, Interweaving

For
May, I’d like to talk about Beltane and the processing of weaving.
If you’re familiar with the Celtic holiday of Beltane, then you
already know that this holiday is often celebrated with a decoration
that serves as ritual, dance, entertainment, and more: the Maypole.
While the exact symbolism of the Maypole is disputed, it is generally
considered to be a magical appeal for fertility, power, and
transformative forces coming together. In the Tarot, this process may
be symbolized by the Lovers in the Major Arcana, or the Four of Wands
in the Minor Arcana: different forces coming together in a
celebratory act to create something entirely new.

For
the monthly spread for May, I decided to use a simple Maypole theme
to help me consider and incorporate this theme into my month. It’s
very easy to accomplish a beautiful look with very little effort with
this kind of a theme — just pick out your favorite rainbow-colored
set of pens, and have fun making curls! But I also wanted to consider
the theme of the Maypole and extend it in a more contemplative and
spiritual way in my own life. This exercise may seem like an odd one
for a bullet journal — especially since bullet journals are usually
geared towards organization and lists — but I wanted to explore the
idea of interweaving themes of life with the interweaving ribbons of
the Maypole. If you’re looking to journal spiritually, you may
enjoy doing a similar type of exercise.

While I’m only working part-time, I have a lot going on these days: I do freelance art and design, I write articles for my own blog and PaganPagesOrg, I’m designing a Tarot deck and writing a book to go with it, I’m growing an extensive garden with various types of seeds, I’m making herbal medicine, I’m learning sewing, I’m studying chemistry, I’m cooking lighter, I have a new puppy I’m training… lately it seems that I’m doing a lot of things, but they’re all going in different directions! 

For
this theme, I decided to list out a bunch of the different things
that I’m trying to accomplish in shorthand: train the new puppy,
make sure he gets nails regularly trimmed, bathed; work on my Tarot
deck, book, drawing… etc. What your list contains will certainly be
unique to you, and there are lots of different ways to organize it,
but I decided to use color symbolically in this theme: health
concerns are blue, money matters are orange, my gardening goals are
green, and so on. Many different types of color associations could be
used in this way, and they are all sure to be beautiful! 

This
felt like an unusual exercise for me, because it felt like
anti-organization to take all the themes in my life and scatter them
to the wind in this way. But it also helped me see my own activities
in a new way, and I would encourage anyone who wants to see their
interweaving lives to give this a try. If nothing else, you might
gain a new appreciation for just how much you have on your
plate!

***

About
the Author:

Sarah
McMenomy
is
an artist and witch. Her craft incorporates herbalism, spellwork,
trance, divination, auras, and more. Her work can be found at
https://sarahmcmenomy.tumblr.com

Beltaine Correspondences

May, 2019

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, cauldron

Stones/Gems: emerald, malachite, amber, orange carnelian, sapphire, rose quartz

Colors: green, soft pink, blue, yellow, red, brown

Flowers & herbs: 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 & 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 & 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.

Beltane Correspondences

April, 2019

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, cauldron

Stones/Gems: emerald, malachite, amber, orange carnelian, sapphire, rose quartz

Colors: green, soft pink, blue, yellow, red, brown

Flowers & herbs: 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 & 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 & 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.

Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times

June, 2018

June 2018 for Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times

Bright Blessings.

I had a delightful conversation today with a neighbor.

This neighbor is one of my buddies. You can find us out front, giggling, gabbing, venting, chatting with other neighbors, and going gaga for the neighborhood dogs together.

We became unexpected teammates in gardening four years ago. I had ran out of gardening space on my back patio, and had planted everything I could in my front space, so I begged neighbors at my building to allow me to plant things in their spaces. He was the last one I asked, and he turned out to be the most enthusiastic.

My husband and I had planned to have our condo sold, and be gone from here by now, so last year, I told everybody I would not be doing more gardening. Well…we are still here…and although I decided to only garden on the patio, guess what? I ran out of space out back again! In the front, an unexpected, and unwanted invader showed up.

A TON of poison ivy!

I have been fighting a losing battle with it for years now, and I enlisted the help of the condo manager to help tame it.

One year, they sent somebody who “could not find it” until I made an appointment to have him come when I was home, so I could show him where it was.

Sigh.

Last year, there were small patches of it I controlled by pouring boiling water on it…or so I thought…

This year, it came back for revenge, and has spread into my mint and lavender. I planted both of these in 2006, and it appears I may have to give them up to kill the poison ivy.

I’m not entirely certain I’m ready to sacrifice my sixteen-year-old herbs, but I am less certain if I have a choice or not.

So, after my neighbor buddy lamented to me something that is bugging him, I lamented about the poison ivy.

He just so happens to have some poison ivy killer, and Sunday, we are going to murder it together.

The growing season is my favorite for a lot of reasons, but things like poison ivy make me cringe, and when I am bitching about the cold of winter, and missing my plants, I can at least be thankful I won’t have to worry about being covered in the awful itch and bumps of my least favorite plant.

Up until a few years ago, I LIVED for Summertime, and could not understand people who needed cold.

Now, poison ivy, asthma, and age induced heat intolerance has me understanding how so many have issues with my favorite season.

I am learning there is more to life than the good and the bad of Summer, although there was a time that is all I lived for.

While some of us see the seasons as being broken up into two, one being Winter beginning at Samhain, the other Summer beginning at Beltaine, these days, most people feel there are four seasons, and Mid-June brings us to the Summer Solstice.

What is the Solstice Anyways?

Most simply stated, the Summer Solstice is the longest day of the year, meaning it is the day when there is the most amount of sunlight. It is marked by revelry (of course!) bonfires to represent the sun, and ritual in many faith traditions. I had not realized this, but Summer Solstice is observed in over 30 countries, some of which are actually in the Middle East, and members of both Xtian and non Xtian faiths celebrate it in various ways. Of course, as with most Xtian celebrations, it originated in Pagan times.

One thing many of us have known for a very long time is a site where we find evidence of Pagan Midsummer celebrations is Stonehenge.

 

Stonehenge

Stonehenge has intrigued us since forever. Sitting on Salisbury Plain, it cuts a dramatic figure with it’s huge stones, and the fact many are missing lends an air of mystery, as well as stirs the imagination.

From tales of human sacrifice, to devil worship, today’s folk like to say all sorts of far fetched things about this stone circle.

The fact there are no written records left by the people who both built and used it add to the mystery, and there are too many “experts” throwing theories around they can never prove. Instead of sharing mounds of these theories, I will share what is known through evidence.

It was developed through four stages of construction. I find it interesting that when I was a kid, they were saying it was THREE stages, and now, they are saying it’s four. So CURRENTLY, it is accepted there were four stages of development.

The first stage took place around 3100 BC, and it included the famous Aubrey Holes, which some claim can be used to calculate lunar events, cremations, a ditch, and an earthwork and bank. It was then abandoned for about 1,000 years. Nobody knows why.

The second stage was around 2100 BC, and the very heavy bluestones were hauled from mountains 240 miles away, some of which weighed four tons. This was all supposedly done via waterways, and then dragging the stones by log rollers on land. An incomplete double circle was formed, and an avenue was constructed, which lines up with the Midsummer Sunrise. This is evidence that over 4,000 years ago, Midsummer was observed at Stonehenge.

The third stage around 2,000 BC, less than 200 years later, they hauled what are called the Sarasen stones from about 25 miles away. The heaviest of these is estimated to weigh about 50 tons. They made another ring of stones, laid the stones atop, which we call lintels, and formed a horseshoe ring of stones we can still see today.

The final stage took place around 1500 BC, and included rearranging he bluestones.

There has been generations of researchers, and no matter what the discover by this or that fond onsite, we can only piece together so much because no written record was left by the people who built it. We know when what was put where, and where it came from. We know it was all very sacred. We have no idea exactly what was done.

It is pointed out that both solar and lunar events can be marked by where moon and sun rises when, and the Aubrey Holes, as was previously mentioned supposedly work by moving a stone from hole to hole every day to keep track of lunar events. The sun and moon, marking seasons was significant to the builders, and due to the fact cremains and animals teeth have been found buried on site, it is believed the teeth were used as sacrifice to gods, and the site was a sacred burial grounds.

We are never going to have the whole story.

Fortunately, Pagans have our spiritual selves to let us know sites like Stonehenge are sacred. Today’s Pagans have been hosting Midsummer Sunrise celebrations for many years. Last years was well documented by video, which I will share here. This is a 40 plus minute video, and in it, you can see the Druids doing their ritual and talk.

 

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EzehiIHcwJs[/embedyt]

 

 

The Solstice

The Solstice worldwide is about celebrating life, gathering with people, enjoying a festival, and doing ritual purification.

In Denmark, they have bonfires to drive away bad spirits, and there was a time when people visited healing wells, which has fallen out of practice.

In Finland, of great importance is the midnight sun, or the 24 hour daylight they have at that time of year. They also have their bonfires, and erect summer Maypoles, and fertility is the focus, as opposed to at Beltaine time.

In Iran, ancient celebrations are observed. They light bonfires, of course, and thank their god for crops, and pray for peace for the souls of the dead.

Neo-Pagans, of course are just as varied as other peoples, and space allowing, there are bonfires, and rituals thanking and honoring the sun, and celebrating its strength, and power over darkness.

A modern story some Wiccans embrace tells of the Oak and Holly Kings. The Holly King rules over winter, and the Oak King rules over summer. At the Solstices, they battle. Summer Solstice, the Oak King, the youthful, physically powerful king overthrows the Holly King, who has become old and weak.

Many of the Pagans in town near me like to attend sunrise gatherings, some of which are by a local lake, and done non-religiously, and others like to walk a local labyrinth.

Some of us (me included) don’t want to wake up that early, and we don’t feel ashamed for that…

A bonfire come night time is something a lot of people, even if they are not Pagan love to have for cookouts and barbecues this time of year. It’s just a great time for everybody to gather, and celebrate being alive outdoors when the garden is growing well.

I’m not sure what your space allows, but this Summer Solstice working I will suggest is both simple, and versatile enough, anybody can do it.

 

Saoirse’s 2018 Summer Solstice Fire Working

Fire represents both destruction and purification. We all have things in our life we want to both get rid of, and to also have blessed. On the mundane level in my own life, my garden needs purged of the poison ivy, and my garden soil and all her plants aside from the green terror needs blessed to help it succeed. Some are in need of healing, emotional support, a new home or job, or even just inspiration. Rather than have a structured circle with many words said, I have a simple idea you might love.

Do this alone or with loved ones. Do it day or night, whichever is best for you. Have a big fire, or a small one. Do it indoors or outdoors. It’s all up to you.

Think of all the things you want blessings for, and all the things you would like to purge.

Either write it all down, on a one piece of paper per item, being as specific as possible, or select an easily burned item that represents all of these things.

Also select a sacrificial offering to the gods, whichever ones you venerate, or the powerful sun itself. This also should be burnable.

Instead of making a fire and then tossing it all in to burn everything, build your pile of burnable things, praying over these things, and either speaking them aloud or in your heart as you build the fire pile. If you have other people doing this with you, have each person take turns, and build your fire pile together. Last of all, give the sacrificial offering, and light the fire.

One concept of spellwork many embrace is letting the intention go once the working is complete, having faith the blessings of the gods will make it happen.

Spend time around the fire, and keep adding wood and other burnables for as long as you like. Feast, revel, and enjoy fellowship, or the peace of solitude.

Blessed Solstice. Blessed Be.

***

About the Author:

Saoirse is a recovered Catholic.  I was called to the Old Ways at age 11, but I thought I was just fascinated with folklore. At age 19, I was called again, but I thought I was just a history buff, and could not explain the soul yearnings I got when I saw images of the Standing Stones in the Motherland. At age 29, I crossed over into New Age studies, and finally Wicca a couple years later. My name is Saoirse, pronounced like (Sare) and (Shah) Gaelic for freedom. The gods I serve are Odin and Nerthus. I speak with Freyja , Norder, and Thunor as well. The Bawon has been with me since I was a small child, and Rangda has been with me since the days I was still Catholic. I received my 0 and 1 Degree in an Eclectic Wiccan tradition, and my Elder is Lord Shadow. We practice in Columbus, Ohio. I am currently focusing more on my personal growth, and working towards a Second and Third Degree with Shadow. I received a writing degree from Otterbein University back in 2000. I have written arts columns for the s Council in Westerville. I give private tarot readings and can be reached through my Facebook page Tarot with Saoirse. You can, also, join me on my Youtube Channel

Beltane Correspondences

May, 2018

Beltane

 

(Hexenringe limited edition fairy ring screen print on handmade paper, by artist April Llewellyn of April H L Etsy shop.)

 

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, cauldron

Stones/Gems: emerald, malachite, amber, orange carnelian, sapphire, rose quartz

Colors: 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.

Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times

May, 2018

May 2018 for Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times

Bright Blessings!

Here in Central Ohio, the Cailleach continues to rule, reminding Brigid she is still queen for now. Many of my non-Pagan friends are complaining up and down, saying winter needs to go. I say give the Cailleach her time, we will all be whining we are too hot soon enough!

Soon, Beltaine will be upon us. If you have read my past articles, you know I love to plan a gathering for Beltaine. It’s been a year, or has it been two, or has it been three???? Since I have hosted a Beltaine gathering?

I will be honest. Sabbats, for me, just are not that special when I’m alone for them.

It’s all about the fellowship, and doing ritual for me.

 

The folk- the Wicca, or Soul Kin

A simple internet search for “The need for religious kin” turned up nothing. I read a few articles about mankind’s need to have companionship, and be surrounded by like-minded individuals because we feel most understood and validated by them than the people less like us.

I did not find the references to share to support the point I want to make, so I’m just going to make it myself.

Many of us find we feel the presence of whoever we worship best in the presence of other worshipers. A Xtian I once knew referred to it as “sanctification within the community.” As we become the hands, voices, and deeds of our gods, we feel their physical presence through circling with others.

In magical traditions, group magic raises more energy than magic worked alone.

I got so used to doing everything with a group, when I stopped doing so, I felt completely alone. My health and mobility dictated I had to do so, and not only did I stop hosting, or going to other people’s rituals, but I also stopped working. Then I stopped driving. Then, I went some months without leaving the house many days.

If you want to find out which of the friends and friendly acquaintances feel you are important to their lives, drop off the map, and you will find most all of them forget all about you. They easily replace you with other people who are conveniently wherever they are, and you may as well have never met them.

So, for those of us who have fallen off the map from the Pagan community, a Sabbat, which used to be the highlight of our lives, is just another day.

 

Embracing Aloneness

From my Catholic days, I remember something Mother Theresa said :

In the silence of the heart God speaks. If you face God in prayer and silence, God will speak to you. Then you will know that you are nothing. It is only when you realize your nothingness, your emptiness, that God can fill you with Himself. Souls of prayer are souls of great silence.”

Now, I have already said I experience my gods through others. Examples of that are when somebody is acting as an oracle, and guidance from the goddess comes. Another example is when we are doing a fund raiser together for a good cause. This is the gods using us to help one another. Yet another example is when you need emotional support, and another human being embodies the compassion of the goddess.

Sometimes, we spend so much time working with others, that we have little to no time on our own. This was true for me for many years.

I heard the voices of my gods spoken without human tongues. They visited me in dreams, in waking, in nature, and in the gut instincts I got.

Whenever I asked for communication, they answered. It’s not like I had NEVER spoken with them on my own. It just became habit that I spoke with them in the presence of others.

I spent so many Sabbats and gatherings in the company of others, I began to hear only that particular method of communication from them.

However, I’ve been like this for a while now, and I have made some realizations. My gods have not fallen silent. I just had to listen differently, and I made some realizations about how solitude can bring communication with them.

 

In the Silence of the Heart

I have learned something I never could have before when I was always busy, always surrounded with people, always planning, organizing, working, and always moving.

How to truly be still. How to be truly silent. How to be truly alone.

And how to be comfortable with that.

Most within our circles take time to do the form of meditation where you sit, do nothing, try not to move at all, and try to make your mind blank.

That is not what I am talking about.

Can you be completely alone for many hours or days at a time, go no place, see nobody, and do very little besides the necessary?

Can you endure tedium? Being unnecessary to everybody? No contact from large amounts of people for long periods of days, weeks, or months?

Can you live for a time, basically being as a hermit? Away from the hustle and bustle of life, the influence of society, and the expectations of others?

I am not saying I think everybody should just hole up and do so forever.

Let’s explore first, what a hermit is…

 

The Hermit

We have all seen the Hermit Card in Tarot decks. He turns up quite a lot for us. He represents going into ourselves, to search our souls, or retreating into solitude for a time. Depending on who you speak to, reversed can represent isolation and loneliness, or it can represent coming out of solitude.

Historically, some of the most famous hermits have been very religious. Christians still cloister some of their orders of nuns and priests, away from society. It is believed this withdrawal from society cultivates a closer relationship with the divine by some.

In the middle ages, it was not uncommon for hermits to build huts into the side of the church, and be ceremoniously bricked up permanently. They relied on the charity of people going to church to bring them food and necessities, and they enjoyed a window into the church where they could hear liturgy. These people were called anchorites, and people visited them for advice, as they were believed to have dedicated their lives to communing with their god and the angels full-time, and were considered very wise.

One of the magickal workings to discover one’s True Self, and the Holy Guardian Angel in Thelema entails months of a hermit like existence, and devotion to prayer and magical operations. The solitude allows for removal from distractions and interference of others.

In the quest for enlightenment, the Buddha became an aesthetic, withdrawing to be a hermit for a time.

Monasteries in many different religions have a structured life of prayer, ascribed exercise, a specific diet, a uniform, or habit, and life away from he mainstream society in general. Devotees may be called to take vows of silence, or chastity as well. I refer to this as cloistering, and cloistered life away from society supposedly gets you more in touch with who you are, and what is important.

It’s not for everybody.

My life has been semi cloistered for over three years now, and there are times I wonder how I lived a lifestyle of constant noise and crowds. I have learned a different side of reality.

  1. I realized I did too much- Society pushes us so hard, demanding we do MORE, buy MORE, ARE MORE. We are never enough, and we constantly have to prove we are worthy of simply existing. I found out that is wrong. Our worth as living creatures can certainly be diminished if we are terrible people who do terrible things, but our worth is not proven by our worldly accomplishments, and I discovered that because I just could not accomplish the volume of things I once did anymore. By nature, humanity is quite competitive, but that can become toxic and unconstructive. Sometimes, we struggle to do SO much, the quality of our work suffers. Quality trumps quantity, I found.
  2. What I do does not create who I am- I was told this by a very talented psychic long ago. The things we do change every so often, and often, we suffer identity crisis as the tasks and jobs we complete transition. We are not our jobs or our accomplishments. We are people, not actions, or things.
  3. In stillness comes peace- I had initially misinterpreted it as boredom. The silence was deafening. Now, TOO much noise overwhelms me, be it sound noise, or visual noise.
  4. I leaned to slow down- Not only do I no longer focus on quantity over quality, but I realize speed does not make things any better. Oh, there are going to be times tight deadlines loom, but times when they don’t, slow down, and enjoy the process.
  5. In the quest to do more, faster, we forget one another- We leave behind our loved ones, and neglect the time we should be spending with them. I cannot tell you how many people I have spoken with who get to middle age and beyond, and state they regret NOT spending more time with loved ones than they have. If the focus is on DOING things, instead of moments with loved ones? That is all our life becomes.
  6. I have time for things I said I wanted to do for years- Since leaving the house and working was not on the front burner anymore, I found time to pick up art again. I stepped away from it when I graduated college, and both painting and writing was literally abandoned, as I focused my time on career. I did study music for some years, but I never excelled in music. The written word, and art were my first loves, and I do both again now.
  7. I learned things about myself- I used to be high energy, high accomplishment rate, and never sat still. That did not provide the opportunity for me to pay attention to myself. I discovered I work best with no noise, visual, or otherwise. Before, I was in jobs where I had zero privacy to work, and my productivity drops in that setting. I think most people’s does. I discovered I don’t give myself credit, and people had been urging me to do so for years. I discovered I prefer a small, intimate friend group, rather than moving from group to group. I also discovered I’m not materialistic, which surprised me as much as I love “things.”
  8. I do not miss the loud, busyness- At all.
  9. A lot of people envy me- I have had so many say they wish they “did not have to” leave the house. On one hand, I point out it can be horribly isolating sometimes, and I tell them to be careful what they wish for. I am a very productive, self-starter, and a lot of people NEED a schedule to leave the house, or they just sit and rot. I always find things to stay busy, and a lot of people cannot endure boredom, solitude, or lack of excitement. A lot of people who envy me could not endure this.
  10. I am online more- Lots more. I do communicate with people all day long through social media and texting. I read and research more as well.

I am not saying everybody should cloister, or semi cloister. I am saying, the Catholics, Hindus, Buddhists and others are onto something in their assertion solitude can bring you closer to the divine, because it changes the way you think about yourself, the world, and life in general.

Personally, my concentration is better. I focus on the important things now. I read and study more. I have slowed down, which makes it easier for me to notice things. I pay attention to people and experiences more now as opposed to things, and tasks. I do not compare myself to others as much, being as competitive as I used to be.

All of these things create more connection with the self, and it is within us our connection with the divine lives.

Solitude can be used as torture. Prisoners in solitary confinement don’t benefit from it. The sick who are shut-ins or whose impairments keep them from communicating certainly don’t benefit either.

It seems religious hermits live as such only temporarily, or in such a way they are still able to connect with others. Monks have a community away from society, but they do so in groups, and they have each other. The public comes to them for religious guidance as well. I have already mentioned the medieval Xtian hermits whose huts were bricked into the church, and they saw and visited with people often. They just never left. The Buddha was a hermit for a time, but not for very long.

Human beings need one another, for certain, but sometimes, we need time alone, to retreat into ourselves to find the aspect of the divine we cannot experience with other people. This alone time has to be balanced with time with other people, or else it is not good for us.

Each person has their own level of time they need alone, and with others. Too much, and it’s bad, not enough, and it’s just as bad.

For Beltaine Working, I’d like to recommend how to find ways to have more alone time for scared workings.

I know it can be difficult. My friends who are parents and or have careers can attest to this. There have been times in my own life when I worked, sometimes two jobs, that the only time I had to myself was when I fell asleep, or was getting ready to leave for the day, or just getting in! I probably sound like somebody who has no place dictating to busy people how to carve out quiet, alone time!

I don’t assume everybody can find that alone time daily. As I said, I’ve been there! So what I am going to do is offer suggestions for sneaking in a few minutes here and there. This can be time to do ritual, devotions, or just sit quietly for a few minutes on a break from work or classes. It does not have to be large blocks of time set aside, but I will share some ways you can include quiet, alone time in even the busiest schedule for a LITTLE bit of that peace if that is all you can get

 

Saoirse’s Suggestions for Quiet Sacred Time

  1. When everybody else is asleep- Some of my friends who have kids swear this is the only time they get to themselves. That time is often filled with chores, paying bills, and or showering. It also, sometimes eats into their sleep time. Any spare second of time you get when it is crazy busy that NOBODY else is in the room with you can be gold! If all you get a chance to do is light a small candle or stick of incense, so be it, but it is your time.
  2. Short Mantras- Everybody loves time to relax, unwind, and sit in silence to meditate, but not everybody has the time. Even if you have time, there are days when everything is just so crazy and hectic, you simply cannot focus enough to truly meditate. Some people can do so no matter what! But for those who lack the time or ability to focus, short mantras, or sayings that are meaningful can help. One for me is the reminder “I create all that I am , and all that I will be.” Each of us needs little reminders for support all the time, and when we cannot read or meditate to reset our minds, personal sayings can supply some relief.
  3. A Weekly Hour- Is there a day of the week you can get a solid hour with very little deviation? Say you do two classes per week and have an hour and a half between them all. Can you head to a quiet spot during that break, and have your “Quiet Hour”? I have even known some people to utilize the time they commute to and from work as their quiet time with books on tape of sacred readings, or even spiritual music. Go to your car for lunch if the breakroom is busy and noisy. It might not last an hour, but a few quiet moments count.
  4. Lighting the Candles before bed- This is one thing my mother did. We had a low table in the hallway, and on it, she put a white tablecloth, and a single red taper candle. We would kneel before it to say our prayers together at night right before bed. I was small, and she was a single working mom, so I can’t imagine this nightly ritual lasted for more than a few minutes. We prayed, she blew out the candle, and we headed to bed!
  5. Go outside, touch the earth- This is a big one for me. I have always felt best with outdoor time as often as possible. Now that I have a dog, of course, that is multiple times per day! Most especially for those who follow an earth-based path, time touching the earth, or just breathing in the sweet perfumes of her air are crucial to us. Some suggest walking barefoot on the earth spiritually grounds one. I have never found that true for myself, as my feet hurt, but some people swear by it.
  6. Have a pouch, pile, stash, or stack of whatever helps- I used to keep a small bowl of crystals by my desk at a very stressful job. I would hold the crystals to help calm myself. Carry these things in your car, in your bag, wallet, or even on your person as jewelry. I have known some people to have things tattooed onto themselves that serve this purpose.
  7. FOOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!- Foods and drinks nourish the body, which has been called the temple of the spirit. If you are not properly hydrated or your nutrients are off, you are going to feel awful. Good tasting things, also, help make you feel happy. Joy is not THE goal for spirituality, but it can help keep you going.
  8. Maintain Self-Care- Do things for yourself. I am not talking about a bite of chocolate or a bubble bath. Do that anyhow. I am talking about respecting your body’s limitations, and not jeopardizing your health. Maybe that means shutting the TV off early and hitting the sack, or being absent from a social gathering because you are just spent. Things like this can give much provided time without stimulation the body and mind needs so we don’t get overwhelmed or exhausted.
  9. Learn to say no- This is very difficult for some of us. Ate your kids screaming to hit ONE more store, and you feel guilty, but your sugars are low, and you have to go in to work early? Tell them no, and they better stop that screaming, too! Does your circle want more of your time than you can offer, and they just can’t find anybody else but you who qualifies to write a newsletter? Well, if nobody can write except you, then they sure can’t read either, can they? So, they sure don’t NEED that newsletter. Cutting down on unnecessary activities people guilt us into provides opportunity for more you time, and thus more time for your personal spirituality.
  10. Turn it off- I discovered in a strange way, that electrical currents do not always promote rest and calm. I slept in a cave with no electric on one night, and I have got to say, it was the most peaceful night of sleep I have ever gotten. It is the only time in my life when complete darkness and silence surrounded me. I was there with three other people, and one of the men was so overwhelmed, he had to leave. It was such a foreign feeling, and not for everybody. Not everybody can have that opportunity, but you can emulate this is small ways. Turn off the radio, and open the window to listen to the birds sing. Put down your cell phone, and watch the sunset.

 

Of course, each of us has our own personal ways of adding some quiet, alone time to our days that goes beyond anything I can suggest.

I wish you a Blessed Beltaine, Blessed “Me Time”, and Blessed Be!

***

About the Author:

Saoirse is a recovered Catholic.  I was called to the Old Ways at age 11, but I thought I was just fascinated with folklore. At age 19, I was called again, but I thought I was just a history buff, and could not explain the soul yearnings I got when I saw images of the Standing Stones in the Motherland. At age 29, I crossed over into New Age studies, and finally Wicca a couple years later. My name is Saoirse, pronounced like (Sare) and (Shah) Gaelic for freedom. The gods I serve are Odin and Nerthus. I speak with Freyja , Norder, and Thunor as well. The Bawon has been with me since I was a small child, and Rangda has been with me since the days I was still Catholic. I received my 0 and 1 Degree in an Eclectic Wiccan tradition, and my Elder is Lord Shadow. We practice in Columbus, Ohio. I am currently focusing more on my personal growth, and working towards a Second and Third Degree with Shadow. I received a writing degree from Otterbein University back in 2000. I have written arts columns for the s Council in Westerville. I give private tarot readings and can be reached through my Facebook page Tarot with Saoirse. You can, also, join me on my Youtube Channel

 

The Bad Witch’s Guide

May, 2018

 

 

The Bad Witch’s Guide to Beltane

 

I love Beltane. The flowers are just blooming. The green is just covering the hedgerows. It also happens to be my wedding anniversary!

There are huge celebrations all over the place, though not nearby it’s just that this year I am craving something quieter. Something a bit more romantic and I can’t quite put my finger on it. One of the best things we ever did was to do the Hastings East hill drumming and dancing in the dawn. On a hill in the ruins of a castle overlooking the sea we watched the light, a sliver of silver light creep, and turn red, then gold.

I’ve never done anything like that before or since. We were all done and dusted by 5.30 a.m. It was magickal. There were Morris dancers dressed in white. Pagan folks in regalia. Folks walking their dogs and people to watching the people.

After some food and a really good nap it was time for the huge parade. More Morris dancers and figures dressed as green men and women and Horned Gods drummed and danced through the streets. Dabbing people with green sponges. It really felt timeless. It felt like the whole town was magickally awake. The whole county!

A lot of pagans I know do camps from about this time of year. Where I had been busy, camping is not an option for me right now. Yet the pull of the wild still draws me. There is something utterly pagan about my island this time of year. Just under the skin of it.

Formal Beltane rituals can seem a bit hetro-centric but at its core Beltane is about the warmth of attraction. About reception and giving of energy. It is, at its core a ritual about balancing energy and understanding; within and in the world around us. It is the internal anima and animus finding momentum to create. It is about harnessing rather than repressing our wildness and turning it into something alive, be it art or science or poetry or an offspring. It is about the power of being alive and being grateful. Grateful for another year, another sunrise, a new day. It is a celebration of life.

It is not about what is in your pants, or whom you want to have sex with (if you want to have sex). That is a very limited view of self, sex, gender and identity. It is about the ritual. The receiving of energy, the channelling of energy, the using of energy to create something new. Ritual is a dream language, a psychological and social tool for healing and re-balancing a group and the self. When we exclude ourselves from the group or ritual we lose out on much of its power and deeper understandings.

As with all things this is a celebration of life has a touch of death with it too. Within Beltane’s warmth is the chill tingle of Samhain’s death. Acknowledging life means accepting death too. This roots you into and puts you out of time. You can see and feel the echo of your actions. Of course the bonfire was made of bone as well as wood. The death in the life as well as the life in the death.

For the May-pole and ribbons are only half of Beltane. The other part is about cleansing, warding off disease and illness through the power of death and fire. Cattle were driven through the ashes of bonfires, or between two large fires to do just that. People would dance around the fires and even jump over them. It was about dousing the hearth fires and re-lighting them from a group, a community fire. It was about re-igniting the heart within the home and community. Within the home. Within the self. It is to be in the dark, to be outside the usual bounds of social norms and to return changed for the better.

I recommend, if you are lucky and privileged enough to have folks nearby, to have get some folks together dance naked around a bonfire with at dawn. If that is not your bag, go and find a high spot. Climb a hill or go to a bridge or ancient ruined castle in the dark. Stand and wait in the darkness facing the east. Drum if you can. Or just be in the silence. Light a candle, or a fire if you can too. Watch the sunrise. Dance if you can. Or just stretch. Be at the mercy of the weather. No-one is outside the circle of life and death. After all it is the impulses and desire and joys that make us fully human.

 

Beltane Correspondences

April, 2018

Beltane

 

(Hexenringe limited edition fairy ring screen print on handmade paper, by artist April Llewellyn of April H L Etsy shop.)

 

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, cauldron

Stones/Gems: emerald, malachite, amber, orange carnelian, sapphire, rose quartz

Colors: 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.

Beltaine Correspondences

May, 2017

beltane

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, cauldron
Stones/Gems: emerald, malachite, amber, orange carnelian, sapphire, rose quartz
Colors: 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.

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