May 2019 for Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times
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!
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?
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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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!
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!
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.
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.