Daily Archives: May 1, 2012

The Green Man, Spirit of the Forest

The Green Man, Spirit of the Forest

The Green Man embodies the spirit of the fertile forest.

For our ancient ancestors, many spirits and deities were associated with nature, wildlife, and plant growth. After all, if you had just spent the winter starving and freezing, when spring arrived it was certainly time to give thanks to whatever spirits watched over your tribe. The spring season, particularly around Beltane, is typically tied to a number of pre-Christian nature spirits. Many of these are similar in origin and characteristics, but tend to vary based on region and language. In English folklore, few characters stand out — or are as recognizable — as the Green Man.

Strongly connected to Jack in the Green and the May King, as well as John Barleycorn during the fall harvest, the figure known as the Green Man is a god of vegetation and plant life. He symbolizes the life that is found in the natural plant world, and in the earth itself. Consider, for a moment, the forest. In the British Isles, the forests a thousand years ago were vast, spreading for miles and miles, farther than the eye could see. Because of the sheer size, the forest could be a dark and scary place.

However, it was also a place you had to enter, whether you wanted to or not, because it provided meat for hunting, plants for eating, and wood for burning and building. In the winter, the forest must have seemed quite dead and desolate… but in the spring, it returned to life. It would be logical for early peoples to have applied some sort of spiritual aspect to the cycle of life, death and rebirth.

Folklorist James Frazer associates the Green Man with May Day celebrations, and with the character of Jack in the Green, who is a more modern adaptation of the Green Man. Jack is a more specifically defined version of the nature spirit than the earlier Green Man archetype. Frazer speculates that while some form of the Green Man was probably present in a variety of separate early cultures, he developed independently into a variety of newer, more modern characters. This would explain why in some areas he is Jack, while in others he is Robin of the Hood, or Herne the Hunter in different parts of England. Likewise, other, non-British cultures seem to have similar nature deities.

The Green Man is typically portrayed as a human face surrounded by dense foliage. Such images appear as far back as the eleventh century, in church carvings. As Christianity spread, the Green Man went into hiding, with stonemasons leaving secret images of his face around cathedrals and churches. He enjoyed a revival during the Victorian era, when he became popular with architects, who used his visage as a decorative aspect in buildings.

Legends connected to the archetype of the Green Man are everywhere. In the Arthurian legend, the tale of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is a prime example. The Green Knight represents the pre-Christian nature religion of the British Isles. Although he originally confronts Gawain as an enemy, the two later are able to work together – perhaps a metaphor for the assimilation of British Paganism with the new Christian theology. Many scholars also suggest that the tales of Robin Hood evolved from Green Man mythology. Allusions to the Green Man can even be found in J.M. Barrie’s classic Peter Pan – an eternally youthful boy, dressed in green and living in the forest with the wild animals. Today, some traditions of Wicca interpret the Green Man as an aspect of the Horned God, Cernunnos.

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How To Hold a Beltane Bonfire Rite (Group Ceremony)

How To Hold a Beltane Bonfire Rite (Group Ceremony)

The tradition of the Beltane bonfire goes back hundreds of years ago, and is still celebrated today in many places.

The Beltane bonfire is a tradition that goes back hundreds of years. The fire was more than a big pile of logs and some flame. It was a place where the entire community gathered around — a place of music and magic and dancing and lovemaking. It was customary to light the fire on May Eve (the last night of April) and allow it to burn until the sun went down on May 1. The bonfire was lit with a bundle made from nine different types of wood and wrapped with colorful ribbons. Once the fire was blazing, a piece of smoldering wood was taken to each home in the village, to ensure fertility throughout the summer months.

Difficulty: Average
Time Required: Varied

Here’s How:

  1. This was typically the time of year when fairs and markets were held, and as most country villages had a common or a green of some sort, there was always room for merriment. Depending on where you live, you might not have enough space for a big bonfire or dancing — and that’s okay. Just make do with what you have. An alternative to a large bonfire might be a small fire bowl (they’re usually available at discount stores and home improvement chains) or even a tabletop brazier. If you’re in an apartment and space is at a premium, consider building your fire in a small cauldron or other heat resistant bowl.
  2. Beltane is the spring counterpart to Samhain. While in the autumn, everything is dying, in spring it comes alive, glorious and bursting free from the earth. Beltane is about fertility and sex and passion and life. This ceremony is designed for a group, and includes a symbolic union of the May Queen and the King of the Forest. Depending on the relationship between the people playing these roles, you can get as lusty as you like. If you’re doing a family-oriented Beltane celebration, you may choose instead to keep things fairly tame.
  3. For this ritual you’ll need the following:
    • A bonfire — set it up ahead of time, and designate someone to be in charge of lighting and tending it
    • A May Queen — if possible, select a woman to play this part who is still within her childbearing years
    • A King of the Forest — any adult man can play this role, but it’s even better if he’s someone who is actually partnered with the woman playing the May Queen
    • Drums and other noisemakers
    • Optional: a crown of flowers for each of the females present
    • Optional: a headdress of antlers for each of the males present

     

  4. First, have the group circle around the fire, with the May Queen and the King of the Forest on opposite sides. The High Priest (HP) or High Priestess (HPs) should welcome everyone with something like this:Beltane is here! It is a time when the earth is fertile and full.
    Long ago, our ancestors planted their fields at Beltane.
    The fields that lay fallow for months are now warm and waiting.
    The soil that was dormant for the winter now begs us to plant our seeds.
    The earth is awakening and ripe, and this is a season of love and passion.
    It is a season of fire.
     
  5. At this point, the fire starter should begin lighting the bonfire. The HP or HPS continues:As our fires grow, lighting up the night sky, the fire within us grows stronger.
    It is the fire of lust and passion, knowing that like the earth, we too are fertile.
    Tonight, the God emerges from the forest. He is known by many names –
    he is Pan, Herne, Cernunnos, the Green Man. He is the God of the Forest.
    Tonight is the night he will chase and capture the maiden.
    She is the Queen of the May, Aphrodite, Venus, Cerridwen.
    She is the Goddess of fields and flowers, she is Mother Earth herself.
     
  6. As the HP introduces the God of the Forest and the May Queen, they should each step forward into the circle. The HP says: Bring fertility to the land! Let the hunt begin! 
  7. At this point, the May Queen and the God of the Forest begin the chase, traveling sunwise around the circle, weaving in and out of the other participants. Remember, the May Queen wants to make love to the God of the Forest. This is a fun chase, a joyful courtship, not a mock rape; make sure both parties understand this and prepare accordingly. She can even allow him to get close to her, pretending she’s ready to join him… and then slipping away at the last second. They should travel the circle three times in the chase, and finally stop at a point in front of the bonfire — hopefully, it will be burning well by now.
  8. While the God of the Forest is pursuing his lady love, everyone else in the circle starts drumming. Start of slowly — after all, a courtship can take some time to get started. As the couple begins to speed up, increase the tempo of the music. If you’d like to chant instead of or in addition to drumming, go ahead. There are many popular traditional chants in Wicca and Paganism, and nearly all sound good when you sing them with a group. When the May Queen and the God of the Forest finally complete their three-times journey of the circle, the drums should stop abruptly.
  9. The HP says:Fire and passion, love and life, brought together as one. 

    At this point, the May Queen says to the God of the Forest:

    I am the earth, the womb of all creation.
    Within me, new life grows each year.
    Water is my blood, air my breath, and fire is my spirit.
    I give you honor, and shall create new life with you.
     

    The God of the Forest replies to her, saying:

    I am the rutting stag, the seed, the energy of life.
    I am the mighty oak that grows in the forest.
    I give you honor, and shall create new life with you.
     

  10. The couple kisses, long and passionate. If they’re feeling really lusty, they can fall to the ground and roll around for a while — feel free to cover them with a blanket if you like. This kiss (or more) is the symbolic union of the male and female spirit, the great rite between man and woman. Once the embrace is broken, the HP calls out:The earth is once more growing new life within! We shall be blessed with abundance this year! 
  11. Everyone else in the circle claps and cheers — after all, you’ve just guaranteed that your village will have hearty crops and strong livestock this year! Celebrate by dancing around the bonfire, drumming and singing. When you are ready, end the ritual.

Tips:

  1. * Note: if you have a woman in your group who is trying to conceive, she is absolutely the best choice for the role of May Queen. Her partner or lover may act the part of the God of the Forest, or another man may stand in as a symbolic consort.

What You Need

  • A bonfire
  • A couple willing to play the parts of May Queen and God of the Forest
  • Drums and noisemakers
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How To Celebrate Beltane with a Maypole Dance

How To Celebrate Beltane with a Maypole Dance

 

The Maypole is one of the traditional symbols of Beltane, and let’s not kid ourselves about its purpose: it’s a giant phallus.

Because Beltane festivities usually kicked off the night before with a big bonfire, the Maypole celebration usually took place shortly after sunrise the next morning. This was when couples (and probably more than a few surprised triads) came staggering in from the fields, clothes in disarray and straw in their hair after a night of bonfire-inspired lustiness.

Difficulty: Average
Time Required: Varied

Here’s How:

  1. The pole was erected on the village green or common, or even a handy field — thrust into the ground either permanently or on a temporary basis — and brightly colored ribbons attached to it. Young people came and danced around the pole, each holding the end of a ribbon. As they wove in and out, men going one way and women the other, it created a sleeve of sorts — the enveloping womb of the earth — around the pole. By the time they were done, the Maypole was nearly invisible beneath a sheath of ribbons.
  2. To set up your own Maypole dance, here’s what you’ll need:
    • A pole anywhere from 15 to 20 feet long, preferably made of wood
    • Guests who like to have fun

    Dig a hole in advance, a few feet deep. You don’t want your friends to wait while you hunt for a shovel. The hole should be at least three feet deep, to keep the pole from flopping over during the ceremony.

  3. Ask each participant to bring their own ribbon — it should be about 20 feet long, by two to three inches wide. Once everyone arrives, attach the ribbons to one end of the pole (if you put a metal eyelet screw in the pole beforehand, it makes it a lot easier — you can just tie each ribbon to the eyelet). Have extra ribbons on hand, because inevitably someone will have forgotten theirs.
  4. Once the ribbons are attached, raise the pole until it is vertical, and slide it into the hole. Be sure to make lots of bawdy jokes here. Pack dirt in around the base of the pole so it won’t shift or fall during the dance.
  5. If you don’t have an equal number of male and female guests, don’t worry. Just have everyone count off by twos. People who are “1” will go in a clockwise direction, people who are “2” go counterclockwise. Hold your ribbons in the hand that is closest to the pole, your inside hand. As you move in the circle, pass people by on first the left, and then the right, then the left again. If you’re passing them on the outside, hold your ribbon up so they pass under it. You might want to do a practice round beforehand. Keep going until everyone runs out of ribbon, and then knot all the ribbons at the bottom.
  6. One thing that’s always welcome at a Maypole Dance is music. There are a number of CDs available, but there are some bands whose music have a May theme to them. Look for the phrase “Morris music” or traditional pipe and drum tunes. Of course, the best thing of all is to have live music, so if you have friends who are willing to share their skill and sit out the dance, ask them to provide some musical entertainment for you.

Tips:

  1. If you’re doing a kids’ Maypole, it’s probably easier just to have them all go in one direction with their ribbons. It doesn’t look quite as fancy when it’s done, but it’s still pretty.
  2. You may want to have a crown of flowers attached as well — put that at the top once all the ribbons are in place, but before you raise the pole.

What You Need

  • A pole
  • Lots of ribbon
  • Friends who like to have a good time
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Beltane Prayers

 

Am Beannachadh Bealltain (The Beltane Blessing)

 

In the Carmina Gadelica, folklorist Alexander Carmichael shared with readers hundreds of poems and prayers that he had collected from residents in various areas of Scotland. There is a lovely prayer in the Gaelic entitled simply Am Beannachadh Bealltain (The Beltane Blessing), which pays tribute to the Holy Trinity of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. This is a much shorter version, and has been adapted for a Pagan-friendly format.

Bless, O threefold true and bountiful,
Myself, my spouse, my children.
Bless everything within my dwelling and in my possession,
Bless the kine and crops, the flocks and corn,
From Samhain Eve to Beltane Eve,
With goodly progress and gentle blessing,
From sea to sea, and every river mouth,
From wave to wave, and base of waterfall.

Be the Maiden, Mother, and Crone,
Taking possession of all to me belonging.
Be the Horned God, the Wild Spirit of the Forest,
Protecting me in truth and honor.
Satisfy my soul and shield my loved ones,
Blessing every thing and every one,
All my land and my surroundings.
Great gods who create and bring life to all, I ask for your blessings on this day of fire.

 

 

A Prayer to Cernunnos:

God of the green,
Lord of the forest,
I offer you my sacrifice.
I ask you for your blessing.

You are the man in the trees,
the green man of the woods,
who brings life to the dawning spring.
You are the deer in rut,
mighty Horned One,
who roams the autumn woods,
the hunter circling round the oak,
the antlers of the wild stag,
and the lifeblood that spills upon
the ground each season.

God of the green,
Lord of the forest,
I offer you my sacrifice.
I ask you for your blessing.

A Thanks to the Earth Mother

Great earth mother!
We give you praise today
and ask for your blessing upon us.
As seeds spring forth
and grass grows green
and winds blow gently
and the rivers flow
and the sun shines down
upon our land,
we offer thanks to you for your blessings
and your gifts of life each spring.

 

Honoring the May Queen

Make an offering of a floral crown, or a libation of honey and milk, to the Queen of the May during your Beltane prayers.

The leaves are budding across the land
on the ash and oak and hawthorn trees.
Magic rises around us in the forest
and the hedges are filled with laughter and love.
Dear lady, we offer you a gift,
a gathering of flowers picked by our hands,
woven into the circle of endless life.
The bright colors of nature herself
blend together to honor you,
Queen of spring,
as we give you honor this day.
Spring is here and the land is fertile,
ready to offer up gifts in your name.
we pay you tribute, our lady,
daughter of the Fae,
and ask your blessing this Beltane.

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Precious Pup of the Day for May 1

Name: Kahlua
Age: Five years old
Gender: Female Breed: Bichon Frisé, Poodle mix
Home: San Jose, California, USA
This is Kahlua, our loving family member! She is a five-year-old Bichon Poo. Kahlua loves to go on walks in the park, shopping trips, and visits to her Grandma and Grandpa’s house. Kahlua’s Grandma loves to hide in the house just to hear Kahlua’s little feet run through the entire house to find her, and when she finds her, Kahula will take her to where her treats are located and jump high for a treat! Watching this is a fun treat for all of us!Kahlua also enjoys playing with her toys, but her timing is way off! When you’re getting ready for bed – this is her play time! Kahlua will hop into the bed with one toy, then get another one, and then another one, and wants you to play with her! When you wake up in the morning, the bed is filled with all her toys!!

Kahlua also loves to visit her Great Grandma and her cousins Bailey and Harley in Monterey, California. This photo was taken at Monterey where she enjoys walking on the beach with her cousins. Kahlua is a bundle of joy that makes us not sweat the small stuff in life!

Kahlua, the Dog of the Day

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Tuesday, May 1st is a terrific day for……

May 1st


Cut Firewood, Mow to Increase Growth, Dig Holes, Wax Floors

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Beltane Activities and Correspondences

Beltane Activities and Correspondences

Guest Author – Leslie RavenwingHerbs – hawthorn, hoenysuckle, St John’s wort, wood ruff, all flowers.

Colors- Green, Yellow, Pink, Blue

Foods – Strawberries, Cherries, Fruits, Salads, Wine

Goddesses – Aphrodite, Asherah, Belili, Brigid, Danu, Freya, Flora, Gwenhwyvar, Hina, Ishtar, Maia, Mary, Oiwyn, Oshun, Ostara, Sappha, Tonantzin, Vesta

Gods – Beltene, Cernunnous, Cupid/Eros, Manawyddan and Pan

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

Stones/Gems – Emerald, malachite, amber, orange carnelian, sapphire, rose quartz

Other Names – Cetsamhain (opposite Samhain),May Day, Fairy Day,Sacred Thorn Day, Rood Day, Roodmas (the Christian term for Rood Day, Old Beltane, Beltaine, 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)

Incense Blend
3 parts frankincense
2 parts Sandalwood
1 part woodruff
1 part rose petals
a few drops jasmine oil
a few drops neroli oil

-Make paper baskets (use yarn as a handle) and place real or silk flowers in each basket. Hang them on door knobs of nieghbors and family members but don’t let them know you did it!

-If you have children, make necklaces out of diasies and place them around their necks for the day to bring protection to them.

-Begin planting for the season.

-Create a MayPole and dance around it with your family or friends.

-Make a dish of fruits, berries, nuts and leave in the wood for the animals and fae folk to enjoy

- This is a night for bonfires, torch-lit processions and the high revelry of witches, preferably in high places. It is prime time for the Great Rite, a night (like Samhain) when the Goddess descends into women. Cailleach Beara (Cally Berry, Brighid’s crone aspect) turns to stone this night and does not to return until Samhain. Beltane Eve also marks the setting of the Pleiades

May Wine Cup – Makes 6 – 8 Glasses

1 Bottle White Wine (sweet or dry depending on your taste)
12 Sprigs Sweet Woodruff
1/2 cup Strawberries Sliced
Edible flowers (to be sprinkled on the top after all ingredients have been mixed together)

Method : Soak the dried woodruff overnight in the wine. the following day mix the wine, strawberries and woodruff in a large bowl and let it sit in the fridge for an hour. Strain out woodruff, add the decorative flowers and serve cold.

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Calendar of the Moon for Tuesday, May 1

Calendar of the Moon
1 Saille/Mounukhion

Day of the Willow Tree

Color: Yellow
Element: Earth
Altar: Upon a yellow cloth set a vase of willow branches collected earlier and forced to bud, a single yellow candle, a pot of soil, seeds, a bowl of water, and a bell.
Offerings: Plant seeds. Stoke fires.
Daily Meal: Vegan

Invocation to the Green Man of the Willow Tree

Hail, Green Man of the Spring!
Willow tree of the silver moon,
Bending with the wind,
You teach us that flexibility
Is a great virtue
As we fall before the hurricane
Of our circumstances.
Mountain of the Nine Muses,
Tree of river and dew,
Tree whose gentle roots
Penetrate all things without trouble,
Cage of the sacrificial king
Whose fire burns every year,
Bending, twisting, making charms,
Persistent one, deadly one,
Beautiful one, magical one,
Hawk on the cliff whose cold eyes
See and swoop upon the prey.
We hail you, sacred willow tree,
Green Man of the Spring,
On this the time of your springing forth.

Chant:
We turn and spin
Come out and in
We twist all time
In this green sign

(Each comes forward and plants a seed in the pot of soil, saying, “Hail Green Man of the Earth!” Water is poured onto the pot, and then the rest is poured out as a libation. Ring bell and dismiss.)

[Pagan Book of Hours]

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