Posts Tagged With: Maypole

Beltane and Its Holiday’s Significance

Beltane

Witches usually celebrate Beltane on May 1, although some prefer to mark it around May 5, when the sun reaches 15 degrees of Taurus. The sabbat is named for the god Baal or Bel, sometimes called “the bright one.” In Scottish Gaelic, the word bealtainn means “fires of Belos” and refers to the bonfires pagans light on this sabbat. The joyful festival celebrates the earth’s fertility, when flowers bloom and plants begin sprouting in the fields. The Christian Church adopted this ancient holiday as May Day, and some of Beltane’s old rituals (sans the overt sexuality) are still enacted today.

The Holiday’s Significance

The second fertility holiday in the Wheel of the Year, Beltane coincides with a period of fruitfulness. To ancient and modern pagans alike, this holiday honors the earth and all of nature. In early agrarian cultures, farmers built fires on Beltane and led livestock between the flames to increase their fertility.

Sexuality is also celebrated on this sabbat—the Great Rite has traditionally been part of the holiday’s festivities. In pre-Christian days, Beltane celebrants engaged in sexual intercourse in the fields as a form of symbolic magick to encourage fertility and a bountiful harvest. Children who were conceived at this time were said to belong to the Goddess.

Ways to Celebrate

It’s best to celebrate Beltane outside in order to appreciate nature’s fullness. Because Beltane is a fertility holiday, many of its rituals contain sexual symbolism. The Maypole, around which young females dance, is an obvious phallic symbol. Witches often decorate the Maypole with flowers in recognition of the earth’s beauty and fruit fruitfulness. Sometimes a woman who seeks a partner will toss a circular garland over the top of the pole, signifying the sex act, as a way of asking the Goddess to send her a lover.

Another fertility ritual utilizes the cauldron, symbol of the womb. Women who wish to become pregnant build a small fire in the cauldron, then jump over it. If you prefer, you can leap over the cauldron to spark creativity in the mind instead of the body.

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THE MAYPOLE AT BELTANE

Beltane Comments & Graphics
THE MAYPOLE AT BELTANE

In the spirit of Spider woman,
Who wove the earth and the universe
We weave this Maypole of desires
Come true at Beltane.

Dance the Maypole for the
Beauty of the earth, the Goddess
And all of her people.

Weave the Maypole to make all wishes come true.

We are the flow, we are the ebb
We are the weaver, we are the web.

We are the weaver, we are the web
We are the spider, we are the thread.

We are the spider, we are the thread
We are the witches, back from the dead.

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Info About Beltane/Walpurgis Night & Two Do It Yourself Ideas

Beltane Comments & Graphics
April 30th

Beltane/Walpurgis Night

Beltane is celebrated on April 30th (May Eve) and is primarily a fire and fertility festival. Beltane, meaning “Bel-Fire,” is derived from the Celtic God Bel, also known as Beli or Balor, which simply means “Lord.” Some seem to think that Bel was comparable to the Celtic Gaul God, Cernunnos. This is possible, as most male Gods relate to the sun and fire aspects.

Beltane was the time of the May Queen, when a young woman was chosen from her village to represent the Earth Goddess and reflect the transformation of maiden to mother. In addition, this was the time of the kindling of the Need Fire, when all fires in the village were extinguished and then ritually relit the following day.

Fertility played an important role at Beltane, as it did with all Spring celebrations. The principle symbol of this Sabbat was the May Pole, also known as the axis mundi, around which the universe revolved. The pole personified the thrusting masculine force, and the disk at the top depicted the receptive female. There were seven colored ribbons tied to the pole representing the seven colors of the rainbow. possibly Walpurga- hence her association with May Eve and Witches.

Magickal Activities

Flower Wreath

Items needed:

Floral wire and tape;

fresh daisies and carnations;

seven different colored ribbons,

6 to 8 inches in length.

Begin by making a circle out of the wire that will sit atop your head. Twist the ends together and cover with a bit of tape. Lay the first flower on the wire and secure with the floral tape. Place the second flower next to the first and secure with the tape. Continue this process until the wire frame is almost completely covered. Leave a ‘/2-inch space between the first and last flowers to tie the ribbons from. Tie each ribbon individually so that it hangs from the back of the crown.

Maypole Center Piece

Items needed:

A 12-inch tall wooden dowel approximately 1 ½ inch diameter:

one 4- inch diameter disk

one 2-inch diameter disk

one small jar of Petal Porcelain fabric striffener

seven different colored 13-inch strips of ribbon

green paint

wood glue

silk flowers

The 4-inch disk will serve as the base of your maypole. Pound a small nail through it to affix the dowel to the base. Use a small amount wood glue to secure. Glue the smaller disk to the top. When the glue has dried, paint the entire thing green. Glue the end of each ribbon to the top of the smaller disk, spacing them evenly. Glue the silk flowers to the top of the maypole. Use the Petal Porcelain to stiffen the ribbons so they will stand out and hold their shape.

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THE MAYPOLE AT BELTANE

THE MAYPOLE AT BELTANE

In the spirit of Spider woman,
Who wove the earth and the universe
We weave this Maypole of desires
Come true at Beltane.

Dance the Maypole for the
Beauty of the earth, the Goddess
And all of her people.

Weave the Maypole to make all wishes come true.

We are the flow, we are the ebb
We are the weaver, we are the web.

We are the weaver, we are the web
We are the spider, we are the thread.

We are the spider, we are the thread
We are the witches, back from the dead.

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The Height Of Spring – Beltane

The Height Of Spring – Beltane

Beltane marks the height of the season of Spring. The Goddess’s reign begins, the rule of the year relinquished by the God. Emphasis is on all the “unnecessary”, ephemeral things that make human happiness, such as love, beauty, playfulness, and the arts. These things are the fruits of successful labor in the fields, which leaves us the leisure to enjoy them. They elevate our consciousness to a level above mere survival. These energies, projected into the Beltane fires, make them a potent charm.

THEMES

Flowers opening. Trees and shrubs in bloom and beginning to leaf out. Threat of snow and ice ended.

Final plowing and planting. Milk flow comes in full.

Baal (fire of the sun), a god of the Sun and of vegetation, has his great feast at this time; as does Olwen, a Welsh form f Venus; Belili, sister and lover of Tamuz, Priapus, Pan and Eros; Maia, the mother of Mercury; Terminus, Roman god of boundaries; Aphrodite and Venus; the Roman Flora.

St. George is the Xian version of the vegetation god. Slain by the Giant
(death), he is revived by the Fool (Sun) and kills the Dragon (Winter), in the spring mummer’s play.

Appearance of Robin Hood, Maid Marian and the Merry Men, of Merlin and the fairy Viviane or Nimue, and the legend of Gwain and the Green Knight. Feast of Pluto or Hades and of Walburga, a Teutonic Earth-Goddess converted into a Xian saint.

PURPOSE OF THE RITES

To ensure growth and health of the crops. Magic for happiness in love. Sexual union among the people are united with the life-force of all nature. Fire-magic to strengthen the sun and obtain adequate rainfall.

FOLK CUSTOMS

On the last three days in April, houses are cleaned and fumigated with juniper berries and rue. Couples go to the woods May Eve, build bowers of green branches and stay all night. At dawn they return bringing green and flowering branches, and decorate the homes and door lintels as they go from house to house, singing May carols. A Maypole, cut from a straight young tree, is brought from the woods, decorated with ribbons, flowers and green branches – or the flowers and greenery are brought from the woods to decorate (and symbolically revivify) a permanent Maypole in the village center.

Milkmaids and sweeps parade. A procession tours the boundary markers and other important landmarks, beating them with willow wands – no doubt t purification rite. Wells are decorated with flowers and blessed (originally, no doubt, the spirit of the well was propitiated with offerings) often in the same procession.

Dew gathered at dawn on May morning has many uses as a charm. A king and queen are crowned, sometimes by the figures of Merlin and Viviane, sometimes by the Mayor.

Green George (aka Jack O’ the Green Man) is a man concealed in a framework covered with green leaves, representing the vegetation spirit. He dances and whirls in the processions, and people sprinkle him with water – obviously an old rain charm. Sometimes he throws fodder to the animals. He goes with the May procession from house to house collecting presents of food for the company – showing that Spring brings nourishment.

Hobby horses parade in many parts of England and Europe, notably in Cornwall, the most famous and magically potent being at Padstow. Processions of young girls dressed in white sing May carols and leading a little May Queen.

SYMBOLIC DECORATIONS

Many small Maypoles – poles decorated with flowers, greenery and ribbons. Garland – hoops similarly decorated. Birth, Hawthorn Lily-of-the-Valley, Rowan, Willow. Masses of flowers.

SOCIAL ACTIVITIES

Athletic contests, flower shows, horse races.

THE RITE

The altar may be placed in the East of Southeast, draped in white as a
background for the decorations of seasonal foliage and flowers. Use white candles.

Rites take place on the Eve, just after dark. Emphasize incense in the
banishings, as at Ostara. Also strike the altar, the watchtowers and the people with a willow switch – just a light tap – to drive away evil influences, with no suggestion of punishment.

Invoke the Goddess as any or all of the Goddesses whose feasts occur at this time; the God likewise. Charge the fire to bring happiness to lovers. Communion materials are the usual crescent-shaped Sabbat Cakes and May wine (white wine, usually a Rhine wine, in which sweet woodruff has been steeped for at least a few hours). Afterwards, couples may leap the dying fire to benefit form the charge. Ashes and charred sticks from the fire also carry the charge, and at all Sabbats these can be taken home by the coveners to sprinkle on their gardens, plants or domestic animals, or used in other ways as a charm.

Coveners should wear wreaths of flowers and herbs, particularly roses and vervain, if obtainable, and their clothing should be pretty and spring-like and decorated with flowers and leaves.

Rites on Beltane Day, beginning as early as people are inclined to get up in the morning, should include many of the folk customs mentioned here, wit h a May King and Queen enthrones in their bower representing the maiden love-goddess and the priapic green god, presiding over the revels, which include a Maypole dance, sports and games.

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Beltane

 BELTANE

Beltane, literally, “fire of the god,” or “fire of Bel.”

Beltane was the second most important festival of the ancient Celts (the other being Samhain, or Halloween).  Samhain came November 1 and Beltane, May 1, so they fell exactly six months apart.   And, as Samhain was the Celtic New Year, Beltane was the mid-year festival.

Bel is a generic name for the male deity who is simultaneously the sun and the crops ripening because of the sun.  The Semitic cognate was Baal and is usually translated “lord.”  In northern Europe, he was called Balder as well as Bel.

The religion of the ancients was built around the theme of the cycle of the year.  Consider the following:

Samhain was the new year, the time when the veil separating this world from the next was the thinnest.  It was the end of the warm times and the beginning of winter.

Yule (December 25) was the time of the “turning” of the sun.  The rebirth of the sun as it began mounting ever higher in the sky.

Brigid or Oimelc (or mid-winters — around the first of February) was the first stirring of the earth.  Its name, Brigid, is “bride” or “virgin” and recognizes the re-stirring of the earth, personified as the goddess.

Lady Day or Ostara (the first full moon after the spring equinox) marks the fullness of the earth and the triumph of the sun over the winter.  At this time, the sun and earth mate to produce the crops.

Beltane (May 1) marks the beginning of summer and the fullness of crops.  The “son” of the union of sun and earth is Bel .

Midsummer’s (around June 21) is the middle of summer and the time of full flowering.  Earth and sun are triumphant.

First Fruits (August 1) is a time of harvest, and the time to kill Bel (or John Barleycorn) by harvesting the grain.

And Harvesthome (September 21) is the final festival of last harvest.

Traditionally at Beltane, several events took place.

First was the planting of the May Pole into the earth.  Streamers from the top of the maypole would be wrapped ceremonially around the pole in a two-way dance by participants.  The Maypole is, of course, the phallus of the god (the same thing in India today is called “the great lingam.”  In Roman time, this phallic pillar was called a “Hermes” and the festival of May Day was called the Floralia — the festival in honor of the goddess Flora.

Second, a Queen and King of the May would be elected by the people, to lead the festivities.  They stood in for the god and goddess.  Traditionally, the queen of the May would ride a white horse and king of the May would ride a black one. The old English name for the Maypole was “hud” and the King of the May would be called the “master of the Maypole.”  The word “master” was rabbin (cognate of the Semitic rabbi) so this title has come down to us as “Robin Hood.”  The Queen of the May was called the virgin mother:  the English word for virgin was “maid” and “maria” was the word for mother, so she would be known as “Maid Marian.”

Third, a bonfire would be lit, called a balefire or “Balder’s balefires,” and
cakes in the shape of Balder or Bel would be “sacrificed” by throwing them into the fire.  The myth was that Balder died in the spring and was reborn in the new crops in the fall.  Often, people would jump through the balefire (a symbol of passing through death unharmed).  Couples leaping through the bonfire hand-in-hand would be assured of another year together.

The fourth thing the ancients would do would be to go out in the fields as
couples and make love on the ground — a form of sympathetic magic, calling on the crops to be fertile.  May was known as the “honey-month” or honeymoon and people were permitted to make love virtually at random.

Today, the first three traditions are kept all over northern Europe.  Maypoles once were common even in this country, but mobility, concentration of the population in urban centers, and puritanism have conspired to virtually eliminate it from the American way of life.  Balder’s balefires are lit on Mayday all over Scandinavia and in Scotland.

An English tradition at Beltane is the Morris Dancers, men who dress up, put bells on their ankles and dance on tops of hills (sacred to the mother goddess).  They strike the earth with their staves to “wake up the earth.”

The Church tried unsuccessfully for many years to stamp out Beltane in Europe. In the seventh century the church condemned Beltane as sinful and forbade all good Christians to celebrate it.  In the 17th century, the festival was so widespread that church bells in parts of France would be rung all night long throughout the month of May to “protect the city from flying witches.”

In Germany, May Eve is called “Walpurgisnacht,” the night of Walpurga, the goddess of May.  The Church couldn’t stamp out the worship of Walpurga so they made her a saint, claiming that she had been the abbess of a double monastery in a town called Heidenheim.  The word Heidenheim, of course, means “home of  the heathens.”  The church made a fortune in the medieval times by selling a healing oil, “Oil of St. Walpurga,” which was supposed to exude from the holy rock under which the saint’s bones were buried.  There is, of course, no historical record of a “St. Walpurga.”

Some traditions of the holiday.

When you dance around the Maypole, take a color that symbolizes what you want to “ripen” in your life in the year to come.  Green for money, say, or growth. Red for love.  Blue for happiness. Orange for serenity.  Or choose a color based on what you feel it might mean to you.

When you throw the balder-cake into the fire, think about what you want to give up for the year to come.  This is a symbolic sacrifice of something.  It could be an old habit, a resentment, an old anger.

And last, jumping through the bonfire is a symbol of passing through death.  It means a willingness to change your life into something better.

Beltane was a traditional time for “making magic.”  The magic of making changes in your life is still possible today.
Blessed be!

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The Coming Of Lammas

 

Hear the call of the rooster in the early morning haze, another day of heat and
humidity. The corn silently ripens in the field as the crows gather to claim their
share. The scent of fresh ripe tomatoes fills the air in the kitchen. The clean mason jars, brought from storage, washed and ready to receive the bounty of field and garden glisten in rays of the morning Sun that pierces the veil of mist.

In the cool of the cellar are the crockery jars, ready for the pickling of cucumbers and cabbages the bins have been cleaned to receive their full compliment of the first harvest of potatoes, onions, cabbages and carrots.

As July passes, we remember the flag, thirteen pentagrams in a circle, one for each English Colony that made up a young nation; or one for each lunar month in a year and now, of course, it could be one for each witch in a coven. The red and white stripes are like the streamers on a May Pole.

Americans, American witchcraft and American Wicca are totally unique, nothing quite like either has ever been seen before, even in this great, new land of ours. The American nation, founded for the purpose of religious freedom is the home of the greatest revival of ancient practices in the world. The Neo-Pagan religions are growing by leaps and bounds and as American Witches we have the best the two worlds, both old and new have to offer.

A very few are born into the tiny pockets of hereditary witchcraft that seem to be
still scattered about the world, the rest of us, we the chosen children, must make
our own new traditions, claiming as our own, gathering bits and pieces from
around the world. Who is brave enough to deny us this right, remembering the
God and Goddess themselves have called us to the fold and made us their own?

We are a people, we are the children of the Gods, they have made it so. Our task is to reclaim the good, the useful, the ancient ways from the wreckage of the past.

Lammas or first harvest is a bountiful and wondrously full time of year, what
traditions are each of you celebrating during this time?

If you have a tradition that is too secret to share, keep it to yourself, this is an echo for caring and sharing. Those of us who are the Goddess’s chosen children, those of us who answered the call of Herne the Hunter in whatever form, here we can learn and develop our own new and uniquely American Traditions based upon the Ancient Ways; with a flavoring of the new for sauce….

Celebrating the first harvest with American Corn Dollys, pumpkin pie and jack-o-lanterns, bobbing for Washington apples, hard and soft cider, homemade bread, hand shucked popcorn, ice-cream, made at home like our grandmother’s did….

Rites and rituals, burning of last winter’s candles….

Ritually washing with handmade soap made from the finest tallow…

Cologne and rosewater, made from the bounty of our gardens or from the corner farmers market…

Reclaiming the ancient ways… in our hearts and minds, in our homes, in our
rituals, looking to the Gods themselves for guidance…

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The Wicca Book of Days for May 8 – Soothing Sage

The Wicca Book of Days for May 8

Soothing Sage

Sage not only has many mouth-watering culinary uses, but is valued by herbalists for its antibacterial and antiseptic properties. Astrogically associated with the zodiacal sign of the Bull, which prevails on May 8, sage is often used to soothe a sore throat, and it is thought that its efficacious action is at least partly due to “Taurus’ influence over the throat. So if your throat feels scratchy and raw and you are finding swallowing painful, brew a pot of sage tea (use 1 ounce of dry sage, or 2 ounce of fresh leaves, to 1 pint of boiling water) to gargle with or sip.

Miraculous Manuka?

If you are prone to sore throats invest in a pot of Manuka honey – check that it has a UMF (unique Manuka factor) rating – and you may find that it’s worth its weight in gold. For many people swear that swallowing a teaspooon or two of this New Zealand honey (neat) works wonders.

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