‘THINK on THESE THINGS’ for April 27th

‘THINK on THESE THINGS’
By Joyce Sequichie Hifler

America’s art critic Henry Theodore Tuckerman believed the hand to be the mind’s own perfect subject. As physical labor shows in a man’s hands, so does illness, or greediness, or strength.

No other part of the body so expresses human behavior. With our hands we work, play, communicate, love, and express our fear, joy, and grief. These beautifully sensitive symbols of faith, love, and friendship are the hands of time that never stand still. They clasp to us the things we love, the books we read, the seeds we plant, the stitches we sew, and the civilization we build.

This marvelously made human hand, directed by the mind’s eye, the mind’s ear, and the heart’s desires, works every waking moment to express its owner’s life.

The gentle touch, so closely linked with our emotions, can also be the unmistakable expression of strength and honesty. And the most beautiful of all, the praying hands, for surely they are conscious only of God.

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Available online! ‘Cherokee Feast of Days’
By Joyce Sequichie Hifler.

Visit her web site to purchase the wonderful books by Joyce as gifts for yourself or for loved ones……and also for those who don’t have access to the Internet: http://www.hifler.com
Click Here to Buy her books at Amazon.com

Elder’s Meditation of the Day
By White Bison, Inc., an American Indian-owned nonprofit organization. Order their many products from their web site: http://www.whitebison.org

Elder’s Meditation of the Day April 27

Elder’s Meditation of the Day April 27

“The law is that all life is equal in the Great Creation, and we, the Human Beings, are charged with the responsibility, each in our generation, to work for the continuation of life.”

–Traditional Circle of Elders

Every generation is accountable to leave the environment in healthy order for the next generation. Every generation is accountable to teach the next generation how to live in harmony and to understand the Laws. We need to ask ourselves, “What are we teaching the next generation?” Each individual is directly accountable.

My Creator, teach me intergenerational responsibility.

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April 27 – Daily Feast

April 27 – Daily Feast

Forgiveness seems to be continually with us – the need to forgive, to be forgiven, is directly tied to loving and being loved – or lovable. We sometimes love better at a distance. Time and space have a way of putting things into perspective so that we can see the right and the wrong to be able to forgive or ask forgiveness. We never gain ground as long as we are obstinate about forgiving. A grudge is a stone wall that forbids us to move in any direction. The Cherokees have labored long to understand the reason for the Trail of Tears – the same way other tribes have tried to understand. Life has a way of working itself out to certain ends, a time for everything, and what has been lost will be regained many times over. When? There is an exact moment. Yoweh knows.

~ When we are at peace we hunt freely, our wives and children do not stand in want….We sleep easy. ~

CHEROKEE

‘A Cherokee Feast of Days’, by Joyce Sequichie Hifler

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Daily Motivator for April 27th – Worth living

Worth living

You have something beautiful to offer. You have an inspiring and uplifting story to tell.

You experience life in a way that’s unlike anyone else. You have things to say that can benefit everyone else.

You have dreams, visions, and values that can make a real difference in the world. You can give love and joy and meaning to every moment you’re in.

You can make a difference today. You can make life worth living by the way you live it.

You are a priceless, unique expression of what it means to be. Through the focus of your existence, all of existence is brought to life in a way that has no equal.

Live this day with joy and richness and substance and love. Show all of life, in fresh new ways in every moment, why it is so very much worth living.

— Ralph Marston

The Daily Motivator

Daily OM for April 27th – Growing Pains

Growing Pains
Difficult Times

 

 

We can also benefit from times of constriction and difficult to help us grow and learn. 

It can be very challenging to maintain a positive attitude and a measure of faith when you are in the midst of difficult times. This is partly because we tend to think that if the universe loves us we will experience that love in the form of positive circumstances. However, we are like children, and the universe is our wise mother who knows what our souls need to thrive better than we do. Just as a young child does not benefit from getting everything she wants, we also benefit from times of constriction and difficulty to help us grow and learn. If we keep this in mind, and continue to trust that we are loved even when things are hard, it helps us bear the difficult time with grace.

This period of time in history is full of difficulty for a lot of human beings, and you may feel less alone knowing you are not being singled out. There are extreme energy changes pulsing through the universe at every level and, of course, we are all part of the growing process and the growing pains. It helps if we remember that life is one phase after another and that this difficult time will inevitably give way to something new and different. When we feel overwhelmed we can comfort ourselves with the wise saying: This too shall pass.

At the same time, if you truly feel that nothing is going right for you, it’s never a bad idea to examine your life and see if there are some changes you can make to alleviate some of the difficulty. Gently and compassionately exploring the areas giving you the most trouble may reveal things you are holding onto and need to release: unprocessed emotions, unresolved transitions, or negative ways of looking at yourself or reality. As you take responsibility for the things you can change, you can more easily surrender to the things you can’t, remembering all the while that this phase will, without doubt, give way to another.

Beltane – Celebrating the Goddess Flora of Springtime and the May Queen

Beltane – Celebrating the Goddess Flora of Springtime and the May Queen
In the month of May, Spring is in full bloom and at its height. The flowers are a beautiful palette of vivid colors blossoming everywhere and the trees are abundant in their greenery. The Earth feels fully alive and vibrantly awake after the deep, long, grey slumber of Winter. Birds sing messages of joy and hope as the sun rises each morning and a new day begins to unfold. Life is flowering and lush.
The Roman Springtime Goddess Flora, the Goddess of Spring and Flowers, puts on her floral rainbow dress and her crown of flowers. She dances under the blue skies and greets the sun as the May Queen.

May 1 begins with the pagan sabbat Beltane. This day celebrates love, fertility, sensuality, sexuality, abundance, beauty, growth, awakening, and all the signs that summer is coming as the days grow lighter and warmer. To honor and celebrate the Goddess of Springtime Flora, the Queen of May and her within your self there are many simple ways to do this during Beltane and the beautiful month of May.

Some ideas are:
*Create a crown of flowers from wild flowers outdoors or from your garden and crown yourself the May Queen. Celebrate yourself as the Queen of Spring.

*Spend time walking in nature connecting to the beauty of Springs full abundance. Go to your local park, garden, or take a hike.

*If you have a garden this is a great time to spend connecting with your plants and flowers as well as blessing you garden on Beltane.

*Pick some flowers and make a May Basket from paper in the shape of a cone to place them in. Give this as a gift to someone you love or decorate your home with it bringing Springtime indoors with the lovely scent of flowers.

*Decorate your home with flowers and greens inside and out.

*If you are an artist take your sketchbook or paint outdoors and draw and paint the flowers and trees blossoming around you. Capture the beauty of the Goddess on paper.

*If you like to write take your journal outdoors and write about your experience in the beautiful Spring weather or write a poem that honors the season and the Goddess Flora and May Queen.

*Dress up in many bright Spring colors as Flora the Spring Goddess and May Queen. Feel your own beauty within manifested in your dress. Celebrate the beauty and sensuality of yourself.

*Think of ways to connect to the sensuality of the Spring season through all your senses-smell, taste, sight, touch, and sound.

*Enjoy your own sensuality and sexuality with yourself or a lover. Honor your body as the Goddess and Queen.

*Have a Spring picnic outdoors. Bring a blanket, picnic basket, and sit on the grass. Make it a May Feast to celebrate the Goddess and Queen within yourself. Invite others and have a Beltane celebration. Buy local Spring foods to share such as berries and honey.

*Contemplate what ways you would like to blossom full this Spring from now until the Summer Solstice and the sabbat Litha. What would you like to grow and bloom more?

*Think of ways to nurture and be self loving everyday in the month of May. Allow new habits to grow and flourish as you treat yourself like the May Queen and Goddess Flora of Springtime.

*Create a ritual to honor the Goddess Flora and connect to beauty, love, sensuality, growth and the abundance of Spring.

May 1, 2012 [Beltane]

May 1, 2012 [Beltane]

Belatian, also spelled Beltine, Iris Beltaine or Beltaine and Cetamainalso is one of the 8 sacred Sabbats of the Pagans. This festival is held on the first day of May in Ireland and Scotland. Beltane was first mentioned in a glossary to Cormac, bishop of Cashel and King of Munstern, who was killed in 908. Cormac describes how cattle were driven between two bonfires on Beltaine as a magical means of protecting them from disease before they were led into summer pastures. This custom is still observed in Ireland.

Beltane was started to celebrate and Bless the seeds and make happy that winter is over and spring is here. Beltain celebrations and rituals are a fact and still celebrated by Pagans and Wiccans to this very day. The other side of the Beltane is celebrated by Christianity as Maypole day with dancing around the pole. Beltain is a fire ritual/celebration and is celebrated around a bonfire. Dancing and singing go all night long and in the morning, flowers were gathered to make wreaths for the hair.

Beltane is the last of the 3 celebration Sabbaths celebrated by the Ancients and it heralded the beginning of summer. Food supplies were low, people were depressed from the drab cold days of winter and this made Beltane celebration very special. Facts and myths blend together during these celebrations.

May was not an ideal time for the ancients for marriage, thus the year and a day was begun for hand fasting couples. This was considered a trial time for couples, living together before making the marriage legal. So it seems to me the Ancients knew living together and knowing one another before actually marrying made more sense than marring then divorce.

Water was another important aspect of the Beltane celebration. Myths surround the usage of water at this time also. It is said that if you bathe in the dew gathered before dawn on Beltane, your beauty will flourish all year. Those sprinkled with May dew are insured if health and happiness. Other customs such as drinking from a well before sunrise will insure good heath and fortune.

The main color of Beltane is green representing growth, abundance, plentiful harvest, fertility and luck. The use of other colors in Beltane celebrations as well as the whole month of may are used, whites, yellows, pinks, reds, violets and purples representing cleansings, purity, good fortune, fertility, happiness and wealth. So no matter how you choose to celebrate Beltane, rather it be a ritual, dancing around the fire or Maypole, singing and eating natures produce, its a time for happiness and joy to be alive and one with the Goddess. Blessed BeÂ…Â…

 

References: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beltane

Beltane

 

Beltane

by Lila

 

Gather Round the Maypole Friends

Twist and Turn and Back Again

Dancing, Laughing, Joyful Glee

Now pair off lovers, Secretly

 

In Love’s embrace

The Goddess Grace

The May Queen and Consort Lay

Entangled Limbs on this Sweet Day

 

Gather Round the Maypole Friends

Twist and Turn and Back Again

The Lovers Rest in Quiet Heaps

In Fall the Bountiful Harvest Reaps

 

 

The ancient Celts called this holiday Beltane and began celebrating at sunset on April 30th. It marked the beginning of summer, the time to move with the flocks up to the summer pastures. Other names for May Day include: Cetsamhain (‘opposite Samhain’), Walpurgisnacht (in Germany), and Roodmas.

 

In Germany, April 30th is Walpurgisnacht, the night when it was believed that witches flew on their brooms to mountaintop gatherings where they danced all night around bonfires. Like Halloween, this is a night when witches, fairies and ghosts wander freely. The veil between the worlds is thin. The Queen of the Fairies rides out on a snow-white horse, looking for mortals to lure away to Fairyland for seven years. Folklore says that if you sit beneath a tree on this night, you will see Her or hear the sound of Her horse’s bells as She rides by. If you hide your face, She will pass you by but if you look at Her, She may choose you.

 

Many May Day customs involve flowers and green branches. Flowers are woven into wreaths to exchange as gifts between lovers or to hang on doors as decoration. Hawthorn is particularly auspicious since it begins blooming when the weather is warm enough for planting. Anyone who went out into the woods and found a branch of flowering hawthorn would bring it triumphantly into the village and announcing the start of planting season. However there were warnings about bringing hawthorn into the house, since it would invite the fairies in.

 

The Maypole is a symbol with many meanings. Often celebrated as and considered a phallic symbol, it also resembles the garlanded trees associated with moon goddesses. In the Phrygian rites of Attis, celebrated around the spring equinox, a fir tree was chopped down, wrapped in a shroud and placed in a tomb. Resurrected three days later, it was decorated and danced around. In some places, May Day ceremonies took place beneath a sacred tree, which was not uprooted. These trees represented the world-tree, the axis between heaven and earth. The Maypole dance is a round dance of alternating male and female dancers, weaving in and out, plaiting ribbons as they go. Maypole dances fulfilled social and sacred functions. They helped people flirt and mingle socially and they also raised energy.

 

Bring the May into your life by bringing home green branches, flowers and branches of flowering trees. Transform your house into a bower by making a wreath to hang on the door or to crown your version of the Goddess. This is a time for giving gifts. Gather flowers with special messages for friends and relatives. Make up your own explanation of the meaning of each flower and give it along with the bouquet. For friends at a distance, send pressed flowers or May Day cards or packets of flower seeds.

 

If you can, stay up all night, preferably outdoors. At least go for a walk in the night on April 30th and listen for the bells that herald the approach of the Fairy Queen. And you can run around, under cover of darkness, leaving May baskets of flowers on doorsteps. On the first of May, wear your most colourful clothes or dress all in green (the colour of the fairies). Consider wearing a flower in your hair.

 

Treat yourself like a Goddess. Take a long luxurious bath in scented water. Anoint yourself with oils. Crown yourself with flowers. Indulge yourself. Sip your May wine. Honor your sexual choices. In your journal, recall the times when sex was magical, when you felt alluring or you fell in love. Write about smoldering glances, the times your body caught fire, the sweetness of a first kiss or caress. If you have a partner, celebrate sex as a sacred activity. Make the time you spend together and the space you inhabit special. Light candles or strew the bed with rose petals. Notice how your lover represents the God or Goddess to you. This is the time to celebrate attraction and pleasure.

Beltaine: Make Scents

Beltaine: Make Scents

by Jon Bergeon

 

The following herbs listed fall under the categories of the element of fire, of growth, renewal, fertility, prosperity and gain, harmony and success. Items in parentheses are attributes of secondary concern that may help in designing a suitable incense recipe.

  • Angelica: gain and renewal (also guards against negativity)
  • Basil: prosperity, harmony and success (also aids in banishment)
  • Bay: harmony (also guards against negativity)
  • Cedar: gain and success (also aids psychic activity)
  • Cloves: growth (also aids psychic activity)
  • Coriander: gain and fertility (fire part of fire element/Mars)
  • Garlic: success (also aids in self-assertion and banishment)
  • Hyssop: prosperity (also aids in purification)
  • Juniper: gain and fertility (also guards against negativity)
  • Marigold: renewal and success (also aids psychic activity)
  • Mustard: fertility, success and gain (also guards against negativity)
  • Onion: success (also aids against negativity)

The following lists the recommended parts of the herbs to be employed in the making of incense.

  • Angelica: root
  • Basil: all
  • Bay: leaf
  • Cedar: all
  • Cloves: buds
  • Coriander: seeds
  • Garlic: bulb
  • Hyssop: all
  • Juniper: berries
  • Marigold: flowers
  • Mustard: seeds
  • Onion: bulb

In all cases, the oils of the herbs listed may substitute for the recommended parts to be employed for incense.

Flowers, due to their place in May festivities, may be used to reduce the martial qualities of some of the herbs. The following flowers do not magically interfere with the previously listed herbs.

  • Alyssum: quells anger
  • Chamomile: calms
  • Geranium: fertility, love
  • Lavender: calms, aids in psychic activity
  • Lilac: protection, banishment of negativity
  • Rose: love, peace and protection

As an alternative to burning herbs as an incense, the herbs may be placed in water and the water heated to produce a desired effect. This may be done by obtaining a stand with a small bowl, underneath which a candle may be placed.

Herb parts may be used in a loose incense and burned with the use of charcoal, or herbs may be powdered (which is best done with a coffee grinder) and saltpeter, gum arabic and water added to make the herbs into a paste from which cones may be fashioned. Making cone incense is, however, more difficult than just burning loose incense, as sometimes the saltpeter mixture, when too much or too little is used, burns at an undesirable rate or even not at all.

Sources

  1. Smith, Steven R., Wylundt’s Book of Incense, Samuel Weiser, Inc., 1989.
  2. Zalewski, C.L., Herbs in Magic and Alchemy, Prism Press. England, 1990.
  3. Cunningham, Scott, Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs, Llewellyn, 1993.

A Meditation on Magick

A Meditation on Magick

by Bestia Mortale

 

I’d like to examine three levels of magick, the world, the will and the spirit, from a particular perspective I shall describe.

Like most things, magick looks different from different sides. The word “magick” normally conjures up spells, unseen forces, strange worlds and mysterious beings. This is the “supernatural” point of view. This is the vantage from which we see sorcerers pursuing arcane knowledge to gain amazing power.

Take the skeptical version of this point of view, and magick signifies self-delusion, wish-fulfillment fantasy, unconscious deception and intentional fraud.

But then stroll around to another viewpoint, where you assume knowledge rather than ignorance. Assume for a moment that you can understand everything (not that anyone can). From this perspective, much of what we think of as magick vanishes, becoming just another technology, just another way to get what you want.

When you want something, you use your understanding of the world combined with your intelligence to identify a course of action that might achieve it. Then you use your will and determination to follow that course of action. As you go, you use intermediate results to modify your course of action. Are you a sorcerer or an engineer?

Both historians of science and historians of magick are well aware that until relatively recently, the two were more or less indistinguishable. In the last several centuries, the techniques of modern science and engineering have emerged as by far the most powerful and effective means of doing magick in the world. The spells of physics almost always work reliably, and when they don’t, physicists are delighted – there are always reputations to be made in perfecting them.

The magick of getting what we want in the world is fascinating and impressive but not necessarily deeply moving. Take doing the dishes, for example. Some people still eat with their hands from food that lies in their laps. Others have pursued centuries of dogged experimentation to produce specialized eating surfaces and utensils. Some people clean such surfaces and utensils in streambeds, while others have devoted amazing ingenuity to channeling and heating water and devising special chemicals that make cleaning these surfaces and utensils easier. Some people wash their own dishes, while others have devised complex social transactions that result in “servants” of various sorts doing the cleanup. There are even electric dishwashing machines, and if that’s not supernatural, nothing is.

At the same time, who cares? We eat. If we do it right, we are nourished, we don’t get sick, and we don’t have to devote too much of our energy to doing it. Fine china, beautiful silverware, exotic spices, gourmet recipes, all these are lovely if they don’t cost us too much.

From a perspective of understanding, the magick of getting what we want tends to merge disappointingly into what we like to call “technology,” our ancillary crafts, and its appeal seems less bright, if no less useful, from this point of view.

There is also magick of the will – the art of being able to decide cleanly. Each of us is full of ambivalence. We want a thousand contradictory things, consciously, semi-consciously, entirely unconsciously. Magick of the will aligns and balances all those conflicting desires so that you can choose consistently and effectively to achieve a given end.

Will is an elusive magick that varies radically from person to person. Like music, painting or writing, it can be taught, but like any art, it is based on talent and taste. It is practiced by every successful person in the world, although few would regard it as magick. The ability to choose consistently and well, at least within a narrow focus, is essential to success in almost every undertaking.

There are easy ways to achieve will. Some of the peskiest and most disruptive of our desires are ethical and emotional. Simply by suppressing these, you can become much more effectively decisive. Fortunately, few people want to pay that price. Indeed, it may be that no one has the resources to pay that price, except by foolish borrowing.

Will is like health. Many of us are blessed with it initially, but to keep it takes luck, attention and good habits. Many of the disciplines of what we narrowly refer to these days as “magick” can be helpful, but plenty of people who have never used the word are masters of will magick.

Finally, there is magick of the spirit, the magick of listening to the quiet voices. This is a magick that is easy to lose in modern life. Plenty of atheist engineers and salesmen may be better sorcerers or better at will magick than you or I, but few of them have found a way to meet their spiritual needs.

Following Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell, many of us have come to see the roots of our spiritual yearnings sinking deep into our unconscious minds, down among primal cultural artifacts and almost universal archetypes. Whether they re-emerge on the other side of the unconscious into an astral reality is a philosophical question, not a practical one. After all, satisfying the deep yearnings of your unconscious mind is important whether or not you want to believe that the spiritual world is “real.” Lots of people know that it is, and lots of other people know it isn’t, but I don’t like the question.

I’m very clear that something really happens when I give myself over to magick of the spirit. It happens often, particularly if I make the effort to let it. It happens in loving sex just about every time. It happens at the oddest moments. It happens in meditation, speaking with a goddess or a god. But particularly, it happens when I connect to the spirits of place, of the earth.

Sitting on the ragged stones at the edge of the sea watching patterns in the water, crouched with my back to a rock high in the mountains, listening to the songs of the wind, standing among the old trees in a forest glade feeling rain on my face, I find myself lost in wonder. Minutes pass when I am far, far away. I come back changed. My yearning is answered and affirmed. These are moments of pure magick for me. I don’t know what happens, but I know it’s important. It doesn’t have to do with getting some specific thing I want or honing my will; it has to do with receiving some kind of deep sustenance.

This magick of spirit goes well beyond our wisdom.

Dancing May Day Through History

Dancing May Day Through History

by Jon Bergeon

 

As the sun set, the hilltops became alive with fire. The warm spring air filtered gently through the trees and caressed the lush green landscape as a blanket of night fell over the land. Happiness, hope and passion filled the night as the people danced and celebrated this sacred time, taking time to explore the forests, meadows and even each other.

This night, known as Beltaine, has been celebrated in many cultures and in many different ways. Today, it remains as one of the two most important holidays to modern pagans, the other being Samhain.

Also known as May Day or May Eve, Beltaine falls on the first evening of May, or on the last evening of April, as people once considered that the beginning of a new day occurred at dusk. Beltaine, a fertility Sabbat, marks the last day of the planting season, once a very important time before the advent of modern conveniences and inconveniences. Beltaine also celebrates life and renewal and a time of hope; from this time, things started would tend toward their fruition.

Among the customs of Beltaine, two stand out the most. These are the bonfire, also called the balefire, and the ever popular Maypole.

The balefire played such an important role that not only did certain rules cover its making and uses, but a law was even passed in ancient Ireland making it illegal for anyone to light a balefire until the king first did so himself. One of the balefire’s purposes was purification, a practice used for ages to remove negative energies such as disease and physical impurities and replace them with positive energies. In magickal work, purification mostly takes place between the act of banishment and the act of consecration, being a lesser form of each (though playing an important part connecting the two, which some modern practitioners of the magickal arts seem to overlook nowadays).

One of the many things that underwent balefire purifications was cattle, which were often led through the balefire’s smoke. Cattle held a very important place in those days, not only as food, clothing and whatever else can be made out of a cow, but also as a source of wealth and status. Irish sagas such as the “Tian Bo Cuailgne” demonstrate the important place of cattle. In this tale, the province of Connacht, led by Queen Maeve, goes to war with the province of Ulster, under the leadership of the unsuspecting Cuchulain, the only one able to defend his land as every other adult male in Connacht was undergoing labor pains (don’t ask, just read the story). The war, as it was, raged over a single bull, known as the Brown Bull of Quelgny. Odin’s runes also demonstrate the important role cattle once played in ancient society, which can be seen in the first rune of the aettir, Fehu or Fe, which literally translates as cattle but also symbolizes wealth.

Besides purifying, the balefire also consecrated. A couple who planned to marry on May Eve would jump over through the flames of the bonfire to seal their vows and consecrate the union (not to be confused with consummating the union, which did not take place over or in the fire). How it was regarded if the bride or groom burst into flames I don’t know; the interpretation was probably left to the officiating party.

In addition to the purifying and consecrating properties of the bonfires of May Eve, they served also as a method of insurance, allowing a family or way of life to continue. Traditionally, this was achieved by bringing glowing embers of the balefire into the house, where they would be used in blessings to bring joy and happiness to the family that resided there. The ashes were then taken to the fields, where they would be scattered about, thereby blessing the future crops. Such a blessing works magickally through a quality known as “inherent virtue,” where the properties of a known positive thing are applied to another to obtain a positive result. The result was a better crop yield, at least partly because the ashes made a fine growth supplement due to the nitrogen content of the ash.

Another belief behind the balefires concerned the inhabitants of the underworld, or the world of faery. Folk of ancient Europe once believed, and pagans of the faery faiths may still believe today, that the faery folk could not create fire and had to rely on humans to do it for them. Once the fire began, the faery would then cart coals off to the underworld, where they would be tended and nurtured by the inhabitants.

The holiday of Beltaine didn’t only serve as a fertility Sabbat, as it is commonly known today, but also as a time when the dead came out of the underworld to join the living, as on Samhain. At least, so believed the ancient Teutonic peoples, and without doubt also the modern practitioners of the Northern Mysteries. On Beltaine, the living invited deceased friends and relatives to warm themselves by the fireside and toast to a glorious past.

The other outstanding Beltaine tradition, the Maypole, still survives to this day. The Maypole dance is a fertility rite, which is made obvious by the symbolism of the pole itself, which sticks straight up out of the ground in phallic fashion. To the top of the pole are attached an even number of ribbons of varying color. The dancers, which usually consist of an equal number of males and females, hold high their arms, and with a ribbon in one hand circle the pole counter to the dancers next to them, weaving in and out and wrapping the ribbons down the length of the pole. Once done, the dancers turn, changing direction and unwrapping the ribbons.

The Maypole usually consists of a tall straight tree stripped of its branches. For this purpose, the pine is an excellent choice, though some consider the birch even better due to its qualities as a tree of birth and rebirth. These qualities can be seen in the rune Beorc or Birkana and the first letter of the Celtic Ogham alphabet, Beithe, which both represent the birch tree and the energy of birth and rebirth. However, the Maypole need not be made out of either pine or birch; it can be made out of any pole or beam planted in the ground.

Another Beltaine custom was the activity of going “a-Maying,” usually enjoyed by the young folk. Going a-Maying usually consisted of people going into the forest together looking for the blossoms of the hawthorn tree. The hawthorn, a sacred tree, had protective energies, but only on this night could one take branches and blossoms from the tree. The ancients also believed that sitting beneath a hawthorn on May Eve could result in the unfortunate sitter being abducted to the underworld. Fortunately, this event doesn’t appear to happen often, as I have been to the hawthorn on this day to collect wood for an amulet and was spared the experience. The hawthorn was not the only thing deflowered while a-Maying; those gone a-Maying into the forests and other secluded spots also took time to collect on their natural urges.

Once flowers were gathered, the gatherers created from them wreaths and garlands. These were brought back to decorate, bless and protect houses and people.

Flowers also figured in another May custom, that of the May King and his triumph over the winter. Until relatively recently in Sweden, the May King would parade down a town street, dressed head to toe in flowers, with a man dressed in furs. The man in the furs was the personification of winter, and this was his time to go. During the procession, the May King accosted the man in furs, pelting him with flowers, thereby driving him off. The May King, victorious, then began his reign.

Beltaine has many customs, many more even than I have mentioned. It is a holiday worth celebrating, a time of renewal and rebirth when the skins and troubles of the winter, both in the world and in ourselves, may be shed. At Beltaine, we can nurture new ideas and grow as individuals and as a community.

May Eve has survived for many, many years and shall continue to survive for many, many more. Through these years, we can expect a change in the customs, but never in the idea of hope and rebirth.

About Beltaine

About Beltaine

a guide to the symbolism
of the Wiccan Sabbat

by Arwynn MacFeylynnd

Date: April 30, May 1, or the Full Moon in Taurus, depending on your tradition.

Alternative names: Bealtaine (Irish Wittan), Bealtinne (Caledonii or the Druids), Celtic Summer, Floralia, Giamonios, the Great Rite, La Giornata di Tana or Tana’s Day (Aridian Strega), May Day, May Eve, Roodmas, Rudemas (Mexican Craft), Samhradh and La Baal Tinne (Faery Wicca), Walburga (Teutonic), Walpurgis Eve, Walpurgisnacht (German) and Whitsun or Old Bhealltainn (Scottish PectiWita).

Primary meanings: Beltaine honors the union of the God and Goddess and the beginning of the fertile Goddess’s reign. We see Her power in the flowering plants and warm days. This day marks the emergence of the God into manhood. The Goddess and the God unite, and the Goddess becomes pregnant. Flowers and greenery symbolize the Goddess, the Maypole the God.

Symbols: Many pagans represent Beltaine with fresh flowers all around and a cauldron filled with flowers. All of the following flowers are symbolic of Beltaine: roses, bluebells, marigolds, daisies, primroses and lilac. Mirrors are also appropriate. Altar decorations may also include a small Maypole or phallic-shaped candle and a daisy chain. Plaiting and weaving straw, creating in wicker and making baskets and fabrics are traditional arts. Other symbols are the traditional full-sized Maypole (about 10 feet tall), May baskets, crossroads, eggs, butter churns and chalices.

Colors: White and dark green particularly, also all colors of the rainbow.

Gemstones: Sapphires, bloodstones, emeralds, orange carnelians and rose quartz.

Herbs: Almond, angelica, ash trees, birch trees, bluebells, cinquefoil, daisies, frankincense, hawthorn, ivy, lilac, marigolds, primroses, rosemary, roses, satyrion root, woodruff and yellow cowslip.

Gods and goddesses: All virgin-mother goddesses, all young father gods and all gods and goddesses of the hunt, of love and of fertility. Some Beltaine goddesses to mention by name include Aphrodite, Arianrhod, Ariel, Artemis, Astarte, Cybele, Diana, Freya, Rhiannon, Shiela-na-gig, Skadi, Var, Venus and Xochiquetzal. Beltaine gods include Apollo, Bacchus, Bel/Belanos, Cernunnos, Cupid/Eros, Faunus, Frey, the Great Horned God, Herne, Odin, Orion, Pan, Puck and Robin Goodfellow.

Customs and myths: Wrapping the Maypole is a Beltaine tradition. In the old days, the Maypole was often made from a communal pine tree decorated at Yule, with most branches removed for Beltaine. In some traditions, the ribbons around the top are red and white; the white can represent the Virgin Goddess and the red the Sun God, or the white the Maiden and the red the Mother. The participants dance around the Maypole with the ribbons — the males holding the red and the females holding the white. As they dance, they intertwine the ribbons to form a symbolic birth canal around the phallic pole, representing the union of the Goddess and God. Many Wiccans choose this time to perform their own handfastings; others hold that the Goddess frowns on marriage in this month. Another great choice would be the next Sabbat at the Summer Solstice.

The Great Rite, jumping the balefire, blowing horns and gathering flowers are other Beltaine traditions. Solitary practitioners might weave ribbons as an alternative to dancing around the Maypole. It is considered taboo to give away fire or food on this day.

The Zodiac Sign Taurus April 20 – May 20

Taurus

The Bull

April 20 – May 20

You aren’t necessarily like a Bull in a ring with a toreador. You could be more like peace-loving Ferdinand, seeking the gentle meadows filled with flowers, sunshine and natural beauty. It’s only your stubbornness that can make you angry enough to charge at someone who is disturbing your peace.

You Bulls are noted for your determination. You get to where you are going, not because you are exceptionally fast or clever, but because you will not be distracted from your goals. Your need for stability and simplicity can motivate you to create a life for yourself that is quite functional, though it might seem boring to someone else. But you aren’t interested in taking unnecessary risks that can put your solid footing in jeopardy.

Your motto might be “Take care of the senses and everything else will take care of itself.” It may be that your attraction to material things is less about the objects themselves than it is about the pleasure they bring to your senses. Comfortable living and working space is important to you, along with nice linens, clothing, food and music. And, as one of the most practical signs, your outlook on life is usually quite sensible. As you plod along in life, getting what you need in order to survive, don’t forget to look at the beauty that is beyond the material world of material possessions.

Element: Earth

Earth signs are naturally practical. In this lifetime we are bound to Earth. There is no escaping the reality around us. The Earth is about as real as it gets; it can be felt, weighed and it has substance. Accordingly, the earth signs base their life on what is real, not what is imagined. Sensation is valued over thoughts or feelings. Earth signs live with their feet on the ground. Others seek their advice because of their basic sensibility. For earth signs, seeing is believing.

The earth of Taurus is simple and sensible. It’s about getting back to basics. This is about working the earth in a garden or about having the tools that we need in order to build.

House: Second

The Second House symbolizes those things that are of value to us. Personal possessions are within this domain, as is our money. Anything having personal value is associated with the Second House. It also represents those things we value that are not things. When you think about what is most important to you — your own values — you are indeed thinking about your Second House.

Key Planet: Venus

Venus is the planet of love and desire. She is in charge of romance and beauty. But Venus isn’t only about physical love; she’s also symbolic of the ideal love. When we see a beautiful painting or other work or art, Venus is present. She is the beauty of a rose as much as she is the attraction we have to someone we love. As the key planet of Taurus, Venus is sensual and simple. We fulfill the senses with beauty and life is good.

Greatest Strength:

Your sensible outlook on life

Possible Weakness:

Accepting less than you can achieve

Lessons In Tarot – Introduction To The Tarot

LESSON 1

Introduction to the Tarot

Years ago, when I told my brother I was studying the tarot, his first comment was, “How can a deck of cards possibly tell you anything about anything?” I laughed because I thought his reply summed up pretty well the common sense view of the cards. I, too, had my doubts about the tarot, but I found out that the cards can make a real difference in the way you perceive and deal with the challenges in your life. In this introduction, I’ll try to explain why.

The origin of the tarot is a mystery. We do know for sure that the cards were used in Italy in the fifteenth century as a popular card game. Wealthy patrons commissioned beautiful decks, some of which have survived. The Visconti-Sforza, created in 1450 or shortly thereafter, is one of the earliest and most complete.

Later in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the cards were discovered by a number of influential scholars of the occult. These gentleman were fascinated by the tarot and recognized that the images on the cards were more powerful than a simple game would suggest. They revealed (or created!) the “true” history of the tarot by connecting the cards to Egyptian mysteries, Hermetic philosophy, the Kabbalah, alchemy, and other mystical systems. These pursuits continued into the early part of the twentieth century when the tarot was incorporated into the practices of several secret societies, including the Order of the Golden Dawn.

Although the roots of the tarot are in the occult tradition, interest in the cards has expanded in the last few decades to include many different perspectives. New decks have been created that reflect these interests. There are Native American, herbal, dragon and Japanese decks, among others.

The tarot is most commonly viewed as a tool for divination. A traditional tarot reading involves a seeker – someone who is looking for answers to personal questions – and a reader – someone who knows how to interpret the cards. After the seeker has shuffled and cut the deck, the reader lays out the chosen cards in a pattern called a spread. Each position in the spread has a meaning, and each card has a meaning as well. The reader combines these two meanings to shed light on the seeker’s question.

A simple process, but rarely presented in a simple way. In films, we always see the tarot being used in a seedy parlor or back room. An old woman, seated in shadows, reads the cards for a nervous, young girl. The crone lifts her wrinkled finger and drops it ominously on the Death card. The girl draws back, frightened by this sign of her impending doom.

This aura of darkness clings to the tarot cards, even now. Some religions shun the cards, and the scientific establishment condemns them as symbols of unreason, a holdover from an unenlightened past. Let us set aside these shadowy images for now and consider the tarot simply for what it is – a deck of picture cards. The question becomes – what can we do with them?

The answer lies with the unconscious – that deep level of memory and awareness that resides within each of us, but outside our everyday experience. Even though we ignore the action of the unconscious most of the time, it profoundly affects everything we do. In his writings, Sigmund Freud stressed the irrational, primitive aspect of the unconscious. He thought that it was the home of our most unacceptable desires and urges. His contemporary Carl Jung emphasized the positive, creative aspect of the unconscious. He tried to show that it has a collective component that touches universal qualities.

We may never know the full range and power of the unconscious, but there are ways to explore its landscape. Many techniques have been developed for this purpose – psychotherapy, dream interpretation, visualization and meditation. The tarot is another such tool.

Consider for a moment a typical card in the tarot deck, the Five of Swords. This card shows a man holding three swords and looking at two figures in the distance. Two other swords lie on the ground. As I look at this card, I begin to create a story around the image. I see a man who seems satisfied with some battle he has won. He looks rather smug and pleased that hehas all the swords. The others look downcast and defeated.

What I have done is take an open-ended image and project a story onto it. To me, my view is the obvious one – the only possible interpretation of this scene. In fact, someone else could have imagined a totally different story. Maybe the man is trying to pick up the swords. He’s calling to the others to help him, but they refuse. Or, maybe the other two were fighting, and he convinced them to lay down their arms.

The point is that of all possible stories, I chose a certain one. Why? Because it is human nature to project unconscious material onto objects in the environment. We always see reality through a lens made up of our own inner state. Therapists have long noted this tendency and have created tools to assist in the process. The famous Rorschach inkblot test is based on such projection.

Projection is one reason why the tarot cards are valuable. Their intriguing pictures and patterns are effective in tapping the unconscious. This is the personal aspect of the tarot, but the cards also have a collective component. As humans, we all have certain common needs and experiences. The images on the tarot cards capture these universal moments and draw them out consistently. People tend to react to the cards in similar ways because they represent archetypes. Over many centuries, the tarot has evolved into a collection of the most basic patterns of human thought and emotion.

Consider the Empress. She stands for the Mother Principle – life in all its abundance. Notice how her image conjures up feelings of luxuriance. She is seated on soft, lush pillows, and her robe flows in folds around her. In the Empress, we sense the bounty and sensual richness of Nature.

The power of the tarot comes from this combination of the personal and the universal. You can see each card in your own way, but, at the same time, you are supported by understandings that others have found meaningful. The tarot is a mirror that reflects back to you the hidden aspects of your own unique awareness.

When we do a tarot reading, we select certain cards by shuffling, cutting and dealing the deck. Although this process seems random, we still assume the cards we pick are special. This is the point of a tarot reading after all – to choose the cards we are meant to see. Now, common sense tells us that cards chosen by chance can’t hold any special meaning, or can they?

To answer this question, let’s look at randomness more closely. Usually we say that an event is random when it appears to be the result of the chance interaction of mechanical forces. From a set of possible outcomes – all equally likely – one occurs, but for no particular reason.

This definition includes two key assumptions about random events: they are the result of mechanical forces, and they have no meaning. First, no tarot reading is solely the product of mechanical forces. It is the result of a long series of conscious actions. We decide to study the tarot. We buy a deck and learn how to use it. We shuffle and cut the cards in a certain way at a certain point. Finally, we use our perceptions to interpret the cards.

At every step, we are actively involved. Why then are we tempted to say a reading is “the chance interaction of mechanical forces?” Because we can’t explain just how our consciousness is involved. We know our card choices aren’t deliberate, so we call them random. In fact, could there be a deeper mechanism at work, one connected to the power of our unconscious? Could our inner states be tied to outer events in a way that we don’t yet fully understand? I hold this possibility out to you.

The other feature of a random event is that it has no inherent meaning. I roll a die and get a six, but there is no purpose to this result. I could just as easily roll a one, and the meaning would be the same – or would it? Do we really know these two outcomes are equal? Perhaps there is meaning and purpose in every event, great or small, but we don’t always recognize it.

At a party many years ago, I had the sudden urge to pick up a die sitting on the floor. I knewwith great conviction that I would use this die to roll each number individually. As I began, the laughter and noise of the party faded away. I felt a growing excitement as a different number appeared with each roll. It was only with the last successful roll that my everyday awareness returned, and I sat back, wondering what had happened.

At one level, these six rolls were unrelated, random events, but at another level, they were very meaningful. My inner experience told me this was so, even though an outside observer might not agree. What wasthe meaning? At the time, it was a lesson in the strange interaction between mind and matter. Today, I know it had another purpose – to be available to me now, some 25 years later, as an illustration for this very lesson!

Meaning is a truly mysterious quality that arises at the juncture of inner and outer realities. There is a message in everything…trees, songs, even trash…but only when we are open to perceiving it. The tarot cards convey many messages because of the richness of their images and connections. More importantly, tarot readings communicate meaning because we bring to them our sincere desire to discover deeper truths about our lives. By seeking meaning in this way, we honor its reality and give it a chance to be revealed.

If there is a meaning in a reading, where does it come from? I believe it comes from that part of ourselves that is aware of the divine source of meaning. This is an aspect of the unconscious, yet it is much more. It acts as a wise advisor who knows us well. It understands what we need and leads us in the direction we need to go. Some people call this advisor the soul, the superconscious, or the higher self. I call it the Inner Guide because that is the role it plays in connection with the tarot.

Each of us has an Inner Guide that serves as a fountain of meaning for us. Your Inner Guide is always with you because it is a part of you. You can’t destroy this connection, but you canignore it. When you reach for your tarot deck, you signal to your Inner Guide that you are open to its wisdom. This simple act of faith allows you to become aware of the guidance that was always there for you.

We are meant by nature to rely on the wisdom of our Inner Guide, but somehow we have forgotten how to access it. We trust our conscious minds instead, and forget to look deeper. Our conscious minds are clever, but unfortunately, they just don’t have the full awareness we need to make appropriate choices day by day.

When we are operating from our conscious minds, we often feel as if events are forced upon us by chance. Life seems to have little purpose, and we suffer because we do not really understand who we are and what we want. When we know how to access our Inner Guide, we experience life differently. We have the certainty and peace that comes from aligning our conscious will with our inner purpose. Our path becomes more joyous, and we see more clearly how we bring together the scattered elements of our lives to fulfill our destinies.

I use the tarot because it is one of the best tools I have found to make the whispers of my Inner Guide more available consciously. The ideas, images and feelings that emerge as I work through a reading are a message from my Inner Guide. How do I know there is a message, and it’s not just my imagination? I don’t, really. I can only trust my experience and see what happens.

You do not really need the tarot to access your Inner Guide. The cards serve the same function as Dumbo’s magic feather. In the Disney movie, Dumbo the Elephant really could fly on his own, but he didn’t believe it. He placed all his faith on the special feather he held in his trunk. He thought this feather gave him the power to fly, but he found out differently when it blew away, and he was forced to fall back on his own resources.

The tarot cards may help you fly until you can reach your Inner Guide on your own. Don’t worry for now about how this might happen. Just play with the cards, work through the lessons and exercises, and see if you don’t experience a few surprises.

This Day In History, Friday, April 27th

Today In History. What Happened This Day In History

A Timeline Of Events That Occurred On This Day In History

A chronological timetable of historical events that occurred on this day in history. Historical facts of the day in the areas of military, politics, science, music, sports, arts, entertainment and more. Discover what happened today in history.

April 27

1296   Edward I defeats the Scots at the Battle of Dunbar.
1509   Pope Julius II excommunicates the Italian state of Venice.
1565   The first Spanish settlement in Philippines is established in Cebu City.
1773   British Parliament passes the Tea Act.
1746   King George II wins the battle of Culloden.
1813   American forces capture York (present-day Toronto), the seat of government in Ontario.
1861   President Abraham Lincoln suspends the writ of habeas corpus.
1861   West Virginia secedes from Virginia after Virginia secedes from the Union.
1863   The Army of the Potomac begins marching on Chancellorsville.
1865   The Sultana, a steam-powered riverboat, catches fire and burns after one of its boilers explodes. At least 1,238 of the 2,031 passengers–mostly former Union POWs–are killed.
1909   The Sultan of Turkey, Abdul Hamid II, is overthrown.
1937   German bombers of the Condor Legion devastate Guernica, Spain.
1941   The Greek army capitulates to the invading Germans.
1950   South Africa passes the Group Areas Act, formally segregating races.
1961   The United Kingdom grants Sierra Leone independence.
1975   Saigon is encircled by North Vietnamese troops.
1978   The Afghanistan revolution begins.
1989   Protesting students take over Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China.
Born on April 27
1737   Edward Gibbon, historian (The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire).
1791   Samuel F.B. Morse, inventor of the telegraph and the code.
1822   Ulysses S. Grant, Union general during the American Civil War, 18th President of the United States (1869-1877).
1840   Edward Whymper, the first man to climb the Matterhorn.
1900   Walter Lantz, cartoonist, creator of Woody Woodpecker.
1904   Cecil Day-Lewis, Irish poet, father of actor Daniel Day-Lewis.
1927   Coretta Scott King, civil rights activist, wife of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Historynet.com