April, the Fourth Month of the Year of our Goddess, 2017

“In the glow of the dawn,
Welcome a new day,
Greet the golden sunlight or rain,
Nature in all its subtlety.
Whip of the wind,
Earth unfolds,
Softly falling rain,
Growing plants and buds blossoming.
Visions of the earth, with glories of nature,
Beauty of the daffodils,
Sunshine and rain from a rainbow,
Awe! Nature in full bloom.”

– Blanche Black, Springtime

APRIL – PINK MOON

You can breathe it. You can feel it. you can see it. April arrives, and, just as it as done for eons, little by little, the earth turns greens again. At first you can smell the change, the damp, earthy scent of a spring fresh world awakening from its winter rest. Soon after, you can feel the strengthening sun on your skin on a warm afternoon. But then you see it. In a meadow, in a city park a suburban lawn, even in a crack in the sidewalk, you see the first blades of grass.

Oh, the glorious, beautiful month of April it is truly the deliciousness and glory of Spring! Few sights are more beautiful than a grassy meadow in April, splashed yellow and blue with dandelions and violets, but grass does more than beautify our world. In most regions, early flowers begin showing their colors as skies clear and many birds return to their homes. Humans begin spring cleanings and everywhere, red-blooded creatures begin pairing off for the sacred dance of courtship, whether those pairings last for a lifetime or simply a few hours this is the month of the Sacred Marriage of the Lord and the Lady, for Beltane, or May Eve, occurs at the very end of the month, on April 30th(in some traditions, it’s May 1st), and Pagans everywhere begin to plan romantic and sexy activities, from private rituals involving Great Rites to large public rituals with May gads or a Maypole. Everywhere, we are coupling, new growth, fertility, and eventually, beautiful babies of all kinds.

What will you plan for your spring celebrations? Will there be May wine? It’s easy to make—just throw a handful of sweet woodruff and sliced strawberries into a punch bowl with some good white wine or champagne, and let stand for the duration of your ritual Will you plan a Maypole dance? How about a great Rite? Whatever you choose, do it with flair and with color, and you will be honoring the glory of Spring!

Excerpts from
Llewellyn’s 2017 Witches Spell-A-Day Almanac, The Month of April
Thuri Calafia, Author

April – Wind Moon

In April, about halfway through the month, the thunderstorms of March are beginning to subside, and the wind picks up. Seeds are being blown about on the breezes, spreading life all around from one place to the next. In fact, this lunar cycle is often known as the Seed Moon. Trees have buds on them, spring daffodils and tulips abound, and the birds are nesting once more. Much like March, this is a time of conception and fertility and new growth.

Correspondences

Colors: Bright primary colors — red, yellow, blue — and their combinations
Gemstones: Quartz, selenite, angelite
Trees: Hazel, forsythia, lilac, willow
Gods: Ishtar, Tawaret, Venus, Herne, Cernunnos
Herbs: Dandelion, milkweed, dogwood, fennel, dill
Element: Air

Magic for the Season

This is a good time to work on magic related to new beginnings. Looking to bring new love into your life, or conceive or adopt a child? This is the time to do those workings. It’s the time to stop planning, and start doing. Take all those ideas you’ve had brewing for the past couple of months, and make them come to fruition.

April does tend to be a wet, soggy month in many areas, so now is a good time to gather up rainwater for use in magic and spellwork. Leave a few glass jars outside in the open so you can collect water for different magical purposes. For instance, rain that accumulates during a soft, light drizzle can be used in rituals for calming and meditation.

On the other hand, the water that fills your jar in the middle of a late-night, thunder-and-lightning deluge is going to have a lot of energy in it – use this for workings related to power, control, and assertiveness.

Don’t forget, this month’s full moon is also called the Seed Moon. Do some planting magic, plan out your garden, and get your seedlings started.

In the weeks leading up to Beltane, do this planting ritual to get new things growing in your garden and in your life as a whole. The very act of planting, of beginning new life from seed, is a ritual and a magical act in itself. To cultivate something in the black soil, see it sprout and then bloom, is to watch a magical working unfold before our very eyes. The plant cycle is intrinsically tied to so many earth-based belief systems that it should come as no surprise that the garden is a magical place in the spring.

The Magic of Wind

Because April’s moon is associated with the winds – for obvious reasons – now is a good time to explore the winds that blow from each of the cardinal directions. For instance, the North Wind is associated with cold, destruction, and change – and not always the good kind of change. If you’ve got some bad stuff looming on the horizon, now’s the time to work through it. Do this not just by changing yourself, but also the way you respond to other people and to events that are taking place in your life.

The South Wind, in contrast, is connected to warmth and the element of fire, which in turn is associated with passion and power. Fire is a destroyer, but it also creates, so if there is a passion that you’ve lost in your life – whether it’s romantic or something else – work on doing what you need to do to rebuild it.

The winds of the East are often associated with new beginnings; in particular, focus on new careers, education, or other aspects of your life that are related to communication and your intellect. Finally, the West Wind is tied to the cleansing and healing powers of water, so if you need to get rid of things that are causing you heartache or pain, let the wind blow them right out of your life.

—Patti Wigington, Paganism/Wicca Expert
Article published on & owned by About.com

 

April’s Correspondences

NATURE SPIRITS: plant faeries

HERBS: basil, chives, dragons blood, geranium, thistle

COLORS: Red and gold

FLOWERS: daisy and sweet pea

SCENTS: pine, bay, bergamot and my personal favorite patchouli

STONES: ruby, garnet, sard

TREE’S: pine, bay and hazel

ANIMALS: Bear and Wolf

BIRDS: hawk and magpie

DEITIES: Kali, Hathor, Anahita, Ceres, Ishtar, Venus, Bast

POWERS/ADVICE: energy in creating and producing, balance is returned to the nerves change, self confidence, self-reliance, take advantage of opportunities, time to work on emotional turmoil and get your temper into prospective.

 

Symbols for the Month of April

April’s Festival: Beltane Eve, May Day Eve.
(Symbols include blossom, May baskets, honey and garlands).

April’s Sign of the Zodiac
Aries (March 21 – April 20)
Taurus (April 21 – May 20)

April’s Celtic Tree Astrology
Fearn – Alder (March 18 – April 14)
Saille (April 15 – May 12

April’s Runic Half Months
Ehwaz (March 30 – April 13)
Man (April 14 – April 28)
Lagu (April 29 – May 13)

April’s Birthstones
Diamond and rock crystal

April’s Birth Flower
Daisy & Sweet Pea

April’s Goddess
Rhiannon

Other: April Fool’s Day, Easter(depending on the date), Primrose Day, St. George’s Day (England).

 

April’s Folklore

“April showers bring May flowers.”

“If early April is foggy, then rain in June will make lanes boggy!”

“When April blows its horn, ’tis good for hay and corn.”

“April wet, good wheat.”

“Till April’s dead, change not a thread.”

Folklore Courtesy – Hedgewitch Book of Days: Spells, Rituals, and Recipes for the Magical Year
Mandy Mitchell

Pagan Calendar of Events for April

  • 6: National Tartan Day
  • 11: Full moon — Wind Moon at 2:09 am. April is a month of pending rebirth, as the earth and soil prepare for new life to sprout. Watch as the natural world around you begins to change.
  • 14: Celtic Tree Month of Alder ends
  • 15: Celtic Tree Month of Willow begins
  • 16: Birthday of author Margot Adler
  • 22: Earth Day
  • 23: Wiccan pentacle is officially added to the list of VA-approved emblems for gravestones, 2007
  • 28 – May 3: Floralia, honoring the goddess of spring flowers and vegetation.
  • 30: Walpurgisnacht celebrated by German witches

—Patti Wigington, Paganism/Wicca Expert
Calendar published on & owned by ThoughtCo

Handfasting

History: An Old Tradition Made New

Many Pagan couples choose to have a handfasting ritual instead of a traditional wedding ceremony. In some cases, it may be simply ceremonial — a couple declaring their love for one another without the benefit of a state license. For other couples, it can be tied in with a state marriage certification issued by a legally authorized party such as a clergyperson or justice of the peace. Either way, it’s becoming more and more popular, as Pagan and Wiccan couples are seeing that there is indeed an alternative for non-Christians who want more than just a courthouse wedding.

Marriages, Irregular and Regular

In centuries gone by, handfasting was a popular custom in the British Isles. In rural areas, it could be weeks or even months before a clergyman happened to stop by your village, so couples learned to make allowances. A handfasting was the equivalent of today’s common-law marriage — a man and woman simply clasped hands and declared themselves married. Generally this was done in the presence of a witness or witnesses. In Scotland, marriages were considered the office of the church until 1560, when marriage became a civil matter rather than a church sacrament. After that time, marriages were divided into “regular” and “irregular” marriages.

A regular marriage took place when banns were read, followed by a clergyman performing the duties of the ceremony. An irregular marriage could take place in one of three ways: a public declaration by the couple that they were husband and wife, followed by consummation of the relationship; by mutual agreement; or simply by living together and being recognized as husband and wife.

As long as everyone was above the age of consent (12 for brides, 14 for grooms) and not too closely related, irregular marriages were generally considered as valid as a regular marriage.

Typically the gentry and landowners were married in the “regular” way, so there could be no question later on if the marriage was legally recognized or not — in cases of inheritance, this could be a big issue.

Handfastings or irregular marriages were considered the domain of the lower class and peasants. Around the middle of the 1700s, irregular marriages were made illegal in England — but since Scotland kept the tradition, it wasn’t uncommon for an amorous British couple to elope over the border. Gretna Green became famous because it was the first town in Scotland that eloping lovers would encounter once they left England — and the Old Blacksmith’s shop there became the site of many ‘anvil weddings’, performed by the village smith.

An Old Concept, New Ideas

The word “handfasting” fell by the wayside for many years. In the 1950s, when the witchcraft laws were repealed in England, various occultists and witches — including Gerald Gardner and Doreen Valiente — searched for a non-Christian term for their wedding ceremonies. They settled on “handfasting”, and the concept was resurrected within the Neopagan movement. Typically, a Pagan handfasting was meant to be a secret ceremony, held only in front of your coven or study group. As Wicca and Paganism become more mainstream, however, more and more couples are finding ways to work their Pagan and Wiccan spirituality into their marriage ceremony.

The actual term “handfasting” comes from the tradition of the bride and groom crossing arms and joining hands — basically, creating the infinity symbol (a figure-eight) with the hands. In Neopagan ceremonies, the clergyperson performing the ceremony will join the couple’s hands with a cord or ribbon during the ritual. In some traditions, the cord remains in place until the couple consummates the marriage. While some people may choose to have their handfasting be a permanent bond, others might declare it to be valid for “a year and a day”, at which point they will re-evaluate the relationship and determine whether to continue or not.

Who Can Be Handfast? Anyone!

One benefit of having a handfasting ceremony is that it because it’s not the same as a legal wedding, there are more options available to people in non-traditional relationships.

Anyone can have a handfasting — same-sex couples, polyamorus families, transgender couples, etc.

Dormant for so long, the idea of the handfasting ceremony has enjoyed a huge rise in popularity. If you’re fortunate enough to find someone you love enough to spend your life with, you may wish to consider having a handfasting rather than a traditional wedding ceremony.

 

 

—Patti Wigington, Paganism/Wicca Expert

Article published on & owned by ThoughtCo

Tips for a Magical Ceremony

 

Handfasting was a popular custom in the British Isles centuries ago. In the past few years, however, it’s been seeing a rising popularity among modern Pagan couples who are interested in tying the knot. Many Pagan and Wiccan couples choose to have a handfasting ritual instead of a traditional wedding ceremony. If you’re lucky enough to have someone you love this much, there are a few things you may want to keep in mind in order to make your handfasting ceremony a success.

  • Plan as far ahead as possible, especially if you’re going to be writing your own vows. It will be far less stressful if you — and your clergyperson — have been able to get familiar with the wording, rather than waiting till the last minute.
  • Consider how long the ceremony is going to be. If you want people to stand in a circle, and have elderly relatives or small children present, anything longer than about half an hour is going to require chairs for some of your audience. In total, try to keep the ritual to about an hour — if the crowd is really big, make your ceremony even shorter.
  • Bear in mind that if you want to have a circle, you’re going to need far more room than if you just stand at the altar with your beloved. Dancing, spinning, calling of the quarters — all that stuff takes up space. Make sure that your location will accommodate all of your guests.
  • Many Pagan and Wiccan couples hold their handfastings outdoors. If you choose to do this — great! But make sure you’ve done your homework — some public places like parks require you to have a reservation, or to fill out paperwork if there will be a large crowd present. When you make arrangements in advance, if you’re concerned about public perception, you don’t have to say “It’s a Wiccan handfasting ceremony.” Typically just the phrase “family gathering” or “we’re getting married” will be sufficient, and both are truthful. Regardless, make sure you have permission to be where you’re having your ceremony.
  • If you hold your handfasting in a public place, be sure to respect the rules of the area — if there are signs that say “no open flames,” then don’t have a bonfire. If food and beverages are prohibited, then go somewhere else for the potluck after the ceremony. Make sure you check into noise and entertainment ordinances as well — the last thing you want is the police showing up at your handfasting because your drum circle was too loud. Be sure to plan ahead to have a cleanup crew — designate specific individuals to be in charge of this task, rather than just saying “Hey, can someone pick up the trash?” as you and your new partner leave the site.
  • If you plan to invite non-Pagan relatives or friends to the ceremony, you should probably prep them in advance. Don’t ask them to do anything that makes them feel uncomfortable, but do let them know that the ceremony has aspects of your spiritual path in it. Depending on just how Pagan your handfasting is going to be, and how your non-Pagan family feels about it, you may want to let them know about any non-traditional activities before the ceremony — and not at the last minute. That way, if great-aunt Matilda feels icky about you calling upon a bunch of gods she’s never heard of, she can bow out altogether. It’s a good idea to provide seating outside your circle for those who would like to watch but are uncomfortable with actual participation.
  • Don’t use your handfasting as a way of coming out of the broom closet. You need to be able to focus all of your energy on the handfasting itself, and not spend it worrying about what your parents are going to think when they find out you and your beloved are practicing Wicca. Have that conversation well ahead of time. If you have family members or friends who are adamantly opposed to your having a Pagan ceremony, remember, it’s your marriage, not theirs. You can either have a non-Pagan ceremony later and invite them to attend, or you can tell them that if they can’t attend your handfasting, you understand and you love them anyway.

—Patti Wigington, Paganism/Wicca Expert
Article published on & owned by ThoughtCo

 

Sample Handfasting Ritual

If you’re planning on having a handfasting ceremony rather than a traditional wedding, you may want to work with your Pagan clergyperson on the writing of the vows. This is a sample ceremony that you can make adjustments to based upon your needs and your spiritual tradition. To avoid leaving a bunch of blank spaces, or the ever popular Bride’s Name and Groom’s Name, we’re going to pretend this is a ceremony for a woman named Ivy and a man named Mark, being handfast by a High Priestess (HPs).

Sample Handfasting Ritual

HPs: Friends, family, loved ones. We are all here today to see two people, Ivy and Mark, join hands and be bound together by their love, now and forever. Before we begin the ceremony, we will turn this place into sacred ground. As I cast the circle, please take a moment to visualize loving, positive energy for Ivy and Mark.

HPs casts the circle, either out loud or in silence.

HPs: The circle has been cast, and this is now a sacred space. We will now take a moment to consecrate the rings.

HPs consecrates the rings with the four elements, or by other method called for by the couple’s tradition.

HPs: The circle itself is an infinite thing. It is magical and never-ending, never changing and yet always adaptable, a ring with no beginning and no conclusion. Like the circle, true love itself is infinite. It goes on, knowing no boundaries or restrictions. It flourishes and blooms in the light and in the dark, laying down no ultimatums, making no demands at all. Love, in its infinite form, is something that cannot be forced. It cannot be taken away. It is a gift we give to ourselves, and an honor we give to others from the bottom of our hearts and souls.

When two people come together and give one another this gift, this most sacred gift of all, it is certain the universe is sitting back and smiling upon us, laughing and showering us with every possible blessing.

Today is a day to celebrate the love of Mark and Ivy. They are two people who are the halves of a whole. Two souls, coming together to form one single being; two hearts, beating in a single rhythm. They are together as one, and so they will now light a candle of unity, to show the universe that they indeed are one light burning brightly in the darkness.

If the couple is lighting a unity candle, do this now.

HPs: Today, we ask that the infinite light of the divine shine upon this union. In that spirit, I offer a blessing to this ceremony.

Blessed be this marriage with the gifts from the east — new beginnings that come each day with the rising sun, communication of the heart, mind, body and soul.

Blessed be this marriage with the gifts of the south — the light of the heart, the heat of passion, and the warmth of a loving home.

Blessed be this marriage with the gifts of the west — the rushing excitement of a raging river, the soft and pure cleansing of a rainstorm, and a commitment as deep as the ocean itself.

Blessed be this marriage with the gifts of the north — a solid foundation on which to build your lives, abundance and growth of your home, and the stability to be found by holding one another at the end of the day.

Ivy, Mark, these four simple blessings will help you on your journey that begins today. However, they are only tools. They are tools which you must use together to create the light, the strength, the infinite energy now and forever of a love you both so richly deserve.

Now, I bid you look into one another’s eyes and hearts. Mark, please place the ring on Ivy’s finger. Do you promise to show Ivy your honor and fidelity, to share her laughter and joy, to support and stand by her in times of difficulty, to dream and hope together with her, and to spend each day loving her more than the day before?

Groom responds, hopefully in the affirmative!

HPs: Ivy, please give Mark the ring. Do you, Ivy, promise to show Mark your honor and fidelity, to share his hopes and dreams, to laugh with him and share endless days of joy, to stand side by side with him in times of trouble, and to spend each day loving him more than the day before?

Bride responds. If the couple has written vows they wish to speak to one another, now is the time to do this.

HPs: The vows of love have been spoken. I ask you now to cross your hands over each other, and take one another’s hands.

HPS wraps the cord around the bride and grooms wrists, binding them together loosely and tying a knot.

HPs: Mark, Ivy, this cord ribbons symbolizes so much. It is your life, your love, and the eternal connection that the two of you have found with one another. The ties of this handfasting are not formed by these ribbons, or even by the knots connecting them. They are formed instead by your vows, by your pledge, your souls, and your two hearts, now bound together as one.

As one last bond, Mark, will you please kiss Ivy?

Couple kisses, HPs unwraps cord without untying knot.

HPs: Please turn to face your friends and family who love you. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Mr. and Mrs. Mark Jones!

And now, we will dismiss this sacred space. As I close the circle, please send all of your loving energy towards our newly handfast couple, so that they may begin their life together with all of your blessings and warm wishes.

HPS goes around the circle, dismissing the quarters.

HPs: The circle has been dismissed. Friends, please take a moment to congratulate Mark and Ivy!

Tip: If you wish, ask friends and family members to call the quarters, with someone standing at each cardinal point to represent the four directions.

—Patti Wigington, Paganism/Wicca Expert
Article published on & owned by ThoughtCo

Jumping The Broom

The ritual itself is very simple. Yet it’s significance and meaning run very deep. After the priest marries the couple, the bride and groom jump over a broom. It would be more accurate to say “jumping the besom,” the besom being a type of broom that is made with twigs tied together against a strong pole.

Sometimes this ritual takes place at the church itself, or at the wedding reception. There are several ways to go about it. The broom or besom may be laid on the floor and the couple hand in hand, leaps over it as high as they might. Another method has the broom lying at an angle in the entryway to the new home and the bride and groom take their turn at leaping over it. Some hold the belief that the higher the leaper, the more powerful in the marriage that one shall be.

Still another method has the groom stepping over the broom in the doorway while carrying his new bride. This tradition seems to come to us from Wales, primarily, though there is still some contention on whether it comes from Romani Gypsy people living in Wales or come from the Welsh people themselves.

The earliest mention seems to come from the early 18th century though Romani have been in Wales since at least the 16th century. Regardless of origin, jumping the broom has been embraced by the Welsh as a sort of common-law marriage symbolic act. The symbolic role of the broom or besom in the home is rich and varied in Celtic culture.

Perhaps its greatest role is that of setting the boundary between the home and the wild. The act of sweeping the floor was not only a way of cleaning, but also demarcated the boundaries of the home. In ancient times, dirt floors were common and often to keep them clean enough to live on they had to be swept several times every day. This has the effect of creating a boundary for the home, just by sheer repetition. So, often the broom was considered one of the first lines of defense for a home maker.

Outside of Wales, in parts of England, jumping the broom has been considered primarily a folk tradition. It is not as common for urban dwellers who are wedded to contemporary marriage customs. However, let it be said that the ancient people of Wales who still practice this tradition are about all that was left of the original British inhabitants before the arrival of the Angles and the Saxons and other Germanic tribes. These invaders displaced the local inhabitants, forcing them to move west into what is now Wales and Cornwall.

This tradition also seems to have been widely practiced in various parts of the world, from Eastern Europe to the Americas. During the period of black slavery in the Americas, it became a way for slaves to signify their own marriages, as slave marriage was not legally recognized by the governments involved until after Emancipation and the end of the Civil War in America. The practice was likely taken from the whites as a way for slaves to recognize marriage formally among themselves, beyond any remaining African ceremony that may have survived. It was re-explored in the popular black culture during the time Alex Haley’s ‘Roots’ was enjoying its highest popularity.

Today, jumping the broom is also enjoying resurgence in popular neo-pagan cultures such as some Wicca groups and adherents along with those who follow a more eclectic brand of spirituality. In some of the more modern incarnations of the practice, the couple may have to leap over a besom which is held aloft by the Best Man and the Maid of Honor. Sometimes, they may have to leap three times over the besom.

Another modern practice is to leap over a fire and then leap over the broom immediately after that. It is thought that the fire will burn away negative influences of the past and the besom will denote the new beginning for the two together. Often the handfasting cord may be affixed to the besom and it is then placed somewhere prominent in the marriage home.

Marc Choyt
Article published on Celtic Jewelry

 

We are Witches
We walk the path of the Old Gods
From this moment forth
We will not walk alone
Together, we will worship
Together, we will practice our Craft
Together, we will learn and grow
We vow to work, from this day forward
In perfect love and perfect trust
According to the free will of all
And for the good of all
Creating only beauty
Singing in harmony
Our song upon the Earth
Love is the law and love is the bond
In the name of the Goddess and the God
So do we vow, and so mote it be.
–Circle, Coven, & Grove: A Year of Magickal Practice
Deborah Blake

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