‘THINK on THESE THINGS’
By Joyce Sequichie Hifler
Did you know that when we poke fun at someone else we’re covering up our own embarrassment?
We all have shortcomings, peculiarities about ourselves that we take no pride in nor want others to know about. So, frequently we call attention to the “different” traits of others. Sometimes we believe they are not aware of their own problems, but they are. They are superconscious of them, and because of it they must escape through finding something about someone else they believe is worse than their own.
Truly wise persons are those who take their own unique qualities and build around them. Some of the most fascinating people are those who surround their unusual features with such exquisite mannerisms and beautifully developed personalities so handsomely as to make others ordinary.
It has been written by Augustine, “This is the very perfection of man, to find out his own imperfection.”
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
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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 30
“Modern civilization has no understanding of sacred matters. Everything is backwards.”
–Thomas Yellowtail, CROW
Modern civilization says, don’t pray in school; don’t pray at work; only go to church on Sunday. If you don’t believe what I believe, you’ll go to hell. Deviancy is normal. Our role models cheat, drink and run around; these are the people in the news. The news sells bad news; no one wants to hear good news. Kids are killing kids. Victims have little protection. Violence is normal. Leaders cheat and lie. Everything is backwards. We need to pray for spiritual intervention. We need to have guidance from the Creator to help us rebuild our families, our communities and ourselves. Today, I will pray for spiritual intervention from the Great Spirit.
Grandfather, we pray for your help in a pitiful way.
April 30 – Daily Feast
Those of us who have seen a grass fire know that when one flame is smothered, another can break out in a different place. It takes trained minds to perceive where the next will happen – not so different from our daily lives. Sometimes it is hard to do anything new because of the emergency work. This is all a part of the business of living. We never quite reach perfection – not all at once. Even if we do, we are off to something else that needs more help, more work. If it were not for the moving and stretching of time, perfection might become a dead nothing. The Cherokee would tell you not to build your campfire near loose tinder. What earthly purpose is there in starting a fire with a match or a tongue, in places and in ways where we have no business?
~ No one ever saw an Indian destroy something the Great Creator gave to man for his needs. ~
‘A Cherokee Feast of Days’, by Joyce Sequichie Hifler
Lighten up and live well
You are an important, indispensable part of life on this day. Yet that is no reason to be arrogant.
You have a vital job to do. Yet that doesn’t mean you must be stuffy and overly serious.
You do things best when you do them joyfully. Lighten up, have fun, and spread true joy everywhere you go.
Be mature and responsible, but don’t be dull and brooding about it. Be purposeful and determined, but don’t be uptight about it.
Demonstrate your determination not with a rigid scowl on your face, but with joyous achievement. Life is an amazingly grand adventure, so allow yourself to experience and express delight in every moment.
See yourself as happily dancing through the moments of this day, and nothing will be able to bring you down. Live lightly, live joyously, and live well.
— Ralph Marston
The Daily Motivator
The Soundless Center
Silence of the Heart
It takes a sensitive ear to tune in to the silence of the heart, but it is there in each one of us.
We spend a lot of time attempting to put the feelings in our hearts into words, to communicate to others our passions, our emotions, and our love. Often we are so busy trying to translate our heart’s roar into language that we miss the most profound experience the heart has to offer, which is silence. Every poem arises from this silence and returns to it. When all the songs have been sung, the soliloquies delivered, the emotions expressed, silence is what remains. As each wave of feeling rises and falls back into the silence, we have an opportunity to connect with the vast, open, powerfully healing wisdom at the soundless center of our hearts.
Our hearts may seem noisy and tumultuous so much of the time that we do not even associate them with silence. It takes a sensitive ear to tune in to the silence of the heart, but it is there in each one of us, so close and so large that we do not even notice it. We can begin to become aware of it in the same way we become aware of the negative space in a still life, the background of a photograph, or the open sky that contains the sun, clouds, moon, and stars. We are accustomed to tuning in to objects and sounds that are one-pointed, solid, and three-dimensional. Seeing and hearing the apparently empty space that contains these sounds and objects takes a little practice.
We can bring our awareness into our hearts by simply breathing into the general area of our heart. The first thing we may notice is feelings like joy or sadness and physical sensations like tightness or tenderness. We acknowledge these as we continue to breathe and focus, listening attentively. We surround these feelings and sensations with breath and recognize that they are contained and held in an immeasurable substance like water or air, intangible, ineffable, but utterly real. This is the silence of the heart, and the more we listen for it, return to it, and accept it, the more we bathe and purify ourselves in the soundless center of our being.
The Daily OM
The Between Time
Beltane is one of the most important festivals of the pagan year traditionally marking the arrival of summer in ancient times.
With its counterpart Samhain, Beltane divides the year into its two primary seasons, Winter the Dark and Summer the Light.
It’s the festival of fertility, celebrating beginnings and reproduction, the height of Spring and the flowering of life. Beltane is also known as May Eve, May Day, and Walpurgis Night. Sacred woods are kindled, (make sure you jump over the Beltane Fire, move through it, or dance clockwise around it).
In ancient Rome, the Floralia from April 27-May 3 was the festival of the Flower Goddess Flora and on May 1 offerings were made to Bona Dea, Mother Earth, the Lares household guardian spirits, and Maia, Goddess of Increase, from whom May gets its name. In Scandinavia, mock battles between Winter and Summer were enacted at this time. In the twentieth century, May Day has been a workers’ holiday in many places
It’s a time of “between time” when the veils between the two worlds are at their thinnest and most fragile. The two worlds intersect at the crossroads of Beltane where they intermingle and unite and anything may happen. It’s the time when the Faeries return from their winter respite, and people placed rowan branches at their windows and doors for protection from the otherworld. It’s a time of divination and communion with Faery Folk and all Nature Spirits
It is said that the Queen of the Faeries rides out on her white horse on Beltane Eve . If you sit quietly beneath a tree on that night, you may hear the sound of her horse’s bells as she rides by. Turn away quickly and hide your face for if you look upon her she may choose you ! The Scots tell of Thomas the Rhymer who looked on the Queen and has not been seen since.
May is the month of sensuality and sexuality, the reawakening of the earth in vivid colours, vibrant scents, fresh greenery and the sheer joy of summer after a long dormant winter.
Beltane Planting Ritual for Solitaries
By Patti Wigington, About.com
This ritual is designed for the solitary practitioner, but it can easily be adapted for a small group to perform together. It’s a simple rite that celebrates the fertility of the planting season, and so it’s one that should be performed outside. If you don’t have a yard of your own, you can use pots of soil in place of a garden plot. Don’t worry if the weather is a bit inclement – rain shouldn’t be a deterrent to gardening. Just be sure you’re past the safe planting date for your region.
- Packets of seeds, or seedlings if you have them started already
- Pots of dirt, if you don’t have a garden
- Gardening tools, such as a shovel
There is no need to cast a circle to perform this ritual, although if you prefer to do so, you certainly can. Plan on taking some time with this rite, though, and not rushing through it.
To begin, you’ll prepare the soil for planting. If you’ve already gotten your garden tilled or mulched, great – you’ll have a bit less work. If not, now’s the time to do so. Use your shovel or tiller to loosen the soil as much as possible. As you’re turning the earth over, and mixing it all up, take time to connect with the elements. Feel the earth, soft and moist beneath your feet. Take in the breeze, exhaling and inhaling calmly as you work. Feel the warmth of the sun on your face, and listen to the birds chattering in the trees above you. Connect with nature, and with the planet itself
If your tradition includes a deity of agriculture or land, now is a good time to call upon them. For instance, if your tradition honors Cernunnos*, a fertility god, you might choose to use the following:
Hail, Cernunnos! God of the forest, master of fertility!
Today, we honor you by planting the seeds of life,
Deep within the womb of earth.
Hail, Cernunnos! We ask you to bless this garden,
Watch over it, and grant it abundance,
We ask that these plants grow strong and fertile
Under your watchful eye.
Hail, Cernunnos! God of the greenwood!
When you have finished turning the soil and preparing it, it is time to plant the seeds (or seedlings, if you started them earlier in the spring). While you can do this easily with a shovel, sometimes it is better to get down on your hands and knees and really connect with the soil. If you’re not limited by mobility issues, get as close to the ground as you can, and use your hands to part the soil as you put the seeds in place. Yes, you’ll get dirty, but that’s what gardening is about. As you place each seed into the ground, offer a simple blessing, such as:
May the soil be blessed as the womb of the land
Becomes full and fruitful to bring forth the garden anew.
Cernunnos*, bless this seed.
After you’ve gotten the seeds in the ground, cover them all up with the loose dirt. Remember, this could take a while if you’ve got a large garden, so it’s okay if you want to do this ritual over the course of a few days.
As you’re performing all the different actions of gardening – touching the earth, feeling the plants – remember to focus on the energy and power of the elements. Get dirt under your fingernails, squash it between your toes if you don’t mind being barefoot outside. Say hello to that worm you just dug up by accident, and place him back in the ground. Do you compost? If so, be sure to add the compost to your plantings.
Finally, you’ll water your freshly planted seeds. You can either use a garden hose for this, or you can water by hand with a can. If you have a rain barrel, use the water from the barrel to start your garden.
As you’re watering your seeds or seedlings, call upon the deities of your tradition one last time.
Hail, Cernunnos*! God of fertility!
We honor you by planting these seeds.
We ask your blessing upon our fertile soil.
We will tend this garden, and keep it healthy,
Watching over it in your name.
We honor you by planting, and pay you tribute with this garden.
Hail, Cernunnos, master of the land!
You may also wish to include a general Garden Blessing.
Once you have completed watering, take a look through your freshly planted garden one last time. Did you miss any spots? Are there any weeds you forgot to pull? Tidy up any loose ends, and then take a moment to savor the knowledge that you have planted something new and wonderful. Feel the sunlight, the breeze, the soil beneath your feet, and know you have connected once more to the Divine.
*Cernunnos is used as an example in this rite. Use the name of the appropriate deity for your tradition.
How To Hold a Family Abundance Rite for Beltane
By Patti Wigington, About.com
Beltane is a celebration of fertility, and despite that it’s a perfectly natural aspect of the human existence, let’s face it — some parents may not always be comfortable discussing the erect phallus of the god or the open womb of the goddess with their young children. However, in addition to sexual fertility, the Beltane sabbat is also about abundance, in many forms. Don’t just focus on material gains — it’s about the growth of the earth and its bounty, and it’s about increasing your own spiritual and emotional wealth.
This family ritual is one that you can easily include children in. Hold it at night, if possible. Before beginning, prepare your family’s evening meal. Include spring foods, such as a light salad, fresh fruit, or breads. Set the table as you normally would, and go outside. For this ritual, you’ll need the following:
- A small flower pot for each person in the family
- A bowl of dirt or potting soil
- Seeds for your favorite herbs or flowers
- A cup of water
- A small fire
- A piece of paper for each person in the family
Go out in your yard with the entire family — be sure you have a small table or other flat surface you can use as an altar. For the fire, you can either build a large one in your yard, or if space is an issue, use a table-top brazier. A small cast iron pot is perfect for this purpose. You may want to decorate your altar space beforehand with symbols of the season. If your tradition requires you to cast a circle, do so now.
The oldest person in the family should lead the ritual. Begin by saying:
The light has returned, and life has come back to the earth.
The soil is dark and full of energy,
so this evening we plant our seeds.
They will lie in the soil, taking root and growing,
until the time has come for them to meet the sun.
As we plant these seeds, we give thanks to the earth
for its strength and life-bringing gifts.
Each person fills their pot with soil. You can either pass the bowl of dirt around, or if you have small children, just let each approach the altar or table. If there are a number of people participating, you may want to sing a chant as everyone fills their pot. A good chant for this is:
Earth my body, water my blood,
air my breath and fire my spirit;
repeated multiple times, or sung as a round-robin.
Once everyone has filled their pot with soil, pass out the seeds. Say:
Tiny seeds, containing life!
They travel upon the wind and bring to us abundance.
Flowers, herbs, vegetables, fruit…
all the bounty of the earth.
We give thanks to the seeds,
for the gifts that are to come in the harvest season.
Each person should push their seeds down into the soil. Older participants can help smaller children with this. Finally, pass around the cup of water. Say:
Water, cool and life-giving!
Bringing power to these seeds,
and moistening this fertile soil.
We give thanks to the water,
for allowing life to bloom once more.
When each person has finished potting their seeds, set the flower pots on the altar or table. Give each participant a small piece of paper and something to write with. Say:
Tonight we plant seeds in the earth,
but Beltane is a time in which many things can grow.
Tonight we plant seeds in our hearts and souls,
for other things we wish to see blossom.
We plant the seeds of love, of wisdom, of happiness.
We dig deep, and begin a crop of harmony, balance, and joy.
We add water to bring life and abundance of all kinds into our homes.
We offer our wishes into the fire, to carry them out to the Universe.
Each person should write on their paper something they wish to see blooming in their own life — harmony, happiness, financial security, strong relationships, healing, etc. For small children, it may be something very simple — even if your first-grader writes down that he wants a pony, don’t discourage anyone’s wishes. After each person has written their wish down, they approach the fire one at a time and cast the paper into the flames (help little ones with this part, just in the interest of safety).
When everyone has placed their wishes into the fire, take a few moments and think about the meaning of Beltane. Think about the things you want to see bloom and grow in your own life, in both the material and the non-physical realm. When everyone is ready, end the ritual. You may wish to follow the ceremony with another Beltane festivity, such as a Maypole Dance, or the traditional cakes and ale.
Setting Up Your Beltane Altar – What To Include on Your Beltane Altar
By Patti Wigington, About.com
It’s Beltane, the Sabbat where many Wiccans and Pagans choose to celebrate the fertility of the earth. This Sabbat is about new life, fire, passion and rebirth, so there are all kinds of creative ways you can set up for the season. Depending on how much space you have, you can try some or even all of these ideas — obviously, someone using a bookshelf as an altar will have less flexibility than someone using a table, but use what calls to you most.
Colors of the Season
This is a time when the earth is lush and green as new grass and trees return to life after a winter of dormancy. Use lots of greens, as well as bright spring colors — the yellow of the daffodils, forsythia and dandelions; the purples of the lilac; the blue of a spring sky or a robin’s egg. Decorate your altar with any or all of these colors in your altar cloths, candles, or colored ribbons.
The Beltane holiday is the time when, in some traditions, the male energy of the god is at its most potent. He is often portrayed with a large and erect phallus, and other symbols of his fertility include antlers, sticks, acorns, and seeds. You can include any of these on your altar. Consider adding a small Maypole centerpiece — there are few things more phallic than a pole sticking up out of the ground!
In addition to the lusty attributes of the god, the fertile womb of the goddess is honored at Beltane as well. She is the earth, warm and inviting, waiting for seeds to grow within her. Add a goddess symbol, such as a statue, cauldron, cup, or other feminine items. Any circular item, such as a wreath or ring, can be used to represent the goddess as well.
Flowers and Faeries
Beltane is the time when the earth is greening once again — as new life returns, flowers are abundant everywhere. Add a collection of early spring flowers to your altar — daffodils, hyacinths, forsythia, daisies, tulips — or consider making a floral crown to wear yourself. You may even want to pot some flowers or herbs as part of your Sabbat ritual.
In some cultures, Beltane is sacred to the Fae. If you follow a tradition that honors the Faerie realm, leave offerings on your altar for your household helpers.
Because Beltane is one of the four fire festivals in modern Pagan traditions, find a way to incorporate fire into your altar setup. Although one popular custom is to hold a bonfire outside, that may not be practical for everyone, so instead it can be in the form of candles (the more the better), or a table-top brazier of some sort. A small cast-iron cauldron placed on a heat-resistant tile makes a great place to build an indoor fire.
Other Symbols of Beltane
- May baskets
- Honey, oats, milk
- Antlers or horns
- Fruit such as cherries, mangos, pomegranates, peaches
- Swords, lances, arrows
Legends and Lore of Beltane
In many cultures, there are different legends and lore surrounding Beltane. Here are a few of the stories about this magical spring celebration.
- Like Samhain, the holiday of Beltane is a time when the veil between the worlds is thin. Some traditions believe that this is a good time to contact the spirits, or to interact with the Fae. Be careful, though — if you visit the Faerie Realm, don’t eat the food, our you’ll be trapped there, much like Thomas the Rhymer was!
- Some Irish dairy farmers hang a garland of green boughs over their door at Beltane. This will bring them great milk production from their cows during the coming summer. Also, driving your cattle between two Beltane bonfires helps protect your livestock from disease.
- The pious Puritans were outraged by the debauchery of Beltane celebrations. In fact, they made Maypoles illegal the mid 1600’s, and tried to put a halt to the “greenwood marriages” that frequently took place on May Eve. One pastor wrote that if “tenne maiden went to set (celebrate) May, nine of them came home gotten with childe.”
- According to a legend in parts of Wales and England, women who are trying to conceive should go out on May Eve — the last night of April — and find a “birthing stone”, which is a large rock formation with a hole in the center. Walk through the hole, and you will conceive a child that night. If there is nothing like this near you, find a small stone with a hole in the center, and drive a branch of oak or other wood through the hole — place this charm under your bed to make you fertile.
- If you go out at sunrise on Beltane, take a bowl or jar to gather morning dew. Use the dew to wash your face, and you’re guaranteed a perfect complexion. You can also use the dew in ritual as consecrated water, particularly in rituals related to the moon or the goddess Diana or her counterpart, Artemis.
- In the Irish Book of Invasions, it was on Beltane that Patholan, the first settler, arrived on Ireland’s shores. May Day was also the date of the defeat of the Tuatha de Danaan by Amergin and the Milesians.
- Babies conceived at Beltane are considered a gift from the gods. They were sometimes referred to as “merry-begots”, because the mothers were impregnated during Beltane’s merrymaking.
- In Cornwall, it’s traditional to decorate your door on May Day with boughs of hawthorn and sycamore.
- Eating a special oatcake called a bannock or a Beltane cake ensured Scottish farmers abundance of their crops for the year. The cakes were baked the night before, and roasted in embers on a stone.
Also known as: May Day, Bealtaine, Beltane, Bhealtainn, Bealtinne, Festival of Tana (Strega), Giamonios, Rudemass, and Walburga (Teutonic), Cetsamhain (opposite Samhain),Fairy Day ,Sacred Thorn Day, Rood Day, Roodmas (the Christian term for Rood Day, Old Beltane, Beltain, Baltane, Walpurgis Night, Floriala (Roman feast of flowers from April 29 to May 1), Walpurgisnacht (Germanic-feast of St. Walpurga), Thrimilce (Anglo-saxon), Bloumaand (Old Dutch)
Date: May 1
Animals: Swallow, dove, swan, Cats, lynx, leopard
Deities: Flower Goddesses, Divine Couples, Deities of the Hunt, Aphrodite,
artemis, Bast, Diana, Faunus, Flora, Maia, Pan, the Horned God, Venus, and all Gods and Goddesses who preside over fertility.Tools: broom, May Pole, cauldronStones/Gems: emerald, malachite, amber, orange carnelian, sapphire, rose quartzColors: green, soft pink, blue, yellow, red, brown
Herbs and Flowers: almond tree/shrub, ash, broom, cinquefoil, clover, Dittany of Crete, elder, foxglove, frankincense, honeysuckle, rowan, sorrel, hawthorn, ivy, lily of the valley, marigold, meadowsweet, mint, mugwort, thyme, woodruff may be burned; angelica, bluebells, daisy, hawthorn, ivy, lilac, primrose, and rose may be decorations, st. john’s wort, yarrow, basically all flowers.
Incense: frankincense, lilac, rose.
Symbols and Decorations: maypole, strings of beads or flowers, ribbons, spring flowers, fires, fertility, growing things, ploughs, cauldrons of flowers, butterchurn, baskets, eggs
Food: dairy, bread, cereals, oatmeal cakes, cherries, strawberries, wine, green salads.
Activities and Rituals: fertilize, nurture and boost existing goals, games, activities of pleasure, leaping bonfires, making garlands, May Pole dance, planting seeds, walking one’s property, feasting
Wiccan mythology: sexual union and/or marriage of the Goddess and God
It’s association with fire also makes Beltaine a holiday of purification.
Wiccan weddings are frequently held on or around Beltaine
The leaves are budding across the land
on the ash and oak and hawthorn trees.
Magic rises around us in the forest
and the hedges are filled with laughter and love.
Dear lady, we offer you a gift,
a gathering of flowers picked by our hands,
woven into the circle of endless life.
The bright colors of nature herself
blend together to honor you,
Queen of spring,
as we give you honor this day.
Spring is here and the land is fertile,
ready to offer up gifts in your name.
we pay you tribute, our lady,
daughter of the Fae,
and ask your blessing this Beltane.
Make an offering of a floral crown, or a libation of honey and milk, to the Queen of the May during your Beltane prayers.
Source:Patti Wigington About.com