May Day [Beltane] by Jami Shoemaker – Part 1

When I was a little girl, my sister and I would celebrate the first of May by making little paper baskets and filling them with candy. We would then sneak around the neighborhood to our friend’s houses, leave them on the doorsteps, ring the bells, and run away, screaming with laughter. The trick was never to reveal your identity to the recipient of the gift. Little did I know at the time that we were celebrating an old custom that harkened back to ancient times.

Origins

Like any celebration based on ancient agricultural practices, it is impossible to know the exact origin of out May Day. Celebrations of spring are found in cultures all over the world, with similar themes of renewal, planting and growth, the gathering of flowers, and playful celebrations.

However, much of the meaning behind modern Pagan custom can be traced to Celtic origins, or at least with attribute to the Celts. We know that they divided the year into two seasons: summer and winter, the dark and life halves of the year. Within this they honored four major turning points, Samhain, Imbolc, Beltane, and Lughnasadh, with fire festivals.

These festivals coincided astrologically with the Sun at 15 degrees Scorpio, Aquarius, Taurus, and Leo, respectively. This made these pivotal points each a type of “moveable” feast originally, like the solstices and equinoxes, which vary by a day or two from year to year. But due to changes in calendars over time, eventually the first day of the months of November, February, May, and August were earmarked for these festivals, evolving into what Witches call the Great Sabbats, with the celebrations commencing at sunset the eve before.

The flexibility in the actual date is followed by some Pagans today, and May Day, or Beltane, celebrations calculated this way are called “Old Beltane.” This explains the custom in ancient Ireland of celebrating the first day of summer on May 6. This day was given to Inghean Bhuidhe, the Yellow-Haired Girl, one of the three sister-goddesses who brought in the seasons: the First of Spring, the First of Summer, and the First Harvest.

The return of the light was called Cetsamhain (“opposite  Samhain”) or Beltaine in Ireland, Galan-Mai in Wales, and in Scotland, Beaultiunn, on the Isle of Man, it was known as Day of Summer and in Germany, Walpurgisnatch. The medieval church renamed the holiday Roodmas, hoping to shift the emphasis from the phallic Maypole to the Holy Rood, or Cross, and celebrations once marked by Pagan frivolity were usurped by festivities held in churchyards.

Copyright Llewellyn’s Witches’ Datebook 2001 Pages21 to25

May Day by Jami Shoemaker – Part 2

Roman Influence

The month of May takes its name from the goddess Maia, who appears in both Greek and Roman mythologies. In Greece, she was “grandmother,” “midwife,” or “wise one” and she was known as the mother of Hermes. The Romans associated her with their fire goddess of the same name who, along with Flora and Feronia, ruled growth and warmth, including sexual desire. Maia’s day was the first of May, and the associations with growth can still be seen in the Christian dedication of the month to Mary, Queen of Flowers.

When Romans came to Britain, they brought with them their own ancient spring rites. The goddess Flora was worshiped as the embodiment of the flowering of all of nature, including human. She was the queen of plants, the goddess of flowers, and the patron of Roman prostitutes. Flora was honored during a week-long festival from April 28–May 3. The Floralia included the gathering of flowers, used in processions, dances, and games. Young raced to see who could be the first to hang a wreath on Flora’s statue, and wrap garlands around the columns of her temple. The female body was especially6 honored at this time. Graphic, erotic medallions were distributed, and public orgies celebrated the fruitfulness of the earth. The “festival of nude women” was celebrates until the third century CE, when Roman authorities demanded the celebrants be clothed. The sense of unrestrained freedom was even enjoyed by Roman slaves on this day, with the stipulation that they return to their mater’s houses that night.

Copyright Llewellyn’s Witches’ Datebook 2001 Pages 21 to 25

May Day by Jami Shoemaker – Part 5

Modern Celebrations

Many ancient customs can be seen in current celebrations of May Day. Pagan practices embrace the Maypole, dancing, and bonfires of the past, and honor the union of Goddess and God. The magic of the warming earth, the bright greens of the woods, and the giddiness of life returning universally inspiring as ever. Whether it’s celebrates as Labor Day in Russia, Vappu in Finland, Flores de Mayo in El Salvador, or Flittin’ Day in Scotland, May Day is still a time for relaxing the rules and celebrating spring, even if that simply means going barefoot for the first time that year. And, yes, some children still leave May baskets on the doorsteps of friends’ houses and run away, squealing with delight.

Copyright Llewellyn’s Witches’ Datebook 2001 Pages 21 to 25

Beltane Sunset to Sunset. April 30th – May 1st

Beltane honours Life. It represents the peak of Spring and the beginning of Summer. Earth energies are at their strongest and most active. All of life is bursting with potent fertility and at this point in the Wheel of the Year, the potential becomes conception. On May Eve the sexuality of life and the earth is at its peak. Abundant fertility, on all levels, is the central theme. The Maiden goddess has reached her fullness. She is the manifestation of growth and renewal, Flora, the Goddess of Spring, the May Queen, the May Bride. The Young Oak King, as Jack-In-The-Green, as the Green Man, falls in love with her and wins her hand. The union is consummated and the May Queen becomes pregnant. Together the May Queen and the May King are symbols of the Sacred Marriage (or Heiros Gamos), the union of Earth and Sky, and this union has merrily been re-enacted by humans throughout the centuries. For this is the night of the Greenwood Marriage. It is about sexuality and sensuality, passion, vitality and joy. And about conception. A brilliant moment in the Wheel of the Year to bring ideas, hopes and dreams into action. And have some fun…..

Traditions of Beltane

Beltane is a Fire Festival. The word ‘Beltane’ originates from the Celtic God ‘Bel’, meaning ‘the bright one’ and the Gaelic word ‘teine’ meaning fire. Together they make ‘Bright Fire’, or ‘Goodly Fire’ and traditionally bonfires were lit to honour the Sun and encourage the support of Bel and the Sun’s light to nurture the emerging future harvest and protect the community. Bel had to be won over through human effort. Traditionally all fires in the community were put out and a special fire was kindled for Beltane. “This was the Tein-eigen, the need fire. People jumped the fire to purify, cleanse and to bring fertility. Couples jumped the fire together to pledge themselves to each other. Cattle and other animals were driven through the smoke as a protection from disease and to bring fertility. At the end of the evening, the villagers would take some of the Teineigen to start their fires anew.” (From Sacred Celebrations by Glennie Kindred) Green Man – Beltane

To read more interesting things about Northern Hemisphere Beltane click here

Happy and Blessed Beltane to Our Sisters, Brothers, and Guests in the Southern Hemisphere

Beltane – Bealtaine Traditions in Irish Folklore

Beltane is the anglicised version of our Irish word Bealtaine – still in use and meaning ‘the month of May’ in our own language. Bealtaine is mentioned in some of the earliest Irish literature, and it is associated with important events in Irish mythology.

Irish folklore still holds the legacy of the traditions and customs associated with this ancient festival. Bealtaine and Samhain are the original two turning points for the ‘wheel of the year’ in Ireland. That’s May Eve and Hallowe’en, in case you’re not familiar.

These major Irish Pagan Festivals were pivotal – literally – times of upheaval of change for our ancestors over 8,000 years ago when the Hunter Gatherer societies moved from their Summer to Winter camping grounds at these seasonal turning points, and they still resonate through the landscape and the Irish communities to this day.

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Beltane: (Bealtaine, Valpurgis)

Incense: Lilac, Frankincense
Decorations: Maypole, Flowers, Ribbons
Colours: Green

The Fire Festival of Beltane

This festival is also known as Beltane, the Celtic May Day. It officially begins at moonrise on May Day Eve, and marks the beginning of the third quarter or second half of the ancient Celtic year. It is celebrated as an early pastoral festival accompanying the first turning of the herds out to wild pasture. The rituals were held to promote fertility. The cattle were driven between the Belfires to protect them from ills. Contact with the fire was interpreted as symbolic contact with the sun. In early Celtic times, the druids kindled the Beltane fires with specific incantations. Later the Christian church took over the Beltane observances, a service was held in the church, followed by a procession to the fields or hills, where the priest kindled the fire. The rowan branch is hung over the house fire on May Day to preserve the fire itself from bewitchment (the house fire being symbolic of the luck of the house).

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Beltane by The Goddess & The Green Man

Sunset to Sunset.

Beltane honours Life. It represents the peak of Spring and the beginning of Summer. Earth energies are at their strongest and most active. All of life is bursting with potent fertility and at this point in the Wheel of the Year, the potential becomes conception. On May Eve the sexuality of life and the earth is at its peak. Abundant fertility, on all levels, is the central theme. The Maiden goddess has reached her fullness. She is the manifestation of growth and renewal, Flora, the Goddess of Spring, the May Queen, the May Bride. The Young Oak King, as Jack-In-The-Green, as the Green Man, falls in love with her and wins her hand. The union is consummated and the May Queen becomes pregnant. Together the May Queen and the May King are symbols of the Sacred Marriage (or Heiros Gamos), the union of Earth and Sky, and this union has merrily been re-enacted by humans throughout the centuries. For this is the night of the Greenwood Marriage. It is about sexuality and sensuality, passion, vitality and joy. And about conception. A brilliant moment in the Wheel of the Year to bring ideas, hopes and dreams into action. And have some fun…..

Traditions of Beltane…

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WHAT IS BELTANE?

One of the four quarter day festivals, Beltane saw members of communities come together to celebrate the return of the summer. The observance of this hugely important time in the turning of the wheel of the year was characterised by a celebration of the return of the fertility of the land, and would have been a time when livestock would have been put out to pasture.

The word ‘Beltane’ roughly translates as ‘bright fire’ and, as such, one of the most important rituals, which survives today in our modern festival, concerns the lighting of the Beltane bonfire. Fire was seen as a purifier and healer and would have been walked around and danced/jumped over by the members of the community. Farmers would also have driven their cattle between bonfires to cleanse and protect them before being put out into the fields.

In ancient communities, all hearth fires would have been extinguished and a new neid fire lit which would have then been used to relight people’s hearths in their own homes. In this way the community was connected to each other by the sacred fire which was central to all. The festival would also have been a time of courtship rituals and a celebration of our own fertility!

The important point to note when thinking about our own festival is the joy and the revelry that is fostered in the ritual. It is about casting off the darkness and celebrating the light. It is a time for celebrating fertility, both in the context of our biological functions as well as our own creative energies, the fertility of our creative community.

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND…

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Blue Full Moon Esbat Samhain and Beltane Sabbats Gathering

WHEN:

N. H. Saturday, October 31, 2020

Open Chat starts at 6:00 PM EDT

Circle Cast at 7:00 PM EDT

S. H. Sunday, November 1, 2020

Open Chat starts at 9:00 AM AEST

Circle Cast at 10:00 AM AEST

WHERE:

Please contact Lady Beltane at covenlifescoven@gmail.com for the link to the new chatroom

A blue Moon is BLUE FULL MOON CELEBRATION 

WHAT YOU WILL NEED:

A 6 inch/15.24cm circle of blue paper or a white paper colored blue – shade of blue should be light to medium blue (Have circle of blue cut out a head of time

A blue colored pen or colored pencil or pen

A 6 inch/15.24 cm long piece of white thread or string

Decide on 3 different things you want to complete in either your regular or spiritual life by May 1st

SMALL GLASS OF APPLE JUICE

PIECE OF BREAD

 

CLOSING THE CIRCLE and  CALLING THE ELEMENTS TO THE WATCHTOWERS

LADY BELTANE: I call the element of Air into the Watchtower of the East to help bring us clarity of mind as we work in our sacred circle.

I call the element of Fire into the Watchtower of the South to bring us extra energy to work our magick we work in this sacred circle circle

I call upon the element of Water to help guide our emotions as we work in this sacred circle.

I call upon the element of Earth to help us stay grounded as we work our magick in this sacred circle

I walk this circle with Hecate and Dagon to keep those in the sacred circle from any harm that might try to enter and to clear out any negativity that is in it. I take us to a place that is outside of regular time and space.

FULL BLUE MOON CELEBRATION 

EVERYONE: P lease tell us your first or Pagan name and what country or state you live in. No last names or towns/villages/cities.

LADY BELTANE: A full Moon on Samhain is rare but a blue Moon is rare still. The power of the magick we work to night will be stronger than usual thanks to the Mother’s Moon Bluish tint. We will take 1 minute to thank the Mother Moon and to center ourselves before beginning our celebrations. Lady Beltane will say “So Mote It Be” when the minute is up.

EVERYONE: Place your blue circle which works as a reminder of the extra power at work when you wrote you three things. What you write on the paper should have your own positive intention behind them. You will have three minutes to WRITE DOWN YOUR 3 THINGS. Please say or type in done when finished.

Next you will fold first one side in and then the other side so you have the ends over lapping in the middle.

Next take you string slide it under the folded paper make sure you have an even amount of string on each side of the paper.

Now as you tie a bow over the center of the paper you will say’ “Hecate goddess and guardian of all witches everywhere please help me to accomplish the things I have written here So Mote It Be or however you end your spells.

 

END OF BLUE MOON CELEBRATION PLEASE DO NOT LEAVE THE CIRCLE

 

SAMHAIN CELEBRATION

WHAT YOU WILL NEED:

Left over Apple Juice

Leftover Bread

Pictures of 2 Ancestors

2 Birthday Candles or Flashlights

Heat Proof Dish with ½ inch/1,5 cm of sand or dirt (the candles will be placed in here and should be allowed to complete burn down.

Trivet/hotplate/potholder to place heat proof dish on.

Samhain Celebration

I invite the Spirits I call upon to come to me one by one. (Light 1 candle each time you say
a name and place it in the sand)

Visit and return from whence you came when your candle is done.

So mote it be

After doing the spell spend 2 minutes just sitting quietly and thinking of the people you have summoned. They may just want to spend some time with you also and/or have a message for you or someone in your life. Ancestors are not just blood relatives that have crossed over they include anyone in your life that has had some type of impact on it.

Leave candles burning as we move on to the Beltane celebration. If you want to light more candles for people after the circle has been opened please feel free to use this spell and enjoy time with those who have crossed the veil.

END OF SAMHAIN RITUAL

Southern Hemisphere Beltane Ritual- using the 4 elements to create our very own Beltane Wand

Select a piece of wood that you have been called to. Ensure that no tree is hurt in the process, in other words do not take the wood for your wand by snapping it off a tree branch.

Wood for wand making is everywhere, in the form of driftwood, branches that have naturally fallen, a piece of wood that you have collected over time.

The secret to finding the perfect wand wood is that the wood actually calls out to you. In order for you to be accepted by the wand it is respectful to do a mediation and ask the wood, ask the tree, ask the ocean if it is a piece of driftwood. It is then that the wand becomes an extension of you and your power within the Natural World. Gratitude is the key.

Over time I have collected so many pieces of wood, rocks, shells, all these things that call out to me when out in nature while walking, doing rituals or even working. Some items are over 15- 20 years old waiting for the right time to be used.

 

DECORATE YOUR ALTAR

Beltane brings the beginning of life, decorate with beautiful bunches of flowers from your garden, make wreaths to wear in your hair, make your own candles to burn on the altar, use fertility Goddess and God symbols, fill baskets with seasonal fruits.

 

WHAT YOU WILL NEED

A piece of wood to create your wand

Representing Fire– An altar candle

Representing Water– I prefer to use consecrated moon water that I sometimes place in a spray bottle with a couple of drops of my favourite essential oil

Representing Earth– Consecrated salt-I prefer to use black salt or Himalayan salt

Representing Air– Your Athame, a feather or even incense

 

A BLESSING TO THE EARTH GODDESS-

EVERYONE – Please say……

“Great Earth mother!

We ask for your blessing on this day

May our lands see the seeds of life in abundance

Our grass grow green and lush

Our rivers flow and be filled with life

and the great Sun God shine upon our lands

We sit in gratitude in the blessings you have given

and the gift of life with each turn of the wheel. “

 

 

DURING THE BELTANE RITUAL

Take the wood that will become your wand and……

 

Pass it over the Fire

 Say…

With this Fire I ignite the spirit within me

 

Sprinkle it with Salt

Say…

With this Earth I create my body

 

Spray or Anoint it with Water

Say…

With this Water I bless my blood that runs through my veins

 

Pass the Athame, Feather or Incense over it

Say…

With this Athame (or whatever you choose to represent your air) I give it life from my breath.

Now take 3 deep breaths and blow your breath 3 times, emptying your lungs each time.

You now have concentrated your wand and have given it life creating an extension of you.

 

A One Minute Meditation

Hold the wand in your hands and allow the power of the wand to guide you how you need to create its power. Connect to the wand as this will become an extension of your power. Imagine a flow of light from your heart going into the wood and giving it life, bringing the light back into your heart and connecting it to your being as an expression of the Divine.

 

CONCLUDING THE BELTANE RITUAL

Dearest Lady, we honour you Queen of Spring

May our lands be fruitful ready to make offerings in your name

 

AFTER THE RITUAL

Now to finish your wand……

  • Anything that you would like to decorate your wand- (you can add these later after the ritual allowing time for you to be as creative as you like)

o   Now some like elaborate colourful decorations expressing their creativity, others like simple with just a polish and a couple of Sigils sacred to just them. The choice is purely yours, remember it is an extension of you therefore it will reflect your power.

  • I attach anything from crystals to feathers, sometimes I simply use sandpaper to bring out the colours and patterns of the sacred wood.
  • If you have the tools wood burning is a wonderful option.

END OF BELTANE RITUAL

OPENING THE CIRCLE and DISMISSING THE ELEMENTS FROM THE WATCHTOWERS

LADY BELTANE: I dismiss the element of Air from the Watchtower of the East with our thanks to you for helping to bring us clarity of mind as we work in our sacred circle.

I dismiss the element of Fire from the Watchtower of the South with our thanks to you for helping to bring us extra energy to work our magick we work in this sacred circle circle

I dismiss the element of Water with our thanks to you for helping to guide our emotions as we work in this sacred circle.

I dismiss the element of Earth with our thanks to you for helping to us to stay grounded as we work our magick in this sacred circle

I thank Hecate and Dagon for helping us with our rituals this night or morning. Please return from whence you came.

I walk this circle to bring us back into our regular place of existence and to the time the binds us in this plane.

The circle is open but never broken go with peace, trust, and love in your hearts.

 

For Your Viewing Pleasure

5 PAGAN TRADITIONS: How the Ancients Celebrated Beltane

For your Listening Pleasure

Beltane Night – Jaiya

23 October Southern Hemisphere Custom Planetary Positions

The time for the Custom Planetary Positions is from the local time in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia  

23 October (22) 2020
08:00 pm GMT 6:00 AM AEST
Zodiac: Tropical (Standard Western)

Sun:29 Libra 53
Moon:21 Capricorn 06
Mercury:06 Scorpio 25 Rx
Venus:23 Virgo 41
Mars:18 Aries 25 Rx
Jupiter:19 Capricorn 51
Saturn:25 Capricorn 48
Uranus:09 Taurus 03 Rx
Neptune:18 Pisces 32 Rx
Pluto:22 Capricorn 34

True Lunar Node:21 Gemini 20
Mean Lunar Node:22 Gemini 34 Rx

Lilith (Black Moon):00 Taurus 10

Chiron:06 Aries 09 Rx
Ceres:28 Aquarius 39
Pallas:17 Capricorn 46
Juno:10 Scorpio 46
Vesta:00 Virgo 12

Eris:23 Aries 57 Rx

Fire:3
Earth:9
Air:4
Water:3
Cardinal:9
Fixed:5
Mutable:5

 

If you need to calculate the planetary positions for a specific use and time, click on this link Currentplanetarypositions.com 

 To figure out GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) to your local time use this link  

For Your Local Time and Date 

May Day by Jami Shoemaker – Part 3

Medieval & Tudor Britain

May Day found a great popularity in medieval and Tudor times. Women rose before sunrise and went into the field to bathe their faces in the dew—an act believed to enhance beauty and restore a youthful complexion. Hawthorn was associated with May, and the gathering of Hawthorn boughs was know as “going-a-Maying.” Accompanied by song. dance, and general merriment, the hawthorn boughs were brought back to the village, and used to garland the throne of the May Queen, a young woman of the village crowned “Queen” for the day. This custom seems to hearken back to celebrations of Flora, keeping alive the knowledge of the goddess of growth and flowers. Flowers gathered on May Eve would be left at houses in the village, in exchange for food and drink. Our custom of leaving baskets on doorsteps has its roots in this tradition. The flower-bears were seen as messengers of spring, and it was thought that those who reward them with generosity were assured abundance in the coming season.

Along with the Queen of May, spectators were also entertained by Robin Hood, Maid Marian, Friar Tuck and other characters modeled from old Pagan customs of the gods of greenwood. Other festivals included games, sports, archery contests, and more dancing. Carols heralding the arrival of spring were sung, and children parade about carrying a doll dressed in white—the “Lady of May.”

People of the village decorated their homes with wreaths and garlands, and a Maypole, cut by the young men and carried into the town with great ceremony, was set up in the village square. Some of these poles reached enormous heights, as the villages competed to have the tallest pole. Ribbons and other decorations were added, and the practice of dancing around the Maypole and weaving ribbons together has become one of our most beloved traditions.

Copyright Llewellyn’s Witches’ Datebook 2001 Pages 21 to 25

May Day by Jami Shoemaker – Part 1

Ancient Customs

Beltane (Anglicized spelling) is a fire festival, and was dedicated to the god of light, called variously Bel, Balor, Belenos, and Baldur. It marked the beginning of the summer season, and the return of the Sun to light and nourish the earth. Among the customs associated with the Celtic celebration of Beltane (literally “Bel’s fire”) is the lighting of two fires on a hilltop. The Druids gathered gathered wood from nine different trees to make their fire every year on top of Tara Hill in County Merath, Ireland. Traditionally, all other fires were extinguished, and relit from these sacred “need fires” as an act of renewal. Before cattle were taken into the open pasture for the summer they were driven either between the fires or through the ashes to purify them of disease, and men and women would leap the flames for protection, and for luck in matters of fertility, romance, and home.

This brings us to perhaps the most significant part of the Beltane customs—that of fetility and growth. With the return of light and warmth, the earth’s fertility was assured for another season. This mystery was seen as the union of the earth and sky, or Goddess and God. The fruit of the union was seen as greening of the countryside, and in the harvest to come. This coming together of the forces of nature was honored as the “Sacred Marriage” of the Goddess and God. Imitating their union was the ultimate act of the community.

In light of this “marriage of the gods,” Pagan weddings or “handfasting” were popular at this time of year. This was the commitment of a year and a day. giving the couple sort of “trial run” at marriage and after that time both parties could agree to a long-term relationship, or could go their separate ways without remorse.

For those only looking for a night of frolicking, the “greenwood marriage” was popular. Young men and women would spend the night at the Beltane fires, or would go into the woods on Beltane Eve, gathering garlands and flowers, making love, and staying up to greet the Sun. If a woman were lucky, she would find herself with child, as children conceived on May Eve were considered favored by the the gods. These “greenwood marriages” continued long after Christian form of marriage replaced the peasants’ handfasting. May Eve was a time to drop all inhibitions and enjoy unbridled sexuality. No rules applied. even married or handfasted couples would relax their commitment for this night.

Symbols of fertility abounded at May time—the greening of the woods, the flowering of plants, the mating of animals. Perhaps one of the most blatant symbols of fertility is the Maypole, traditionally cut and carried from the forest by the villages most viral young men. Though the symbol of the Maypole is universal (the living tree representing the growth that awakens with spring), the tradition of erecting a Maypole may stem from an ancient Roman tree-giving custom. It has been said that the erection of the Maypole, which includes burying one end in the earth, is yet another representation of the union of the gods.

Beltane falls exactly opposite Hallows,which marks the beginning of the dark half of the year. These two turning points were seen as powerful times in the wheel of the year. They fell on the “in-between” times, embodying the mysteries of light and dark, life and death, and the transitions between. It is at these times when the veil between the worlds of spirit and matter, the dead and the living, are the thinnest. Beltane was then associated with great magic. This was a time for divination, and for spells that would bring love and prosperity. It was also a time when the faery folk were more easily seen. Their appearance could bring good fortune, or, if a mortal were enticed by their mischievous ways, he or she might fall into a trance and be taken to a place beyond time.

Copyright Llewellyn’s Witches’ Datebook 2001 Pages 21 to 25