December 18th, Three Days Before Yule – Eponalia

Yule Comments & Graphics

Eponalia

(Roman/Celtic)

Eponalia is a day dedicated to the goddess Epona, it falls on the 2nd day of Saturnalia.

Epona is the patron goddess of horses, donkeys, mules and other animals, her name translates as “Divine Mare”. She is a powerful Gallo-Celtic goddess who is also associated with the Earth, fertility, rebirth and abundance, making her a Mother Goddess.

She is often depicted as a young maiden, either riding a horse (which was revered in the Celtic world for it’s beauty, speed and bravery), or standing between 2 horses. She often carries a cornucopia and basket, which further supports her role as a fertility and abundance goddess. People would adorn pictures and statues of her with rose garlands, in the shrines.

Horses were very important to our ancestors and cults worshipping horses was commonplace. They left much evidence to show how significant horses were to them, such as The White Horse of Uffington.

The origins of Epona are thought to have started in the Gallic region of northern France. She has many guises, being worshipped in Wales as Rhiannon and in Ireland as Macha. She is the only Gallo-Celtic goddess that made her way into the Roman Empire and was highly worshipped amongst the Roman cavalry, almost every stable had a shrine for her.

Lughnasadh


Lammas/Lugnasadh Comments
Lughnasadh

 

The Celtic harvest festival on August 1st takes its name from the Irish god Lugh, one of the chief gods of the Tuatha De Danann, giving us Lughnasadh in Ireland, Lunasdál in Scotland, and Laa Luanys in the Isle of Man. (In Wales, this time is known simply as Gwl Awst, the August Feast.)

Lugh dedicated this festival to his foster-mother, Tailtiu, the last queen of the Fir Bolg, who died from exhaustion after clearing a great forest so that the land could be cultivated. When the men of Ireland gathered at her death-bed, she told them to hold funeral games in her honor. As long as they were held, she prophesied Ireland would not be without song. Tailtiu’s name is from Old Celtic Talantiu, “The Great One of the Earth,” suggesting she may originally have been a personification of the land itself, like so many Irish goddesses. In fact, Lughnasadh has an older name, Brón Trogain, which refers to the painful labor of childbirth. For at this time of year, the earth gives birth to her first fruits so that her children might live.
Tailtiu gives her name to Teltown in County Meath, where the festival was traditionally held in early Ireland. It evolved into a great tribal assembly, attended by the High King, where legal agreements were made, political problems discussed, and huge sporting contests were held on the scale of an early Olympic Games. Artists and entertainers displayed their talents, traders came from far and wide to sell food, farm animals, fine crafts and clothing, and there was much storytelling, music, and high-spirited revelry, according to a medieval eye-witness account:

“Trumpets, harps, hollow-throated horns, pipers, timpanists, unwearied…fiddlers, gleemen, bone-players and bag-pipers, a rude crowd, noisy, profane, roaring and shouting.”
This was also an occasion for handfasting, or trial marriages. Young men and women lined up on either side of a wooden gate in a high wall, in which a hole was carved, large enough for a hand. One by one, girl and boy would grasp a hand in the hole, without being able to see who was on the other side. They were now married, and could live together for year and day to see if it worked out. If not, the couple returned to next year’s gathering and officially separated by standing back to back and walking away from each other.
Throughout the centuries, the grandeur of Teltown dwindled away, but all over Ireland, right up to the middle of this century, country-people have celebrated the harvest at revels, wakes, and fairs – and some still continue today in the liveliest manner. It was usually celebrated on the nearest Sunday to August 1st, so that a whole day could be set aside from work. In later times, the festival of Lughnasadh was christianized as Lammas, from the Anglo-Saxon, hlaf-mas, “Loaf-Mass,” but in rural areas, it was often remembered as “Bilberry Sunday,” for this was the day to climb the nearest “Lughnasadh Hill” and gather the earth’s freely-given gifts of the little black berries, which they might wear as special garlands or gather in baskets to take home for jam.
As of old, people sang and danced jigs and reels to the music of melodeons, fiddles and flutes, and held uproarious sporting contests and races. In some places, a woman-or an effigy of one-was crowned with summer flowers and seated on a throne, with garlands strewn at her feet. Dancers whirled around her, touching her garlands or pulling off a ribbon for good luck. In this way, perhaps, the ancient goddess of the harvest was still remembered with honor.

Seasons of the Witch – Legends and Lore, Ancient Holidays And Some Not So Ancient!


Egyptian Comments & Graphics
Seasons of the Witch – Legends and Lore, Ancient Holidays

And Some Not So Ancient!

 

Today Is …

 

Day of Hatshepsut. On this day each year, the eighteenth dynasty Healer Queen of ancient Egypt is honored. Healing rituals are performed by many Pagans.

The Procession of Witches: In Belgium, a centuries-old event known as The Procession of Witches takes place every year on this day.

Greater Panatheneae – This Athenian festival, the most important of the year, was celebrated every fifth year on the last day of the first month of the year, in the brilliant heat and light of summer. It was a time for excess and the display of the new peplos or veil, woven for Athena out of white wool and gold threads, which was so large it was used as a sail on one of the boats in her procession.

St. Pantaleon – I had to include this holiday out of affection for the daimon, Panteleon, in the wonderful trilogy by Phillip Pullman, which begins with The Golden Compass. St Panteleon (whose name means all-compassionate) was supposedly the personal physician of the emperor Maximiam. He is a patron of doctors and midwives. Blackburn, Bonnie & Leofranc Holford-Strevens, The Oxford Companion to the Year, Oxford University Press 1999

Seven Sleepers – According to myth, seven Christian youths of Ephesus hid in a cave to avoid the Decian persecution (250), were walled up by the emperor, fell asleep and woke up nearly 200 years later whereupon they testified to the resurrection of the dead and fell back asleep. Whenever they turn over, bad luck follows. I’ve never seen any details about how to celebrate this holiday but the title is suggestive. Sleep all day? Blackburn, Bonnie & Leofranc Holford-Strevens, The Oxford Companion to the Year, Oxford University Press 1999

Black Crom’s Sunday – In Ireland, on the Sunday before Lammas, pilgrims climb mountains and high places, particularly Croah-patrick in County Mayo, where Patrick allegedly fasted for 40 days and battled demons. Until then the mountain was sacred to a pagan deity, Crom Cruach (Crom of the Reek). Pilgrims often climb the mountain barefoot.

Bilberry Sunday – The Sundays before and after Lammas were the usual times for celebrating a feast that was essentially communnal. People climbed to the top of high mountains, picking bilberries as they went, thus giving rise to the popular name of Bilberry Sunday. Bilberries (also known as whortle-berries and blaeberries) are the small, dark-blue berries of the vaccinium myrtillus a hardy shrub that grow on heaths and sunny moors in Great Britain and Northern Europe. They are one of the first berries to ripen (in Seattle, I go out picking blackberries on this day). In some places, boys thread the berries on grass stalks and make bracelets of them for the girls of their choice. In Cashel Plantin’ in County Armagh, these strung berries were brought home as presents and kept around the house for luck.

Often people left offerings of flowers and grains at the top of the mountains. Many scholars believe this was because Lugh was a sun-god. But some of the Irish folks surveyed by MacNeill said the offerings were left for the fairies, who would be extraordinarily active on quarter days. MacNeill believes the practice of standing on a peak overlooking the landscape, keep alive a passion for the land and its history.

MacNeill, Maire, The Festival of Lughnasa, Oxford University Press 1962
Blackburn, Bonnie & Leofranc Holford-Strevens, The Oxford Companion to the Year, Oxford University Press 1999

Remember The Ancient Ways and Keep Them Holy!

• • • •.
Courtesy of GrannyMoonsMorningFeast

Seasons of the Witch – Legends and Lore, Ancient Holidays And Some Not So Ancient!

the pink dragon

Seasons of the Witch – Legends and Lore, Ancient Holidays And Some Not So Ancient!

 

Today Is …

Egyptian: Anubis Ceremony

Midsummer Eve (old calendar) ~ This is a traditional day for a man and a woman to make their relationship official. It was also a night for bonfires throughout the ancient world, and still to this day. In Ireland there were celebrations for the Faery Goddess Aine, who inspired lots of good things. At night by torchlight, the peasantry would invoke Aine and run through the fields and cattle to purify them of evil in hopes for a good harvest. Other areas have their own celebrations of Earth Mothers.

Britain: Traditional Midsummer. Although Midsummer is celebrated by most Pagans worldwide on the eve and day of the actual Solstice, Britain traditionally celebrates on June 23rd. In the North it is the time of the midnight sun.

In parts of Ireland and Great Britain, Pagans celebrate an annual festival on this date called the Day of Cu Chulainn. It is dedicated to the legendary Irish folk hero of the same name and to the ancient Pagan fertility god known as the Green Man.

Asatru: Sommerblot. The Midsummer Festival is a century-old tradition in Scandinavia, celebrating the earth, summer, and the longest day of sunlight – the Summer Solstice.

Saint John’s Eve. This night is a traditional time for Witches to gather herbs for spells and love potions, for it is believed that the magickal properties of plants are at their peak on this mystical night.

Remember The Ancient Ways and Keep Them Holy!

  • • • •.

Courtesy of GrannyMoonsMorningFeast

 

Deity of the Day for June 14th – Lugh (Celtic God)

Deity of the Day

Lugh

Master of Skills

 

Patron of the Arts:

Similar to the Roman god Mercury, Lugh was known as a god of both skill and the distribution of talent. There are countless inscriptions and statues dedicated to Lugh, and Julius Caesar himself commented on this god’s importance to the Celtic people. Although he was not a war god in the same sense as the Roman Mars, Lugh was considered a warrior because to the Celts, skill on the battlefield was a highly valued ability.

In Ireland, which was never invaded by Roman troops, Lugh is called sam ildanach, meaning he was skilled in many arts simultaneously.

Lugh Enters the Hall of Tara:

In one famous legend, Lugh arrives at Tara, the hall of the high kings of Ireland. The guard at the door tells him that only one person will be admitted with a particular skill — one blacksmith, one wheelwright, one bard, etc. Lugh enumerates all the great things he can do, and each time the guard says, “Sorry, we’ve already got someone here who can do that.” Finally Lugh asks, “Ah, but do you have anyone here who can do them ALL?” At last, Lugh was allowed entrance to Tara.

The Book of Invasions:

Much of the early history of Ireland is recorded in the Book of Invasions, which recounts the many times Ireland was conquered by foreign enemies. According to this chronicle, Lugh was the grandson of one of the Fomorians, a monstrous race that were the enemy of the Tuatha De Danann. Lugh’s grandfather, Balor of the Evil Eye, had been told he would be murdered by a grandson, so he imprisoned his only daughter in a cave.

One of the Tuatha seduced her, and she gave birth to triplets. Balor drowned two of them, but Lugh survived and was raised by a smith. He later led the Tuatha in battle, and indeed killed Balor.

Roman Influence:

Julius Caesar believed that most cultures worshipped the same gods and simply called them by different names. In his Gallic War essays, he enumerates the popular deities of the Gauls and refers to them by what he saw as a corresponding Roman name. Thus, references made to Mercury actually are attributed to a god Caesar also calls Lugus — Lugh. This god’s cult was centered in Lugundum, which later became Lyon, France. His festival on August 1 was selected as the day of the Feast of Augustus, by Caesar’s successor, Octavian Augustus Caesar, and it was the most important holiday in all of Gaul.

Weapons and War:

Although not specifically a war god, Lugh was known as a skilled warrior. His weapons included a mighty magic spear, which was so bloodthirsty that it often tried to fight without its owner. According to Irish myth, in battle, the spear flashed fire and tore through the enemy ranks unchecked. In parts of Ireland, when a thunderstorm rolls in, the locals say that Lugh and Balor are sparring – thus giving Lugh one more role, as a god of storms.

The Many Aspects of Lugh:

According to Peter Beresford Ellis, the Celts held smithcraft in high regard. War was a way of life, and smiths were considered to have magical gifts — after all, they were able to master the element of Fire, and mold the metals of the earth using their strength and skill. Yet in Caesar’s writings, there are no references to a Celtic equivalent of Vulcan, the Roman smith god.

In early Irish mythology, the smith is called Goibhniu, and is accompanied by two brothers to create a triple god-form. The three craftsmen make weaponry and carry out repairs on Lugh’s behalf as the entire host of the Tuatha De Danann prepares for war. In a later Irish tradition, the smith god is seen as a master mason or a great builder. In some legends, Goibhniu is Lugh’s uncle who saves him from Balor and the monstrous Formorians.

One God, Many Names

The Celts had many gods and goddesses, due in part to the fact that each tribe had its own patron deities, and within a region there might be gods associated with particular locations or landmarks. For example, a god who watched over a particular river or mountain might only be recognized by the tribes who lived in that area. Lugh was fairly versatile, and was honored nearly universally by the Celts. The Gaulish Lugos is connected to the Irish Lugh, who in turn is connected to the Welsh Llew Llaw Gyffes.

Celebrating the Harvest of Grain

The Book of Invasions tells us that Lugh came to be associated with grain in Celtic mythology after he held an harvest fair in honor of his foster mother, Tailtiu. This day became August 1, and that date ties in with the first grain harvest in agricultural societies in the Northern Hemisphere. In fact, in Irish Gaelic, the word for August is lunasa. Lugh is honored with corn, grains, bread, and other symbols of the harvest. This holiday was called Lughnasadh (pronounced Loo-NA-sah). Later, in Christian England the date was called Lammas, after the Saxon phrase hlaf maesse, or “loaf mass.”

An Ancient God for Modern Times

For many Pagans and Wiccans, Lugh is honored as the champion of artistry and skills. Many artisans, musicians, bards, and crafters invoke Lugh when they need assistance with creativity. Today Lugh is still honored at the time of harvest, not only as a god of grain but also as a god of late summer storms.

Even today, in Ireland many people celebrate Lughnasadh with dancing, song, and bonfires. The Catholic church also has set this date aside for a ritual blessing of farmers’ fields.

 

 

Source:

Beltane — Holiday Details and History

Author: Christina Aubin [a WitchVox Sponsor]
Posted: April 30th. 2000
Times Viewed: 258,199

Beltane is the last of the three spring fertility festivals, the others being Imbolc and Ostara. Beltane is the second principal Celtic festival (the other being Samhain). Celebrated approximately halfway between Vernal (spring) equinox and the midsummer (Summer Solstice). Beltane traditionally marked the arrival if summer in ancient times.

At Beltane the Pleiades star cluster rises just before sunrise on the morning horizon, whereas winter (Samhain) begins when the Pleiades rises at sunset. The Pleiades is a cluster of seven closely placed stars, the seven sisters, in the constellation of Taurus, near his shoulder. When looking for the Pleiades with the naked eye, remember it looks like a tiny dipper-shaped pattern of six moderately bright stars (the seventh can be seen on very dark nights) in the constellation of Taurus. It stands very low in the east-northeast sky for just a few minutes before sunrise.

Beltane, and its counterpart Samhain, divide the year into its two primary seasons, winter (Dark Part) and summer (Light Part). As Samhain is about honoring Death, Beltane, its counter part, is about honoring Life. It is the time when the sun is fully released from his bondage of winter and able to rule over summer and life once again.

Beltane, like Samhain, is a time of “no time” when the veils between the two worlds are at their thinnest. No time is when the two worlds intermingle and unite and the magic abounds! It is the time when the Faeries return from their winter respite, carefree and full of faery mischief and faery delight. On the night before Beltane, in times past, folks would place rowan branches at their windows and doors for protection, many otherworldly occurrences could transpire during this time of “no time”. Traditionally on the Isle of Man, the youngest member of the family gathers primroses on the eve before Beltane and throws the flowers at the door of the home for protection. In Ireland it is believed that food left over from May Eve must not be eaten, but rather buried or left as an offering to the faery instead. Much like the tradition of leaving of whatever is not harvested from the fields on Samhain, food on the time of no time is treated with great care.

When the veils are so thin it is an extremely magical time, it is said that the Queen of the Faeries rides out on her white horse. Roving about on Beltane eve She will try to entice people away to the Faeryland. Legend has it that if you sit beneath a tree on Beltane night, you may see the Faery Queen or hear the sound of Her horse’s bells as She rides through the night. Legend says if you hide your face, She will pass you by but if you look at Her, She may choose you. There is a Scottish ballad of this called Thomas the Rhymer, in which Thomas chooses to go the Faeryland with the Queen and has not been seen since.

Beltane has been an auspicious time throughout Celtic lore, it is said that the Tuatha de Danaan landed in north-west Connacht on Beltane. The Tuatha de Danaan, it is said, came from the North through the air in a mist to Ireland. After the invasion by the Milesians, the Tuatha faded into the Otherworld, the Sidhe, Tir na nOg.

The beginning of summer heralds an important time, for the winter is a difficult journey and weariness and disheartenment set in, personally one is tired down to the soul. In times past the food stocks were low; variety was a distant memory. The drab non-color of winter’s end perfectly represents the dullness and fatigue that permeates on so many levels to this day. We need Beltane, as the earth needs the sun, for our very Spirit cries out for the renewal of summer jubilation.

Beltane marks that the winter’s journey has passed and summer has begun, it is a festival of rapturous gaiety as it joyfully heralds the arrival of summer in her full garb. Beltane, however, is still a precarious time, the crops are still very young and tender, susceptible to frost and blight. As was the way of ancient thought, the Wheel would not turn without human intervention. People did everything in their power to encourage the growth of the Sun and His light, for the Earth will not produce without the warm love of the strong Sun. Fires, celebration and rituals were an important part of the Beltane festivities, as to insure that the warmth of the Sun’s light would promote the fecundity of the earth.

Beltane marks the passage into the growing season, the immediate rousing of the earth from her gently awakening slumber, a time when the pleasures of the earth and self are fully awakened. It signals a time when the bounty of the earth will once again be had. May is a time when flowers bloom, trees are green and life has again returned from the barren landscape of winter, to the hope of bountiful harvests, not too far away, and the lighthearted bliss that only summer can bring.

Beltane translated means “fire of Bel” or “bright fire” – the “bale-fire”. (English – bale; Anglo-Saxon bael; Lithuanian baltas (white)) Bel (Bel, Bile, Beli, Belinus, Belenos) is the known as the bright and shinning one, a Celtic Sun God. Beli is the father, protector, and the husband of the Mother Goddess.

Beltane is the time of the yearly battle between Gwyn ap Nudd and Gwythur ap Greidawl for Creudylad in Welsh mythology. Gwyn ap Nudd the Wild Huntsman of Wales, he is a God of death and the Annwn. Creudylad is the daughter of Lludd (Nudd) of the Silver Hand (son of Beli). She is the most beautiful maiden of the Island of Mighty. A myth of the battle of winter and summer for the magnificent blossoming earth.

In the myth of Rhiannion and Pwyll, it is the evening of Beltane, that Rhiannon gives birth to their son. The midwives all fell asleep at the same time, as they were watching over Rhiannon and her new baby, during which he was taken. In order to protect themselves, they smeared blood (from a pup) all over Rhiannon, to which they claim she had eaten her son. The midwives were believed, and Rhiannon was forced to pay penance for seven years. She had to carrying people on her back from the outside of the gate to the palace, although rarely would any allow her to do so. The baby’s whereabouts were a mystery. Oddly, every Beltane night, one of Pwyll’s vassals, Teirnyon Twryv Vliant, had a mare that gave birth but the colt disappeared. One Beltane night Teirnyon Twryv Vliant awaited in the barn for the mare to foaled, when she did, he heard a tremendous noise and a clawed arm came through the window and grabbed the colt. Teirnyon cut off the arm with his sword, and then heard a wailing. He opened the door and found a baby, he brought it to his wife and they adopted Gwri Wallt Euryn (Gwri of the Golden Hair). As he grew he looked like Pwyll and they remembered they found him on the night Rhiannon’s baby became lost. Teirnyon brought Gwri of the Golden Hair to the castle, told the story, and he was adopted back to his parents, Rhiannon and Pwyll, and and named by the head druid, Pryderi (trouble) from the first word his mother had said when he was restored to her. “Trouble is, indeed, at an end for me, if this be true”.

This myth illustrates the precariousness of the Beltane season, at the threshold of Summer, the earth awakening, winter can still reach its long arm in and snatch the Sun away (Gwri of the Golden hair). “Ne’er cast a clout ’til May be out” (clout: Old English for cloth/clothing). If indeed the return of summer is true than the trouble (winter) is certainly over, however one must be vigilant.

On Beltane eve the Celts would build two large fires, Bel Fires, lit from the nine sacred woods. The Bel Fire is an invocation to Bel (Sun God) to bring His blessings and protection to the tribe. The herds were ritually driven between two needfires (fein cigin), built on a knoll. The herds were driven through to purify, bring luck and protect them as well as to insure their fertility before they were taken to summer grazing lands. An old Gaelic adage: “Eadar da theine Bhealltuinn” – “Between two Beltane fires”.

The Bel fire is a sacred fire with healing and purifying powers. The fires further celebrate the return of life, fruitfulness to the earth and the burning away of winter. The ashes of the Beltane fires were smudged on faces and scattered in the fields. Household fires would be extinguished and re-lit with fresh fire from the Bel Fires.

Celebration includes frolicking throughout the countryside, maypole dancing, leaping over fires to ensure fertility, circling the fire three times (sun-wise) for good luck in the coming year, athletic tournaments feasting, music, drinking, children collecting the May: gathering flowers. children gathering flowers, hobby horses, May birching and folks go a maying”. Flowers, flower wreaths and garlands are typical decorations for this holiday, as well as ribbons and streamers. Flowers are a crucial symbol of Beltane, they signal the victory of Summer over Winter and the blossoming of sensuality in all of nature and the bounty it will bring.

May birching or May boughing, began on Beltane Eve, it is said that young men fastened garland and boughs on the windows and doors of the young maidens upon which their sweet interest laid. Mountain ash leaves and Hawthorne branches meant indicated love whereas thorn meant disdain. This perhaps, is the forerunner of old May Day custom of hanging bouquets hooked on one’s doorknob?

Young men and women wandered into the woods before daybreak of May Day morning with garlands of flowers and/or branches of trees. They would arrive; most rumpled from joyous encounters, in many areas with the maypole for the Beltane celebrations. Pre-Christian society’s thoughts on human sexuality and fertility were not bound up in guilt and sin, but rather joyous in the less restraint expression of human passions. Life was not an exercise but rather a joyful dance, rich in all beauty it can afford.

In ancient Ireland there was a Sacred Tree named Bile, which was the center of the clan, or Tuatha. As the Irish Tree of Life, the Bile Pole, represents the connection between the people and the three worlds of Bith: The Skyworld (heavens), The Middleworld (our world), and The Otherworld. Although no longer the center life, the Bile pole has survived as the Beltane Maypole.

The Maypole is an important element to Beltane festivities, it is a tall pole decorated with long brightly colored ribbons, leaves, flowers and wreaths. Young maidens and lads each hold the end of a ribbon, and dance revolving around the base of the pole, interweaving the ribbons. The circle of dancers should begin, as far out from the pole as the length of ribbon allows, so the ribbons are taut. There should be an even number of boys & girls. Boys should be facing clockwise and girls counterclockwise. They each move in the direction that they are facing, weaving with the next, around to braid the ribbons over-and-under around the pole. Those passing on the inside will have to duck, those passing on the outside raise their ribbons to slide over. As the dances revolve around the pole the ribbons will weave creating a pattern, it is said that the pattern will indicate the abundance of harvest year.

In some areas there are permanent Maypoles, perhaps a recollection of ancient clan Bile Pole memory. In other areas a new Maypole is brought down on Beltane Eve out from the wood. Even the classical wood can vary according to the area tradition is pulled from, most frequently it seems to be birch as “the wood”, but others are mentioned in various historical documents.

Today in some towns and villages a mummer called Jack in the Green (drawing from the Green man), wears a costume made of green leaves as he dances around the May pole. Mumming is a dramatic performance of exaggerated characters and at Beltane the characters include Jack in the Green and the Fool. The Fool, and the Fool’s journey, symbolism can be understood in relation to Beltane as it is the beginning of beginnings, the emergence from the void of nothingness (winter), as one can also see the role of the green man as the re-greening of the world.

Traditionally in many areas Morris dancers can be found dancing around the Maypole. Morris dancing can be found in church records in Thame England going back to 1555. Morris dancing is thought to have originated many centuries ago as part of ancient religious ceremonies, however it seems that Morris dancing became associated with Mayday during the Tudor times, and its originating history is not all that easily traced, as is the way with many traditions.

The Maypole dance as an important aspect of encouraging the return of fertility to the earth. The pole itself is not only phallic in symbolism but also is the connector of the three worlds. Dancing the Maypole during Beltane is magical experience as it is a conduit of energy, connecting all three worlds at a time when these gateways are more easily penetrable. As people gaily dance around and around the pole holding the brightly colored ribbons, the energy it raises is sent down into the earth’s womb, bringing about Her full awakening and fruitfulness.

In Padstow, Cornwall, Beltane morning a procession is led by the “obby oss” a costumed horse figure, in a large circular banded frock and mask. The procession is full of song, drums and accordions. Professor Ronald Hutton of Bristol University points out that the first account of the Padstow May Day ‘Obby ‘Oss revelries was written in 1803. He offers evidence however that, like English Morris Dancing, its origins lie in English medieval times. This does not discount the possibility that its roots lay in the foundation of the fertility rites of Beltane, a more politically correct transmutation of fertility acts.

There is also a Queen of May. She is said in many areas to have worn a gold crown with a single, gold leaf at its front, in other areas her crown was made of fresh flowers. She was typically chosen at the start of the Beltane festival, which in time past was after sundown on the eve before Beltane day. Many accounts mention both a May Queen and King being chosen, whom would reign from sundown the eve before the Beltane day to sunset on Beltane. Among their duties would be to announce the Beltane games and award the prizes to the victors. The rudimentary base of this practice can be drawn back to the roots of Beltane festivities, the union of the Goddess and Her Consort, the joining of earth and sun, the endowment of summer. The Goddess has many guises: Danu – The Great Mother, Blodeuwedd (the Flower Bride), Isolt (Iseult, Isolde) and many, many others. The consort can also take many forms including the Green Man, Cernunnos or Tristan.

As Beltane marks this handfasting (wedding) of the Goddess and God, it too marks the reawakening of the earth’s fertility in its fullest. This is the union between the Great Mother and her Young Consort, this coupling brings new life on earth. It is on a Spiritual level, the unifying of the Divine Masculine and the Divine Feminine to bring forth the third, consciousness. On the physical, it is the union of the Earth and Sun to bring about the fruitfulness of the growing season.

It is customary that trial unions, for a year and a day, occur at this time. More or less these were statements of intent between couples, which were not legally binding. The trial marriages (engagements) typically occurred between a couple before deciding to take a further step into a legally binding union. It seems ancient wisdom understood that one does not really know another until they have lived with them, and when you live together things change and we change, as well. With this understanding unions were entered upon, first as a test period, and then if desired, a further commitment could be taken. It through always knowing that it is only through the choice of both to remain, that the relationship exists favorably.

May, however, according to old folklore is not a favorable time for marriages in the legal and permanent sense. There is reference after reference in the old books of this belief, and according to my Irish grandmother, May is not the month to marry, woe is to had by those who do. I can understand the premise of this folklore, May is the Goddess and God’s handfasting month, all honor would be Hers and His.

Water is another important association of Beltane, water is refreshing and rejuvenating, it is also imperative to life. It is said that if you bathe in the dew gathered before dawn on Beltane morn, your beauty will flourish throughout the year. Those who are sprinkled with May dew are insured of health and happiness. There are other folk customs such as drinking from the well before sunrise on Beltane Morn to insure good health and fortune.

The central color of Beltane is green. Green is the color of growth, abundance, plentiful harvest, abundant crops, fertility, and luck. White is another color that is customary, white brings the energies of cleansing, peace, spirituality, and the power to dispel negativity. Another color is red who brings along the qualities of energy, strength, sex, vibrancy, quickening, health, consummation and retention. Sun energy, life force and happiness are brought to Beltane by the color yellow. Blues and purples (Sagittarius energies: expansion, Good Fortune, magic, spiritual power, Success), and pinks (Venus energies). Beltane is rich in vibrant color, lighting the eyes and cheering the Spirit as we leave the dreariness of winter behind.

It is customary to bake a colorful fruit and spiced filled bread for festivals in the Celtic lands, traditionally this festival bread is sweet dough made with sweetmeat and spices. In Scotland they are the bannock – Bonnach Bealtain – for Beltane, in Wales – Bara Brith, Ireland it is Barm Brack and in Brittany Morlaix Brioche. For Beltane this bread was made the eve before Beltane day, is it said that the bread should not allow it to come into contact with steel during preparation (steel is harmful, deadly to the faery folk).

Bannocks are actually uncut scones originally cooked on a griddle. Wheat does not grow well in the Highlands, originally bannocks were made with oat or barley flour made into dough with little water and no leavening. Traditionally, a portion of the cake was burned or marked with ashes. The recipient of the burnt cake jumped over a small fire three times to purify and cleanse him or herself of any ill fortune. Offerings of bannocks and drink are traditionally left on doorsteps and roadways for the Faeries as an offering, in hope of faery blessings.

May is the month of sensuality and sexuality revitalized, the reawakening of the earth and Her Children. It is the time when we reawaken to the vivid colors, vibrant scents, tingling summer breezes, and the rapture of summer after a long dormant winter. It is a time of extraordinary expression of earth, animal, and person a time of great enchantment and celebration.

The excitement and beauty of Beltane can not be better expressed than through the gaiety and joy of our children. There is not doubt “spring fever” hits at Beltane, and hits hard. Children are full of unbridled energy charged up and ready to go! Children always amplify the seasonal energies and the thrill of their change, they bring richness and merriment wherever they go.

It is the child’s unrestrained expression of bliss and delight that is what Beltane is all about. It is the sheer joy of running through fields, picking flowers, rapturing in the sunlight, delighting in the fragrance of spring, dancing in the fresh dew covered grass. Our children guide us through the natural abandonment of our adult sensibilities and show us how to take grand pleasure, warmth and bliss from the gift of Beltane.

Blessed Beltane to you and yours!

Christina Aubin
Beltaine 2000

Beltane — Holiday Details and History

Beltane — Holiday Details and History

Author: Christina Aubin 

Beltane is the last of the three spring fertility festivals, the others being Imbolc and Ostara. Beltane is the second principal Celtic festival (the other being Samhain). Celebrated approximately halfway between Vernal (spring) equinox and the midsummer (Summer Solstice). Beltane traditionally marked the arrival if summer in ancient times.

At Beltane the Pleiades star cluster rises just before sunrise on the morning horizon, whereas winter (Samhain) begins when the Pleiades rises at sunset. The Pleiades is a cluster of seven closely placed stars, the seven sisters, in the constellation of Taurus, near his shoulder. When looking for the Pleiades with the naked eye, remember it looks like a tiny dipper-shaped pattern of six moderately bright stars (the seventh can be seen on very dark nights) in the constellation of Taurus. It stands very low in the east-northeast sky for just a few minutes before sunrise.

Beltane, and its counterpart Samhain, divide the year into its two primary seasons, winter (Dark Part) and summer (Light Part). As Samhain is about honoring Death, Beltane, its counter part, is about honoring Life. It is the time when the sun is fully released from his bondage of winter and able to rule over summer and life once again.

Beltane, like Samhain, is a time of “no time” when the veils between the two worlds are at their thinnest. No time is when the two worlds intermingle and unite and the magic abounds! It is the time when the Faeries return from their winter respite, carefree and full of faery mischief and faery delight. On the night before Beltane, in times past, folks would place rowan branches at their windows and doors for protection, many otherworldly occurrences could transpire during this time of “no time”. Traditionally on the Isle of Man, the youngest member of the family gathers primroses on the eve before Beltane and throws the flowers at the door of the home for protection. In Ireland it is believed that food left over from May Eve must not be eaten, but rather buried or left as an offering to the faery instead. Much like the tradition of leaving of whatever is not harvested from the fields on Samhain, food on the time of no time is treated with great care.

When the veils are so thin it is an extremely magical time, it is said that the Queen of the Faeries rides out on her white horse. Roving about on Beltane eve She will try to entice people away to the Faeryland. Legend has it that if you sit beneath a tree on Beltane night, you may see the Faery Queen or hear the sound of Her horse’s bells as She rides through the night. Legend says if you hide your face, She will pass you by but if you look at Her, She may choose you. There is a Scottish ballad of this called Thomas the Rhymer, in which Thomas chooses to go the Faeryland with the Queen and has not been seen since.

Beltane has been an auspicious time throughout Celtic lore, it is said that the Tuatha de Danaan landed in north-west Connacht on Beltane. The Tuatha de Danaan, it is said, came from the North through the air in a mist to Ireland. After the invasion by the Milesians, the Tuatha faded into the Otherworld, the Sidhe, Tir na nOg.

The beginning of summer heralds an important time, for the winter is a difficult journey and weariness and disheartenment set in, personally one is tired down to the soul. In times past the food stocks were low; variety was a distant memory. The drab non-color of winter’s end perfectly represents the dullness and fatigue that permeates on so many levels to this day. We need Beltane, as the earth needs the sun, for our very Spirit cries out for the renewal of summer jubilation.

Beltane marks that the winter’s journey has passed and summer has begun, it is a festival of rapturous gaiety as it joyfully heralds the arrival of summer in her full garb. Beltane, however, is still a precarious time, the crops are still very young and tender, susceptible to frost and blight. As was the way of ancient thought, the Wheel would not turn without human intervention. People did everything in their power to encourage the growth of the Sun and His light, for the Earth will not produce without the warm love of the strong Sun. Fires, celebration and rituals were an important part of the Beltane festivities, as to insure that the warmth of the Sun’s light would promote the fecundity of the earth.

Beltane marks the passage into the growing season, the immediate rousing of the earth from her gently awakening slumber, a time when the pleasures of the earth and self are fully awakened. It signals a time when the bounty of the earth will once again be had. May is a time when flowers bloom, trees are green and life has again returned from the barren landscape of winter, to the hope of bountiful harvests, not too far away, and the lighthearted bliss that only summer can bring.

Beltane translated means “fire of Bel” or “bright fire” – the “bale-fire”. (English – bale; Anglo-Saxon bael; Lithuanian baltas (white)) Bel (Bel, Bile, Beli, Belinus, Belenos) is the known as the bright and shinning one, a Celtic Sun God. Beli is the father, protector, and the husband of the Mother Goddess.

Beltane is the time of the yearly battle between Gwyn ap Nudd and Gwythur ap Greidawl for Creudylad in Welsh mythology. Gwyn ap Nudd the Wild Huntsman of Wales, he is a God of death and the Annwn. Creudylad is the daughter of Lludd (Nudd) of the Silver Hand (son of Beli). She is the most beautiful maiden of the Island of Mighty. A myth of the battle of winter and summer for the magnificent blossoming earth.

In the myth of Rhiannion and Pwyll, it is the evening of Beltane, that Rhiannon gives birth to their son. The midwives all fell asleep at the same time, as they were watching over Rhiannon and her new baby, during which he was taken. In order to protect themselves, they smeared blood (from a pup) all over Rhiannon, to which they claim she had eaten her son. The midwives were believed, and Rhiannon was forced to pay penance for seven years. She had to carrying people on her back from the outside of the gate to the palace, although rarely would any allow her to do so. The baby’s whereabouts were a mystery. Oddly, every Beltane night, one of Pwyll’s vassals, Teirnyon Twryv Vliant, had a mare that gave birth but the colt disappeared. One Beltane night Teirnyon Twryv Vliant awaited in the barn for the mare to foaled, when she did, he heard a tremendous noise and a clawed arm came through the window and grabbed the colt. Teirnyon cut off the arm with his sword, and then heard a wailing. He opened the door and found a baby, he brought it to his wife and they adopted Gwri Wallt Euryn (Gwri of the Golden Hair). As he grew he looked like Pwyll and they remembered they found him on the night Rhiannon’s baby became lost. Teirnyon brought Gwri of the Golden Hair to the castle, told the story, and he was adopted back to his parents, Rhiannon and Pwyll, and and named by the head druid, Pryderi (trouble) from the first word his mother had said when he was restored to her. “Trouble is, indeed, at an end for me, if this be true”.

This myth illustrates the precariousness of the Beltane season, at the threshold of Summer, the earth awakening, winter can still reach its long arm in and snatch the Sun away (Gwri of the Golden hair). “Ne’er cast a clout ’til May be out” (clout: Old English for cloth/clothing). If indeed the return of summer is true than the trouble (winter) is certainly over, however one must be vigilant.

On Beltane eve the Celts would build two large fires, Bel Fires, lit from the nine sacred woods. The Bel Fire is an invocation to Bel (Sun God) to bring His blessings and protection to the tribe. The herds were ritually driven between two needfires (fein cigin), built on a knoll. The herds were driven through to purify, bring luck and protect them as well as to insure their fertility before they were taken to summer grazing lands. An old Gaelic adage: “Eadar da theine Bhealltuinn” – “Between two Beltane fires”.

The Bel fire is a sacred fire with healing and purifying powers. The fires further celebrate the return of life, fruitfulness to the earth and the burning away of winter. The ashes of the Beltane fires were smudged on faces and scattered in the fields. Household fires would be extinguished and re-lit with fresh fire from the Bel Fires.

Celebration includes frolicking throughout the countryside, maypole dancing, leaping over fires to ensure fertility, circling the fire three times (sun-wise) for good luck in the coming year, athletic tournaments feasting, music, drinking, children collecting the May: gathering flowers. children gathering flowers, hobby horses, May birching and folks go a maying”. Flowers, flower wreaths and garlands are typical decorations for this holiday, as well as ribbons and streamers. Flowers are a crucial symbol of Beltane, they signal the victory of Summer over Winter and the blossoming of sensuality in all of nature and the bounty it will bring.

May birching or May boughing, began on Beltane Eve, it is said that young men fastened garland and boughs on the windows and doors of the young maidens upon which their sweet interest laid. Mountain ash leaves and Hawthorne branches meant indicated love whereas thorn meant disdain. This perhaps, is the forerunner of old May Day custom of hanging bouquets hooked on one’s doorknob?

Young men and women wandered into the woods before daybreak of May Day morning with garlands of flowers and/or branches of trees. They would arrive; most rumpled from joyous encounters, in many areas with the maypole for the Beltane celebrations. Pre-Christian society’s thoughts on human sexuality and fertility were not bound up in guilt and sin, but rather joyous in the less restraint expression of human passions. Life was not an exercise but rather a joyful dance, rich in all beauty it can afford.

In ancient Ireland there was a Sacred Tree named Bile, which was the center of the clan, or Tuatha. As the Irish Tree of Life, the Bile Pole, represents the connection between the people and the three worlds of Bith: The Skyworld (heavens), The Middleworld (our world), and The Otherworld. Although no longer the center life, the Bile pole has survived as the Beltane Maypole.

The Maypole is an important element to Beltane festivities, it is a tall pole decorated with long brightly colored ribbons, leaves, flowers and wreaths. Young maidens and lads each hold the end of a ribbon, and dance revolving around the base of the pole, interweaving the ribbons. The circle of dancers should begin, as far out from the pole as the length of ribbon allows, so the ribbons are taut. There should be an even number of boys & girls. Boys should be facing clockwise and girls counterclockwise. They each move in the direction that they are facing, weaving with the next, around to braid the ribbons over-and-under around the pole. Those passing on the inside will have to duck, those passing on the outside raise their ribbons to slide over. As the dances revolve around the pole the ribbons will weave creating a pattern, it is said that the pattern will indicate the abundance of harvest year.

In some areas there are permanent Maypoles, perhaps a recollection of ancient clan Bile Pole memory. In other areas a new Maypole is brought down on Beltane Eve out from the wood. Even the classical wood can vary according to the area tradition is pulled from, most frequently it seems to be birch as “the wood”, but others are mentioned in various historical documents.

Today in some towns and villages a mummer called Jack in the Green (drawing from the Green man), wears a costume made of green leaves as he dances around the May pole. Mumming is a dramatic performance of exaggerated characters and at Beltane the characters include Jack in the Green and the Fool. The Fool, and the Fool’s journey, symbolism can be understood in relation to Beltane as it is the beginning of beginnings, the emergence from the void of nothingness (winter), as one can also see the role of the green man as the re-greening of the world.

Traditionally in many areas Morris dancers can be found dancing around the Maypole. Morris dancing can be found in church records in Thame England going back to 1555. Morris dancing is thought to have originated many centuries ago as part of ancient religious ceremonies, however it seems that Morris dancing became associated with Mayday during the Tudor times, and its originating history is not all that easily traced, as is the way with many traditions.

The Maypole dance as an important aspect of encouraging the return of fertility to the earth. The pole itself is not only phallic in symbolism but also is the connector of the three worlds. Dancing the Maypole during Beltane is magical experience as it is a conduit of energy, connecting all three worlds at a time when these gateways are more easily penetrable. As people gaily dance around and around the pole holding the brightly colored ribbons, the energy it raises is sent down into the earth’s womb, bringing about Her full awakening and fruitfulness.

In Padstow, Cornwall, Beltane morning a procession is led by the “obby oss” a costumed horse figure, in a large circular banded frock and mask. The procession is full of song, drums and accordions. Professor Ronald Hutton of Bristol University points out that the first account of the Padstow May Day ‘Obby ‘Oss revelries was written in 1803. He offers evidence however that, like English Morris Dancing, its origins lie in English medieval times. This does not discount the possibility that its roots lay in the foundation of the fertility rites of Beltane, a more politically correct transmutation of fertility acts.

There is also a Queen of May. She is said in many areas to have worn a gold crown with a single, gold leaf at its front, in other areas her crown was made of fresh flowers. She was typically chosen at the start of the Beltane festival, which in time past was after sundown on the eve before Beltane day. Many accounts mention both a May Queen and King being chosen, whom would reign from sundown the eve before the Beltane day to sunset on Beltane. Among their duties would be to announce the Beltane games and award the prizes to the victors. The rudimentary base of this practice can be drawn back to the roots of Beltane festivities, the union of the Goddess and Her Consort, the joining of earth and sun, the endowment of summer. The Goddess has many guises: Danu – The Great Mother, Blodeuwedd (the Flower Bride), Isolt (Iseult, Isolde) and many, many others. The consort can also take many forms including the Green Man, Cernunnos or Tristan.

As Beltane marks this handfasting (wedding) of the Goddess and God, it too marks the reawakening of the earth’s fertility in its fullest. This is the union between the Great Mother and her Young Consort, this coupling brings new life on earth. It is on a Spiritual level, the unifying of the Divine Masculine and the Divine Feminine to bring forth the third, consciousness. On the physical, it is the union of the Earth and Sun to bring about the fruitfulness of the growing season.

It is customary that trial unions, for a year and a day, occur at this time. More or less these were statements of intent between couples, which were not legally binding. The trial marriages (engagements) typically occurred between a couple before deciding to take a further step into a legally binding union. It seems ancient wisdom understood that one does not really know another until they have lived with them, and when you live together things change and we change, as well. With this understanding unions were entered upon, first as a test period, and then if desired, a further commitment could be taken. It through always knowing that it is only through the choice of both to remain, that the relationship exists favorably.

May, however, according to old folklore is not a favorable time for marriages in the legal and permanent sense. There is reference after reference in the old books of this belief, and according to my Irish grandmother, May is not the month to marry, woe is to had by those who do. I can understand the premise of this folklore, May is the Goddess and God’s handfasting month, all honor would be Hers and His.

Water is another important association of Beltane, water is refreshing and rejuvenating, it is also imperative to life. It is said that if you bathe in the dew gathered before dawn on Beltane morn, your beauty will flourish throughout the year. Those who are sprinkled with May dew are insured of health and happiness. There are other folk customs such as drinking from the well before sunrise on Beltane Morn to insure good health and fortune.

The central color of Beltane is green. Green is the color of growth, abundance, plentiful harvest, abundant crops, fertility, and luck. White is another color that is customary, white brings the energies of cleansing, peace, spirituality, and the power to dispel negativity. Another color is red who brings along the qualities of energy, strength, sex, vibrancy, quickening, health, consummation and retention. Sun energy, life force and happiness are brought to Beltane by the color yellow. Blues and purples (Sagittarius energies: expansion, Good Fortune, magic, spiritual power, Success), and pinks (Venus energies). Beltane is rich in vibrant color, lighting the eyes and cheering the Spirit as we leave the dreariness of winter behind.

It is customary to bake a colorful fruit and spiced filled bread for festivals in the Celtic lands, traditionally this festival bread is sweet dough made with sweetmeat and spices. In Scotland they are the bannock – Bonnach Bealtain – for Beltane, in Wales – Bara Brith, Ireland it is Barm Brack and in Brittany Morlaix Brioche. For Beltane this bread was made the eve before Beltane day, is it said that the bread should not allow it to come into contact with steel during preparation (steel is harmful, deadly to the faery folk).

Bannocks are actually uncut scones originally cooked on a griddle. Wheat does not grow well in the Highlands, originally bannocks were made with oat or barley flour made into dough with little water and no leavening. Traditionally, a portion of the cake was burned or marked with ashes. The recipient of the burnt cake jumped over a small fire three times to purify and cleanse him or herself of any ill fortune. Offerings of bannocks and drink are traditionally left on doorsteps and roadways for the Faeries as an offering, in hope of faery blessings.

May is the month of sensuality and sexuality revitalized, the reawakening of the earth and Her Children. It is the time when we reawaken to the vivid colors, vibrant scents, tingling summer breezes, and the rapture of summer after a long dormant winter. It is a time of extraordinary expression of earth, animal, and person a time of great enchantment and celebration.

The excitement and beauty of Beltane can not be better expressed than through the gaiety and joy of our children. There is not doubt “spring fever” hits at Beltane, and hits hard. Children are full of unbridled energy charged up and ready to go! Children always amplify the seasonal energies and the thrill of their change, they bring richness and merriment wherever they go.

It is the child’s unrestrained expression of bliss and delight that is what Beltane is all about. It is the sheer joy of running through fields, picking flowers, rapturing in the sunlight, delighting in the fragrance of spring, dancing in the fresh dew covered grass. Our children guide us through the natural abandonment of our adult sensibilities and show us how to take grand pleasure, warmth and bliss from the gift of Beltane.

Blessed Beltane to you and yours!

Christina Aubin

SInce It’s Valentine’s – Test Your Kissing Knowledge Quiz!

Test Your Kissing Knowledge!

With Valentine’s Day around the corner, here is some kissing trivia,  compliments of Marc Liechtung, DMD, principal in New York-based Manhattan Dental Arts, a practice that specializes in  cosmetic and restorative dentistry. Test your kissing knowledge, and start smooching your loved one!

The Questions:

1. True or False?  Kissing can cause cavities.

2. True or False?  You burn 5 calories in a one-minute kiss.

3. True or False?  The average woman will kiss 25 guys before  she’s married.

4. The average person will spend, overall, approximately ____ kissing in  their lifetime:

A)   2 days

B)   2 weeks

C)   2 months

5. 50% of all people have their first kiss before the age of…

A)    14

B)    16

C)     18

6. True or False? Only 60% of people in the world engage in kisses on the  lips.

7. True or False?  The record for kissing the most people in the  shortest time is held by Alfred Wolfram, who kissed 800 people in 8  hours.

8. What was the first film to show a couple kissing?

A)   Casablanca (1942)

B)   Romeo and Juliette (1968)

C)   The Kiss (1896)

9. True or False?  In all countries, anyone over the age of 14 can kiss,  with consent.

10. According to legend, any person who kisses the Blarney Stone in Ireland  will be endowed with the gift of:

A)   great kissing

B)   soft lips

C)   gab

______________________________________

The Answers:

1. True or False?  Kissing can cause cavities.

True. If you kiss someone who may have bad bacteria in  his/her mouth, their saliva could pass the bacteria on to you, thereby causing  cavities. On the other hand, according to Dr. Liechtung, others believe that  kissing may actually  prevent cavities since saliva is the body’s natural way of cleaning the  mouth.

2. True or False?  You burn 5 calories in a one-minute kiss.

False. The average one-minute kiss burns 26 calories.  Kiss those calories goodbye!

3. True or False?  The average woman will kiss 25 guys before  she’s married.

Answer:

False. Start your engines!  The average woman will  kiss 79 guys before she’s married.

4. The average person will spend approximately this much time kissing in  their lifetime:

A)   2 days

B)   2 weeks

C)   2 months

Answer:

B) The average person will spend an estimated two entire  weeks of their life kissing.   That’s 20,160 minutes kissing in a lifetime.

5.   50% of all people have their first kiss before the age of…

A)    14

B)    16

C)     18

Answer:

A) 14

6.  True or False? Only 60% of people in the world engage in kisses on the  lips.

False. Ninety percent of people in the world engage in kisses on  the lips. People in other cultures, such as Eskimos, rub noses.

7. True or False?  The record for kissing is held by Alfred  Wolfram, who kissed 800 people in 8 hours.

False. In September 1990 Alfred Wolfram kissed  8,001 people in 8 hours – over 16 people a minute – at the Minnesota Renaissance  Festival.

8. What was the first film to show a couple kissing?

A)   Casablanca (1942)

B)   Romeo and Juliette (1968)

C)   The Kiss (1896)

Answer:

C) John C. Rice kissed May Irwin in 1896 and became the first  couple to be recorded kissing in the film The Kiss.

9. True or False?  In all countries, anyone over the age of 14 can kiss,  with consent.

Answer:

False. In December 2007, South Africa Banned Kissing involving anyone under the age  of 16, regardless of consent.

10. Any person who kisses the Blarney Stone will be endowed with the gift  of:

A)   great kissing

B)   soft lips

C)   gab (great  speaking skills and flattery)

Answer:

C) According to legend, any person who kisses the Blarney  Stone in the Blarney Castle in Cork, Ireland, will be endowed with the gift of  gab.

———————

To keep your mouth kissable, Dr. Liechtung suggests daily brushing and an  annual visit to your dentist for a check-up.  For additional information  please go to www.ManhattanDentalArts.com

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Your Ancient Symbol Card for Jan. 27th is The Peacock

Your Ancient Symbol Card for Today

The Peacock

The iridescent emerald plumage and spectacular broad tail of The Peacock make it the ideal symbol of both justified pride and vanity. It denotes the right for one to be proud of themselves for being who they are and for letting others know. In short, its okay to strut a bit. At the same time The Peacock reminds us that while pride and high self esteem are essential components of a healthy psyche, becoming too full of one’s self makes us vain, and vanity is never attractive in anyone.

As a daily card, The Peacock is reminder that you are inherently valuable, and have a right to be proud of who you are as well as let others know you are proud of yourself. It is also a warning to not allow you pride and sense of self worth grow to such grand proportions that you become vain and conceited.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Brighid’s Mantle – History and Lore

Brighid’s Mantle – History and Lore

By , About.com

Brighid is the Celtic goddess who is the keeper of the hearth, the deity who watches over nursing mothers and pregnant women, and who is the overseer of all things domestic. She is also connected to healing and wisdom. One commonly found symbol of Brighid is her green mantle, or cloak. In Gaelic, the mantle is known as the brat Bhride.

Although her origins are that of a Pagan goddess, at one point she became associated with Christianity and St. Brighid of Kildare. The legend has it that Brighid was the daughter of a Pictish chieftain who went to Ireland to learn from St. Patrick. In one story, the girl who later became St. Brighid went to the King of Leinster, and petitioned him for land so she could build an abbey. The King, who still held to the old Pagan practices of Ireland, told her he’d be happy to give her as much land as she could cover with her cloak. Naturally, her cloak grew and grew until it covered as much property as Brighid needed, and she got her abbey. Thanks to her roles as both a Pagan goddess and a Christian saint, Brighid is often seen as being of both worlds; a bridge between the old ways and the new.

In Celtic Pagan stories, Brighid’s mantle carries with it blessings and powers of healing. Many people believe that if you place a piece of cloth out upon your hearth at Imbolc, Brighid will bless it in the night. Use the same cloth as your mantle each year, and it will gain strength and power each time Brighid passes by. The mantle can be used to comfort and heal a sick person, and to provide protection for women in labor. A newborn baby can be wrapped in the mantle to help them sleep through the night without fussing.

To make a Brighid’s mantle of your own, find a piece of green cloth long enough to comfortably wrap around your shoulders. Leave it on your doorstep on the night of Imbolc, and Brighid will bless it for you. In the morning, wrap yourself in her healing energy.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Your Charm For December 11th is The Tau Cross

 Your Charm For Today

The Tau Cross 

Today’s Meaning:

 A journey that you or someone close to you must make will have a positive influence on this aspect. This trip may be over a great distance.

General Description:

This charm was worn by the ancients to protect the wearer against disease and snake bites. The Jews used it as an amulet for epilepsy and erysipelas. It is still used in Ireland as a talisman against sickness. The Tau is one of the most ancient crosses and the forerunner of the Latin Cross. Moses used the Tau Cross with the brazen serpent attached, to save the Children of Israel in the wilderness from the attacks of the fiery serpents. The Cross has always been the symbol of life eternal. It was this mark, the Tau Cross, that was placed upon the foreheads of those exempted from Divine wrath in Jerusalem.

Your Ancient Symbol Card for Dec. 4th is The Peacock

Your Ancient Symbol Card for Today

The Peacock

The iridescent emerald plumage and spectacular broad tail of The Peacock make it the ideal symbol of both justified pride and vanity. It denotes the right for one to be proud of themselves for being who they are and for letting others know. In short, its okay to strut a bit. At the same time The Peacock reminds us that while pride and high self esteem are essential components of a healthy psyche, becoming too full of one’s self makes us vain, and vanity is never attractive in anyone.

As a daily card, The Peacock is reminder that you are inherently valuable, and have a right to be proud of who you are as well as let others know you are proud of yourself. It is also a warning to not allow you pride and sense of self worth grow to such grand proportions that you become vain and conceited.

The Daily Motivator for Nov. 22 – Helping others

Helping others

Helping others helps you, at the very deepest level. Giving real value serves  to create real value in your own life.

By providing encouragement, you receive encouragement. When you teach, you  learn.

Each day is rich with opportunities for you to make a positive difference in  the lives of those around you. And it is through genuinely enriching the lives  of others that you find true richness in your own.

Right here, right now, there is a beautiful way to give of yourself, and to  make the world a better place. Choose to do so, and immediately feel the  benefits begin to manifest.

You have the chance today to change lives for the better. It’s difficult to  imagine anything that could be more fulfilling than that.

Reach out, give a hand, make a difference, and offer a kindness. The lives  you lift will most certainly include your own.

— Ralph Marston

The Daily Motivator

Embraced by the Goddess

Embraced by the Goddess

Author:   Elwin Shadowstrider   

Originally I was planning to place this in my Book of Mirrors, as you see; I changed my mind for many reasons. Some were to let others know of a beautiful life-changing event that forever changed me. I felt that to some it may help, for others maybe just to remind them of when they first set their own two feet on their Path.

Without a short background some of this will not make any sense at all, I will not go into gory detail. Some things are very tragic, some of those things I draw a great deal of strength from. However, my childhood was beyond horrible, abuse was prevalent, both physical and mental abuse. A great deal seems to come from Stephen King’s worst nightmares.

I have been asked many times by those who know me well how I did not become badly damaged goods…I attribute that to strength of will. I refuse to give up, especially when I know there are greater things out there than what I have to experience at that moment in time then. In time, I proved myself right, as you will see.

I was forced as a child to attend church; I really had no interest in going. They never could answer my questions to my satisfaction. The usual Cain slew Abel, then where did his wife come from if there were only four people on this planet at that time? Many explained that it was more than likely his sister, which I went up in flames then. Letting them know that only last week we were told that was forbidden to lie with your sister or brother. Or was it just holier then than it is now? You get the picture; I was seven when this took place.

My parents were begged not to bring me back to Sunday school. They said that I asked questions that no normal seven year old should ask, and that I should take more on “faith” and to be still and be quiet when the teacher was talking. I felt they were legitimate questions and still do, no pastor or otherwise could ever answer what I asked.

Many referred me to so and so apologetic pastor or seminary college since I was so questioning within the “faith”. Faith, no, I wanted clear concise answers as to WHY these things I was to take on “faith” had to not be asked. Too many holes within their stories and parables, I wanted straight facts that they were not equipped to give.

My teen years were pretty much the same; I was honestly kept as a house slave or servant, I was allowed no bed of my own, any furniture, and the least expensive clothes they could find and was told that it was “good” for my soul.

That got really old really quick, I grew up in Miami, Florida, and I had no air conditioning in my room either. The rest of the household had everything; this is just to give you an idea. By now, I had finally begged and cried to this “god” for deliverance, anything, just I wanted out of this household.

I begged for many years, all I got in return was silence…no answers.

I thought at first maybe I was “imperfect”, a “sinner” and god wanted nothing to do with me; just like everyone else in my life then. My despair began to grow to stellar heights, just what was I supposed to do? I left my Dad’s house when I was sixteen; I refused to put up with it any longer.

As the years passed as years will, I occasionally begged “god” for help, by now, I have been begging for years, still, no answer. I sought “help” from pastors; I got the usual praying over, and one even suggested performing an exorcism on me to cast out any “evil spirits” that might have taken up residence within.

Being that my family is from central Ireland we were brought up to trust and believe the clergy. Mostly Catholics, a few Protestants, was what ran in my family. I never could understand just how they could take so much on faith and let it go at that.

I was the one who always read everything, but my favorites still to this day is the “Sword and Sorcery” type epics that I learned so much from. I was the cast off, the one who believed that the Elves still existed and Dragons were around the next corner; during what free time I could steal away I walked the woods, searching for something, just what I never knew then.

What I didn’t know was that our beloved Green Man was whispering to me all that time. There were days I could almost hear what He was saying, almost; but not quite getting it.

Often, I just shrugged my shoulders and continued on, learning what so many just didn’t see. To learn of beauty, to know some small peace in my life. To see animals as more of my friends than Man, to know trees, to breathe in what I needed. In these times I didn’t feel lost at all, I felt at home then.

Here I will leave the past behind, these memories are very painful in ways, but I learned how to be what many never do, Human. To know the fullness of sorrow, anger, and hatred is something I do not recommend to anyone. Better to not know the fullness of what those emotions can do to a person, the hardness in can put in place of what should be someone’s heart.

This is when I looked back on my life, and wanted to know why, just why, “god” never answered me. Why my life was, so far, was so cold inside, why can’t I be happy like so many others here in this world?

Despair grew yet again, yet despair this time was very deep. It lasted for many months instead of just a few days.

I once again went to begging “god” for answers, help, anything; just one answer is all I required, just one. It never came, that answer. Finally, I broke down, after thirty-six years of fighting I broke down.

I gave up, entirely. I had nothing else to believe in.

Yes, I do have a wife and son; I do have family of my own. I love them both very dearly. I wanted faith. I wanted faith to believe in myself, to believe that when this path here on earth is over there is something other than nothing. As I said, I broke down, I wanted nothing anymore, and I gave up.

With that, I began the soul wrenching crying that signified total defeat; “god” wasn’t there. I was truly lost, and that’s what broke my heart more than anything. I was lost.

During this time of defeat, a PRESCENSE is the only way I could begin to describe it. Something unbelievably beyond me, something that radiated Love, I really gave in then. I felt as if I should know who this was, but for some reason I didn’t.

Then in a voice that was VERY female, soft, full of understanding and infinite Love spoke to me, ” Why do you weep? Why is your heart so heavy within your breast? Where is the laughter that I love to hear from you? Where are your smiles?”

I was dumbfounded, I could only answer, “I am lost, god doesn’t answer me, I am alone here, and I want faith in the universe around me.”

She laughed, not a mocking laughter, one full of understanding, and Love. “I have known your ancestors, the Celts, I know you. Why is it you don’t know me?”

I answered, ” My lady, I don’t know you I wish I did, I am tired of not knowing anything.”

She answered, ” So you shall, you are my child, none other’s, you are my son. Love shall be yours.”

At that moment, all the years of hatred, anger, sorrow, animosity, and narrow-minded beliefs fell away, replaced by Love. I fell to crying out of sheer joy and happiness.

At that, she laughed again, full of mirth, and joy that I did remember who She was at last. As I lay there my Goddess embraced me, not in the spiritual sense, it was very physical, yet I couldn’t see Her.

Her embrace was like nothing I have ever known in my life, for just one moment here on this plane of existence, I knew what it was like to Love all, to realize that Love was all my Goddess wanted from me; that and my laughter, my happiness.

Since that day, the Wiccan Rede is indelible upon me. I will harm NONE. I became a vegetarian; I refuse to harm anything, even so much as a bug outside.

My son (Goddess Bless him) came to me not two weeks ago and asked what was making me so happy, why I laughed at nearly everything now. I want to tell him, he’s only eleven, and I won’t alter his Path in life. When he gets a little older and he asks again, then I will tell him.

Just three days later, flying in the face of tradition, I gave myself to my Goddess. It’s been only five weeks from that wonderful day. I oath bound myself to Her, and laughed with Her when she accepted me as her child.

After the turn of events in the beginning of my life I had indeed proven myself right, that there are greater things out there. You just have to look in the right place sometimes.

There may be a few others out there who may have experienced something like this. I do not know, I do not claim to know. I know what gift was given to me, and that gift will be cherished until I see my Goddess yet again.

Please understand I have no hatred for the Christian religion. I have left hatred behind, and that is no longer who I am. I have many friends who are Christians; they know that I am a Witch, a Wiccan. They also know that I will never turn away from my Goddess; they know I will lovingly tell them that I have found my Path if they begin to preach at me.

I have also lost a great deal of friends who were too judgmental and walked away from me. Some of those were indeed painful, many were very good friends. Their children played with my son quite often, now I have yet to see them again.

I am at Peace with their choice; they too have a Path they must follow. As any Pagan, I just send them my Love from time to time. Many of my relatives also have nothing to do with me now, that too I have taken in Peace.

It is somewhat difficult to convey what exactly has happened to me. My life was filled with so much negative energies that I never believed that something such as this could really happen. Life has truly begun for me, to feel Love as never before, to Love all that I see. To feel the sense of the Spirit’s whisperings in all that is around me, to know and see indescribable beauty in all that my eyes behold.

The most fun part is to finally hear the Green Man’s laughter, to hear His dancing steps, to know His Love for all things that grow. I know who He is as well, no longer just whispers that I can’t quite catch, to hear His voice is truly wonderful. To also hear God’s voice in laughter with the Goddess’ laughter as I take my first tentative steps in Life, my heart is full.

There are days I wonder if I can really Love more than the day before, the answer is yes. Goddess, YES! Tears of true joy fall these days; the Goddess has embraced me. I have just scratched the surface of what I will know before I must return to Summerland.

I also no longer fear to die, I actually look forward to the day when I can return to all that knows me, to see those whom I know. To find so many there waiting for my return. I will also state I don’t think I will return to Mother Earth, I will stay in Summerland.

I know that I may return if I wish, however; I will stay. There is work to do there as well.

In closing, yes, I am indeed VERY new to Wicca; I have learned what Wiccan Pride is truly all about. I have learned what Love really is, what Peace, true Peace really is.

I have also learned what Magick is all about. Magick in one word, WOW! I had no real idea of what can be done; it’s real, and its mind blowing of what we can do with it.

I will leave you Sisters and Brothers here, know that one more Wiccan has joined your ranks. Thanks for taking the time to read of my experience with the Goddess. Know that She Loves us all; no matter what Path we take.

Merry Meet, Merry Partings until we Merry Meet again.

Abundant and Brightest Blessings to all,

Elwin Shadowstrider ) O (

Banshee

Banshee 

The Banshee from the Irish bean sí (“woman of the side” or “woman of the faerie mounds”) is a female spirit in Irish mythology, usually seen as an omen of death and a messenger from the Otherworld. Her Scottish counterpart is the bean shith (also spelled bean-shidh) The asos sí (“people of the mounds”, “people of peace”) are variously believed to be the survivals of pre-Christian Gaelic deities, spirits of nature, or the ancestors. Some Theosophists and Celtic Christians have also referred to the aos sí as “fallen angels”. They are commonly referred to in English as “faeries”, and the banshee can also be described as a “fairy woman”.

In Irish legend, a banshee wails around a house if someone in the house is about to die. There are particular families who are believed to have Banshees attached to them, and whose cries herald the death of a member of that family. Traditionally, when a citizen of an Irish village died, a woman would sing a lament (in Irish: caoineadh, [ˈkiːnʲə] or [ˈkiːnʲuː], “caoin” meaning “to weep, to wail”) at their funeral. These women singers are sometimes referred to as “keeners” and the best keeners would be in much in demand. Legend has it that, for five great Gaelic families: the O’Gradys, the O’Neills, the O’Briens, the O’Connors, and the Kavanaghs, the lament would be sung by a fairy woman; having foresight, she would sing the lament when a family member died, even if the person had died far away and news of their death had not yet come, so that the wailing of the banshee was the first warning the household had of the death. In later versions the banshee might appear before the death and warn the family by wailing. When several banshees appeared at once, it indicated the death of someone great or holy. The tales sometimes recounted that the woman, though called a fairy, was a ghost, often of a specific murdered woman, or a woman who died in childbirth.

Banshees are frequently described as dressed in white or grey, and often having long, fair hair which they brush with a silver comb, a detail scholar Patricia Lysaght attributes to confusion with local mermaid myths. This comb detail is also related to the centuries-old traditional romantic Irish story that, if you ever see a comb lying on the ground in Ireland, you must never pick it up, or the banshees (or mermaids – stories vary), having placed it there to lure unsuspecting humans, will spirit such gullible humans away. Other stories portray banshees as dressed in green, red or black with a grey cloak.