Today Is …
Beltane~Rowan Witch Day~Kalends of May~May Day~Cetsahmain
April Showers Bring May Flowers! Leave a bouquet of May flowers at a friend or loved ones door today!
May gets its name from the Roman Goddess Maia, who embodies the earth’s renewal during spring. Next to New Year’s Eve, May Day (Beltane) was among the most popular holidays in the old world, marking the time when the sun’s warmth and nature’s fertility began appearing in the land. Later, well over 100 nations chose to celebrate Labor Day on May 1, giving everyone a much-needed rest from winter’s tasks.
For the purpose of your magical escapades, the theme is definitely blossoming and liveliness. Use as many flower parts as possible in spells and rituals, and go outside frequently to get closer to nature. Energies emphasized by this month include creativity, inventiveness, fertility, health, and metaphysically “spring cleaning” any area of your life or sacred space.
Between the Beltanes – Children born between the Beltanes (May 1 and May 8) have “the skill of man and beast” and power over both. Kightly, Charles, The Perpetual Almanack of Folklore, Thames & Hudson 1987
Bona Dea – This was the day of dedication for the Aventine festival of the mysterious and generically named Good Goddess. Her cult was older than that of Heracles, which was itself pre-Roman. She was known as the wife of Faunus, a rustic god of woods and flocks, and she governed fertility and healing. Her rites were for women only and her oracles were revealed only to women.
Also on May 1st, the priests of Vulcan sacrificed a pregnant pig to Maia. Since a pig is the appropriate sacrifice for an earth goddess, Maia was equated with the earth by some Roman writers, as was Bona Dea. Blackburn, Bonnie and Leofranc Holford-Strevens, Oxford Companion to the Year, Oxford University Press 1999
Lei Day – Apparently in Hawaii this is a day for wearing leis and honoring the spirit of the lei: friendliness and good will. It seems appropriate to me to do this on May Day and in the middle of the Floralia, the festival in honor of flowers and sexuality.
Snake Festival – On the first Thursday in May, the town of Cocullo, Italy is full of snakes, in honor of San Domenico. Snake handlers gather the snakes on March 19 (St Joseph’s Day or equinox) when they are first emerging into the warmth of the spring sun and store them in jars of bran. On the feast day they bring them out and people get their photograph taken with a snake draped around them. Previously they took the snakes to Mass and waved them over their heads when the Host was elevated. Now they carry them in procession, along with the image of San Domenico. The festival used to end with the snakes being killed or sold to pharmacists to be made into ointments and cures. Now they are let loose.
San Domenico, a Benedictine monk, who was born in Umbria in 951 protects people from the bites of venomous snakes and rabid dogs, perhaps because of the story of how he tamed a fierce wolf that was about to steal a child. The story says he came to Cocullo when it was plagued by an invasion of snakes and charmed them out of their nests, just like St Patrick. But before San Domenico arrived in these parts, the Etruscans, the indigenous people in this part of Italy, worshipped the Goddess Angizia, a snake enchantress who lived in a nearby sacred wood and protected people from serpents. She was said to be a sister of Circe. She may be connected with Isis who mated with a serpent. Until some time in the last century, the people of Abruzzo believed the serpent copulated with all women.
Just as in the story of St Patrick driving the snakes from Ireland, this legend may record the transition from the earlier times when snakes were associated with the goddess and the bad reputation they acquired under Christianity. At one time, snakes were symbols of wisdom, and brought the gifts of prophecy and healing, which is why they appear on the caduceus, the symbol of the medical profession. They were also associated with fertility, since they penetrate the earth, and with rebirth, because of the way they shed their skins.
Ciambellone, special breads shaped like a snake biting its tail, are made to decorate the poles which support the statues in the procession. Treats called ciambelle, made from little twisted wreaths of bread, flavored with anise seed, look like snakes wrapped around each other. These sweets that are shaped and coiled like snakes occur only in regions of Italy where the Etruscans lived. Field, Carol, Celebrating Italy, William Morrow 1990 From School of Seasons
Floralia and Beltane ~ Ancient Roman Floralia (Florales Ludi) was a festival from April 28 – May 2 which began in Rome in 238 B.C. Floralia was originally a Spring Festival which honors Roman Goddess of Flowers, Flora (Chloris) another manifestation of the earth-goddess which includes Fauna, Maia and Ops. The temple of this goddess was founded on this day on the Aventine. Offerings of milk and honey were made on this day and the surrounding five days, which comprise the Florifertum. The city would have been decorated in flowers, and the people would wear floral wreaths or flowers in their hair. Games would be celebrated on this day. The celebration of this day survives in many cultures where it is known as May Day. 28 – May 3:The three day Festival of Flora and Venus, or the Florialia in Rome; Goddess of Sexuality and Spring flowers.
30: Walpurgisnacht celebrated by German Witches
Courtesy of GrannyMoonsMorningFeast