The Coming Of Lammas

 

Hear the call of the rooster in the early morning haze, another day of heat and
humidity. The corn silently ripens in the field as the crows gather to claim their
share. The scent of fresh ripe tomatoes fills the air in the kitchen. The clean mason jars, brought from storage, washed and ready to receive the bounty of field and garden glisten in rays of the morning Sun that pierces the veil of mist.

In the cool of the cellar are the crockery jars, ready for the pickling of cucumbers and cabbages the bins have been cleaned to receive their full compliment of the first harvest of potatoes, onions, cabbages and carrots.

As July passes, we remember the flag, thirteen pentagrams in a circle, one for each English Colony that made up a young nation; or one for each lunar month in a year and now, of course, it could be one for each witch in a coven. The red and white stripes are like the streamers on a May Pole.

Americans, American witchcraft and American Wicca are totally unique, nothing quite like either has ever been seen before, even in this great, new land of ours. The American nation, founded for the purpose of religious freedom is the home of the greatest revival of ancient practices in the world. The Neo-Pagan religions are growing by leaps and bounds and as American Witches we have the best the two worlds, both old and new have to offer.

A very few are born into the tiny pockets of hereditary witchcraft that seem to be
still scattered about the world, the rest of us, we the chosen children, must make
our own new traditions, claiming as our own, gathering bits and pieces from
around the world. Who is brave enough to deny us this right, remembering the
God and Goddess themselves have called us to the fold and made us their own?

We are a people, we are the children of the Gods, they have made it so. Our task is to reclaim the good, the useful, the ancient ways from the wreckage of the past.

Lammas or first harvest is a bountiful and wondrously full time of year, what
traditions are each of you celebrating during this time?

If you have a tradition that is too secret to share, keep it to yourself, this is an echo for caring and sharing. Those of us who are the Goddess’s chosen children, those of us who answered the call of Herne the Hunter in whatever form, here we can learn and develop our own new and uniquely American Traditions based upon the Ancient Ways; with a flavoring of the new for sauce….

Celebrating the first harvest with American Corn Dollys, pumpkin pie and jack-o-lanterns, bobbing for Washington apples, hard and soft cider, homemade bread, hand shucked popcorn, ice-cream, made at home like our grandmother’s did….

Rites and rituals, burning of last winter’s candles….

Ritually washing with handmade soap made from the finest tallow…

Cologne and rosewater, made from the bounty of our gardens or from the corner farmers market…

Reclaiming the ancient ways… in our hearts and minds, in our homes, in our
rituals, looking to the Gods themselves for guidance…

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The Wicca Book of Days for May 8 – Soothing Sage

The Wicca Book of Days for May 8

Soothing Sage

Sage not only has many mouth-watering culinary uses, but is valued by herbalists for its antibacterial and antiseptic properties. Astrogically associated with the zodiacal sign of the Bull, which prevails on May 8, sage is often used to soothe a sore throat, and it is thought that its efficacious action is at least partly due to “Taurus’ influence over the throat. So if your throat feels scratchy and raw and you are finding swallowing painful, brew a pot of sage tea (use 1 ounce of dry sage, or 2 ounce of fresh leaves, to 1 pint of boiling water) to gargle with or sip.

Miraculous Manuka?

If you are prone to sore throats invest in a pot of Manuka honey – check that it has a UMF (unique Manuka factor) rating – and you may find that it’s worth its weight in gold. For many people swear that swallowing a teaspooon or two of this New Zealand honey (neat) works wonders.

How To Celebrate Beltane with a Maypole Dance

How To Celebrate Beltane with a Maypole Dance

 

The Maypole is one of the traditional symbols of Beltane, and let’s not kid ourselves about its purpose: it’s a giant phallus.

Because Beltane festivities usually kicked off the night before with a big bonfire, the Maypole celebration usually took place shortly after sunrise the next morning. This was when couples (and probably more than a few surprised triads) came staggering in from the fields, clothes in disarray and straw in their hair after a night of bonfire-inspired lustiness.

Difficulty: Average
Time Required: Varied

Here’s How:

  1. The pole was erected on the village green or common, or even a handy field — thrust into the ground either permanently or on a temporary basis — and brightly colored ribbons attached to it. Young people came and danced around the pole, each holding the end of a ribbon. As they wove in and out, men going one way and women the other, it created a sleeve of sorts — the enveloping womb of the earth — around the pole. By the time they were done, the Maypole was nearly invisible beneath a sheath of ribbons.
  2. To set up your own Maypole dance, here’s what you’ll need:
    • A pole anywhere from 15 to 20 feet long, preferably made of wood
    • Guests who like to have fun

    Dig a hole in advance, a few feet deep. You don’t want your friends to wait while you hunt for a shovel. The hole should be at least three feet deep, to keep the pole from flopping over during the ceremony.

  3. Ask each participant to bring their own ribbon — it should be about 20 feet long, by two to three inches wide. Once everyone arrives, attach the ribbons to one end of the pole (if you put a metal eyelet screw in the pole beforehand, it makes it a lot easier — you can just tie each ribbon to the eyelet). Have extra ribbons on hand, because inevitably someone will have forgotten theirs.
  4. Once the ribbons are attached, raise the pole until it is vertical, and slide it into the hole. Be sure to make lots of bawdy jokes here. Pack dirt in around the base of the pole so it won’t shift or fall during the dance.
  5. If you don’t have an equal number of male and female guests, don’t worry. Just have everyone count off by twos. People who are “1” will go in a clockwise direction, people who are “2” go counterclockwise. Hold your ribbons in the hand that is closest to the pole, your inside hand. As you move in the circle, pass people by on first the left, and then the right, then the left again. If you’re passing them on the outside, hold your ribbon up so they pass under it. You might want to do a practice round beforehand. Keep going until everyone runs out of ribbon, and then knot all the ribbons at the bottom.
  6. One thing that’s always welcome at a Maypole Dance is music. There are a number of CDs available, but there are some bands whose music have a May theme to them. Look for the phrase “Morris music” or traditional pipe and drum tunes. Of course, the best thing of all is to have live music, so if you have friends who are willing to share their skill and sit out the dance, ask them to provide some musical entertainment for you.

Tips:

  1. If you’re doing a kids’ Maypole, it’s probably easier just to have them all go in one direction with their ribbons. It doesn’t look quite as fancy when it’s done, but it’s still pretty.
  2. You may want to have a crown of flowers attached as well — put that at the top once all the ribbons are in place, but before you raise the pole.

What You Need

  • A pole
  • Lots of ribbon
  • Friends who like to have a good time

Beltane Activities and Correspondences

Beltane Activities and Correspondences

Guest Author – Leslie RavenwingHerbs – hawthorn, hoenysuckle, St John’s wort, wood ruff, all flowers.

Colors- Green, Yellow, Pink, Blue

Foods – Strawberries, Cherries, Fruits, Salads, Wine

Goddesses – Aphrodite, Asherah, Belili, Brigid, Danu, Freya, Flora, Gwenhwyvar, Hina, Ishtar, Maia, Mary, Oiwyn, Oshun, Ostara, Sappha, Tonantzin, Vesta

Gods – Beltene, Cernunnous, Cupid/Eros, Manawyddan and Pan

Activities and Rituals – fertilize, nurture and boost existing goals, games, activities of pleasure, leaping bonfires, making garlands, May Pole dance, planting seeds, walking one’s property, feasting

Stones/Gems – Emerald, malachite, amber, orange carnelian, sapphire, rose quartz

Other Names – Cetsamhain (opposite Samhain),May Day, Fairy Day,Sacred Thorn Day, Rood Day, Roodmas (the Christian term for Rood Day, Old Beltane, Beltaine, Beltain, Baltane, Walpurgis Night, Floriala (Roman feast of flowers from April 29 to May 1), Walpurgisnacht (Germanic-feast of St. Walpurga), Thrimilce (Anglo-saxon), Bloumaand (Old Dutch)

Incense Blend
3 parts frankincense
2 parts Sandalwood
1 part woodruff
1 part rose petals
a few drops jasmine oil
a few drops neroli oil

-Make paper baskets (use yarn as a handle) and place real or silk flowers in each basket. Hang them on door knobs of nieghbors and family members but don’t let them know you did it!

-If you have children, make necklaces out of diasies and place them around their necks for the day to bring protection to them.

-Begin planting for the season.

-Create a MayPole and dance around it with your family or friends.

-Make a dish of fruits, berries, nuts and leave in the wood for the animals and fae folk to enjoy

– This is a night for bonfires, torch-lit processions and the high revelry of witches, preferably in high places. It is prime time for the Great Rite, a night (like Samhain) when the Goddess descends into women. Cailleach Beara (Cally Berry, Brighid’s crone aspect) turns to stone this night and does not to return until Samhain. Beltane Eve also marks the setting of the Pleiades

May Wine Cup – Makes 6 – 8 Glasses

1 Bottle White Wine (sweet or dry depending on your taste)
12 Sprigs Sweet Woodruff
1/2 cup Strawberries Sliced
Edible flowers (to be sprinkled on the top after all ingredients have been mixed together)

Method : Soak the dried woodruff overnight in the wine. the following day mix the wine, strawberries and woodruff in a large bowl and let it sit in the fridge for an hour. Strain out woodruff, add the decorative flowers and serve cold.

Setting Up Your Beltane Altar – What To Include on Your Beltane Altar

Setting Up Your Beltane Altar – What To Include on Your Beltane Altar

By Patti Wigington

It’s Beltane, the Sabbat where many Wiccans and Pagans choose to celebrate the fertility of the earth. This Sabbat is about new life, fire, passion and rebirth, so there are all kinds of creative ways you can set up for the season. Depending on how much space you have, you can try some or even all of these ideas — obviously, someone using a bookshelf as an altar will have less flexibility than someone using a table, but use what calls to you most.

Colors of the Season

This is a time when the earth is lush and green as new grass and trees return to life after a winter of dormancy. Use lots of greens, as well as bright spring colors — the yellow of the daffodils, forsythia and dandelions; the purples of the lilac; the blue of a spring sky or a robin’s egg. Decorate your altar with any or all of these colors in your altar cloths, candles, or colored ribbons.

Fertility Symbols

The Beltane holiday is the time when, in some traditions, the male energy of the god is at its most potent. He is often portrayed with a large and erect phallus, and other symbols of his fertility include antlers, sticks, acorns, and seeds. You can include any of these on your altar. Consider adding a small Maypole centerpiece — there are few things more phallic than a pole sticking up out of the ground!

In addition to the lusty attributes of the god, the fertile womb of the goddess is honored at Beltane as well. She is the earth, warm and inviting, waiting for seeds to grow within her. Add a goddess symbol, such as a statue, cauldron, cup, or other feminine items. Any circular item, such as a wreath or ring, can be used to represent the goddess as well.

Flowers and Faeries

Beltane is the time when the earth is greening once again — as new life returns, flowers are abundant everywhere. Add a collection of early spring flowers to your altar — daffodils, hyacinths, forsythia, daisies, tulips — or consider making a floral crown to wear yourself. You may even want to pot some flowers or herbs as part of your Sabbat ritual.

In some cultures, Beltane is sacred to the Fae. If you follow a tradition that honors the Faerie realm, leave offerings on your altar for your household helpers.

Fire Festival

Because Beltane is one of the four fire festivals in modern Pagan traditions, find a way to incorporate fire into your altar setup. Although one popular custom is to hold a bonfire outside, that may not be practical for everyone, so instead it can be in the form of candles (the more the better), or a table-top brazier of some sort. A small cast-iron cauldron placed on a heat-resistant tile makes a great place to build an indoor fire.

Other Symbols of Beltane

  • May baskets
  • Chalices
  • Honey, oats, milk
  • Antlers or horns
  • Fruit such as cherries, mangos, pomegranates, peaches
  • Swords, lances, arrows

Legends and Lore of Beltane

Legends and Lore of Beltane

By Patti Wigington

In many cultures, there are different legends and lore surrounding Beltane. Here are a few of the stories about this magical spring celebration.

  • Like Samhain, the holiday of Beltane is a time when the veil between the worlds is thin. Some traditions believe that this is a good time to contact the spirits, or to interact with the Fae. Be careful, though — if you visit the Faerie Realm, don’t eat the food, our you’ll be trapped there, much like Thomas the Rhymer was!
  • Some Irish dairy farmers hang a garland of green boughs over their door at Beltane. This will bring them great milk production from their cows during the coming summer. Also, driving your cattle between two Beltane bonfires helps protect your livestock from disease.
  • The pious Puritans were outraged by the debauchery of Beltane celebrations. In fact, they made Maypoles illegal the mid 1600’s, and tried to put a halt to the “greenwood marriages” that frequently took place on May Eve. One pastor wrote that if “tenne maiden went to set (celebrate) May, nine of them came home gotten with childe.”
  • According to a legend in parts of Wales and England, women who are trying to conceive should go out on May Eve — the last night of April — and find a “birthing stone”, which is a large rock formation with a hole in the center. Walk through the hole, and you will conceive a child that night. If there is nothing like this near you, find a small stone with a hole in the center, and drive a branch of oak or other wood through the hole — place this charm under your bed to make you fertile.
  • If you go out at sunrise on Beltane, take a bowl or jar to gather morning dew. Use the dew to wash your face, and you’re guaranteed a perfect complexion. You can also use the dew in ritual as consecrated water, particularly in rituals related to the moon or the goddess Diana or her counterpart, Artemis.
  • In the Irish Book of Invasions, it was on Beltane that Patholan, the first settler, arrived on Ireland’s shores. May Day was also the date of the defeat of the Tuatha de Danaan by Amergin and the Milesians.
  • Babies conceived at Beltane are considered a gift from the gods. They were sometimes referred to as “merry-begots”, because the mothers were impregnated during Beltane’s merrymaking.
  • In Cornwall, it’s traditional to decorate your door on May Day with boughs of hawthorn and sycamore.
  • Eating a special oatcake called a bannock or a Beltane cake ensured Scottish farmers abundance of their crops for the year. The cakes were baked the night before, and roasted in embers on a stone.

May 1, 2012 [Beltane]

May 1, 2012 [Beltane]

Belatian, also spelled Beltine, Iris Beltaine or Beltaine and Cetamainalso is one of the 8 sacred Sabbats of the Pagans. This festival is held on the first day of May in Ireland and Scotland. Beltane was first mentioned in a glossary to Cormac, bishop of Cashel and King of Munstern, who was killed in 908. Cormac describes how cattle were driven between two bonfires on Beltaine as a magical means of protecting them from disease before they were led into summer pastures. This custom is still observed in Ireland.

Beltane was started to celebrate and Bless the seeds and make happy that winter is over and spring is here. Beltain celebrations and rituals are a fact and still celebrated by Pagans and Wiccans to this very day. The other side of the Beltane is celebrated by Christianity as Maypole day with dancing around the pole. Beltain is a fire ritual/celebration and is celebrated around a bonfire. Dancing and singing go all night long and in the morning, flowers were gathered to make wreaths for the hair.

Beltane is the last of the 3 celebration Sabbaths celebrated by the Ancients and it heralded the beginning of summer. Food supplies were low, people were depressed from the drab cold days of winter and this made Beltane celebration very special. Facts and myths blend together during these celebrations.

May was not an ideal time for the ancients for marriage, thus the year and a day was begun for hand fasting couples. This was considered a trial time for couples, living together before making the marriage legal. So it seems to me the Ancients knew living together and knowing one another before actually marrying made more sense than marring then divorce.

Water was another important aspect of the Beltane celebration. Myths surround the usage of water at this time also. It is said that if you bathe in the dew gathered before dawn on Beltane, your beauty will flourish all year. Those sprinkled with May dew are insured if health and happiness. Other customs such as drinking from a well before sunrise will insure good heath and fortune.

The main color of Beltane is green representing growth, abundance, plentiful harvest, fertility and luck. The use of other colors in Beltane celebrations as well as the whole month of may are used, whites, yellows, pinks, reds, violets and purples representing cleansings, purity, good fortune, fertility, happiness and wealth. So no matter how you choose to celebrate Beltane, rather it be a ritual, dancing around the fire or Maypole, singing and eating natures produce, its a time for happiness and joy to be alive and one with the Goddess. Blessed BeÂ…Â…

 

References: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beltane