Beltane Chant (by Rudyard Kipling):
O do not tell the priests of our arts,
for they would call it sin!
We will be in the woods all night
A-conjuring conjuring summer in.
And we bring you good news by word of mouth.
For women, cattle, and corn:
The sun is coming up from the south,
By oak and ash, and thorn!
(Continue chanting 'by oak and ash and thorn')
The first day of May marks a festival of great importance for all those who follow the Pagan way. We call this day 'Beltane' which means 'Fire of God,' the Sun, renews his gift of Need-Fire to the Earth Mother. The spark of life has once again been delivered.
The Celtic May festival, to celebrate the arrival of summer; from Old Gaelic words meaning blaze-kindling. In Druidic times, two fires were lit, and the tribes cattle driven between them, in a purificatory rite. In later times, young men would leap over fires in tests or displays of energy and virility.
On April 30th in some areas, fires burn from dusk till dawn. Beltane or May Day at dawn wash your face with dew for a good complextion and good luck throughout the year.
BELTANE - The Celtic 'Flower Festival.' Marks the first day of Celtic Summer - the first day of the Light Half of the year.
Date - May Eve/May 1st (psychic high-tide; full moon before May 1st).
Modern Equivalent - May Day, Lilac Sunday, Lady Day Walpurgisnacht.
Celtic Godforms - Belinos, Flora, Bloodeuwedd.
Alignment - Male, Cross-Quarter Lunar
Customs - sexual license among peasants, May Pole erection, gathering flowers, wearing green, Fire Calling, feasting, merry-making.
Symbols - May Pole, daffodils, bright colors, smiling sun.
Sacred Foods - sweets and sugar products, heather mead, cakes, cookies, no meat or fruit.
Threshold - Dawn
Incense - lilac, heather, apple blossom.
Wiccan Spells and Witchcraft
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St Paddy’s Day — Green, Orange, or by Byron Ballard edited and reprinted from her blog "The Village Witch” at PaganSquare.com
For years I’ve struggled with St. Patrick’s Day. No, not the drinking and eating — no struggle there. But I learned years ago that you wear green on St. Patrick’s day if you’re Catholic and orange (for William of Orange — see the Battle of the Boyne for more info) if you’re Protestant.
I wear a lot of green (and black, to be honest), most of the time. But I am hardly Catholic. And though I’ve threatened to pre-order an orange jumpsuit for Gitmo, I wouldn’t do the Prod thing either.
What’s an Irish Pagan woman to do?
Like Columbus Day which is not at all about Columbus but is all about being Italian-American, St. Patrick’s Day is not about the dreaded saint--at least not in the US. It is a time to be “Irish”, whatever that means. Everyone wants to be Irish for the day--you can buy a hat or t-shirt that proclaims your faux-Irishness. Owning such a classy item gives you entree into the world of cultural stereotypes--will you be drunken Irish? Fighting Irish? Maudlin Irish? Will you bypass all that and proclaim yourself a Celt, wearing a utilikilt and an attitude?
Or perhaps you’d prefer a button with the ubiquitous “Kiss Me, I’m Irish”. Kissing the famous stone in Blarney Castle gives you “the gift of the gab”--what does kissing a person of Irish-extraction give you? Will you achieve the legendary “Luck of the Irish”--which, to me, is always akin to the notion of the Jews as “God’s Chosen People?” Yep, you grab yourself some of that wonderful luck--domination by a neighboring island, destruction of your culture and spirituality by invaders, mass starvation and emigration, a Celtic tiger economy that crashes into devastating poverty…again? Let me know how that sort of “luck” works for you.
So, not green (though I love it) and not orange. What to do?
The answer, as always for me, lay in the land, the “auld sod” to continue our adventure in cultural stereotyping. When I was first in Ireland--I came across the sea from Holyhead, in Wales--there was a kind of call to me from the dirt, the actual soil of the place. Wherever I went, I found myself picking up small stones, kneeling in dirt, touching my hands to the ground. The Hill of Tara caught my breath with its fierce wind and deep history. And little Kildare Town…and the monstrous Glendalough…and the great Boyne Valley.
Each had an underlying vestment of longing and pride and fear and belonging.
So I’ve decided to tie myself to the land of Ireland and not the crashing cymbals of two religious groups I can’t really tell apart. I cleave to the earth of that island that my ancestors called home, so long ago. I fancy that my love of gardening came from
both sides of my family tree--the Irish and the English. And when I throw in the long years here in these old mountains I call home, I athrice blessed with silt and clay and stone.
I will wear brown to honor that connection, to honor the soil from which I come and to which one day I will return. And in between? I’ll grow some vegetables.
BYRON BALLARD is an American rootworker and energy consultant; a freelance writer and an urban farmer; a weaver of words and webs, and prolific blogger. Find her (central) home on the web atwww. myvillagewitch.com
TALISMAN - An object, ritually charged with power to attract a specific force or energy to its bearer.
On a mountain lake known to the ancients as the "Land Beneath the Waves," in Penllyne,Wales, lived Cerridwen. She had borne a son. Legend states his body was as hairy as a stag and a cloud of darkness surrounded him. He was named Morfran, "Utter Darkness." Seeing his fate, his mother set out to change his destiny. She studied day and night and found the perfect potion that would give him wisdom and knowledge of the world to compensate for his appearance and change him into an enchanter.
Cerridwen gathered herbs when they were the most potent and magically charged by using water and proper energies from the Sun, Moon, and stars. For a year in a day in a cauldron her potion needed to be stirred while nine witches breathed life into her desire and keep the fires burning. A blind man and his aid Gwion Bach would assist with the stirring. Cerridwen knew the time drew near when three drops of brew would jump out of the cauldron onto her son and her spell would come true.
Morfran was placed close to the cauldron for the final stages. Cerridwen exhausted instructed either the blind man or his aid to come and wake in the forest before daybreak so she could witness the transformation.
All was quiet in the castle as the blind man and Morfran slept while his aid attended the fire. For almost a year and a day the aid, Gwion listened to the chants and began to want the gift that was being offered to another. He decided to take Morfran's place. As the brew began to bubble fiercely, Gwion pushed Morfran side to allow the three drops to spring onto him. The mixture boiled over with wailing shriek, cracking the caldron, and spilling the potion into the flame. Cerridwen awoke. Gwion Bach, now transformed, could see her rage because her wish for her son had been destroyed. Gwion turned himself into hare and begun running through the corridors of the palace. Morfran's mother, shaped as a hound, nipped at his heels. Gwion fled outside the castle and through the long grass. Glancing behind, he saw the white of her fangs. Gwion reached the shore of the island and changed his shape into a fish and swam through the reeds. When he glance behind again, he saw an otter on his tail. Shooting to the surface, he shape-shifted into a swift (bird) and soared across the sky. Behind him, with fire blazing in her eyes and talons ready, Cerridwen had changed form into an eagle prepared to kill. Gwion dropped toward earth. He spied a wheat field and turned himself into grain. With razor sharp eyes, Cerridwen saw what he'become and shaped herself into a hen who hunted and pecked until she devoured all Gwion had been.
Cerridwen returned to her castle satisfied justice was served, only to realize she was pregnant with the seed of Gwion. For nine months she thought of ways to rid herself of the seed growing inside, vowing to destroy that which she bore. on Beltane, she took the young Gwion to the waters and cast him where he drifted, leaving him to his fate.
At the sea's edge near Castle Degney, in north of Wales, a lord's son identified as Elphin was fishing for salmon. While moving through the reeds he came upon the child. He looked at the boy and quickly named him, "Beyond the Radiant Brow." The infant replied, "Taliesin, it is."
Lord Elphin was not a wise man, squandered his money but his heart was pure. He and his wife raised the Taliesin who became loved by the Celts. The people of the land were amazed by his knowledge of words. He understood that they were the foundation of every spell and charm.
The Welsh wizard Taliesin songs were about creation and transformation, and they made those magical things occur.
With the power,
knots, images, and charms,
the witches focus is heightened,
charms to protect,
some against the
some hold healing.
How often do you do something simply because you love doing it?
Think about it for a moment: we spend the majority of our lives doing things because they “need” to be done or because we feel an obligation to complete the task. Now, sometimes that obligation centers around our family while other obligations come from work… but regardless of the source, it’s not unusual to find that most of our time is spent working on an agenda that was given to us by someone else.
As a result, we tend to put off our own list of “shoulds” for the simple reason that we’re tired of doing what we’re told… just once, our subconscious thinks, I should be able to do what I want… not what I should.
And so the shoulds never get done.
But this mindset is exactly what keeps us from being successful on a diet or writing that book or cleaning out that closet. It’s what keeps us just a few steps away from the life we really want while our frustration builds because we’re not getting any closer to our goals.
It is in fact, the most dangerous excuse of all because it’s disguised as self-indulgence.
So, the next time you’re feeling frustrated that you’re not where you want to be, take a long hard look at your current to-do list… are there actions on that list that will bring you closer to your goals? If the answer is no, you have a problem… until your goals get the same commitment you apply to everything else in your life, you won’t achieve what you want to achieve.
And you’ll never experience the true satisfaction of turning “shoulds” into “done”.
Your devoted friend,
World Renowned Visionary
3. Nature itself, the repeated cycles of growth and death and rebirth as manifest in animate nature-trees, wildlife, flowers; the symbols of passionate life we find in the sea and in the waterfalls and in rivers; the immensity of mountains-all these are for us also an experience of mystery. They cut so deeply into the unguarded world of our subconscious that they lodge there for centuries as meaningful symbols. How else do we explain the healing experience typified by the sea, the rebirth images of water, the warm, peaceful caresses conjured up by our memories of sunshine? Rousseau speaks for the nature-lover in his confessions:
I arose morning before the sun and passed through a neighboring orchard into a pleasant path which led by the vineyard and along the hills...While walking I prayed...with sincere lifting up of my heart to the Creator of this beautiful Nature whose charms lay spread out before my eyes...I like to contemplate him in his works.
And Goethe speaks to the pastoral soul: "Do you not see God? By every quiet spring, under every blossoming tree he meets me in the warmth of his love."
It is not enough to say that because so much of our current existence is urban we have given up on the mystery of nature. Quite the contrary; urban man is haunted by a nostalgia for that forgotten mystery which, precisely because nature evokes a mystery, cannot be gotten rid of in his consciousness and subconsciousness. How else shall we interpret urban man's attempts to "return to nature" by way of camping and vacations; by way of parks in his cities; by way of zoos; by way of floral shops and plants in the home (with the paradigm of an urban home being one with a garden on a penthouse of an urban home being one with a garden on a penthouse roof); with fountains in his city squares; and by the vicarious means of movies and museums and the study of the biological sciences.
Then, too,the urban dweller experiences nature in that most recently exploited of all nature's mysteries, sexual activity. It is mere coincidence that the sexual liberation on which our society prides itself has paralleled man's movement to the cities and away from nature's everyday presence? Is the human body not the one guarantee city-dweller possesses (especially if he is poor and cannot escape to the country on weekends) that the mystery of nature's rhythms and tones and swelling and rising and rebirths is still within his grasp? It is not, then, a pernicious and deadening act to moralize heavily about sexual activity before sexuality is grasped as an occasion for the appreciation of the mystery of nature for the urban dweller?
Does one who claims to be interested in the spiritual dare to judge as unspiritual those who seek the mystery of life in human communication expressed in sex? Sex is thus not the mere problem to which state so many would reduce it. It is a mystery as nature is a mystery.
It finds a degree of totality and ultimate experience insofar as it is related to an authentic union with another: a common experience to give and share love. "For many persons it is only, or chiefly, in sexual love that one encounters the category of an end in itself, the category of the sacred. It is from the experience for many, that religious language becomes meaningful again," Michael Novak.
The fact that scientists have begun to "penetrate the secrets of the universe" to a significant degree since Galileo first trained his telescope on the sun in no way of itself reduces nature to a problem. If some scientists sell their soul to consider atomic fission only from the point of view of the problem of war tactics and possibilities, this does not belittle the value of all natural research. Nor does the exploration of the planets, even though the billions it costs may be replacing more fundamental human needs of survival back on home planet. Nor does exploration into the functioning of sexuality such as Masters and Johnston have provided. These researches are antimysterious only to people who see life and nature as a problems and not mysteries.
A problem need not be opposed to mystery. On the contrary, scientific discovery very often increases our awareness of mystery by uncovering new depths to our world. Far from spelling an end to an age of mystery, scientific research open our eyes to the constant and almost overpowering presence of the bigger-than-we-are in our universe. These explorations are neither problem nor mystery, but a possible bridge between both realities-if we want them to be. Who could deny that the look on our planet from the moon increased, rather than diminished, our wonder at the uniqueness of our tenuous planetary existence?
On Becoming a Musical, Mystical Bear by Matthew Fox Paulist Press/Deus Book New York/Mahwah pg. 36-38 ISBN # 0-8091-1913-7