Beltane


For once I got my research into the festival finished, but only just before the festival so it didn’t leave me much time to prepare.

I was going to do a May bush which is used to ward off fairies on Beltane and try and catch the May dew to wash my face with it, but were unable to organise these in time.

Instead I did my ritual and took the day off.

I was also going watch Doctor Who and The Daemons as it’s based at Beltane and is pagany, but we didn’t have the episodes on DVD.

This is an example of a festival which just didn’t happen.

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Marking the Seasons


A lot of Pagans use the festivals to mark the seasons. The problem I have with this is that they insist that the start of the Summer is Beltane. In Britain where I live Beltane is often cold and wet and we may not see a period of sunshine (I define a period as roughly a week) until June or maybe July, which is not when Summer is supposed to start.

I’ve always felt that Beltane is the end of Spring and celebrate midsummer as the end of the light days and beginning of the dark days, so for me it is really the Summer solstice.

The Irish did at some point mark various points as seasons, but the seasons themselves may have changed.

In Irish myth Imbolc is marked as the start of the light half of the year and Samhain as the dark half. I have calculated out the days and the period Imbolc to Samhain is 273 days, while Samhain to Imbolc is 120 days which makes it roughly Imbolc to Samhain is the light two-thirds of the year while Samhain to Imbolc is the dark one-third of the year.
So instead of marking the seasons at the festivals, I mark the weather.

Beltane


Once again, the ritual was prepared at the last moment and unsatisfactory to me. It worked, but it could have been so much better.

I did search on the net for food and drink to have at Beltane, but I couldn’t find anything apart from nettle soup, which is traditionally made at springtime and other recipes which look invented. There were one or two books which came up on my search which I am going to have to get out of the library and see if they’re any good.

I did get a hawthorn branch in for Beltane, the only time it isn’t unlucky to have that particular tree in the house or cut branches from it. Hawthorn is one of the trees that’s traditionally a fairy tree and they don’t like humans interfering with what is theirs.

I usually do a spell to protect the cat against disease, but since she was in the cattery I will have to do that when she returns, but after I have put the flea treatment on her.

Belated Post on Beltane


It’s a bit late for this, but Real Life TM caught up with me, so I’m posting this now.

I celebrated Beltane by washing my face with dew in the morning. It doesn’t seem to have worked as a beauty aid so far (I have a face like a pizza) but it may be a bit early to tell.

After I got back from work I did a ritual celebrating the coming of the Tuatha De Danaan and the Milesians to Ireland on Beltane, striking the ground as they did to maintain my links with the land.

I wish I’d been able to decorate a May bush, but I’d planned this at the last minute. I need to keep to planning my rituals when the last one has finished and not leave them till later.

Beltane


Normally for Beltane I attempt to gather dew on a flannel and wash my face in it. I didn’t try it this year because I had to go to work and also because it has been raining so much lately I thought I wouldn’t get any dew. I had asked for rain at the Spring Equinox and since we’re in a drought condition it’s good to have it.

After work I gathered up my paraphernalia, went to the weeping willow and cast my circle.

Beltane is when the Milesians came to Ireland. They took over Ireland from the Tuatha Dé Danaan, eventually making an agreement that they would have the half of Ireland above ground and the Tuatha Dé Danaan would have the half of Ireland below ground.

When the leader of the Milesians, Amergin, set foot on Ireland, the first thing he did was to introduce himself to the land. Then he blessed the land with fertility and especially fish. So I introduced myself to the land, let some of my blood and asked for fertility for the land and for myself.

I looked at the ritual I’d written just before I was due to perform it. A lightbulb went on in my head and I realised what Amergin’s poems were about, so the ritual was a bit clumsy as I had to improvise at the last minute. Next year’s ritual will be better.

Beltane Part Three


In the afternoon I went for a walk in the woods.  I took an offering of water for my tribal tree and an offering of water for the guardian tree in the old part of the woods.

First I gave the offering to my tribal tree and talked with it for a while.  Then I went to find the guardian tree of the old woods.  This is a very old beech tree, with a huge trunk which dominates the old woods.  A circle of logs has been placed around the tree so people can sit on them.

I gave it the offering of water while walking around it in a circle.  I did talk to this tree and it was suspicious of what I was doing.  We humans have not treated the old part of the forest well, so it is suspicious of all humans.  I plan to give it an offering of water every time I give an offering to our tribal tree.  Hopefully it will become less suspicious of me in time.

Beltane Part 2 – Celebration


So far, when I have been celebrating I have written a new ritual each time.  This keeps my rituals from getting stale and formulaic.  It’s easier to introduce new ideas and concepts in them and since the last time I have performed them I have done more, read more and am slightly different from the last time I performed them.

But this time I dug out the ritual I had used last time.  This time I am up to my neck in things to do at work and at home and I realised that I just wasn’t going to be able to plan anything.

First I made salt water by dissolving sea salt in water to honour Donn, as he drowned in the sea.  He was one of the Milesians who came to Ireland on Beltane and eventually settled on the half of Ireland above ground, giving the Tuatha De Danaan the half below ground.  I plan to pick up some real sea water next month for ritual purposes as I live several hours drive away from the sea.

This is the first ritual in a while I have not done outside.  Donn is the god who takes the dead to his house : Tech Duinn on the Beara peninsula in Ireland, and it was fitting that my altar is in the darkest room in the house.  I set my altar up with stones, some polished by the sea, some polished by hand and did my ritual.  I am keeping my altar to him up for a noinden, which is a nine-day period.

Beltane Part 1


I’m splitting my Beltane activities into three parts, so each post deals with different things.

As usual on Beltane I had breakfast and then a bath. I was surprised when I found myself thinking about doing a meditation after my bath, as I usually meditate after ritual.

So for once taking the hint and realising there was some purpose to this, I meditated and met Donn. This is his day (more about that in Part 2) and he wasn’t happy with me.

The Friends of Linslade Wood had organised a Dawn Chorus walk, where they listened to the dawn chorus at 4:30 a.m. and identified the birds singing. Originally I’d said I would go and then changed my mind because I was already aching from walking around London.

For me, part of my path is keeping my word and Donn wasn’t happy with me because I’d said I’d go and then didn’t keep my word. So from now on I have to be careful with what I say. I can say I may do things if I’m not sure, but once I’ve said I’ll do something then I have to do it. At his instigation I have written a list of things I’ve said I’ll do and haven’t got around to them, which isn’t as long as I thought it would be.

It may seem funny to some for me to have to keep my word as part of my path. Part of it is that I do try to get back to things that my ancestors would have done; and one of the values that I espouse is to keep my word. It’s often hard to do, but I have noticed that when I do it things go easier for me, even if they’re hard to put in motion.

With the way things are going doing all the things I’ve said I’ll do will take a while to do. I’m planning my wedding and trying to sort out the infrastructure of the garden so we can actually get down to planting things in it next year, so a lot of things are taking a back seat. I said I’d write some aspen lore for someone last year and have only just started it…