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 Beltane

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Rowan



Posts : 24
Join date : 2011-04-21

PostSubject: Beltane   Sat 23 Apr 2011, 10:17

Lore

May is the time of fertility and new beginnings after a long winter. The Faeries are afoot! They dance in the hills and roll in the grass, reveling in the joy of warm May breezes. Our spirits are high with the lust and heartiness of spring. New life is stirring and appetites are keen.
-Laurie Cabot, Celebrate the Earth.

In Celtic tradition, the two greatest festivals of the solar year are Samhain and Beltane, celebrations of death and rebirth, respectively. Love is in the air at Beltane. In our rituals, we celebrate the union between the Great Mother and her young Horned God. Their coupling brings fresh new life on Earth. Some form of this Great Rite is enacted on this Sabbat in nearly every modern pagan circle. The Great Rite symbolizes the sacred marriage, or sexual union, of the the Lord and Lady. Often the rite is performed symbolically by a male and female who place a knife (a phallic symbol) into a chalice (a female or yonic symbol). In Old Europe, whole villages would celebrate May Day by slipping away into the woods for indiscriminate sexual encounters. Any children conceived during this occasion were known as "merry-begots" and were considered children of the gods. These "greenwood marriages" were acts of sympathetic magic believed to have a positive effect on their crops, animals, and themselves. (In this age of AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, however, we must exercise responsibility -- by means of safe sex, monogamy, or even abstinence. Use your better judgment.)

Crop fertility was a strong theme at this Sabbat. Besoms were ridden hobbyhorse-style through fields by women in symbolic fertility rites. Menstruating women ran and danced naked in the newly-sown fields. Cows were led to the fields to calve, and ritually consecrated chalices of sheep's blood and milk were poured on the crops, as were ashes from the balefire.


Altar
Drape the altar in a green cloth and decorate it with blooming flowers and herbs.

Herbs

All-heal, blessed thistle, broom, curry, daffodil, dogwood, coriander, dragon's blood reed, fern, fireweed, nettle, flaxseed, hawthorn, marjoram, paprika, radish, rue, snapdragon, mushroom, almond, meadowsweet, rose, woodruff, tansy, elder leaves.

Incense

Rose, jasmine, ylang, ylang, peach, musk, or vanilla.

Stones

Malachite, garnet, rose quartz, emerald, beryl, tourmaline

Spells

Spells to ensure prosperity, conservation, safety, and love.

Activities

Jump the balefire. The bonfire, or need-fire, is one of the oldest Beltane traditions. When lighting the fire, use nine sacred woods from the following list: oak, apple, hawthorn, birch, elder, ash, blackthorn, grape vine, mountain ash (rowan), holly, willow, cedar, yew, and hemlock.

Ashes from the balefire can be scattered in the fields as a fertility charm. Women wishing to conceive can tie a bag of the ashes around their necks. Traditionally, cattle and other animals were driven between two fires for protection, healing, and purification. Modern pagans can ritually purify tools or other things in the balefire. Jump the dying embers of the fire for summer blessings.

Dance around the maypole.

Gather the first wild herbs of the season.

Go a-Mayin' by going to the woods and fields to gather flowers. Take a picnic.

Wash your face in dew at sunrise on Beltane for beauty in the coming year. (Traditionally the dew from the hawthorn tree, but dew from grass and flowers will do.)

Make daisy chains and fresh flower wreaths and chaplets (head dresses) to wear and to place atop the maypole. Braid flowers in your hair.

Make and wear leafy green masks to represent the Green Man who has returned.

Make a wish at the hawthorn tree, a tree associated with faeries. Place strips of cloth symbolizing your wish in the tree (the color should be appropriate to the nature of your wish, i.e. blue for health, pink or red for love, green or gold for prosperity). Take some time to attune to the tree. When you feel you have contacted its spirit, visualize your wish coming true as you hook the cloth on one of the tree's thorns, chanting your wish. When you have finished, leave a gift for the tree. Make love in the woods.

Beltane is the time of year when the Goddess and God consummate their passions. Traditionally it is a time when lovers pledge to live together for a year and a day. At the end of the period, they may part ways if things haven't worked out. If all has gone well, they may make plans for a handfasting at Midsummer.

Commune with the faeries.

Mark the boundaries of your circle with oatmeal, a traditional Beltane grain.
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