Beltane Blessings

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he wheel turns once again and we find ourselves at Beltane.  Beltane, also known as May Day falls on May 1st.  Though really what we are saying is May Day kicks off the Season of Beltane, with the thinning of the veil most prominent around May 5th.  There is a quickening of spring energy that pushes animals and people to pair up, bees have awoken and are starting to pollinate the spring flowers and trees.  We look for the sign of burgeoning spring in the apple blossoms to know when to plant our carrots, beans, peas and cabbages. There is so much creative energy spurring a frenzy of activity and we are holding hopes of creative and fertile abundance to manifest in our lives.  This is still also a liminal period where a profusion of starting buds and blooms can be killed off by late frosts and still need to be safeguarded.  The Sacred Marriage is the focus of Beltane where we celebrate the fiery and passionate union of the God and Goddess that energize the earth and put the fertile fire of creativity into our bellies.

April’s showers continue into May, though gentler and a bit warmer.  This winter has seen a lot of snow in the mountains and the colder temperatures have kept snow longer in the foothills surrounding our home. However the grass grows lush, rich and green for the horses, sheep, deer and elk.  The surge of new life can  be seen in the prevailing apple blossoms and spring bulbs while the rabbits chase each other around our stone circle in their frenzied mating dance.

Beltane is a rite that takes as much preparation as Samhain and has a special importance as it is the brightening of life when the veil is the thinnest.  We honor deity by adorning our altars with pink and green candles, early rose buds, honeysuckle, apple blossoms, hawthorn, lilacs and ivy.  Stones of malachite and rose quartz along with a drinking horn bring the beauty and frequency we are aligning ourselves with for the season.  Ivy wreaths have been wrapped with pink, purple and green ribbons.  The bonfires have been laid ready for lighting and the ribbons have been attached to the oiled maypole awaiting the dance.  Offerings of milk, honey, cinnamon and woodruff have been left out in a beautiful bowl on our sun dial.

Sacred woods of apple, willow, birch, hawthorn, oak, ash, elder, holly & hazel have been gathered and bundled for the ritual need fire.  Each and every wood has a purpose and frequency that when combined have a power all its own to bestow great blessings upon its maker.  This wood is of course all chosen with specific intent and gathered in a sacred way with many offerings.  As pagans we work diligently to listen and read the signs around us, not taking what has not been offered and always giving something back.

In the PNW, May is an extremely beautiful but contrary month for us in regards to weather. For that reason we always start our rituals indoors and set our sacred ring. We move outdoors to leave an offering to the Outsiders as well as a libation to our Maypole, the symbolic phallus of the Lord of the Rite. We circle the pole and dance the ring, reveling in the bawdy joy and sensuality of the season. With ribbons unfurled and wrapped around the pole in song and dance the ritual hieros gamos plays out and the piercing of the veil commences with the drifting down of the virginal ivy crown. The doorway has been ritually and energetically opened so that the welcome presence of the Lord and Lady is made manifest in our earthly realm. The energy by now is running very high and there is a tangible quality of connection and vibrancy among covenors, especially among mated pairs.  Some of the energies are kept under wraps until festivities later in the evening, since we have children who are in attendance. After we have danced the Maypole and planted our fairy charmed tree (all between the raindrops on many occasions) we light our three ritual needfires and head back in to expand upon our rite of celebrating the magical union of polarities both externally and internally. We call forth fertility, passion, joy, a new birth, good-fortune and creativity as we jump through the purifying and blessed powers of the balefire (remember to be careful what you wish for). Sometimes we might have a lovely handfasting ceremony to add to the festivities.  Once our rite is closed and the feast is had, children are put to bed or head home. Couples depart and participate in the Great Rite among the gardens or orchard or possibly on a spicy ride home. There is nothing like riding high on the energy that has been raised in circle and grounding it in the promise of future manifestations for our family, kin, Mother Earth and our fellow beings.

Another small project we like to do during the season of Beltane is to place the red eggs that have been planted on Ostara with nasturtium sees calling forth blessings for our beloved kin and tribe as well as those whom there is no love lost and those who are searching seed.
balefirejump We do this on the first family ritual of the month along with a mini Maypole that has been kissed by all the ladies is planted in the pot.  It is later watered with holy water and the blessed alchemy of the Great Rite. We then set the pot out of doors to enjoy the light of the sun & moon and await the growth of each of the blessings we have called upon.

How do you celebrate the Season of Bel?

Blessed be in this season of Beltane!

mini maypole

Mini Maypole wand & Ostara Eggs @ Rosethorn Manor

Carbon Footprints and Mindful Consumerism

Posted: March 28th, 2010                                                                                                              Times Viewed: 2,878

Do you know what your carbon footprint or pollution rate is? If you don’t, you should find out and there are several websites that are helpful in determining this based on your lifestyle. This blog spot came about as a result of conversations with coven members and attendances at past pagan events. As Pagans and Witches we know-or should know, about environmental issues, waste and recycling, the acres of debris choking our oceans and its effects on our sacred lands.

Carbon footprints (or shall we call them troll prints) and pollution go hand in hand. It has been a long standing problem starting in the Industrial Age and has snowballed out of control. From what I have seen it seems that many people see an issue aired on Oprah or in a magazine and get up in arms. For a while that may affect some change, but it’s never consistent or long enough. I’m not saying that every little bit doesn’t help, however if lasting change is going to happen it has to be built on responsible lifestyle choices all of the time, even when these choices are not convenient.

As pagans we recognize the earth is sacred, what we do to her, we in turn do to ourselves. We are quite literally, in every way made up of atoms from the earth and through the elements we are linked to the web and life force of our planet. With this sacred bond also comes the understanding that we are connected to all life on this planet, whether it be elemental, human, or animal, “fur, feather, scale and skin-different without but the same within”. When one is highly attuned to this web we know the joys and beauty of the network as well as the very physical pain that comes with pollution.

The degradation and pollution of our planet is consistently a topic among my pagan friends as we try to solve it for ourselves and see where we are responsible through our life choices for helping or hindering the war on pollution. One of the biggest factors is understanding our personal relationships with deity and how we see ourselves in relation to what is going on around us, how do our actions and waste effect our environment?

Through the years I have come up with many things I do to take responsibility for my family and our carbon/pollution footprint. One of the major ones, of course, is to recycle. However, it is taking it one step further and buying products that use the least amount of packaging and required the least of a footprint to produce. I do not have a lot of landfill waste; however I did look at the contents of my recycled plastic and aluminum. I made lists of the most often consumed item and then chose to can or make those that I could such as the basics, mixes, as well as chili, soup, pizza sauce, root beer, even Irish cream, etc. I save and purchase everything from pastas and nuts to teas and spices in bulk. It all takes time and is a project of organizing your home and pantry to make it work. As a single parent ‘doing it all’ time is something I have very little of it. I don’t necessarily want to be ‘doing’ all of the time, but as I said it’s a lifestyle and a choice that is responsible for less waste. I compost food waste for the garden and shred much of my paper in a shredder to compost so it’s not being burned and wasted.

As a pagan, I go through a lot of candles and incense. I keep all my candles that I use for Sabbats wrapped up and labeled so that they can be used the following year if they don’t burn all the way down, if I need a new altar cloth in the past, I wait till the material is on sale or do without. I make sure to buy quality and have enough now that I shouldn’t need to buy those for a very long time. I take all my incense powder in the bottom of bags and boxes and keep it in an old baby food jar. I use this to make my own incense or add to spell workings. I grow as many of my own vegetables and herbs as I can-of course aided by my compost. I have found that it is important to think about every item I purchase in terms of what it took to make it and what waste it will be in the end. I also made a deal with myself that I wouldn’t bring something into my house if it didn’t have a use. I want beauty and function and if I bring something in, something goes out. Quality over quantity. There has been a movement to try and stop waste by having people ask themselves how much do you need, what do you need versus want? Yet it seems to me when I look around that people will rationalize a want into a need, so it only partially cuts down on waste. I’ve heard people say that everything they have is needed. Is that really true? I read an article wherein a man suggested that people, ‘RETHINK ESSENTIALS’. It makes much more sense to buy only what you need. Anyone can rationalize a want. But ‘rethink essentials, ‘ I think, says it all.

A few years ago I joined thousands of other people and spent 18-months buying no new consumables except food. (I did draw the line at undergarments, but everything else was used). You know, it wasn’t really that hard and it does a good job of pointing out your own impulse buying or the rationale ‘I just have to have that’.  I did do without some things, however there was nothing that was really missed in the end.  I remember going out with some friends and one forgot the camera at home. What did they do? Went and bought a disposable. How about taking responsibility for the fact that you forgot it and must do without? We see this all the time in the need for the latest gadgets and junk. If one really requires that stuff in his/her life maybe priorities need to be rethought. What is each person willing to do without somewhere else in order to offset that gadget or technology? It is said that one should plan for seven generations ahead of you. When people try to rationalize to me their choices I have to ask why? Would one not feel shame at the lack of responsibility in terms of one’s own relationship with the Earth and Deity and future generations?

As Pagans I think it is time that we rethink our essentials by being mindful of every single item that is brought into our homes and the waste that leaves it. If the Earth is our Mother, then what are we doing? I go to events or pagan gatherings and find myself scratching my head as I look around and see the waste. Being a pagan and a witch means living an integrous and morally responsible life day in and day out. It is doing the work within to know who we are as people, thereby knowing what drives our needs, our wants and our triggers. It is knowing what is going on in the world around us, educating ourselves and having our voice heard by how we spend our dollars.

We must ask ourselves: would we treat our Mothers the way we treat the earth? Would we bring the mess of junk into our mother’s home or discard the junk there or waste her resources with such disrespect? If you were to look around your home and/or property does what you see bring honor to your spirit, honor to the spirit in which you practice, honor to your relationship with Deity? What do you think? How do you help or hinder? What do you do to consume mindfully and take responsibility? I would love to hear what your experience has been or what you have done to lessen your carbon footprint.