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Posts Tagged ‘Beltane’

“The route to the Forest is one of those open secrets which whosoever would know must learn for himself; it is impossible to direct those who do not discover for themselves how to make the journey.” –In the Forest of Arden by Hamilton Wright Mabie, 1891

book peach

A Child of Nature by Hamilton Wright Mabie arrived this Beltane day. It is a first-edition 1901 book about the ecstasy of nature and spirituality. I am so excited- I am going to sit under my pink blossomed peach tree and read it among the buzzing of the bees feeding on the rich pollen and nectar around me. I visited the tree this morning while my children picked dandelions for their May Day baskets and the air was pulsating and vibrating with the busy bees chanting their melodies.

I am somewhat relieved that my group is not meeting tonight (due to schedule conflict we are not celebrating Beltane until mid May!). Instead, tonight is going to be a night of solitary serious magic, serious exploration and serious expression to my Gods. Now to decide if I am going to do all of this before or after I make wild animal love to my husband…

Happy Fire Jumping my friends!

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They thought it degrading to him whose temple is the universe,

to suppose that he would dwell in any house made with hands.

-excerpt from The Golden Bough discussing the Druid opinion of man made temples

The Golden Bough by J. G. Frazer is a collection of pagan practices and ancient customs written in 1922. It’s a great academic reference for anyone who is interested in incorporating traditional elements into their practice. Although if you have never read scholarly work on paganism before I have to warn you that doing so will expose you to a world that is unlike the our modern pagan culture. For example, the first Beltane firesĀ  involved human sacrifice. An oatmeal cake was made and whoever got the cailleach, a piece of cake marked within with a foreign object, was the sacrifice to ensure blessings for the crops. Other games were played with oatmeal cakes to pick the sacrificial devotee and over time this custom led to simply having the person leap over the fire three times.

As absolutely horrifying this may seem, we need to understand it within the context of the people. To them, it was an honor to be a sacrifice. To place yourself in a position to chance upon receiving the cailleach was considered to be a mark of devotion.

Another custom of lighting Beltane fires were to keep witches away. It was thought within some cultures that witches flew May Eve and that lighting the fires would protect all the land that could see the fire from baleful sorcery. This night is called Walpurgis Night when the witches did their errands. Thus, it became custom to light the fires on hills so that maximum exposure was achieved. In Bohemia an effigy of a witch was also burnt in the fire.

Other customs (and sorry for not being specific on where most of these originated from) include passing cattle through the fire to protect the livestock from disease, dancing around the fire to purify everyone and their families and distinguishing the hearth fires that were kept lit all year and relighting them with the Beltane fires that were started by scratch from flint and oak. Also, people wood char oak sticks with the fire and take them home and burn them in times of big storms for protection. As far as the fire itself, in Sweden it was thought that if the wind blew the flames northward that it would be a colder spring. If the flames go southward then Spring will be warm.

The book also goes into great detail of other May Day customs including May-poles, May King and Bride and so on. By the way, this is an almost 900 page book, so I simply just look in the index for the different topics I am studying.

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