Samradh 43 - Beltane 2005 - Vol.3 No. 3
it is just as well that you won't be here...to be offended by the
Beltane or Beltaine (from Irish Bealtaine or Scottish Gaelic Bealtuinn; both from Old Irish Beltene, "bright fire" from *belo-te(p)niâ) is an ancient Gaelic holiday. It is also known as: Calan Mai, May Day & Walpurgisnacht. (Actually, May Eve - April 30th night - is called "Nos Calan Mai", as Nos means "night" in Welsh...then once the sun rises, May day is then called Calan Mai).
It is traditionally celebrated on sundown of April 30 to sunrise on May 1st. Astrologically, it is celebrated on the true midpoint between the Spring Equinox and the Summer Solstice, or 15 degrees into Taurus, near May 5th.
Beltane is the last of the three spring fertility festivals, the others being Imbolc and Ostara. Beltane is the second principal Celtic festival (the other being Samhain). Celebrated approximately halfway between Vernal (spring) equinox and the midsummer (Summer Solstice). Beltane traditionally marked the arrival if summer in ancient times.
At Beltane the Pleiades star cluster rises just before sunrise on the morning horizon, whereas winter (Samhain) begins when the Pleiades rises at sunset. The Pleiades is a cluster of seven closely placed stars, the seven sisters, in the constellation of Taurus, near his shoulder. When looking for the Pleiades with the naked eye, remember it looks like a tiny dipper-shaped pattern of six moderately bright stars (the seventh can be seen on very dark nights) in the constellation of Taurus. It stands very low in the east-northeast sky for just a few minutes before sunrise.
Spring Rite celebrating the fertility of animals, people, plants, ideas,
etc. The Goddess turns
the Wheel again. This is the midpoint of the year. The God relinquishes
power to the Goddess and begins his summer slumber. Power moves from
the male back to the female. The Goddess begins here reign as the Maiden.
This is a joyouse happy time....very much the opposite of Samhain. The phallus of the God, (represented by the May Pole) is reverently plunged into the earth. This is done to show the earth what we desire (sympathetic magick). It is a time for planting of seeds and new beginnings.
is traditional to dance the May Pole, representing the God impregnating
the Earth Goddess, and by weaving the ribbons, we join two substances
to form a third
Just before dawn, villagers would process with their animals up the hillsides to the highest point where fires would be kindled and relit for people to see for miles around. It was also traditional to build these fires out of nine of the sacred woods from Druidic folklore, including oak, ash, thorn, rowan, apple, birch, alder, maple, elm, gorse, holly, hawthorn, and others.
The bonfires were lit so that a narrow passage existed between two fires, so that cattle and other livestock could be led between the fires, to purify them from disease or sterility for the coming year. Torches of dried sedge, gorse or heather were also lit and carried around remaining flocks or stables, to further purify the air....
ancient times, the physical light passing from hillside to hillside
was a great and potent symbol of a rebirth of hope and life each spring.
We do not need the physical symbol to know that the light of spiritual
consciousness throughout this world has been re-lit in our hearts.
TRADITIONAL FOODS: dairy items, oatmeal cakes
HERBS: hawthorne, honeysuckle, St. John’s Wort, woodruff, all flowers
Howie (shocked): But they are naked!
From author Mara Freeman comes this wonderful essay on Beltane:
Beltaine is an anglicization of the Irish "Bealtaine" or the Scottish "Bealtuinn." While "tene" clearly means "fire," nobody really knows whether Bel refers to Belenus, a pastoral god of the Gauls, or is from "bel," simply meaning "brilliant." It might even derive from "bil tene" or "lucky fire" because to jump between two Beltane fires was sure to bring good fortune, health to your livestock, and prosperity.
When the Druids and their successors raised the Beltane fires on hilltops throughout the British Isles on May Eve, they were performing a real act of magic, for the fires were lit in order to bring the sun’s light down to earth. In Scotland, every fire in the household was extinguished, and the great fires were lit from the need-fire which was kindled by 3 times 3 men using wood from the nine sacred trees. When the wood burst into flames, it proclaimed the triumph of the light over the dark half of the year.
Then the whole hillside came alive as people thrust brands into the newly roaring flames and whirled them about their heads in imitation of the circling of the sun....When the sun rose that dawn, those who had stayed up to watch it might see it whirl three times upon the horizon before leaping up in all its summer glory....
Freeman first looks at old traditions connected with the day and then offers a handful of interesting suggestions for celebrating Beltane today - for example:
Beltane is one of the three "spirit-nights" of the year when the faeries can be seen. At dusk, twist a rowan sprig into a ring and look through it, and you may see them...
The Rites of Spring
Beltaine was a time of fertility and unbridled merrymaking, when young and old would spend the night making love in the Greenwood. In the morning, they would return to the village bearing huge budding boughs of hawthorn (the may-tree) and other spring flowers with which to bedeck themselves, their families, and their houses. They would process back home, stopping at each house to leave flowers, and enjoy the best of food and drink that the home had to offer. In every village, the maypole—usually a birch or ash pole—was raised, and dancing and feasting began. Festivities were led by the May Queen and her consort, the King who was sometimes Jack-in-the-Green, or the Green Man, the old god of the wildwood. They were borne in state through the village in a cart covered with flowers and enthroned in a leafy arbor as the divine couple whose unity symbolized the sacred marriage of earth and sun.
/ May Day
[This is a]…ritual binding of life and the beauties of life to the Earth plane/the self ….
[You'll need]…some lengths of ribbon…to braid during the Magick making portion of your ritual…. the idea here is that you (your body) symbolically becomes the…shamanistic tree - that you see yourself as the shaman on the tree (in your body), able to bring forth a variety of things from the Otherworld into manifestation here on Earth.
Each ribbon will represent one aspect of your life that you'd like to bind closer to you (while realizing the constraints that doing so might imply). Choose the ribbon colors accordingly. For example, if you want to bring financial security into your life and bind it to you, have a green ribbon on your altar. (Or perhaps you find silver or gold might work better for you here.) If you'd like your life to be constantly surrounded by love, add a pink (or red) ribbon to the array on your altar. If you'd like peace of mind/emotional stability to be a constant in your life, add a light blue ribbon to the mix, etc.
recommend each ribbon be as long as you are tall. Symbolically then,
each ribbon represents your physical self. Be sure your altar set-up
includes a symbol/tool associated with each of the four elements. Now
light your candles and incense and create your sacred space in your
usual manner. Invoke…Whom you feel is appropriate. Ask [this being]
to join you in your dance of life. Include movement in your invocation
if you like.
However you decide to do it, take some time to think about just exactly what it is each ribbon represents to you. What it is you'd like to bind to you/bring to the fullness of life within your life? What benefits will accrue to you in so doing? What is the down side in each case, and how will you handle it?
Now gather all ribbons together and tie a knot at the top to hold them together…. Meditate on bringing all these things forth in your life and on how they will interact with each other to turn your life into a beautiful braid of happiness and well-being. Remember to envision yourself enmeshed in this braiding as it progresses. When you near the end, tie it off in similar fashion to your beginning knot.
End the Magick by blessing the finished braid with your body. After all, your body symbolically lies at the heart of the braid. Breathe on it (Air). Gather it to your heart (Fire). Spit on it or lick it (Water). Coil it up and stand with it under your foot for a few moments (Earth). Now call the blessing of the Goddess into it.
Wear your braid now, or carry it on your person for the rest of the day and/or night…. [Afterwards,]…keep the braid in some secret and safe place away from the prying eyes and possible ill wishes of others. Or, if you're not worried about that, keep it on your altar for the coming seasons of growth and harvest….
Note: This lovely Beltane ritual involving ribbons has now vanished from the web. (It was originally posted by someone named "Anonymous"). So, since Kathleen Jenks from MYTH*ING LINKS saved many passages from it for a class she was teaching, she has put the entire handout online.
She says, "One piece I did not save is that the anonymous author of the ritual suggests burning the ribbons six months later as part of a Samhain ritual. My ribbons were so lovely that I decided against doing this. Instead, I kept them in a special place for a year, then un-wove them for the next Beltane and again swirled them into a new weave, re-energizing them, during that year's ritual. If you decide to do this ritual, use your own intuition about what to do."
FROM THE ARCH-DRUID
For many years now, I have gone out into the yard just before dawn on May Day morning to collect the specially charged dew for use in blessings and rituals.
I have collected each year's dew in a small jar, which I keep tightly closed in the refrigerator to keep it fresh. Each time I add more to the jar, I feel that the new always "recharges" the old. Next, I go around the house and sprinkle it everywhere - blessing the home space with the renewal energies of May Day.
Hubby and I also annoint each other with the magickal dew, and then set about celebrating the holiday in our personal traditional way...
Then during the year following, I use the May water to recharge our altars, annoint candles, etc...
However, this year something unusual happened - as I went out this morning to perform my yearly ritual, I found - to my surprise - that there was not a single drop of dew - anywhere! Now, as you know, we live by the ocean, we almost always have some sort of moisture on the plants before the sun comes up...but not this year - everything was bone dry! Rain was even forcast for today, but the sun rose brightly amongst the few billowy clouds, and there was no sign of the expected precipitation...
This naturally put a bit of a crimp in my usual habit, but I decided to take the jar containing many previous years' worth of May dew and "recharge" it with the energies of May Day - visualizing it being renewed and seeing myself collecting it - as in past years. I figured that the energies are always there for this special morning - with or without actual dew...so then I continued with the blessing of our home and each other...
Fortunately I have enough dew in the jar to get me through this year!
AND THE WINNER IS.....
Our snakey companion has been with us since the beginning, but its new, friendlier look certainly gives it a certain personality, so we've decided it needs a name - and a gender!
ran a contest for our Mithril Star members, which ended at midnight
on "Bring Back the Snakes Day" (March 17th).
WINNING NAME: "Rowan" (submitted by Sidhe-la)
FIRST RUNNER UP: "Pryderi" (submitted by Morgan)
SECOND RUNNER UP: "John Thomas" (submitted by Trickster)
to all of you!
"The Nine I sing, the Nine blessed trees
*Here in OMS, we have added a 10th sacred tree: Redwood!
More Beltane Lore
Beltane, and its counterpart Samhain, divide the year into its two primary seasons, winter (Dark Part) and summer (Light Part). As Samhain is about honoring Death, Beltane, its counter part, is about honoring Life. It is the time when the sun is fully released from his bondage of winter and able to rule over summer and life once again.
like Samhain, is a time of "no time" when the veils between
the two worlds are at their thinnest. No time is when the two worlds
intermingle and unite and the magic abounds! It is the time when the
Faeries return from their winter respite, carefree and full of faery
mischief and faery delight.
Beltane has been an auspicious time throughout Celtic lore, it is said that the Tuatha de Danaan landed in north-west Connacht on Beltane. The Tuatha de Danaan, it is said, came from the North through the air in a mist to Ireland. After the invasion by the Milesians, the Tuatha faded into the Otherworld, the Sidhe, Tir na nOg.
Beltane marks that the winter's journey has passed and summer has begun, it is a festival of rapturous gaiety as it joyfully heralds the arrival of summer in her full garb. Beltane, however, is still a precarious time, the crops are still very young and tender, susceptible to frost and blight. As was the way of ancient thought, the Wheel would not turn without human intervention. People did everything in their power to encourage the growth of the Sun and His light, for the Earth will not produce without the warm love of the strong Sun. Fires, celebration and rituals were an important part of the Beltane festivities, as to insure that the warmth of the Sun's light would promote the fecundity of the earth.
Beltane is the time of the yearly battle between Gwyn ap Nudd and Gwythur ap Greidawl for Creudylad in Welsh mythology. Gwyn ap Nudd the Wild Huntsman of Wales, he is a God of death and the Annwn. Creudylad is the daughter of Lludd (Nudd) of the Silver Hand (son of Beli). She is the most beautiful maiden of the Island of Mighty. A myth of the battle of winter and summer for the magnificent blossoming earth.
the myth of Rhiannion and Pwyll, it is the evening of Beltane, that
Rhiannon gives birth to their
son. The midwives all fell asleep at the same time, as they were watching
over Rhiannon and her new baby, during which he was taken. In order
to protect themselves, they smeared blood (from a pup) all over Rhiannon,
to which they claim she had eaten her son. The midwives were believed,
and Rhiannon was forced to pay penance for seven years. She had to carrying
people on her back from the outside of the gate to the palace, although
rarely would any allow her to do so. The baby's whereabouts were a mystery.
This myth illustrates the precariousness of the Beltane season, at the threshold of Summer, the earth awakening, winter can still reach its long arm in and snatch the Sun away (Gwri of the Golden hair). "Ne'er cast a clout 'til May be out" (clout: Old English for cloth/clothing). If indeed the return of summer is true than the trouble (winter) is certainly over, however one must be vigilant.
On Beltane eve the Celts would build two large fires, Bel Fires, lit from the nine sacred woods. The Bel Fire is an invocation to Bel (Sun God) to bring His blessings and protection to the tribe. The herds were ritually driven between two needfires (fein cigin), built on a knoll. The herds were driven through to purify, bring luck and protect them as well as to insure their fertility before they were taken to summer grazing lands. An old Gaelic adage: "Eadar da theine Bhealltuinn" - "Between two Beltane fires".
The Bel fire is a sacred fire with healing and purifying powers. The fires further celebrate the return of life, fruitfulness to the earth and the burning away of winter. The ashes of the Beltane fires were smudged on faces and scattered in the fields. Household fires would be extinguished and re-lit with fresh fire from the Bel Fires.
Celebration includes frolicking throughout the countryside, maypole dancing, leaping over fires to ensure fertility, circling the fire three times (sun-wise) for good luck in the coming year, athletic tournaments feasting, music, drinking, children collecting the May: gathering flowers. children gathering flowers, hobby horses, May birching and folks go a maying". Flowers, flower wreaths and garlands are typical decorations for this holiday, as well as ribbons and streamers. Flowers are a crucial symbol of Beltane, they signal the victory of Summer over Winter and the blossoming of sensuality in all of nature and the bounty it will bring.
birching or May boughing, began on Beltane Eve, it is said that young
men fastened garland and boughs on the windows and doors of the young
maidens upon which their sweet interest laid. Mountain ash leaves and
Hawthorne branches meant indicated love whereas thorn meant disdain.
This perhaps, is the forerunner of old May Day custom of hanging bouquets
hooked on one's doorknob?
It is customary that trial unions, for a year and a day, occur at this time. More or less these were statements of intent between couples, which were not legally binding. The trial marriages (engagements) typically occurred between a couple before deciding to take a further step into a legally binding union. It seems ancient wisdom understood that one does not really know another until they have lived with them, and when you live together things change and we change, as well. With this understanding unions were entered upon, first as a test period, and then if desired, a further commitment could be taken. It through always knowing that it is only through the choice of both to remain, that the relationship exists favorably.
May, however, according to old folklore is not a favorable time for marriages in the legal and permanent sense. There is reference after reference in the old books of this belief, and according to my Irish grandmother, May is not the month to marry, woe is to had by those who do. I can understand the premise of this folklore, May is the Goddess and God's handfasting month, all honor would be Hers and His.
Water is another important association of Beltane, water is refreshing and rejuvenating, it is also imperative to life. It is said that if you bathe in the dew gathered before dawn on Beltane morn, your beauty will flourish throughout the year. Those who are sprinkled with May dew are insured of health and happiness. There are other folk customs such as drinking from the well before sunrise on Beltane Morn to insure good health and fortune.
SESSION OF REFORMED DRUIDISM 101 WAS THE LAST
The Yule-Imbolc session of RD101 finished up the end of March. For the first time ever, ALL of the graduating students elected to join the Order, and another student, who dropped out due to the trolling that occured at the beginning of the session, finished via the cd-rom, and he also joined.
Another interesting anomoly: ALL of the students from that class are rapidly progressing through the degrees, and over half will be 3rd degree (clergy level) by the time this article appears.
OMS Druids may, if they want, start their own online course. The materials are here if you want them. Be aware of the troll problem though, and good luck.
of today we have 150 members, of which:
During the first quarter of YR 43, the Order experienced a net Membership gain of 4
5TH ONLINE ORDINATIONS YIELD 4 FIRSTS, 6 SECONDS, 4 THIRDS
We held online 1st Degree ordinations in the mithrilstar chat room on April 22nd, 2nd Degree ordinations on the 24th, and 3rd Degree ordinations on the 26th. 4 new 1st degrees and 6 new 2nds and 4 new 3rd were ordained.
Our congratulations to all the new 1sts, 2nds and especially 3rds (they are the OMS Clergy)!
We anticipate that the next ordination rituals will be held around Mabon.
There are (as of this writing) 21 Druids eligible for the First Degree, 3 eligible for Second, 1 for 3rd, and 1 eligible for 4th.
If you are in a hurry, or not able to make an online ordination, and don't want to wait for the online date, you may make a private appointment with Ceridwen or Sybok for a phone or chat room ordination - or you can contact one of the Third Degree Druids, as they are empowered to perform the rites for First Three Degrees. Write the clerk of the Mother Grove for a list of 3rd's.
Dancers next to their partners form a large circle, 1’s on the left. Dancers can be referred to by numbers or colors. English country dance tunes should be used for the figures.
1. Circling - Dancers move freely clockwise around the pole, turning and skipping at will, but always maintaining their order. At a certain point in the music dancers reverse direction if you have a non-rotating top.
2. Barberpole - 1’s move toward the center and stand facing out while 2’s circle once around clockwise to starting place. Then 2’s move in and stand facing out while 1’s circle counterclockwise. This pattern is repeated until it becomes awkward to proceed. Dancers then reverse the pattern until they can open out again in one circle.
3. Spider’s Web, or Gypsy Tent - (Use waltz music) Partners face and dance forward and back twice (4 measures), letting the ribbons touch as they approach. Then partners dance a right shoulder back-to-back (do-si-do) 1 and 1/2 times and end facing a new partner. This pattern will continue until a beautiful web shape is formed. (The number of turns will depend on the number of dancers, height of the pole, and length of the streamers.) Dancers unwind by turning around and continuing the pattern using a left shoulder back-to-back until they are home. Often dancers will continue that new direction to create another web before ending the dance.
4. Jacob’s Ladder - 1’s move in several steps and stand facing out, holding ribbons taut. 2’s, holding ribbons loosely, circle once around each other on the insice (pole side). Each goes around outside of his/her partner and circles once around on the outside. Each then goes back outside his/her partner to circle once again on the inside. This process is repeated a few times to form the “ladder” (a little like a shoelace). It is important that the 2’s keep their ribbons loose enough so the “sides” of the ladder are not pulled together. Then all march clockwise around the pole, if it is a rotating pole, to display the ladders. Then the process is reversed as the ladders are unwound. Music must be chosen carefully for this so that it changes to a processional quality for the parade around, and back to the original for the unwinding.
5. Weaving or Single Plait - Partners face and dance a grand right and left (no hands), taking care to keep a proper distance from the person in front of them going the same way. The weaving pattern descends the pole for a ways and is left there. A fast waltz works for this, with 3 steps to pass, and 3 steps in place each time.
ASTROLOGY FOR PAGANS
Ceridwen currently has four Advanced sessions and one Intermediate session in progress. Because of this large amount of classes, she is taking a long "hiatus" from the group class format for quite some time (at least until all of her current students graduate)...
Ceridwen is, however still offering PRIVATE TUTORING sessions! Because of the increased "personal attention" these entail, there will be a sliding scale fee required...
you wish to take advantage of this offer, or need more information about
it, send an email to
Subject line: AstroPagan private tutoring
You will then be contacted immediately and a private database and schedule will be set up that will conform to your own personal needs - NO WAITING! All of the pertinent charts and tables will be calculated and sent to you, as you need them. Each lesson will be offered whenever YOU are ready for it - no homework deadlines! - and if you need to take time off at any point for personal business or holidays or whatever reason, your schedule will be adjusted accordingly!
If you are interested in a private consultation about your Astrological chart, please visit her home page at:
Today is Beltane / Calen Main, or May 1, 2005 CE.
It is the 213th day of the 43rd Year of the Reform, the 1st day of the Season of Samradh, and the 1st day of the Month of MÌ na Bealtaine.
It is also Sunday,
in the common tongue, or Dydd Sul in Welsh.
FULL MOONS occur on 23 Samradh, 52 Samradh, and 82 Samradh.
NEW MOONS occur on 8 Samradh, 37 Samradh and 67 Samradh.
The Sun enters Gemini on 20 Samradh.
(June) begins on 32
MIdsummer / Alban Heruin, or the Summer Solstice occurs on 51 Samradh.
The Sun enters Cancer on 51 Samradh.
(July) begins on 62 Samradh
On 66 Samradh YR 40 the OMS joined the Reformed Druids of Gaia.
The Sun enters Leo on 83 Samradh.
The Season of Foghamhnar begins at Sunset on 92 Samradh 43 (aka: 1 Foghamhnar, 1 MÌ na Lÿnasa, August 1, 2005).
Mother Grove wishes all of you a most blessed Beltane,
May you never thirst!
Ceridwen Seren-Ddaear, Managing Editor/Webmaster
NEXT ISSUE WILL BE PUBLISHED ON Lughnasadh /Lammas - 1 Foghamhnar YR 43
WANT TO JOIN THE ORDER? http://www.mithrilstar.org/join.htm
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Druids Egg -- 1 Samradh YR 43 -- Vol. 3 No. 3
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