Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Bealtaine’

DanielsDragonGarden_JohnCrump

Daniel’s Memorial Dragon Garden – Photo by John Crump, 2017.

The transition from winter to spring was marked by a tragedy within my own community and grove. A friend, someone I started studying Paganism with back when I was in college, suddenly passed away.  It was very sudden and heartbreaking, especially as he left my friend (his wife), and their daughter on the corporeal realm.  After discussing his wife and daughter’s wishes, the grove (of which he was a member) came up with the idea to create a memorial dragon garden in his memory.  The Yoga Center, where we have most of our rituals, allowed us to keep it on their land near the fairy gardens.

We gathered for the Spring Equinox and created it as a magical working.  It was part to memorialize our friend, part to heal our hearts, and part to strengthen our bonds.  In addition to studying Wicca with him when I was in Utica, he attended Muin Mound Grove for many years, then joined Northern Rivers Grove last year.  The two groves came together to honor him in our working.  It was probably the hardest ritual I ever lead.    As we took turns placing stones or figurines in the garden, we shared memories.  There were many tears and hugs.

I spotted these daffodils growing in the hedge.  I wonder if someone tossed a potted plant and now they’ve gone feral.  Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2017.

We focus so much on rebirth at this time of year. The death of a friend and grovemate has had me focusing on the death part that is so necessary for the cycle to renew. We get caught up with the flowers in the spring that we can forget the decaying leaves that nourish the plants. Honestly, thinking about how I will go back to the Earth and contribute to that gives me a strange comfort. All the same, it doesn’t make these partings any easier.

No buds, but the wildflowers were growing in late April.  I need to go back and visit…  Red trilliums are such a beauty to behold.  Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2017.

I collected big, heavy bag of trash in the woods for Earth Day.  Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2017.

I went into the woods around Earth Day to keep with my tradition of picking up some trash that time of year. I usually try to pick up some trash whenever I go into the woods, but I put in extra effort around Earth Day. The effort is my offering to the local spirits. I wondered if any of the Dead lingered in the woods, watching me remove the garbage…

We celebrated Bealtaine with laughter and joy. We danced around a Maypole and we jumped the embers for cleansing and good luck. We missed old friends, those who moved away, and our friend who passed beyond the veil. We called on the fertility of the land, and I contemplated the role our Ancestors have in abundance.

Shortly after Bealtaine, I took part in my friend’s very small and private funeral. We met up with his family, another grovie, and a friend from the eclectic circle in Utica. There were elderly people and babies gathered in a small circle of mud boots and umbrellas.  We were surrounded by trees that held great significance to my departed grovemate and the most magical balancing stones. The sky cried buckets.  While others moved soil, everyone chanted:

Earth my body
Water my blood
Air my breath
And fire my spirit…

I thought of all the Dead around us, mingling with the soil, the waters, the air, and in our own spirits…  It was a sublime moment.  One that will stay with me forever.

Read Full Post »

Here are some highlights from Northern Rivers Protogrove’s recent Bealtaine celebration. It was magical!

Airmid_banner_photo_by_Annette_Banner_by_Grey

The Airmed banner I made for our ritual.  I’m very proud of how she turned out!  I really enjoy making appliqué flags.  Photo by Annette, 2016.

Read Full Post »

Bealtaine is one of my favorite holidays.  One reason is simply because, unlike the Spring Equinox, Bealtaine truly brings the warmer weather to Northern NY.  Another reason for my fondness is that it’s basically my unofficial Pagan anniversary.  I don’t know exactly when I started the conversion process, but my first experiences with two Pagan groups that shaped my practice occurred on two separate Bealtaines.  I get really excited about the High Day.

 

A small coven invited me to celebrate with them this weekend, but that didn’t work out for health reasons.  My husband and I contemplated visiting our friends at Muin Mound Grove, but we ultimately decided to stay closer to home and rest.  A marathon Bealtaine would have been fun, and would have taken me back to my college days when such a feat would energize rather than exhaust me.  Nowadays, I’m a little more subdued, and my daughter keeps me so busy that I’m worn out before we even leave the house!  I know many Pagan families with older children who are able to take long trips in order to attend multiple gatherings or festivals – I look forward to doing that again down the road.

So, staying home, I focused on the home.  I cleaned it as best as I could, although I admit it’s never entirely clean.  There’s always something in progress in my kitchen… I’m very hearth-centered, so I suppose that makes sense! I cleaned my altars, which Bee found fascinating as it gave her a chance to look at everything.  We decorated our family altar with symbols of the season.  We even made a little May bush with fallen birch and apple branches.  We each picked colored ribbons to tie to the branches.  It looks very festive!

In addition to making dinner, I made some scones on Bealtaine eve.  We offered some to the Good Folk.  This morning, I made pancakes as my mother told me my grandmother always made pancakes on the first of May.  I love learning about and continuing family traditions, especially when they somehow line up with my High Days!  Of course, an offering of said pancakes was made.

We did a little ritual the night before in which we gave offerings to the Kindreds and the Good Folk.  We jumped over our altar candle for blessings and purification.  Bee thought this was great fun.  She wore the flower circlet I crocheted, a tutu, and her new ballet slippers – she’s quite the performer!  This morning, it’s raining, so I just collected the rain water for purification and healing work.  I made offerings to the only flowers blooming right now – lovely purple ground ivy – and picked a few sprigs to offer to the Good Folk on my doorstep.

Simple and sweet, but certainly inspired by tradition and full of fun and meaning for my family.  Now we will look forward to the big protogrove celebration next weekend!

Read Full Post »

Butterfly Bun or Fairy Cake.  Photo by Grey Catsidhe.

Butterfly Bun or Fairy Cake. Photo by Grey Catsidhe.

It’s been awhile since I posted about my attempts to explore Irish cooking.  Since it’s Bealtaine, I figured I should take a peek at some possibilities.  I came across Queen Cakes which sounded appropriate, but the author, Dariana Allen, explained that they were usually made for Nollaig Bheag.  However, the variation with wee wings felt particularly appropriate for Bealtaine!  A look around the internet revealed that there are variations in Ireland as well as Scotland and England.  Some call them butterfly buns, and others call them fairy cakes.  I followed Allen’s recipe, which was shared online here, but made a lemon frosting.  The first few I made look kind of like sick butterflies.  I cut the tops too thin,  Really, truly cut the top off, slice it in half, and position as wings on the frosting.  Dust with confectionary sugar.  So cute and easy! I can’t wait to share some with my grovies tomorrow!

Read Full Post »

Mini Bealtaine Fire

20150430-213232.jpg

Blessed Bealtaine!

We don’t have a fire pit at our apartment, so I decided to bring three candles out and light them on this special night. One is my flame keeping candle, one is my altar candle, and the third is one I’m making into my mini bonfire candle! My family lit our sacred fires, we made offerings to the Three Kindreds, and we walked around the candles three times clockwise for good luck. It was fun and took the perfect amount of time for my toddler.

May you have a blessed Bealtaine, and may the weeks ahead be bountiful and full of passion and joy!

Read Full Post »

For some in America, at least in the North East, Imbolc is a perfect time to consider the rebirth of our gardens.  It’s at this time of year that seed catalogs make their happy appearance in our mailboxes, and we begin to browse and dream of green.  In the past, I simply dreaming.  I put my garden planning off until the Spring Equinox.  In Upstate NY, even that day is often quite cold…  As my experience with gardening grew, and as I started to pay more attention to other local gardeners, I realized last year that I was waiting too late.  The result has been a later harvest, and many plants that don’t tolerate summer heat bolt before I can truly enjoy their bounty.  Last year, I resolved that I would get my seeds for 2015 by Imbolc.

I’m adding action to my dreaming.  Yesterday, I ordered my seeds!  I decided to go with my standby, Pinetree Seeds, and a new one for me, Victory Seeds.  The last couple years, I’ve been disappointed with the success of my Pinetree seeds, but I wanted to give a few favorites another try.  I’m still learning so much, so user error is probable.  I’m excited to try Victory Seeds, though, and several small gardeners have recommended them.

The seeds I ordered for my container garden are:

  • Bouquet Dill
  • Calendula
  • Lemon Balm
  • Green Leaf Salad Bowl
  • Parisian Carrot
  • Tiny Tim Tomato
  • Extreme Bush Tomato
  • Dwarf Gray Sugar
  • Alibi Cucumber
  • Green Tiger Zucchini
  • Jambalaya Okra
  • Gecofure Basil
  • Lovage

Some of these are old favorites, like the cucumber, zucchini, and lemon balm.  Others are things I’ve been wanting to grow for some time, like calendula.  Okra is a veggie my husband and I fell in love with recently as I’ve been making vegetarian gumbos.  The variety I chose has a short germination time and is recommended for northern climates.  Other veggies I plan to grow are eggplants (I saved some seeds from last year’s dwarf variety), sage, and potato.  I may grow some more scarlet runner beans, since I saved some of those seeds, but I don’t like them for eating…  They’re a better ornamental, I think.  The humming birds and bees sure liked them, and we must keep the Nature Spirits happy, right?

My plan is to bless most of my seeds around Imbolc and start them around the Spring Equinox so that they’re big enough to slowly start hardening off around Bealtaine.

The wheel of the year is turning, and engaging in the food we eat is a great way to learn its mysteries and celebrate beyond the high days themselves.

Read Full Post »

Dandelions are my friends.  They always have been.  I’ve never understood the hatred some direct towards these most wonderful, helpful plants.  Sure, we gardeners don’t want them crowding out our other plant allies, but we should accept and embrace their tenacity in our lawns.  They are full of nutrients, possess healing qualities, and are entirely edible!  Furthermore, for someone starting out foraging, they are one of the easiest plants to identify.

Since Bealtaine, I’ve taken several opportunities to further experiment with the humble yet lovely dandelion.  Their young leaves are excellent in salads and stir-fries (though be prepared for bitterness), and their dried roots are an excellent coffee substitute.  But I wanted to try more.  A previous year, I attempted to make dandelion jam and  failed miserably.  I want to try again when I have less baby to chase, but I came across some other excellent recipes to try that used the flowers.  I even enlisted my baby to help me pick some!

Wash them first! Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014.

The first I tried were dandelion cookies.  Yum yum!  Use this recipe, which calls for organic ingredients and local honey for sweetener.  These cookies are sweet, and the flowers give it a subtle flavor.  My husband was skeptical to eat them since, as he says, they look a little hairy – but he enjoyed them! He would probably like them more with chocolate chips.

Delicious cookies made with flowers! Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014

Another new favorite recipe I tried comes right from the Mountain Rose Herbs blog – Dandelion Fritters!  This is a great side dish for lunch or dinner.  It could also be an excellent snack.  Although you need to fry these in a pan, it’s a good way to add some extra greens into your diet.  In addition to the sweet flowers, the green from the sepals and end of the stems provide a slight bitter aftertaste. Mixed with chives and garlic – yum yum!

Bealtaine means dandelions in the North Country.  Why not add some to your menu?

Savory dandelion fritters – photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »