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Posts Tagged ‘Beltaine’

The beautiful, pregnant moon was a welcomed sight over the fields and forests during Beltaine this past weekend.  Now that the moon grows thin once more, it is a time for cleansing.  I’ve been working on a couple of very practical yet spiritual cleaning projects.

First, I’ve been cleaning a deer skull.  The deer is a spirit animal very near to me right now.  I’m nearly done preparing this lovely skull I found in the forest.  Next I’ll need to figure out where to put her.  She has been in that blue bucket for what seems like ages.

Finally, there’s the herb chopper I purchased from an antique store back in February.  It’s been sitting on my altar waiting to be physically cleansed for awhile now.  Graduate classes (which are now complete, yay!) really kept me busy so I’m only now just catching up with all these little projects.  I started to soak the blade in vinegar which naturally removes rust.  Since the blade wasn’t heavily encrusted, I figured it would be the best first approach.  Indeed, as you can see in the photo, a good deal of grime has already come off.  It’s rather impressive!  I hope to have the tool cleaned up and ready for the traditional herbal harvest around the Summer Solstice next month.

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I’m always trying to think of easy tutorials for Pagan families to do together, especially projects that help people learn and perfect useful skills like sewing.  This one is to celebrate Beltaine.   During this season we delight in the new life bursting forth everywhere.  It is also a time to be flirty and sensuous.  The ancient Celts were described by historians as wearing colorful clothing and a lot of jewelry.  They were a people who appreciated art and wore it proudly. In the spirit of their showy nature, the lusty month of May, and the blossoms outside, I came up with this floral garland hair clip.

The finished piece worn in the back of my hair.

The Process:

Step 1: Gather your materials.  Pictured are scissors, three equal strands of slender green ribbon, three different colors of felt scraps,  buttons, corresponding thread, and a needle.  Not photographed is the hair clip.  These were all materials I had laying around.  The felt was made from recycled products.  I highly suggest using a hair clip that you can stitch on rather than glue.  While some glues are very sturdy, I’ve found that good stitching gets the  job done just as well and without the fumes or high temperatures.    As far as children go, the most dangerous aspect of this project is the needle.  If you make this with children, make sure they’re dexterous enough to handle it.
Step 2: Gather your ribbons and make sure they’re equal.  I don’t suggest making it very long unless you have exceptionally long hair.  You’ll be folding the garland in half and attaching the clip midway.  Test the length against your hair.  Doyle just loved this activity.
Step 3:  Knot and somehow secure that end of the ribbons to something so that you can easily braid.  If you’re anything like me, you have tons of art supplies in boxes and crates.  I  used this tub of colored pencils to keep my ribbons in place. Knot the other end. When your’e done, you’ll have a nice garland!
Step 4: Cut out teardrop shapes from the felt.  They can be small, medium, or large.  I eyeballed them.  They don’t have to be perfect – just similar.  If you are a perfectionist, you can make a little pattern but for something so small that will be clustered, I find the process tedious and unnecessary. Another option is to buy precut felt flowers at the store but that’s not as fun for me.
Step 5:  Stitch your petals onto the braided ribbon garland.  I suggest doing this first rather than adding the button at the same time.  Doing it together becomes cumbersome and you might not adequately secure all the petals.  This is especially important for wee ones learning how to sew.
Step 6: Add your buttons.  Make sure they’re fully secured by stitching through the holes several times.  Little ones might benefit from two holed buttons to simplify the process.

Step 7: Repeat steps 4-6 for as many times is necessary.  Attach the flowers at desired intervals.  My garland ended up having 5 flowers but this will vary depending on the size of your flowers, the number you make, the space you utilize, and the length of your ribbon.  To make them even, I suggest using an odd number of flowers.

Step 8: Securely stitch the hair clip to the most central flower.  As with the button, pass the needle and thread through the openings several times.

Step 9: Wear and enjoy!  You can pull strands of hair to the back of your head and wear it as I did, or you can clip some hair on the side of your head and wear it so the ribbons hang closer to your face.

I think this project is a fun way to get into the spirit of the warm season.  Most of the time, you see ladies and girls wearing floral circlets.  For work and school, where you might not want to stand out so much, a clip like this is just the ticket to add some floral flair to your look while celebrating Beltaine.  Besides changing the colors of the felt, thread, and buttons, other possible variations include: shorter ribbons for people with shorter hair or who don’t want something quite as showy; leaves rather than flowers; one leaf or flower with a garland of bells.

Have fun!

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Yesterday, Weretoad and I went to Syracuse to celebrate Beltaine with the folks at Muin Mound Grove.  We had a wonderful time.   I feel a greater familial bond with everyone. I celebrate everyone’s victories, lament their tragedies, cry when they cry, and laugh at inside jokes.  This Beltaine marked my fourth anniversary with them.  I think back to how awkward I was then as a curious would-be Druid.  I was already very familiar with Paganism in general but this was a new path I was headed down.  All the same, I felt welcomed among this group of friendly people.  Now I am honored to consider them a part of my tribe.

After the business meeting, I put together a kick-ass salad while the men folk (including my hubby) went to find a Maypole.  Weretoad loves Beltaine.  He loves the overt celebration of sexuality.  He loves the chaotic fun of the Maypole.  He loves the coming of summer.  It makes me so happy that he gets into it.  I think he likes being part of something physical.  He is good with his hands and his strength.  Sawing, lifting, hammering…  He enjoys these things more than meditating.  Beltaine, I think, is when he truly feels part of the grove.  The fact that he joins in the dance means so much to me.  Every year, we make sure to kiss at least once as we pass in the dance…

Once more, I called down the powers of the Sky and the Gods in ritual.  I feel more confident in my words in public ritual.  I speak loudly and with strength. The others in the grove are so talented.  Our bards have a poetic way with words that continually awes me.  Jen E was particularly eloquent last night.  I listened to her poem with amazement.  The children also amaze me.  They are growing up before my eyes and are showing great talent in singing, poetry, and public speaking.  I wonder if I’ll ever contribute to the growing herd of little ones at Muin Mound… ?

Our first book club meeting went well.  Everyone seems excited about continuing.  I loved that we were connecting intellectually over literature and history.  It seemed very Druidic and I’m delighted!

Today Weretoad and I had some errands to do.  Otherwise I let hubby decide what adventures we’d get up to.  We randomly decided to go to Clayton to check out the Psychic Faire.  I feel a bit bad writing about that because my friend C invited me to attend a community garden meeting in Clayton this afternoon.  I told her, truthfully, that I wanted to spend the day with Weretoad and let him choose our destinations since Friday evening was spent at a film festival with C and Saturday was all my decision.  I hope she understands when she reads this! 😀

The Psychic Faire was kind of a let down.  I thought there would be more vendors.  I did get some lovely incense and herbs from Hill Woman.  Otherwise…  I don’t know.  I guess I feel that I am learning to read tarot and ogham myself, so why would I pay exorbitant amounts of money to have a stranger talk to the Gods for me?  And I don’t even know who they’re talking to anyway…  I suppose one could say a stranger could do an unbiased reading, but even then I’d probably rather pay an elder in my own tradition.  Some of the people at the faire seemed like they were appropriating Native American cultures or were just very commercial seeming.  For example, I’ve always been curious about aura photography, but I didn’t like the energy coming from that table…  You had to pay more for an in-depth interpretation.  And I just think, “Really?  Why is it so much money?”  I have mixed feelings about paying for such services.  On the one hand, I think it’s appropriate – after all, they are doing something for you.  On the other hand, I think some services deserve more money than others.  Anything involving physical contact and movement, like massage or reiki, deserves more money because of physical exertion and sanitation.  Otherwise?  I just don’t know…  Had I known there were workshops/lectures, and had we not had errands to run, I probably would have got more out of it.

After that, we walked along the St. Lawrence River.  Oh what a lovely Beltaine day it was!  It felt wonderful to be by the river again…  We talked about how fun it would be to have a boat someday.  We had lunch at a lovely cafe called Bella’s.  Service was excellent.  They were willing and capable to alter menu choices for strict vegetarians.  They serve an amazing iced chai latte!

Following our adventures in Clayton, we shot down to Watertown to take care of some errands.  While there, inspired by the warming weather and sexual energy of Beltaine, I looked at bathing suits.  Hubby was very interested in this and somehow convinced me to try on and buy a bikini.  Oh boy…  I guess it’s time to take advantage of the weather and do some running and biking outside?

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Beltaine Songs from The Juggler

Here are some great songs for celebrating Beltaine selected by The Juggler. I shared one of my favorite Omnia songs yesterday – I would add that to their list. The other one not on here that should be is the Maypole Song from The Wickerman. It’s a classic. Really, anything from The Wickerman is appropriate for Beltaine!

Of course, one of my favorites is at the very bottom of the list. Not appropriate for children or work. 😉

Pop Pentacle: Top 5 Songs for Beltane » The Juggler.

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“Tine Bealtaine” by one of my favorite groups – Omnia.

Time to get in the mood for tonight’s Beltaine festivities – the Maypole – the playful dance of fertility, the fires, and the celebration of renewed life!

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The warm weather is here and Beltaine is nearly upon us!  Every year, Pagans come together around the first of May to celebrate fertility, sexuality, love, and new life.  What better way to celebrate than with flowers?  Indeed, May Queens of old were often decked out with floral crowns, and the tops of Maypoles are sometimes decorated with the latest blossoms.  Although using real flowers is a great way to learn about and work with local Nature Spirits, it’s also fun to make your own using tissue paper.  This is an easy activity to do with children especially if you don’t have access to local, pesticide-free blossoms.

Materials
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To make these flowers, will need tissue paper, scissors, yarn, and twigs.  You can forgo yarn and sticks for pipe cleaners but I want to throw mine into the bonefire as an offering.  Yarn and sticks will burn better.  I chose birch twigs as they symbolize new life (I keep a variety of sticks around the house…).  Take a sheet of tissue paper and cut it into thirds or fourths.  They don’t have to be perfectly straight.  Rough edges can also add personality to your flower – part of what makes this such a child-friendly craft.

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After cutting a sheet of paper into thirds, fourths (or whatever), pile them on top of each other and fold accordian-style.

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If you want your edges to be even, trim them now. You can also round the edges out. I had a difficult time here because I went for a smaller fold and had more paper to cut through. Still – when the flower is finished you’ll hardly notice!

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Take your yarn (or pipecleaner) and tie a knot in the middle. Here’s where I add a little magic. Visualize goals for the coming season (being a Druid, I chose three) and make a knot for each.

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Pull the top and bottom corners towards each other in an attempt to make a circle. Then carefully separate the layers of tissue paper. Move some forward and some backwards.
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When you’re done, take one of your tigs and attach it to the flower with the rest of the yarn. To finish my spell, I made three more knots while saying, “In the name of the Nature Spirits, Ancestors, and Gods – let this be so!”

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Although the flowers I made to offer (in the first photograph) were made with one color each, you can combine paper to create all sorts of stunning varieties. Mine will go into the Beltaine fires as offerings and wishes to rise to the Kindreds. I intend to bring other gifts as well, but I felt the need to work a little magic. I’m all about mixing magic with arts and crafts.  This would be a great opportunity to talk to children about magic and the holiday.

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Valentine’s Day?

So it’s Valentine’s Day.  I’ve been seeing a lot of posts on Pagan blogs recently about the holiday’s Pagan roots, how we can/should repurpose it, information on love/sex spells, and how to celebrate it as a day honoring all love.  That’s all well and good, and I’m happy for anyone who is celebrating today.  It’s always good for people to have fun – but only if the day really means something to them.

Which brings me to Weretoad and myself.  We just don’t celebrate.  It’s not that we don’t find love important, but we try to love each other every day.  February 14th doesn’t seem any different to us.  We don’t have a Roman hearth culture so the Pagan roots do little for me other than stimulate my brain.  It’s just one of those holidays that everyone around us celebrates and we take a break.  I’m part of a spiritual community that emphasizes the magical importance of intention and will.  Without those things, a spell won’t necessarily work.  Same thing with holidays.  My husband and I just don’t care and so why bother?  Why feel obligated?

Our anniversary is a whole different story.  Now that is a day we get really excited about.  That is a day we feel good about spending money.  Also, there’s Beltaine.  I view Beltaine as a Druidic Valentine’s Day.  It’s all about sex and new life…  The energy about that day is so much more exciting to me!  When the snow is melted and the forest is waking up, that’s when I’m feeling amorous!  That’s when I want to go out and make love in the woods!

Right now?  I’m tired.  I don’t particularly feel good.  I’m still recovering from several winter holidays  – physically and financially.  If you celebrate Valentine’s Day, may you have a meaningful day full of love.  Me?  I’m relaxing with my husband.  If we celebrate Valentine’s Day at all, it’s simply by being together.

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