Apr 19, 2013

Carpe ( Beltane ) diem

Beltaine is  truly one of the most amazing times of the year. Time to converse to Fae, improve beauty, health and attain longevity , pursue magickal gifts, and make new friends. 

It’s a second Principal Celtic holiday, the other being Samhaine, it’s direct opponent and counterpart.  It celebrates the Sun’s release of winter and dark bondage, it’s rulership of the  light part of the year, and life  and regeneration in general. In old  European culture it used to signify the begging of the summer .
Get some Beltane's morning dew , for it's a powerful magick
Beltane    is a pagan holiday falling on 1st or 2nd of may ( or 6th, or even 11-15th like done in Scotland ) , and is preceded by the Walpurgis  night, even though most authors will equate the two, we can’t really say they are one and the sam e.  For starters, Walpurgis night is the night of 30th of April, and therefore pretty  much lasts until the morning. Also, it’s mostly celebrated in Northern Europe, and the symbolism and ceremonies may vary and hence differ in for example Germany, Finland and Sweden.   Beltane,  is an in-between time, a magckal threshold, when the veils between the words are thing, and  as consequence they intertwine easily. For me, it had always been an uplifting and overwhelming time,  resonating and transcending, offering great boost or power, and enabling to attain that  , what would through the year would most likely be unattainable. It’s the day when the Fae ( Fairies ) interact with people, and when Fairy Queen, riding on her white horse, calls for people to follow  her into  Fae kingdom. An example of such event is portrayed in traditional English poem, “Thomas Rymer and the Queen of Elfland” , where a  poet, called True Thomas, follows the Fairy, serves her for 7  years , being  then  returned to his own word and rewarded with a very keen  gift of prophecy;

" TRUE THOMAS lay oer yond grassy bank,

And he beheld a ladie gay,

A ladie that was brisk and bold,

Come riding oer the fernie brae.
She turned about her milk-white steed,

And took True Thomas up behind,

And aye wheneer her bridle rang,

The steed flew swifter than the wind.
                                             He has gotten a coat of the even cloth,

                                               And a pair of shoes of velvet green,

                                           And till seven years were past and gone

                                             True Thomas on earth was never seen.

Elderberry Fairy
And  Beltane is indeed, the most favorable part  of the year to work with Fae, and I have written of Beltaine and Fae magick before on here , If You happen to be interested  in this particular  aspect of the holiday.
It was once, in European countries, associated with  a sacrifices also. In fact, if the preceeding year was “barren” a young male, was to be sacrificed, though he had to  volunteer, to be  sacrificed, knowingly. By the time of Druidism, this sacrifice was substituted by Wicker-man ( a giant human- resembling doll made of wood and straw ) , and whit the early Christian influences the sacrifice was replaced by reenacting the same, and the “victim” was chosen by drawing pieces of cake from the bag. The one that would draw the  piece of the cake with the cross, would play the “victim” which was to be sacrificed [2]

In Germany the Walpurgis night, that is the night before the first May  is said to be the time when witches gather at mount.  Brocken ( the highest peak of Northern  Germany, Harz mountain range ) and perform rituals and dance welcoming the May. In urban areas, and particularly among  young people, the symbolism and spiritual contents are mainly lost, and the celebration deducts to pranks and leg-pulling.  Bonfires are still lit in some parts, though due to Christianization often called  “Osterfeurer” ,aka Easter Fires.        

In Estonia and Finland, some kind of carnival festivities are held, much like dressing up and trick or treating during Halloween in West.         

Symbolical burning of the witches, or rather ragged or straw effigies is appropriated  in the Czech republic, and the holiday is referred to as “charodejnice” which means    “the witches”. [3]

And the 1st may, coming after the Walpurgis night, other than it’s spiritual traits and symbolism discussed above, is also day for parades ( so called May parades ) and   an International labour  day, also known as International worker’s day [4], and technically speaking, Your employer  should not be able to  force You to work on this day, but alas, in this world we described as  civilized, occur so many things that are all but. People frequently go on picnics or field trips on 1st of May, usually  with family of very close friends

Nevertheless, as I stated in the  title of the post, If practicing, You should by all mean “seize the day” and the energies it offers.   For the day it’s ideal for fertility and abundance in any form , on any plan, for increasing personal power, health and beauty, promoting longevity. When I wrote on snow and Ice magick before, I mentioned some ice magick rituals that are really best suited to be  done on Beltaine. It’s also  by far the best time to build friendly ties with nature spirits of all kind, and thus gain  powerful and  hospitable allies  in Your spiritual workings. It’s also day associated with agricultural magick, and gaining money or pursuing carrier success, which are forms of fertility and abundance.

Plants and incenses correspondent to the Beltane are : Almond, Cowslip, Ash ( the plant, Fraxinus spp. ), Angelica,   Marigolds ( Calendulas ), Hawthorn, Rowan ( both used in enabling to see and protecting from  the Fae folk, Fairies ),  Nettles, Rose,  Thyme, Bluebells and Elder ( Sambucus spp. ) and Hyacinth

The candles lit are mostly of Red, Silver, Green and sometimes Gold ( or Yellow ) color.
Anyhow, without any further ado here are some ideas in how to “seize the day” the best way;
Examples of folklore and spells  associated with Beltane ;

·         “Traditionally on the Isle of Man, the youngest member of the family gathers primroses on the eve before Beltane and throws the flowers at the door of the home for protection. In Ireland it is believed that food left over from May Eve must not be eaten, but rather buried or left as an offering to the faery instead. Much like the tradition of leaving of whatever is not harvested from the fields on Samhain, food on the time of no time is treated with great care.” [5]

·         Spending May night  ( Beltane ) under an Elder tree, with Thyme in one’s hands, shall enable one to see and converse with Fae,  though one must be cautions, for the Fae may be mischievous or even malevolent.  Similarly, wearing an “crown”  made from Elder twig during Walpurgis night and 1st of May, should enable the same.

·         “The first May Day butter, that is, the first butter made from the milk of May Day, was held to be the best of all bases for salves and ointments. And, it was firmly believed that any herb picked at random before sunrise on May Day was a sure cure for warts. Also, if you wanted to keep the rheumatics away for a year, the custom was to eat nettle soup three times during the month, beginning on May 1st.”[6]

·         Hoops made of Rowan and/or Hawthorn before the sunrise on May First, will enable one to see the  Fairies and Spirits,  through them

·         The first water taken from the well on May Day was variously known as 'the top of the well' or 'the luck of the well'. In evil hands this water could do great harm; but in the hands of the rightful owner, it brought luck, protection and healing. [7]

·         Fresh Nettles picked in the morning, preferably very early, with the rising Sun, were cooked and eaten in copper containers while the  incantations for health were spoken, to ensure that no illness will befall on those that consume it, or to  heal the existing conditions. This is commonly done in Balkan Peninsula, I observed and later done the ritual myself, and is done on Beltane, St George’s day and  sometimes on Spring Equinox as well.  In Ireland, it’s customary to make  a soup out of the Nettles, and consume it on Beltane ( according to other some  accounts on Beltane and two consecutive days  ) in order to both cure and prevent rheumatism.

·         Leave  a bouquet made of Cowslips , Thyme and Bluebells, along with piece of cake or some honey , and some vine, near some Hawthorn bush to treat the Fairies and possibly gain their sympathies. You should state aloud that it’s for “little folk”, “good folk”  or “brothers and sisters fairies”

·         Collect the morning dew, and wash Your face with it on Beltane,  for the beauty, and preserving youth in the upcoming year.  Water with freshly picked Basil leafs, and Rose, blessed with a suiting incantation  on Beltane morning will have the similar effect. Obviously, once could  combine the two.

I hope  You’ve gotten some ideas on how to take advantage of  the lavish energies of Beltane,  how to tap on to  the powers of the day, and  use them constructively.  

Here are more good resources for You  on:  
Beltane folklore
Enjoy, and have a great Mayday J Abundance of Blessings  from Shadow

NOTES: This article was written and composed by myself, If You wish to use any part of it  elsewhere online,  feel free, as long as You provide credits; Shadow of Shadows magick place,  Shadow-333@hotmail.com  , or a direct link to this    post

[1] Retrieved from http://www.bartleby.com/40/15.html where the whole poem can be found, If You are interested
[2] Reference; adopted from:  Cass Eason’s “Encyclopedia of magic and ancient wisdom”
[4] You can find out more about it  here:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Workers'_Day
[5] Retrieved from:  http://www.witchvox.com/va/dt_va.html?a=usma&c=holidays&id=2765 , for informational and educative purposes, without ill will
[6] Retrieved from : http://www.irishcultureandcustoms.com/ACalend/Beltane.html , for informational and educative purposes, without any ill will
[7] as under [6]

IMEAGE CREDITS: Morning dew photo  used for illustrative purposes here is  from wallpaperskd.com Elderberry fairy vintage style illustration Is from: http://www.antiquaprintgallery.com/ekmps/shops/richben90/images/flower-fairies-elderberry.cicely-barker.old-print.c1930-wdjb--130280-p.jpg  used for illustrative purposes without any ill will

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