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Beltane Approaches


Guest Leelee
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So being new to this I'd like to do something "special" to mark this point of the calender.

So far I am planning on spending it in my garden appreciating the colours and new growth with a good few friends for company (non pagans), a chiminea for warmth, tea light lanterns for atmosphere and of course food and drink for hospitality.

I have no knowledge of rituals to perform but I do intend to take a private moment of thanks to whatever higher or universal plane has provided these things for us.

 

Out of curiosity, I'd be interested to hear how other people mark the occasion. Or recieve any suggestions of what else I may do to more formally acknowledge it.

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I actually think what you're planning sounds wonderful. Celebrating the arrival of summer with friends and good food, how perfect :)

 

I will be in a tropical location (in Scotland) with some wonderful people, doing pretty much the same as you. I'm sure John Mac won't mind if I tell you that there will be a maypole, a battle between summer and winter (note to John, I am NOT being Winter Queen this time. Just look at how that went last year!) and jumping over a bonfire.

 

It's a time to celebrate, celebrate that you made it through winter, that summer is on the way (theoretically), that the crops are growing, and in hope that the season is fruitful. It was traditionally a time to purify the cattle by driving them between two bonfires and to take them to the Summer shielings, to purify yourself (probably time for the annual bath and clothes disinfection!).

 

So how you celebrate really depends on what the festival means to you. Why are you celebrating it? Don't feel you have to because a book tells you. If you feel moved to acknowledge the occasion, then think about why you want to as that will help inform what you do.

 

Don't over complicate it, really. Many people celebrate festivals etc by sitting quietly with a cup of tea, a glass of wine or whatever, and just being glad that they are part of the cycle of the seasons and the turning of the globe. :)

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not all of us celebrate it, because it isn't part of everyone's religion. it isn't, for example, a part of Heathenry. That is probably why some kind Wiccan on this site once gave me a certificate to mark me joining in an event at his home one year.

 

Well, OK, so it's every year. But I always take a brand new bottle of malt so we can all toast to one Heathen god with a send of mischief. ;)

 

Left to my own devices, I think I'd want to go somewhere and toast the new spring, as the old May Day. :)

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However you choose to notice or acknowledge the season .... is OK - there are no rules! Some years we have had a full blown gathering and ritual with feasting, maypole, music and so on and sometimes, just me and the Hairy Monster doing our own thing in our own place! Doesn't matter, the acknowledgement is there! Just enjoy the leaving behind of winter ....

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I shall be heading to Northern parts to celebrate with some lovely people who wander around the valley occasionally.

 

I am NOT being Winter Queen this time.

 

*breathes a sigh of relief*

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Well, don't look at me! I'm not about to offer to be some strange Wiccan ritual figure. :P

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It's a time to celebrate, celebrate that you made it through winter, that summer is on the way (theoretically), that the crops are growing, and in hope that the season is fruitful. It was traditionally a time to purify the cattle by driving them between two bonfires and to take them to the Summer shielings, to purify yourself (probably time for the annual bath and clothes disinfection!).

 

So how you celebrate really depends on what the festival means to you. Why are you celebrating it? Don't feel you have to because a book tells you.

 

 

Exactly that Pomona. I love the changes at this time of year. I've been craving the warmth and sun like never before this year. It feels like its been a very long winter.

But seeing longer days, the shoots and new growth in my garden, i simply feel more alive and rejuvinated by it.

Im doing this because i want to and because it feels right to. Ive always acknowled the passing of the seasons in my own way anyway. And i most definitly feel a connection to the major festivals of the calendar. The wheel of the year? Am i right in thinking that is more of a wiccan tradition?

 

It won't be exactly on the day anyway, but the following weekend as the practicalities of life and work do get in the way. Lets hope for sunshine and warmth.

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Im doing this because i want to and because it feels right to. Ive always acknowled the passing of the seasons in my own way anyway. And i most definitly feel a connection to the major festivals of the calendar. The wheel of the year? Am i right in thinking that is more of a wiccan tradition?

 

Yes, but there is some history to some of the festivals on that calendar. The history doesn't always go back beyond the 16th-18th centuries, or it may not exist - but, if a season connects for you, then why not use someone else's festival? If the festival itself has meaning and resonates for you, then use it. but, in that case, it becomes your festival, and you celebrate in your way.

 

Now, OK, if anyone says they are celebrating the Lupercalia without using dried goatskin and indulging in a bit of whipping of naked bodies, I might wonder what the connection is, but there have been so many festivals in so many cultures at this point in the year, all celebrating roughly the same thing - the emergence from cold to warmth. Bringing the animals out of barns or fields within the homestead into more open summer pastures.

 

In the UK, you can watch the hedgerows. When you see some white blossom in late February-mid March, that's the blackthorn, which blossoms before it produces leaves. The weather usually gets colder before the blossom goes, and that's known as the "Blackthorn winter". This year's Blackthorn winter has been memorable. :(

 

The blackthorn is followed by the hawthorn, which was known as "The May" because it generally blossoms at the end of April. In English traditional folklore, there was a period where the Lady of the house gave money to the first lad who brought her a sprig of May. There's the old saying of not changing your clothes until you see the May "cast not a clout til May is out". and boy, do you see it! It looks like someone has come with an industrial amount of spray on snow and covered the hedgerows. But you see the leaves first. I am seeing the leaves now, on the edge of South Wales, and I'm getting excited to see the May.

 

If you're in England, who not look up the folklore of the time of year and use some of those customs? You could bring some May into your house. The bonfires bit was more of a Scottish/Irish thing, but there were many Maying customs - if I remember correctly, one was treating labyrinths. :)

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Well I'll be going to the fire festival in Edinburgh again. To me the festival manages to connect multiple, even contradictory meanings. Its cultural, religious. secular, folky, arty and earthy. Although the festival is on the 30th we'll be going to Edinburgh on the 27th to simply enjoy the city itself for a few days.

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My hubby's actually got the day off this year so all I need is decent enough weather and a fab beltane will be had by the both of us. We will be doing something at the weekend as well as it's our Anni on the 5th, and my B'day on the 4th so all in all my favourite time of year and a special one. :D

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Well, don't look at me! I'm not about to offer to be some strange Wiccan ritual figure. :P

 

When did the "Winter Queen" become a "strange" "Wiccan" "ritual" figure - all or any? You heathen, you !!!! :lol:

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Ideally I would do similar to you, a decent fire in my own garden good food and drink, music and dance and a time to revel in the freedom from the introspective winter months among other things. Since I don't have a garden though I will have to settle for a host of candles around the flat instead of a fire, I can still have the good food good music and dance (well if it weren't for my two left feet) In previous years it's around this time that I try to visit a very good friend to walk with her and her cats in the woods and enjoy some good food and company, I think it's around 2 years since I last visited her home though...

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Dear Leelee,

 

But seeing longer days, the shoots and new growth in my garden, i simply feel more alive and rejuvinated by it.

Im doing this because i want to and because it feels right to. Ive always acknowled the passing of the seasons in my own way anyway. And i most definitly feel a connection to the major festivals of the calendar. The wheel of the year? Am i right in thinking that is more of a wiccan tradition?

 

It won't be exactly on the day anyway, but the following weekend as the practicalities of life and work do get in the way. Lets hope for sunshine and warmth.

 

Aye, a lot of us feel that way about the coming of the summer....though sometimes it requires a bit of faith! :)

 

What many of us call the Wheel of the Year goes back to the early days of the modern Pagan revival and owes as much to Druidry as to Wicca, though most modern Pagans tend to follow it to some degree regardless of what path they follow. You even see quite a lot of the ones who don't follow it just happening to show up at celebrations. They're not there to celebrate it of course. Just to meet friends.....maybe hang out for a while.......perhaps have a bite to eat and a drink if they're there anyway......sit round the fire, of course......ach well, no harm in joining in as we're here anyway..... It's sort of inclusive that way :).

 

The Wheel of the Year was formed by connecting four cross-quarter days ( Samhain, Imbolc, Beltane & Lughnasadh) from Celtic/Gaelic tradition with four stations of the solar year (the solstices and equinoxes). It's become very widely established because it fits the pattern of the the year on this island pretty well, and because Wicca & Druidry were extremely influential in the early days of modern Paganism. Since the reconstructionist traditions developed, you get more people who don't - officially - follow it and who point out that it doesn't derive from a pre-Christian Pagan tradition. Then again, in reality, there's no rule that says we can only follow this cycle of festivals and have nothing to do with that other cycle of festivals. In practice, most of us celebrate according to what we feel is right for us, according to where we are, and according to who we're with, which seems pretty reasonable approach to take.

 

BB,

 

John Macintyre

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Dear Moonhunter,

 

Well, don't look at me! I'm not about to offer to be some strange Wiccan ritual figure. :P

 

The Winter and Summer Queens that feature so prominently in the Beltane rites Kitty & I help to arrange aren't actually Wiccan. While there are a few Wiccan elements in the ceremonies, they're pretty deeply buried. It's really just a general, and hopefully easily accessible, Pagan celebration of the coming of the Summer.

 

I'm glad you still prize your Certificate of Participation. I can't help remembering that it was your Heathen kindred who were shoving each other out of the way in their enthusiasm to sign as witnesses. I really respect that kind of Traditional solidarity. :D

 

Best wishes,

 

John Macintyre

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Just popped in to see what everyone else is doing for Beltane as well.This is my first Beltane too, as I forgot all about it last year, being a very new newbie! :o_razz:

 

I'm completely on my own in paganism (family aren't aware, and no pagan friends nearby) so it's never going to be a big thing for me, but i've found out some Morris Dancers are going to be performing nearby so I'm going to go watch them and silently give thanks for the promise of summer.

Then over the bank holiday a local old house/museum is holding an open day with reconstructionists, so I'll be sure to be there too, lapping it all up! :o_wink2:

 

I'm also excitedly watching the Hawthorn garden hedges near me. Only one seems be showing signs of bursting forth any day now, but that's ok. I like observing and anticipating the changes.

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Will have some cake & first UK strawberries with DS this evening and put on some music (DH is working) - as substitute for 'dancing in the May' as it's done is many parts of my native Germany. Then tomorrow morning a little prezzy for DS.

We celebrate as family on Saturday with [hopefully] a pic-nic in the green, some prezzies in the morning (which in our family tradition our family Tomte brings; plus my dear mum has sent us a parcel for the occasion).

Theme is the same as pointed out above: celebrating that the summer-half of the year has arrived, flowers, sun, etc. :)

Wishing you all [who celebrate] a lovely Mayfest and joy in whatever you do to celebrate!

Edited by Capricorn
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Beltane has never been a big celebration for me, and I won't have the opportunity to celebrate much on the day anyway. I like to do a little something though.

 

I'm planning to prepare a nice meal for my family the next day - I'm a bit stumped for ideas we would all eat though! Must get Googling later. Any ideas for vegan feasts?

Idealy I would like a picnic weather permitting, but that may well be a living room picnic!

Edited by Hayley
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