Witches to Action on the Supermoon

What more needs to be said? No matter what kind of energy/prayer/magic work is a part of your spiritual practice, let’s get to it! Blessed Be!

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May Full Moon: Flower Moon

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Native Americans named May’s full moon (which occurs on Thursday, May 7) the Flower Moon for obvious reasons. May is the month when everything is coming into full bloom and there are flowers popping up everywhere. It’s a time for us to focus on spiritual growth where the seeds we planted on Imbolc have germinated and are well on their way to maturity. You may want to take some time this full moon to reflect on projects and activities that need a little TLC in order to come to full fruition.

It is also called the Mother’s Moon, Corn-Planting Moon and Milk Moon (from the Old Anglo-Saxon). All of these make sense since May is a time of increasing fertility, both in the animal and plant world.

If the weather is good and you have a fire pit, it’s a good night to light a bonfire in the spirit of Beltane which occurred May 1st. If you have some dried yarrow, throw a little bit of it in the flames for courage (or use other courage herbs if you don’t have yarrow) and ask your Divines for the strength to be a force of change and transformation in the midst of this global pandemic. Let the energy of that moon plant fertile seeds of change in your life. Blessed be!

Copyright 2020 by David Taliesin, http://www.sabbatsandsabbaths.com

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Beltane Chant – Doreen Valiente

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The images in this classic chant are gorgeous and appeal to both Pagans and Christians alike. I wish you a joyous celebration of Beltane!

Beltane Chant

Friends that in the circle stand,
Heart to heart and hand to hand,
Bringing Beltane to the land,
Let the sleeper awake!

Let the flames of Beltane burn,
May the Old Ones now return,
May we of their magick learn,
Let the sleeper awake!

Let the streams and fields be pure,
Earth and sky be clean once more,
Love and laughter long endure,
Let the sleeper awake!

Forests spreading, peace returning,
Where the Pagan fires are burning,
Now the inner light discerning,
Let the sleeper awake!

May the Lady’s touch again,
Rest upon the barren plain,
With the sunshine and the rain,
Let the sleeper awake!

Beltane magick here we sing,
Chant the rune and dance the ring,
Joy and blessing shall it bring,
Let the sleeper awake!

[Doreen Valiente’s Spring Rite from 1971]

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Beltane: Bonfire of the Soul

So, it’s almost Beltane. And in these days of “sheltering in place” how does one celebrate this festive holiday with your friends? Well, you don’t. (Unless you maintain an appropriate social distance of at least six feet and that seems to defeat the purpose, doesn’t it?

However, this doesn’t mean that Beltane is lost. In fact, it can still be a powerful, transformative spiritual observance as solo practitioners. Thankfully, I have a fire pit in my backyard so there will definitely be fire! If you’re not that fortunate, light up a mess of candles to embody the spirit of the thing!

The time for feeling sad, sorry and depressed is over! Many of us have been sequestered for 6 weeks now and it’s time for us to use the Beltane fire to purify and empower ourselves. What injustices are you angry about as the coronavirus strips bare the failed systems and policies of our nation? We may be “all in this together” but some of us are in it more than others. May the flames of Beltane ignite our passion for justice and the will to fight for it in any way we can.

What light can you personally bring into the darkness we are experiencing? Everyone has a circle of influence. Every knows someone who could use a word of encouragement, a bag of groceries, prayers for healing, or magical intentions for protection. Let’s get off our spiritual butts and do the work that needs to be done.

I’ve heard it said that we are made for times such as these. I wish it weren’t the case, but these are the cards we have been dealt. May Beltane be a night of transformation and strengthen our resolve to make this messed up world a better place. So mote it be!

Copyright ©2020 by David Taliesin

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A Poem For Beltane

IFA Poem for Beltane

I want to light a bonfire
And dance with the Divine Presence
Who is Unboxable and Unknowable

I want to howl with Cernunnos
And invite Jesus to join the party

I’m sure he would attend the celebration
Because he once turned six stone jars of water
Into the most delicious wine anyone had ever tasted

This is not the act of a pious ascetic
It’s the act of someone who knew how to celebrate
Life in all of its abundance

I want to light a bonfire
And feast at Sophia’s table of Wisdom

“Come,” she calls me
“Eat of my bread
And drink of my wine
Lay aside immaturity
And walk in the way of insight”

I want to recite love poems with Brigid
And snuggle up close
To the bosom of the Goddess

I refuse to attend a “guys only” shindig
The Divine Presence is much bigger than this
And I invite Him and Her to attend
In whatever form they see fit

I want to light a bonfire
And watch the narrow religion of my childhood
Be purified in its flames

Like the tongues of fire on Pentecost
I want to speak of the Eternal One
In a new language that everyone can understand
A language my soul now sings
With great passion and reverence

And as I sing and dance around the Sacred Flame
I pray that my life will be fertile Beltane soil
That will bring forth a harvest of good things
When the time is right

Copyright © 2016 by David Taliesin, http://www.sabbatsandsabbaths.com

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Walpurgisnacht: Origins and Celebrations

In honor of my German heritage, I did some research in order to better understand the origin of the Teutonic version of the Celtic holiday, Beltane. Not surprisingly, there is some conflicting information on the internet regarding this subject so I kept pursuing it until a clearer vision of Walpurgisnacht emerged. The most helpful site on this subject was http://www.friggasweb.org/walburga.html. Here’s my theory on the origin and development of this May fertility festival.

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Modern celebration of Walpirgisnacht

According to Llewellyn’s Beltane: Rituals, Recipes and Lore for May Day, “the earliest mention of Walpurgis Night is found in a 1603 edition of a text called Calendarium Perpetuum by Johann Coler, but the holiday likely has earlier origins.” I have no doubt this is true and the best info I can put together is that the night of April 30th was a night when witches (wise women, healers, etc) gathered on the mountaintops in Germany to light sacred bonfires, dance and cast spells in order to drive away the spirits of winter and welcome the arrival of spring. These ancient rituals have their roots in the worship of fertility goddesses such as Nehalennia and also have ties to the theme of the Wild Hunt. I believe these rituals were seen as a positive thing by the villagers who were sick and tired of winter and welcomed the help of the Wise Ones to banish the cold and snowy weather.

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Icon of St. Walburga with grain shock

Opinions toward this ancient pagan festival began to shift with the arrival of Christianity in Germany. Walpurga (a.ka. Walburga,  Waluburg, Waelburga, Wealdburg, and Valderburger) was an 8th century abbess who came from England with St. Boniface in order to convert the German “heathens” to Christianity. As is often the case, they tried to Christianize this festival while demonizing some of the old rituals connected to it.  Apparently they succeeded because eventually Walpurgisnacht (Walpurgis’ Night) was viewed as a time when witches meet on the Brocken mountain to cavort with the Devil. (Sigh!) Meanwhile the “good Christians,” believing it was dangerous to be outside on this night, lit fires and danced wildly in order to deter the witches from coming too close to them or their homes. Another beautiful Pagan ritual ruined!

The interesting thing, however, is that some of the attributes of the Pagan goddess became grafted onto Walpurga after she was canonized as a saint on May 1st around the year 870 CE. We see this same pattern with St. Brigid in Ireland (see my posts on Imbolc). Walpurga’s symbols, as shown in the oldest stone carvings in her chapels, are a dog and a bundle of grain. The dog has often accompanied the goddess in early art including the regional incarnation of the goddess, Nehalennia, who is also pictured with a dog on her altars and votive sites. The shock of grain hearkens back to the Grain Mother and all the old fertility rites of spring.

I think the reason why this happened is because some of the Old Ways of celebrating this holy day never went out of fashion among locals.  Attaching these ancient symbols to the St. Walpurga were an attempt to make it easier for them to convert to Christianity. Thankfully, the Old Ways survived and modern Germanic Heathens celebrate Walpurgisnacht with bonfires on mountaintops, feasting, dancing, and a toast to the god Wotan (Odin) and the goddesses of magic. Some modern fireside rituals also include purification rites, thus reincarnating the way this holy day was originally celebrated.

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Walpurgisnacht video by Faun

If you haven’t seen it, there is an amazing music video by the German band Faun entitled Walpurgisnacht. You can easily find it on YouTube. The imagery is absolutely stunning in its stylistic portrayal of Walpurgisnacht. There are several English translations of the lyrics online but here’s my attempt at it using the English translations of others, my limited understanding of the German language, and my heart as a poet:

Walpurgisnacht by Faun

In the evening sky tonight climb the enchanted ones,
Wild folk and Lilith’s kind lurking, secretly riding the winds.

Let us wander to the bonfires, whispering, reaching for the stars.
Both the good and bad news we carry today will fly away.

In the meadows our dreams will ring and the wind will sing our songs.
Let us jump with the sparks over the fire on Walpurgis Night!

Hear the fiddles, hear the fiddles, the fires are kindled!
Follow the circle dance, follow the circle dance on Walpurgis Night.

Boisterously the fiddles play. Our nocturnal circle dance is spinning,
And we step wildly and freely with this old magic.

Only once in this great circle will we dance in this way,
Until the early morning light breaks through our web of dreams.

In the meadows our dreams will ring and the wind will sing our songs.
Let us jump with the sparks over the fire on Walpurgis Night!

Copyright ©2020 by David Taliesin, http://www.sabbatsandsabbaths.com

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Doing “Nothing” During a Pandemic

“Sometimes the most powerful thing a witch can do is….nothing. Not try to seize control. Not insist on leading. But, rather, listen, follow, allow. It’s what my aunt Curtis called Making Allowances for the Universe. ‘Witchcraft is the most natural thing in the world,’ mother said on one of many afternoons when she pained and I watched and listened. ‘And I mean that quite literally. To be a witch is to possess a keen and unique sensitivity to the natural world. Not merely the top layer that everyone can see and understand, but those layers beneath where the machinery that drives the universe resides.'”–Augusten Burroughs, Toil and Trouble

If you’ve not read this book, put it on your list. Augusten Burrough’s, a mainstream author, pulls back the curtain and is quite candid about his experience as a natural witch. He definitely has the gift of what we in the Appalachian mountains call “second sight.” He also speaks freely about how we manifest our intentions by plugging into the powers of the natural world.

This particular quote resonated with me because, in the midst of sheltering in place, my favorite activity is to take my dog out for a long walk every morning. I’m fortunate enough to live nearby some urban forest that has a stream running through it. As he sniffs and peas on nearly everything in sight, I breathe deeply and let nature absorb all the worries and fears I’ve been carrying every day this past month. I let it flow though the soles of my feet and into the vibrant earth beneath me. I then begin looking on an energetic level, all the wonderful flowers and vegetation that is coming to life all around me this spring.

Sure, I love candle magic and incense and all the herbs and stones I work with to help me focus my intentions and send them out in the Universe. But this simple practice of breathing with nature is the most powerful part of my spiritual path these days. And when I take the time to listen very carefully to what nature is telling me, I always hear the following message, “You are not alone. We are here for you. We believe in you. Do the work you’re called to do and all will be well. You were made for times such as these.”

What has your spiritual practice been like during this pandemic? If you’re feeling a bit lost or disconnected from the world around you, perhaps the best thing you can do for yourself is take a walk out and nature and, as Augusten Burroughs says, do nothing. Blessed be!

Copyright ©2020 by David Taliesin, http://www.sabbatsandsabbaths.com

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