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

flower_moon_0

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

beltaneforest

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.

walpurigsnacht01

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.

stwalburga

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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April Full Moon: Pink Moon/Beaver Moon

pinkmoonAccording to the Farmer’s Almanac, the name of April’s full moon, which occurs on the 7th, “came from the herb moss pink, or wild ground phlox, which is one of the earliest widespread flowers of the spring. As a way of utilizing the power of this full moon, perhaps you can use it as a time to reflect on the question: “In the midst of a global pandemic where most of what we see in the media is bad news, what positive experiences and opportunities do I wish to blossom in my life? What can I do to nurture them so they continue to grow?” It is also a great time to do magical and energy work toward new projects we are just beginning to undertake.

beavermoonAnother name for the April full moon is the Beaver Moon. During this time of year beavers are busy constructing dams to provide shelter and places to fish. Therefore April’s full moon is a good time to contemplate the spiritual energy the Beaver brings into our lives. According to Jamie Sams and David Carson’s Medicine Cards, the Beaver tells us “it may be time to put your ideas into action or to complete some project that has been neglected. The Beaver can also be asking you to settle differences with fellow workers or friends. Beaver tells you to look for alternative solutions to life’s challenges and to protect the creations which you put your love and energy into.” Sounds like a  good plan to me!

Happy full moon!

Copyright ©2020 by David Taliesin, www,sabbatsandsabbaths.com

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Taking Care of Ourselves in the Midst of a Pandemic

“Dutchman’s Breeches” on a recent walk.

Sorry this blog has been quiet since COVID-19 descended upon us. I’ve been working crazy amounts of hours trying to figure out how to support the faith community I serve during this pandemic. I’ve learned new technologies such as Zoom and iMovie. I’ve checked in with my seniors to see if they have everything they need. I’ve helped to coordinate resources in my local community and online. It’s been hectic, emotional and chaotic. I suspect you’re feeling the same way, too!

So, how do we keep ourselves sane and healthy during this difficult time? I certainly don’t have all the answers but this is what is working for me:

  • Make sure you take a walk out in nature each day. Breathe deeply and try to connect with the energy of the earth. Take joy in the small things such as spring flowers in bloom or the exuberant conversation of crows. And, yes, keep that six foot barrier between you and others while your walking!
  • Find ways to keep your connections to others. I’ve called friends I haven’t talked to in a very long time. I’ve set up Zoom get-togethers with my kids and friends alike. I’ve chatted with my next door neighbor from a safe distance. Whatever it takes, you need to remind yourself and others that you are not alone in this pandemic.
  • Freshen up your home altar. Make sure your connection to the Divine and other spirit allies is strong. Today, I took about an hour to deep clean the room where my altar is located. I played one of my favorite Pagan folks bands, Faun, and danced to their joyous music. I dusted everything on my altar and arranged things in a way that felt powerful and meaningful to me. I lit candles and burned incense. Then I asked the Ancestors, Elemental Spirits and other allies to guide and protect me and those I love during this challenging time in the life of our planet.
  • Limit your time watching the news. Yes, we all need to be informed but I find that if I constantly listen to the 24-hour news cycle, it leave me feeling very depressed. Take “technology Sabbaths” where you unplug for a while. It will do your heart a world of good.

So, that’s what’s working for me. Please feel free to comment and share what it working for you. I thank you for your support and interest in what I’ve written over the years. I wish you all health and protection and safety! Blessed be!

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

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Coronavirus: Building Strength, Protection & Community Ritual

Here is the ritual from tonight’s Welcoming Circle:

STRENGTH, PROTECTION AND COMMUNITY RITUAL

PROTECTION OIL (David Taliesin)
1/4 cup olive oil
4 drops rosemary
3 drops frankincense

May the powers of Earth, Air, Fire, and Water
Protect you and give you strength in the days to come.

CASTING THE CIRCLE (David Taliesin)

As we approach the celebration of the Spring Equinox,
we are reminded that this day
Is the perfect balance between light and darkness.

We gather tonight to seek balance;
to find calm in the midst of fear,
truth in the midst of rumor,
community in the midst of isolationism.

We seek the wisdom of the Divine Presence,
Elemental Powers, and Ancestors
to guide us through this challenging time
in the life of our planet.

Take a crystal athame or wand and circle the group, saying the following…

May Divine Light surround us,
Divine Love enfold us,
Divine Power protect us,
Divine Presence watch over us.
Wherever we are, the Divine is with us. All is well.

CALLING THE QUARTERS (David Taliesin)

Hail Guardians and Ancestors of the East, Powers of Air,
blow away the staleness of winter;
whisper into our ears the wisdom we need to know
to navigate this challenging time
in the life our our planet. Hail and welcome!

Hail Guardians and Ancestors of the South, Powers of Fire,
warm our soil and coax the seeds to germinate;
clear our minds from confusion and misinformation
As we navigate this challenging time
in the life of our planet. Hail and welcome!

Hail Guardians and Ancestors of the West, Powers of Water,
moisten the ground so that new life might appear;
soothe our troubled spirits with your peace
As we navigate this challenging time
in the life of our planet. Hail and welcome!

Hail Guardians and Ancestors of the North, Powers of Earth,
keep us rooted like budding trees and flowers;
strengthen our bodies and keep us healthy
As we navigate this challenging time
in the life of our planet. Hail and welcome!

Great Mystery, who binds together
every quark and atom in the universe,
we humbly ask you to be with us tonight.

Help us to embody a spirit of calm in the midst of chaos.
Give us the courage to strengthen our ties with others
instead of focusing solely on ourselves.
Hail and welcome!

WEAVING RITUAL

Everyone in the room should have three strands of yarn.

The WHITE string is symbolic of wisdom and clarity. May it remind us to seek truth above all else. Don’t listen to the rumor mill on social media regarding the coronavirus. Instead, let’s educate ourselves and act in ways that are prudent rather than impulsive. We are made for times like these. Thanks to the internet we have more information at our disposal than any generation who has gone before us. May we use this information wisely and seek to be a voice of reason and calm in the midst of rumor and panic. So mote it be!

The RED string is symbolic of courage. We can be courageous because our Spirit Guides go with us. The voices of our Ancestors join them in calling us to be helpers and leaders in the midst of crisis. Listen to them. They are rooting for us to remain strong and continue to be a force for good in our community. May we encourage others who cannot see past their fear. May we help the most vulnerable among us in any way we can. So mote it be!

The BLACK string is symbolic of our spiritual practice. We, as magical people, have tools at our disposal that others don’t have. Use those tools wisely and often. Meditate until you see the world around you with absolutely clarity. Ground to remind you of our connection with something that is much bigger than yourself. Shield to keep any unwanted influences or energies at bay. Set intentions and send energy to the people and places who need it the most. So mote it be!

What I would like us to do is tie a knot to bind these three stings together. Then, in silence, weave them together so that they become inseparable from one another. As we do this, think about the resources and people you need to weave together during this time of crisis. What wisdom do you need to help you to move into the future with confidence? What courage do you need to summon to counteract the fear and panic which surround us? What magic do you need to practice regularly that will do the best and brightest good for the community and for the sake of the planet? We are made for times like these! Ponder these questions as you weave together these three strings. When you’re finished, tie the other ends together so that they cannot be separated. (Silence.)

Now that we are finished, hold this braided cord in your hands. Empower it with the energy of the earth and the Divine (We repeatedly chanted “wisdom, courage, magic” with increasing intensity). Place it on your home altar or any other visible place. May it remind you of your purpose and empower your intentions in the weeks to come. So mote it be!

CLOSING THE CIRCLE (David Taliesin)

Great Mystery, Divine Presence,
who is known to us by many names,
we thank you for your presence in our circle tonight.
We go forth from this place unafraid
because we know that you journey with us always.
Blessed be!

Guardians and Ancestors of the North, Powers of Earth,
we thank you for your presence in our circle tonight.
Keep our bodies healthy
as we navigate this challenging time
in the life of our planet.
Stay if you will. Go if you must.
We bid you farewell!

Guardians and Ancestors of the West, Powers of Water,
we thank you for your presence in our circle tonight.
Keep our spirits calm and peaceful
as we navigate this challenging time
in the life of our planet.
Stay if you will. Go if you must.
We bid you farewell!

Guardians and Ancestors of the South, Powers of Fire,
we thank you for your presence in our circle tonight.
Keep our minds sharp and alert
As we navigate this challenging time
in the life of our planet.
Stay if you will. Go if you must.
We bid you farewell.

Guardians and Ancestors of the East, Powers of Air,
we thank you for your presence in our circle tonight.
Keep our ears attuned to your wisdom
as we navigate this challenging time
in the life our our planet.
Stay of you will. Go if you must.
We bid you farewell!

And now, the circle is open but never unbroken
Because it is a circle woven in love.
Whatever energy is left in this space
We return to the earth with a spirit of gratitude.
Merry meet, merry part, and merry meet again.

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

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