May Full Moon: Flower/Deer Moon

69129Native Americans named May’s full moon (which occurs on May 10) 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.

The Witches Calendar calls it the Deer Moon. A good ritual activity connected to this is to cast a circle and call the quarters in whatever manner works best for you. Then spend some time grounding and raising energy. When you feel peaceful and calm, read the story about deer energy from the book Medicine Cards that can be found online HERE. After you have finished reading the story, visualize a person who is your “demon” at this moment. Someone who is keeping you from advancing in your spiritual path. Think about how they make you feel and then try to release those feelings from your body, through your feet and into the earth.

When you are finished with this part of the meditation, try sending deer energy to your “demon” with the expectation that it will transform them. In your next encounter with this person, try embodying deer energy and see if it changes the dynamic between the two of you.

According to Medicine Cards, “Deer teaches us to use the power of gentleness to touch the hearts and minds of wounded beings who are trying to keep us from Sacred Mountain. Like the dappling Fawn’s coat, both the light and dark may be loved to create gentleness and safety for those who are seeking peace. Find the gentleness of spirit that heals all wounds. Stop pushing so hard to get others to change, and love them as they are. Apply gentleness to your present situation and become like the summer breeze: warm and caring.”

This can be a very powerful and transformative exercise so don’t rush it. Give it the time and attention it deserves this full moon. Bright blessings!

Copyright ©2017 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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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 ©2017 by David Taliesin, http://www.sabbatsandsabbaths.com

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Spirituality Types

We did this test at April’s Welcoming Circle. It helps you to pinpoint your comfort zone with regard to how you see the Divine. It also points you in the direction you need to grow. These material were adapted from a retreat I went on. I do not know who holds the copyrights for the original material.

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Spirituality Types

Spirituality Type Chart

Spirituality Type Chart 2 for the “Connecting to the Divine” Ritual

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Connecting to the Divine Ritual

CONNECTING TO THE DIVINE RITUAL

CASTING THE CIRCLE—Protection Prayer

The Light of the Divine surrounds us
The Love of the Divine enfolds us
The Power of the Divine protects us
The Presence of the Divine watches over us
Wherever we are, the Divine is. All is well.

CALLING THE QUARTERS—David Taliesin

Guardians and Ancestors of the East, Spirits of Air,
We place this incense before you as an offering of thanks.
We are honored by your presence in our circle tonight.

May this incense remind us that the Great Spirit
Blows through our lives in ways we cannot always comprehend.
The Divine is mysterious, intuitive, creative
And whispers to us in the shadows.
Hail and welcome!

Guardians and Ancestors of the South, Spirits of Fire,
We place this red candle before you as an offering of thanks.
We are honored by your presence in our circle tonight.

May this candle remind us that the Ancient One
Illumines our lives with knowledge and truth.
The Divine is wise discernment and decisive action,
Empowering us to fight for what is just and good.
Hail and welcome!

Guardians and Ancestors of the West, Spirits of Water,
We place this chalice before you as an offering of thanks.
We are honored by your presence in our circle tonight.

May this chalice remind us that the Holy Well
Fills us with vitality and desire.
The Divine is passionate and compassionate,
An ever-flowing stream and love and empathy.
Hail and welcome!

Guardians and Ancestors of the North, Spirits of Earth,
We place this seedling before you as an offering of thanks.
We are honored by your presence in our circle tonight.

May this seedling remind us that Mother Earth
Provides us with all that sustains our lives.
The Divine is security, prosperity, health and home.
Hail and welcome!

Divine Presence, Great Spirit, Ancient One,
Holy Well, Mother Earth,
We are honored by your presence in our circle tonight.
You speak to our hearts and minds
In ways that are both hidden and revealed.

Speaks to us tonight as we seek
To draw closer to you!
Hail and welcome!

DIVINE INTENTION SHEET—David Taliesin (see Spirituality Chart posts for the materials you need to take the test)

Place an X on the sheet where you tested on the Spirituality Type Chart. Think about which of the Elemental Spirits you feel most drawn to and which one you know the least about. Mark a symbolic journey in the page regarding the direction you would like to grow in the coming month. Add concrete steps to help you accomplish this goal.

BLESSING FOR GROWTH GOALS AND CLOSING THE CIRCLE—David Taliesin

Divine Presence, Great Spirit, Ancient One,
Holy Well, Mother Earth,
Bless and empower the goals we have set tonight.

Give us the resources we need to accomplish them.
Move in our lives in ways that help us to discover
The many ways you manifest the Holy in our lives.
In this spring season where everything is turning green
We ask you to help us nurture these goals
So that, one day, they my grow into mighty trees.
Blessed be!

Thank you for your presence in our circle tonight.
Stay if you will, go if you must.
We bid you farewell!

Guardians and Ancestors of the North, Spirits of Earth,
Thank you for your sustaining and grounding presence
In our lives and in our circle tonight.
Stay if you will, go if you must.
We bid you farewell!

Guardians and Ancestors of the West, Spirits of Water,
Thank you for your passionate and caring presence
In our lives and in our circle tonight.
Stay if you will, go if you must.
We bid you farewell!

Guardians and Ancestors of the South, Spirits of Fire,
Thank you for your discerning and empowering presence
In our lives and in our circle tonight.
Stay if you will, go if you must.
We bid you farewell!

Guardians and Ancestors of the East, Spirits of Air,
Thank you for your intuitive and creative presence
In our lives and in our circle tonight.
Stay if you will, go if you must.
We bid you farewell!

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 and merry part, and merry meet again.

Copyright ©2017 David Taliesin, http://www.sabbatsandsabbaths.com

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Beltane: Bonfires and May Poles, Oh My!

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Edinburgh Beltaine Fire Festival

Beltane is celebrated on May 1st or at moonrise on April 30th. This Sabbat marks the halfway point between the spring equinox and the summer solstice. Almost everything about this holiday is debated and/or shrouded in mystery. Every source I turned to has a different story regarding its origins as well as different ways of celebrating it. Instead of regurgitating what is already written elsewhere, I’d like to explore a few traditions surrounding Beltane and their possible ties to Christianity.

Bonfires — The word “Beltane” is named for the Celtic sun god Bel or Belenus which means “Bright One.” The name may also stretch way back to the Canaanite fertility god Baal who is mentioned in the Bible. Whatever the case may be, fire is involved in many Beltane celebrations, both old and new.  Ancient Druids lit two bonfires while chants and spells were performed. Both cattle and people passed between these two bonfires in order to ensure health and protection in the coming year. People also leaped over the flames for the same reason. Household fires were also extinguished at Beltane and villagers would relight them with embers from the Beltane bonfires.
While it may be stretching things a bit, the Christian celebration of Pentecost occurs 50 days after Easter. It celebrates the “tongues of fire” that rested on the disciples when they received the gift of the Holy Spirit. It is usually an exuberant, creative celebration in Christian churches and, depending on the date of Easter, falls close to the celebration of Beltane. This could be coincidental but I find the thematic tie between these two holy days quite interesting.

Fertility — Beltane is all about fertility in terms of crops, livestock, and human beings While some still celebrate the lusty spirit of this Sabbat, others focus on the fertility of creativity, work, ideas, and love in all of its forms. May Poles eventually became incorporated into this holy day and people have danced around them, both Pagan and Christian. It is a not so veiled phallic symbol. Perhaps a weak attempt at a Christian alternative to this fertility rituals was Roodmass, which is also known as Holy Cross Day. It was celebrated on May 1st and commemorates the finding of the “true cross” of Jesus by Saint Helena in 355. However, the observance of this holy day never gained much momentum but this is understandable. Let’s be honest, a somber worship service could never compete with the joyous, exuberant celebration of Beltane!

Water — It was believed that the dew collected early on Beltane morning possessed magical powers. This was especially true among the Druids. They would use it for anointing and purification rites and believed it promoted health and good fortune. Holy wells were also visited during the festival, and it was believed that first water drawn from a well on Beltane was also powerful. Christians also have a strong connection to water through the rite of baptism. In liturgical churches it is believed that the waters of baptism are symbolic of our being cleansed from sin and rising from death to a new life in Christ. It connects us to the Divine in a powerful, life-changing way.

As a final note, my celebration of Beltane includes a reflection of Jesus’ parable of the Sower (Matthew 13:1-9, Mark 4:1-9, Luke 8:4-8) where seeds fall on four different types of soil. The seeds that fall on good soil produce a harvest that is 30, 60, or 100 times greater than what would be expected. This reminds us that the holy seeds of intention we plant in our lives do not always grow into healthy plants. However, when they fall into the Eternal One’s fertile soil, a spectacular harvest is guaranteed.

As I bring my thoughts to a close, I hope you have a wonderful Beltane no matter how celebrate it. Life is a beautiful and holy gift that is well worth celebrating with all the gusto we can muster! Happy Beltane, everyone!

Copyright ©2017 by David Taliesin, http://www.sabbatsandsabbaths.com

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