June Full Moon: Strawberry Moon

strawberry-moon-squareAccording to the Farmer’s Almanac, the June full moon, which occurs this coming Monday, June 17, is known as the Strawberry Moon. (Other names for this moon include the Rose Moon and Hot Moon.) The Algonquin tribes knew this Moon as a time to gather ripening strawberries. Since strawberries are such a sensual fruit perhaps we can use this full moon to do a little self-care. Keep the night simple. Grab a glass of your favorite beverage or decadent dessert. Sit under the full moon in a comfortable chair and soak up her powerful energy. Spend time grounding and letting go of any anxieties and worries you are carrying. When you feel like you’re in a place of complete calm, have that lovely glass of wine or hard cider you brought with you and savor every sip. Eat a piece of pie or cake but do it slowly and appreciate each sensuous bite. In light of the ridiculous and disastrous decisions that keep coming out of Washington DC on a daily basis, along with whatever challenges we are dealing with in our personal lives, we all need time to rest and recharge our spiritual batteries. Take good care of yourselves, friends so that we may be the warriors of justice and compassion our world needs us to be! Blessed be!

Copyright ©2019 by David Taliesin, http://www.sabbatsandsabbaths.com

Posted in Esbats | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

May Full Moon: Flower Moon

flower_moon_0

Native Americans named May’s full moon (which occurs on Saturday, May 18) 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. Some also say May’s full moon is also a “blue moon” but, technically this is a bit of a misnomer. A “blue moon” is commonly defined as the second full moon to occur within a single calendar month. This is the way I’ve always understood it. But, apparently, according to the Farmer’s Almanac, the original definition of a “blue moon” was the third of four full moons to occur within one astronomical season. Personally, I think this muddies the water so I do not consider May’s full moon to be a “blue moon.” (And PLEASE squash any silly rumors that it will be blue in color!)

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 world around you. Let the energy of that moon plant fertile seeds of change in your life. Blessed be!

Copyright 2019 by David Taliesin, http://www.sabbatsandsabbaths.com

Posted in Esbats, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Ritual of Balance

 

Tree Higgins wrote a wonderful ritual for last night’s Welcoming Circle. Here is is as requested.

Ritual of Balance

Calling the Quarters

Hail, Guardian of the North! Hail! Come you now and bless this circle with your deep, nurturing ways, you from whom we spring, whom we dance, walk and love upon and return to time after time. Protect circle as we join together here and now.

Hail, Guardian of the East! Hail! Come you now and bless this circle with your ever-moving ways that carries off our woes, brings both the breath of life and inspiration time after time. Protect this circle as we join together here and now.

Hail, Guardian of the South! Hail! Come you now and bless this circle with your clearing, passionate ways, your flames that remove our obstacles, your light that lets us see more clearly and the ashes we rise from time after time. Protect this circle as we join together here and now.

Hail, Guardian of the West! Hail! Come you now and bless this circle with your Water of life, your ways of constant movement regardless of obstacles, your way of clearing a way so flow may be unhindered, your way of sustaining all life. Protect this circle as we join together here and now.

Plant children of these elements, I bring you here tonight to teach us balance, spiritual growth and a deeper understanding of what we need to connect to the divine.

Horsetail, Child of Earth Elemental, from you we take the understanding that we can heal, alleviate our sorrows, give burdens over to Earth so we walk steadily onward, sure of our place and our path. You whisper to us, “We are all connected on this Earth.” (Tree places herb in water. David lights the green candle. Both say “So mote it be.”)

Rosemary, Child of Air Elemental, from you we take the lesson that each breath is a new beginning waiting to be embraced, each wind can raise up and carry us over even the most troubled times. We are all capable of dancing in your air and elevating our spirits. (Tree places herb in water. David lights the yellow candle. Both say “So mote it be.”)

Peppermint, Child of Fire Elemental, you give us the ability and lesson that there always arrives a time to renew by burning away what we do not need, dancing in the ashes until we are free to rise again, Phoenix bright and reborn. We then carry the light within us as we travel our spiritual path. (Tree places herb in water. David lights the red candle. Both say “So mote it be.”)

Rose Petals, Child of Water Elemental, you give us the ability to flow continuously onward as we seek our paths and purposes, leaving our obstacles on the banks we pass. You teach us it is natural to be, at times, roaring wild and still as a lake’s reflection. (Tree places herb in water. David lights the blue candle. Both say “So mote it be.”)

Now, I want you to spend the next few minutes reflecting on what you need to grow spiritually, what you need to leave behind that hinders or hurts you, and where you need to heal. Remember, this is about finding your spiritual balance in using the four elements as healing and moving forward. After reflecting, if you wish, come up to the bowl of living water and elementals. Dip your fingers in and anoint yourself on your forehead and anywhere else it feels needed.

(Reflection Time Given)

All done? May you all be blessed with balance and spirit this summer. Walk your paths with growth and continued enlightenment. We will meet again in September!

We will release the quarters now.

Releasing the Quarters

Hail, Guardian of the North! We release you with great gratitude. Stay if you want, go if you must. Hail! Thank you with all out hearts!

Hail, Guardian of the East! We release you with great gratitude. Stay if you want, go if you must. Hail! Thank you with all out hearts!

Hail, Guardian of the South! We release you with great gratitude. Stay if you want, go if you must. Hail! Thank you with all out hearts!

Hail, Guardian of the West! We release you with great gratitude. Stay if you want, go if you must. Hail! Thank you with all out hearts!

Gather around the table if you want to help blow out the elemental candles! Do it gently! (Every gathers and gently blows out candles.)

Copyright ©2019 by Tree Higgins.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Creation Spirituality, Magic | Leave a comment

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.

faun

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 ©2019 by David Taliesin, http://www.sabbatsandsabbaths.com

Posted in Beltane, Goddess | Tagged , , , , , | 9 Comments

The Easter Witch?

tumblr_m22kxgkmT91qcmqg5

The Easter Witch? Yes, that’s what I said!. There was an interesting AP article by Matti Huuhtanen that appeared in my newspaper three years ago entitled “Little Witches in Finland Cast Good Spells Before Easter.” (Google it!) Needless to say, it got my attention.

I did a little digging in cyberspace and this is what I found. Apparently there is an unique and unusual tradition in Finland that involves little girls dressing up as witches and going door to door on either Palm Sunday (by children from Orthodox families in Southeast Finland), or Holy Saturday (by kids from the Lutheran families of Western Finland).

Children’s culture expert Reeli Karimäki of the Pessi Children’s Art Centre in Vantaa, had this to say abut the tradition: “In the most popular family tradition, young children (especially girls) dress up as Easter witches, donning colorful old clothes and painting freckles on their faces. “The little witches then go from door to door, bringing willow twigs decorated with colorful feathers and crepe paper as blessings to drive away evil spirits, in return for treats.”

Later, she adds “This Finnish children’s custom interestingly mixes two older traditions – a Russian Orthodox ritual where birch twigs originally represented the palms laid down when Jesus entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday; and a Swedish and Western Finnish tradition in which children made fun of earlier fears that evil witches could be about on Easter Saturday.”

In the AP article, Matti Huuhtanen wrote “Ethnologists say Finland’s Easter practices came from the eastern region of Karelia, where Russian traditions were strong even when it was a part of Finland. Farmers in Karelia for centuries have taken pussy willows in lieu of palm leaves to their neighbors on Palm Sunday as a gesture of blessing.”

The candy of choice is chocolate foil wrapped Easter eggs which are placed in a copper pot the “little witches” carry with them. They also sometimes receive money, in the form of coins, as the treat. Those who make a donation are given a blessed willow branch in return.

I find this activity delightful and quite unique. The Pagan and Christian elements of this tradition live happily side by side and no one in Finland seems to bat an eye. It gives me hope that we can appreciate one another’s spring equinox celebrations, no matter what they may be!

Copyright ©2019 by David Taliesin, http://www.sabbatsandsabbaths.com

Posted in Easter | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

April Full Moon: Pink Moon/Beaver Moon

pinkmoonAccording to the Farmer’s Almanac, the name of April’s full moon, which occurs on the 19th, “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: “What opportunities are just beginning to flower 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.”

Happy full moon!

Copyright ©2019 by David Taliesin, www,sabbatsandsabbaths.com

Posted in Esbats | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Spring Ritual

5b844cc2006bc2bf878594bf90f06defHere is the ritual we used at Sunday night’s Welcoming Circle:

SPRING RITUAL

CASTING THE CIRCLE—David Taliesin

Light the green candle and say:

Ostara is behind us, Easter is before us,
And spring has just begun.
Baby plants are emerging from winter’s soil.
Dandelion, chickweed and nettle
Provide nourishment for our bodies.

Spring is a season to consider
What things we would like to grow
In the garden of our lives.
It’s a time to plant and nurture
New projects and new goals.

May the greening of spring
Be our source of inspiration tonight!

Light the yellow candle and say:

Spring is a season where the days grow longer
And the sun feels warm against our skin.
Our focus shifts from indoors to outdoors
As we awake from winter’s hibernation.

We garden. We hike in the woods.
The little child that lives in us
Asks us to come out and play…
And we accept the invitation.

May the sun’s golden rays
Be our source of inspiration tonight!

Light the purple candle and say:

Spring is a season where the Divine
Breathes new life into us,
Waking us up from winter doldrums,
And filling us with creative energy.

We awaken to wonder, miracle, and mystery.
We see bold visions and dream dreams of new adventures
That fill us with vitality and purpose.
May the Divine’s energetic presence
Be our source of inspiration tonight!

Take the crystal athame and cast the circle, while saying:

We cast this circle and create
a sacred space for us to dwell.
May it protect us from all spirits and powers
that seek to do us harm. So mote it be!

CALLING THE QUARTERS—David Taliesin

Guardians and Ancestors of the East,
Spirits of Air,
You blow through our lives like a warm spring breeze
Whispering into our ears the mysteries of the universe.
Lend your wisdom and insight to us tonight.
Hail and welcome!

Guardians and Ancestors of the South,
Spirits of Fire,
You illumine our path like the rays of the sun,
Showing us the way forward.
Lend your guidance and clarity to us tonight.
Hail and welcome!

Guardians and Ancestors of the West,
Spirits of Water,
You nourish our spirits like a gentle rain,
Filling us with peace, love and gratitude.
Lend your compassion and shalom to us tonight.
Hail and welcome!

Guardians and Ancestors of the North,
Spirits of Earth,
You cause new growth to germinate in us,
And give us a firm foundation to stand upon.
Lend your stability and strength to us tonight.
Hail and welcome!

Great Spirit, Divine Presence,
Who is known to us by many names,
You are the power of rebirth and regeneration
You are the promise that spring will come
After the winter seasons of our lives.
Bless us and be with us tonight.
We are honored by your presence.
Hail and welcome!

SETTING SPRING INTENTIONS—David Taliesin

The egg is a symbol of fertility and new life which were decorated in days of old to honor the Goddess. Tonight I ask that you take one of the plastic eggs in the basket and hold it in your hands. Take some time in silence to think about the things you would like to give birth to this spring. In order to birth something new, part of your intention may be to let something go. When your vision for what you would like to accomplish is clear, take a pen and as many strips of paper as you need. Write your intentions on theses strips of paper and place them in the egg. (Pause until everyone is done.)

Now we will raise energy to empower the intentions that are contained in our eggs. We’ll use the Om-ah…..Now direct the energy into your egg. One, two, three, release.

After our ritual is over, I ask that you take these home with you and place them in a prominent place in your home such as an altar. Periodically open the egg and take a look at the intentions you’ve made tonight. See how well you are doing in fulfilling them.

BLESSING FOR SETTING INTENTIONS—adapted. LLewellyn’s Sabbat Essentials

Great Spirit, Divine Presence,
Giver of life and Creator of all things,
life has many twists and turns
and now we embark on a new path
We are afraid to travel alone.

We ask for your guidance,
and your loving helping hand
to support us along the way.

We ask that when needed
you will lead us in the right direction
and steer us away from wrong turns.

Help us to keep on the path
and to not stray away even when we’re tempted.
Assist us in moving forward, and not in reverse.
Comfort us when needed.

Bless our paths and the journeys we undertake.
Encourage us in times of self-doubt.
Protect us from those willing to harm us,
even if it is ourselves.

Embrace us in your loving arms, to give us peace
and surround us in perfect love and perfect trust.
So mote it be! Amen!

CLOSING THE CIRCLE—David Taliesin

Great Spirit, Divine Presence,
We thank you for your presence in our circle tonight.
We thank you that you walk with us
Every step fo the way as we leave this place
And go out into a world that is sometimes
Cruel and unforgiving.
Stay if you will. go if you must.
We bid you farewell!

Guardians and Ancestors of the North,
Spirits of Earth,
We thank you for your presence in our circle tonight.
May your stability and strength travel with us
As we leave this place.
Stay if you will. go if you must!
We bid you farewell!

Guardians and Ancestors of the West,
Spirits of Water,
We thank you for your presence in our circle tonight.
May your compassion and shalom travel with us
As we leave this place.
Stay if you will, go if you must.
We bid you farewell!

Guardians and Ancestors of the South,
Spirits of Fire,
We thank you for your presence in our circle tonight.
May your guidance and clarity travel with us
As we leave this place.
Stay if you will, go if you must.
We bid you farewell!

Guardians and Ancestors of the East,
Spirits of Air,
We thank you for your presence in our circle tonight.
May your wisdom and insight travel with us
As we leave this place.
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 ©2019 David Taliesin, http://www.sabbatsandsabbaths.com

Posted in Easter, Magic, Meditation, Ostara, Spirituality, Uncategorized | Leave a comment