While I find early spring a feminine time of year, for me, May is very much a masculine month – a time for celebrating the Great God in all His incarnations. Certainly Beltane is quite a “manly” Sabbat, withoak its maypoles and Green Man and Horned God imagery. But in Japan on May 5th, there’s another festival that’s all about celebrating boys and men that shares some similarities with Beltane, and that is Kodomo no Hi. [Read more]
Tag Archives: beltane
A meditation for deepening your connection with the Green Man and the environment… perfect for Earth Day, St George’s Day and Beltane. [Read more]
Despite what I said yesterday, I did end up going to the Sweeps Festival again today (this time to hang out with my family) – I only took a few pictures, which I’ll probably share tomorrow as I’ll be going again for the final day of Sweeps.
As tonight was the Full Moon, as usual I performed an Esbat ritual. My April ritual was focused on the Goddess (as I consider the festivals of March and April to be “feminine”), and this time I focussed on the God, as both Beltane and Kodomo no Hi have quite a masculine focus.
I also focussed on symbolism of Kodomo no Hi (Children’s Day). I spread a two cloths on my altar – one depicting a koi carp and the other an Asian dragon. The koi carp is one of the most important symbols of Kodomo no Hi, as it symbolises masculine energy and personal development – it is said that if it completes its journey upstream, it changes into a dragon. I made an offering of sake to Ryuujin, the Japanese Dragon God, and asked him to bless my nephews.
Although I saw my nephews today, I’d actually forgotten to bring the koi-nobori I’d bought for them. I took this as a sign that I should use the Esbat as an occasion to bless it, which I did in the name of Ryuujin and the four elements. I hope its energies pass on to my nephews and make them grow strong and healthy!
Yesterday was the first day of the three day long Sweeps Festival in Rochester, a day very much associated with Beltane with Morris dancing, maypoles and “Jack-In-The-Green,” a figure covered with leaves and linked with legends of the Green Man and other figures representing the greenery of spring and summer.
The day started with a short blessing performed in the Castle Gardens by the owners of the Pagan shop Woodland Wands & Magick. This was significant as last year, a Pagan group were timetabled in the programme to be involved with the official opening of Sweeps with a brief Pagan ritual, but it was cancelled at the the minute (allegedly due to complaints from a non-Pagan). The blessing was therefore a way for us Pagan attendees to express our pride, as well as retain the Pagan elements of the festival. It was also the first time I’d seen a ritual performed by someone outside of Medway Pagans, which I enjoyed – some of the invocations were in Latin, very interesting! After the blessing, I made sure to visit Woodland Magick’s stall, where I bought some “Green Man” incense (I’m burning it now and it’s nice).
Phoenix Rose and Abi Normal came to attend the blessing as well, and all three of us wore our Green Man masks. While Rochester High Street was still quiet, we spent an our at Nucleus Arts, a local art shop-cum-cafe with a lovely, peaceful garden outside.
When we left the cafe, the High Street was pretty packed. As we walked back to the Castle Gardens, several people asked to take our photos of us in our masks!
The rest of the day was spent exploring the stalls, eating delicious food, enjoying the funfair and listening to live music, including the French “folk-punk-pirate” band Sur Les Docks, who played at my wedding!
It’s raining today so we have no plans to visit Rochester today, but we plan on going tomorrow!
Here’s a few more photos from yersterday:
Brightest Beltane and Merry May Day to everyone!
My day started before dawn. I made an offering of mead on my Pagan altar, and offerings of incense and an Anzac biscuit on my Inari altar. As I did last year, I went up Windmill Hill, the highest point in Gravesend, to see in the May Day dawn with the Morris sides St Clements Clogs and West Hill Morris. And just like last Beltane, I saw a fox on the hill as I was walking up! [Read more…]
Yesterday was Medway Pagans’ Beltane Moot. I think out of all the Sabbats, Beltane is my favourite, so I’d been looking forward to this one a lot!
The weather that day had been pretty cold and rainy so I was worried that it would put a real dampener on the ritual, which would be our first outdoor one of the year and, like last year, would be centred around a fire. Fortunately, just a few hours before the moot, the clouds disappeared and the sun came out – the King and Queen of the May must have been smiling down on us!
The spirit of the Green Man must have been with us as well – funnily enough, two other members (the founding members Abi Normal and Phoenix Rose) had decided to make their own Green Man masks as well, so all three of us wore them for the ritual.
The ritual took place as the sun was setting and the moon rising – a perfectly magical time. We stood in a circle around the fire, with Abi (who was leading the ritual) standing before the altar. Seen through the smoke and hazy flames, in her robe and horned Green Man mask, she really did remind me of the scenes with Herne the Hunter emerging from the mist in the old Robin of Sherwood series – very fitting! It’s amazing how masks can transform both the wearer and those around them, adding to the drama of the ritual.
We called the quarters in rhyming couplets, and honoured the Great God and Goddess. Two of our married members acted out the chasing of the May Queen, running in and out of the circle before the God of the Forest “caught” his bride.
As with last year, we made offerings to the flames, and of course ended with cakes and ale (the “ale” this time being mead served in a suitably phallic horn).
I think all of else felt really energised by the ritual – there was a lot of chatting and laughing afterwards, and for me, the “buzz” lasted right through to today – all day at work I felt uplifted and happy by the memory of last night’s moot! It’s really set me up for the rest of my Beltane celebrations, starting tomorrow with May Day, then the three days of the Rochester Sweeps Festival, and ending with Kodomo no Hi on Tuesday. I can’t wait!
April 25th was Anzac Day, Australia and New Zealand’s equivalent of Remembrance Day. One way to commemorate this is to make and eat “Anzac biscuits,” a really simple kind of biscuit using oats, golden syrup and, that ubiquitous New Zealand ingredient, coconut. [Read more…]
Just in time for Earth Day and St George’s Day, I’ve made a Green Mask, using an old party mask that I’ve never worn and leaves made from recycled Amazon envelopes (my husband and I order a lot of books!) Here’s how I made it…[Read more]
With the approach to May, I’m not only preparing for Beltane but also for the Japanese festival Kodomo no Hi – “Children’s Day” or “Boy’s Day.”
Just as Hina Matsuri in Japan is a time to wish for good health for young girls, Kodomo no Hi is a time to pray for the healthy growth of boys. As I have two young nephews, it seems very appropriate for me to observe Kodomo no Hi. This year, I’ve bought little koi-nobori (windsock shaped like koi carp, representing growth) which I’m looking forward to giving my nephews – I’m really glad this one has two koi on it rather than the usual one or three, as it represents my two nephews very well.
I’ve also hung up my own koi-nobori again outside my house. Unlike last year, I haven’t hung it near my Inari altar as last year it kept blowing into the altar and knocking things over! I don’t have a suitable pole to hang it on, so it’s just hanging from the outside lamp. I hope it doesn’t blow away…
You can read more about Kodomo no Hi (and its similarities to nearby Beltane) on my post from last year here.
While I was putting up the koi-nobori, I noticed that I have two narcissus flowers blooming in a tiny patch of earth outside. They’re late bloomers (probably because they don’t get a lot of sun where they are), but they’re very pretty. What’s strange about them is that they’re “double headed,” with two flowers on each stalk. This “doubleness,” coupled with their white/orange-red colour scheme, does remind me a little of Inari Okami’s fox guardians. A positive sign!
AntiSally of the website Goth Rosary creates all-natural fragrances with darker, Gothic leanings. You can purchase them at www.gothrosary.com. I decided to treat myself to a sampler set of all 21 scents, and spent a wonderful couple of weeks wearing a different one every day. I found all of them unique, interesting and really appealing, especially to one of Gothic sensibilities! Moreover, I found them very kind to my skin; I’m allergic to alcohol-based scents, and found these oils gave me no reactions at all!
I’ve started wearing these perfumes to moots, festivals and for Pagan rituals; their scents really help to evoke particular emotions, images and energies. Being oils, they also seem suitable for ritual anointing. Pagans may also find it useful to know that these scents can be purchased as incense as well.
Below I’ve listed my Goth Rosary recommendations for particular times of year – not according to season, as would be traditional, but according to the eight Sabbats!