gaelic polytheism

Brigid’s Holy Day

As I posted in my last blog, I was part of a group celebration of Brigid on the 1st of February. It was delightful.

For most of the day I was working, so I could not do my usual activities of reverence for Brigid, such as cheese making. However working at the amazing Sacred Well, I was able to utilize our Community Altar room and set out a water offering a candle for Brigid for the day. I also took the liberty of listening to Celtic music pretty much exclusively all day lol. But I eagerly look forward to the end of the day and the small ritual that was planned by our Brigid priestesses.

Under the cloak of darkness by the light of the bountiful full moon our small band of mischief and heart took to the bay, to a much favored spot known by our Cauldron sister Rowan. The moon was a glorious galleon on the foggy sea, luminous and steady. The rocks stood in silent witness as we gathered there on the liminal edge of space and time. The grey cloaked sky melted seamlessly with it’s loving tranquil sea. We had a few items to set up our altar. A bowl filled with precious water collect in that silvery moonlight. Candles to glow, small and cheerful echoing the powerful light above them. Apples and bottles of precious spirits for offerings.

Hail the Lady of fire and spirit. The Exulted One

Hail the Lady of fire and spirit. The Exulted One

We gave thanks and offerings to the three realms for their continued balance in our lives. Our leading Priestess made a heartfelt invocation to her beloved Lady Brigid that pulled down moonbeams on the water and parted the veils to swell our hearts with the power and love of the exulted goddess Brigid. We had gathered petitions and gave offerings on others behalves as well as ourselves. During that quiet time of whispered wishes and tearful prayers, our words were met with the gift of sea birds landing gently on the water. When prayers of health and well being for loved ones trembled from our lips a flock of geese flew out from the bay with hushed grace.

Brigid's Holy day 2015 (2)As our last words of humble reverence and honorings were raised up to the sky, our toes felt the moist touch of the sea that swelled up to meet us. As the tide took out the apples on their playful hands, we dipped out cloths in the waters blessed by Brigid and hurried back to firm ground.

There were many words spoken in sacred communion. Above all we lifted each others name in gratitude and praise and heaped glory upon the Lady of Well and Forge. Our small cauldron of five powerful women prove that with sincerity and devotion much can be accomplished. The rest of the year lays ahead of us, and we fully intend to prove ourselves worthy to be priestesses of our beloved gods. No matter how the year changes, we have made a wonderful start. I am very proud of us.

When I returned home, I had enough energy to set out my cloths and things to be blessed by Brigid that night and light a candle for her. In the morning I tended to my altar and poured her another offering of milk and honey, and set the flowers I had bought in her honor in the Cup of Glory. Simple and yet complete.

A linen shawl made by my grandmother. A cotton cloth made by me. A hair bauble given to me by my dear friend that was bought in Ireland.

A linen shawl made by my grandmother. A cotton cloth made by me. A hair bauble given to me by my dear friend that was bought in Ireland.

No matter what your celebrations looked like, I hope that you are blessed with health and joy at this time of year. May we all feel the hope that spring and the goddess of inspiration can grant us.

Brigid's Holy day 2015 (4)

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To Brigid

Cauldron of the Celts – Sacred Calendar Year – Brigid’s Holy Day

Being a Gaelic Polytheist that does not currently have a Gaelic Polytheist community at hand, I spend a lot of my time and effort being a public priestess in a interfaith pagan coven known as CAYA Coven as I have found the community aspect to be so very enriching to my life and practice. Over the years CAYA has grown to the point where we can now group off into devotional affinity groups of priestesses that share a deity or culture or other grouping. One such groups that I am apart of is the Cauldron of the Celts. All of us publicly dedicated to deities that fall under the “Celtic” umbrella. Currently that means Irish and Romano-Breton but in future could include Gaulish, Welsh and so on. Being a multi-faith group means that everyone is coming from a different angle as far as practice and so forth but I have to say that it has been refreshing to have more people to talk about the lore and cultural background of things, as well as be able to share our devotions and put on some truly wonderful rites for the gods.

In that vein we have collective decided it would be a good idea to start a Sacred Calendar year for the group, with a holy day selected for each of our dedicated deities. Understanding that nothing about this is particularly Gaelic but a more modern adaptation to further foster reverence and honor to the gods. It also provides an opportunity to share with the wider community, and be of service. With that being said the first day of reverence this year starts with Brigid, and below is a humble offering for all those who feel called to partake.


To Brigid

Cauldron of the Celts Sacred Calendar Year – Brigid’s Holy Day 2/1/15

The Cauldron of the Celts, a multi-faith devotional group within CAYA Coven, is endeavoring to establish our Sacred Calendar Year. Each priestess is publicly dedicated to a deity who falls under the wide “Celtic” umbrella and has chosen a date on our modern calendar year to be a day of reverence to their deity. In an effort to connect with other devotees and be of service to the public we share this calendar and some of our own workings, that we may all raise up the Gods names in honor.

Our calendar year begins with Brigid’s holy day on Feb 1st.

The priestesses of Brigid, Foxfire Kells and Doyenne Rowan, invite you to send us any petitions you wish to make before the goddess and we will offer them to her in supplication and gratitude on her holy day. You may email them at cauldronofthecelts@gmail.com.

Below are a few words from the priestesses of Brigid:

Imbolc is celebrated in honor of the goddess Brigid between January 31st and February 2nd; the name of the holy day comes from the Old Irish imbolg or oimelc, meaning “in the belly,” referring to the season of lambing and ewe’s milk. Brigid emerges from the silence of winter to herald the coming of spring and new life and growth; she is also a goddess of the forge, of the hearth, of poetry and inspiration, and of healing. Her symbols include lambs or sheep,  wells, writing implements, acorns, apples, milk, snowdrops and crocuses, and, of course, fire.

Imbolc falls during the Celtic tree month (a neo-pagan construct based on Robert Grave’s interpretation of the ancient symbolic language of ogam) of Luis (lweesh), which is the Gaelic name for the rowan tree, so one activity you can do is to make a protection charm of 2 crossed rowan twigs bound with red thread. For more information about the history of the Rowan and red thread charm you can find a incredibly thorough article here.

Another one of Her traditions is to leave out cloth or clothing to be blessed by Brigid on Imbolc, often to be used for healing and protection purposes for the following year. Given the current events happening, Her face of healing is very clearly one that is needed in the world and in our community.

To welcome and honor Brigid into your home and life, you may wish to perform the following ritual:

Lay out a white or yellow cloth
Place a white candle in the center
Arrange around the candle 3 acorns and/or apples, a small bowl of fresh water (spring water or melted snow is ideal), a sprig of juniper, and a small bundle of wool roving.
Prepare an offering plate with a piece of bread spread with soft cheese and a drizzle of honey, and some apple slices.

Light the candle and contemplate what new projects or endeavors you want to nurture this year. How will you tend to these goals? How will you tend to yourself? What parts of yourself or your life are beginning to emerge with the Spring? How do you keep the fires of your creativity and motivation burning as the year wears on?  Do you make space in your life for pleasure and the warmth of family (however you define it)?

Say a prayer or sing a song to Brigid to bring her into the room.
Feel free to use or adapt this prayer, as you wish:

My good lady Brigid,
I call upon you to light the fire of inspiration in my heart,
to warm my hearth and burn away the cold shroud of winter,
just as the snowdrops burn through the frozen ground to burst forth in flower
and give the promise of renewal.

My good lady Brigid,
I offer you my devotion and gratitude
for the many ways you bring joy and beauty to life in the world.
May my lips ever sing your praises and my hands bring comfort and healing;
ever may the embrace of my favour glorify your name.

Offer Brigid the bread with cheese & honey and the apples, for sweetness and sustenance.

Dip the juniper sprig in the water you have charged and asperge your house to bless and protect you in the coming year.

More Links and Points of interest:
Detailed article about the customs in Ireland and Scotland of Là Fhèill Brìghde
:http://www.tairis.co.uk/festivals/la-fheill-brighde
Craft Ideas for Imbolc: http://unfetteredwood.blogspot.com/2014/01/crafts-for-imbolc.html
video from Gaol Naofa on the celebration of Imbolc: http://youtu.be/oEieym5uI7k
Podcasts from Story Archaeology about Brigid and her various tales:  http://storyarchaeology.com/category/series-01-mythical-women/mythical-women-05-the-search-for-brigid/

Cauldron of the Celts 2015 Sacred Calendar Year:
Feb 1st – Brigid’s Holy Day
March 19th – Sulis Minerva’s Holy Day
June 21st – Honoring of the Selkie
August 1st – Lugh’s Holy Day
August 9th – An Dagda’s Holy Day

Táin Tuesdays : Nes the Mastermind

I think at this point it is safe to assume this will be a biweekly posting, as frankly dear people, my life is just too busy for weekly.

Now, I was originally going to call this post “Enter Conchobor aka Nes is a Mastermind” but then decided to cut with the pretense that I gave one boar’s fart about Conchobor in this at all. The tale for this tuesday is technically called “How Conchobor was begotten, and how he took the Kingship of Ulster” but honestly…the child Conchobor did just about nothing, it was all his mother. While yes Conchobor is the subject of this tale he is not by any means the driving force. Credit where it is due people it was all Nes.

And really no matter what version of the tale of the birth of the legendary king Conchobor this seems to be true.

Because my good people there is another version of the birth of Conchobor, one I have to say I much prefer, and one that showcases more of Nes’s prowess. For a run down of that tale (that I do not actually know where the original text is from) see here. But so that I don’t wander too far into the realm of “same story different version and all are true.” We will stick to what Kinsella chose to tell us.

In Kinsella’s tale Nes is out with her royal women and happens to pass the druid Cathbad and ask him what the present hour is lucky for? And in what my imagination can only conjure up as an ancient Irish smarmy bar line he replies with “Begetting a king on a queen.” Following that up with a prophecy about a son being conceived now would be legendary and known throughout all of Ireland. Nes seeing no other male around, takes Cathbad to her bed and is pregnant for 3 years and 3 months.

Now…Frankly this little part of the story gives me way more questions than anything else. Like, what is the meaning of this 3 years 3 months pregnancy nonsense? Is this just a literary device to signify to the the audience that Conchobor is in fact not like mortal men? If so talk about being heavy handed with your literary devices. I mean seriously that is a curse on Nes, is what that is. Granted I am somewhat pregnancy phobic but even the ladies that I know who have been keen on the begetting of children usually want to be done with it and threaten to forcibly remove said child by month nine. The womb and mind shutter at the thought of 3 freaking years. But I digress.

The other tid bit of this that makes me weep at my lack of knowledge is the mention of Conchobor’s birth at the feast of Othar. I have not been able to find anything on what exactly this feast is and I would very much like to as it seems mentioning it specifically must indicate something.

In any event Nes in this story takes the lead to making herself a son, a son who will be legendary, a son who will be king. Which I have to say is pretty interesting from ancient female character, and once again I am reminded that I need to pursue a more in depth study of women and their roles in Iron Age and Ancient Ireland. There was a book that I saw many years ago that seemed a good place to start but have since lost all recognition of. If anyone has recommendations on the subject, please by all means.

But from my unstudied modern point of view I have to say that I am impressed by the gumption that is shown here. In a lot of stories even today women’s motivation for having children is rarely ever cast in the light of being for glory or power. And if it is there is a certain amount of vilification that seems to be absent here. Men want children to carry on their lineage, to build empires in their name, that is acceptable and understood. But to see it here, and in this story coming solely from Nes, the mother is refreshing and interesting.

My interest is furthered peaked when the extent of Nes’s skills in political intrigue and the game of power come into plain view in the telling of how Conchobor “took” the throne. The long and the short of it is that Nes used her cunning and assets to gain the thrown for her son. She convinces the current Ulster King Fergus (you remember Fergus, the spirit of whom brought back the Tain in the future.) to let seven year old Conchobor be King in name for a year, so that his children could claim being the son of a King. Fergus agrees so that Nes will marry him and immediately Nes starts pulling strings to secure the throne for Conchobor. Kinsella tells us that she instructs Conchobor, his foster parents (that’s right she didn’t even raise the boy herself, take that gender roles!), and his entire household to steal from one half of the kingdom and give it to the other half. I have to say this feels like…something is missing. Mainly which half is being stolen from, and why are their no ramifications for this? Are they stealing from the rich and re-distrubuting the wealth? But that doesn’t entirely seem like a likely plan to win over the court. Are they stealing from Fergus supporters and then giving to people who will later be influential in who keeps the throne? This is about the time that I remind myself that this story was written down by Monks after generations of oral tradition and it’s entirely possible that many details have fallen to the wayside.

Needless to say this combined with Nes paying off the Warrior elite with her own money, led to the men of Ulster deciding that there were no taksey backseies for Fergus, and Conchobor was King.

Things that I love about this. Again Nes’s complete unabandoned power play here, bonus points for not a hint of wickedness being thrown her way for being so cunning and for being a woman. Which is kinda impressive considering again it was Monks writing this stuff down.

But also the rewarding of cleverness. Not just cleverness but downright trickery. I suppose this is an odd thing to like, as well in a modern light it appears to be awarding duplicitness, but it clearly shows that success is about being vigilant, and puts an emphasis on more than just strength. It acknowledges a different type of power than the physical. Which isn’t always something that is underlined. You don’t just get to be King because you are strong. You also have to have the support of the people. You also have to just be smart enough to not be tricked out of your position. It is the first showing that being in such a position of leadership and privileged and power comes with being constantly held to a standard, but more importantly that failure to meet that standard will in fact lose you that position. Again something that is illustrated in other tales.

It is this idea that is foundational to my own coda of living. Interestingly it was an idea of leadership that was first introduced to me by my Marine Corp father, and was a major connection that I had to Celtic mythology and history. It is an idea that leadership is not a given, it is not merely ordained by some higher authority, although clearly lineage is still a major factor here historically. But that lineage is not the end all deciding factor. The King is not ordained by god and thus unremovable. Now I don’t literally to the letter follow with the ideas of kingship/leadership as outlined in the Tain or other mythology cycles, as my modern sensibilities cannot get behind discounting a leader based on physical defect or injury. But I do believe and put a lot of weight in leaders having to be proven capable and continuously capable of their position.

Going back in this tale, the other take away I have from this is the validity and faith in Druids prophecy. Remember the whole start of this plot of Nes was started by a Druid giving an on the spot prophecy of the hour. Which illustrates the skill that is expected of a Druid, but also the weight that their prophecies held. Nes is now moving and making large political movements based on that prophecy, on that guarantee of what Conchobor will become. So true divination, true prophecy is a real tangible thing, and is something that is worthy of moving in congruence with. Now granted, I do not consider myself a Druid, nor do I actually think that Druidry is something that can be recreated in the modern world. But it adds to the importance of divination and being open to messages from the beyond. I would have dearly loved for the story to give us some hint into how Cathbad made his prophecy about the hour of the day, but alas.

Now there is still more to delve into in this little tale. A very detailed description of Conchobor’s kingship and what type of king he is and the houses he keeps etc. I have decided to go ahead and post what I have here and make that a separate post.

As before please go ahead and let me know your own interpretations or insights! Hopefully I’ll have the second have of this post up on Thursday.

 

 

 

Táin Tuesday: Before the Táin

Well this project took a little longer to get off the ground than anticipated. But now that I have both books in hand and have a few moments to peruse both I see that this isn’t going to be as straight forward as reading chapter by chapter of each one.

For the duration of this project I will be referring to the two versions by the last name of their translators. So, The Táin by Thomas Kinsella will hereforto be known as Kinsella and The Táin by Ciaran Carson will hereafter be known as Carson.

On the initial examination of both books it immediately struck me that the Carson does not begin in the same place at the Kinsella. Whereas Kinsella begins “Before the Táin” and includes the birth and rise of power of Conchobor, the story of the sons of the Uisliu, and the Pangs of Ulster. The Carson begins with the actual cattle raid with Medb and Aililli talking in bed. This is an interesting choice and I will go back and read Carson’s introduction to see if he explains that choice here. Maybe it’s the old stubborn person in me but I feel like leaving out those stories at the beginning leaves out a lot of the context for the cattle raid itself. Though I suppose I only associate them with the Táin because the Kinsella version was the first version I read. But to me they were world builders and set the stage for what was to come. Especially the Pains of Ulster! But then I am rather fond of that story and could be very bias at the moment.

But since I do find those stories to be important and since they are in the Kinsella, I will begin with my take aways and overviews of them and when the two version meet then we will have comparison. Seems fair enough to me.

With that said we being “Before the Táin

In Kinsella’s notes he attributes this anecdotal text to the ninth century text in the Book of Leinster. I have to say that it does have a different feel and sound to me than some of the other parts of Kinsella, but I wonder how much of that is Kinella’s own voice coming to the translation.

In any event this short little story tells us that the knowledge and story of the Táin itself was once lost or at the least not know in its entirety. And in the fashion of all good important myths and legends had to be quested for and sought out.

Now you may be asking “What can you possibly get out of this tiny little story?”

Well, not a huge amount but some things in my practice are certainly underlined and other things that I have known but not paid as great attention to are brought to the forefront.

In the start of this story it is plan that the “Poets of Ireland” have convened to see if they could all remember the story of the Cattle Raid of Cooley. This illustrates that the poets or bards were very much the history keepers. This is something that my previous research already told me, but it is them all discovering that they only know parts of the story and then deciding it was important to go and find the whole tale again that helps brings few things into focus for me.

First, that people especially educated people, and I will go a step farther and say probably especially educated people who considered themselves or were considered by their community to be spiritual leaders, had A LOT memorized. And by memorized I don’t just mean they  had the cliff notes version that I could tell you off the cuff, I mean it was in verse. Word for word, line for line, verbatim. This doesn’t just apply to Ireland of course, the ancient world in general seems to have this trait. A trait that we of modern times have fallen behind on and something I would like very much to work on. This isn’t to say that I’m going to memorize the Tain line for line, but who knows maybe someday. But I do want to memorize more prayers and songs, reading this helps to solidify my dedication to that cause. Also to you know…write more lol.

Second is a little more…spiritual practice-ish. In the story Muirgen, the son of the great poet teacher who set the challenge before them all, finds the gravestone of Fergus mac Roich (deposed King of Ulster who aids Queen Medb in the Raid) and entreats him in verse to tell the whole tale. A mist comes over Muirgen for three days and three nights he cannot be found. In that time Fergus appears before him (dressed spectacularly I might add) and recites the whole thing.   Thus Muirgen is able to return from the quest victorious and the Tain is returned to Ireland in full.

There is quite a bit in that little story. We see that there is a strong ancestral connection, even to figures of myth and legend. That they are real, that they are able to speak and teach us even after death. That is something that I have always connected with. That tangible thread of spirit that links the living to the dead, and the living to their ancestral and mythical past. It is a huge part of what brought me to the Gaelic Polytheist path. I started out following the threads of these same stories and heroes. Ok maybe it didn’t start here it started over a bit of water with King Arthur and his lot but still it didn’t take long to find my way to Erin.  For me this underlines the already standing practice of honoring and learning from the Beloved Dead. It is something that a lot of CR sites and Gaelic Polytheist talk about. Clearly with good reason.

The other thing that I note here and just sort of put on my List-of-things-to-look-for further in this reading, is the mist. The mist came and then knowledge from the beyond was received. There are several different things I can take away from this. One is that there may be future connection between the mist/fog and the dead/supernatural. My other research and knowledge and just flat-out gut says that this is so, but I will make note of it here and see how often this occurs.

Because then I can start and pay more attention to the mist and fog. I live in an area where it is not a stranger to me. Perhaps next time I look outside and see the mists at my door I will leave out an offering to passing spirits. Or it occurs to me that in times when the mist is coming in may be a good time to try to contact the Beloved Dead more easily. Things to think on, things to see how they can fit in my life.

A different take on the time that Muirgen spent in the mist; is that a mortal was able to gain supernatural information from the beyond. Granted this was lost information that was already part of the mortal world but I don’t consider it too far a leap to see a parallel in this to the times that I go into a state of trance and come back with new inspirations, song and prayers. Now I’m sure for some that might be too great a leap in lines of thought, and that’s fine. But for me I can see how the literary use of mist that hides a person for 3 days and 3 nights could in fact be a way to describe a state of trance. Where the body remains and the mind or soul enters into the mist and beyond. Like I said perhaps too far fetched for some but it makes complete sense to me. Which makes it reassuring and helpful. It’s not something I have talked at length about as it’s hard to articulate, but I find a great connection to the divine in a trance state. Interestingly most of my trance states happen in the shower, where there is a mist in the steam and water. This is something else that is on my list of things to look out for. The connections of the divine and supernatural to water, mist, steam etc.

That my friends are my take-aways from this wee tale. Also a very good example of what the rest of this project will look like. So if this interests you please stick around! Let me know what you glean from these stories. What are the nuggets that leap out to your mind. I’d love to hear!

I’m already working on next weeks so I do hope to have these up every tuesday but you know there may be some flubs here or there lol.

Altar of Bone and Flame

Hello little blog, it’s been a while. I find that frequently I just get wrapped up in the real world, or my own mind that leaves little room for things like blogging. But never fear, I always come back. Eager to share, and eager to continue transcribing my spiritual adventures. 

As it’s been a while I thought it would be a nice way to ease back into things by sharing photos from my recently cleaned altar. There are to be many projects, and much blogging on the horizon. This blog will get a face lift amoungst other things. But that is another post for another time. 

For the now I’d like to say how much I love my winter altars. They just come together so much easier. The bones, the stones, the furs, and wood. It all just sings in harmony and I love it. In spring and summer I feel the lack of color, the lack of being outside on a green hill in the open sky. But in winter, it is all stark and wonderfully homey. The bones I leave out all year round, they are spring and summer bones as well. But in winter they take center stage. Wonderful in their off white glory. Warmed to yellow in the flame. 

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There is something about candlelight that just makes an altar connect. It’s hard to capture in photos, at least it’s hard for me but still. The illumination of the flame has always connected to me. I think of it as the light of the human soul. There is something incredibly comforting and familiar while at the same time foreign and mystical about it. 

I arise today
Through The Gods strength to pilot me;
The Dagda’s might to uphold me,
The Dagda’s wisdom to guide me,
The Morrighan’s eye to look before me,
The Morrighan’s ear to hear me,
Manannan’s word to speak for me,
Anu’s hand to guard me,

 

 

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The Gods way to lie before me,
The Morrighan’s shield to protect me,
The Dagda’s hosts to save me
Afar and anear,
Alone or in a mulitude.
Gods shield me today
Against wounding

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The Gods with me, The Gods before me, The Gods behind me,
The Sea around me, The Land beneath me, The Sky above me,
My Beloved Dead on my right, My Beloved Dead on my left,
The Ancestors when I lie down, The Ancestors when I stand,

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The Dagda be in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
The Morrighan be in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
The Spirits be in the eye that sees me,
Imbas in the ear that hears me.

I arise today
Through the mighty strength
Of my beloved Gods, of the Valiant Dead, and all that came before.

 – Prayer adapted from Carmina Gadelica St. Patrick’s Breastplate  

The Beltane Fires Blaze

I came running into the month of Beltane with fire in my hands and joy in my heart. Or more precisely Beltane and I went running out together in the high summer sun. It has been a non-stop adventure exhausting and exhilarating. While I see the shadows crossing with my rays of light and fire, I know there is more to come.

For me Beltane has always been a time of holy sacred fire. It is one of my top holy times of the year, and for me it last all the month of May. In the Irish tradition, Beltane or Bealltainn was the start of the summer season, an agricultural festival of blessings and protections. It was the time when the cattle went up to the summer fields to graze, their safety of high import. It was the time to put out the hearth fires, and relight them from the blessed bonfires of the community. Blessing were lain on house and field, rowan tree limbs collected for protection and prosperity. Being the beginning of summer the larders would be bare, and the harvest being planted. It would be a time of possibility and uncertainty. Over on Tairis there is an excellent article on the folk customs of the Irish and Scottish of Bealltainn throughout the centuries.

Add to this historical understanding of the festival, is the knowledge of the season. It is spring, the start of summer. The air is charged with change, will it frost the night and kill the blooms shyly peaking out? Or will the summer winds blow in hot and steamy? Everyday is an unknown. The world is on the edge of a new now, a new standard. The spirits are a buzz with the energy being put out by everything. Things get knocked over, go missing. Tempers are wild, and everyone seems on the edge of absolute joy or a ragged frustration that could end in a brawl or a roll in the bed sheets. The blood begins to pump faster, with more vigor and heat as the sun showers it’s glory upon the world more and more. Now is the time of action. The start of the cattle raiding. Three of the legendary invasions from the Leabhar Gabala happen in the time of Bealltainn. To hunt, to plant, to fuck, to create, to conquer, to woo, to run mad, to laugh.  The veil is thin, the Gods and all those who dwell in the Otherworld draw closer with their mesmerizing golden haze. In a word it is one of my favorite times of year, complete with it’s stress, and maddening mood swings.

Now that we’ve covered the flavor and lens in which Beltane is known around my household you’ll get a much better sense if the emotive and energetic charge of the evens that have transpired over the last few days lol.

The build up began on Friday April 27th, with me facilitating an amazing ritual put on by the lovely Lady Yeshe Rabbit and Thora Azuolas. It was made even more special as we were joined by Guest Priestesses Kris Freewoman and Larissa. It was a ritual in honor of Oshun, as this is the fifth year of Yeshe Rabbit’s dedication to her. It was high energy, dancing extravaganza. Kris Freewoman is an amazing dancer and has such an energetic grace in how she directs the movement of the room. It is a skill that is lacking from our Tribes public working and one I would love to at least tap into. We had a room of 25+ women dancing in naked glory without a care in the world other than how beautiful they were being for Oshun. Not my pantheon but impressive and moving on all accounts. Larissa is an amazing drummer and had brought her talented friends with her, to truly make this a ritual to blow others in the rhythm department. For an hour or so that little yoga studio was transformed into a temple, an open field on the river bed, and a tribal communion ground. And by the end of the night I was bushwacked! lol

But there is not too much rest for the wicked. I was up bright and early on Saturday for a lovely day trip to a flea market with the Lumberjack. It was filled with all kinds of treasures that we wished we had room enough to hoard. In the end I bought some trinkets and a beautiful gold cuff and was contented. A quick stop at our favorite BBQ place for sustenance and it was back to the house to piece together an outfit befitting a Tickster of the May. Three hours later we were satisfied, the house completely destroyed, and hurrying on my way to  get to ritual.

A ritual I only vaguely remember lol. It was a large production befitting Beltane, there was a lot of talking coming out of my mouth. A story weaved in rainbow colors about the Tribes of Love and Fire. How man came to be the fragile forged steel that it is today. A large community passing through the Beltane Fires that leaped high burning with excitiment, many blessings given. A new May Court crowned, and general revelry ensued. Another late night and sore feet, a heel objecting to being used as a bull hoof to drum up people’s attentions. Food hastily eaten in good company, and then to my soft calling bed.

The morning brought some respite but not much lol. Preparations needed to be made! It was Beltane Eve! I cleaned my destroyed house and set about to baking my offerings of honey cakes for the beasties and shining ones. They were damn tasty too.

I had some important spell work to prep and get done on the day. As well as a need to prep my flowers that were given to me by the Lumberjack. They are now drying for future use in incense and other spell work. All and all a busy day around Fort Epic.

And just when I was tidying up the Good God’s kitchen altar, it was time to leave for another adventure! For not only was it Beltane Eve, but the birthday of one of my beloved soul sisters! Tauri women rule, for the record. For this celebration we were off to get a lesson in archery. Something tantalizing but foreign to me. Turned out to be an addicting thing, and to most of our surprise we were not so helpless around the bow and arrow. Indeed I feel the possibility of a new wonderful hobby on the horizon….

With the night still young, and the Beltane blood high we went out to celebrate Tiki style. It was a lot of fun, I’ve never really been to a bar before. And certainly had never gotten drunk at a bar before lol. Good times all the way around. I discovered I have a taste for a drink known as Navy Grog (good thing to know for the future).

The good and happy drunk stumbled her way to bed, in enough of her right mind to have a glass of water and ibuprofen before diving headlong into Morpheus’s sweet arms.  But wait! Sleep was but a sweet passing allusion. Somewhere inbetween the Mai Tai and Navy Grog, smashed between the talk of finding the bones of the dead on the beach, and oogling Elvis on the screen, there was the persuasion that took hold on my drunk little heart and I agreed to go up to the Inspiration point and watch the Morris Dancers and greet the first rays of the sun.

4:30 comes all to soon, and while the Portal turrets played their harmonic opera, the happy drunk stumbled confusedly back out of bed. Finding that those 4 hours alone in the sleeping realm did absolutely nothing for my balance and stability on my boozey feet. But the sunrise beckoned! And in the little marshmallow car the three bleary-eyed bull-women made their way up the hills, through the magic mist to watch that golden coin take it’s royal seat in the sky.

And it was worth it. While the Englishmen danced with their bells and ribbons the Sun began to show hit glimmering glory.

 One moment you are holding your breath in anticipation, the next a sliver of gold, and then a brilliance to bold to look upon. Such is the glory of the Beltane sun. With joy we  washed our hands and face in the morning dew. Gratefully we happened upon some wild Lady’s Mantel. All seemed delightfully right in the world.

The rest of the day past in a Gatorade, sleepy haze. As I worked the day and went home very tired. But certain things still needed to be done. Our Beltane fires needed to be lit, all of the house (including the cats) needed to pass thru for a good healthy year. And then the altar needed to be lit. Once the business was taking care of, and even then I completely forgot to bless the car which led to a different kind of adventure, but most of the business taken care of it was time to rest in the house and the home that I love.

I have to say it was one of the best first of May’s I’ve had in a long time. And the month isn’t even over yet! I realize that this post comes weeks after the event,we are now in the height of May-dom, so many more exciting adventures have transpired. So much more magic has been made. But that’s the thing about busy adventures, you’re too busy experiencing them to blog about them. But don’t fear. I’m taking pictures, and making notes. So as soon as I catch my breath there will be more blog posts to come!

It was time

 

Time to return to the sea. It had been a growing need. The thundering of hooves in the mind blending with the rhythmic clash of the waves on the rocks. The soul centering balance of being at the place where all three worlds meet. Bad luck had been at my heels all winter, it all cried out for the cleansing waters of brine. There would be no stopping this pilgrimage. There would be offerings made, there would be fire, there would be water, no matter how cold.

The tide was high, and while the land surrounding this beloved slice of sea is going through much upheaval and change (a “reconstruction of the water table” that I am unconvinced is for the benefit of the land itself…) the beach and the sea remained as it ever was. The sky shone out cerulean blue from between its wisps of gray and the sun sparkled on the sea with tantalizing warmth. The evocative call of the sea and it’s jeweled adventures. Beautiful, deadly, a delightful trap if ever there was one.

The Corvid brothers wheeled in the sky and preened on the beach. Eager, and anxious for what was to follow, if a little reproachful at the long absences. But amends would be made.

With my own two hands I gathered the stones, carrying, rolling, pulling from the sand. Piecing together a pit where there was none. With stones you build. And it felt good. Good to stretch the muscles, good to have grit under my nails, good to take those beautiful stones of the beach and honor them with fire and libation. Once gathered, our fire starter set to work, and the food was laid out and all was good.

 

After eating our fill, laughing, turning our faces up to the sun and feeling its warmth. It was time. Time to throw the past on the fire, to drink to our Ancestors whose time of high power was drawing to a close, to ask for their blessings. I gave the flames the holly, cedar and pine that had been gathered for the great Ancestral Feast. Giving the spirits fully the essence of those plants that kept us safe in the dark nights. The smoke billowed high, and the fire higher. Toast of the Winter Brew were passed around and good cheer was given. Ancestors bless us, bless us with your wisdom. Bless us with hearth and home, with prosperity and wealth, with the way forward.

Then it was time to make our offerings to the Gods. Carefully planned and prepared, each of us with a mission of our own. Each of us with our own Gods to tend to. On my brass platter a mighty cow’s heart, drenched in barley, oats, honey, whisky, and rosemary. In the wooden vessel: strawberries, tomatoes, chocolate, potatoes and sausage. A split apple of my love and devotion. Out I walked hands full, towards the rocks, and the jagged sea. The Raven Brothers followed close behind, their chorus a harsh and beautiful chant. The rock was chosen and all laid out, the apple given as a token to the Brothers. And in the presence of all Three Realms, and those that are my beloved, I sang.

I sang, and prayed. I lifted my voice, in love, in strength, in courage and frustration. I was not meek and mild.  In that moment there was understanding, and I was seen. The sun shone. The sea glinted with resplendent glory,  and the Ravens cawed.

The sea, the sea. All can be cured in the sea. With my dark Irish red beer for the Son of the Sea, I stripped down to my skivvies and answered the call that had been so long in my ear. And it was cold. The kind of cold that burns, yet it brought a smile to my face. The waves teased and enticed us farther and father out. Laughingly, cautiously we ventured forth. With squeals and delight I submerged my netted shall in the foamy brine, forever dedicating it to he who keeps the veil. And dripping diamonds of salt water I poured it over my head. Gone was the illness that had plagued me for days before, gone was the coughing, the pain. In its place joy, clean pure, and ecstatic. For as long as my poor broken foot would allow I stayed there, in that liminal state. Not properly in any one realm, instead joyfully in all three. And then back to the fire, to the warmth and sanctuary of land. Grateful for my gift. One special and large witch’s stone to take with me.

I treasure these times. These places, where all my Gods are so vibrant and real and near. These moments when so much can be felt and done. These dark moon offerings shall forever be cherished by me.

Until next time, the time when the Sea calls…