It's almost Beltane, so let's look at some Beltane magic that will get your creative juices flowing! In many traditions of Paganism, handcrafts are used as a magical process. Weaving and braiding in particular are meditative exercises, and so magical workings can be incorporated into the creative technique. If you think about it, fibers in one form or another have been around for thousands of years, so it makes sense that our ancestors could have utilized them in spell work and ritual as well. More about Magical Braiding and Weaving
Beltane is a season rich with customs and traditions from around the world. Did you know that morning dew collected on Beltane is supposed to be wonderful for your complexion? Or that a special Beltane oatcake was thought to ensure an abundance of crops the following fall? Learn about these legends and more, with our Legends and Lore of Beltane.
Every year, when I post my annual "Hey, Earth Day is coming up!" blog entry, I inevitably get emails from people who tell me (1) Earth Day isn't a Pagan holiday so stop talking about it, (2) quit supporting the liberal ecoterrorist agenda, you damn hippie, and (3) Earth Day doesn't do anything to help the planet because people are still killing spotted owls so just shut up, Patti -- or some variation on these themes. And yes, some folks get really angry about it. So, this year, I will preface my post by saying simply: If you do not observe Earth Day, or if you have some sort of moral or ethical objection to it, or if you feel it's just plain useless, then you are more than welcome to just skip over this entry entirely. My feelings will not be hurt at all.
That having been duly noted, although Earth Day isn't an Official Pagan Holiday, many of us in the Pagan community choose to celebrate it as a way of marking our commitment to stewardship of our planet. After all, when I began walking a Pagan path, I realized fairly quickly that if you adhere to the concept of nature being sacred, it's pretty darn important not to treat our planet as your own personal garbage dump.
For many of us, Earth Day has become part of our cultural lexicon - it's been around for forty years now. Certainly, there are folks who pooh-pooh it, and that's okay -- but one of the important aspects of this yearly event is that because of the publicity that surrounds it, it's a good opportunity for otherwise indifferent people to start making some changes. Not only that, it's an opportunity to get kids involved in making earth-friendly choices.
Why does this matter? Well, if you're one of the folks whose spiritual path includes stewardship of the earth and its resources, or if your path's tenets include respecting and honoring nature,
then you know that being eco-savvy isn't something you just do once a year in April. By teaching your children basic skills of environmental consciousness, they'll begin to practice earth-friendly living all year long. I put together a list of things you and your family can do to celebrate the earth and tie it in, in some way, to your Pagan beliefs: 10 Ways Pagans Can Celebrate Earth Day.
Looking for a small way to make a difference this year? Try one of the simple ideas in our article about Pagans and Earth Day.
For our northern hemisphere readers, it's Beltane, the Sabbat where many Pagans choose to celebrate the fertility of the earth. This Sabbat is about new life, fire, passion and rebirth, so there are all kinds of creative ways you can set up for the season. Depending on how much space you have, you can try some or even all of these ideas -- obviously, someone using a bookshelf as an altar will have less flexibility than someone using a table, but use what calls to you most: Setting Up Your Beltane Altar
Do you have your altar all prettied up for Beltane? If you'd like to share a photo of yours with the rest of us, you can send it using our new Submission Form: Beltane Altar Photos. There's no deadline, so if you want to wait and take your picture during ritual, that's totally fine. Remember, don't submit photos of altars that aren't yours, because I can't use them. Also, any file attachments sent via email instead of through the submission page will be deleted without being opened.
In Greek legend and mythology, Pan is known as a rustic and wild god of the forest. He is associated with the animals that live in the woods, as well as with the sheep and goats in the fields. Because of his fertility aspects, Pan is often connected to the Beltane holiday season. Let's look at who Pan was, and why he is important: Who is the Greek God Pan?
Depending on where you live, you may well be getting ready for planting season -- and few things symbolize spring as well as flowers! Did you know that during the Victorian era, people could send secret messages using the language of flowers? One might send her lover a crocus, saying Be cautious with my heart, or swear undying friendship with some arbor vitae. Learn more about these magical messages, and The Secret Language of Flowers.
Flowers have many wonderful properties -- they're pretty, they smell nice, and believe it or not, some of them are even edible. Blossoms like nasturtium, violets, and pansies can actually be candied and eaten! Try this for your next spring celebration: Candied Flower Petals
The Beltane bannock is a traditional cake to be eaten during the celebration of May Day. Eating the bannock on Beltane morning is said to bring abundance your way in many rural areas of Scotland: The Beltane Bannock/Scottish Oatcake
Beltane is a time of lust and sex and fertility, and few symbols are as representative of this as the hobby horse. In England, the hobby horse tradition goes back to the island's early Pagan roots, as the hobby horse welcomes in the fertility season. If you're planning a Beltane celebration, why not incorporate hobby horses into your ritual? Put together a hobby horse costume - and this can be as simple as a mask, a mane, and a pair of ears - and let the horse chase a designated lady around the Maypole. Depending on who's attending your event, you could take it a step further, and add phallic symbols to the costume. Let your imagination run wild, and welcome in the fertility season of Beltane with a hobby horse of your own: The Magic of the Hobby Horse
If you live above the equator, you're preparing for Beltane, a time of great fertility -- for the earth itself, for animals, and of course for people as well. This season has been celebrated by cultures going back thousands of years, in a variety of ways, but nearly all shared the fertility aspect. Typically, this is a Sabbat to celebrate gods of the hunt or of the forest, and goddesses of passion and motherhood, as well as agricultural deities. Meet some of the gods and goddesses that can be honored as part of your tradition's Beltane rituals: Fertility Deities of Beltane
Frankincense is one of the oldest documented magical resins - it's been traded in northern Africa and parts of the Arab world for nearly five thousand years. Eventually introduced to Europe by Crusaders, this fragrant resin is found in a number of religious rites and ceremonies around the world. Let's take a look at some ways you can use frankincense in your spiritual practice: The Magic of Frankincense