~Of Shamanic and personal development~

“Shamanic ecstasy is the real “Old Time Religion,” of which modern churches are but pallid evocations. Shamanic, visionary ecstasy, the mysterium tremendum, the unio mystica, the eternally delightful experience of the universe as energy, is a sine qua non of religion, it is what religion is for! There is no need for faith, it is the ecstatic experience itself that gives one faith in the intrinsic unity and integrity of the universe, in ourselves as integral parts of the whole; that reveals to us the sublime majesty of our universe, and the fluctuant, scintillant, alchemical miracle that is quotidian consciousness. Any religion that requires faith and gives none, that defends against religious experiences, that promulgates the bizarre superstition that humankind is in some way separate, divorced from the rest of creation, that heals not the gaping wound between Body and Soul, but would tear them asunder… is no religion at all!” Jonathan Ott

Shamanism is a word borrowed from the Siberian Tungus tribe, one of the first shamanic cultures to be studied. The office of Shaman is a unique one, and is present in the history of every hunter/gatherer culture around the world. In tribal culture, the Shaman is the link between the people and the worlds of the spirit, employing ecstatic trance states to travel to other dimensions. The Shaman is the priest, healer, magician, diviner, and the mediator between the living and the ancestors.

The state of ecstatic trance is central to shamanic practice, and is achieved through various methods (and combinations of methods), including self-hypnosis, hallucinogens, and repetitive drumming. Many of the major themes of religions- ascension to heaven, descent into the underworld, etc., are believed by anthropologists to have originated in shamanic practices.

The use of hallucinogenic (or, entheogenic) substances is central to most Shamanic traditions. In the Amazon, the most notable of these is Ayahuasca, a complex brew with renowned healing properties. In the Americas, tobacco was popular, and in Siberia, marijuana. The use of these substances is so central to Shamanic practices that some researchers, such as the late Terrence McKenna, believe that they are inextricably linked with the origins of human spirituality. Additionally, there are traces of entheogenic plant use in almost all historical religions, a curious fact that is largely ignored by most modern religions.

One becomes a Shaman generally by heredity or selection, and through rigorous and sometimes difficult (even dangerous) training and initiation. Beware of dubious claims of anyone offering high priced ‘workshops’ in idealized Native Shamanism- most shamanic traditions are practiced in secrecy and are not available to outsiders or curiosity seekers. It is highly unlikely that a true initiate will go on the workshop circuit, and many tribal leaders consider these to be exploitative and offensive.

~About Soul Retrieval~

SOUL RETRIEVAL IS DEAR TO MY HEART. It is a gentle, graceful, and profound healing practice. This information will better help you understand your soul retrieval. In the description that follows, I am using a shamanic framework to describe and clarify the nature and experience of the soul. This article will help you understand and possibly engage with the unseen world by presenting a framework that our conscious minds can understand. You don’t have to believe in or agree with this framework to have a soul retrieval.

The soul, as referred to in soul retrieval, is the energetic essence of your being. It encompasses the intangible aspects of your being, including gifts, qualities, and aspects of who you are. It is the you that transcends physical experience. Pieces and parts of that soul essence can sometimes become separated, trapped, and/or lost. If you imagine the soul energy as a sphere, when soul loss occurs, there are voids and areas that are missing.

Soul loss is part of the human experience. It’s designed to protect our nonphysical essence from various kinds of trauma. If something traumatic is happening, such as a car accident, physical violence, or an emotional assault, the last place we want to be is fully present in our bodies and in the experience. Instead, part of us goes away to avoid the trauma. Psychologists refer to this as dissociation. The shamanic community calls it soul loss. Either way, it helps us to survive the various kinds of trauma that happen in our lives.

Lots of kinds of trauma can cause soul loss. Examples include accidents, surgery, sexual violence, and combat trauma. Whenever someone says, “I’ve never been the same since my accident/that relationship/my surgery,” they are describing a soul loss experience. Trauma that causes soul loss can be subtle and different for each person. Being teased or shamed can cause a sensitive child to lose soul parts.

Whatever the trauma, the protective mechanism of soul loss causes part of our life essence to leave in order to protect itself from being damaged or traumatized. The soul part leaving sometimes carries away some of the memory and immediacy of the experience. In the normal course of events, the soul part would return on its own after the trauma had passed. But sometimes the trauma is so severe that the soul part goes so far and fast that it can’t find its way back and gets lost. In cases of chronic trauma or abuse, the soul part may not know it’s safe to come back. There’s no time in shamanic reality, so the soul part doesn’t know that twenty years have passed and the violent stepfather is no longer in the picture.

Another type of soul loss occurs when a part leaves because it doesn’t fit or because it is sent away. This could be an aspect that is shamed or punished; for example, a girl might send away her anger. Sometimes we send soul parts away because they don’t fit into our adult lives, disowning our impractical passions.

Finally, soul loss can happen when parts of our soul are taken by or given to the significant people in our lives. As human beings, we struggle to maintain good physical and emotional boundaries. The concept of good energetic boundaries is not something that occurs to most people. When soul parts are taken or exchanged, it invariably happens on an unconscious, energetic level. People who have had soul parts taken unknowingly take soul parts from others. While there’s no judgment or blame, this does put people in an inappropriate energetic relationship.

Picture a mother, already diminished by her own soul loss experiences, looking at her child. She might think that if she could just have some of her child’s vitality and energy, she would be able to cope with her life. On an energetic level, she reaches out and takes some of the child’s essence. The child may resist at first, but eventually it is easier to give up the soul part than keep struggling. Or perhaps the child feels sorry for the parent and gives up their soul part willingly. Again, I want to emphasize that this isn’t deliberate. When I retrieve soul parts, parents are always glad to give up their children’s soul parts once they realize what they’ve done.

In a romantic relationship, the people involved often will trade soul parts. Our culture’s love mythology implies that when we love someone, we give them our heart and our soul. It’s easy to mistake a lack of energetic boundaries for closeness and connection. People often unconsciously give their lover some of their own vital life essence along with their love. This exchange makes both people more dependent on each other, less able to stand on their own, and thus less likely to leave. It can feel safer and more connected to both parties, but in reality, both people are diminished.

Whatever the source of soul loss, the effects are much the same. Soul loss will diminish a person’s sense of well-being and joy in life. It can cause a lack of vitality and interest in the world. People often feel depressed, listless, and as though the world was all gray. Soul loss can lead to gaps in memory. People can feel fragmented or spacey or even like pieces are missing. Sometimes people become accident-prone or keep falling into the path of misfortune. People with soul loss can spend a lot of energy working through events of their past and still feel impacted by them. In extreme cases, soul loss can cause a lack of sense of self, suicidal tendencies, and vulnerability to physical illness.

Impact of a Soul Retrieval

The experience of soul retrieval varies from person to person. Some people experience soul retrieval as life-changing: a sensation of being filled up, a tingling or a heat. Other people feel a subtler impact. Often a much greater effect is felt some hours after the soul retrieval than immediately after the work is completed. I felt the largest impact at dawn the day after my soul retrieval.

The shift in your life can be subtle. Some clients have reported that they felt very little at the time but found that they felt more solid in themselves, less tired, more sure of their choices and path following a soul retrieval. Things that would have been nearly impossible seem fairly straightforward after a soul retrieval.

In terms of emotional impact, soul retrieval is very gentle. Even when parts are lost due to severe trauma, they come back unharmed. When people get back memories of the traumatic events that caused soul loss the memories are factual, with no emotion attached. After a soul retrieval, people often want extra downtime, to reflect and just be with themselves. If people have a strong emotional response to soul retrieval, it’s almost invariably one of profound joy and celebration. “Dark night of the soul” work and emotional catharsis are valuable, but they are not generally part of the soul retrieval experience.

Because soul retrieval is so gentle, people are sometimes surprised by how much of an impact it has. Afterwards you may find it much harder to accept situations where you are not being honored, regardless of the economic or emotional advantages of being in that place. For example, I used to be very good at swallowing my truth and not speaking up. After my soul retrieval it became much more uncomfortable to be silent than it was to speak, so I began saying what I needed to say to those around me. It was a good change, but it happened very quickly. A soul retrieval has the potential to put you on the fast track of interpersonal growth.

If you get soul parts back from another person, this can impact your relationship with them. In some cases, returning the soul parts instantly improves the relationship. Tensions and conflict may dissipate overnight. In other cases—if a marriage is teetering on the edge, for example—a soul retrieval could precipitate its end. Any relationship where the other person is invested in controlling my client is likely to be made rockier by a soul retrieval. This is because a soul retrieval makes the recipient stronger, more complete, and harder to control or manipulate.

Those individuals who have ended a major relationship and are having trouble moving on are perfect candidates for a soul retrieval. Very often a soul part is left behind with the former spouse or lover and returning that part to my client frees them to move on. If someone who held your soul part has died, returning that soul part has a powerful benefit for both of you. It frees the soul of the other person to move on, unburdened by energy that they can’t use. For my client, it can release them from a fascination with and a pull toward death.

About Power Animals

My soul retrievals include bringing back two power animals. They help support you following the soul retrieval. Power animals are spirits who appear in shamanic reality in animal form. It is believed that when a child is born, a benevolent spirit in animal form looks at the infant and sees how helpless they are. That spirit takes pity on the child and becomes their ally and protector. Often a person’s power animal will be an animal that they have a strong affinity for.

In ordinary reality, a power animal is a source of protection and power. It’s your power animal’s job to make sure that the idiot driving way too fast doesn’t hit you and that if a rock falls out of the sky it lands next to you, not on you. They work on our behalf to keep the physical world safe and positive for us. A strong connection to a power animal provides a source of energy and support and enhances the flow of your own energy.

The power animals I bring back may or may not be the ones that you expect. If I bring back an unexpected power animal, it doesn’t mean the one you expected isn’t your power animal; it almost certainly is. It just means that these are new animals coming into relationship with you. The more work we do to heal and grow, the more spiritual help is available to us, hence more power animals.

With kind permission from Katie Weatherup @ http://www.handsoverheart.com

Celtic Spirituality~Shamanism

The purpose of these practices is to develop
the ability to perceive and communicate with
spirits of nature and the Divine.

Those familiar with Native American spirituality will find many similarities in the Celtic way, for it is grounded in honoring the Earth, Ancestors and the Spirits of the Land. For the Celts, life sprang from the Earth and was inseparable from her. Fertility of the land and abundance of game and harvest determined the prosperity of the people. In addition, spiritual connection to the land gave meaning and belonging to people. The spirits of one’s home and landscape were honored in all ceremonies and called upon for blessing, protection and power. Their presence would guide the ceremony and increase the power and energy.

Honoring the Ancestors
Ancestors were revered in Celtic world as evidenced by the extensive genealogies kept by the bards. As with one’s connection to the land, a connection to one’s ancestors supported a sense of belonging. Knowing where your ancestors came from can give you a powerful anchor. One recent study revealed that ethnically-specific body rhythms and physical mannerisms were carried into the 5th generation after leaving the “old” country. Our heritage is literally in our bodies, bones and psyches.

The term ancestor includes a spiritual as well as blood lineage, for the spiritual teachers and guides of your spiritual lineage are also your ancestors. They reside in the spiritual Otherworld that exists beyond time and space. In the Celtic way, they live beyond or in the mists. One’s relationship with teachers and guides of this realm must be nurtured and developed over time, just like any relationship.

Animal Totems
The shamanic aspects of Celtic spirituality were highly developed, and animal totems and allies were often used. Common totems included the deer, bear, badger, raven, eagle, swan, otter, mouse, boar, cat, horse, wolf, hound, eel and salmon. In Celtic legend, for example, the deer often leads the hero through the mists or into the enchanted forest to an Otherworld encounter. In both Irish and English legend, many seek to catch the Salmon of Wisdom. The one who eats the first bite of salmon becomes endowed with the gifts of poetry, prophecy and shapeshifting.

No totem animal is considered to be greater or lesser than another is, for each has its own gifts, strengths, and lessons to teach. In addition to clan totems, each person also had a totem that was known for their protection, guidance and inspiration. In times of need, a totem animal could be called upon for strength, clarity or courage. With an understanding of the specific characteristics of the various animals, their appearance in physical form or encountered while in dream, vision or trance could be interpreted as a message from Spirit.

The Lorica
One form of protection used in the Celtic world is the lorica. In legend and practice, the Celts called upon the forces of nature in its many diverse forms to serve and enhance themselves. One of the most famous of these is St. Patrick’s breastplate:

I rise today
Through the strength of heaven
The light of the sun
The radiance of the moon
Splendor of fire,
Swiftness of wind,
Speed of lightning
Depth of sea
Stability of Earth
Firmness of rock.

You may wish to try using a lorica yourself, for it is a powerful shamanic practice that gathers energy and protection from the forms of nature called forth. You may call upon power animals, angels, ancestors, trees, or guides.

First, sit quietly and center yourself. Focus your intention on invoking strength and protection. Then, set one form of nature in each of the seven direction (these include the four compass points, plus above, below and within yourself). For example, you might say, “Bear before me; moose behind me; wolf to the left of me; badger to the right of me; eagle above me; salmon below me; and the clear light of Spirit within me.” Most people feel a greater solidity and groundedness with using the lorica.

Druidic Training & Shapeshifting
The druids were among the highly educated priest class of the Celts who were responsible for an extensive oral history. They also underwent a rigorous 20-year training that included most of the shamanic initiations common to the indigenous world: fasting, sleep deprivation, ritual burial, forms of vision quest and extended periods of time in nature, trance/meditative states and ceremony. The purpose of these practices is to develop the ability to perceive and communicate with spirits of nature and the Divine. Druidic training was based in poetry, healing, prophecy and shapeshifting.

Though a Christian, Saint Patrick clearly had Druidic training. He used his famous shamanic breastplate to create a cloak of invisibility around himself and his eight monks in order to escape capture by an angry king’s guard. The guard did not find Patrick, and saw only nine deer slipping away into the forest. There are many similar accounts of shapeshifting in the stories of the Celtic heroes and saints.

The ability to merge with Nature by bringing one’s energy into synchronicity with that of the forest or an animal is the essence of shapeshifting. There are many degrees of success. One can merge to the point of being able to feel what it is like to be inside a bear’s body. Or, one can be attuned so as to know the instincts and knowledge of the eagle. More masterful still is the ability to align one’s energy with another life form so well as to be perceived as that life form. Finally, one could become so adept as to actually take on the physical form of another animal.

The Celtic access to the spiritual realms was through the thin places. These are points of transition where matter melds from one form to another. Thin places include the beach, where land and sea meet; doorways between inside and outside; dawn and dusk; life initiations, such as marriages, onset of puberty, birth and death; and the sacred places of the land where spiritual presence is felt. It was and is believed that it is easier to access Spirit in these times and places.

Shapeshifting Exercise
You might try reaching across the mists to experience a simple form of shapeshifting yourself. Choose a thin place and time to connect with a plant or animal. Bring your awareness to the core of your being and feel your connection to the Earth. Slowly, let awareness expand from your core to include your surroundings.

Now, focus on the plant or animal you have come to know better. Share with it your appreciation for its beauty and presence in your world.

With your mind’s eye, draw a circle around the perimeter of the plant or animal. With your intention, let your awareness sink into that shape. What do you notice? What is the feeling of this creature? Are you experiencing an emotion or perhaps a flow of energy? What is the experience of this creature’s being? Can you feel differences in body structures — skin, muscle, bone; bark, leaves, wood? Can you communicate with your plant or animal through images, feelings or words? Communication can be very subtle, so be ready to receive what comes in any form.

With practice your experience can become deeper and richer. In time, you can learn to merge yourself with another life form and access its knowledge and wisdom.

~What Does It Mean When You Dream About Snakes?~

When you dream about snakes, chances are that the meaning of what you just dreamed about is related to challenging issues and feelings that you’re facing in your daily life.

According to Freud’s classic dream interpretation theory, a snake featured in a dream represents a phallic symbol that could relate to a male figure, male energy or how you experience your sexuality. Interpreting what your dream about snakes means does not stop there however. To fully understand its meaning, you need to look deeper into the interpretation of this rich symbol.

To start interpreting what dreaming about snakes means, here are the most common meanings associated with snakes in dreams:

  • A snake is a symbol of the unconscious
  • Snakes or serpents indicate you’re in the process of healing and resolving issues
  • The snake is a symbol for an untamed part of yourself or an untapped resource
  • Snakes could represent your intuition or spiritual aspects of yourself; your instinctual drive, what moves you from the depths of your soul
  • Snakes or serpents tend to show up in dreams in times of transition and transformation
  • From the classic Freudian perspective, a snake or serpent is a phallic symbol

Generally, a snake featured in a dream means that you’re dealing with a difficult situation or unsettling emotions in your waking life. On the positive side of this dream analysis, dreaming of snakes could also mean that healing and transformation are taking place.

A snake can appear in your dreams as an animal spirit guide or animal totem, bringing guidance about life direction and healing opportunities. >> Get more information about the snake as a spirit animal (Source: www.spiritanimal.info)

~Some Beltane History~

Beltane is the last of the three spring fertility festivals, the others being Imbolc and Ostara. Beltane is the second principal Celtic festival (the other being Samhain). Celebrated approximately halfway between Vernal (spring) equinox and the midsummer (Summer Solstice). Beltane traditionally marked the arrival if summer in ancient times.

At Beltane the Pleiades star cluster rises just before sunrise on the morning horizon, whereas winter (Samhain) begins when the Pleiades rises at sunset. The Pleiades is a cluster of seven closely placed stars, the seven sisters, in the constellation of Taurus, near his shoulder. When looking for the Pleiades with the naked eye, remember it looks like a tiny dipper-shaped pattern of six moderately bright stars (the seventh can be seen on very dark nights) in the constellation of Taurus. It stands very low in the east-northeast sky for just a few minutes before sunrise.

Beltane, and its counterpart Samhain, divide the year into its two primary seasons, winter (Dark Part) and summer (Light Part). As Samhain is about honoring Death, Beltane, its counter part, is about honoring Life. It is the time when the sun is fully released from his bondage of winter and able to rule over summer and life once again.

Beltane, like Samhain, is a time of “no time” when the veils between the two worlds are at their thinnest. No time is when the two worlds intermingle and unite and the magic abounds! It is the time when the Faeries return from their winter respite, carefree and full of faery mischief and faery delight. On the night before Beltane, in times past, folks would place rowan branches at their windows and doors for protection, many otherworldly occurrences could transpire during this time of “no time”. Traditionally on the Isle of Man, the youngest member of the family gathers primroses on the eve before Beltane and throws the flowers at the door of the home for protection. In Ireland it is believed that food left over from May Eve must not be eaten, but rather buried or left as an offering to the faery instead. Much like the tradition of leaving of whatever is not harvested from the fields on Samhain, food on the time of no time is treated with great care.

When the veils are so thin it is an extremely magical time, it is said that the Queen of the Faeries rides out on her white horse. Roving about on Beltane eve She will try to entice people away to the Faeryland. Legend has it that if you sit beneath a tree on Beltane night, you may see the Faery Queen or hear the sound of Her horse’s bells as She rides through the night. Legend says if you hide your face, She will pass you by but if you look at Her, She may choose you. There is a Scottish ballad of this called Thomas the Rhymer, in which Thomas chooses to go the Faeryland with the Queen and has not been seen since.

Beltane has been an auspicious time throughout Celtic lore, it is said that the Tuatha de Danaan landed in north-west Connacht on Beltane. The Tuatha de Danaan, it is said, came from the North through the air in a mist to Ireland. After the invasion by the Milesians, the Tuatha faded into the Otherworld, the Sidhe, Tir na nOg.

The beginning of summer heralds an important time, for the winter is a difficult journey and weariness and disheartenment set in, personally one is tired down to the soul. In times past the food stocks were low; variety was a distant memory. The drab non-color of winter’s end perfectly represents the dullness and fatigue that permeates on so many levels to this day. We need Beltane, as the earth needs the sun, for our very Spirit cries out for the renewal of summer jubilation.

Beltane marks that the winter’s journey has passed and summer has begun, it is a festival of rapturous gaiety as it joyfully heralds the arrival of summer in her full garb. Beltane, however, is still a precarious time, the crops are still very young and tender, susceptible to frost and blight. As was the way of ancient thought, the Wheel would not turn without human intervention. People did everything in their power to encourage the growth of the Sun and His light, for the Earth will not produce without the warm love of the strong Sun. Fires, celebration and rituals were an important part of the Beltane festivities, as to insure that the warmth of the Sun’s light would promote the fecundity of the earth.

Beltane marks the passage into the growing season, the immediate rousing of the earth from her gently awakening slumber, a time when the pleasures of the earth and self are fully awakened. It signals a time when the bounty of the earth will once again be had. May is a time when flowers bloom, trees are green and life has again returned from the barren landscape of winter, to the hope of bountiful harvests, not too far away, and the lighthearted bliss that only summer can bring.

Beltane translated means “fire of Bel” or “bright fire” – the “bale-fire”. (English – bale; Anglo-Saxon bael; Lithuanian baltas (white)) Bel (Bel, Bile, Beli, Belinus, Belenos) is the known as the bright and shinning one, a Celtic Sun God. Beli is the father, protector, and the husband of the Mother Goddess.

Beltane is the time of the yearly battle between Gwyn ap Nudd and Gwythur ap Greidawl for Creudylad in Welsh mythology. Gwyn ap Nudd the Wild Huntsman of Wales, he is a God of death and the Annwn. Creudylad is the daughter of Lludd (Nudd) of the Silver Hand (son of Beli). She is the most beautiful maiden of the Island of Mighty. A myth of the battle of winter and summer for the magnificent blossoming earth.

In the myth of Rhiannion and Pwyll, it is the evening of Beltane, that Rhiannon gives birth to their son. The midwives all fell asleep at the same time, as they were watching over Rhiannon and her new baby, during which he was taken. In order to protect themselves, they smeared blood (from a pup) all over Rhiannon, to which they claim she had eaten her son. The midwives were believed, and Rhiannon was forced to pay penance for seven years. She had to carrying people on her back from the outside of the gate to the palace, although rarely would any allow her to do so. The baby’s whereabouts were a mystery. Oddly, every Beltane night, one of Pwyll’s vassals, Teirnyon Twryv Vliant, had a mare that gave birth but the colt disappeared. One Beltane night Teirnyon Twryv Vliant awaited in the barn for the mare to foaled, when she did, he heard a tremendous noise and a clawed arm came through the window and grabbed the colt. Teirnyon cut off the arm with his sword, and then heard a wailing. He opened the door and found a baby, he brought it to his wife and they adopted Gwri Wallt Euryn (Gwri of the Golden Hair). As he grew he looked like Pwyll and they remembered they found him on the night Rhiannon’s baby became lost. Teirnyon brought Gwri of the Golden Hair to the castle, told the story, and he was adopted back to his parents, Rhiannon and Pwyll, and and named by the head druid, Pryderi (trouble) from the first word his mother had said when he was restored to her. “Trouble is, indeed, at an end for me, if this be true”.

This myth illustrates the precariousness of the Beltane season, at the threshold of Summer, the earth awakening, winter can still reach its long arm in and snatch the Sun away (Gwri of the Golden hair). “Ne’er cast a clout ’til May be out” (clout: Old English for cloth/clothing). If indeed the return of summer is true than the trouble (winter) is certainly over, however one must be vigilant.

On Beltane eve the Celts would build two large fires, Bel Fires, lit from the nine sacred woods. The Bel Fire is an invocation to Bel (Sun God) to bring His blessings and protection to the tribe. The herds were ritually driven between two needfires (fein cigin), built on a knoll. The herds were driven through to purify, bring luck and protect them as well as to insure their fertility before they were taken to summer grazing lands. An old Gaelic adage: “Eadar da theine Bhealltuinn” – “Between two Beltane fires”.

The Bel fire is a sacred fire with healing and purifying powers. The fires further celebrate the return of life, fruitfulness to the earth and the burning away of winter. The ashes of the Beltane fires were smudged on faces and scattered in the fields. Household fires would be extinguished and re-lit with fresh fire from the Bel Fires.

Celebration includes frolicking throughout the countryside, maypole dancing, leaping over fires to ensure fertility, circling the fire three times (sun-wise) for good luck in the coming year, athletic tournaments feasting, music, drinking, children collecting the May: gathering flowers. children gathering flowers, hobby horses, May birching and folks go a maying”. Flowers, flower wreaths and garlands are typical decorations for this holiday, as well as ribbons and streamers. Flowers are a crucial symbol of Beltane, they signal the victory of Summer over Winter and the blossoming of sensuality in all of nature and the bounty it will bring.

May birching or May boughing, began on Beltane Eve, it is said that young men fastened garland and boughs on the windows and doors of the young maidens upon which their sweet interest laid. Mountain ash leaves and Hawthorne branches meant indicated love whereas thorn meant disdain. This perhaps, is the forerunner of old May Day custom of hanging bouquets hooked on one’s doorknob?

Young men and women wandered into the woods before daybreak of May Day morning with garlands of flowers and/or branches of trees. They would arrive; most rumpled from joyous encounters, in many areas with the maypole for the Beltane celebrations. Pre-Christian society’s thoughts on human sexuality and fertility were not bound up in guilt and sin, but rather joyous in the less restraint expression of human passions. Life was not an exercise but rather a joyful dance, rich in all beauty it can afford.

In ancient Ireland there was a Sacred Tree named Bile, which was the center of the clan, or Tuatha. As the Irish Tree of Life, the Bile Pole, represents the connection between the people and the three worlds of Bith: The Skyworld (heavens), The Middleworld (our world), and The Otherworld. Although no longer the center life, the Bile pole has survived as the Beltane Maypole.

The Maypole is an important element to Beltane festivities, it is a tall pole decorated with long brightly colored ribbons, leaves, flowers and wreaths. Young maidens and lads each hold the end of a ribbon, and dance revolving around the base of the pole, interweaving the ribbons. The circle of dancers should begin, as far out from the pole as the length of ribbon allows, so the ribbons are taut. There should be an even number of boys & girls. Boys should be facing clockwise and girls counterclockwise. They each move in the direction that they are facing, weaving with the next, around to braid the ribbons over-and-under around the pole. Those passing on the inside will have to duck, those passing on the outside raise their ribbons to slide over. As the dances revolve around the pole the ribbons will weave creating a pattern, it is said that the pattern will indicate the abundance of harvest year.

In some areas there are permanent Maypoles, perhaps a recollection of ancient clan Bile Pole memory. In other areas a new Maypole is brought down on Beltane Eve out from the wood. Even the classical wood can vary according to the area tradition is pulled from, most frequently it seems to be birch as “the wood”, but others are mentioned in various historical documents.

Today in some towns and villages a mummer called Jack in the Green (drawing from the Green man), wears a costume made of green leaves as he dances around the May pole. Mumming is a dramatic performance of exaggerated characters and at Beltane the characters include Jack in the Green and the Fool. The Fool, and the Fool’s journey, symbolism can be understood in relation to Beltane as it is the beginning of beginnings, the emergence from the void of nothingness (winter), as one can also see the role of the green man as the re-greening of the world.

Traditionally in many areas Morris dancers can be found dancing around the Maypole. Morris dancing can be found in church records in Thame England going back to 1555. Morris dancing is thought to have originated many centuries ago as part of ancient religious ceremonies, however it seems that Morris dancing became associated with Mayday during the Tudor times, and its originating history is not all that easily traced, as is the way with many traditions.

The Maypole dance as an important aspect of encouraging the return of fertility to the earth. The pole itself is not only phallic in symbolism but also is the connector of the three worlds. Dancing the Maypole during Beltane is magical experience as it is a conduit of energy, connecting all three worlds at a time when these gateways are more easily penetrable. As people gaily dance around and around the pole holding the brightly colored ribbons, the energy it raises is sent down into the earth’s womb, bringing about Her full awakening and fruitfulness.

In Padstow, Cornwall, Beltane morning a procession is led by the “obby oss” a costumed horse figure, in a large circular banded frock and mask. The procession is full of song, drums and accordions. Professor Ronald Hutton of Bristol University points out that the first account of the Padstow May Day ‘Obby ‘Oss revelries was written in 1803. He offers evidence however that, like English Morris Dancing, its origins lie in English medieval times. This does not discount the possibility that its roots lay in the foundation of the fertility rites of Beltane, a more politically correct transmutation of fertility acts.

There is also a Queen of May. She is said in many areas to have worn a gold crown with a single, gold leaf at its front, in other areas her crown was made of fresh flowers. She was typically chosen at the start of the Beltane festival, which in time past was after sundown on the eve before Beltane day. Many accounts mention both a May Queen and King being chosen, whom would reign from sundown the eve before the Beltane day to sunset on Beltane. Among their duties would be to announce the Beltane games and award the prizes to the victors. The rudimentary base of this practice can be drawn back to the roots of Beltane festivities, the union of the Goddess and Her Consort, the joining of earth and sun, the endowment of summer. The Goddess has many guises: Danu – The Great Mother, Blodeuwedd (the Flower Bride), Isolt (Iseult, Isolde) and many, many others. The consort can also take many forms including the Green Man, Cernunnos or Tristan.

As Beltane marks this handfasting (wedding) of the Goddess and God, it too marks the reawakening of the earth’s fertility in its fullest. This is the union between the Great Mother and her Young Consort, this coupling brings new life on earth. It is on a Spiritual level, the unifying of the Divine Masculine and the Divine Feminine to bring forth the third, consciousness. On the physical, it is the union of the Earth and Sun to bring about the fruitfulness of the growing season.

It is customary that trial unions, for a year and a day, occur at this time. More or less these were statements of intent between couples, which were not legally binding. The trial marriages (engagements) typically occurred between a couple before deciding to take a further step into a legally binding union. It seems ancient wisdom understood that one does not really know another until they have lived with them, and when you live together things change and we change, as well. With this understanding unions were entered upon, first as a test period, and then if desired, a further commitment could be taken. It through always knowing that it is only through the choice of both to remain, that the relationship exists favorably.

May, however, according to old folklore is not a favorable time for marriages in the legal and permanent sense. There is reference after reference in the old books of this belief, and according to my Irish grandmother, May is not the month to marry, woe is to had by those who do. I can understand the premise of this folklore, May is the Goddess and God’s handfasting month, all honor would be Hers and His.

Water is another important association of Beltane, water is refreshing and rejuvenating, it is also imperative to life. It is said that if you bathe in the dew gathered before dawn on Beltane morn, your beauty will flourish throughout the year. Those who are sprinkled with May dew are insured of health and happiness. There are other folk customs such as drinking from the well before sunrise on Beltane Morn to insure good health and fortune.

The central color of Beltane is green. Green is the color of growth, abundance, plentiful harvest, abundant crops, fertility, and luck. White is another color that is customary, white brings the energies of cleansing, peace, spirituality, and the power to dispel negativity. Another color is red who brings along the qualities of energy, strength, sex, vibrancy, quickening, health, consummation and retention. Sun energy, life force and happiness are brought to Beltane by the color yellow. Blues and purples (Sagittarius energies: expansion, Good Fortune, magic, spiritual power, Success), and pinks (Venus energies). Beltane is rich in vibrant color, lighting the eyes and cheering the Spirit as we leave the dreariness of winter behind.

It is customary to bake a colorful fruit and spiced filled bread for festivals in the Celtic lands, traditionally this festival bread is sweet dough made with sweetmeat and spices. In Scotland they are the bannock – Bonnach Bealtain – for Beltane, in Wales – Bara Brith, Ireland it is Barm Brack and in Brittany Morlaix Brioche. For Beltane this bread was made the eve before Beltane day, is it said that the bread should not allow it to come into contact with steel during preparation (steel is harmful, deadly to the faery folk).

Bannocks are actually uncut scones originally cooked on a griddle. Wheat does not grow well in the Highlands, originally bannocks were made with oat or barley flour made into dough with little water and no leavening. Traditionally, a portion of the cake was burned or marked with ashes. The recipient of the burnt cake jumped over a small fire three times to purify and cleanse him or herself of any ill fortune. Offerings of bannocks and drink are traditionally left on doorsteps and roadways for the Faeries as an offering, in hope of faery blessings.

May is the month of sensuality and sexuality revitalized, the reawakening of the earth and Her Children. It is the time when we reawaken to the vivid colors, vibrant scents, tingling summer breezes, and the rapture of summer after a long dormant winter. It is a time of extraordinary expression of earth, animal, and person a time of great enchantment and celebration.

The excitement and beauty of Beltane can not be better expressed than through the gaiety and joy of our children. There is not doubt “spring fever” hits at Beltane, and hits hard. Children are full of unbridled energy charged up and ready to go! Children always amplify the seasonal energies and the thrill of their change, they bring richness and merriment wherever they go.

It is the child’s unrestrained expression of bliss and delight that is what Beltane is all about. It is the sheer joy of running through fields, picking flowers, rapturing in the sunlight, delighting in the fragrance of spring, dancing in the fresh dew covered grass. Our children guide us through the natural abandonment of our adult sensibilities and show us how to take grand pleasure, warmth and bliss from the gift of Beltane.

Blessed Beltane to you and yours!

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~The Life of the Witch~

Just wanted to share this beautiful video here with my friends and followers, I hope you enjoy watching it and listening to the lovely Enya…..

Music: Caribbean Blue by Enya.

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~Beltane Blessings~

Beltane is a time of fertility and lusty magic, so it’s no wonder there is so much emphasis on sex this time of year. Fertility has been celebrated for thousands of years in many different ways, and for modern Pagans and Wiccans, there are all kinds of magickal aspects to this spring Sabbat. Let’s look at some fertility customs from around the world, the idea of magickal sex, and the magick that you can grow right in your own garden.

Fertility Customs and Magick

The Beltane season is a time of fertility, not only for people but for the land as well. If you plant a garden each summer, Beltane is a good time to do some fertility magick so that you will have an abundant crop by the time the harvest rolls around. There are many different methods of ensuring the fertility of the land, and you can incorporate any of these into your rituals and ceremonies.

In ancient Rome, it wasn’t uncommon for the master of the land to take his wife out to the fields and have sex right there on the ground. If you had a lot of land, this could take all day, but it was practically guaranteed to ensure that the field would be fertile and productive once your slaves got the planting done.
In some traditions, menstruating women add a bit of their blood to the soil to add potency. It’s a scientific fact that blood contains a lot of nutrients, so it makes sense to blend this in with the dirt before planting.
Farmers in the Congo region of Africa make offerings to the spirits of the land before they begin clearing it for planting. In addition to the offerings, there is also a great deal of chanting, drumming and singing, and it is only after the spirits indicate that they are pleased with the gifts and performances that the farmers may plant their crops.
The Algonquin peoples of the mid-Atlantic region performed ritual dances to ensure a bountiful agricultural crop each year. Dances involved a lot of noise, in order to wake the sleeping earth.
In Crete, a sword dance called the Kuortes was held each spring. During the Kourtes, a group of men gathered together, moving in unison with sticks or swords. Although it sounds warrior-like, it wasn’t a martial dance but one that scholars say promoted fertility, instead. If you think about it, banging a stick or sword on the freshly plowed earth has quite a bit of fertility symbolism.
Roman women paid tribute to Flora, the goddess of flowers, in order to ensure fertility of both the land and the womb. A woman who was having trouble conceiving a child might offer flowers at Bona Dea’s temple on the Aventine Hill. In an interesting paradox, Bona Dea was a goddess of both virginity and fertility, and was represented by the snake, often connected to fertility as well.
In Nagoya, Japan, residents still celebrate the annual Honen-sai festival. This is held each year in the spring, to make sure the crops will be plentiful, and includes a parade – the highlight of which is a giant penis on a float (the penis, carved from a cypress tree, is about fourteen feet long and quite impressive indeed).

In some (although not all) traditions of Wicca and Paganism, sacred sex is part of spiritual practice. Wicca in its original form is a fertility religion, first and foremost, so it’s understandable that at some point you may encounter some references to sexual acts, whether they be actual or implied. The Great Rite represents the union between the God and Goddess, and the joining of male and female.

Magickal Gardening

Naturally, this time of year, we’re talking about fertility, but not just for people. The land is fertile and welcoming too — it’s why we plant seeds now, so that they can grow during the summer. Magickal gardening can be a productive way to spend your time, and it will bring you closer to nature. Here are some ideas for getting your hands into the soil at Beltane, and planting magickal gardens.

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