Beltaine Impressions

I have always loved Beltaine, one of the Celtic fire festivals – it has the same energies and liminal feeling as Samhain and it marks the start of Summer in South Africa. It is getting light earlier in the mornings, it is generally much warmer and the smell of Imphepho penetrates the air.

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“Summer is here!”

The weekend before Beltaine started with a bang! I had to officiate a spiritual wedding for a lovely couple on the Saturday. The carbon paper went up in flames when the wind blew it onto the Cedar incense I like to light when I complete the official documentation. I barely managed to throw it into the sink before everything else caught fire and then the Gazebo was blown away just before we got started with the ceremony.

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“Only the clouds bear testimony of the gale force wind!”

The Sunday was spent “well tending” and collecting Imphepho. I am a member of a Brighidine Order and we do beach clean ups or tend to rivers and lakes during every Celtic Fire Festival in Brighde’s name. “Only” two bags of plastic, fishing gut and other stuff was found, but I am sure there will be much more when the wind and the tides change again.

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“Well tending = beach clean up”

I am so glad that the Imphepho in my area recovered from last year’s bull dozing.  After having to stretch my dried plants for almost two years, it is growing now all around me in abundance and I have started to gather plants. I use it a lot as an offering during my workings. For me personally, it embodies the genius loci and the ancestors.

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“Imphepho is the Zulu and Xhosa name given to a number of herbs in the Helichrysum genus: Helichrysum odoratissimum; H. petiolare; H. nudifolium; H. pedunculatum”

At sunset on Beltaine eve, I lit my Brighde candle for my 24 hours candle vigil and my bonfire. I made offerings to Belenos and Brighde in the form of whiskey and herbs:

“Hail summer, season of light and of life. Blessed are those who stand here today, witness to the ancient rite. To everyone who passes between the flames, whether human or beast, may health and prosperity come!

May the fires bring us fields of ripe corn and fruit in abundance. May the fires bring us streams of white milk, freedom from conquest, fair justice and righteous law, comfort and abundance in every home.

May the fires bring us rivers of fish, forests filled with strong woods, great abundance of clean water, ornaments of silver and gold, rich soil, sheep with fine fleece, fat pigs and healthy cattle. May every disease and unhappiness be purged from those who walk here, in the name of Belenos and Belisama!”

Copyright 1999, Ellen Evert Hopman

http://tribeoftheoak.com/resources/rituals/beltaine-rite/

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“Beltaine Bonfire”

There is nothing better than sitting next to a massive bonfire and play the frame drum. The wind died down to almost nothing after another day of gale force wind just in time for the fire. The ritual left me with being utterly at peace with myself and the world and the very exciting feeling of great and new things to come.

This was confirmed by the Ogham card I drew that night:

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“Uillend (Honeysuckle)” is the third Forfeda and the twenty-third letter of the Ogham. It is usually ascribed to the Honeysuckle which is also known as the Woodbine. Liz and Colin Murray said that the Honeysuckle represented hidden secrets. “Whereas the ivy is concerned with the search for self, the Honeysuckle shows the way in which to achieve this – the special dance or step that leads into the labyrinth of inner knowledge”. The Celtic Tree Oracle.

BELTAINE BLESSINGS!

 

The Druid Retreat for Spiritual Work and Healing, Part II: What to do During Your Druid Retreat

I have to give this a try.

The Druid's Garden

Interplay of light and darkness on the landscape of Western PA Interplay of light and darkness on the landscape of Western PA

Following the path of the sun and the moon we can learn much about the work of a druid retreat in our lives. The daylight is where we typically live–it is bright, it is loud, people are about, lots of activity is taking place. The daylight offers us a particular way of seeing the world, of interacting in it, and while everything is bright and illuminated, it is so bright that we see only what is there. We scurry about, we live our busy lives, the sun blazes down upon us.

Retreat allows us to transition out of that sunlight for a bit and have respite. As the retreat grows near, the sun begins to set, and things begin transitioning. You set your goals for the retreat; you pack your bags, and you do some initial spiritual work. Then…

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Robin Herne

I have to include this in my to read list.

Druid Life

I first started reading Robin Herne’s work along time a go in Pagan Dawn magazine. I’ve got all his books, and I think he’s brilliant. Robin is a very knowledgeable Druid, with a lot of historical insights. He’s also a fantastic story teller, running an annual Pookas Pageant that tells stories with a polytheistic flavour to raise money for good causes.

What Robin isn’t, is a self-publicist. He’s always doing exciting things, but he doesn’t pour much effort into telling people how fabulous he is. This is part of what makes him fabulous, of course, but it also means he’s nothing like as a famous or as well read as he deserves to be. Sadly in the Pagan community we are too often persuaded to take most interest in the people who are best at pushing themselves forwards, often at the expense of really interesting folk who have no inclination…

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Imbolc 2016

This Imbolc has been very special as it is the first one that I celebrate as a Brighidine Flametender with the Clann Bhride – Children of Brighid who I joined at the Summer Solstice in 2015.

Imbolc is the point on the Celtic Wheel of the Year where the passing of Winter is marked, even though there may still be wintry weather ahead. We celebrate Imbolc on the 1st /2nd of August in South Africa. In the Celtic calendar, the seasons are delineated by changes in light and by now the lengthening days are clearly noticeable. For our rural ancestors whose lives depended on crops and the birth of the animals, any sign of the return of spring must have been eagerly awaited.

The source of the increasing light and heat is Brighid. On Imbolc, she moves across the land, bringing the promise of renewal and the return of joy. The name Imbolc means “in the belly” and another popular name for this Celtic Fire Festival is Oilmec which means ” ewe’s milk”. The dangerous part of winter, when sheep might die, has passed. The tribe has survived another year.

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My Imbolc altar: Brighid’s cross, Brighid doll in her bed, milk and rusks as offerings and candles to be blessed for flametending cills for the next 12 months.

I lit the centre candle at sunset 17:39 SAST to start my 24 hour flametending cill with Clann Bhride. Four times a year at the Celtic Fire Festivals, we all join in and light our candles at sunset rather than the individual shifts.

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As part of my Imbolc ritual and my devotion to Brighid, I did the “Nineteen flames for Brighid” prayer litany from Lunaea Weatherstone’s book “Tending Brigid’s Flame” which is very appropriate in our troubled times. It is very important to remember that Brighid always holds the twentieth flame, which is eternal.

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Imbolc is a powerful time to make protective and strengthening talismans. One traditional one is the brat Brhide, also called Brighid’s cloak. This is a length of cloth which is left outside overnight on  on Imbolc Eve for Brighid to bless as she passes by. It can be used for healing and used each year to be blessed again. I knitted mine from hand spun wool I bought on the Isle of Iona a couple of years ago.

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I had planned to crochet an altar cloth featuring a Brighid’s cross since the beginning of the year, but only finished it on the eve of Imbolc. My favourite colours representing her are greens, pinks and white. I converted a cross stitch pattern I found on http://www.pinterest.com into a fillet crochet pattern.

Sources: Clann Bhride – http://clannbhride.wordpress.com/

Lunaea Weatherstone – Tending Brigid’s Flame ISBN978-0-7387-4089-8

http://www.lunaea.com/flame/

 

 

Tree Resins from Eastern North America: Harvesting, Crafting, and Incense Making

Another great article about incense making by Danu. It gives me the idea to do a study on which indigenous trees could be used.

The Druid's Garden

Jack Pine Resin - Abundant and Amazing smelling! Jack Pine Resin – Abundant and Amazing smelling!  I harvested this locally.

Burning incenses, particularly the burning of tree resins, has been known throughout the millennia as a sacred activity. Incenses are offered to the spirits, the land, the gods, the ancestors as a way of seeking communion and blessing. Today, most people who are interested in “natural” incenses gravitate towards resin incenses for their lasting effect, delightful smells, and natural origins. Resin incenses are typically the dried sap from trees: trees may be scored or drip naturally and the sap hardens, creating the resin (like Frankincense, Myrrh, Benzoin, Copal).  Others might be dried liquid from trees or fruit (like Dragon’s blood). When you burn the resin on a charcoal block, you get billows of incredible, sweet smelling smoke. Tree resins have an extensive history certain parts of the world, and are often highly revered by the cultures that produce…

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My Imbolc Playlist

Great playlist for upcoming Imbolc.

Ozark Pagan Mamma

1. Dante’s Prayer – Loreena Mckennitt

2. Way to the Well – Ruth Barrett

3. The Wild Song – Anuna

4. Hallaig – Martyn Bennett

5. Shepherd Moons – Enya

6. Holy Water, Sacred Flame – Anne Hill

7. Candlemas Song (Bergita) – Lisa Thiel

8. Return to the Mother – Reclaiming and Friends

9. Born of Water – Lindie Lila

10. Shining Water – Anuna

11. The Quickening – Spiral Dance

12. The Hymn to Bridget – Isaac Bonewits Memorial

13. Song to Brighid – Lisa Thiel

14. Brighid – Kellianna

15. Eiri Na Greine – Anuna

16. Imbolc – Lisa Thiel

17. Welcome Brid – Beverly Frederick

18. The Dove’s Return – Aine Minogue

19. Gabhain Molta Bhride – Claire Roche

20. Deeper Well – Wailin’ Jennys

21. Brighid’s Kiss – La Lugh

Imbolc Playlist - Ozark Pagan Mamma

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