Living the Wheel: Seasonal Musings of the Pagan Year

Thoughts and musings of the wheel of the Pagan Year.

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Breathing In Beltane's Magic

   I have been long away from the SageWoman Blogs; having started a new job in January, I am still adjusting to the change in my rhythms and tasks. After four months I still find myself floundering, not quite sure how to fit everything into the twenty-four hours we have every day, and things I find pleasure and solace in, such as all of my writing projects, have been pushed aside so I might focus on work projects and caring for my family. I realize I am not alone in this situation: parents and caregivers all over the world face this same struggle every day, and we all of us end up feeling some sort of guilt over the choices we make.

   I am not going to spend this post wondering how to balance everything, or how to avoid feeling the unwarranted yet unavoidable guilt that comes from being a working parent/caregiver. Instead, as today is Beltane eve, I am going to think about what Beltane brings to us, and the joy Beltane trails in its wake. For who doesn't love Beltane? Samhain, Beltane's sister holy day, is dark, mysterious, and magical, but Beltane is altogether different: flowery, glittery, all light and laughter. It is a sabbat of bonfires and music, dancing and faerie-lore. Today I have a rare day off (and I still will be going into work for a meeting later today) and on waking the day felt altogether different, just knowing that I (mostly) had a free day. Generally I wake up in a pleasant mood, as I truly enjoy the work I am now doing, but today I woke happy, not just in a good mood. I am still happy, despite a grumpy getting-sick five year old and the fact that twice now my computer has nearly lost the unsaved drafts of this post. (I am now saving it every two sentences, btw)

   What is it that makes us so happy in the springtime? Is it the fact that winter has finally let go and freed us to revel in the sun? Or is it the colors springing from branch and earth to waken our senses? We humans are visual creatures. We need light and color, form and shape to fill our eyes and energize our minds. Like the snow-covered fields we lie fallow through the winter, and a part of our souls pine for the damp rain-kissed breezes that herald the arrival of spring. Finally, finally, after what feels like an eternity of snowfall and melt, we step outside that one special morning. The sky gray, the air frigid, but there is a feeling, a barely-there scent just noticeable to our frost-nipped noses, and we know. We fully realize what it was those few early birds had only hinted at. Spring.

   Suddenly we are filled with vitality and hope. Days don't seem so long, even though daylight is lasting longer. I work until five o'clock every day--what joy to see the sun only beginning to set at seven o'clock, instead of five, as it did only a scant few weeks ago. New life is springing up everywhere: animals are having babies, my friends are having babies, my window boxes are having babies! I began my seeds in flats at Ostara, and today my son and I will be transplanting our beans and squash. The tomatoes, peppers and carrots will have to wait a week of two longer, but that just gives us something more to look forward to. In our garden plot the garlic and tulips we planted in October have sprung up joyfully, providing a splash of crimson and green in the otherwise sere bed. Just driving by that corner plot makes me smile. 

   While trying to adjust to my new routine as ' working mom' (which, I might add, I have never understood, as every mom --and dad-- works) my family's ritual observances have fallen by the wayside as well. Yes, the children hunted for eggs and their baskets on Ostara morning, the Ostara Bunny having done an excellent job of tucking the baskets into rather unimaginable places, and yes, we had a family dinner with prayers of thanks, but we didn't really take a moment to meditate on the meaning of Ostara or what it means to each of us. My youngest child is especially curious now, asking questions about the holy days as well as the Christian God as he tries to figure out how he fits into our family's practices while trying to process what he is taught at his grandmother's house each day. How much more confusing to him that his family only talks about the day and what it means without actually putting any of those words into action. I find Beltane to be a particularly child-friendly holy day. There's no candy or treats of any special kind involved and there aren't any presents, but there is so much happiness that children can't help but get caught up in it. As well, in my household we have two special practices that we observe every Beltane eve: we make an offering to the Guardians of the home, and leave strawberries and cream out for the faeries. Our home Guardians are a pair of gargoyles, rather a mismatched pair of fellows, though they seem to be quite friendly to each other. The older, a small dog-like fellow named Ezekiel, hangs above the front door, while his younger companion Gabriel, a large, menacing winged cat sits atop the grandmother's clock in the living room, daring anyone not welcome to try and venture past. (Why these two have Biblical names I cannot really say. Those were the first names that popped into my head the first time I held them, and I can only conclude that they named themselves.)

   Tonight my youngest child will have the responsibility of lighting a candle for each of the Guardians, and before he goes to bed he will be the one to leave the faeries a snack. For him, tonight will be a night filled with magic, and beauty and magic will undoubtedly fill his dreams tonight. The rest of us in the household, adults and older teenagers, will bask in his joy and excitement, and a little Beltane magic will fall on us as well, blessing us and allowing us to be children again, if only for a little while.

   I wish all of you a wonderful joy-filled Beltane. May your dreams be met, may your hearts be filled, and may a little sparkle dust your days. 



For those of you who have zero time to breathe, much less plan any kind of ritual, here is a link to Tess Whitehurst's blog Enchanting the Day:

5 Ways to Celebrate Beltane in 5 Minutes or Less

As you may know, Friday is Beltane, or May Day: the day opposite Samhain/Halloween on the Wheel of the Year, when the veil between the worlds is lifted and the portal between the realm of humans and the realm of the faeries is open wide. It's a time associated with abundance, fertility, sensuality, romance, celebration, and purification. And while Beltane festivals abound and you can certainly build a bonfire and drum or dance the night away if you so desire, even a brief ritual of magic or devotion can have a powerful resonance, and can transport your consciousness into the realm of the sacred. With that in mind, here are five ways to celebrate Beltane in 5 minutes or less.

1. Make a candle bonfire. Beltane bonfires are traditional ways to purify by burning away the last remnants of winter and turning stuck energy into vibrant power and life. To perform the same energetic action in miniature, place a red pillar candle on a plate and arrange naturally shed twigs and fresh blossoms around its base. Light the candle, breathe deeply, and send your consciousness into the center of the flame, feeling/seeing/sensing the fire burn away all old unnecessary conditions and stuck energy into beautiful, radiant light.

2. Dance wildly. Find a song that fills you with equal parts joy, wildness, and sensuality. Then blare it loudly and dance, being as silly and free as possible. Make sure hip shaking and pelvis grinding is involved, and if you make yourself laugh in the process, that's extra credit.

3. Make a faerie offering. Celebrate your interconnection to the web of all life, including the life of the fae, also known as the aliveness and consciousness within all of nature. A handful of birdseed can be an excellent offering to the fae, as can polished or faceted crystals, shiny coins, and beer, ale, or champagne in walnut shells.

4. Purify your threshold. Beltane is a particularly powerful time for purification, and doorways are very much in alignment with this expansive and transitional time. As such, smudging your front door with white sage, desert sage, or palo santo, washing it with warm water into which you've added essential oils like spearmint or cedar, or misting it with a smudge spray, can be an excellent way to purify your life and attract beautiful blessings and opportunities.

5. Engage in a pleasure ritual. Sensuality and pleasure are in Beltane's domain, and taking even a short moment for it can reap wonderful, lasting benefits. Mindfully eat a bit of your favorite chocolate, revel in walking barefoot across a lawn, or anoint yourself with an adored essential oil blend and lose yourself in its scent.

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I am a writer and poet living in western Massachusetts. I have a degree in English Lit, with a focus on the nineteenth century, and am working toward a degree in Women's Studies as well. My work has previously appeared in The Pagan Activist, The Pagan Review, GrannyMoon's Morning Feast, and The Montague Reporter. I am currently working on a series of children's books, a novel trilogy, and a poetry manuscript (I simply can't do one thing at a time!). I also have several random fantasy-based short story projects that I attack once in a while.   I am a Dianic Pagan and practice Kitchen Wicca, and am also a Reiki Master. For a glimpse into my own little corner of reality, you can stop in and visit me at Ellie.


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