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Beltane 2008: Scattered Blossoms

I’m working on a very large post, and normally I would post it in sections, but it’s not the sort of thing that can be broken up. In the meantime, I offer some reflections of the joys of the season:

hangedgodThis morning — May First — out of the blue — our five-year-old son woke up and saw fairies everywhere. Everywhere. He was ecstatic, sitting in bed, watching the tiny things dancing on his blankets, dancing on his pajamas, dancing on his sisters’ heads. He laughed and laughed and laughed! He saw them at school, he saw them on the playground, he saw them at the dinner table… He whispered his secret into his best friend’s ear. “That’s so awesome!” said his friend. At dinner all the kids put a bit of their food into a bowl for the fairies.

Fairy folk are all around
In the trees and in the ground
Gods above we honor you
Be with us in all we do
Ancestors who’ve gone before
Wisdom from the other shore
Offerings we make to you
Fire, water, living wood.

Esmerelda’s weather witching this year has apparently led to a striking result. Look at this map, which shows temperatures for the month of March this year, alongside an in-depth look at the El Nino and La Nina phenomena. Notice in particular that while March 2008 was the second-warmest March ever (beat only by March 2002), and Europe and Asia in particular suffered amazingly high temperatures, North America (where Esmerelda focused her efforts) was pretty much dead-on average — even slightly cooler than average in eastern Canada.

Speaking of weather magic: since we’re deep into 2008 now, it makes no sense to keep offering the 2008 Almanac at full price. It’s now available at 50% off: $9.99 for the print version, $7.00 for the download. Happy Beltane!

After a long winter of silence, I’ve started posting again at the Word of the Day and Druid Journal Meditation blogs. (Update 2010: these blogs are now ended.)

For the Word of the Day, I put up an analysis of the name Barack Hussein Obama, which was hugely fun to do and uncovered a lot of surprises about the names — and surprises about the man, as well.

For DJ Meditation, I posted a description of one of my daily visualization meditations — no analysis, no rumination, just what I experienced. See what meaning you can draw from it.

This winter I’ve been working on a major project for DJ Meditation, which I hope to unveil very soon. Stay tuned, true believers!

Tomorrow we will have Maypole dances for the small children at school, and this weekend we’ll be going to the big dance at Lady Tiana’s. Anyone else local headed out there?…

Oh, the green grass and the blooming trees! What greater joy??

beltane2008

Lughnasadh 2007: Embodiment of Sunfire

This Lughnasadh has been a quiet one for our family, but one with some very interesting revelations for me personally.

Our Family’s Lughnasadh

tolkientarotiiiOur usual mentor, Ellen Hopman, was away in Tennessee leading a large gathering, so the six of us tramped into the woods to do our own little thing. It turns out that back behind the farm where we get our summer vegetables is a stand of woods with a network of crisscrossing paths, and a lovely little brook with bridges scattered here and there along it. It was amazing to us what a sense of peace and reverence permeated these quiet woods, even though they are almost completely surrounded by developments now. At one of these bridges we sang “We are Children of the Earth” and silvered the water; then we went to the top of a hill and gave our offerings to the trees and to fire. I read a selection from the life of Lugh — the part where he’s taken from his home on earth and raised up to be a man by the King of the Sea, and how he decides to return to Ireland and free it from the yoke of the Fomorian invaders. Then we did a brief divination using Druid Animal Oracle cards, asking for guidance in our search for a home closer to the land. The general indication was that the search will take considerable cleverness and a strong warrior spirit, but that we will have help.

Then we tramped back to the farm proper and had a feast of whole wheat and oat rolls and salad. We placed a roll at the base of a birch for the local fairies, as well. Afterwards, most of the kids headed for the sandbox, but our 6-year-old second daughter, who I sometimes think has more intuition about people and relationships than the whole rest of the family put together, sought out the farmers, buttered them up properly, and secured a free cantaloupe and other random fruit. We had a lovely time.

Lugh: The Embodiment of Sunfire

Lughnasadh is Old Irish for “Lugh Gathering”, and it was a fire festival celebrated midway between the summer solstice and the fall equinox — a time of gathering together for trade and exchange of goods and ideas. As such, it wasn’t primarily a harvest festival, though according to legend it was established by Lugh, king of the gods, in tribute to his mother Tailtiu, who died readying the fields of Ireland for agriculture.

Lugh is the primary syllable of Lughnasadh, and it is similar to the name Luke and Latin lux in sound and meaning: a light, volume-filling energy is gathered with speedy, fluid motion into a grounded container — or, put more simply, embodied, flowing light.

It appears that some of my guides arranged matters so that they would be “revealed” at this time of year, when the energy of the sun is made manifest, because they are so closely tied to solar energy.

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Fionn Mac Cumhaill Sings of Beltane

The following is a poem attributed to one of the greatest Irish heroes, Fionn Mac Cumhaill, said to have been composed by him shortly after gaining the gift of poetry from the salmon of wisdom.

ire36May-day, season surpassing!
Splendid is color then.
Blackbirds sing a full lay,
if there be a slender shaft of day.

The dust-colored cuckoo calls aloud:
Welcome, splendid summer!
The bitterness of bad weather is past,
the boughs of the wood are a thicket.

Summer cuts the river down,
the swift herd of horses seeks the pool,
the long hair of the heather is outspread,
the soft white bog-down grows.

Panic startles the heart of the deer,
the smooth sea runs apace-
season when ocean sinks asleep-
blossom covers the world.[Continue Reading…]

A Druid Imbolc Celebration

Imbolc is traditionally the time when the lambs are born, and the sheep begin to give milk. (The etymology of “Imbolc” is uncertain, but is probably derived from Old Irish i mbolg, “in the belly”, referring to the pregnancy of the ewes, or to the nascent springtime.) In the British Isles, the daffodils are blooming, and spring is making its presence felt. Here in Massachusetts, we finally got our first real snowfall, and any lambs born right now would be nursed on ice cream. Maybe we should consider pushing back the celebration next year… In any case, our family and our Grove celebrated this weekend, and we all had a great time.

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Samhain 2006

Samhain, the old Celtic pagan holiday underlying Halloween, has recently passed. It’s the old New Year, and it’s a time of endings and beginnings. It’s also a time when the residents of the other world — gods, sidhe, and the dead — are more able to reach out of their realm into ours. For most modern pagans, Samhain is a time to honor ancestors and teachers who have passed away.

We took our children to Celebrate Samhain, a gathering hosted by the Spiral Scouts in Peterborough, New Hampshire. The price of admission: nonperishable food items or winter clothing in good condition. (The Spiral Scouts, which you can learn more about here, is an organization analogous to the Boy Scouts and the Girl Scouts, but you don’t have to be monotheistic to join.)

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Lughnasadh 2006

Lughnasadh (pronounced lune-ah-sah) was a summer festival of the ancient Celts, celebrated around August 1. My understanding is that it is known that it was celebrated at either the full moon or the new moon closest to the midpoint between the summer solstice and the autumnal equinox. Since the midpoint is on August 6th, that means that this year, Lughnasadh falls on either July 25 (the new moon) or August 9 (the full moon). We celebrated the new moon this year; for the reason why, see the footnote below.

onthanksgivingLegend has it that the god Lugh established the holiday in honor of his mother, Tailtiu. Traditionally, it was celebrated with trade festivals, fairs, and bonfires. In the modern Druid Revival tradition, Lughnasadh is the midpoint between Midsummer and the fall equinox, one of the eight primary holidays of the Sun Path.

For some reason, the company I work for, which builds dictation software, has not yet established Lughnasadh as a company holiday. So we decided to celebrate on Sunday, the 23rd, instead.

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On the Druid Path to Lughnasadh

I’m engaged in the Candidate Year of membership in the Ancient Order of Druids in America. Here I’ll go into some detail about some of the requirements and how I plan to meet them.

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