Tag Archives: fertility

Blessed Beltane!

BELTANE
Falling on May 1, this holiday is the last of the fertility festivals in the wheel of the year, and celebrates the union of spring and summer, male and female. I like to view this season as the time of courtship between the God and Goddess.

In Druidic society, Beltane marked the time of the year when the cattle were driven out to pasture. These cattle were first driven through purificatory fires to rid them of disease and illness. Fire plays an important part in the rites of Beltane. Sacrifices by fire were performed in ancient times; in modern times, a person is chosen to jump over the sacred fire while others clap and sing.

Oatcakes are traditional to the season, as well as the dance of the maypole. The intertwining ribbons on the pole represent the union of the male and female principle, while the pole contains an obvious phallic symbolism. Beltane is also known as Walpurgisnacht, made famous in the tale of Faust.

Followed by the Summer Solstice, the wheel of the year continues to turn, and the “holiday” series of my blog concludes – hope you enjoyed your year long lesson of Sabbat histories from ancient times :)

Happy Spring!!!

SPRING EQUINOX

Some call this. Sabbat “Ostara”, a name which echoes in the origins of Christianity’s Easter. No matter the title, the symbolism is essentially the same, for this is the first day of spring.

This is the fertility festival of vegetation – everything is once again green with new life, and swelling with unopened blooms and the promise that is to come. Babylonians recognize it as the new year; Greeks held the Festival of Dionysus at this time, and the Romans had their Lupercalia. The Christians’ “last fling” of Shrove Tuesday is Paganism’s “first fling”, celebrating the “light” half of the year.

The Sabbat of the Spring Equinox is used to honor the Maiden Goddess aspect, and the Young King who feels First Love. It is a good time to plant seeds, symbolic of new beginnings. It is also a good time to start working on any long-term goals that you may have. Milk, flowers, honey cakes and decorated eggs are offered to the God and Goddess on this day.

May the seeds you plant this season flourish and bear wonderful fruits! :)

Happy Imbolc!

IMBOLC


The first holiday of the Celtic year, Imbolc falls on February 1. Some practitioners prefer to celebrate on February 2, or Candlemas, but I prefer February 1 as the Sabbat day as well. If you will notice, all the other cross-quarter Sabbats fall on the first day of the month, or the eve before; this is because the Celtic days were counted from sunset to sunset, instead of sunrise to sunrise. I feel that rituals should be held on the eve of the Sabbat, and that a public festival should be held on the Sabbat day.

Imbolc is the first fertility festival of the year and is symbolic of the time when the ewes come into milk.  Cattle usually give birth at the end of the winter season, and goats always seem to have their kids on the coldest night of the year.  This holiday represents the union of winter and spring – the first stirrings of consciousness in a cold and slumbering world. This is the time when we sweep out the old, so that new may enter. In Europe, one way Imbolc was celebrated was with a torchlight procession; this flame magickally purified and fertilized the fields before the seed-planting season.

The birth of the Young King occurs right after the Winter Solstice, and by the time of Imbolc he is a young lad. This holiday is when the Young King is to be named and armed. The role of the Goddess is still ambiguous: some choose to honor her in the aspect of the Mother of the Young King, others honor her as the Crone Goddess of Winter.

Ste. Bride (Brigit, Briid, Brede, Bridget) is the most commonly worshiped goddess on this holiday.  She is lady of the home and hearth, and candles are kept burning all night in her honor.  Another European custom is that of Brigit’s bed. Before retiring on Imbolc Eve, a corn dolly is made and placed upon a small bed.  The dolly is covered with a handkerchief, and an invitation is made to the goddess Brigit to come and spend the night.  Modern rituals often include the wearing of a crown of candles, and the ceremonial “sweeping out” of the circle.

Enjoy, we’re halfway through winter! :)