Thursday, April 30, 2015

On the eve of Beltane

Turmoil.  Strife.  Anger.  Resentment.

Not a great way to go into one of the most holy days of the year, but that's where we are none the less.  Beltane is tomorrow and, as is my usual ritual, I'll be outside at dawn to greet the sun.  I'll stand in white, facing East, chalice in hand and smile as the rays touch the water I'll use throughout the day for washing and cooking.

And I'll think of those who wake and greet the sun each day because they have no homes to shield them from the changing weather.  I'll think of those who greet the sun each day because they're only just getting home from work at what might be a very thankless job that puts them in harm's way.  I'll think of those who greet the sun because they've sat vigil all night for loved ones they've lost.  Those people don't choose to rise early from a warm bed and a sleeping partner to stand in the growing sunlight and worship at their leisure.  Tomorrow I will pray for them.

My rituals as a solitary are simple - there isn't a lot that needs to be said out loud when it's just you and the Goddess.  In fact, if you were to look at me during rites and not know what I was about then it'd likely look like I was whispering to a cup of water really early in the morning, and then looking in the grass for a lost earring or something.  But that's all it is when you're celebrating the Sabbat by yourself.

It's been a magical aid sort of week - a friend with a sadness that needs easing, a sister with a pestilence that needs to be cleansed from her, another sister with something very precious that was lost and must be found, and my own dear love who has been sick for far too long.  Tomorrow I'll pray for all of them too.

I have a lot of prayers to say tomorrow morning.

My ceremony: Beltane for the Solitary

A chalice with plain water
a bit of bread
a white tealight candle

Wake before sunrise and walk through every room in your house, look around and make a mental list of things you want to clean up.  Take time in the dark of morning to be thankful for the house you have.
Fill your chalice with fresh, clear water and be thankful for the gift of clean water.
Pick up your bit of bread and be thankful for the food you have.

Walk outside, barefoot if possible, and feel the cool morning air on your skin, the wet grass on your feet.  Look at the horizon and know the sun is rising again as you look on.  Know that it rises every morning.

Wash your face and hands in the dew on the grass, soaking in the beauty of nature.

Hold your bread before you and offer it to the Earth, to the spirits of those gone before, to the fae and other kin that live around your house.  Set it beside a tree or plant as an offering and leave it there.

Place the candle on the ground in front of you and surround it with twigs and leaves that you find around you. Wait to the light the candle.

As the sun starts to rise, hold your chalice before you and watch the rays of the sun falling on the water.  Take this time to speak to the Goddess and/or the God.  Thank them, pray for those who need it, and welcome the warmth of Spring and Summer back into your life.

Light the candle and greet the fire of the sun with the fire of your tiny bonfire.  Watch the smoke rise and mix with the fog of morning.

Ideally you would watch the full sunrise and conclude your rites later in the morning.  My schedule on the weekdays is not so free.

If you cannot watch the full sunrise, wait until you can see at least a quarter of the sun above the horizon and then thank the Quarters for being there, carry your lit candle and the full chalice back inside and go straight to your shower.  Using part of the water and still with your lit candle, wash yourself and cleanse yourself of the winter and the dark, and bring in the fire of Beltane.

Place the chalice on your stove and use the rest of the water that night when you make dinner.  If you don't make dinner that night, simply drink it before going to bed.

Carry the candle (extinguished) with you all day as a reminder of the fires burning today to bless fields and livestock.  Tonight, when you're home from your day, light the candle again and carry it from room to room, blessing your house with the new fire.

Wash your doors and windows with water infused with lemon and rosemary and sage, blessing them and bringing them into the light, renewing all the wards as you go.

Sweep your whole house, get all the cobwebs from winter out and sprinkle sage and yarrow in all the corners of your rooms for grounding and warding.

Before you go to sleep, quiet your thoughts and relax, and know that you are among the Blessed.

Blessed Beltane!

Monday, April 27, 2015

To see the world...

Travel is one of the most amazing things, and greeting the sun in a land not your own is an excellent way to stretch your practice.

I recently went to Germany, and seeing the town in all it's medieval splendor was nothing short of amazing.  The lane you see in the picture was my daily walk for a week, from my hotel to the dance hall that I spent hours in with friends and good music and food.

Daily I was able to look out of my window and see the sunrise, and greet the familiar orb over a land and river foreign to me.  It was wonderful!  The rays were a familiar hug each day, and it was easier to go and explore on my own with the knowledge that I wasn't really alone with the beauty of the sun to help me long.

Miltenberg is a religious city, and there are many statues of Mary and the Blessed Child around.  The church is central to the town, and the bells ring to tell the time, beautiful sounds over a city straight out of a fairy tale.

Visiting the world as we do, traveling to places that are home for some and lands of mystery for others, do we think about how that is true for people who visit the places we call home?  The places we know like the back of our hands are places of mystery for others, but do we consider that?  Do we stop and remember how immensely beautiful our home cities are to those who have never seen them before?  This is important - we are stewards of our cities, and if we forget how beautiful they are, we forget what we're preserving, what we're protecting and what we're presenting to others.

Bringing it with you... bringing my practice to Germany, my morning rites were simple - a smile at the sun, a whispered thanks for the ability to travel here and see these things and a whispered request for protection while on the journey.  I smiled at the moon each night, thankful for another day of fun and laughter, with no worries or harm.

I've brought a little of that serenity home with me, in images and memories and post cards.

When next you travel, remember to bring your practice with you, and see what a difference that makes in your day.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Waking up your space

As I got in my car this morning to make the horrible commute into work, I noticed the bulbs finally peeking above the mulch in front of the house.  I smiled, wide, and laughed a little that I might finally see them, might finally get some color into my yard.  I can't plant outside yet, it's too cold still as evidenced by the sleet and hail we're getting right now, but to see those small shoots poking up, I'm hopeful that this consistent cold won't kill them off before they have a chance to bloom.

I got extremely lucky when I moved to New England - the house I moved into seemed poised and ready for me to show up and it was truly like coming home from the moment I set foot in the door.  Waking up the land after a long winter wasn't hard last year.  This year the cold lingers, and the Earth seems ready and reluctant at the same time - Earth is now us when the room is just cold enough to annoy us, and the blankets are the perfect level of warmth to keep us trapped, unwilling to move.  Getting this lady out of that bed would be nearly impossible - how can we think it'll be any easier to get Mother Nature out of bed?

These are the days that I spend walking barefoot around my back yard.  These are the days that I make a point to venture out and touch the trees, the leaves, the young shoots.  These are the days that I make a point to pour my energy back into the ground, to help those fragile growing things get strong to survive the lingering cold.

I can feel the growing around my house, and I can smell it when I step out the door.  The blackbirds play around my house, and the blue jays, and wrens.  The gulls circle by and I can hear the cry of the red tailed hawks.  I invite those hawks to come to my yard and save my plants from the voracious squirrels that are already scavenging my window boxes for something tasty.

It's all rain and wetness here now, and I absolutely love it! The fog in the morning, the scent of the rain waking up the soil... the rain are tears of happiness that Spring is here. Everyone needs a walk in the rain every now and then.

There is a brilliant woman who runs a blog by the name of HectateDemeter who introduced me to a term called "landbase" - that is, the area where you live and work.  She talks about the connection she has to her land, the care she gives it and how it helps her grow in her craft.  Go read her blog, you won't be disappointed.