Monday, October 6, 2014

So it's been since June since I've made a post. I'm not a very good blogger but I won't apologize for it. I'll just pick this up where I might have left off. 

This is actually something I've been wanting to write about for a few weeks now. If you're an active member of any online group, you've probably seen the request numerous times in varying words:
"Seeking energy/positive thoughts/prayers/etc"

I know in the past, I've asked. But I've also learned not to ask people I don't know. Why? Because you never know what you're going to get. As a human, we'd like to think that people are kind and nice, like we are. But the truth is that not everyone out there is. And sometimes, it's not done on purpose. There are people out there who could inadvertently send out the wrong energies. It could range from something like they don't know what they are doing or that they don't know how to control it. And they're just having a bad day and accidentally send out the wrong energy. Which means things will just get worse for you. Then there are those who know what they are doing and they know how to control it and they purposely send out bad or negative energy. I would like to think that these people are few and far between, but I honestly think there are people out there who do it. Without a second thought as to who it effects or how it effects them.  

So please, be careful when you ask for such things. Especially in a public forum. Make sure you know who you're asking. And if not, be sure to protect yourself and those around you.

Monday, June 9, 2014

My apologies to the members and creaters of COH

I am writing this as an apology to any and all members, current, future and past. It has come to my attention that my recent actions towards the Covenant of Hekate and its members and founders has caused a lot of upheaval and dislike (dare I say hatred?) towards me. I can't make excuses for what I've done. I can say that I was trying to impress others with my actions maybe. Peer pressure? I don't know. I honestly don't know. I do know that my words upset many people and for that I am truly sorry. I know what I've done can't be forgotten or forgiven. I'm only asking for a chance to make amends. I know it can't and won't happen overnight. And that I have months of work ahead of me. All I ask for is the time and patience I know I'm going to need.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Dark Origins Of Valentine's Day

The Dark Origins Of Valentine's Day

February 13, 2011
Valentine's Day is a time to celebrate romance and love and kissy-face fealty. But the origins of this festival of candy and cupids are actually dark, bloody — and a bit muddled.

A drawing depicts the death of St. Valentine — one of them, anyway. The Romans executed two men by that name on Feb. 14 of different years in the 3rd century A.D.
A drawing depicts the death of St. Valentine — one of them, anyway. The Romans executed two men by that name on Feb. 14 of different years in the 3rd century A.D.
Hulton Archive/Getty Images
A drawing depicts the death of St. Valentine — one of them, anyway. The Romans executed two men by that name on Feb. 14 of different years in the 3rd century A.D.
Though no one has pinpointed the exact origin of the holiday, one good place to start is ancient Rome, where men hit on women by, well, hitting them.
Those Wild and Crazy Romans

From Feb. 13 to 15, the Romans celebrated the feast of Lupercalia. The men sacrificed a goat and a dog, then whipped women with the hides of the animals they had just slain.
The Roman romantics "were drunk. They were naked," says Noel Lenski, a historian at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Young women would actually line up for the men to hit them, Lenski says. They believed this would make them fertile.
The brutal fete included a matchmaking lottery, in which young men drew the names of women from a jar. The couple would then be, um, coupled up for the duration of the festival – or longer, if the match was right.
The ancient Romans may also be responsible for the name of our modern day of love. Emperor Claudius II executed two men — both named Valentine — on Feb. 14 of different years in the 3rd century A.D. Their martyrdom was honored by the Catholic Church with the celebration of St. Valentine's Day.
Later, Pope Gelasius I muddled things in the 5th century by combining St. Valentine's Day with Lupercalia to expel the pagan rituals. But the festival was more of a theatrical interpretation of what it had once been. Lenski adds, "It was a little more of a drunken revel, but the Christians put clothes back on it. That didn't stop it from being a day of fertility and love."
Around the same time, the Normans celebrated Galatin's Day. Galatin meant "lover of women." That was likely confused with St. Valentine's Day at some point, in part because they sound alike.

William Shakespeare helped romanticize Valentine's Day in his work, and it gained popularity throughout Britain and the rest of Europe.
William Shakespeare helped romanticize Valentine's Day in his work, and it gained popularity throughout Britain and the rest of Europe.
Perry-Castañeda Library, University of Texas
William Shakespeare helped romanticize Valentine's Day in his work, and it gained popularity throughout Britain and the rest of Europe.
Shakespeare In Love
As the years went on, the holiday grew sweeter. Chaucer and Shakespeare romanticized it in their work, and it gained popularity throughout Britain and the rest of Europe. Handmade paper cards became the tokens-du-jour in the Middle Ages.
Eventually, the tradition made its way to the New World. The industrial revolution ushered in factory-made cards in the 19th century. And in 1913, Hallmark Cards of Kansas City, Mo., began mass producing valentines. February has not been the same since.
Today, the holiday is big business: According to market research firm IBIS World, Valentine's Day sales reached $17.6 billion last year; this year's sales are expected to total $18.6 billion.
But that commercialization has spoiled the day for many. Helen Fisher, a sociologist at Rutgers University, says we have only ourselves to blame.
"This isn't a command performance," she says. "If people didn't want to buy Hallmark cards, they would not be bought, and Hallmark would go out of business."
And so the celebration of Valentine's Day goes on, in varied ways. Many will break the bank buying jewelry and flowers for their beloveds. Others will celebrate in a SAD (that's Single Awareness Day) way, dining alone and binging on self-gifted chocolates. A few may even be spending this day the same way the early Romans did. But let's not go there.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Cemetery Work--Part 2

Protection from Random Dead

It’s never a good thing to have random dead spirits hanging around you. It may seem cool to others, but random dead spirits mostly have a desire to feed on your energy and magick. And if these are dead spirits of violent or mentally ill people, then all the worse as they tend to be dangerous and unpredictable. Being able to tell what type of spirit is around you is not always easy, even for seasoned worker. Spirits can be tricky in concealing their identities and can blend into the shadows or even into one another. Therefore, it’s best when planning a trip to the cemetery to protect yourself from attracting the attention of a potential “friend”.

There are many methods of protection, so use the ones most known and comfortable to you. Here are a few things I’ve found effective. Use a protection oil (a blend that can be used directly on the skin) on your hands, back of the neck, top of the head, in the bellybutton (seriously, most people ignore that spot, but it’s a major opening into one’s body/spirit), underarms, crooks of elbows and knees, and bottom of feet. Cascarilla is sometimes used in place of the oil. Wear protective jewelry. Carry a protective amulet or talisman or gris-gris. Tie a red string around your waist (next to your skin, inside your clothing). Carry salt with you to throw over your shoulder (without looking back) as you leave the cemetery, as salt drives away the dead.

Some people will not speak to anyone else after leaving the cemetery until they arrive at their next destination and cross over a protected threshold, usually the person’s house but it can also be a church. This is so their voices are not recognized by anything from the cemetery and so they don’t provide any openings for spirits to enter through. While inside the cemetery, you might be under the protection of the guardian you honored, however, once you leave, you’re on your own.

If you perform an especially strong or malicious working while in the cemetery, chances are you’ve gotten the attention of many more spirits than you probably want to. One method of keeping these spirits from following you home is to remove your outer-most layer of clothing, turning it inside-out, and putting it back on. This is very difficult to do without drawing attention to yourself unless you are doing this in a remote cemetery at night. It’s illegal to be in most cemeteries after dark or passed their public hours, however, if you’re planning a work that calls for such extreme protection, I hope you’ve found a cemetery that will allow you the freedom and privacy for not only the protection but for the work as well.
Grave Dirt

Properly collected grave dirt can be used for a variety of works, but most commonly it is used for dark purposes. Drawing on the magickal laws of contagion and “like attracts like”, grave dirt brings forth its immediate connection with death, the dead, and the underworld. If the dirt is from an actual grave, as opposed to dirt from the cemetery grounds, it also can also call upon the properties of the gate or veil between life and death, as every grave is potentially a portal into the Underworld. There are sources that list either ground mullein or patchouli as substitutions for grave dirt, but these sources are absolutely WRONG. There is no substitute for grave dirt. It must be, exactly as its name implies, dirt from a grave, or at least from inside a cemetery. Most likely, these incorrect assumptions were the musings of squeamish practitioners, for whom I have no tolerance. Mullein and patchouli can both facilitate magickal connections with the cemetery if, like any other herb, they are actually found growing within one, but that is still not a substitute for actual grave dirt. If one is going into a cemetery to collect herbs, then why not just collect dirt, as well? There are herbs and trees that have Underworld and Death associations, but none of them are used in the same manner as grave dirt as far as I’m aware.

Properly collecting grave dirt can be simple or complicated, depending on your intentions. The first set of actions that place into motion the ritualistic collection of grave dirt is discussed above in properly honoring the guardian of the cemetery upon entering. This makes sure that no one in the cemetery sees you as a thief or an easy target. Next, go to either the grave you intend to collect from or the area of the cemetery grounds. If you are collecting not from a grave but the cemetery grounds, it’s very simple. Kneel down, knock three times on the ground, and state, mentally or aloud, your intention. It can be as general as “I am collecting this dirt for any future magickal workings that call upon the virtues of the cemetery,” or it can very specific. The important thing is to state some intention, magickally charging the material, otherwise you just have dirt. Collect the dirt, and place three coins into the hole, covering them with any loose dirt as well as hiding as much as possible all traces of your actions (fallen leaves from nearby help with this).

To collect from a grave, do as above, but at the end add an offering for the person whose grave it is, such as a small amount of whiskey or rum or Florida Water. Collecting from a grave can get complex. Sometimes we collect from a grave for its “portal to the Underworld” properties, and sometimes we collect to either capture the essence of the type or person buried there, such as a murderer or insane person, or to try to call upon the actual spirit of the person. The latter is much more difficult and rarely successful. Research often has to be done, as well as a preliminary trip to the cemetery to locate the grave prior to any working (more so for actual workings, rather than grave dirt collection).

Friday, January 31, 2014

Cemetery Work--Part 1

Entering and Exiting the Cemetery

At the entrance of every cemetery there is a guardian, sometimes synonymous with the Guardian of all cemeteries or even Death itself, depending on who you ask. Regardless of how you see this guardian, there should be a proper acknowledgement and/or payment upon entering its guarded territory in order to successfully carry out anywork you wish to do there. Otherwise, you are simply a visitor or guest, and it would be considered rude or insulting to start conducting business in a host’s home without proper permission. Just like it would be considered theft to take or collect anything from the cemetery without paying for it. Also, it’s considered a bit sketchy to sneak into a cemetery from an opening other than the main entrance or another entrance, almost like coming into someone’s home through an open window, rather than the door. Proper respect should always be given to the cemetery and those who guard it, as there are consequences that await those who do otherwise even if those consequences are not immediately experienced; Death has a way of sneaking up on you.
Upon approaching the gate or entrance, have three coins in your hand and mentally make a connection with the guardian, sending a very brief introduction of yourself (this can be as quick as a thought). State that you wish to do business or you have come to collect grave dirt or whatever you need to do, but you don’t need to go into detail. Then, knock three times on the gate, the gatepost, or, if nothing else is available, the ground. At this point, you enter the cemetery either face-forward or backward. If you are there to do something innocuous, such as collecting grave dirt or herbs growing within, then walk in facing forward; however, if you are there for more sinister reasons, walk in backward. (This is to protect your identity from those spirits who stand just inside the cemetery and keep track of who enters and leaves the cemetery, and if you are there for sinister work you want as little record of your actions as possible.) Which ever way you enter, drop the three coins as you cross the threshold. You have now acknowledged, honored, and paid all those concerned with the guardianship of the cemetery and are now free to carry out whatever business you have come for.
To leave the cemetery, just walk out the same way you walked in, either forward or backward. Some say you have to pay on your way out, also, but I’ve not found that completely necessary. You may say a mental word of thanks to the guardian, if you feel lead to do so. Older cemeteries tend to have older guardians who don’t really care, but if you intend on regular visits to the same cemetery, you may want to establish a relationship with that particular guardian. However you leave, just make sure to keep walking forward and don’t look back.

Baba Yaga~The Black Goddess

Baba Yaga~The Black Goddess
The story of Baba Yaga is prime among many images of the Black Goddess. The Black Goddess is at the heart of all creative processes and cannot be so easily viewed. Men and women rarely approach her, except in fear. Women are learning of her through the strength and boldness of elder women who are not afraid to unveil her many faces.
Sofia as wisdom lies waiting to be discovered within the Black Goddess who is her mirror image. Knowing that, until we make that important recognition, we are going to have to face the hidden and rejected images of ourselves again and again.
As women, we are confronted throughout our lives with unavoidable body messages regarding the uniqueness of our form and the inevitable changes that characterize aging and the passage of time. Although aging presents difficult challenges for both men and women, women confront some specific difficulties because of their gender. In traditional narratives, the end of biological fertility has relegated women to the status of "old women" who are stereotypically viewed as poor, powerless, and pitiful in our sexist and youth oriented culture. Baba Yaga, often referred to as the Black Goddess, and Vasalisa, often representing Sophia (Matthew's 1992, p. 289-90), are intrinsic to the psyche of girls and women because they shows us that the illusion of form can hide wonderful qualities within.
One of the cruelest of stereotypes that older women face is the "menopausal woman." These are accentuated by the very fact that younger women are often rejecting or distancing to older women in society, unwilling to identify with women older than themselves. These experiences are painful confirmations that the aging woman no longer meets the social criteria of a physically and securely attractive woman. The common result for most women is the activation of shame -- as if becoming/looking older means that something is deeply and truly wrong with oneself.

Conscious femininity is a cyclic process (Woodman 1990) and involves an awakened awareness of the triple form of the Goddess - Mother, Virgin and Crone - and how she exists simultaneously and continuously in all of our psyches, each taking center stage in awareness at different moments. These archetypal patterns are considered intrapsychic modes of consciousness in the individual, and the primordial image of a powerful and integrated woman, crowned with wisdom gleaned through real experience, is again reemerging through both the individual and collective psyches of humanity. First, however, women must learn to embrace, respect and honor their changing bodies, abilities, capacities and WISDOM. We can learn a lot from Baba Yaga!

An archetype is a universal symbol, an inherited mental image to which humankind responds, and which is often acted upon as an unconscious reaction to human experience. These stories are no different and the story of Baba Yaga exemplify this phenomena. The female experience is symbolized by and archetypally corresponds with the ancient Triple Goddess as the creator and destroyer of all life -- "the ancient and venerable female divinity embodying the whole of female experience as Virgin, Mother, Crone" (Mantecon 1993, p. 81). The archetypal figure representing the end of a woman's childbearing years, or the "third age" for women, is the third aspect of the Triple Goddess, the Crone.

At the climacteric or menopause, women are often forced to stand precipitously between the culmination of past experiences, to realize that youth is left behind, and prepare a new space within whereby a fresh image will coalesce as she envisions her future. This is real labor. The traditional constructs that are available to women are largely influenced by patriarchal standards of youth and beauty and we need fresh constructs that honor the diversity of life in all of its forms.

When a culture's language has no word to connote "wise elder woman," what happens to the women who carry the "Grandmother" consciousness for the collective? Prejudicial (prejudged) attacks throughout history against older women symbolized patriarchy's feminization of fear: the ultimate fear of annihilation, to be nonexistent (no existence). Centuries-long indoctrination limits our imagination so that we see this ancient aspect of the feminine only in her negative forms. We see her as the one who brings death to our old way of being, to our lives as we have known them, and to our embodied selves.

Our fear of the unconscious makes the Crone or Baba into an image of evil. The prevalence of paranoid masochism finds its expression through feminine perversion. Kristeva (1986) writes from "Stabat Matar" that: "Feminine perversion is coiled up in the desire for law as desire for reproduction and continuity, it promotes feminine masochism to the rank of structure stabilizer" (p. 183).

Structure stabilizer! Natural death is to be feared, hidden away, certainly not recognized as part of the natural rhythm of cycles of birth, death and rebirth? Only when death becomes projected does it become a monster to be feared. There is an unconscious belief that a woman who has outlived her husband has somehow used up his life force. Walker (1985) claims that the secret hidden in the depths of men's minds is that images of women are often identified with death. Women have also bought into this mindset largely because of lost connection with their own spirituality and the natural cycles of nature!

To be sent to Baba Yaga was tantamount to being sent to one's death, but Vasalisa was actually helped by Baba Yaga. By facing her own worst fear -- death itself, Vasalisa became liberated from her previous situation and immaturity.

The myths of our society tell us much about the attitudes and world view of the myth-owners (Kaufert 1982), and these attitudes are the products of women's roles within the wider society. Myth arises out of the collective level of humankind's experience, which is presented through images and symbols that resonate within our psyche. It is something we inherit from our ancestors and it is expressed through our genetic, racial memory. Kaufert (1982) reminds us however, that "myth is a system of values presented as if it were a system of facts" (p. 143).

The symbol of the Crone is unique to a feminine worldview where the face of the Virgin and the fecund Mother, the Virgin Mother Mary, was absorbed in Western tradition into Judeo-Christian imagery. Likewise, we see the image of Vasalisa embodied as this innocence. The Crone has retained much of her pre-patriarchial character where she has haunted the fringes of Western culture, largely ignored, unacknowledged and rejected; one that often strikes fear into the hearts of men and some women because she has tremendous power and cannot be confined (Hall 1992). "Wise women," in the past, were literally seen as having the power of life and death. They symbolized maturity, authority, attuned to nature and instinct. They were women whom men could not bind by making pregnant. They personified, as Hall (1992) writes:
"That aspect of life that men would most like to control but against which they are powerless: death. The Crone was healer, seer, medicine woman and, when death arrived with inexorable certainty, she was the mid-wife for the transition to another life (p. 170)."

Over time, and in recent history the Crone became associated with the dark side of the feminine; the withered old hag, the witch. Ironically, the word "Hag" used to mean "holy one" from the Greek hadia, as in hagiolatry, "worship of saints." (Starck 1993). And during the middle ages hag was said to mean the same as fairy.

In deconstructing these familiar images of the older aging woman, we must first identify their symbolic roots and challenge them in order to allow for potent, vital images that energize women's potential creative spiritual evolution. In this quest it is crucial to find valued female images that present creative and spiritual power, that offer a paradigm of ongoing formation and integration. If we do not do so, we risk encountering images of women that reinforce stereotypical models and moreover, can only alienate us from our own truest selves.

The Crone is a figure who incorporates both dark and light, life and death, creation and destruction, form and dissolution. The doll [Vasalisa's doll, given to her by her dying mother] becomes the symbol of the Sibyl, a figure of inspiration and intuition. She acts as a guide through the great passages of life, leading a woman into her own inner knowing.

We see this in the story of Vasalisa and Baba Yaga, the innocence of the maiden coming of age through a series of tasks. Baba Yaga forces Vasalisa to look within through intuition (the doll) and she awakens to the illuminating light that is carried in her heart. Within the simple limits of a folk story, the interactions of Sophia (Vasalisa) and the Black Goddess (Baba Yaga) are demonstrated. Baba Yaga or the Crone also embodies the inner archetype of Sophia, feminine wisdom. Hall (1992) writes:

"Sophia is a Wise Woman, one who epitomizes feminine thought. This thought is of a particular kind. It is 'gestalt' or whole perception; it synthesizes and looks at the overall pattern; it is logical but empathetic, and combines acute observation with intuition. It is relational (taking account of the past in order to project forward into the future), and it arises out of care and concern for man and womankind. It uses both the left and right brain modes of thought. It is creative and concerned with vision and solutions -- attributes which are an integral part of the Wise Woman (p. 179)."
Sophia plays, hides, adepts, disguises, and brings justice. Interestingly, we see these very same qualities attributed to the wise woman as being Vasalisa's, only not fully formed. Thus affirming the feminist perspective of the Goddess in all of her aspects and that all ways to wisdom are valid paths. Girls and women are encouraged to rely on their own subjective experience or on the communal experience of other women This is a very important point!

From a feminist perspective, the entry into the third phase of women's life is seen as a time of spiritual questing, renewal and self-development. It is a time where women are encouraged to explore themselves through interaction with other females who are providers of friendship, support, love, even sexual satisfaction, rather than a woman's family.

Likewise, the young girl growing into maidenhood needs the guidance and wisdom that elder women can provide. She must receive the gifts that the wise ones can give her. Baba Yaga may appear as a witch, yet she is instrumental in folk traditions. She aids heroes to find weapons, simplifying tasks and quests when she is treated with courtesy. Her transposed reflection is none other than Vasilisa the fair - the young righteous maiden who defeats her opposite aspect by truth and integrity (Matthews 1992)

The older woman is the keeper of the wisdom and tradition in her family, clan, tribe, and community. She is the keeper of relations, whether they be interpersonal or with all of nature. Every issue is an issue of relationship. It is assumed that she has a deep understanding of the two great mysteries, birth and death.

Another quality is the ability to be mediator between the world of spirit and earth. She is emancipated from traditional female roles of mothering and is free to make a commitment to the greater community. As a result of this freedom, there is an abundance of creativity unleashed in this phase of life; often expressed through art, poetry, song, dance, and crafts, and through her sexuality as she celebrates her joy (Joussance).

This elder time must again become a stage of life revered and honored by others and used powerfully in service by women themselves. The elder "Wise-woman" can represent precisely the kind of power women so desperately need today, and do not have: the power to force the hand of the ruling elite to do what is right, for the benefit of future generations and of the earth itself.

Like Baba Yaga, the Crone must help us by her example and "admonish us to revere all peoples and all circles of life upon this earth . . . not only important for the dignity and self-esteem of each woman, but vital for the countenance of life on our sweet Mother Earth" (Eagle). Since men define power as the capacity to destroy, the Destroying Mother Crone must be the most powerful female image for them, therefore, the only one likely to force them (us) in any new direction.

A woman who denies her life process at any time in her development, clinging desperately to outmoded images, myths and rituals of her past, obscures her connection with Self, the Divine, and therefore, with her spiritual heritage, the natural universe. The same holds true for our daughters, maidens who are coming of age. There is a kind of internal balance and sense of holiness available to us when we accept ourselves as part of a world that honors cycles, changes, decay and rebirth. It is time for women to reflect and give form to the authentic self in its evolving, formative process. The woman who is willing to make that change must become pregnant with herself, at last. She must bear herself, her third self, her old age with labor. There are not many who will help her with that birth. To Crone is to birth oneself as "Wise-woman," and see the world through new eyes.
We have not had the safety valve of feminine metaphor in our spiritual understanding; consequently, the Feminine, both Divine and human, have appeared monstrously contorted, threatening and uncontrollable.

The Black Goddess lies at the basis of Spiritual knowing, which is why her image continuously appears within many traditions as the Veiled Goddess, the Black Virgin, the Outcast Daughter, the Wailing Widow, the Dark Woman of Knowledge.

The way of Sophia is the way of personal experience. It takes us into the realm of "magical reality," those areas of our lives where extraordinary vocational and creative skills are called upon to manifest. Those treasures of Baba Yaga and Vasalisa lie deep within each of us, waiting to be discovered.

Matthews, Caitlin. (1992) Sophia Goddess of Wisdom: the divine feminine 
from black goddess to world-soul. London, Eng.: Thorsons, p. 289-90)
Starck, Marcia. (1993) Medicine ways: cross-cultural rites of passage. 
Freedom, CA: Crossing Press.
Tijerina-Jim, Aleticia. (1993) Three native american women speak about 
the significance of ceremony. Women and therapy: a feminist quarterly, 14 (1/2), p. 33-39.
Eagle, Brooke Medicine. Grandmother wisdom: lessons of the moon-pause. 
Guerneville, CA: Harmony Network Productions
Author of text is unknown.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

B is for Beltane

Beltane is a Celtic word which means 'fires of Bel' (Bel was a Celtic deity). It is a fire festival that celebrates of the coming of summer and the fertility of the coming year.
Celtic festivals often tied in with the needs of the community. In spring time, at the beginning of the farming calendar, everybody would be hoping for a fruitful year for their families and fields.
Beltane rituals would often include courting: for example, young men and women collecting blossoms in the woods and lighting fires in the evening. These rituals would often lead to matches and marriages, either immediately in the coming summer or autumn.
Other festivities involved fire which was thought to cleanse, purify and increase fertility. Cattle were often passed between two fires and the properties of the flame and the smoke were seen to ensure the fertility of the herd.
Today Pagans believe that at Beltane the God (to whom the Goddess gave birth at the Winter Solstice) achieves the strength and maturity to court and become lover to the Goddess. So although what happens in the fields has lost its significance for most Pagans today, the creation of fertility is still an important issue.
Emma Restall Orr, a modern day Druid, speaks of the 'fertility of our personal creativity'. (Spirits of the Sacred Grove, pub. Thorsons, 1998, pg.110). She is referring to the need for active and creative lives. We need fertile minds for our work, our families and our interests.
Fire is still the most important element of most Beltane celebrations and there are many traditions associated with it. It is seen to have purifying qualities which cleanse and revitalise. People leap over the Beltane fire to bring good fortune, fertility (of mind, body and spirit) and happiness through the coming year.
Although Beltane is the most overtly sexual festival, Pagans rarely use sex in their rituals although rituals often imply sex and fertility. The tradition of dancing round the maypole contains sexual imagary and is still very popular with modern Pagans.

This year, Beltane is Thursday, May 1st.
May is the time of fertility and new beginnings after a long winter. The Faeries are afoot! They dance in the hills and roll in the grass, reveling in the joy of warm May breezes. Our spirits are high with the lust and heartiness of spring. New life is stirring and appetites are keen. -Laurie Cabot, Celebrate the Earth
In Celtic tradition, the two greatest festivals of the solar year are Samhain and Beltane, celebrations of death and rebirth, respectively. Love is in the air at Beltane. In our rituals, we celebrate the union between the Great Mother and her young Horned God. Their coupling brings fresh new life on Earth. Some form of this Great Rite is enacted on this sabbat in nearly every modern pagan circle. The Great Rite symbolizes the sacred marriage, or sexual union, of the the Lord and Lady. Often the rite is performed symbolically by a male and female who place a knife (a phallic symbol) into a chalice (a female or yonic symbol). In Old Europe, whole villages would celebrate May Day by slipping away into the woods for indiscriminate sexual encounters. Any children conceived during this occasion were known as "merry-begots" and were considered children of the gods. These "greenwood marriages" were acts of sympathetic magick believed to have a positive effect on their crops, animals, and themselves. (In this age of AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, however, we must exercise responsibility -- by means of safe sex, monogamy, or even abstinence. Use your better judgment.)
Crop fertility was a strong theme at this sabbat. Besoms were ridden hobbyhorse-style through fields by women in symbolic fertility rites. Menstruating women ran and danced naked in the newly-sown fields. Cows were led to the fields to calve, and ritually consecrated chalices of sheep's blood and milk were poured on the crops, as were ashes from the balefire.

Herbs:  All-heal, blessed thistle, broom, curry, daffodil, dogwood, coriander, dragon's blood reed, fern, fireweed, nettle, flaxseed, hawthorn, marjoram, paprika, radish, rue, snapdragon, mushroom, almond, meadowsweet, rose, woodruff, tansy, elder leaves.

Incense: Rose, jasmine, ylang, ylang, peach, musk, or vanilla
Stones: Malachite, garnet, rose quartz, emerald, beryl, tourmaline