Monday, April 30, 2012

The coming of Beltane

     Beltane, a festival of life and fertility, is celebrated on or around April 30. Beltane and its counterpart, Samhain, divided the year into its primary seasons, winter and summer. Also known as May Eve, this festival joyfully heralds the arrival of Summer and the pastoral growing season.
   The word "Beltaine" literally means "bright" or "brilliant fire" and one of the chief ritual acts was the kindling of bonfires, often on hills and created from the nine sacred woods, in order to bring the sun's light down to earth and honor summer. The fires also celebrated the return of life and fruitfulness to the earth. To jump between two Beltane fires was sure to bring good fortune, health to your livestock and prosperity - young people jumped over for luck in finding a spouse, travelers jumped the fire to ensure a safe journey, and the pregnant jumped over to assure an easy delivery. Sometimes the fire was lit beneath a sacred tree, or a pole covered with greenery was surrounded by the fuel, or a tree was burned in the fire. These trees survive in the Maypole of later custom and they represented the vegetation spirit.
   Beltane is the time of sensuality revitalized; the reawakening of the earth and all of her children. Thisis a customary time for Handfastings for a year and a day. Celebration included frolicking through the countryside, dancing the Maypole, leaping over fires and "going a maying". It was also usual for young lovers to spend the night in the forest.
   On May Eve people would tear branches from a Hawthorn tree and decorate the outside of their homes. The Hawthorn, or Whitethorn, is the three of hope, pleasure and protection.

Be on the lookout for tomorrow's post to include some Beltane crafts to try your hand at!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Pagan Blog Project - H is for Handfasting

     This week's Pagan Blog Project post is on something that is close to my heart, Handfastings. My husband and I were married July 23, 2010 with a handfasting and I believe it's a beautiful addition to any wedding or ceremony.

     Handfasting was a form of trial marriage in both Ireland and Scotland during the early Christian period. The hands were tied together which explains the origination of the term “tying the knot”.  In rural areas it could have been weeks or even months before clergyman stopped by a village so couples had to learn to make do. Handfastings were the equivalent to today’s common-law marriage and was generally done in the presence of witnesses. In Scotland marriages were considered a matter for the church until 1560 when marriage became a civil matter rather than a church sacrament.
     Today, handfastings are a ceremony used by heathens, pagans and non-pagans alike. It may be a non-state registered wedding or a wedding where a marriage license is filed and there are probably as many different ritual types as there are people who have had it performed. Generally the hands are bound with some type of ribbon or cord. One custom involves the couple facing each other then placing the right hands together, then the left, forming the infinity symbol while the cord is tired around them in a knot.  Another, is that only one set of hands are joined together and bound. 

     As I shared earlier, for our wedding, my husband and I exchanged rings and then held our hands together in the shape of the infinity symbol. I had made our handfasting cords - 3 cords made out of ribbon in colors symbolising various things we wanted in our own marriage.  Our vow was a Celtic vow I had found while doing some research and planning in the months beforehand. Each cord was tied around our entwined hands and to this day, almost two years later they are still tied together, just as they were that day, and hanging around the frame of our wedding picture.

     Because of this, I also began making handfasting cords for sale on Etsy. Click HERE for a look at what I have to offer so far! (Just a little shameless, self promotion there!) 

Monday, April 2, 2012

Absence makes the heart..... something or other... :)

   A very weary and tired hello to all my wonderful followers. I have been noticeably absent from my blog for quite some time now and I do apologize. Things have been pretty hectic with my family.

   First of all, I found a job! Beginning on March 5 I began training as a sales agent for DirecTV at a local call center here in my town. It's a great job, very easy to get the hang of and it's definitely not like my time with I'm making a great hourly wage plus commission, something new for me as I've never held a "sales" position before.

    Of course, with the beginning of my job came the beginning of daycare for my 17 month old daughter, Rayne. She still hasn't quite gotten used to it and cries when I drop her off but me, I'm proud to say, I stopped crying along with her about two weeks in. However 2 days into daycare she had to be picked up for a fever of 102 and taken to the hospital where we were told she had a virus. Two weeks later she still had it so we went back into her pediatrician who informed us she had double ear infections, a virus, a bacterial infection as well as a sinus infection..... and all this because they didn't give her antibiotics at the hospital because the virus wasn't "bad enough for antibiotics yet".

   And lastly, we finally found a place of our own! After a lot of searching and deliberating on the neighborhood we started renting a very spacious 3-bedroom town home right in the center of town, perfectly spaced between my job and the hubby's. We're still setting up house which is why I haven't returned to blogging as soon as I would have liked. Well, that, and we were without internet for the first week and half of being here.

   So here's to new and great things and the return to writing! Slainte!