Bringing in Beltane…Magical May Eve

Today, 30 April marks the beginning of May Day celebrations, ushering in the month of May, the festival begins at dusk on 30 April. These celebrations were, and to many are known as Beltane, and is matched by its celebratory European counterpart, Walpurgis Nacht or St Walpurga’s Night in Germanic tradition.

The month of May is named after the Greek goddess of spring and new abundance, Maia, (also called Flora) the oldest of the seven sisters known as the Pleiades. Maia was the mother of Hermes (Mercury.)

Flora, or Maia by Botticelli

The name ‘May’ has been used in English since about 1430. Before this time the name of this month was spelled Maius or Mai. The Anglo- Saxons called it Tri-Milchus because all that lush new grass meant cows could now be milked three times a day.

May Day has its roots in astronomy, celebrating the halfway arrival point (at least approximately) between the spring equinox and the summer solstice. It has been celebrated in the British Isles and through much of Europe as a fertility festival since the Dark Ages, and probably before that, with many stories and superstitions attached.

Like Halloween, May Eve and May Day is a magical time of year, liminal, when the veil between different worlds and realities is thinner than at other times of year.

This is a time for ghosts but this is also the time of year when folklore suggests you are most likely to meet a supernatural being from the realm of ‘faery.’

Such an encounter might be friendly, but probably it won’t be. Such encounters are dangerous and are best avoided – or you may never be seen again. Do not, whatever you do, go to sleep on a fairy hill at any time, but especially not on May Eve or May Day. Especially beware of going to sleep under hawthorn bushes.

Beltane

The two greatest Celtic festivals were Samhain (Halloween), marking the start of winter, and Beltane (April 30/May 1) marking the start of summer.

Beltane ‘the fires of Bel’ began as an ancient fire festival celebrated since at least the Dark Ages if not long before. The celebrations began at dusk on April 30th when great bonfires were lit to welcome the height of spring now associated with the zodiac sign of Taurus the Bull, representing the fertility of spring in full bloom.”Traditionally,” writes Glennie Kindred (in Sacred Celebrations), “all fires in the community were put out and a special fire was kindled for Beltane. This was the ‘balefire’ or the Teineigen, the ‘need fire.’

Bel or Belenus (Celtic: possibly, Bright One) was a deity associated with pastures, meadows and animal husbandry and other agriculture. He was a fire god rather than a sun god as such, though the sun was used as a common motif in religious imagery.

The cattle were walked between two bonfires in a symbolical purification ritual, to be protected by the smoke from Bel’s fire before being put out to the open pastures for the summer.  Bonfires were lit on sacred hills too, and the smoke was considered a magical blessing on the fields, animals, and community, and was also supposed to maintain a fragile balance, keeping up a smokescreen, literally, between the human and faery realms.

The Christian church made several attempts throughout history to ban May Day festivities because of its overtly pagan nature and “lewd” context as an open celebration of male and female sexuality and fertility ‘a heathenish vanity generally abused to superstition and wickedness.’ 

May Day meant drinking and fighting, another reason for the church’s disapproval, but this in itself harks back to the ancient traditions of the sacrifice of ‘The Green Man’ – a mythical figure representing the eternal battle waged between summer and winter, feast and famine. Many pubs in England are still named The Green Man.

In Padstow, Minehead and some other places in the UK, mischievous hobby-horses (‘osses) roamed and still do roam the streets in search of unsuspecting young ladies to ‘carry away’ for nefarious undisclosed purposes.

Image: Morris dancers with hobbyhorse up to no good, Richmond embankment,1620

Men disappointed in love would make straw men representing their rivals and stick them on bushes. These depictions were needless to say, often deeply unflattering, and fighting might well follow once they were discovered and identified and the maker was known.

May Day harks back to the ancient traditions of the sacrifice of ‘The Green Man’ – a mythical figure representing the eternal battle waged between summer and winter, feast and famine. Many pubs in England are still named The Green Man.

The Puritans banned it altogether under Oliver Cromwell but Charles 11 brought it back into custom after the Restoration.

Recorded evidence of Maypole Dancing goes back at least to the 14th century, the texts suggesting the custom was very old even then, although the dance as we know it today, so pretty and decorative, children dancing in village squares, is probably an innovation of the Victorians, rather than ancient tradition. The maypole is generally assumed to be a phallic symbol, but the Norse had another story for it, connecting it to ancient tree worship. This connects the British with the Germanic tradition and before that, a shared proto-germanic culture which is part of the common root culture in British life even today.

Walpurgis Night/Walpurga’s Night

In the Germanic tradition, Walpurgis Night, on April 30th, is a moon festival sacred to the goddess Freya.

“Walpurga” is another one of Freya’s names. The re-dedication of the holiday to “St. Walpurga” was a later Christian addition.

Freya (Old Norse, Freyja, and “Lady”) is one of the pre-eminent goddesses in Norse mythology, also known as Freyja or Frigg, but almost certainly the same deity. She was the goddess of love and beauty in Norse mythology, the goddess of marriage and family and a great prophetess – a seeress. She taught her husband Odin how to read the runes, and like Odin, had a darker aspect as a patron deity of war and death in battle.

Freya wears a cloak of falcon feathers and a magical gold necklace called Brísingamen, and rides in a chariot pulled by two cats with a sacred boar called Hildisvíni running alongside. The boar is not present in this picture, and the cats, it has been speculated, were two male kittens found by Thor. Their mother had abandoned them apparently and he took them and gave them to Freya. We understand the kittens were grey-blue in colour, and it has been speculated they may have been Russian Blues. I can’t be the only one who would like to know how Freya taught them to do this….but she was after all, a mightily knowing goddess, and clearly a cat whisperer extraordinaire.

The Maypole dancing which so upset the Church and especially the Puritans with its overt phallic symbolism, and the associated misbehaviour by the time the dancers had downed a few drinks, comes down to us from the rites of spring dedicated to Freya.

The maypole originally represented a living tree, in particular the giant ash tree Yggdrasil, the great “world tree” of Norse myth, linking the nine worlds of the Norse cosmology including Asgard, land of the gods, heavenly world, Midgard or the earth and Hel, the underworld.

“Ygg” means terrible. The image and Music below, suitably ominous, is shared with permission from composer Sam Marks. It was on this tree that Odin chose to hang nine days and nights, thirsty and fasting in exchange for the knowledge of the runes. The Norns sit beneath it and when every new person is born, carves their names into its bark…and with it, their destiny, although this can change. The Norns will allow us to rewrite it, unlike the destinies woven by the three Fates of Greek mythology.

Yggrasil Music by Sam Marks

British  May Day Folklore…bringing in the May

I washed my face in water

That had neither rained nor run

And then I dried it on a towel

That was never woven or spun

  • The rhyme suggests go out barefoot very early on May morning, wash your face in that magical dew (or late snow) Your complexion will instantly improve.  Let the wind and sunshine dry your face and you’ll have good luck all year. Well, you can if you want to….depending on the weather, very early morning this time of year can be utterly wonderful
  • Bringing in ‘the may’ is considered lucky, and means gathering cuttings of flowering trees for magical protection of the home. Bring in branches of forsythia, magnolia, lilac, or other flowering branches. Decorate the doorway to keep unfriendly fae and other spirits away.
  • Make garlands or decorate a basket or a ‘May bush’ with flowers and coloured ribbons. This would often be a hawthorn bush but it doesn’t have to be.
  • If you need to move a bee hive, May 1 is a traditional day for doing it, hopefully clement for the bees.
  • Turnips are traditionally planted on May 1. Plant now, lovely mashed turnip later. What are you waiting for?
  • Fishermen expect to get lucky with catch on May Day.
  • It’s a powerful day for spell-casting…any spells to do with bringing in health, wealth, and abundance. Light a red or pink candle for love or passion…but be careful what you wish for, and it is unlucky to try and take what is not rightfully available to you.
  • Traditionally less lucky is to get married in May. But not to panic if you’ve got the date already booked. The writer of this article was born May Eve, Beltane and got married in May – 28 years ago this May- and has had mixed luck in life like all of us, but so far is still married.

Until next time 🙂

Candle safety

Never leave a candle unattended

Snuff candles out with a spoon rather than blowing on them

Tea-lights can melt certain surfaces e.g., TV’s. Use heat resistant surfaces.

Light candles at a safe distance from curtains etc

Heat rises. Be careful of leaving candles on shelves with other shelves above them.

The cosmic archer Sagittarius.

Most of us know our zodiac or sun sign, but what does it look like in the night sky, and what’s the story behind it? This month it’s the turn of Sagittarius.

Common associations

Symbol:

Date of Birth: Nov 22 to Dec 21

Ruling planet: Jupiter

Element: Fire

Key phrase:  I seek

Body: Thighs

Birth Stone: Topaz, Citrine, Turquoise 

Colour:  Light Blue

Tarot card:  Temperance

Temperance wiki rider waite.jpg

Public Domain:  Rider-Waite

The Astronomy

As with all of the Zodiac constellations, Sagittarius was recorded in the 2nd century by the Greek astronomer Ptolemy. The name is from the Latin for archer.

Sagittarius is a relatively large constellation which is mainly visible in the southern hemisphere. In the Northern hemisphere the constellation can be viewed low on the horizon from August to October. In the Southern hemisphere Sagittarius can be viewed from June to November. Star maps generally depict Sagittarius as a vaguely teapot-shaped star pattern or asterism.

Map sagittarius wiki.jpg

Sagittarius is near the centre of our spiral galaxy, the Milky Way. There is a massive star-forming region known as the Omega Nebula situated within its boundaries and Sagittarius is also home to the Pistol Star, one of the brightest stars, the fifth brightest discovered in the Milky Way. First discovered by the Hubble Space telescope in 1930, the Pistol Star is largely hidden in the dust of its own Pistol nebula, but is 100 times as massive as our Sun, and 10,000,000 times as bright.

Watch here for a mind-boggling representation of where the Pistol Star sits in the scale of size of stars in the Milky Way: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GoW8Tf7hTGA

The Myth

Sagittarius Celestial Atlas 1822.jpg

Public Domain: Celestial Atlas 1822

Sagittarius is the ninth sign in the Zodiac and represents those born between Nov. 22 and Dec. 21.

Greek myth saw Sagittarius the Archer shooting Scorpio the Scorpion, which had been sent to kill Orion the Hunter.

Sagittarius has long been mixed and confused with another centaur story, Chiron of the Centaurus constellation. Most interpretations conclude that Sagittarius refers to the the centaur, Chiron, who was accidentally shot by Hercules with a poison arrow.  

This story does indeed refer to a constellation myth, but it’s the myth behind Centaurus, a non-zodiac constellation, and not Sagittarius.

The myth behind Sagittarius probably refers instead to Krotos, a satyr who lived on Mount Helicon with the Muses. Krotos or Crotus was the son of Pan and Eupheme, and his mother had nursed the Muses.

Krotos was renowned for being both an excellent hunter, horse rider and a devoted adherent of the Muses and their arts. He is credited with having invented archery and being the first to use illumination for hunting animals. He is also said to have introduced applause, and used to clap his hands at the singing of the Muses, for whom this was a sign of acclaim preferable to any verbal ones. It was the Muses who asked Zeus to place him among the stars, which he did, transforming Krotos into the constellation Sagittarius.

Satyrs have human heads and torsos with two goat legs (and sometimes horns). Centaurs have four but the accounts and depictions of Krotos vary. But all the same, he was often depicted with four legs, as the excellent horseman he was.

The Astrology

Sagittarius is the ninth sign in the Zodiac and represents those born between Nov. 22 and Dec. 21. The archer is seen as a bridge between elements and worlds. The life lesson is seen as Temperance, as pictured in the Tarot card associated with this sign. The message is all to do with the quiet but enormous power of moderation, the art of expert timing, and also self-control, avoiding extremes and addictive behaviours.

The Astrological Personality

There is no such thing in reality as THE Sagittarius personality and the same goes for all the zodiac sun signs. Your sun sign is an archetype, a keynote but of course it is not and never could be the whole story.

The archetype of Sagittarius is brave, lively, warm, optimistic, rational and insightful. Sagittarius zodiac sign subjects need constant adventures and opportunities to grow to remain interested. Freedom is of the utmost importance to them, space and plenty of room for manoeuvre. Likewise they tend also to give lots of freedom to their partners.

They are generally very capable people but they need career flexibility, and they may refuse or fail to apply themselves if bored.  Like Gemini, they are prone to restlessness. They may then fail to stick at a job or a succession of jobs, and may struggle financially in consequence.

They tend to have lots of friends, and family and friends can feel neglected at times when Sagittarius goes go off and travels and shares experiences with strangers, but Sagittarians will always come home.

Next time, the cosmic goat Capricorn…

Cards go -a -counting

Practical Tarot at work…

 

It’s been a while since I last blogged here at True Tarot Tales. Sombre times one way and another, don’t we all feel it, and my older daughter has been unwell. There has been a lot of card reading going on meantime, but I haven’t got round to gluing my behind to the blogging seat * Slaps own wrist*

bad gold star

 

Daughter is well on the mend now, though not yet back to work. Micro-angiopathic Haemolytic Anaemia, a viral trigger is suspected but has not been identified. She needed a series of plasma infusions and also haemodialysis.

The illness came on suddenly and I had been puzzled, a little uneasy at the repeated appearance of the 9 Spades in the days before Il Matrimonio went away to Colditz

They let him out again, drat it, and he didn’t even need the famous glider glued with porridge in making his daring escape to Leipzig in search of a schnitzel.

The forthcoming trip was flagged up in my playing cards by the 10 of Clubs but the 9 of Spades kept popping up too, next in the sequence. This is generally regarded as a dire card, signifying illness and worry, and I decided the trip would go fine, the cards were not showing me an illness for Il Matrimonio, but I didn’t know why it was popping up, or for whom, and could almost certainly not have done anything about it anyway.

This is part and parcel of divination of course, and that potential for possibly totally unwarranted stress is just something to be handled. Three times now, I have drawn the Devil card and noted the fact of its ugly-mug appearance hours or days before a major terrorist attack, and this is of no use to me or to anyone, but still, it is rather odd. I drew the Devil and The Chariot four hours ahead of the attack in Nice, and fretted about a car journey we were due to do next day, being unable to identify the context in real terms.

Returning to the 9 of Spades and my daughter’s sudden illness,  a 999 jobbie, we all had a bit of a fright but, that first emergency over, the Knight of Cups indicated she would would be all right, and might go home within the next twelve days of admission, (the Knight suggested twelve)

And she did improve well within that time frame but she was in hospital longer, so my cards were slightly over optimistic on that score, or else I started counting forward from the wrong day, and should have read it as 12 days from the day of reading. In any case I’d have been closer to the mark had I drawn the King of Cups, equating to a stay of 14 days.

We have the pip cards, and these are self-explanatory, Ones/Aces through to Tens. Then we have:

Pages =   11 (these might be hours, days, weeks, months, years etc depending on the suit)

Knights= 12

Queens = 13

Kings =    14

 

During a recent Tarot reading for a young client, I opened the reading with my usual opening spread; a five card cross which I think of as my tin-opener.

There was some distress surrounding The Sun and  3 of Swords, a breakup. This was quickly apparent and confirmed by the client who was clearly looking for a handle as to what had gone ‘wrong,’ which the Tarot was able to present to him as a story. This story made sense, so he said, in accordance with his own understanding of events, and certainly, there was no blame attached; my young client had done nothing ‘wrong’ whatsoever.

But he had been deeply upset, spinning his wheels, not having any story to tell himself, that seemed sufficiently clear to him. The reading changed nothing, simply offered him a handle, without which our minds may keep grinding on, and he had been experiencing headaches in the aftermath of those recent events – unusually for him he said.

The central card of this cross, denoting the heart of the current situation, was The Eight of Coins.

 

8 coins legacy tarot

From the Legacy of the Divine Tarot, image by kind permission of Ciro Marchetti.

I knew that he had recently done his A Levels.

‘This card seems to be talking about your next step,’ I said, ‘this is a card of apprenticeships in general, and also, as you can see for yourself here, look,  it’s also a money suit card. He looks like he is looking at a bill, doesn’t he? ‘

The client smiled and said he was starting an apprenticeship in Accountancy in September.

Tarot said, ‘good move, young sir. It will suit you down to the ground as your next best step. Please don’t let anything derail you.

Anything. Capisce?’

If you want a reader’s best answer, don’t think to test them by misdirecting them. Nothing useful will be learned that way. If you mistrust them, or this kind of stuff in general, just leave it be. Don’t go there. Don’t play games with your chosen reader. It is a waste of their time and energy, and your time and money, and you might well ask, why would anyone do that, but  occasionally they do.

You don’t say to a doctor, you tell me what’s the matter with me but don’t ask me any questions because if you need my help in reaching a diagnosis, you , sir or madam, are nothing but a quack.

Until next time 🙂

 

 

The Passing Of An Emperor

I have just returned from a few days in Scotland, visiting family and spending a couple of days in the imposing and handsome Granite City that is Aberdeen.

Looking at my cards two days before we left, I was perturbed to see what looked like news of a death. It looked as though the news was imminent.

I drew:-

The Ace of Swords Reversed (Act of Force, act of law, malign power)

The Emperor Reversed (weakened government, stability, rule of law, fatherhood)

and

The Death card (Endings, symbolic and/or physical)

My cards seemed to be saying ‘watch out for  news of Death on Monday.’

My first concern was for my brother. He is a police officer (The Emperor can refer to the Police) and had been working extra duties because of the London riots (The Ace of Swords Rev can mean a battle or a riot) though he was not deployed to London itself.

The Emperor Reversed COULD have been indicating an injury, so could the Ace of Swords Reversed.   Drawing more cards to ask myself whether the coming news was connected to my brother, the indications were thankfully no, he was OK, and was going to continue to be OK for the foreseeable future.

Who were the cards ‘seeing’ then? What was the association involving Death, and Monday, and possibly an older man? A certain uncle of my husband came to mind, but I have never met him, and my sense of personal connection to this person is not strong.

I got the answer just before we left home.  A client I know well and regard very highly emailed me to say that sadly, her father had passed away a few days earlier.

His funeral was scheduled for Monday.

So the Death card had been pre-empting news of coming obsequies.

I was well aware that my client’s father (The Hermit Reversed) had not been at all well, not really ‘himself’ for a couple of years. He had been sleeping a lot in that time, and had been remote, disinclined to eat, and sometimes confused when awake (Loss of Attention/Focus/Clarity = Ace Of Swords Reversed)

My client’s father’s state of health had appeared many times in my readings for her, reflecting her deep concern, even when I was conducting readings on her behalf on purely business questions. Our thinking and feeling does not recognise compartments, and clearly also, I must feel a strong sense of connection to this lady.

Happily, after his long infirmity, this much loved Emperor had passed away very peacefully. My client emailed me because, without making any outright prediction of death (a tarot reading no-no of the nth degree)  I had all the same seen this coming back in January, and had dropped a hint to the effect that a 2011 business trip in the second half of the year might need a last minute change in plan owing to family circumstances.

She was giving me the feedback that this circumstance had now actually materialised, and that though she was so sad, she was glad and grateful for her father’s peaceful release.

The Angel of Death, Evelyn de Morgan

Death can be terrible, but Death can be a delivering angel.

In Praise of all the best about Fathers, Tarot says All Hail To ‘The Emperor’ ….

Photo by Luis Quintero on Pexels.com

Today, the day of summer solstice, and the zenith of the sun, let’s talk about the ultimate Tarot card of Masculinity with a capital ‘M’,  The Emperor.

‘The Emperor’ appearing in a Tarot reading signifies the current extra significance of an important man in your life, at an individual level. He’s a father, husband, employer, friend or advisor.

The Emperor stands for government, law and order, other big, hierarchical organisations. He is the Armed Forces, the Police, the Civil Service.

He is the guiding principle of protection and of the guardian at work in society and in the home. See those ram’s heads on the arms of his throne? The Emperor is associated with the sign of Aries, the fiery ram. It may indicate a future event occurring at that time of year.

Image below is The Emperor from The Gilded Tarot, by kind permission of Ciro Marchetti

GildedEmperor
From The Gilded Tarot

The Emperor in his true dignity is strength with justice, courage with reason: a defender, a chevalier, a sheltering tree, nests held safely in his branches. He is rule with mercy, compassion for the weak. He upholds fair play, raising his shield so not everyone sheltering behind it gets splattered with rubbish and  er…manure.

He has another side to him of course: war, dictatorship, tyranny, petty officialdom, overbearing bureaucracy. The card may alternatively signify absence of structure and leadership. A bully. The Emperor Reversed is a very serious matter. War.

Michaelangelo, Sistine Chapel

But greetings are due to The Emperor at the top of his game –  best friend to womankind; those men that we love, and what we love best in men, sons of the red earth.

Let your Emperor wear his crown and ermine every now and then.

You may be an Empress, and you can wear yours too.

Greetings to the Tarot’s beloved Emperor.

Until next time 🙂