Thursday, April 30, 2009

The First of May

Walpurgis Night from Wikipedia:

From the Mystical Cauldron website:

Celebrated on May 1st, this is a lusty and glorious Sabbat, rich in World history and tradition. It is called by many names, including Walpugisnacht (Germany), Sheila-na-Gig (Ireland), Tithe Day (also Germany), and Festival of Pan (Greece).

In Britain, the royal family still burns a balefire each May Eve to keep the family line going.

In Norway, old brooms are thrown into the balefire and new ones are dedicated to their purpose. .

In Scotland the balefire was lit for the 'need fire', the only non-ritual fire allowed to burn on this day.

The Norse believed you had to sleep at home on Beltane Eve and keep the hearth fire burning strongly until dawn.

In Wales the balefires were kept burning for three days, because 3 was a sacred number to the Celts.

In the Alps of Italy, the festival is Floralia. Flowers and plants are picked on May 1st and a very potent wine is made from them. Each year, all the old wine has to be comsumed before midnight and more flowers and plants gathered for the next year's batch.

In China, it is considered good luck to eat noodles in the Springtime.

Mischievous fairies were believed to abound at Beltane and great care was taken to protect against them. Daisy chains were woven just prior to ritual and places around children's necks for protection.

A hot coal was placed inside the butter churns to keep fairies out ot them.

Livestock was fed fresh dill for protection.

Bells were hung on altars and worn on the ankles of dancers and ritual goers. The ringing of the bells was believed to hurt the fairies' ears and keep them away.

Brooms were ridden hobbyhorse-style over fields and through pastures in symbolic fertility rites.

Ashes from the Beltane fire were scattered over the fields to bless and protect them. The ashes were also placed in a small bag and worn as fertility amulets by infertile women.

Special summer pastures for the livestock were used only after May 1st since fields were the realm of the Pooka from Samhain to Beltane.

Livestock animals were driven through or between waning balefires for purification, protection and healing.

Although May is the month of the sacred marriage of the God & Goddess, it is considered unlucky for humans to marry in May, which is why June is the traditional month for marriages.

The term 'Maying' refers to celebrating all of the traditions of May Day. It was traditional to go on outings and picnics in the woods or meadows to enjoy the beauty of Nature, pick flowers and/or make love. Couples who consumated their relationship in this way were considered to have had a "greenwood marriage". Children conceived while 'A-Maying' are born in February and are referred to as "Merry Begots".

Dancing around the Maypole may be the best known Beltane tradition.

Comment: I was born in February. :)

From the fish eaters website:

Sadly, the word "Walpurgisnacht" is nowadays mostly associated with pagans, who see the day as a mere adjunct to Beltane (May Day) and even dare to use the label "Walpurgisnacht" for their festivities. Where Walpurgisnacht is celebrated, it is usually celebrated wrongly, in a non-Catholic -- sometimes even anti-Catholic -- manner. Odes to May, Spring, fertility, and the earth, the playing of pranks -- these are the things most often thought of when "Walpurgisnacht" comes to mind, and thoughts of the great Saint are all too rare.

...But it doesn't have to be that way. Bonfires-- practically ubiquitous in Catholic celebrations but which pagans also light today in honor of the god (demon) Bel -- recall the divine light that illuminated Wallburga's monastery, and as their hypnotic beauty is enjoyed, one can pray a litany to St. Walburga. The ancient Swedish tradition of collecting branches at dusk to decorate homes? Make those branches oak branches, and decorate them with symbols of Christ and the great Apostles to Germany to recall the Benedectines' victory over paganism, as perfectly seen in the story of St. Boniface and the "sacred oak." As to foods, German fare and beer brewed by Benedictines or their brothers, the Trappists, sound perfect.

Now, because Walpurgisnacht does fall on the same date as Beltane Eve, this will be, for pagans, a night much like Hallowe'en (the Eve of All Saints) insofar as the pagan Samhain coincides calendrically with our Feasts for the dead. Therefore, prayers for pagans and for witches who hold their sabats tonight would be a wonderful thing. May St. Walburga -- who, with St. Boniface, her brothers, and other Benedictines -- brought the good news of Christ to Germany intercede for them now and bring them to Jesus through His Church.

Comment: The veneer that Christians gloss over their appropriation of pagan customs is thin indeed. By the way, Walburga was made a saint only after it was discovered that oil was oozing from her remains. Icky!

from the Irminenschaft website:

Walburga Frouwa [An Freya] Walburga Frouwa is Ing Fro's twin sister, and most popular of all Goddesses among Heathen of eldritch times as well as today. In the Norse sources, Walburga Frouwa is named strictly by her title (Freya) as is her brother Ing Fro (Frey): Lady and Lord, respectively, and its from this association of name that Wicca’s ‘Lord and Lady’ is drawn. The Frouwa is infamous for her abilities at magan-craft and witching, and it's of no surprise to find her as the patroness of witches and the center of praise on Walburganaht (a long-standing witches’ holiday). Walburga Frouwa’s wain is drawn by cats, which are thought to be sacred to her -the popular image of a witch accompanied by a (black) cat originates from the association of the felines to the Goddess.

Comment: There is continuing discussion about the identity of goddesses mentioned in the Northern literature. Because their roles overlap, this is especially true between Frigg (wife of Odin) and Freya. They are, however, distinct entities, Frigg being of the Aesir, Freya of the Vanir, and their natures vary accordingly.

From the Central States Heathens reminder:

Walburg is better known as Walpurgisnacht or May Eve. Walburg is a Goddess of our Folk, combining some of the traits of Her better-known peers. Reflect on Freya, Frigga and Hel as the repository of the glorious dead; then you will have an idea of Walburg's nature. On this day, pour a horn of Mead upon the Earth in memory of our heroes.

Good Walpurgisnacht and Happy May Day!

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