Featured photo by Ken Gagne.
Chilly and sloppy-wet… It’s not that it’s raining all that hard, but it’s been steady enough to make mud where there was dirt, puddles in the parking lot, and put enough water in the trees to send a cascade down your back at the slightest touch. The overhang at the shop sent a large dollop of water onto the top of my head, just as I tipped my hood back. 50F and the wind at 4mph and it looks like the rain will continue right on through to tomorrow and then more through the weekend.
Yesterday was pretty quiet. We slept late, finished our chores and didn’t do much else, except that there’s a sudden wave of ants in the apartment, the first we’ve seen. That meant a lot of vacuuming. I did a little writing. Other than that, we were just catching up on mail and resting.
We’ve had people in since 5 minutes after we got the lights on this morning. Serious shoppers, too. I need to finish up a couple of dishes that are going to the feast today and make flags and ingredient lists and tags for everything. We’re planning to make some kolacky to bake at home tonight.
A Ken Gagne photo from 3/29/17 He says, “Jonathan wanted a new profile pic!”
Today’s Plant is Sword fern, Polystichum munitum. It grows all winter on the coast, getting greener and lovelier every year as the new fiddles come up out of the center of the plant and develop into fronds. I’ve been enjoying those, watching them for months, now. they can get to be 6 feet tall and some of the ones down in the park where the stream crosses through are that size! The indigenes used the rhizome as a poverty food (baked and peeled), and the fronds are one of the best remedies for relieving the pain from the sting of a Stinging Nettle. It is also commonly used by florists as an ornamental plant. – Masculine, Air, The God, the Puck. – This is an herb of masculine power, protection and luck. Use in spells to guide to treasure. Burn to drive away pests.…and as any fern, burn for rain…. More here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sword_fern
The Hanshi or Cold Food Festival is a Chinese tradition for this time of year. Coming from the practice of changing the type of wood used for starting fires with the change of seasons, and originally including ancestor worship, the festival now mostly is games and housecleaning, despite a rather grisly myth attached to it. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cold_Food_Festival
The shop is open 11-6pm Thursday through Monday, although we’re there a lot later most nights. (Spring Hours) Need something off hours? Give us a call at 541-563-7154 or Facebook or email at firstname.lastname@example.org If we’re supposed to be closed, but it looks like we’re there, try the door. If it’s open, the shop’s open! In case of bad weather, check here at the blog for updates, on our Facebook as Ancient Light, or call the shop.
Love & Light,
Today’s Astro & Calendar
Waning Moon Magick – From the Full Moon to the New is a time for study, meditation, and magic designed to banish harmful energies and habits, for ridding oneself of addictions, illness or negativity. Remember: what goes up must come down. Phase ends at the Tide Change on 4/15 at 6:57pm. Waning Gibbous Moon – Best time for draining the energy behind illness, habits or addictions. Magicks of this sort, started now, should be ended before the phase change to the New Moon. – Associated God/dess: Hera/Hero, Cybele, Zeus the Conqueror, Mars/Martius, Anansi, Prometheus. Phase ends at the Quarter on 4/8 at 12:18am.
The waning Moon passes Mars and Saturn in early dawn. The Moon, as always, is drawn three times its actual apparent size. And it’s always positioned for an observer near the middle of North America (exact for latitude 40° N, longitude 90° W). As dawn approaches on Friday the 6th, look for Mars and Saturn to the left of the waning Moon, as shown here.
The Sickle of Leo stands vertical high in the south these evenings. Its bottom star is Regulus, the brightest of Leo. Leo himself is walking horizontally westward. The Sickle forms his front leg, chest, mane, and part of his head.
Brilliant Venus appears low in evening twilight all week. Look for the blazing point of light about 10° above the western horizon 45 minutes after sunset. The planet shines at magnitude –3.9 and is by far the brightest object in the night sky after the Moon. A look at Venus through a telescope shows an almost fully illuminated disk that spans 11″.
Jupiter (magnitude –2.4, in Libra) rises around 10 or 11 p.m. daylight-saving time and shines as the brightest point in the late-night sky. It’s highest in the south, presenting the sharpest views in a telescope, around 3 a.m.
Old Farmer’s Almanac Sky Map for April 2018 – https://www.almanac.com/sites/default/files/skymap_april2018.pdf
Goddess Month of Columbina runs from 3/20 – 4/17
Celtic Tree Month of Fearn/Alder, Mar 18 – Apr 14
Runic half-month of Ehwaz, 3/30-4/13 – Ehwaz, the horse; time of partnership between humans and Nature, as between rider and horse. Nigel Pennick, The Pagan Book of Days, Destiny Books, Rochester, Vermont, USA, 1992, p. 55
©2018 M. Bartlett, Some parts separately copyright
Celtic Tree Month of Fearn/Alder, Mar 18 – Apr 14. Fern (FAIR-n) Alder – The common alder (Alnus glutinosa (L.) Gaertner) is common along lowland rivers, where it grows with aspens, poplars, and willows. Like willows, alders sprout from stumps. This allows them to regenerate after heavy flooding. In protect sites they may grow to 20 m (65 feet) tall. Their leaves are more blunt-tipped than most North American alders, which look more like the grey alder (A. incana (L.) Moench). This species is more common in the mountains of Europe, and is not restricted to moist soils. Like ashes, European alders are not widely cultivated in North American (they are often sold as black alders), but several native species are. Alder wood is said to resist rotting when it is wet, and was the wood of choice for pilings in many regions. Alders are members of the Birch family (Betulaceae).
Tides for Alsea Bay
Day High Tide Height Sunrise Moon Time % Moon
~ /Low Time Feet Sunset Visible
Th 5 High 4:04 AM 7.4 6:50 AM Rise 12:24 AM 81
~ 5 Low 10:58 AM 0.4 7:49 PM Set 10:10 AM
~ 5 High 5:22 PM 6.0
~ 5 Low 10:51 PM 3.0
Affirmation/Thought for the Day – Never lick a gift horse in the mouth.
~ One who helps others in the end helps himself. – Tao of Heaven
~ Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone. – Pablo Picasso
~ Only when we are no longer afraid do we begin to live. – Dorothy Thompson
~ Posing is for beginners; The Knight stands in strength. – Kerr Cuhulain
This is not a thing to be solved, or conquered, or destroyed. It is. I am. We are. We conjugate together in darkness, plotting against each other, the Labyrinth to eat me and I to eat it, each to swallow the hard, black opium of the other. We hold orange petals beneath our tongues and seethe. It has always been so. It grinds against me and I bite into its skin… – Catherynne Valente, The Labyrinth
Beltane (Bealtaine, May Eve) – April 30th/May 1st (May day).
Incense : Lilac, Frankincense
Decorations : Maypole, Flowers, Ribbons
Colours : Green
This is a holiday of Union–both between the Goddess and the God and between man and woman. Handfastings (Pagan marriages) are traditional at this time. It is a time of fertility and harvest, the time for reaping the wealth from the seeds that we have sown. Celebrations include braiding of one’s hair (to honor the union of man and woman and Goddess and God), circling the Maypole for fertility and jumping the Beltane fire for luck. Beltaine is one of the Major Sabbats of the Wiccan religion. We celebrate sexuality (something we see as holy and intrinsic to us as holy beings), we celebrate life and the unity which fosters it. The myths of Beltane state that the the young God has blossomed into manhood, and the Goddess takes him on as her lover. Together, they learn the secrets of the sexual and the sensual, and through their union, all life begins.
BELTANE: Its History and Modern Celebration in Wicca in America , by Rowan Moonstone
The celebration of May 1st, or Beltane as it is known in Wicca Circles, is one of the most important festivals of our religious year. I will attempt here to answer some of the most often asked questions about this holiday. An extensive bibliography follows the article so that the interested reader can do further research.
Where does the festival of Beltane originate? – Beltane, as practiced by modern day Witches and Pagans, has its origins among the Celtic peoples of Western Europe and the British Isles, particularly Ireland, Scotland, and Wales.
What does the word Beltane mean? – Dr. Proinsias MacCana defines the word as follows: “… the Irish name for May Day is Beltane, of which the second element, `tene’, is the word for fire, and the first, `bel’, probably means `shining or brilliant’.”(1) The festival was known by other names in other Celtic countries. Beltaine in Ireland, Bealtunn in Scotland, Shenn do Boaldyn on the Isle of Mann, and Galan Mae in Wales.(2)
What was the significance of this holiday to the ancients? – To the ancient Celts, it symbolized the coming of spring. It was the time of year when the crops began to sprout, the animals bore their young, and the people could begin to get out of the houses where they had been cooped up during the long dark cold winter months. Keep in mind that the people in those days had no electric lights or heat, and that the Celtic counties are at a much more northerly latitude than many of us are used to. At that latitude, spring comes much later, and winter lasts much longer than in most of the US. The coming of fair weather and longer daylight hours would be most welcome after a long cold and dark winter.
How did the ancient Celts celebrate this festival? – The most ancient way of observing this day is with fire. Beltane, along with Samhain (Nov. 1), Imbolc (Feb. 1), and Lughnassadh (Aug. 1), was one of the four great “fire festivals” which marked the turning points of the Celtic year. The most ancient records tell us that the people would extinguish all the hearth fires in the country and then relight them from the “need fires” lit by the druids (who used friction as a means of ignition). In many areas, the cattle were driven between two great bonfires to protect them from disease during the coming year. It is my personal belief, although I have no documentation to back up the assumption, that certain herbs would have been burnt in the fires, thus producing smoke which would help destroy parasites which might make cattle and other livestock ill.
In what other ways was this festival celebrated? – One of the most beautiful customs associated with this festival was “bringing in the May.” The young people of the villages and towns would go out into the fields and forests at Midnight on April 30th and gather flowers with which to bedeck themselves, their families, and their homes. They would process back into the villages, stopping at each home to leave flowers, and to receive the best of food and drink that the home had to offer. This custom is somewhat similar to “trick or treat” at Samhain and was very significant to the ancients. John Williamson, in his study, The Oak King, the Holly King, and the Unicorn, writes, “These revelers were messengers of the renewal of vegetation, and they assumed the right to punish the niggardly, because avarice (as opposed to generosity) was dangerous to the community’s hope for the abundance of nature. At an important time like the coming of summer, food, the substance of life must be ritually circulated generously within the community in order that the cosmic circuit of life’s substance may be kept in motion (trees, flocks, harvests, etc.).”(3) These revellers would bless the fields and flocks of those who were generous and wish ill harvests on those who withheld their bounty.
What about maypoles? – The maypole was an adjunct to the festival of bringing in the May. It is a phallic symbol, and as such represented fertility to the participants in the festival. In olden days, the revellers who went into the woods would cut a tree and bring it into town, decking it with flowers and greenery and dance around it, clockwise (also called deosil, meaning “sun-wise”, the direction of the sun’s apparent travel across the face of the Earth) to bring fertility and good luck. The ribbons which we associate with the maypole today were a later addition.
Why was fertility important? – The people who originated this custom lived in close connection with the land. If the flocks and fields were fertile, they were ableto eat; if there was famine or drought, they went hungry. It is hard for us today to relate to this concept, but to the ancients, it was literally a life and death matter. The Celts were a very close tribal people, and fertility of their women literally meant continuity of the tribe.
How is the maypole connected with fertility? – Many scholars see the maypole as a phallic symbol. In this aspect, it is a very powerful symbol of the fertility of nature and spring.
How did these ancient customs come down to us ? – When Christianity came to the British Isles, many of the ancient holy sites were taken over by the new religion and converted to Christian sites.
Many of the old Gods and Goddesses became Christian saints, and many of the customs were appropriated. Charles Squire says,” An ingenious theory was invented after the introduction of Christianity, with the purpose of allowing such ancient rites to continue with a changed meaning. The passing of persons and cattle through flame or smoke was explained as a practice which interposed a magic protection between them and the powers of evil.” (4) This is precisely what the original festival was intended to do; only the definition of “evil” had changed. These old customs continued to be practiced in many areas for centuries. “In Scotland in 1282, John, the priest in Iverkething, led the young girls of his parish in a phallic dance of decidedly obscene character during Easter week. For this, penance was laid upon him, but his punishment was not severe, and he was allowed to retain his benefice.”(5)
Were sacrifices practiced during this festival? – Scholars are divided in their opinions of this. There is no surviving account of sacrifices in the legends and mythology which have come down to us. As these were originally set down on paper by Christian monks, one would think that if such a thing had been regularly practiced, the good brothers would most certainly have recorded it, if for no other reason than to make the pagans look more depraved. There are, however, some surviving folk customs which point to a person representing the gloom and ill fortune of winter being ostracized and forced to jump through the fires. Some scholars see this as a survival of ancient human sacrificial practices. The notion that animals were sacrificed during this time doesn’t make sense from a practical standpoint. The animals which had been retained a breeding stock through the winter would either be lean and hungry from winter feed, or would be mothers nursing young, which could not be spared.
How do modern day pagans observe this day? – Modern day pagan observances of Beltane include the maypole dances, bringing in the May, and jumping the cauldron for fertility. Many couples wishing to conceive children will jump the cauldron together at this time. Fertility of imagination and other varieties of fertility are invoked along with sexual fertility. In Wiccan and other Pagan circles, this is a joyous day, full of laughter and good times.
What about Walpurgisnacht? Is this the same thing as Beltane? – Walpurgisnacht comes from an Eastern European background, and has little in common with the Celtic practices.
Silliness – Cheaper Perfume
After being away on business, Tim thought it would be nice to bring his wife a little gift. “How about some perfume?” he asked the cosmetics clerk. She showed him a bottle costing $50.00.
“That’s a bit much,” said Tim, so she returned with a smaller bottle for $30.00. “That’s still quite a bit,” Tim complained.
Growing annoyed, the clerk brought out a tiny $15.00 bottle. “What I mean,” said Tim, “is I’d like to see something really cheap.”
The playful clerk handed him a mirror.