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Newsletter: Beltane 2023


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Beltane and The Golden Bough

by Marilyn


Beltane is a time of new growth and new life. Green is found in abundance in most places, plants are vibrantly alive, filling the outdoors with beautiful hints of color. It is no surprise that a time of such vibrancy would inspire festivities.


Because season 3 of Weekend Reads ended recently, I thought I would use this space to review some of the material Frazer laid out in the work we read throughout the season (Frazer’s The Golden Bough). At certain points in the text, Frazer addresses particular celebrations around Beltane or May Day. Frazer’s work details an array of early people’s rituals around the passage of time and the changes of nature and covers rituals from all over the world that tend to have similar purposes despite small cultural differences in their practice.


For many cultures it is a time of great reverence for the trees and tree-spirits. Frazer notes, “it was and still is in many parts of Europe the custom to go out to the woods, cut down a tree and bring it into the village, where it is set up amid general rejoicings; or the people cut branches in the woods, and fasten them on every house” (176). In some cultures it was also common to affix branches on barns or near cattle stalls because it was believed to “to make the cows yield much milk” (174) and in other instances promote fertility more generally.

As far as the lifting of the Maypole, this too was an event celebrated to much pomp and circumstance. In some places, “twenty or forty yoke of oxen, every ox having a sweet nose-gay of flowers placed on the tip of his horns, and these oxen draw home this Maypole (this stinking idol, rather), which is covered all over with flowers and herbs, bound round about with strings, from the top to the bottom, and sometime painted with variable colors, with two or three hundred men, women and children following it with great devotion” (179-80).


It is really no wonder that the wood spirits might be revered by people of the past, particularly considering it fed their fires, thus playing a large role in sustaining these early people’s lives. This reverence spilled over into festivities related to the fire itself. Although some of the rituals suggest some fairly dark origins having to do with sacrifice (and possibly human sacrifice), many of the currently existing rituals are far more tame (821). Today people will jump the Beltane fire or perhaps offer the bonfire an herb bundle.


That said, many of the Beltane rituals that survive today are performed, like those of their more crude ancestors, “upon the tops of hills, where [...]presented with the grandest views of nature (821).


If you are interested in more of what Frazer had to say about Beltane and several other pagan celebrations, you can listen to Season 3 of Midwest Coven Cast Presents: Weekend Reads, where Marilyn reads through the entirety of the 1922 abridgement of Frazer’s The Golden Bough and/or read the official companion text with a foreword, afterword, notes, and links compiled by Marilyn. You can purchase an eCopy by clicking here.


Wildflower Seed-balls

by Sam


Flowers abound this year and help to feed wildlife, such as our pollinator friends, the bees. Here's a fun activity that helps our pollinators and makes the world a little more beautiful.


Materials:

- Wildflower seeds

- Compost or garden soil

- Clay

- Water


Steps:

1. Mix the wildflower seeds and compost or garden soil in a mixing bowl to create a soil-seed mixture. The compost or soil will help to provide nutrients to the seeds and aid in their germination.


2. Next, take a small amount of clay and begin to knead it with your hands until it becomes pliable. The clay will help to bind the soil and seeds together and create a ball that can be easily dispersed.


3. Add a small amount of water to the clay to make it more workable.


4. Take a small handful of the soil-seed mixture and place it in the center of the clay ball. The amount of soil-seed mixture used may vary depending on the size of the ball and the number of seeds desired.


5. Roll the clay and soil mixture into a ball, covering the entire soil-seed mixture. Keep rolling until the ball is smooth and there are no cracks or openings.


6. Repeat the process to make additional seed balls.


7. Allow the seed balls to dry and harden for several days in a cool, dry location.


8. When the seed balls are dry, they can be planted directly into the ground to grow wildflowers. Or, you can simply toss or plant the seed balls where desired, and the clay will dissolve naturally in the rain, allowing the seeds to germinate and grow.


You can also use different types of seeds and add a variety of colors to create a beautiful and diverse wildflower garden. Making wildflower seed balls is a fun and easy way to support pollinators and add beauty to your surroundings while promoting biodiversity.


Coloring Fun: AI Bee

by Sam & AI


In celebration of our pollinators, here is a fun printable coloring sheet Sam created with AI! You can download a .pdf copy of the sheet from the link below and print from home. It's interesting to see how detailed a composition you can get from generators, but there are some imperfections. Sometimes, AI art is like a spell that has gone just the slightest bit awry. For the most part things come out as expected, but there are just slight twists or kinks along the way. Can you see some of the AI tells in this coloring sheet?


Beltane - Bee
.pdf
Download PDF • 9.93MB

Shadow Work: Paths, Patterns, Connections, & Cooperation

by Suzie


Beltane is a time of celebration, fertility, and the union of the masculine and feminine energies. One of the most beloved traditions of Beltane is the Maypole dance, where participants weave ribbons around the Maypole to create a beautiful, colorful pattern.


Consider the symbolism of the ribbons on the Maypole, and how they represent the paths of our own lives and our connections to others:

  • Each ribbon on the Maypole represents a unique path or journey, and the dance of the ribbons represents the way that our lives intersect and entangle with each other. Think about your own life path and the ways in which it has intersected with others. Are there any patterns or themes that emerge? Are there people in your life who have had a significant impact on your journey?

  • The act of weaving the ribbons together creates a beautiful and intricate pattern, but it also requires cooperation and coordination. Think about the ways in which you work with others in your life. Do you tend to collaborate well with others, or do you struggle with communication or control issues? How can you work on building stronger, healthier relationships with the people in your life?

  • The Maypole dance is a celebration of the union of the masculine and feminine energies, and the balance between them. Think about the ways in which you embody both masculine and feminine energies in your life. Do you feel comfortable expressing both sides of yourself, or do you feel like you need to conform to societal expectations of what it means to be masculine or feminine?

Take some time to reflect on these themes and how they relate to your own life. Are there any shadow aspects that emerge, such as issues around control, communication, or gender identity? How can you work on integrating these aspects of yourself and building stronger, healthier relationships with the people in your life? Remember that the journey of shadow work is a process, and it requires patience, self-compassion, and a willingness to be vulnerable and honest with yourself.


Southern Hemisphere Shoutout: Samhain

Blessed Samhain to our friends in the southern hemisphere! We hope that here at the end of your harvest season, that you have been blessed with abundance! If you would like to see how we celebrated Samhain here in the north and get some ideas for journaling, activities and more, you can check out our Samhain newsletter from our last turn around that season of the wheel.


Now Available: The Golden Bough eText

We are excited to announce the availability of the official Weekend Reads companion text for all of your readerly eyeballs. If you enjoyed our discussion of The Golden Bough from earlier in this newsletter, you may want to consider listening to and/or reading the work. This companion text comes with over 800 foot/end notes, links to additional online information about places, peoples, deities, and more, and a foreword and afterword written by Marilyn of Midwest Coven Cast. You can get a copy of the ebook from our Etsy shop.



Seeking Contributors


Midwest Coven Cast is currently piloting a contributor submission program for our eNewsletter. Currently, we are considering the following works for inclusion:


Original Art (photography, painting, graphic design, etc.)

Short Stories (Fiction)

Serialized Fiction (Submit first 2 installments, provide an estimated number of additional installments w/general synopsis for what remains)

Personal Essays

Poetry (literary or spoken word)

Music

Recipes

Meditations

Rituals

Reviews (Book/TV/Music/Podcast, etc.)

& More


Works should be pagan/witchy/magic/occult/new age in theme (or closely related). For the submission to be considered, you must affirm that you own the rights to the work and are in a position to grant permission to Midwest Coven Cast LLC to publish your work. Contributors must be 18+.


Works chosen for publication will be published in our online eNewsletter on midwestcovencast.com and be featured in various social media posts about the issue in which it appears. Items chosen for publication in the newsletter will come with a one time honorarium* of $10 paid to the owner of the work.


For more information and/or to submit a work for consideration, click here to fill out the submission form.


Season 4 Podcast Delay

In our last newsletter, we announced that our new season of Midwest Coven Cast, our flagship podcast, would be back in April. Unfortunately, we were taking things in a new direction that after some thought we just weren't in love with. We don't want to deliver an inferior season, so we have decided to delay the return. Please keep an eye out for more information soon and thanks for your patience as we take some time to make something we are proud to share. We appreciate your support more than we could ever fully express and are going to do what we can to produce the best for all of you.


CALENDAR

19 April New Moon (11:12pm CST)

01 May Beltane/May Day

05 May Full Flower Mon (12:34pm CST)

19 May New Moon (10:53am CST)

02 June Put out moon water

03 June Full Strawberry Moon (6:38am CST)

17 June New Moon (11:37pm CST)

21 June Litha



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