Beltane Beauty

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Yesterday was the day we had set for our groups Beltane celebration and the weather forecast was not too great. During the morning we had a couple of heavy showers, and at one point even sleet! I trusted to the fact though, that in around 4 years we had never had anything more than a light, short shower during a ritual, so I just had to trust that the weather magic would work once again, I was not disappointed! When we needed it there was warm, beautiful sunshine.

When we got the the Saxon House site we were met by our lovely hosts, and good friends Jude and Steve, dressed in their saxon clothes for the event.

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We then went to the Grove where the ceremony would take place, in order to set up the circle. Jude already had an altar set up in the centre and a circle of upright logs marked the circle. So we places a lantern in each quarter, red for south/fire, green for north/earth, yellow for east/air and blue for west/water. We had 2 lanterns in the centre, to represent the Beltane fires that everyone would pass through to be cleansed and renewed, and another lantern for the light bearer.

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After the circle was set up we returned to the Saxon House to meet everyone who had arrived and to get ready for the ritual. When everyone was gathered we returned to the grove of trees, all native species, to begin the ritual.

The energy raised was warm and wonderful, as was the friendship! We always say, there always has to be a minor mistake somewhere in the proceedings, and this one was the substitution of water for mead, as we had left the bottle back at the Saxon House! A first for Abus Coritani to have no mead at a ritual! Despite this though, the ritual was made very special by all the wonderful people there, about 25 in all.

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After the ritual there was fun and frolics, cake and wine, and of course, the traditional Beltane fire! As always with the Abus Coritani, I left feeling very blessed indeed to know so many wonderful people!

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The Goddess Airmid has been a great inspiration

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The Goddess Airmid has been a great inspiration to me for many years, and I was prompted to post something about her today following a visit to a friends house on Saturday. My friend makes goddess dolls, and she had made a doll for someone who had requested an Airmid doll, so here is Airmid’s story.

AIRMID, CELTIC GODDESS OF HEALING

Airmid by Jessica Galbreth

Airmid, also known as Airmed or Airmeith, is the Celtic Goddess of the Healing Arts. She was also a member of the Tuatha De Danaan, the most ancient race of deities in Ireland and just as they did, she had great magickal powers. When the Goddess Danu first created the Tuatha De Danaan, she made sure that its members were very powerful gods, filled with great wisdom and skilled in every possible area of expertise.

Some people believe that the Tuatha De Danaan was comprised of Druids, who were extremely knowledgeable in both prophecy and magick. When the members of the Tuatha De Danaan decided to study something, not only did they simply learn about it, they actually went much farther, by deeply immersing themselves in that particular field to the point where they became the greatest experts in the world. They believed strongly in the three components of life: the Earth, the Mysteries, and the Spirit realm and that they were all of equal importance.

Airmid was the daughter of Diancecht, the God of Medicine, and the Chief Physician and Magician of the Tuatha De Danaan. She also had four brothers: Miach, Cian, Cethe, and Cu, and they all followed closely in their father’s footsteps. Airmid also had a sister named Etan, who was a poet who was also married to Oghma. Coming from that kind of a heritage, there can be little doubt that Airmid and her brothers excelled in the healing arts.

When the Fir Bolgs first arrived in Ireland, the Tuatha De Danaan fought against them in a great war, protecting its people and land from invasion. During the first battle, the Tuatha defeated the Fir Bolgs and killed their king, Eocchid MacEric. Nuada, the King of the Tuatha De Danaan was also seriously injured in that battle when his arm became severed from his body.

Since Diancecht was the Chief Physician of the Tuatha De Danaan, he was immediately called upon to attend to Nuada’s wounds, and he brought Airmid and Miach with him to assist. While Diancecht was working upon Nuada, it became increasingly clear that Airmid’s and Miach’s skills as healers were much greater then those of their father.

While Diancecht had decided to replace Nuada’s severed arm with one that he had constructed from silver, Airmid was actually able to regenerate the King’s own arm to perfect working order. Then Miach, using his amazing surgical skills, took the regenerated arm and re-attached it to the King’s body. These actions were extremely important to the Tuatha De Danaan and especially to Nauda, because according to its laws, no one could ever be its king, whose body was not completely whole. If Nuada’s arm had not been re-attached to his body, through Airmid and Miach’s amazing skills, then his reign as King would have ended.

Airmid, Miach and Diancecht built the Well of Slaine in Ireland, which was also known as the Well of Health. They then caste spells over it, so that the well’s magickal waters could not only restore life to those warriors who had been killed in battle; it could actually return them all to perfect health. When a wounded warrior was brought to the well his body was immediately immersed in its waters, which not only brought him back to life, but also made him well enough to return to the battle.

However, during the second Battle of Moytura, things did not go well for the Tuatha De Danaan because their enemies had filled the Well of Slaine with stones. That made it impossible for them to bring their warriors bodies back to life, and the well soon became known as the “Heapstown Cairn.”

Airmid’s brother Miach was an extremely talented healer, and when Diancecht realized that his son’s abilities were so greatly superior to his own he became extremely jealous. Soon, that jealousy began to turn into rage, and that rage became so great that he drew his sword and slashed Miach quite badly. Miach, however, using his superior medical knowledge and magickal skills, immediately healed the wound.

That just made Diancecht’s anger grow even greater, and for a second time he drew his sword, this time cutting Miach through to the bone. Just as quickly, however, Miach was able to heal himself once more.

It was at that point that Diancecht finally lost what little control he had left over his rage and, once again taking his sword in his hand, he sliced directly into his son’s brain tissue. What happened then was truly miraculous. Miach showed himself to be the outstanding physician that he was, and he actually was able to heal himself one more time.

Finally, it became extremely clear that Diancecht’s hatred of his son had reached the point of no return. Slowly, Diancecht drew his sword and then, for the final time, he struck his son in the head, this time severing Miach’s brain completely from his skull. It was then that Diancecht just walked away, leaving his wounded son who was no longer able to heal himself lying there on the ground to die. Legend has it, that when Diancecht looked down upon his dying son, he never once exhibited even the slightest bit of remorse.

Airmid also had great magickal powers and herb craft was her specialty. Miach had taught her well, and she knew the different uses of each and every plant. When Airmid buried her brother it was with great sorrow. She missed him dearly, since they had always been so very close, and she frequently would go to visit his grave. One day, when she arrived at Miach’s grave, she was amazed to find 365 healing herbs growing on and around his grave, with one herb for every joint and organ of his body.

Methodically, Airmid began to gather up the herbs. Then, quite amazingly, the herbs began to speak to her, telling her of the full range of their healing powers. Airmid then took the herbs and separated each from the other. Then she arranged them systematically upon her cloak, each according to its own particular use or special properties. With the knowledge she had gained from the herbs, she then proceeded to use it to heal people who needed medical attention.

Amazingly, Diancecht’s obsessive hatred for his son did not end with Miach’s death. Still consumed by his enormous rage, Diancecht went over to Airmid’s cloak and overturned it, scattering all the herbs into the wind; thereby making certain that no one except Airmid would ever know the use of the herbs’ healing properties or the secret of how to achieve immortality which was made possible through the herbs proper use.

Even though Diancecht was her father, Airmid found herself unable to have any feelings for him, and refused to have anything to do with him. In fact, she found it so impossible to even go anywhere near him, that she travelled far away to a place where she would never have to see him again.

It is believed that Airmid still works as a Physician, high in the mountains of Ireland, spending much of her time healing Faeries, Elves and humans; bringing them all back to good health through her practical knowledge and amazing magickal skills.

Story taken from http://www.angelfire.com/journal/ofapoet/airmid.html

Ritual energies

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Last weekend I sat writing a group ritual for an open public ritual at Beltane and it got me thinking about the energies of such an event. Pagan rituals come in all shapes and sizes and over the years I have been involved in solo ritual, paired ritual, small private group ritual, large private group ritual, large public ritual and very large public ritual, and they each have their own distinct energies, as indeed do rituals of different seasons, purpose etc.

Over the past couple of years I have mainly been involved in small private group ritual, though I have also been to a few public rituals too, and when you are working with a group of people who you know well and are very connected to, it is much easier to create and direct this energy in a predictable way as it is something you have all done many times before. Little is needed in the way of an introduction or explanation of what will happen and what is expected from everyone. It is easy to connect your energy together as a group, everyone there knows what method you use to raise that energy, and what it will be used for and the way it is normally directed. This makes for a very fulfilling and positive experience.

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Of course, for many people, a public ritual is the first experience they have had of a pagan ritual, and yet others have much experience, and you want it to be as good an experience for both ends of this spectrum. This can be quite difficult to deliver, but it does mean that it is necessary to explain why you are all there, what exactly is going to happen, and what is expected from the people there.

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Despite the challenges of doing this type of ritual though, I believe that they are far outweighed by the benefits of the new energies and enthusiasm that is brought by having people in the circle that you do not usually work with and so I am now eagerly anticipating leading this ritual at one of the most energetic points in the year!

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Talking to trees

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The picture above is of a very old friend of mine. He is a venerable old Oak tree with whom I have taken many journeys! “Journeys, with a tree?” You may be thinking. Let me explain. Many of us have had the urge to go and hug a tree, many of us do indeed give in to that urge, many of us have a real feeling of connection to these majestic giants. Many of us have felt their incredible energy.

I believe that certain old trees not only exist in our realm, but are indeed fixed points, that appear in, and hold together, more than one realm. Such tree, if they are willing, can assist us in accessing these other realms, and journeying to them. The old Oak in the picture is one such tree. Many are the times when I have sat with my back resting on him, entered a meditative state, and have gone down through the roots, or up through the branches, to another world. There I have met ancestors, spirit animals, spirit guides, gods and goddesses! I have been shown a way out of problems, the next step to take, given the gift of a story, a poem or an inspiring idea.

How do I know that i have not just imagined this? How do i know that it is not all in my mind? I don’t.
But does it actually matter whether I am actually seeing the reality of other worlds, picking up on memories from the trees, or just tapping in to my own unconscious mind? If it is a way to access knowledge and understanding that we can not reach by normal means, does it matter?

Over the years I have come across many people striving for a more spiritual way of life, and desperate to make these sorts of connections, but really struggle to do so. Our modern world is all about instant gratification, materialism, believing only what you can see and hold onto. Many of us that could see things ‘beyond the ordinary’ as children were told ‘don’t be silly, there’s nothing there’, ‘you’re making it up’ or as Harry Potter was told in the story ‘there’s no such thing as magic!’ And so, we learned to believe this. What we need to do is learn to trust. Learn to listen, learn to still our minds and shut out the everyday ‘chatter’ and to open our spiritual eyes rather than just trust on our physical senses. Don’t worry that you are ‘making it up’, just let the images come, let your mind drift along the road less travelled, you may bring back a treasure of more worth than gold!

Tarot Workshop

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It was another full house on Saturday at The Avalon Room at Barney’s Café in Barnetby for the tarot workshop led by Patrick Kavanagh. He explained how even picking up a tarot deck is a magical act and so it was important for us to all ground ourselves in the way we would usually do. After we were all grounded, the workshop could begin.

 

Patrick told us much about the history of the tarot, some of it from very surprising sources! Who knew the Catholic church was so interested in the art of divination?

He also had some very interesting stories to tell us about his own experiences with the tarot over many years, and to demonstrate how it was possible for anyone to read the tarot with one participant giving a reading for another using the Mythic Tarot.

A very interesting part of the afternoon was getting to look at all the different decks, although I’m sure that will lead those of us with TAS (Tarot Acquisition Syndrome!) having to increase our collections!

We were given some very comprehensive notes on card meanings to bring away with us too so we can study them at home.

We also had a fascinating discussion about the nature of tarot reading, what it meant to us, and where we though the information may be coming from. Is it the we already have all the answers and the tarot id just a tool for accessing this knowledge?

As always, it was lovely to see old friends, and new friends,  from far and near, and to welcome some brand new people too. It is always a pleasure to spend time with like-minded people, and to see our spiritual gatherings grow from strength to strength.

Inevitably, the learning and sharing of information was followed up by the sharing of cake, tea and homemade wine. After all, it WAS an Abus Coritani gathering, and such things are fast becoming our trade marks!