I have tried many times over the years to get myself motivated and into that New Year spirit at the end of December — and for a couple of days (maybe a week), it works. I feel energized and ready to get back into doing new things and cultivating projects and ideas and fun and art and et cetera.
Then, in a couple of weeks, when the holiday decorations are down and it’s still frozen, snowy, and dark, the feeling fizzles. Right around Quitters Day (which is the day that people are most likely to give up on their New Year’s resolution) — side note: That’s also the day that I remember that I was supposed to *make* New Year’s resolutions to start with. I’m not very with it in the winter.
There are a lot of reasons for this. For one, when I was growing up on the west coast, January was winter’s finally gasp, and by mid-February, spring had begun (I miss that so much, I can’t even say). These days, living in southern Alberta, January is still a frozen wasteland reminiscent of the ice planet Hoth. The knowledge that it will stay that way until roughly May is not the most motivating of thoughts.
Also, and this is from decades of living as a Pagan, January isn’t really the start of the year. Depending on your tradition, our year starts in March. At the beginning of spring, when winter is finally really over and you can wake up with the sun and it isn’t 9am already.
Ostara for 2020 is on March 19th. Thursday is not the most convenient day for a holiday, but I digress. Spring is coming! I can finally feel it in the air (despite the fact that it is currently snowing outside my window). The sun is warmer and the critters are coming out of hibernation, and I finally feel … awake. I feel renewed. I feel energized.
Now, I will be honest, I haven’t done a lot to mark the holidays the last few years. Things have been tough and changing, and my focus has been elsewhere. This year, the feeling of wanting to get back into a celebratory year has been growing. Maybe it has to do with my recent birthday, maybe it’s just that I want to find my way back to being myself.
The point is, this year we are celebrating. We are celebrating spring, and green and growing things. We are celebrating the turning of the wheel and all the wonderful things that life has to offer.
In dark times, we need celebration and love and happiness more than ever. So I am switching off the news, and living closer to the earth this year. Even if it is under 3 inches of new snow.
What do you do to celebrate the Wheel? When does your ritual year begin? Leave a comment and let’s chat about new growth and new life.
I’ve always wanted to be the type of person who says, “I don’t believe in self-improvement.” Unfortunately, I have to admit that I am somewhat addicted to it. It’s the whole “new project” aspect of it. I love starting new things. Long time readers will know that where I lack is in the finishing. I’ve started so many projects that haven’t really gone anywhere. Either I forget, or lose interest. Really, unless it’s a job, I’m not good at sticking to a schedule.
This year, while I am still compelled to do a full new year clean and cleansing of my home (I am procrastinating on the floors), I am also finding myself waffling on what I want to take on as a new project for the year. My New Year’s resolution was about meditation and self-care (and doing a little more work on my blog). Later this week, I am going for my first mani/pedi of the year – I think I will probably go with an Imbolc-y colour.
For the blog, I will probably be going through and overhauling some of the pages, and adding to some of the most popular topics. I think that perhaps this is the year I need to give myself a break. Prompted topics, while they can make for some really interesting content, tend to end up feeling like a chore, especially when they are due every week.
I’d like to write more on topics that are interesting to me, regardless of genre. There are a lot of facets to me, so it can’t hurt to add some more facets to the blog. I think the category of Pagan Lifestyle has room for all the things that make up me and my life.
One idea I had been tossing around in my head was the thought of contributing to some Pagan magazine sites. It has been so long since I was up on the whole scene that I think it will take a bit of research to find out which sites are still active and popular – and looking for articles relating to a more secular approach to witchcraft and not only yet another spin on “How to Live a Religious Life”. We’ll see how that goes. I know that a lot of publications tend to shut down due to lack of interest/content.
On a positive note, no matter how flighty or lazy I get, this blog will always be here. Happy New Year – may yours be filled with blessings.
Beltane will be upon us soon, and in Calgary, we are grateful for the snow finally melting, and the first little shoots of green grass making their way to the surface. The only flowers available were grown in green houses. Local flowers are still tiny seedlings waiting in nurseries and garden centres for their new homes.
For us, Beltane is the true beginning of spring. And in the name of spring, a thorough cleaning/cleansing of the home is in order. Since our new place is still coasting on the pre-move-in professional clean, I mean to finally finish unpacking, and run a smudge stick around the entrances and exits.
Our move to a new townhouse has returned me to container gardening. I am hoping to grow tomatoes, beets, lettuce, sage, strawberries, and a few other fruits and flowers. I am all about maximizing the growth possible in a small area this year, which will entail quite a lot of research on my part.
Like Imbolc, Beltane is a fire festival; and with the returning warm weather, bonfires are almost a required part of the celebration. Of course, if you are like most people and do not live where you can build a bonfire, an outdoor fire pit, or even a candle on your balcony will do the trick to honour the fire component of the holiday.
Deities associated with Beltane are typically fertility deities – Cernunnos, Hera, and Pan, to name a very few; as well as virginal sovereignty goddesses such as Artemis, Flora, and Blodeuwedd¹.
For me, the goddess who occupies my thoughts at this time of year is the veiled White Goddess – the mysterious May Queen. In a previous article, I explored her identity as Guinevere from the Arthurian cycle.
This year, my thoughts turn to white flowers, nectar, honey, and the pollen gatherers, bees. With honeybee populations declining all over the world, and harsher, longer winters expected to become the norm, it seems appropriate to dedicate a portion of our spring celebrations to these key members of the natural world. Driven by scent and movement, bees communicate with each other through dance. The possibilities for ecstatic ritual and connective meditation are endless. Think wordless communication, interconnectedness, sweetness, and joy.
Many Beltane celebrations include the ribboned maypole dance. Folks of all ages can get in on this time old tradition, but it is especially joyous to get kids involved in the dancing and spinning. This Backyard Maypole can be made of varying heights so that adults can easily get in on the action.
The bonfire festivities traditionally begin at sunset on May Eve. The fires of Beltane were symbols of purification and prosperity. Cattle were driven between the fires, and youths jumped the flames and coals as the night wore on. As a fertility festival, any children conceived on May Eve were considered a gift from the gods.
For those who awaken at dawn on May Day, folklore says that bathing one’s face in the morning dew of Beltane will restore beauty and radiance.
Beltane decor is centred around spring. That surging, warming, tingling energy that makes you want to skip like a school girl the minute you step outside your door.
For crafts and decorations, think flowers, butterflies, ribbons, bells, bright colours and anything that speaks of the vibrancy of life. May baskets are a tradition that your kids can get in on. Weave a simple paper basket, fill it with flowers and leave a lovely Beltane surprise for your neighbours.
Wear flower crowns in honour of the May Queen. Use silk flowers for a sturdier, timeless vibrance; or real wildflowers if they are available. A bit of needle felting or even just a couple of pompoms and a glue gun can add lovely, fluffy honeybees to your crown.
If you are looking for a more subtle craft for your celebrations, woven lavender wands are a traditional tool for Beltane. Add tiny silver bells to the ends of your wand’s ribbon for a delightful faery call that will keep your little one busy for hours.
If you have the garden space to have a butterfly garden, a fun May Day activity for kids is to give them each a handful of wildflower seeds, have them make a wish and then blow the seeds from their palms over the tilled, moistened earth of the new garden. My daughter had a great time with this last year.
Bubbles are also a great way to spend an hour or so on a sunny Beltane afternoon.
Food for Beltane is centred both around fertility and the first fresh produce available. At this time of year, I want my meals to be lighter, fresher, and filled with more leafy veg.
After a long winter of heavy starches and root vegetables, Beltane marks the time of year to lighten up and get ready for summer foods. Apricots, artichokes, asparagus, chard, spinach, leeks, chives, strawberries, and sprouts of all kinds become available in the spring.
A nice light zucchini watercress soup, or a creamy spring onion soup are a great start to a Beltane meal. The warmer weather makes me want to get out and start using the BBQ. With a long winter waiting just around the bend, we want to extend patio season as much as we can.
Desserts are one of the best parts of the meal, if you ask me. One of my favourite desserts is a simple strawberries and cream. I recently challenged myself to make whipped cream with a hand whisk. 12 minutes from liquid to stiff peaks. It was not easy, and my arms were really achy, but it was the best whipped cream I have ever tasted!
Citrus and spring fruits are great flavours for cakes, ice creams, mousses, and tarts. Try these Honey Grilled Apricots for a light, easy Beltane dessert.
If you are in a baking mood, cupcakes or single serving bundt cakes (click the image above for the recipe), are a great way to satisfy your sweet tooth.
As you might have guessed, Beltane is the time for love and fertility magic. But if you’re not into adding literal babies to your life right now, fret not. Fertility magic can be used for many aspects of life, from your career to your garden.
Beauty and love charms are potent at Beltane. They can be as simple as charging and wearing rose quartz to bring love into your life, or elaborate as a ritual to cleanse oneself of your personal baggage.
Like Samhain, Beltane is a time of the year when it is said that the veil between worlds is thinnest. Divinations are commonly performed to get a peek at the coming season. Keep your desires and questions clear in your mind as you draw the cards, drink your favourite seasonal loose leaf tea, or gaze into the flames.
Robin’s Egg Blue
After a winter that seemed, at times, that it would never end, I am so happy to see the sun and warmth return. That gratitude, joy, and hope for the coming growing season is what I want to imbue into my May Day celebrations this year.
There is a lot of work to be done before the hot weather gets here, but I am ready for it.
This is the part where I daydream of spring and green and lovely light dresses and enjoying the sunshine without need of a coat.
Once again, I spent the spring equinox watching yet another layer of snow fall from the sky. The Equinox used to be one of my favourite holidays. These days, it just reminds me that we still have about 6 more weeks before spring is anywhere close to arriving.
People who love snow always seem to be the people who live in places where there isn’t snow. Snow is easy to love at a distance. Hell, some days I love to watch it snow while snuggled under a blanket with a hot cup of coffee in my hands. Not in April, mind you, but November is a good month for snow.
There is a quiet to snow that is addictive. It’s as if everyone holds their breath for a moment. It’s romantic. It both draws you out-of-doors and settles you into the warmth of your dwelling. The first snow of the season is awesome.
Apples are one of my most favourite treats of the harvest season (they are right up there with new potatoes). Year after year, I want to make all kinds of yummy apple dishes, but end up with the same old pork roast with apples, apple crisp, and apple sauce. This year, I am making a list of awesome recipes so that I don’t forget what I want to make, and where I can get the recipes to make it!
I think I will stick this to the front page so I can easily update it. Look for new posts below this one 🙂