“Back at the time of Ostara, the Green Man emerged from sleep, cloaked in leaves, with vines sprouting from his beard. He was young and energetic and readily took up the plow and began his task of fertilizing the fields. By the time we arrived in August, to the celebration of Lughnasadh, the Green Man had been busy, and we graciously reaped the fruits of the first harvest.
At this second harvest, we rejoice once more in the bounty of the Earth and the fulfillment and reaping of our labours, both physically and spiritually. But with the changing of the foliage in the Green Man’s crown, we see that he has grown tired. We invite him to eat and drink with us, before sending him to rest while we prepare for the coming of winter.
Today we celebrate the Autumn Equinox, known to us by many names, amongst them the Mabon or Alban Elfed. At this time of balance, we give thanks to the waning sunlight for providing for us the means to be fed and full through the long cold days of winter, and take a moment to pay our respects to the impending darkness.
There is little evidence that Mabon was actually celebrated in Celtic countries, and all that is known of Anglo-Saxon customs of ancient times is that September was considered a “holy month”. The term “Mabon” came into existence in the 1970s, with the celebration since becoming part of our reconstructed Paganism. It is said that the druids honoured the Green Man, the God of the Forest, by offering libations to trees; however, this evening, following this ritual, we will instead break breads together, toast with homemade jams and spreads, and share in each others’ company. And we will be thankful for all that we have, have had, and will come to have in the future.”
–excerpt from our Mabon ritual, York Redoubt, Halifax
Blessed Mabon to everyone!
May your bellies be full, your nights warm, and your hearts complete.
At the beginning of the month, a small group of us came together to cast away our stresses, relish the cool grass between our toes, and embrace the sun-warmed Earth. For the next few months, as the nights begin once again to lengthen and the shortening days are bright and full of life, we can be present and enjoy this rest before the harvests of Fall.
(It is also a good time for gathering herbs, for both magical and mundane purposes.)
It is a pagan custom to honor the dying God, as the sun reaches it’s peak and begins to wane. So we honoured the gods, the ancestors, and the spirits on this beautiful midsummer afternoon, and then we ate and we laughed and we enjoyed each others’ company.
And we wish for you all the loveliest of summers, filled with the juiciest of berries, the sunniest of days, the warmest of company, and the heartiest of laughs.
(And also s’mores. Because s’mores.)
Beltane was a great time. We danced the may pole, shared delicious snacks, and had a wonderful ritual with Grove and friends.
During the ritual, we pulled two Oghams as usual and were met with the following: Blackthorn, which represents challenges, difficulty, and poison, followed by Yew, which represents access to ancestors, death, rebirth, and faith. Suffice to say, from great challenges come lessons, new life, and rebirth. We will embrace the challenges that are coming to us, knowing that the outcomes will be worth the efforts and struggle.
Good luck to you all with your Spring and Summer ventures and Blessed Beltane!
Beltane is just around the corner and I know you are all looking for family-friendly activities to celebrate. Beltane is a time to celebrate fertility and, while you may not want to beat your children over the head with this (so to speak), you do want them to understand it brings life and all the things they love about spring and summer.
Here are some fun group and family-friendly activities you can do to celebrate.
Make a floral crown or cone. Teach the children to be respectful of what they harvest and to do so mindfully. (Adults, you need to remember this too!) For your pretty flower crown or bouquet, something is dying. If you are not a fan of this, try potting a plant to bring inside, and decorate the pot.
Ribbon is also highly associated with Beltane because of the May Pole (which you can always dance by the way), so why not try braiding some ribbon crowns or hanging ribbons from trees to decorate your celebration.
Have a Bonfire:
The Bale Fire is a long-standing tradition used for protection and purification. It is also a fantastic gathering point for stories and celebrations. So why not grab the marshmallows and have yourself a little roast.
Take a walk though the woods and enjoy some of the new life that is budding up around you. You can take pictures, clip trimmings, or draw what you see and maybe even enjoy a picnic in nature. It’s always good to get some fresh air and commune with nature.
This is a great way to introduce your children to the idea of fertility without having to explain the “birds and bees”, if you aren’t quite ready. The seeds breed life and life is all around us. Children can help by tilling and watering the soil. They will gain a sense of satisfaction and acquire new skills through helping with the planting.
Dance that May Pole:
Beltane is all about fertility and fun. What better way to wholesomely celebrate than dancing around a giant phallic object and decorating it? Try to weave your ribbons over-under-over-under to create a beautiful pattern down your may pole. You can also tie wishes for the next year to the pole before wrapping it. Focus on those hopes as you dance, and watch the magic come to life.
Bake a Green Man Cake:
We all love the Green Man and we all love cake! Lets combine the two and enjoy! (Keep scrolling for a recipe!)
I hope this has helped you in deciding what to do with your May Day celebrations. Enjoy!
“The birds return from the southern lands, bearing spring time beneath their wings. Nature has awoken, seeds are sprouting, tree buds are bursting, the earliest plants are starting to fight their way from the frozen earth, and the birds and animals are preparing to have their young.”
“Ostara is the time when we recognize the importance of planting, growing, and nurturing new ideas, projects, plans, and plants, while seeking to maintain balance in our lives.”
This past weekend, our grove hosted our Ostara ritual. It was a lovely, happy, sugar-fueled, chaotic gathering, with kiddos running around left, right, and center. It’s amazing how in a few short years, our family has grown to include so many adorable little people, each bearing their own unique personalities, wonders, and curiosities. (And also trouble-making capabilities. Let’s not forget that one.)
As a grove, we have come to deeply cherish these young lives, the energies and the laughter they bring into our circle, and our rituals and our traditions are evolving into these family-friendly, kid-inclusive events, where we get to delight in each others’ accomplishments, in baby’s first steps; where we get to marvel at ever-growing vocabularies and unexpected insights; where we get to share stories and experiences and rejoice in each other as friends, as family, as human beings just living this beautiful life.
“The Spring Equinox allows us to step from the dark into the light half of the year and gives us the first signs of spring in the land.[… It] is a time of creativity, growth, and the seeing of new beginnings.”
Let us celebrate this renewal of life.
Let us breathe in the scents of new blossoms, feel the warmth of a new sun, and hear the songs of the earth below and the skies above.
And, in the spirit of Ostara, let us clean our houses, paint some eggs, and eat some chocolates.
Happy Ostara, from us to you!
(All quotes are excerpts from the afternoon’s ritual.)
“Now is the time of stirring, when the earth begins to soften and the waters to flow. While frost still bites and winds blow, and the light is growing stronger, and life begins to wake.”
“Imbolc is the day that we celebrate the passing of Winter and make way for Spring. It is the day we honour the rebirth of the Sun. It is also a day of celebrating the Celtic Goddess Brigid. […] This is a time for communing with her, and tending the light of her sacred flame. At this time of year, we will light multiple candles or lanterns to remind us of the passing of Winter and the entrance into Spring, the time of the Sun.”
This past weekend, we joined the Pagan Presence Committee in the celebration of Imbolc as part of the 2017 Interfaith Harmony Week, a week which sees groups of multiple and diverse religions, faiths, and spiritualities open their doors to the public, inviting anyone interested in learning about and experiencing various traditions.
The evening opened with our Grove hosting a ritual, and followed with a “meet & greet”, where attendees got to explore a number of pagan tables and ask questions about the different paths and denominations. Snacks (including a chocolate fountain!! –yes, too exciting not to mention) were shared, and wonderful conversations were had. It was a lovely event, and we were pleased to be a part of it.
Happy Imbolc, everyone! <3
(All quotes are excerpts from the evening’s ritual, and photocred goes to Karen.)
We are happy to announce that we will be conducting our 2017 Imbolc ritual as a part of Halifax’s World Interfaith Harmony Week, in conjunction with the Earth Spirit Society of Nova Scotia (ESSNS), on Saturday, February 4th.
The ritual will take place in south end Halifax, at the Universalist Unitarian Church (5500 Inglis Street), and will be followed by a “meet & greet” where various pagan organizations in the city will have displays and information about their traditions
Doors open at 6:30pm, and the ritual (with an opening welcome statement and introduction) will begin promptly at 7:00pm.
Thanks to the hard work of the Pagan Presence Committee and ESSNS, the Pagan community has had an increasing involvement with interfaith in Halifax, and the Grove of Nova Scotia Druids is happy to be a part of it again this year.
For more information about Interfaith Harmony Halifax, visit: http://ihhalifax.ca/home/
For copy of the 2017 event guide, including all the events put on by different faith groups click here.
“Back at the time of Samhain, the Green Man, old and tired and naked of leaf and vine, bundled himself against the impending long, cold, dark nights and welcomed a deep and well-deserved rest. While he settled to sleep, we cast into the universe our hopes, dreams, desires, and wishes for the new year, before we too pulled our blankets up and waited for the days to once again grow long.
The night of Yule, the Winter Solstice, brings with it the rising of a new sun and the rebirth of the Green Man. We have made it through the darkest time of the year, the longest night, and we rejoice. Through the burning of the Yule log, we invite the light back into our homes, and we celebrate the knowledge that with all endings come new beginnings.”
Last night, we were finally able to get together for the celebration of Yule. There was singing and laughing and the sharing of bowls of homemade chili and cornbread and too many butter-tarts.
And also cat cuddles. (Because sometimes stereotypes are real.)
As spoken in ritual,
“let us take a moment to reflect on the love and respect we share for ourselves, each other, and this family. Let us continue to be present in each others’ lives, and to support one another through whatever challenges we each may face. […] Let us laugh and share, and be grateful for this life and this day, this fire and this food, these precious young souls, our homes, our jobs, our abilities to breathe, to speak, to listen, and to love.”
Happy Yule from all of us here in the GNSD!
The apple is the symbol of the Fruit Harvest. It is the symbol of life and immortality, of healing, renewal, regeneration, and wholeness. It is associated with beauty, longevity, and restored youth. In the Ogham, “Apple”, or “Queirt”, represents health and vitality. It is the heart of the Ogham Grove and the source of life.
The apple also holds a pagan secret: when cut width-wise, it will reveal a pentacle.
This afternoon, the Grove gathered together to celebrate Mabon, or Alban Elfed, the second harvest of the season. There was paint, snacks (coffee!), good weather, and gratitude. There was catching up, joking around, missing, sharing, laughing, and loving. Most importantly, there was friendship and there was family, and for these we are the most thankful.
A very happy [early] Mabon to you all!