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I conducted my Maitag ritual in midafternoon on Friday, May 3. I specifically took half a day’s vacation for this, since doing a ritual after work seems to cause me to struggle with grounding. This was a solitary ADF style ritual that followed the Core Order of Ritual. I used a combination of sources to create this ritual, including the Solitary Ritual Outline on ADF’s website, a published Maitag ritual, and the Solitary Druid Fellowship’s Beltane devotional supplement. I honored Nerthus as the Earth Mother, Heimdall as the gatekeeper, and Frey and Freyja as the Deities of the Occasion. I brought incense for the fire, but forgot the silver for the well (oops!), and mead and poetry for the kindreds and honored deities.

I am really glad I took the time to put together a ritual I liked out of bits and pieces of other published rituals. I still haven’t made the (seemingly insurmountable) step of completely crafting a ritual from scratch, but I added in some sections that I just thought worked really well from rituals I’d done in the past. I will continue to use that language going forward, specifically the language and hand motions I used to open the gates after invoking the gatekeeper. I totally forgot about using the two powers to feed the opening gate, but I will try to remember to use that imagery going forward.

That said, I definitely got little chills once I got the gate open. I think my greater familiarity with this ritual and my increasing familiarity with the CoOR in general is helping with my ability to connect. (I also am having a much lower anxiety level today, and that helped as well.) My grounding and centering took much less time than I’d expected to reach a stable light trance. My overall focus was good as well, though I didn’t maintain the trance state all the way through the ritual. That will take practice.

I also think I like the SDF calling of the Kindreds better than the one I used this time, so I’ll be using that in the future.

This was my first ritual with my new tools, and I think they work swimmingly. Instead of a ton of small bowls for offerings, I now have one large bowl to collect the offerings (which is MUCH easier to handle) and my new goblet works splendidly for pouring offerings out to the Kindreds. I also purchased some new incense to use, and I am extremely pleased with it. It’s available on etsy, and I can’t recommend the seller highly enough. There was a problem with my shipment, and after two weeks she shipped me a second one – rush delivery – to make sure I’d have it in time for Beltane.

For the omens, I asked “What blessings do you have for me today?” and drew the following runes:

  • Ancestors: Tiwaz (Tyr): Guidance, Justice, Navigation – The right direction, spiritual guidance, the path that leads to right action and justice. The cosmic order is being maintained. Things will be set to right, so long as you live with deep integrity. Willingness to self-sacrifice for the greater good. Victory and success.
  • Nature Spirits: Jera (Year): Year, the harvest, hard work – Each is given their proper due in full measure, good or ill. The golden crop, sown in the past, has come to fruition and is now the full harvest; the results of earlier efforts are realized. Natural cycles will always spin, and the year will always turn again, but for now all is well. The order of the cosmos is maintained, and everyone reaps the benefits of hard work and has a chance to build a new harvest for next year.
  • Gods and Goddesses: Pertho (dice cup, vulva): Chance, the unknown – A secret thing, hidden matters, an unseen destiny. Initiation and the unknown changes it will bring. The gamble that is any new beginning. Female mysteries.

When I set my rune bag down, the following rune “jumped” out, so I am considering it part of the blessing:

  • Gebo (Gift): Gift, Reciprocity – You have given freely and will gain freely in return. The cosmos is in harmony, and you are working properly within it. Sacrifice and generosity, and the balance between them.

Since I asked essentially three separate questions this time, I feel that I’m being given three separate answers. That the Ancestors will provide guidance, justice and navigation – spiritual guidance and the knowledge of the right path to take forward. The Nature Spirits will grant a full blessing, and my hard work will be rewarded. (I hope this means my garden will do well!) The Gods and Goddesses have a hidden agenda for me, but I am on that path, and they will reveal it in time. Perhaps that will lead to an initiation, formal or informal, in time.

Having Gebo “jump out” at me suggests that my ritual was well received, and that my work on it was appreciated. I felt good about this ritual, and I think the Kindreds agreed. All the omens were fairly positive, and I am encouraged about continuing to figure out where my next step will be.

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Beltane is the second cross-quarter day in the Neopagan calendar, and occurs on or around May 1st. This is sometimes considered the second most important holiday to Samhain, and is in a lot of ways it’s mirror holiday. While Samhain celebrates death, the ending of the year, and the beloved dead, Beltane is a fertility festival, steeped in the coming new life of the earth and the return of flowers, as well as the promise of a good harvest. I have heard it said that Samhain is when the Otherworld comes closest to joining our world, and that Beltane is when our world is closest to joining the Otherworld.

Ancient Gaelic traditions include building fires and driving the livestock between them to bless them. Many other traditions, like maypole dancing, come from the Germanic cultures, making this Neopagan holiday a good blend of Indo European traditions. The name Beltane is, itself, Gaelic – the Germanic culture celebrated Walpurgis Night. There is a possible connection as well to the Roman festival of Flora, the goddess of flowers, though the festival of flowers was centered less on bonfires and more on flowers and drinking. (Drinking, of course, is likely common to all of these celebrations, but modern Neopagans are warned to be careful about combining alcohol with bonfire jumping.)

In the Neopagan Wheel of the Year, Beltane is when the Goddess and the God are celebrating their fertility and consummating their marriage. Common traditions are creating flower garlands, dancing a may-pole, building bonfires, having sex (consenting adults only), and generally celebrating the fact that Summer is on its way in, and the Earth’s fertility has resumed, and it’s not cold and snowy anymore. Less common are flower baskets (May baskets) left anonymously as gifts on people’s porches (which makes a nice counterpart to trick-or-treating at Samhain). The May morning dew is said to be miraculously healing and rejuvenating, leading to myths about bathing your face in it, or gathering it in special cloths.

Beltane, Walpurgis Night, May Day and other associated holidays are all celebrated widely, even into modern times in a lot of places, regardless of Christianization. In many places, May is dedicated to the Virgin Mary, but the same celebrations (like giving baskets of flowers) are simply given new names and continued. In other places, people simply continue to build their bonfires and celebrate the coming of May, regardless of what tradition or religion they might be.

This is, in general, an extremely lighthearted and joyful celebration in modern times. It frequently gets connected with faeries and fey lore, and gives modern Neopagans a chance to dance, sing, drink, and make merry at the end of winter. This year, since the spring has been so cool and wet (and even, in some places, snowy) many US Neopagans are looking forward to Beltane and hoping that the weather will cooperate. Here on the Gulf Coast, the cooler weather has meant that things aren’t growing as fast as they usually do, so my celebration will include some extra oomph for my garden, so that it will be productive and fruitful before the heat of summer!

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