Wishing you wonderful people the most glorious Beltane.
I was chatting with someone in the shop today, and we got to discussing how positive Beltane makes us feel. Celebrated at the peak of Spring and the imminent arrive of Summer, it is an opportunity to renew and refocus ourselves on our relationship with nature and the Earth.
Beltane is a Fire Festival and is one of four seasonal festivals (along with Samhuinn, Imbolc and Lughnasadh). Beltane is celebrated in Spring time, at the start of the farming calendar and was an opporiunity for the community to come together in the hope of a fruitful season for their families and fields.
The word ‘Beltane’ itself is thought to originate from the Celtic God ‘Bel’, meaning ‘the bright one’ and the Gaelic word ‘teine’ meaning fire. Traditionally bonfires were lit to honour the Sun and encourage the support of Bel and the Sun’s light to nurture the emerging future harvest and protect the community. Lighting the Beltane fires on the first of May was a symbolic move to recall the growing power of the sun and cleanse the community of the dark months spent indoors. In Scotland, cattle were traditionally driven around these fires and the community would dance and leap over the flames.
Other Beltane rituals would often include courting: for example, young men and women collecting blossoms in the woods and lighting fires in the evening. This rituals often led to marriage or handfasting. Trees were also celebrated with hawthorn, rowan and hazel being placed on doorways and windows to bring in fresh energy.
In keeping with the spirit of Beltane, here are some excellent titles to immerse you in the world of Paganism, Wicca and Druidry.
Anything by Glennie Kindred!
You cannot really mention Paganism without referring to the amazing Glennie Kindred. Her books are always so beautifully crafted with illustrations and contain so much useful information. I usually consume her books all at once, but will often find that I dip back in and out of her books to make the most of her wisdom.
Specifically for Beltane, have a look at Earth Wisdom, a book all about how we can make deeper connections with Earth. Now more than ever, we are aware that our relationship to the Earth needs changing, and a greater awareness of how our actions affect the balance of the world is required. Using the wheel of the year as a mode, Earth Wisdom is a gentle reminder about how to appreciate the Earth and experience the seasons, the moon cycles and the trees in a practical and personally spiritual way.
Walking With Trees: Beltane is after all about harvest and nature and honouring the Earth and what it provides for us. If you have read and enjoyed Finding the Mother Tree by Suzanne Simard, you will adore this one! Kindred takes us on a journey in thirteen of our native trees and explores the inter-relationship between us and them. Positive and inspirational, it is impossible to ignore her passion for trees and the world around us and the result is a truly magical and moving book.
There are also the most beautiful collection of Glennie Kindred books (see gallery below) which are all hand written and illustrated in fountain pen, ranging from Earth’s Cycles of Celebration, Tree Ogham and Creating Ceremony . These are not available via our website, but if you give us an email or ring, we can sort out an order for you.
The Witch’s Path : Advancing Your Craft at Every Level
by Thorn Mooney
If you have spoken to me at any point in my life, you will know I adore anything on Wicca, and this was one of my most anticipated books of last year, having followed Thorn Mooney on social media for a while. This book does not disappoint. It really is packed with practical tips to move your practice forward, not matter what your starting point.
I will be the first to confess that I love reading about Wicca, but often find that I get stuck in a rut with actually putting this information into practice, and therefore this book was the nudge that I needed to become more proactive. Mooney after all says that ‘The doing is often the difference between a beginner book and an advanced book.’. The book itself is split into chapter which each feature separate exercises designed for four different levels of experience, which means you get the change to return to this book as your grow and develop your practice. So whether you are a beginner who is just starting out or a jaded adept, Thorn Mooney’s book will actually help.
Mythology for a Magical Life : Stories, Rituals and Reflections to Inspire Your Craft
by Ember Grant
Looking for something a little bit different when practising or developing your craft? Feel a little bit jaded with the more traditional style of books? Look no further, this book is for you.
This book draws on the meaning and wisdom of myths and legends. Most people appreciate the allegories and morals hidden within them, but Grant goes one further and analyses how we can use those meanings to impact our practice including spells, rituals, affirmations and journal prompts that relate to the overall story.
I would count myself as a bit of a mythology nerd, but I was amazed by the range of stories that were in this book – it is incredibly well researched (each chapter ends with a bibliography)! Grant goes further than the well-known European texts, and cites South African, Inuit, Mayan, Aztec, Japanese, and Mesopotamian myths- my personal favourite is Inari, the fox god.
Essentially this book is a magical mix between a myth collection with an almost academic study into the meaning hidden in such stories with a how-to guide for magical practice. Inspirational, interesting and one for the mythology nerds!
The Druid Path : A Modern Tradition of Nature Spirituality
by John Michael Greer
This book is a little gem, and far more than just a pretty cover (although it is absolutely gorgeous!) This is an excellent beginner’s guide to Druidry by Archdruid John Michael Greer which highlights the vibrant and diverse movement that, although has its roots in ancient Celtic practice, still has many modern uses.
Split into four parts to cover all the bases, it is an absolute perfect resource for those starting out on the path. Part 1 looks at the history of Druidry, from the ancient Druids to the modern revival. Part 2 looks at the different strands of Druidry and the teachings. This is where Greer comes into his own, as he is able to pass on his own personal wisdom and interpretation of the topic. Part 3 talks about practicing Druidry in your everyday life, including an introduction to divination – there is an excellent metaphor about how Druidry is best understood as a craft like basket making, and is best learnt by active practice rather than simply reading. Part 4 is about initiation into Druidry, and includes simple self-initiation rituals to help those who want to embark on their journey.
Simple, poignant and well researched, this is an excellent book to help understand Druidry and how it impacts on your experience of Earth.
Druid Mysteries: Ancient Wisdom for the 21st Century
by Philip Carr-Gomm
This book if less of a ‘how to guide’ on how to practice as a Druid, and more of an informative interpretation of how modern Druidry exists. Philip Carr-Gomm’s writing is approachable and does show how flexible a modern practice can be.
This books explains the ancient history of Druidry and the relationship that the practice has with nature; animal, tree and plant. Rather interestingly, Carr-Gomm also discusses how Druidry can relate to other paths such as Wicca, especially when relating to seasonal celebrations.
It would also be remiss of me to not mention the tarot and oracle decks that the Carr-Gomm’s produce, as they are effortlessly stunning. The Druid Animal Oracle Deck is popular (deservedly so) and draws on the ancient Celtic tradition that Druidry is so famous for following.
Blessed Beltane all 🙂