Beltane: Beginning the Growing Season

Beltane: Beginning the Growing Season April 29, 2018

Plant centered practices 

It is during this time of year that the green magician and herbalist begin laying the sacred plot of the apothecary garden, awakening sleeping roots with offerings of milk and honey and collecting the early blossoms and buds of springtime for the altar and the creation of lustral waters.  This year it has stayed cold longer than it normally does, making it feel more like winter than spring.  Although the signs of the coming summer are beginning to make themselves known.  There are many things to be done both indoors and outdoors to prepare for the growing season.

Starting seeds inside has become a popular practice among many practitioners that tend a personal garden.  This is the time of year that we begin our work with newborn spirits of the green realm and reconnect with those of the previous year as they awaken from their slumber.  Roots buried the year prior can be disinterred from their tombs after having been carved with a humanoid visage.  Rites of birth and baptism are performed over the emerging homunculi as its spirit is invoked.

Crystals and amulets are buried in the magical garden to empower the plants that grow in its soil.  Quartz crystals were traditionally used for this practice, as well as animal bones, and written spells intended to empower the plants with specific energies.  The border of the magical garden can be laid out and reinforced both physically and magically creating barriers using sacred woods and arcane philters laid to contain the sacred forces within.  Similar methods of circling with smoke, water and salt can also be employed just as in the casting of a magic circle.  Objects containing iron should not cross the bounds of the magical garden to avoid disrupting its subtle architecture.

It is a time for not only planting literal seeds but also a time of putting into motion that which was realized through the darkness of winter.  The self-realization that occurs through the Nigredo of Saturn’s return becomes the fertilizer that we can use to enrich those things we wish to cultivate in our lives.

Spirit Gate. Flickr Image.

Visiting the Forest 

Many visit the forest seeing green for the first time of the season.  Initial contact can be made with woodland spirits during this time of year.  This year it happens that the full moon falls just two days prior to Beltane, further enhancing the spiritual powers of this time.  Since the trees are beginning to bud and there isn’t a lot of other heavy forest vegetation growing yet this is a great time to focus on communing with arboreal spirits of the forest.  While the chattering voices of the smaller myriads of flora slumber the slow, deep voices of ancient trees can be heard.  Offerings can be made at their roots, and one may lay at the base of the tree looking up under its branches to sleep and dream of spirit flight.  This practice is especially powerful during the upcoming Sabbath known for nocturnal flight and witches’ gatherings.

This is the time of the Green Man and his mysteries of growth and decay.  In his dual nature this mercurial spirit spends half of the year in his dark guise of the Horned One leading the Wild Hunt through the frigid winter night.  In the green world he is the lord of rotten vegetation and the insects that feed on it as it putrefies on the forest floor.  The dark lord of the Wildwood is the unforgiving king of poisonous plants and nocturnal creatures.  His dark side is transformed as the wheel turns and he becomes the virile god covered in greenery and golden light.  He is the spark that awakens within all living things each spring.  His energy can be felt as the days grow warmer.

Photo courtesy of Carey Ward.

Astrology and Magic

The Sun has moved into the fixed Earth sign Taurus, the Bull.  A feminine symbol ruled by planetary Venus, it can help us connect with our inner Sovereignty through the power of the goddess.  Beltane and Samhain are the two great gateway times of the year when spirits of the dead and the otherworld are free to come and go.  They are the two cross-quarter days ruled by feminine astrological and elemental forces.

The moon will also be void of course on May 1st this year as it transits from Scorpio into Sagittarius.  In this sign the moon will be under the influence of the sign that is half-man half-beast.  The mythological centaurs of whom, Chiron was the wisest.  An ally to mankind, teaching many the healing arts of plant medicine.  The plant that is his namesake is a patron plant of herbalists.  We can utilize the previous psychic and spiritual effects of Scorpio, the previous sign, and the connection Sagittarius the Centaur has with the green realm to our advantage this Beltane/Walpurgis to connect with the wild spirit of the land.

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