Apparently, I decided to play an April Fool's Day joke on myself — I am posting this on April 3!
The name "April" is derived from Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love who was known to the Romans as Venus.
The "Kalends" of April are sacred to Venus, as is the entire month. [Note: Kalends is the name the Romans gave to the first day of the month. The Kalends was the day of the new moon. While the Kalends were always the first day of the month, the other two named days, the Ides and the Nones, were not always on the same day of the month. The Kalends was on the new moon, the Ides on the full moon, and the Nones between the two. The longest period of the month fell between the full moon and the Kalends.]
The month would begin with the Veneralia, public games, called ludi, which would be held in honour of Venus. This day was also known as All Fools Day to the Romans, and they would spend the entire day celebrating with comic hillarity, doing things backwards, wearing women's clothes, dancing in the streets, and generally carrying on in the most good-natured but absurd way possible. This is one of the few Roman holidays that has preserved some of its original character, under the modern name April Fool's Day.
As a Solitary Practitioner of Wicca, I observe the holidays (Sabbats in honor of the gods, and Esbats in honor of the goddesses) as the Wheel of the Year turns. I follow these basic laws, which can be consolidated as:
"Bide the Wiccan laws ye must, in perfect love and perfect trust...Mind the Threefold Law ye should — three times bad and three times good...Eight words the Wiccan Rede fulfill — an it harm none, do what ye will."
The Sacred Sabbat Beltane officially begins at sunset on April 30. Although most celebrations don't get into full swing until May 1, most Wiccans and Pagans acknowledge May's Eve in some fashion.
On the eve of Beltane the Celts build two large fires, created from the nine sacred woods, in honor of Summer. The tribal herds were ritually driven between them, so as to purify and protect them in the upcoming year. The fires celebrate the return of life and fruitfulness to the earth. Celebration included frolicking throughout the countryside, dancing the Maypole, leaping over fires, and "going a maying". It was customary for young lovers to spend the night in the forest.
On May's Eve people would tear branches from a Hawthorn tree and decorate the outside of their homes. The Hawthorn, or Whitethorn, is the tree of hope, pleasure, and protection. The strong taboo for breaking Hawthorne branches, or bringing them into the home was traditionally lifted on May Eve.
A nice tradition to start is a modernization of that ancient one. Take equal lengths of white and silver ribbons, then tie them in a bow around one of the lower branches of a tree, preferrably a Hawthorn. Do this at sunset, and focus on the beautiful tree, then ask the Goddess for Her blessings.
As a fun and meaningful Sabbat, I am going to present the Beltane rituals in Part II of this post. In this post, I am presenting the basics of the holiday.
The word "Beltane" literally means "bright" or "brilliant fire," and refers to the bonfire lit by a presiding Druid in honor of the proto-Celtic god variously known as Bel, Beli, Balar, Balor or Belenus. It has been suggested that Bel is the Brythonic Celt equivalent to the Goidelic Celt god Kernunnos.
The third of the two Celtic fire festivals, Beltane was a celebration of the return of life and fertility to the world, and was celebrated on or around April 30, athough in these later years has become more commonly celebrated on May 1 ("May Day").
Beltane is sometimes referred to as Cetsamhain which means "opposite Samhain." Beltane was the last of the three spring fertility festivals, and the second major Celtic festival. Beltane, and its counterpart Samhain (Halloween), divide the year into its two primary seasons, Winter and Summer.
Beltane was the time of sensuality revitalized the reawakening of the earth and all of her children. It was the time when tribal people celebrated with joy the vivid colors and vibrant scents of the season, tingling summer breezes, and the rapture of summer after a long dormant winter. It was customary that Handfastings (Marriages), for a year and a day, take place at this time.
Another custom was to leap over the Beltane bonfire. Young people jumped the fire for luck in finding a spouse, travelers jumped the fire to ensure a safe journey, and pregnant women jumped the fire to assure an easy delivery.
Beltane Love Potion
This is the only magickal ritual that I'm presenting in this post because this Potion should be made under the full moon before Beltane. This April's Full Moon falls on the 18th.
What you will need:
A single white candle
A bowl or chalice
A crystal (preferably rose or clear quartz)
A red or pink rose bud and petals
Rose or jasmine water (optional)
Decanter with top or seal
If possible, cast your circle in a place outdoors (or if indoors, hopefully next to a window with a view of the Full Moon.) If bad weather/cloudy skies present an obstacle, use a candle flame instead.
Holding the bowl or chalice full of pure spring water, catch the reflection of the Moon (or candle flame) within. Call to the Goddess Aphrodite, or any other diety that represents love to you, to send Her Divine Essence flowing into the water along with the moonlight. Concentrate on what perfect love means to you and instill your own essence into the water by blowing gently upon it.
Next, add rose petals and buds to the water. Add the crystal that you´ve held up to the moonlight to consecrate to a Goddess of Love. A touch of rose or jasmine water would be nice, but is not necessary.
Pour your water into a beautiful decanter and add an equal portion of Vodka to seal the Potion. Keep this Potion in a dark space out of the sunlight - for the magickal properties of the Night are required for it to remain potent.
Use this potion to annoint candles and magickal writings — Love Spells. Use it like a perfume to attract a perfect love to you. Add a few drops to your own drink for the same effect, and naturally, it is important NOT to use this Potion in any manipulative manner, as it would be a violation of the basic Wiccan laws.
— Danu's Daughter