Recently I’ve been thinking about having something new added to my ritual wear to symbolise something of where I am now in my spiritual journey. I had been thinking about trying to embroider something on my robes but to be honest I’m not sure my embroidery skills are really up to it. While chatting about this the other day with my partner Neil he suggested I get something made up and after a bit of chatting I decided a handmade custom belt by SkyRavenWolf would be the way to go.
I had a few ideas of what symbols I wanted to include but now I had a reason to make some decisions about what I wanted to include and what those symbols would mean to me. I ended up with six symbols that were the most important to me and each one has layers of meaning for me. The symbols I chose are:
- Briar rose
- Rowan with berries
- Roe Deer
Each symbol has meanings linked to my family and home. Each symbol also has a layer of meanings tied to spiritual beings or ideas. And I can also position them on a six spoked wheel as if I was in the centre and the wheel was the horizon about me, when drawn that’s with one spoke going horizontally or East-West.
While I was a member of Brython a six-spoked wheel was adopted as the symbol of Brython. There were a few reasons for this which I won’t bother going into now as Brython is effectively no more. I adopted this symbol for my own and included it in my first ever (and currently only) tattoo. Now I can add my own six symbols to the meaning of that wheel.
The layers of meanings work out as follows starting with the East:
- Cauldron – my hearth and home – Brigantia – East – Equinox sun rise and full moon rise
- Horse – myself – Epona – South-east – Midwinter sunrise and gibbous waning moonrise
- Rowan – my son – ancestors – South-west – Midwinter sunset and waning crescent moonrise
- Raven – Neil – Cailleach – West – Equinox sunset and full moon set
- Briar rose – my daughter – descendants – North-west – Midsummer sunset and waxing crescent moon rise
- Roe deer – my local area – Maponus – North-East – Midsummer sunrise and waxing gibbous moon rise
So there you have it, personal symbols and associated meanings.
Beltane for me is marked by the first blossoms of hawthorn opening around Glasgow. It’s a time when Rigantona has returned to the Land and taken back the cup of sovereignty from the Cailleach. A time when the Cailleach rests and restores Herself. To me it is also a time to remember our descendants just as Samhain is a time to remember our ancestors.
It’s also a time when the Land begins to look lush and green, when the last trees begin to come into leaf and shades of green cover the land once more. Sometimes it’s also a time of warmth but at least if not warmth there is more daylight here in Scotland.
On the evening of Saturday 5th May I shared in a triple toast for Rigantona, Her return to the Land and the tribe that honours Her. On Sunday 6th May I celebrated Beltane in Pollok Park with others from Glasgow and the surrounding area.
This was a special ritual for me for several reasons. One is that it was written and led by one of the regular members of the group and it was the first time she had taken this responsibility on. She’s come a long way since she first started with us and she did a great job. Secondly it was the first Beltane ritual in Glasgow for Neil and I together and marks a half cycle since Neil moved to Glasgow and first joined with the group in Pollok Park. Thirdly Neil and I were asked to be the Greenman and May Queen and it was an honour to be asked to to this and a first for both of us.
It was a lovely day, perhaps a little on the cool side but not much. The skies did cloud over and drop a few spots on us but nothing significant until the ritual was over and we were all walking back through the woods to either head home or to the cafe at the Burrell Collection for a warm drink and a chat. The ritual went well and had a lovely energy to it.
I had made ivy circlets for both Neil and myself. The ivy came from a plant my mum has growing at her flat. In mine I wove in three sprigs of flowering hawthorn and two heads of lilac flowers. The lilac and hawthorn came from a part of the river Kelvin that I have walked beside for many years. The hawthorn in particular came from a tree that has been a special friend of mine for many years and one I have performed solo Beltane rituals beside in the past. And I twisted both circlets together at Neil’s flat. I wore other things that had come from the house I live in (which I hope will soon be fully mine) so in what I was wearing I had woven together strands from around Glasgow.
After the ritual the circlets were left in the woods as an offering. I had not used anything other than the plants themselves to make them and it felt appropriate to leave them behind when we left.
I am hoping that this Beltane will bring some more positive changes into my life.
May Queen and Greenman, Beltane at Pollok Park, Glasgow 2012
Today was the launch of a permanent exhibition of artwork at a Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service in Glasgow. The artworks were created by some of the youngsters who were attending the service last year and my son was one of them (following his autism diagnosis in 2008 to help us with his temper issues).
Anyway four of his artworks were chosen to be part of this exhibition and I am so very proud of him. I got photos of him with three of the pieces and naturally enough want to show them off to as many people as I can 🙂
Rowan calls this one “Sun is Moon”.
This one is called “Grenade” (he was making a throwing motion at the time of the original photo).
And this is called “Dragon 2”
Recently I have been musing about death and existence beyond it. For as long asI can remember I have believed in the existence of something beyond this life we live and yet…
And yet I have nothing really that reinforces this belief. I have sometimes felt that I can feel presences around me of those I have known and loved who have died but is that just wishful thinking? I’ve never received any kind of clear message that confirms that there are ancestral spirits around me.
I like the idea of reincarnation in some shape or form but I have no explanation of how it might work. Apart from one strange instance where I either remembered being a tree or simply saw myself as one for a brief moment in time I have nothing really concrete to support the feeling that I may have walked this world before. I know some poeple that have experienced memories in regression that make them certain that they have lived before but for myself I am uncomfortable with the idea of regression. I think that even if I did seem to remember something I would always wonder if it was real or just my imagination fueled by the many fiction books I have read.
On my way home yesterday on the bus I was thinking about these things for what is probably the millionth time at least and I finally came to understand that it doesn’t really matter.
If I live beyond this life in some way I probably will not remember this life just as now I have no memory of any past experience. I have some knowledge of some of my ancestors, they live on in my blood and my limited memories of them. I have the precious knowledge of my own blood descendants, my children. If I can pass on stories of family members that they will never know to them then in some small way those people will live on. If, in their turn, they have children and pass stories of previous generations on then I will live on not only in their blood but in their memories.
I will never know for certain if there is anything else but it doesn’t matter to me any more (or rather that I will never really know the answer no longer matters I will simply carry on believing that there is more to existence than this life). What matters is my blood and something of my story. This is my legacy to the future just as my blood and the stories of my ancestors are my inheritance.
Over the last week I have been watching the hawthorns, looking for the first blossoms. I spotted the first ones a little earlier in the week but now there are more beginning to come out. Yesterday evening the sky cleared as dusk fell and I felt that the dance of the seasons had changed it’s rhythm once more. It was time for me to bid the Cailleach a peaceful summer’s rest and to greet the strengthening lord of the summer, Belenos.
So out I went into the garden late last night and offered my libations to the gods of my tribe, to the changing seasons and to my descendants both tangible and intangible. The links of this season to fertility and growth are well known but the results of fertility in our species are our descendants. At Samahin we honour our ancestors and our past, to me Beltane is becoming the time to honour our descendants and to consider the future.
I am blessed with two lovely children, a son and a daughter. My son is growing tall and strong and showing signs of becoming a caring and loving young man with a keen mind. I am very proud of him. My little daughter in this last week has taken a leap in her language skills and each day now brings new words. She is a little sweetheart and it’s not just me that says so. The word for this morning from my little sweetheart is “go”…
May this time of change bring you blessings of warmth, joy, family and friends.