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Lighting the Beltane Fires

“Tra la, it's May, it’s May, the lusty Month of May
That lovely month when everyone goes blissfully astray
Tra la, it's here, it’s here, that shocking time of year
When tons of wicked little thoughts merrily appear

 

Whence this fragrance wafting through the air?
What sweet feelings does its scent transmute?
Whence this perfume floating everywhere?
Don't you know, it's that dear forbidden fruit,

 

Because….

 

It's May! It's May!
The month of "yes you may,"
The time for ev'ry frivolous whim,
Proper or "im."
It's wild! It's gay!
A blot in ev'ry way.
The birds and bees with all of their vast
Amorous past
Gaze at the human race aghast,
The lusty month of May. “

 

From Camelot ~ Lerner & Loewe

 

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I first became aware of the importance of the Beltane fires  in my life through a dream. I awoke one morning,  in the arms of my husband and he looked at me in surprise and asked me about the fires. “What fires “ I said… and then I remembered. I guess that I’d been talking in my sleep. In my dream we had been standing together in a place that seemed to be a castle of sorts.  I was wearing some sort of night dress and he had come up behind me. I knew that it was him in the way that time and place meld together in the dream state, but he was blond with longer hair that was flowing back in the wind.  He looked at me with the same deep blue eyes that he has now with a gaze that at that moment transcended lifetimes and said “they are lighting the fires and are in the fields…he wants the fires to be gone, he is sending them”.  All I remember is the night falling and hearing the sighs of  passion  from the plowed fields beyond. I remember saying “Tell him that I said that he WILL allow the fires to burn” and shortly after that I remember falling into his arms and wandering hand in hand out towards the fields.  I woke up naked and in a cold sweat.  I knew that the mysterious “he” was someone of the church, who was trying to destroy my beloved “old ways”.  I knew then that I’d known my husband in some other time or place where we’d been bound together by a spirituality that had its roots planted deep within the earth.  I promised myself at that moment that for as long as it was in my power, the fires would never be allowed to go out.  

 

Beltane or Beltaine as the Irish speak of it is a lusty and passionate holiday full of surprises and all kinds of wonderful. None of us know what the Goddess has in store for us today, but I can promise you that if you are open to her magic you will enjoy every minute of it. Do be careful though…lots of sweet little babies are conceived today.  That’s my only warning, but you'd be wise to heed it....not that you'll really be able to control the outcome.  Trust me she will always have her way!

 

Beltane is  the time that marks the beginning of the most fertile season of the year.  Cattle were driven up to higher, greener grounds and passions burned on May the 1st like the ancient ritual fires that were lit to celebrate the sowing of seed, both physically in the newly plowed fields and during the times of the old religions through an ecstatic sexual union  of the sacred feminine and her masculine counterpart,  the great horned God.  Every year on this day, the great wheel of the year would turn once more towards summer and bonfires would be built.

 

 Men and women lay together in the fields cloaked only in the smoke, exhausting their passions over and over again with the intention of creating a potent ritual that would ensure an abundant harvest.  There would be feasting as well as dancing around a beautifully beribboned May Pole (no imagery there!) and it was a time of celebrating all forms of fertility, love and lust.  Babies conceived during the sacred Beltane union were considered blessed by the goddess herself.

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 Centuries later we really haven't changed all that much.  Bonfires, gardens and woodsmoke can still stoke our passions as well as insure our very survival. We still plant our vegetables every spring and wish for enough rain and sun to help our gardens grow.  Although we have long since harnessed the power of the flame and made it manageable, I've yet to find any oven that stirs my food lust like the warmth of an open flame. I long for a wood burning clay oven in my kitchen where I can bake fresh crusty bread, clafoutis aux cerises and fresh pizza!

 

This is the time of year when all the trees are blooming, flowers and wild potherbs are appearing all over the fields and forests as if by magic. The honeybees have reappeared and are busy making love to the fragrant blossoms and with luck we will find our trees filled with ripe fruits come fall. We till our gardens and plant the seed that we’ve saved from last year’s harvest and we take long walks outside, grateful that the sun has finally come again and brought with it a deep rich warmth.

 

You needn’t go too far back into your imagination to see that centuries ago, these simple things would have seemed deeply magical to our ancestors. Sometimes, I think that it would serve us well to embrace the same simple wonder that they did, an excitement that comes from enjoying a life of following the seasons simply and passionately. For me, springtime is marked by so many things that I look forward to, knowing that they will not pass through my life until the wheel comes full circle again. The beautiful fragrant violets, the precious lilacs and viburnums…wild ramps with their deep oniony flavor and fiddlehead ferns! Fresh pea tendrils, daffodils and the very first dandelion greens that I love to harvest for salads.  

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In a class by itself comes the freshest spring asparagus.  I can’t think of anything more wonderful than a meal of steamed asparagus and a silky tarragon laced béarnaise sauce. Living as locally as possible and respecting the seasons and the presents that each one brings is not only a healthy way to eat, but a holistic way to live. 

The first thing I did when we bought our home in Cleveland Heights was put in an asparagus bed. An asparagus bed is one of natures most useful clocks. When my first thick shoots of asparagus come up, I know that spring is truly and finally here. Several years ago all of my asparagus came up in March and I knew that we were in for a very interesting year. This year, it’s right on time. Nature has a magic all her own and for the ancients Beltane was a reminder to stop and pay attention to those thundering  rhythms.

 

For me one of the greatest joys of the merry month of May were always the flowers that would bloom in my parents’ gardens. They grew many beautiful flowers but none were more precious to me than the beautiful patch of lilies of the valley that grew behind the terrace in a secret place that only a few knew about. I’d wait and wait and then every year on the 1st of May I would run into the back and there they would be, pure little bells of white with strong green leaves just begging me to bury my face into their flowers and inhale their sweet green scent. I learned much later that May  Day in France is  known as Fete du Muguet day and these sweetly scented little flowers are gifted by lovers to each other all day long. I still wear my favorite Lily of the Valley perfume , Christian Diors Diorissimo,  all day long in honor of this glorious French tradition. 

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All of these beautiful greens and flowers come but once a year in a fashion that is fleeting and beautiful. I think that if I could have them all year round it would be a disappointment to me, because the yearning for them is every bit as delightful.  Besides, every season has its pleasures and treasures. Crabapple trees and their fragrant blooms can only come in May, but their fruits are late August’s treasures. The old-fashioned roses in my gardens that bloom so abundantly will produce generous rosehips for my tea in September. To everything there is a season, and to every time a purpose. The joy that May Day brings is the abundant renewal of life and passion. Make love and give love generously on this day. Gifts of flowers and bright May Baskets are traditional gifts of love that are perfect. Make paper cones with your children, fill them with flowers, put them on your neighbor’s front door and let them guess! If it’s a beautiful evening spread a blanket outside, light lots of candles and have a picnic!  

 

Then put the children to bed and go back outside if you dare….

 
 
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Today is the day that we light the ritual fires once again with the intent to create life, celebrate our passion and ensure the fertile harvest not only of our fields, but of our souls.  Feed each other juicy fruits, other luscious things and make love with abandon, spend time in the fields, wander into the wilderness of your hearts and get lost there for more than a little while.  Keep a little magic with you always and more than a touch of mystery.  Remember that it’s the very things that we don’t really know that can bring us the most joy and above all remember to be glad...very glad to be alive. Life is juicy, fragrant and sometimes bittersweet. Life is also all about taking risks with your passions. Be a little naughty, enjoy your wildness, but remember what I said, because the Goddess WILL always have her way……..

 

 

 

 

Blessed Be.

 

 

 

#herbanfarmgirl 

#France #Paris #Muguet #Lilyofthevalley #fetedumuguet

 

Green Man print - Artist unknown

 

 


Milady's Pantry and Stillroom: Incense and Peppermint

 

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“I unlaced the front of my robe and rubbed my body quickly with handfuls of the lavender and valerian. It was a pleasant, spicy smell, distinctive and richly evocative. A smell that, to me, conjured the shade of the man who wore its perfume, and the shade of the man behind him; shades that evoked confusing images of present terror and lost love. A smell that, to Jamie, must recall the hours of pain and rage spent wrapped in its waves. I rubbed the last of it vigorously between my palms and dropped the fragrant shreds on the floor.

With a deep breath for courage, I picked up the vial of ammoniacal spirits. I stood by the bed a moment holding it, looking down at the gaunt, stubbled face. At most he might last a day; at the least, only a few more hours.

“All right, you bloody Scottish bastard,” I said softly. “Let’s see how stubborn you really are.” I lifted the injured hand, dripping, from the water and set the soaking dish aside."

Excerpt From: Diana Gabaldon. “Outlander.”  

Incense and Peppermint

Please enjoy this lovely chart! Click on it, blow it up and print it out! I don't know who to attribute it to but I'm very grateful that it showed up on my personal facebook page.  It's one of the best tools that for creating incense that  I've seen in a long time! I love incense and I make my own and burn it often for healing, conjuring or simply when I just want my home to smell simply wonderful.  There are all kinds of glorious combinations that you can use when you want to provoke different emotions, for example, an incense of cinnamon, rose petals, cloves, dried apple, basil, lavender buds, vanilla bean , cardomom and sandalwood sprinkled with a couple of drops of essential oil of rose is one of the sexiest love potions that I know...... 

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Abolone shell with white sage smudge stick/ origins of photograph unknown

 It's truly easy to create your own.  Take a flameproof bowl and fill it 1/2 way with sand. I use a beautiful abalone shell that I bought years ago because it does have a wonderfully feminine vibe! Then get a pack of incense charcoal disks and lay one on top of the sand. Light it and let it burn until you're sure that it's ready (It will be ashy and glowing, not flaming!) and scatter any combination of herbs and spices around and on top of it. Please be sure to only use leaves , petals , spices and woods  that you know have not been treated with pesticides and have fun....the magic's even more personal if you've gathered them yourself. Just be sure to gather conciously. Never take an endangered species . Don't take to much of any one plant and be sure to ALWAYS leave a little love token for the fey folk !

You don't want to upset them you know:)

image from home-school-coach.com

 My husband laughs because he does the laundry (love that man!) and he's always emptying my pockets which are filled with offerings of seeds, pennies and pretty stones. You can even add a couple of drops of any essential oil that you love, provided that it's organic. Please don't use perfumed oils. Perfumed oils are generally derived from petroleum products and other nasty things. They will produce a horrid black smoke when you light them and the magical correspondences are not  present in chemically produced scents. My favorite? A combination of White sage, Lavender , Bourbon Rose,  Bay and Pine.  Please write me at My Outlander Love Affair/Milady's Pantry and Stillroom  and let me know yours!

Now for fun:)

 


31 Days of Halloween: Hot Skwash!

Every now and then I see something that really tickles my fancy! In this case it was these gorgeous velvet pumpkins from Hot Skwash! I was in Neiman Marcus last month and I saw a display of them that really caught my eye. I can't help but wonder how a few of these might look in my antique wooden salad bowl or tucked around my Williamsburg hurricane. They are expensive but well a girl can dream right? Or a crafty girl could try to make them on her own! All of those colors? All of those choices? This witch is going to see if she can wave her wand and make a few of them magically appear on her harvest table!

Big red velvet pumpkin hot skwash

Hot Skwash velvet pumpkins rasberry ice group

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31 Days of Halloween: Scenes from Castello di Amarosa Vineyards

 

 

Last weekend my husband and I spent a really memorable weekend in Napa Valley. One of the wonderful places that we discovered was a sensational vineyard in St. Helena  named Castello di Amarosa.It is an absolutely authentic and  sensational castle that sits atop of a magnificent hillside AND is a working vineyard. Because it is harvest season in Sonoma right now, the smell of crushed grapes was everywhere and the scent just added to the incredible ambiance of the setting. They have goats , sheep and chickens and truthfully if you didn't know that it was 2013 you would be instantly transported back to feudal Italy in the 13th century. The castle was superbly dressed for the harvest season  and the dungeon was filled with all sorts of Samhain finery. Every year they have a Medieval Faire and a Haunted Pagan Ball, which I intend to be at  in 2014! Feast your eyes and do click on the links...

31 Days of Halloween: Scenes from Castelo de Amarosa Vineyards

31 Days of Halloween: Scenes from Castelo de Amarosa Vineyards

31 Days of Halloween: Scenes from Castelo de Amarosa Vineyards

31 Days of Halloween: Scenes from Castelo de Amarosa Vineyards

31 Days of Halloween: Scenes from Castelo de Amarosa Vineyards