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April Newsletter 2021

April 03, 2021

Asheville Raven & Crone

Beltane is a Fire Festival celebrated on April 30-May 1. The word Beltane originates from the Celtic God Bel, meaning "the bright one" and the Gaelic word teine meaning "fire". Traditionally all fires in the community were put out and a special fire was kindled for Beltane. People jumped the fire to purify, cleanse and to bring fertility. Couples jumped the fire together to pledge themselves to each other. Cattle and other animals were driven through the smoke as a protection from disease and to bring fertility. At the end of the evening, participants would take some of the Teineigen to start their home fires anew.(From Sacred Celebrations by Glennie Kindred)

Colors of the Season:

Green for growth, fertility, health, abundance.
White for purity, power, protection.
Yellow for solar energies, happiness, communication.

Plants of the Season:

Woodruff for protection, victory, and wealth.
Daisy for attraction, love, and youth.
Lily of the Valley for desire, peace, and protection.
Mugwort for lust, fertility, communication with spirits.
Violet for fertility, prophetic dreams, love.

Traditions and Symbols:

Flowers for fertility, love, and joy.
Maypole symbolizing fertility.
Green Man, Lord of the Wild Wood.
Earth Goddess associated with plants and animals.

Ways To Celebrate:

Light a Beltane fire – Light a fire in your garden to energize your plans and dreams by speaking them aloud before tossing them into the fire. Invite friends and family to do the same. If you are in a relationship, Beltane is an excellent time to renew your intentions or vows to one another, and to leap the fire hand in hand. (carefully of course)

Go camping – Being outside at this time of year is energizing and restorative. Lie on your back and gaze at the stars. Stay up and watch the sunrise.

Dance – around the Maypole if you have one or just put some music on and have a dance. Find some open spaces and let the kids run wild. Jump up and down, laugh out loud, and chase one another about.

Create something - Beltane is a festival of fertility. Plant a garden, write a story, make honey cakes, and
may wine to celebrate the magic of the season.

~Lisa~

Beltane Floral Crown

Flowers are prominent in Beltane traditions as symbols of fertility, beauty, and love. The Roman Goddess Flora is frequently depicted wearing a ring of flowers around her head, as are the May Queens in European May Day celebrations. Creating a floral crown adds a festive flair to your celebration and doubles as a wreath for your door or altar. The wreath included in your box will get you started. You can add fresh flowers found growing around your home or from a local florist, vines, ribbons while inviting energies of beauty and creativity to enter your wreath.

Invocation to Flora
Lovely Flora, pretty lady, you whose beauty is brighter than the stars,
Shiner then the seas, more glorious than the moon itself.
Lovely Flora, pretty lady, grace me, embrace me, enter into me, amaze me!
May your spirit come into my heart!
May your love flow through me!
May your beauty and bliss embrace me!
You are the Queen of the Flowers.
You are the beautiful blossoming earth.

You are the sprout that pushes through the flat field to reach the sun!
All the flowers of the earth reflect your love.
All the beauty of the earth is but your song.
You are the rose that opens and closes.
You are the love that is only its own.
Lovely Flora, pretty lady, come into my heart!

I am a flower awaiting your presence, a blossom that is ready to bloom.
Come into my heart, lovely Flora, enter into me, grace me, amaze me!
Embrace me and cause me to bloom!

Beltane: Rituals, Recipes & Lore for May Day (Llewellyn Sabbat Essentials Book 2) by Melanie Marquis


Spring and new growth is everywhere in the northern hemisphere this month, and the further south one travels the scent of flowers and rich earth can be scented in the air.

April Showers bring May Flowers

Or so the saying goes. April also brings the cheer of warmer, brighter, and sunnier days and offers opportunities for spending more time outside whether you are a gardener or someone who enjoys spending time on the veranda.

The cheerful and uplifting scent of Bergamot seems like the perfect essential oil to represent April. Bergamot (Citrus aurantium) grows as a tree, and the oil comes from the fruit, similar to a small orange with a tough, thin peel, but not suitable for eating. Bergamot cannot be grown from seeds, so is often propagated by being grafted onto other citrus rootstocks. Since the fruit is too sour to eat, it is primarily grown for essential oil production.

Bergamot has a rather mysterious history, with even its origins being somewhat obscure. Some say its name comes from the Italian city of Bergamo where it was first sold as an oil. The Italian Feminis family used it in their eau-de-cologne in the sixteenth century, and it has long been used in cosmetics and perfumery. Bergamot is also part of what gives Earl Grey tea its distinctive flavor.

Among its many clinical qualities: Analgesic, antidepressant, antiviral, carminative, digestive, sedative, and as a tonic.

The scent of Bergamot is citrusy, floral, and cheerful. Perhaps for these reasons it has been used as antidepressant, as it is both calming and uplifting. It is one of those smells I often associate with a sense of well-being—no matter what is happening, all will be well.

It can also be helpful with digestive issues, and particularly those due to emotional stress and nervousness.

Bergamot despite being phototoxic* has been used to treat acne, psoriasis, and eczema.

Energetically speaking, Bergamot has been noted to enhance and increase the flow of energy. Since it resonates with the heart chakra, it can be useful for easing grief.

Magically, Bergamot is associated with the sun, and element of fire with a marked influence on helping to promote peace, happiness, and restful sleep.

Some of the ways to incorporate Bergamot oil are to use it in a diffuser, add it to the bath or as part of a room spray.

Here is a Recipe room spray for resolving issues peacefully and mitigating grief:

10 drops of Bergamot essential oil
3 drops of Chamomile essential oil
3-5 drops of Lavender essential oil
6 oz of distilled or filtered water
½ oz of witch hazel or alcohol

Add witch hazel to spray bottle, then drops of oil, and finally water. Shake well before each use.

*Phototoxic oils can cause skin discoloration when they are applied to the skin and then sun exposure is experienced. It is generally advised that sun exposure be avoided for 6-8 hours. Some Bergamot oils have the chemical constituent bergaptene, which causes the phototoxicity, removed but clinical aromatherapists generally prefer unadulterated Bergamot.

*Please note that no matter how safe and natural you believe essential oils to be, you should never use them
straight or “neat” directly on the skin. There are a few exceptions, but even those should only be used that way
under the advice of a certified or registered aromatherapist. Young children, the elderly, anyone with a comprised
immune system, and those who are pregnant may require a formula that is much reduced in active ingredients.

Essential oils of any variety should always be cautiously used around pets, and never used on cats or in any way
that would allow them to ingest it—like breathing in vaporized spray or licking it off of their fur.

Spring is in full swing here in Southern Appalachia and soon the trees will be green and lush, the air will hum with the busy buzz of insects, and we will be spending long afternoons by the French Broad River. Beltane is coming near, which is easily my favorite sabbat, after Samhain. To me, these days are intimately connected. They are opposite from each other on the wheel of the year. They represent the land dying each year and its subsequent rebirth. They are liminal times that vibrate with magic and mischief.

To celebrate, here’s a little information on the history of May Wine, and of course, a few recipes.

May wine is traditionally drunk on May Day and can be enjoyed throughout the summer months. It’s typically created with a light wine such as Riesling spiked with seasonal herbs and fruit, especially sweet woodruff and strawberries. In the spirit of Beltane, it makes an excellent love potion to enjoy with a lover or even encourage fertility for those wishing to conceive.

Sweet Woodruff, Galium odorata, is the star of this potion. Also called Master of the Woods or Sweet Bedstraw, this lovely groundcover is a perennial which returns each spring and blooms in April or May.

Unlike most herbs, its sweet vanilla-and-hay scent gets stronger after it is harvested and dried. It is used widely in hoodoo and witchery for all manner of conditions from protection and uncrossing to love and success. Traditionally it was taken as a springtime health tonic or otherwise used in desserts and beverages, but it can be harmful taken in large doses, so consult a trained herbalist or physician before ingesting. The recipes provided here use only a small amount, enough to flavor your beverage and enhance your spring celebrations, without being dangerous. Sweet woodruff may be unsuitable for children, so an alternative recipe is included. If you are planning to harvest your own herbs, be extra sure you have identified the plant properly and that it is washed thoroughly to avoid any pesticides or other impurities.

Traditional May Wine
Our recipe that is closest to original May Day celebration wines.

Ingredients:

A bottle of white or rose wine. Riesling is preferred
7 to 10 sprigs of Sweet Woodruff
Fresh Strawberries and Pansies to garnish

Method:

Uncork your wine. Add the sweet woodruff to the bottle and whisper your intentions to the wine. Tell it what you want to manifest this Beltaine: romance, friendship, happiness, freedom, fun. Re-cork it. Let it sit in the fridge for up to ten hours. The longer it sits the stronger the flavors will be. When it is done steeping, remove the sweet woodruff and pour it into glasses and garnish with sliced strawberries and fresh flowers.

Alternative May Wine I

If you don’t want to try Sweet Woodruff, this is a lovely alternative recipe. It takes a bit longer than the traditional recipe above, so make this one ahead of time.

Ingredients:

A bottle of white or rose wine
A handful each of fresh mugwort, mint, and honeysuckle flowers
Strawberries and fresh flowers to garnish

Method:

Uncork your wine. Add the fresh herbs and give the bottle a swirl, telling it your Beltane intentions. Re-cork the bottle and let it sit in the fridge for up to two weeks. The longer it sits the stronger the flavors will be. When it is done steeping, remove the herbs and pour into glasses. Garnish with strawberries and flowers.

Alternative May Wine II

Another delightful alternative recipe that does not call for fresh herbs

Ingredients:

A bottle of white or rose wine
½ to 1 cup of Asheville Raven and Crone’s Beltane Tea
Strawberries and fresh flowers to garnish

Method:

Uncork your wine. Add the fresh herbs and give the bottle a swirl, telling it your Beltane intentions. Re-cork the bottle and let it sit in the fridge for up to two weeks. The longer it sits the stronger the flavors will be. When it is done steeping, remove the herbs and pour into glasses. Garnish with strawberries and flowers.

May “Wine” for Kids

This kid-friendly version contains neither alcohol nor Sweet Woodruff. Makes about six cups.

Ingredients:

A handful of fresh Mint
A handful of fresh Lemon Balm
A handful of dried or fresh Chamomile flowers
Boiling water
Lots of honey
Lots of crushed ice
Pansies and Strawberries to garnish

Method:

Make a concentrated infusion of the herbs by adding equal parts of each to a heat-proof glass or mug. Add just enough boiling water to cover the herbs, about one to two cups. Let the herbs steep for at least fifteen minutes before straining. Then add honey, about one tablespoon per cup of “wine” you plan on serving and mix well. Add cool water so that you have about six cups of “wine”. Let it cool in the fridge before serving over ice. Garnish with sliced strawberries and fresh edible flowers such as pansies.

Beltane Benediction by Byron Ballard


May this season of Beltane bless you with strongest desires well met, with delicious encounters well-timed, with space for love and play and lust and lover. Blessed be the season and the summer and blessed be all we.
Happy Beltane!

Invocation by Byron Ballard

Ancient and Shining Ones, you of the hidden doorways, Goddess of new beginnings, guardians of the mysteries of death and rebirth, we greet you in the time of your greatest power.

May we be cleansed and purified, renewed as the light is renewed in the sky.

May we sow seeds of love and courage and justice on the fields of our human hearts.

May we see the sweet fruit of healing and strong community in our old world, in both body and spirit.

Sacred ones, open the doors for all hearts and let that healing begin here, tonight.

Let that healing spiral through the Web of all Being.

So may it be, Grandmothers and Ancestors. Be welcome to our circle.

Deck: The New Palladini Tarot by David Palladini, published by U.S. Games Systems

Card: Queen of Rods

The Queen of Rods serves as a reminder of everything a good and wise leader should be, and the principles to be aspired to and embodied. This month is likely to hold new potential for growth and expansion, harmony, and even prosperity. A focus on fairness, honorable action, and balance are also among offerings for those who are diligent.

Conversely, failure to follow proper protocol or promote positive values can encourage elements of opposition, dishonesty, and jealousy to take root and take over like unwanted weeds in an untended garden.





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