This post inaugurates the “What I Do Series.” The premise of this series of posts is to describe the specific ways I honor the gods, be it a festival celebration with friends and family, or the practicalities of my solitary daily devotions.
Last weekend my group of pagan friends and family gathered to celebrate Walpurgis Night and Beltane. Our little group of eight has recently begun gathering regularly to celebrate the Pagan Wheel of the Year. Since our Spring Equinox celebration was very contemplative, and a bit formal as far as rituals go, we decided that Walpurgis Night should be more low-key and joyous. The flowers are in full bloom, the Sun has returned (even to the Northwest) . . . the beginning of May should be a time of revelry! And for us that means good food, good wine, and good company.
Scarlett and Will were our hosts, and their beautiful backyard was the perfect setting.
Clover rescued a little scarab friend, who joined us to roll out the sun.
Mom brought crepe paper streamers, and we all helped Wildstar transform the backyard tetherball pole into a proper maypole, topped with a bouquet of fresh flowers from Scarlett and Will’s yard.
I honestly haven’t danced around a maypole since I was little kid, and we were all laughing and getting tangled up with each other. I then read a short blessing, thanking the gods for the feast.
And what a feast it was. There was probably enough food for about twenty people. Everyone brought a dish. Will built us a nice bonfire and grilled our main course directly over the open flame. Scarlett made some delightful side dishes, and Pam brought a fresh salad made entirely from her amazing garden and garnished with edible flowers. Pandora and Clover brought for S’mores for dessert. I made Bread and Wine, a simple recipe from The New Cookbook for Poor Poets and Others by Ann Rogers, a book Scarlett gave me years ago. If you’re ever looking for a unique alternative to garlic bread that also happens to make a great ritual offering, I highly recommend Bread and Wine. It’s really easy to make:
Recipe for Bread and Wine
• 1 baguette or other long loaf of French bread
• 1/3 cup soft butter
• ¼ cup red wine
• a dash of salt and cayenne
Cut the baguette in half length-wise in the same way you would make garlic bread. Beat the wine, salt, and cayenne and into the butter until you have a nice, creamy purple mixture, and then spread over the bread. Pour any excess wine over the bread. Bake for 10 minutes at 400 degrees. Cut or tear the baguette halves into pieces and serve. That’s it! One baguette was enough for all eight of us to have a piece or two of bread for ourselves and another to toss in the bonfire as an offering to the gods.
After the meal, Wildstar led a contemplative ritual around the bonfire. We passed out pens and paper, and Wildstar asked us to write down the things we wanted to let go as the new season approached. We wrote them down and cast them into the bonfire, letting them burn away and releasing their power over us. It was a very moving and empowering experience.
The rest of the evening was filled with great conversations and stories and jokes and games and lots of laughter. No, this wasn’t a formal ritual of Ceremonial Magick or an elaborate reconstruction of an ancient rite. No circles were cast, nor did we strictly follow the Proto-Indo-European tripartite structure of earth, sea, and sky. I very much enjoy all of those things, but this was something different. This was simply a group of family and friends gathering together to mark the beginning of summer and honor the gods, all while enjoying each other’s company with good food, good wine, and good fellowship. I haven’t laughed so hard in ages. And that’s what I did for Beltane.
Thank you Scarlett and Pandora for the photos!