Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Witchy Words Beltane / May Day 2014 Altar

First, I want to apologize for not posting regularly per the schedule.  This weekend got very busy very quickly, leaving me little time to write for Witchy Words.  I work as a caricaturist and April is after prom season, meaning that I work  a 12-2, 3 or 4 am nearly every Friday and Saturday night on top of my usual work load.  I'm exhausted!

But I certainly haven't forgotten about my religion or this blog!  My Beltane altar went up this past week on the same day my Circle celebrated the sabbat.  I'll share the altar with you tonight and the ritual written by Charli tomorrow!

As Beltane is the holiday of fertility, love and love-making, my altar includes an assortment of reds and whites, red representing feminine fertility and white representing masculine fertility.  As I did last year, I've included my guitar as a musical instrument - after all, what is Beltane without a little music to party to?  Unfortunately, I could only place the guitar there on select occasions.  My two older cats are fantastic about not disturbing the altar, but our kitten Apollo hasn't quite learned that it's not a good idea.  So my altar had to be cat-proofed after photos.  I did bring the guitar back out tonight, but it'll likely be sent back to the circle room when I go to bed.

With the centerpiece, I've added a large candle to represent the fire and passion of the holiday.  I've dressed the candle holder up like a Maypole by adding decorative ribbon, hibiscus flowers representative of beauty and a white butterfly that symbolizes the soul and transformation.

Inside of the mock-Maypole is a red rose, representing love.

On the left side, I have a chalice (or really, a wine glass from mine and my husband's wedding nearly six years ago) filled with wine.  The chalice represents the feminine side of the coin while the wine represents blood.  If you would like to replace the wine with juice, it could be symbolic of the "fruit" of love's labors, or perhaps the fertility of the world.  It would certainly still be appropriate.  In fact, for the photos, I filled the glass with juice and drank it afterward.  Tonight, it's filled with wine.

Beneath the chalice is a pair of large stones - quartz and raw rose quartz.  Rose quartz is known to represent love and friendship, while quartz is an amplifier.  It too can represent the soul and transformation much like the white butterfly does.

On the right side of the altar is a large polished ram's horn representing masculinity.  Next to it, I've placed a small corked vial of the ashes from last year's Beltane fire.  While I did not burn one for the Circle of Open Tradition's celebration, I did burn one for myself.  I will be adding these ashes to my fire tomorrow, then collecting ashes back in the vial for next year.

In front of the candle, chalice and horn are a series of candles and flowers.  Each flower has a specific meaning to the holiday, such as roses for love and peonies for romance and prosperity.  The candles continue the symbolism of fire and passion.  Fire is particularly relevant as Beltane is a Fire Festival.  Jumping the bonfire is a common part of Beltane rituals and handfastings worldwide.

In front of the candles and flowers is my Mini-Maypole Wishing Stick from last year.  You can read more about those in my post about the COT Beltane ritual located here.

Behind the altar on my altar wreath, I placed a few flowers and the May Day wreaths we made in the Circle of Northern Traditions ritual this year.  I'll discuss more about these in my next post!

Overall, I'm incredibly pleased with how my altar looks for this year's celebration.  While it has traces of last year's design, I love adding on to and improving my altars each year to better hearken the meaning of the holiday.

Have a fantastic Beltane!
Stay tuned for my post on the CNF Beltane Ritual and Celebration!