May 2009 Beltane Blessings:
The May Queen is Crowned!

Handfastings.org News and Views
Same-Sex Marriage "Proposal"

Same-Sex Marriage Bill Proposed in New York
New York's Governor Paterson has introduced landmark civil rights legislation to end legal discrimination against same-sex couples in the state.  The proposed bill would grant same-sex couples the same legal recognition afforded to partners of the opposite sex.

The Hudson Valley Press states, "In order to make clear the distinction between marriage as recognized by the state and marriage as recognized by religious institutions, this Program Bill specifically provides that it would not compel any member of the clergy to solemnize a same-sex marriage."

Same sex couples across the state await the presentation of the bill in hopes that it is passed by the Assembly.

Gay Marriages in District of Columbia to be Recognized

The City Council in Washington D.C. held a unanimous vote on April 7th, 2009 to institute a law which recognizes valid same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions even though same-sex couples cannot get married in D.C.  The vote came the same day Vermont became the fourth state to legalize gay marriage.

The Holiday of Beltane

Beltane's Bride
beltane, beltaine, robin wood, chalice and athame
Beltane, also known as May Day, celebrates the sacred marriage of the Goddess and the Horned God.  Symbolizing fertility and union, the Goddess and the God come together in love and magic, in anticipation of the creation of the world.

The wedding becomes the earthly version of this sacred union.  The bride is the Goddess and the groom is the God.  The handfasting cords are reminiscent of Beltane ribbons, weaving the couple's hands together as they tie the knot in matrimony.  Today the bride is the May Queen as she is honored on her wedding day.

Beltane, the ritual union - or consummation - of the Goddess and the God is celebrated on May 1st with a traditional dance around the Maypole.  A tall pole, usually made of a tree trunk or long bough, is a phallic symbol and is the male aspect of the Maypole ritual.  Ribbons of many colors, the female aspect, are attached to the top of the pole.  The ribbons are then maypole woven, beltane, beltainewoven in and out of one another as people dance around the pole, clockwise and counterclockwise simultaneously (every other person will go clockwise).   Beltane is the time to fertilize your intent with action. This Sabbat is a great time to make love to one's partner and conceive a child.

On Beltane, animals are mating, newly planted seeds begin to grow, and great fires are lit in honor of the Gods.  Some leap the fires, a transformative element to ensure fertility.

Artwork by Robin Wood
Celebrating the Season

Dance the Maypole!
dance the maypole, beltane, beltaine
Take a trunk of a fir (or other accessible) tree and take the branches off (find an already fallen trunk - DO NOT cut a tree down for the Maypole dance!).  Traditional ribbon colors are red and white, but a multi-colored ribboned maypole is beautiful.  The High Priest, May King, or other male participant holds the pole (remember - it's a phallic symbol).  To dance the Maypole, each dancer should grab a ribbon which has been attached to the top of the pole.  Holding the ribbon, half of the dancers should circle the Maypole in one direction while the other half circle in the opposite direction. Each dancer should alternate between going under or over the dancers whom they are passing. This will weave the ribbons around the Maypole.maypole crown, beltane, beltaine

The weaving symbolizes the union/consummation of the Goddess and God.  While dancing, sing a rhythmic chant:

Weaving Weavers
We are weaving the Web of Life

It gets kooky and funny as you bob in and out of the other dancers while chanting.  But it can also put you in a trance-like state, even awakening your libido as the Maypole dance is supposed to, bringing you to call on the Goddess and God of fertility on this very sacred day of Beltane.

Nine Sacred Woods of Beltane

One of the best-known Celtic traditions for Beltane is the lighting
of the Beltane fires. These huge fires were set to welcome back the
sun for the light (summer) half of the year.

The fires were started with nine sacred woods, each with various

magickal properties. People would gather and dance around the firesbeltane fire, beltaine fire
through the night, jumping over the flames to ensure a successful
and prosperous summer.

The nine kinds of wood used in the Beltane fire:

Birch - The Goddess, or female energy
Oak - The God, or male energy
Hazel - Knowledge and wisdom
Rowan (Mountain Ash) - Life
Hawthorne - Purity and fairy magick
Willow - Death, sacred to Hecate
Fir - Birth and rebirth
Apple - Love and family
Vine - Joy and happiness
Crowning the May Queen

A Pagan Take on Mother's Day

In the month of May, flowers bloom, showing off their loveliness.  The Goddess is afoot, as they say, and you can see Her all around us in the trees, the flowers
may queen, beltane, maypole, crowningand the greening plants, growing to fullness.  She goes by many names: Rhea, Isis, Cybele, Kwan Yin, Gaia... the list goes on forever it seems.
On Beltane, the Horned God chases the Goddess; once found, the Goddess is crowned the May Queen.  In addition to dancing the Maypole, many Pagans perform a May Queen crowning ritual and reenact the sacred Chase of the Goddess.  The May Queen, or Mother Goddess, wears a crown of flowers and ribbons; the bridal version of this would be the wedding veil, although some brides still opt for a beautiful circlet of roses, chrysanthemums, and ivy.

History of Mothers Day

The May Queen is honored by Pagans on Beltane as the Mother Goddess. The traditional practice of honoring of motherhood is rooted in antiquity, and ancient rites typically had strong symbolic and spiritual overtones, celebrating the Goddess.  More recently in the past few centuries, celebrations of motherhood developed a human, earthly focus.mothers day, drawing

England broadened the celebration in the 1600's to include real mothers, earning the name Mothering Day.  Mothers were presented with cakes and flowers, as well as a visit from their beloved and sometimes distant children.

Mothers Day in America, however, was reinvented during the Civil War era after abandoning England's Mothering Day centuries earlier. Julia Ward Howe, composer of The Battle Hymn of the Republic, called on mothers to protest the Civil War, a battle that saw sons killing the sons of other mothers.  She called on the mothers of America to protest by creating "Mothers Day" to celebrate peace and motherhood.

Howe's Mothers Day, however, faded out over time due to lack of funds.  Several years later, Anna Reeves Jarvis tried to resurrect it in order to reunite
flowers, bouquet, mothers dayfamilies and neighbors that had been divided between the Union and Confederate sides of the Civil War.

Anna Reeves Jarvis' daughter Anna M. Jarvis continued the campaign for the creation of an official Mother's Day in remembrance of her mother and in honor of peace.  In 1914 Woodrow Wilson signed it into national observance, declaring the second Sunday in May as Mother's Day.

Many nations and cultures around the world celebrate their own versions of Mothers Day.
Happy Birthday Handfastings.org!

Handfastings.org Turns Five Years Old
birthday cake
Handfastings.org is thrilled to announce that we are five years old this Beltane.  We currently list more than 80 handfasting officiants in four different countries and continue to promote the beautiful tradition of handfasting around the world. 

This Handfastings News and Views newsletter also marks its first year in circulation.  Hooray!

tree shaking hands

Missed any past emails?  Visit our email archive here.

Link back to Handfastings.org.  If we've added your website to our officiant list, or even if you just really dig our site, link back to Handfastings.org.  The more reciprocal links the better!

Handfastings.org wants to know what you think.  Please email me at shira@handfastings.org and let me know if you have any suggestions, ideas, or corrections.  I'm all ears.

As always, Handfastings.org remains a free service to all.  I look forward to hearing back from you.  

Mission Statement
The mission of Handfastings.org is to link people in the Pagan and Wiccan communities with ordained officiants who perform Handfastings, Wedding Ceremonies, Commitment Ceremonies, Sacred Unions and other Rites of Passage and celebrations.

Love and Light,
Shira's signature
Artemisia Shira Tarantino

Joining Hearts in Perfect Love™
Contact Information
email: shira@handfastings.org
website: www.handfastings.org

Forward to a Friend
Join our mailing list!
handfastings.org, handfastings, handfasting