Beltane & Shashti

Spring has sprung in the northern hemisphere. In most places the snow is gone, and the flowers are in full bloom. The warm glow of the sun is causing us to peel off the layers of winter clothes and the grand fury of summer storms are active overhead.

Many have begun to set up their garden and ready to go skyclad (not me) into the summer months. How the Sabbat is celebrated definitely will depend on heritage, culture, teachings and traditions. As I’ve said before and will always say, there is no wrong way.

Spring Flowers
Spring Flowers

 

What works for one may not work for another’s spirituality. That doesn’t make it wrong, just different. Old world traditions and new paths mingle and interlace to make unique beautiful and powerful new traditions and rituals.

Beltane

The beautiful story of Beltane erupts this time of year with the Oak King enjoying the reigns on high. He victoriously triumphs over his “evil” twin brother, the Holly King.

Beltane - Pagan Ribbon Pole
Beltane – Pagan Ribbon Pole
Beltane is a quarter Sabbat in the witchcraft/wiccan calendar. It is exactly six months from Samhain.

 

The Oak King proudly finds the Earth’s goddess in her maiden form, fertilizing and ready to spring forth with new life. Overjoyed in her passionate romance, the Earth’s goddess decorates herself in colorful flowers and the greenery of life. 

Many old cultures have variations to this Pagan story. This version, from my own family that has been told from generation to generation is Celtic. Of course, this was a summary of the legend, one can easily find a more elegant and elaborated version of it.

An old way of celebrating Beltane is from Wales exist and goes a little like this: nine men from a town would go into the woods to collect nine woods from nine different trees to be burned in a town’s bonfire. On the night of April 30th, In Europe it was a tradition for young men and young women to venture into the woods and not come out until morning.

 

Bonfire
Bonfire


Of course, let’s just say that most of aren’t as “free spirited” as those were back then, if you know what I mean, but there are still a vast variety of celebrations of Beltane around the world and so I suggest and recommend reading Llwellyn’s Sabbat Essentials Beltane for some of the biggest events.

May is the month known for fertility, love, abundance, growth, psychic abilities, purification, sexuality and union.  

Shashti

I would like to try to cover two holidays each article, although admittedly there are dozens of holidays each month. I do try to stay away from the three big religions in the world, not to offend anyone, but I feel the world should know there are other faiths out there. So, this month I am writing about the Hindu holiday called the Festival of Shashti.

Celebrated around the 12th of May is the celebration of another triumph over evil. This is a six day festival which includes, in some temples, fasting (all six days) .

Skanda Shashti festival commemorates the destruction of evil by the Supreme General Kartikeya, son of Shiva and is celebrated with dramatic enactments.

 

Indian Architecture
Indian Architecture


Like many stories from this culture it is beautiful and magical. The story goes that the Creator seeing the evil in the world announced that a hero could come “only from the spark of Shiva”. But Shiva was in such deep meditation that many thought him dead and no one, no man or god dare disturbed him. The world fell deeper and deeper into chaos until the creator decided something had to be done.

 

Indian Architecture
Indian Architecture


He called upon Parvathi (reminiscent to most of us as cupid) and Kama (Hindu goddess of love) to wake and woo Shiva, which they did. Skanda Shashti was born and raised by the six mothers of the constellation of Krithikai (Pleiades, which I think very cool!)

As an adult, Shashti defeated the armies of Simhamuka in a six-day war over evil. Tada!

It’s sad that anyone who goes to Kathirgamam (Sri Lanka) with faith, devotion and piety in their heart and stays for 2 to 3 days will be granted his vision by the gods.

Food for thought on your next vacation.
See ya next month when we talk about Midsummer and the Incan Holiday of Inti Raymi.

Artemis

 


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