I realized about a month ago that my religious practice felt cumbersome becaue my shrine was cumbersome. While I was excited about its set up a year ago, I slowly lost that enthusiasm.
I always say how the shrine I had set up wasn’t for my Powers, but for me. I wanted something large and gaudy — they never demanded a huge set up, I desired one. And for a time, that was true. But now, I wanted to downsize. I needed to downsize. The large setup was stressing me out. I wanted something I could sit at with ease.
While at Many Gods West, I passed by a vendor table ran by Sky Cybele herself selling beautiful mythical creature inspired jewelry and her art work…and of course, her deck The Mythical Creatures Oracle. Tried as I might, I couldn’t leave without purchasing this wonderful deck for myself! Sky Cybele even signed the deck’s booklet for me. It is a great take-away from the weekend.
Anyway, here are my thoughts on the booklet and deck:
Many Gods West Community Shrine
My thoughts on the overall experience of Many Gods West. To read about how I felt about the presentations and rituals, read “Programming.” To read about how I feel about Many Gods West as it has changed and will change, read “Past, Present, and Future”
Just wanted to post a quick update about how my “About” page has changed. It changed in one major way: I no longer call myself a Bandraoi or a Banfhaidh. And I figured I’d muse why that is.
I recently saw an event on Facebook for an “Irish Beltane” with the cover picture using a May Pole.
Immediately, I thought of this quote by Kevin Danaher in The Year in Ireland, pages 97-98:
At least one other May pole figured in the tragic evens of 1798. From Kildare we read (Four. Kildare Arch. Soc. v, 446):
‘In some towns the May pole was a permanent fixture: one formerly stood at the junction of the streets in Castledermot; a pump now occupies the site. Earlier still this may have been the site of the market-cross, as funerals passing through the town always make one turn round the present pump. Some rebels are said to have been hanged from the May pole in ’98.
‘The May pole was unknown in the country districts and was probably introduced into the towns by the English.’
Most, if not all, of these seem to bear out the remark in the last excerpt quoted above above, that the May pole is a medieval or later introduction into the towns from England. More recent attempts are known by people with English associations to introduce the ‘polite’ English custom of the May pole to the ‘wild Irish’.
Also, a quote from Lora O’Brien in Irish Witchcraft from an Irish Witch page 159:
I would also like to point out that the maypole so long associated with this festival, though great fun on the day, is not an Irish or even a Celtic custom. It is English. Some Celtic communities have borrowed from it over the years, using living trees in some cases but, as we are sticking to what is truly ours here, we’ll leave that particular piece of misinformation to one side.
Perusing other sources, they all point out that May poles were found in Ireland where the English were located. And given the English’s relationship with Ireland… I don’t think it’s fitting to celebrate an Irish Bealtaine using May poles.
Instead, the Irish made May bushes. Both Danaher and O’Brien talk about this custom. The basic gist is that bushes were decorated with “bright things, colored ribbons, eggshells, and all sorts of trappings and given center stage in proceedings” (O’Brien, pages 159-160.) I personally decorate a small plastic tree I got around the winter holidays with a ribbon and flowers, seen below:
(Traditionally, May bushes would be made with living flora and not…plastic stuff…but I work with what I have.)
Anyways, my point is that that May poles are not Irish. Instead, I recommend making a May bush if you are celebrating an Irish (or Gaelic) Bealtaine.
A few days ago, I asked several groups on Facebook and Tumblr what they thought of when thinking of “Warrior’s Path.” I got a lot of responses, which I wasn’t expecting! I thought I was out-of-the-know for not having a definite idea of what a “Warrior’s Path” looked like, but it seems that the confusion is rather because so many people have so many different opinions coming from a variety of reasonings.
I figured that, having asked for all these opinions, I should weigh in myself finally. Though I don’t have one universal opinion. Instead, I see it as being relative. Continue reading