Beltane 2003
by Deb Castellano

“This is the story of how we forget to remember, this is the power of pulsing of love in your veins/after the dream of falling and calling your name out/these are the roots of rhythm and the roots of rhythm remain. . .” —Paul Simon

Stretch:: Just finished posting up the Beltane pics. It’s an open album, go look!

For GOG Beltane 2003 photos on the GOG site, go here!l.

Should be cleaning the house. Really really should. Should be lovealing Max who is whining plaintively. But... I’ve been wanting to write my ritual report and I’m scared I’ll forget it.

It was such a lovely day. It really was, considering it was supposed to rain buckets and be cold and wretched. It was a bit on the cold side, but not awful and it was so bright and sunny out. The gods gave us our best omen before the day even started.

So I had gotten into my silly little brain that, hey, wouldn’t it be cool to do an altar to Eris for the under-appreciated goddess of choice?

It’s not quite (quite) as crackheaded as it initially sounds. When I tranced out on All Soul’s Day I was drawn to her picture which had a neat little fuzzy feather under her and i was petting it very carefully at ed and norma’s and didn’t know who she was until norma said all gleefully, “That’s Eris’ feather you’re stroking.”

I was like, d’oh. Nar good. But she kept knocking insistently. So fine, I started looking into the discordian stuff and I saw that they had a lot of really beautiful stuff hidden in their mess of silliness. No offense to Discordians, but it didn’t really fit for me (some Discordians are silly for the sake of being silly and that’s cool, it’s just not who I am or how I see her). So I kind of put it aside some, but occasionally I found myself doing stuff that would be like her. I’m not into hurting people for the sake of hurting people and I’m a crap liar, but sometimes minor situations can be interesting to turn a little and see what happens. Also, my own internal sense of humor is so not funny to the general masses generally. Anyway, so I decided to do an altar for her. I thought, since she wasn’t invited to the original party, why not have a picnic for her? So I got a piece of the picnic gingham with the ants on it, used my good dinnerware for her place, and painted a picture of her. I then used a silver tray for a golden delicious apple and used red paper and used Word greek and wrote, “To the Fairest” with a small english subtitle. I baked cupcakes (it was actually brownie mix. Apparently, she wanted cupcake brownies because I could swear I pulled cake mix off the shelf) and wrote, “Cake or Death?” the same way. No one touched the brownie-cupcakes—which made sense, it was on an altar. I just thought more ppl would choose cake over death. ;p And then I used Ani’s quote “Those people who smile a lot/ watch the eyes/ I know that because I’m like that a lot/ you think everything’s okay... and it is... until it’s not” for her altar sign. The night before, she wanted me to invoke her, so I did. Believe me, it didn’t seem like the keenest idea at the time to me either, but pissing her off wouldn’t help either. Wound up getting into a huge fight with josh over lord knows what but it got me thinking about the lesson there— How can you sow discord (which can be a fancy word for change that’s difficult to see) if you don’t know what it feels like when it’s done to you? And it gave me perspective on the issue of compassion— thinking about how to show it because most people deserve it, and thinking about when not to because some people don’t. Interesting. I found people had one of two reactions to her altar— either to stand there giggling or to widely veer away from it.

So the next interesting event of the day (besides the usual nice flower wreath making, and there was Nej’s fairy-box making which was nice, but i was a little glamoured out still from the glamour bombing workshop we did for Rutgers Pagans so i wasn’t as into it as i usually would be, and there was Jen’s Cthulu-making which was amusing, you could make tiny pocket sized ones because you never know when you need to whip one out for mass destruction. You could give them little sand pails and shovels and stuff too. April would have been greatly amused.) was the faery dancing which Ed found from the Druid ancient archives from 1985 (think that’s the date).

Nej and Ed made a pretty faery circle with incense burning, lavender, shiny things, etc. A bunch of people were drumming, and we were going to dance around the circle 27 times (don’t know the significance of the number besides the obvious [enough times to get you loosened up and enough times to get you worn out]). Lauren and Christoph had come with, and Lauren was dancing with me and the boys were taking pictures. Ed gave this rock solid invocation to the fae and we all bolted off like a herd of deer. It was a really odd feeling for me, I had danced for hours during my Lammas and was only mostly-pickled, but after the first few laps I started breathing hard. I had taken off my shoes and I was wearing bells, my wings, barefeet. I didn’t even realize it but josh said I took off into a serious sprint at one point. I would close my eyes and start twirling and dancing and my hands were buzzing from it and I would lose whole moments, which was scary for me and when I’d open my eyes, I’d be dancing very very close to the circle but not close enough to burn myself. I kept coming to when I was just short of burning myself. I didn’t really feel a specific something, but I felt like I couldn’t stop, like I was being urged on and I felt like they (the fae?) would run me to death if I let them. A lot of people say it’s because the fae don’t care. I don’t think it’s a lack of caring per se, I think it’s more like if they smell enough otherkin in you they think you are and forget your human body can’t handle it. When we ended, I needed to ground hard. I threw myself on the ground and tried to ground out. I had my forehead to the ground and I was practically eating grass to try to come down. I hadn’t had such a hard time grounding since I did a power spiral for the first time with the dianics five years ago. It felt totally different to me than doing the Orisha stuff. This felt a lot harsher. But it was so intense at the same time. Josh came over and I curled into his lap and that helped a lot. Norma came by and said, “How are you, O Toasted One?” I said, “I don’t know *what* you are talking about.” Josh said, “Ah. Your inner court name is She Who Lies Badly.” Norma cackled and said, “It always has been.” Norma seems to take a lot of joy in seeing me totally plastered off my ass on the energy. But of course, me being the crackhead I am, the first thing I say to Ed (who is generally similiarly crackheaded), is “Again! Again!”

And the actual ADF ritual was cool. I like the way Erica runs Beltane, it’s quick and to the point. She asked me to invoke fire. Around that time, I felt Eris kind of step in. I felt really again... intense but in a totally different way. It was like leashed cold anger, waiting for someone to fuck up or piss me off. I felt the way I carried myself become totally different, like old school courtly. I invoked fire and even though I didn’t say much and had a lot of candles to burn (for the balefire) everyone was dead quiet, which was interesting in itself. Brenda’s little girl had been eyeing up my wings all day and when i asked her before if she wanted to put them on, she was all shy and shook her head no. So she was watching me again all interested (don’t ask me what she was seeing) and I said, Do you want to wear them? And this time she nodded all enthusiastic. So I knelt in the mud and put them on her. It was very cute. I hadn’t been planning on offering praise, but right before the cue for it, I asked (okay, still in Eris mode, so let’s just say strongly suggested) Josh to bring me the champagne glass full of sparkling cider (heh) to me. Erica said, who has praise? I felt I should go first (more like a hard internal push) but I resisted because I hate going first and no one went so finally I let myself get shoved and I said (again, feeling totally different in how I carry myself), “Eris, I may not have wanted you here, but you are.” I drank half and poured the other onto the ground (the instinct was to pour it into the well, but I didn’t want to squick ppl) and spun on my heel. I hear Erica say, “Hail Eris!” and hear everyone say that.

So it was a really keen day. Josh and I took our usual long walk into the woods and were all gushy and kissyfaced and it was so groovy. I love going a-Maying with him, I always remember full force how in love we are. Yeah. Ending before there’s excessive gushing.

[34 people attended. Omens: Ancestors- a ribbon in a tree from last year; Nature Spirits- site is happy we’re here, thinks Porsche fanciers on the hill are weird; Goddesses and Gods- “Conduct yourselves well”; Seer- nice weather, notice darkness all around us, we’re in a puddle of light.]


We were driving and I said
You smell like exboyfriend
all still wearing the same cologne
smelling like eveapples
with your nice safe girlfriend
who isn’t prone to fits
or animal behavior
no riot grrrl thoughts drowning in her head
You said
I will be the girlfriend that always
haunts your brain
I laughed
and took off my jackie o sunglasses
put up my roof
and said
You and everyone else, darling
You paused
in the parking lot at my work where
everyone thinks we’re having an affair
and said (wistful as a jane austen hero)
I wish I was someone special to you
not just another broken exboyfriend
(you and everyone else, darling)

—Deb Castellano