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Greetings friends – Yes that was me out sipping dewdrops from the lilacs at sunrise – just one way to participate in the magical reality of May 1st – the fixed date of what we call the Cross-Quarter on the Wheel of the Year, between the Spring Equinox & the Summer Solstice – called Beltane by the ancients, the Festival of joyful growth & fecundity, heralding the promise of Summer. (The actual cosmic Cross-Quarter date is May 5th this year)
Beltane is the Festival Season of the ‘Good Fire’ or ‘Bel-fire’, named after the Solar Deity Bel: “Bright and Brilliant Regenerator”, “Protective Shepard”, “The Fiercely Shining One”, & “The Hospitable Boar Chieftain”.
Tradition has it that all hearth fires were extinguished on Beltane Eve, & then kindled again from the sacred “need fires” lit on Beltane. People would leap through the smoke & flames of the Beltane fires, & also drive their cattle thru them for purification, fertility, prosperity & protection.
Bel is a Pan-Celtic & Gaulish god of light revered all over Europe. Bel was also known as ‘Bile’ in Ireland, meaning ‘Tree of Life’. Besides being a solar god, Belenus was also known to be a ‘Rainbow rayed healer’ & there are healing springs that are associated with him.
Rudolf Steiner, when lecturing about the Mystery Schools, speaks of this time as being ruled by the healing Archangel Raphael.
In terms of the Archetypal cycle, Beltane marks the union of the female & male polarities, bringing new life to the earth. It is a traditional time for Hand-fastings (a marriage union for a year & a day), & was a time for couples to make love outside to bless the crops & the earth.
Maypoles were often danced around at Beltane to bring fertility & good fortune. The addition of ribbons, which came later, wrapped around the pole by the dancers, bring a further sense of the integration of the complimentary energies, mirroring the union between the God & the Goddess. Beltane is a time to devote energy to growth & integration – a time to celebrate, exuberance & hope, when we can enjoy & appreciate the gifts of nature.
Beltane is a Celtic re-newal of an even older Sabine (ancient Greco-Roman) festival, ‘Floralia‘, which celebrated the goddess Flora & the blossoming of Spring into Summer, especially associated with vines, olives, fruit trees & honey-bearing plants.
Cernnunos, the earthly god-force present at Beltane, is a Triple God who is Green Man, Great Father, & Nature Deity. As the “Antlered Horned Forest Lord”, “Leaf Faced Greenery Father”, & “Primal Landscape Goddess Consort”, he was known by many names thruout the ages on the European continent & the British Isles.
Cernnunos was seen as master of the hunt, & protector of nature – A creative mentor of animals, nature spirits, & woodlands, This Green God is also a magical craftsman & initiator of the mysteries, considered a Netherworld Threshold Guardian – & pyschopomp.
Originally Beltane was a ‘Movable Feast’ gauging the condition of the crops & flowers, under the command of a Sibylline Oracle, with the purpose of gaining from the Goddess the protection of the blossoms.
Festive games, bringing folks out from their winter hibernation, were played in honor of the Goddess Flora; with pantomimes, & street theatre. The people of all classes wore their brightest clothes, all decked out in flowers –even the animals were garlanded. Goats & hares representing fertility were let loose about the village or town. In Piedmont Italy, the Bride of May carries the ‘maggio’, a green branch garlanded with ribbons, fresh fruits & lemons. Rome must have looked particularly beautiful at this time.
Gift-giving for the season included vegetables as tokens of sex & fertility. (Use your imagination) In fact, the origins of the ‘Floralia’ are associated in Greece with Aphrodite in her aspect as the goddess of Love & flowering plants, even before the festival found its way to Italy.
Choosing a May Queen & King is a big part of celebrating May Day. A young girl dressed in white represented the Goddess in her maiden aspect. The merry month of May & the word maiden both come from the same source, a word which simply means young.
In some English Villages, the maiden is called Maid (or May) Marian & this is considered Robin Hood’s holiday.
Anyone who went out into the woods & found a branch of flowering hawthorn would bring it triumphantly into the village (the tradition of ‘Bringing in the May’) & announcing the start of planting season. But beware – for bringing hawthorn into the house, also invites the fairies in, & some of these ‘little folk’ can be tricksters, so it’s important to have a good intent.
Sometimes flowers were given as messages: plum for the glum, elder for the surly, thorns for the prickly, pear for being popular.
In Eastern Europe, a young man would go into the woods on May Eve, dig up a young flowering tree, decorate it with ribbons & colored eggshells, & plant it outside the bedroom window of his sweetheart.
In Scandinavia & Germany, May trees are also important for animals, & are set up beside the barn door, one for each baby animal in the stable.
When I was growing up my Italian grandmother on my father’s side would celebrate May Day by tying lemons & ribbons around the flowering branches of the Dogwood tree & the grapevines in the backyard. She would laugh & say “More May wine for the God-Dog.”
In Italy, my Strega Nona told me, Maypoles are called ‘alberi della cucagna’ (trees from the land of milk & honey) there were no ribbions, instead folks would have prosciutto, mortadella, cheeses & money dangling from the top. She told stories of how when she was little the men of the village would try to get these prizes by climbing the pole which is greased with lard. Eventually the grease wears off & someone gets the prize.
A similar custom is found in Wales. In English villages, the Maypole is often decorated with a broom or bush & brought in from the woods with girls riding astride it.
In ancient Ireland, where my Mother’s people are from, I’ve heard tell, there was a ‘Sacred Tree named Bile’, which was the center of the clan, or Tuatha. As the ‘Irish Tree of Life’, the Bile Pole, represents the connection between the people & the three worlds of Bith: The Skyworld (heavens), The Middleworld (our world), & The Netherworld.
Bringing the social realm together with the sacred, the more modern Maypole circle dancing, with it’s weaving in & out, of the colorful ribbons plaiting them as they go – helped people flirt & mingle socially – & also raised energy in a patterned & focused way.
Even today in some towns & villages a ‘mummer’ called Jack in the Green (drawing from the Green Man), wears a costume made of green leaves as he dances around the Maypole. The role of the Green Man is the re-greening of the world –
He also represents –The Fool – another archetype of Beltane – a symbol of the beginning of beginnings, & the ever present help of the spiritual world, which comes to those who have a clear head, as well as the idea of the emergence from the void of nothingness (winter)
In England, May Day was all about Morris Dancing & Mummer’s Plays -The larger-than-life leaping of the Morris dancers serve as charms to show the crops how high to grow (similar dances were done in early Roman times) & the clashing of their sticks represent a ritual battle between Winter & Spring.
The mummer’s plays feature interesting characters like: Green George, & there’s always a hobbyhorse, cockhorse (or dragon), a male dressed as a female, a jester & sometimes chimney sweeps with their brushes. I remember hearing a storyteller speak about how the hobbyhorse has coal under his skirts, with the goal of running after the young women who were eligible maidens, to mark them with the coal. Only those marked can dance around the Maypole.
Sometimes when the play portrays a battle between the Seasons, Spring squirts Winter with water & seizes the garland from Winter & presents it to the May Queen.
We have to remember that Beltane, is a precarious time; the crops are still very young & tender, susceptible to frost & blight. The folk in those days, being close to the land, felt strongly that the Wheel of the year would not turn without human intervention; So they did everything in their power to encourage the Sun & the elemental powers, by acknowledging & working with these energies.
Besides Fire, Water too has special properties on May Day. A Mother Goose rhyme tells us:
‘The fair maid who, the first of May
Goes to the fields at break of day
& washes in dew from the hawthorn tree
Will ever after handsome be.’
Other Celtic stories suggest using the dew found under oaks or on ivy leaves. Folks would make a special wish as they washed their face in dew, or as they drank from a well before sunrise. The first Sunday & first Monday in May are traditional days for ‘dressing’ – decorating & honoring the local wells or water source.
This is an important association of Beltane, for water is rejuvenating – vital to life. It is said that if you bathe in the dew gathered before dawn on Beltane morn, your beauty, health & happiness will flourish thruout the year.
Another way to bring in the Fire element is to make May wine flavored with herbs, berries, fruits or flowers. I remember a friend who always made a traditional May wine with sweet woodruff.
At Beltane the Pleiades star cluster rises just before sunrise (during wintertime the Pleiades rises at sunset) This cluster of seven closely placed stars, the seven sisters, is in the constellation of Taurus. Spiritual Science associates the higher astral aspect of the bull with the Dove or Holy Spirit.
And right now Mercury & Venus are part of the conversation. Soon Jupiter & Saturn will be in on the dawn sky show. Wintry Sirius still twinkles very low in the southwest in the evening twilight.
Friends, as we stand on the Greening Earth, bringing our prayers & intentions for new growth into our actions, we can also rise in our thoughts to meet the cosmic forces – the inspiration & origin of our fertility…
See you in the sacred grove
Sophia Community Circle
Come together in community to explore the mystery and experience of the divine feminine, Sophia, in our time.
Click here to Register!
Registration closes May 3, 2021
- ASA Sophia Community Circle hosted by members of the Sophia Group
- Each unique 45 minute session will include a leading thought or experiential activity + breakout spaces & large group sharing.
- This program will be recorded and distribuetd to all participants.
- First Wednesdays of each month begins May 5
- 12:30pm Eastern/ 9:30am Pacific for 45-50 minutes
- Find the full schedule with all dates and presenters below!
- Sessions will be recorded although live participation is encouraged due to the nature of the gathering.
- Register Here! Then check your email for a registration confirmation with Zoom link.
COST : See the registration levels below to choose what fits your ability to give at this time*.
- $60 Suggested Contribution
- $100 Supporter Level
- $140 Future Programs Supporter
- $200 Sophia Conference Supporter
*No one turned away due to lack of funds. Click here to apply for financial assistance.
Schedule of Presenters:
May 5: Signe Schaefer
June 2: Hazel Archer-Ginsberg
July 7: Michele Mariscal
August 4: Claudia Knudson
September 1: Helen-Ann Ireland
October 6: Joyce Reilly
November 3: Hazel Archer-Ginsberg, Angela Foster & Timothy Kennedy
December 1: Linda Bergh, Sandra LaGrega & Jennifer Fox
February 2: Laura Scappaticci & Tess Parker
March 2: Christine Burke, Angela Foster & Jordan Walker
April 6: All Presenters Hosting
Special Recording Notes: This gathering will be recorded each time and include all content and live attendees in the video.
The term anthroposophy should really be understood as synonymous with Sophia, meaning the content of consciousness, the soul attitude and experience that make a person a full-fledged human being. The right interpretations of anthroposophy is not “the wisdom of man,” but rather “the consciousness of one’s humanity.” -Rudolf Steiner, Awakening to Community
|News from the Central Regional Council:
2. Looking for new CRC members
3. Our Whitsun Festival
4. A NEW theme for our Study GroupThe Central Regional Council’s ‘Great American Eclipse’ pageant in St. Louis
1. Marianne Fieber is stepping down as the representative of our region on the General Council of the Anthroposophical Society in America.
We thank Marianne for her generous and warm contributions in the past several years. She will be missed but, of course, we support her decision and wish her well. See you around, dear friend!
Here below are a few words from Marianne Fieber:
Dear Anthroposophical Members and Friends of the Central Region,
In 2005 I had the great privilege to share the work I had begun with Songtrails at a regional gathering in Chicago, IL entitled The Living Map Festival. Perhaps many of you have experienced a Songtrail or heard reports from recent events. Working with the Regional Council at that time was a profound and life-changing experience for me.
My work with Songtrails has blossomed beyond my wildest dreams and I have led many individuals in experiencing a Spirit of Place while actively feeling oneself as a bridge between the earth and heavens. By weaving songs, verses, prayers with walking and stories of the land, a deep personal relationship is built with a place. Shortly after that event, I was asked to join the Central Regional Council. That was over 15 years ago. Throughout that time I have met and worked with so many colleagues, members and friends through collaborative co-creation of weekend conferences, gatherings and artistic experiences with the intention of deepening a living experience of Anthroposophia in our region.
I am a Central Regional being – born and raised here in the Midwest. No doubt about that. I have traveled quite a bit throughout the world and country, but feel at home here in the Heartland. It was an honor to succeed Dennis Dietzel (MN) in serving as the representative of our region on the General Council of the Anthroposophical Society in America. It is hard to describe the transformation I have undergone through the rich studies and discussions, contemplations about the direction the ASA might take to meet what the world was asking of us as spiritually striving human beings in the present and future.
It is time I now pass the torch of regional representation to Hazel Archer-Ginsberg. She will be stepping into this new role of service beginning in June, 2021.
With gratitude, Marianne Fieber for the Central Regional Council
2. LOOKING FOR NEW COLLEAGUES
For quite some time now we have been casually thinking about new colleagues. We cannot be casual any longer. As Marianne steps back, it will be important to find new regional members who are ready to step into a collaborative leadership role and help weave the work within our region into the future.
The future is always evolving and the work of cultivating anthroposophy throughout our vast region is dynamic and vital. Working regionally is an infinitely rewarding opportunity to serve Anthroposophia. We encourage anyone interested to join us.
What are we up to:
The CRC hosts a monthly online study group. We have been doing this long before the pandemic to cultivate connection among our members and friends both within our region and beyond. We are just completing a cycle of lectures entitled Manifestations of Karma and will be moving into a new cycle and theme (more details below).
We are currently co-creating the national Annual General Meeting conference ”Building the Temple of the Heart” 8-10 October 2021 in our region. It is being imagined as a hybrid online, streaming and in-person event with groups throughout our region. Planning meetings for that national event have begun on a monthly basis with the national leadership.
Our Festival programmingin celebration of the seasons and spiritual impulses within the course of the year continues. (see belwo)
Conversations have begun regarding inter-regional collaboration and initiatives toward strengthening our Anthroposophical communities throughout our continent.
If you are interested in talking about how you might be ready to step in to work with the CRC, please email Alberto Loya firstname.lastname@example.org
3. Save the dates for Sangraal – a Pentecost Pilgrimage & Whitsun Festival
with the Central Regional Council. an experiential ‘Pageant’ written by Hazel Archer-Ginsberg, taking us on a Quest from The Cauldron of Ceridwen, to The Holy Grail, & into The Sacred Vessel of the Sophia.
Join us on Whitsunday 23 May 2021, at 11 am PT / 12 noon MT / 1 pm – 2:30 pm CT / 2 pm ET / 8 pm CETZoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 811 8155 0712
Find your local number: https://us02web.zoom.us/u/kBw1EgrIRMore details will be provided in a couple of weeks. Stay tuned!
4. A NEW Theme for our Study Group
After working with Karma & Reincarnation for 3 years the CRC has chosen a new Theme: The Mysteries of the Holy Grail – from Arthur and Parzival to Modern Initiation for our study group, beginning with the June 2nd session. The book is available for purchase from Steiner Books and Amazon. The lectures may also be found on the RS Archive (eLib). We will provide links to the lectures, as possible, in the emails that contain the details for each monthly session.
Note: for our May 5th session we will be reading Chapter 11 of the Manifestations of Karma book (the last chapter of the book).
The Karma Project – Manifestations of Karma Study Group May 5, 2021 – 7:15 pm Central (8:15 pm Eastern)
“This is the other aspect of the karma of higher beings — that we develop a power of love which is not confined to humanity alone but which penetrates right into the cosmos. We shall be able to channel this love into beings higher than ourselves, and they will accept this as our offering. It will be a soul sacrifice. This sacrifice in soul will rise up to those who once poured their gifts upon us like the smoke of incense rising up to the spirits in times when human beings still possessed the gifts of the spirit. In those days they were only able to send up the symbolic smoke of sacrifice to the gods. In times to come they will send up streams of love to the spirits and out of this offering of love higher forces will pour down to humankind, which will work, with ever-increasing power, in our physical world, directed by the spiritual world. These will be magical forces in the true sense.“~Rudolf Steiner, Manifestations of Karma, Chapter 11, “Individual Karma and Shared Karma”, Hamburg, 28 May, 1910 … focus of the May 5 meeting.
The lecture can be found online at the RS Archive (eLib) by clicking this link:
The Central Regional Council of the Anthroposophical Society in America invites you to join our ongoing study conversation. The study has been divided among four volunteers who will summarize their section to rebuild it as a foundation for our conversation. Please familiarize yourself with the lecture if possible so you will feel comfortable sharing your reflections and thoughts with the group.This collection of lectures has been republished by Rudolf Steiner Press under the title: “Manifestations of Karma.” This book is a translation from German of Die Offenbarung des Karma (Ga 120), published in English by Rudolf Steiner Press in 1996.
Video Conference Details: Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 812 1011 0113
Find your local number: https://us02web.zoom.us/u/kdBJRUquk5
If you have questions, please contact Alberto Loya email@example.com
Agenda for our Study Call
7:15 Welcome and Introductions
7:25 Study led by three volunteers
Note: CRC team will ID volunteers
Camille – pg. 202 to 207
Travis – pg. 207 to 212
Mary – pg. 212 to 218
Hazel – pg. 218 to end
8:28 Close with verse
Living into the Spheres of Cosmic Life and Cosmic Light: Easter, Ascension, Whitsun in the Calendar of the Soul with Luigi Morelli, Hazel Archer and Geoff Norris – Zoom Host Frank Agrama
13 May 2021 Ascension Thursday 5- 6:30pm PT / 6-7:30 pm MT / 7 pm – 8:30 pm CT / 8-9:30 pm ET / 1 am – 2:30 am GMT / 2 am – 3:30 am CET
Join Zoom meeting: https://zoom.us/j/7052931041?pwd=TStPVnpFRzlwZ0NpRURBZDNyYnpBQT09
Meeting ID: 705 293 1041 – Passcode: Ascension
Find your local number: https://zoom.us/u/a961qZZhF
Welcome – Frank Agrama
Verse #6 – Geoff Norris
Ascension: The Secret Teachings, The Elementals, & The Etheric Christ – Hazel Archer
Calendar of the Soul – Luigi Morelli – For those who are familiar with the Calendar of the Soul we could say that during spring and summer we follow the ascent of cosmic life, cosmic light, cosmic warmth and cosmic Word as gifts bestowed upon the human being by the cosmos. By being receptive to them we strengthen our connection to cosmos and Self.
We will briefly explore the dynamics of the year, then look at what qualities of soul we need to develop as we move into spring and summer, most particularly from Easter to Ascension and Whitsun. We will look at the verses of the calendar in conjunction with the artistic renditions of Anne Stockton and Karl König, drawn for each of the verses.
We will ask ourselves: How can we live into and grow from this time of the year? How can we deepen our inner relationship to the event of Ascension? What can we receive and what can we give?
Group Speech Work with Geoff Norris
“Angels, in the early morning
May be seen the Dews among,
Stooping — plucking — smiling — flying —
Do the Buds to them belong?”
Closing Thoughts– Hazel Archer
For more info. contact Festivals Coordinator Hazel Archer
Events & Festivals Committee of the Rudolf Steiner Branch
of The Anthroposophical Society, 4249 North Lincoln Ave.
Chicago, IL 60618 (map)
Sangraal: A Pentecost Pilgrimage & Whitsun Festival with the Central Regional Council an experiential ‘Pageant’ written by Hazel Archer, taking us on a Quest from The Cauldron of Ceridwen, to The Holy Grail, & into The Sacred Vessel of the Sophia.
Join us on Whitsunday 23 May 2021, at 11 am PT / 12 noon MT / 1 pm – 2:30 pm CT / 2 pm ET / 8 pm CET
Join Zoom Meeting https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81181550712 Meeting ID: 811 8155 0712
Dial by your location
Meeting ID: 811 8155 0712
Find your local number: https://us02web.zoom.us/u/kBw1EgrIR
After working with Karma & Reincarnation for 3 years the CRC has chosen a new Theme: ‘The Mysteries of the Holy Grail, from Arthur and Parzival to Modern Initiation’
You are also invited to get the Book & Join us for study sessions through out the year as well. contact Alberto Loya firstname.lastname@example.org for more info