Friday, April 29, 2016

Happy May Day, Or, The Magic Of Beltane!

All of us remember the Maypole, right? As a child, I was always fascinated by pictures of this festive event. Pictures of bucolic, fair-haired ladies dancing barefoot, weaving brightly colored ribbons around an upright pole, while the men of the village looked on. Turns out, this May Day is an ancient Celtic pagan tradition that was cleaned up by the Christians hundreds of years ago, much like Oestre traditions became Easter traditions.

According to the Elephant Journal, Beltane "is a holiday of union, between man and woman, God and Goddess—a celebration of the divine balance in the union of Divine masculine and feminine. Because once upon a time, the two were honored as sacred parts of the one Divine balance." In Celtic, Beltane means "bright fire". Pagans acknowledge Beltane as the time the God and Goddess reunite, after a long, cold winter apart. I think you can guess where "fire" comes in, and the Beltane rituals have long been a celebration of symbolic totems and rituals honoring sex, fire, fertility, and abundance.  

The Maypole is, in itself, a symbol of the God - the divine Male - and the women, weaving those ribbons around it, symbolize the Divine Female, or Goddess, wrapping themselves around him. As Spring blossoms, the world comes alive in color to celebrate their love. Flowers bloom, trees grow and animals return. This was once the full acknowledgment and celebration of the fertility of Spring. From The Elephant Journal, "Fire jumping took place over the town fire—for the unmarried men in the town who would leap the fire to wish for a wife, the women leaped for blessings of fertility, couples jump for luck and fertility in their marriages. The May Queen and King of the Forest, or Green Man, would be chosen from among the unmarried young adults in the community, to embody the original God and Goddess, and they were the leaders of the celebrations and fun. Their entourage would follow the couple in service, everyone dressed in costumes and adorned with flowers, leaves, antlers and other nature adornment, until the couple retreated to the forest to take part in their sacred sexual union underneath the night sky." It's also said that those who were conceived during Beltane have the ability to see fairies!

In Irish Gaelic Bealtaine is the name of the month of May, while in Scottish Gaelic Bealtuinn is  May Day. Historically, Beltane is associated with the Celtic God Bel, also known as Balor or Belenus—The God of Light and Fire who was also associated with the Sun (akin to the Greek Apollo). I think it's fascinating that this tradition almost exactly matches the Indo-European/Iranian tradition of fire jumping at their Spring celebration, or Chaharshanbe Suri. This is a ritual performed during their New Year, which coincides with the Vernal, or Spring, Equinox.

What can you do to bring this special celebration into your home? Make a Maypole! Construct a small one from common household items and decorate it with colored ribbons and snippets of fabric, or, if you have a large backyard and don't care what the neighbors think, make a full-sized one! This is also a great time to clean your home - this is where the tradition of "spring cleaning" came to be! You can burn lilac and frankincense incense, or use a sage smudge stick, to cleanse, too. This an ideal time to set intentions, especially if you're looking for love, a child, or abundance in your life. Find a quiet place to meditate, and visualize your life as a garden that you populate with what you're intending. Think about what you need to do to bring these visions to reality. This is the time when the womb of the Universe is fertile and ready for your intentions to take root, like the soils of Earth are ripe for planting, the powers in charge are waiting for you to take action on your path to your own Highest Good. 

As you celebrate this day, be inspired by Nature - Beltane was honored by the ancients as a way to remember that even time stops to make space for lovers to find each other again after the long, cold night of winter. Here's a fun video showing The Circle Sanctuary's Beltane celebration: for video click here. Remember, if you need any celebratory products, such as sage bundles, crystals, incense, essential oils, or flower crowns, Hoopla! Emporium can help. Blessings to you as you celebrate the coming of Summer!

Monday, April 18, 2016

Oh My Stars, It's Retrograde Season!

Yes, indeed, friends, it's Retromageddon in the heavens, and on Earth this translates into "you can be all, or nothing, it's all on the table and your resistance is futile"! This month, we have five planets in retrograde - Jupiter, Saturn, Mars, Mercury, and Pluto. What does that mean for you and yours? Read on to find out!

Jupiter, that huge, gaseous planet, was named for the king of the gods (Latin - in Greek, Zeus), and as such, is the planet of plenty. Jupiter is the thinking-person's planet. As the guardian of the abstract mind, this planet rules higher learning, and bestows upon us a yen for exploring ideas, both intellectually and spiritually. It's been in retrograde since January, and stations direct on May 9. Because retrograde means going backward, some may have been experiencing a feeling of being tested, perhaps in the area of self-control. However, this is mainly a beneficial retrograde, suggesting a period of increase in areas of wealth, travel, love, and/or breaking addictions.

Saturn, lord of time and Karma, is also Jupiter's father in the Roman tradition (Zeus' father, the Titan Cronus, in Greek mythology). Saturn stationed retrograde on March 26, and will station direct on August 15. This retrograde, Saturn is in Sagittarius, which means that we'll all be slowing down to contemplate just what we believe in, and that we may become pressured by circumstances to fully commit to where we're going, or, conversely, pull back. Whatever we decide, know that although the work involved in making these decisions will be hard, at the end you'll be able to put into practice what you've learned. The tag line for this period would be "timing is everything".

Mars, lord of war, stationed retrograde yesterday, April 17, and will station direct on June 29. Mars typically personifies vitality, motivation, and the desire to act, but when retrograde, his normal outward nature is turned inward, and informs us to be our most authentic selves. This is a period of review, reassessment, and internal inspection, again, as in Saturn, leads us to question our beliefs. How are your beliefs enhancing your life? Are you being guided by your spiritual consciousness, or are you allowing other peoples' dogma to limit and restrict you? All food for thought during this most introspective of times.

Pluto, Roman god of the underworld (Hades, in Greek mythology) stations retrograde today, 4/18. A tag line for this period would be "keep your wits about you", but this should be a positive experience in general. When Pluto is transiting retrograde, we are urged to let go of attitudes, thinking or communication patterns, security drives, rigid emotions; a time to undergo an internal form of house cleaning. It is a good time to research into our own Souls in order to determine exactly what we do or do not need, again, like all three of the above planets. Pluto retrograde is a good time for internal cleansings, detoxifying diets, Eastern disciplines that put you in touch with the inner self and even intense psychological reforms. Never had a Reikki session? Now's the time to do it! There is also an aspect of danger to those afflicted with diabetes, or similar issues with blood sugar, and are advised to be watchful.

Mercury, the Roman god of messengers and communication, stations retrograde on April 28. At this point in time, there will be five planets in retrograde, something that hasn't happened in 10 years! Mercury retrograde normally means that Murphy's Law holds sway, that anything than can go wrong, will go wrong, particularly in the areas of machinery, travel, and communication. Hold that thought, though - because this time around, our Mercury retrograde is being softened by Taurus, the lover of all things beautiful. Often times retrogrades are said be the time to avoid starting anything new—jobs, or relationships. This three to five week period is all about review, and that is precisely why while starting something new may not be a good idea—going back to something old is always encouraged. There are no coincidences during retrogrades—the biggest challenge we face is simply to follow the direction that our hearts are pulling us. A good tag line for this would be "love is all that matters". The questions you're asking yourself as a result of the other retrograde planets find a possible answer here, because Mercury in Taurus can assist in identifying that which is of true value to you.


To top off all five planets going retrograde, there's a full moon in Scorpio on April 22. The planet ruling the sun sign Scorpio is Mars, in retrograde during this full moon, and is also the second full moon in Mars this year. This is a time of extremes, so success here could be all-or-nothing, or the survival of the fittest. It's time to strengthen our physic immune system, echoing lessons from Pluto, above. This full moon points to a fear of negative karma and fated events holding you back from making progress. This impact of Saturn square North Node on the full moon is reinforced by having five retrograde planets during this moon phase. It's not all bad, though - it does present an opportunity to rise above fear and prejudice by focusing on your maternal, caring and instinctive side. Being inclusive instead of separating people into groups in not the easy way forward. It is the only way forward to avoid your fears turning into reality.

All in all, this is a tremendous time in all our lives, and much good could come from this seemingly stark astrological prognosis. It's never a bad thing to examine your motives, to see where you've gone, and verifying where you want to go. Crystals that could aid you during this period of planetary retrogrades are (in no particular order) Emerald, Blue Lace Agate, Rainbow Fluorite, Black Tourmaline, Amazonite, Aquamarine, and Hematite. Essential oils that could also help are lavender, to relax you, and peppermint, to sharpen the mind. Luckily, you can find all the crystals mentioned, as well as the essential oils, here at Hoopla!

Monday, April 4, 2016

New Mooon In Aries Could Signal Need For Space Clearing, Quick!

Hold onto your hats, folks, the New Moon will phase in on Thursday, April 7, at 4:23 am, and we're looking forward to this being a new start, astrologically speaking. Aries is at the beginning of the zodiac wheel, so it could be said that this New Moon is the start of the astrological year. That means that if you didn't feel the impetus to commit to any changes back in January, you have another opportunity to make them! This New Moon will also be a Super Moon, a time when the moon is as close to the Earth as it could possibly be, and some think that this makes its powers extra potent.

This New Moon will also be travelling in close proximity to Uranus, and that means that there will be some extra kick to those making plans to break out of old patterns and/or habits. Make good use of this time by being bold, taking initiative, and moving away from where you're comfortable, because change only happens when you're well away from where you were. Be careful, though - because there's so much energy pushing you, you'll certainly be required to do the requisite follow-though! You'll be working hard at this, but it feels so good to make positive changes and leave old, perhaps toxic patterns/places/people that are no longer serving you.

Speaking of things that no longer serve, the New Moon is an ideal time to let them go. As great as it is to make new intentions, we can't just keep piling them up - we have to also clear space for them. We suggest doing this by making a list of behaviors, places, people, that you'd like to give up, for whatever reason. Truly let them go by ritualistically writing them down, then read your list to someone who cares about you and will hold space for you while you read. You don't need to discuss the items written down, this is not the time for that. After you've read your list to a trusted loved one (significant other, friend, relative, it doesn't matter), do a breathing exercise. Sit as if you were going to meditate (which, I suppose, this is), close your eyes, and picture yourself lighter, without the weight of those things you've let go. Breathe deep breaths, slow and easy, and see yourself expelling those things. After just a few minutes, you'll feel lighter and brighter! Don't throw away your list, either - safely burn it and sprinkle the ashes (no live embers, please) into your garden, where they will do some good.

Clean up your spaces and your person with a good sage burning, too, because negative energies can seep into places at any time - cleansing after a cord-cutting ritual is necessary. Starting from the back of the space, light the sage and walk   the room covering as much of it as you can. Using a feather or feather fan, waft the sage smoke into the corners of the room up to the ceiling. Make sure to go into every room as you move from the back of the house to the front. When you’ve reached the front, walk out the door and sage around the door and frame. Afterwards, light frankincense or Copal incense or resin incense and travel over your space again. This will help ward off any lingering negative energy, and attack it on a deeper level.

We had planned to do a New Moon Celebration and full BS Bonfire with Kristin Dwan, but we've had to cancel it. Kristin caught that nasty flu that was going around a couple weeks ago, and is still recuperating. We'll let you know as soon as possible if we can move this to a Full Moon celebration, but it might conflict with a Fairy Garden workshop we're doing later this month. Watch our Facebook page for further information, and happy New Moon to you all!