Trying To Understand Beltane
This blog post themed around Beltane was written as my contribution to the 2nd Tarot Blog hop of the year at which I participated, together with a community of Tarot bloggers from around the world. I was quite excited to write about Beltane. I thought, "Finally! A topic up my alley!” My friend said Beltane was a festival that celebrated love and sex. To quote what she wrote in her text message to me, ”Ooooh…it’s about union, love and sex, Jo. An exciting time. It’s a day you might want to go make love in the woods…”. Wonderful! It wasn’t that I had plenty to write about through experience, but after months of blogging about Tarot spreads, Tarot card interpretations and impact of Tarot on my life, I thought our Tarot Blog hop wrangler Arwen Lynch, was definitely on the roll with this topic! Then I re-read the details of the topic outline again, and realized she had asked us to write about “Traditions” because there were so many traditions surrounding Beltane.
I am not familiar with traditions around Beltane. So I had to ask my friends and searched the internet for some information about how Beltane was traditionally celebrated, while muttering something rude under my breath about Arwen making me excited for nothing. For the different perspectives from the blog hop participants about Beltane and the traditions surrounding the festival, please visit the Tarot Blog hop master list at http://tarotbyarwen.com/?p=10046.
Beltane - Traditionally A Celebration Of Love
From my understanding, Beltane is a fire festival widely celebrated to mark the midpoint of the vernal equinox and the Summer Solstice. Traditionally, it’s a time where people welcomed warmer weather, planted seeds, danced around Maypoles, made bon fires at open spaces and celebrated with plenty of fresh flowers and cheery Springtime activities…including <cough, cough> making love in the woods! For my pagan friends, Beltane is a Sabbat that traditionally honored the union of the god and goddess, no wonder my friend texted me to say it’s a festival that celebrated love, fertility and renewal. So I see it as a day blessed with lots of Love. The Roman Catholics celebrated the feast of St Bertha of Kent on 1 May. She was credited for introducing Christianity to Anglo-Saxon England. It was interesting to note that she married the pagan King, Ethelberht of Kent. That sounded to me like a wonderful celebration of love and union too. This is the month that David and I celebrate our 12th wedding anniversary. So it does look like Love is certainly in the air.
Like all the traditions that surrounded Beltane and indeed like all the traditional demonstrations of love as in the example of hand-fasting, it gave me a chance to think about Tarot and Traditions, the crux of the topic behind this Tarot Blog hop.
Do I follow traditions religiously in my Tarot practice or have I become like that oddball errant kid in class?
Tarot And Traditions - If I Follow Them At All
When I first started out on my journey with Tarot, I was taught how to cleanse my cards by smudging it with sage, store my cards with a black silk cloth, shuffle my cards 7 times, do a reading only with an established Tarot spread like the Horseshoe spread or the Celtic Cross spread.
The fundamentals of tradition when it comes to Tarot, are indeed important. Cleansing the cards, grounding and protecting oneself before the reading, storing the cards properly and treating them with due respect, are all important parts of tradition surrounding tarot that I adhere to. However I am not pedantic. Let me tell you, I am the last person that would bend to convention rigidly.
I do cleanse my cards by smudging it with sage regularly, but as someone who believed wholeheartedly in the power of crystal healing, I would, more often, run a blue Kyanite wand down each of my 78 cards after a reading. Sometimes, I cleansed the deck by putting it in my Himalayan singing bowl and let the vibrations do the job. I store my Tarot cards in pretty hand-sewn bags, one of them was a hand-sewn bag made of Japanese kimono material which my Granny had given me. My favourite Morgan Greer Tarot deck was housed within that Japanese kimono bag. That bag held a special meaning for me hence I wanted to store my favourite Tarot deck in there. You see, I inherited Granny's gift of intuition. Having my favourite Tarot deck stored in it was a reminder that Granny would want me to put my intuitive gifts to good use.
I was traditionally taught to interpret cards through structured Tarot spreads that had been tried and tested for generations, but I don’t strictly do that as I leaned on my intuition to guide me to create my own Tarot spreads. I designed up to 4 or 5 Tarot spreads in a Tarot reading session with each of my clients and these spreads always somehow provided the best perspectives to my clients.
There was no requisite number of times that I shuffled my cards with. I just shuffled them and either spread them out faced down from which I picked the cards, or sometimes I just picked a card from the top of the pile for Situation, and I would pick a card from the middle of the pile for Outcome and then picked a card from the bottom of the pile for Advice. This again was dictated by my intuition at that time of the reading.
I might also choose to use a significator to symbolize my client. If my client was a Leo, I picked a King of Wands to be the significator for example. I would then shuffle the cards and cut them into 4 piles to represent Earth, Air, Water and Fire elements. If I found the King of Wands in the Earth pile, I would know that my client had come to see me about his financial issues. If I found the significator in the Water pile, I would then know that he had come to see me about relationship issues. This was important because it helped me to connect with the energy of my client and then I would be able to design Tarot spreads thereafter to help him to uncover some choices that he could make.
So I am not too conventional when I read Tarot, I just go with the flow dictated by my intuition at that time, depending on the connections I have formed with my client then.
I know a lot of readers would shuffle their Tarot cards, spread them out and then pick the cards to a specific spread in response to a client's question. I sometimes stay away from this because I tend to have deep conversations with the cards. Like so...
Celebrating Beltane With An Unconventional Tarot Spread
As Beltane clearly was a festival that celebrated Love, I had decided to shuffle my Tarot cards to get some insights on how David and I could strengthen our relationship further. I decided to do something not very traditional to get some perspectives from my cards.
My first question was “What should David and I do to nurture our relationship and make it even stronger and better?”I picked the 2 of Cups as our significator to represent the both of us, naturally because the 2 of Cups was a card symbolizing true love based on mutual respect and opened communication. I then put the card back into the stack and shuffled my cards, cut them into 4 piles each representing Earth, Air, Water and Fire. I found my significator in the Fire pile. The Fire element governed the realm of passion and creativity. I saw it as an advice for us to rediscover passion in our relationship by being creative and spontaneous as much as we can.
I then asked the question “What’s the obstacle hindering each of us from adding that spontaneity and creativity back into our relationship?” I calculated our personal day numbers on 1 May and used the compound numbers in the Tarot readings that followed.
For David, when I calculated his personal day number, the compound number was 20, so I shuffled the deck, removed 20 cards from the top of the pile and opened the card after. I got the 2 of Pentacles. It was clear to me that the Tarot cards were telling me that the obstacle hindering David in our bid for a stronger relationship were his efforts to juggle multiple commitments from running his business, playing and practicing for his gigs with the band, the photography assignments as well as his involvement in helping a friend run her pub.
As for myself, when I calculated my personal day number, the compound number was 21, so I shuffled the deck, removed 21 cards from the top of the pile and opened the card after. I got the Devil. This was interesting. The Devil was a message to me about my obsession with my work. I was chained to the perception that only the hours and efforts put into my work could garner me the recognition that I needed, to the point that I did neglect spending time with David. Even when we did spend time together, our conversations were about my work. Sometimes, when David wanted to take us on a nice vacation, I would entrap myself with a sense of negativity by thinking that if I went away for a week or 2, everything at work would just go awry, or worse, I would be seen as abandoning the team when they were already having problems coping with the work. I felt guilty even when I had to take a day off to get a much needed surgery done because my mind saw my work standing still without me in the office. Sometimes, this obsession with work irritated David. He had to play second fiddle to my Tarot, and then be brushed away like an annoying child because I was too busy at work, No wonder, he too had decided to keep busy with multiple activities like his band and his photography.
What David And I Can Learn From Beltane
Because Beltane was traditionally a celebration of Love, I had decided that it would be a day of new beginnings and a celebration of renewal of our commitment...thanks to Tarot.
My Tarot cards are never wrong. The messages were very clear. Through a spread drawn in a very unconventional manner, I had gleaned so much to help us make the right choices about our relationship. The 2 of Cups appearing in the pile symbolizing the Fire element was an encouragement for us to start renewing the passion in our relationship. The 2 of Pentacles was an encouragement for David to create some balance amongst his commitments and to prioritise what’s most important to him. The Devil was an encouragement for me to release myself off that perception that my world was all about my work. Work should not be defining me.
So, while I don’t intend to dance around the Maypole naked or go romping in the hay with David as per the age old traditions of celebrating Beltane, I had decided to honor the day with a little "fire" of our own. I lit a pink candle, placed the Empress card and the 10 of Cups Tarot card in front of it and held a Rose Quartz crystal in my hand as I whispered a prayer of gratitude to the Universe for an abundance of love surrounding us. I then invited David to join me in this ritual. Okay, so I had to deal with his attempts to dismiss it with a rude joke ("Cant we just have a shag, its easier."). However, I am glad he did join me within my sacred space although it was outside of his comfort zone.
I think traditions exist to shape our values and form some principles to guide our paths. In this case, I used a very non-traditional way to get some advice from Tarot to better my relationship with David. Yet, I had used something so traditional, a simple prayer ritual, to get David involved in something so personal and meaningful to me, by joining me within my sacred space and having him walk even closer to my Tarot world. I think tradition had served yet another great purpose - education - Don't you think?
Before I end this blog post, I would like to invite you to read my fellow Tarot Blog hoppers’ perspectives about Beltane. You may visit Aisling’s blog at www.tarotwitchery.blogspot.com/2013/05/tarot-blog-hop-for-belteine-tarot.html or you may hop on to the lovely Joanne Sprott’s blog at http://cosmicwhisperstarot.com/2013/05/01/in-the-traditions-tarot-blog-hop-for-beltane/
About The Writer:
The writer of this blog post is a marketeer by trade, and a tarot card reader by accident. She has a Certified Professional Tarot Reader qualification from the Tarot Certification Board of America (TCBA) and is also a certified numerologist based in Singapore. A member of the American Tarot Association (ATA) and the Tarot Association of the British Isles (TABI), she is also a reader for the Free Tarot Network and Biddy Tarot as well as a mentor for the ATA. She can be contacted at www.facebook.com/SunGoddessTarot or www.sungoddesstarot.com
|This is the pouch made from Japanese Kimono material
that I used to store my Morgan Greer Tarot deck.