Dear All,

We hope you are having a fantastic Walpurgis Night!

Of course this is one of the oldest festivals in the British Isles, which was originally one of the great Druidic feast days. An idea we touched upon in our book “Wicca Magickal Beginnings” when we were looking into the origins for the eight festivals which are now usually referred to as “The Wheel of the Year”:-

“Although Murray attributed these Sabbaths to witches’ celebrations, in fact they were originally linked to druids. Robert and William Chambers recorded an early occurrence of the celebration of the four great festivals in their 1842 work, Chambers Information for the People:

“Cormac, bishop of Cashel in the tenth century, records that in his time four great fires were lighted up on the four great festivals of the druids – namely in February, May, August, and November: probably Beltane and Lammas were two of these.”

This is an extremely significant reference which seems to have been largely overlooked. The text the Chambers are referring to is in fact the late ninth century Irish Psalter of Cashel, which contained reference to the four great Sabbats being celebrated by the druids as a cycle. This then gives us a clear precedent for celebration of the cycle of the four great Sabbats more than one thousand years ago by the Irish druids.”

[ Wicca Magickal Beginnings, Sorita d’Este & David Rankine, Avalonia, www.avaloniabooks.co.uk ]

So if you are doing something to mark this festival you are treading a path of celebration which is truly ancient. Many of the folk traditions were preserved through folk customs, such as beating the bounds, dancing the maypole, divinations for love, many stories of phantoms and faeries (hinting at the thinning of the veils at Beltane, as it does at Samhain. Many customs celebrate using greenery and flowers – such as the many Jack in the Green and Green Man festivals. This year (weather permitting as we have a toddler!) we will be making our way to the Green Man of Clun Festival – http://www.clungreenman.org.uk/ for details. It looks like it will be great fun and certainly we have heard great things about it from friends who have been.

I will also be going out in the morning to gather herbs and dew to use in magical workings during the coming year. Fingers crossed for a sunny morning as the fields around here are all very muddy with all this rain already!

This year the Ludlow Esoteric Conference is also taking place in May, albeit later in the month, it is essential for those of you haven’t yet booked tickets to do so now as it is all done the old fashioned way – ie. Sending in a letter and cheque. Details can be found at http://esotericconference.wordpress.com/ – This will be first year that I will be speaking at this great event – other speakers include both David Rankine and Stephen Skinner – so this is an event which is a must for those of you who are seriously interested in the grimoire traditions. Details of other speakers and the topics can be found on their site.

Speaking of websites, we have been very busy this month at Avalonia. Our latest title “Visions of the Cailleach” has been received with great excitement all around the world by lovers of Celtic Mythology and spirituality, as well as those who are wise to the wisdom and magic to be found in the stories of the Crone Goddess of the British Isles. Details of this book can be found at http://cailleach.avalonia.co.uk – including a couple of extracts from the book.

Some of you may remember us announcing the release of “Priestesses Pythonesses & Sibyls” back in December. This book which contains essays by more than twenty modern day priestesses of a variety of traditions is already being adopted as a standard text by many covens and groups who practice trance and mediumship. Someone made a comment to me earlier this week about the sheer quantity and quality of the experience contained in the book and inspired me to work out an estimate of the combined number of years the ladies who wrote for the book had between them. Its only an estimate as you never ask a lady her age of course (if you read Visions of the Cailleach you will know why!) …. but the total is an estimated 500 years! (YES FIVE HUNDRED YEARS!!! HALF A MILLENIUM, FIVE CENTURIES!) Maybe that is one way of expressing the sheer level of knowledge contained in this incredible anthology? Details of the contributors, with biographies can be found at http://pythoness.avalonia.co.uk

Of course we continue working hard at fulfilling our aims of “Expanding the Esoteric Horizons”. In the coming months we are releasing several exciting titles. This includes a very exciting book on the Goddess Hekate, entitled “HEKATE LIMINAL RITES”. This book brings together evidence for historical rituals, ceremonies, spells and devotional workings which were performed in Hekate’s name. As such it is unique amongst the books published to date about this popular Goddess of Crossroads and Sorcery. Details will soon be available.

We all love bargains – and just until the end of this weekend we are offering three of our titles at huge discounts in celebration of both Beltane and our fourth year of publishing – see http://www.avaloniabooks.co.uk/beltane09.htm for details. Its a good excuse to try something new that you may otherwise not have done – and Beltane is a great time for trying new things.

Well, its getting late and I have to get up early in the morning!

Enjoy yourselves in the coming days, and remember to honour the union of opposites in yourself, as well as in the world around you – through doing that you can manifest wisdom, harmony and love for yourself and your loved ones in the coming year!

Blessings,
Sorita d’Este

http://www.avaloniabooks.co.uk

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