Tag Archives: pagan

246 – Blessings For Beltane: Magic and Rituals With Zita Christian

Beltane, which occurs on May 1st, is the celebration of fertility and the encouragement of the world coming back to life. It is halfway between the Spring Equinox and the Summer Solstice. The last time we talked about May Day was in our discussion with Selena Fox of the Circle Sanctuary and this year we’re returning to the topic because it is a sacred time not just for Pagans. There’s a reason the Christian holiday Easter, a festical celebrating resurrection, is celebrated at this time of year, because it fits in perfectly with the spirit of rebirth. Spring is naturally a magical time as the earth returns from the dead of winter.

First things first, though. Piggybacking on Episode 245, which was a discussion of film Antrum, supposedly the deadliest film ever made, we received a voicemail from the producer, Eric Thirteen, himself. You can hear that voicemail in this episode. So, that’s an awesome way to kick the show off!

“Ritual without intent is just routine.”

Zita Christian

A ritual doesn’t have to be some sort of ceremony where you sacrifice a ram or a huge mass where you take communion with a hundred other people. It can be as small as rubbing a rabbit’s foot before playing a slot machine, or wearing a hat upside down to rally during a baseball game, or putting on your “lucky shirt” before going on a first date.

We do little rituals all the time, not thinking that they’re magic (how does wearing a hat upside down make you hit the ball better?) but hoping that they’ll help us with a desired outcome. The help us focus our mind, they help us declare our intent. We rub that rabbit’s foot because we want to win, we put on our lucky shirt because it puts us in an attractive mindset.

Rituals and ceremonies have long been human ways of helping us commemorate the passage of time. It’s the coming-of-age bar mitzvah or high school graduation. It’s the shower to welcome a new baby or the saying goodbye of a funeral. There are certain things that we do at all of these ceremonies, whether it’s the games at a shower or the garter belt at a wedding (or even the Electric Slide), they stand for a shorthand that we all know to celebrate together.

But what if you want to do something a little different for your celebration? 23% of all Americans say they have no religious affiliation and it’s usually religion where we get many of our ritual traditions from. So what happens when you’re looking to create a special ceremony but something with meaning to your life and a connection to something besides organized religion?

You call a ritualist, like Zita Christian. You call someone experienced in designing a ceremony that has a connection to the symbolism of spirituality and to ancient traditions but is also personal to you and unbound by the rules of formal religious institutions.

From the very first psychic experience that Zita Christian had when she was only 9 years old, playing a board game and seeing a strange pulsing red energy emerge from the board, she knew that there was something out there that was bigger than ourselves.

After a career as a romance author, she found herself fascinated with magick and astrology and using her learning to help people create powerful rituals in their own lives and has been specializing in weddings (she was a romance novelist after all!) She also performs celebrations and will be doing a Beltane ceremony this year, so in this episode she shares with us her story. We talk about the power of rituals (whether you believe in magic or not) and the history and traditions of Beltane. Some highlights include:

  • How the Pagan calendar is based around the Sun, because it was the life-giving force that the agricultural communities were dependent on
  • Why farmers should be having more sex in their fields
  • How the dance around the Maypole is a lot dirtier than you thought it was
  • How The Industrial Revolution changed our sense of the way time passes
  • Simple rituals that you can do for Beltane and May Day to celebrate it in your own way

You can find Zita’s podcast and rituals at Moon River Rituals, where you can see her upcoming events as well as ask her questions about creating your own ceremonies to help you commemorate something special.

And of course for this episode, we wanted to write the kind of song you could dance around the Maypole to. So boys grab the white streamers and girls grab the red, and here’s Sunspot with “The Blossom Crown”.

Today we are the endless young
for the new cycle has begun
so give yourself to abandon
and wear the blossom crown

So gather roses while ye may
summer’s too short a date.
every beautiful day
is a paradise

Hail to the Queen of May
the daughter of the Fae
holding the doomed bouqet
a sacrifice

Today we are the endless young
for the new cycle has begun
so give yourself to abandon
and wear the blossom crown

the battle for the dark is won
the winter crone is on the run
and everyone’s a shining sun
who wears the blossom crown

So gather roses while ye may
summer’s too short a date.
every beautiful day
is a paradise

Hail to the Queen of May
the daughter of the Fae
holding the doomed bouqet
a sacrifice

love with all your soul
dance around the pole
red and white laugh in delight
red and white they will ignite
red and white complete the rite,

Today we are the endless young
for the new cycle has begun
so give yourself to abandon
and wear the blossom crown

the battle for the dark is won
the winter crone is on the run
and everyone’s a shining sun
who wears the blossom crown

223 – Robin Hood: Legends and Ghosts of a Mythical Hero

With a brand new Robin Hood movie coming out this week (which was originally called Robin Hood: Origins, I guess to make it sound like a X-Men movie or something), it’s time to talk about the famous bandit who fought against the tyranny of Prince John in Sherwood Forest and stole from the rich and gave to the poor. 

Me with the Robin Hood statue by Nottingham Castle, rocking BluBlockers at least a year before Zack Galifianikas brought them back in The Hangover

But that’s my version of Robin Hood and there are many. In the new movie, Jamie Foxx plays Robin’s Moorish commander and friend, taking place of Little John. But there wasn’t even a Saracen character (who were the Muslums defending the Holy Land in the Crusades) in the story until the 1980s when he was introduced in the Robin of Sherwood TV series (which also featured an awesome Pagan deer-god, Herne the Hunter.) Now, the fact that Robin Hood has a noble Muslim warrior buddy like Morgan Freeman is baked into the story.  

Sweet looking trees in Sherwood Forest

And Morgan Freeman is part of my generation’s record of the story. My Dad’s was Errol Flynn (and to make Kevin Costner feel better, his English accent wasn’t much better, he sounded more Australian than anything else.) But every generation gets a Robin Hood that is suited to the times, the story has changed and adapted with only a couple of constants: the government is corrupt (something that hasn’t changed from the Twelfth Century until today) and Robin Hood likes to hide out in the forest, but it might not even be Sherwood Forest!

Author K.C. Murdarasi has just released a book Why Everything You Know About Robin Hood Is Wrong that details even though the tales  take real figures like Richard The Lion-Hearted or King John and real places like Yorkshire and Nottingham. why our version of the story has no real basis in any kind of historical fact. We talk with her and discover:

  • When Robin Hood became a nobleman
  • When he started stealing from the rich
  • Who he could have been historically
  • Where Maid Marian came from (She’s French, what?!)
The Great Oak of Sherwood Forest, voted England’s favorite tree and the supposed hideout of Robin and his Merry Men

There’s also a paranormal element to Robin Hood’s legends and we cover these topics as well:

That’s a big tree, baby

For the song this week, we thought we’d take a Robin Hood ballad from the Seventeenth Century when songs were presented in large one-sheet broadsides, which are proto-newspapers that were developed after the printing press was invented. They would have news and ballads and were sold for a penny a piece. Often the songs would tell the tales of highwaymen and robbers who were about to be executed, but they also featured great heroes and legends like Robin Hood.

These broadsides were all collected by an American historian in the 1800s, Francis Child. He wanted to save the folk ballads of England and Scotland. Today, we’re singing an abridged version of one of the ballads, “Robin Hood And The Butcher”, where Robin pretends to be a butcher to lure the Sheriff of Nottingham into Sherwood Forest so then he can rob him. He even makes a “say hi to your wife” joke at the end!

You can take a look at the original broadside right here!

Come, all you brave gallants, and listen a while,
With he down, down, an a down
That are in the bowers within;
For of Robin Hood, that archer good,
A song I intend for to sing.
Upon a time it chancëd so
Bold Robin in forrest did spy
A jolly butcher, with a bonny fine mare,
With his flesh to the market did hye.
‘Good morrow, good fellow,’ said jolly Robin,
‘What food hast? tell unto me;
And thy trade to me tell, and where thou dost dwell,
For I like well thy company.’
The butcher he answered jolly Robin:
No matter where I dwell;
For a butcher I am, and to Notingham
I am going, my flesh to sell.
Now Robin he is to Notingham gone,
His butcher’s trade for to begin;
With good intent, to the sheriff he went,
And there he took up his inn.
When other butchers they opened their meat,
Bold Robin he then begun;
But how for to sell he knew not well,
For a butcher he was but young.
When other butchers no meat could sell,
Robin got both gold and fee;
For he sold more meat for one peny
Than others could do for three.
The butchers they stepped to jolly Robin,
Acquainted with him for to be;
‘Come, brother,’ one said, ‘we be all of one trade,
Come, will you go dine with me?’
But when to the sheriff’s house they came,
To dinner they hied apace,
And Robin he the man must be
Before them all to say grace.  
‘This is a mad blade,’ the butchers then said;
Saies the sheriff, He is some prodigal,
That some land has sold, for silver and gold,
And now he doth mean to spend all.
‘Hast thou any horn-beasts,’ the sheriff repli’d,
‘Good fellow, to sell unto me?’
‘Yes, that I have, good Master Sheriff,
I have hundreds two or three.
‘And a hundred aker of good free land,
If you please it to see;
And I ‘le make you as good assurance of it
As ever my father made me.’
The sheriff he saddled a good palfrey,
With three hundred pound in gold,
And away he went with bold Robin Hood,
His horned beasts to behold.
Away then the sheriff and Robin did ride,
To the forrest of merry Sherwood;
Then Robin he set his horn to his mouth,
And blew but blasts three;
Then quickly anon there came Little John,
And all his company.
‘What is your will?’ then said Little John,
‘Good master come tell it to me;’
‘I have brought hither the sheriff of Notingham,
This day to dine with thee.’
Then Robin took his mantle from his back,
‘I hope he will honestly pay;
I know he has gold, if it be but well told,
Will serve us to drink a whole day.’
Then Robin took his mantle from his back,
And laid it upon the ground,
And out of the sheriffe[‘s] portmantle
He told three hundred pound.
Then Robin he brought him thorow the wood,
And set him on his dapple gray:
‘O have me commended to your wife at home;’
So Robin went laughing away.

213 – The Autumnal Equinox: Legends and Superstitions

When people who live in less temperate subtropical climates talk about how they “miss the seasons” they’re really talking about Fall and Spring. And Autumn is something to behold: the landscape canvas as colors change on the trees, the refreshing briskness of the air, it’s life’s last gasp before the cold dead of Winter. Traditionally on September 21st, 22d, or 23rd the Autumnal Equinox is when it starts getting darker every day in the Northern Hemisphere, which is depressing. But it’s also a time for great food, bonfire parties, and celebrating reaping the harvest from the work done earlier in the year.

It’s also when ancient peoples believed that the Veil started becoming thinner between our world and the spirit world, so of course we love it because it’s the beginning of the Halloween season. Some people say you’re not supposed to wear white after Labor Day, we say that’s when you start wearing costumes!

Check out this sweet fantasy art, it’s “Modron” by Shanina Conway

It’s also a cool Holiday for neo-Pagans called Mabon (we just decided to say it “May-bone” because that’s an acceptable pronunciation and it sounds more badass). Mabon was stolen from his mother Modron (the Welsh mother goddess who brings life to the world) when he was only three days old. He was taken to the Underworld and that’s why we have winter because the Mother Goddess was peeved at her child being stolen. Funny enough, that’s super similar to the Greek myth of Demeter and Persephone. WHOA, could that be more cross-cultural pollination We explore that and a lot more in this episode which was a topic requested by one of our Patreon members (thanks for the idea, Chuck!)

Who’s that cool guy wearing Blu Blockers and sitting on Hadrian’s Wall? Oh wait, it’s me!

Some of the other topics we cover in this episode:

  • Will you cast a shadow at noon on the day of the Equinox?
  • How you can perform a magic ritual with just an apple
  • How much it costs to party at Stonehenge on an equinox
  • Why Medieval Jews thought it wasn’t safe to drink the water during the Autumnal Equinox
  • Is it really easier to balance an egg during an Equinox?

For the song this week, we picked out the legend of Mabon because in one of the variations of the tale, he is saved by King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table. Mabon was stolen and taken beyond Hadrian’s Wall, the Roman barrier meant to hold off the native Britons that they couldn’t conquer. Arthur and his men needed the help of several magical animals in order to break Mabon out of his prison and they freed the child who would eventually own Arthur in battle.

Well, when you’ve got King Arthur and magical animals to work with, we couldn’t miss out on that! And it just wouldn’t be a British-influenced song unless we made it a little Iron Maiden-eqsue. So here’s the Sunspot take on the story of Mabon, “Beyond The Wall”.

In the land of the Savage,
a barbarian horde
lies the child of the Goddess
to become the Harvest Lord.

The scales of light and dark in perfect balance
the son of Modron will com to take his vengeance

We ride
we fight
We hear
the call,
to save
the child
the Wall
beyond the Wall.

With the power of the Stag
and the wisdom of the Salmon.
The Knights of the Round,
have come for the Green Man.

The scales of light and dark in perfect balance
the son of Modron will come to take his vengeance

We ride
we fight
We hear
the call,
to save
the child
the Wall
beyond the Wall.