Flowers in ceremony
Christmas Cactus, Holly and Mistletoe, Roses, Grains, Sunflowers, Hawthorn, Bluebells, Daffodils, Dandelion and Snowdrops - ideas how to use in a centre, a prayer, activities and traditions.
Imbolc – the maiden goddess is symbolised by the purity and innocence of white dew bejewelled snowdrops, gentle and apparently fragile these little plants are tough and bold bursting through the frozen ground, the first stirrings of Spring. White is said to be the colour of heaven. In the earliest centuries of the Christian church all vestments were white.
Spring Equinox – joyful golden yellow or deep royal purple of crocus and merry daffodils, naturally yellow but also in pinks, whites, creams and orange, remind us of what has lain waiting in the ground, the bulbs ready when the time is right to burst forth. White and pink cherry and apple blossom promises an abundant future harvest.
Bealtaine – fresh green leaves and foliage burst forth in hedgerows and fairy hawthorn trees' white flowers form drifts across the land, as if the snow had returned. Under the still bare woodland canopy peaceful bluebells nod, releasing a subtle scent. Most flowers bloom in the Spring and our attention is heightened as they call to us for admiration and praise.
Summer Solstice – the mother goddess, her blood colours representing the life force which is full and strong, coursing through all of nature, springs up in vibrant orange/red poppies, their passion warmed in the heat of the sun. We feel most alive and nurtured in the summer.
Lammas – the land is
still green, with sunlight and wispy clouds playing every shade over
the hillsides and harvest rich fields. From gold and yellow to
deepest orange, warming and ripening energies are expressed in the
beige and brown of expanding food grains and grasses.
Autumn Equinox – red of ripened apples and abundant black and red berries continue the harvest theme as the earth mother shares her cornucopia of abundance.
Samhain – yellow, orange and red fire colours are a last hurrah of autumnal leaves as many of the plants and trees withdraw their life force, the mother goddess growing more restful and ready to put her feet up.
Winter Solstice – the crone goddess in her guise of all absorbing black of the lengthening night exhibits the colour of darkness when all rests, recalling the stark truth and wisdom of life and the deep mystery of it all. In this state we are reminded of eternity by the evergreen, spiked, waxy dark green leaves and vibrant blood red berries of holly, yew and pine.
This is taken from the Blog Colour
Christmas Cactus: Longevity is their main claim to fame - lasting decades they can be passed down through the generations and are a beautiful gift. Or make paper ones....
Green and red, their leaves and flowers, are the colours of Christmas. Green for everlasting life, reminding us of the evergreens which bring their green-ness into the washed out colour of winter. But it was the red berries and waxy green leaves of the holly, decorating homes for centuries, that really represented the season. And the cactus is a modern interpretation of that, aided by the red Santa of Coca Cola adverts!
Blessed Christmas plants, red, white and green, we find peace in your beauty in the starkness of the short days and long nights. We remember yesterday, and days before, when the sun shone and the vibrant plants of the earth were abundant in their growth. With an open mind and heart for today, enhanced by your presence, we are blessed by your presence, by those around us, the beauty in others, and the beauty in ourselves.
Red holly berries and white mistletoe may decorate the Yule Log. On the shortest, darkest day of the year, after the sun has set put out the lantern candles and stand in the darkness of night. Then light the fire encouraging the flames into life and reminding us again of the return of the light.
Yuletide is a time to give thanks for the year past, release what no longer serves and welcome in new beginnings. Using paper to carry your intentions, breathe into the symbolic holly concentrating on what we needed to release, then send your message out to the Universe by burning the paper in the fire.
Another Cactus that is remotely linked to Christmas via the shepherds is Buachaill a 'tighe, that translates from Irish as Sempervivum tectorum - the House Leek.
Buachaill an tighe (Google translates as the Shepherd of the House) is a cactus like plant which used to be planted on the slope of the gable. This plant is not to be found wild in this part of the country and is propagated by getting a portion from an established plant. It is considered an antidote against the wiles of the fairies. Shepherd of the House
It is also said the protect the house from fire.
A house blessing seems appropriate as we welcome the returning light after WInter Solstice. It might include opening all east facing doors and windows, receiving and flowing into our homes the fresh lively energy of the rising sun. Lighting candles, saying appropriate words:
May peace and joy inhabit every room in this house and fill this home with love. May those that live here and guests that pass through find rest, nurture and protection.
|The holly and the ivy,
When they are both full grown,
Of all the trees that are in the wood,
The holly bears the crown.
The rising of the sun
And the running of the deer,
The playing of the merry organ,
Sweet singing in the choir.
|The Snowflakes feed the soil
The soil feeds the seed
The seed feeds the flower
Who brings the Spring.
Decorating the House:
Holly can be used to nestle the Advent Candles. The circular shape and evergreens represent the unbroken continuity of the seasonal wheel of eternal life and for Christians, the candles symbolize Jesus' light, blessing our lives. Or they can recall the seasonal change and returning light of the sun.
Hanging a wreath on your door welcomes the energies and spirit of Christmas. It is good to hang it in the centre of the doorway. Homes are brightened with gay decorations of holly and mistletoe and you can add a large Christmas candle, place it in the window, to welcome visitors or any who should happen to pass by.
The decorated home can become a sacred space prepared to allow participants to step out of the mundane world into the extraordinary. It is a space in which meaningful acts can be carried out to express things in a way in which each act is packed full of the power of intent.
At the doorway an archway of Holly and Oak remind us of the seasons. These archetypal trees are both in their most extreme states of being. The Oak (summer king of the forest) seems dead while the Holly (Winter king of the forest) is resplendent with life and fruit. However this is the turning point for both where the Holly will relinquish its authority to the Oak and the Oak will start to accrue its powers for summer. An endless swirling dance repeated at summer solstice where the roles are reversed.
Put up on Christmas Eve and taken down after Little Christmas Day (6th January), it is said that the holly and ivy used to decorate the walls should be burned.
Kissing under the mistletoe:
The white berries mature at Christmas-time while the plant retains waxy green leaves amongst the skeletal branches of trees.
Just as love sometimes has a sting so the mistletoe is actually poisonous to humans. It contains a toxic substance called phoratoxin, which is particularly concentrated in the leaves. If you're decorating with it, keep it away from pets and children.
One of the many customs at Christmas is putting up the mistletoe in the middle of the ceiling. Every year we put up a bit of mistletoe and decorate it with silver and other coloured papers. If anyone who comes into the house walks under the mistletoe the girls in the house kiss him, it is great fun watching them coming in and walking under it. mistletoe and coloured ribbons
There is a Scandanavian legend that the goddess Frigg's son, Baldur, was killed by an arrow made of mistletoe. Her tears turned to the white berries, thus symbolizing her love for her son. After his death she vowed that mistletoe would kiss anyone who passed beneath, so long as it was never again used as a weapon.
We can also remember the traditional gods and goddesses:
Santa Claus who shares characteristics with - the Holly King, Celtic God of the dying year, Father Ice, a Russian winter God, Odin, Scandinavian all father who rides on an 8 legged horse, Great Mother, who gave birth to the sun child, Ops who is the Roman goddess of plenty, wife of Saturn, Holda, the earth goddess of good fortune.
Feed the Birds:
Mistletoe berries provide a winter feast for birds. An Anglo Saxon word it translates as ‘dung on a stick’ – the branches where it grows can become covered in bird poo! The mistle thrush particularly enjoys the sticky berries. But they stick to their beaks, and to remove the gluey mess after eating, the bird wipes it's beak on the branch thus transferring the seeds to the tree.
Having used the holly tree for summer nests, birds, especially thrushes and blackbirds, enjoy the red berries late into the winter.
Bird feeders are easily obtained but you may like to just hang some mistletoe in a large bush or tree, and drape sprigs of holly, full of berries, where the robins, thrushes and other birds can feed from them.
As above, so below, bridging the realms.
A red rose indicates love, whereas a yellow one is often taken as a refusal of love.
Prayer for a rose:
Praise to the roses, full of beauty.
Blessed are they amongst the flowers of the earth. Blessed is their aroma, their colour and their form, for they are without compare.
Praise to the roses, full of joy.
Blessed symbols of love, compassion and grace. Queen of flowers pray with us now and at the time of our death.
Love, balance and hope...
were feelings that I felt very much on Sunday. Blessings to you all on this autumn equniox. Bernadette M. 2021 - Labyrinth on Donabate
Rose, symbol of accepting the inner beauty even though there may be thorns.
Rose petals are ideal for filling in mandala outlines.
Rose Hip Necklace:
In Autumn when rose hips are a bright red numbers are gathered. A threaded darning needle is passed through and so a necklace is made. Duchas School's Collection
Meditation with a rose quartz crystal
Set up a space in your home or out in your garden, whatever is more convenient for you.
With a rose quartz crystal and a flower (ideally a rose) of your choice sit quietly and tune into that inner voice within you.
Listen as you bring your hands to your Heart and fill them with love and healing from your heart chakra.
Send healing to all those who need it in our world, to our family and friends, mother nature and the animal kingdom for the highest good of all.
More on this at Full Moon Celebrations archive - 24th June 2021- Midsummer's Day
Like the flower the crystal signifies love and compassion. It is also known as the heart stone.
|Our centre at St. Gobnait's well in Cork was based on the corn dolly a representation of Crom Dubh.
Read more here about Crom Dubh and Lughnasadh.
Around the edge we have seasonal fruits, crystals, Rock Salt, Honey and Barley.
We have ploughed the fields, scattered the seeds of hope.
Growth has been nurtured by rain and sun and now we are thankful for our harvest.
We look up to the hills and stand upon them, for from there comes our help. There we are at the foundation of all life, between heaven and earth.
With humble, thankful hearts, we bless the harvest, our lives, our health, our food.
Take many forms... Visit the Blog Harvest Dolls for more ideas
|2016 - Marta and Dana in Switzerland tried their hands at making straw dollies.
Return to Earth:
The corn dolly is often buried in a grave and this serves two purposes.
The first to remind the earth how a crop should ripen for next year and ...
it represents the harvest of unwanted energies in our bodies and within the wider world.
The Corn dolly is believed to take these concerns to the Underworld .
Here they are broken down and transformed by the great chemical laboratories of the earth and turned into nourishment for the crops.
Go to Higher Ground:
|At Lughnasadh, Harvest time, it is traditional to go to a hill or higher ground.
Pat's Sunflower Story 2022
Setting intentions and sharing seeds and planting them as a symbolic gesture for our hopes and dreams is a popular part of a ceremony.
|Bealtaine and every seedling is flourishing
The way the leave's grow, they do not overshadow each other so maximising the amount of sun they get. Handy that! The wisdom of nature.
I like to send them on their way when planting with a Blessing:
"May the Earth that you grow in, the Water that falls on you, the Sun that feeds you and the Air you breathe conspire to help you to reach your full potential."
Mid-summer June 2022
Lughnasadh... and August abundance as the Sunflowers reach up towards the sun
Add a sunflower or it's symbol to a summer solstice centre to bring strength and good luck.
Dear flower and strength of all the garden,
forgive our foolish ways.
We plant and water then forget your needs
on summer days.
In simple trust you send out leaves
and reach for the sun above.
Remind us that to nurture you,
like all, your need is love.
Our blessings and our tender care for you should never cease,
and together in the garden we share mid-summer peace.
We thank you for your radiant rapture
and for the joy you bring.
As in the garden we look up,
and in a still small voice,
we breathe then sing
Your confidence and skill in life,
Inspire our souls to blaze.
Your strivings never cease,
And together in the garden
we share mid-summer peace.
The part of a sundial that casts a shadow (usually a short stick or pole), thus telling the time, is called a gnomon. This translates as 'one that knows'. As the position of the sun moves, so the flow of time is revealed by the changing position of the shadow of the gnomon. Look at your flower (serving as the gnomon) and note where the shadow falls. What time of day is it.
Take blank page and paint or draw the shadow of the Sunflower. As you do this you might like to consider the passing of time. The shadow will be in a different position to when you started drawing or painting.
Shakespeare's Hawthorn: "Through the sharp Hawthorn blows the cold wind." King Lear, Act III, Scene 4
It blooms the beginning of May, when Spring is passing into summer, and is also known as May, May Tree, May Bush, May Blossom and Queen of May. It is associated with the heart, protection, fertility and love.
This hawthorn was the fairy tree on Hill of Tara but split and decayed over several years. Read more about the tree at Faery Tree - Hill of Tara
Creating a centre inside? You are unlikely to use hawthorn flowers. It was considered extremely unlucky to bring Hawthorn flowers inside the house, as it was a portent of illness and death. Botanists have discovered that the chemical trimethylamine in Hawthorn blossom is also one of the first chemicals produced when an animal body starts to decay.
|Lughnasadh focus on hawthorn berries and rose hips.
Creating a centre outside? Now you can celebrate the whole tree.
Honourable Hawthorn, full of ease, all beings respect you. Blessed are you amongst the trees of the woodland and blessed are your blossoms and fruit. We thank you for your presence throughout our lives and for reminding us of our moment of death.
Wear something white:
Bealtaine – fresh green leaves and foliage burst forth in hedgerows and fairy hawthorn trees' white flowers form drifts across the land, as if the snow had returned. Under the still bare woodland canopy peaceful bluebells nod, releasing a subtle scent. Most flowers bloom in the Spring and our attention is heightened as they call to us for admiration and praise. Read more about colours and the seasons here... Colour
The fairies nearly always hide their gold under a hawthorn bush, inspiring us to consider what treasures are we hiding?
You may write on a tea candle one word that recalls that treasure then light the candle and watch the flame as you invigorate your hidden treasure and share it with the universe.
Choose 4 different coloured ribbons to tie on your May Bush (see below). Pick up 3 and consider what they represent to you, what gift or skill that you have. Now pick up the 4th ribbon and consider what you are hiding, something you do not share. Consider what you would like to find, about a situation, about yourself, something that maybe you do not wish to share. Finally, tie all four ribbons of the bush and remember that 'what will be will be'.
Bringing in the May:
As recounted above it is said to be unlucky to bring hawthorn into the house. However... this is from the Duchas School's Project.... Bringing in the May
On the eve of the 1st of May the man of the house brings in some branches of hawthorn. This is known as "bringing in the May". It is not considered lucky for any female bring the "May" in. The branches of hawthorn are left in the house until the end of the month, and then they are burned.
This gorse served as our May Bush at Bective in 2012. Go to Pishogues for May Eve & May Day to read more about yellow flowers at Bealtaine.
- You can introduce yourself to the bush / tree by giving it some water.
- Tie a ribbon (degradeable) on a branch of the tree, asking that the summer be fine and growth and crops abundant, or that something in your life may blossom and bear fruit.
- Put some yellow flowers in it's branches.
These quotes from the Duchas School's Project give ideas of how we can celebrate with a May Bush.
On the eve of May day a May bush is made. It is erected in honour of the Blessed Virgin.
A white thorn bush is got and (with) wild flowers are tied to it in small bunches with coloured ribbons. Sometimes a picture of the Blessed Virgin is hung on it. This is a very old custom.
On May day morning the person who is up first places it in front of the door or over it. Long ago people believed that no thunder nor lightning nor evil spirits would interfere with the house that had a May bush placed before it.
Long ago the May bush was set on fire and the people would dance round it and pass the young children through the smoke to protect them from the power of witchcraft.
Another custom of "May day" is the making of the May "tree". This was done by cutting the branch of a lone bush and by putting a primrose on every thorn of the branch.
Bluebells tend to wilt very quickly once cut. Better to enjoy in the woodland or garden. Tread carefully as they can take years to recover after trampling. Indeed it is said that if you pick bluebells on May Eve you will have bad luck during May.
They are called “St. Brigid's Flowers” in some parts of Ireland and are associated with the goddess's healing powers.
From Liz in Derbyshire - Archive of Tara Celebrations - Bealtaine 2009
Bluer than a sailor's eyes,
Bluer than the bluest skies
Spread your carpet, ring your bells
Round the trees and down the dells.
Call a meeting place for friends
In the woods where anger ends.
Tell two hearts for truelove's sake
To keep the loving vows they make.
Though trains may whistle, traffic roar
And aircraft in the heavens soar
Though houses rise and cities fall
The bluebell grows in spite of all.
From Duchas School's collection: - (There are a number of names for this game and it is a fun for a group circle)
It is played by a number of children standing in a ring. One of the children runs in and out under their uplifted hands. She then taps on one of their shoulders and this person follows her round and some one else is tapped and so on all have been tapped. The following rhyme is sung -
In and out goes Dalkie Bluebells, In and out goes Dalkie Bluebells, In and out goes Dalkie Bluebells, I'll be your master. Tap-a rap a-rap tap on my shoulder, I'll be your master.
Bluebells - Cloigíní Gorma - are enchanting and a favourite with the Fairies.
It is said Brigid would weave a carpet of them for the fairies to dance on. The blue flower bells would ring to call the fairies at midnight or special festivals.
Indeed early Christian missionaries used small handbells to call people to worship.
Buddhists consider the bell to be calming and to induce a suitable atmosphere for meditation.
Hindu's ring a ghanta, a ritual bell at the entrance to the temple as preparation for their practice and to announce their presence to the god / goddess. The bell is made out of five to seven precious metals, which are connected to the planets: lead (Saturn), tin (Jupiter), iron (Mars), copper (Venus), mercury (Mercury), silver (the Moon) and gold (the Sun).
Bells are associated with the first High Priest of Judaism - Aaron. It is said that his robe was adorned with bells and embroidered with pomegranates.
An Evening in the Woodland Meditation:
Either imagine doing this or walk - seven steps left, pause, seven steps right, change, seven steps
repeated, the rhythm builds...
Now relax, release and let go and be comfortable, ready for a meditation. Become aware of your body in it's sitting position. In your own time, notice your breathing, the deep breathing you’ve got, slowing down by half. You break the rhythmic walking energy and move forward, touching a tree in the centre of your circle. Imagine blue skies and sun dipping
into the west. To alter your state of consciousness tell your neural pathways to behave unexpectedly. At the edge of the woodland there are bluebells. The scent, touch, sight, awakens your senses, awareness of this meditation walk.
In day to day life we tend to walk in a haze of detachment from our surroundings - 'have I got change for the car park?', 'shall we have beans on toast tonight?'. So in this meditation we become totally aware of everything around us. There are many energies and beings, seen and unseen, in the wood. Sunlight dapples the tree trunks, dead leaves scrunch under foot, the path is muddy here and dry there, the roar of the waterfall from the lake outlet echoes amongst the branches, and a pigeon calls.
Along the path are many broken sticks and twigs and, those we feel
called to, we pick up. Tying ribbons onto them we silently express our
prayers and intentions.
We plant the sticks in hidden places where they will decay, be nurtured in the compost of the woodland floor and our wishes are released to the universe.
We rejoin and sit drinking tea under the stars. You thank
the woodland for its support, say goodbye to all beings that have supported us.
In your own time, notice your breathing, the deep breathing you’ve got slowing down by half. Become aware of your body in it's sitting position. Become aware of your environment and gradually, in your own time, open your eyes.
Overcoming difficulties (daffodils),
luck and wealth, rebirth and creativity (eggs),
potential, as you plant so you reap (packet of seeds),
structure and order of life (geometric symbol),
homeland (earth in pots),
tipping into summer (balance),
May the strength of the daffodil inspire us, may the wisdom of the daffodil inform us, may the presence of the daffodil brighten our days, may the beauty of the daffodil reflect our own beauty. We give gratitude to the daffodil this day and for evermore.
Wear Spring Equinox colours:
- joyful golden yellow or deep royal purple of crocus and merry daffodils, naturally yellow but also in pinks, whites, creams and orange, remind us of what has lain waiting in the ground, the bulbs ready when the time is right to burst forth.
We can bring our own cheer by wearing bright yellows to connect with the exuberant energies of the season.
Be aware of the labels we put on things:
At one celebration Martin told us that "to me the English language isn't poetic enough to describe the daffodil."
Lus an chrom chin an Irish (and Scottish, I think) translation into golden headed lighted one, name for the flower.
In England they are often called Lent Lilies and in Welsh Peter's Leeks.
Consider what you have put a label to.
Does it really describe the object, situation, person, event?
Colouring is the new meditation.
Yellow is optimistic, cheerful and happy.
Focus these values as you colour colour into your life.
Hidden assets come to light
Daffodils store assets in their bulbs, in the darkness of the soil they wait for the right time to burst forth.
Imagine you are that bulb and write down all the assets you have that you do not share or express outwardly. A time for inner contemplation. Now ask yourself, can I use any of these to enrich my life and the life of other beings?
Take the list and wrap it around a plant bulb, with a seed, with anything that will grow roots and send up a shoot, into the open air, later in the year. It will act as a reminder in the months to come.
The dandelion was known as St. Brigid's flower as it is one of the first wild flowers to bloom after her festival in February.
'Gateway' twin flames of Bealtaine, 2013, black and white feathers of balance, hoop with swan feather of dreaming, bleeding heart flowers, cleaver and dandelion - cleansing, lavender for sweetness, rosemary - remembering.
Give me the wisdom of the dandelions who sleep in my garden at night, blossom during the day, grow, flower, die and are reborn by spreading their wind-borne seeds far and wide to start the cycle again. Oh great healing dandelions, share with me the secrets of the earth. Pat - Bealtaine 2022 Set Aside.
Quote from ww.petalrepublic.com - dandelion-flower-symbolism which I thought to use as a visualisation in meditation.
The seed heads are commonly picked and blown to make a wish, spreading the seeds at the same time. This has given the flower a strong association with hope and optimism.
Dandelion, Full Moon, Life and Death:
Death is a part of life. I noticed while out walking, where the daffodils were in full bloom were gone but in their place were dandelions. Nature has a beautiful way of showing us the circle of life and death. So on the full moon ask yourself some questions and again, these are just suggestions or maybe you would like to write your own on this full moon tonight.
What in my life do I need to let go of?
What belief system holding me back from moving forward?
How can I change this?
Using the energy of the light on the full moon, all the time, to pour light on each intention you want to let go of and trust.
Just like the dandelions replaced the daffodil is a good way of seeing that in order to bring about something new we must let go of the old and make room in our heart.
Sun, Moon and Stars symbolism:
The dandelion flower has three distinct phases and one option is that the bud resembles the moon, yellow flower the sun, and dispersing seeds the stars.
Something that I think is so beautiful to watch is a dandelion will open up and greet the sun and at night when the Moon comes out she closes in to go to sleep. There is so much we can learn not only from the sun, the moon and the stars, but from the the seeds with plants in a garden and the wildflowers especially.
Brigit patron of Fire in the Hearth
the brave and bold leader of Spring (Snowdrops),
healing (Bhrat Bríde).
Brave snowdrop, who lives within the
earth, honoured be thy name. Your time does come to gladden all
lives, on earth and in the universe.
We appreciate your beauty and purity, and we learn that rebirth after hard times is always possible. That hope is eternal. Thank you for symbolising innocence and sympathy, that we may recognise those qualities in ourselves and others. For this time of transition is yours. From winter to spring, from the bleak to the bountiful, your power and your glory is revealed. For ever and ever.
Place snowdrops in a room (some regard bringing the flower into the house as unlucky, so do what feels right to you). Focus on the white, cleansing colour of the blooms. You can also walk around your space, bringing this energy of white purity into all areas, blessing and thanking your home for it's protection.
Snowdrops break through the frost and ice of winter. It is possible to buy their essence on line or to make your own. You can use this to melt a situation that has become stuck or frozen. They look fragile and delicate but hold the energies of strength and resilience.
Snowdrops remind us of the victory of
Brigid and the return of light and life over darkness and death.
Looking at the flower we thank all realms that we have survived to see this promise of Spring.
Smile in your heart centre.
Planting a labyrinth or other symbol in the garden.
Eilish spent long hours planting the labyrinth with snowdrops.
|Focus on creating an origami snowdrop.
Be fully present in your thoughts. Notice every move you make.
|Paint twigs and branches white for a winter tree and add snowdrop ornaments.
|Snowdrops bring a positive energy -
write on the petals of your drawn flower words that you recognise as your strengths and gifts
but most of all set yourself free and be in a place of joy, be grateful.
I close the circle to the apparent world, thank the guides, guardians, beings, times and realms that have joined in this celebration. Sin sin, that's it.