Joanna Bristow Watkins

GaelicFolklore

  • Friday 30th April, Beltane Eve in Pagan Tradition

    Beltane 30th AprilFriday 30th April is the Eve of Beltane; Pagan celebrations begin with people singing and dancing clockwise around the fire. The name 'Beltane' derives from the Celtic Deity 'Bel' (definition = 'the bright one') together with 'teine' – the Gaelic word for fire.

    The combined meaning is 'Goodly Fire' or 'Bright Fire', hence bonfires were lit to encourage the Sun to nurture the forthcoming harvest and to honour Bel ask for his protection of the local community.

    Bel seemingly required human effort before providing support so traditionally all community fires were extinguished and two Tein-eigen (translates as need-fire) bonfires were specially kindled for Beltane.

    Cattle were driven between the fires to purify them with the smoke and bring fertility. People jumped over the fire (not the huge ones I presume) to cleanse, purify and enhance fertility.  

    Couples pledged themselves to each other by jumping the fires together and to bless their union. After the celebrations, which ran from sunset 30th April to sunset on 1st May, the villagers took a bit of the Teineigen to start fresh fires in their home hearth.

    shutterstock 114601966 Pagan wheelBeltane is one of the four Celtic seasonal festivals; along with Lughnasadh, Samhain and Imbolc - as shown on the Pagan Wheel on the right, courtesy of Shutterstock (licence paid).

    Dew gathered at dawn from the grass is traditionally used in potions for luck and it is thought to be lucky to roll naked in the dew!!!  I remember collecting the dew at dawn for luck as an adolescent but I didn't try the rolling naked in the dew so can't testify to whether that works for anything other than risking (indecent) exposure.

    On Beltane itself, it's traditional to drink from a well before sunrise, then wash in the morning dew, adorn yourself with greenery, watch the sun come up, dance round the Maypole and otherwise abandon yourself to the season! Round Full Moon Cakes are eaten together with blackberry, elderberry, dandelion wine (or cider) being drunk. Visits are made to sacred springs where healing water is drunk. 

    Thanks also to Glastonbury-based Goddessandgreenman.co.ukwebsite who also credit Sacred Celebrations by Glennie Kindred as their information source. There are always amazing annual Beltane and May Day celebrations in Glastonbury, though this year if there are any they will probably have to be virtual.

    By keeping traditions, Pagan communities retained a sense of harmony and connection, thereby bringing balance and wellbeing into their lives.

    Joanna's Harmony Healing activities - not involving any rolling in the dew celebrations - are aimed at bringing harmony and wellbeing into your life. 

    The next RSE 1 module series starts 14th May with Violet Flame of Amenti and 17th May with Chakra Balancing, Axiatonal Alignment and Unity Consciousness.

    If you are looking for spiritually enlightening activities following lockdown, which help to connect you with the lunar cycle, we have the next virtual healing circle on Wednesday 26th May at 7.30-9.30pm (UK time = GMT+1), and costs £20 (+ £2 Paypal fee). During this session, we connect with other like-minded people and together we work through a mindful chakra balancing process using colours and etheric crystals, with the aim that all participants will experience a degree of unity consciousness. This activity serves as a good taster of my work in general and the virtual format of our Zoom based programme.

    Other services

    If you would like to experience one of our spiritual offerings (meditation, reading, 1:1 healing, a Forest Bathing+ session or a full mentoring course), why not ask for a Harmony Healing gift voucherfor a birthday or other celebratory occasion? 

    A number of virtual courses are now ready, details on Harmony Healing Virtual Events. Currently, due to Coronavirus, most events will be virtual hence distant readings and healings are proving popular. It's best to first check whether it would be welcomed, before gifting a healing or reading to other individual.

    Joanna offers distant intuitive readings (past life and/or aura readings) and distant 1-2-1 healings and virtual healing circles. We also have meditations available.

    To receive regular Blog updates (headed with a title detailing the occasion or event so that you can choose whether to open it or not), featuring New and Full Moon, meteor showers, eclipses and other meteorological events, interesting anniversaries, ancient festival dates plus notification of dates of numerological significance, sign up for the Harmony Healing e-newsletters above or at the top of any page of this Harmony Healing website. The nature of the Blog means that whenever there are several key dates in close succession, there will be frequent mailings. The sender e-mail address is (and the sender will show as Joanna Bristow-Watkins @ Harmony Healing). You may need to add this email to your safe list and check your junk filter initially.  

  • Saturday 1st May, Celtic Pagan Beltane plus Roman Bona Dea

    May Day BeltaneSaturday 1st May is May Day and Beltane - a Celtic word meaning 'fires of Bel' (Bel was a Celtic and Gaelic Deity). It is a fire festival that celebrates the coming of summer and the fertility of the coming year. Celtic Priests, as well as other high ranking officials in Celtic society, were called Druids. Celtic festivals often tied in with the needs of the community.

    In springtime, at the beginning of the farming calendar, everybody would be hoping for a fruitful year for their fields and hence also their families. Beltane rituals would often include courting: for example, young men and women collecting blossoms in the woods and lighting fires in the evening.

    These rituals would often lead to matches and marriages, either immediately or in the coming summer or autumn. 

    Beltane is one of the four Celtic seasonal festivals; along with Lughnasadh, Samhain and Imbolc.  See yesterday's Blog for more on the meaning and festivities of Beltane.

    Bona Dea 1st MaySaturday 1st May was also the annual Roman Festival of Bona Dea. In Roman mythology, Bona Dea (literally "the good goddess") was the goddess of fertility, healing, virginity, and women.

    She was the daughter (or wife/sister depending on sources) of the nature-god Faunus and was associated with supplying medicinal healing herbs in her temple garden.

    Bona Dea was also invoked for freedom from slavery; many of her worshippers were freed slaves and plebeians, and many were women seeking aid in sickness or for fertility.

    This Festival was celebrated by women only, with men being barred from any knowledge of her mysteries!

    This would have comprised part of the six day Roman Festival of Floralia, commencing on 28th April (Julian Calender equivalent), detailed on my earlier Blog.

    By keeping traditions, Celtic and Roman communities retained a sense of harmony and connection, thereby bringing balance and wellbeing into their lives.

    Joanna's Harmony Healing activities - not involving any rolling in the dew celebrations - are aimed at bringing harmony and wellbeing into your life!

    The next RSE 1 module series starts 14th May with Violet Flame of Amenti and 17th May with Chakra Balancing, Axiatonal Alignment and Unity Consciousness.

    If you are looking for spiritually enlightening activities following lockdown, which help to connect you with the lunar cycle, we have the next virtual healing circle later this month on Wednesday 26th May at 7.30-9.30pm (UK time = GMT+1), and costs £20 (+ £2 Paypal fee). During this session, we connect with other like-minded people and together we work through a mindful chakra balancing process using colours and etheric crystals, with the aim that all participants will experience a degree of unity consciousness. This activity serves as a good taster of my work in general and the virtual format of our Zoom based programme.

    Other services

    If you would like to experience one of our spiritual offerings (meditation, reading, 1:1 healing, a Forest Bathing+ session or a full mentoring course), why not ask for a Harmony Healing gift voucherfor a birthday or other celebratory occasion? 

    A number of virtual courses are now ready, details on Harmony Healing Virtual Events. Currently, due to Coronavirus, most events will be virtual hence distant readings and healings are proving popular. It's best to first check whether it would be welcomed, before gifting a healing or reading to other individual.

    Joanna offers distant intuitive readings (past life and/or aura readings) and distant 1-2-1 healings and virtual healing circles. We also have meditations available.

    To receive regular Blog updates (headed with a title detailing the occasion or event so that you can choose whether to open it or not), featuring New and Full Moon, meteor showers, eclipses and other meteorological events, interesting anniversaries, ancient festival dates plus notification of dates of numerological significance, sign up for the Harmony Healing e-newsletters above or at the top of any page of this Harmony Healing website. The nature of the Blog means that whenever there are several key dates in close succession, there will be frequent mailings. The sender e-mail address is (and the sender will show as Joanna Bristow-Watkins @ Harmony Healing). You may need to add this email to your safe list and check your junk filter initially. 

  • Sunday 16th May, Pagan Festival of Lunantisidhe

    LunantisidheSunday 16th May is the Night of Lunantisidhe, a Celtic Festival honouring the fairy spirits of blackthorns. 

    From a website called selkywolf.com (no longer live), which featured extracts from 'A Witch's Guide to Faery Folk' by Edain McCoy, it seems that Lunantisidhe is a curious blending of the Latin word 'Luna' meaning 'moon' together with the Gaelic 'sidhe' which means 'faery'. They are the guardians of the blackthorn tree from which humans (and Leprechauns!) make shillelaghs, a walking stick indigenous to Ireland

    These fairies are - according to an AngelFire site - 'Wizened little stick creatures with long arms and fingers for climbing between the thorns'. Their sole purpose for existing seems to be to protect the blackthorn trees from human encroachment. The only time they approach the tree is to pay homage to the Moon Goddess at the Esbats (a specifc Full Moon Wicca Ceremony which may have it's origins in Celtic folklore), perhaps explaining why their name has a lunar connotation.

    According to another very informative site ecoenchantments.co.uk, unlike the majority of great mystic trees, the Blackthorn appears to be revered only in the British Isles (Celtic folklore of both Itish and Scottish tradition) with there being little or no association with the mythical traditions of other ancient civilisations.

    The Blackthorn, latin name Prunus Spinosa, is a tree of profound magical lore in the Celtic tradition. It is one of the designated Eight Chieftain Trees on the Ogham Tract, where its name is Straif (strife, said to be where the word came from in the English dictionary) and translates as ‘Increaser of Secrets.’  I feel it brings a whole new meaning to 'trouble and strife' the Cockney rhyming slang for wife!

    The Blackthorn is also know as sloe (after its fruit), sloe plum, snag, spiny plum, wishing thorn, faery tree, (dark) mother of the woods, pear hawthorn. Within the UK, the trees are an ancient, native pioneer species, with evidence that the fruits were eaten by early man. Blackthorn was used in Iron Age communities (c3400 yrs ago) as remains have been found, buried in a straw filled pit (believed to be used for ripening and preserving the bitter sloes) near Glastonbury in the Lake Village (recorded in a catalogue of findings by the excavator Arthur Bulleid).

    Blackthorn is also wellknown for its medicinal benefits, having been catalogues by both herbalists, John Gerard in 1597:  ‘The juice of sloes do stop the belly, the laske and bloodie fluxe, the inordinate course of womens terms, and all other issues of blood in man or woman.’

    Whilst Nicholas Culpeper, in 1653, recommends a decoction of the powdered bark of the roots, or of the fresh or dried berries as a cure for ‘lask of the belly , or stomach, or the bloody flux, and to ease the pains in the sides or bowels.’  He also recommended a distilled liquid of the flowers steeped in a highly honeyed mead, which he described as 'A most certain remedy, tried and approved, to ease all manner of gnawing in the stomach, sides and bowels, or any griping pains in any of them, to drink a small quantity when the extremity of the pain is upon them.’

    Undoubtedly Sloe Gin is still enjoyed today (made annually by my husband's Uncle Ron, aged 83, with sloes collected from the countryside).  Perhaps the continued popularity is due to its therapeutic benefits.

    As part of the Lunantisidhe festivities, holy trees marking sacred places and wells are acknowledged and new scraps of cloth are tied to their branches. 

    By keeping traditions, Pagan communities retained a sense of harmony and connection, thereby bringing balance and wellbeing into their lives.

    Harmony Healing activities are aimed at bringing harmony and wellbeing into your life. The next RSE 1 module series started 14th May with Violet Flame of Amenti (late applicants accepted) and 17th May with Chakra Balancing, Axiatonal Alignment and Unity Consciousness.

    If you are looking for spiritually enlightening activities following lockdown, which help to connect you with the lunar cycle, we have the next virtual healing circle later this month on Wednesday 26th May at 7.30-9.30pm (UK time = GMT+1), and costs £20 (+ £2 Paypal fee). During this session, we connect with other like-minded people and together we work through a mindful chakra balancing process using colours and etheric crystals, with the aim that all participants will experience a degree of unity consciousness. This activity serves as a good taster of my work in general and the virtual format of our Zoom based programme.

    Other services

    If you would like to experience one of our spiritual offerings (meditation, reading, 1:1 healing, a Forest Bathing+ session or a full mentoring course), why not ask for a Harmony Healing gift voucherfor a birthday or other celebratory occasion? 

    A number of virtual courses are now ready, details on Harmony Healing Virtual Events. Currently, due to Coronavirus, most events will be virtual hence distant readings and healings are proving popular. It's best to first check whether it would be welcomed, before gifting a healing or reading to other individual.

    Joanna offers distant intuitive readings (past life and/or aura readings) and distant 1-2-1 healings and virtual healing circles. We also have meditations available.

    To receive regular Blog updates (headed with a title detailing the occasion or event so that you can choose whether to open it or not), featuring New and Full Moon, meteor showers, eclipses and other meteorological events, interesting anniversaries, ancient festival dates plus notification of dates of numerological significance, sign up for the Harmony Healing e-newsletters above or at the top of any page of this Harmony Healing website. The nature of the Blog means that whenever there are several key dates in close succession, there will be frequent mailings. The sender e-mail address is (and the sender will show as Joanna Bristow-Watkins @ Harmony Healing). You may need to add this email to your safe list and check your junk filter initially.

     

  • Tuesday 30th April, Beltane Eve

    Beltane Bonfire image

    Tuesday 30th April is the Eve of Beltane; Pagan celebrations begin with people singing and dancing clockwise around the fire. The name 'Beltane' derives from the Celtic Deity 'Bel' (definition = 'the bright one') together with 'teine' – the Gaelic word for fire. The combined meaning is 'Goodly Fire' or 'Bright Fire', hence bonfires were lit to encourage the Sun to nurture the forthcoming harvest and to honour Bel ask for his protection of the local community. Bel seemingly required human effort before providing support so traditionally all community fires were extinguished and two Tein-eigen (translates as need-fire) bonfires were specially kindled for Beltane. Cattle were driven between the fires to purify them with the smoke and bring fertility. People jumped over the fire (not the huge ones I presume) to cleanse, purify and enhance fertility.  Couples pledged themselves to each other by jumping the fires together and to bless their union. After the celebrations, which ran from sunset 30th April to sunset on 1st May, the villagers took a bit of the Teineigen to start fresh fires in their home hearth.

    Dew gathered at dawn from the grass is traditionally used in potions for luck and it is thought to be lucky to roll naked in the dew!!!  I remember collecting the dew at dawn for luck as an adolescent but I didn't try the rolling naked in the dew so can't testify to whether that works for anything other than risking (indecent) exposure.

    On Beltane itself, it's traditional to drink from a well before sunrise, then wash in the morning dew, adorn yourself with greenery, watch the sun come up, dance round the Maypole and otherwise abandon yourself to the season! Round Full Moon Cakes are eaten together with blackberry, elderberry, dandelion wine (or cider) being drunk. Visits are made to sacred springs where healing water is drunk.  The image above shows a Beltane Fire on Calton Hill in Edinburgh and is taken from the Wikipedia page on Beltane.

    Thanks also to Glastonbury-based Goddessandgreenman.co.ukwebsite who also credit Sacred Celebrations by Glennie Kindred as their information source.  There are always amazing annual Beltane and May Day celebrations in Glastonbury.

    For a list of Joanna's forthcoming Harmony Healing events - not involving any rolling in the dew celebrations - see this recent Harmony Healing Event Update