Joined: Sun Sep 20, 2009 5:07 pm
|I came across this recipe that I wanted to share with anyone planning a McDougall menu for the Beltane Holiday. If you’re unfamiliar with the May 1st holiday, I’ve pasted some info about it below.
Beltane Sorrel Soup
The lemony taste of sorrel is distinctive, but any green could be substituted to make a delicious brew.
1 pound potatoes
1 medium onion
8 oz asparagus
1/2 pound baby carrots
2 1/2 cup cooked lentils
2-3 cups chopped sorrel
In the bottom of a large heavy pot lightly saute the onion in a small amount of water till softened. Add 4-6 cups veggie broth, the diced carrots & potatoes. Simmer till nearly tender. Add lentils & chopped asparagus, simmer till all veggies are soft. Add the sorrel, waiting just a minute or so for the sorrel to wilt. Salt & black pepper to taste. Serve this soup with a salad of spring greens and a May Day basket of bread twists -- braids, knots & weaving are symbolic of the season.
(May 1st) BELTANE: The Ties That Bind
May is the heart of spring when the earth is soft, supple and green. Days lengthen and the sunshine draws us completely out of winter seclusion now, as if we are roused from hibernation. And who can resist the out of doors! Every tree is a like the canvas of a French impressionist painting, branches dabbed with delicate foliage in tiny, swirling strokes of chartreuse, while swathes of color weave a floral carpet across fields or lawns naturalized with daffodils and crocus. Gaia awakens and every budding leaf whispers secrets upon the breeze, while tantalizing mysteries are revealed with the unfurling of each flower petal.
The first of May was celebrated throughout various parts of pre-Christian Europe. In Germanic lands it was known as Walpurgis, in Celtic isles it was and still is called Beltane -- and that is how it shall be referred to here. Beltane is traditionally a fire festival, with themes of fertility, merrymaking and enchantment. This is a time for tapping into the fresh new energy of the awakening season. Observing Beltane’s spoke on the wheel of the year provides another opportunity for continuing the creativity conceived of at Imbolc and initiated at Ostara. Winter seeds sown in the fertile soil of our intentions begin to bloom now in pledge of summer’s bounty and autumn’s fulfillment.
The name Beltane literally means “bright fire” and in days gone by farm fields and hillsides, woodland clearings and village greens were dotted with bonfires on the night of May Eve in raucous celebration of spring, to welcome the fertile time of the year. Fire’s relationship to fertility is creation out of destruction. Distilled to the essence, fire transforms matter – dramatically. Fire obliterates what was and makes room for the creation of something completely new in its place. Agriculturally, fire clears out the old growth, removes debris and leaves nutrient rich cinder and ash behind from which new life can grow and be nourished. It was also believed that the balefires of Beltane were protective, sympathetically spreading warmth to the land and encouraging crops to grow, burning like countless mini suns.
You know, it’s very telling that this old Celtic practice of lighting the Beltane fires was sometimes referred to as kindling a “need fire”. Isn’t that a wonderful term? Need-fire. Our needs, our desires, our wishes can burn within us like a flame. Our yearnings can propel us and compel us…they can be the driving force of our lives or they can unexpectedly consume us in a frenzy if we are not careful. When we light our need-fires with positive intent and openness to change, then they too will act as mini suns, encouraging personal growth and shining the way.
Because Beltane fires were meant to be clearing and purifying they were usually not lit from the flame of another source. Rather, they were traditionally started from scratch, so to speak, by the friction method -- the proverbial rubbing of two sticks together to create sparks. It takes friction, interaction to create the level of heat that will ignite a flame...after that the fire has to be quickly and carefully stoked, otherwise it smolders and extinguishes. Building a good fire is like building any relationship….it takes time, it takes thought, it takes care and above all it takes work. And when that flame finally blazes strong and bright it doesn’t mean you are done, you cannot simply walk away. A fire needs to be tended or it will burn out.
A relationship with whatever we revere as divine, sacred, or soulful, is not a passive endeavor either; it is an ongoing process of interaction, of feeding that inner flame. The more it is fueled, the brighter it burns. The purpose of any spiritual path is to activate a more meaningful experience of life. One way to do this is to engage with the rhythms of the earth thru ceremony and celebration. By doing so we connect to something beyond ourselves, we become participants in a greater process. This strengthens our bond to that which we deem sacred, illuminating our path with the torchlight of self-discovery and reflection.
Our human yearning for kinship needs tending, too of course. Connection to each other, in community, family or friendship, can kindle our need-fires as well. These relationships mean various things to different people, but the central truth is in some way or another people need each other. Like so many beacons punctuating the blackness, Beltane fires were lit to signify the last vestiges of winter with its isolation and deprivation were finally long past. Holidays and gatherings speak to the simple innate desire for union, for interaction with another – whether lover or family or friends. Connecting with others is an assurance that we are not, after all, alone. When we build community we knit ourselves into the fabric of the web of life, the unifying threads of existence of which we are a part. Akin to a May Day basket woven of separate, thin branches, we are stronger bound together. We earthlings are inextricably joined and we can share the collective warmth of each other’s glowing need-fires.
Of course not all Beltane festivities center on evening fires…for how could we honor spring without enjoying the gifts of warmer days that the glorious sunshine brings? With the greening of nature, spring takes on a light, whimsical air and all the fabled beings that embody the untamed and mystical almost seem to beckon us come out and play. Springtime mythology is prolific with legends of fairies, tree spirits, impish elves and all manner of unseen metaphorical creatures. Such tales remind us of earth’s natural magic, that sense of wonder we can all experience when we spend time in the wild. Mother Nature stirs and unfolds, frond by frond, petal by petal, till She is finally released from the confines of Her tightly held bud, open and exposed to the sun’s radiating warmth. Spring is an invitation, an opportunity, a promise.
What better way to appreciate that promise than by enjoying flowers? With a rainbow palette Flora has decked the earth out with a vibrant array of blooms to be inspired by. Cheerful tulips and narcissus along with heady hyacinth undulate in splattering waves from suburban gardens to urban courtyards. Cherry blossoms float upon the scented breeze like soft confetti, while shy violets peak out from their mossy beds tucked beside sheltered streams. Forsythia branches arch their golden arms in a shining embrace while lilacs gathered on a May morning feel like a sweet indulgence…and of course spring is nothing if not the season of sweet indulgences.
Beltane was also a time for coupling and trysting, a celebration of the sacred nature of sexual union, an honoring of passion’s first awakening. The blossoming time of bodies and of land signified hope for future abundance. You cannot really speak about Beltane with out talking about sex. Human sexuality was once strongly linked to the earth. Long ago ecstatic rites of making love in fresh ploughed fields before planting were emblematic of our connection to the earth and our dependence upon Her fertility. But beyond encouraging prolific growth, our longing for each other and desire for pleasure creates a quality of energy like no other. It transcends any boundaries, dictated by pure unadulterated passion. Whether shared with another or indulged in alone, physical pleasure connects us to the primal center, to the creative core of our being and therefore, to the universe. In a way, the very big bang itself that exploded this universe into being was nothing short of the ultimate orgasmic shudder, a cosmic spasm that reverberated thru space and time, vibrating thru the eons…the definitive creative act.
But fertility is not just about body and cosmos, flora and fauna…it is about the mind and heart as well. It is about potential, about weaving possibilities into reality. We all have the ability to be creative in the essential meaning of the word…to be not only procreative but also pro-creative, re-creative – to perpetually reinvent our selves and our society, to develop our own sense of individual empowerment, to shape our reality and initiate our thoughts into action, into art, into love. Passion isn’t just about the body either…it’s about the soul, that elusive fragment of ourselves that when we listen speaks to us from the depths and engages us in the ultimate pursuits of existence, those of following our bliss and seeking our own truth. This soul-voice comes from our center…that place where our collective divinity is immanent and our experience is accumulated and transformed into wisdom.
The center is where we all radiate out from, like the multi colored ribbons streaming from atop a Beltane maypole. Each strand marks a different connection point but they all weave around the same post, like mystical umbilical cords tied to All That Is. No matter how tangled up you get in life’s trials and tribulations as long as you hold fast you will continue to weave around the spire. But if you do happen to let go, that’s okay too…someone else is no doubt skipping around the same center point and can take your hand till you find your way again. Most importantly, at the end of the dance all the ribbons will be completely wrapped around the pole…to be bound closer to center then when we began is the journey of life. Sources: http://vegfamkitchen.blogspot.com/2007/ ... ltane.html
http://down--to--earth.blogspot.com/200 ... -bind.html
It is far better to grasp the universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.