Beltane 2013

It did not go as I expected.

Late Tuesday night, The Boyfriend and I realized that the water on our floor wasn’t coming from wet hands dripping, but rather the fact that there was a leak somewhere near the bathroom and the washing machine. So all of my plans for celebrating Beltane today were immediately dashed by the fact that I had to call maintenance to come up and figure out what was going on.

So I called Wednesday afternoon to inform them of the leak and request maintenance on it so that I don’t have to have water soaking into my carpet and causing mold or mildew. Not fun times.

Once the call was made, I realized there was no reason I couldn’t go grocery shopping and get the things I needed today. Maintenance was going to let themselves in if I was out and it wasn’t like I could do anything to help them. I’d already given the main office all the information I could for them to figure out what was wrong.

So I headed out to treat myself to lunch and get the groceries I needed for dinner and some devotional cooking.

Last Samhain, I began the tradition of a Red Meal throughout the day. Basically, it involves eating only red foods all day, out of respect for the dead and for the idea that the spirits of the dead eat red foods. So I ended up with pasta and tomato sauce for lunch with a small serving of tomato soup. Nothing too special, but it was red and that was what was important to me.

You might be wondering why I’m honoring the spirits of the dead for Beltane. It’s a holiday about fertility, most assume. Well, I celebrate a little differently. Beltane and Samhain are, for me, a celebration of the life-death cycle. For Samhain, I celebrate the death-in-life, those who have passed on and those who are still hanging around a bit; for Beltane the life-in-death, the regrowth of the agricultural world out of a seemingly dead landscape, the bringing of new life from the barren winter.

Grocery shopping took longer than I wanted since I was dragging my feet to give maintenance enough time to figure out what was up with the leak. I hurried home with my groceries once it was nearly 4pm as I wanted to get started on my baking and cooking.

First up was zucchini bread. I’m intending it to be a combination of offering bread and eating bread for The Boyfriend and I to nibble at over the next couple of days. (Who am I kidding. It’ll last a day, if that. So glad I have more batter left in the fridge…) Not red, but it’s homemade bread and healthy enough that I don’t feel too guilty for eating a third of the loaf before The Boyfriend got home from work. Not a bit.

The zucchini bread took long enough that it was nearly 7 by the time I started making dinner. Baking always takes a long time for me; I don’t know why. The important part, though, was when I got to the stirring. Everything was ready to go and as I started mixing the batter by hand, I began muttering an impromptu charm. I can’t remember the details of what I said – thus the impromptu part, such as all my spells are – but it was a mix of stating the bread was for personal consumption for The Boyfriend and me, but also for my gods and spirits. Somehow, I made the whole thing rhyme, the words trickling from my lips as they like to do whenever I do magic. (I don’t have time nor patience for memorizing a three-page spell, so most of mine are either done on the fly or short charms.)

Bread baked, I moved onto making sofrito. My father’s side is Puerto Rican, so some of those things have gotten passed down. I actually got this recipe through a bit of manipulation on the part of my parents (long story short: my grandmother loathes my mother with a fiery passion, to put it bluntly). My grandmother’s recipe is pretty simple: blend cilantro with olive oil and add enough onion and garlic until the smell makes your chest tighten and it feels like you’re punched in the heart. A lot of other sofrito recipes that I’ve found include peppers or tomatoes, but this was the one I grew up with and it’s the one I use. The sazón (a spice mix) and tomato sauce come in later and all three are fried for a moment in olive oil. Then add the kidney beans and water and season with salt and pepper. Bring to boil and simmer until beans are ready. Cook rice as needed and serve together. The whole thing is delicious and my go-to recipe for holidays because you can have a little or a lot and it’s warming (plus it only takes a half hour to make).

Tomorrow, I’m hoping to draw out the Beltane celebrations a bit longer. I have offerings to make, prayers to say for a friend, and promises to uphold. I’m hoping that the maintenance will be quick and early so that I don’t have to plan my entire day around when they’ll arrive, too.

For now, this is Beltane for me. I’ve never been too fond of huge celebrations, especially as I’m only one person now. I celebrate alone or in small ways with my long-term partner-in-time, though as he’s non-religious, that doesn’t happen that often. In the future, I may find opportunity to celebrate with a bonfire and with friends, but it’s the small things that count, too. Little rituals, little acts of devotion and love for the gods and spirits. Those are what make my practice.

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5 Responses to Beltane 2013

  1. nellethiel says:

    Man, that recipe does sound delicious :3 I’d love to try it someday!

    And I can completely agree about the small things mattering…I’m like you, I often have to do things on my own (or with Jack, but he’s like your partner, non-religious). I don’t mind it, but I do sometimes find myself desiring/missing celebrations with other people…and I guess that’s why I still celebrate some of the Jewish holidays with family and friends when I can. The meanings of the holidays don’t necessarily have much to do with my Gods, but the being with people part and the ritualistic aspects of them make me happy.

    • There are loads of sofrito recipes out there and it’s the base of the red beans and rice, along with rice and pigeon peas (gandules) in Puerto Rican cuisine, at least what I was raised on. It’s pretty much the base of most rice dishes, actually. Freezes phenomenally well, too, so I only have to make it once or twice a year and one batch’ll last us months. Basically, take one bunch of cilantro and blend with olive oil, half an onion (though I tend to use a full onion because I prefer more of that flavor in my sofrito) and as much garlic as you want. Once you start to feel it in your chest, you’re done. It should feel dense when you breathe it in. I’m still working on getting the right ratio of ingredients, but that’s the final effect you need.

      As for celebrations, I really miss my uni Pagan group’s Beltane and Samhain. I’d wanted to try to surprise them this week and go out to visit, but it was just too late to try and make all the adjustments. Considering the issues that popped up this week, it’s probably for the best, actually. I also wasn’t raised with the community background you have, so I’m pretty jealous of that! I don’t have the opportunity to go home and celebrate holidays with family and friends like that. I’m glad you do, though. 🙂 Community is important.

      • nellethiel says:

        I’m very lucky – my family and Jewish community still welcome me with open arms even if my overall beliefs/religious views have changed. I know that so, so many people from a variety of backgrounds don’t have a family/community to “go home to” or even have a family/community that would accept them as they are now. I think that’s very sad, but it just reminds me of how important it is for me to reach out to all the people around me and support them (since they may not have support from elsewhere)…I wish I could celebrate with all of my Pagan/non-Pagan friends from all over the world (you guys that I’ve met through tumblr, included!) ^__^ Maybe someday I’ll be able to meet more of the people I’ve met online in person! There are so many holidays I’d love to celebrate with people.

        And I’m definitely going to try making that! Jack would absolutely love it XD

        • It’s a flavor base, so you can definitely use it in pretty much, well, anything. I’ve used it to make all kinds of rice dishes myself.

          There are a few people I’d love to celebrate things with that I’ve met online, you included! If you ever get the chance to hang out with some of us, let me know and I can try to arrange my schedule accordingly. 😀

          I’m lucky in a different way: my parents aren’t very religious (Deist at the most, but non-church-going and the like) and when I “came out” to them, they were pretty much “Okay” about it (though they seemed to think it was a phase for awhile…but I’m getting ahead of myself; that’s the topic of my PBP post for tomorrow!).

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