Reminder - 2016 Festival of Bliss & Blessings

Come As You Are to...

CAYA Coven’s Festival of Bliss & Blessings
presented by the Ekstasis Gild devotional group

Saturday, April 30, 2016
Doors open at 7:00PM, circle is cast at 7:15PM

(no one is admitted after circle is cast)

The Home of Truth Spiritual Center (in the Main Hall)
1300 Grand Street
Alameda, CA 94501

$10-$20 donation requested

Join us as we honor the Wild Nature within ourselves and all around us, experience the fiercely joyous and liberating Blessings of Pan and Cybele, and revel in the Bliss of it All!

Please bring voices to sing, dancing hearts, plus rattles, shakers, drums, tambourines, cymbals, bells, flutes, and any other joyous noisemakers to join in the ecstatic cacophony!

Please feel free to bring an offering for cakes and ale, which we will share in the Home of Truth Cottage after the ritual has concluded.

May Court Interview with Lady Yeshe Rabbit and Merry May! Song from CAYA Coven

Each May at the Festival of Bliss & Blessings, CAYA bids farewell to our Winter Court and welcomes our new May Court.  This year, as we crowned Rúndaingne Ash, Quetzal and Melissa Ra Karit to our 8th annual May Court, we asked High Priestess Lady Yeshe Rabbit to talk a little about the tradition of the May Court within CAYA and the role that the Court plays in our Coven.

Can you talk a little about the history of the May Court in CAYA, and share any memorable moments or stories?

The idea of a May King and Queen is not unique to CAYA, and different Pagan communities handle this sort of thing in their own ways, but in CAYA I originally envisioned the May and Winter Courts as being emblematic of our community’s well-being...that if we, as a Coven, honored and uplifted these individuals, it would be a blessing for us all. Our first May Court was named in 2008, I believe, with Greywolf and Ladybug presiding, and we have had many courts since then, obviously. One magical thing to note is that in the years we have been doing this, several of our May Queens conceived much-desired children during their tenure.

What roles do the May King and Queen fulfill within CAYA?

They symbolize our collective hopes and efforts toward growth and abundance in health, wealth, and love, and represent the spirit of Spring and possibility. On a more practical level, they prepare and deliver messages from their own personal stores of wisdom at each CAYA Sabbat ritual for the community to contemplate.

This year, we have added a new May Court role, the May Nymph. Can you tell us a little about that role and why it is important at this time?

As our community shifts with the changing tides of society, it has become increasingly important in CAYA that we hold spaces for those who destabilize the gender binary. King and Queen in CAYA have never been tethered to gender, and we have had female Kings, though no male Queens in the Court yet. I suspect that is simply because there are probably 3 women to every man in CAYA! But, regardless, the King and Queen roles are not limited to men and women respectively...anyone of any gender identity can be a May King or Queen. However, the titles of King and Queen are still rooted in a binary construct. Therefore, the new designation of Nymph represents our commitment to specifically creating space to honor those who transcend binary gender identities, who inhabit the magical spaces of being betwixt and between, who are committed to sharing their own beauty with the world, and who have liberated themselves to express their unique gender and sexuality, not confined by traditional or stereotypical roles. Though mythologically the word “nymph” is frequently associated with the feminine, in this context it suggests the transcendent, magical, ethereal, ephemeral quality that those who like to play with gender expression often bring to our circles in terms of beauty, art, adornment, and creativity.

What special qualities, attributes, knowledge, skills, etc., do we look for when choosing a May King, Queen, and Nymph?

Creativity, abundance, celebration of life, ability to rejoice and find/manifest goodness, lightness of heart, willingness to bring forth new ideas, and delight are key to these roles, but sometimes we might even crown someone who struggles with one of these things as a way to help support them in finding that joy or that lightness of heart or whatever it is that seems hard at the time.

Do you have any particular advice or words of wisdom for this year's May Court as they don their crowns?

“Let the beauty you love be what you do.” - Rumi

To celebrate the Festival of Biss & Blessings and the crowning of our May Court, CAYA Choir performs the song "Hail the May King & Queen!*, written by CAYA High Priestess Lady Yeshe Rabbit and members of the 2008 CAYA Beltane Committee for the crowning of our first May Court.


* Note: This song was written before the addition of the May Nymph, perhaps next year CAYA Choir will have another song to sing!  

Wheel of the Year Activities: Gathering Sacred Woods for the Beltaine Fire and Making May Wishes on a Hawthorn

by Doyenne Rowan Nightshade

Gathering Nine Sacred Woods for the Beltaine Fire

I love tree magic, I enjoy and resonate with the unique energies of each one, each living tree and type of tree. Being of a celtic persuasion, at this time of year I tend to think about the tree magic that’s traditional for Beltaine, namely gathering the nine sacred woods for the Beltaine fire. I may or may not have an actual Beltaine fire, and if you’re only just now gathering your woods, they won’t be very dry by May 1st (though if you’re a city dweller like I am, you’re probably only gathering twigs, rather than logs). However, you can still gather it and charge it up all year, and then burn it next year instead, and next year gather the wood for the following year, etc. One of the powerful things about this season is that it’s one of the times when the veil between the worlds is thinnest (the other being Samhain), therefore it’s an excellent time to do big magic, to really establish your intention for the next few months, and to manifest growth and good things in your world.


The Nine Sacred Woods, traditionally, are:

  • birch: for new beginnings

  • oak: for strength and protection

  • hazel: for knowledge and for wisdom

  • rowan: for life, for magic, and for protection

  • hawthorn: for wishes, for sweetness in the heart, and for protection

  • willow: for death (all part of the cycle, you know), for vision, and for intuition

  • fir or pine: for birth and rebirth

  • apple: for love

  • (grape)vine: for joy and for happiness

If you live in a place where some of these plants don’t grow, I strongly suggest substituting a local, related tree. For example, rowan and hawthorn are both in the rose family (rosaceae), so maybe there’s another plant in the family that seems to strike the right cord for you. I have substituted wild plum for blackthorn since they are both in the prunus amygdala group (also in the rosaceae family) when making ogham staves, and California sagebrush (an artemisia) for gorse (entirely unrelated), because it seemed to serve a similar function in the environment and just felt right.

Making May Wishes on a Hawthorn

It’s traditional to make wishes on the full moon by tying ribbons to the branches of a hawthorn tree, especially in the month of May, since that’s when it’s generally in full flower (it’s also known as the May Tree). Here in the Bay Area, we’re fortunate to have many hawthorns growing around the edge of Lake Merritt in Oakland, so it wouldn’t be too hard to find one in the moonlight and tie a ribbon onto it. You may want to choose a color that reflects your desire, such as green for prosperity, pink for love, blue for health, and so on; then you can write your wish on it, or even just speak the wish into the ribbon. In case you’re not entirely sure what a hawthorn looks like, I offer the following guide for your edification:

How to Spot Different Types of Trees From Quite a Long Way Away: Hawthorn Edition

How to Spot Different Types of Trees From Quite a Long Way Away: Hawthorn Edition