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30 Apr 2009

May Day/Beltaine/Walpurgisnacht 2009 News



Limited Edition Leatherbound Hex Collection

This complete collection of all four issues of Hex magazine, is beautifully bound in leather by Jason H. Craban. Each magazine is stitched with linen into the spine of this sturdy and handsome handmade case. The binding lays flat for ease of reading, and is held closed by a leather strap. The edition is limited to 13, all numbered, and signed by the artisan and editors of Hex. It features the first two issues which are now out-of-print and unavailable as well as the third and fourth issues which are nearly sold out as well.


First come, first serve!

If you are one of the lucky ones, when your email is received, you will be notified, and sent an invoice through PayPal to complete the purchase of your copy.

Each leatherbound copy is $100 + shipping

All proceeds go to Hex Press to support its continued effort to provide folks with an excellent volunteer-based, community-supported, not-for-profit publication.


Limited Run of Issues 1 and 2

I decided to cave in to public pressure and sell half the extra copies of Issues 1 and 2 individually! There are only 10 each and… THESE ARE THE LAST COLOR COPIES OF THESE ISSUES THAT WILL BE PRINTED! THAT’S IT. IT’S FINAL.


First come, first serve!

If you are one of the lucky ones, when your email is received, you will be notified, and sent an invoice through PayPal to complete the purchase of your copy.

Each copy is $15 + shipping

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May Pole (circa 1907). source:

Spring Break ~ Heathen Style

Today’s college students aren’t the first people to celebrate spring break. For Heathens, the time around early May has always been time for a break. The fall garden crops are in full production or just beginning to wane; many of the early summer crops have been started; and the poultry are nearly back to full production. The larger livestock are also delivering babies…often in the middle of the night during a rain storm, says my friend. For the Heathen Hearth it’s also a time for visiting neighbors, bonfires, May Poles, pot luck moots, remembering folkways, and just maybe a taste of last summer’s fruit based mead – which should be ready to bottle if it hasn’t been already.

Today in the US the May Pole is a pretty standard concept, a pole with ribbons hanging from the top that are woven together in a May Pole Dance. Sometimes at this time of year we see schools and churches giving public May Pole performances. European May traditions, however, were and are, far more varied—even from neighborhood to neighborhood. They involve witches who revel in the night, rituals designed to restore good luck and health, and days filled with activities such as the crowning of May Kings and Queens, or choosing a May bride and bridegroom.

In Germany, the night before the first of May is called Walpurgisnacht, and is said to be a time when witches gathered around hilltop fires in the night to welcome spring and spirits or wights from the other worlds. Then on May 1st many folk traditions involved chasing out those same witches and wights! One could speculate that the witches and the rest of the townsfolk were actually one and the same. May Day activities culminated at about sunset with lots of noise making such as that made by cracking whips, ringing cow bells, blowing bulls horns, singing, and making a general racket to scare away the perceived threat of gathered witches in the area as they watched out for them through the first night of May around bonfires.

The same bonfires would later be used to scare away any illness or bad luck that might be attached to the farm animals, perhaps by the witches. The animals might be driven between two fires or through the smoke of a fire to cleanse and heal them. The people would also cleanse themselves with the fire, often by jumping over the flames.

Other areas of Heathen Europe also celebrate this time of year, in one way or another. In Sweden, Walpurgis is celebrated with bonfires and the use of fresh greenery to decorate doorways and windows. Here the use of a pole at Midsummer is similar to that of a May Pole. In Finland it’s festival time, and in Ireland and Scotland it’s time for Beltane – another festival celebrated with bonfires and greenery.

May poles were Heathen long before the schools and churches took up the dance. These poles might be associated with the world tree Yggdrasil and certainly reflect the magic of the Vanir Gods and Goddesses. Sometimes a pole would be collected, receive various degrees of decoration, and then be erected in a prominent area as a group effort. Today May Poles in Germany are sometimes made of metal and the decoration often reflects some of the businesses in town; older poles were made of trees with evergreen being a popular choice. In older times poles might also be kept year after year while in other places they might be placed into the evening bonfire.

For the Heathen Household deciding how to observe Walpurgis Night and May Day should start with a look into folklore and realizing there is no “one way” and that our own ways of observing the turning of the seasonal wheel should grow and change with our knowledge.

For Walpurgis Night enjoy a bonfire, either outside around a fire pit, inside at the fireplace hearth or if these options aren’t available light a candle or two or three. Then spend some time in meditation or tap into whatever Heathen mystical pursuits you favor with the goal of accessing information about the future.

Then on May Day scare away any bad luck or ill-meaning wights from the homestead. At dusk start a bonfire, use friction or flint if you can, pull out your bulls’ horn or cow bells, or anything else you think might startle and scare away those wights. Perhaps fall back on a Yule tradition and cleanse the home with the fire by carrying it around to clear out negative energy and wights, either inside, outside or both.

Then later on the first day of May, when others can join you, celebrate with a May Pole Dance. This year the full moon falls on May 9 and our small but growing group of neighborhood Heathens will gather here on that day. Neighbor being an operative word; if they think the drive is worth it then they are neighbors! The neighbors will bring great food and drink and the excitement of gathering with others, which will be as genuine as it was generations ago. Later we’ll all grab a ribbon or two and dance round the pole, with a dip and a rise, a dip and a rise. The dance seems almost an imitation of the sun and moon as they dip and rise through the seasons of earth. The friendships, the folkways, the turning of the seasons, all bring the magic of the old ways back into our lives. Enjoy the magic; it’s a medicine better than any pill.

~Teresa “Hedgewife” Luedke

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The narrative subject for the Fall issue of Hex is…What I learned from my grandparents. Send your experiences to These are due on the Summer Solstice.

I am opening an invitation to participate in a collection that will go up on the new website called Altared Spaces. I am trying to collect a series of photographs of people’s altars and also spaces or environments that have been altered to make a sacred space. There is currently no due date, you can just send photos with a brief description, and your name to:

Thank you all for your continued support and involvement with Hex!

~ cheers, Arrowyn

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• FEHU •

Old English Rune Poem
Feoh (Money) is a comfort to humans all;
But each one should deal it out abundantly,
If he wants before the Lord to chance judgement.

Old Icelandic Rune Poem
Fe (Money) is kinsman’s quarrel
And flood-tide’s token
And necromancy’s road.

Old Norse Rune Poem
Fe (Money) causes kinsmen’s quarrel;
The wolf is reared in the forest.

~ Rune poem translations by Sweyn Plowright

April 30 and May 1 are a very magical moment in the year. These days exemplify the magic of liminality, of in-betweenness. In a way, the power of April 30 lies in its transition into May 1 – and vice versa.

Can you stand with feet in two different worlds, one there and one here, all at once? You can at this moment of the year, this night where the doors to all the worlds hang open, seducing and enticing us into their mysteries. And helping us to grasp the mysteries of our own world, Midgard, in the process.

Of course one of the most provocative of all the mysteries of this world is that of Fehu – of money.

Money is a source of both comfort and conflict. To me it is movement, it is change perfected. It promises (and loves to also dash) the fleeting hopes of absolute security and safety that obsess so many of us. How ironic that we root our dreams of certainty on something so inherently fickle.

We easily fool ourselves into thinking that money can shield us from every ambiguity, mystery, suffering and harm. With luck, though, we can allow the binary magic of Beltaine/May Day to wrench us from this hazy delusion.

Money is very much a this-worldly concern. Without sufficient wealth (be it in goods or coin) we risk death or misery. To lazily paraphrase Odin in Havamal: it makes a man’s heart bleed when he has to beg for his meat. I know its true, too – I’ve lived that gore-soaked story just as I’ve lived through times of plenty.

But money is also a comfort, especially to those who share it with a spirit of abundance.

When we give away our fear of mystery, of suffering, of lack, we might just find that the cloth of goodwill our generosity weaves is far warmer than the most expensive coat. We might find that the good words spoken of our names win us more weal than our greed ever could.

Money, like all energies and all metaphors, is cyclical. To get some you have to give some; you have to weave yourself into the endless flows of wyrd.

When quarrelsome greed gets involved we seek to isolate ourselves; yet give away your linear lust for gold and you might find yourself free to actually enjoy what you have – and with this joy who knows what other possibilities might offer themselves up?

Fehu, then, represents a quickening, a fresh blush of life and magic and hope. Someone with Fehu in their life can feel rich no matter how poverty-stricken they are. Whereas no amount of money can protect us from a miserly mindset.

Now, at this time in the world, this rune offers us a reminder not to be intimidated by the material shortages bursting into being all around us. We can call on inner and otherworldly resources; marvellous new lives await us if we have the guts to create and live them.

Nor are we condemned to isolation in seeking to create new lives, lives made to prove that humanity was not made to suffer but to bloom. The rune poems issue a clear warning: let us not allow our fear to divide us into petty squabbles.

According to game theory, when people work together they utilise resources more efficiently and so there is more to go around; whereas when we endlessly compete we waste vast energies on our conflict and thus there is little left at the end of our struggles for us to enjoy.

We might have to give away some of our assumptions around the notion that selfishness is always the best road to wealth. Of necessity did the pre-modern cultures of European antiquity live in a co-operative and collaborative spirit.

Fehu warns us not to fall into the unheilige circumstance of fruitless struggle and dwindling rewards. The doors to the other worlds are open. When Midgard is poor, the elves and dwarves and giants and gods and all the rest are always happy to share.

They know with deep clarity what we humans often forget – that what goes around comes around. April 30, of all nights, is the night to make an offering to our magical and liminal cousins. Offer them food or poetry, certainly; but offer them also your fear, your greed or your confusion. They’ll appreciate your trust and honesty.

Co-incidentally, April 30 is my birthday. I was born on the most liminal night of the year and I often think I am a changeling child, an elf swapped for a human at birth (or even before).

Hence this rune, for me personally, is sending a clear message – embrace the rich tapestry of Midgard’s web and you’ll be far richer than any fear-filled, isolated miser. As I like to tell those I love: The World Wants You.

I owe a song or three to my gods and ancestors for this timely shot of wisdom. I’ll plant one foot here and one foot there and let the torrents of life pour through me from each to the other.

* * * * * *

Sautéed Fiddleheads

1 lb. fiddlehead ferns
2 garlic cloves
1/4 C butter
2 T chopped parsley (or what I used was nettles)
salt and pepper to taste

Trim brown ends off the fern shoots and wash them in cold water, pulling off the papery brown skin – this step is important otherwise they might be a bit too bitter. Drain and pat dry. Mince the garlic. In a large skillet melt half the butter over medium-low heat. Add the ferns and turn up the heat to medium. The ferns should sizzle, but don’t let the butter burn. Cook for about 5 minutes, tossing and stirring the ferns. Add remaining butter, garlic, and parsley. Continue cooking for another minute or two, covered, until you can smell the garlic and ferns are tender. Season and serve immediately. (4 to 6 servings) recipe adapted from a farmer’s market printout.

Fiddleheads are the coiled spring cluster’s of ferns. Most used are lady, ostrich, and shield ferns. Do not use bracken fern as it has been suspected of causing stomach cancer. In North America, you can find them in moist woods, lowlands, and stream banks from Alaska to British Columbia and down to California – and even farmer’s markets around here! Fiddleheads are high in iron, potassium, and vitamins A, B, and C.

~ Arrowyn Craban

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Hex will again be sponsoring the Blackened Cascadian Folk night at the Northwest Folk Life festival this year in Seattle. Last year’s performance was a great success, and we are excited to repeat it.

Blackened Cascadian Folk
Friday May 22nd, 6:00 – 9:00 PM
The Vera Project

At the Head of the Woods
Skybound Newe Age Psychedelia

Archaic Heathen Folk

Hail / l’Acephale
Blackened Folk Outsider Metal

American / Tuvan Throat Singer

Apocalyptic Atavism

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Hex needs your help! This is a community-supported not-for-profit publication. You can support us by clicking the link above and ordering magazines and prints, and spreading the word to all like-minded folk!

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Until Summer Solstice, may you and your
household be blessed and kept. Hail!

~ HEX Magazine

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