Darach Dubh had our Beltaine ceremony this weekend, a week early in order to accommodate those of us who will be attending Spoutwood Fairie Festival next weekend (and that includes me! So if you’ll be there, say hi.)

Our fearless non-hierarchical leader Morgan* emailed me the day before the ritual to make sure I was going to bring the hawthorn for the offering. This prompted me to check to make sure I had some – I thought I did – but soon found that no, I didn’t. I turned to my main reference source – Google – to find an appropriate alternative and found that “oatcakes” are a traditional offering for this time.

I went from there to the bookshelf and found a recipe for “Beltaine Oatcakes” in a copy of Ellen Evert Hopman. I made them according to the recipe and came out with something sort of pancakey that, while it was tasty with butter and syrup, was not suitable for the ceremony. In that part of the ceremony, an offering is passed around, everyone takes some, each person says whatever prayers or thoughts or wishes they might have for the day, and then the offering is put in the fire or given back to the earth. The texture of the resulting oatcakes as made by the recipe was totally wrong for this – I might as well have asked them to take a handful of oatmeal. I played with the recipe a little and came up with an alternative that worked well in the context of the ceremony. With more time and some more tweaking, I think I could even make them pretty.

Here’s my recipe for Nettle’s Nontraditional Beltaine Oatcakes:

Take about a cup of oats (I used plain old Quaker Oatmeal) and grind it to flour (I used a coffee grinder.)  Add about a half-tablespoon of butter. Slowly add hot water and mix in – use enough hot water to make a doughy paste, and make sure the water is hot enough to melt the butter. Form the paste into flat little cakes and bake on a cookie sheet at 450 degrees for 5-8 minutes or until they just get a little brown around the edges.

This makes hard, bland little cookies that keep really well and can be easily passed around in a group setting or left out as offerings. I am thinking of trying it with milk and honey worked in, to make something a little tastier with fairy-pleasing ingredients. The dough also seems pretty workable and I might be able to make interesting shapes or symbols in the cookies.

I think that the ability to quickly and easily make little offering cakes is a good life skill to master, so I’ll work on this more this week and see if I can come up with the perfect recipe.I’ll update this post if I come up with something more interesting.

For more on our Beltaine ceremony, see Anne’s blog. (We found a riddle tree! Anne blogs about it.) For more on Darach Dubh, see our web page. Our purpose is to provide and open and welcoming place for anyone who wants to celebrate the Wheel of the Year in fellowship. We love to see new faces, so if you’re in the area, please come by! We’d love to meet you.

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*we are officially non-hierarchical and leaderless and everyone contributes but Morgan does lots of the heavy lifting to keep the grove going, such as emailing people to make sure they bring what is needed, and as such deserves any sort of acclamation I can give.

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