Happy Beltane! Your guide to observances and Beltane in popular culture

Posted by Eric Brightwell, April 30, 2013 01:34pm | Post a Comment
Happy Beltane!

Queen Guinevere's maying by John Collier, 1900
John Collier's Queen Quinevere's maying (1900)

Tonight at sundown begins Beltane (also spelled Beltain, Bealtaine, Bealltainn, Boaltinn, and Boaldyn), a Gaelic holiday marking the beginning of summer (which in the Gaelic calendar takes place at the midpoint between the spring equinox and summer solstice). Historically it was observed throughout the British Isles.

Sanas Cormaic
Detail of Sanas Cormaic

Beltane is mentioned in some of the earliest surving medieval Irish literature (eg. Sanas Cormaic and Tochmarc Emire) . It was one of the four Gaelic seasonal festivals along with Imbolc, Samhain, and Lugnasadh. but was, not surprisingly, attacked by intolerant Christians. By the mid-20th century, Beltane observances had almost died out although there have been efforts to revive it.

Betlane observers (image source: Twilight Language)

On Beltane rituals were undertaken to ensure a good year in the fields. This was done with the burning of bonfires through which farm animals would be driven. According to 17th century historian Geoffrey Keating, animal sacrifices were made to the god, Beil, on the the hill of Uisneach in Ireland. Additionally, farmers led processions around their fields whilst carrying grains, farm implements, Beltane well water, and vervain or rowan. Rituals were performed along the way at each of the four cardinal points of the compass.

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Nature's a language, can't you read? -- Seasons in the Southland

Posted by Eric Brightwell, November 20, 2012 03:45pm | Post a Comment

While I caution anyone attempting to make generalizations about a group as diverse and large as the 13 million or so people known as “Angelenos,” I have nonetheless made a couple of observations about a much smaller subsection, my Los Angeles friends, that I have to assume share more widely-held views with Angelenos with whom I'm not personally acquainted. Just one example; as far as I can tell, only in Los Angeles do people say things like “only in LA” about things that happen pritnear everywhere.

In this entry I'd like to address and reflect upon another completely nonsensical but widely held view – that Los Angeles (and presumably at least the entire Southland and possibly all of SoCal) has no seasons or weather.

Los Angeles's The Byrds weighing in on seasons...


View of Griffith Observatory and Downtown Los Angeles

As far as most people are concerned, temperatures in Los Angeles are usually quite pleasant. The daytime average is 24 °C (75 °F). The warmest days rarely exceed 32 °C (90 °F) and rarely dip below 15°C (59 °F). When temperatures deviate from this narrow comfort zone, legions of thoroughly-spoiled (and acclimated) complainers express their indignation on various social media and to their friends. As someone who has truly suffered through 48 °C (118 °F) heat and -42 °C (-44 °F) I have little sympathy for our weather whiners -- we have it so easy!

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out this week, 8/29 & 9/6: Beirut...Blood Orange...Doug Benson...Jacuzzi Boys...The Rapture...

Posted by Brad Schelden, September 22, 2011 06:44pm | Post a Comment
Hello friends! Sorry it has been so long since I have updated you with all the big new releases that have been coming out these last couple of weeks. It has been an intense couple of weeks of new albums! Almost too much for me to handle. I just don't know what to listen to. Which albums do I devote my time to when there are so many to choose from. It is hard to believe. But September is almost over. Summer is pretty much over. The kids are back in school. And Halloween and Christmas are right around the corner. But before we get into holiday craziness, we still have some time to enjoy these amazing albums that have been coming out in August and September.

has finally put out a new album! Zachary beirut Condon, the genius behind Beirut, has been putting out amazing albums since Gulag Orkestar in 2006. This was followed by The Flying Club Cup which ended up somewhere on my best of the year list in 2007. He released March of the Zapotec in 2009. But this new album Rip Tide is really the third official full album by Beirut. I always looks forward to anything this guy puts out. The albums always sound like there are 20 people are playing on them. It has the depth of a Arcade Fire album but not as frenetic. His albums are more laid back. Perfect summer albums. I can imagine laying out by the pool with my fancy cocktail listening to this new album. If I did that sort of thing. This is not the kind of album I listen to while driving. Although I imagine it would be nice if you were all alone on some country road driving on some beautiful windy road. It is really never too late to fall in love with Beirut. This is some beautiful stuff. Great album to fall in or out of love to. But you will most certainly fall in love with the voice of Zach Condon! Beautiful stuff.

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out this week, 8/16 & 8/23: the war on child...the muppets...

Posted by Brad Schelden, August 26, 2011 04:41pm | Post a Comment
In case you have not noticed, we are currently in the middle of Summer. It was like a billion degrees yesterday and it is a billion degrees today. I do love LA weather but I do also love complaining about the Summer. I love our mild Winters down here. And I do absolutely love the summer nights in Los Angeles. But I could do without the crazy hot summer days. I do know that as a planet we need the sun. So I have come to learn to love it over the years. But the goth in me still usually shields myself from the sun. More importantly I love all the things associated with Summer. I love the big summer blockbusters in the movie theater. I love the months of October through January and all the holidays associated with those months. And I love all these summer and fall albums coming out. August through November is an amazing time for music releases. All the labels are rushing to get albums out before the holidays. Just like the movie studios are rushing to get their best movies out at the end of the year for the Oscars. I guess it always depends on what you are into musically. But for me, there is a ton of my favorite bands putting out new albums in these next couple of months.

Secretly Canadian has just released the new album by The War on Drugs last week. It is called Slave Ambient. I am still working my way around this album. There is no denying it is a great album. But I just have not had been able to give it the time that it deserves. This is the former band of the amazing Kurt Vile. But they are most certainly still a band without him. I am still not done with his most recent album Smoke Ring For My Halo. It is one of my favorites from the first half of the year. I will warn you. The album is a downer. But sometimes you need that kind of album to get your through the day. The new Tame Impala album Innerspeaker was also finally released domestically on CD and LP last week. There is also a 2CD Collector's Edition coming out next week on the 29th. This will be the first time that this deluxe edition is available. The most recent album by Hercules & Love Affair was also released domestically last week. It is called Blue Songs. Their first self titled album featured vocals by Antony Hegarty. It is probably what helped to make the album as popular as it was. It ended up being my favorite album of 2008. But you should not be worried that Antony is not featured on this new album. The album is just as good as their first album. Plenty of electro jams to help get you through the end of Summer. I really love these guys and so should you. Maria Taylor has also just released a new album. You may know and love Maria Taylor from the band Azure Ray. This is her fourth official solo album. 

Amoeba Berkeley Summer Sidewalk Sales!

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, June 28, 2011 12:41pm | Post a Comment
Beginning on Saturday July 9 and Sunday July 10, Amoeba Berkeley will hold weekend CLEARANCE sidewalk sales in front of the store from 12-7pm. Come on down for some great deals on LPs, CDs, and DVDs. Sales will run every weekend through the summer. All genres will be represented and lots of steals to be had!

    Berkeley Sidewalk Sale
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