Sunday 1 May 2011

Beltaine: Snows of Winter, Heat of Summer

"What potent blood hath modest May." ~Ralph W. Emerson

Image from MySimpleLife blog
The first of May, May Day, Beltaine.  Fertility, sex, the light half of the year, the beginning of the reign of the Summer King, the celebration of spring and approaching summer.  A happy day, a party day, a day of sunlight and warmth.  Rebirth after the long winter.  All things bright and warm.  Buds and leaves on trees, bright green grass, flowers coming up.

My dog and my
hike yesterday
But I let the dog out at six this morning to find snow on the ground.  The wind was cold, the air chilly.  Not a bud on any tree.  The grass is still brown.  At least there aren't snow banks and below zero weather at noon like Beltaine last year.  It's hard to think of May Day as a time of rebirth when the land is still dead.  Hard to think of warmth, sunlight, coming summer, in the bitter wind.  Winter is dying here at 7200 feet in Wyoming, but it isn't dead yet, and Summer hasn't yet rose and is still a ways off.

I didn't do anything to celebrate, really, nor ritual, nor magic.  It was a day like any other.  I went to bed at five this morning and got up at six, since the dog wanted out, then kept whining in her crate.  I went out to the living room and let her out, then slept on the coach until after noon.  We went with a friend out for lunch and I had a Philly with no cheese (if it's still a Philly with no cheese).  We went to his house and played some video games.  We went home to let the puppy out, then went to some friends' house for a group of us that meet each week and ate there.  Then we came home and are watching Game of Thrones.  Nothing of Beltaine in any of that.

Image from Scenic Reflections
Wiccans and many neo-pagans celebrate Beltaine on the first of May, but not everyone does.  Nor do everyone celebrate it under that name.  Some, Christian or not, celebrate Roodmas, the Feast of the Cross, on May 3, though others in September.  There is a lot of esoteric symbolism associated with Roodmas, though I won't go into it here.  Others celebrate Beltaine on the astronomical midpoint between the equinox and the solstice, around the 5th or 7th of May, depending on the year.  To the Celts, Beltaine was the month corresponding to May, and was celebrated at the beginning of that month with a feast.  So the first of May, except of course, like with all things, that month doesn't line up with ours.  For some, it's the tides that matter, not a specific day.  In communist nations, the first of May is Labour Day, the day to celebrate workers, a very important thing in a communist society.  To the Romans, it was the celebration of Flora, Goddess of Flowers.  To the Roman Catholics, May is the Mary's month, and many celebrate May Day as a celebration of her.  Either way, this time of year was, and still is, important in many cultures.  There is a spiritual importance to this day or the time close to it, whether the importance came from the power in the time, or the time came from the power that has been at that time.

Image from
Arthurian Adventure
Beltaine, by whatever name, by whatever date, is a liminal point, especially in much of Europe, a point of transition, just as Samhaine is.  Many believe that on such days, the veil between this world and the Otherworld is thinnest.  It's a time when things can cross over.  This is important in tales of faeries.  It also is a time when things from this world can cross over easier.  It's a time of magic.

The seasons and the tides, solar, lunar, and stellar, pull on us.  They effect our emotions, they effect our minds, they effect our souls.  Our society today tend to try to ignore the natural rhythms, the pull of the tides on our souls.  We want to be in charge of our own destinies and try to do it by ignoring Fate.  But to ignore her is not to overcome her, but to put her manacles on us.

From MADD About You blog
Though I don't worship nature and "Mother Earth", I think we need to learn from and listen to her rhythms, to what she has to teach us.  Listen to when spring comes, and summer, and learn from the world around you, what sprouts when, what buds when.  How the snows of winter bring the water that allows the hay fields and prairie to grow.  And watch people.  My sister didn't believe the moon effected people until she became a teacher and found that the children were wilder at the full moon and calmer at the new moon.  We can learn a lot from the world around us, if we open our eyes and ears.

The answers to all things are in the Air - Inspiration, and the Winds will bring you news and knowledge if you ask them properly. The Trees of the Wood will give you power, and the Waters of the Sea will give you patience and omninesense, since the Sea is a womb that contains a memory of all things. ~Robert Cochrane, third letter to Joe Wilson

Image from SodaHead
Witchcraft isn't found in books and secrets.  It is there for anyone to learn, through sight, through hearing, through smell, through taste, through touch.  And through the senses beyond the physical.  There is nothing hidden that won't be revealed.  Let he who has eyes see.  Let he who has ears hear.

~Muninn's Kiss

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