03 May, 2013

Beltane '13

Hey, Readers!

Beltane is a sabbat I have never really gotten to celebrate with a big event.

A few years ago, I have a video from Beltane where my friends and I were doing a Blitz theatre production, because it was on a weekend, and that took up my whole weekend. Last year on Beltane, I was in London at a museum. This year I was at my boyfriend's house, enjoying my time with him since he was only here for five days in between school sessions. I would have had an opportunity last weekend to participate in a small group ritual for Beltane, but they scheduled it on the only Sunday in April that I couldn't make it due to my boyfriend's visit and our lunch with some other friends from my church.

I know that the group's plan was to have a bonfire and hang prayer/wish ribbons on a bush, rather than having a full sized May-Pole. My friend offered to write my wishes on ribbons for me since I couldn't make it, but I didn't have her do so since I didn't have time to really think about what I would wish for, and would rather have done it in the moment myself. If I had been at home (Grams' house, instead of my boyfriend's house), I would have at least gone outside to meditate or something, or maybe gone to a local park. Since I was away from home, with really nothing at all and no special place of my own outdoors, I went without any formal celebration. Instead, I just spent various moments throughout the day thinking about the sabbat and what it means to me. (That, and I played the wonderful, humourous song, "First of May" by Jonathan Coulton, for my boyfriend and our friend who was visiting, hahaha.)

At the medieval faire--Not a maypole at the moment,
but this is the same pole and wreath set-up they have
used for maypoles in the past!
Beltane is a sabbat I associate mostly with the may pole (or other things involving weaving ribbons and symbols of unity), balefires/bonfires, and the "wedding" or union of the God and Goddess. It is a fertility festival, but this is not only literal in relation to human beings and animals--It is also the desire and intent for fertile fields and a plentiful harvest for the year. Spring is a time of beginnings, plantings, potential, and promise. It is a time of hope, but also active preparation. Beltane is often the time when many of us here in the northern hemisphere finally see and feel the spring weather which we welcomed and beckoned at Ostara, the vernal equinox. As such, this may be the time people feel the urge to "spring clean." In the wheel of the year, Beltane is the time when the God and Goddess unite, which some think of as their literal "marriage" in the sense we modern humans use the term, or merely their coming together sexually to promote fertility of the earth.

If I were to celebrate this festival a way I feel would be appropriate, I would want the following elements to occur:

  • Bonfire. Absolute must-have. And either a smaller fire elsewhere for people to jump over, or at least a time when the main bonfire is let low enough for jumping.
  • A maypole dance! That means several people celebrating together!
  • If not a maypole, then at least everyone would get ribbons to weave/tie together, wear, hang on branches, etc.
  • Possibly a play, with two people portraying the God and Goddess, dancing together. Some things I've read talk about crowning a May King and Queen. It's all symbolism to me, really, so however it works is fine by me.
  • If not a play or two specific people portraying the roles, then at least all involved having the basic idea of being a guest at a divine union of Universal balance.
  • Gardening. There will be flowers. Maybe even planting things.
  • Drum circle. Because they're awesome.
  • And then of course the more private symbolic celebration, not to be shared with the group. =)
As I said, Beltane is one of the sabbats I've never really gotten to celebrate, which is odd since I feel it's one of the easiest ideas for people to grasp or remember. But it's just never worked out! Still, even just taking some time to reflect on the significance of the moment is important to me--acknowledging the day and the season, not just letting it go by unnoticed. I think a lot of us struggle to find time for what people think of as "proper celebrations, rituals, etc." but that doesn't mean we do nothing at all. Not everything needs a full ritual. Not everything needs a whole group (though I do think celebrating sabbats is more fun with more people). And if everyday we live our connection to the land, nature, the Universe, and whatever we view as Deity, so much the better. Each holiday is no different than every other day we don't choose to mark with elevated significance, and each blends into the next, becoming not just important dates we cannot miss and those other days when we do whatever, but a solid string of solid, individual, holy days. It is merely helpful to take time every so often to stop, take stock of what's going on around us, and just to notice and honor it.

That said, I do look forward to Midsummer.


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