Passing Time: BeltaneGuest Post, · Categories: Passing Time Rituals Series
meat_lord suggested I include the video for this song since it features a May Pole. I couldn’t say no, even though I always hated this song, have never taken enough drugs to appreciate the video (despite working at a Renaissance Festival for 19 years), and only realized after posting it here (and watching it again) that the awkward arm movement he repeatedly makes throughout the course of the song is, I think, meant to be the letter “S.”
Welcome to the third article in our rituals series. I went with the modern pagan wheel of the year calendar because several of us are familiar with it and it evenly breaks up the twelve months into manageable chunks of time. There will a mix of spiritual and secular practices and observations for each holiday–I can’t promise ahead of time if any will be weighted more one way or the other, but I’ll do my best to include something for everyone. I’ll post these the Wednesday before the holiday date. Thank you to the contributors! You are invaluable.
I don’t know about you, Manka-ites, but it feels like the Wheel of the Year is turning like someone’s playing Wheel of Fortune with it. It’s Beltane already.
In my cursory, Wikipedia-based readings, I’ve concluded that original flavor Beltane seems to have been primarily about cows and fire. Ancient (and not-so-ancient) Irish Beltane practices included driving your herd of cattle between two sacred bonfires in order to burn off any bad luck. Myself, when I hear “cows” plus “fire,” I think barbecue–and depending where you live and how the weather’s treating you, a Beltane barbecue might be just the ticket.
Beltane was traditionally the first day of summer in Ireland, and in most places I’ve lived, that has been accurate. From May 1st on out, the days get longer, the sun gets…well, sunnier, and I start my seasonal complaining about the heat. But at the same time, the change in the weather also brings back fond childhood memories of summer vacations spent playing outdoors. Perched in the big, climbable pine tree in my front yard, I invented the most wonderful worlds. I’d romp through in lush grass (not yet parched to straw by three months of drought), I constructed miniature villages out of twigs, brewed weird potions from the choicest leaves, and waged epic battles fought by My Little Ponies and plastic dinosaurs. Around this time each year, I remember the profusion of ideas my kid-brain cooked up and the sheer joy that I took in it all, and my imagination gets a boost, which is pretty appropriate.
Beltane and May Day traditions center on fertility too, not just on the banishing of misfortune by lighting big fuck-off fires. (For example, one only has to look at the popular interpretation of Maypoles as phallic symbols.) Celebrating fertility is something that I personally don’t grok, as an avowedly child-free individual who is terrified by human reproduction. Still, there’s a lot of benefit in focusing on fertility in a non-babymaking (or crop-growing) sense. Abundant creativity, free-flowing productivity, or budding friendships and relationships are all things to hope for/cultivate. And I would like to wish you all a bountiful crop of spoons!
As spring begins to ripen into summer, here’s a quick & easy ritual to promote good mojo and productivity:
- Pick an area of your life where you’d like to have more success, progress, or luck, or a goal that you’re trying to reach.
- Get two slips of paper, a fireproof container, and some matches.
- On one slip of paper, write down three obstacles that you’re facing. On the other, write down three things that would enable you to reach your goal. (Example: “I want to write more” gets “1. Depression 2. Tumblr 3. Work is eating my life.” vs. “1. Powerful bolt of inspiration 2. Figure out how to block myself from the internet 3. More writing time.”)
- Take the slip of paper with your obstacles on it. Burn that motherfucker. Consider the bad vibes dogging you banished, even if they don’t know it yet.
- Take the slip of paper with the things you need in order to succeed on it; this one gets to live. Put it somewhere where you’ll see it regularly and give the list a couple of days to marinate in your brain.
- (Optional) Feel free to Increase Witches as you so desire.
The process of identifying and physically writing down what would help you and what’s blocking your path can shake loose some ideas, while lighting your problems on fire provides catharsis. You may even be able to generate workarounds for situations that don’t initially seem to be in your control at all.
Good luck and good fortune, my fellow Manka-ites! Happy Beltane!