May Cross-quarter

30 04 2012

Today is a Cross-quarter.  That is, it is the midpoint between the previous equinox and the upcoming solstice.  As such, it is one of eight stations in our planet’s annual journey around the sun.

For those in the Northern Hemisphere, spring is well and truly come and summer is around the corner.  Flora is bursting to life even in the most northern climes, and fauna frolicks in the verdure.

Those in the Southern Hemisphere experience the opposite, as autumn passes into winter.

In the Northern Hemisphere, this time is traditionally celebrated in the Neopagan Wheel of the Year as Beltane.  The name derives from the Irish Gaelic Bealtaine or the Scottish Gaelic Bealtuinn, for “Bel-fire”, the fire of the god of light, Bel, Beli, or Belinnus.  Nichols (2009) asserts that on this day, Druids kindled the “need-fires” on beacon hills, and these had healing properties for those who leaped through them.  Cattle would also be driven between two such fires before being taken to their summer pastures.

Beltane is also reputed as a day of unabashed sexuality, visible in the phallic symbolism of dancing round the maypole and riding the hobby horse.  Other customs include “beating the bounds” of one’s property by walking its circuit (Nichols, 2009).

Glenys Livingstone of PaGaian, a naturalistic tradition revering the Goddess as a metaphor for the Cosmos, recommends the ritual celebration of beauty, as in the following call and response:

Celebrant: “Name yourself as the Beauty, whom She desires – the Beloved. Speak if you wish, of the Beauty that you are, or simply show us. Let us welcome your Beauty.”

Each one: (wording as you wish … this is a suggestive, and presenting object or photo of Beauty,or describing, as you speak: “I am this Beauty”. AND/OR “I am the Beauty of … . I am the Beauty whom She (the Cosmos/Universe) desires.“ (Put your object or photo on the altar)

Response: Welcome, we saw you coming from afar, and you were beautiful. We saw you coming from afar, and you are beautiful.  (Livingstone, 2008)

She also finds this a particularly appropriate time to use the well-known Charge of the Goddess as an invocation: “all acts of love and pleasure are my rituals.”

Jon Cleland Host of the Naturalistic Paganism yahoo group suggests making Maybaskets of flowers, running barefoot in the grass, washing one’s face in the morning dew, and writing romantic poetry.

Beltane can be timed to the Cross-quarter, or more traditionally to May 1st (May Day).

One Comment on “May Cross-quarter

  1. Here in the subtropics, summer is well and truly here. Well, pretty much. I think of this as the last festival of spring and the first festival of summer.

    I’d like to celebrate all the way from Walpurgisnacht to the astronomical moment which comes tonight at 9:13 p.m. our time.

    Happy Maying!

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