Today is the May Cross-Quarter. It is the midpoint between the spring equinox and the summer solstice. 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 Neo-Pagan Wheel of the Year as Beltane. The name derives from the Irish Gaelic Bealtaine or the Scottish Gaelic Bealtuinn for “Bel-fire”. Beltane is reputed as a day of unabashed sexuality, visible in the phallic symbolism of dancing round the Maypole.
Glenys Livingstone, author of PaGaian Cosmology, 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.
Glenys 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.”
NaturalPantheist, author of the Nature is Sacred blog, performs an ADF style ritual using the Solitary Druid Fellowship‘s liturgy format:
“As I stand here on this celebration of Beltane, the sacred wheel of the year continues to turn. As my forebears did, I do now, and so may my descendants do in time to come. The dark half of the year is over and Summer has begun. The earth is alive and the land is fertile. Leaves are once more upon the trees, flowers are blooming all around and insects are searching for pollen. Warmth has returned and it is the season of love and passion, the time of fire. I give thanks for the blessings of the earth mother.”
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.
thank you for the reference to PaGaian Beltaine.
re the “phallic” symbolism of the Maypole: that is really a modern reduction of the symbolism probably due to Freudian thinking. It is probably even a modern reduction to think that the wrapping of it is mainly about meiotic sexual creativity. The Maypole may be more deeply understood as representing cosmic/earth regenerative energy, with various valencies (meiotic sex being only one of them) … tree, spine, earth-cosmos connection. In the Language of the Goddess, Marija Gimbutas refers to column-like art and phallic motifs as “columns of life” and “cosmic pillars” (p. 221-235). Caitlin and John Matthews say: “the maypole, a comparatively recent manifestation in the history of mystery celebrations, can be seen as the linking of heaven and earth, binding those who dance around it … into a pattern of birth, life and death which lay at the heart of the maze of earth mysteries” (The Western Way, p.54). The dance around it involves both sunwise and counter-sunwise movement – creation and dissolution.
For more on this – my take on Beltaine Poiesis: http://pagaiancosmology.com/2013/10/25/beltaine-motifs-allurement-beauty-sight/