Throughout the Northern Hemisphere now is the time for planting seeds that bring forth food, flowers, and trees that feed our bodies, hearts and souls. For millennia, those living close to Mother Earth have blessed the seeds and fields, and prayed for strong crops and an abundant harvest.
In pagan cultures, particularly in Europe, this planting time is celebrated at the festival of Beltane (sometimes spelled Beltaine) on May Eve or May Day, April 30 or May 1. Not only is this a time of fertilizing the fields (both literally and symbolically), but it is a time of renewal as we transition from the harsh winter to the joyful summer.
In every village and town, a tall pole was erected, and dancers tied long ribbons to the pole, weaving in and out as they spun and danced around the pole, women moving in one direction, men in another, until the ribbons formed a beautiful braid of color.
Balefires were lighted on hillsides, and people and cattle ran through the smoke, clearing and clearing away disease and stagnation. Hearth fires were extinguished, the hearth cleaned, and the home fire relighted from the balefire.
The Goddess, in her Maiden form, takes the Horned God to be her consort on May Eve, and her symbolic pregnancy mirrors the fertility of the land until she gives birth to the Oak King at Yule in her Mother form. It is from this tradition that we now have legends of “Jack in the Green” or the “Green Man.” Most villagers took to the fields to make merry, to dance, frolic, and drink May wine, made with sweet woodruff.
In this “merry month of May” make yourself a crown of flowers, dance, sing, and celebrate the changing of the season, the coming of summer. Find gladness in your heart in gratitude for the brilliant sunshine, the million shades of green, the electric blue sky, and the gentle rains. Give thanks for the seeds that sprout to become nourishment for your body, and spend some time in meditation that feeds your spirit.
Join me this coming Saturday, April 30, at Mystic Elements, 6-8 pm to celebrate Beltane. Bring ribbon that is at least 21 feet in length if you wish to dance around the Maypole. This event is free, but you need to call Mystic Elements to register (910) 799-1001.