03 May 2013

Belated Beltane

Well, I was going to have a nice blog post all about shadow work on Beltane ready to go for Wednesday, but then I caught a very annoying cold and decided to watch television instead.  However, some groups still celebrate Beltane on the 5th of May (Old Beltane) so I don't feel too badly.

In general, Beltane is all about sex, fertility, growth, and color.  It's definitely the most uninhibited holiday we Pagans have, with giant phalli abounding and folks going off for "alone time" in the forest.  Traditional symbols like the Maypole, bonfires, and fresh flowers are all about the explosion of new life and the sympathetic magick of human fertility inspiring crops to be equally fertile.  It's about as un-shadowy as you get.  Of course, there is Walpurgisnacht on April 30th to counterbalance all that sex and joy (Walpurgisnacht is sort of a mini-Samhain).

Much as I do love Walpurgisnacht and doing ritual while listening to Night on Bald Mountain by Mussorgsky, this year I wanted to actually celebrate Beltane.  Wellesley's been in my thoughts a lot of late, with the marathon bombing and my upcoming 10 year reunion, and Beltane was always a big deal for us there.  We'd wake up before dawn and go around the lake to do ritual while the sun rose and then have a big celebratory breakfast.  We'd make May Baskets (paper cones filled with candy and flowers) and give them to our friends.  My senior year we went all out and had a maypole in front of the chapel and a massive bonefire by the lake.  The Beltane is one of my favorite memories of undergrad and I still have the picture of all of us in front of the maypole up on my altar.  This year I really want to recapture some of the joy from that day.

Since I spent the 1st asleep on my couch with a big box of tissues, this year I'm celebrating Beltane on the 5th.  It's supposed to be a stunningly nice day so I'm going to get myself out into the woods to hike up to Fragrance Lake.  I'm going to get up as early as I can make myself, since it's about 2.5 hours up to the trail head, and get out into the forest.  It's early enough in the season that the forest will still be dark and rather dank in the morning and will gradually get warmer as the sun rises.  I think the progression of the hike should nicely mirror the progression of the season and the heat and sunshine I'll get by the time I get up to the lake will be a wonderful reflection of the energy of Beltane itself.  Hiking is always meditative for me and I feel that it's fairly reflective of the old practice of going out into the woods to have a mystical experience. 

Maybe I'll swing through La Conner on my way south to see if any of the flowers are still blooming.

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