Monday, 30 April 2012

the power of may's eve

The potency of the life force is celebrated today in the Pagan festival of Beltane. Themes of fertility, accelerating growth and movement surround this time of year which was traditionally the beginning of the 'merry month' when people dressed in green to celebrate the earth's new colour. The wisdom and essence of male and female energy is bonded and shared under the Beltane influence, generating more power - power for self-discovery, power for success (both personal and communal) and power for the increased understanding and appreciation of our environment. As a Pantheist I also believe that Beltane and other festivals that encourage reverence of the earth and our surroundings can also be an essential opportunity to think of ourselves as part of nature and not as a species divorced from it or ultimately responsible for it. The ruling element for Beltane is fire, the element of transformation, purification and rebirth. The productive and destructive energies of fire are equally important to consider and the notion of fire as a tool for clearing a path way can help us to consider where the rest of the year is going to take us and what our plans are. Mental clarity can be sought after and promoted here, as well as the drive towards forward motion, dynamism and tenacity.

Over the past few days I have been considering good ways to mark this turning point in the year, which brings to mind the true meaning of the word 'potential', as it marks the beginning of the most potent part of the seasonal cycle. 'Back in the day' May's eve was a time to explore the woodlands after dark. People walked the labyrinths and slept by the wells and streams beneath the stars. Ribbons were tied to the trees with wishes and blessings said for the coming abundance. And there aren't many who don't know about the Maypole dance to symbolise the fusion of male and female energy. Honouring unions of all kinds reminds us of the harmonious balance in all things and the way in which cooperation and mutual respect brings many benefits.

- Fire leaping is a particularly grand May's Eve tradition. I have done this a fair few times at Pagan moots and it's actually rather an exhilarating experience, although you have to be careful! Build a small fire and, either individually or in pairs, jump it whilst focusing on something of importance such as union with others or intention for the coming month. You can sing, chant, talk and drink around the fire and if you choose to jump, you can say a few words about your goals and desires or honour your union with a partner or friend.

- Staying out all night is a May's Eve tradition with a big spiritual kick to it. How often do we really allow ourselves to disappear fully into the world around us? How much more visceral might the experience be if we dedicate ourselves to it at dusk and keep exploring it until dawn? Get together with friends or family and enjoy a night outdoors. Watch the sun rise.

- Vows and pledges of all kinds are appropriate at Beltane. Not only do they strengthen our resolve and renew our intentions towards each other, they can also be used to confirm ways in which we will honour ourselves and our surroundings. Ritual is a good way to bring meaning and significance to a pledge. Lighting a candle or sitting in quiet meditation before saying the words of your pledge aloud might be a good way to make it feel like a real turning point for you.

- Making sacred objects affirms the idea of Beltane as a time of potential and fertility. Growth and movement are paramount at this time and they reflect the behaviour of the changing year which is now regenerating and readying itself for deep summer. Making jewellery, medicine bags, totems, food, paintings, dream catchers or divinatory tools will capture the spirit of the moment and infuse its memory with lasting power.

Merry Beltane!