Beltane has always been one of my favorite times of year. The flowers, the sunlight, the colors, the celebrations, and the promise of summer in the height of spring. I can remember my first Beltane celebration, and I can remember the last… this day always leaves an imprint in my mind. I think that I associate this time of year with the promise of future growth, the kind of growth that is beautiful and full of laughter. While the dark half of the year brings about growth too, it is usually the kind I don’t like as much.
Spring is nice, the weather is fantastic and it is not too hot to be outside. The kids are excited to be out in the elements and tired of being stuck in the house after the rain; unless you live in California this year where we didn’t really get any. The sandals come out, the toes are painted, and the tattoos start to show. It is a great time to be enjoying the changes in the season, and Beltane is the perfect time to try out some of that energy.
I will skip the theological discussion here about Beltane, I think that there are other sources that are much more reliable in that area. The truth is, in the beginning of my path I found much more meaning in the Wiccan theology around the mating of the God and Goddess, and the resulting baby in her womb. That is not to say that it does not have any meaning at all for me now, but my associations with this time have outgrown the narrow box in which I originally started with. My body feels the turning of the wheel, the change in the energy that propels us to the next journey of the year. The associations of growing our dreams became the symbolic connection of this time for me, more so than those I started with.
Just this week I answered some questions on urbanizing and modernizing Paganism to fit today’s time and circumstance. When I was answering the questions for this college student, I realized how much of my practice has become a more integrated approach at spirituality than it was when I started. Today my practice is more about me, and less about what I have read in any book that delineated the right and wrong way of practice.
Beltane is a time of transition, a time of growing to the next level and crossing a threshold that each person works toward. In the high school I work at this time of year represents the completion of the current grade being in sight, and the pending transition to the next level of achievement. The kids become excited and anxious at the forthcoming accomplishments, and contemplating what the new year will hold for them. For some of the students, it is the last year of their high school, where they go out into the world and embark on the next journey; for most of them we hope that next journey is college. Whether it is college, a job, or neither, their lives change drastically and begin to unfold all over again.
I see life like this for all of us on this journey. Every year brings about another option to grow and reach goals previously not attainable. We shed the residuals of the previous calendar year in the end of winter, and look forward to the coming spring. Beltane brings with it the growing grass, the changing weather, the spurts of heat, the crisp air, and the visions of new life. And we do it again every year, and every year we reach a new plateau of life; it is a transition within the natural transition. Life’s graduations do not always look the same as high school, but the essence is the same. We celebrate the changing of the tides, the turning of the wheel, the chance at something new after the completion or closing of something else. We balance ending with new beginnings. Beltane is a time of new beginnings.
It is the promise of life that often walks me through the darkness of death.
In my field, I encounter what feels like the darkness all the time. Poverty, hunger, grief, sadness, drug addiction, and homelessness are some of the the continuous ailments I work with. And the continuous trauma and killing of young black and brown children are something that I will never get used to as a social worker. And when things are their hardest, I know in my being that the wheel will turn, and spring will come. It is that light that illuminates hope in the darkness.
And as I mentioned, Beltane is one of my favorite times of year.
There are plenty of ways that people celebrate Beltane, from elaborate rituals to simple daily ones, but the simple things are often forgotten. Here are a few ideas:
- Plant some seeds
- Renew your goals, write them out and put on your altar
- Cleanse your home to make way for the coming growth
- Spend some time outside in meditation
- Have a Beltane picnic with your family
- Make Beltane crowns with the kids and wear to embody the spirit of the season
- Prepare a feast with the kids of fresh fruits, foods, cakes, and juice
- Go to the farmer’s market
- Go out with your partner for a date
- Be in love
- Give love
Please don’t forget to dream. One of the best things about the promise of the turning wheel is that every moment is a new one, every dream becomes attainable, and every breath can bring peace and balance.
Blessed Beltane to everyone! Blessed is the return of hope, and love…. over and over again.