Beltane in the Otherfaith

Beltane in the Otherfaith April 25, 2021

Spring morphs into summer with bursts of heat and flushes of flowers. The green of the grasses brightens. The trees, once skeletal and reaching like spindly fingers to the gray sky, turn the hills into rolling swells of leaves and life.

The sun heats the earth and I glare up at it.

Ushering Summer In

Growing up in the Sonoran Desert, summer was my least favorite season. Hot and sun don’t agree with my own temperament, and the heat of the desert southwest makes life perilous. The Spring Equinox was one of my least favorite Sabbats while living in my hometown because it represented the shift from the nicer winter weather into the sweat-soaked hazy months of summertime. Beltane didn’t rank much higher in my mind.

In Germany, of course, everything is different. May Day arrives with its riot of colors, and the ill weather of wintertime is overtaken by warmth. The hottest days lay ahead of us, so we can enjoy the spring shift. The fields are tilled; the future harvest begins to rise up and reach for the heavens. Cherry blossoms have burst into their bright beautiful pink flowers and strewn the streets, and as May sweeps in their darker leaves add even more color to the blossoming villages.

I’ve not learned to love the heat, not yet, but welcoming summer in, stirring those energies up in my own body, becomes a lesson that the landscape here teaches me.

Otherfaith Summertime

Among some of the spirits I work with the year is divided into two: winter and summer. For them, summer begins at the end of March and lasts until the end of October. Summer is the active season. Bustling and riotous, endlessly creative, and potent, the Otherfaith spirits of summer are connected to flowers, rabbits, wind and fire, and bloodshed. The two groups of spirits I interact with most at this time are the Flower Maidens and Rabbit Troupe.

Photo by Raisa Nastukova on Unsplash

Flower Maidens

The Flower Maidens are rather self-explanatory. Humanoid spirits whose bodies are flowers, often with their limbs or faces or organs being actual blossoms. They were one of the first spirit groups I encountered when I began journeying with the Otherfaith spirits, and they made an immediate impression. I had expected them to look like typical flower fairies, after hearing them mentioned by my spirit partner and others. Instead, the Maidens I encountered were large – human-sized if not larger – and not at all like the cute Victorian fairies seen in many illustrations. Their eyes were beady and didn’t convey emotion, and they never spoke, not where I could hear them. They moved like leaves and branches in the wind, like vines curling up walls, like plants bent into an unfitting human shape.

It was clear they had no interest in glamouring themselves for human comfort.

The Maidens were – are – rather disinterested in me. Maybe they could tell I have a black thumb, or maybe their apathy was because I wasn’t the right sort of human to catch their attention. My impression is that they are concerned with the growing of plants, with the propagation of flowers and blooms, with all things green and growing, and any human who is disconnected from such work will be treated with an apathy I have found characterizes many fairy-like spirits. Their way of thinking, their behaviors, their essence is so divergent from our own human one that encountering them always leaves me feeling off-kilter. I become hyper-aware of my own humanity. It is not unpleasant; rather, it is a reminder of my own existence in the wider context of the world (and otherworlds), of humanity as simply another thread on the web of life.

Rabbit Troupe

While the Flower Maidens are a cohesive group of spirits – and a Flower Maiden, once born or made, will always be a Flower Maiden – the Rabbit Troupe is an eclectic mix of spirits that come together every summer to, well… Run wild through the streets of the otherworld, leaving chaos in their wake. And they’re one of my favorite groups of spirits in the Otherfaith.

The Rabbits are led by the Greater Spirit Alynah Blake. Alynah is one of the most powerful and potent spirits in the Otherfaith, with a huge host of animal and elemental associations and blessings and connections to many of our Gods. She’s big, she’s bold, she’s loud. She burst forth from her mothers fully formed, on one of the Otherfaith’s holiest days, with spirits already awaiting her arrival. All traits of summer can be found in her when she’s called upon during the summer months. Her energy is overflowing and explosive.

Her Rabbits are spirits who serve under her. The exact number and exact spirits that comprise the Rabbits changes year to year. But every summer they gather together to rush in summer with riotous, violent fanfare. The name for this group of spirits comes from the rabbit masks they wear during their revelries. They also share some typical rabbit associations, namely that of sex (or hypersexuality) and fertility. These spirits build up the heat of summer until it breaks in a frenzy of sweat and blood. My encounters with them have always been exhilarating. Terrifying. And very fun. They are unrepentantly wild.

Beltane, though?

But all of this is to say…we don’t really have Beltane in the Otherfaith. My Beltane celebrations are part of my Wiccish practice, not my Otherfaith one. So when May 1st rolls around, I’ll be scrambling to snag some morning dew and be glad that, at least this time, I don’t have to divide my focus between my different traditions.

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