Holy days fascinate me… the turning of the Wheel, changing of the seasons, cycles of the moon… noting and tracking which cultures revere which celestial bodies and terrestrial transitions enough to celebrate them time and again.
Most Neo-Pagans follow the Wheel of the Year, which is comprised of eight spokes: four for the solstices and equinoxes, four demarcating the halfway points between them. Some traditions will say the solstices and equinoxes are most holy, others the quarter marks. Some will say the solstices and equinoxes mark the beginning of each season, others will say they are the pinnacle of their season. (I personally tend toward the latter camp, on both accounts, though I rarely comment on it.)
Tuesday, May 1st marks Beltane. May Day. A day of festivities and frolicking and fertility. Children dance and weave about the May Pole. Adults jump the fires and slip quietly, or boisterously, two by two into the shadows. The Horned One, Cernunnos, finds his Bride and their joining blesses the land with plenty. For me, this marks the beginning of summer. The Sun is establishing Himself strongly in the sky, and the Earth is awake, vibrant, buzzing. Yes, some vestiges of soggy, sludgy spring remain, we are still technically in Her domain, but the shift is palpable. It’s pulse, unmistakable. The momentum hurtling us toward long, hot days is unmistakable. And the veil is, arguably, at its thinnest. Only rivaled by Samhain, Beltane’s counterpoint on the Wheel. Beltane sings in, through the veil, the sweet souls ready to be brought forth into this world. Though not all babies are conceived on Beltane (obviously), the intentions set at this time reverberate throughout all dimensions and realms, and call them in, inviting them to conception at the perfect time. Samhain is when souls crossover, back into the realm beyond.
Part of the dynamic phase of Spring’s Maiden is Her sexual sovereignty. The Maiden, the Virgin, is not necessarily celibate. She is simply unbeholden unto another (man). At Imbolc She rises up from the frozen depths of the Underworld, and declares Herself autonomous and free as the gusting winds She reigns over. It is at Beltane that She acts upon Her sexuality. She chooses. She CHOOSES to lie with the Horned One. To alchemize. For pleasure, yes, and for the betterment of the land, the people. Her people. It is this shift in focus that allows her to transition into Mother in the coming weeks. Beltane is powerful for this very reason: CHOICE. What will you choose?
This Beltane, contemplate that with which you wish to carry within you, that with which you wish to birth forth into reality. That with which you are willing to invest your heart, body, and soul into. Be it a child or a project— that which is conceived at this holy time will take much from you, it will demand, and command that you change into something else. A new version of yourself yet undiscovered. The Mother is born the day her child draws its first breath… before that it is a dream. Are you ready to shift from Maiden into Mother? We enter that phase with the summer solstice, Litha, in six weeks… just about the time one would realize they’re with child. Let your revelries reflect this potential.