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Beltane is upon us and we are greeted with the reminder of the Earth’s enduring powers of renewal.
we remember that we are still in community, that we can still reach out, create art, send letters, write love songs, and notice what is thriving in the world.
May 1 Beltane/Mid-Spring: planting, fertility, sexuality—May Day (Euro-American), Wulpurgisnacht/Valborg (German and Scandinavian), Root Festival (Yakima), Ching Ming (Chinese), Whitsuntide (Dutch), Goddess Festivals: Aphrodite (Greek), Venus (Roman), Lada (Slavic).
Traditional pagan Celtic / Northern European holy days start earlier than the customary Native / North American ones—they are seen to begin in the embryonic dark phase: e.g., at sunset, the night before the holy day—and the seasons are seen to start on the Cross Quarter days before the Solstices and Equinoxes. In North America, these cardinal points on the wheel of the year are seen to initiate the beginning of each season.
Amaterasu © Hrana Janto 1991
Solstices are the extreme points as Earth’s axis tilts toward or away from the sun—when days and nights are longest or shortest. On equinoxes, days and nights are equal in all parts of the world. Four cross-quarter days roughly mark the midpoints in between solstices and equinoxes.
Seasonal celebrations of most cultures cluster around these same natural turning points.
The Great rite, the Greening time. The trees shape-shift the land before our eyes like conjurers pulling miniature leaves out of their cuffs. So not cowed by ecocide nature blossoms and burgeons beyond every horizon in the usual way we can never catch up. Rising in love under skies bluer than euphoria we leap the bel-fire into summer.
Joy establishes an easy rhythm for us to expand into. After weeks of nurturing, we relax our watchfulness to let our plants, projects and care-lings become sky born in their own time.
We make love all night in the woods and fields to the parts of our feral, sensual selves we had forgotten about, find a patch of earth for our dance of atavistic ecstasy, wash our faces in May morning dew, bring back an armful of blossoms to decorate our windows.
When we least expect her, Sheela na gig appears flashing her genius at the global elites who are destroying the Earth, showing us how to harness our powers of irreverence, resilience and mischief.
—Debra Hall © Mother Tongue Ink 2021
Helixical Flame © Miss Ascentia 2005
Beltane Rituals Around the World
Beltane also known as May day is a pagan ritual celebrating the height of spring. A cross quarter day celebrating the halfway mark between Spring Equinox and Summer Solstice.
Bonfires have been a part of beltane rituals for generations, dancing around fire and rejoicing in the wonders of the season.
Beltane in Celtic means "lucky fire."
Life is literally a fire burning in our bodies. Our biology magically takes in energy in tiny increments so we don’t ignite. Still, it’s a wonder more of us don’t just spontaneously burst into flames!
In wars, in forests, in collapsed nuclear reactors, even freak fires in the arctic? What about depression—not enough creative fire, soul fire, wemoon fire, to bring balance and healing to offset the devastation? No way to get there from here?
Dances around the Maypole are traditional for Beltane. And many marraiges take place during this time with some older rituals involving couples jumping over a broom to mark their union.
She is gracing us with her rays late into the day and teasing us with cloudbursts and rainbows. The new growth of green buds stimulates growth within ourselves.
Dig deep in the dirt and within yourself to carve out space for new challenges and insights. Dance in the golden light of sunshine welcoming this new time of abundance and magick. May your gardens be fruitful and your soul rivers flowing sweetly.
Beltane Love from the We'Moon Creatrix Team
What Was Given © Robin Lea Quinlivan 2009
Inner fire, hearthfire, community fire, sexual and fertility fire of people, animals, plants, the land.
Newborns of the body or imagination conceived on Beltane are “Merry Begots,” full of enough aliveness, love, joy, humor to confound the toughest logic and direst doomsday predictions.
—Miriam Dyak © Mother Tongue Ink 2015
Amaterasu (Japenese): Sun Goddess
Oya (Yoruba): A warrior-queen of thunderstorms, lightening, forces of nature
Aphrodite (Greek): Goddess of Love and fertility
Venus (Roman): Goddess of Love
Lada (Slavic): Goddess of Beauty and Fertility
Freya (Norse): Love, fertility, war and death
We celebrate the Maiden or Maen (an alternative word for this life-phase for those who do not resonate with the term Maiden) in the month of April and Menarche in May. We create this distinction to unlearn the trance of equating Maidenhood with reproduction and sexuality, focusing instead on sacred Desire.
This is a good time to journey or quest, learn new skills, practice the balance of self-care and care-giving. We seek the inspiration raging in our guts—our genius—that which is ours alone to manifest. Ask the Maens and Maidens in your life, and within yourself:
(art credit: Making Light © Autumn Skye Morrison 2008
We respond to both sunlight and moonlight through the magical science of hormones and the pineal gland—“the seat of the soul.” Our hormones dance and flow in synch with these large forces of nature. This cycling is a built-in mechanism for renewing mental and physical health, taking us inward and outward, to release what no longer serves us.
Women responded to their Blood Cycle by going within to listen, then coming out to share with their tribes what they experienced in their monthly “vision quest.”
I ask women to sit with this remembering. There is science involved in this magic, but it is magic first.
The natural and personal cycles are One. We become She Who Cycles. Now that is something to tell a young woman on the day of her First Bloods!
Kim Duckett © Mother Tongue Ink 2016
My juicy lover
Your long silhouette of elegance
Mirrors my own rhythmic dance
Sometimes bending furiously
Other times bending gently
Always in perfect balance
with your own inner tune
I see you, I feel you
Your wide veins exposed
Carrying the sacred fires of life
Your sturdy branches
Sheltering home for my soul
I feel your benevolent heart
In the softness of your moss next to my skin
Caressing me tenderly
You and I
We are of the same kinship
One lifeblood, one family
Infinity of roots
Spreading riot through the world
Quickening its pulse
You and I
One breath—Rhythmic dance
Cathedrals of hope
Entwined Sisters, lovers of hope
With first waking of the day
And sleep in my eyes
I inhale your moist fresh dew
Tasting aliveness and potency
My faithful companion
My juicy lover
My wild inspiration
— © Durdica M. 2018
Could we soften? Could we surrender? Say what we find edgy out loud? Could we have safe enough spaces? To keep exploring, to heal, to grow? To learn about our true purpose, our beauty, our gifts, our power?
If we had trust in one another, could we share more?
If we had trust in one another, could we know we are always held? That our voice matters too?
Could our bodies be softer?
Could our tensions be eased?
Could we see
the solutions we need
in our personal
and collective life?
And share them freely
If we had
in one another,
how would we walk
in the world?
— © Sophia Faria 2019
Joyful time of flowers, softening the world; the chains of winter are broken. Break your symbolic bindings by planting seeds. As these seeds unclench in the darkness, ask what choices can you make in response to the needs of this sacred moment?
What is it that you value and how can you align your life with that? In simpler times, communities gathered to jump over fires in the fields and participate in the great round of fertility.
Listen to the voices of the universe saying YES—the sun shines, the birds sing, the flowers bloom.
The purpose of the universe is to celebrate the delight of its existence. May that inspiration hot-wire us into the living voltage of the Mother Renew your life with others.
What we long for is relationship with other beings; it's the only thing that cures this massive alienation. Lying on the back in the woods, see how the trees lift themselves in a circle.
Reach out and extend your circle. Community, the geography of Somewhere, is the We that balances the Me. Women know this, in the compass of our bones.
— Oak Chezar © Mother Tongue Ink 2019
...And So much more!
Denise Kester (Ashland, OR) is a mixed media printmaking artist, renowned teacher and founder/artistic director of Drawing on the Dream, an art distribution company. Announcing the new book Drawing on the Dream—Finding My Way by Art. drawingonthedream.com
Durdica M. (Surrey, UK) Becoming worn out by life, she received a call in 2008. It guided her into depths of her underworld. She recognized it as a catalyst to begin reclaiming her authentic feminine power and true voice which she longs to share with other women.
Kimberly Webber (Taos, NM) Priestess of painting, alchemy and bees. Advocate for the Divine Feminine, personal freedom, youth, pollinators, biodiversity, animals, oceans, forests. Planter of flowers and corn. Pollinator of empowerment. Amplifier of hope. Kimberlywebber.com
Oak Chezar (Jamestown, CO) is a radical dyke, performance artist, Women's studies professor, psychotherapist, writer, & semi-retired barbarian. She lives in a straw bale, womyn-built house. She just published Trespassing, a memoir about Greenham Common Womyn's Peace Camp. Whilst working & playing towards the decimation of patriarchy & industrial civilization, she carries water. email@example.com
Maeanna Welti (Portland, OR—unceded Chinook Land) is a writer, astrologer and witch. She is the author of the Healing Witch Samhain to Samhain workbook. Maeanna offers readings, coaching, support for ancestral and personal healing, and teaches astrology and the fundamentals of witchcraft.
Sophia Faria (Salt Spring Island, BC) is a sex educator, retreat facilitator and writer. Her private practice and home are on Salt Spring Island. She supports individuals and couples on their sexual healing journeys and co-creates nature based retreats for women.
Samhain, also known as Hallowmas or the Witches New Year, is always held on October 31st. A time when the veils thin. It is believed the barriers that normally hold steadfast between our world and other worlds become less stable during this time of year, letting us walk with spirits and ancestors long passed.
The shortest day, the longest night, the stars brought closer by the primordial dark. In this moment the ancient stirs in us, illuminating our heart's deepest chambers, renewing our strength to challenge the injustices we were born into, born to stem.
The triumph of light peaks, slides slowly to dissolve. This is the tipping point for everything: democracy, misogyny, racism, climate, freedom. All are on a cliff edge. We've reached the neon-bright entrance to The Great Turning. Change is the only thing that doesn't change. Are we ready?