May 1st is the Celtic festival of Beltaine, the beginning of Summer.
Beltaine is one of those festival's everyone loves. It's all about re-birth and beauty, music and dance, nurturence and ecstasy , abundance and magic, fun and naughtiness, the ideal and the real. Masculine and Feminine Spirit come together in the Hieros Gamos (Sacred Marriage) so that life gets renewed again. During Beltaine's season, our sexuality becomes a sacred source of learning, of pleasure, of sensuality, of life, of creativity. And yet so many of us pass it by without participating in the celebration!
Rituals are always important, but even more so -
It's time to re-awaken your instincts! Go out and sense the winds of Spring, strong and potent in many places right now. Listen to the sounds and silences of birdsong, wind through new leaves, rain drumming on everything, ocean's murmurs and roars, river's leaping and tumbling and flowing! Everything in nature calls out to your body to come alive. Go out into Nature. You are awake.
This year I'm out in the western deserts instead of in Rhode Island for Beltaine. My visceral memories of Beltaine are of the chilly damp of early May, surprising sudden warmth, greens, colors returning – awakenings. So this year, I let myself see Beltaine from the desert's perspective - through canyons, rivers, stars and wildflowers.
In the week leading up to Beltaine, I spent time by two rivers, the Virgin River in Zion's canyons and the Colorado River. The River goddesses were out in force, singing and dancing, gliding and tumbling, one kicking up her heels and the other sparkling like translucent sapphires. Like Goldenberry, the River's daughter, there's a strength, a gentleness, and a beauty to the rivers at this time of year. The flowing watery energy of the rivers spoke to me of other aspects of Beltaine - breaking the forces of Winter, melting snows transformed to rushing water, wildflowers defiantly splashing colors over parched soil, winds roaring through the canyons – these strengths shape the energies of Beltaine. Sharp desire, beautiful strengths - all part of the mystery and magic of Beltaine as well.
The ancient Celts would light bonfires and dance around the Maypole, and perhaps chose a partner for the night to create sex magic to fertilize the fields. If this isn't part of your celebration plans, at least go out into the night and feel the new life that has returned once again. The dance of the Maypole is the weaving of the energies of life, male and female. Go out and feel the life moving through you, moving through the world. It's magical. And it's yours.