Tuesday, May 1, 2007


Today is Beltane, the traditional mid-point of Spring. It's sunny and 80 here! Just a perfect day.

The Pagan year is divided into 8 sections: the quarters and the cross-quarters. The quarters represent the equinoxes and solstices and the cross-quarters designate roughly the mid-point between them. Generally, the cross-quarters are considered to be the "high" holidays, as they're meant to represent the fullest part of the season - Beltane for spring, Lughnassadh for the summer, Samhain for the fall, and Imbolc for the winter.

Beltane is also arguably the, ah, friskiest of the Pagan holidays. It's finally warm enough to peel off those coats and sweaters, and come outside squinting into the sunlight after a long winter. It's the first time in a while that we can go running around without worrying about frostbite on our more delicate areas. Things are becoming alive. You can't help but feel joyful at the sight of the sun beaming through all the tiny leaves that decorate the maple tree like a pale, bright green halo. Beltane is a celebration of the simple act of creating life. Of fire and warmth. Of survival and procreation. Of life-affirming and (oh, I'll just say it) very raunchy sex.

The Pre-Christian Celts knew this about the liveliness that Spring begets; one of the vestiges of Pagan faith that survives today is the Maypole. A tall pole is erected (!!) in the middle of the town, with ribbons attached at the top. Each dancer holds the loose end of one of the ribbons, and a large wreath is set over the top of the pole. As the dancers weave in and out and plait the ribbons down the pole, the wreath moves slowly down upon it until it rests on the ground. To wit:

(I'm sure I don't need to spell out the imagery for you, do I?)

Now go find someone to love. Happy Beltane!

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