Today we are celebrating Beltane with a public ceremony in a public park.
And it is cold and windy.
Beltane marks the hinge of the year into summer and we are laughing today with the summer-like weather we’re experiencing. High 40s, windy, rain is imminent.
But it often happens like that here in the southern Highlands. The first weekend in May–Derby day, Beltane, my daughter’s birthday, the Herb Festival–are often graced with chilly weather, and sometimes even snow. It is absolutely natural here. In some areas, it’s called “dogwood winter” because the dogwood trees are blooming. And in some areas it is “blackberry winter” because the blackberries are.
It is one last cold snap before we enter into the warm parts of the year and I intend to enjoy this one, even if it means wearing a heavy jacket to our summer ritual. Too soon for my comfort, it will be in the 90s and dry as a bone, so I’ll relish this cool damp weather while I can.
Maybe we’ll be encouraged to dance a little faster today!
As I left the temple this morning, there was a wet little potato near my car.
And here’s the back story…
We grow potatoes in a wire cage that used to be a large rabbit hutch. As is always the case with these wily critters, I never manage to harvest all of the dirty jewels. Earlier this month, I was cleaning out the wire cage and found a couple of taters that I’d missed in the fall and they were already sprouting. I brought them in and chopped them up and re-planted them in tidy rows.
And a few days ago, I noticed a great sprout of green tater tops over in the corner. I had missed another tater! So there’s a rich bed of yummy taters that will be ready to eat, all in good time.
Potatoes being our theme–I am also going to create a couple of potato-and-bird-feather bird scarers for the garden. I need a couple of smallish round potatoes–like the one near the car this morning.
But that little jewel has several sprouted eyes and I think it is destined for planting, not scaring.
I led a mixed-gender Dianic coven for many years. We met every Saturday night for ritual and we pretty much did the same thing every week. We brought potluck food to share and then we went back to the circle space in the woods in the backyard.
We lit a fire and decorated the altar. We smudged everyone in the circle and anointed them. We raised the circle by calling the quarters. We drew in the Goddess/es. We spoke the names of Absent Friends. We called in our Beloved Dead.
We discussed where energy would be sent and came to consensus. Then we danced, drummed, chanted and raised energy and sent it away in a cone of power. Then we grounded ourselves with the ceremony of Cakes and Ale. And we sat on the ground and sometimes did a pass-along story to amuse our kids and ourselves.
Then we thanked the guardians of the directions and the Divines and the Beloved Dead and said the old charm of promise and vision–the circle is open but never again broken. May the Goddess awaken in every heart. Merry meet and merry part. And merry meet again. We shared a meal and all went home.
It was a familiar pattern and I repeated most of it tonight in the Mother Grove Full Moon ritual. My eyes are still stinging a bit from the incense and the butt-end of a smudge stick but it was precious and deep and very good.
Like coming home to a place you’ve been so many times and it was all brand-new.
I put out a request on Facebook about a week ago and asked who wanted to come together in a local city park to honor Earth Day. A diverse and wonderful group of people responded and the photos above give you an idea of what we did.
There was singing and fiddling and words of power and “Happy Earthday to You” and healing drum rhythms and Spiral Dancing and the Irish Stomp Dance and laughter and singing in rounds.
Yes, it was that good. The weather was bright and a little cool but pretty much perfect.
And yesterday I tagged it all again on Facebook–blessed be social media!–by inviting people to meet me at the Big Tree in the park.
They did and we celebrated Earth Day in great style.
When you follow the Wheel of the Year–as we call our “liturgical” calendar–you have a holy day about every six weeks. Two Solstices, two Equinoxes and four Cross-Quarter days. You’ve already read here how elegant I find this arrangement…and how exhausting.
One of the most popular Cross-Quarters is coming up. We call it Beltane and you may know it as May Day. Either way, it is a juicy wild romp into the fullness of the growing season and features a Maypole and maybe some Maybaskets and some Maywine. You may, even now, be fluffing up your flower crown in expectation of the day. I know I have.
But then…this weird thing happened to me. I was deeply dissatisfied with how Earth Day looked in the dominant culture. It was too loosey-goosey, too shallow, not worshipful enough for me, as a certified and certifiable dirt worshiper.
So I had the brilliant idea to make it a ninth holy day, with a ritual and appropriate dirt-worship. Seems like a lovely idea until you realize that Earth Day is about 10 days before Beltane.
It can get a little squeezy. Possibly the best thing to do is to make it all a season of Earth worship that begins at Earth Day and culminates in dancing around the Maypole and jumping the balefire. But until then, we’ll do an informal celebration in a public park on Monday. And go all-out on 5/4.
Because, really, when you’re a dirt worshiper, the season is every season and the holy day is every day.
Two conferences three weeks apart. Two papers that are growing into a book (I think). And tomorrow, I meet with my AAA travel adviser to work out flight plans for July.
Don’t get me wrong–I love to travel. But it’s also planting season–at long last!–and I’m upping my exercise and working on getting fit.
So there’s a chunk of stuff to be done and I’m balancing the outside work and the writing and the tarot reading for clients.
And it’s kind of fun. No, really.
I have a couple of big things to write that require me to think through and know what my feelings are about some big issues. And I’m also anxious to do a write-up on the really neat conference I went to last weekend in Columbia.
Whew. So, I hope you’ll bear with me as I figure out how to order my rich life. I’ll try not to bore you and hope to even amuse you occasionally.
And, hey–it’s almost Earth Day and Beltane–surely I need to rant about that?
After this lingering chilly winter-spring, it’s been so fine to have some sunshine and warm weather. I managed to get the kitchen garden and the Italian garden planted–I was getting ready for the conference at the weekend but did manage to finish my paper at the beginning of the week, so–garden time!
(I’ll try to write more about the conference in the next few days. It was really inspiring and fun.)
And that gardening time was just in time. Those wild rains on Thursday well-watered the radishes, yellow onions and carrots, and they perked up the broccoli and romaine that went into the amended soil of the Kitchen garden.
It’s gotten chilly here now because the dogwoods are blooming. Dogwood winter. Won’t last long and will give those early seedlings a damp cool place in which to sprout and set their perfect roots.
Earth, rain, seed.