For my next Blog, I wanted to write a piece on Beltane. Ah. Beltane. Arguably the second biggest festival of the Pagan year…and yet one of the few that really has no counter celebration in the mundane world. (Even Imbolc has Groundhog Day…only Lughnasadh is as covert as Beltane.) Imagine collecting spring flowers and putting them in small baskets to deliver to all your neighbors, or weaving them into wreaths to wear on your head. Picture young, unmarried men going into the forest and returning with a tree that would be turned into the maypole. Young folks dancing around that pole…with those colorful ribbons winding around and around. Tables set with a feast and the laughter and dancing and music.
So why was it so difficult to write about this Sabbat? Beltane is a fertility holiday, but unlike many other holiday and rituals that clearly mark fertility in agricultural terms, Beltane is often THE Sabbat for sex. If you’ve been around Paganism long enough, you have certainly heard the stories of old of young couples disappearing into the woods on May Eve only to return the following morning wearing flowers…and apparently big smiles.
Could it be that for those of us who are clearly on the other side of youth, Beltane seems to rarely live up to its potential. Let me honest here. I don’t care how many articles I read that the fertility of Beltane can apply to any creative project…it’s just not the same. Beltane = sex. It’s the Pagan equivalent of New Year’s Eve. Goddess forbid you don’t have a date…you’ll be stuck at home watching Ryan Seacrest in your PJs with a bowl of chocolate ice cream – only in May it’s on American Idol instead of at Times Square.
Work schedules and weekday commitments usually push public ritual and private group celebrations to the weekend…leaving May Eve to my husband and I. I absolutely despise “scheduled sex”. I am much more the spontaneous type, and as a woman who reached menopause over 10 years ago, those moments of spontaneity are less and less frequent. After arriving home from a long work day, we’re both tired. So we have changed our own Beltane custom to one of romance. Soft music, candlelight, great food, a bottle of wine…either out at a restaurant or in our own living room helps set the stage for a night that is about us. We concentrate on the partnership aspect of Beltane. Those wild nights of youth may just be a pleasant memory now, but we have each other and we can cuddle in each other’s arms, just enjoying the moment.
Unless of course, he whips out that leather Green Man mask….I said I was older, not dead.
What are your suggestions for celebrating Beltane for those of us who are on the other side of the hill…or for those of us who are currently not in a relationship?