Friday, April 30, 2010

Merriment and Maypoles

May 1 is the day that Maypoles were erected in villages and fields and people danced around them, weaving brightly colored ribbons as they danced. The Celts named it Beltane after the god Bel. The Germans refer to the evening leading into it as Walpurgis Night, when witches would gather to welcome in the spring. All of the countries of Europe had similar traditions, with varying folk traditions, and names that reflect each culture.

The reason for these large phallic symbols was to bring joy and fertility to this year's crops. As a symbol for the fertilizing the earth, this was very public and festive and often times other ritual dances also celebrated the earth coming back to life and producing abundantly.

Some people would also have sex in the fields and gardens as a way of using sympathetic magic, their celebratory couplings infusing the fields with their pleasure, their energy and their hopes for a great year.

Given that we are not all farmers or gardeners, still there are seeds that we have planted in our lives this year that we want to grow. Those seeds could be the next stage of our career or job, they could be the seeds of the various relationships we are nurturing. They could be the seeds of success in all aspects of our lives.

Another old tradition is the jumping of the bonfire to signal the return of the heat and fertility into our lives.

Bringing fresh flowers into the house is a way of bringing in the spirit of spring. Flowers send their signal through the whole environment that the colorful fragrant bursting out of energy is all around us.

Although it is barely spring here in Colorado where we had snow this morning, and gardeners do not plant their outdoor gardens until after Mother's Day, when I was in Ireland several years ago at Beltane, the newspapers had photos and stories about welcoming in the first day of summer.

Beltane is the polar opposite of Samhain, or Halloween or Day of the Dead. it seems very fitting that ancient people had one major holiday signaling the beginning of summer dedicated to birth and rebirth, and another exactly six months later, signaling the beginning of winter, and honoring the dead.

In another symbology Beltane and Samhain can be seen as the yin and yang. The energies of the major seasonal shifts signal major shifts within people as well. If we attune our energies to growth right now, and we enjoy the bright colors and energies, we are priming the pump, and affirming that we will bring beautiful creations into being, beginning now.

Celebrate the season with positive thoughts and actions to expand upon our previous successes and build new beginnings where and how we choose.

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