I don’t remember where I first read it, but somewhere at sometime, some Pagan Author (™) encouraged readers to figure out their own Eight-Fold Wheels of the Year since the dates of the original one developed by Nichols and Gardner do not necessarily work very well outside of Great Britain and Ireland (although I’m pretty darned close here in New England). In addition, I’ve found that celebrating each of these holidays for a full six-week season rather than a single day greatly increases their impact on my life. Living Yule each and every day from December 21st to February 1st is a far more satisfying thing for me than being a “High Day Pagan” (as opposed to “Sunday Christian”) for a few hours once every six weeks.
So, in that spirit, I would like to happily declare that the Beltaine season is now upon us here in central Massachusetts. We’re a bit behind the traditional date it would seem, but all the signs abound. The lilacs are blooming; celandine sports its yellow flowers by the roadside; bridal wreath scatters a snow shower of petals over the first dandelion puffs. Also, the chirping of the spring peepers has given way to a chorus of crickets and the hens proudly announce each egg they lay. All the kingdoms, Plant, Animal, and Mineral, rejoice in the bounty brought by the Equinox rains as the Wheel rolls towards Summer.
This is always a somewhat bittersweet time of year for me. While I revel in the renewal of life and beauty, Beltaine also marks the beginning of my “drought season,” when I feel the gods less clearly. Gwynn ap Nudd, omnipresent from Samhain through the Winter, rides back into his mound to rest until the Hunt tears across the sky again in the Fall. I travel throught the Otherworlds under his auspices, and journeying becomes much more difficult in the Summer months when I can’t feel him in the winds. Instead, the breeze brings fresh new scents to my cave, luring me out into the light and warmth.
The heat of the sun and longer days herald new joys and songs to my life. So rather than despair over the quieting of my more esoteric talents, I try to turn my attention to the external—the garden, my relationships to my family and my community, writing, art. Being conscious of the sensual, physical world is an important anchor point in the Wheel’s turning. Now comes the time of fresh, local fruits and vegetables, freshly mowed fields, kite-flying, and early morning bird song.
Beltaine slips us into Summer, when the fey dance in mushroom circles lit by fireflies. So now, though the turning point of Beltaine (May 1st) is long past, there is still time to fully engage with the lush passion of the season. Feel the chill of a brook on your feet and smell this first bloom of clover. Shed the last memories of Winter and embrace the Spring!