This morning I woke up just before dawn, and as I watched the sun rise, I felt excitement deep in my heart for the month of May. Historically, May 1st is known as Beltane, one of the major sabbats of the 8-fold wheel of the year in Earth-based and pagan practices. The wheel of the year generally follows the seasons, as dictated by the movement of the sun, creating the solstices and the equinoxes (AKA winter, spring, summer, and autumn). At the halfway point between each of these seasonal occurrences there is another sabbat marking the shift in energy of the season. All of these sabbats also mark prime agricultural times for planting seeds, growth, and harvesting of plants, animals, fruits, and our own inner psychological processes.
Beltane marks the halfway point between spring equinox and summer solstice. It's popularly known as a Gaelic May Day festival, and an Irish festival, but it has been celebrated all around the world by people who work with earth-based spirituality (including pagans, new-agers, and everyday farmers who are still working actively with the land). Often, rituals were performed at this time to protect cattle, crops, and people.
All of the solar holidays were marked with huge bonfires, crafted from woods of specific trees, to bring blessings, protection, and good fortune. Many couples would take hands and leap across a Beltane fire to signify a spiritual marriage.
May Day has always been a time of celebration, as the positive energy raised contributes to great momentum for a blessed summer. Some of these traditions have carried to the present day. I remember being in first grade when I did my first maypole dance with ribbons.
The dance around the maypole symbolizes the true heart of Beltane, which is the sacred unification of the masculine and feminine in bliss. The God and the Goddess make love, and their fertility and ecstasy give birth to the warm summer months. Dancing the maypole is a fun, frolicking experience as the ribbons weave a sheath of love around the erect pole. The ribbons, after, can be given to community members for good luck in conceiving a child, or to help with challenging health.
This year I will not be dancing a maypole, but I will be making a flower crown and working on a vision board. Other May day traditions include decorating doors and windows--and everything else!--with flowers, or gathering dew on the morning of May 1st for eternal beauty and youth. Don't forget there's also lighting a bonfire (or a candle if you're indoors), and dancing. This is THE time of year to feel good, and to remember that feeling.
Life will have its challenges, but one thing the celebration of the wheel of the year teaches, is that everything is cyclical. When you allow yourself to really explore the feeling of being happy, well, and filled with light at this time of year, you initiate deeper healing around old grief and wounds. You restore to your energetic template the hope and faith that is necessary for all of us to live a peaceful existence.
Although there may be fear and uncertainty, absorbing the light at Beltane gives you resilience and long perspective as you confidently handle the challenges that life is placing before you.
DAILEY LITTLE is a healing practitioner, transformational life coach, ordained Priestess, and teacher who founded Healing Heart Reiki to help others navigate life with joy. She teaches classes in healing and mindset from a magical peaceful corner of the world in Northern California. For more info see: www.SantaRosaReiki.com