May Day, May Day!

Strange as it may seem, the expression ‘May Day’ is not a call in distress.  Instead, it is a referenece to an ancient holiday, or sabbat, called Beltane, the first of May.  In the witchcraft belief system, on this day, the marriage between the Goddess and the God is consumated.  This is a time when the Life Force is pouring through the world, seeking to couple with itself.  Fertility, vigor, growth, these are the qualities celebrated at this time.

May Day has been celebrated in many parts of Europe up into the last century, with the May Pole dance, where young women would wind colored ribbons around a giant pole by dancing in a pattern that wove in and out.  Sexuality was celebrated openly, which inspired the saying “Hurray, hurray for the first of May.  Outdoor intercourse starts today!”  Of course, intercourse has been going on outdoors for some time prior to this date, but, for humans, the weather generally becomes more conducive to such activities at about this time.

In the witchcraft belief system, the Goddess and the God travel through their life cycles each year, being born at the Winter Solstice, growing through the winter, until they are betrothed at the Vernal Equinox, then the marriage is consumated at Beltane.  Both deities mature, the God becoming first the Green God, symbolizing the energy of growth, and then the Dark Hunter, the Goddess becoming the Mother, and then the Crone.  Both of them die at Samhain, in early November.

The Christian church suppressed these beliefs, and supplanted them with static images of the male and female aspects, devoid of sexuality.  So the role models for the different stages of our lives disappeared, leaving us groping for understanding of the feelings that we experience in the different phases of our lives.  This is especially true for males, whose sexual awakening became tainted with the evil of lust.  There was no place in the Christian mythos for the rutty, faithless young god of witchcraft, nor a way of expressing the power of the Green God.  The Dark Hunter, the force of Death in the cycle of Life, was completely excised, turning Death into an evil to be feared, instead of a gateway to new beginnings.

Thousands of years of rituals and passed-on beliefs were turned out, replaced with something alien.  Even though we think of the Christian beliefs as ‘natural’, they have been imposed upon a backdrop of witchcraft tradition.  This leads to confusion, uncertainty, as we instinctively feel what has been celebrated for thousands of years, yet we frame those feelings in beliefs which have only existed for a comparetively short time.

Beltane was one of the major sabbats, along with the Yule Tide; Eoster, at the spring Equinox; and Samhain, in early November.  Beltane falls at a time when there is little work to be done in the fields, there are no crops to harvest, so people had time to celebrate.  What they celebrated was the sexual act that brings about Life.


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One Response to “May Day, May Day!”

  1. How I Lost Thirty Pounds in Thirty Days Says:

    Hi, interesting post. I have been thinking about this topic,so thanks for writing. I will definitely be coming back to your posts.


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