Beltane is considered by many to be the first day of summer. Over the years, I have spent many a shivery May mornings, watching the sunrise, wishing I had brought an extra jumper! We can regard the seasons from a different perspective, as overlapping one another. In this way, Beltane straddles both spring and summer, with a heady mix of unpredictable weather and some of the most exquisite blooming of nature in the entire wheel of the year.
We can experience a similar phenomenon on a psycho-spiritual level, despite both ovulation and menstruation being actual physiological points. The energy of each section of the cycle can overlap the next. Sticking with the theme of the seasons, the spring energy towards the end of pre-ovulation can blur into the early summer of ovulation; post-ovulation merges with the early days of the autumnal pre-menstruum and the energy of the late pre-menstruum fuses with the start of the bleeding time. In this way, we can follow the example of the solar year and transition smoothly around the menstrual cycle, having enough time to adjust to each new state, before fully entering it.
Beltane is stunningly beautiful, with fruit blossom bursting forth, and vivid bluebells bringing up the rear, like sapphire spears, standing proud, under the shade of emerging tree canopies. The hedgerows grow visibly greener every day, leaves unfurling to reveal intense shades of green and a waxy, newborn perfection to their surface.
It is such a joyous festival with so much to celebrate ~ the greening of the Earth and fertility of the land as well as sexual union and love between humans. Tis a time of hard work and trust. We have to have faith that labour devoted to the garden and other projects will result in a fecund harvest, come Autumn Equinox time.
Many moons ago, magical Beltane fires were kindled on the top of sacred hills. People would jump over them, to bring themselves good fortune for the year ahead. Today we still follow customs from days of old by skipping and whirling around may poles, clutching brightly coloured streamers with a song in our hearts and step. These rainbow ribbons then echo our dance, by becoming tightly inter-woven around these ancient phallic fertility symbols.
As the gateway to the summer is unlocked with the pounding of heartbeats, rising sap and the scent of apple blossom in the Northern hemisphere; the doorway to winter creaks open in the Southern hemisphere.
Samhain is the festival which heralds the official start of winter, where we honour and remember our dead ancestors and our connection with them. This is the time for emotional honesty, for coming to terms with letting go and dying. A profoundly spiritual time which I always equate with the bleeding time in the menstrual cycle, as we release and connect with the otherworld.
Happy Beltane to all in the Northern hemisphere and Happy Samhain to all in the Southern hemisphere. Go well!