A lot of people on Facebook have been posting about their “Beltane” activities, and much of it has to do with debauchery, outdoor sex, dressing up in costumes, may poles, and various European folk customs, many of which are maybe medieval, probably Renaissance, quite possibly not Pagan. This is fine, I guess. This is what Neo-Pagan Beltane involves. That and sacred sex festivals, and adult themed Neo-Pagan gatherings. Being a traditional guy, I like something more traditional, and would assume other traditionalists would too.
Fortunately this year I'm seeing a lot more people also posting about Walpurgisnacht. That I can get on with a little more. But I'm curious about what people are doing to that end and how they're connecting with traditional European witchery.
I was asked tonight what I'm doing. And what I'm doing is nursing an injured hand, and resting after a long day of coaching my college kids in their local conference championship, which involved another first place victory for one of our women, a third place finish for one of our men, and me becoming a Vice Commissioner and taking on organizing a new division of the conference. So...yeah, long day, witchery and such will have to wait til later, as it's 11pm and I'm just settled and home after leaving at 5:30am.
That said...I probably won't engage in much witchery. I grew up connected with Paganism (was not raised, but began exploring around age 11), not as much Neo-Paganism, but more traditional and reconstructionist varieties. I guess what people would be calling polytheism these days...though I'm not sure I'm ready to join in with that as a movement. So, Bealtain is still one of the holidays I enjoy.
It's kind of like second Samhain. Samhain marks the beginning of one of two seasons, the Winter, and Bealtain the beginning of the second, the Summer. Both involve the extinguishing and rekindling of the hearth, and both involve the division between this world and the next becoming thinner. So it is a holiday that lends itself to witchery, but can also have more communal components, and components that connect to house-holding in a way which is a bit different in my view than witchcraft.
For me I suppose it kind of serves as a maintenance point, which being part of my religious apprehension, isn't necessarily part of my witchcraft or my magic, but underlies it because in reality, religion isn't separate from anything else in life, and if you're a witch you simply are that so it is interwoven into everything, and magicians should also integrate their magic into the rest of their lives. So the division I guess is one of how I approach what I'm doing and what I'm focused on rather than a division in how it affects me and my life.
It isn't so much about magic as it is about relationships and stopping and resetting.
I connect with the parts of the world, I acknowledge the gatekeeper, I connect with my gods, and my ancestors, and the land spirits – both accepting the aid of the beneficial ones and paying off the not so good ones. I make offerings, and I chill with my ancestors and relax and reconnect. As I mentioned in my last post on the dead, this part of the relationship with the dead, while magical, isn't magic, I'm not trying to accomplish something, I'm visiting my relatives, being comforted by their company and letting them be comforted by mine. They just happen to be relatives who don't have bodies at the moment.
In my particular case Bealtain is about a week before my father's birthday, and Samhain is a little over a week before his Greater Feast, so these holidays also mark the times of year for me to connect with his spirit especially.
But yeah, a point to touch base with your spirits, help them feel good and connected to you, and you feel connected to them, and highlighting your relationship with more global and local spirits is work witches and magicians need to do. The easy access to the dead and the land spirits during this time of year makes it natural for this to be a significant witching holiday. It's basically a time of year where nature makes witchcraft more easily accessible even to those who wouldn't normally be witches. No wonder it is a traditional night for spirit contact and meeting the Black Man or the Queen of Elphaim.
Anyway...not particularly witchy, but simple household Paganism...or just simple household living...here is my Bealtain ritual, the words anyway, you can figure out where to maneuver offerings, and when to walk perimeters and such pretty easily from the words. This will be part of my observation this week, along with some work with land spirits and some visits with my ancestors.
I stand upon the land, beneath the sky, before the sea.
By this good fire, may the gods be present and may I know their presence always.
Praise first I give to Manannan who opens the ways between worlds. Though the gates are open this night, your aid and guidance deserve praise.
I offer this fat and blood of the mighty cow that its smoke may rise and please the gods.
I offer this oil to the gods below that they might enjoy it and it may please them.
I offer this drink to my ancestors that they may be pleased with it and be pleased with me. Especially...may I receive their guidance and their aid with an open heart.
I offer this bread to the spirits of the land that they may be friendly to me and keep away all destruction and befoulment from me, my family, and my property.
Let fall away the dark and cold of winter, let the good fire bring the light of summer and all the good therein.