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Thursday, May 7, 2020

What Does a Christian Bealtain Look Like?

          Short answer, it doesn’t. It doesn’t look like anything. It’s not a thing.

          I was in a Christian Witches’ Forum on Facebook and a newbie witch was talking about prepping for Bealtain, and I asked what a Christian Witch Bealtain looks like. The answers were basically, whatever you want, it’s all about intent. The forum is mostly people doing Eclectic Wicca from a Christian perspective.
          Christian, particularly Catholic, witchcraft is a solid thing. Historically we have centuries of Catholics practicing witchcraft, we only have about seventy years of NeoPagans practicing witchcraft. So when NeoPagans try to say Christians and Catholics can’t be witches there really isn’t a leg to stand on.
          What is more reasonable is pointing out that Christianity isn’t Paganism and Christian Wicca and things like that don’t smoothly exist as a single thing. Catholics have frequently engaged in double-faith, in which you might go into the woods, or to a clearing, or to your house on a Saturday and engage in Pagan customs and then on Sunday go to Mass. But each tradition is approached separately as their own thing. Another way to do it is to accept that Catholicism is universal, so it universally encompasses all things which exist in the world. So if spirits exist, if gods exist, then they exist in a Catholic world and so there is a way to understand them and experience them from a Catholic perspective. With that being the case Catholic magic must exist. In fact, it does, all over the world and all throughout history.
          So why no Catholic or Christian Bealtain? Well from a Protestant perspective, a core element of most Protestantism is stripping out those elements of religion. Nothing Pagan, nothing superstitious, no magic no idolatry. Catholicism has room for a lot more of that, but it does it in a Catholic context. It isn’t just a matter of doing a Wiccan ceremony with Mary and Jesus as the Goddess and God. There are rich spiritual traditions as part of Catholicism for engaging holy days, and these can include witchcraft or occur next to it. Bealtain isn’t a witchcraft ritual, it’s a Pagan holiday.
          So what does a Catholic Bealtain look like? Well, Walpurgisnacht. A night celebrating a Saint and exploring the otherworldly and supernatural powers. A night where we recognize the same access to the spirit world that Bealtain recognizes, but with customs and practices that engage that experience from a Catholic worldview. Or Mayday, the day after Walpurgisnacht, where we celebrate the advent of spring and the crowning of the Blessed Virgin as Queen, ready to be celebrated over the course of a month dedicated to her. Maybe even May’s Eve, the traditional Wiccan celebration, which is – on some level; more a mystery tradition ceremony than a religious Pagan custom.
          What if Bealtain really speaks to you though? Then do a Pagan Bealtain. Commit to it. Do it right. Even if you’re a Christian or a Catholic, take the double faith approach. Go live it up, explore the access to the dead, talk to the faeries and then ward your land from them, sew fertility into your life. Don’t water down your Bealtain and your Christianity trying to do a fluffy dime store book ritual that is half way between the two things without really being either.  

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Image: By Nyri0 - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

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