Ok, the last post for this week I promise!
So this week’s lesson is all about preparing for your first High Day, which as we established in the last post will be Beltane or Walpurgisnacht. As promised by Rev Michael J Dangler it is a big week, there was a lot of reading to cover, which I suspect not all of sunk in yet.
So apparently all the questions for this week can be merged together into the first essay on the High Days. Seems simple enough on the surface, however it means carefully considering my answers as I go. Thankfully I can revise everything here as I assemble my final document to submit for consideration so if I gain greater insights I can incorporate them. It is kind of comforting knowing that I can come back to this with new eyes.
Are there any myths that are celebrated in connection with this feast? If so, what are they, and how do they fit in?
While I’m sure that there are myths connected to this feast I’ve not been able to find any that have any real merit (in other words they were not backed up with any kind of evidence, links to historical documents or passages in the Sagas and Eddas).
What does this holiday or time of year mean to you?
For me, this holiday means that the weather is finally going to turn better, that I can plant out seeds for plants that can’t tolerate frost because we should not be getting more frost. It also means an end to being trapped indoors day after day due to heavy rain, hail or snow and the freedom to get out into nature again, to see my favourite haunts in nature and that I get to attend Mount Franklin Annual Pagan Gathering.
Do you look forward to it?
Yes. Always, I think this is easily one of my favourite times of the year. The energy of Beltane is always so joyful, I can’t help but look forward to it. I associate Beltane with the emotions joy and happiness and so it always feels like a celebration when this time of year comes around.
Are there secular aspects of the holiday that mean a lot to you, or perhaps holdovers or memories of your childhood that you cherish?
I suppose there are, I grew up on a cattle farm and we were always told to play outside during the day. We would leave the house after breakfast and only return to the house for lunch and again in the evening for dinner. This time of year was always great because frogs would be spawning in the dams and the creek, plants were budding and flowering and some animals were giving birth already. For us, as children, this was all magical and we loved exploring the countryside during this season, we’d spent all winter making games in barns or tree houses and now we were free.
How do you know when this day arrives?
The land starts to dry out, the rains ease off and the land begins to wake up. At home the fruit trees start to get new growth, the Hawthorn by the back gate likewise gets a flush of growth and usually has its first flush of flowers just in time for Beltane. Also, there is a lightness of the soul that I always feel at this time of year without fail.
Do you look at the calendar, or do you just know it has come?
Without looking at the calendar you know it has come, the signs are there, combined with a feeling. However the fact that the annual Beltane celebration I go to is marked on my calendar also provides a constant reminder and helps build the sense of excitement as the date gets closer and closer.
If you have children (or wish to have children), what key traditions do you wish to pass down to them?
I don’t have children and it doesn’t seem likely that they will be on the cards for me but if I did have children I would love to pass on to them the sense of celebration and joy this time of year brings, show them that the land is waking up, teach them to dance the Maypole and enjoy the magic happening around them.
What, if anything, is spiritual or religious to you about this High Day or time of year, and how do you show that?
For me the land around me waking up after a long cold winter is very spiritual, I show this by spending time outdoors, talking to trees, tending my garden and making sure it is well, going out into the forest and meditating, singing and dancing to share my joy with the nature spirits.
Are there any traditions that your Grove has for this High Day?
I don’t belong to a grove yet, I may not either, it will depend on how compatible we are as to whether I will consider myself to belong to my local grove. As for traditions it has? I will have to learn that, I suspect they will have them because they too seem to get a lot of joy out of this time of year.
Finally, is there anything else about this holiday that you would like to add?
It would seem that Freyja is one of the deities most commonly associated with Beltane for those of a Norse perspective, so it would do well to make sure that she is offered sacrifice. Although I already was aware that Beltane was a time of love, it would seem from my reading that it is also a time for healing and foretelling.