Sunday, May 01, 2005

The lusty month of May

It's my sincerely held religious belief that every holy day ought to be celebrated by fucking - and Beltane most of all. Oh to wander into the fields to find some lovely maid or man or more, to return in rumpled clothing for the feast. I'm all for a good fertility festival, as long as fertility is understood broadly - plant any seed you wish to grow this year. Children or "children" conceived on the first of May are magical.

I'll spend the morning lying in with my lover. If I'm up in time I'll bathe in the morning dew. We'll brunch and buy primroses for the kitchen window, then do our laundry and go on-line to find a cottage for our summer vacation. If it stops raining long enough, we'll take a walk and see the spring blossoms. I'll write a poem, too, in the spirit of seed-planting.

A merry and fae May Day to you!


Emily said...

Ok, so a friend of mine has his birthday today, May 1st. I wished him a happy birthday and Beltaine and he scoffed. I asked why and he said that in his native Scotland, Beltaine was celebrated as a time of ripening and fertility, yes, but was commemmorated by the raping of virgins. Young virgins were too much a prize for outside enemies, so within each local group, Beltaine was the time in which local young virgins would be raped (to take away their prized virginity).

So, according to him, the glorification of Beltaine is part of neo-Paganism/Wicca, which is technically only about 60 yrs. old and rooted more in wishful thinking than in real history. I had no "book knowledge" to refute what he had to say and I'm not quite sure how to research this. What do you think of what he said?

Inanna said...

Hey, welcome to the very first comment on this blog!

I don't know if this is true about Beltane, nor where to look. A web search turns up nothing, and I'm sure you've already tried that anyway. I'm fairly well-read in earth-based spirituality and Wicca, "outsider" as well as "insider" sources, and I've never seen this claim before. I don't know how to evaluate it.

As for contemporary Wicca, it's true that it's in many ways a product of Gerald Gardner's work in 1940s and 50s England. In the U.S., Witches claim a different lineage, one including but not limited to Gardner. There is no good reason to believe, as Gardner asserted, that Wicca is an old religion, surviving since before Christianity by going underground and being passed down among family members in secrecy, only to reemerge in the 20th century. That's a romantic story, but there's no evidence for it. There's no reason, too, to think that our contemporary practice of earth-based spirituality is anything like that of ancestors who practiced an earth-based spirituality.

Contemporary pagans do look to old sources, like myth, and archeology, and to retellings of old stories, as in Jung and Joseph Campbell and Starhawk and feminist sources. We rely a great deal on mythos and the imagination. But I don't think many pagans or witches who've been practicing and studying for any length of time believe in the literal truth of the romantic tales of yore.

I'll think more about this and post about it.