Page 35 [Beltane] “is a celebration on the union of soil, water, sun and seed. It is about fertilizing the fields.” Sisters of the Dark Moon by Gail Wood
Growing up on a farm, May was about picking rocks, working long long hours, and falling into bed exhausted. You would think no longer being on a farm, this time would not be missed but I do miss it. We would walk the land, barefoot, picking up rocks and being who we are picking out the best to bring home rather than just dumping them in the rock piles. It was all about the land and preparing for the next crop. There was a sense of urgency and hope. We needed the crops to feed our animals. Our animals kept us in milk, beef, and pork. There was also our own garden which had be put in, tended, and nurtured as the summer came on.
I’m lying in bed with my lover when the power goes out. The only light in the room is now coming from the moon’s reflection on the snow outside the glass doors. We look at each other, wondering if we caused the outage. We were running a lot of appliances in our room here at Yosemite Falls lodge, we may have blown a fuse.
A few times in my life I’ve been gifted with untreatable pain and now is one of them. These days I’m lying awake at night, unable to find a tolerable position, obsessing about what is wrong with me and how it might be getting worse. Promising to fix myself tomorrow with better diet, more meditation, increased self-awareness—bemoaning whatever failure of self-care led to the problem in the first place. Unable to concentrate during the day, experimenting with various combinations of food, drink and drugs to escape sensations that continue to demand my attention. Forced to acknowledge that I am getting older, decaying in my own skin. Fretting about how this makes me less of a companion, less of a teacher, less of a person.
I would love to take you on a journey, one that leads us through the wilds of nature and back to the roots and bones of witchcraft, a natural witchcraft that works with the seasons and all the natural items that Mother Nature provides drawing on magical folk lore and a little bit of hedge witch and wanderer magic too. No fancy schmany tools or ceremonial rituals, this is about working with the source.
In Pagan traditions, we tend to associate the winter with letting go of the old, and the spring with the coming of the new – it’s a tree based way of viewing things. Leaves fall off in the autumn, so we let go. New buds emerge in the spring, sap rises, catkins flower – we can make new plans.
However, there’s a longstanding tradition of spring cleaning, and it’s not just humans who do it. The return of the light shows up grime and cobwebs accumulated over the winter. With spring, it may at last be warm enough to open windows and air rooms. Other mammals will be clearing out the winter bedding to make fresh nests for new litters of young as well. New nests are built and old ones carefully refurbished.
I gave a keynote talk at the Conference of Current Pagan Studies January 23 on viewing social justice from a Pagan perspective. It went well and while the paper it was based on is much too long for a normal blog post, I have made it available as an article on my web page. After a discussion of social justice at a more abstract level, I end with exploring issues of Nature and race.
The Winter Solstice falls this year on the 22nd of December. The shortest day and the longest night of the year, the sun is now at it's very lowest point. For three days, it's position in the dawn sky will appear to 'stand still' in the furthest south-easterly position of its it's cycle, before it begins to be seen rising ever so slightly further north each morning until the summer solstice, or longest day.