– Ralph W. Emerson
Tonight and tomorrow (in the northern hemisphere) are the traditional dates for many of the major spring/summer festivals in modern Paganism. Beltane, Bealtaine, May Day, Floralia, Protomayia, and Walpurgis Night, to name just a few. This fire festival heralds the coming of summer and is a high holiday, a liminal time when the barriers between our world and the otherworld were thin. In many traditions and cultures it is a time of divine union and fertility.
Walpurgis Night bonfire, near lake Ringsjo, Sweden
Photo by David Castor
“We celebrate the new crops coming in, celebrating initiation and fertility. It is a sharing of Appalachian traditions. West Virginia is among the most Appalachian of the states. A lot of the traditions that were here tonight were celebrated here not even a hundred years ago.” – George Fain, president of Marshall University Pagan Association
“On the night itself, hundreds of performers lead a fire-lit procession around [Calton Hill]. They move through a fire gate and round points representing earth, air, water and fire. The festivities reach a climax when the Green Man, a symbol of the first growth of summer, arrives and is crowned by the May Queen.” – Martin Couper, The Edinburgh Evening News
“Beltane, meaning bright fire, is one of the four Celtic cross-quarter festivals celebrating the changing of seasons. ‘People have, as far as we can tell, [always] celebrated the changing of the seasons,’ Dr. Robin Larsen, co-founder and director of the Center for Symbolic Studies says. Beltane, an ancient festival typically celebrated on the last two days of April and the first two days of May is a time to awaken the earth’s spirit to get ready for spring. ‘March doesn’t feel so spring like,’ Larsen says. ‘When you get to the end of April you’re really there and you know summer is coming.'” – Tara Quealy, Chronogram Magazine
“Each year, in the evening of April the 30th, Swedes and Finns celebrate Saint Walpurgis, one of the most popular festivities during the year alongside of Christmas and Midsummer. Walpurgis Night receives the name of “Valborg” in Sweden and “Vappu” in Finland, and is a very lively celebration where people spend the night together and sing traditional songs to welcome spring.” – Scandinavica.com
“Thursday is May Day, which, depending on your leanings, is a pagan pole-dancing holiday, a day of labor solidarity against The Man, a day off for immigrants and their supporters, or some combination of all three, a grab-bag of un-American activity. (To the latter group, Happy Law Day!)” – Swati Pandey, Los Angeles Times
“The festival of May Day (May 1st) has been widely celebrated for centuries, even millennia. Essentially a seasonal and floral festival concerned with the spring rebirth of vegetation after its death in winter, it is a festival of all things green in nature … our modern May Day holiday has a rich past, redolent with symbolism and meaning. Whether we take a deep historical view, or whether we just have fun in the sun, May Day (Beltaine) is one of the key turning points of the ritual year.” – Rob Tillett, Astrology on the Web
“The Earth softens under the caress of the sun and all the world is new. We emerge from the darkness of a long, difficult winter; our eyes drink in rolling green hills budding branches and tender shoots. We breathe deeply the fresh fragrance of radiant blossoms. We have survived!” – Selena Fox, Circle Sanctuary
May you all be especially blessed this evening and tomorrow.