“Somebody killed Pan,” she said. My best friend Sarah and her family had staked out a plot of land at the Gaea Retreat outside of Kansas City as their favorite campsite. It was a secluded spot, just big enough for three tents, tucked to the side of the gravel road and wire fence that marked one edge of Gaea. They called it Shamballa, which invariably made me think of the Three Dog Night song – I can tell my sister by the flowers in her eyes, on the road to Shamballa. Underneath an evergreen tree inside the entrance to Shamballa, Sarah had placed an old concrete idol of the god Pan.
U.K. —Beltane is the start of a busy early-summer season for British Pagans, with a range of events taking place between now and Lammas. Right now, British Pagans are still in the middle of their Beltane celebrations, coinciding with the May bank holiday, with a red and white dragon parade having taken place in Glastonbury on Sunday May 6 and Beltane celebrations across the country on May Day itself. The national press have not been slow to realize that traditional celebrations are once more becoming popular, after a period of decline in the 1980s and 1990s. This year, Morris dancers met across the country to dance in the dawn (there are estimated to be around 13,000 Morris dancers in the U.K.). There are also plans to erect a modern maypole in London’s Strand; it will be similar to the 130-foot-high pole that was put up by Charles II to celebrate the restoration of the monarchy in 1661.
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Some years ago, while attending a Heathen festival at the Gaea Retreat outside of Kansas City, I heard a man say a prayer to Thor. “Hail to the Thunderer, the working man’s god,” said the man, who fit the profile: tall and broad, bearded, his white skin tanned from days in the sun. I thought about that epithet for a long time, “the working man’s god.” It comes from the idea that in ancient times, gods like Odin served the powerful ruling class, while gods like Thor and Freyr were patrons of the commoners. I come from working people, from people whose jobs were to swing hammers, haul loads, dig holes, saw boards.
Angus McMahan is a gregarious solitary who can usually be found playing strange drums strangely at various rituals. He is a tarot reader, lego sculptor, cross-country marcher, crop circle inspiration, breathtakingly slow tri-athlete and, time permitting, a writer. Find more info about him here. If you like guest writers like McMahan, consider donating to TWH. Every month, we feature new writers with various backgrounds and traditions, who share their perspectives and add their insights to the larger conversation in the community. If you like this feature, consider making a small monthly donation or make a one-time donation toward this vital global community venture. It is your help and your support that keeps daily and dependable news coming to your doorstep each day from wherever its origin.]
And no, we’re not talking about the bundles of joy that arrive every year at Imbolc because of throwing caution to the wind during the previous Beltane.
TWH – For many Pagans, Heathens and polytheists around the world, this week is one to celebrate. The days surrounding the first of May mark many traditional spring festivals and religious holidays recognized around the world. Of these the most well known is Beltane or Bealtaine, which, in some traditions, honors the union of goddess and god and marks the beginning of a Celtic summer. In many secular and non-Pagan religious communities, the day is still celebrated as May Day, complete with the iconic Maypole. However, that is just one of the many holidays appearing at this time.