“This is a Pagan event” a visiting California-based Pagan exclaimed to me at Faerieworlds this weekend, and she was not wrong. I replied as I have often replied: It’s a Pagan event, but it isn’t a Pagan event, which allows it to become something unique and special. Over the years I’ve been attending and working at the little faerie-themed mythic festival in my hometown of Eugene, Oregon many have tried to sum up what makes this event so special. How it isn’t a transformational festival, or a Pagan festival, or a music festival, or a fantasy festival, but contains elements of all of these. Perhaps like those magical fairy markets depicted so often in literature, it is the undefinable collision of everything that creates the liminal magic.
This time, right around May 1st, are the traditional dates for many of the major Spring/Summer festivals in modern Paganism (in the northern hemisphere). Beltane, Bealtaine, May Day, Floralia, Protomayia, and Walpurgis Night, to name just a sampling. These festivals herald the coming of summer, a time of merriment, celebration, and bounty, 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. “You start in April and cross to the time of May
One has you as it leaves, one as it comes
Since the edges of these months are yours and defer
To you, either of them suits your praises. The Circus continues and the theatre’s lauded palm,
Let this song, too, join the Circus spectacle.”
“Spring has returned. The Earth is like a child that knows poems.” – Rainer Maria Rilke
Today is the vernal (spring) equinox*. It is the astronomical beginning of spring in the Northern Hemisphere. Wiccans, Heathens, and various modern Pagans celebrate this day as Ostara, Lady Day, Shubun-sai, or simply the spring equinox (autumnal equinox for our Australian friends).
Today is the festival of Lupercalia, the ancient Roman observance of fertility and the coming spring. Not to be confused with a certain commercialized martyr’s celebration held yesterday, Lupercalia is a holiday sacred to the god Faunus, and the mythical she-wolf who reared Romulus and Remus the semi-mythical founders of Rome. It was considered an important holiday of religious observance and purification. There are many lurid accounts of what goes on during Lupercalia, some make it seem like an excuse for copulation and frivolity. One of the best descriptions I have found on the web comes from W.
Tonight and tomorrow is when many modern Pagans celebrate the fire festival of Imbolc sacred to the goddess Brigid, patroness of poets, healers, and smiths. Today is also the feast day of Saint Brigid of Ireland patron saint of poets, dairymaids, blacksmiths, healers, cattle, fugitives, Irish nuns, midwives, and new-born babies. In Kildare, Ireland’s town square, a perpetual flame is kept lit and housed in a statue that pays homage to the Pagan and Christian conceptions of Brigid. Festivities for La Feile Bride in Kildare started on January 31st and will continue through February 9th.
Here are a collection of quotes on this holiday.