Monday, April 30, 2012


It’s May! It’s May!
The lusty month of May!…
Those dreary vows that ev’ryone takes,
Ev’ryone breaks.
Ev’ryone makes divine mistakes!
The lusty month of May!

- from Camelot, Lerner and Loewe
I don’t know what you have planned for the month ahead, but in the olden days, lusty young men and maidens were running off to the woods together, with nary a virgin returning. Beltane is celebrated in the Celtic tradition starting on the eve of May 1 and lasting throughout the day. However, in days of yore it was often celebrated with feasting, dancing, and merriment all the way through May 15. In the Gaelic lands of Ireland, Scotland and Wales, Beltane refers to the entire month of May. So there’s nothing that says you can’t extend your celebration through the end of the month!
This is the time when Maia, the maiden, Roman goddess of–you guessed it: fertility–as well as playfulness and granting wishes–was feted. Her name means mother and this is really the time when the maiden of spring gave way to the mother of summer. Maia was Queen of the May and was celebrated with flowers and blooms in abundance.
The May Pole was first a tree festooned with flowers and ribbons, symbolizing the phallic energy of the season and the renewal of Mother Earth. Bonfires were set atop hills and celebrants would run between two fires for cleansing and to bring about a bountiful harvest and good luck in the year ahead.
When the Christian religion supplanted the pagan traditions and sexuality was split off from spirituality, some remnants of the old traditions remained. In fact, Mary became known as Queen of the May:
O Mary we crown thee with blossoms today,
Queen of the angels, Queen of the May
In honor of Mary, young girls wore flowered garlands around their head, maintaining the symbols of fertility (flowers are the sexual organs of plants), new growth, and the maiden.

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