Happy Beltane (among other things)

When I was in college at Washington State University, at about this time of year, when we began to emerge from an eastern Washington winter, a little ditty would start going around campus:

“Hooray, hooray for the 8th of May

National Outdoor Intercourse Day!”

At the time, I dismissed it as the first spring flush of student hormones and figured it was a WSU thing. Now, though, I realize it was a slightly distorted nod to the traditional Northern European holiday of Beltane. 

Today, May 5th, 2018, is the actual day of Beltane, determined by the Sun reaching 15 degrees of Taurus, according to tropical astrology (meaning with the seasons rather than stars). In northern cultures (and likely others?) Beltane was a celebration of the returning of life to world. The ‘outdoor intercourse’ bit was one of the ways of honoring and encouraging the fertility of the Earth, just as the crops were beginning to emerge. The sacred marriage of God and Goddess was enacted in ritual and by couples as the mirror of the natural world’s rites of spring.

The holy-day has been sanitized over the centuries to become May Day, and it’s timing simplified to the first of May, yet small remembrances such as those college ditties linger on. Maybe ‘spring fever’ is such a reflection, too, as the longer and warmer days encourage us all to get out there, even if we don’t go all out on the fertility rites. 

The photo at the top was taken on Beltane of 2017. Today my spring celebration is as participant on a bus tour around the Crazy Mountains, traveling with a local band. What about you?

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