So last night, a little ahead of the actual date on April 30th, we had our Beltaine Open Ritual. And, though talking to somebody from Israel I claimed the opposite, we did have a May Pole. Well … let’s call it something May Polish … A rather human May Pole with one of our group holding a Pole with ribbons attached to it in a borderline suicidial manner; Just imagine being in the middle of twelve half-tranced people chanting and performing a dance that needs their whole concentration in order not to crash into each other too often. But we did it and in the end the colored ribbons where wrapped nicely arround the pole and the guy holding it wasn’t wrapped in though we made fun of “May Poling” as a nice way of doing sacrifices.
The Ritual was fun. It was fun and it was a great experience with a lot of sparkly energies within the circle (sorry, but I just had to contribute to the stereotype of Pagans running arround feeling “special energies” here …). And actually even I could forget for a moment or two where we were: In a basement. A nice one, that’s true, but still a basement. We were dancing arround a May Pole in a basement.
Blame the city, if you like, for there’s no place to do it properly – outside, with a real, attached-to-the-soil May Pole, with the stars and the moon (a full moon if possible) shining above you – that’s the way our ancestors did it a long time ago. And even though I am aware that things changed dramatically when humans decided to live in big towns instead of farms and villages and that you cannot apply all the rituals from “back then” to our urban, multicultural, christianized environment, that’d still be the way I’d prefer to do it too. And thinking of not being able to hurts.
Even if I lived in a house on the countryside, where would I do it? In my backyard? In front of the whole damn neighbourhood propably calling the police or some mental institution? Certainly not.
I know I am not supposed to care about what other people think or how they look at me. But bottomline is that if they are my neighbours I’d prefer to have a good relation to them. I’d like to be able to invite them over for a BBQ every once in a while and I’d like to be able to knock on their door if I run out of sugar or so. And if I invite some fellow pagans over to do the May Pole dance in my backyard the neighbourhood hardly will be liberal – and unignorant – enough to just come arround and ask.
No, I am not blaming “outsiders” for their reaction. How are they supposed to know? It’s us, Pagans, who hide in the basement with our May Pole. It’s us who, if asked, don’t dare to say “I am Pagan”. Even if they have been high priests for decades. Ask them why and they’ll certainly tell you it’s because their religion is a private matter that just isn’t anybody’s business. But where is the point where a “private matter” ends and an outright lie starts? And how the heck am I ever supposed to be able to celebrate Beltaine out of the basement if only the insane tell their co-workers they are pagan but never the regular people of whom nobody would guess that they are pagan?
Let me make a beginning here. I needn’t state that I am Pagan – that you already know – but here and now I tell you that 90 % of all pagans are just as normal as you are. But they don’t show off being Pagan so you might never get to know. This is why it is possible that the only Pagans you’ll come across are the looneys hanged with pentagrams and Thor’s Hammers and whatever comes to their mind as a Pagan symbol like christmas trees. Those who feel superior because of being Pagan and – most likely – because deep within they feel rather inferior. Those guys in fact are less then 10 – 5 % of the total Pagan population. And they are no more and no less fundamentalist then the top 10 % of Christians or Moslims or Jews. Just ignore them knowing that they in no way represent the Pagan majority.
And if you ever come a across a Pagan or a pagan practice that bewilders you: Just ask. Hardly anybody of us does have a problem with answering question. That is for we have nothing to hide even though a lot of people do hide their rituals and their pagan identity. Why exactly I don’t understand. There are no bonfires anymore in Middle Europe where witches would be burned and you needn’t start up going out in your backyard dancing arround a May Pole. Just telling the truth when you are asked would already be a decent beginning so the next one won’t be looked at with that special glimpse but rather with a nod and a “Ah, I know somebody who’s Pagan too”.
Think about it …