Blessed Be everybody,
tonight is Beltaine night. The biggest festival of the witches, the Pagan people, everybody who feels connected to the old path, the ancient religions of Europe. It is known as “Walpurgis Night” in folklore with people narrating how naked witches would fly to the Blocksberg on broomsticks to dance around a giant fire naked. They would do all kind of magic there – evil magic of course – and fly back home on their broomsticks after the fest was over.
The Blocksberg does really exist. It’s a place called “Broken” in the Harz, a national park in Germany. They still do huge parties there for Beltaine though it’s mostly commerce these days and certainly there are more spectators then actual witches – though I know that many of the Pagan Community go there every year. Others gather with their circles or whatever kind of group they are organized it. Beltaine still is the most important and most celebrated fest of the Pagan people. The broomsticks really exist. Brooms are an important magic tool for all kind of tasks. You can use them to swap out unneeded energies, entities, very thoughts and ideas. And you can use it to set up a magic circle for further rituals. The broom, usually made from willow, is one of the symbols of the witches and connects us to our ancestors and our traditions. As far as being naked is concerned there are many traditions in which rituals are done naked, “skyclad”, as it is called, symbolizing being one with Mother earth and coming as you are; without your worldly wealth. There are, especially at Beltaine, rituals where sex is involved – going as far as orgies or the try of perceiving “Beltaine children” who’s father is to remain unknown as they are considered perceived from the very god – but the vast majority of your regular Pagan next door will only shake his head about those things.
As for Pagan folklore Beltaine is the time of the year where the (earth-)godess and the (sky-)god get engaged, marry and unify perceiving the god of the next year. It’s the heyday of the year yet however in a way a reminder that we have to take care of the next generation during the best of all times, not when it is already too late – goddess how much I wish today’s politicians and economy bosses would consider that one from time to time – and that the heyday of a generation bears within it the reminder of it’s approaching end.
Pagans would decorate their homes and altairs with flowers for Beltains as the flower might be the ultimate symbol of the fest. They would braid crowns of wild flowers and grains and decorate themselves and each other with them. Last year, when I celebrated with some Pagans of different paths in Vienna, we would braid those crowns for somebody else of the group and give it to him or her with a kiss. I kept mine until I left Vienna – I would have taken it with me but there was no point in trying to move something as fragile as a crown of dried flowers. And of course for Beltaine dancing is crucial. The May Pole dance is still very common in many parts of Europe – as a part of Christian tradition. And in some regions people still try to keep evil spirits, witches or what ever from their houses by making noise, scary things and so on. There’s a xillion of different customs still around though hardly anybody knows they are all survivors of the great fest of Beltaine of which astroarchaeological artifacts pointing at the very date hint it has been celebrated for millenia.
For me, sitting in my candle-lit living room in Germany which I am soon to leave hunting my dreams and my idea of life and happiness, it is a reminder of who I am. As a Pagan. As a individual that is part of a bigger tradition, that was passed on from my ancestors and that is bred into the earth I am living on. I pray for fertility of my dreams and the journey laying in front of me; fertility of the work done for the best seed can’t grow without a fertile ground to fall on.
Somehow I wonder what Beltaine will be like outside Europe; on a land where it hasn’t been celebrated for thousands of generations and where my gods, in a way, are so far, far away. Will it be the same astonishing sensation of being a part of something bigger, older like I feel tonight? Can I, as a Pagan, who is so strongly connected with the earth, that has been made to host life by my ancestors, just leave Europe and go on being a Pagan or will I always feel strange? I wonder how US American Pagans handle it, living on a land nourished by another people’s believes …
… but most of all I wish all of you a wonderful Beltaine and a fertile year – whatever fertility means to you