Throughout my whole life, during every moment I have lived, the world has gradually been taking on light and fire for me, until it has come to envelop me in one mass of luminosity, glowing from within… The purple flush of matter fading imperceptibly into the gold of spirit, to be lost finally in the incandescence of a personal universe.
— Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
Today is May Eve, Walpurgisnacht, or Beltane Eve! One of the most magical nights of the year, in Germany, Walpurgisnacht begins at sunrise on this date and ends at sunrise tomorrow, the first day of May. It especially honors the Horned God of the Celtic and Teutonic peoples. He embodies the vitality of animal life, in the ways that the Green Man embodies the vitality of all plant life. The name Beltane means bright fire, bale fire, or Fire of Bel, referring to the Sun God, Bel or Belinos.
So, traditional bonfires and torches of rosemary and juniper are lit, bringing sweet purification and protection to all. Birch boughs are also placed on all doors and windows to protect the home from evil spirits and sorcery.
Like the more somber Samhain, which our friends in the Southern Hemisphere are now preparing to celebrate, this is a time when the veil between the worlds is at its thinnest and we may truly experience the quantum wave of other realities. Pay attention, and you may find that other worlds bleed through into ours, making divination and encounters with non-ordinary beings more frequent and clear.
For instance, traditionally, the Queen of the Sidhe rides out on her snow-white horse this night, possibly looking for mortals to lure away to Faeryland for seven years. Folklore says that if you sit beneath a tree on this night, you will see Her or hear the sound of Her horse’s bells as She rides by. If you hide your face, She will pass you by but if you look at Her, She may choose you.
As the final day of the month, of course, this day is also sacred to the great Goddess of Witches, Hecate. We often think of Her as the Crone, but our ancestors knew Her as the Sacred Three — Maiden, Mother and Old One. Offerings to Her younger aspect, such as flowers, sweets, and other delicate, beautiful gifts, would be especially appropriate tonight.
In days of old, when human sexuality was joyful and without shame, the young people went out into the woods on May Eve and stayed all night, returning in the morning, laden with flowers and green branches.
If you don’t stay up all night, at least remember to get up early tomorrow, and wash in the magical dew of Beltane morn:
The fair maid who, the first of May
Goes to the fields at break of day
And washes in dew from the hawthorn tree
Will ever after handsome be.
Our ancestors did not limit their Beltane festivities to only one day, nor were they reckoned by the number on a calendar. They celebrated based on observation of the heavenly bodies, and a feel in the air. So I recommend that we, too, not curtail our celebrations only to May Eve, or May Day. Beltane’s energy, to those who are open to it, is warm, magical, sexy, and inspiring.
Let us enjoy to the fullest this beautiful time of year. And tonight especially, go out and allow the beauty of this lusty time to make your blood dance. Include an intimate loved one in your rites, if you are blessed with such a person.
Most of all, enjoy the lovely finery that Mother Nature has cloaked herself in, and let yourself be enchanted by Her.