Just six weeks ago we celebrated the spring equinox with friends and families in the chilly March wind and here we are already approaching the start of summer. Beltane has always been a turning point in the Wheel of the Year for me and although I often say I don’t have a favourite among the Sabbats, if I did, it would be Beltane.
The Goddess and God at this time of year chase each other lustily as stag and doe and their courtship is reflected in the natural world around us, not only with fauna, but flora too. May blossoms (hawthorn) grow white and proud and daffodils make way for luscious bedding plants in our gardens, the birds sing with delight at the abundance of the earth and we ourselves feel happier, more at peace and more ready to smile and laugh. Just take a look around you on a warm May day – instead of the dreary colours of autumn and winter, people are decked in colourful t-shirts and bare arms start to take on a golden glow. The bright ribbons around a maypole have very overt significance for us as pagans – the fertility of the land and of our race is displayed clearly for all to see and there are still some places around the country where the custom lives on. I love this time of year not only for the changing season and the warmer, longer days, but also because it heralds the real start of camping season. From late April to late September my family and I camp out as often as possibles, sometimes taking in a festival like Beautiful Days or the Artemis Gathering, other times with friends in a more local setting. Camping for me is an outdoor activity, we rarely spend much time inside the tent, preferring to sit out late into the evening around a small fire, toasting marshmallows, telling stories and laughing.
Beltane is the true start of summer for me and the warmth, the longer evenings and the lighter mornings bring a sense of hope, inspiration and light-heartedness. It’s all about the smiles on people’s faces, the way my three cats writhe in pleasure on the warm grass in a patch of sunlight, the time spent with families and friends and the flowers, the bright greens of the forest and the sound of nature enjoying itself as the Wheel of the Year turns around.