Beltane is here, finally! Even in the cold north that is Norway, winter has finally given way to spring. Beltane is my favourite pagan festival, and I am so happy it is here again. We have had a long, hard winter this year, and the birch trees are still bare. I expect the leaves will be bursting forth now anytime in the next month. The days are growing longer and the promise of warmer days is hanging in the air.
Beltane on the 1st of May is also International Labour Day, and like most of the world’s countries it is an official holiday in Norway. Norwegians don’t celebrate Beltane much, not like in the UK. There, people still dance around the may pole and in some places they have Jack-in-the-Green festivals.
I love the sexual energy, the creativity and fresh vitality that Beltane symbolises. Those of you who have seen or read the Mists of Avalon will recognise the importance of both Beltane and sexual creativity. The Goddess couples with the God, the green woman lays with the green man. This is witnessed in nature all around us by the bursting forth of a new season, but also in the actual coupling of two people who embody and become the Goddess and the God for the ritual. It is the highest magic there is.
The old alchemists called this the Alchemical Wedding, or the Marriage of Opposites. This was a process that had many levels. On the one level it involved the mixing of opposite substances, such as moisture and dryness. Let’s say you add water to sand, and you will get a sticky substance that is a complete mix of the two.
On another level, the Marriage of Opposites involved the impossibility of opposites, such as the sun and the moon. They are always apart, yet belong together. They chase each other across the sky day and night, the one does not belong without the other.
On yet another level the Alchemical Wedding is about the union of a man and a woman, who in that moment represent of all men and all women, and indeed the God and the Goddess. It is Winter and Summer meeting in Spring. In their union they become something else – the two become one in the act of union. They exist as one only in the act of lovemaking, and they reach a moment of ecstasy together before they go back to their own separate existences. The water and the sand merge before reverting back to being water and sand.
This is a mystery as old as humanity itself. It is beyond words, yet those who have experienced it know and understand. This is the highest magic there is, to change one’s form, one’s substance and truly become something (or someone) else even though it’s only for a brief time. Perhaps you will weave your own magic this Beltane? In case you’re wondering, the Alchemist Johann Valentin Andreae described the Alchemical Marriage to take seven days. I hope you have a wonderful, magical Beltane!
Finding the community of Cycle Harmony has made a huge difference to me. I am delighted to be writing to you from the Red Tent and hope to share thoughts and experiences you recognise, or find useful to ponder upon. I look forward to working with you all in exploring what it is to be women, and hope to hear from you. ~ Vild