Flashback Friday - Episode 85, Beltane 2007

As the community of Easton Mountain has changed over the years, so to have our holidays and rituals. When some of the community members represented Pagan, Wiccan and Radical Faerie traditions, Beltane, the Galic May Day festival, became a important event on our calendar. In Pagan times, the days around the start of the fifth month of the year were associated with a gathering of witches,and even though the Church tried to usurp the Pagan holidays - making Halloween the eve of All Saints Day and May Day the feast of Saint Walpurga, an eighth century English missionary - the eve of this saint's day, Walpurgisnacht, retained its association with witches. A seventeenth century block print showing Walpurgisnacht, from a book by the German writer Johannes Praetorius, could easily be mistaken for a scene from Halloween.

Woodcut of witches dancing around a horned god.

At Easton Mountain, those who observed the nature spirit faiths did not relate the holiday to a Halloween theme, but instead led the community in preparing for the May Pole Dance by taking down the old May Pole, cutting it into pieces, selecting and cutting a sapling for the new May Pole, and cutting old drag into strips that were tied together to make ribbons. In 2007 this was an advertised event on our calendar - running from Sunday evening, April 29, through Wednesday, May 2.

Pter for Easton's Beltane with may pole

On the eve of the May Pole Dance, Sunfire, reacting to the German origin of the name Walpurgisnact served sauerbraten for dinner.  At dusk we gathered in the high meadow for a bonfire that burned the logs cut from the old May Pole. As we sat around the fire, we spoke of our hopes for the coming summer.

Ribbons tied to top of pole

The following day, we attached our ribbons to the top of the pole and then danced moving in clockwise and counterclockwise circles, passing to the right and then to the left of other dancers, so that the ribbon became a tight web around the pole. The pole was left up until April 30 of the following year.

Both our residents and our extended community have nourished our spiritual lives with rituals from many traditions. What might you offer our community for spiritual nourishment this year?