Feast Days for the Radically Reverent
Next Feast Day: May Day and Beltane
In the cycle of holy days, May Day also known as Beltane and Walpurgis Nacht marks the point in time that is directly opposite the Days of the Dead so it makes sense to think of this season as the Days of the Living.
Our surroundings reflect this. It is springtime in the Northern Hemisphere and the land is waking up.
In South Central Texas where I live the cool days of March have given way to (much) warmer days and our fantastic yearly show of wildflowers has mostly closed its curtains for another year. But the dewberries that grow in thick brambles along the roadside are ripening nicely and the wild white poppies that dot the grass like so many ballerinas are still swaying in the breeze and seducing many a bee. My grandparents’ mulberry tree is starting to bud out with green berries and the honey suckle and jasmine are both in full force.
It feels at this time that the Earth itself says yes to life in every possible way and so it makes sense that this is a holy day for fertility and pregnancy. A wonderful question to enter into your May Day celebrations with is this: where am I ready to be fertile?
May Day is a very old celebration. In Germany it is celebrated on Walurgis Night in honor of the Goddess Freya, Odin’s consort and the mother to Thor and Loki. Freya is seen as a highly energetic, powerful, and frankly sexual force attuned to the sun, birds of prey (especially falcons), and most famous for her love drawing amber necklace Brisingamen and her chariot pulled by cats.
Most folklorists believe that the ritual of dancing around the May Pole began with rites honoring Freya and that the original May Pole was a living tree meant to call to mind Yggdrasil, the Wold Tree, from which Odin hang so famously.
In the United Kingdom the holy day is a celebration of union between the Goddess of the Land and her consort most often depicted as a Green Man or Jack in the Green. This is a time when faeries are believed to become quite active once more and May Flowers (flowering Hawthorn) are allowed to be brought into the house on this one day only in order to honor the faeries and seek out their favor. Decorations of greenery and Jack in the Green processions through villages are also common.
Beltane is the Celtic name for the holy day derived from Bel, the Celtic God of Fire. Bonfires were traditionally lit on this evening with the greatest being the “need” fire. People and animals would be driven through the flames very quickly to confer both protection and fertility on all of the living. Afterwards there is feasting and love making under the May moon.
Where I live this custom has been moved up in the season of the year and occurs in small towns in the Texas hill country during Easter and the fires are known as Easter Fires serving the same exact purpose.
I will be creating a Need Fire for this Feast Day and so, if you find yourself yearning for fertility, fecundity, the green verve of life and wildness and moonshine then do join me for this most holy and blessed Feast Day.
Areas to especially consider as you make your petition include:
Favors from the Faeries and your Holy Helpers
Protection for lands, animals, and family members as we go into the warmer season
Fertility in whatever area(s) it is deemed needed
Love love making and deeper intimacy
Deepening your connection to the land where you live and all of the creatures, seen and unseen, that make it up
( Image credit: Brian Froud)
What are Feast Days for the Radically Reverent?
Born into a family full of many devoted Catholic practitioners, Feast Days are one of the aspects of folk tradition that I love best. There are hundreds of Feast Days – in fact, according to official Catholic calendars every single day is a feast day – and that alone is a though worth pondering – what would happen if you treated every day as a feast day?
Several years ago in my own practice I began creating altars and honoring ceremonies on Feast Days that have deep personal significance to me and inviting my community of soulful seekers to join in the process of honoring by sending in their own prayer requests, blessing ways, petitions, and thanks givings.
The results are always stunning. They remind me again and again that the act of blessing is transformative and also deeply universal — every year individuals from all over the world and many different cultural and ethnic backgrounds identifying as Christian, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, and followers of various alternative spiritual paths come together in blessing. It is a profound time always and one felt deeply by all participants.
These Feast Days can be found on various calendars but we celebrate them together with one thing in common – radical reverence; this is reverence that goes right down to the root of things in plain speech and in direct, heart-felt actions.
Feast Days for the Radically Reverent are open to all people who would like to come together to celebrate, request, and bless. They are 100% free of charge and always will be.
Participation: Use the form to send in your blessing ways, prayer requests, and petitions for May Day and Beltane
Registration closes: 4/30 at midnight central time.