For someone not necessarily attuned with nature, I feel very aware of the turning of the year and the timing of the ancient celebrations makes a lot of sense to me. I am always very ready to celebrate life and wellness when May comes, and so I understand why this time of year was set aside for those very things. I am also a May baby, so this month is of particular importance to me for that reason as well.
Christina at Witchvox writes: ”Beltane marks the passage into the growing season, the immediate rousing of the earth from her gently awakening slumber, a time when the pleasures of the earth and self are fully awakened. It signals a time when the bounty of the earth will once again be had. May is a time when flowers bloom, trees are green and life has again returned from the barren landscape of winter, to the hope of bountiful harvests, not too far away, and the lighthearted bliss that only summer can bring.” And when I can think and feel clearly, between the sneezes of allergy season, I feel this. It makes me understand why students start to get restless – yes, the end of the school year is near, but more deeply rooted in them, their souls are resonating with the new life, and they want to be free, not confined by walls and books and assignments. As my own semester of study winds down, I know exactly how they feel.
This time of year makes me very aware of how far we as a society have strayed from following our natures and our spirits. While I want nothing more, on the spirit level, than to be outside and carefree, I stay inside, full of stress and exhaustion. And that’s the problem. Even when we can feel the pull of nature telling us to go outside, go for a walk, light a candle, watch the sunset, we tell ourselves we can’t. We say that there are too many other things we have to do, and then we spend an hour on Facebook, or watching television, or doing something else that we don’t need to do, but just do, absently, because it’s there.
My goal for this month is to spend more time listening to the inner voice telling me what I want to do, rather than just doing what’s there. While I can’t abandon the very real modern day demands of work, class, internship – I can be more in tune with myself in the other hours of my day, when I am free to do what I will, and rarely do. Maybe I will find myself spending more time on the porch, or going for walks, or doing nothing at all. Maybe I will find more mindful ways to do the mundane tasks that I have to do. Or maybe I’ll just turn off some of the chatter and find a little more peace.
What will you do to honor the merry month of May?
I didn’t blog for Lent this year. I didn’t really even acknowledge that Lent was happening. Didn’t look for a church to go to on Easter – didn’t really do anything Easter related. In fact, I spent Easter at home, having cancelled all of my work and social plans for that day to rest. I spent Easter in my pajamas, on the couch, not really celebrating at all.
I noticed on Facebook that there were a number of memes surrounding Easter that circulated, mostly dealing with the idea that *gasp* the Christian church STOLE Easter from the Pagans. Anyone who has ever been to the Easter Vigil mass at a Catholic church could hardly question that - it’s one of the most Pagan ceremonies I’ve ever experienced, and I’ve been to Wiccan rituals! They bless the New Fire, they bless the holy water, and HELLO symbolism, they dip the candle into the basin over and over again. The celebration starts in darkness and adds candles, then full light about 30 minutes in. It’s all about rebirth, and spring, and who wouldn’t recognize that these aren’t traditions that were born only 2000 years ago? But I guess maybe a lot of people wouldn’t. Still, I don’t really understand why people are shocked when they find out that what’s old became new again when Christianity was spreading across Europe and the Middle East. I could digress from here into a speculation about why our words for Lent and Easter come from Germanic languages rather than Latinate ones, and how that relates to the roots of the season and its traditions, but I’d imagine no one really wants to read that except for the four other people out there who are as obsessed with words and language as I am.
But I guess the point is that Easter happens whether you celebrate or not. Whether you hide eggs and eat lamb and go to church, or you do nothing at all, you can’t help but experience the season. Suddenly the days are longer, the air is warmer, and a few hardy crocuses are bursting through the earth. You have a craving for asparagus and snap peas and arugula, and you wear skirts even though the evening temperature is much too cold for that, because in the daytime you want to feel that warming breeze as fully as you can. Staying home, resting, that was my Easter cleanse – shedding the winter exhaustion to be ready for the new burst of energy with the spring time. Because whether it’s about Ostara or Christ or just about the Equinox and the physics of living on Earth, your body knows it’s Eastertide, even if you just call it spring.
Last week I took an expressive therapies class. I am studying to be a psychotherapist, so this class was an elective that I could take, because we can cross-register in any expressive therapies course with no prerequisites. I could have taken drama therapy, music therapy, even dance therapy…things that I know…I have been with drama and music and dance for most of my life. But in this class, I had to draw.
I don’t like to draw. I have made approximately three drawings in my entire life that I have liked. One was a groundhog when I was six. One was an iris at some point in my early twenties. And I’m assuming there was a third, because there’s always that one thing you forget when you’re listing these sorts of things. But each day, at least once in the seven hours of class time, there was drawing. Most days, there were several periods of drawing.
We could use words, symbols, images. We didn’t have to be artists. But still, it was drawing. And I don’t draw. I’ve avoided other multimodal arts retreats and workshops simply because they would make me draw or paint in them. And here I was, five days in a row, colored pencils and oil pastels and markers in my hands, and blank pieces of paper staring at me, making me fill them with something, and then share it with at least one other person, and often the whole group.
And out of this…I’m writing again. I’ve had spiritual and energetic growth. I’m moving more freely. I feel healthier, happier, more rested. It was hard, and I didn’t enjoy it…but it sparked something. By doing this thing that I don’t enjoy doing, that challenges me, but that engages the creative part of my brain, I’m more awake now.
But don’t expect me to start posting sketches on here…
“When the existence and marvelous power of the deeper self is recognized, the “Know Thyself” of the Delphic Oracle acquires a new and profounder meaning. It no longer means only “analyse your thoughts and feelings and actions”; it means study your most intimate self, discover the real being hidden in the depths of your soul, learn its marvelous potency.” ~Roberto Assagioli
Assagioli goes on to say that this is not about deifying the Self, but about finding that place in the Self that is in touch with God or a Higher Power of some kind. There is something about this idea that is both eminently satisfying and eminently frustrating. If we all have within us this potent, amazing being, yet we only see it in brief, transcendent moments, it can be challenging. It seems almost painful to know that this beautiful, powerful calling is within us, yet only sometimes can we hear it.
But isn’t that what we’re here for? To listen for the calling, and follow where it leads us?
I wanted to write a post for the solstice, so I was wandering around the internet and found this great remembrance from Petrarch of the women bathing in the river at midsummer to wash away the tragedies of the coming year. If only we could…
In some ways, the summer solstice feels more like the coming of new year to me than the winter solstice. Perhaps it’s because I’ve spent so much of my life on a “school year” schedule, where June means that you are promoted to the next year of study, to begin in the fall. Or maybe it’s just that the world is so alive at this time of year, and in December, it’s hard to remember that things are just dormant, not dead.
Take a moment today to wash away whatever is holding you back from the coming year – we may not be able to stop the tragedies by washing them away, but we can always rebirth ourselves into a new way of seeing the world. Why not today, on one of the most celebratory days of the year?
I spent the past day and a half at a Reiki I training. Friday night, after meeting my teacher and classmates, I was treated to a guided meditation and attunement. Basically this means I got to relax and let healing energy flow in and around and through me as my body learned how to channel it. I felt like I was sparkling last night. I felt loving and open and warm, and it was wonderful.
Today, I learned more of the history and philosophy and guidelines of the practice, and how to give Reiki treatments to myself and others. I gave a treatment and received one. And in giving this treatment, I feel like I understand a little bit better what happens when people are filled with the holy spirit, or blessed in some way, or feel the presence of a higher power…in the words of my beloved musical Godspell (and so, yes, also the Gospel of Matthew) “The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is sound, your whole body will be full of light.” My whole body felt full of light…
With this new, cleansing energy in my life, I can’t wait to see what else comes next…
Someone asked me the other day what it is about Easter that appeals to me so much. And my answer was rebirth. Yes, as a baptized and confirmed Catholic, it’s always been about resurrection, but as a mystic (and I do more and more think that’s what I really am) it’s about that, and more than that. At Passover, the celebration is life saved and freedom gained. At Easter, the celebration is resurrection and forgiveness of sins. But as we celebrate all of these things in the early spring, what unites them is rebirth. What brings us bunnies and eggs is the aliveness of nature in the springtime, reawakening as the sun warms the ground and the plans uncurl. And a chance to begin again. Why do we hide the eggs, or the afikomen? So that we can root out what’s hidden, bring it to light, and start fresh.
Happy Easter, Chag Sameach, Blessed Eostre, and Welcome Spring!