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.
I am a Christian. But I am not a Christian. I am living in the space between. There are a lot of people who can’t understand this. There is a lot of pressure to choose one side or the other. But there’s a lot of truth in the in-between spaces.
Some of my dearest friends are Christians – the kind of Bible reading, church-going, sincerely praying people who many envision when they think of the word Christian. And I love that about them. I love that they are so committed and empowered in their faith, and that it gives them strength. But I am not that person.
Some of my dearest friends are atheists. Secular humanist, science based realists, who think that belief in God is a crutch. And I love that about them. I love that they are so secure in their humanity, so committed to living in the here and now. But I am not that person.
I have friends who are Buddhists, Jews, Catholics, seekers, spiritual-but-not-religious, and Wiccan. I have friends who believe in heaven, hell, reincarnation, karma, one life, many lives, and life ever after.
And I live in the space between. I believe in spirit, energy, connection, love and something that ties us all together in something bigger than ourselves. And sometimes I call that something God. And sometimes I call it Jesus. And sometimes I don’t. Because right now, what is true for me is the journey, and the space between faith and reason, here-and-now and everlasting.
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!