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May Day 2017

Yes, that wet stuff falling from the sky is snow on May 1st.

Happy May Day!  We’ve been having snow flurries, which makes it a little difficult to get into the spirit of the season.  I suppose I could go on about the history of labor unions and all the benefits we take for granted because of the work that they did back in 1886 and beyond.  But you all have Wikipedia for that.

In Wicca this is also Beltane and a celebration to bless the animals and the fields with fertility.   Wicca tends to work with a male/female balance honoring the fact that union is how we all came about.  In this day and age that makes much of our ritual look particularly heterosexist and decidedly gender binary.

The thing is that many of the Gods in the Pagan pantheons are rather gender queer.  There is room in Paganism to express and celebrate fertility in many other ways.  But working in a tradition, and a Wiccan tradition in particular means honoring and holding to rites and ritual formats that, when they were written, probably do have an intentional hetero-cis bias.

Like snow on May Day, the reality is often a lot more complicated than the theory.  In Minnesota a May snow, or at least a frost is not at all unusual.  Our “late frost” date is May 15th.   But in Wicca, and through much of Paganism this is a festival about flowers and early fruits.

Food and Flowers. We tend to snack while we make our May wreaths.

Traditionally, this festival is not a calendar based festival, but one that honors the actual season in the area.  It is a time when the fields are ready for planting – not the same date every year at all.  It is marked by the white blossomed trees (usually rowan) coming into bloom (also not a calendar dependent event.)  In Minnesota this year we are having a remarkably early spring.  The ground has been thawed for some time.  In microclimate areas some of the fruit trees have started blooming.  Historically that just doesn’t happen until mid May and even that is early.

So snow is unexpected this year and seems out of place.  Our weather reporters carry on about “below average” temperatures.  Technically that is true, but if you graph 100 years of spring temperatures and do the statistics you get at least a 15 degree standard deviation.  That means that “normal” is plus or minus 15 degrees.  To really be “below average”, remarkably warm or cold, we’d need to be outside of that 30 degree swing and we are not.  At least not today.

Happy May Day!

I have actually put some things into the garden already.   Cold hearty crops like radishes and peas.  I did sprinkle some spinach and lettuce seeds and I’m trying my hand at carrots again.  Tomatoes and basil are still a month out.  The weather is supposed to get warmer from here out so I’m hoping to get back into the dirt later in the week.  That will be a celebration in itself!   In the meantime, I’ll just take things as they come and enjoy the cool while it lasts.

 

 

Previous Posts on May Day or Beltane:

Fertility     Spring     May     Beltaine (even I don’t spell it consistently)

 

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Spring

Spring means being pestered by the fairies!

Spring means being pestered by the fairies!

One of my dear readers actually said she was looking forward to hearing about my Beltane celebrations.  See what happens when you comment?  It’s been a whirlwind of a week since I last posted.  The weather has almost been as crazy as the schedule!  Here’s the recap with editorial commentary about the season.

finding woodruff peeking out from under the snow

finding woodruff peeking out from under the snow

When we celebrate Beltane in my Wiccan tradition we make a may wine for the chalice.  Traditionally this starts with a Rhine wine but I’ve found I like a lighter voignier.  We infuse this with strawberries and woodruff.

Woodruff blooms in England at this time of year but it’s always at least up in my yard.  I maintain that woodruff is one of those smart herbs, something you can predict planting weather by watching.  This year as I went out in the May 1st snow to gather my herbs it was barely peeking out of the ground.

a ball team I could cheer for!

a ball team I could cheer for!

Too early!

contortunists

contortionists

After a snowy morning we spent the evening at Circus Juventas.

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German hoops

German hoops

How can you not think of spring with butterflies coming out of their silk cocoons and bright colors rolling across the floor?

butterflies springing forth

butterflies springing forth

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These kids were spectacular and it was definitely a great way to spend an evening.

A mood altering cacophony of colors and lights.

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941712_466430953438690_1617446858_nThursday was Pagan Coming Out Day.  Because it isn’t safe for everyone with alternative religious practices to tell their families, or their employers, or sometimes even their children, this day serves to encourage those who can to “come out”.  By identifying publicly as Pagans we demystify the religion.  When it stops being a scary myth and becomes about someone you know it’s easier for people to begin to accept the idea that we’re out there for real.

Cara had t-shirts made with the logo on the shoulder.

Cara had t-shirts made with the logo on the shoulder.

The great thing about making this an event is that it’s provided a support for people choosing to stick their tows in the water.  It’s also become resource center for Human Resources departments asking questions about how to deal with employees claiming unfamiliar religious holidays.  We had dinner out with one of the organizers at a local family friendly pub.

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snowblossoms

snowblossoms

It snowed yet again on Friday.  Most of what I got was gone by the afternoon, but just east of here there was as much as 12″ on the ground.

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May wine on the altar

May wine on the altar

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The coven celebrated the holiday on Saturday with flower crowns and may wine.  One of our devoted coven members got up at dawn for fishing opener.  We had fresh trout for feast, caught standing in 6″ of snow left over from the day before.

May crowns hanging from antler plaques

May crowns hanging from antler plaques

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Aztec Dancers

Aztec Dancers

Sunday was the Heart of the Beast May Day Celebration. (I talked about this last week.)  It was a beautiful sunny day in the park.  Eventually coats came off as we welcomed the sun.

Here comes the sun!

Here comes the sun!

I have it on good authority that the weather has truly turned and spring has arrived.  We will have rain rather than snow and warm sunshine to light our digging in the dirt.  I’m looking forward to spending some time outside!

 "King of the May"

“King of the May”

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