Editor’s Note: Sometimes good things come in small packages; such is the case with Eric’s piece on Beltane from May 3, 2013. You can read that full issue here. — Amanda P.
Dear Friend and Reader:
A few times I got to hang out with one of my now-departed neighbors in the Hudson Valley, legendary music agent Alfred Schweitzman. His client list reads like the roster of our most beloved crop of Ulster County rock stars (including The Band and Todd Rundgren) among many others. He used to give the best New Year’s Eve parties and we once smoked the peace pipe in his cherry-paneled office.
Fae on the Grandmother Land. Photo by Eric Francis.
“All wealth comes from the Earth,” he would say. He was very wealthy and he liked to say it often, as if making the point made the idea stronger in his consciousness. When I first met him I was pretty new at astrology, though I knew enough to know how much sense this idea makes. It’s something I’ve considered many times and that’s the theme of this time of year — the season of Beltane.
The structure of the old religion, the calendar, made sense — without a lot of religiosity packed around what people did at different times of year. There was a time for every purpose, a concept we’ve nearly forgotten exists. For example, Samhain (pronounced sah-wen) establishes a relationship with death and the ancestors, and this tends to run through many cultures as a conscious focus around the time of Halloween, the final harvest.
Nature and its cycles are the basis of what we think of as organic, and in the spring, the world is coming back to life after the long winter. The festival to celebrate that is Beltane, traditionally celebrated May 1.
There is some debate about whether this is really the peak of spring or the start of summer (in the social rather than technical sense). The first week of May is the halfway point between the vernal equinox and the summer solstice (in the Northern Hemisphere).
The word Beltane originates from an old language called Lowland Scottish (the culture from which the holiday seems to originate), and earlier, from Gaelic, with a probable literal meaning of “blazing fire” or “to shine, flash, burn.” And that is exactly what the planets are doing right now.
For most purposes, I count Beltane as May 5, the day the Sun passes over the midpoint between equinox and solstice, though I give it a wide berth. The Sun reaches the Taurus midpoint this year at 4:18 am EDT on Sunday, May 5. Taurus is a passionate sign, and at the moment it’s on fire, and it’s gleaming. Present in Taurus are Mercury, Venus, Mars, the Sun, the South Node, and asteroid Pallas Athene. That’s quite a collection of energies. The Moon will be in Pisces at that time, in harmony with Venus-ruled Taurus.
Photo by Eric Francis.
To emphasize the point, Beltane is followed up by an eclipse of the Sun on May 9, and surrounded by two lunar eclipses — this is a moment of change and potentially beautiful progress. Eclipses are points of no return. Aim your mind and your intentions and you can be transported closer to your desires.
That all said, here’s my metaphysical summary of Beltane. All wealth comes from the Earth, and the Earth is our Goddess. Beltane is the time to honor the Earth and to love the Goddess, and one happy way to do this is through sexual exchange that’s consciously a celebration of life. I know that all sex is in theory a celebration of life, but for many people it doesn’t feel that way, and this idea might be something new. Indeed, the corruption of sex is inextricable from our corruption of the planet and our obsession with money.
Beltane is the time to make love in a conscious way, experiencing the pleasure of existence and honoring the planet we live on, and honoring women. This in turn is a way of expressing gratitude for the abundance that comes from the Earth (all the resources we need for physical life are generously provided by Gaia) and women (who are the vehicle through which physical life is gestated). If possible, make love outside, close to the Earth or on the Earth, for that extra experience of direct contact.
However you choose to celebrate this moment, whether by yourself or with others, allow yourself to be the vehicle through which the Goddess expresses herself. This can work no matter what your gender or sexual orientation.
Whatever you do, this is a great time of year to offer a big THANK YOU to the planet and the cycles of nature that gestate, birth and support our lives.