Beltane is the great favorite of the eight turns of the solar wheel. Everyone loves the celebration and revelry that comes with it, and it is beloved for its honoring of love and fertility.
This year I was reminded of Beltane’s other magical nature, and its particular aspect of being a time when “the veil between the worlds is thin.” In this way it is like to Samhain on the opposite side of the Wheel of the Year. The spirits are near and folk get to wondering about fairies, or ancestors.
There has been much of divine order, and divine disorder, in the unfolding of this holy time. I might even feel that something tapped me of a sudden on Beltane Eve, resulting in a tumble that, while not causing grievous harm, still knocked me breathless.
And on May Day morn, after a perfectly clear and beautiful dawn, the fog rolled in just that suddenly and blanketed us all, including this sunrise surfer riding the wave as the sun receded from sight. Then I finally began to understand the otherworldly side of Beltane, the deep magic that was abroad. Sometimes the shiniest bits of Beltane are in the darkest of times. You just ride the wave as everything shifts around you in the sudden twilight.
The enchanted qualities of this time of year have always been apparent to me, as it is full of personal holy days and anniversaries. That Long Fellow wrote:
The holiest of all holidays are those
Kept by ourselves in silence and apart;
The secret anniversaries of the heart,
When the full river of feeling overflows;–
The happy days unclouded to their close;
The sudden joys that out of darkness start
As flames from ashes; swift desires that dart
Like swallows singing down each wind that blows!
White as the gleam of a receding sail,
White as a cloud that floats and fades in air,
White as the whitest lily on a stream,
These tender memories are;–a fairy tale
Of some enchanted land we know not where,
But lovely as a landscape in a dream.
(Henry Wadsworth Longfellow)