It's Beltain. That's a good thing. Those of us who follow a Wiccan Path seem to breathe a sigh of relief when we reach May Eve, although it is still a rather dangerous time. Folks tend to forget that this is the polar opposite of Samhain (Halloween, for you “normals”). It is the second time, in the Wheel of the Year, when the worlds of the Living and the Dead touch, and the Gates between open.
Because we are moving into the season of the Goddess, the energy and flow of life is much stronger than in October. People focus on the beautiful gardens, warm sea breezes, and gentle evenings to come. Yet, there are still ways in which the abundance and security of your home can be threatened. Therefore, it is wise to pay heed to the following:
- Do not bring anything yellow into the house from dusk April 30th until dusk on May 1. This includes flowers, fabric, dairy products, and the like. It may be viewed as an attempt to bring the luck of your neighbors into your own home, and we wouldn't want that Karma, now would we?
- By that same token, don't let anything yellow leave your house. No cup of sugar, no bread, no tabs of butter and, by association, no cream or milk, especially buttermilk. Leave the flowers in your flower bed. These all represent your ability to feed and take care of your family. Don't give it away until dusk, May 1.
- Don't get yourself tangled up with inviting spirits/fairies into your home. Being in a Magic Circle is one thing; leaving food out on the table is tantamount to laying a feast for any passing ghosts. Who has time for that? If you think dear, departed Grandma may be floating by for afters, leave a mug of tea and some sponge cake on the back lawn.
- Protect your live stock! In the old days, cattle would be driven between two bonfires to “cleanse” and protect them. Often, their hides would be singed as an offering to the gods, so they would bless the beasts. In this day and age, your live stock is probably a dog, a cat or two, a ferret or a bird. If you want to be old fashioned, take a little hair of the dog, cat, etc. (or a feather), and burn it in candle flame. Will is work? Yes. Will it stink? Oh yeah, but you have to look after the spiritual well being of your pets. If you have fish...I think you're SOL. Sorry.Well, actually, the first water drawn from the well on May 1st is blessed. Your “well” is now your kitchen faucet. Draw yourself a glass (the first of the morning) and add to your tank. Save a little for blessings around the house!
- Finally, be ready to release old ways and embrace the new. This requires one to stop, think, see the Path you have walked, and prepare for the road ahead. You must pass through the spiritual night and darkness before you can celebrate the dawn.
When I think of Beltain, I think of reflection and new beginnings. In fact, I've been thinking a lot about my life up until now – how I perceive myself, and how I have been perceived. I think, from the beginning, I always felt like the “odd man out”. I didn't play with dolls, crave pretty jewelry, or envy ruffled dresses. I was rather content in slacks and tees. That was a good thing because, due to being a stocky child, there weren't many pretty, fluffy clothes made for “chubby girls”. When it came to school, Saint Peter's required uniforms. I accepted that. It wasn't a dress, in my mind. When I got home in the afternoon, I immediately switched to my more rugged attire. See, I found this ...
more fun than playing with this...
I had no use for baby dolls or prams. There was one time, however, when my mother was buying a small dolly cradle for my sister, complete with baby doll. I insisted that she buy me one as well. I think she was so delighted that I showed an interest in pretend womanly duties that she promptly agreed. Once home, I ripped open the cellophane wrapping, discarded the doll, and went to fetch one of our pet pigeons from the coop under the back porch. When I was next seen, I was happily rocking the cradle out on the picnic table of our playhouse, gently stroking the head of my tucked in, sleeping pigeon.
My Grandfather shook his head. “And how did you do that?”
“It cooed for me, so I sang back. It nodded off.”
No magic? Indeed.
It wasn't just my disregard of female apparel. I was also interested in things that puzzled my other friends and relatives. Horror movies, bugs (I once was given an old, red, box -shaped pocketbook of my mother's. I used it to house my dead cicada collection. I was 25. Joke. I believe that was 1962 when I was 8), Super Car, wild birds that we housed in our little aviary, and watching my Dad dress rabbits in the basement during hunting season. He was so expert at the task, I found him amazing. When finished, he would cut off the rabbit's foot, tie a string to the exposed tendon, and give it to me as a toy. Pull the string, and the rabbit toes moved! I was mesmerized by this until the tendon stiffened and the foot had to be discarded. I didn't mind. During season, there would always be another bunny.
I would haunt the corn field behind our house, checking for pheasants, looking for the weasels I was told ate our quails, watching for birds that might have fallen from the surrounding trees. I remember finding one, when I was around nine. I picked it up gently and carried it back to our yard, calling for my father to come and help. When I got to the area where family and friends were having a cook-out, they all looked at me and started to point and laugh. The bird had crapped and it had run down the front of my shorts. I was heartbroken. Who cared if I got messed on, the baby bird needed help. I ended up bursting into tears, and running behind our neighbor's garage, where it was shady and overgrown. I used the tall weeds to wipe off my hands and clothes, and build a soft nest for the bird. I then just sat by it, trying to understand why my effort was seen as so clownish and amusing. Eventually, my Dad found me and helped me set up better arrangements for the bird. He was the only one who hadn't laughed.
So, from the start, I was different. I wanted to be a writer since I was 8 years old. I believed in ghosts and magic, because I saw them and could do some, even though I was never believed. I eventually came to appreciate jewelry and mod clothes (it was the 60's, the only time when I didn't feel quite so alone in my differences).. but I was still rather fey.
And now, almost 59 years into it, it has dawned on me that I will always be different. In the hen house of life, I was born a duck. I don't know how or why. Perhaps there were other ducks in my lineage.. who knows? The chickens I was born into will always see me as defective, strange, delusional, and oddly feathered. That is because I will never be able to cluck, crow, strut or preen as they do. I make an absolutely lousy chicken...
..But I'm one hell of a duck. Other ducks think I'm smart, creative, funny and interesting. I'm not “foul”; I'm merely “fowl”, bird of a different feather, as it were.
Now, this is no Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale. There's no way in God's green earth this “chick” is ever morphing into a swan. I'm just finally at peace accepting the truth that this gal is never going to learn how to tweet (Boy, is that true on various levels) or chirp. This Casey/Cassidy/Thompson/Clark is not a cockle-doodle-do or a cluck. Nope. This Clark is a quack.
Just ask the other Clarks.
I guess my message, on this celebration of Death regenerating into new Life, is two-fold.First, as Jesus is quoted in the Bible, “No one is accepted as a prophet in their own land.” Strangers are more likely to see the diamond you have become. Your kin may only remember the lump of coal you once were.
Second, in the words of Abraham Lincoln, whatever you are, be a good one.
..And that ain't no chicken scratch.
Joyous Beltain, everyone!