Merry Beltane 2008!

Staring at the silver tinsel and black witch’s hat perched on top of my computer, wondering how we manage with so much cognitive dissonance in this country (the original festival that Halloween is based upon is a celebration of the ‘end of summer’ – that’s what the word means ) I recall the feel and the look of my first Halloween costume.

I must have been 4, going on 5, for it was in New Jersey where my Dad was taking his PhD.

Somehow Mom had procured a Witch costume for me and a Donald Duck one for my brother, so we could traipse around the neighbourhood with a little bucket each, trick-or-treating in the campus married quarters.

I can call the material of my robe up in my mind to this day – dark, dark blue as the sky an hour after sunset, shot through with silver sparkly thread glittering like the early stars.

Was I a Witch-Practitioner even then? All children are, unless there’s something seriously wrong with them.

Now I’ve been giving ‘ Terri’s Halloween Lecture’ for the last 18 years or so – at least as long as I’ve been back in the southern hemisphere as a Pagan . It’s got to where it sounds like ‘Samhain..blahblahblah..Beltane..babblebabble’ even to me. But I persevere, in the name of Educating the Masses.

This year, I will be celebrating Beltane on Friday 7 th November, the date of the astronomical midpoint between Equinox and Solstice, and the day before I turn 49.

I’m starting to appreciate the benefits of being post menopausal– the lack of chemicals rushing around your body and messing with your head, the more even tone of your emotional state, the ease of relating to other people – hel, you’re technically a Crone now, with a sigh of relief that all that procreating stuff is behind you.

I enjoy Being like this. I feel as if I’m settling into a straighter, more aligned groove in the universe than I ever inhabited previously. I feel sane, and healthy, joyous and safely held within the cosmos. Yes, I’m one of those irritating people who lean towards the inherent benevolence of this universe.

But the muddling between Beltane and Samhain coming at me from South African society in general is really an indicator as to how these two celebrations are actually linked.

They’re poles of the same thing.

Once upon a time, you see – many eons ago when we all lived in the primordial soup and War for Oil had not yet been discovered- we possessed a kind of immortality about ourSelves. We were then unicellular organisms for the most part, and reproduced ourSelves through fission. We could mostly go on for eternity like this, but we bartered it for something we thought we needed more – adaptability through mutation.

So we came up with sexual reproduction, in which two of us contribute genetic material to create a ‘new individual’, and the roll of the dice of inheritance had begun.

In this way we achieved the shifting, adapting organism we were looking for, but the price we paid for it was Death.

Thus, Beltane as the celebration of fertility and sexuality is just the other pole of this axis to Samhain, the celebration of death and mortality.

The one implies and is necessitated by the other, and Sex and Death are intimately bound together – ask any Scorpio.

Did we get a good deal? My jury is still out on that one.

I find the veil thins just as much at Beltane as at Samhain, which is not surprising, given my status as a Being slightly outside the sexual rapaciousness of the Calan Haf , now.

Whatever you’re celebrating – Sex or the Death which was Life’s price for it – I bid you have a good one, and remember the connection.

Pic: Courtesy of the fabulous Beltane Fire Society


12 responses to “Merry Beltane 2008!

  1. Blessed Beltane,Bandia beannachtai BealtaineIf death is the price for life then it is indeed worth it for to be alive, even for a brief moment, is the greatest most beautiful gift creation can bestow. To be alive is to be overwhelmed by beauty and the only true response is a deep sense of awe, wonder and magic mixed with profound joy.


  2. I don’t like Halloween, it just teaches kids to be greedy. We teach our kids such stupid things. And millions of pumpkins go to waste instead of feeding people. And people spend lots of money on costumes and party’s while others continue to starve. Fuck Halloween, I close the gate early and keep the place dark.


  3. As always, I love reading your take on anything! I shared it in turn in today’s the roundup of Samhain stories over at MetaPagan–it was great to be able to include a Beltane twist to the roundup. (Oh, yeah, the earth has two poles. Riiiight!)I hope both that it will bring a little extra traffic to your wonderful blog, and that you won’t mind that I posted–in reduced size–that wonderful picture of the Beltane ritual. It sent shivers up my spine!Happy Life/Death holiday, my friend!


  4. Yesterday was a date of astronomical interest: it’s a cross-quarter date, midway between an equinox and a solstice. There are four cross-quarter dates throughout the year, and each is a minor holiday. One is Groundhog Day (Feb. 2nd), another is May Day (May 1st), the third is Lammas Day (Aug. 1st), and thefourth…? Happy Halloween!Anyway, originally called Samhain (pronounced sow-in), it became Hallowmas once the Christians took over the land and tried, rather unsuccessfully, to rid the people of their Pagan practices.Bottom line? Fuck the ChristiansI think that Halloween should be about helping really poor people eat.


  5. Hey thanks Cat!That picture affects me (positively) so much that I’ve got it as my seasonal wallpaper on my work computer at the moment.Everyone, even non-Pagans, loves it.Billy – yes that would be the best thing, if we could help each other, and help stop this abominable civilisation at the same time, at festivals instead of using them selfishly to work on our own spirituality, happiness, etc.I don’t see it happening, though.Love,Terri in Joburg


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