Witches, cats and pumpkins lean from my kitchen calendar and remind me Halloween (Samhain) approaches, but the timing is skewed (my fault for buying an American calendar)…
Living into a calendar from the Northern Hemisphere brings imagery that doesn’t naturally fit, but I still just love. Christmas for example, is cricket on the beach and seafood… yet my tree will hang heavy with gorgeous silvery snowflakes, lovingly unwrapped from their tissue-paper stasis every year. We associate frosty snowmen with Christmas, but they are more at home in a Northern Winter. So too, we enjoy Halloween imagery that to me feels a little lost in Spring.
Honoring real time and place, gives me a sense of relevance to ritual, and October 31st isn’t an arbitrary date. In the North it’s the cold dark of Autumn’s end, when the veil is thinnest and our world and that of ghouls and ghosts rub shoulders to reside closer than any other night. Celebrated half way between the Autumn Equinox and the Winter Solstice, is the perfect time to carve abundant in-season pumpkins into Jacko lanterns, and light them against the crisp dark. Pagan Halloween in Australia is comfortable in the dark of May the 1st, which can pass like a quiet black cat without anyone noticing.
Now, in this great southern land, the sun’s journey approaches midpoint between the Spring Equinox and the Summer Solstice, a time we traditionally celebrate Beltane. On October 31st the veil between us and them is still thin, but in the depth of Spring ‘they’ are fairy instead of the dead at Halloween.
In the North, Beltane or May Day, is celebrated by dancing around the may pole. Coloured ribbon is literally danced and woven around a pole representing male (white) and female (red) principles. The word Beltane has origins meaning fire, from a time when Beltane fires were lit as symbols of fertility and protection.
Pollen laden air is the natural backdrop for my Beltane celebrations; the festival of love, passion and lust. Where pink primulas and heady jasmine beckon me to walk barefooted in my garden and breathe in the natural abundance. Beltane celebrates the fertility that drives life, passion and joy – which bubbles up at Spring.
Still, any community festivity is a good thing, just make it yours. My heart is with Beltane.