Most of the folks who visit the PaganCentric web site know that I usually avoid any form of well wishes on Pagan holidays. Not because I’m an old grump or anything (though there’s enough evidence to support that contention). There are a couple of reasons for this. Foremost among them is simply the fact that it annoys me when Pagan themed web sites celebrate Pagan holidays, solstices and cross-quarters with lessons and bits of history. So, using today as an example, I tend to just wish people “Happy Beltane” rather than go into long, drawn-out explanations about what Beltane is and why and how you should celebrate it. The very foundation of this web site is that we should all accept general principles, but beyond that do whatever feels right to each of us.
One my students suggested an interesting compromise. The result is this post. She asked me to post one image which, to me, captured the spirit of Beltane celebrations, both in its revelry and in its spiritual significance. If you know me at all, you know I like a challenge. So I poured over my personal photos and artwork collections, and poked around on the Internet, looking for that perfect image, only to eventually realize that the one image which had lodged itself firmly in my brain was one of the first images I saw when I began my search. You may find that image embedded in this post.
The image is of nothing in particular, really. There are no grand vistas of Pagans celebrating Beltane around a massive bonfire. There are no cutesy renderings of the Goddess in flowing, sparkling robes. There are no self-indulgent priestesses leading Beltane rituals. To me this image captures a moment in time. Nothing more. Nothing less. And yet it helps to know that this image came from a Beltane celebration. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but there’s something in this image that sums up Beltane to me. It’s vulnerable but hopeful. Simple yet mysterious. Naked and honest. It’s an unguarded moment in which this woman seems to me to be at one with the spirit of the bonfire behind her, the lighting of which signals the end of Winter and the coming of Summer.
I don’t remember where I found this photograph. Many times details like that are less important than the fact that you have it, that you saved it because it spoke to you in some fashion. I don’t know why I saved this photograph. Unless it was because I was meant to use it today, in wishing you and yours a Happy Beltane and a Happy May Day. Now that we’ve had our official odd Claire moment, we can go on about the business of enjoying the day.
Walk in light and peace, my loves. And know that I am thinking of you.
~ Claire Mulkieran