Beltane Waning Flower Moon
The old Celtic calendar divided the year into two seasons, Summer and Winter. Summer began on Beltane, May 1st, and ended at Samhain, Summer’s End, at October 31st. Summer is the growing season, the time when a subsistence farming economy like that of the Celts in Britain and Ireland raised food stuffs that had to last throughout the long, fallow season of Winter.
As my inner journey has changed over the years since Alexandria, Indiana and my received Methodist Christianity the wisdom of these early earth based faith traditions means more and more to me. The technology of food raising and preservation has changed dramatically, it is true, but the human need for food has not. We still need enough calories to sustain us throughout our day and most of those calories still start out in the form of plant material.
Taoism emphasizes conforming our lives to the movement of heaven. At its most obvious level this means making the rhythms of our lives congruent with what the Celts called the Great Wheel of the Seasons. If you care for flowers, have a vegetable garden or raise bees, then the biological imperative of their seasonal needs tends to pull you into the season. If you enjoy the gradual and beautiful transition in Minnesota from the growing season to the depths of Winter, the cool days and leaves may call you outside, perhaps to hunting and fishing, perhaps to hiking and birdwatching, perhaps just for the changing colors. As fall changes to winter, you may, like the bears, begin to hibernate, turn away from the cold and begin to do inside work.
Taoism also encourages us to conform our lives to the possibilities of the moment. That is, when standing in a river, pushing it back upstream is foolish, but it is possible to dig channels for it and divert it’s energy.
The Great Wheel is often seen as a metaphor for the human journey: baby (spring), youth (summer), adulthood (fall), elderhood (winter). The tao of human life is to act as the moment in life you are in suggests. A twist on this might be to consider what the adult stage finds calling to it when the season of summer is upon us. There are many levels.
Beltane offers us a chance to reflect on those things in our lives that have begun to take on real form, that seem poised for a season of growth. In my case bee-keeping and the translation project come to mind. I’ve done preliminary work with both of them and it may just be this summer that they grow into regular parts of my ongoing journey. I hope so.
Whatever it is for you, whatever things in your life need a long hot summer for maturation, give it to them. This is the movement of heaven.
Kate’s colleague Dick, whom I have mentioned occasionally here, has come close to the end of his painful last days. The cancer has proved more than his body and the medical wisdom we have now could defeat. What comes to maturation for him in these first days of summer is the whole of his life and the transition of death. None of us know what lies on the other side of the grave, or even if there is another side, but all lives end. Vale, Dick.