I think in our modern world that we do not pay nearly enough attention to the time of the year as defined by the progression of nature. May Day in ancient Celtic times was known as the feast of Beltane, literally the Fires of Bel, one of the pagan gods that they worshipped. Religious beliefs aside, they counted this as the beginning of the productive growth of nature, thus, the beginning of summer. This is why on or about late mid-June, the 20th this year, the Celts counted that solstice as mid-summer.
The Celts, along with many other ancient and really not so ancient cultures, celebrated feasts spread throughout the year, and all were associated with nature. They had gods associated with them, but the most significant fact is that nature dictated the pace of life for them. Maybe it should for us, too, at least more so than it does now.
The last twenty-four hours here in St. Louis, Missouri, has been classic spring. It was temperate but muggy yesterday leading to somewhat severe storms last night. Then, this morning, it was warm and foggy, magically thick fog electrified by the morning sun that made it so bright when facing east that I had to squint. The fog cleared, puffy cumulus clouds scattered across the blue sky, and it warmed into the upper 70’s. Yes, I could see how it could be called the start of summer.
But there is more than that about this feast of Beltane for the Celts. It was a time of possibilities of great profit from the productive work of summer; however, great profit requires real work, sacrifice. The concept of sacrifice played a major part in the Celtic celebration, which involved the fires of Bel. To realize goals and secure tangible benefits does require sacrifice in one form or another.
In a way, that’s what our tradition of spring cleaning is all about: sacrificing the old things and ideas that don’t serve us anymore to make room for the new, more profitable times ahead. It’s a life metaphor. We need to make room for the new growth of ourselves, but that growth does not come without a knowledge of self, without seeking out our own hearts and listening for that voice that lets us know who we really are and what we are really about.
Then, we will experience explosive growth like that of the lawn in springtime or the forsythia and lilac bushes. Just as at this time of the year we can sense, feel, smell, see, and hear the freshness of life popping in growth around us, we can know super spring green and floral abundance. I suppose I could pile beauty upon beauty, but you get the point.
Sacrifice, though is necessary—sacrifice of all the opinions of a world clamoring for conformity by appealing to the ego and the consequent rationalizations of the mind. Done in by our own ego and minds in order to keep us safe, which means keep us sluggish and from growing. We need to ignore ego and listen earnestly for the voice of our own hearts.
As I write this, I can hear the robins outside. Birds were sacred to the Celts, as well as many other ancient peoples. Too bad they are not for many of us. Robins signified the spread of new growth. How wonderful would it be to listen to your heart, learn yourself, and spread the growth of your soul to others. That’s something for which to sacrifice!
Let’s take a cue from the Celts, Nature, and our own hearts and freshen up for the coming summer!
Questions to consider:
How many times have you asked yourself or simply thought about the following questions?
Who am I, really?
What is my truth?
How do my actions reveal what I really feel and believe?
What would I do with my life if I could do anything?
What is my passion?
Why am I here?
How can I discover answers to any of these questions?
If you have considered any of these questions, I hope that my experiences and writing will give you some guidance. Please read my blog and comment and share your thoughts. I would love to hear from you!