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Blog: On Health. On Writing. On Life. On Everything.

Today is Beltane!

April 30, 2011

Tags: Water, food, herbs, movement, order, annihilation, annuals, bacterial life, Beltane, blooming, broomstick, celebration, chemicals, cherry blossoms, children’s children, chives, daffodil, desert, Earth, fall, Gaia, gardening, gardening methods - unorthodox, global warming, green, leaves, May Dance, May First, mutations, Nature, nature religion, neo-paganism, non-turning of the soil, nourishing, novel, nuclear devastation, ozone hole, paganism, perennials, political, radiation, renewal – yearly, rite, ritual, science, Sebastian Kneipp - Water Doctor, soil, spring, spring rites, stepping stones, summer, Today Is Beltane!, tulip, walking, water tables, Wiccan, witches

Beltane is the ancient rite of greeting and revering spring, celebrated on the night that leads into the First of May. I don’t believe in witches riding on broomsticks – or, to rephrase this, modern science interprets the broomstick a bit different. But in my novel “Sebastian Kneipp, Water Doctor” the broomstick and Beltane play a major role. For that reason alone, Beltane is special for me.

The most amazing features of Nature are that she brought us forth and nourishes us, and that she renews herself yearly.

This force of renewal is enormous – but it is not inexhaustible. We can come to a point of no return if we are not careful with old Gaia, and that point of no return could come in several scenarios, all not pretty: Nuclear devastation – and in the past we have come close to several political annihilation situations. Lowering the water tables so that wide parts of the Earth would turn into deserts until nothing green grows anymore. Biological mutations in our genome, started by chemicals we deem safe now but might find out too late they are not. Overheating of the Earth – global warming; there are still people who deny that this is happening, in the face of science. Overexposure to radiation by increasing the ozone hole (we are working mightily on that one).

In my garden I practice what I call non-turning of the soil – it’s a leisurely and useful form of gardening. I leave the leaves on the beds in the fall (the neighbors got used to my untidy garden and seem to have forgiven me because they Oh! And Ah! in spring, summer and fall at the blooming results of my unorthodox gardening methods. - If one doesn’t step on the soil, one doesn’t compact the soil, so one doesn’t have to turn the soil. Between perennials, annuals and bushes my garden the stepping stones. I never, ever step on the soil because I know it is teeming with beneficial bacterial life that will be trampled and choked if I do.

So, I don’t care if you celebrate Beltane with a Wiccan ritual (be aware that most of this nature religion is less ancient than we usually think – most comes from nineteenth and twentieth centuries’ revival of old paganism) or with a Dance into May or with a walk under cherries blossoms or along daffodils and tulips or with a salad sprinkled with the first chives from the garden. But l do care that we not trample and choke our good old Earth and preserve her for our children and children’s children.

The thought haunts me that one day nobody might be able ever to celebrate spring anymore – either because Spring has ceased to return, or nobody is left to celebrate …

Beltane in the Woods

May 3, 2010

Tags: order, Beltane, Beltane in the Woods, biochemistry, Earth, evening star, Gaia, Kneipp - Sebastian, poem, renewal, Sebastian Kneipp, spring, Venus, witchcraft

Enter the Circle, the holy ring,
Behold what the Goddess of Life will bring.
The Circle of Day—Moon and Sun,
The Circle of Year—summer, fall, winter, spring,
The Circle of Life—babe, maid, mother, crone,
Dust to dust. The circle forms a new beginning.

Prime of year, joy of flowers—
Mystery of spring—of thee we sing.
Hallow the forces of spring and creation,
Leave behind your wintry sedation.
Green wood inspires, friendship blooms,
Fruitfulness soars and health resumes.

Last Friday was Beltane – yes, the night when witches fly around on their brooms. We were driving up to Maine to open our cottage . The sun went under in a pale, pale pink horizon under a spring-blue sky, promising a beautiful next day. Night settled and the evening star, Venus, appeared - the “lovers’ star.” The moon had just peaked two nights ago. It was eerie and lovely.

No, I am not into witchcraft. But I work with the same herbs the people of old tried to understand. Nowadays, science helps me out: You wouldn't believe how much biochemistry is floating around at herbal conferences!

But the renewal in spring is as vital now as it was for the ancient. If Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring” would come true, the whole human race would perish. (Don’t worry about Gaia, our Earth - she would survive, repeople herself with a hopefully more gentle, considerate race. If not that, at least the molds and lichens and bacteria would survive, and start the process of evolution all anew).

Beltane has special meaning for me because I am a gardener and herbalist, because I depend on healthy nature all around me – and because a Beltane celebration in the woods opens my “Sebastian” novel (the poem is taken from it).
Aspen eyes, by Peggy Peters

Iguazu Falls, by Xin Liu

Alexa Fleckenstein M.D. 2012, by Lolita Parker jr.

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