Beltane

Mixed-Media collage art

Back when I was a Ministerial Guide at Lake Harriet Spiritual Community, I was blessed to be able to celebrate all the holidays of the pagan calendar in community.  I partnered with amazing, talented people to create rituals which drew on ancient tradition and current events.  We used play, dance, music, sacred space, meditation, activities of creation and inner work to mark the holidays as meaningful moments in time.

Part of the Beltane celebration is about bringing together the Masculine and Feminine energies in the act of creation.  Beltane taught me the most about holding the creative energies higher, not letting them sink down into my personality and manifest as sexuality.  I could do it back then.  I could hold a container for others with that energy, and keep it sacred.  I could help folks who were confused about their longings and passions.

But as my illness ramped up, my own sexual compulsions pushed me into dangerous situations and drove my risky behavior.  I might have been able to hold a container for others, but I couldn’t do it for myself.

Beltane reminds me of that past.  But, it also offers me comfort.  Just like my compulsive eating and spending, this symptom of my illness can be tamed if I work at it.  I can step outside the desire and longing, unhook from the fantasies, turn around and simply look at them.  I am more than those things.

There is a part of me that lives in abundance, a part of me that eats only when hungry, and a part of me that welcomes passion as a path to creativity.  This is the community I gather around me today.

I am the Priestess and the Horned God. I am the Sacred Wood where they unite.  I am the Cycle unending.

Into the Fire

After Halloween, my favorite holiday is Beltane.  In pre-Christian times, Beltane (or May Day) was a celebration of survival.  Human beings feasted, danced, adorned themselves with flowers, chased each other around a Maypole, and indulged in their passions and sexuality.  They built great bonfires and drove their herds through them for purification, good luck and fertility.  Humans collectively snapped their fingers at the long, deadly winter just passed and welcomed back Life.

Back before my bipolar disorder spun my life on this current path, I served as one of the Ministerial Guides at Lake Harriet Spiritual Community in Minneapolis.  We were a pan-theological lot, honoring all ways and means to Spirit, and I cherished my role there.  Today, I’m missing that woman who sang, and danced, and felt her sacred connection to the Earth with such passion and joy.  I’m missing the beautiful, meaningful rituals we created.  But, most of all, I’m missing the people who stood with me in the sacred circle, the people whom I loved so deeply and who loved me:  Jinjer and Carol, Steven, Mert, Christine and Linda, Greg, Jennifer, Rochelle, Tom and Jodene, Lee, Hanakia, Marshall, Nancy and Jim, Monica and Gary, Lily, Mike and Lynn, and all the others my faulty memory can’t bring forward.  My heart aches from missing them.

My illness feels deep and wide today, which accounts for the waves of loneliness and sense of loss that lap over me.  I wonder if this is what it feels like to drown?  Yesterday I flailed, impotent, in the dark, rising flood, gulping water with air.  Today, gathering in more calm, I’m able to stretch out and float between the waves that pull me under.  I sense my mind grasping at the false thoughts bobbing by.  The desire to claim the sadness as truth seems so natural.

But, I’ve learned too much, practiced too hard, to hang onto those leaky buoys for long.  If I stay calm, if I relax into the rhythm of the current, I can wait out this flood until the waters recede.  As I lie here, waiting, I will dream of the Beltane fires, roaring on the hilltops of the Isle of Man, ready for me to pass through and burn away the last vestiges of Winter’s darkness.  The water soaking me today will rise up in hot steam, boiled off my body by fire’s healing touch, faith and love.  The Wheel turns, and I turn with it.

How synchronistic that Beltane and my illness twine together today as it is also the beginning of Mental Health Awareness Month.  This is a time to reach out, take action, bring light to the darkness.  One out of four Americans suffer from some form of mental illness.  You know us.  You may be one of us.  If you are suffering, reach out.  If you know someone who is suffering, reach out.  With treatment and support, we can walk through the fire together.

Shreds of Steam

Light again, and the one who brings light!

Change the way you live!


From the ocean vat, wine fire in each cup!

Two or three of the long dead wake up.

Two or three of the drunks become lion hunters.


Sunlight washes a dark face.

The flower of what’s true opens in the face.

Meadowgrass and garden ground grow damp again.

A strong light like fingers massages our heads.

No dividing these fingers from those.


Draw back the lock bolt.

One level flows into another.

Heat seeps into everything.

The passionate pots boil.

Clothing tears into the air.

Poets fume shreds of steam,

never so happy as out in the light!

—Rumi

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