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Celebrating the seasons of our lives

Bursting with life
Spring is in full song, the pulse of life is quickening – the land, leaning towards and kissed by the youthful sun, is blooming to his soft caress: summer is not far away.

May Day – also known as Beltane – is regarded by many as the climax of spring and the turning of the wheel of the year into summer. Of course, as I’ve written before, nature has her own calendar and I shall be looking for the hawthorn to blossom before I feel that summer is truly under way.
This time of year is traditionally an opportunity to celebrate and make merry because the hard work of preparing the ground and sowing the crops has mostly been done, and the growing tide has begun – when our attention turns more to tending and nurturing what has been planted.

It can also be seen as representing the turning of the wheel of life from spring childhood into the adolescence and young adulthood of early summer – that first awkward awareness of our emerging sexuality and its development into full flowering. Being on the cusp of spring and summer seems appropriate to teenagehood – that period when we feel in limbo, neither children nor adults. It’s even more reason to celebrate this time of the year and its associated transformative time of our lives – a time which is recognised in many cultures with a rite of passage (other than just being allowed to drive, smoke and drink).

There is no doubt that this time of year is the most sensual, that the energy of nature is palpable. Our garden, for example, is dancing with, among other delights, a symphony of birdsong, sweet cascades of lilac scents, bluebells, soft green grass, and a carpet of sky blue forget-me-nots and sun-like dandelions (I hold to Alan Titchmarsh’s assertion that “a weed is only a plant growing in the wrong place”, and the wild part of our garden is the perfect place for such radiant blooms).

I always like to walk barefoot around the garden. I find it helps me to think and to ground those thoughts. It helps me to sink emotional roots into the rhythms of nature, the drumbeat of my feet in tune with the turn of the earth. At this time of year, the earth throbs through my soles, awakening my soul to the energy of life that whirls and twirls through every leaf, each ripple of grass, each soft-scented kiss of spring breeze. 

How many green men can you see?
One of the features of late spring that particularly strikes me, however – and can easily be taken for granted as a background to the rainbow of floral colours – is the astonishing variety of vibrant greens bursting out along river banks and roadside verges, and from hedgerows and trees. It is easy to understand why the Green Man – a kind of nature spirit, a personification of natural forces – is also associated with this time of year, and often depicted in a cloak of foliage of many greens.

May Day/Beltane is a celebration of the earth’s fertility, with dancing around the Maypole and the sacred marriage of the May Queen and King, when courting couples would jump over Beltane fires to bless their union. Sensuality and sexuality are both enjoyed, celebrated, honoured and respected. After all, if it weren’t for sex, none of us would be here at all. Reproduction, whether in plants, animals or humans, is how life continues and thrives. 

Sex has, alas, often fallen victim to repression and denial or been abused for power or profit (from selling anything from perfume to cars to pop songs); cast into the gutter or put up on a pedestal. Neither attitude is healthy. Sex between freely consenting adults, and in a loving and meaningful relationship, is a very natural celebration of life. And our early forebears, who were so much closer to nature than many of us today, were comfortable with this.

It is also recognition of the equal importance of male and female, god and goddess, within nature, society and ourselves – whatever our sexual orientation, getting the balance right is vital for our fertility and creativity in mind and spirit, as individuals and as a society. 

Celebrating Beltane is maybe an important seasonal rite of passage for us all, whatever our age.


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