BELTANE THROUGH THE LENS OF AN OLDER WOMAN
I am in my 50s now, and I've been working my Craft for over 30 years. Some of that was tradition-based, much of it was with a coven. In recent years, I've been solitary, semi-retired from "public pagandom" and that mostly because I feel like the version of the Craft I knew, that I love, is not what is around today.
What the Craft has morphed into is something different than what I had come to understand and know...and while that isn't denoting judgement of it as a good or bad thing, it is and acknowledgement that it IS a very different thing these days, and I'm not convinced this iteration is something to which I feel belong.
And I'm ok with that for the most part.
Perhaps this is why some have said a 'woman of a certain age' is supposed to step down from the HPS role and go do her groovy thing elsewhere. Less to do with fertility maybe, and more to do with not relating to the role in quite the same way given the modern views and modalities.
Certainly seems to be enough history to support the idea of little old ladies going off to live alone and on her own, away from the larger community, just growing her weird herb garden and talking to cats and forest animals as if they'd answer her back. Seems about right to me!
Which brings me 'round again to Beltane. As a single, older woman who is both sans coven and sans spouse, I'm having a bit of a negotiation with the Lord and Lady about how this celebration fits into my current situation and what I can bring to Them as proper offering of love, respect and gratitude in my given circumstances.
What does Beltane even mean to me in my perimenopausal life? What does it mean that my mood swings and fluctuating hormones and trying to age semi-gracefully make me nearly invisible in this world, both IRL and in modern pagandom?
Do I tell the 'Wicca influencers' on Snapchat and IG to get their crystal balls of my lawn? Do I spend my time trying to figure out why everybody is so damn triggered by the version of Craft that I once knew to the point of making it cancel-cultured pariah?
Lately I feel like my private meditations with Cosmic Mom and Dad are more like I am in session with my therapist, trying to talk-through why it feels like the gradient of everything has stolen the specialness of it all.
So I look at the old photographs of maypole dancers, of the colored ribbons and the smiling dancers who you just know were going to steal off to into the woods, two-by-two, to conjure the summer in. And I feel whistful. Not just because I am without a partner, but because I also often feel like I am without the joyousness and carefree FUN of what it meant to celebrate in such a way.
Now, we have to worry about who will be upset by the idea of what Beltane is about, how fertility works, what words are OK to use in describing such things and reenacting them in token or in truth...all of which may be unintentionally triggering to somebody.
So where does this leave us in our modern Beltane eve? Is any sort of light-hearted flirtation acceptable or is it all considered a dance down the path toward offense now?
This is why I am solitary. I am far too jaded and sick of trying to figure out how to redress things to meet with today's parameters. I'm from the school where a ribald joke, a risque double entendre and a bit of a wicked grin were part of the Beltane fun. Verbal foreplay before the obvious figurative descent of the May Queen's flowered crown came sliding down the pole. I'd rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints, y'all. Just sayin'.
So here's a health to you, how every you do or don't celebrate. May your May Wine be sweet with woodruff and berries, may your eyes alight on those whom you love and may the year ahead be fertile and wild and bountiful of blessings.
And may your Beltane night bring you much ecstasy and merriment as your palate and social conscience will allow you!