Some Musings on Beltane

May 1, 2020

What you lose at Samhain always comes back to you; what you lose at Beltane is gone forever.

I heard this Wiccan proverb in the 80s, and the Witch who shared it with me explained that what people traditionally “lost” at Beltane was their virginity. Innocence is something that cannot be regained, and something many people mourn. Christians frame the passing of innocence as the “fall from grace,” and view it as the fruit of disobedience.

Another way of looking at the bliss of innocence is that it is not a condition the Goddess values. In fact, she seems to actively disapprove of it, continually sending us experiences that disillusion us, as the wheel turns inexorably onward. The only thing we can do is cherish the lessons, and contemplate how they can serve us on our path.

What have you lost recently? Today I lost respect for someone, for seeing the world in black-and-white terms and abusing others in the process. I muted her on Twitter. A small action, perhaps, but this time of year small actions, small shifts, can change the trajectory. I have left not just a person, whose words were background noise I never considered much, but a situation. Because Beltane is a time for contemplation, I will recognize this situation in the future and extricate myself.

I apologize if I am being oblique. My point is that illusions are constantly being lifted, and there are times when the shift in perspective is particularly momentous. The shift can seem minimal when it occurs. Or it can feel calamitous: an illusion stolen; a dream shattered. Regardless of how it feels at the time, the change is deep.

Another tradition at Beltane is to jump over the fire declaring that you will do something or have something soon. This is different from the vows of Imbolc that require sweat, perseverance, and divine guidance. (I will stop smoking; I will finish my master’s thesis.) This declaration is something you know you can do, but just haven’t done, like taking off your shoes and walking barefoot on soft grass. What could you easily do, that would feel good, but you just haven’t done? I muted somebody on Twitter, whom I didn’t know at all except by their sour, disagreeable commentary. Beltane is a time of liberation.