Today I sat in my garden basking in the summer sun and remembering the famous line from summertime “summertime and the living is easy”. This reminded me of a truth found within the wisdom held in the Celtic yearly calendar, “there can be no Bealtaine (Maytime) without Samhain (November) neither can there be a summertime blossoming without the journey through the dark depths of winter. It seems that life, in its magnificence, blossoms forth in us and in the natural world in response to the journey through the darkness of wintertime with its harshness and challenges. To say that I love Maytime is an understatement. My love of Maytime or Bealtaine is almost primal! Last Friday as I drove through some country roads, I understood why the hedges were ablaze with hawthorn (whitethorn), Cow parsley, Queen Anne’s lace dandelions, buttercups, primroses and cowslips, the trees were resplendent with the almost translucent green of beech, hazel, oak and ash. The vibrancy was almost palpable and I felt such a sense of joy and gratitude as I drove along the small country roads admiring the beauty. I could sense, see and smell the summer in all its splendour. Summer and its expansive energy is a quality also found within humans, especially when we like the natural world, proudly add our gifts and talents to the earthly banquet. This blossoming of new life in the lives of humans also often follows a dark and deep inner journey or a Samhain time.
Imbolc (Feb 1st) which is half way between Samhain (Nov) and Bealtaine (May) is sometimes referred to as winter pregnant with summer. At this time new life possibilities exist but require faith and tenacity so that they will blossom later.
In past times, La Bealtaine (May Day), there were many ritual customs associated with this day which was the second most important festival in the Celtic calendar. While the general practice of these customs has died out over the centuries, a new generation of people of all ages are now reviving this festival and the customs associated with them. Some ritual practises associated that reflect the central role of fire energy in Bealtaine that you might want to perform next year to welcome the season in are:
Get up before sunrise on La Bealtaine goes to a hill and allow the first rays of summer sun to bathe your face! Go to a holy well and wash you face with well water just as the first rays of sun hit the water and bless yourself with the combined power of fire (masculine) and water (feminine), both required for the blossoming of new life! Gather wild flowers and lay them on doorstep or throw them on the roof of your home singing “Tughamar fein an samhradh linn” (we bring the summer into ourselves).
“It is always summertime in the grateful heart” is an expression which might reflect how the qualities of acceptance and gratitude, when practiced and developed within us, creates moments of expansiveness and flowering in our lives and creates summer smiles no matter how the outer circumstances appear. So as you embrace this summer season, ask yourself What gifts are you willing to add to the symphony of vibrant life this year, and remember to also give thanks for the journey that led to this blossoming!
With blessings of summertime to you,