This is the third post in my series about activities for the eight holidays throughout the wheel of the year. We are now between the spring equinox and the summer solstice at the holiday known as Beltane, Mayday and International Workers’ Day.
The synthesis of polarity
Almost exactly two years ago, I wrote a blog post about the 1st of may. There are a few traditional threads that weave through it all:
- International workers‘ day
My thoughts about this day crystallised into the following meain themes: The emergence of new things from the union of apparent opposites, reconcilitation, synergies, romantically speaking about all the different versions of love you can find in this world. Also vitality, ethusiasm, youthful zest for live and above all creativity.
In the following paragraphs you will find suggestions that may help you experience these themes more tangibly, also some descriptions of my own activities and experiences. I will keep adding new thoughts and ideas in the future.
You can find another perspective and additional insights into this time of year in the recent podcast episode The Wonder.
These days im my region nature presents itself as a very attractive mixture of tenderness and bubbly vibrancy. Most of the trees around me wear veils of white, pink or light green to tempt insects into visiting their blossoms. The endearing twitterings of single birds sometimes combines into a high volume acoustic experience that friends of mine would lovingly call „eco noise“. This effect also works on the olfactory level where delicate smells lure you into almost overwhelming clouds of spring aromas.
Overall this synthesis of lightness and intensity results in a very enticing impression on all the senses and warms my heart.And it seems as if the many bees and butterflys I can see zooming around feel the attraction as well, delivering bits of DNA from one blossom to the other to start the life cycle of new fruits.
The tree I chose for a series of photos on the 2nd of February is now in full bloom, whereas on the day of the equinox it was still in winter mode. I really am looking forward to seeing its changes documented.
What does your neighbourhood look like at the moment? Is the world around you a mix of pastels too or has nature already outgrown the delicate stage?
In my garden May keeps the promised that March made. Last year I planted asparagus, which (according to the pamphlet that came with it) I should leave alone for two years so I just enjoy watching the shoots appear overnight.
A couple of plants I cultivated in my living room still have to shelter in the grow box on my patio. Some flower seeds are waiting for me to sow them in May. Every year I am surprised that at least in Germany the Ice Saints will bring frosty spells in spring that endanger plants you spent so much effort on growing.
What is the current state of your garden, balcony or windowsill? Which plants did you cultivate indoors that are now eager to be transferred outside?
Apart from my own meditation there is a broad variety of other choices to be found online, covering different styles and durations. I would suggest the search terms „Beltane“, „reconciliation“ or „love“ in combination with „meditation“. There are also yoga flows suited for the occasion or based on heart opening asanas. Another option would be to create a fitting atmosphere and just quietly meditate on one or more of the themes of the day.
During my search for ideas I came across this tutorial for making your own miniature maypole. This is something that I am definitely going to do to have something to decorate my focus with.
Another option are crowns of flowers made with real flowers or from paper. This seems a lovely idea especially when you have kids and also to add a piece of spring to your indoors home. Same with an origami butterfly, which is something else I am going to make for my fokus. There are countless tutorials, so this one is just meant as an example.
As a representation of love you could make a heart from a variety of materials. If you prefer getting creative with pen and paper I would love to recommend Zentangle to you. It is amazingly relaxing and there are entire collections of heart themed patterns available.
And if all this still has not managed to get you into crafting gear, this very comprehensive list of Mayday DIY projects hopefully will.
I made a mini cardboard easel for my focus which I can present different pictures on throughout the year following these instructions originally meant for making a phone stand. Now I am going to create a new picture to put on the easel to focus on during the following weeks.
Food and drink
I have decidedd to add a new category and add recipes fitting each of the seasons. If there is one thing I associate with Mayday, it is woodruff punch or Maibowle in German. The link also includes a recipe without alcohol.
Listening to or making music
There are so many songs about love I have no idea where to start or stop. So I am not going to go into the pop music genre at all.
Classically, there are several pieces for weddings of course: By Mendelssohn or Wagner, but also modern versions like this one by Roy Todd. Like spring itself he weaves tenderness together with a deep intensity. Just like Fanny Mendelssohn in her interpretation of May. And then there is Mozart, who added music to a German poem about wanting to see violets again at last.
Some traditional childrens‘ songs describe the beginning of May as an invitation to go outside on Mayday morning to look at garlands and listen to the cuckoo‘s song. I have found another song along these lines which is a bit slower and more meditative. There is also a traditional German song about a donkey and a cuckoo first fighting about who is the best singer and them joining together in a harmonious duet. The lyrics are from an old poem by Hoffmann von Fallersleben and the message fits my own take on Mayday so well I chose the translation of „The cuckoo and the donkey“ as the title for my German blog post for today. I include it here because the next paragraph refers back to it.
I will always sift through the metal genre which often comes up with some surprisingly fitting offerings. This time I did not find any songs about love that I would include under the umbrella of „positive and life-affirming“. What I rediscovered was a cover version of the song about the cuckoo and the donkey by We Butter The Bread With Butter, who make their own synthesis of the opposites of childrens‘ song and grind core. The result is certeinly very engergetic. Where metal is very prolific is in songs about effervescent enthusiasm exemplified by Arkona and Huldre. Both should make almost anyone want to dance around the nearest maypole. Amalie Bruun, the face behind Myrkur, is usually know for her Black Metal. With this traditional piece for the month of May she shows a more delicate facet of her art..
Basically, any story about romance, encouragement or tenderness is a good fit for this time of year. Also books about reconciliation and peace. My one concrete recommendation is „Witches abroad“ by Terry Pratchett. The story is about three disc world witches who have to give their all to prevent a young woman from the state of Genua called Emberella from marring the Duc. What could go wrong?
In her poem „May-Flower“, Emily Dickinson also expands on the theme of tenderness bringing renewal in spring.
Pink, small, and punctual,
Covert in April,
Candid in May,
Dear to the moss,
Known by the knoll,
Next to the robin
In every human soul.
Bold little beauty,
Bedecked with thee,
These are the questions that might be helpful to ask yourself or the oracle of your choice:
- Where in your life do you experience conflict?
- How can you constructively deal with this conflict?
- How do you normally handle conflict?
- Is there space in your life for blossoms, pollen and love
- In which part of your life are you ready to risk opening up or searching for new input? Where do you see the highest chance of this risk paying off?
- What would happen if you did not take this chance?
- Which apparent internal polarities would it make sense for you to reconcile?
- What are their differences and what do they have in common with each other?
- Which new qualities could emerge from this union?
Focussing on your most important findings
What are the most meaningful answers to the questions above, the most fitting quotes or poems? Is there a piece of music that cou can condense into a word, a phrase or a symbol? Did you find an object outside that deserves to be showcased on your focus?
II am have put together my own focus gathering all my findings:
What about you?
Do you have a tradition for the 1st of May? How do you handle internal and external conflict? Is there space in your life for new things and for love? What could emerge from you reconciling what seems to be polar opposites within you?