Ah. Tuesdays. And, I guess another year to bring up Beltane, which is literally on the doorstep right now. Back in 2014, I wrote a post titled “Why I Celebrate Beltane Alone – An Opinion“. I discussed, not in great detail or length, my dislike for this particular celebratory part of the Wheel of the Year. Most of that comes from the extreme over-sexualization of this particular celebration. Not that I am against sex. As an act between two consenting adults, its a wonderful, beautiful moment in time. Back in the late 1990s and the early 2000s, it certainly seemed that this time of the year was an excuse for everyone to have relations with everyone else. Essentially, the celebration was seemingly being used as an excuse to get your rocks off with someone else. In my world, consent is a big thing. And this “celebration” seemed to be used as an excuse to get around that consent. You know, “its Beltane, you have to.”
Over the last six years, the Pagan community as a whole, has started putting the brakes on the lame excuses to get around the concept of mutual consent. That’s something I welcome greatly. As an individual that mostly practices alone, I welcome the idea of keeping the sexual matters of two or more people between them and not on overt display for everyone else. As a for instance, at one Beltane gathering, a group of younger (20-something) Pagans took it upon themselves to create an “orgy” under a tarp in sight of a little over a hundred participants. Who knows what did or did not happen under the tarp. It might have all been good, clean fun – just making a “joke” as it were. It certainly was not in good taste.
The point here has nothing to do with what people do sexually. Rather, it is about decorum at public gatherings. At the particular Beltane I am noting, there were several Christians who had been invited to see what a Pagan gathering was like. I can only imagine what a fake orgy under a tarp conjured as “normal activities for Pagans” for those folks.
Now, I get some of the attitude towards non-Pagans. They (non-Pagans) have persecuted Pagans over their beliefs. I was in the DFW area during the Satanic Panic. I have many distasteful memories of children being taken from their Pagan parents and placed into foster care. I also have painful memories of being slammed into a rack of Post Office mail slots and nearly assaulted over being highlighted in an article in Stars and Stripes newspaper one Fall. However, doing distasteful things to get back at people who probably had nothing at all to do with those actions, is not the way to change perspectives on what Pagans are. In fact, it only reinforces much of the misunderstanding of what Pagans are in their minds.
I still celebrate Beltane on my own, for the most part. At the moment, I live too far from the folks that I would prefer to celebrate with – and I know next to nothing about the local Pagan community around me. In the near future, I hope to make changes to that.
On Facebook, I had someone query me in Messenger, asking if I was going to lead a Beltane celebration or ritual. The answer to that is “no.” Not because of how I feel about Beltane. My issue is not with Beltane, but with those who use this time of year as an excuse to be what is essentially a sexual predator. Its because I know my own limitations. I have no experience at leading a group ritual, of any kind. As such, I would be the very wrong person to do such a thing. A good group ritual leader will know the techniques and methods to engaging entire groups effectively during a ritual. I haven’t the first clue how to do just that. Second, no one has invited me to do any such thing. If they had, I would have pointed them to other Pagans that I know that do have this kind of experience. Like I said, I know my limitations.
Now, would I participate in a Beltane celebration, if invited? Sure. Given enough lead time to make sure my mundane life is fairly well settled before I travel there, I certainly would. In this day and time of #CoronaPanic? I would honestly decline, for this year. I have underlying health conditions that make me very nervous to be in public with others, even with whatever PPE I can find or is afforded to me. Thus, this year’s Beltane will be a very quiet, private time for me. Invite me for next year, I’ll see about making plans for it now.
So, this year will be another fairly individual Beltane for me. I usually celebrate alone during this time to avoid some of the inane behaviors I have seen in the past. Trust me, it has nothing to do with who you see or how many. I don’t have hangups in those areas. I do have a hangup on proper behavior in public. And by proper, I don’t mean not holding the hand of the person you love, or not giving them a proper tonsil massage during that romantic snog. I think both gestures are terribly romantic and affectionate moments that people can share with you through their own eyes. Nope. I’m talking about keeping your clothes on, unless you’re doing a nude ritual, and just not doing the hunka-chunka out in the open. Remember, you’re at a public ritual or gathering, not a porn shoot. Personal, individual responsibility folks. Or if you prefer “adulting”.
With #CoronaPanic starting to come about to “re-opening” of the world, I would still caution folks against gathering for Beltane. In pandemics, there’s an event called “the Second Wave” where folks start feeling safe, and discard their protections, only to have the virus rise up again – and usually even more terrible than before. Me? I’ll remain home, even as Texas opens on May 1st. I’ll continue to avoid contact with other people, wearing my mask in public, staying indoors to insure minimal contact, and constantly washing my hands. Beltane has shown up at a strange time in this year. I’d honestly like to be around next year for another one. You, on the other hand, need to make your own choices. I’d prefer to be able to see you at Beltane next year. Nine Hells, you might even invite me to your celebration.