The twin fires, the explosion of life, the joy of youth – an ecstatic time in the wheel of the year. Time to grow and grow quickly, both physically and spiritually. A time of birth, of new life, of passion, of seedlings bursting through the soil. A time where we forget the troubles of the world as we dance the Maypole and call to the gods and goddesses.
But as we dance and sing this year perhaps we should not forget those for whom spring didn’t come and those for whom summer will bring more misery. People whose suffering increases year on year. Like those refugees from Syria who are persecuted at Calais for wanting to join their families in the UK by persecutors who are complicit in making these same people become refugees. Like those starving in East Africa as the rains fail again and again as climate change hits their lives head on. Like those who sleep rough on the streets of the richest countries while our governments refuse to help them.
I spent the winter volunteering in a homeless shelter, one night shift each week, a shelter organised by local Christians. The stories that I heard during the early hours when they struggled to sleep were difficult to hear. Their homelessness was caused by circumstances that could happen to any of us.
We Druids are far smaller in number and do not have the resources or person power to run shelters with 200+ volunteers, so how do we reconcile the privilege that allows us to see the colourful exuberance of life at Beltane with those who are stuck in permanent winter?
We can start by including them in our prayers and rituals, every prayer and ritual. As the Warrior’s Call says: Ritual as Action, Action as Ritual. We can fight the causes of their suffering, the warmongering of our governments, the fossil fuel burning that has brought us to the brink of climate catastrophe and the refusal by politicians to tax rich corporations while claiming there is no money is available for the most vulnerable. And at a very personal level we can start to try to live as though there is one planet.
So let’s make Beltane a time to renew our fight against violence and injustice, a time to grow our passion towards our mother Earth. a time to dance around the fracking rigs to stop the rape of the Earth, a time to break those chains and a time to try to live in harmony with the Earth. Let’s make Beltane an ecstatic explosion of life.