As part of the Pagan Blog Project, I wanted to do a post for each Sabbat and my reflections on what each one means to me, so this one is about Beltaine and is the second of my B entries. In the Northern Hemisphere it’s celebrated on May 1st and is also known as May Day. Down here in Australia, it’s celebrated later on in the year. Beltaine a celebration of fertility and sex, jumping over the fires and such. From what I can gather, it seems to be almost everyone’s favourite Sabbat.
I must admit that I have been somewhat inconsistent in my celebration of the Sabbats, but in all my time as a Pagan, I’ve never been overly fond of Beltaine. In trying to celebrate the Sabbats more consistently over the past two years, I’ve yet to celebrate Beltaine. Why? I just can’t find a way to approach it that means anything to me, at least not with the traditional mythos attached to it.
To make things a bit clearer, I was born female, but ID as genderqueer with a side helping of transmasculinity. I don’t define myself by what I have between my legs. To me, I am not my genitals, and neither is anyone else, so to find almost every rite and article on Beltaine to be about physical sex is quite disheartening and it does not leave me anywhere to go. No, I will not meditate on my ~womb as the source of my ~creative power. My creative power comes from my mind. I’m a writer. I write things. That’s how I create. Hence, that sort of rite and symbolism does not work for me.
I’m not here to suggest, either, that just because it doesn’t work for me, that it can’t work for everyone. And if there are people who love Beltaine and it’s symbolism, awesome. I’m glad you get something out of it. But I don’t. It’s never worked for me.
Alright, sure, there is a general emphasis on fertility, and people do suggest something more general if you’re not into omg (heteronormative) sex, but it seems to be left up to the individual to sort that out themselves and no one really offers any substantive advice on how to approach Beltaine in a non-sexual manner. I’m left feeling like Beltaine will never be for me because the sexual reproduction and fertility aspects are so overemphasised it seems impossible to reinterpret the holiday as a general creativity day. A day for the Elder Muses I work with, for example, who I think wouldn’t mind if I hijacked Beltaine to do a rite for Them, if I could find out how to do that in a way that makes sense to me.
And in thinking about it, I think part of my problem with Beltaine is that NONE of the symbolisms and meanings work for me. So I find it really hard to get anything out of it as a festival. The other Sabbats I don’t have this problem with; I can usually find some way to make it work for me. But Beltaine has become so caught up with the symbolism of sex and fertility that it’s almost impossible to get another meaning out of it.
This tells me that it really is time for me to create my own queer Wheel mythos, unrelated in any way to the traditional ones. I can’t just modify the existing symbols and meanings anymore. I need to start again and pick things that work for me. Though the only idea I have had so far is an androgynous being, or perhaps two androgynous twins, going through the Wheel. It’s not a very well-formed idea at present, but I have a feeling it’ll come good in the end. Whenever that will be. But we’ll work on that some more, I think, and see where we get.