Today is Beltane, otherwise known as May Day. It’s a pagan festival that welcomes the move from spring to summer. The central figures of Beltane are the green man and the May Queen, representing the union between the goddess and the god, which later became the symbolic maypole dance. Bonfires are lit to welcome the light and warmth of summer back, after winter, with flowers and garlands adorning doorways and hearths.
Here is a description of the Beltane ritual from the Beltane Fire Society website :
As darkness falls on 30th April, the epic drum beats begin and a magical procession around Calton Hill sets off, led by the May Queen, who encounters many strange and wonderful characters in the form of painted and costumed performers and acrobats. The Green Man is then ‘killed’ by the May Queen, stripped of his winter guise and resurrected for the rebirth of summer in a dramatic ritual performance before the lighting of the traditional Beltane bonfire.
Novels like Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, look at the plight of the old deities in the modern world. What are they doing, behind the scenes, as we become distracted by new religions and even give up our faith altogether?
Your writing prompt: Write a scene centred around Beltane. Does the May Queen enjoy her one day in the sun or does she resent the fact that she’s often portrayed as a bit of decoration for a glorified knees-up round the bonfire? Does she have an environmental message or is she out for revenge?
Pictures sourced from: Beltane Fire Society.