Ask some folk about Beltane and they’ll grin and wink and talk about fecundity; albeit it in more Anglo-Saxon terminology, usually. But it’s not essentially about shagging each other senseless – indeed the senses are particularly important about now. These ritual moments with which we delineate the annual circumnavigation of this blessed rock about our sacred star are more than points in time, they are colours, flavours, scents and touches unique to the season. In a sensual world (cue Kate) this is a time to dissolve the walls we wrapped around us to survive winter, and go out and experience what the rest of nature has got up to.
Walking through a sun dappled woodland, the scent of the bluebells plays upon the nose as much as the very colour bewilders the eye. The air is thick with it, and only gradually gives way to the sharper but no less fragrant smell of the wild garlic in its field of green and white. The hilltop holds you while the gentlest warm breezes float across you, such a shame to close it off from your skin with layers of unnecessary insulation. The rivers are not so cold you can’t settle yourself into them and feel the flow. All the things that would have been daft and deadly in the chills of winter are there for you to enjoy (subject to sensible awareness of local prejudice).
Later, when it gets to summer and the Sun is so hot we seek the shade and have acclimatised to the constancy of the warmth, the newness of the bud burst and fresh greenery will have been forgotten. It is now, at the threshold of the reawakening world, as all the non-human folk who have slept the cold away begin to twitch and stretch. It is now, when the woollens get put away and the silks come out. It is now, when the skin will goosebump under gentle gusts and intentional feathers. It’s a time to savour fully what the senses are capable of offering.
Bring on your Beltane fires, drive out your cattle and smoke out the fleas.
Raise the phallic axis and dance the May in.