THE WONDER explores perspectives, rituals, and observances of modern, naturalistic, Earth-revering Neopagan religious paths. Naturalistic Pagans embrace the world as understood by science (that is, without gods, magic, or the supernatural), and enhance our lives with myth, ritual and activism. Hosted by Mark Green (author of ATHEOPAGANISM: An Earth-Honoring Path Rooted in Science) and Yucca (formerly of The Pagan Perspective YouTube channel, now of the Magic and Mundane channel). Named #5 in the top15 Pagan podcasts for 2023! https://blog.feedspot.com/pagan_podcasts/
Monday Apr 25, 2022
Monday Apr 25, 2022
Monday Apr 25, 2022
May Celebrations That Aren’t About Sex: https://atheopaganism.wordpress.com/2019/04/10/may-celebrations-that-arent-about-sex/
How’s that Maypole Thing Work?: https://atheopaganism.wordpress.com/2018/04/22/hows-that-maypole-thing-work/
Beltane 2020 Episode: https://thewonderpodcast.podbean.com/e/its-beltane/
Beltane 2021 Episode: https://thewonderpodcast.podbean.com/e/beltanemay-day/
Yucca: Welcome back to the wonder science-based paganism. I'm one of your hosts. Yucca
Mark: and I'm the other one, Mark.
Yucca: and today we're talking may day Beltane second spring, all of those, whatever name you call it.
Mark: Yay. Summer is a coming in. And winter's gone away. Oh
Yucca: It is, I, we were just saying, this is actually our third may day episode that we'll be doing.
Yucca: So we'll put the links to the other ones. If you want to check those out as well for inspiration and things like that, we'll probably talk about a lot of the same things this time around is that's one of the things about it was cyclical holiday year, right?
We come back to some of the same themes each year, but hopefully there'll be some new things in this episode as well.
Mark: Sure for sure. Especially because you know, now at this particular moment, we are in a place where we're sort of gingerly, tentatively coming out of COVID.
Yucca: I think we've said this so many times.
Mark: I know, I know. And who knows? I mean, there, there could be another variant that. Pigs the needle again, but I really hope that this around this time, when it seems that the numbers are generally low, people can have gatherings in person And, celebrate because in most places in the Northern hemisphere, the weather is beautiful and it's just a really lovely time of year.
Yucca: And, and it's a holiday that is often associated with outdoor activity. Unlike say the winter solstice where it's a lot of it's about being bundled up and inside and cozy and sharing drinks with each other. And. You know,
Yucca: has more of an outdoor, you know, in the park bonfire, those of you who live near the beach.
Bet, that would be amazing know fire on the beach. Maybe that would be wonderful, but yeah.
Mark: The. The image that I have in relation to Mayday or Beltane . And we're going to talk about naming in a minute has to do with emergence into the outdoors. It's like, you know, we've spring arrives in at different times in different places based on climb in elevation and, and All of those different factors.
But by the beginning of may, mostly. It's comfortable to go outside and there's this kind of exuberance about getting out from the walls and, you know, out into the sun and experiencing the bright new leaves of the foliage and All that wonderful stuff. So it's just, there's a, there's an enthusiasm about this holiday that I really love.
Mark: So let's talk about names cause we've got a bunch of them, the the, the word bell team, which is used by most of the pagan community to, to designate this holiday. And we'll talk about what defines the holiday in a sec comes from the Irish bail to. Which is actually just the name of a month. It's the name of the month of may.
And there's a similar word in Scott's Irish as in Scott's Gaelic as well. And both of those are often used as You know, kind of placeholder for the beginning of may holiday. But I don't actually use those Celtic names myself because I don't.
Yucca: You don't have a specifically Celtic practice.
Mark: I I don't. And and I also deliberately sort of stripped cultural references out of my practice when I started doing atheopagan ism, because I wanted to avoid any possibility of cultural appropriation, which we're going to talk about in a future episode. And and I wanted there to be kind of a blank slate for people to create their own new traditions and symbols and all that kind of stuff.
Yucca: Sure and add, add to it. What is part of what's meaningful to them?
Yucca: Right. Yeah. And no, and not saying at all that there's anything bad or wrong with any of the Celtic stuff. I mean, that's a big deal for my family. Right? We were, we identify as Celtic American, you know, we, we speak one of the Celtic languages.
Actually my daughter was really interested in learning Irish because that was her grandpa's first language when he was little and in the home. When she was given some choices about what do you want to learn now? She didn't want to learn mom's language. She wanted to learn graph is language. So she's been learning it.
And I'm in the background. I've been picking up on it a little bit. Right. Which is really very, quite fun to see the differences between the languages. So. So just to emphasize to everybody, this is not in any way of saying like, oh, like the Celtic side is bad or whatever. It's like, no, we're just saying, you know, everybody's going to be different.
Their backgrounds are going to be different. My family happens to have a strong connection to that side of, of, of our heritage and, you know, for other people that's not their heritage or not a part that they connect with. Right. And that's totally fine. But the name Beltane is, is used pretty. Widely and much of the kind of Neo pagan community.
Mark: Right. And, and it bears saying that we need to acknowledge that new modern Neo paganism, mostly stemmed from. You know, Gerald Gardner in the 1930s and forties and early fifties. And so it CA it was kind of a UK Britain, England centric.
Yucca: Yeah, well, he was English.
Mark: he was English. And so that was the lens that he was looking at everything through.
And a lot of what we have inherited from those traditions is very Anglocentric,
Mark: but paganism in and of itself inherently in terms of a relationship with the earth and and a ritual practice. That's key to the seasons of the year that, that. It's everybody and it has no language and it there's no particular culture that, that slotted to. So here's this holiday and it's defined as the mid point between the spring Equinox and the summer solstice. So it's.
Yucca: It's the other side from, from Salween or
Mark: Or Hallows.
Yucca: So, yeah.
Mark: exactly. So, and there are lots of cool parallels that you can do with those opposite sides of the year where built-in is often associated with sexuality and kind of life and vitality and fertility and all that kind of stuff. And Hallows is associated with death and decomposition and fallow fields and all that kind of stuff.
Right. So you've got the, kind of the polar ends of the, the human experience happening there. So what are some other names that we use? I, I say may day, which is a little problematic, because what if you're celebrating? Not on May 1st.
Yucca: Right. There's made a, and there's also the association. I usually say Mayday as well or second spring. But there's the labor. Wright's association with may day as well. That comes up for a lot of people, which I think was a, was purposeful. And the, when that was chosen. But for some people they don't who aren't part of the pagan community.
They don't know the pagan association and they only have the, the labors rights
Mark: Right, right. There's an interesting thing about international worker's day, which is May 1st which is that the United States deliberately put its workers day at the end of summer. In order to avoid engagement with those socialists and communists who were celebrating international workers' day on May 1st.
So we have our labor day on the first weekend in September and nobody else does, but when those holidays were being defined like today there was a lot of fear around, you know, communism. So that's,
Mark: how it happened. So, Yeah.
Mayday or a second spring is another good one. I know that that's how you celebrate your, your holidays in terms of first and second seasons for each, each quadrant.
And so let's talk a little bit about, you know, what the themes are and, and how we celebrate it. And then talk about some specific ritual things that we can do.
Yucca: All right. Well, there's definitely. Like you were talking about this coming out, this emergence, this, you know, waking up around it. For us, we think about it a lot as well for the annual plants, because this is the time where. You're getting the gardens going. I mean, our last for us usually isn't until the 15th, we'll still have a couple good frosts.
And of course the fruit trees that aren't from this area are all blooming already. And going here we are. You know, zapped by another frost. But we definitely associate it with, okay, here are the, the annual plants that are coming back, the things that we're planting in the garden and the the flowering plants and all of our, you know, our Forbes and things like that.
And the color. So it's still kind of blend. Sometimes the holidays blend a little bit. The last one for us was more about the birds and the feathers, but there were bright colors with that. And then coming into this, more of the colors and just again, that, that awake, that youthful that, you know, here we are,
Mark: Yes, everything's so, so fresh and new and sex is everywhere that trees and plants are all kind of hanging their parts out there saying, come and get me. And it's, it's just a very vital, very central kind of time. The air is perfumed in many places with the smell of all the different kinds of flowering plants.
We just had
Yucca: clouds of Paul and the go by
Mark: Yes. Yes, exactly.
Mark: Yeah, you can't can't help, but get it all over you. And if you have allergies, it's miserable. So it's, you know, it's a time when the world is really vital and even in desert climates, the world is really vital. I mean, the, the desert is palpably green. When you look out after the rainy season and, and after the snows have melted and you can see that things are really genuinely green they're there.
They're not like tropical green, but they're definitely. Is
Yucca: like it does after winter?
Mark: I'm sure. Yeah. Where it's black and white
Yucca: Oh yeah.
Yucca: Yeah. Even so even in places or even, especially in places in brittle environments, there's just such a change between one season to another.
Yucca: just, the more you tune into it. I noticed for me every single year, I mean, I've lived in other places, but I came back to where I'm, where I'm from.
Even growing up here every year, I noticed something different and new despite by being out and hanging out outside and just paying attention.
There's I mean, life itself is opportunistic, right? Life, life is always looking to worm its way into whatever niche it can find in order to thrive. But right now there's so much opportunity for so many different kinds of organisms and they all kind of pop at once. And so you get this, this feeling of genuine exuberance and delight.
From from the world, you know, everything's doing its thing and seems pretty happy about it. So, you know, that may be me anthropomorphizing my plant environments, but there's a, there's a. There's a way that that it seems enthusiastic. I go back to that word again and again Beltane or Mayday.
Isn't an enthusiastic holiday. And in, in my wheel of the year, I associated a lot with young adulthood. Where there's lots of energy things are brand new and you're kind of trying them out because, you know, oh, wow, look, I've got these leaves which I didn't have right. A month ago. I've got all this, this new agency as a young adult, I can make decisions for myself.
I, I have power that I didn't have before. I have autonomy that I didn't have before. And so I'm going to experiment. I'm going to try new things. I'm going to. Make friends I'm going to connect sexually and explore myself and find out what works for me and how that whole dynamic works with other people.
So it's there's, there's just a lot of, of of, of trying and getting it done happening around this time of year.
Yucca: Yeah. Yeah. I definitely feel that too.
Mark: So, it's a glad time and it's not a surprise to me that the Christians decided to put their Easter right around this time, because there is a general feeling of. Of thankfulness for having gotten through the winter and have joy in the beauty of nature as it's blooming in front of us, that comes at this time of year.
And while their themes are a little bit different in terms of salvation and resurrection and all that kind of stuff. The resurrection piece works well with dormant plants coming back to life and all that the salvation piece. Pagans don't have anything to do with, we got nothing to do with that.
Yucca: At least most of us don't, there's, you know, there's a lot of different kinds of pagans.
Mark: That's certainly true, but the, but the joyfulness, you know, there's a, there's a sense, even in the Christian Canon of this kind of joy and relief, right? Oh, we've been saying. Hooray. Whereas, you know, we don't feel like we need to be saved from anything but freezing and starving to death as pagans, but but we're really nonetheless that we didn't starve to death.
Yucca: I like that sun being higher in the sky. That is great. We got a lot of sun here, but it was getting a bit much in the winter. The winter lasts a bit long.
Mark: Yeah. There's something about February, especially, that's Just really, really rough. It just,
Yucca: ah, let's keep rolling.
it, it won't last forever, even though it feels like it's already lasted forever.
Mark: So, shall we go into some ritual things that we can do or what our practices are?
Yucca: So, I mean, before we go into specifically rituals, are there types of things that you're doing this time of year, just that, or are your sort of may day-ish season things that you do?
Mark: Well, I like to get flowers in the house. And we just had our wisteria bloom along our back fence. And that of course smells delicious. And it's these beautiful cascades of purple blossoms and they're there they're mostly done now, but they were just so pretty when, when they were
Yucca: months ahead of us. Ours here will not flown for another few weeks probably. Yeah.
Mark: So there, there was that, and we've got roses blooming, and we've got Calla lilies, and there's an, there's a beautiful.
purple Iris. That's growing in one of our wine barrels right now. So there's just. You know, paying attention to all that. Once again, we come back to paying attention, but really acknowledging, wow, it's just awfully good to be here.
And there's a lot of beauty around that's, that's really the primary thing for me for this, this holiday, that, and I feel my body waking up. I, I have a higher sex drive. I have a Bigger appetite. I, I feel, and I, I'm kinda antsy about sitting around, I, I wanna leave the house and go and do things and all that kind of stuff.
So, there's, there's just this kind of, I don't know, coming out of hibernation and being hungry, sort of quality to it as well.
Mark: How about you?
Yucca: Well, it's a busy time of the year for us. And a lot of it is the focused on, again, not just going back out, we always change out colors in the, in the house. And that's kind of a gradual process of changing. I mean, it's the sort of thing we'd be doing anyways. The types of curtains we've got up during the winter are different than the ones we've got up in during the summer.
And you know, changing out what's on the couch and all of that. And this year it's been quite fun because this is our. First like real season where we're at. And so we planted in the fall, we planted a bunch of perennials and I'm seeing which ones made it because that's one of the things of making it through that first winter.
And I took some chances with things. This is not from our climate at all, but I thought I'll give it a shot. I have, there's a couple of little microclimates on our property. And so I tried some Papas, some American Papas and I'm going okay. So they, you know, they feel, find them in like, you know, New York, upstate New York, which is colder than us and they survive there.
Yucca: So three of the five I planted made it. Right. So that's, you know, We'll see how they feel about our summers, but
Mark: Right. Right. And they may, and they,
may be a bit thirsty too. They may, they may want a lot more water than your desert plants.
Yucca: Well, I plan to do them in an area that gets that has some it's for us, a wet area drains into it. Yeah. And then it's so fun every year because the kids are getting older and coming into really being like people now. And my daughter's just making up all kinds of holidays. Right. And the reptiles are.
So we've decided that we spent the winter learning about the different mammals in our area. And now we decided it's time to learn about the different lizards that we have. And there's all kinds of lizards that are here. And there's a whole bunch that I'm going. I don't know how I'm going to tell the difference between these three species.
Cause they all look the same. You're telling me there's a little red dot behind one of their ears. Okay. So, That again, just that sort of bringing the spring in and bringing the humans out. Right. The humans out of that house, we're living half outdoors again. So yeah,
Mark: Nice. Yes. So. So why don't we go into some specific rituals that we like to do around this time? One of the things that I do when I, you know, seasonally redecorate my, my focus, my altar is I have some ribbons that are from a maypole dance that I did years ago. And there's a, there's a portion of a tree branch.
That's. My focus sits up about 10 inches high. And so I drape, I've tied them together at one end and I drape these ribbons over the top of this branch so that it becomes like a little maypole. There. And we also have embroidery hoops that we have glued ribbons, colored, colorful ribbons around the top of, so, and then we cut them off.
Three feet long or even longer. So what you end up with is this ring that you can hang from a tree and it's got all these beautiful ribbons hanging down from it that wave in the wind. And we put those in the, in the foliage outside as well,
Yucca: Oh, lovely.
Mark: So it just kinds of create some thematic stuff around it.
Yucca: Yeah, we, we put ribbons, we've got a specific tree that we like to put things and, you know, we put little like, you know, Christmas bulbs and things like that in the winter. And then we put some of the ribbons out. And then we go out and untangled them because they get very tangled.
Mark: Of course.
You do Cloudy's do you know.
Yucca: What are Cloudy's
Mark: Cloud, is there an Irish tradition? I think, I think, or it may be a Scott's tradition. I'm but I seem to remember it's an Irish tradition and they are cloth that you hang in a tree and particularly with wishes for health,
Mark: and they, you know, various colored clogs and that kind of thing.
So it, it sort of creates a prayer tree.
Yucca: Okay. So like a prayer flag tree kind of. Okay. Yeah. We haven't done that, but that's a lovely idea
Mark: Yeah, I like it. I like it too. And then of course there is the classic, which is the maypole dance. We will put a link to a blog post that. I email@example.com called how does that maypole thing work? And it's, it's step-by-step instructions for how to do a maypole circle. Maples are just so much fun there they're really joyous and dancing around one with a partner with, you know, all these couples with ribbons going in the opposite directions and weaving the ribbons up on the pole.
Yucca: Bumping into each other. Occasionally.
Mark: into each other a lot, Especially as you get closer to the pole, cause your ribbons are winding up and they're getting shorter and shorter. And you know, there's always music playing and it's just a very joyful, happy kind of time. And I have many memories of going to, built-in or may Mayday gatherings, you know, people where they're colorful clothing and it.
It's just a really, really sweet spring celebration and a very old tradition of course may have existed in, not just in England, but also in other parts of Europe, continental, Europe,
Yucca: in the Northern areas, which sometimes they're associated more with solstice,
Mark: Yes. Yes. In Sweden. I know they do a maypole things that summer solstice. And that may just be Because it's, you know,
Yucca: Because that is Sprig
Mark: that is spring that's when it finally just gets warm enough to get that hooray. We're going outside feeling.
Yucca: and hopefully it'll be on a weekend.
Mark: Well, and if it's not, then you just push to the next weekend. I mean,
Yucca: well, that's what we do. We use it like you were saying at the beginning that, you know, maybe it's not going to be on May 1st week kind of just do it around this time of year when it works for everybody.
Mark: Right, right. Because it would be really disappointing if half the people you wanted to come, couldn't make it. Just because you insisted on doing it on a Wednesday. The other thing to bear in mind when it comes to, you know, being diligent about doing things exactly on the day, That's great, but bear in mind that the actual midpoint between the Equinox and the solstice is actually around May 7th. So. I consider May 1st through May 7th to be the week of may day, the week of Mayday or the week of bell pain. In the same way that Hallows is from Halloween to about November 6th or seventh, depending on the year. So, you know, give yourself a break. Don't. You know, force yourself to do something that creates a lot more insertion and trouble.
It's okay to wait till the weekend to do something that, that you want to have a gathering with.
Mark: I'm excited because The, the atheopagan community created a new program earlier this year called affinity groups. And those are groups that are, that share geographical affinity or that have some sort of identity or interest connection.
So there's an LGBTQ group and there's a crafters group and there's a neuro-diverse. Diverse group and an activist group, but there's also groups that are in different geographical areas. And we have one for Northern California that is now called live Oak circle. And we are meeting in person at one of our houses to do a Mayday gathering on, on May 1st.
And I'm really excited about it. I think it's going to be a really Nice.
Yucca: That's great.
Yucca: And all, you'll be seeing some of those folks again and another, the next weekend, in fact,
Mark: Yes, one of them, one of them will also be at the century retreat.
Yucca: Yeah. So just a plug for that. I think that the day this comes out is the last day for registration, right?
Mark: That's right.
Yucca: the 25th of April. Yeah, because we need to know who's going to be there so we know how much food to have.
Mark: Right. Exactly. So, when you hear this podcast, if you hear it on Monday, the first, if you are still thinking about coming, please at least contact us through the, the contact email on the century re. Page to let us know that you want to come. You can, we'll work out getting your registration completed over the next couple of days, but we need to know that you're coming.
And how many are in your party?
Yucca: Yeah. We just need the count of what's going to be there or not. Yeah.
Mark: because it's only, it's three weeks away.
Mark: We're in three weeks. We're going to be there.
Mark: And the whole, the whole thing just seems preposterous to me. I mean, I haven't left the state of California in a long time now And
Yucca: either actually the last place I went was Colorado Springs was Colorado Springs or w w for the baby moon before my oldest was born six years ago. We went there cause it was the closest borders
Yucca: bookish people. Yeah. We were like, Hey, let's go somewhere and spend the night somewhere. Cause we're never going to do this again for like 18 years.
And what do we want to do? I want to go to a bookstore. Yeah. I want to go to a bookstore too. So we have lots of little bookstores as well, but we wanted one that was a little bit more like. Like wandering through a big library. So that anyways, yeah. That's the last time I've been out of state. It's been a while.
well, you know, there's been COVID and you've had kids and there's, there's all that stuff.
Mark: So, yeah, it's it's going to happen so soon now I'm really, I got to go to my storage unit and get out of suitcase and all this stuff. So. What else do we have to say about Mayday and oh I we're, we're developing a re a relatively large list of things to put in the in the episode notes, but I do want to put in also, I have a blog post about may celebrations that aren't about sex.
Yucca: Okay. Nice.
Mark: So for people who, you know, are, are a sexual or a romantic, Or
Yucca: Or do you want it to be a family thing and it's not appropriate for the particular people in the family right
Mark: Right. Or they just aren't into it, you know, whatever that is. There's some ideas there for things that you can do to celebrate this time of year. So I want to
Yucca: That's a great, yeah, because it really doesn't. I mean, I like the sex part, but it doesn't have to be about that.
Mark: That's Right.
Yucca: There's plenty of, of reawakening and all of that stuff that doesn't have to doesn't have to be it.
Mark: Absolutely. And as always, we're working to be as inclusive as we possibly can. This non theist pagan science-based paganism path is something that really is open to everyone and not just in a tolerance sense, but in a true welcoming sense. We want you to have a practice. Really works for you, you know, that feels moving and meaningful and gives you a sense of place in the world and a sense of purpose in living. So that's, that's the thing. So what else do we have
Yucca: You know, I think I'm just feeling happy about it being spring.
Mark: Me too.
Yucca: that's what I have to say. Spring awakening being outside color the bugs coming back, got all kinds of interesting things out. That's that's what's going on for us. So.
Mark: Yep. That's what's happening here too. And we, we really love it. So, I got to get out on a trail. I haven't actually gone hiking for quite a while and I really want to do that. So I've got to, got to get myself going soon.
Yucca: Good time for that.
Mark: It is so happy spring everyone or summer, if that's the way you count it, which we didn't really talk about.
But many people consider the cross quarter holidays to be the beginnings of the seasons instead of the solstices and equinoxes. Which is why summer solstice is called midnight. Often and the winter solstice is called mid-winter. But it just depends on how you count it. Calendars are arbitrary.
Yucca: they are. Yeah. I mean, for where I am, the seasons are not equal. Winter and summer are really long and we have like a few weeks of spring and a few weeks of fall. And then. You know, we basically have winter and summer. I mean, there's nuances, but really just jumps right in. Yes, June is not spring for us.
For some people, June a spring, but June is like not Judas 90 degrees. So yeah. Well, anyways, as we were saying, just happy spring or happy summer, everyone. And for those of you, cause we do see that there are quite a few of you listening in the Southern hemisphere. So the other way around, happy bottom for you.
Mark: Yes, and I'm happy Hallows or solemn, meaningful Hallows, and be sure to look in the in the podcast archives for our has episodes, because you can certainly use all of that stuff for your celebration here in may as well.
Yucca: Great. And is there a Southern hemisphere affinity group?
Mark: There is yes, it's small right now, but there is a Southern hemisphere affinity group.
Yucca: Yeah. So definitely check that out if
Mark: Yep. if you're interested in joining an affinity group, you can. go to the atheopagan society website, which is the AP society.org, the AP society.org forward slash community. And that will take you to the page that lists all of the affinity groups.
Mark: Okay. Well, thank you so much, Yucca. It's been a pleasure as always.
Yucca: Thank you, mark.