Well, Beltane is squarely upon us. My least favorite of the spokes on the Wheel of the Year. Oh I get the celebration part of it – the Maypole Dance, the festivities, the feasting, the fun… All of that is absolutely wonderful. The ritual? I actually have enjoyed the Beltane rituals I have been invited to. I have seen – and participated in – several very moving Beltane rituals. No, none of that is my problem. Its the over-the-top sexual overtones and the “need to get laid by any means whatsoever” that bothers me.
Now before anyone starts wailing about my Victorian scruples showing from underneath my cloak, let’s get a couple of things right here. I have no problem with the sight of a nude form – male or female. I have no problem with the idea of any combination of people coupling together. I have no problem with public displays of affection – UP TO A POINT. I do have a problem with extremely graphic, adult-oriented nature on display, where children can experience it – visually or through hearing. And I have been to far too many Pagan gatherings where this type of behavior has been excused with a shrug and the comment “What? Its Beltane for crying out loud.”
At an adult gathering, I have no problem with it – provided everyone participating is doing so with consent and knowledge of what they are getting into. And honestly, I am not trying to be a prude about this. I think that there should be no issue with the human body or the mutual sexual attraction between two (or more) individuals. I am just not in line with the idea of putting graphic displays of affection (such as oral sex) or coupling between individuals on display in front of everyone. I’m all for a nice time of coupling – even straight down dirty sex, but its not an exhibition sport in my mind. You want to watch? I’ll prefer to charge admission if that’s the case. Well, not really – but its an extreme point being made in a semi light-hearted manner.
Over the last month, we – as a wider Pagan Community – have discussed issues related to sexual nature. We have had issues of child pornography, issues related to consent, and the eventually discussing of issues of power in relation to those as well. Our gatherings and festivals have started to have more children around and involved. It was inevitable. As the Pagan movement grows, individuals become couples, and some of those couples will have children which they will want to include in all aspects of their lives – including Spiritual and Social.
I am not advocating the removal of this aspect of the Beltane celebration or even this aspect of the upcoming outdoor festival schedule. I am only remarking that there’s a pretty big need to rethink some of the aspects of these festivals and gatherings going forward. As I have read many bloggers write – its long since time for the Pagan Community (the wider and local Communities) to grow up a little more. And by this, I mean that perhaps we need to be a little more cognizant about how we act and react in a public manner – and who is around when we over-react and act on certain urges in the open.
I do love the atmosphere associated with Beltane – and have very much enjoyed the Beltane rituals I have been a part of. But its the over-the-top sexual overtones without regard for anyone else around – this is what drives me to celebrating this time of year by myself. I do enjoy getting out into Nature on my own, drawing up my own ritual, and spending time communing with my environment, the Kami and the Gods. I am a Solitaire, after all. But there’s always the need to socialize with others from time to time…and I can only hope that we all – myself included – can rethink some of the aspects of our behaviors when it comes to openly celebrating our time on the Wheel.