It’s Beltane, and Beltane is about sex, and sex is the ultimate in growing closer. As a Pagan, I’m not at all adverse to unbridled, uninhibited, hedonistic love. On Beltane we especially celebrate our oneness. “Thou art God and I am God and all that groks is God.” Sex is the closest we get on Earth to “the great link,” that time in our past and in our future, when we leave our individuality behind and melt together with the other gods and become one as God.
The Beltane tradition is simple: on this night, marriage vows of fidelity are set aside, and you may love anyone of your choosing (assuming they also choose you) or as many as you can take on. It’s not a contest, and no one is counting. Just freely love and be loved and leave jealousy and possessiveness behind, at least for this one night. So it was in Ireland at least up until the decades prior to World War II. The people would gather together on the hilltops all across Ireland, naked and free, celebrating life and fertility. It is said that children born of these Beltane couplings were revered as “Faery Children,” and at least one source tells us that the surname prefix “Fitz” references this. So it was that among the Belfires of the first of May, a great communal coupling took place, which assured abundant harvest at the end of the year, and also had the effect of binding the community together.
Why don’t we do this today? Why are Pagans in America so hung up about sex in general?
Part of it is the brainwashing we all receive beginning at an early age concerning sex and nudity and monogamy. Most of us, by the time we become Pagans, realize intellectually anyway that this was all Christian brain washing. A few of us can even take the next step, and toss away some of our inhibitions about nudity. But an orgy on a hilltop? Most of us can’t organize a bonfire, let alone an orgy. And for the most part we are all carrying around the baggage of jealousy and possessiveness and sometimes without even thinking about it. You can blame our Puritan ancestors if you want, but much of our conditioning comes from the media, and the media is a great instiller of Christian values, even if they’re not called that. On the other hand, we all admire the Pagans who can shed their clothes and walk among us at Pagan festivals in pride, clothed as nature intended.
We’ll never do that of course. We have kids who would be shocked. Our bodies are old or fat or out of shape. We’re reserving our nakedness for our spouse. And as for sex with a stranger? Well, I personally don’t advocate sex with strangers, I advocate keeping it within the tribe. But sex with someone other than your spouse is perfectly fine (taking the proper health-related precautions, of course), though it’s even better if your spouse approves.
Beltane is about being “swingers for a day.” Just one day a year with the magical purpose of bringing about prosperity to the tribe. Sex magic abounds – incorporating the Eastern practice of Tantra into a Western expression is common. The rest of the time fidelity is the rule and it should be honored, whether the relationship is a monogamous one or a polyfidelitous one. Among Pagans, there is no such thing as sexual harassment, at least not to the extremes that have been established in the American workplace.
Pagan men and women are true equals in every way; therefore the problem of one coming from a place of “power over” doesn’t exist. A lecherous glance at a nice pair of breasts, or a well hung schlong, is a compliment – not an assault. Well-adjusted Pagans know and accept this, and even play into it. Why not be admired, and admire, sexually? This is not to say that rape never occurs in the Pagan community; it has, it’s tragic and it should be dealt with both legally and magically. On the other hand, my best friend was accused of rape by members of the Pagan organization he was then associated with. They even held a little “witch trial” where women came forth to testify against him. It was a travesty. A kangaroo court. A witch trial. He never forced himself on anyone, and his “victims” gave clear indication that they were willing and not coerced. This was a dark chapter in American Paganism where the Puritanical values of our past were resurrected and applied for political reasons and for naught else. Actually I’ve seen it happen time and time again, where a Pagan who is sexually balanced and celebrated for so being, will later be vilified for his/her sexuality when it is politically expedient – usually by “pagans” who have one foot (or a foot and an arm, or leg and maybe even half their body) in Christianity.
But I digress…….It’s Beltane. Let’s shake off the chains and shackles of our still very christian based society, and let’s be Pagans, at least for this one day (better if we can do it every day). My friend Duane used to sing,
“Sing, hey for the 1st of May! Outdoor shtuping begins today!”