Bringing in the May
May is the month that marks the end of the cold half of the year as nature embraces its fertility and the world teems with
life. The season casts its magic, and all around us, nature responds: trees unfurled their leaves, flowers burst into bloom,
birds croon as they build their nests, while squirrels begin their mating races. There is magic afoot in the world all around
us yet many turn a blind eye as they maintain their doldrum existence. Open your eyes to the life around you. It's time to
shake off those winter blues and bring in the May!
May 1st has long herald the coming of Summer as agricultural societies rejoiced in the return of life and the promise of a
bountiful season. In a world where prosperity depended so much on the weather and the changing of the seasons, the
celebration of the First of May was as much a part of the medieval calendar as Christmas and Easter. Long ago the Celtic
festival of Beltane signaled the end of winter-half, the unfarmable-half of the year as they turned the surviving cattle out
to their summer grazing pastures. With conquering Rome came the May feast of Flora, the goddess of flowers, and Maia,
the goddess of rebirth whom the month of May is named and the act of 'Bringing in the May' was adopted as the villagers
would go to the woods in the early dawn and gather flowers and tender branches to bring them in and decorate their
homes. The Middle Ages introduced the Queen of the May chosen from the prettiest of the young girls. It was her lot to
lead the dance around a maypole decorated with colorful flowers. "By the Middle Ages, every English village had its
Maypole. The earliest Maypoles were tall trees stripped of their branches, and one village would vie with the next to show
who could produce the tallest one. On May Day itself, the Maypole served as the centerpiece for sports, dancing and
games that took place around it." -Jennifer Cutting, a folklife specialist in the American Folklife Center.
Marjorie Rowling in Life in Medieval Times [Perigree,1973] writes, "The Green Man makes an appearances in later medieval
records as a Lord of Misrule for the day, leading the revelers wherever he pleased and poking fun at the authorities. Morris
Dancers were a part of the celebrations, usually at the end of the day, when the feasting and dancing began in earnest.
The dancers were always male and often dressed as animals."
"Both May Eve and May Day were traditionally a time of letting your hair down and getting a little crazy, of acting out your
spring fever. But as early as 1240, the Bishop of Lincoln complained in writing that too many priests were also joining in
the fun! " - Jennifer Cutting
This month nature rejoices that life has returned to a cold and dark world. One only needs to look out the window to note
that May is a sensual month. The world is alive and it is celebrating this fact. Modern songs proclaim this reawakening of
the Natural world. From "The hills are alive with the sound of music, songs they have sung for a thousand years." To the
more recently "Summer's here and the time is right for dancing in the street" Embrace the energy dancing all around. Allow
it to awaken your senses. Celebrate life by joining in the dance of creation and let your spirit soar. Put on some music and
give in to the lure of rhythm by abandoning yourself to dance.
If the idea of giving into abandon makes your cringe, you can celebrate in a tamer mode. Take part in an age old custom
of bring fresh flowers into your home. Evoke memories and emotions by infusing the air in your home and workplace with
floral scents. Invite Summer into your kitchen with leafy green salads and dishes topped with strawberries. Add flavor to
your recipes with the tangy juice of lime and bright zest of lemon. Do what the ancients did long ago, on the night of May
eve, wash your face in the dew and smile as your heart, spirit and body renew.
Join in the celebration. Let your heart swell with joy as nature surges all around. Dance. Sing. Laugh as you savor the
experience. Life is waiting. There are new places to discover, new events to attend, dishes to taste, new people to meet.
Make the most of it by being open, being present, being mindful as you step outside and join Nature's dance.
The universe is full of magical things, patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.
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