Face it, when a religious practice is nature-based and draws on ancient traditions of folk who depended on the seasons and nature as the difference between life and death…it is hardly surprising that they were pretty well obssessed with fertility, of crops, of people, of livestock.
Anything that would ensure a good harvest, make sure that babies thrived or avoided barren cows or goats was “worth a try”.
Add to that in modern neo-paganism that the ying/yang balance is represented by a Goddess and her male consort whose relationship explains the cycle of the year and you are bound, at some point, to end up with …. bonking. Or Beltaine as Wiccans call it.
Beltaine is the night before May Day and a general sexual scrum-down with added feasting for the modern pagan.
If this IS an ancient tradition (again I reserve judgement) it made sense. The everyday life of ordinary folk in the “good old days” was hard, monotonous and dreary. The excuse to (quite literally) take to the hills and couple with the first person of the opposite sex you met was a welcome break from the monotony.
It also brought new blood into increasingly incestuous marriages designed to keep land within one family. Any child born of the Beltaine bonkathon was known as “ a child of the Greenwood” so if that is your surname… congratulations. Beltaine Fires played a part in one of your ancestor’s conception!
Hooray hooray for the first of May, outdoor rutting begins today
So goes the old rhyme and of course, people don’t do that sort of thing nowadays, do they? (Stifled chortle) Oh yes they do! According to my beloved Auntie, the Beltaine Bash in Edinburgh, which is one of the largest in the country, ends with couples strewn about all over Arthur’s Seat, the hill by Edinburgh and she and a group of Quaker mates out for a May Morning ramble, found themselves picking their way through pairs of lovers, politely trying to step over them with the inimitably Edinburgh “Good Morning, Excuse us, thank you. Sorry to bother you.” And just the thought of that curls me up with laugher.
Were they shocked? No, of course not. It’s only natural…. which is all magic is. And it did give my Auntie a chance to turn to her ancient companions and say in that voice that carries for miles “Of course, you know my niece Ailsa is a pagan.”
Yes, Auntie, but they don’t do Beltaine in my village in France… shame!